Saturday, December 27, 2008

Blog Chain - Jingle Bells

Happy Holidays everyone!! Okay, for this round, we decided to mix it up a bit, change the order we post, and just pick our own topic for some holiday fun. Mary started our Jingle Bell Chain and Terri is the blogger before me in this chain. Since I am the last person on the list, please head to Mary's blog to check out all the fun posts.

Well, I was going to post a fun poem I wrote for my father, ten or so years ago. It was a funny spin on Twas a Night Before Christmas, filled with funnies about my dad's personality quirks (you know, the usual stuff - there were 5 of us kids, we had a mouse that lived in the wall that you could hear scratching around at night, we had a cat that my dad repeatedly tried to leave at various dairies who somehow always - no joke - found her way home...usually pregnant - and it ended with "Merry Christmas to all, and TURN OUT THAT LIGHT!" It was just fabulous, really). But alas, back then I didn't keep copies of what I wrote, and my mom, though she searched long and hard and found everything that I have ever written, was unable to locate the one I wanted.

So, since my mind is mush, I scrolled through the pieces that I was smart enough to save to find something else :) It is my father's birthday in just a few days, so I will post a poem that I wrote for him for Father's Day a few years ago. No laughing now :D I'm not that great of a poet ;)


“You are like my masterpiece,”
You said to me one day.
Just like a famous painting,
Or a sculpture made of clay.

I had always known you loved me,
But it wasn’t until then,
That I saw you for who you really were,
My father, a king among men.

You always worked so hard for us,
And never got much rest.
I’ll always remember what you did,
I know I’m truly blest.

“You are my masterpiece,” you said to me,
Those words meant everything.
They are sweeter to me than any sound,
They caused my heart to sing.

“You are my masterpiece,” you said to me,
And I finally understand.
Because now I have a child of my own,
And I pray that he can withstand.

I see how easily he can be hurt,
And my heart breaks to think of his pain.
I finally know how you must have felt,
Each time I broke under the strain.

I don’t remember you crying much,
But I remember you that day,
Your eyes were filled with unshed tears
That you could no longer keep at bay.

You cried for me, your masterpiece,
Because I had been harmed.
But you were there to comfort me,
And take me in your arms.

And now I have my own sweet child,
He is my life, at least.
Someday I’ll tell him what you told me,
“You are my masterpiece.”

I wonder if he’ll understand,
My pain each time he cries.
Why I’ll strive so fervently,
To protect him from a world of lies.

I’m sure someday he’ll understand,
When he has a child of his own,
And he looks into her tear-filled eyes,
When she feels lost and alone.

And until then, I’ll do my best,
As I watched you do for me,
No little girl could be more blest,
Than to have you for her Daddy.

Happy Holidays Everyone

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blog Chain - Wish Fulfillment in Fiction

Time again for the Blog Chain. This topic was chosen by Sandra. Head to her blog, Dual Citizenship in SpecFic and Mundania to catch the beginning of the chain. Carolyn at Archetype Writing came before me, and I am the end of this chain, so Sandra will be wrapping us up!

On to the topic….

What is the role of wish fulfillment in fiction? What personal wishes do you want your stories to fulfill? Are they the same ones you want to read about? How do our fictitious wishes affect our everyday dreams?

This one is a doozy :) Well, first of all, what personal wishes do I want my stories to fulfill? My characters tend to have a lot of me in them. Certain quirks and personality traits are translated into my characters make-ups. But, they also tend to be what I am not…sometimes, what I wished I could be. My characters are funnier, smarter, more outgoing, bolder, braver, and just plain spunkier than I ever will be. Sometimes I’ll create a situation and have my character act just as I would. But just as often, I’ll have the character act in a way that I always wished I could, but never would. If that makes any sense. :)

I also choose my settings and storylines sometimes based on my own personal wishes. I write historical fiction. Why? Because I love history. Would I ever want to really live in 17th century England. Probably not. But I’d love to visit for a few days and scamper about in those gorgeous poofy dresses :D Writing historicals allows me to indulge in my own little fantasy world.

Now, the situations my characters get into are not anything I would ever want to be involved in. I don’t want loved ones dying, I don’t want guns waved in my face, I’d hate to be kidnapped and beaten or threatened in any way. But…I think a part of me wishes for that kind of excitement. For the earth-shattering, all consuming passion that drives one character to risk everything for the one they love. I love my life, but let’s face it. Being a stay-at-home mom to two young children isn’t the most thrilling job in the world. Not that I would change places with anyone else for a second. But writing my stories allows me that small escape into a world vastly different from my own. And that is what I hope my stories do for my readers. I want my stories to suck them in and take them on a trip with characters they fall in love with. I want them to grab one of my books when they’ve had a hard day because they know they’ll get lost in a storyworld that will make all their cares and worries go away for a bit. So, that is my personal wish for what I want my stories to do.

Are my stories the same ones I want to read? Sometimes. I love historical romances. But I don’t read them when I am writing them. I get a little sick of the genre if I am immersed in it too much. So, if I am writing a historical romance, I’ll read something like Harry Potter. If I’m working on my Middle Grade/YA book, I’ll read Jane Austen or something. However, I do read for the same reason I write. I want to get lost in a world vastly different from my own. I don’t read “realistic” fiction very often. Stories set in the present time (unless they have paranormal or fantasy elements), non fiction dealing with the present or present issues. I read historicals, fantasies, science fiction, romance (as long as they aren’t contemporary – I very rarely read contemporary romance). I read biographies, but they are bios of ancient kings and queens and civilizations.

You know, before I decided to get my Masters degree in English and start writing, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I got my Bachelors degree in History. I subscribed to Archeaology magazine. I wanted nothing more than to go dig around in the sand and find old stuff :) I deal with the real world on a daily basis. When I am looking for entertainment (in the form of reading or writing) I go for something that is different than my every day life. I want to get lost in another time or place, not deal with the same type of stuff I have to deal with in my real life. Even when watching movies, my top choices are always the romantic comedies or fantasies and science fiction. Hardly ever dramas. I have enough drama in my life, I don’t want to watch someone else’s :)

What is the roll of wish fulfillment in fiction? Well, I’d probably say fiction is all about wish fulfillment of some kind. Fiction, by definition, is something imaginary…not real. In a fictitious world, anything can happen. Men are gallant and chivalrous, they can be dangerous, even criminal, and still be “the kind of guy you bring home to mom” all at the same time. You can get kidnapped before breakfast and be home safe and sound by dinner, and be none the worse for the experience. You can get the perfect job and meet the perfect mate, and despite several dumb mistakes, you’ll end up right where you want to be. You can be the most messed up person in the world, with the worst life imaginable, but by the end of the story, you are, at the very least, somewhat wiser and better off than you started out. You can ride dragons, fly with fairies, and shoot lightening from your fingertips, all while wearing some killer outfit, of course. You can solve all your problems and live happily ever after in 300 pages or less. No matter what your secret dreams or wishes are, in fiction, they can be fulfilled, with the simple turn of a page or the flick of a pen.

If you missed any entries in the chain, be sure to start from the beginning at Sandra’s blog.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blog Chain Wrap Up

Well kiddies, we had an awesome chain full of some really good writerly gems. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every post.

I was going to post a little bit of what everyone did, but since the posts consisted of quotes, stories and youtube videos, it is a little hard to summarize. However, I highly HIGHLY suggest going through the chain (members listed to the left under Blog Chain) and reading each and every post. There were some amazingly wonderful, inspiring, and downright funny quotes, some hilarious stories and some that were just so true (and you don't even have to be a writer to appreciate it). We also had some truly fun and fabulous videos and sparkling gems of advice that were just a joy to experience.

Thanks everyone for your awesome posts! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hazards of Moving continued

Hazard of Moving #4: Unpacking computer stuff. Guess how much time I've spent unpacking and how much time I've spent goofing off on the computer, catching up on forums and IMing my friends.........................................

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Love Your Blog

The very sweet and much too kind Kate awarded me with the incredible I Love Your Blog award. I am speechless with joy and gratitude. I, speechless?! A certain territory far to the south of Heaven must have frozen over for sure! Since I cannot adequately express how absolutely thrilled, stunned, and overjoyed I am to have received this award, I'll let one of my favorite animal pictures say it all.....

Thank you so much Kate. I will endeavor to deserve such an awesome nomination. And for my part, I'd like to nominate the following fantabulous bloggers...

Carolyn over at Archetpye Writing - a more intelligent, awesome, generous, wonderful person you could never hope to meet. She is awesomeness with a cherry on top.

Cole Gibson at Hair Dye & Samurai - a sweet, funny, very talented writer who just nabbed an awesome agent. Her blog is a must visit!

Carrie Harris at The Wonder that is My Blog - her witty and hilarious posts have me rolling on the ground every time I visit her site. From Batman's eyebrows to everything snaralicious, her blog is one of the highlights of my day!

Terri Rainer at Terri Rainer Published Author - a new friend of mine that is truly my long lost twin. Terri is an expert on all things ghostly and an awesome writer to boot! I highly recommend stopping by her blog!

And last, but most definitely not least, our dear Abi at Blogging Experiments - the gorgeous and simply fabulous Abi has a site full of awesome posts and fun writerly games and exercises. It would be a crime to miss her fantastic blog!

I wish I could post a few more, but the rules say to pass it on to five fellow bloggers, so my friends, congratulations - I love ya!!!

For more terrific sites, check out my links on the side - every one is a must see!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blog Chain - Writerly Gems...Share the Wealth

All right all…time again for the Blog Chain Gang. Our awesome Carolyn started and wrapped up the last chain, so head over there if you misssed it. This time (let me apologize in advance) it is my turn to pick the topic.

You know, when I am having a bad rejection streak, suffering from the ever-lurking writer’s block, or maybe just having a general bad day, I love to log onto RallyStorm or crack open one of my “writer” books and read the funny stories and quotes from other writers who have been, or are, exactly where I am. It is heartening to know that there are others like me in the world, and reading their often humorous words of wisdom always brightens my day.

I did actually have several other topics in mind, that were a little more deep, required a bit more thought….but I am at the tail end of a move, I’m sick, and the holidays are coming up – in other words…I am a tad on the stressed side. I want something fun :D Soooo, here is the topic….

Share a favorite poem, quote, joke, anecdote, or anything of the sort that deals with writing, writers, the publishing industry, or the other strange and unusual tidbits that belong to our little world.

Share one, share ten, whatever is your pleasure. Discuss them if you like, or simply post them. There are so many wonderful, funny, inspiring, encouraging, truthful and/or cheering little gems out there (many of which have been posted in previous chains), that I can’t wait to see what people come up with. It can be something as simple as Red Smith’s “Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a [computer] and open a vein.” Or maybe a quick and funny line of advice like Mark Twain’s “When you catch an adjective, kill it.” Or maybe a funny picture like:

Or, as we querying writers are constantly checking our email....

This little blurb is a list of writing rules that are presented by example (and they always make me laugh) :D This is from William Safire’s “Fumblerules” – Mistakes That Call Attention to the Rule:

Avoid run-on sentences that are hard to read.
No sentence fragments.
It behooves us to avoid archaisms.
Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
Don’t use no double negatives.
If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, “Resist hyperbole.”
Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Writing carefully, dangling participles should not be used.
Kill all exclamation points!!!
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
Take the bull by the hand and don’t mix metaphors.
Don’t verb nouns.
Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.

And finally, I took a poetry class in grad school and came across this poem from Anne Bradstreet while writing a paper on heroic couplets. It is hilarious, very true, and I loved reading something that was written 400 years ago that is as true now as it was then.

The Author To Her Book

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did'st by my side remain,
Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight,
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet.
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i' th' house I find.
In this array, 'mongst vulgars may'st thou roam.
In critic's hands, beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known.
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

Sandra is up next in the chain, so everyone head to her blog!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Hazards of Moving

Ahh, there are so many, to be sure, but for a writer, I think we have a few extra.

Hazard of Moving #1: I can't write. Now, I really didn't think this would be a problem. I thought a few days of not writing would be a nice little break. But I am now moving into week two, I am STILL unpacking, I've got story ideas flying through my head, and I can't write any of them down because the evil unpacked boxes are staring me down (and yes, Elana - they really are!!!) :D

Hazard of Moving #2: I can't read. My books are packed. And then I'm too busy unpacking everything else to sit down and enjoy. And then, once I started unpacking, I realized I'm missing a few. Now, I know they are around somewhere (one of the evil boxes is hiding them, I know it!) but as silly as this sounds, it really distresses me when one of my babies is missing and I can't find it. Which brings me to...

Hazard of Moving #3: Unpacking said books. I've read them all, mostly. That is why I have them. I love them. I want to read them again. And the ones I haven't read yet are just crying out for me to take a gander. Which is why it takes me a whole day (at least) to unpack my books. Because I just can't help thumbing through them a few times...and reading a few pages here and there...then realizing it's been half an hour and I've only unpacked 2 books so I put that one on the shelf and pick up another one and...well, I just had to make sure all the pages were still there, right? And I won't get into all the organizing involved in unpacking the books. After all, they must be dusted (and yes I did this before packing them, but still), sorted, alphabetized, sorted again, placed in the right bookcase on the right shelf (by the way, I need another bookcase...Mr. Elky has decided he is going to move downstairs to his man cave cause he doesn't want to sleep in a library anymore :D )

Well, there are many, many more hazards...but I've got to go unpack some more now...or I'll never be able to get back to my writer life. I miss my storyworlds - and the voices are getting rather, I'm off to tackle the evil boxes!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Creative Side of Angst

Once again time for the blog chain, and this round the chain was started by our resident uber-genius and all around wonderful gal, Archetype. The question she wants answered is:

Some people argue that creative people need “angst” to produce good work. Do you? What emotions drive you as a writer?

Do I think creative people need angst? …. No. Do I think many creative people have angst (at least more than the average person)? ….. Yes. Do I need angst? …. I have no idea.

Archy defined angst for us as “A feeling of anxiety or apprehension often accompanied by depression…[and]…going through deep emotional and possibly physical pain .” For you visual folk, this is how I see it:


No Angst:

I do tend to be more inspired by angst. Depression and sadness seem to draw the creativity out of me more than other emotions. (What this says about me I really don’t want to know…I try to stay away from Archy’s couch as much as possible) :D The good news is, I don’t necessarily need the angst to be my own. I get very inspired by other people’s angst as well, like a really good, angsty song or movie. I guess I’d have to say, no, I don’t think creative people have to have angst in order to produce good work. But, I do think it helps.

Robert Penn Warren said:

The writer’s fundamental attempt is to understand the meaning of his own experiences. If he can’t break through those issues that concern him deeply, he’s not going to be very good.

I think this is what I use in my work. I wouldn’t describe it as “angst,” but I do dissect my experiences in order to serve up the most intense parts of them. And the more “angsty” emotions do tend to be the strongest, the ones that stick with me the most. For example, I was ecstatic at my wedding. It was a wonderful day. And then when my son was born, the love and joy I felt looking into his newborn eyes was beyond description. But the experiences that are the easiest to delve into now, are the depressing ones, the sad, heartbreaking, emotional ones. I have a hard time feeling that exact euphoria I felt at the best moments of my life. But I can feel the pain and anguish and rage and heat and desire and all consuming love that I felt at the worst or most intense moments in my life at a moment’s notice – I just have to dip into the right memory.

What I truly think you need to produce good work is emotion. Any kind of emotion. Not angst, necessarily. But raw, unfiltered emotion.

Edna Ferber said:

I think that to write well and convincingly, one must be somewhat poisoned by emotion. Dislike, displeasure, resentment, fault-finding, imagination, passionate remonstrance, a sense of injustice – they all make fine fuel.

Notice that these are almost all “negative” emotions. I just think negative emotions are easier to tap into – and they are probably easier to relate to as well. Not everyone has felt that rush you get when you first fall in love. But everyone, at some point in their life, has been sad or hurt or scared. There is a line in Pretty Woman that I have always thought was so true…when Vivian is asked why she doesn’t believe the compliments she gets, and she answers, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.”

I think this is true in a writer’s work as well. I think that goes along with the saying “Too good to be true.” The bad stuff is just easier to believe, to convey, to tap into. Do I think all creative people need to dress in black and sit around brooding with a shot glass in one hand and a cigarette in the other?…no! Of course not! In fact, my writer friends are some of the funniest, happiest people I know. But I do think a writer or artist has to have some kind of emotional background to draw from.

Archy also asked “What emotions drive you as a writer?” This one is easy….all of them. If you read a scene in one of my books that is particularly depressing – well, I was probably feeling depressed that day. Or I heard a song that made me think of that one time where I was horribly hurt or heart broken and Ta-Da!!! Someone in my book is going to get shot (just kidding…well, sort of). And if you read an especially funny scene, I was probably in a really good mood that day. Can I write a funny scene if I’m mad or depressed? – yes. But I guarantee you it will be funnier if I was in a good mood when I wrote it. Same with the opposite end of the spectrum. I can write a fairly convincing tear-jerker no matter what kind of mood I’m in – but it really helps if I’m bummed when my fingers hit the keys.

I probably didn’t answer the question at all, but, you’ve gotten a further glimpse into my confused and jarbled mind :D I am sure Sandra will do a much better job so head on over to her blog to see her take on the whole angst-laden creative person issue.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Our New Princess

Congratulations to my sister and her husband! They are the proud new parents of an absolutely beautiful little girl!!! (who was born on my sis's bday by the way, how cool is that!!?) Happy Birthday MacKenna Jolee - welcome to the world :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blog Chain - My Confidence or Lack Thereof

Time again for the Blog Chain! Kate started us out with this one, and Carolyn's stellar entry was the next link in our chain. The topic for this round:

How as a writer, do you find the balance between being having too much or too little confidence in your work?

You know, until I started writing, I had just assumed that all these best selling authors just sat at their computers and typed out a masterpiece, having full confidence that what they had written was golden. And then I met a few writers. I read their work, marveled at how genius they were, how wonderful their story was, how smoothly it flowed, how real the characters were, how supremely awesome and talented these people were. I told them how I felt. And listened in amazement as they melted in a puddle of relief, telling me how they thought their work was crap, how it would never make it, how afraid they were that no one would like it. And I thought, how, how could these incredibly talented people doubt themselves so?

I have a book of quotes from writers, giving advice to aspiring writers. I was amazed to find this letter between two of the “greats.” (Language Warning for the kiddies)

For Christ sake write and don’t worry what the boys will say nor whether it will be a masterpiece nor what. I write one page of masterpiece to ninety pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the waste-basket…Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to be hurt like hell before you can write seriously.

Ernest Hemingway in a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Again, I read in stunned disbelief that these two immortalized writers could doubt themselves as I do. I really kind of pictured them like Mozart, churning out masterpiece after masterpiece with nary a comma out of place. Yet, they doubted too. Curious.

Until I started down the road to being “a writer,” I was very confident. I knew I could write. I was good at it. Everyone had always told me so. I won awards when I was young. I have a Masters degree in English, (so you can imagine how many papers I have had to write in my educational career), and I received As on every single paper (with the exception of four - 3 Bs, and one (I shudder to say it) C – and yes, I remember each and every one, and each teacher who gave me those marks (and I am certain the C was because the teacher did not agree with my point of view, and yes, I will argue that to the death!)) :D

I was very good at non-fiction, academic type papers. And my first three publications were Chicken Soup for the Soul essays that I turned out in under twenty minutes each and only edited once for typos. I wrote them, sent them, and they got published. My confidence soared.

Then I started querying my first novel. I just knew that I would get an agent right away. I got a rejection letter or two. I was surprised, but brushed it off. I got a request for a partial from one agent and then a full from another agent. Vindication! (By the way, if you had seen the first version of my query letter, you would know what a miracle this really was – I won’t even go into how bad that first version of my novel was). Then the rejections came. Confidence shaken. But, one of the agents did say I was a “competent writer” (and yes, I still have that email saved in my files). So, my ego was a little bruised but not irrevocably damaged.

I got smart…I searched the web and found writers groups and critique groups and query help. And the critiques started coming in. I think I actually cried when I first saw all the red on my manuscript. And then I got angry and thought “These people don’t know what they are talking about!” And then I calmed down, took a close look at what they were saying, and realized…they were right. My storyline was good. But my execution sucked.

And here is what I learned…it is good to have confidence in yourself. It is necessary. You’ll never make it in this subjective, brutal, torturous industry unless you have at least some confidence in your work. But don’t get cocky. There is always room for improvement, always.

I have moments where I sit back, look at what I’ve written, and think, “Damn, that’s good stuff.” But I still sweat bullets whenever I post a chapter for critiques or send some pages off to beta readers. I always (well, almost always) have confidence in my storylines, in the backbone of my story. But I am usually fairly sure that the way I’ve written it is total crap. So I’m pleasantly surprised when I get a comment (as I did recently from a crit buddy) that says “Holy crap! I loved it!” And it doesn’t phase me so bad anymore when that exclamation is followed by “I do have a few suggestions though.” And I’ve learned that those few suggestions are not comments on my talent or me personally; they are what they are…suggestions to help make the way I’ve executed something even better.

It’s a very fine balance…you have to be confident enough in yourself and your work to continue churning out words, day after day…to send that work off to people who will shred it and send it back (within reason – savage critiques are no use to anyone)…to believe in yourself enough to know that you can take those shreddings and turn them into something amazing. And at the same time, make sure you are not so overly confident in your greatness that you are not open to those suggestions.

There is an excerpt from a letter that I love. It reads:

Writing a novel is a very hard thing to do because it covers so long a space of time, and if you get discouraged it is not a bad sign, but a good one. If you think you are not doing it well, you are thinking the way real novelists do. I never knew one who did not feel greatly discouraged at times, and some get desperate, and I have always found that to be a good symptom.

Maxwell Perkins in a letter to Nancy Hale

These words couldn’t be more true. It’s kind of like the actor that doesn’t get nervous going on stage. His performance is flat without that emotion behind it. The writer who doesn’t get discouraged, who knows beyond doubt at all times that he/she is greatness itself, is the writer whose book I never want to read.

We all have our moments of weakness. Perhaps we get a particularly brutal rejection or critique. Maybe we were just having a bad hair day. It is in those moments that I thank my lucky stars for bringing me the amazing group of writer friends I have become a part of. There is nothing like pouring my fears and woes into the ears of people who know EXACTLY what I am going through and who are therefore able to talk me down from my freak out. And it is my equal pleasure to return the favor…though I am still amazed that some of the most talented and incredible writers that I know have the same fears about their writing as I do.

So, how do I keep that fine balance between too much or too little confidence in my work? I surround myself with like-minded peers who are sheer awesomeness. They stoke my confidence when it needs stoking and knock me down a peg or two when it is called for. I generally have confidence in my work until the moment I have to send it off to someone. That is when I call or IM a writer buddy to hold my hand as I hit Send. My confidence will soar when I get requests – and I get to have a virtual party with friends who are just as excited for me as they would be for themselves. And my confidence plummets when the rejections roll in – which would be when said friends talk me down from the proverbial ledge and keep me from deleting every file I have ever written.

The stories clamoring in my head keep me writing, and my support group helps me maintain the exact level of confidence I need to keep going on the elusive path to publication.

Without them, I would be a raging ego-maniac until the moment of submission – when I would then turn into a blubbering mess of self-doubt. My advice to any writer suffering from confidence problems….get a good writer friend.

Sandra is up next on the chain, so head on over to Dual Citizenship in SpecFic and Mundania for her take on the whole confidence game!

Monday, October 6, 2008

For the Love of Research

Okay, so I've been trying to add some new features to my blog, and it just ain't workin'. So, my lovely friend Carolyn suggested maybe posting something to see if that will kick my blog into active gear and get the new features to pop up. So here you go :D

While going through my files the other day, I came across a little essay I wrote for a non-fiction creative writing class in grad school. I can't remember the exact assignment, but I believe we were supposed to describe an object we loved, or a place or something that we loved...or something like that :D Anyhow, I had forgotten how much I liked this piece. This is what I came up with:

I walk in, take a deep breath, and immediately relax in the comforting quiet. My eyes scan the familiar surroundings for the aisle I need and I begin to wander. Every now and then I’ll stop, take a volume off the bookshelf, and leaf through the pages. The unmistakable smell of “book” rises up to meet me. It’s unique, a musty mixture of ink and stale paper. I make sure the volume I’m holding contains what I may need; then I move on. My excitement builds as I discover each new text. Sometimes I get lost in the passages I find. Time slows as I stand sandwiched between narrow shelves, trying to juggle the books I’m holding and the book I’m reading. Occasionally I give up and just sit on the floor, the chosen work in my lap. I stop only when another patron drifts by, subtly clearing their throat to get my attention. I fill my arms with as many books as I can carry and find a nice, quiet spot to begin my search.

I’ve been told I’m unusual. One professor once told me that most people, historians included, hate to do research. Well, I must admit that I’ve never been accused of being normal. I grew up watching my confused mother shake her head while I sat in a corner, encyclopedias spread all around me.

“What are you doing?” she’d ask.
“Reading,” I’d reply, without looking up. She’d shrug and leave me to my paradise.

I love to research. I love to open dozens of books and search out facts about long ago people and places. I love to take those facts and sit at my computer, combining them into a fascinating arrangement of dates and details. I love to hand the finished project to the nearest (probably unfortunate in their minds) person and watch them learn. Every now and then I’ll run into another “mysterious” creature such as myself. And then…oh what fun we have!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Blog Chain - Quirky Habits....I Got 'Em

Once again time for the blog chain! Our last chain was wrapped up very nicely by Heather, so head on that way if you missed any of the links. And the glorious link before me was the incredible Carolyn, so make sure you check her, check her blog out :D

This chain was started by the always adorable Mary. Her question:

What kind of quirky habits or rituals do you have regarding your writing?
(or regarding anything else, if that is more fun.)

Well....I have more quirky habits (or irritating, depending on whom you are asking) then you can shake a stick at. In an effort to not scare y'all to death, I will refrain from mentioning ALL of my habits and just pick a few of the more tame ones.

I was very happy to see that I am not the only with OCD tendencies (ahem, Miss Kate) or a messy desk (umm, ahem Kate and Carolyn! Mary's neat desk kind of scares me...). Makes me feel better about my strange little habits to see that others have them as well.

So! Quirky Habit Number One: I alphabetize everything.......and I mean EVERYTHING. My spice cabinet. My medicine cabinet. My books are organized by author last name and if I have more than one book by that author, the titles are alphabetized. Unless they are in a series, then they are in the order in which they were published.

And unfortunately (for me) I've had to loosen up a bit on the movies, DVDs and CDs - because with two small children, there is just no way to keep them in their correct order of genre, big case/little case, and title. *sigh* some day, they will be organized again :)

Quirky Habit Number Two: my sheets and blankets must be straightened before I go to sleep...or I can't sleep. If the bed doesn't look like this:

then we've got problems. I will forgo the throw pillows at bedtime...but that is about it. This is where quirky crosses over into irritating for Mr. McLean. You can imagine how much he enjoys being woken up in the wee hours of the morning when I finally crawl into bed so I can straighten the covers. However, after seven years of marriage, we have gotten to the point that I can just sort of roll him over a few times while I do what I need to do, and he doesn't even wake up.

I don't think I have many quirky writing habits. When I get stuck, a load of dishes or a nice long shower usually gets my brain going again. I do have a hard time writing if my house is dirty. The clutter makes it hard for me to think. So I try to straighten the house beforehand. This does not, however, apply to my actual desk. Go figure. Occasionally (and I mean very occasionally) my desk is spotless. It doesn't last long. Generally, this is the version of clean that I live with:

Annnnd, it mostly looks like this:

Although you can actually see some desk space there.....just imagine a big pile of papers there and we're good :) And I would like to thank those who have gone before me, because I never would have had the strength to show the world my desk had it not been for them :D

Our chain will continue with the incomparable Sandra - I can't wait to see what quirks lurk behind her cool exterior!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I Stood Still for too Long and Got Tagged!

My lovely friend Elana tagged me...which I think means that I'm supposed to answer the questions that were asked of her when she got, here we go! (and I cheated and left a couple of her answers, cause they are what I'd say anyways...probably one of the reasons we are friends) :D

4 goals I have in the next 5 years:
1. Find an agent and see my book at B&N
2. Lose weight - lots of it :D
3. finish my two non-fiction WIPs
4. start work on my doctorate

4 places I will visit someday:
1. Scotland/Ireland (sorry for lumping you together, but you are close to each other) :D
2. Greece
3. Italy
4. some gorgeous tropical island somewhere

4 of my favorite foods:
1. chocolate brownies
2. chicken fettucine alfredo with broccoli
3. the chicken kabob plate from the Greek restaurant The University Grill in Ogden, UT
4. a big huge salad with all the fixins smoothered in ranch or blue cheese dressing

4 jobs I've had:
1. Janitor for Hale 5 at BYU Hawaii (one of the dorms)
2. dishwasher for The Gateway restaurant at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii
3. extractor at the IRS
4. data entry person at the USPS Remote Encoding Center in Salt Lake City, UT

2 places I've lived:
1. California
2. Tennessee

2 places I'd like to live:
1. Hawaii
2. New York City

4 things I'd do with my spare time (if I had any):
1. Read
2. Cook gourmet meals (as long as someone else does the dishes)
3. cross stitch
4. write

All right, sordid little details of my life you never knew ;-) Well, maybe not so sordid I suppose. Except those jobs in Hawaii - not fun, fairly nasty actually.

And now I have to tag people.....and I have no idea who.....okay, please forgive me in advance, but I have no idea who to torture, I mean honor - soooo how about Terri, Abi, and Sandra.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to my Son!

Today my little guy turned 5! He's such a big boy now :) Amazing how fast they grow up. Just wanted to say a quick Happy Birthday to my favorite little guy. I love you Connor!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My novel in a Wordle

Okay, so my awesome friend Heather pointed out this fun site that makes Wordles out of bodies of words. I pasted the synopsis for my book, Treasured Lies, into it and this is what I got.

I like it :D To see a bigger version, follow the link :D

title="Wordle: Treasured Lies"> src=""
style="padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd">

To make one of your own, go to

Friday, September 19, 2008

Visual Inspiration

Sometimes I run across pictures that are just so breathtaking and so emotion inspiring, I want to sit and write the moment I see them. Here are a few I came across the other day.

This one is on my website:

And this one I think will make an appearance in my book - I am probably going to add a scene just so I can write about it.

Some pictures, like the one above, make me want to create scenes that take place in them. I can see my characters walking through them, interacting with them, and I want them to be a part of my storyworld. Others, like the first picture, invoke very strong emotions. I see all that beautiful red, the gorgeous tree, the lone bench beneath it, the incredible color of the sky, and I want to write about, not the picture itself, but how the picture makes me feel. I want to write about romance and passion and love. It is interesting how different pictures can affect me; very similar to the way music can affect me. Some music makes me want to write a fight scene, other melodies inspire death and despair. These pictures create a similar effect.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blog Chain - Storyworlds and Authenticity

Time once again for a Blog Chain post. I am skipping ahead of turn a bit, as our wonderful Mary is currently holed up in her house hiding from Hurricane Ike. All our thoughts and prayers with you Mary!! Stay safe! So, just for this round, I will be posting after the incredible Heather, who started this chain. And the adorable Kate will continue the chain after me. Our other blogmates are listed in the roll to the left.

The topic for this round is - How do you as an author choose or create your story-world and give that setting authenticity?

I love this question!!! Choosing my setting is one of the most enjoyable parts of writing a story. I write historical fiction, so I need to pick a location, but also a time period. One of the reasons I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in history is because I love getting lost in other times and places. I can’t wait to write a book set in ancient Egypt or Greece, I have ideas for Italy and Russia, I want to delve into the old royal courts and medieval countrysides. I even have a small novella project set in the old American West (not something I ever thought I'd write, but I'm always up for a challenge). I am very partial to England, Ireland, and Scotland, and my first two novels are set in those regions.

Where I set my books sometimes depends on if there is a particular event I am writing around. For example, the story I mentioned a few blog chain posts back, of the girl who escaped an arranged marriage…this took place in England in the late 1100s or early 1200s. So, my location and time period was set for me. Treasured Lies is set in Victorian England, because I wanted my main character to be a clumsy, quirky character that was a little out of place in her refined world. And I needed her to be able to travel by train. So, Victorian England it was. My current novel is set in England in 1665 – why? Because I love that period in time and I wanted to get lost in a world of huge, fluffy dresses, ringlet hairdos, and sword carrying, swash-buckling men.

But in order to get lost in these time periods, and most importantly, in order to suck my reader into the past along with me, the setting needs to be believable. A woman in a huge satin ball gown, walking through the palace of Charles II, had better not have a cell phone ringing in her handbag.

Which brings me to how I give the setting authenticity. The answer…a LOT of research. I research everything, from clothing (down to the undergarments) and weaponry, to money values and housing availability, to who was on the throne and what the political setting was like. In order to make my reader believe that they are really in whatever time period I have chosen, I have to make sure the historical tidbits that I have sprinkled throughout the story are authentic and accurate.

This has made for some interesting emails on my part. I’ve emailed horticulture societies to find out what kind of flowers bloom in January in a certain region of England (not so odd). But, I did once get to ask a bone expert if a body that has been buried for a century would still have any hair (it wouldn't, in most cases). I have researched things as odd as what a laudanum bottle would look like in 1755 England, to when crowbars came into existence and what exactly they were called, to whether or not toilets were commonly used in 1855 England (they weren’t).

Setting a story in the past is a tough job, much tougher than I ever thought possible before I started to write. It is amazing how easily modern phrases and mannerisms make their way into my books. (This is where incredible critique buddies come in!) For Treasured Lies, I would often watch the movie An Ideal Husband in order to get into the Victorian mindset – so I could get the speech patterns and mannerisms in my mind before I began to write. And when I found myself starting to write too “modern,” I would often have to stop for the day until I could get in that old-fashioned mindset again.

But it is an absolute thrill for me to get lost in the past. Which is why what I do. I write historical novels because I can use the knowledge I have been acquiring over the years, indulge my love of research, mix it all up with the stories that are percolating in my head, and get lost in a world that was once real. I choose a place I want to go, a time period I would love to have seen (at least for a short visit) and create the perfect characters to live in them. And it’s a grand adventure every time :D

Next up, as stated earlier, is the fabulous Kate. And don’t forget to head over to Heather’s blog to follow the chain from the beginning!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Next link on the Blog Chain: How Real are Your Characters?

It is time again for a round on the ol’ blog chain. And the topic up for consideration: how real are your characters to you and how well do you know them? The last post was from the always excellent Archetype and the next post will be from our lovely Sandra.

This is kind of a difficult question for me to answer, because to be honest, I really am not sure. I do get attached to my characters. I think about them all the time. I can’t wait to find out what will happen to them (even though for the most part I know what will happen….but, things change sometimes). I had a hard time moving on to my new book from my first book because I didn’t want to let the characters go. I hear their voices in my head as I write (often it is the reason that I do write). So in this sense they are very real to me.

I do not know every little detail about them, although what I do not know, I will create when needed. I can describe their features down to the tiny hairline crack in someone’s front tooth; but I do not really see their face clearly in my head. When I write a scene, I know how my character will react. I’ve created their personality and to a certain extent I am bound by what I have created. If I have a bad guy pull a gun on my main character, I know if she would fall apart and scream, or if she would stand stoically and stare him down. And it is very obvious when you deviate from a character’s given personality. But, if I need my character to break down, and it isn’t something that is really in her personal makeup to do, I manipulate it so she will believably behave the way I want her to.

There is a quote I love by Vladimir Nabokov about his characters. “That trite little whimsy about characters getting out of hand; it is as old as the quills. My characters are my galley slaves.”

This is the way I feel to a certain extent. I know my characters. I get attached to my characters. I have a hard time killing them off (and sometimes can’t do it at all). I watch them in my mind, like I’m watching a movie, and I write what I see. And often, the given plan of how a scene is going to go is completely changed, because as I write, the movie plays out differently than expected. But, I do what's needed for the story whether my character wishes it or no :D

While I write, my characters are real, the unexpected happens, the characters are kind of in charge. But after the words are on the page, when I go into edit mode armed with my delete key, then my characters cease to be as “real,” and become my toys to do with as I please. Then I will hack away at whatever poured from my mind. I manipulate and change and rearrange and do whatever else needs to be done in order to get things the way I want them. My characters are real to me, but not to the point that they are in control…at least not for long :D And I know them as well as I need to. I have no idea how Minuette from Treasured Lies would take her tea. But if the situation arose, I would figure it out.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Which Jane Austen Character are you?

My wonderful friends and fellow bloggers Kristal and Elana posted this quiz on their blogs. Which character are you? Apparently, I am Marianne Dashwood :)

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

The description is: You are impulsive, romantic, impatient, and perhaps a bit too brutally honest. You enjoy romantic poetry and novels, and play the pianoforte beautifully. To boot, your singing voice is captivating. You feel deeply, and love passionately.

Mostly true, I guess :) Except for the singing voice...that one, not so much. I always kind of thought myself more of an Elinor Dashwood, with a little of Marianne thrown in. :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Insanity of Writers

Quote for the day: "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." Edgar Allen Poe

You know, there is reason this blog is called what it is :) It is something my writer friends and I discuss frequently...the insanity of our calling. We hear voices, we stay up for days at a time so we can furiously type away at our keyboards, the story battering its way out of our minds whether we want it to or not; we mutter to ourselves about our storylines, characters, plots, and chapters as we do the daily chores we must, and we are oblivious to the chaos that ensues when we are so wrapped up in our imaginary worlds that the real world ceases to exist.

Until I found my fabulous friends on Querytracker (and then RallyStorm) I was pretty sure I was the only one that couldn't sleep at night because my characters were too busy arguing in my head. It's good to know I'm not alone. I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs and never have...but as I began my first novel, I suddenly had a clear insight into why so many writers are dependent on such things. Most writers I know are, at the very least, huge fans of Tylenol PM or some other sort of sleep aid - often it is the only way to quiet your mind long enough to get some sleep. :)

Writing is a crazy, frustrating, agonizing, nerve-wracking way to live (and don't even get me started on querying - that's a weeks worth of posts all by itself!)...but it also has brought me more joy and sense of accomplishment than anything else I have ever done (with the exception of my children). Most of us don't write merely because we want to...we do it because we HAVE to. There is nothing like writing the perfect scene; or spending a year editing a book to realize it is finally "good enough" (never perfect...nope, there is always something I find that could use some changing).

Bottom line, as crazy as I sometimes feel, I would never want to do anything else. My "long intervals of horrible sanity" are merely waiting periods until another idea strikes and I can dive head long into my "insanity." And ahhh, it's a grand experience!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Blog Chain - Where do my ideas come from?

I have recently joined a group of awesome writer friends in a Blog Chain. A topic is chosen and we all blog on that topic in, well, a chain :) The blogger before me can be found here, the entry after me can be found here, and then entry after that can be found here.

So, the topic for this round….where do I get my ideas?

I will try to keep this from rambling TOO much, but as I write several different genres, my inspiration obviously comes from vastly different sources. So, I’ll break it down for you.

Non-fiction – well, really, my ideas for this come mostly from what other people want me to write. I am working on a project for my brother and uncle who would like to write a book on their business ventures. I am their ghostwriter, so I take notes from recordings they do and write the material from that. My own project, a book examining the heroic couplet poetry of four women poets from the 17th, 18th , 19th, and 20th centuries is an expansion of a paper I did in graduate school.

So, non fiction….not so exciting :)

Children’s books – I get most of my inspiration from my own children and the stories I hear from other parents. Honestly, while my kids make me pull my hair out in abject frustration most days, they are completely hilarious little people. I just sit and watch them, listen to the things they say, how they play with each other, the crazy things they get into in their little make believe worlds. And when I am done cleaning up the mess, I write :) And then I test my stories out and them and if they like them, we are golden.

One of my stories came about one afternoon when we had a power outage. The kids were bored, it was dark and overcast so it was really too dark to play, so, we made up a story. They pretended they were race cars and told me what they would do, and they were dinosaurs, and sharks, and cowboys, and jungle people, and, of course, my daughter was a princess (so her brother was a dragon). And A Magical World was created.

Historical romances…..these are a bit more complicated. My inspiration comes from many sources. And, almost without exception, I get my ideas when I am either doing the dishes, in the shower, or in bed, either trying to sleep or through dreams (a cliché, I know, but I wake up a LOT and from what I’ve heard, that creates vivid dreams – it does for me anyways). I’m not sure why these moments work best for my creativity; probably because it is the only time I am holding still or unoccupied enough for my inner voices to break through. Even weirder, I mostly get ideas for storylines in the shower and in bed – and I hear dialogue and see specific scenes while doing the dishes (don’t worry, my straight jacket is already being measured.) However, I think this has something to do with the fact that I listen to music as I do the dishes….I discuss music inspiration a little farther down, so you’ll see what I mean.

As I write historical fiction, a lot of my ideas come from actual historical events; and I try to chose things that most people wouldn’t have heard of. I watch the history channel a lot :) For example, I have story ideas about the mother of Robert the Bruce (of Braveheart fame) who was, by the accounts I’ve seen, a total spitfire. And a story about an ancient British queen who deposed her husband and ran off with his chief of security. I mean, come on, this is really cool stuff!

The beginning of my current work in progress was inspired by the tale of a young woman in the early 12th century who escaped an arranged marriage (and also, apparently, the clutches of a powerful priest, who wanted her for less than holy reasons – he had first met her because she was the niece of one of his mistresses by the way). She climbed up her wall and clung to an iron spike to avoid her wedding night, and when everyone finally got tired of waiting for her to come down, she escaped to a convent and became a renowned holy woman who made underwear and slippers for the Pope. History is FULL of interesting stories, just waiting to be found.

Like several other wonderful writers in our chain, music inspires me a great deal. But usually not a whole book idea. I pick up on the general mood of a song and scenes pop into my head; it’s kind of like watching a movie with that song as the background music. And it’s never happy music or scenes. It’s usually music from groups like Evanescence, Apocalyptica, and Rob Dougan. I absolutely LOVE the music from these groups, but it usually isn’t happy-go-lucky stuff. I have gotten some really good, heart wrenching death/separation/despair type scenes from some of these songs. Sometimes, and please don’t have me committed (although I know I’m not alone here) :) I hear dialogue in my head. The characters arguing, discussing, crying, shouting. I see characters cradling their dying love in their arms, pulling the trigger and watching their enemy fall, stroking the face of their love as they say goodbye, as the music I am listening to swells in the background.

Romeo and Juliet type of love, the all consuming, burning, make-your-heart-jump-into- your-throat-every-time-you-see-him type love is just pumped into every note of these songs, and when I hear them, I can’t help but write about characters who feel the way the song feels and sounds. Listen to Apocalyptica’s Bittersweet (which has lyrics) or Romance (which does not) – or Evanescence’s My Immortal or Good Enough – or Sarah Brightman’s Deliver Me – or Rob Dougan’s Nothing at All or Furious Angels or I’m Not Driving Anymore…..these songs just stir something that I can’t shut off.

I also often use things that have happened in my own life….I have had an…interesting….past at times :) A lot of it has made it’s way into my stories. Of course, I change names, combine different people I’ve known to make one character, greatly embellish situations….but some of the more colorful parts of my own history have made it into my books. It’s therapeutic in a way, to write about my own life through other characters. I can make them do the things I wish I had done, or change things I wish I had not….I can finally requite that unrequited love :) or kill off the jerk that broke my heart. Really, some great real life situations make perfect fiction situations – it’s all in how you spin the tale :)

And like others in the chain, I am inspired by what I see around me every day. When watching the first National Treasure movie, I thought how fun it would be to add some sort of treasure hunt to my book, to make it more mysterious and give the story an added dimension. So my book went from being a broken-heart-then-finding-new-love story, to being a romantic suspense where the main characters are on the hunt of their lives.

When it comes right down to it, I suppose I’m inspired by life in general. Events of the past, my own life experiences, the experiences of others expressed through music, theater, art (a really great painting can get all kinds of creative juices flowing – the walls of my house are plastered with historical romance inspiring art), movies, books, etc, watching the world around me, experiencing that world, living in other worlds through vivid dreams….all of this combines to create the stories that run through my head at all hours of the day or night..

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Official Website

I finally got my website up and running so if you want to take a look head on over to :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Back in the Proverbial Saddle

Well, I decided to give the agent route one more try, so Sunday, I sent out 20 equeries and low and behold, within an hour I had a request from a very good agent for my FULL manuscript, on a 4 week exclusive basis. I am very excited. At the very least, I should get some helpful notes on what needs fixin' so I couldn't be happier.

I have also begun my second novel and am really enjoying working on it. I had almost forgotten how fun it is to meet new characters and get lost in a new world. I've spent so much time editing the first novel, the whole writing process was kind of lost to me for a bit.

Annnd, I have also finished several new children's books as well. I will be sending those out to a few agents and publishers in the next few weeks. So, life on my computer has been very busy lately.

Speaking of which, my poor printer (which is less than a year old) is about ready to go on strike, I think. While printing out my manuscript for the lovely agent who requested it, my much-abused printer began making pitiful little squeaky sounds - I just don't think it was made to spit out a 330 page manuscript on a bimontly basis (at the minimum). Not to mention all of my critique buddies' manuscripts and anything else I don't feel like editing on the computer screen. And the constant ink refills are killing my bank account. So, I have decided to upgrade to a laser printer that was designed for a ton of printing. I think this time comes to every writer and it has come for me. :)

In the meantime, I am enjoying getting back into the writing, and yes, even the querying, groove, as painful and frustrating as the process often is. Back to Work!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

We are back from our family reunion and totally exhausted, but it was fun :) I got to see my parents again which I very much enjoyed, as they haven't seen my children in a few years. I hate living so far from them :) So it was very nice to be able to reintroduce my children to their grandparents. We came home to a clean house, which we promptly destroyed, and the mess has only grown as I was immediately sucked into Breaking Dawn - which I loved, by the way, despite many bad reviews. In any case, tomorrow begins regular life again and so I must clean....and if I get a few spare seconds, write :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to my baby!

In the midst of a family crisis and a short mini vacation, I didn't have time to wish my little girl a happy birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY RYANNA!!! After a very rough start in life, Ryanna has grown into a very intelligent, strong, beautiful little girl. I love you baby, happy birthday!!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dumbest Mistake of the Week Award

Yep, that's right, I won it...I am officially an idiot this week :) I was buzzing right along this week, making what I hope are the final round of major edits in my novel. Aside from formalizing the tone of the dialogue I also changed the background of my main character, a change that ended up being a lot more intensive than I realized since every time my character mentioned anything involving her past, I had to change it. Well, I was feeling pretty proud of myself having gotten through 130 pages of my 317 page manuscript in just 2 days.

I went to bed, tossed and turned as I usually do since my brain really takes off as soon as I try to sleep, and I finally figured out what was niggling at the back of my subconscious. While doing this new round of edits, I hadn't come across any of the new scenes from the last round of edits. How I missed this at the time, I have no idea, because the first three chapters of my book were pretty much entirely rewritten - but this is where the idiotic part comes in.

I got back up, (it was now 1am), turned the computer on, searched through my files....and figured out that I do, indeed, deserve the Dumbest Mistake of the Week Award. I had spent the last several days editing THE WRONG FILE!!!! Explaining how this happened would take longer than I have patience for at the moment :) Suffice it to say, many writers, myself included, keep a copy of every version of their manuscript that ever comes into existence. My mistake was naming two of them "Final Version." Although I thought I was safe as I have changed the name of my novel from The Courtland Necklace to Treasured Lies. Yeah...not so much :)

Nope, I opened The Courtland Necklace version (a file I haven't touched in months) and had been happily editing away, while the actual Final Version of Treasured Lies sat alone and unrevised. Now I get to go through and compare both copies (even with the help of the handy Merge tool in Word, this is going to take days) while I make sure that the correct edits are being left and the incorrect are being deleted so I end up with the version I want. :)

Thank you, thank you *she takes a bow*

Stay tuned next week....I'm sure I can top myself ;-)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Lazy Days

I have spent the better part of the last 4 hours playing around with my blog layout...I'm so productive :D I figured I'd play around for a bit and then get the house clean real quick before my husband got home, but he just called and is on his way home. Hmmmm, what to do, what to do? I could run around and clean real quick....or I could just sit here and play some more :)

Oye, the kids are fighting over a PopTart like rabid dogs....I do feed them, really I do :)

Oh! Very excited! I got an email this morning from one of my writing professors. I had written to ask her if she would do a letter of recommendation for me - I wasn't sure she'd remember me, but she did, and she said she will, and now I've got 3 letters (all I need) and once those are sent in and my transcripts are received, all my paperwork will be in. I can't wait to register for my classes! I know, I'm a little weird. But I love school, I really do. Yes, it's stressful, especially trying to get through a masters program with 2 small children who demand all my attention, but I really love learning new things and the feeling of accomplishment I get when I complete an exceptionally great paper or difficult course. And going through all of that work and finally getting to hold that degree in my hand....what a great feeling!

Plus, by the time this degree is done, both of my children will be in school full time and I might actually be able to get a job and use one of my degrees :)

Okay, I guess I'll go do the dishes....if I must....I guess...........................

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Did ya miss me?

Okay, seriously, how sad is this? It's been so long since I posted that I couldn't remember how to get on this thing - I didn't even remember the email I used to sign up. It's taken me about an hour now to figure it out. I even had a comment back in March and never responded. Heck, I didn't even know about it until today. Yes, I'm a sad, sad little blogger.

So, since it's been so long, what is new in my life....

Well, to put it in a nutshell, I have the worst luck in the world. The dumbest things happen to me. It's genetic I think. We call it "the Marquis luck." My father has it, my grandfather has it...I was hoping I'd marry out of it, but nope! I brought it with me.

Here's a few examples of what I'm talking about - typical things that happen to those with "the Marquis luck":

My grandfather is on a big ship headed to Korea, sets sail with another ship, big hurricane hits, one ship gets blown to Hawaii where they repair the boat, spending a few weeks in beautiful Hawaii, and then they go home. My grandfather's boat gets blown to the Phillippines where they stay for a bit and then go on their way to Korea.

My poor father - every store he goes in, every package he picks up - is either broken or missing something - every time. He once got something (I can't even remember what) that was missing all the nuts and bolts. So he goes to the hardware store, picks up a package of what he needs out of a bin of hundreds, comes home....only to discover that the one bolt he actually needed is missing from the package he picked. It got so bad that we used to wait for him to chose something off the shelf and then we'd pick something else.

And then me...well, take my wedding for example. My husband was driving to TN from Utah - his truck breaks down in Kansas. We happen to know some people there, so they pick him up and take him to the airport. His plane is delayed. He finally gets on, sits on the runway for over an hour, then his flight is canceled. He does eventually make it to TN the day before the wedding. Most of our guests' planes were diverted as far away as Canada because of a hurricane - but yeah, it did turn out okay in the end.

Fast forward a few years, we are in our first home, destitute college students with a 6 month old baby, my car breaks down, needs a transmission - my sweet brother pays for it....3 weeks after the car is fixed there is a major windstorm. I come home from work, think it would be better to park in the driveway instead of on the street where I always park because there are 2 large trees there - pull into the driveway.... a few hours later, our neighbor's tree falls on my car, totalling it - and then someone stole the radio out of the car (hey, the windows were already broken for them, why not?!) - one's insurance would cover it because we only had liability and our homeowner's said it was the neighbor's tree and therefore their responsibility, and their insurance said it was an act of God and they didn't have to cover it.

Fast forward again - to a few weeks ago. We are doing really well, making good money, paid off all bills, buying a new house and looking to buy a new truck - 7 days from closing on our house, my husband gets fired because the guy he was working with shut the wrong valve on their tool and caused half a million dollars worth of damage. Our lender pulled our loan approval for the house because of the job change, we can't get a car loan because he hasn't been at his new job long enough, and our medical insurance from the old job decided not to cover a bunch of stuff and so now we once again owe people money.

But, as crappy as my luck is, most of the time...I think...things turn out for the best. Who knows...maybe we would have gotten into that house and it would have turned into a huge money pit - maybe our new truck would have been a lemon - my husband is home a lot more, where he was always on the road I've gotta believe that life will turn out just fine. :)

In the meantime, we'll keep plugging along as we always do. I'm attempting to write again, will most likely be returning to school next month to get my masters in library sciences (if I can get all my paperwork in on time), and both of my kids will be in preschool starting in Sept so I will have a few hours EVERY DAY all by myself!!!! What more could I ask? :)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Let's try this again

All right, I have tried starting blogs numerous times, and for some reason I post really well for weeks on end...and then totally forget about the poor things. So, I'm going to try this again and see if I can stick with it this time :)

Unfortunately for anyone who reads this, my life is not all that amusing. Oh, weird things tend to happen to me on a regular basis, and the voices in my head and I have a grand ol' time on most occassions, but for the rest, I'll try to make it sound interesting for you :)

This morning I got a phone call from my mother, a wonderful woman who gets more scatterbrained by the hour. Having a phone conversation with her usually consists of whoever is on the line holding while she yells at the dog, cat or computer, or carries on a conversation with whomever else happens to be in the room at the time. Love her to death, but it's hard to keep her focused :) She called this morning to let me know that my father was going in for surgery today. She had forgotten to tell everyone. In fact I need to go call all my siblings and make sure they know.

Same thing happened when my grandmother died. She forgot to call and tell me, so when my cousin's wife called and asked about funeral arrangements I convinced her that my grandmother had actually NOT died, and then called my grandfather and...well you can imagine how that conversation went. Okay, my mom was busy and distraught that day, so I forgave her for that one, but you see the pattern. Unfortunately, I am my mother's daughter and am just as bad as her, so I've made myself a note so I remember to make sure to call and check on my poor father tonight.

*sigh* How we've managed to make it through life this long, I'll never know.