Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review, Reflect & Renew

"The object of goals is getting there... the object of dreams is the journey." Delle Jacobs

New Year's Eve has arrived and once again I am sitting down to review, to reflect and to renew my personal life map. I prefer to think of setting goals as making a map.

My goals aren't immovable objects I must reach. They are check points along life's highway. Sometimes they are easy hills to climb and conquer. Other times they are not. Occasionally, life throws me a curveball, and I have to take a detour which leads to unexpected places. And then my life journey's GPS signal has to recalculate the route.

All along the way, I bring out my map and see where I've gone before I move forward. I adjust my schedule and I set other goals based on the surprises I encounter.

I have a process I use every year which I refined about five years ago when I started a year long journey with three other women who had reached a crossroads with me. We all came from different backgrounds, had different pressures facing us, and we all wanted to take control of our energy and refocus it in a positive way.

We stumbled upon a book called LIFE MAKEOVERS by Cheryl Richardson and decided to embark on going through the book together. By the time I had finished the journey with my friends, I had clarified my need to write and had written my first book. We all benefitted from the book so much, we revisited it again. Now I draw it out to start my new year and cover the chapters that helped me solidify my goals and map out my journey.

So, with all respect and thanks to Cheryl Richardson, here is part one of my goal setting, map making journey. Before I make a new map, I review my past year. I don't focus on what I didn't check off the list. I focus on what I accomplished. I write down 25 things I accomplished during the year. The accomplishments are not limited to my writing. They include my life as a mom and as a wife and as a friend. The first year I wrote down this accomplishment: I drove my daughter to school every day. Seems small, but that drive gave us valuable bonding time. And I treasure those moments with her.
Subsequent years have seen more and more writing accomplishments on the list of 25. And that shows I am growing as a writer who is actively pursuing her career.

Second, I narrow down the accomplishments to the top five achievements. Based on the book, I ask myself what qualities they showed in me. How did I grow as a human being? What strengths did they demonstrate? Third, I make a focus statement based on where I want to go on my journey. Yes, I do this every year. This year's focus statement will probably be very similar to last year's: I enjoy being bold, courageous and focused as I pursue my dream of becoming published writer. On a personal level, I also write a focus statement: I enjoy being a physically, spiritually and mentally strong person.

Next, again this is based on the LIFE MAKEOVER BOOK, I come up with a top five priority YES list. I usually tweak it every quarter to reflect changes in the family needs and my professional life. This list is vital (and I must admit I needed to review it more often this past year) because it solidifies for me where I absolutely will say NO to outside requests. No explanation. No reasons as to why not. And no guilt. If the request doesn't fit into my Top 5 Yes Priority List, I simply say, "No." Try it. Saying no is a heady experience. Sometimes, based on my list, I say, "Yes, but here is what is coming up and I need to know if you are okay with me bowing out should it become necessary."

Once I have clarified where I've been, what I've learned and how I want to shine internally, I sit down and make my goal list for the following year. First I write down the top things I want to accomplish based on my focus statement. I do this for my writing and for my personal family life. Then I make a spread sheet and break down my goals into bite size pieces. The spread sheet has each month along the left hand side, a section for writing goals and family needs/goals along the top. This way I can visually see what events are coming. If I have a due date, I add that to the list. I usually tweak this spread sheet every couple of months or quarter of the year.

Now that I've told you how I go about setting goals, I want to add a codicil. These are my methods. They work for me. I formulated them over time. And they are bound to ideas learned and culled from other, much smarter people than I. Ultimately, how a YOU assess your life and create your goals for your journey toward your dreams is up to you.

The most important thing to learn from me is Have A Plan. Know where you are going. How we get there will vary. Another important lesson I've learned is I need to incorporate WIGGLE ROOM in my personal journey. I need to have a space that's empty that leaves room for surprises, positive and negative, that might change the direction of my journey.

In 2009, I surprised myself by learning how to Pitch and I went to the RWA National Conference where I practiced my skill. Wow, I got requests. New life path. New little detour. I also surprised myself with adding blogging as a guest blogger as part of the Southern Magic Romance Magicians blog. I started my own, almost daily blog, and I became a writing contest judge. Those items weren't on my "goal list." But by allowing myself time to wiggle, I could add them. I also added some items and tasks that I regretted later. But one cannot learn one's strengths until one learns her weaknesses as well. Now I know what NOT to try next year. Not a bad lesson.

I know 2010 will not be easy to navigate already based on my Father in Law's illness. There will be unexpected travels, difficult situations to maneuver, and the heartbreak emotionally of seeing a good man felled by cancer. I must allow for wiggle room to bend and flow with those waves. I also know I have a husband who is going to undergo hip replacement surgery in February 2010. I must clear the docks for that event. At the same time I must also continue pursuing my professional goals whenever I can. I must prepare.

And those are only the expected life events. I know much more will happen. Some will be negative, but many other life events will be positive. I want to be ready for them. And the best way I can prepare for the way my journey might detour is to focus on my goals, be prepared for change, and carry a flexible attitude.

So, in a nutshell here's my process for setting up my journey through each year:

*reflect upon past accomplishments
*make a focus statement that brings you into the new year
*establish a top 5 priority list
*write your goals down and have a plan
*break down your goals into bite size pieces
*review your goals on a quarterly basis
*leave wiggle room for life's interesting surprises

Life is journey. Enjoy it. Live it. Flow with it. Mark Twain said it best: Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER.

All the best to you as you set your map's check points for 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Catching Up

This Christmas break has been busy for me in that we had to travel to Texas and we usually don't go anywhere during the holidays. While there, I managed to get a lot of work done during the early morning hours. When we returned home, I focused on one thing: my family. This is Christmas and we're usually busy scrambling all over the place as we run from home, to school, to dance, to voice, to shopping, to friends, to home, to malls, to school, to meetings, to .... to.... to ... you name it, and we're there.

But this is a time to regroup for all three of us. We're all busy and seriously need time to catch up on our sleep, our time together as a family and on our little this's and thats that we put off during the busy days.

That's what I mean by "catching up." How are you all catching your breaths? Spending more time with family and friends? Reviewing and reflecting on goals accomplished? Reading? Cooking real meals? Fixing little things around the house? Playing games and doing puzzles? This is a season for renewal. And I use it for exactly that one thing.

I know I'll be busy again and running all over the place in my little truck with Darling Daughter in the passenger seat. I'll be scrambling to meet my new goals, working toward gathering information for my husband's upcoming hip replacement, girding myself for my FIL's upcoming health problems escalating, fortifying my mind for the days ahead, and focusing on generating more words in my writing.

So now, Catch Up Time is very much appreciated.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tis the Day after Christmas and All Through the House....

.... only I am up. I am the early bird of the family and I treasure this time alone. I catch up on emails, forums and blogs. I love the quiet cool air and the hush of the halls. It's great solitary time to work as well. I am looking forward to using the time wisely in the days ahead as I edge toward the new year.

While we were in Texas, I managed to work on my current WIP. I finished cutting and pasting my last half of the WIP! Amazing what having a hotel room with space, two sleepy family members and being an early riser will do for one's ability to get work accomplished. So, despite the very sad reasons we were there, I did manage to work, too.

We drove back on the 23rd. That was a very long day. But then we were home and ensconced in our house by 5:30PM. On Christmas Eve I went shopping for food and did laundry (the bane of my existence). We brought down all of our presents and set them under the tree. After cookies and milk and tossing Reindeer Food (my fifteen year old believes in tradition), we were off to bed.

Santa arrived and we all reaped a mighty stash of presents. Woohoo! Then we went off to the movie theater and watched SHERLOCK HOLMES. Oh my, Robert D. is adorable. They did a great job of retooling the old icon. Loved the film. Then it was home to chillax, eat dinner, work puzzles, read, do nothing.

I love this time of year!

I love having time to sleep and do nothing and relax.

I love knowing that when the New Year arrives, I'll be ready to roll with the current WIP because I committed to writing a little every day, more on some and none on others, but I managed to work a lot in. That's the key. I will know my peeps when I start up the new year.

I hope you all know your peeps, too! I hope you have a wonderful break, and I hope you have a fabulous new year celebration.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Fun While I'm in Texas

I'm pretty busy dealing with family stuff, but even though I am in Texas, I want to say "hi" to all my friends in blog land.

First up, a funny beer band:

Bowen Beer Band does a Christmas Carol

I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas

And a good one, Carol of the Bells, Mannheim Steamroller.


Monday, December 21, 2009

A Little Bit Goes a Long Way

I'm in Texas visiting my father in law. He looked much better than I had expected, and was very happy to see us. Fortunately, he is letting DH and his brother drive him to Shreveport to the VA Hospital for his appointment on the 22nd. We're glad we're here to help and we know what his plans are for the future. A relief. We shared a photo book I had made for him and gave him a few things like a super comfy track suit and he's happy to wear it. I always think of Bill as a guy who just knows how to have fun and he's pretty miffed that this happened, but he's still got spirit.

Before we went to see him, I managed to work on my current WIP yesterday morning. One of the advantages of being an early riser is having time to work while everyone sleeps. We're lucky because my DH travels so much we have a free upgrade on our hotel room. So we have two rooms and privacy. I can work without disturbing DD who is a teen and sleeping a lot (their brains grow so much during this time, they have to catch up when they can).

It was good seeing my niece, nephew, his wife and his little girl yesterday. It has been a long time since I have stepped foot in Texas. I had good reasons for avoiding the state, but now I am prepared to come here a minimum of once a year. DD needs to know her Texas cousins. She is their ONLY cousin and now that she is getting older, I think it is important for her to know them. She can already discern why and how we're different. I think the biggest thing she noticed was the quick judgment they reserve for others. This comes, I believe, from parenting styles and also untapped world view. My DD has a lot of experiences in which she's traveled to different countries, different states and participated in different cultures. I think this expands her ability to empathize and accept other people's choices.

Travel expands the mind in much the same way reading expands the soul.

I think that's why I love to travel myself. And writing is like traveling into other people's lives and bringing them to the surface. As a writer, I believe I have to be open to differences in others. And I have to be open to accepting their choices. This brings color and depth into my writing. In fact, having lived a lot of different experiences, I believe makes me yearn to write.

Writing is an extension of wanting to understand, accept and bring to light other peoples' truths.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Reading & Treats

The past week has been busy. I've been battling another rezoning issue in the real world, helping my teen get through finals week, making and taking goodies to friends, getting ready to leave for TX, shopping for Christmas and wrapping the presents and keeping up with dozens of emails about the rezoning as well as attending the meeting.

But despite all of the hoopla, I've managed to do something I haven't done in a long time. I've been reading or pleasure every night this week. While DD finished up her chemistry and pre-calculus homework after studying for her finals, I read and finished one book. Then I started another. For the most part, I was absorbed in the books. And it dawned on me, I do have time to read if I have no noise, TV on and other clacking on their lap computers around me, and my own fingers not doing the same as I try to catch up on my cyber world reading.

Lesson learned. Limit cyber space time to fit in reading time. It's just that the cyber community is my community of writers. It's where I tend to go to socialize after I'm done writing. But now that I am taking a bit of a break from writing, I find I am drawn to reading. In fact, I'm reluctant to start up again on the writing because it is so fun to be read and chillax. I know once I start revising, my brain will kick into editor mode and I'll start dissecting my pleasure books again.

I will have to stop indulging in this pleasure and start writing again. Before I do, let me share the two books I've read and am reading.

One is called THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER by WENDY WAX. I bought this women's fiction book from her at the MOONLIGHT & MAGNOLIA'S conference. She and another author gave a "humor in your writing" workshop. I learned a lot from them. Her book is about mid-list author who is about to lose it all (her contract with her publishing house, her marriage, herself) when her three writing critique partners and friends swoop in to help her fulfill her contract.

The story is well-written, witty and will open your eyes to the world of publishing in new ways. All the writing and publishing industry is rewrapped with new titles, but you'll recognize them as you read. In a way it's kind of depressing to read how difficult the publishing world is to navigate, but then it's great to learn that the friendships made through writing are bonds that aren't easily broken.

Great book!

Currently, I am reading Christie Craig's funny, romantic suspense single title, WEDDINGS CAN BE MURDER. I met Christie at the M&M as well. She gave a wonderful workshop about writing and then she shared all her rejections. A mini suitcase of them! She is very inspirational and her life story is incredible. She's not come to this the easy way and she doesn't have the background of many other published writers, but she has the chutzpah and the perseverance to make it in this industry. She got a four book deal from Dorchester publishing in ONE DAY.

Now that's cool.

I like her writing. It's gritty, fun and keeps you on your toes. Her characters are real, normal and interesting. And her romantic suspense elements are spot on.

Now this post would not be complete with out the treat. Here is my recipe for PRALINE PECANS.

4 cups pecan halves
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups dried cranberries or cherries

(I usually double the recipe--if you live in the states, you can go to COSTCO and get the big bag of pecans--it's exactly 8 cups of pecan halves).

1: preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Grease a 13x9 inch baking pan and set aside. Cover a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.

2: spread pecans in baking dish

3: combine corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in a small microwaveable bowl (I use my 2 cup measuring cup if I double the recipe). Microwave at high for a minute. Stir. Microwave an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute until boiling rapidly (it'll bubble up fast ). Stir in vanilla and baking soda until well-blended. Drizzle evenly over the pecans; stir until evenly coated (doesn't have to be perfect).

4: Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes with a wooden spoon. Immediately transfer mixture to foil lined baking sheet, spreading pecans evenly over foil with lightly greased spatula (I just dump them on there and press them around with the dirty wooden spoon).

5: cool completely. Break with wooden spoon (I use my hands--clean). Combine pecans and cranberries in a bowl and stir well. Divide evenly between tins.

I put mine into cellophane bags and tie with a ribbon. I usually do two double batches (big popular treat here).


Friday, December 18, 2009

AACK Attack of the Busies

Due to too  many items on my plate, I must keep this post brief.
Yes, I've managed to get through most of the items on my to-do list. Yes, I managed to add another item to it that I really wanted to avoid adding (more trouble). Yes, I think my head is still connected to my body.

No. I haven't written. No. I haven't prepared to write. No. I'm not sure what I will accomplish when I do head to Texas.

But I am bringing my work with me and catching up after an insanely busy week filled with internal conflicts and external adventures.

Meanwhile, for your viewing pleasure, I give you The Chipmunks... 

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Heroes in Our Lives--Real World Version vs. Romance

I decided today that turnabout is fair play. Yesterday I blogged about real world women vs. our heroines. Today I'll take a peek at the men we know vs. the men we write about, fantasize about, try to bring to life for our readers.

Men. Oh. Glorious. Men.

Let's see the fictional hero is flawed internally, but he will change and grow along with the heroine. He's usually an incredible male specimen with gloriously perfect abs, legs, thighs... *all parts working well* ahem ahem ahem. And, as many of you know, they often resemble darling and handsome men like Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale and more.

It is delightful to have collages of these guys in my office and not one member of my family bats an eye. In fact, they took me to see WOLVERINE for Mother's Day (the ultimate mom fantasy aaaaahhhhh Hugh naked jumping down a huge waterfall .... aaaahhhh).

But what about the real heroes? You know, the flawed dudes we know and love be they fathers, boyfriends, brothers, lovers or husbands? Well, let's see--what makes my personal hero a hero in my eyes? It's not his physique (anymore LOL). He's in need of a hip replacement, perpetually in pain, mildly set in his ways, and he loves to read aloud FB entries to us (much to our great displeasure meh). He is always reading math books (very very scary) and he doesn't have a problem emitting gas or blowing his nose loudly in front of us (me and DD).

But he's still my hero? Why? Here's a list of an ordinary man who acts like a hero by doing these tasks:

*cleans litter box
*helps clean up any illness residue from me or DD
*limps to work every day despite his pain
*has long lengthy discussions with DD about math, chemistry and other oddities I know nothing about
*loves his family
*brings home the bacon
*supports my writing despite the lack of money
*isn't jealous of Hugh Jackman
*folds laundry (when asked -- he's not clairvoyant)
*cries when sad things happen
*makes beds and cleans toilets (when asked LOL)
*wants to give me the moon and the stars and the sun even if he can't always deliver

So there are some points about my hero.

How about you? Can you add to the list?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Real Life Women vs. Not

I was laying in bed this morning, beating back the clock in the hopes that I could sleep just a few more minutes, and I was musing. Well, to be honest, I was muddling over my TO DO list for the week. Hmmm, how does one cram two weeks of work into one, thought I? And that was before I got to my "chores" list. And then, as I cuddled neath the sheets, I thought, oh, how funny, my life is so different from fictional heroines in HEA books. And I came up with a list of things I rarely see heroines do in the books I read (unless they are super literary in which case I become depressed and must put them down).

Here is my list (feel free to add to it):

*pulling something out of the laundry to wear cause it wasn't put away
*grocery shopping (unless it's for din din with the hero)
*going to the bathroom to do you know... all that
*having gas
*passing gas (like do they EVER FART?)
*taking a wet wash cloth to wipe away underarm deodorant residue off of clothing
*have a hole in a pant sock and wear it anyway (most wouldn't)
*hunt for one's hairbrush and find it in a teen's bathroom
*endure endless concerts for school (no, their kids always do beautiful and wonderful NON boring shows haha)
*mop floors (unless they are heroines written as maids)
*go to the car shop just for an oil change
*shop for their own stocking stuffers
*choosing a top to wear only because it matches the one clean bra color they have
*driving like mad women to go home to erase memory cards so they can fill them again in less than thirty minutes (my life... so mundane)
*eat cold little smokies out of a tupperware container cause the last cold piece of pizza was consumed without one knowing it

Well, you get the picture... and here's the deal. That's why I read fiction... and write it. I don't want to read about this stuff, but I wonder, shouldn't we sprinkle it in? Like for real?

I try to add real elements into my MSs, but I don't recall any heroine, ever, having a "bathroom moment" unless there was sex involved... come to think of it, I don't think I've read that either.

Well, feel free to add to my list. I'm curious...
Oh, and I have another recipe to add, but I'm just too dang tired and lazy to get up and find it... tomorrow ...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Cave In

Well today it officially hit me. Christmas Cave In has arrived. I have fought it valiantly. I wrote almost everyday, and I managed to juggle the chaos of preparing goodies and Christmas shopping for our family well.

Until today.

I finished the first half revise, cut, move, chop and block. I read through the rest of the MS. I am ready to roll. But more importantly, I have to squash two weeks of Christmas into one. Today I realized that something had to give or I would lose my head.


DH is in DC and working, DD is studying for Finals and I am in aack it's Christmas already mode. I finished two more recipes (one I will share... one remains with me till... well... illegal use of ellipses I am sure... ), I shopped for DD's final scarf exchange, a birthday party, prepped for DH's trip, made pretzel rods, made chocolate cookies (sorry, not sharing), took care of silly neighborhood issues.

And I am ready to roll for the next half of the MS, but I have to do the following:

*return a gift
*buy two ornaments per tradition
*buy a gift to replace returned gift
*go to Nashville to shop for Christmas, see a friend, buy booze (hey it is cheaper there!), get goodies for FIL
*shop for FIL
*mail Christmas cards (will they ever arrive???)
*iron (bleh)
*more laundry
*cancel paper and mail
*organize packing lists
*shop for stockings
*finish cooking goodies (don't ask!)
*teacher gifts
*neighborhood gifts
*clean house (bathrooms and floors)
*wrap presents
*uh, uh uh--oh go through in box
*tell insurance my DD has her driving permit and put her on insurance
*attend winter concert
*get hair done (at long last)

Well, at least I'm not hanging out doing nothing............. (More illegal ellipses)

So. I. Must. Stop. Beating. My. Writing Head.

Okay... (just love playing with the ellipses)....

Here is the Pretzel Rod Recipe:

Pretzel Rods (1-4 bags-if you insane like me... well... 4)
2 Cups to many of chocolate morsels (white, dark, milk --I prefer dark)
Christmas Sprinkles

Melt chocolate in microwave according to the directions on the package (I melt a small bag at 2 min, 70% power and stir, add more time as needed/same power). Dip rods into the melted chocolate (please stir first!). Put dipped chocolate rods on cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Sprinkle with Christmas sprinkles (or toffee bits etc). Put into fridge to set. Boom... easy! Kids like this one!

Tomorrow? Praline Pecans.... and I hope my head stays on my neck....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Truffle Truffle Toil and Truffle

Another baking day and holiday recital day at the house. Of course, no writing today, but oh, the fun of making Oreo Truffles with my DD. The recipe is super easy. I wish I could take credit for it, but one of my writing friends at the Writing Playground shared this last year on their blog, and I couldn't resist making it.

Now Oreo Truffles are a total staple.

I'm sharing the recipe because it is yummy and it is very easy to make. Even a child could help make these delightful treats. My DD makes them and gives them away to her friends at their request. Here's the recipe:


1 Package of Oreo Cookies
1 8 oz block of philadelphia cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat)
white, dark or milk chocolate (white chocolate hardens the fastest)

Grind the package of Oreo Cookies (3 sleeves) in food processor till it is super powdery. Pour into a bowl, add one block of cream cheese and mix by hand. Roll into small balls and put onto a cookie sheets  covered in wax paper. Freeze for 30 minutes. Melt chocolate (dark, white or milk) and dip each frozen ball into it. Put onto wax paper lined cookie sheet, put in fridge and harden (can do overnight).

Voila! Total Yumminess!!

Now The Writing Playground is special to me because it is comprised of members of the Heart of Dixie. Two of the writers are published and all the rest are PRO. One of them is even a Golden Heart finalist. Check out their blog site. But don't stop there. Check out their web page.

The Writing Playground has tons of great recipes for successful writing, too! One of my favorites is not on the website (or at least wasn't last time I checked). Kira Sinclair gave a CRAFT CORNER at one of our meeting about how to put together a simple and effective synopsis. Bar none, this is my go to lesson for all my synopsis work. In addition to that, they've lead author discussions and prepared my chapter for pitching at the National Seminar.

They Rock!

This holiday season is about sharing, but when we belong to writing chapters where we are treated to all the knowledge they have to offer us. I appreciate all the RWA and the writing chapters offer us. I hope that if you are writing, you have found the support network you need to stay in the game.

Happy Holidays and Enjoy the OREO TRUFFLES!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Party Time

Okay, it's official. Christmas is here. We're all ready to relax, put our hair up in a pony tail and open presents after we cook and prep. Today was the first day of the season for me. I got up, made 12 bags of reindeer food, and 8 cute mini-loaves of eggnog loaves. Yummy! Then I wrapped a present for the Heart of Dixie Christmas party and took a shower to attend the said party.

Yay! I got to spend time with all my fellow writer comrades and eat and open weird presents (tho' I think I do win the weirdest gag gift award--in fact I believe I forgot it at the host's house--no loss). After a perilous drive through some strange parts of town, a stop to buy ice and cokes (my lame contribution), I finally arrived at the host's house.

Yay! Party! We crammed a lot of food and fun into a house. Good times!

I didn't write today, but I got to be with writers and that's almost the same. More about this group later, I promise!! But not writing one day is not a problem. The goal is half an hour per day, but some days I write over an hour and other times only a half an hour. Over the course of the week, I manage to get my time in.

Now is the season to relax, regroup and enjoy our friends and family. Part of that means sharing recipes. Today's recipe comes from my best friend, Lori. I've known her for 35 plus years! That's saying a lot considering I'm only 32 (LOL). She is a great friend, keeper of all my secrets, and a fabulous cook (you'll see another one of her recipes here soon).

Lori's Eggnog Mini Loaves

2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup eggnog
1/2 cup melted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp rum extract (I couldn't find any so I used imitation and it was fine)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, eggnog, butter and extracts. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until moistened. Pour into three greased 5 3/4 by 3 inch by 2 inch loaf pans (I used eight smaller cute pans with neat Christmas imprints at the bottom--and they turned out great!--planning cupcakes next). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes till a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing and putting on wire racks.

Yield's 3 loaves, or 8 mini mini loaves or... stay tuned for cupcakes.

Turned out super yummy! Can't wait to make more.

Do you have any recipes you enjoy? Tried and true? Any new ideas? Share!

Tag! You're It!

Martha W., who writes Just Me & You, tagged me. Normally, I would not play, but I have a blog topic now so I'm glad she caught me. And if you get a chance, I hope you swing by her blog and read it. She has a lot of interesting, ongoing topics. She's even going through the WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL manual and posts her lessons on Monday (brave brave woman).

So this game of 26-question “meme” tag goes like this: answer the 26 questions then tag those who have to do it too… *wink* Here goes – (promptly post at the bottom)
1. What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?
Last thing: THE FANTASY CONTRACT-a very spicy story about a female shock jock being threatened for her controversial viewpoints and her divine protector, a criminal profiler who knows all her fantasies and helps her bring them to life.
First thing: I still have the notes and story ideas for a paranormal/fantasy epic novel with all kinds of cool aura elements. Every time I go to clean out my files, that one stays. There's a reason.
2. Write poetry?
Not anymore. But used to write a lot of poetry.
3. Angsty poetry?
Yup. Used to write all kinds of weird poetry. I still have the poems. I might use them if I can stop writing sexy, fun romances.
4. Favorite genre of writing?
I am a book slut. Pretty much read them all. I have even read westerns (remember Louis Lamour --not sure if I have the name sp. right). Favorite has to be Contemporary Romances, Women's Fiction and YA.
5. Most annoying character you’ve ever created?
I wrote a mother I thought was fabulous, but my CPs thought she was mean. But compared to my own mother, she was a dream. I no longer try to write nice mothers. I cut her out of my MS.
6. Best plot you’ve ever created?
Not sure. I think the best plot is still waiting to be written. I always think the "next book" will be so much better and easier to write than the current POS I'm trying to revise.
7. Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?
I'm not telling, but it's in my third MS and it's fun.
8. How often do you get writer’s block?
I've never had a block where I didn't have a scene I could work on. However, I recently did have a scare when all my peeps abandoned ship. Current peeps, past peeps and future peeps went to Tahiti for vacation because I wasn't honoring the core of the story. Took me three days of wrestling and a CP's gentle prodding to help me recover them. That was scary.
9. Write fan fiction?
Nope. Too many other people running around in my head to add those of other writers…
10. Do you type or write by hand?
Both. I do switch back and forth, but for different parts of writing. I like to write my notecards, my story poster board (hang it on the closet door), and my notes for the WIP by hand. I edit and revise on the computer, but I print out all versions, and read through hard copy with a pencil between each revision. I like paper clipping my scenes together.
11. Do you save everything you write?
*gasp* I've tossed earlier hard copy versions of MS's, but never the computer versions. I have it all saved on the computer, on a huge back up disk, on iDisk and on a memory stick.
12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?
There's a core in all of them that can be used.
13. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
I don't have any favorite things. Perhaps the words "The End?" Haha...
14. What’s everyone else’s favorite story that you’ve written?
So far everyone has enjoyed the third complete MS. I'm hoping they'll enjoy the 4th one even more. I'd like to think my writing is getting stronger with each book.
15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Romance – oh yeah!
Angsty Teen Drama – when I was a teen I had plenty of those in my head. But I lived a true angsty teen life, so I don't really want to write about it as an adult. Way too depressing.
16. What’s your favorite setting for your characters?
Wherever I live--I hate doing research--but eventually I must.
17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Current WIP, this blog, newsletter articles
18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
2008 Touch of Magic, Third Place; 2009 MAGGIE Finalist for SWEET SENSATIONS
19. What are your five favorite words?
I truly loathe coming up with words on the spot. I don't really have any "favorites." Perhaps a favorite life word: perseverance
20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
I think all my characters have bits of me in them. But probably my current heroine is  most like me personality wise. I can't write wimpy women. The biggest problem I have is writing a sympathetic heroine cause she's usually pretty tough on the outside.
21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
All over. I'm a people watcher and listener and I use everything. Nothing is sacred. Also, lots of people believe that I'm not paying attention cause I talk a lot (my verbal fog deflects their attention haha), but I'm actually picking up nuances all the time.
22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
My dreams? No. But early morning musings? Yes. And daydreams? Yes. I tend to daydream a lot when I am doing mundane things. The shower brings a lot of plot/story solutions to me. Once I had a character bug me to give him time with his woman while I was washing my hair (haha--only other writers could truly understand that statement).
23. Do you favor happy endings?
Always. HEA or bust.
24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
No. Not in first draft or when I'm laying down the story for revisions--the final polishing of a truly completed manuscript is where I work out those naughty problems.
25. Does music help you write?
Yes, I have a play list for my current WIP-I don't play it when I am working on major revisions, but I like it for first draft and quick rewriting of work. I love rock. Plus if I wear my earphones, I can tune out the house. Very helpful.
26. Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops into your head.
"The last time she checked, the government wasn't bailing out cake caterers."

All right, Martha W., thanks for my blog idea for the day. Now I am tagging Gwen, Ellen, Zoe and Hawk. No fair hiding behind trees.


Friday, December 11, 2009

A Little Bit Naughty & A Little Bit Nice

Yesterday I was a little bit naughty. I did write (the little bit nice part for the day). For about an hour. I finished another chapter's chop and block and reset and cut.

Then I went out for lunch with two girlfriends and we chatted for two hours. Wow. What a luxury. I was so happy to just "be." When I got home, I picked up the house, and I made a lovely meal for the family. Not a hastily cobbled together one, but a full on gourmet favorite. Yummy!

I skipped my blog altogether just to hang out on the sofa and watch TV with my daughter. It was so much fun. No computers on our laps (we're huge MACbook fans -- each have one) and no status checks on Facebook, either. No blogging. No responding to people on their blogs.

We watched Glee. My all time favorite show of the year. We also watched Criminal Minds. My other all time favorite show. What can I say? We're an eclectic and diverse family.

Today I had to take my DD to the Driver's License place to get her Learner's Permit. Sorry folks. She passed. We are talking about a girl who has broken two, no, make that three, bones by literally tripping over her feet. We are talking about a girl who almost suffocated herself in the changing room at the mall while trying on a dress (now and forever known as "the demon dress"). We are talking about a girl who tripped in the same changing booth and bumped her head.

Shopping with her is always great fodder for future YA ideas. She will be immortalized (disguised, but...).

Yes. That girl is learning how to drive.

So here's where I was a bit more nice than naughty. We got to the DMV and DD had all the paperwork according to the manual she'd studied. Unfortunately, the rules changed since September and we had to have an additional piece of paper from her school proving she was in school. Now the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles) is about 30 minutes from door to door. Darling Me asked if she could take the test while I hurried back (of course driving the speed limit *wink*) to get the silly slip of paper. They said yes.

Thus time I would have spent writing/reading at the DMV was spent cruising to and from her school to bring a piece of paper signed by a clerical aide stating that she was, indeed, a student (apparently her most recent, all A progress report wasn't adequate enough). DH knew I was upset about the time lost, but offered to meet me later (to shop for same girl's Christmas), and offered to come get me an hour later so I could squeeze in some writing time (I love it when they show their belief in me by supporting my need to write).

DD passed the test. I was so happy for her (despite my concerns for all the innocent drivers who are blissfully driving unaware of this newbie's future reign of terror), and we celebrated by shopping a bit and being happy (plus she got to miss most of her honors chemistry--double bonus). DD had a great day. She's happy.

I am, too. For during the time I was driving back to her school, I thought how lucky am I? I can pursue my own passion and dreams, but I don't have to take away my time from being the mom she needs me to be when things like this happen. And she's growing up. Soon I won't be chasing down roads driving her forgotten articles to school, hauling teens to malls and dance and school. Soon she'll be chasing down the roads and I'll be a worrying wave goodbye.

So I treasured today's bit of nice.

And I was nice again. I managed to squeeze in a bit more writing (chop and block/move and paste), meet my DH to shop for our DD, and feel like I had accomplished quite a bit after all.

Slow and steady through these times. But even a little moves us forward. Tomorrow, I'll have one less scene to visit as I trudge toward the finish line. Not the first time across. Nor the last. But at least it is one less time to do it once I get there.

Whew.... onward ho! Countdown begins: 14 sleeps till Christmas Morning!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Craze

Today I made the mistake of opening up the Christmas Wrapping paper box. Inside it are lists, envelopes with new addresses for updating the CC mailing list and tons of notions singing Christmas Carols. They are like sirens of the deep, these doodads, and I was drawn into their mesmerizing spell.

Suddenly I had visions of baking, shopping, wrapping and more dancing through my head.

Oh, the joy. Oh the thrills.

Thank goodness I waited to open this box until after I had judged the last two entries for the Linda Howard Award of Excellence. Whew. But it was a close call.

I got a bit of spirit in my soul and wrapped DD's 12 Days of Christmas (she opens them up between now and the 24th--always gets jammies on the 24th). I threw out old mangled paper, made lists for this year's wrapping needs and off I went to the stores to round out my supplies. Oh, I can't wait to start making my goodies... more about them later... ooh, excitement.

But still, lingering in the back of my mind were the edits I wanted to input into my current WIP. When I got home, I opened the document and began the arduous task of inputting second run through edits and cuts (wah--hate cutting words) and shifting chapters and scenes. I managed to work for about 1.5 hours. Woohoo. That much closer to reaching the end of this revision.

It's a mess, but ideas are coming and cohesion is occurring. The peeps are chatting to me, slowly, as I am sporadic at meeting them. But at least I am moving forward. Slow and steady.

Meanwhile, the "haze" so many writers are talking about is beginning to overshadow my efforts. As each day creeps closer to Christmas (and our upcoming, unscheduled trip to TX), I know I will have less time to write. But that's okay. At least I haven't stopped altogether.

And the reward for pushing through this month with my writing? Truly enjoying the time I spend with my friends and family. No guilt. No pressure. Just fun and making memories.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jingle Bell Juggling of Priorities

The week did start off with a not so nice start--never a good time to hear yucky news. But this is a part of life. We don't get to write happy endings in the real world. Perhaps that is why I like writing fiction--I get to be Supreme Ruler of my Mini Universe. And the good guys and gals always win in the end.


But despite ick news and the upcoming chaos, one thing must continue happening. Writing. I know, right?How can I write when I am worried? Well, worrying won't make the matters facing me about my FIL go away. They'll overtake and overshadow my life. I have zero control over those events.

I do have control over my response to those events. I do have control over what I do with my time now. And I do have control over my glorious obsession and pursuit of my lovely goal. Yesterday's news was a reminder to me: we only get one shot to live. If we are lucky enough to live in a situation where we are privileged to pursue higher goals like expressing ourselves creatively, then we are indeed blessed.

So--chin up and first things first. I called my darling FIL--he's in good spirits. We had a "man that was a crappy week for you talk" and discussed an upcoming visit before Christmas (on the road again). That's all I can do there--let him know we love him.

Second on the list, call my CP in AL and discuss our goals, the market, publishing, our writing direction and her quick thoughts about my first 29 pages (editing for MAGGIES and other contests). Then after far too long a talk for her as she had to get ready for a lunch (but oh it is wonderful to talk about writing), I started in on the current WIP. Organizing my next few scenes and chapters, clipping them together, slashing words, making notes about cuts and more. Now I have something to input into the computer tomorrow.

The goal for this month is "flexible writing." And that's all I can ask of myself. This isn't the time to go nuts and start a massive new project. Nope. It's about keeping the peeps in my head, tossing around ideas and working slowly toward the new year. Do I beat myself over the head if I don't manage to write at all? Nope? The goal is an hour a day. Some days might lead to more hours, others not any at all. But by January 1, I will be ahead of the game because I gave myself permission to follow my "a little is better than none at all" rule.

Try it. I learned how to write in a box when I went through a massive move over a year ago. I learned to take fifteen minutes here and there--I learned to stop to read ahead and edit hard copy. I learned to go back and input my changes and make notes about the story.

Sometimes when crazy happens, order can be imposed. Now I know the direction, tho' not all the scenes of this current WIP. I know I need to do some research, but it doesn't have to happen now. And best of all, I know I have renewed my focus for the upcoming year.

I'm excited about the new direction and about my mini list of goals that are building in my head. Oh, the fun I'll have creating my spreadsheet for 2010. Best of all, I get to reflect and review over all the accomplishments and goals attained in 2009. Wow, I can't wait.

This is why it is vital to keep going--when you can--during high seasons and times when life just isn't cooperating. You will slowly plod along and get through the muck and the fireworks. And you know, sometimes it is good to slow down and move the great conductor's rhythm. Surrender to the flow you are in--work with it--think of it like a rip tide. Don't fight it, float out with the pulling waters, and then ease back to shore.

And here's the best part, by writing even a little today, I managed to feel good about that goal. And I managed to feel no remorse about putting the valuable time into being a DIL, a mom shopping for Christmas, a wife comforting her husband, and a woman taking care of herself.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In Honor of my Father-in-Law

My FIL is a decorated Korean War Vet. He's got 2 Purple Hearts and he's earned them. He's an honorably discharged Marine. He fought for our country and I am bloody proud to call him my Dad in law... he rocks.

Now he's sick. And that bites. He just got diagnosed with terminal cancer. We're not sure how long he has, but all plans are on hold. All plans are just plans. I am ready to jump and do what needs to be done for this man whenever the call arrives.

He's too proud to ask us for help. The poor guy had a rough week just after Thanksgiving. He went to emergency, they drove him from Tyler, TX to Shreveport, LA to run bunches of tests on him. He didn't call us. His current wife didn't know to call us. We only found out today how difficult that week was for him.

He's a MARINE through and through. Is he perfect? Heck no. He's made mistakes--ask his ex's. But he's a good man. He's a strong man. He's a hero who's fought for us. He's an honorable man.

I wonder why he has to have this crappy end. Why he can't just ride his motorcycle and wear his leather jacket (he bought this in his 70s) till he turns 102? Why? That's the ticket. There is no answer to the questions we have at times like this. All we can do is honor him, love him, be available to him and live our own lives with honor.

Bill's always asking about my writing. He's the only member of my family, in-law/outlaw or by blood, who asks (outside of my own little family who knows exactly what my writing is like and more). He wants to read my books. He believes in me.

And it bites that I'm going to say goodbye to him. I hate to lose a good fellow. A good cheerleader. A good man.

The only way I know to keep him alive is to find a way to keep him riding that Honda Motorcycle in the pages of my books. Even if no one else reads them, I'll have written them.

Honor your heroes... the real ones. Honor the men who have given you life, taught you lessons about love, married you, raised children with you, loved your grandchildren, loved you. Honor your brothers, your fathers, your father in laws, your sons.

We're writing about heroes. Today my hero is Bill.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reading: A Lost Art of the Writer

Well, today I worked on my MS. I fiddled with a scene, printed out the rest of the WIP, internalized some ideas (not all great--worry abounds), and then I allowed myself READING TIME. No, not reading contest entries. Not reading blogs (tho' I love them). Not reading forums and loops to stay in the know. Not reading craft books (tho' that's on my to-do list). Nope. I attempted reading for pleasure.

Remember that concept, my writing friends? Reading for pleasure. Reading for the sheer joy of being immersed in a book and loving the characters and just flipping the pages till you reached "the end?" Ah, that's why I became a writer. I love to read.

I used to be a proverbial book slut. There's no other way of putting it. I read any and all genres, non-fiction and fiction. I read classics by Wilkie Collins and Willa Cather and Bronte. I read pulp fiction. I read Fantasy. I read Romances. I read self-help books. I read Inspirational books. I read WESTERNS (yes I did). I read children's books. I read Young Adult books. I read cheap thrillers. I read Mysteries.

I read a lot.

Now I write. And there's barely time to read a published book unless it's a new author I want to support or a book about writing. I do read at night with my reading glasses perched on my face and my brain weary. I fall asleep with the glasses on my nose and the book on the floor (will a KINDLE survive my abuse? Doubtful).

I read books in my genre and pick them apart. When did she hook me? Or how did he make me turn the pages? How long are the scenes? Where are the PPPs? And on and on.

But today I tried to "read for pleasure." It was hard at first. Really hard. I kept counting pages and scene lengths (uh, I am thinking of going to Single Title length and this book's a ST, RS). I kept looking and marveling at how the authors had spun the tale so beautifully (and comparing it to my own crap writing -- still having a bit of a PPP here). And I had the most difficult time just getting into the story.

But it happened. Slowly. I did just start flipping the pages and enjoying the sheer joy of being transported into another world and not worrying about the technique and the pacing and the plot. I just read.

Remember that? Reading for sheer joy? When's the last time you read for pleasure?

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Three Ps of Writing Cooked Up Three Ways

Writer Speak--we all get better at it the longer we're in the game. Lately, I've noticed a strange synchronicity between some of my favorite triple play letters. I call them PPPs.

What does PPP mean? Well in writer speak, it's short for PIVOTAL PLOT POINT. This is a part of the book where the main characters must make a decision that leads them to growth (ultimately), but there's a lot of consequences with each PPP. There's all these different terms for it like TWIST POINT, TURNING POINT, and more. Big PPPs include the inevitable BLACK MOMENT, or POINT OF NO RETURN and finally the CLIMAX. PPPs are important parts of the book's plot. Without them, there's no reason to turn the page. That's my quick and dirty dictionary explanation. I know there are plenty of books out there that give better definitions, but that's how I see them. PPPs. Can't write without them.

My second group of PPPs occurs after a rejection, small or large. Some rejections are easier to bear than others. But none are pleasant. And as a writer, when I get one, I throw me a little PPP. That's dejected writer speak for PERSONAL PITY PARTY. This is my 24 hour period of mourning time where I get to drink copious amounts of wine, sing 80s pop music, refuse to cook meals, wallow in self-pity and doubt, question my course of direction, whine to my CPs (ooh another P--PARTNER) about the difficulties we all face in this insane writing world, take a break from writing and basically allow myself time to mourn the R. Rs suck. Period. The. End. I just threw myself a PPP. But my party time is drawing to a close. I have reached the 24 hour mark. Now it is time to quit wallowing and start working again. Actually, during part of this R's PPP, I did work. I sent off two more queries to agencies I love and I sent off an unsolicited query to my target publisher. Same house, different editor. May as well see which way the chips fall for this book one way or another. So a bit of action--kind of my mini-denial/anger/kick it back phase. I even looked at the WIP. For about a nano second. Wrote it off a "to do tomorrow" and I'm having a positive interaction and real dinner party tonight with friends who care nothing about writing and only care about me, the person.

This brings me to what separates a writer with chutzpah from one who can't take it on the chin. It sucks to get punched in the solar plexus. It does, but you won't get published at all until you take those punches. Did you know only 20% of authors who pitch and get requests at conferences actually send in their requested materials? Why is that? Part of it might be the MS isn't finished or not even started. But what about those who are finished? Why don't they send it in? Fear. It's scary to send your book baby out into the universe. We've heard the stories. More rejections are received than requests and contracts. Who wants to have their bubble burst with that kind of pain? Me. I do. I want to get rejected because it means I am attempting very hard to get published. So perseverance is important. Never give up and never surrender. Also, patience. Some people hit the bulls eye first time out. Most people don't. Don't throw away your dream or short change it because you can't wait for the eventual success. Be patient. Keep working. Keep moving forward. That leads to Persistence. We must be persistent. We must write. We must improve our craft. We must submit and pitch and risk rejection over and over again. Otherwise, we'll never get there.

I can't predict if, or when, someone is going to look at what I've written and say, wow, we really need to give that fabulous writer a contract (really why hasn't anyone done so yet?--this is me in my denial mode again--it does help). So don't give up, be patient with your dream and RISK REJECTION. It's the obnly way you'll achieve your goals.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Big R and My PPP and Where do I Go from Here?

Okay--got a big R today from one of my favorite agencies. My full was rejected. Blah. But at least my problem was solved and onward ho! for me. Let the Personal Pity Party begin. I am drinking my wine, listening to my daughter whine about not getting a new car, and I am bummed out... what the heck... this sucks, but that is life.

So what do I do with this BIG R? Okay, lungs hurt. But I had a great pep talk with my CP up in VA and my CP in AL also sent a super email and they are wonderful. And I have renewed my efforts. I sent out a new query to another agent, I got my BLAZE query ready for another editor, and I planned my next arsenal of attack for my next queries. Argh and angst...

Meanwhile, I am finished for now. I had a lovely day. I wrote for a bit, I got wonderful news from my BFF in Canada-she's coming to visit!-- and I had a lunch with a friend, and I shopped. I got home to deal with the R (aack--I had such hopes), but such is life. If my writing doesn't connect with the agent/editor, then it is not a match. Oh. well. aack.

But at least other authors love my voice and my writing (hello? I did final in the Maggies and got great comments). So maybe another agent will love my voice as well. Who knows? Or I just keep on trucking along and try to do my best with the next books and the heck with it all...

Only I've got a kid to put through college, a car to buy for her, and all kinds of entitlement plans to deal with regarding the young teenager in my life. So, maybe by 2012 I'll be diggin' ditches... or not. But in the meantime, I will continue to write and submit. That's all I have control over....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Work and Whimsy

Today I tackled cleaning the bathrooms. I know nobody cares about the bathrooms. Ever notice how our heroines NEVER clean? Unless, of course, they are maids for rich dudes haha. But in my house, the maid's name is Christine and she cleans. Actually, I don't mind it except for the bathrooms. I am allergic to cleaning toilet bowls. Period. The. End. 

But they still need cleaning. So today I cleaned a bathroom, worked on the MS, cleaned another bathroom, and worked again on my MS, and cleaned another one and .... woohoo! The MS is looking way better cause I loved sitting down to write vs cleaning commodes. So my one hour was met! Yah.

Now that's the work. 

Here's the whimsy. 

I got to go CHRISTMAS SHOPPING today and new baby clothes for my neighbor's adopted baby girl. And I got to visit the gorgeous baby afterward.... oooh.... snuggled and cuddles and the blessings abounded. What a charmer. 

I also had time to sit and LISTEN to my neighbor's incredible story about this adoption because I am allowing myself time to be a friend. I also got to listen to my DD's funny tales about her latest gimpy moments in Honors Chemistry (I can commiserate with her teacher). I laughed. I also got to hear her pride in her voice about her grades. She is a straight A student with a 98.25 average and the girl wants to IMPROVE? So, I am a proud mom--she's got ambitions. But most of all, she's got dreams.... love that....

More Whimsy.... my DH brought home our Angel Tree tag: an 85 year old man. Awe. He wants a jogging suit size small and colorful T-shirts and this is the best part:  A STUFFED ANIMAL. Well, my DD and I are all over this dude. We want to bring him home and adopt him. Wow. So guess where we are going this weekend? BUILD A BEAR!! Cause our Angel deserves a super special stuffed animal to keep him company.

And you know what? I am very glad I am taking the time to build this bear with my darling daughter. 

Writing is wonderful, but without reality, we have nothing to write about. And you can bet this bear scene will show up somewhere in my writing. 

Ooh... what a fabulous day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rediscovering Writing MoJo Amidst Holiday Distractions

After I sent off my GH Entry #2, I was hit with the "save Thanksgiving" bug--shopping for turkeys (yes, multiple turkeys for THREE people), buying frozen pies (ain't going to bake for three) and gathering the ingredients for THE MOST AMAZING SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE ever! (I do not lie--it is truly a wondrous food--with no recipe--my DD is in training). But I digress... food... it distracts me. Anyhoooooo.... I enjoyed my holiday weekend. We cooked, we watched the Macy's Parade, we cheered on our football teams, we ate, we ate some more, we decorated for the holidays, we ate leftovers, we went to a Japanese Steakhouse to eat something different, we ate some more.... and then MONDAY ARRIVED.

DD went back to school, and DH went back to work. I faced the mountains of laundry (jeans that probably no longer fit due to eating frenzy), and then I made my holiday lists. But I still faced my current WIP and went through the outline. Ah, a half an hour taken care of. Hmmm... let's add another half an hour and print out the first fifty again just for fun and separate them into lovely scenes. My peeps are talking to me.

BUT there are distractions. And how do I face them, whip them down and remain dutiful to my family through the season?


*phone calls
*wanting to play
*post GH Entry letdown
*cats misbehaving
*worrying about silly things like unanswered agent requests
*wondering if the current WIP is worth the effort
*bit by the decorating bug--I rarely decorate anymore, but suddenly, I am looking for furniture
*missing my old, instant gratification hobbies like scrapbooking -- and puzzles. I love puzzles.
*the Internet
*forums--so many LOOPS, so little time
*FaceBook--at least I don't do that CHEF game or the FARM one, I'd never write if I did....
*ennui, doubt, old worries, what ifs? All there...


*turn on the timer
*do a lesson for an online class
*fix small problems first
*tell myself I can't dictate the market, I can only write my stories
*talk to CPs about the unanswered full request and plan a solution (got one!)
*review old craft books throughout the month
*review old craft on-line lessons throughout the month
*remember this is supposed to be fun and laugh
*celebrate prior successes
*anticipate a future success
*pray for GH judges who appreciate story and craft
*pray for GH judges who aren't turned off by sexual content
*research other category lines/reconsider my direction for the next story (less sex? more sex? sex?)
*never give up, never surrender

Finally, I managed to play around with my WIP and work through some scene elements, I spoke to my CP in VA about my current WIP and how to transform it into a SINGLE TITLE (be still my ever beating heart and fear not), and I ran errands. Errands reminded me why I love to write.

I hope you all got your MoJo going on and got some writing, any writing, done today.

Happy Holidays and stay tuned... and keep me posted! Are you writing? Are you managing to look at the MS and pat it over the head and say, "That'll do?" Keep on -- even one sentence is better than none at all during this time.