Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Plan for August

I plan on finishing the rough draft of my current WIP during the month of August. I have just under 10k right now. So, If I am shooting for 50k more for the month, then my goal is to write 1,613 words/day. I should probably aim for a few 2k days to account for the days I'll be busy moving college students back to their dorms. I have 20 (very loose) scene cards, although some of them may overlap into one scene- not sure yet. I'm not stressed about not having enough (yet) because inevitably some character will just appear and start talking and a new scene gets formed or the character forces the plot to swerve and new scenes form. You know how that happens. So, that's my plan. Now, I'm also taking the on-line Scrivener class I mentioned during the month of August, so hopefully these two plans will go together like chocolate and peanut butter (really well ; )

That's the plan for August.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Letting Go

This week all of our kids (they are all college age) are away. The oldest just head out on his own to his first AF base and career. One is away for a week of vacation with friends to the beach. And the twins to a conference. Three of the four will be back next week. But this week we are "empty nesters." And it's soooo quiet. Too quiet, for today at least. One day, maybe after they've all left to their own lives in a few years, we'll be like Max from Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are and say, "And now...let the wild rumpus start!” but right now, the first time they're all gone at the same time, it feels more like, “Oh, please don't go—we'll eat you up—we love you so!”

So, we had Chinese take-out for dinner last night. It was our last family dinner together with our oldest for awhile. Although #1 daughter was gone, so not really a "family" dinner. Anyhoodles, we ate Chinese (spring rolls, General Tso's and vegetable fried rice.) Very yummy,if not very good for us. Sent #1 son off on the road last night. Cried a little. Up early this morning to get twins on the train. Train 3 hours late. Ugh. Finally, they are underway. Get home to have leftover Chinese for breakfast so that I can take something for the tension headache, you know that kind that feels like someone wrapped barbed wire around your head and then added an ice pick right above your left eye? Yeah, that kind. So, I ate the leftover Chinese food, then took some Motrin for my headache. It's a couple hours later now, and the headache is still poking at me, laughing even, not dulled at all...and I'm thinking, maybe the MSG in the Chinese food was a bad idea.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My "Harriet the Spy" Spirals

A month or so ago I grabbed a download of Scrivener when Amazon had it on sale for 1/2 price. I was in the middle of editing my finished manuscript and 10k words into my current WIP so I did nothing with it. I still haven't even "taken it out of the box." It just sits there on my desktop, winking at me. But, I didn't buy Scrivener to just be eye candy, I want him to be my really hot mechanic. You know, someone who can help me take things apart, put them back together, and have my MS running like a well-oiled machine. So, to that end, I signed up for an on-line class from my local RWA chapter, "Demystifying Scrivener." The class runs the month of August and I'm pretty excited to see how it works and if it'll be helpful.

I've heard it even has virtual index cards, and since I use the index card method to plot my scenes...it sounds like it should work for me. Now, no matter how much I ramp up my technology, there is still one thing I don't think I'll ever change. I like to jot ideas for scenes and brainstorm in spiral notebooks. I really do. I'm pretty sure I can track my love of spiral notebooks back to the book, Harriet the Spy. I loved that book when I was young! Usually, I just use leftover spiral notebooks from my kids at the end of a school year. They always finish a semester with notebooks only 1/2 (or often less) full. So, I just rip out their used pages and use what blank paper is left. It saves on the guilt of throwing perfectly good paper away. Sometimes though, I splurge and buy something fun for the start of a new book like puppies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or the PowerPuff Girls.

I'm thinking of transferring the 10k of my current WIP onto Scrivener when the class starts. I don't want it to slow down my writing though, so if it's too hard to pick up, I'll wait until starting my next MS.  I'll probably know the 1st week of class if that's a good idea or not. Anyone else used Scrivener and have any tips or opinions?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Official Fruit Cutter

I have discovered I am the official fruit cutter in my family. Apparently, no one else in the family can cut fruit. I must be the only one certified in sharp knife wielding skills. It happens that my family loves fruit. My husband buys watermelons, pineapples, cantaloupes, strawberries...you get the picture. And all of this said-fruit comes into the kitchen and sits. Either on the counter or in the fridge. Until I cut it up. Once it's cut, it disappears quickly- like magic. Now, I'm not complaining. I have accepted my role as the official fruit cutter in the family. I mean, my husband is the official oil changer and maintenance upkeep guy of our cars, right? He keeps us driving safely, and I keep everyone from getting scurvy. It works for us. There are only 2 problems with me being the only fruit cutter of the family...
1) First, what will happen to the kids when they go out on their own? I can sadly picture them buying a pineapple, bringing it home to sit on their kitchen counter, and waiting...looking at it wistfully every so often and...nothing. Obviously, I will have to teach each of them to cut fruit. I must pass on my fruit cutting knowledge to the next generation, so their children's children can one day eat fruit too.
2) Second, the sad results when I am busy. I just spent an intense 4 days doing final edits on my MS for a submission. Fun fact: fruit does not cut itself. The lovely looking pineapple sitting on the kitchen counter was a little too ripe at the end of the 4 days. The asparagus didn't make it either.
Did I mention there is guilt involved in being the official fruit cutter in the family? I feel like I committed fruit and vegetable abuse.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Where I'm At (status report on BBQ smoker and 1st full writing submission)

Results on the first ever BBQ smoker experience....success! We smoked 3 pork shoulders (Boston butts) with 3 different rubs. Smoked them for 12 hours. Yum. Me. Getting up before 5 am to start the smoker and throw on the meat wasn't too painful, but you can't really go back to bed since you do have to be awake to check on it every hour or so to check water level and throw on more wood chips. It was so good that we are looking forward to attempting to smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving.

On the writing front, I sent off my requested full from the on-line pitch opportunity. The manuscript has been complete for awhile now, but there was still so much editing to do. My CP was catching things my eyes/brain didn't. And then I had my daughter read it and she caught things that neither I, nor my CP had seen. And then...I went through the editing list from the Angela James 'Before You Hit Send' on-line class, and that resulted in a lot more editing. Her very first assignment is to read the MS aloud. During the class, I did read one chapter aloud, but yesterday decided to read the whole thing aloud. Good lord! was that a good tip. It took hours, and my voice hurt after awhile, but guess what? Yep, reading aloud caught things that I, my CP, and my daughter never caught when reading silently. Way more stuff than I would have believed. Do I feel like I could keep finding more stuff if I edited more? YES! But I have to move on. I have another WIP that I abandoned to get Delaney polished and out the door. It's been so long since I worked on my WIP, that I'm nervous I'll have lost my connection to it. Crossing my fingers I can slip right back into it. Hopefully, it will keep my mind off waiting on the full submission for the next few months.

Friday, July 19, 2013

July = The Tour

One thing our whole family loves about July is watching the Tour de France. When my husband and I first started dating he did bike races and triathlons. We've watched the Tour as long as I can remember. Our kids watch the tour. I'm pretty sure our kids' kids (when they have them) will watch the tour. I think part of what I like about it is the fact that a month long race takes patience and endurance. The riders can't ever have a day when they give up, or they've lost their chance at the Tour.

It's such a visible reminder to me of how to tackle goals in life. Give it everything you have that day. Wake up and do it again. And again. It reminds me that it isn't always the most talented who succeed, but those with talent and perseverance who cross the finish line first. And boy is perseverance so important in writing. Yesterday, as I mentioned in my last post, was my first ever pitch to an editor. I can happily report it went well-- got a full request, so, yes I have work to do. But, two things struck me during the process... first, the amazing support and camaraderie of all the women pitching. Wow. Supportive doesn't begin to express it. Second, was the perseverance of many of these unpublished authors. They have been plugging away, writing, pitching, sending manuscripts, and getting "R"s for years in some cases and still....wake up and do it again. And again. A shining example of what it takes.

Changing topics...yesterday we put together our first "smoker." Tomorrow we will attempt to make our first smoked pulled BBQ. I'll let you know how it goes....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reunions Part 2

The reunion with my husband's extended family was fun. We only get together with them every couple of years, and I forgot how truly nice some of them are. I mean really nice. Just decent, caring people. So, that part was fun. Then, of course, there was the one or two members of his family who aren't pleasant. These few (thank goodness) are very materialistic, and it just makes them never happy with their lives and they seem to always be comparing and judging others...sad way to live and no fun at a party. We were smart and mostly hung out with the happy nice relatives. ;)

The 2nd part of our reunion is our immediate family being together for the first time since December. Love, love, love having everyone together. Our oldest just finished AF basic training and then went right to tech school. He graduated Monday (Yay!) and is home for about ten days before moving off to his first base. So very proud of him and how much he's matured in the last year. And I love how much our kids love each other and get along. Really happy times.

Tomorrow, I am participating in my first ever pitch to an editor. I think it will be pretty low key, since it's just a matter of pasting in my 100 word pitch, and it'll either be something she wants to read more of or she won't. And, we find that out right away, so no stressful waiting to hear back. That doesn't mean it won't sting a little if she doesn't want to read it, but again...not a comment on my writing necessarily. It might just mean I need a LOT more practice writing a pitch (and query and synopsis- something I totally cop to) Something I'll need to nail down, but still not a rejection of my writing. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I'm sure I'll have something to post about it once it's finished. At this early stage of my writing "career," everything is a chance to learn.

Friday, July 12, 2013


I'm making a fruit salad to take to a birthday party tomorrow. It's really a reunion from my husband's side of the family. Hopefully, it will be fun with no drama. And maybe the weather will feel guilty about all the rain and thunderstorms this summer, and behave for a few hours.

Then we have a reunion coming up for our immediate family. Next week, one of our children comes home after being away for six months. Way too long! It will be the first time we've all been together since Christmas, and we are really looking forward to it. We're going to attempt to smoke some BBQ for the first time. I keep thinking we need to have a trial run, but never find the time and have yet to find the perfect BBQ recipe. Do we go with Memphis style, Carolina style, or Texas style?  I did find a yummy looking recipe from chef Bobby Flay, but it had about 107 1/2 ingredients... yeah, no.

I am getting some writing in too. I had to rewrite a scene that opened with an infodump. It went of for pages. My heroine just sat around thinking about her past. What was I thinking? Thankfully, as often happens, I went to bed knowing I had to fix it-- and sure enough, this new character, a little six year old kid, woke me up with an idea. I was able to write it down and go back to sleep. So, in the morning, all I had to do was finish writing the scene. Problem solved. Yay for six year old kids!

Okay. Time to make the fruit salad. I hope everyone get to enjoy at least one reunion this summer!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Space to Write

For the past few years I haven't had my own "space" to write. No desk (the kitchen table is too tall to type comfortably.) My husband uses the small office, since he often works from home. So, I've been writing from the couch, in the midst of an active, busy, loud family. Did I say loud? Wouldn't have it any other way-- but it does sometimes interfere with creativity. I'm right there, sitting in the family room on the couch, so my family will just start talking to me, not knowing that my character is at the crucial point of deciding if she should punch the hero or grab him and kiss him.

Anywhoodles. We are finishing our basement and I will finally have  a real space to write. All my own. It even has a door. That I can close. I wonder if I can write when it's quiet... And I'll have a desk which will take some adjusting to because I have been writing for years with my laptop...on my lap. Seriously.

The last thing I need once the room is finished and desk moved in, is a bed for our dog, Bella. I know lots of writers have their cats stretched out across their monitors or laps, but not this girl. Bella doesn't like to be alone. She's part of our pack. When my husband is out of the house (he's her favorite pack member) then I'm the "go-to" human in the house. So, I'll need to get her a bed to hang out on when she's helping me write. Pretty. Darn. Excited. Me, that is. Bella, not as much.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hellooo, July!

You sexy thing you. Yes, I love the month of July. I don't know why. Maybe because of the 4th,  one of my favorite holidays. It's hot and I'd rather be hot than cold. Yes, I know what I'm talking about. I lived in AZ for five years. In fact, I was pregnant with and delivered our first child in AZ. And his due date was July 7, so.... very pregnant during an Arizona summer? I know heat. In fact, the day we brought our baby home from the hospital, it was 122 degrees. It was so hot they actually stopped flying at the airport since they didn't have landing data calculated for those temps. Good times.

We've also lived in TX. It's pretty hot there in the summer too, but darn are their winters worth living through the heat. We lived in San Antonio, just on the edge of hill country. Every late afternoon/evening, even on the hottest of days, this wonderful breeze would kick up. The branches on our live oak trees would start to move, and that was the sign to head outside. I loved that time of day in TX. More good times.

The other thing I really love about July/summertime is having the kids home more. Yes, it's messier and I get less done, but these days will end before I know it. Before I'm ready, they'll be heading off on their own. So I savor our time with them. I think that's what I like most about summertime.