Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Party Prep

Today is all about Party Prep. We have friends and family over on New Year's Day every year to eat, play games, and watch football.
Today is the grocery store run. There are things we have every year, and new things we try. Everyone brings something to share, and we all eat way too much.
Then, of course, we need to get the Christmas decorations put away so there will be room for everyone, and get the house spiffed up. And I need to remember to buzz by the church to borrow a table to set up in the living room. New Year's Eve for us is always about the prep for the next day instead of staying up late to ring in the new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meetings



Today is a day of meetings. Bookkeeping-related meetings, corporate meetings, and for me, a lot of note-taking and listening.
It's the time of year when the business I work for sets goals for the coming year and analyzes the previous year. They decide who does what job and who gets what pay. I sit and take notes, type up the minutes of the meetings, and organize the corporate books.
I'll also empty out the 2008 files in preparation for 2009.
So many analogies to me made to the writing life. As January first looms, it's time to look back at 2008 to see what worked well and what didn't. It's a time to strategize about the upcoming year, decide what jobs will be done and in what order.
Knowing the end of year for me is always loaded with bookkeeping duties, I took time last week to analyze my writing goals for 2009. I'll continue to fine-tune those goals through out the year and hopefully remember to post them here near the first of each month.
If you're busy this week, at least be 'composting' those goals you want to accomplish in 2009, then post them on your blog and let me know. I'd like to see what you all are up to. Together, we can make '09 productive.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ruts



This is a picture of wagon ruts worn into the sandstone/limestone of the Oregon Trail. Wagon after wagon passed in the tracks of those that went before, creating deep gouges into the rocks. At least the wagons that came after knew where the trail was. Just set your wheels in the ruts and go.
Last night on the way home from a Christmas party, I mentioned to my DH that I missed my rut. I missed my routine, my comfortable schedule. For the last couple of weeks, with all the holiday stuff and the work stuff, the end of semester stuff for the daughter, and getting the homeschooling to a place that was good to break off for two weeks, I haven't written or edited anything.
Nothing writing-related will happen this week either. At least that's what I had resigned myself to, but I realized last night as I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to come, there is one writing-related thing I can do, one that will help things considerably when I can get back to writing.
Plotting in my head, getting to know characters, refining ideas, pulling on story-threads to explore consequences and possibilities. I can keep my mind sharp, in full-creation mode, even though I'm not writing anything at the moment. This daydreaming is the life-blood of my writing process. Who knew I could put my world-class zoning-out capabilities to work?
My mom and teachers must be amazed that I've found a way to channel daydreaming into something profitable.
Anyway, I miss my rut, my routine, my restful regime, but I'll make the most of the imagination time until I can get back to writing.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Post Christmas Friday Five

I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas. I know our family did.

Five things I did on Christmas Day:

1. Ate too much. Ugh!

2. Watched Kung Fu Panda.

3. Played Zoo Tycoon with my daughter while we watched the Spurs beat the Suns with a last second buzzer-beater three from a relatively unknown Spurs player.

4. Made the Vetsch Family traditional Christmas Waffles for breakfast.

5. Was thankful, for my family, for their generosity, and mostly for my Savior.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

TV Trends



TV these days ain't what it used to be. Shows aren't aired like they were when I was a kid.
Have you noticed that some shows don't start until January? Have you noticed that some shows don't start until late September, then are done for the season in mid-December? And even if you do get a whole season, it's not a full 25 or 30 episodes, it's maybe 18.
So here I sit, mourning that Chuck won't be on until February. That I missed the last episode of the fall season of The Mentalist, and they hadn't put it up on the website the last time I checked. (I'll check again soon, on the off chance, but they took all the other episodes off too.)
Speaking of The Mentalist, I really enjoy that show. Simon Baker is fabulous in it, as is Robin Tenney. They really work well together. I'm happy that the show is #1 this year. Usually if I like a show, it is the kiss of death and cancellation happens swiftly.
Does that happen to you? What trends have y0u noticed in tv in recent years?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Friday Five



This week's Friday Five is:
Five things I need to get done before Jan. 1st
1. Inventory. This one looms large. Not only the counting, but the costing.
2. Meet with business accountant.
3. End of year business meeting, typing of minutes, etc. for company book. Wonder if I will get a raise this year?
4. Meet with business lawyer.
5. And the most urgent at the moment: Plan a dessert to bring to church on Sunday for a welcome home dinner for David R. who is a United States Marine and just graduated from Dive School.
What do you have coming up in the next ten days or so?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Goals and Discipline

Discipline is what you have to do to make yourself do the thing you are struggling to do.
Isn't that a gem? I found it at Routines for Writers, a blog I've been reading for awhile now. They've been talking about priorities and goals this week, which reminded me that I haven't checked on my progress in the goal department for a long while. How did 2008 go? In strolling through the blog, I realize it has been FOREVER since I updated my goals. But I did accomplish pretty much everything on my list the last time I posted in April. (Oh, the shame!)
Goals for 2009
1. Editor Revisions for The Bartered Bride. Not exactly sure when these will arrive in my inbox, but whenever they do, they have priority, so I'm putting them number one.
2. Final read through for The Marriage Masquerade and send to editor. This happens sometime after February. The manuscript has been critiqued and revised, so it should only need a little tweaking before sending it off.
3. Edit The Engineered Engagement, my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. At the moment I need to cut words, reassess my heroine's goal, add a character and delete a character. This is priority number one after the editor revisions on The Bartered Bride.
4. Turn in The Engineered Engagement. This happens sometime after June 2009.
5. Finish final edits on Clara and the Cowboy to send to editor who requested it. The manuscript currently rests with a critique partner. When she's finished with it, I'll go in and make one last round of revisions based on her comments, then get this story out the door to my agent and on to the editor.
6. Begin plotting and writing sequels to Clara and the Cowboy: Lily and the Lawman and Maggie and the Maverick. If the above mentioned editor wishes to contract this series, (praying!) then I'll need to get busy on the next two books. So far they are only a paragraph each, though I have a fun opening line for Lily and the Lawman.
7. Prepare proposal packet and three chapters of a Gilded Age mystery/romance I've got kicking around in my head, including pitch sheet and materials to pitch at ACFW. I have an editor in mind to talk to about this series. And I have a name for my hero picked out. :)
8. Register for ACFW Denver.
9. Attend ACFW Denver.
10. Read 5 books on craft this year, focusing on characterization, conflict, and endings.
How about you? Are you a goal-setter? Do you like lists? Have you given any thought to 2009 and how to make what you want a reality instead of just a dream?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday WI


The scale nudged down again this week. WOOHOO! I've now lost a total of 60 pounds.
I'm hoping to just maintain through the holidays, make good choices to balance out the sweets and opportunities to overindulge that surround the celebration of the Christmas season.
Now, if I could just convince myself to get on the treadmill more faithfully. I really miss walking outside.
On another note, for our anniversary yesterday, my DH and I purchased the blu-ray edition of The Mummy, Curse of the Dragon Emperor. Of course this necessitated a late night download of the latest firmware update for the blu-ray player and subsequent installation on the box.
Remember when all you had to do was shove a tape into a slot and press play?
I miss my 8-track...the one in the 1973 Chevy Blazer that I used to drive...and my Oak Ridge Boys 8-tracks, and Statler Brothers, and Charley Pride and Jerry Reed...those were the days!

Monday, December 15, 2008

My life is like a stained glass panel


I often have what I consider to be profound thoughts late at night. In the cold light of day, they don't always stand the 'profoundness' test, but this one I had late Saturday night while in the throes of killer insomnia, did stand the test.
Have you ever thought how much your life as a child of God is like a stained-glass panel? As I mentioned in a previous post, my son enjoys watching a PBS how-to show all about stained glass. I often watch with him, and the correlations between my life and the glass have emerged show by show. Here are some that I've come up with, though I'm sure there are many.
1) There is a Designer with a plan the glass knows nothing about. The glass has no say in this plan, it is the desire of the Designer that comes first. The glass exists to please the Designer. We exist at the pleasure of and for the glory of our Designer. His plans are perfect and being worked out according to the pleasure of His will. We are not privy to the entire design, but we know it will be for our good and His glory.
2) In order to be of any use--and this seems counter-intuitive--the glass must be broken. A single sheet of whole glass is pretty enough, but it doesn't suit the plan of the Designer. He wants to fit and join together the pieces of our lives into a glorious whole that reflects His glory.
3) Sometimes the breaking is bold, sharp, and quick. Large chunks cracked off with loud noise and big tools. A move, a job-loss, an emotional upheaval, a death of a loved one...there are many ways that a sudden breaking in our life can occur. This is when we must hold on to the truth that the Designer is in control and has a plan for our good.
4) Sometimes the breaking is slow and grinding. One of the cool things I think appeals to my son with the glass-work is all the neat tools. One of the tools is a grinding wheel. The Designer holds a piece of glass up to the diamond-encrusted wheel and grinds to powder any part of the glass He doesn't want to use. Have you ever been held up to the grinder by God? It might be through the persistent, gentle correction of a friend. It might be through a long journey of suffering like an illness. It might even be through a particularly tough set of Sunday School lessons (KEVIN!) that makes you think about things you wish you didn't have to.
5) Heat is always applied to meld pieces of the glass together. Do you have any heat in your life? Stress, decisions to be made, holiday cookies and cards and caroling to see accomplished? We all have heat. Sometimes the heat is in having to confront a friend. Sometimes it is in having to say no to someone or something. Sometimes it is persecution from an unexpected source. Heat takes all sorts of forms in our life, but without it, the glass can't be melded together.
6) Stained glass looks best when seen through a powerful light. What good does it do to put a beautiful panel of stained glass flat on a table-top? It was meant to be viewed through strong light, sunlight, where every beautiful line and piece shows and glows. Our lives are just like that. We are best displayed when the light of God's Word shines through us. When people can see the Glory of God illuminating all the breaks, grinds, and heat-induced seams in our lives.
How about you? Have you been broken up, ground up, or heated up lately? Is God fitting together the pieces of your life into a beautiful whole for His glory? Is the light of God showing through you, making your life shine?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I made the papers...


...and I didn't have to break the law to do it. :)


Click here to read the article. The link should be good for about seven days.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Friday Five



I am addicted to cooking shows on PBS. I love to watch them, though I don't like to cook, and often they make things I would never eat anyway. Esp. the seafood.
But today's Friday Five is:
My five favorite cooking shows on PBS.
1. Lidia's Italy. I love this show with Lidia Bastianich.
2. America's Test Kitchen. MMMMMMMMM.
3. Mexico: One Plate at a Time, with Rick Bayless. Such interesting ingredients and methods.
4. Made in Spain. Maybe it's Jose's accent, maybe it's the fabulous pictures of Spain...dunno, but it's a fun one. (I'm watching it right now.)
5. Cooking with Jacques and Julia. This one's a classic. They worked so well together.
Do you watch cooking shows? Do you watch a how-to show demonstrating something you would never do? Am I alone in this???

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A real Puzzler




This past week the puzzle bug has bit me. And not just any puzzles will do. I've been building Charles Wysocki puzzles. I've long been a fan of Wysocki's Americana paintings, and I love the jigsaw puzzles made from the paintings.

I own several of them, and have been perusing his website for others.


Last night I built the one above, entitled The Pickwick Cottage. The little wagon in front is painted with the words "Betsy's Chocolates on Cape Cod." My husband, when he got home from his church board meeting helped me with the sky and the cottage. We turned on one of the music channels and listened to Dean Martin, Eartha Kitt, Eddie Fischer, and others sing Christmas carols. Peaceful.
Recently, my son has become fascinated with a show on glassworking on the Create Channel. When he was quite small, he saw a craftsman making glass figures with a blowtorch and glass rods. Ever since, the idea of working with glass has captivated him. I could see him as a glass artist.

It reminds me over and over that God is a creative God and He has designed His people to be creative as well. Whether it is writing novels, blowing glass, or painting charming Americana vignettes, creativity is all around us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday WI



It's been awhile since I dedicated a post to the Wednesday Weigh In. Mostly because nothing of note had been happening on that front for weeks.
Good news. This week the scale nosed down into a new place for the first time in a long time. Yay!
Good news. Blood sugar testing continues to show that the levels are very good, all within the normal range.
Odd news. I've been drinking Slim Fast shakes for breakfast. Mostly because I think they are tasty. :) But the weird thing is...my cat also thinks they are tasty. She whines at my bedroom door, then when I get up, twines herself around my legs until I am in danger of tripping and or punting her inadvertantly. If I don't pour her a little in a saucer, she will whine and cry and as soon as I sit down with my can of Slim Fast, she tries to jump up in my lap, on the table, or on the desk and stick her whiskers in my face. Little weirdo.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A good story



Today I watched the western Broken Trail. What a good story. Be warned, there's a considerable amount of violence. But it has all the hallmarks of a great tale. Opposition, conflict, relationships, danger, love, the best and the worst in human nature, unwilling heroes, and a smash-bang finish.

I love most all westerns, and I love westerns with Robert Duvall in particular. Lonesome Dove, Open Range, Broken Trail. I could watch them over and over. There's just something about the American West that just lends itself to heroic characters thrown into conflict that leaves them hard choices that define character.

Do you have a favorite genre? Do you have a favorite situation/era/style that lends itself well to conflict and romance?

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Friday Five



This week's Friday Five. Okay, so I totally thought today was Thursday until I received my Fabulous Friday Deals email from CBD.com. But I'm glad I waited to post because I got a really exciting email from my friend Stephanie Morrill. Her debut novel is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Click here to order Me, Just Different.

Five great things about Stephanie Morrill.

1. First of all, we met at the Florida Christian Writer's Conference when we were both in Angela Hunt's Advanced Fiction Clinic. We hit it off right away because Stephanie is an awesome person.

2. She's got an adorable daughter whom I called "the Stowaway" when we roomed together at the 2007 ACFW Conference in Dallas. (Steph was about 7 months pregnant at the time.)

3. Her book, The Escape Route, which MUST be published some day is one of the most thought provoking stories I've ever read. Her character, Jasper, is so complex. I STILL don't know how I feel about him, but it is a testament to Steph's writing that after more than two years, I still think about that character.

4. She's a whiz at naming characters.

5. She's a Kansan. :) Yay for Jayhawks!

Go check out the amazon link, and drop a line of congrats here for Stephanie. I know it will mean a lot to her.

Something New



One thing I've discovered with my recent weight loss is that my internal thermometer is all out of whack. I'm not sure what whack is, but my thermometer is out of it.
Without all the extra insulation, I find myself getting cold. The other night the thermostat on the gas fireplace said it was 68 degrees in the bedroom, and I was freezing! I turned on the fireplace to warm things up. When the temp hit 70 degrees, I was roasting! That's a pretty small window.
I've noticed that my hands get very cold now when I type. Yesterday I broke down and bought a pair of fingerless gloves (in navy blue) to help with the problem. Though they felt a little bulky at first, they seem like they will keep the chill away while still allowing me to type. Yay!
Do you have fingerless gloves? Is your thermometer out of whack too?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

News


Have you ever noticed how cool God is?
I've been wondering how marketing my novels will work out for me. I'm not by nature a pushy person (though some may disagree) so the idea of shoving my book under someone's nose is distasteful to me. When the question of marketing came up on the ACFW loop from time to time, the veteran published authors would always say "Write the best book you can. Don't worry about marketing until you sign a contract."
So I stuck with that. Safe, sensible, and very Scarlett O'Hara. I'll think about that another day.
That day is dawning. With the turning of the calendar from November to December, the release date for my first novel has gone from a year + to 11 months from now. Both cool and freaky! What can I do to get the word out about my novels?
Enter NaNoWriMo. Remember back in late October, when I was thinking of chickening out of attending the Kick Off party? And how glad I was that I attended? Well, I'm even more grateful now.
Our local newspaper, the Rochester Post-Bulletin, is printing an article that followed three WriMos through the month of November, and I'm 0ne of them! Tom and Suzanne and I have been interviewed, in person and via email several times each, and today a photographer from the paper came by and took some photos of me and my beloved laptop. I got to talk about my novels, the upcoming release of The Bartered Bride, the sequel, The Marriage Masquerade, and the third book in the series, my NaNo novel, The Engineered Engagement.
Another cool thing was that the photographer, a very nice woman, when she found out my novel was set in 1906 Duluth and centered on shipbuilding, told me that her grandfather worked on ore boats out of Duluth from the 1920's to the 1960's. She's always been interested in Duluth shipping history.
All of this came about because I obeyed the Lord's prompting to get out of my comfort zone and go meet some other WriMos.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Turkey Day - a little late


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with my husband's family last week. Good food, good fellowship, and a marathon game of Apples to Apples.
There are a lot of plusses when you go to be company for Thanksgiving. No frantic house-cleaning, no stress-filled trying-to-get-everything-on-the-table-at-the-same-time cooking, no hunting for the card table trying to decide who sits at the kid table madness. Guests just show up with a pie or two and skate through the holiday.
Big thanks to Linda and Mike for hosting us again this year.
The only drawback to going to someone else's house for Thanksgiving is...no turkey leftovers!
In order to solve that problem, I'm roasting a turkey today. As soon as I get back from the accountant. The house is going to smell gooooooooood.

Monday, December 01, 2008

December!!!!


December is here already!
NaNo is over for 2008, and the wrap up party is scheduled for this coming Saturday. A chance for the local WriMos to get together and socialize without laptops in between.
Here we've got the tree up and I wrapped presents today. I always like to get them wrapped and under the tree so I'm not in danger of sending a kid to search in a cupboard for something where I've hidden one of their gifts. Also, it gives me almost a month to remember where I hid everything...I've been known to forget until Christmas Day that I forgot to wrap a gift.
Last night we went caroling with a group from church. It was a lot of fun, though driving in the icy snow in the pitch dark was more of a challenge than I realized. Next year I will wear my snow boots.
Have your holiday preparations begun already?