Friday, June 28, 2013

The Summer Guilt Trip

Every summer I take a trip, but it's not a vacation or a fun destination--it's a guilt trip, mom-style.

Sophie, our mini-wiener dog!

Within one week of school letting out, the following thoughts pummel me until the kids head back in the fall.

* They're watching too much television.
* Do hours of playing Minecraft prepare a kid for a career designing video games?
* Is my teen a recluse? Why so much time in the bedroom?
* When--when??--will either of them crack open a book?
* A summer with no math? Disastrous.
* My figure-out-lunch-for-yourselves policy can't be healthy.
* If we drive to a city pool for the day, how will I finish my revisions?
* One pair of shorts should get each kid through the summer, right? *Gulp* I need to take them shopping.
* Since when did a package of stickers and markers cease to be exciting?
* Is going to the zoo really a "rerun" as one of my kids told me?
* How many text messages is too many? Again, the teen...

I've been working long hours to finish revising my current book. After that I'll be taking time off to brainstorm plots and study a few writing craft books. We'll have the leisure to explore the area more, to spend time at the beach or a local pool, to go to a discount movie. But even then, the mom-guilt-trip-of-summer will continue. It's in my blood!

Do you ever feel guilty about how you spend your time?

Have a terrific Friday!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bloggy Break!

I am taking a break from blogging until next Friday! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! See you in a week!

~ Jill

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Need a Vacation?

I need a vacation. It's been a busy, wonderful, hectic year. Yesterday I didn't get out of my pajamas until 12:30 pm but only because I didn't want to lose five minutes of revising time. The deadline I set WILL be met!! It. Will. Be. Met.

Yes, I attacked the emergency KitKat bar in the fridge. No, I do not regret it.

Since I'm unable to sit on the beach at this time, I figured I'd do the next best thing. Watch a video of turquoise waters, boats, sails, waves, and the glorious sky.

Why don't you do the same? Take a few minutes. Relax. Let your soul breathe!

Are you desperate for a vacation? Where would you go if you had the choice?

*Exciting update: My book, New Lease on Love, is a finalist in ACFW's Genesis contest for unpublished writers! Praise God!*

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Random Mid-June Weather

Last Wednesday I battened down the hatches on our deck, moved the cushions into the garage, and protected our pretty hanging basket by transferring it inside. The weather called for severe thunderstorms, possible tornadoes, and high winds. Our outdoor furniture routinely gets blown across the deck due to the winds here, so I wasn't taking any chances.

I took this picture from our front porch a week ago. The rain brought a double rainbow!
The tornado sirens sounded around 12:30 AM, and we headed down the basement, watching the constant lightning flashes and sheets of rain for about an hour before returning to our beds.

Saturday brought a fun festival to a town nearby, but rain threatened to ruin the outing. Thirty minutes of rain preceded twenty minutes of humid heat, then the rain came back, then the temperature get the idea.

But Sunday, glorious Sunday--Father's Day--arrived clear and perfect. Mid-seventies, a light breeze, and cotton-ball clouds chugging through the sky. From our deck, my husband and I watched the sun go down, and the weather was so mild and lovely we stayed out there well past dark. Even the mosquitoes left us in peace.

What can I say? It's mid-June in Ohio. We get a little bit of everything weather-wise here!

I'd love to hear what your mid-June weather looks like. Hades-worthy heat? Rain, rain, and more rain? Tornado alerts every five seconds? Please share!

Have a terrific Monday!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Filling Up on Faith

Sometimes life throws us twists and we don't know if they're positive or negative. They don't feel great, but there are other circumstances that make us wonder.

We don't have control over many things. It's hard not to have control.

But the closer I get to God, the more I understand He truly works everything out for our good.

I can praise Him for disappointments. I can trust He will work it out.

Romans 8:28 (NIV) "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

One of my favorite songs is by Jesus Culture. It's called, "One Thing Remains." You can listen to it if you click on the link and scroll down to the bottom of the playlist. It's a beautiful song, and I hope it fills you up the way it does for me!

Can you trust God with the iffy things in your life?

Have a terrific weekend!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Summer Reading Goals

Monday felt terribly Monday-ish, if you know what I mean. And I think you do. Chopping away at my to-do list, I was tired and cranky and just plain old weary, so I drove to the library. The New Release section had two books I wanted to read, so I grabbed both.

My steps grew peppier. Browsed the cookbook section and thumbed the new Elie Krieger. Tossed last month's InStyle magazine and Glamour magazine in my bag. Found a two-pack of Ryan Adams' cd's I'd never listened to. That's when I saw it--the table set up for the summer reading program.

Did you know some libraries offer a summer reading program for adults?

At our library, you just sign up, read a book, fill out an online entry form, and you're entered into a county-wide drawing for great gifts like an iPad mini and gift cards. Count me in!

It made me think about reading and goals. I've read twenty-nine books so far this year. I don't tally how many magazines I read because I'd have to go to some sort of magazine rehab facility, but I do track my books. Summer reading programs offer a great excuse to set reading goals, and I set mine last night.

My summer reading goals?

I'm reading whatever I want.
I'm trying new genres.
I'm NOT putting a number on that goal. If I read fifteen books, terrific! If I read one book, just as terrific.

Life gets really cut and dried sometimes. Reading is my favorite hobby, and it's a way to water my soul. I don't want to make it a chore or something to scratch off my to-do list. I want to anticipate opening a new novel. I want to get transported to another world. I want to lose myself in a story. That's my ultimate reading goal!

Do you read more books in the summer? Have you joined a summer reading program?

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Do Songs Trigger Your Memories?

I'm sitting on my couch. Sophie, the mini-wiener dog, is on my shoulder. Crazy little puppy. Anyway, I'm listening to the radio, and Ray Charles's "You Don't Know Me," just came on.

These old songs spark memories--not only memories of actual events, but memories of who I used to be, and I can't help wonder if I shouldn't be that person still.

Did I change so much? Do I still recognize me?

I get caught up in word counts, revising, critiquing, driving the kids, getting groceries, taking a run. I forget I'm more than this moment. And now I'm listening to these great old songs. Memories bombard me, the ones I'd tucked away in hidden pockets.

- Flashes of going to a fancy restaurant with my sister. We try new foods, enjoying the excitement of being out of college and having good-paying jobs. We giggle. No one can bring waves of laughter on quite like my sister.

- I see myself laughing, dancing in my cute dresses at a million and one wedding receptions--my word!--my family and my husband's family know how to have a good time!

- Sad memories come back too. A big fight. The colors of summer, the dark sky, the tang of the air--it rushes back.

- Dancing with my toddler daughter in the living room of our first purchased house. Twirling, twirling, giggling, giggling until we fall in an exhausted heap.

- The insanely huge spider (it had bones, people!) dangling over our heads us as my husband and I walk up the steps of our first home. I can feel our excitement, our anticipation!

- Staring over a table for two in the Florida Keys. Thinking I married the most handsome, incredible man in the universe. I still think so. :)

- Sitting on a quilt in the park with my baby son for an outdoor concert. His white-blonde hair melts me and his blue eyes crinkle as he squeals in delight.

- Sobbing in a parking lot the first week we moved to another state. Had no idea how we would make it in such a different culture. Felt like we made a huge mistake. (We didn't.)

- Driving a car full of school kids to basketball tournaments. The car shakes as they sing along to the Black Eyed Peas. Love it!

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the past, but sometimes a song will trigger it--and my heart just tugs and tugs, unable to resist looking back.

It's then I remember--I'm so much more than today.

What songs trigger your memories? Do you ever feel not-quite-in-touch-with-yourself?

Have a wonderful Monday!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Riding My Bike: 2 Minute Resolution Vlog

Welcome to the June 2013 edition of my vlog series, 2 Minute Resolutions.

This month I want to get more active and ride my bike. :) I've been walking/jogging regularly, but there's something wonderful about feeling the breeze and gaining speed on a bike trail. I can't wait to get out there!

What do you want to do this June?

Have a fun weekend!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

So You Didn't Final In the Contest?

Ah, spring and early summer. The time of year when fiction writers hold their breath and watch their phones in anticipation of hearing the good news--your contest entry made it to the final round!

There are so many great contests, and many aspiring inspirational fiction writers enter ACFW's Genesis contest or My Book Therapy's Frasier contest. Romance writers get giddy over RWA's Golden Heart contest. All of these offer bragging rights and the chance for your entry to be judged by top editors and agents.

But with prestige come few finalists and hundreds of non-finalists. I want to hug everyone who doesn't get the phone call. Wrap my arms around them and tell them a few secrets.

Yes, I know things. I've been on this aspiring writer merry-go-round for a while now.

While I haven't entered very many contests, I've come away with enough golden nuggets that have improved my books to make each contest worth it.

For everyone who took a leap and entered a prestigious contest this year and didn't go on to the final round, I'm sharing some hard-earned wisdom with you.

1. Something about the experience will improve your writing.

You might find it on a scoresheet. You might not. A long time ago I received feedback that made me wonder if the judge had read someone else's entry--it had nothing to do with my book! But it improved my writing because it helped me trust myself. Some advice resonates with us. We should only take advice we understand and agree with.

2. Not everyone is on a fast-track to publishing, and it does NOT reflect your talent.

I wish I could tell you why some people seem to board the lightning-fast plane to contest wins, agent contracts, and overall buzz from their peers. I applaud them. But I want YOU to know it doesn't matter.

For every overnight success story, there are roughly five hundred slow-and-tortuous stories. Yes, I made that statistic up, but honestly, you need to know most writers lose contests, face many rejections, and take five steps back for every step forward. Ask around. You'll see.

There is no expiration date on your dream. Yes, it stinks to get our hopes up only to have them smashed. This is an extremely competitive business. Take the hard knocks now, ask yourself how much you want this, and continue to improve your skills.

3. When you go through enough trials on your way to publication, something wild happens.

You get humble, you get confident, you get good at writing, and you realize you'll put up with a lot of misery to grasp that golden ring.

Don't believe me? It's easy to continue on a journey when all the lights are green, and everyone is waving you in to the finish line. It's hard when light after light is red, and no one realizes you're even on the road. I wonder how many writers who entered the Genesis contest five years ago are still writing?

When you've faced a devastating rejection on your wedding anniversary, a cruddy contest result on your son's birthday, or a rough pitch session at an expensive conference--you get humble.

When you write and revise and study the writing craft, listen to your critique partners, and pay attention to the industry--you get confident.

When you do all this day after day, refusing to give up, you get good. Really good.

When you do all this year after year, you understand publishing itself won't make your life perfect. It won't be a picnic. You might have a strained relationship with your first editor. The sales of your debut might stink. Hey, you'll get some bad reviews, your family could mock your book, you might not get that second contract. And guess what? You'll still put your butt in the chair and keep going.

Why? Because you've done it for years. You'll remember all the rusty nails you stepped on to get to that point. What's a few more? This is your job. Your career. One you sacrificed for, cried over, poured sweat, blood, tears on and maybe even lost some of your sanity.

But here's the thing. After all the trials you went through on your way to that first contract, maybe, just maybe, you'll land the editor of your dreams. You'll get the second, third, and fourth contract. Your sales will rock. You'll still get some bad reviews. But you won't care, because you're living your dream.

So, you didn't final in the contest...

You're going to do fine. Just wait and see.

If you entered a contest recently and did not final, please feel free to e-mail me (jill(at)jillkemerer(dot)com) if you're struggling. I'd love to help you through this

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Summer List

Summer vacation is almost here, and every year I think of all the fun we're going to have until school sneaks back in. But if I'm not careful, the weeks slip away, leaving me wondering, Did we do anything I wanted to do? Or was this summer a complete waste?

Enter the summer list.

Before the kids get off the bus one last time, I jot down all the things I want to do while they're home. When I get stuck past the basics, I do a quick Internet search of fun things to do in my area. You'd be amazed how many blogs out there give terrific suggestions for local events.

Here is a sample of my summer list:

- Go to the beach as often as possible
- Go to a local city pool
- Batting cages with my son
- Tennis courts with my daughter
- Library summer reading program
- Frisbee golf
- See Monsters Inc. University in theatres (our theatre offers $5 tickets before noon on weekdays!)
- Go to a nearby park to dig up fossils
- Take a few of my son's baseball buddies to a Mud Hen's game
- Explore the local parks we haven't checked out yet
- Hike in forest
- Ride our bikes on local bike trail
- The zoo
- Truck back up to Michigan for The Henry Ford
- The botanical gardens
- Thrift shopping
- Art museum

The first two weeks of break are always tough. It's like speeding at ninety miles an hour then slamming on the brakes in three seconds. I've learned we do best when we keep busy the first weeks. Easing into the summer routine makes life better for everyone in our family!

Another thing I plan--plenty of ice cream and popsicles in the freezer. Summer and ice cream are conjoined twins, and I save money by buying in bulk. :)

We have a loose schedule all summer. I get up early to enjoy my coffee and write. The kids and I fend for ourselves for lunch. A few afternoons a week we check things off our list. It's good!

What are you looking forward to this summer? Do you have a list?

Have a terrific Monday!