Friday, July 30, 2010

One Goal Friday: July 30, 2010

July's almost over? Already? I'm convinced summer days speed by faster than winter ones.

Today is my dad's birthday! Happy Birthday Dad!

Bunnies
Photo by sloth_rider

So the jogging didn't go well last week. I really slacked off. I think it's time to add some variety to the workouts because I'm getting bored, and when I get bored, I quit.

It's Friday! Time to review and set our goals.

Last week, my goal was to do the final read through of my book and start querying it. Yes, I met that goal. It feels so good.

Here are your goals.
Jessica: Work on the new WIP
Katie: Write revision notes and work on one major problem
Lynn: Be social while on vacay and finish Wild at Heart to review
Julie J: Finish first draft of next synopsis
Abby: Polish both piano pieces
Paul: Fine tuning ending of YA novel and work on WIP
CJ: Not to destroy sluggish computer
Cindy: Finish WIP and prepare for b-day party (Happy birthday to your daughter!)
Jen: Get pages done for blog
Keli: To have a blast at RWA Nationals (I'm sure this will be tough! :)
Nancy: Have Purple Heart remove unwanted goodies
Erica: Finish ms!
Susan JR: Write chapter by chapter synopsis of first book
Talli: Welcome! Finish round three of revisions to The Hating Game and continue writing WIP

How did you do? Is the end of July messing with you? Or are you plowing ahead and getting things done?

So this week, my goal is to hit the county fair one day and splurge on french fries. Yummy! The rabbit barn is my favorite, and I can't wait to check it out.

What about you? What one goal would enhance your life this week?

Please leave your goal in the comment section. Newcomers are welcome to participate, and don't worry if you can't stop by every Friday--my blog's goal isn't to add stress but to be a place of support.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Envy: Writer Style

A few years ago, I leafed through a Better Homes and Garden Magazine and stopped to read an article about a pretty Arts & Crafts home. The home itself was brand new, with tons of square-footage and created with top-of-the-line, enviromentally helpful materials. I smiled, enjoying the pictures of the house, and read the first few paragraphs of the article.

Maltese-Shihtzu puppy in Mia's cat tunnel
Photo by psycho-pics

Then a twisting, spewing, ugly fury rose within me. My eyes might have bugged out a little--I don't know, I couldn't see them (*wink, wink*), but I know exactly what turned me into an envious monster.

So-and-so writes books for Harlequin Mills & Boon.

What? What?! She had my job--my dream job! No fair!!

I devoured the article and, with a little too much oomph, tossed the mag on the floor. Okay, I threw the thing. Then, I did what any envious, married wannabe writer does--I complained to my spouse. Look at this. Look! Look! She writes for Harlequin. She's published. She's my age--maybe younger--definitely younger--she's in her twenties! Waaahhh!

Later that night, I felt awful. Why would I begrudge this obviously talented lady her career? What did it have to do with me, after all?

I hate being envious.

The incident still sticks in my brain. Until that point, I had the vague idea that being a published author--through Harlequin no less--was akin to being an actor on a hit sitcom, totally out of the realm of most people's reality. But this woman was real, and she was young, and she was published.

It clarified something important to me. Deep in the crevices of my being, I wanted to be a published author. I would never be content tucking my books into the closet and not seeing them on store shelves.

What's funny to me today is the fact that I did not envy the house. Sure, the home sparkled, had scads of space, and would be on most people's dream house lists, but it didn't matter to me. The woman's profession did.

Have you ever envied a complete stranger for having the profession you want? What turns you into an envious maniac?

Side note: Jody Hedlund launched her brand new website today! If you get a chance, go over and check it out. Her blog is linked from any page in her site, and if you leave a comment, you'll be entered in a drawing to win a $25.00 Amazon gift card! Her site is linked above or you can go directly to http://jodyhedlund.com/.

Join me on Friday to make one goal!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Titles for Transitional Times

In front of my kitchen window, with my hands immersed in warm, sudsy water, I tilted my head and thought about what label I would give myself at this time in my life. Stay-at-home-mom has been my self-proclaimed title for twelve years, but how to account for the thirty-plus hours each week I spend on my writing career?

Flowers in a bubble
Photo by fotodawg

I'm the type of person who doesn't want to mislead anyone. The truth is very important to me.

Could I call myself a working mom even though I don't get paid? Would I even want to call myself a working mom unless I get paid?

No, I'm not supporting any mommy wars today. There are many working mothers who help my life--nurses who make my children's shots painless, check-out clerks who light my day with a smile, teachers who nurture my kids, scientists working on a cure for cancer, and yes, even editors and agents who are willing to spend time away from their families to grow authors' careers. But working outside the home does not make one mom super while the other mom is just a mom. Stay-at-home-moms are vital too. I'd say in today's busy world, we're all supermoms. The important thing is that each mother is making a difference in the way she's best suited for.

Back to my dilemma. Well, my writing isn't volunteer work. I intend to make money from my books. Ever since I started submitting, I haven't been afraid to tell people I'm a writer. Have there been times I've been embarrassed when someone asks if I'm published yet? Oh, yeah! But most of the time, I'm confident in myself and my work. I have always considered it just a matter of time until my books are in stores.

So, I dipped my hands back into the welcoming bubbles and my title was there: I'm a stay-at-home-mother and aspiring author.

What title do you give yourself? Or do you prefer not to be locked in a box?

Join me on Wednesday when we'll talk about envy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

One Goal Friday: July 23, 2010

How are you? What have you been up to?

That's how almost every phone call of mine begins, and since we're all friends here (if you're new, you soon will be friends here too!), I'll start today's blog out the same.

IMG_5608
Photo by ellenm1

The kids and I strolled downtown Ann Arbor and on the University of Michigan campus this week for the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair. It's huge! The city streets and campus brim with booths featuring artists from all over the world. Live music, free art projects for kids and adults, a trolley, and tons of delicious food booths round out the fair. I love that the city plans so well for the event. Visitors can park at the mall or Pioneer High School and pay a small fee to ride a bus to the venue. The art fair continues until Saturday, so if you're in the area, go check it out!

It's Friday! Time to set and review our goal.
My goal last week was to finish researching my new book and create the scene outline. Well, that goal will have to wait, because my critique partners are super fast! I spent the week tweaking my (almost) finished book based on their comments.

Here are your goals:
Terri: Read through manuscript to see what's still needed
Jessica: Continue sending queries and polishing ms (Good luck!! Fingers crossed for many requests!!)
Abby: Continue playing piano
Diane: Keep going on treadmill
Katie: Add another 12K (Did you finish?)
Wendy: Give mom tons of hugs (Yay! Enjoy your visit!)
CJ: Restore program and data files (Yuck.)
Jen: Exercise 3x's and finish files
Lynn: Tweet twice a day
Tamika: Dive back into ms
Cindy: Write 10k, get up early to exercise, and clean house
Kelly F: 1k/1hr
Erica: Write 10k
Patti: Keep correcting The Rhythm of Secrets, finish teacher crits for memoir class
Quiet Spirit: Write on series of skits with theme of God speaking to us
Julie J: Finish and send synopsis
Nancy: Get "new" room cleaned and organized
Sharon: Write 20pgs of YA romance and write 7 blog posts
T.Anne: Write 10k and catch a nap
CMOM: Spend time with kids
Lindsey: Finish preparing for RWA Nationals (Welcome! You'll have a blast at Nationals!)

How did you do? I'm continually amazed at how productive you are. Even in the middle of summer, you're pursuing your dreams. Inspiring!

My new goal is to do the final read through of my finished book and start querying it.

What one goal would enhance your life this week?

Please leave your goal in the comment section. Newcomers are welcome to participate, and don't worry if you can't stop by every Friday--my blog's goal isn't to add stress but to be a place of support.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Office Supply Delight

Do you walk into an office supply store and get a rush of excitement? Do the aisles of pens, folders, printers, paper, and organizing supplies put a goofy smile on your face? If yes, you aren't alone.

Office supplies
Photo by txd

I love office supplies!

What is it about day planners, giant desktop calendars, Sharpies, staplers, tape dispensers, hole punches, magazine holders, calculators, and blank labels that make me giddy? I don't know. All I know is during back-to-school sales, I buy tons of pens, red and black, for myself. Single subject notebooks? Loose-leaf paper? All mine.

I recently scored a three-pack of cardboard magazine holders and they were covered with an adorable butterfly design. Who could resist? Certainly not me!

What aisle of the office supply store are you drawn to? What items do you have to have? Anyone else salivate when a Staples Rewards coupon comes in the mail?

Join me on Friday to set one goal!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hurry, Hurry, Rush, Rush

My life bolts forward at one speed: fast.

Fast, faster, faster!
Photo by wheatfields

I hate to miss a minute of my morning writing sessions, so I throw a pot of coffee on, take the puppy out, feed the cat, and skip upstairs to my office every weekday. Thirty minutes of catching up on e-mails and social networks puts me in a good mood. I'm ready to plunge into my writing/revising tasks. The time disappears...until life takes over and I have to drag myself out of the office and back into the real world.

Then it's often hurry, hurry, rush, rush. Get the kids out of the house, at least on a bike ride, or run a few errands. Prep dinner, clean up, take the dog for a walk, eat dinner, clean up dinner, and debate exercising.

Do I run? Do I make an ice-cream cone? Run? Ice-cream?

Dilemmas.

I usually run, come home, and make an ice-cream cone. Best of both worlds, you know?

It's a good thing I'm high-energy, because I'm rarely relaxing on the couch before nine. I love to read a book or magazine at night. But there's always something in the back of my head saying, call so-and-so, or write next week's blogs, or don't forget to update the websites next week, and on it goes.

What about you? Is your life hurry, hurry, rush, rush? Or have you managed to carve out an unhurried order to your days?

Join me on Wednesday when we discuss office supplies.

Friday, July 16, 2010

One Goal Friday: July 16, 2010

What a great week! We wrapped up our summer sports, spent time with dear friends, and were blessed with long, sunny days. I worked a new arc into the book I'm polishing up, and I started researching my new book.

Boston Waterfront - Charles River "Evening Jog"
Photo by the-o

The jogging regimen I started in May? Still hanging in there. I can run longer distances now, but I still have to force myself to get moving.

My goal last week was to organize my writing files. Mission accomplished! And I had a fun time shopping for supplies. I could spend a fortune in any office supply store.

Here are your goals from last week:

Wendy: Polish Noble and go full guns with Partridge
Tabitha: Submit short pieces to magazines
CJ: Dream goal--to hire housekeeper and work on art all day (*sigh* wouldn't that be wonderful?)
Lynn: Continue Camy Tang's online writing class and stage photo-shoot to create new story
Erica: Write (I know you're making incredible progress--nice job!)
Loree: Revise four chapters
Jen: Transfer writing files from plastic bin to file cabinet
Jennifer: 4k words
Sharon: Two blog posts, finalize Cake pb ms, one chapter of mg hf novel, and maintain sanity
T. Anne: 10k and edit
Abby: Make new friends at music camp
Maria: Finish two articles
Janna: Keep editing
Kelly F: 1k/1hr (fun challenge!)
Terri: Read my ms (Thank you Terri!)
Jessica: Squats. Many squats (do some for me)
Lia: Finish editing two chapters
Quiet Spirit: Finalize closing up SIL's apartment
Susan JR: Survive more dental work

How did you do? These goals were amazing! It's July--hot, humid, lazy July--and you are still rocking your goals. Impressive.

My goal for next week is to finish researching my new book and create my scene outline.

What one goal will enhance your life this week?

Please leave your goal in the comment section. Newcomers are welcome to participate, and don't worry if you can't stop by every Friday--my blog's goal isn't to add stress but to be a place of support.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why You Might Fear Twitter and Facebook

Twitter and Facebook--two social networking giants. If you're a writer, you've probably heard countless times how you need to get out there and promote yourself on these sites. If you aren't on either, what has held you back?

I don't have time to waste on Twitter or Facebook.

Nope. That's not the reason, although you tell yourself it is.

I don't know how to use those sites.

Let's face it, kids and grandparents tweet. The sites are EASY to use.

Facebook for Dummies, anyone?
Photo by daveynin

So what's the real reason you aren't on Twitter or Facebook?

Simple. Writers obsess over every word we write.

Trying to fit something interesting and creative into 140 characters or on a status update is intimidating.

I've been on both networks for over a year and I still stare at the screen and wonder what I can possibly say that won't sound lame. Facebook can feel like a repeat of high school when you first start out. You have three "friends" while the cousin who took pity on you has 654 "friends." Talk about unpopular! And there the sad number sits, staring at you, accusing you, taunting you.

Twitter is a whole different animal. People you've never met, never heard of, suddenly are "following" you. Their tweets have weird pound signs in them. Is there a secret code? Do you need a decoder ring to tweet? And how do you find your real friends? You type in their name and no one shows up, yet you overheard them say they have an account. I wish I could help you on this one, but unless you type in your friend's name exactly as she's set her account up, you'll have a tough time finding her.

We all feel intimidated when we try something new. It takes time and effort to get used to new technology. If you spend a few minutes each day, you'll soon feel comfortable on Twitter and Facebook. You may even get 655 "friends," just to show up that cousin!

As always, I'd love to "follow" you on Twitter and be your "friend" on Facebook. Click below if you'd like to add me to your networks. Jill's Facebook account. Jill's Twitter account.

Join me on Friday to set one goal!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Spotlight Factor

I have a theory about writers. We crave attention but loathe the spotlight.

I know, I know, I shouldn't stereotype, shouldn't generalize such a diverse and enormous group of people, but why do we choose writing as our outlet? Why not acting? Singing? Even autioneering?

Shadow of a Writing Hand
Photo by jenorton

I can only speak for myself. I want to be heard but don't always know how to say what I feel.


Many writers are shy and would rather lick two-day-old raw meat than speak in front of a group of people. Some aren't comfortable even in a group of people. Yet, these same writers express themselves with jaw-dropping clarity on paper.

It's not that we're anti-social or shriveled up in our own little worlds--we simply feel awkward with all eyes on us. When the spotlight beams our way, we all react differently. I, for one, tend to get louder, more frenetic, and will get silly to make people feel at ease. I have no problem laughing at my own expense, but I'm thrilled to slink away into the shadows after.

Do you crave attention but loathe the spotlight? How would you describe your social level of comfort?

Join me on Wednesday for a twist on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, July 9, 2010

One Goal Friday: July 9, 2010

Hot and humid, this week's been a scorcher. When it's too hot to be outside, we find fun things to do indoors. This week, we played with clay at our local art museum. I found rolling the brown clay in my palm to be relaxing and oddly freeing. A scene for my new book popped in my head as I formed a snail.

Hot Dog Dog
Photo by dutchlad

It's Friday, time to review and set one goal. Last week, my goal was to find quiet time just for me. Although I had to snatch the time in small increments here and there, I did manage to accomplish it.

Here are your goals:

Diane: Make the most of each day with kids and summer vacation
CJ: Get health records organized for the Young One's college
Katie: Another 12k words (great job, by the way!!)
Kelly: Write like mad over holiday weekend (the Holy Land experience sounded amazing--thanks for sharing it!)
Terri: Read my WIP (Sorry, I foiled your goal! Bad me!! Love you!)
Linda: Pick up memoir after a three-week break from it
Tyrean: Traveling and writing (nice combo!)
Sherrinda: Edit a chapter a day
Amber J: Write two more chapters and continue exercise challenge
Abby: Read/write every day and practice piano
Lynn: Finish homework assignments
The Alliterative A: Stress less
Loree H: Get through four chapters of revision and enjoy weekend with loved ones
T. Anne: Get 8k or 9k completed
Susan JR: Recuperate from yucky dentist (hope you're feeling better)
Quiet Spirit: Edit a script for church and continue helping husband
Cindy: Make peace with starting over
Hannah: Relax on two days off of work
Karen L: More quiet time
Nancy: Get the cream bags of watermelon done (how are the wedding plans going?)
Amy: Exercise
Kathi: Take the dog to the vet, finish going over editors comments on book, write at least one article, work on invitations for book launch (congratulations on the book launch!!)
Patti: Safe travels from Nashville to Terre Haute then back home

How did you do? I hope you all had a great time striving for your goals.

This week, my goal is to organize all of my writing files. They're out of control. Staples--here I come!

What one goal would enhance your life this week?

Please leave your goal in the comment section. Newcomers are welcome to participate, and don't worry if you can't stop by every Friday--my blog's goal isn't to add stress but to be a place of support.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Obsess Much?

Passion? Obsession? Is there a difference? Yes, but there's a fine line separating the two.

intent
Photo by mangpages

I'm one of those people who latches onto something and digs deeper, longer, to get to the very root of it. I'm never content with skimming the surface. For example, at the library a few weeks ago, I grabbed a photography book of Audrey Hepburn. The slim picture book gave a brief overview of her life, and I became fascinated. Instead of returning the book and moving on, I checked out more pictures online, ordered several books about her from the library, and toyed with renting a selection of her films.

I do not have time for this level of Audrey studying. Repeat: Do Not Have Time.

Yet, I'm squeezing in chapters of "What Would Audrey Do?" by Pamela Keogh. Just pored over an incredible photography book which chronicled her life on the set of Sabrina. And yes, I'm sure I'll be renting several of her films in the near future.

I'm like that with any interesting topic. And I'm especially like that with my own books.

My office door is like the rabbit hole Alice falls into. I open it and lose track of time. If I didn't have my watch, my children would never get picked up from school. If I didn't pick them up from school, we would not eat dinner because I would still be in the office! All I have to do is turn on my laptop and the hours disappear.

Passion. Obsession? Call it what you will, it's a part of the writer's life.

Join me on Friday to set one goal!

Monday, July 5, 2010

July: The Writer's Life

"Why do you put yourself through it?" My husband glanced at me. We were driving, just the two of us, and discussing life, dreams, and fears. He didn't ask the question in judgment. He was truly curious.

Field of Sunflowers--
Photo by showmeone

I knew exactly what he meant. Why do I devote so much of my life to a dream that has given very little back to me so far?

My husband knows first-hand how tough the writer's life can be. He has held me when I've sobbed after getting a rejection from the agent I wanted. Sympathized with me after getting my very first rejection on our wedding anniversary. Held my hand through disappointing contest results, tough critiques, and other events that crush the average writer. He knows the writer's life, although he's never been a writer.

Why do I put myself through it?

Easy.

"Because it's the only thing I want to do." I answered.

I know the hard times are necessary for my growth. I know God has used the last few years to keep me humble, to polish my ambition, to hone my drive. I want to be published more than ever. None of the disappointments has stopped me. They've spurred me to study more, to seek advice, to ask questions, to get out of my comfort zone and be aggressive.

Writing is the only thing I want to do.

What are you striving for? Are you blessed with an overwhelming desire in your life?

Don't let anything stop you.

Friday, July 2, 2010

One Goal Friday: July 2, 2010

Holiday weekend! Do we even want to set goals? Of course we do!

Fourth Of July 2009 #6
Photo by greeblie

Last week, my goal was to enter in all revisions and send the book to my critique partners. No, I didn't meet my goal. Came close, though. I still have to enter a few chapters' revisions. I was blessed with opportunities to see family, and I don't always get those moments during the school year.

Here are your goals:
Katie: Add another 12k to ms
CJ: Get windshield repaired for inspection
Wendy: Find time to edit and revise while on vacation
Kelly F: Keep eyes open for everything
Lynn: Let go, lay family issues at God's feet, and not struggle to come up with solutions
Janna: Find balance between writing, kids, and home
Julie J: Organize upcoming writing tasks
Sherrinda: Edit one chapter a day
Cindy: Hit 58k
Terri: Hit 75k (Congrats! I know you hit this one!)
Melissa: Complete chapter ten of ms
Nancy: Finalize preparations for daughter's wedding (Congratulations!!)
Quiet Spirit: Help husband and friend get the apartment cleaned
Susan JR: Continue edits and work on non-fiction stuff
Maria: Taking Sunday school class out for swimming and tubing
Loree H: Get through five chapters of final revisions (Welcome!!)
Amy: Exercise four mornings

How did you do? You are ambitious this summer!

My new goal is to find a bit of quiet time for myself each day. We've had a busy pace for summer, and I'm ready to slow down.

What one goal will enhance your life this week?

Please leave your goal in the comment section. Newcomers are welcome to participate, and don't worry if you can't stop by every Friday--my blog's goal isn't to add stress but to be a place of support.

And join me next week for a kick-off of July's topic: The Writer's Life.
Have a wonderful weekend!