Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid, Tastes Great

Who remembers Kool-Aid?

We still drink it at my house. It's not the best thing we could all drink (that being water), but it's certainly better than soda and energy drinks. I drink more sweet tea than Kool-Aid, which I also make with less sugar. But occasionally I like a nice cold glass of sweet, fruity flavored Kool-Aid.

Now, for awhile, I was making the artificially sweetened store brand kool-aid for hubby and son, but I have always been of the opinion that the bad things about aspartame far outweigh the good and finally decided to stop pouring it down my mens' throats. Back to the real stuff made with real sugar. :)

Have I noticed a difference? I'm not sure yet... Does hubby's inability to go to sleep at a reasonable hour count--or does stress and the fact that he's a night owl weigh more heavily there?

My favorite is pink lemonade, but I also like orange and last night I found black cherry again!

What's your favorite flavor?

Monday, August 30, 2010

No good blog title...

Yay for my younger daughter--she lost six pounds this past week.

She's a big girl. And I have been worrying about her for a few weeks. I was just getting ready to talk to her about her weight when she announced that she was gong on a diet. Her good friend and friend's mom have been on some program and have lost some weight. So DD (darling daughter) took notes about what and how much she could eat and dutifully went shopping last Monday am and started her diet. She's pretty sick of chicken salad, but if her excitement last night was anything to go by, she'll keep on eating chicken salad if it means she'll lose a few more pounds.

She got a few more items to add to her 'can eat' list and some recipes, too, so hopefully it'll be enough to keep her going for a few more weeks and pounds.

Go, DD!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The writer's life for me...

What would that look like?

It would look much the homemaker's life: stay-at-home wife, keeping the house and the yard and the kids in order. In between cracking the whip or wielding the mop, I'd be banging away on the keyboard cranking out words on my latest WIP. Actually, it's be the other way 'round, at least during the day. Un-numbing my butt by mopping or scubbing a toilet or changing a load of laundry.

Hubby is well aware of my desire to be a homemaker, but for right now, I have to be a workin' girl.

One day....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to school...

Well, my boy has his school schedule which includes marching band, JROTC, and hopefully baseball (he's trying to transfer in), not to mention three pre-AP/honors classes. The boy will be busy. Which makes his momma happy. Mainly because if he's busy with with school activities, he's less likely to find some other troublesome way of keeping busy.

Of course, with his history of homework the past two years, I'll be riding him hard about getting it done and asking for help when he doesn't understand something. Not that we haven't done that in years past, but this isn't Kansas anymore, Toto. I've tried to impress upon him that while middle school was important this is HIGH SCHOOL and he can't really afford the mistakes or to make the choices he made last year. I know he's smart enough. (The boy can memorize almost anything he hears enough times and then recite it back verbatim. If only he'd apply that effort a bit more to school work.)

Speaking of classes, I'm taking couple, too. A writer is always learning better and new ways to wield their pen, er...keyboard and to tell their story. When you're a beginner, the learning curve is huge. As you grow as a writer, you learn various lessons about writing, the requirements of the genre you've chosen, etc...but even once you become published, there's always something new to learn. Not that I'm there.

I'm no longer a beginner, but I still have a lot to learn. I recently joined a second writers group, Savvy Authors, in order to participate in their Summer Symposium since I couldn't afford to attend the RWA National Conference. ($30 vs $1500, hm...) They offer classes and chats and workshops. Some free, some requiring a small additional fee.

Right now I'm taking a class on "Life in a Medieval Castle" and one called "Cracking the Romance Code." I'm always in search of the light bulb moment for things I still struggle with. Hopefully, I'll have one with the second class. The first is more informational as I'm working on a historical set in the 1100s. I've also participated in a couple of the free chats, one about utilizing online social networking sites to get my name out there and promote myself and eventually my work. But I have to admit, I still really don't get the Twitter thing.

Well, that second class started already, so I better go check it out...try to have that light bulb moment.

What exciting thing have you learned recently?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The downhill slide

My youngest starts high school today. In fact, he'll be on his way to school shortly. His older sister will drop him off and pick him up.

And so begins a new phase in my life as a mother. The baby is almost grown up.

The oldest child has moved out. I'm not sure what her life is like, but as far as I know she's still working, thank goodness, and she has someplace to live. I see her every now and again when she swings by to pick up mail or another box of her stuff, but she doesn't reveal much. But she seems to be doing okay.

The middle child is still at home. Not attending college this semester, but she will be searching for a job soon. She babysat twice a week this summer--just enough to keep her in pocket change. Not that she has any expenses at this point. But it's time to take that next step--a decent paying job and a car of her own. I expect that sometime between now and the time her brother graduates, this daughter, too, will be out on her own. Well, I certainly hope so. :)

The next four years will alternately drag and fly by. I'm not sure how I feel about that, all of a sudden. I have been looking forward to the time when all the kids were gone and my house and my time were my own. But thinking of my son all grown up and away from me...hmm...not so excited at the moment.

Is that a mother/son thing? I never felt that way about my girls. Or is it less the gender and more that it's the baby? Hard to know. Although I imagine in four years I'll be ready for what comes next.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Critique Group

My critique partner has turned into a critique group and now we are three.

This is good, of course; the more eyes on your work, the better, right?

I've been working on some guidelines for out little group, eliciting input from other writers I know who are in groups. One answer was pretty useless: "Well, every group is different and it depends on what you're looking for."

This, I know.

So I e-mailed another friend, asked some specific questions and got back a 13-point dissertation.

That was helpful.

I sent another e-mail to yet another friend and am currently waiting a reply.

But I have concerns.

One major concern and one minor concern.

I'm afraid one of my new CPs isn't going to be handle it--the critiques or the commitment. Maybe I'm wrong. I hope I'm wrong. That's the major one.

The minor one is that I'm afraid I'm really not going to get what I need from this group, at least from the above mentioned CP. I swear I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but in recently reading chapters from both these women, I appear to be the more advanced writer. It's a tough job, but someone--okay, just kidding.

I know one of them is a beginner. She's only been in our writing chapter maybe a year and has said she's new to romance writing. I knew that going in, but she's writing what I'm writing *and* she's read a ton of what we want to write, so my advantage was that she could help me meet the criteria of our new genre.

Now, the newest member I've known for, oh...four years now. I think. Something like that. But she's gone through a lot of personal upheaval in the last few years and as you would expect, her writing, while important to her, had to take a back seat as she dealt with real life. So basically she hasn't grown much as a writer. Not that I fault her, but will she be able to help my writing as I'm pretty sure I can help hers?

So what do I get out of this relationship I'm now committed to?

I've read and heard that critique groups should be made up of writers at a variety of levels. That's really great for those writers at the lower levels, but what about the writer at the highest level? Maybe if they struggle with spelling and punctuation or...

But as I'm writing, things are coming to me...if the advanced writer struggles with shallow descritions...yes, she gets feedback; if the advanced writer struggles with...well, name your issue...she gets feedback. If the other writers grasp those concepts already. If they don't, then...what?

I'm afraid I'm going to be cheated.

I'm whining. Sorry. Let me go find some cheese and we'll see how Saturday's critique meeting goes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not all dreams are created equal...

My last post was about the culmination of a dream for a dear friend of mine.

This post is about my dream...(well, one of them, anyway)

There were a couple of comments to my last post along the lines of my turn would come, too. But you see, all those things Angi aspired to are not really things I aspire to.

Oh, sure, I'd like to be published; otherwise why am I here and why have I invested eight years and a chunk of change in learning the craft? Scratch that—until recently it's been more like a hobby than a pursuit of a dream. Hobbies cost people money. (Right Mom?) And for their time and effort and money, they have an end result such as a craft or memories of adventures and good times.

For my investment, I have knowledge, several books worth of fan fiction, a few possible books-in-waiting, and a lot of wonderful friends. If that was all I ever got out of this endeavor, it would definitely be worth the money.

Until now, I wasn’t really ready to seriously pursue publication. There were many reasons, I suppose, not that I could name any of them.

But now, I’m ready. I want it.

I want to be a published author. I’m ready to embrace it, to work towards it, to really invest the time and effort, and blood, sweat and tears to achieve it.

But before you say, “Yay, Jen.” or, “You, go, girl!” I have to confess I want it so badly because I really, really want to get out of debt.

During a conversation with a friend and published author, he commented that he was looking forward to getting his royalty check. I was nosy, so I asked, “Hundreds or thousands?”

He said thousands. His first book came out one year ago this month.

I about fell out of my chair. I want royalty checks a year later that are thousands of dollars.

Now that I’ve got my goal (publication) and my motivation (getting out of debt) I have to overcome the conflicts and obstacles. But that’s another whine--I mean post for another day.

What’s your dream? Have you achieved it yet? If not, are you working towards it?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Good things come to those who wait...

...and work hard.

Tonight, three of my chapter mates/friends and I will celebrate.

One of us (not me) is at the top of her game. She's sold a book. Two actually. One hits the shelves this month, the second in February 2011. On top of that, she won the Golden Heart for her category with the manuscript of the first book. A dream for most aspiring romance writers.

My friend has wanted to write romance novels for Harlequin since forever. Her husband supported her dream from the beginning, allowing her to be a stay-at-home mom and writer even when money was tight for them. Since I've known her, she's had ups and down with her family, as we all do, and she even took a couple of years off, sort of, from the writing to deal with family issues and to enjoy her youngest child's senior year in high school.

Once said child was situated with college, my friend got back into serious writer mode. She worked hard. Revised the manuscript she'd been tinkering with for years. She finished it. She polished it. She entered it in contests. Last year (2009), it won several, including the Daphne du Maurier, a big one in the romance writer world. From that contest, it was requested by an editor at Harlequin. She got an agent. Harlequin called and said they wanted it. She entered the MS in the Golden Heart. She signed the contract. This was all back in November 2009. Then in February of this year, with the help of her agent, she sold the second book to Harlequin.

So since February, she's revised/completed the first book and written/been revising the second and waiting for the RWA National annual conference. GH winners are not announced until the awards ceremony on the final night. Just like the Emmys or the Oscars, most everyone's dressed up in their finery.

So here we are chapter mates and friends, celebrating the good fortune of one of our own. It can take a long time in this business. And it takes a lot of hard work. And it takes perseverance.

The same for any dream. And my friend will tell you, the wait and the hard work was absolutely worth it.

Congrats, Angi!!

Angi Morgan

Hill Country Holdup (to be released any day now)
.38 Caliber Coverup (February 2011)

Monday, August 9, 2010


Wow, I didn't realize how little caffeine I'm actually ingesting these days. Not that I'm complaining as I made the decision to do so at the beginning of the year. There are occasions when I do drink regular iced tea, say out at a restaurant. I didn't turn into a complete stick-in-the mud about it, but I try to avoid--yes, I did give up chocolate for the most part. Every once in a while I'll have mint-chip ice cream or the cheesecake from Olive Garden that has the chocolate crust (yummy...).

But today, my co-worker brought me back a drink from QT while he was out and about. He swears he got what I asked for, which is fine, but what came out of the machine wasn't what I wanted...

I wanted peach or raspberry flavored (regular) iced tea (yes, caffeinated). What I got was peach flavored green or white tea, which apparently is VERY caffeinated. Three drinks in, I had a headache coming on. Wow. I finally dumped that out and opted for water. Hopefully, the headache will dissipate before drugs are needed.

I never really thought caffeine affected me that much--I mean it never kept me awake at night or anything. Just goes to show that you never know!

Now if could just give up the sugar.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm so tempted...

...oh, so tempted.

To run for newsletter editor of my writing chapter's newsletter. I've done it before. I *do* know what it entails. I'm trying to decide if, with my new writing goals, I'm willing to take it on.

The other day, I got a wild hair to write an article for said newsletter. Most article writers include a little blurb about themselves at the end of the article. It's been quite a while and I was at a loss as to what to include in my blurb, so I figured I go read our newsletter. I haven't read one in months. Years, actually; probably since I handed over the reins.

So what to my wondering eyes did appear? A newsletter with no articles. Well, no articles about writing. There was the standard letter from the president, an article from the president-elect about serving the chapter (she'll be asking for nominees soon), an article from the hospitality chair about donations for the raffle basket our chapter sent to the RWA National Conference, and a recycled article from the chapter's Web site.


RWA has a Yahoo group for newsletter editors where they can use articles written by other members of other chapters and submit articles written by our chapter members for the same purpose. Why didn't our newsletter have a single article from EditorLink?? She only used eleven of the twelve allotted pages. If she'd shrunk the font a couple of sizes throughout the newsletter and decreased the margins by a half-inch all the way around, she could have gained another page, maybe a page and a half.

And where was all the other stuff that's supposed to be in each edition of the newsletter, like times and dates of all board meetings and info on the upcoming general meeting?

I suppose beggars can't be choosers, but it really perturbed me.

Not that I don't like the newsletter editor, 'cause I do. She's very nice. But where's the rest of the board on this? Helloo...?

Of course, two of my sometimes readers are chapter mates. I trust discretion is the better part of valor with you both.

I'm so tempted.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Critique Partner

I now have a critique partner. As I mentioned in my last post, I met with a chapter mate & friend to brainstorm for both our newest story idea. I suggested we become official CPs and she loved the idea. We agreed to meet the first and third Saturdays of the month. We met on a Saturday morning and agreed to send the other something by Sunday evening. We agreed a max would be approximately 2500 words.

What we didn't discuss was what being critique partners entailed so now I think we have to have a conversation and lay out some ground rules. Perhaps mine were set too high and hers were ... I don't know.

Granted she was leaving for the RWA conference that Monday and did not have a whole lot of time, but she took the time to read it, critique it (and I use that term loosely for the moment), and send it back.

Just FYI, I'm trying my hand at an erotic romance. And I'm excited because my new CP seems to have read a lot of those, and I'm thinking she'll be able to point out my weakness as I dip my toes.

So... I find my chapter returned and open it eagerly, hoping, expecting lots of red pen (metaphorically speaking). But no...

She's marked spelling, missing words, capital letters, etc. She's given me a basic edit. And had I been able to run my chapter through MS Word at the office before sending it to her, I would have caught probably all those mistakes myself. *sigh*

Not that I don't occasionally miss a missing word or a misspelling, and a second and even third pair of eyes for those are always welcome, but I need a critique. A nit picker, a question asker, hole poker... Someone to rip it to shreds if that's what's needed. Not a spell checker.

I didn't get a critique.

So, this Saturday when we meet I'll hand her the critique of her chapter and hopefully she won't cry. (kidding)

And then we'll have to work on what we each expect from the other in this critique relationship.

Any suggestions?