Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Clothes. Style. Yikes.

Audrey Hepburn. Two words that bring delight. If you've watched Sabrina, Roman Holiday, or Breakfast at Tiffany's, you know what I mean. The woman sparkled--and her style!--I want some of that!

Obviously, many other women still want some of that, too, because her look continues to influence fashion today. I recently read Audrey Style by Pamela Clarke Keogh (loved the book!), and I was captured by how flawless and effortless Audrey always appeared.

It got me to thinking--how would I define my style?

Soccer mom? Casual professional? Throw-on-five-year-old-jeans-and-call-it-good writer?

None of the labels really fit. I don't have much of a clothing budget, nor do I enjoy shopping for clothing in malls. The stores seem to have a lot of one style and not much of anything else. The current pieces don't flatter me. Empire waist? Makes me look five months pregnant. Super low-rise skinny jeans? Yeah, I'm laughing pretty hard at that one! Even Ann Taylor and Banana Republic--the go-to uniform stores for professional women of childbearing years--don't fit my life.

Here's the thing, I love clothes. I adore it when I throw on a great-fitting pair of jeans with a sweater and the whole image snaps in place. However, too many items in my wardrobe are good but not great. They don't fit well or they're old or they aren't a great color for me. Do you have this problem too?

My solution is to shop consignment shops and thrift stores. It allows me to try new looks for very little money. And I can't tell you how many designer clothes I've found with the tags still on! I always find perfect jeans at thrift shops, probably because they've been through the wash and have already shrunk.

Now mind you, growing up, the last thing anyone in my family would do is shop at a thrift store, but these shops have grown in popularity over the last few decades. Yes, 80% of the clothes are nothing you'd wear, and of the other 20% only several items will be right for you. But it's a fun way to enhance your wardrobe without breaking the bank.

How would you define your style? Do you want to burn most of your wardrobe? What precisely do you not like about it? Or do you love your clothes?

Have you ever browsed the clothing in a consignment shop? Was it fun or did it give you the creeps? We all have our own comfort levels, and some second-hand stores are better than others.

Join me on Friday to post one goal!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Smells...Good or Bad?

All winter long I anticipate the smell of freshly cut grass. Summer brings such glorious scents, doesn't it? The whiff of watermelon when you slice into it--drool worthy. Or what about roses blooming beside your deck? The sea air blowing across a beach? And let's not forget the delicious scent of burgers searing on the grill.

But summer also brings some not-so-pleasant smells. The humid air ripens the manure of a dairy farm a few miles away. And does anyone enjoy the aroma of Fido when he tromps in after a rainy day? I'm guessing no. Mosquito spray is another offender. I love my DEET, but the smell leaves much to be desired.

A few other favorite frangrances of mine are tropical suntan lotion, any food item at the county fair, chocolate sauce dripping over vanilla ice cream, that slight chlorine scent after a dip in the pool, freshly laundered sheets, and campfires.

What is your favorite summer smell?

Friday, June 25, 2010

One Goal Friday: June 25, 2010

Percolating. As in the drip, drip, drip of coffee brewing. It's steamy, smells great, and brings an excited anticipation of a rich experience to come. That's what my week was like. It was busy and productive in an almost-ready-but-not-quite way.

**Brief pause in the regular Friday goals here--please include Quiet Spirit in your prayers as she mourns the loss of her dear sister-in-law. Quiet Spirit writes beautiful devotions at her blog, Following My King, and I'm sure she would appreciate a kind comment if you would like to reach out to her. **

Last week my goal was to revise ten chapters of my final round of revisions based on critique advice. I exceeded that goal and managed to mark up the entire book. Now it's a matter of entering the changes.

Here are your goals from last week.
Tabitha: Start a new project
Jennifer S: Write 20 pages
Wendy: Make big decisions
Lynn: Write good piece on inspiration
Nancy: Downsize
Kelly F: Get up and face the blank page
Janna: Find balance between writing, kids, and home (me too!)
Paul: Do 20 min's yoga at least three times this week
Cindy: Make it to 40K
Julie: Edit chapter two of YA
Patti: Get two additional blockbuster chapters to agent
Karen L: More time in the Word
Maria: Begin research
T.Anne: Finish one proposal and start the next
Cluttered Brain: Continue walking to make the goal of 120 miles this summer (Welcome!)
Sherrinda: Edit one chapter a day
Katie: Add another 12k to ms
Maria: To not get fired and to celebrate Father's Day with Dad (Congrats on the promotion!)
Sharon: Enjoy the sun and write when the mood strikes

I hope you all had a fun time meeting your goals. I know I did!

This week my goal is to finalize all revisions and send the book to my critique partners. And as a side-note, I am also pre-plotting my next book, which is a whole lot of fun for me!

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.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Trips

We recently returned from a long weekend up north, between the upper and lower peninsula in Michigan to be exact. Mackinac Island has been a resort destination for over a century, and it maintains its old-fashioned aura. No automobiles are allowed. The only ways to get around are by foot, bicycle, or horse.

Although a drizzly day, we pushed our bikes up the island to get this gorgeous view.

Below is the famed Grand Hotel. Perched high up on a bluff, it overlooks the Mackinaw straits and boasts a magnificent view of the Mackinaw Bridge. (Mackinac Island and Mackinaw City are spelled differently, for reasons still unclear to me!)

Here's a snapshot of the adorable shopping district. Think fudge, t-shirts, and more fudge. Yum!

Fort Mackinac brims with interpreters in period costumes. We enjoyed watching someone get court-marshalled, and my niece and brother-in-law even learned how to properly march in formation.

A highlight of our trip was a stop at Hartwick Pines. The park is a preserve for the tall growth forests that used to cover northern Michigan. Nature takes over in Hartwick Pines--the trees are protected from being cut. Beautiful trails lead to a restored logging camp and a hands-on visitors center, but the highlight for me was this incredible wooden church nestled in the middle of towering trees.

Do you take long weekend trips? Where will this summer lead you?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Sunshine

Addicted to sunshine? Maybe. I told myself I'd spend thirty minutes outside--no more. An hour and a half later, I dragged my feet indoors. What is it about the warm sun that melts my muscles and lulls my brain? Usually, I enjoy reading out in the sun, but on Friday, I couldn't even pay attention. It was enough to just sit and be and soak up summer.

I'm sure you've all heard the expression "filling the creative well." Activities conducive to re-energizing our creativity include reading, absorbing art, listening to music, even going to a movie. But what about silence? What about an hour of nothing?

How often do you have an hour to just sit and be?

Can you make that happen this week? I know how hard it is. We have so many things clamoring for our attention. But please try. Try to just sit for an hour and not do anything. It's good for the soul.

Friday, June 18, 2010

One Goal Friday: June 18, 2010

Sixteen years ago, I woke up and scraped Lee Press-On Nails off of my fingers for over an hour. What possessed me to attempt fake nails the day of my wedding, I'll never know. Later, I donned an elaborate gown with puffy sleeves, gobs of lace, and a stunning train. I begged my mom to stop and get McDonald's fries on the way to the wedding (she didn't). Then, out of happiness, I bawled like a baby all the way up the aisle, and my legs visibly trembled as we said our vows.

I didn't have a single doubt that I was marrying the right man. The perfect man for me. My hero.

We were among the last to leave our reception--it was just that fun! I wish I had a scanner to post one of our wedding pictures. We looked so young! Well, we were so young.

Some things haven't changed. I still regularly enjoy McDonald's fries, and I still don't have a single doubt I married the right man. The perfect man for me. My hero.

So...last week my goal was to enjoy my anniversary. I can safely say I'm accomplishing that!

Here are your goals:

Kelly: Figure out work situation
Heather: Continue self-editing for June 25th goal (Happy Anniversary!!)
Wendy: Post new pictures (They are GORGEOUS!!)
Kelly F: 1000 words at family reunion
Lynn: Complete Creative Boot Camp
Maria: Write three devotions
Amber J: Take a photograph and write every other day
Julie J: Editing chapter two of YA
Angie: Blow the dust off the manuscript and get to work
Cindy: 23K by Friday
Tamika: Write everyday
Raquel: Finish outlining and start writing
Beth M: Make it to Florida in one piece, enjoy family, and finish first draft (Happy Anniversary!!)
Hannah: Push through and study for finals (Hope you got those A's!)
Diane J: Slay passive voice
Jen: Finish index of book and lose another pound
Karen L: Keep walking, finish and submit two articles, and start working on lessons for teen class in fall
Janet J: The evil synopsis (How did you fare? I spent A LOT of time on mine!)
Susan JR: Edit next two chapters of "The Moses Conspiracy"
Kristen T: Do laundry, clean, and get groceries before Sunday (And Yay! You did it! Now come over and do mine.)
Erica: 12K words
CMOM: Catch up on blogs at least once a week
Tyrean: Finish home school lessons, survive dance recital week, and relax
Maria S: Finish reading Invisible Man and not get fired (I don't think you have to worry!)

Love these goals! Look how much everyone is accomplishing. Amazing!

My new goal is to revise ten chapters based on critique advice. I also have another goal--to catch up with everyone's blogs. Life rampaged at about 100mph the last two weeks, but it's on schedule to slow down. I miss all of you!

What one goal will you set this week to make your life better?

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 terrific weekend!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Music

Do you find your taste in music changes with the seasons?

I listen to top forty hits all year round. But I focus on different sounds each season. It's always classical jazz in the winter. Spring brings a fresh batch of country my way. And fall leads me to my old favorites, like Van Morrison, Al Green, and Dave Matthews Band.

But summer? It has to be upbeat and fun. Right now I'm loving Black Eyed Peas and anything with a great dance beat.

What do you listen to in the summer? Do you tend to listen to the same music year round?

Join me on Friday to set one goal!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Do You Relax in the Summer?

I find summer relaxing. Everything feels more laid-back. We don't count the hours at the beach; we just let our grumbling stomachs lead us home. A night by the campfire, gazing at the stars seems the right thing to do, regardless of the hour.

I love to grab a glass of iced tea and head outside on Sundays after church. Sometimes I throw an old quilt on our backyard and leaf through magazines or cookbooks. Other times I might cut up a watermelon and herd the family to the pool. I'll read a book while the kids swim. Even a good old walk with my miniature dachshund, Sophie, relaxes me.

In essence, it doesn't take much for me to chill out in the middle months.

What about you? How do you unwind in the summer?

Friday, June 11, 2010

One Goal Friday: June 11, 2010

Love these Fridays! I hope you all had a terrific week and were able to meet your goals.

Last week, my goal was to polish my synopsis and query. I worked on both, but neither is quite ready. I feel good that I made strides toward my goal.

Here are your goals:

Heather: 5k words and critique three chapters for c.p.
Terri: Finish critiquing one of c.p.'s books
Kelly: Fill out rough outline and make research list
Wendy: Redo the author pics (I'm sure they turned out wonderful!)
CJ: Make sure the Young One picks her college classes for the fall (the invites are incredible!)
Katie: Another 10K words
Jen: Lose another pound, finish the rough draft of article, and compliment 100 people
Jennifer S: Write that speech
Hannah: Finish essay on Feminist Criticism and write graduation speech (Congrats, Hannah!)
Georgiana: Start next project--woo-hoo!
Maria: Finish three devotions (and good luck with the crit. group!)
Diane: Treadmill time
Cindy: Finish critiquing one book for c.p.
Nancy: Get the house in order
Common H.M: Plant 8 petunias and get caught up on work :)
Quiet Spirit: Memorize script (sounds interesting)
Karen L: Walk several miles
Kara: Read craft books and write down all ideas to sift through for new WIP
Susan JR: Put the new knowledge in practice

I wish I could call each one of you and be like, "Did you make it? How's that writing/walking/orgainizing going?" I'm so glad you're willing to share your goals with me each week. Isn't it funny how similar we all are?

My new goal is to spend a few wonderful (and children-free) days with my darling husband! It's our anniversary on June 18, and I want him to know how much I love him. Sixteen years! Can you believe it? I was a child bride...okay, maybe not...have a fabulous weekend!

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.

I will not have access to the Internet until Monday, but please leave your goals. I can't wait to read how you did and what your plan for next week is!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Writing Schedule in the Summer

If you're like me, you're curious as to how writers do it all. They may have busy careers, small children at home, elderly parents to care for, or all of the above. Yet, they continue writing, and many keep churning out amazing books year after year. Their non-writing responsibilities haven't gone away. How do they do it?

Morning Routine @ Work
Photo by willsisti

I don't know. I'm not big on comparing--it just makes me feel bad. I do know that we all have different personalities, different rhythms, different ways of approaching things. My way would not work for everyone but it works for me.

My children are old enough to make their own breakfast and entertain themselves for a few hours upon waking. I set my alarm, get up early, and write or revise until noon. The kids know I'm all theirs after lunch. I do not cheat them of this time, and they in turn, respect that I'm working in the morning. A few days a week, after dinner, I spend a few hours on social networking, blogging, and updating websites.

I always feel a push-pull between my writing and family responsibilities. It's hard to mix it up right each day. Some days, I'll feel I should have spent more time with my family. Others, I'll panic that I haven't checked blogs in forever. I'm making peace with it, because it's not something that's going to go away.

Ten years ago, I wrote up a personal mission statement for my life. I no longer have the copy, but I clearly remember my priorities. 1. God 2. Husband and children 3. Work/personal pursuits.

I don't believe I need to spend every hour of every day catering to my children to prove they are a priority in my life. However, I can easily let my personal mission of being published overtake every waking minute. So I set aside each afternoon in the summer to spend with my kids--no writing allowed. In a few short years, I won't have the opportunity to spend precious summer hours with them. They'll grow up. They won't live here forever.

Writing has been my career (although I'm not yet published) for almost three years. My writing goals are attainable but challenging, and I push myself hard to meet them, even during the summer. Discipline isn't always fun. It doesn't always feel good. But without it, my writing would sputter to a stand-still in the summer.

With any career commitment, we have to juggle responsibilities, and those tasks don't always fall into an easy nine-to-five schedule.

Does your writing schedule change in the summer? How do you feel about it?

Join me on Friday to set one goal!

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Summer Survival Plan

Summer vacation! Woo-hoo! My kids and I get to spend every waking minute together for three whole months. Sounds great, doesn't it? Actually, it is great! But... The long break quickly turns ugly if I slip into passive mode.

I have a plan. I came up with it about four years ago after a particularly annoying start to a much-anticipated summer break.

Here is my personal, proven plan for a successful summer vacay.

The first two weeks: TIRE THEM OUT.

Let them sleep in. Then get them out of the house! We take a lot of mini-trips the first days of summer vacation. It's difficult for my kids to adjust from a jam-packed schedule to a non-existent one. (Difficult translates into they get bored and pick at each other.) So we'll spend a day at the zoo and another at the art museum. We'll ride bikes, visit the library, lounge at the pool and swim at the beach. We'll break out the markers and drawing pads. In essence, we will not stay home much.

The middle weeks of summer: LAZY MORNINGS; ACTIVE AFTERNOONS

Their bodies have adjusted to the slower pace. They actually want to stay home more. Activities long forgotten are unearthed from the basement and enjoyed. We still take day trips, though not as often. Every afternoon we get active. We may take a long walk, ride our bikes through a metropark, swim, make sandcastles at the beach, play catch, or garden, but we will be outside and moving our bodies.

There are so many things to do in our area. The county fair is a highlight--hello, junk food!--as is spending a few hours ambling about in downtown Ann Arbor. I'll drag the kids to a few historical sights, which they'll complain about but secretly love, and I'll probably buy them an ice cream cone on the way home. Hey, I never claimed to be Super Mom!

The final two weeks of summer: BACK ON TRACK

Bedtimes slowly get pushed back to normal. We try to cram in our favorite activities--especially the zoo and swimming. Excitement over new school clothes, supplies, and seeing good friends permeates the air. I wish I could say I relish these final weeks, but I usually am more than ready for school to open. Again, never claimed to be Super Mom!

If you have children at home, how do you handle summer? Business as usual, or do you adjust to your kids' temperaments?

Join me on Wednesday for a peek at my summer writing schedule.

Friday, June 4, 2010

One Goal Friday: June 4, 2010

Today is the last day of school, which means my kids will whip their backpacks onto our living room floor before whooping around the house like rabid wild dogs. I will yell at them to put the backpacks and everything in them away, because if I don't, the scuffed up packs will sit like excess furniture until July.

Do you know what no school means? It means drinking coffee on our porch--in my pajamas. It means a few quiet hours each morning for me to write as my kids snooze. It means a general relaxation blankets our normally busy household. At least until mid-August. At that point, I yearn for full days to write in peace, for the freedom to meet my writer friends for coffee, for separation of my dear children. But for now, I'll enjoy.

It's Friday! Time to set one goal for the upcoming week. It can be related to work, fun, family--anything--just as long as it enhances your life.

Last week, my goal was to be grateful for what I have each day. I had no problem with that goal. All I have to do is look around me and see my terrific husband, my sweet kids, my supportive extended family, and all of the material blessings showered on me. I am grateful, extremely so.

Here are your goals.
Katie: Finish outlining to be ready to write by Friday
Diane: Get on that treadmill
Wendy: Nail the ending
Jessica: Go running twice and figure out how to lengthen category novel to single title
CJ: Settle on date for party and design the inside of invitation
Kelly: Write a detailed outline
Jody: Finish up the substantive edits
Lynn: Complete chapter one of The Artist's Way by Julie Cameron and write about it.
Regina: Finish the website in progress and finish small writing project
Keli: Another 5K words
Jennifer S: Do some research and write a speech for church talk
Cindy: Enjoy the weekend (Happy Birthday!!) and aim for 16K words
Julie: 3 hours of editing
Karen L: Spend more time in the Word
Hannah: Get graduation announcements in the mail
Erica: Enjoy family and company who are visiting
T.Anne: Complete edits and move on
Jen: Lose 1 pound, continue working on index, and start reading No Greater Love by Kathi Macias
Susan JR: Study deep POV, setting, and motivation before making changes
Maria Sondule: Have a good first day of work (Congrats on the new job!)
Tyrean: Start a 365 Days of Blessings at blog, aimed to keep gratitude in the atitude (Great idea!)

As always, these goals amaze me. I hope you all were able to make progress!

My new goal. Hmm... Polish my query and synopsis so I can start querying my latest book, For Barter or for Worse. Yeah, I gagged a little at the thought. But, it has to be done. :)

What one goal will you set 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, June 2, 2010

Filthy Fingernails

This June we're talking about the bliss of summer. Now, I know some of you do not enjoy summer. Maybe you live in an area where the middle months are brutal? Well, here in the midwest, summers rock!

I live in an area with four distinct seasons. Winters bluster cold and snowy. Spring is a toss-up--either non-existent or cool and rainy. Fall makes my heart skip a beat. Michigan displays the most gorgeous harvest colors. But summer...

Summer can hardly be described. Three short months of warmth, swimming, campfires, bike rides, and gardening. The temperatures can get high and the humidity soars, but most days can happily be spent outdoors.

We planted our garden this weekend. After a few hours of shopping for plants, fertilizer, and what-not, we turned the dirt over and colonized (interesting word, eh?) everything. Do I love the shoulder straining work of shoveling? Not really, but I love tip-toeing out mid-July for a basket of cucumbers, peppers, and zucchini. My filthy fingernails are worth it.

My current manuscript is almost ripe. It's getting a few final rays of water and sunshine from my critique partners, and then it will be plucked and shopped to editors and agents. My shoulders ached as I honed the plot and weeded the repetitive words, and my fingernails got dirty during the process.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

If you're a writer, do you find the hard work of writing and revising your pages worthwhile? Is it worth getting your fingernails dirty?

I will be in and out all week. Although I won't be able to respond to each comment, I look forward to reading them all!