Monday, February 29, 2016

Talk about productive!

Everything I set out to accomplish this weekend was done. I spent Saturday working in twenty minute sprints in order to make progress on every project without feeling stuck on the less enjoyable tasks (Things like cleaning bathrooms...).

Most importantly -- I completed a letter on the epic birth sampler of love and started the next one. In fact, I got the base done and the letter part done too. I just have to stitch like crazy to get that letter's little girl done so I can go on to the very. last. letter.

I also finished reading my book aloud. It's very helpful to actually hear the flow of the words, the eye will trip where the tongue does. It also forces me to actually read every word, helping me to find missing words. I can also hear repeated words or phrases, and repetitious concepts can also be discovered. The whole process took me about four days--primarily because I had Friday evening and all of Saturday to focus on it.

Sunday I focused on the sampler and the Scottish highlander epic. I'm giving the other writing projects some space so that the next time I read them, they'll be a little bit fresher. Plus I've missed the Scottish highlands and the story needs its fair share of my attention. My goal is another 35K on this one for a total of 80K. If I'm not mistaken, that doesn't include the 22K for part one. Which means, it'll be over 100K when all is said and done--WOW! Where sis all those words come from??

And the house is clean and the laundry is done, so all in all, a very productive weekend-- even with a 3+ hour break for NASCAR. :) (Jimmie Johnson won, btw!)

How was your weekend?

Friday, February 26, 2016


It's taken me a couple of days to decide what to post for today. I was trying to be proactive by coming up with a topic in advance and jotting down the bulk of my thoughts before tweaking for the final posting, but a true milestone happened yesterday and so, that's what I'm going to share. :)

I'm going to be a (self) published author by November! That's the goal, anyway.

But that's not the milestone. Not yet anyway...

Last December, my writer peeps and I were sitting around Cotton Patch for our after-the-meeting get-together and my dear friend Clover said, "Anyone interested in doing a box set for Christmas next year?" Pretty much everyone at the table said they liked the idea and we moved on to other varied and random topics. But that question and the possibilities stuck in my head all through the holidays, and ideas percolated.

When we reassembled in January, I asked if Clover meant it and if everyone was serious about participating. Everyone agreed and we brainstormed how we wanted things to work. I started writing my contributions at the beginning of February and yesterday morning, I sent it out to the other participants! It was pretty exciting.

That was the milestone. My first major for-publication effort was sent out into the world for the opinion of others. Yikes. YAY!

So this is it. I've danced around the idea of being published for years--like twelve of them, but the route of traditional publishing never appealed to me. Luckily for me, the romance publishing industry began growing and changing back when I first joined and now the options are much more to my liking.

The next milestone will be to finish and publish a book. I want to have something else available should someone enjoy my storytelling in Christmas thing so much they want to see what else I've got out there. It's not going to be much. One book, possibly two.

One's in a completely written first draft state and waiting for me to start reading the paper copy I printed. The other's not quite done and will be in a similar state once it is. I have a lot of work ahead of me. Hard work. Energy-sucking work. Energizing work.

So that theory of mine that things are going to calm down after my trip to Atlanta...yeah--maybe not so much. :)


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Feeling pooped...

I'll admit that I'm generally not as busy as most people. Especially not since Sonshine graduated from high school and left for the Navy.

But this past two months--let's say three--have been rather busy and I gotta admit I'm slowing down and feeling a bit weary. I still have another month and a bit of busier-than-normal to get through, but at least it's slowing down.

I'd like to read, read, read and watch my three favorite movies right in a row. And could I have someone take over my household duties for the duration...?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Boogity, Boogity, Boogity

Now if you're familiar with that phrase, you probably know that Darryl Waltrip hollers it at the start of each race he broadcasts... I've been waiting for this day since we added actual TV to our Internet package back in November...NASCAR!!

Many moons ago I really got into NASCAR. I know it's not a sport for everyone,  but I enjoyed it tons. DH and I were able to attend two races back in 2001--the spring race here at Texas Motor Speedway and the race in Phoenix in October. DH even scored pit and garage passes. That was a fantastic trip!

We watched it for several more years, but the kids got into high school and other things needed focus--and we got rid of cable which meant our only way to watch NASCAR was gone.

Since Sonshine left for bootcamp, I've had a hankerin' to start watching NASCAR again, but without basic TV channels, it was difficult to say the least. But now we have it, and DH and I had been looking forward to the Daytona 500 for a year--since our aborted attempt to live stream it last year.

I bought race-day treats and we sat and enjoyed hours of left turns! My favorite driver, Sterling Marlin, retired many years ago and so I'm in the market for a new driver to root for. I think I'm going to need to catch a few more races before someone really tickles my fancy.

Are you a NASCAR fan? If so, who's your favorite driver?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Time is running out...

DD's birthday is just over a month away and her epic birth sampler is still a work in progress.

I have 2.5 letters left to complete in addition to her birth stats. Then there's taking it and getting it framed... Probably a week, maybe two for that, leaving me three weeks to finish. Yikes!!! I'm trying to get 20 to 30 stitches at least done per day... More if I can. I'm actually halfway through the E that follows the L, so...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday, Monday...

Yeah, I was busy. I was, really. Contest and writing and laundry... So you get this:

One of these days, I'll do better... Promise.

Friday, February 12, 2016

It's all about Balance...

I've been writing and it's been fabulous. The muse has got his hooks in me and all I want to do is spend time in these alternate universes of mine. Unfortunately, between that and most of my other endeavors, I spend a lot of time sitting. My body has made itself very clear of late that it's displeased with the amount of sitting I'm doing and so I've had to make a conscious effort get my large muscle groups moving and my blood flowing out of my butt rather than allowing it to pool there.

My bathroom calisthenics haven't been quite enough, so if I want to pleasure read, I have to do it on the treadmill. Right now, that's the only time I'll allow myself the reading luxury. So there's my incentive to get it done.

I've also decided that, for this weekend at least, I'm gonna spend some time outside. We've got some leftover leaves and a ton of acorns that need bagging. Plus, it'll just be nice to get some sun on my face.

What about you? Big plans for the Valentine's Day weekend?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My little Acer Netbook still runs like a champ...

Okay, maybe not like a's pretty old, manufactured in 2003. I got for my birthday, maybe in 2004. My operating system is that oldie but goodie, Windows XP.

Yes, really.

My new laptop that I got two or three years ago has a failing hard drive and it's out of commission for the time being, so I booted up the trusty-dusty Netbook. Okay I usually boot it up once a week or so so Dropbox can sync.

But now we're back to daily face time. It is a little slow, be she can run my writing programs and the Internet, and that's all I need. The scrunched keyboard takes a bit of getting used to again, but the size overall is actually much easier to work with whether on the sofa or in bed.

Thank goodness I still had it, because being without would have meant one cranky Jen!

Monday, February 8, 2016

I made it through...

Last week was a pretty crazy week and it got a little rough around the edges, but I made it through. Whew.

And now here I am at the start of another likely busy week. My contest closes on Sunday, so there will probably another mild flurry of entries. But because we've started the judging process, there's not gonna be a stressful week of parsing entries to judges and sending out panels. I've been in the cycle for two weeks now and things are going rather well.

My online class is over, so that's one thing off my plate...

On the other hand, I spent Saturday afternoon at my critique partner's house along with two other writers working on city planning and timelines and characters for a Christmas anthology we're writing together. It was a blast and, man-oh-man, I just want to dive into my writing worlds and get lost for a while. Unfortunately, it'll be another couple of months until my contest is put to bed.

Hope you have a productive and pleasant week...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The power of a spreadsheet...

Do you use spreadsheets? Do you love them?

I do and I do. I have one labeled "The Master Spreadsheet of Stuff" and I keep track of all kinds of random information that I want to have available at the drop of a hat. Like my daily writing word counts, like how many words I've read and where those words came from. Remember those 13+ million words I read last year? This is a screen shot of a random section of that page. I used four columns and a few mathematical functions. My spreadsheet has about a dozen tabs, although some are previous years' info and are just there for occasional reference.

For the past three years (2016/2015/2014), I have run one of my writing group's two contests. Spreadsheets are a contest coordinator's best friend and (mostly) one-stop location to keep all the various data on hand and organized. Here's a peek at a random page of my contest spreadsheet. All personal information has been changed to generic filler.

The first fourteen columns hold entrant information: name, email address, book title, and assigned book number. Those columns on right side hold scores once they start coming back. In addition to rows and columns, I've utilized the power of fill color. The highlighted book titles (the wide column in the center) means that one author wrote both books. We try to refrain from sending judges more than one book by any given author. The brighter green at the top of those two columns just to the right of the book titles is just a visual indicator to me that every book has at least (in this case) two judges assigned. Our goal is five reads/five scores. So I've been working column by column.

Now, the other half of the spread sheet, the judges' half is a bit more colorful. You can see we've a got a bit of crossover because the scores are the crossover data. I won't bore you with explaining what all that color means, but suffice it to say, it's a handy to know where the contest stands at a glance.

As treasurer for my writing group, I have yet another spreadsheet that I use to track all the money. I have a tab for each category of income and expenses (membership dues, contest one, contest two, etc). A hand feature for this particular job is that I can reference cell data from one tab into another.

So, tell me, are you a spreadsheet junkie like me?

Monday, February 1, 2016

I can't blog on the fly anymore...

Used to be I could sit down at my desk on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and take thirty minutes to an hour to pour my random or inane thoughts into the blog.

No so much anymore. :) While I do still have a lot of free time in my day--it's not first thing in the morning.

I'm going to have to spend some time planning some topics I'd be interested in researching and writing about.

Today, however, is not that day. It's Monday; it's the 1st of the month; I'm running a contest for my writing group that I have to work on; it's renewal month for my writing group--as treasurer; I have to process those; I signed up for a week-long writing class that starts today; and not last or least, I somehow ended up signing up for a month-long writer's boot camp.

As you can see, I've got a lot on my plate today, this week, this month.

I don't mind busy, I just might need to plan ahead a little better. :)

Have a great week!