New Year! New Goals!

It took me longer to get back to the blog than I had planned, which I’m committed to not set a trend for the year! My daughter, the one with the new baby, broke her wrist and needed more help than we expected, so I contribute the slowdown to an emergency!

Writing

You know all the cool stuff I talked about in my last post as possibilities? I’m not doing any of it! I looked at what really needs to happen this year and at the projects I’m already taken on and discovered that adding two more, regardless of coolness, just didn’t make sense. Instead, here’s what I’m working on:

– Rereading and revising the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo with a plan to start marketing it in September.

– Reorganizing this blog and posting on it 2-3 time a week. Maybe more.

– Writing regular book reviews here. Since I read a little of everything, this should throw a lot of variety in your direction!

– Outlining and starting a new book. I had a great idea inspired by the Postcard Challenge, although I’m not doing the art part of it.

Art

Right now, I have two major projects to get going:

– I signed up to do an Embroiderer’s Guild of America group correspondence course, making a pulled thread sampler. Pulled thread, in this instance, refers to stitches that distort or pull the fabric to create a kind of lacy look. I will post pictures of the work in progress. It has to be complete by July 2nd, so we can mail it to the instructor to evaluate. Please let my fingers do their job!

– Setting up my Etsy store, taking good pictures of my work, and getting it up for sale. This entails quite a lot of work, some of which I don’t know how to do yet. My goal is to have it operational by the end of January, so I can post hearts for Valentine’s!

– Okay, three projects. As a stitcher, I have things hung on my wall that prove I can’t count. My third project is to ensure that I clay at least two days a week to make sure I have fresh stuff up on the Etsy site!

Joy

Making resolutions at the beginning of the year is not a path to joy. In fact, it’s more likely to be a path to guilt, upset, and failure. On the other hand, having a plan for what you’re going to accomplish this year can be a joyful experience, because you aren’t drifting through life aimlessly. The trick is figuring out what you really want to accomplish, deciding what it will take to do that, and, most importantly, building a support system and accountability. Here are a few tips:

1. Name your project, determine what the goal is, and by when you will accomplish it. “I’m going to start an exercise program and lose weight” is not going to get the job done. How about something like:

The Bikini Project

1. Lose 20 lbs. by June 1st by measuring the portions that enter my mouth, eating a low fat diet, and cutting out cookies, cake, and daily chocolate.

2. Start yoga and pilates classes at the rec center, to tone up my abs. Lose two inches around my waist, hips, and chest by June 1st.

3. Buy a teeny, weeny, yellow polka-dot bikini June 2nd and hit the beach!

That describes the what and how of of the project. Now, you need to set up some support. Tell everybody you know, even the people you know won’t believe you can do it, that you’re going to do this. Pick some friends who you know will support you, especially if they’re doing something similar, and set up accountability. Using the example above, you could join a yoga class together so you can support each other in going. You could weigh in once a week together. You could even take each other’s measurements to make sure you stay honest! And on June 2nd, you could shop for the bikini together!

All I’m saying is set up your resolutions so you’re likely to achieve them. Instead of walking away from them after two weeks and having another failure, set yourself up to win!

It’s the one best way to create miracles!

I’m Still Here: Setting Up The Next Year

It took a while to get over the crud we caught while the family was here, but we are well and survived the holidays so far.

As promised, here is a picture of my new granddaughter. Isn’t she gorgeous? Of course, she’s grown and filled out since this was taken, like they always do! She’s two weeks and one day old today.

And there is my grandson, discovering his first birthday cake. He was so cute as he painted himself and the newspapers in frosting!

Writing

After NaNoWriMo, I gave myself a month off from The Book. The month is nearly over and it’s time to start the next part: reading and editing and deciding if it’s actually worth marketing. I’ve been looking at some support structures for this and I will probably go with ROW80. I discovered I get more done if I’m answerable to someone. The next round starts on Monday, January 2nd, with updates every Wednesday and Sunday. I’ll let you know what I’m up to on Sunday (after my football game).

By the way, you know that writers read, correct? Stephen King said it best: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Totally, totally true. You will never get better at this job if you don’t study what other people have done. At least, that’s my excuse! Anyway, since I read pretty obsessively, I’ve decided to start reviewing some of what I read here. This is mainly because I’ve just finished two really fine books and I just have to share!

The first one was Michael Connelly‘s latest book, The Drop. I’ve been a Harry Bosch fan for several years. The Drop is vintage Connelly, filled with suspense as Harry realizes a serial killer has been operating in Los Angeles for at least three decades. He’s also working a case involving the son of his nemesis, Irvin Irving. Although Harry is most concerned with the serial killer, the police department wants him to put all his energy toward solving the young man’s possible suicide. Harry manages to clear both cases with the help of an old friend. I really enjoyed this book. As always, Connelly breathes so much life into his characters that I hate closing the book, knowing I have to wait at least a year for another one! I’m considering starting a re-read of Connelly’s books, because he is really one of the best writers out there. I end up so involved in his stories that I always have to reread to see what he did to accomplish the fine storytelling. Thankfully, he also shares about his process on his website.

Venturing down a different path, I finally started the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Why did I wait so long? George writes good books, but he kills my favorite characters. A lot, he kills my favorite characters. I understand that once a character has fulfilled his role in a story, you have to something with them, but killing them? Couldn’t you just demote them or something so they have a chance to come back and contribute some more? Exile them to some character desert island, maybe? I recognize that storytelling is the process of creating nice people who have terrible things happen to them, but hanging their heads on pikes on the castle walls? Really?

Complaining aside, what makes George’s books so powerful is his mastery of Point Of View (POV). He tells the whole story of A Game of Thrones through the voices of many of the major characters. I’m guessing he will do the same in the rest of the series. It’s a very strong way to tell a story, creating a connection with each of the characters. I haven’t watched the HBO series and don’t currently plan to do so, but I will read the rest of the series. I have to a lot to learn as a writer from George’s work. I just don’t guarantee to like the process!

By the way, I’ve met George at science fiction conventions and he is actually a nice person with a dry sense of humor, usually willing to talk to other writers about how he does what he does. If I am so lucky that he reads this, I hope he gets a good laugh out of it. And thank you, George; I always get a little better from studying your art.

Art

What with the holidays and company, I haven’t done much this month. My friend, Lori Wostl, sent me an idea for a project that I’m considering. Again, the challenge starts January 2nd, so I have a few days to make up my mind. I’ll let you know.

Joy

The holidays are all about joy and plans and family and all the best things in life, don’t you think? I know, sometimes things don’t go the way you planned and sometimes families fight and sometimes dreadful things happen. In the end, though, if we remember that we love and are loved, there’s a lot of joy to be had here. I hope your holidays have included much joy this year!

Now, go create some awesome New Year’s resolutions and have a miracle or too!

How Not To Hold A Family Reunion

This is another quickie, still with no pictures, because I didn’t take many.

My kids, Mom, and I spent months pulling together the family reunion that was supposed to happen last week. We got my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson here just as my daughter went into labor with my beautiful granddaughter. Baby is born way early Tuesday morning, with daughter-in-law in attendance because things went too quickly for the rest of us to get there.

We visited the new mom and baby in the hospital, picked up my mom from the airport and made it back to the hospital in time for Great-Grandma to hold the baby. Everything was going well.

Then disaster struck. My husband and I came down with killer stomach flu. My daughter banished us from her house until we were better. We finally made it for my grandson’s 1st birthday and a Christmas celebration on Thursday, still not feeling great. This was good and we got to enjoy grandboy’s first cake experience. My mom brought a bunch of pictures and my father’s jewelry (he passed away a year ago) for us to share. Daughter won’t let me touch the baby.

Friday, Mom goes to visit her nephew and comes down with, you guessed it, the stomach flu. I drive son, daughter-in-law, and grandson to the airport and go home to finish getting better. Daughter refuses to let Mom back in her house for fear of getting the baby sick, particularly after discovering that baby has jaundice and is not gaining weight. We arrange for Mom to stay with nephew on the other side of Denver and give up getting to visit with her in the hope that she will get better quickly.

The end result thus far has been that I spent almost no time with my kids and grandson, have held my granddaughter about twenty minutes, made my daughter into a nut case, hurt my mom’s feelings, gotten who knows how many people sick, and totally blown what should have been a great holiday.

This is really not the way to do a family reunion. Sigh. Unfortunately, I don’t know quite where the stomach flu came from or how I could have stopped it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get everybody back to loving each other enough to at least talk on Christmas day. Maybe next year, we’ll have better luck!

Pictures coming in the next day or two; I’m still doing laundry for my daughter to cleanse her house of our contagion.

 

 

Loads Of Visitors And A New Grandbaby!

This is just a quick post to let everyone know I’m still out here and kicking. This week, my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson arrived on Monday, a few hours after I drove my laboring daughter to the hospital. My beautiful granddaughter joined us at 2:58 AM Mountain time, weighing in at 6 pounds, 3 ounces and 18 inches long. My beloved stepmom got to town this evening. Some observations on the influx:

1) My almost one-year-old grandson is beautiful, charming, even-tempered, and scary smart.
2) My son and daughter-in-law are incredible parents.
3) My daughter is becoming a remarkable mom.
4) My former son-in-law is already wrapped around my new granddaughter’s finger and he’s going to be a great dad.
4) My stepmom manages look elegant and charming, despite a day spent at airports.
5) My husband is so willing to go the extra mile to support me and my family. He’s also wrapped around grandbaby’s little finger and she doesn’t even know him yet.
6) I am so fortunate to have such a great family!

Pictures coming in a few days. Right now, I have two grandchildren to enjoy, my mom to visit with, and my son and daughter-in-law to get know again. Yes, I’m still here and I’ll talk to you soon!

It’s Done And I Did It; First December Snow


Okay, I might be overstating a little. But only a little!

Writing

NaNoWriMo 2011 is over. Yesterday, I typed the last words in my book (I actually hit 50,000 day before yesterday). I’ve been a little giddy ever since. Have you ever done something you really didn’t think you could do? I highly recommend it. I will never not be a novelist again.

I printed the book out yesterday and put it in the notebook my husband made for me. I will show it to people, but I’m not reading for at least a month. I still think it’s a good idea and possibly marketable, but I’m totally tired of those people and I don’t want to talk them right now!

Other Stuff

I still haven’t taken pictures of the seahorse necklace or the necklace I made for my stepmom for Christmas (I’m not giving anything away; she has a hard time e-mailing, much less surfing). The light today was too flat.

Picture of garden bunny covered in snowMy beautiful autumn pansies may be retired for the season:

And since I was giddy:

Picture of snow angel I madeI did it while nobody was looking and I refuse to publicly acknowledge that I, dignified individual that I’m not, would ever do such a silly thing. Y’all won’t tell, right?

Joy

I wish everyone could feel the way I feel today. Even though I spent the day catching up on housekeeping that went by the wayside while I wrote, I have an amazing sense of myself stretching to include something new in who I know myself to be. The only way to achieve this is to do something you never thought you could do. And I promise you, it does not matter what that thing is. Find something you want to do and find a way to do it, even when you’re sure you can’t and everyone around you is convinced that you can’t. Really, unless you’ve chosen something really unachievable, like surviving a leap off a tall bridge with no parachute, you can have this sense of accomplishment and mastery.

I really, really encourage you to do it, whatever it is. A whole new world will open for you and you’ll know the only one who held you back was you. Go for it! Miracles await!

Still Writing: What’s Really Valuable

Wow, do you believe that? After I post this, I’m going to keep going, but I wanted to give you, my faithful supporters, a quick update.

Writing

I’m in the sprint to finish up by midnight, 11/30 (for friends from elsewhere, 30/11), so this has to be pretty short. I did want to mention two things I have found to be of great value in this process.

The first is my e-mail. I get around 300 e-mails a day, most of them from chains and stores who want me to spend money. Some are book review sites who also want me to spend money. It’s amazing how much e-mail I get that I just delete. I used to try to read it all. What was I thinking? When I’m finished with the book, I’m going to get off as many of those lists as I can. Even deleting them takes too much time. I want my life back!

Warning: This part’s a fundraising effort. I need more sponsors for The Office of Letters and Light, the people who put on NaNoWriMo every year. Please donate; aside from what this journey has given me personally, these folks make writing programs for people as young as kindergarten. Their servers need to keep running!! Here’s the page to donate. Please remember that every penny helps, so give what you can. My goal is $250; as you can see, I’m woefully short!

Support Wikipedia

Something I’ve discovered: This book could not be written without Wikipedia. If you think about it, anybody living an online life consults Wikipedia fairly often. They keep this incredible free resource running on very darn little. After donating to The Office of Letters and Light, give a little to these folks, too.

Art

Hah! You see that word count? I’ve been tied to my computer. Maybe in three days, okay?

Joy

You know, I haven’t thought about joy a lot these past few days, due to the ending push on the novel. When I typed the word, I stopped for a second and thought about everything and everyone who has made this crazy month possible. I thought about how my family has stood beside me and put up with my absence even when I was in the same room. They’ve had a tough month, too.

So I’m dedicating this section to family. My immediate family will all be coming to Denver during December for vacations and celebrations. My grandson will be a year old and my granddaughter will be born. Amidst the joy, we’ll have some sorrows: we lost my father at this time last year, a month after my daughter lost my first grandson. Yet, we’ll be together and as Spider Robinson said, “Shared pain is lessened. Shared joy is increased. Thus do we defeat entropy.” I’m glad we’ll be together.

Share your holidays with someone, okay? And create miracles; this time of year is just made for them.

Don’t Forget Small Business Saturday

Ah, Black Friday! Bargains abound and people are shopping their hearts out. Most of the money spent today will go to national and international chains. I came across an interesting site:

The 3/50 Project

Small, local retailers built this country. Please support your local merchants this holiday season.

Don’t forget your local artisans. Trust me, a lot of us have more creativity than money. Check these out and give handmade items this year:

Shop Indie

Inspire Handmade

There are lots of artisans in your community; please support them.

 

 

Something else caught my eye:

Nonprofit Tech 2.0:Social Media For Nonprofits

Their post today is called “11 Holiday Gift Programs That Benefit Nonprofits And Make The World A Better Place. Check it out and, if you can, make a gift. After the book is done, I’m going to work with a couple of my favorite nonprofits to make use of the information this site shares about using social media to raise money. Our nonprofits do so much with so little; please donate to your personal favorite.

All I’m saying is this: help your community. Where you choose to spend your dollars makes a difference. Support your local businesses and nonprofits!

Now, back to work ending this book!

Thanksgiving

Writing

Today I will go over 40,000 words in a novel I had given up hope of ever writing. Whether or not it gets published or is even worth publishing, I will never again be able to say I didn’t do it. Since today is Thanksgiving Day in the US and thankfulness is an all-around good thing, here are some writing things I’m thankful for:

My family, including my husband (Bill), son (Patrick), and daughter (Jessica). Thank you for putting up with me while I worked horrible hours, writing technical manuals for clients. Thank you for supporting me during NaNoWriMo. Writing is a solitary art and you have often put up with not having me around while I was in the same room.

My friends and supporters, including Lori Wostl, Betsy, Nuala, Cyndy, Chris, Eric, Lisa, Ingrid, Jeff, Ruth, Cait, Dan, Mary Ann, and so many others who never give up on me even when I do. You know that saying “I wish I was the person my dog thinks I am?” These are the people who never let me be less than the person they know I am.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, because I get to occasionally hang out with people who are incredible writers and who think I could be, too.

Writers In The Storm, for glimpses into their world as published and supporting writers. “Oh, brave new world! That has such people in it!” (Shakespeare, The Tempest)

The Office of Letters and Light, the fine folks who make NaNoWriMo a reality. They also provide support for The Young Writers Program, an opportunity for young people to grow up knowing they can write.

Art

First and foremost, I am so very thankful for Christi Friesen, who generously shares her gift and inspiration with anyone at all. Her generosity has given so many of us new faith in our own artistic abilities. Plus, she’s really fun to hang out with!

Embroiderer’s Guild of America, where I received my training in color and design, beside fabulous companions, a lot of fun, and a marvelous stash of fibers and beads, although never the ones needed for a new project. Despite my husband’s belief, my stash is small in comparison to many!

Lori Wostl, whose constant example lets me know what’s possible when living a dream. Thank you so much for being on my planet, Lori!

Joy

First and foremost, I give thanks to and for Werner Erhard and Landmark Education. Thanks to doing the est Training in 1979, when I was 24, I have spent my adult like knowing I had a choice. The Forum, the Curriculum for Living, graduate seminars, and the Assisting Program have reminded me repeatedly. Thank you so much!

My family and friends. Without you, I would live in a barren wasteland, listening to me talk to myself badly. Thank you so much! I love each and everyone one of you!

Elizabeth of Mirth and Motivation, for bringing joy and great pictures to my internet world. You are a blessing!

The US Armed Services, men and women who volunteer to keep our country and way of life protected. Without you, the freedom of expression I and so many others hold dear would rapidly become a thing of a buried past. Your service is more appreciated than I can possibly say.

Everyone generous enough to read and comment on this blog. Without you, this is just maundering in the dark. It’s nice to be read!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Quickie To Update On Novel: It’s Still On

Writing

As you can see, the game is still on, despite a threatened dry spell earlier this week. I’m going to try to get a little further ahead tomorrow, in case I have a job starting sometime this week.

Art

Remember those starfish and the seahorse? I got them strung in a necklace. It needs a couple of structural elements and then I’ll post pictures. Then I’ll put it up for sale! Whee!

I wore it today on a test run (I’d rather the crimps gave on me than somebody else) and the seahorse was taste-tested by a fifteen-month-old boy. He was disappointed and did not leave teethmarks. I’m not sure what that says.

Joy

All I have tonight is this: I heard one of my favorite songs today. It’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. I know it sounds a little silly but you know, he’s right. If you’re worrying, you’re not being present to what’s happening now. You’re thinking about some future that may or may not occur. To top it off, that future that you’re envisioning is based on information from your past. There it is again: a future based only in the past. The future isn’t here yet and may not look the way you thought anyway. The past is over and can’t be changed. All you have is the present. Just live it.

Have a great Monday and create a miracle or two. In the present, of course!

The Midpoint: Made It And Still Writing

Writing

I’m racing to catch up again, due to a daughter placed on modified bed rest, meaning she can’t do her own laundry, cook her own food, or anything else that requires being on her feet for more than five minutes. Mom to the rescue!

In addition, today I’m interviewing for a tech writing job to start on Monday. I wouldn’t even consider it except the pay is amazing and my Christmas budget right now is nonexistent. It requires me to be onsite 22 miles from my house. Public transportation (which includes riding a train, so it isn’t all bad) here I come! Besides, I can write on the train, except for when I’m looking out the window or people watching.

Art

I posted a couple of pieces for sale on E-Bay, part of the proceeds of which will be donated to The Office of Letters and Light, the fine people who bring us NaNoWriMo.

Picture of teal necklaceIf you are interested in this necklace (my design!), take a look at:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/250933344682?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

I also put up one of my heart pendants:

Blue heart pendantIt’s for sale at:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/250933358941?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

Due to the complicated time commitments, I don’t know if I’ll get more posted or not. I hope to do more this weekend and I have a baby shower, writing, and possibly a new job to contend with! I’ll let you know.

Joy

Being busy is a joy, even though I’m feeling overwhelmed right this moment. Really, in my heart, I know I have created my life this way. I like being busy and feeling like I’m living on the edge of what I can do. It’s scary, it’s exhilarating, it’s overwhelming, it’s stressful, it stretches me to my limits and beyond. I will grow from this.

What stretches you? Can you grow without be pushed to the limit. I know I can’t. If there’s no push, I’ll sit in my corner and wonder why I’m so bored. Growth, at least for me, is not easy. But then, as Helen Keller said, “Life is an adventure or it is nothing.”

Have a great Friday and a wonderful, adventurous weekend. And don’t forget to create a miracle for someone, maybe even you!