Thursday, December 31, 2009

Feeling Resolute

How did you do on your New Year's Resolutions for 2009?

Perhaps your New Year's Resolution journey of 2009 bore some resemblance to mine. I took out my newly purchased, virgin notebook with the neat cover and not a single page scribbled on. Just like I envisioned 2009 to be. I listed what I wanted to do (in categories) and even went for smaller goals which then would add up to bigger goals.

I did good in January. I started slipping a little in February, and then by March I hid it in the bottom of my nightstand drawer so it would quit mocking me. Sound familiar?

As 2010 draws near, I've been thinking about New Year's Resolutions. And of course, me being such a list-nerd, I will make some. But first I want to share some of my thoughts.

*Warning: Old-person type ponderings are about to follow.

The older I get the more I realize that, for me, the most precious commodity is time. It never stops, it's finite, and you can never take back time you have wasted. The tradition of making New Year's Resolutions is really about prioritizing our time. You sit down and consciously think about what is really important.

A website on prioritizing techniques says this: "Prioritizing skills are your ability to see what tasks are more important at each moment and give those tasks more of your attention, energy, and time. You focus on what is important at the expense of lower value activities."

My hubby has a saying that drives my children nuts, but is so true:

You can do anything you want, just not everything you want.

May I suggest this year that for your New Year's Resolutions you really think about what's important and re-prioritize. Set resolutions that will focus on those things, rather than cluttering up the list with things that are good to focus on, but may not be the best to focus on. Don't sacrifice your time on lower value activities.

That's what I'm going to do.

Of course, I could always follow Calvin's example:


Have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

crapulous - Word of the Week #82

crapulous - [KRAP-yuh-lus] - adjective:

Definition:
1. Given to or characterized by gross excess in drinking or eating.
2. Suffering from or due to such excess.

Usage:
After the last week of treats, food, and sitting around with family, I had no choice but to haul my crapulous self to the gym this morning. Ugh...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Tune for you

Merry Christmas! Here's my favorite Christmas Carol, "Carol of the Bells," and a really cool version of it.



I love how it has the lyrics, because even though Carol of the Bells is my favorite, I never bothered looking up the words. I just sort of mumble-sang-along. "Oh hear the bells, mumble silver bells, mumble mumble ring" etc. *sheepish*

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Talking Sports...or War... or Sports.

I figured I couldn't let 2009 end without talking a little about sports or about war. So here's a quasi sports/war post. Sort of.


BCS DECLARES GERMANY WINNER OF WORLD WAR II.

United States Ranked 4th.

December 4, 2008

After determining the Big-12 championship game participants, the BCS computers were put to work on other major contests and today the BCS declared Germany the winner of World War II.

"Germany put together an incredible number of victories beginning with the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland and continuing on into conference play with defeats of Poland, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. Their only losses came against the US and Russia; however considering their entire body of work--including an incredibly tough Strength of Schedule--our computers deemed them worthy of the #1 ranking."

Questioned about the #4 ranking of the United States the BCS commissioner stated, "the US only had two major victories-- Japan and Germany . The computer models, unlike humans, aren't influenced by head-to-head contests. They consider each contest to be only a single, equally-weighted event."

German Chancellor Adolph Hiter said, "yes, we lost to the US , but we defeated #2 ranked France in only 6 weeks." Herr Hitler has been criticized for seeking dramatic victories to earn 'style points' to enhance Germany 's rankings. Hitler protested, "our contest with Poland was in doubt until the final day and the conditions in Norway were incredibly challenging and demanded the application of additional forces."

The French ranking has also come under scrutiny. The BCS commented, " France had a single loss against Germany and following a preseason #1 ranking they only fell to #2."

Japan was ranked #3 with victories including Manchuria, Borneo and the Philippines .





*If you don't know what the BCS is, click here. Then go back and re-read this post--it will make more sense.

**Dedicated to my DH who cares about this sort of thing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

myrmidon - Word of the Week #81

myrmidon - [MUR-muh-don] - noun

Definition:
1. (Capitalized) A member of a warlike Thessalian people who followed Achilles on the expedition against Troy.
2. A loyal follower, especially one who executes orders without question.

Usage:
I want politicians who think for themselves, not myrmidons to any party.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Into the Abyss

The last week I was tagged for a couple things. And as is often the way with bloggy games of tag, I get to share some stuff about me. So you get a glimpse into the abyss of my often scatterbrained mind (hence the title of this post).

First Tamara of the super cute haircut (just pop over there and look at her pic with her DH and I dare you not to agree with me) over at Chasing Dreams gave me the Honest Scrap award.

I get to pass this on to other bloggers who I feel have honest blogs. Perhaps even brutally honest. (I've found that with brutal honesty usually I'm the one who ends up worse off. I'm toying with the idea of getting "Open mouth, insert foot" tattooed somewhere on my body, preferably somewhere I see it often as a reminder to think before I speak.)

And I choose:
Elana Johnson
Jody Hedlund
L.T. Elliott
Kimberly at Temporary Insanity

I'm not sure how many I'm "supposed" to choose, so I'll stick with 4 to make it easier on myself. And I also get to share ten facts about myself. Let's see... how to make this interesting... I know! Let's make it Christmas-y.

  1. For the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me: a warm electric blankey.
  2. For the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 2 published books, and... (we'll skip the whole repeating part. But if you want to sing it, go for it!)
  3. For the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 3 beautiful kids
  4. For the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 4 different college majors (business, commercial art, composite dance, physical therapy) until I finally decided on one
  5. For the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 5 golden onion rings!!! (Which is the only way I like to eat onions, esp. after the one summer when we had frozen onions in a deep freezer that died and we didn't know it until the smell seeped out. Cleaning up frozen, thawed, and spoiled onions that smell akin to a decomposing corpse does not an onion-fan make. Is that TMI?)
  6. For the 6th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 6 running races last summer
  7. For the 7th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 7 brothers-in-law
  8. For the 8th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 8 glasses of water I should be drinking every day but don't
  9. For the 9th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 9:00 as my wish bedtime
  10. For the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 10 more surprise characters that popped up wanting a part in my 3 books I'm working on. (Some are pretty insistent, too!)

And not only did I get that little award, but L.T. Elliot over at Dreams of Quill and Ink also tagged me for an interview-thingey. (I think it's called a meme. I'm embarrassed to admit I had to google "meme" to find out what it meant, but since I just got an honest blog award, I better be honest, right?)

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I wrote was my Middle Grade NaNoWriMo novel. And I still have a story I wrote when I was 8 or 9 about kids that find a magic tunnel in a nearby house.

2. Write poetry?
No. I have a very, very short poetry attention span.

3. Angsty poetry?
Maybe I should give it a try.

*clearing throat*

Roses are red

Wait a minute! That's so cliche; everyone does roses. I don't want to be pigeonholed into a flower that everyone thinks I should like because I'm a girl. What if I don't like roses? What if I prefer lilies? Or daisies? I should be free to choose my own flower without everyone telling me what to do! Freedom from the oppression of roses!!

**See, that's why I don't write poetry.

4. Favorite genre of writing?
I really like fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal, urban fantasy is good, too, and mysteries, some general fiction, the occasional Dean Koontz, historical fiction once in a while, and romance once in a blue moon only if it's funny & not too graphic or sappy, fun picture books, and... Yeah, I'm an eclectic reader. It all depends on my mood.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?
A two-faced goblin that ate disgusting food and loved to push everyone else's buttons. He was a blast to write, though.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?
I'm hoping one of the ones I'm working on right now. *crossing fingers*

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?
See the answer to #6.

8. How often do you get writer's block?
I prefer not to think of it as writer's block, but more of a stubborn muse. And she's dang stubborn sometimes.

9. Write fan fiction?
No.

10. Do you type or write by hand?
Type. *shudder* Definitely type.

11. Do you save everything you write?
Not necessarily. I'm an OCD de-junker, which also includes my computer. :)

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?
Yes, because I can be dang stubborn sometimes.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
So far Parenting the Ephraim's Child because it's still helping people.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
I'm not sure.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
I tried romance, and it didn't work at all. I suppose because I usually laugh hysterically at romance (even if they're not funny ones). I've never been a particularly angsty person either, so I don't do angst real well.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?
Alternate worlds/realities or our own world with a twist.

17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Three. (Am I insane??)

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?
No. But I think I should, so I'm going to give myself one. I predict a future blog post on that.

19. What are your five favorite words?
Aargh! *pulling at hair* I have to pick just 5?! I don't know. Maybe twit. Or perhaps superfluous. But discombobulate is a good word. And pedantic is a classic word. I think my number one pick should probably be indecisive.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Lara, my MC in my current paranormal. Except she has cool powers that I don't.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?
Everywhere.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Sometimes.

23. Do you favor happy endings?
I favor twisty endings.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
I would have to say moderately.

25. Does music help you write?
Yes, unless it's the wrong pick for the scene. Then it messes me up.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.

**I cheated and looked it up, because I can't quote myself like that. :)

"They don’t train for the smells. The contingencies, the weapons, the sights and sounds—yes. But not for the gummy slick odor of blood that hung over the ramshackle house like haze. Coating the peeling wallpaper and tattered furniture. Fresh enough that it stuck in the back of Max’s throat like mucus that wouldn’t cough up." --from deleted prologue for Going Under


I will now pass this meme on to...to...to.... the four people I passed the Honest Blog awards to. *whew!* Such pressure!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WIP Wednesday


I know, it's been a while since you've seen my poor little, neglected WIP Wednesday pic. (Does it look a little droopy to you?)

I'd like to start off celebrating that I am almost finished with my Christmas shopping. Woot! I'm also in the thick of whirlwind school projects, dance recitals, Christmas events, choir practices, etc.

**To keep this blog from getting too boring, I have inserted random cartoons throughout. Any bearing on content is purely coincidental.**


On the writerly side of things, I am ripping apart my (disjointed) NaNo novel through Holly Lisle's How To Revise A Novel Workshop (my hubby's Christmas present to me, and Mother's Day present, as I informed him after I signed up). At the top of the course website is this saying in big letters: "Create the Book You Want From the Book You Have." I have the book I want, and I have the book I wrote, which are quite different. Hopefully soon the two will meet. I'm three weeks into the course and on my third read-through of my novel and I already have a huge list of what needs to be fixed.

I am also diving back into writing the rough draft of Going Under, my YA paranormal that got dropped like a hot potato when I started NaNo. And the funny thing is that a month later I'm still stuck where I was a month ago. Funny how that happens. If any of you have a killer ending idea that isn't cliched and boring like the one I have planned, send it on over, because my ending kinda stinks. My goal is to have that figured out by next WIP Wednesday.


My co-writing project has had some progress, which then screeched to a halt when my co-author's hard drive failed. It makes it hard to email back and forth, as you can imagine. We should be back in business soon.

Another big thing is that the Writer's Conference that I am chair over opened up for registration. *applause* We have some national editors/agents and some great guests, but that took a lot of last minute work to make sure everything was working like it should. Here's the link to the LDStorymakers Writers Conference, if you're interested. It's comparable to other, big conferences at 1/5 the price.


So, there's my Work In Progress Report. Anybody else have some great progress to report?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

7 Habits of Successful Writers


If any of you have ever played a sport or musical instrument, then chances are you first took lessons from someone that already knew how to do it. After you moved past the clarinet-that-sounds-like-a-dying-duck phase or the sending-almost-every-tennis-ball-soaring-out-of-the-court phase, you probably started noticing people that played very well. And if you're like many others, then you started watching--and often copying--the professionals to get better yourself. Sports magazines are filled with articles on "How To Serve like Federer" or, until recently, "How to golf like Tiger Woods."

If you want to be successful in any field, then you watch and learn from those who are already successful. And that applies to this crazy world of writing that I'm spending so much time and energy in. I've been following successful authors on their blogs and Twitter, and I've been noticing some patterns, or habits, if you will.

So...Drum Roll...

The 7 Habits of Successful Writers

1. They write. Even when they don't feel like it or when the muse is being stubborn or when they feel a little under the weather. They write even when the story seems to merely held together by spit and paper clips.

2. They read. They read to see what's being published, what's out there, and what's not. They do their homework and their research. But above all they read because they love it, and that's why they write.

3. They aren't afraid of change. I'm talking about in their writing. They revise, change, re-write, and try new things.

4. They treat it like a job. Just like any job, writing has it's boring and monotonous moments, and those moments when you'd rather have a vacation day. But if you want to be successful, you have to treat your writing time like a job that you're getting paid for--even if you aren't. Yet.

"I only write when I am inspired, and I see to it that I am inspired at 9 o'clock every morning."--Peter de Vries

5. They listen to music. This is sort of iffy, but it comes up so often that I think there has to be something to it. I like to write to music, because it helps get me in the right mood for a scene. If I pick the wrong music then it goes against me.

6. They don't hide in their shell. They get out and experience life and other people, even if it's just watching them. Otherwise what would they have to write about? These days, authors also have to do a lot of their own marketing, which means that they have to interact with the public, too.

7. They keep writing. They don't wait around to see what the editor/agent/critics/public thinks about one project; they are already busy on the next one.

Apparently I'm not the only one in the blog-o-sphere with this idea. If you'd like to see what others believe are successful writing habits, here are some links:

10 Habits of Successful Writers at The Writing Journey
Writing Habits of Successful Authors I've Known by Alan Rinzler
Learn from the Greats: 7 Writing Habits of Amazing Writers on Write To Done

I'm sure there are more than 7 habits, but Stephen Covey made the magical number seven catchy, so I'm going to limit myself. What other habits of successful authors have you noticed?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Word of the Week #80

**I chose this week's word because it reminds me of the word fungus, which makes me giggle.

fungible
- [FUHN-juh-buhl]- adjective or noun

Definition:
adjective
1. (Law) Freely exchangeable for or replaceable by another of like nature or kind in the satisfaction of an obligation.
2. Interchangeable.
noun
1. Something that is exchangeable or substitutable. Usually used in the plural.

Usage:
Whining is not restricted to a certain child in my house per day. It's perfectly fungible.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shopping vs. Writing

Shopping isn't my thing. No, really. I have my list, I get in, and then I get out. Unless it's the books or paper section (Oooo! Look at all those cute little notebooks!), but I usually avoid those sections so I don't spend too much.

But yesterday I went shopping. For several hours. It's a necessary evil this time of year.


I didn't even get on the computer until, like, 5:00! Shocking, I know.

I went from 3 gifts purchased (and all from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and all of them entire series, so technically it could be considered 11 gifts) to almost completely finished with my Christmas shopping.

Yippee!

Now if any of you are addicted to wrapping presents, I'd love to hook you up. I'll even provide the tape. Anyone?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting to Work

I'm now beginning revisions on that NaNoWriMo project I was so proud to finish last week. Some parts are so horribly bad they're "horribad." Or did I really write that? bad. And the answer is yes. Yes I did really write that ending where I summarized in one paragraph what should probably have been a whole scene and finished with "And they all lived happily ever after."

*cringe*

Here are a few thoughts about the process of revising my "horribad" manuscript, expressed in Motivational Posters:

(Or, in my case, you aren't being paid at all, yet.)

(I need to stock up on deodorant. Too bad it won't help the stinky parts of my story.)


(I'm crossing my fingers for the diamond.)

Anyone else dared to look at their rough drafts yet?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Seeing the Spark


If you're like me, then many times ideas come at the strangest times. Sometimes they hit out of the blue, like a flash or spark. And if you don't pay attention, then they're gone. I think anyone pursuing creative endeavors (like writing, music, art, etc.) has to train themselves to pay attention. You have to see the spark.

I've had idea sparks while I'm driving, or while listening to music, or from a painting, or while watching a person walking ahead of me in the store. I've started carrying around a little notebook that I can whip out and write the idea sparks down so I don't forget them.

Sparks can come from anywhere and anything. And just to prove it to you, here are some things that have tickled my spark. (Let's start a new phrase, shall we?)

Pictures like these:


Previously undiscovered ecosystems. (See this article.)

Dreams. (Hey, it worked for Stephenie Meyer.)

A phrase like "a chapter of loathing."

This song:




You can also go to resources like this Imagination Prompt Generator and creativewritingprompts.com for a little more help if you're spark is a little low.

What about you? What sparks your imagination & creativity?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Word of the Week #79

gallimaufry - [gal-uh-MAW-free] - noun

Definition:
A hodgepodge; jumble; confused medley.

Usage:
Other people have color-coordinated Christmas trees and decorations, while I prefer a gallimaufry look.

But not quite this bad.


Or the houses you can see on uglychristmaslights.com. But I'm kinda digging this one.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Finished for real

Whew! I finished NaNoWriMo on Monday, but today I finished the ending of my rough draft. And since I didn't actually start writing until Nov. 3, this means I finished the entire rough draft in one month and one day.

Of course, parts of it are horrible. We're talking really scary.

Yeah, that scary. But it's written now, and later I can fix the horrible parts.

Yippee!

*Make sure to check out yesterday's post for a good laugh to start the weekend off right.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sometimes You Have to Get Creative

Like when you're finishing up the rough draft of your NaNo novel. You know, the book you decided to write the day before and therefore didn't actually have a plan or definite end in mind, and you thought you'd figure it out as you went along but failed to take into account that you'd get to the end point in a few days. Yeah, like that.

Any guesses what I'm struggling with at the moment?

Here's a great commercial on getting creative in your approach. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Linkey Love

I was going about my day, cruising through my 14 mile-long To-Do list (I let a lot slide during NaNo), when it hit me: I didn't write a blog for today.

*Gasp*

Commence quick bloggy-scramble.



So here's a little Linkey Love for you all!



  • Caro Clarke has several helpful articles, so take a look around her site after reading this article on The Doldrums.

*Anyone else thinking of that scene in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End where they're just sitting there? (Or maybe that's just an excuse to put this pic on my blog.)


  • Marybeth Lansing talks about Insecurities on her blog. (I'm with you, girl!)

  • Agent Rachelle Gardner had a 3 part guest blog series on Marketing that starts here.


I was happy to hear it, because so far that's all I've bought for my Christmas shopping. Granted, I haven't really started yet, but I do have a bunch of books I bought online on Cyber Monday because shipping was free. *Yippee!* And if I am really, really, careful then no one will know I read all the books before wrapping them, right?

Kidding! (Sort of.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

And... I'm finished

NaNoWriMo is officially over and I made it to 50,000 yesterday. Yea! Today I'm taking the day off. My house, brain, and family will thank me.

Congratulations to all the other finishers!