Friday, December 31, 2010

Dec. 31

Happy New Year, my dear friends!

May your hearts be light, your smiles wide and your homes warm and dry. Wishing you all the best. Cheers~

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dec. 30

Happy, happy birthday to my Dad, Ted. Thanks for writing book reviews for my craft blog. I hope your day is happy and that your next year is full of joy and good fishing. :D

I'm off today to take my daughter to the mall, hoping beyond hope that there will be fewer people shopping during the week. Cheers~

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dec. 29

I plan on seeing a movie today. They always have such great films out this time of year. I think in part to qualify for the Oscars, etc. and in part because many people are home looking for something to do and go to movies. The thing about going to a movie theater is that you are unlikely to be interrupted. You get to get out of the house, and you have the wonderful smell of popcorn and snacks. The downside is it costs a fortune to go. Seriously 8 to 10 dollars for a matinee, I never go full price. We won't even talk about the ridiculous price of popcorn. The really weird part is that if you only wait a few months you can rent the movie for as little as a dollar or even free if you check it out from the library. Still, watching it at home on your TV is not nearly as much fun as going out into the theater.
Do you like movies? If so do you prefer to watch at home or go out? Writers, do you think movies help with your writing?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dec. 28

Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law, Sherry~ May this be your best year ever. Hug your new grand baby for me.

For me, Tuesdays are dusting days. I get out a rag and oil and spray and I dust the whole house. It's a mad cloud of sparkles in the sunbeams followed by lots of sneezing and then resettling on surfaces. I know, it's crazy. But for one brief moment once a week, the surfaces shine, the cob weds are gone and I can congratulate myself on a twenty minute job well done. (Well, I didn't say I cleaned the entire house, just the dust. LOL) I learned long ago it was the small efforts that make life feel more accomplished. And isn't it all about how we feel about things? What small things do you do that help you feel accomplished?


Monday, December 27, 2010

Dec. 27

This is the funny week between holidays. Some people have vacation and others go to work but not much gets done as many companies shut down. It would be great if we could all afford to holiday somewhere-go skiing or to the beach. But then I heard it snowed in Florida yesterday, so I'm glad I didn't plan a winter beach vacation. :D
Others are looking at all they accomplished for the year and what they want to accomplish the next year. I've heard some great advice recently: Don't ask when is my life going to get better? Ask how can I make things a little bit better today?
One of my favorite proverbs is: Those who move mountains begin with small stones.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Dec. 24

Merry, merry Christmas to all who celebrate. May this time of year find you surrounded by family, friends and good cheer. Thank you all for being a part of making my life a "wonderful" one.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dec. 23

I buy a dated ornament every year for the Christmas tree. It's fun to look at them and see how rich or poor we were that year. Whether I managed to get it early and get a cool one or late and get stuck with leftovers. I almost collected an entire decade of one design-but missed a year. Which makes it funny. This year I got a lovely dated seashell with a pearl. It has a sweet saying about the beauty left behind after a life well lived- and I know I'm sappy but I lost my dear big dog George this year. He was the first dog that was mine. I picked him from a no kill shelter and brought him home because my son had been begging for a dog for years. George changed our entire family. He taught me that I wasn't as afraid of dogs as I thought. He taught my kids not to be afraid of dogs at all. He gave us all companionship and lots of licks. He taught me about a life well lived from beginning to end. He also taught me to have a sense of humor about messes in the house and that a loaf of banana bread left sitting on the counter was an opportunity well taken. He changed everything about our family making us all less self involved, more generous, and loyal to each other, and for that I'm thankful. Cheers~

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dec. 22

Rereading yesterday's blog I see I needed an editor. Sigh. (It should have been strangely not strangle.) Some people are so good at editing. I admire them and sometimes envy their ability. I know from years of experience that no matter how many times I check, double check, and triple check there will always be copy edits needed in my work. But I don't over worry the matter. I've been copy edited by professionals only to have other people come behind and find things they missed. We are human beings and mistakes happen. So, I try not to sweat the small stuff.

It should be the same for the holidays. The best holidays are not when all the presents are perfect and perfectly wrapped, the food perfect, the parties perfect, etc. The best holidays are simply times for families to get together to play board games or watch movies and spend time together.

(To me the best sugar cookies are a little too crisp around the edges.) So, don't sweat the small stuff, no one remembers that anyway. Cheers~

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dec. 21

It is the first day of winter. I missed the lunar eclipse last night due to a snow storm, which is fitting I guess for the first day of winter. We only got between three and four inches of snow but then Mother Nature thought it would be fun to top that off with freezing drizzle. I pray for everyone out of the roads today. Thank goodness for salt truck guys. Be safe my friends!
Winter is the heart of darkness and despair can creep in, but it is also the miracle of returning light. Every day from now until summer we will get one more sliver of light in our day. Mother Nature is a miracle of hope, isn't she? And I am strangle sentimental today. :D
Cheers, my friends~
Let me know if you were able to see the eclipse.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dec. 20

It's Monday of a holiday week. I can imagine that some people are already on vacation. The stores were packed all weekend. It does make me sad to watch people push and shove and curse each other out when the whole reason for the season is to show some love and to feel peace and know that we are connected to every human being out there.
My daughter works in retail and said she had some guy curse at her because she told him that they could help him at the cashier's counter and there was a long line. I told her I would have said, Merry Christmas to you too, pointing out how sad it was to see him act like a toddler. But she simply called her manager over to deal with the grown man and his temper tantrum. My Grandma worked with special needs kids. If she heard any of us curse, she would reprimand us and tell us that we were more intelligent than that. That those were the first words special needs kids learned.
I know I sound old fashioned but they used to teach us in Kindergarten to wait our turn in line and to treat each other with kindness. If a 5-year-old can exert that kind of self control, so can an adult. Just saying. I hope your week is filled with random acts of kindness. Cheers~

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dec. 17

It is the last weekend before the Christmas holiday. I think I'm done there.
Someone on Facebook said they got a vicious virus from Systems 2011- and she said she got it even though she had Norton-sigh-Norton is my new antivirus on my new laptop. So I am ensuring I have good back up and restore disks. I'm afraid to try new virus protection after last year's fiasco- what do the people who write the codes for these viruses gain? I secretly suspect they work for anti-virus protection companies. It keeps us shelling out $ and them in business. Sigh- but then I do like a good conspiracy theory story. :D
Hope your weekend is bright. Cheers~

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dec. 16

I'm knocking out a cozy mystery for the fun of it. Yesterday I got pages and pages of info and schedules and stories for my MA Residency in January-less than a month away. There's a lot of work in my inbox including a book to read. It is cold and dark. We are averaging 9 degrees F for high temperatures. (I don't know how to do the conversion to C for those of you who are metric. But it is cold!) Even with four to six inches of snow on the ground, little dog managed to find someplace to rub dirt on the very top of her head last night. So she had a late night bath and blow dry and shivered until bed time. Today she is soft and smells of coconut creme rinse and is sitting in her chair beside me with her nose tucked under her arm. I'm negotiating last minute Christmas bits: forgotten cards to be mailed, packages to be tracked, thank yous to write. Our live Christmas tree is already starting to droop. We could buy it later but they are all cut at the same time so I doubt buying it later would make it last longer. I water it and talk to it and tell it it can make another nine days.
How are things with you?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dec. 15

A special thank you to Rosalind Adam for awarding me with the Laid Back Literary Ladies blog award. Thank you! If you get a chance check out her blog.

I am thinking about agents as gatekeepers and stories that don't sell. I belong to NINC-a multi-published author association. Many of the old timers who have twenty, thirty or more books under their belts and who wrote in the 80's and 90's heyday grumble that agents should not be gate keepers. They should not be able to deem a book unworthy of their attention and tell the writer they won't rep it, or simply ignore it and let it sit on their desks. In my heart I agree with these authors. The agent's job, after all, is to sell your work. But here's a clue, an agent won't work to sell a book if they think a higher paying publisher won't snap it up. Agents want commission not $50 a year. Fifteen percent of $50 is not worth the work that goes into selling. But this leaves authors watching books-good books- sit. Some come back with great news that they found a new agent who took on the book and sold it-poof! Others sell it themselves to small press and e-press. I don't know what the solution is- finding a new agent who will sell old books is more difficult than people let on. Selling to small press and e-press means books are not available in bookstores, and most books will struggle to find their audience. There is no simple answer in this changing publishing world. No simple answer in these hard economic times. Perhaps the real answer is to keep writing so when opportunity appears you will be ready. What are you thoughts on agents?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dec. 14

I sent off Christmas Cards yesterday and then realized I forgot one or two. I am not good at Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries. My poor family puts up with me and my haphazard memory. It's not that I don't love them and want to celebrate. It's that I buy cards early and then think, it's too early to mail it and set it down...only to be forgotten until the day of the event when I search frantically for the card and run out after the mailman waving furiously for him to wait and take the darn card. By then it's too late.
It doesn't help that I've lived more than twenty years with my brain in another world-the world of books and stories. I have to be able to go there to find the characters and work with them on their stories. Time is different there. The longer I work in that place the harder it is to be grounded in reality. (Now see, that sentence brings on a whole new story idea...and I just lost another twenty minutes of time exploring it.)
Question: Are you organized with Christmas, birthday's etc.?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Dec. 13

Happy belated birthday to my nieces Alisha, and Jessica, and my nephew Patrick. I hope your day, yesterday, was grand. May this be your best year ever.

I took the weekend off from writing and watched a bunch of Christmas movies on ABC Family. It was awful weather, first rain, then snow and blizzard conditions, and afterward bitter cold. Time to stay inside and shop on line for Christmas presents. I am nearly done.

A lot of agents have closed for the Holiday season. There is not much work they can do, but read submissions, and I am certain they have a lot of those to go through.

Writers, what are you doing? Are you editing your NaNoWriMo book? Are you plotting out your contests and conferences for 2011? Or are you also taking a break for the holidays? Readers, don't forget that books make wonderful holiday gifts. Cheers~

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dec. 10

The view from my window is cold. How can a view be cold? The sky is ice blue. There are long shadows falling from bare trees. The branches hold white snow, bits of ice and sway dropping snow and ice onto the ground. The lake is frozen over. The ice covered with snow that is more blue than white as shadows draw long lines across its stillness. The absence of life is striking. No birds, no bird song, no insects, no movement, there is only the echoes of animals. Echoes seen in coyote tracks, and deer trails in the snow. There is no sparkle as the top of the thick blanket is frozen only small flat flakes swirl and blow across the top like sand across a desert. There is a sense that nature has her back turned to the wind, huddled in corners, waiting for the season to change.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dec. 9

I have a question for writers, when you start in on a book do you plan a self deadline? Am I nuts or well...maybe highly controlling, lol, but I plan a deadline date. Then I work a word count schedule to meet that date. I include things like days off, time taken for visitors, picking up and dropping off kids to school, etc. But I keep a schedule and if I don't meet the goal on one day then I do the extra the next couple of days to get back on track.
Funny, how I am not a plotter- I don't have an outline or any well thought out plot preset when I begin, but I have deadlines. I do like structure when it comes to the day by day, but if I pre-plot there is no surprise in the book and it becomes a bore to write and a bore to read. Trust me, I've tried.
So, question, do you set deadlines or do you wonder around in the number of pages or words you write and not worry about when the book gets done?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dec. 8

I'm a third of the way through my latest manuscripts first draft. I like first drafts. I enjoy pounding them out and seeing what happens and fighting with the characters over what they should and shouldn't do. I also like revising and making scenes smarter, faster, more relevant. What I hate is the nitty gritty comma checks, style issues, and copy edits. Blah. By then I know I'm ready to let someone else look at the book.
How is your writing going? What part of the process is your favorite?
Readers, what bits do you like best? Action scenes, dialog?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dec. 7

It's Pearl Harbor day. A day to remember all the fine service men and women who died in the attack that day. To remember those who went to war in the Pacific because of the attack. And those who lost their lives in the years following. There are, I hope, things to be learned from that event. Stories to be told. Lives to be remembered. God bless and keep all WWII vets and their families.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dec. 6

The internet is acting up today. It is funny how electronics are as moody as people. Is it because we created them or is it that everything in creation is moody even electricity? Hmmm.

We have snow- over five inches and more coming down now. There are coyote tracks running behind the house and opossum and raccoon tracks in the front of the house. All the night critters get found out when it snows. It does look pretty at night when all the Christmas lights get turned on and glitter against the white.

Happy Monday, my friends. Stay warm. Cheers~

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dec. 3

This morning I read an article on yahoo about cancer caused by common tech device radiation. When they say cell phones are safe, they are talking about studies done in the 1990's when far fewer people had cell phones, and men certainly didn't wear cell phones on their hips like they do now. People didn't place laptops on their pelvis for hours. In truth, cell phones held for hours near the head cause ginoma's- brain tumors. Too much exposure to wireless and dirty electricity can cause heart arrhythmia, diabetes, leukemia, etc. We are in essence killing ourselves with technology.
Here's some tips: Don't let children under the age of 6 use a cell phone or a wireless landline. (Those cordless phones in your home have a base that acts like a personal cell tower shooting off radiation than a cell phone.) Little children's brains soak up more radiation. Get a landline with a corded phone. You can use long cords if you want to walk around. Turn off your home's wireless modem at night. Your wifi modem is constantly giving off signal. Turn off the wifi feature on your laptop if you are not online. If you are like my dd and sleep with your phone, turn off the wifi feature when using the phone as an alarm clock, a game system, a movie player or music player.
Also, you know those wonderful environmentally sound curled florescent light bulbs- recycle them immediately and replace with LED bulbs or regular bulbs. Those florescent bulbs give off dirty electricity that is known to aggravate diabetes, heart arrhythmia's, and cause paranoia and other behavior issues. True scientific fact.
My mother always said this when I was growing up. She worked with developmentally disabled kids and she said the fluorescent lights in schools were bad for those kids. Turns out they are bad for us all.
Never in human history have we been bombarded with so much electricity and radiation over a lifetime. These are small simple steps you can take to lower your exposure. Cheers~

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dec. 2

Cold and clear today. The geese have all left for warmer areas. The giant flocks of birds have swarmed off with the most recent cold front. The weather guys are talking temps in the single digits. If I were a bird, I'd leave, too. Winter has come, although the solar winter doesn't start for another 19 days.
I have a new craft project. I have decided to attempt to knit little dog some leggings. Yes, you can laugh. But when she goes out in the snow she gets stubborn snowballs that cling to her legs. If I can knit her leggings and put them on her before she goes out, then when she comes in the snow balls will get pulled off with the leggings. Wish me luck~ :D

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dec. 1

Welcome to December, my friends. We have snow, right on cue. Big fat flakes that blow around. I hope they don't add up to anything. They aren't supposed to add up to anything. I'm not ready to shovel. I hope where ever you are, you are safe and warm.
I managed to get the work for hire piece sent off yesterday. Now it's back to the cozy mystery I am writing while I wait for my agent to okay the new thriller.
We got our first Christmas card in the mail yesterday. I guess I need to start writing notes and addressing mine. :D
How is your work going? Cheers~