Monday, November 25, 2013

A Thanksgiving Break!

I'm taking the week off from blogging to concentrate on adding words to my novel before a nice, long, holiday weekend.

For all my American friends, enjoy your Thanksgiving feasts! May your Black Friday be full of shopping deals or full of relaxation at home. And for everyone who is traveling--be safe!!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Reading Novels in Chunks

My favorite thing to do is read a novel all the way through in one sitting. To dive into a fictional world and not come up for air until the end? Delightful!

When I was younger, I had the freedom to do just that. But kids and life and responsibilities make reading a novel all the way through virtually impossible for me! I have weeks where I don't read fiction, and that makes me sad.

I ordered Karen Witemeyer's Stealing the Preacher a few weeks ago. I've heard tons of great things about her books, and I enjoyed meeting Karen at the ACFW conference this fall. But, again, the kids, the life, the busyness. The book stared at me, taunted me.

I didn't want to pick it up. I was going to love it. I knew it. And how would I put it down? How would I get the rest I desperately need each night? HOW??

Deep breaths.

I made a decision. I would read it in chunks. No matter how tempted I was to flip those pages until five in the morning, I would be strong.

And you know what? It's working. I was right--I do LOVE the book--but I read five or six chapters a night. I'm only halfway through it, and that's okay, because I have something to look forward to after dinner, and I'm not losing precious sleep.

Reading a novel over a period of time isn't my first choice, but if it will keep fiction in my life, I'm willing to do it!

How do you fit reading into your life?

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Real Life? What's That?

Tuesday 3:30pm: I have to write a blog post.

Stares blankly at windows. What am I going to write about?

Oh! The next scene has to include her realizing she never told him...wait, what was I doing again? Blog post. Ugh. M&Ms where are you?

This is me in first-draft-land. Yes, I'm writing a new book, and because I'm deep into a manuscript, everything online fades away. I spend hours pouring words into my keyboard. Think of dialogue and scenes and settings at night when my brain is supposed to be resting. And when I pop my head up after an intense session, the last thing I can deal with is the real world!

Blogging? Who can concentrate on blogging? I have nothing left but the problems of my characters, and, frankly, I'm too wrapped up in them. Fascinated. Obsessed.

But an hour later, I've created enough distance between fiction and reality to focus on my blog. I can even scroll through Facebook and Twitter. Maybe think about cooking something for dinner.

Speaking of...I should cut up the meat for the stew. And doesn't one of my children need help with homework? The dog has been let out, right?

I have to write a blog post.

Well, I guess I just wrote it. :)

How do you deal with the real world when you're immersed in a fictional world?

Have a terrific day!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Work that Word Count!

First drafts and I usually get along. I've spent hours in my head getting to know my characters, the setting, and the general idea of what will happen, but it isn't until I start writing that I find out what really happens.

The characters start saying things and doing things I never anticipated. How fun is that??

But, as most fiction writers know, writing isn't always fun and games. I struggle to stay motivated through my draft. It's easier to check Facebook and e-mails than to sit and write. The only explanation I have for this? Writing is intimidating. Really intimidating.

I have a few tricks to work that word count, though, so I figure I'd better share them!

1. Set an almost impossible finish date. 

Why? Sometimes a do-able finish date becomes too easy, making me lazy. When I set an almost impossible date, I might miss it, but I always finish well before my original, do-able date.

Plus, I push myself harder when I set big goals. :)

2. Keep track of your word count and the overall word count.

Seeing your word count go up makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

3. Fill out a scene list as you write.

I used to do this before I wrote my draft, but I find it's easier to do after each scene. This keeps me on track as far as pacing and comes in handy when the book is done and I'm revising.

4. Take a few minutes at the end of the session to jot what needs to happen next.

If you're not sure what will happen next, think about the previous scene, whose viewpoint was used, and how far into the book you are. It should trigger something!

5. Limit editing at this point. 

I'm terrible about turning off my internal editor. Usually right after I write a scene, I'll realize things I got wrong, forgot, or that need to be added. I want to fix them right away. But, I try hard to type a quick note with my suggestions at the beginning of the scene and move on. Last week I gave in to temptation, spent over an hour fixing the scene I'd written, and came up short on word count by about a thousand words. I can write a thousand words in an hour, so it's obvious I could have made that word count.

We gain confidence in our writing when we finish what we start. Work that word count!!

How do you stay motivated to keep working on a project?

(Happy birthday to my beautiful daughter!!)

Have a fabulous Monday!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Shopping, November, and Ripped Jeans

"No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, no fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds--November!" ~ Thomas Hood

It's cold here! Cold and blowy and November.

I heard my first Christmas song of the season on the radio today. It didn't please me.

Three pair of my jeans have either developed, or are in the process of developing, holes in the knees.

Soon I will be shopping. Not for jeans--heavens no!--not for those! *shuddering* No, I'm making up the Christmas list and circling sale ads. Shopping and I typically don't get along. I am not looking forward to this.

On a good note, I've been doing yoga for a few weeks. I love it! I've practiced it off and on for about sixteen years. Never gets old!

What's going on with you?

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Updated Vision Board!

A month or so ago, Cara Putman started an online book club, and the first book we're reading is Holley Gerth's You're Made for a God-Sized Dream. I love this book not only for its conversational style, but for the exercises it lists in each chapter. This isn't so much a read-it-and-put-it-away book. It's interactive and designed to truly help you find your God-sized dream!

Holley even offers free, printable worksheets for each chapter. I fill them out as I go along.

(BTW: It's not too late to join the book club. We're talking about chapter four soon, so if you think this sounds good, head to Cara's blog! You can even sign up for e-mail notifications when the next post goes live.)

At the end of chapter one, Holley suggests creating a vision board. 

I know all about vision boards--I've made a few in my day! (For more info on making your own vision board, check out this post, "Vision Boards" from my archives.)

Anyway, I spent a few days cutting out words, phrases, and tons of pictures. My son even joined me! Yes, this is a fun project for all ages. When I had enough to work with, I spread them out on a poster board. I'm thrilled with the end result. Here's my updated vision board.

What would you put on your vision board? 

Have a fabulous day!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Staying Committed to a Big Dream

Most people have a big dream tucked away somewhere. It scares you, excites you, and sits there in your heart whether you're pursuing it or not.

You might be actively working toward your big dream right now. Or you could be covering it up, telling yourself it's not the right time, you're not the right person, that it's not the right dream for you.

I know about big dreams. I also know they require more than we imagine.

Eight years passed between the time I realized I wanted to write and when I actually wrote my first book. The book stunk, and I was overwhelmed by my duties as a stay-at-home mom. I prayed and felt God asking me to set the dream aside for a while. I complied. More years passed and, during them, I joined a writer's group, wrote assignments, and read tons of novels.

Fourteen years after I initially claimed my dream, I began seriously pursuing it. My prayers led me to the green light, but I still had so much to learn.

I naively believed that having a big dream meant it had to come true, and soon! Sacrifice is always rewarded, right? But I underestimated just how competitive this field is, how much additional learning I would need, and how much I needed to grow spiritually.

There have been times I've wanted to quit. It would be easier for me to get "a real job." But after twenty years, this dream won't go away, and I'm convinced it's not just mine, it's God's dream for me. How do I know this? Because I pray. Every day. I ask God to lead me to where I'm supposed to be, what I'm supposed to do. And this is it.

I'd like to share a paragraph of All In:You're One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life by Mark Batterson.

"Going all out for God is not just about getting where God wants you to go. It's about who you become in the process. And it's not about how quickly you get there. It's about how far you go."

Yes. This has been my experience. Every day I work toward my dream, and I've become much more than a writer. I've become someone God can use because my dream became less about me and more about Him.

I've been on top of the world, honored, thrilled, validated, and I've been defeated, rejected, humbled, brought low. The one thing I remain? Committed.

Don't be afraid to go after your big dream! Pray on it. God will give you the strength you need. The road will have turns, but He'll point you in the right direction. Someone else's path might be half a mile. Yours might be six thousand miles. It doesn't matter. Stay committed.

Have you taken steps toward your big dream? Have set-backs made you reconsider? How did you move forward? 

Have a lovely Monday!

Friday, November 8, 2013

November: A Time to be Thankful

November is the perfect time to be mindful of our blessings. We don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to tally the good. We can be thankful all month long!

This week I'm thankful for the grand finale of autumn colors. Leaves are heading to the ground quickly here. I'm not looking forward to gray and brown branches against a gray or white sky. Winter lacks color, so I'll enjoy the gorgeous harvest hues while I can.

I'm also grateful for my own office. The sun streams in through two large corner windows. My L-shaped desk is just the right size for  me to spread my notes out. Someday I'll add a comfy chair and ottoman to my space, but for now, it's perfect.

My silly dog adds to my life. She's playing with a toothpaste cap and barking at my daughter's closed door. Sophie loves that room and hates to see it closed.

I started a new book this week! First drafts are always fun! It usually takes me a while to build up my daily word count because my first three chapters are where I'm finding my way. I'm so thankful to be able to pour this story out!

Sometimes I take my health for granted. What a blessing to have a healthy family. Been working out all week and trying to eat better, too. Halloween candy still lurks, though, so you do the math. :)

Most of all, I'm thankful for my family and my faith. Every morning I spend time with God. And every morning He gives me the strength I need. I'll never be perfect, but I'll always be saved.

What are you thankful for this week?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I Like Reese Witherspoon

I read a ton of magazines. After years of soaking in all the gossip, I've grown fond of certain stars and have a chip on my shoulder about others. Reese Witherspoon is one of my favorites!

First of all, I love her style. Her hair always looks gorgeous, even when she's racing around town in a ponytail. She rarely wears inappropriate clothing, and she manages to look beautiful and feminine without looking skanky or slutty. Too many Hollywood moms think style means showing off eye-popping cleavage.

She's done a good job of managing her public persona, too. I often see pictures of her taking her kids to church. I enjoy reading her interviews because she seems honest and relatable. She's a very wealthy woman, but she's also a wife, mother, and working mom. And did I mention I love her hair?

Are there any stars you admire? Why? Why not? 

Have a terrific day!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Perfect! A Mini-Break!

My kids have reached the end of the first quarter, which means they get a mini-break from school. I love mini-breaks! Over the weekend, we visited both my parents and my hubby's parents, and now I get a couple of days to sleep in and lounge around.

Everyone should take a few loaf-y days now and then. Hang out in your yoga pants or pj's. Nurse that cup of coffee or hot tea. Flip through a magazine. Open a novel. Watch a trashy daytime television show.

Lose the tension.
Let your brain turn to mush.

Sometimes you need to get off the fast track of life to refuel. I write and revise better when I take some time to putter and be lazy. My imagination needs it too. If we don't take breaks, our creativity dwindles. That's not good!

With the holidays knocking at the door, it's smart to let your mind lie fallow for a bit. The busy season will be here soon, so let's enjoy it.

Do you  take mini-breaks? What's your definition of the perfect lazy day?

Have a terrific Monday!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Candy Binge? 2 Minute Resolution Vlog

It's time for another two minute resolution, and since I'm drowning in Halloween candy, this month, I'm talking about the candy binge.

Candy Binge? November 2013's Two Minute Resolution!

Do you love candy too? What's your favorite snack?

Have a terrific weekend!!