Friday, November 29, 2013

I've been writing!

And it feels good. Even though I put writing aside willingly, I missed it.

So I signed up for a fic exchange in August and banged out over 10K in a six-week period. It felt good, though I'm a bit rusty. And getting the feedback once the thing gets posted will be exciting. I love the instant gratification, what can I say??

Once I finished that, I dug around my files and pulled out an old story that I really loved and read through it. The writing is good. Not many changes were needed on what was already written, aside from adding a missing word here and there or fixing an inconsistency or two.

Why did I never finish it, you ask?

Well, because, my old nemesis, THE PLOT, got the better of me. Mostly I know where the story's going, but I also know its weaknesses. Well, my weaknesses. The stakes for the characters are not quite as high as they should be. I realize it's "just" a romance novel, not any type of thriller, but it's still missing a few key elements. Important elements.

See, it's not that I don't know that they need to be there, it's just that I struggle to figure what those things need to be for my characters and my stories. It's like I have a mental block in this particular area and it's very frustrating.

My hope is that by reading enough books on plotting, I'll have a few light bulb moments and this aspect of telling a story will get easier. *fingers crossed* I might need to find someone to help me work this out, though I mostly what I can afford to pay is a meal and a reciprocal discussion or some proofreading.

By the way, I found a book on plot on my iPad, so I've already taken that first step and started reading. I'm gonna read it once while my story percolates, then read it again and really dig in and do the exercises with my book and these characters in mind. And with any luck, I'll make some headway.

In the meantime, I'll keep writing as much and as often as I can. Once I've figured out those plot elements, I'll go back and drop them in. I think it'll be fairly easy for this book.

And I'm gonna share an excerpt, no context or anything. If you have a moment to read it, I'd love to know your thoughts.


I’m Linney.

She shook her head. The voice was inside her head. She must be losing her marbles, more upset about Cole than she’d thought.

She took a deep breath. She wasn’t crazy. She wasn’t.

The girl, Virgie, came out of the bathroom and placed a gentle hand on Claire’s arm. “I know you really don’t want to go to the dance, but please, Linney, you have to stop being so sad.”

Linney, Caroline, dance. Linney, Caroline, dance. Linney was Caroline. That’s right, she’d called herself that in the journal. And Virgie thought she, Claire, was Caroline-from-the-journal. The dance was…the dance was the USO dance where Caroline had met her sailor.

What the hell?

An internal gasp. Ladies don’t use such language.

No. No way. This was crazy. It was as if she’d been transported back in time. And she was somehow sharing a body with this Caroline. She looked down at herself—she still wore her own clothes. She touched her hair. Also still her own.

Okay, so maybe she was just sharing a…consciousness?

But how? She took a breath.

“Earth to Linney.”

Claire blinked and looked at Virgie, who thought she was talking to Caroline. Curious.

“Please?” Spoken softly, it wasn’t a take-me-to-the-dance please, but a don’t-let-a-man-do-this-to-you please.

With a nod and a faint smile, Claire turned back up the steps to her attic room. Gone were the letters. Gone was the journal. Gone was her Irish Chain quilt―a different one in its place.

No built-in closet, no vinyl mini-blinds, no ceiling fan. And no turquoise walls with brown accents. Just plain, pale yellow walls. A quartet of floral prints hung above the bed.

Claire’s breathing sped up and she pulled in deep droughts of air. She turned three-sixty, taking in her surroundings.

A bed that sagged slightly in the center; a pile of white cotton underwear and virginal brassieres sat on the corner of it; a half-dozen pair of shoes peeked out from under it. A huge armoire filled one corner of the room; its double doors wide open to reveal a colorful collection of blouses and skirts. Not a pair of blue jeans to be seen.

How was this happening? It had to be a dream. There was just no other plausible explanation. And what about Cole?

Claire shoved her hands into her pockets, her left hand closing around the keys. They felt electric and warm and she pulled them out and looked at them again.

Two fat brass keys with filigreed heads sat upon her open hand, vibrating oh-so-slightly and still radiating warmth. A faint clinking reached her ears.

Something about the dream theory didn’t feel right. Didn’t fit. Not to mention, she hadn’t fallen asleep at any point since she’d started reading the journal.

Wonderment and incredulity made her gasp. Had these keys been the thing that transported her? Like a portkey in the Harry Potter series? When they’d fallen from the journal, she’d picked them up and the next thing she knew, she was here. Wherever, whenever here was.

Charleston, South Carolina, 1942.

But that was crazy. Things like that didn’t happen. They certainly didn’t happen to her. A nice, normal woman, a dental hygienist.

A dental hygienist? What’s that?

And voices in her head. That wasn’t normal at all. A wave of dizziness hit her and she bent over, bracing her hands on her knees and took steadying breaths. In through her nose, out through her mouth. In through her nose, out throu—

A pounding sounded on the bedroom door.

Claire’s heart leapt to her throat. She straightened, stumbling slightly to one side. No, no, no. There was no one home with her. The knock sounded again and she stared at the door as if it had grown wings and horns. She glanced at the keys again before shoving them back in her pocket.

“Linney, what are you wearing tonight?” called Virgie.

This couldn’t be happening. Could it?

“Lin-ney.” She sounded exasperated.

Claire glanced at the armoire, then at the vanity. An outfit lay across the padded seat. “My white blouse with the shirred sleeves and the dark green serge skirt.” She clamped a hand over her mouth. She’d spoken without meaning to. Caroline had spoken. How was this even possible?

“Well, hurry up,” said Virgie.

She pulled the keys from her pocket once more and squeezed them. Closed her eyes. Wished on them. Concentrated on her own room. Opened her eyes.


She closed her eyes, turned in place three times, and wished again. Peeking open first one eye, then the other, she groaned and stomped her foot. Dammit. If they’d brought her here, they weren’t getting her home. At least not yet.

Another knock. “Linney, come on, we’re going to be late.”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


So tomorrow's appropriate time to mention all the things I'm thankful for...

In no particular order:

my husband
my children
the fact that everyone is healthy
My family: moms, dads, in laws, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandmothers and granddads, uncles, aunts and cousins

the troops
the US of A--despite our issues it's still the best country on the planet
for books
for the Internet--so much information and knowledge available at your fingertip
for my friends, both in person and online
for music
for chocolate
for cereal
for pizza
for candles
for all the critters I've ever had
for being able to have visited Denmark and England
for fall
for birds and squirrels and tree lizards, oh my
fandom-related experiences
for my mom teaching me to sew and cross stitch and crochet and cook
for my dad sharing his love of music with me

I'm sure there're other things, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with family, friends, and fun!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Reading is knowledge and knowledge is power...

Last week I mentioned my goal and my success at reading at least 52 books... Most of them were romantic fiction, but a there were some middle grade fantasy books (Harry Potter), a few were biographies/memoirs, and several were random non-fiction books. One, just one, was a book about writing.

I plan on reading at least another 52 books next year, but in addition to that, I want to read more books on the craft of writing. My goal is a dozen of those, which makes my total goal 64 books. If the proofing business picks up and I have to revise the goal, I'll give up reading some fiction although the proofing will be not sure how to make it all work. Well, I'll find a way.

The point is, I know a certain aspect of my writing needs work and I know at some point I need to overcome that hurdle. So, it's about time I get started.

My biggest writing issue is plot and the big black moment.

So if you have suggestions on books that address that particular issue, please share!!!

Friday, November 22, 2013

So many books, so many genres...

So what's your favorite genre?

You probably know mine is romance. However, romance has a boat-load of sub-genres. What are some of those? These genres are based on categories for RWA chapter contests.

Young Adult
Romantic Suspense
New Adult

Most of these are self explanatory and most of them can be combined. New Adult is new to the scene. Young Adult book are about kids in high school. New Adult is supposedly about college age adults and their major firsts--jobs, cars, etc.

In addition to romance, there're westerns, mystery, horror, thriller, biographies, history, poetry, non-fiction of various varieties, and probably a ton more that I don't know the names of.

I love historical and young adult. I go through inspirational swings.I enjoy the occasional political thriller, too, believe it or not.

One of the other kinds of books I love are coffee table books--barns, cats, farm fields, the Beatles, Gone With the Wind. That kind of thing. :)

Did you know that technically, Gone With the Wind is not historical fiction?? Why, you ask? I recently read something that said it's only historical if the time period of the book precedes the era of the author's life or birthday by 100 years. So since the Civil War era was less than 100 years from Margaret Mitchell's lifetime, it wasn't historical. Which matches what we authors hear a lot when entering contests, your contest entry shouldn't be entered into the historical category unless it takes place during WWII or earlier. Though WWII isn't quite 100 years from today...hmmm. A bit of a contradiction there, which just goes to show nothing is written in stone!

Some of my favorites are:

Young Adult...



What about you? Favorite genre? Favorite title? Favorite author?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

So many books, how do you choose??

So Monday I shared where I get most of my books...

But with soooo many books out there, whether you pay for them or not, how do you choose?

For me it's a combo of the cover and the title. I still haven't decided which one will sway me more. I think it's a toss up, really. But there's some magical mixture that will induce me to click through and read the book description. Most of the time, say 90% to 100% of the time, I will download it.

I should add that the author sometimes plays a factor. Like I'll read just about anything from Deanne Gist or Dee Henderson or Joel Rosenberg.

You know--as I was searching through the covers on my iPad for a few examples to share, I determined that it's the title more than the cover that appeals to me. I'm not saying the cover image isn't important, but as I was looking through my books, I realized that a lot of the covers are just okay.

I realized that I like sounds. I remember people more by voices than faces. So if the title sounds appealing, then I'm more likely to click unless the cover image is a huge clue that I *don't* want to read what's inside. Interesting discovery!

A few more books on my to-be-read pile include:

And the one I started this past weekend was:

Not so much for title or the cover in this case, but because I read the first book by this author, Catching Jordan, and enjoyed her writing.

So...what draws you to a book?? Title, cover, author??

Monday, November 18, 2013

So many books, not enough time...

The time change a few weeks ago is still throwing me for a loop. I keep thinking it's later than it really is. Not that that's a bad thing, but I usually adjust more quickly.

However that's not the point of the title or this post.

The point is I want to read. And read and read and read. At the beginning of the year, I wanted to get back to reading more, and I pledged to read (on average) a book a week. According to my list here on the right, I'm three books shy of achieving my goal. WOO HOO! I should be able to reach that goal without a problem.

A good number of those books were ones I proofread, but hey, they were books and I read them (twice, even). So they counted.

With the exception of the Harry Potter books and one or two others, I've gotten all my books for free. I have a link to one of many lists of freebies. A quick Google search will net you several.Here are a few:

This is my fave:

Don't forget you can download free Kindle and Nook apps for your PCs and other devices like tablets and smart phones. Your books should sync from device to device so you can read the same book from multiple devices at once! Or you can read different books on your different devices--whatever floats your boat.

I had to stop visiting and downloading books because I had so many already, but on the other hand--you can never have too many books!

Some of the books on my virtual to-be-read pile incude:

How many books are on your to-be-read pile...?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Movie Madness

I haven't taken time to sit and watch (much) TV or movies of late. There was just a lot going on and always something that needed my attention. But this past Tuesday I just wanted to watch something--to fill my creative well with someone else's imagination.

We ended up watching The Lorax movie. Mostly because it was the shorter of the two options we were debating.

The Lorax is the tale of a creature, the Lorax, who speaks for the trees since they have no tongue. A stranger come to a beautiful valley full of truffula trees and begins chopping them down to create a Thneed--a multipurpose item that everyone needs.The factory stats spewing wast into the valley and eventually the indigenous creatures have to leave and then of course, eventually, all the trees are cut down and gone.

I did not enjoy this movie at all. It took what was, to me, a fun easy tale--all ecological fable-istic relevance aside--and turned it into some crazy stupid corny hokey animated musical. In order to make it long enough for a movie they also had to add a sub-plot, which was fine, but the rest--just dumb dumb dumb. I give the 2011 movie a one on the movie reel scale.

I remember the TV special from my childhood with much fondness. Wouldn't it be nice if they'd just started re-airing that annually instead???

Do you remember the original Lorax tale, either book or TV special?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


It's getting colder around here...which is normal for this time of year. However, you might remember back in the spring, I went through my closet and drawers and got rid of everything that was too big for me.

Remember this--

Well, that included all my long sleeved shirts and turtlenecks. I have very few cold weather tops left. Yikes!

So I guess I'll ask for some new stuff for Christmas, though I might have to break down and buy one or two items to see me through.

Speaking of the weight loss, I've lost a few more pounds again, sitting firmly in the mid-130s range. I'm quite surprised, though pleased with that turn of events considering the high calorie items (pumpkin cupcakes, anyone??) I devoured this past weekend. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth, however, and will be a bit more choosy over the next couple of days. It'll be easier now that marching season is over since I won't be tempted to grab something easy and high calorie on my way to the band hall or tempted by the tasty snack treats we fed the kids after half time or succumb to the lure of fast food on the way home.

But slow and steady wins the race. Just about 10 more pounds to go, give or take, and then it'll be time to tone and firm up what's left.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Stretching our taste bud muscles...

Sonshine is maintaining his stance that he wants to become a chef. But around here, we have a very small repertoire of meals. So in order to get him cooking and expanding his culinary horizons, we're trying some new dishes (Rueben sandwiches) with things we don't always care for (tomatoes{not for the Ruebens!}) or have never tried (sauerkraut).

Sunday, we tried a new casserole, Beef and Cheddar Casserole, with the aforementioned (diced) tomatoes. And, you know what,it was pretty good, even though half of our family didn't care for it. I was going to take a picture of it, but I was so hungry and ready to eat, I forgot to grab the camera. And since we had so much leftover, I have a few guaranteed lunches.

I'll let you know how the Reuben sandwiches go over.

Any favorite meals you and your family love??

Friday, November 8, 2013

The end of an era...

Last night was the very last high school football game that Sonshine participated with the band in an official capacity.

His marching band days are most likely over. Sure, he could go college and join the marching band, but I don't think that's happening. He'd have a blast though since a continual lament throughout the last four marching seasons is that most of his band mates don't care that much. To them it's an easy class to be in and pass. It's not about being part of the group as a whole, of doing something great as a group, of aspiring to excellence as a group.

DD and I are gonna miss the Friday night lights and excitement, though we sure won't miss the chaos and the mediocrity.

So as a farewell to marching band, here are some pics...

Week one...getting ready to load the bus...

Week two...tuning/warming up for half time...

Week three...waiting for the equipment bus to arrive so it can be loaded...

Week four...just chillin' in between being able to play...

Week five...makin' some noise...

Week six...watching the other band perform...

Week seven...oldest sister, the Brown Eyed Girl, was able to come...

Week eight...playing...yeah, they do that sometimes...

Week nine...well, what can we say about this one...? I don't even know!

Week ten...the band on the big screen!

...and Sonshine enjoying a spot of tea on the coldest night we had this year...

And that's all folks!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Few of my Favorite Things...

So yesterday, I was listening to the radio--the classical station--and on came a medley of the songs from The Sound of Music...I've seen this film a few times in my life and I know some words to most of them. Anyway, the point is when "My Favorite Things" played, the idea for this morning's post was sparked.

It's been a tough few weeks, and I won't go into detail, but suffice it to say that two things have hit me in the last couple of days...

One was a post on Facebook. See here...

And the other was the song. For your listening pleasure, if you're so inclined:

So in the interest of my mental health, I'm going to share with you some of my favorite things. In no particular order:

1. Hanging out with my kids.
2. A cup of hot Plantation Mint tea from Bigelow. (just this brand/flavor) Which I drink just about every day.
3. cats
4. birds
5. cross stitching
6. reading
7. writing
8. hanging out with writer friends
9. Danish licorice--the salty kind :)
10. my house/being at home
11. scented candles on a dreary day
12. fall / fall colors
13. the color green
14. freshly mown grass

Care to share some of your favorite things?? Please do--

Monday, November 4, 2013

Everyday is special...

Back in June or July I posted that list of 45 life lessons, remember? One of those lessons was that everyday is special and that you should use the good china or the good whatevers. I took that little lesson to heart and decided to dig out my special Christmas dessert set and display it. So last weekend when I went to The Home Depot and bought a pumpkin, well, I really went there for shelves.

This weekend, Sonshine helped me put of the shelves. And this is the result!

I'm very pleased and suddenly wondered why it took me so long to put anything on that wall--it was just crying out for some decoration!

 And a quick update on homecoming--Sonshine's girlfriend was quite please with her mum. Here's a shot of the two of them.

She even wore it for it until they had to take the field for half time festivities.

How was your weekend??

Friday, November 1, 2013

It's Homecoming!

Today's the day--

By the time you're reading this (as long as it's after 7:30am), Sonshine will have given his girlfriend the mum. We--well, DD mostly--worked on it Wednesday evening...

We went from this boring pre-made mum:

To this jazzed up band-themed mum:

Here are some close ups so you can see the details:

Pictures Monday of the lovely lady wearing her mum.

Have a great weekend!