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What Are You Reading?

Fall sports, writing a book, editing another and dealing with all the “senior” details of my daughter’s final year of high school have taken a toll on my brain–a BIG toll! I literally haven’t been able to read a novel in two months! (!!!) That makes me sad. Reading novels is one of my favorite ways to escape and recharge.

Last weekend brought an end to all the fall sports. I finished my first draft yesterday. The edits have been turned in, and I think I’m caught up on the senior stuff. What does this mean? I’ll be reading again soon! Yay!

I have a few selections, and I’m not sure which one I’ll choose first.

London Tides by Carla Laureano

*Sale alert!! The ebook is on sale for just $1.99 until October 31, 2015! Go to London Tides E-book Sale (linked) for details!**

I read Five Days in Skye, the first in this contemporary Christian romance series, earlier this year. I loved it. So romantic, so expertly written. And,  yeah, I thought the hero was hot! I’ve been waiting for the second book to drop, and it recently did! London Tides is on my Kindle, ready to go.

Maybe in Another Life  by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I saw this reviewed in a magazine. It looked intriguing, so I borrowed it from our library. It has one of those trippy choose-your-own-adventure-type storylines where we see how the heroine fares if she makes one choice and also how her life goes if she makes the other. I haven’t even cracked it open, so I can’t say much beyond that. Looks good!

On the non-fiction front, I recently finished Just Show Up  by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. It’s so moving, so inspiring and so practical that I can only say, drop what you’re doing and order this book. Right now.

Go on. Do it.

What do we do when a friend is going through hard times? I wish I knew. Do I call? Do they want to talk? Should I give them space? It’s hard. This book addresses all the sticky stuff. I found myself jotting notes and just sighing in recognition as I read Just Show Up. It motivated me to step up and make even small gestures to those around me suffering. Sometimes the small gestures are big. Did I need tissues as I read it? Of course, I did. This was written in the final days of Kara’s fight with cancer. It’s emotional and wonderful.  I can’t recommend it enough.

So there you have it. My fiction options and my non-fiction recommendation.

Your turn! What are you reading?

Have a terrific day!

The Friday Five: Procrastination

I always loved popping over to Erica Vestch’s blog on Fridays because she’d write her Friday Five, a list of five related items.  They could be anything, really. Erica now contributes to Coffee Cups and Camisoles if you’d like to catch her posts, or you can check out her website here! In a nod to her genius, I’m doing my own Friday five today.

 

My list is all procrastination related. My current book is not cooperating, and I don’t enjoy writing when it’s not going my way. For instance, I sat in front of my laptop for six hours on Wednesday and only managed to add 1700 words. That’s not a good number for me. It’s been a bang-my-head-against-the-keyboard writing week. Next week WILL be better.

Friday Five: Procrastination

  1. Napping

Yesterday, I wrote 1000 words early. I ate lunch. Why would I want to keep the writing momentum going afterward?That would be crazy. So I curled up with my dog and took a short nap. I woke feeling a combination of dread and shame (but I met my word count and then some, so maybe there’s something to this nap thing).

2. Sugar

I wrote a sentence! I should write another… Nah, I’ll crack open a Coke. And grab a handful of Gobstoppers. Unwrap some Smarties…

3. Facebook

After jotting down an impressive 23 words, I naturally had to take a break and check in on Facebook. Eighty-seven thousand times a day all week.

4. Research

This one was the killer. Seriously. It about killed me. My current WIP involves accidents and injuries I know nothing about. And guess what? I’m not a doctor. Or a nurse. I’m going to shock you here, but I have no medical background whatsoever. So the seventy-five hours of research, poring over medical papers, reading testimonials by similar patients, watching YouTube videos of various treatments? They better translate to a believable book.

5. Texting

I’m a whiner. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have several writer friends on my contact list who put up with my whiney texts. Let’s just say, they got a lot of them this week.

 

There you have it. The five ways I avoided my manuscript this week. On a good note, I did force myself to write three chapters, so onward-ho!

What is your best way to procrastinate?

Have a fab weekend!

 

Why Do I Still Own This Shirt?

I did laundry on Monday. I do laundry every Monday. I’m very, very thankful to own my own washer and dryer. There have been times in my life when I didn’t. To be able to throw a load of clothes in at any time without driving to a laundromat or popping quarters into a machine is a gift!

Anyway, since the change of seasons is upon us, last weekend I’d taken my bins of winter clothes out and set them on the floor. I’d  been avoiding the whole pack the shorts away and bring out the sweaters routine. It’s not time consuming, but it requires me to make decisions. Like, why do I still own this shirt?

One of the sweaters is so old it may have been knitted during the Civil War. I’m not sure, just a guess. Another shirt has tiny holes from overuse. Did I fold and put away two pairs of jeans that barely fit? Yes, I did. Why? Because if I donate them, I have to buy new jeans, and frankly, the thought of trying on jeans is throwing me into a panic attack.

I LOATHE trying on jeans. And bathing suits. They. Are. The. Worst.

See, this is why I still own clothes that belong in a giant bonfire. If I burned them, I would have to go shopping to replace them.

I should go shopping.

These clothes are bad–pilling, faded, full of holes, stained…

I did it. I threw them away. No donating. No fires. Just the trash. They are not fit to be worn, not by me, not by anyone.

*cleansing breath*

Do you hold onto clothes WAY past their prime?

Have a fabulous Wednesday!

Tips to Successfully Switch Between Projects

Tips To Successfully Switch Between Projects

One of the changes I’ve had to make as a published writer has been switching between projects. I’m not going to lie–it’s been a challenge! Some writers have no problem with this, but jumping from one unfinished task to another is not my strong suit. I’m a systems girl, so I’ve done my best to create a process for successfully switching between projects.

Tips to Successfully Switch Between Projects

  • Plan ahead. Now that I’ve been through the publishing process with more than one book, I understand my publisher’s timetable. I can easily estimate when to expect certain assignments for the book. This allows me to adjust my other goals.

 

  • Decide if you’re going to work on two projects at once or if you’d prefer to set one aside to concentrate on the other. I can squeeze in marketing for one book as I write the draft of another, but my brain cannot handle writing a book while working on edits for another. Obviously, this depends on if both projects are contracted and if your deadlines are looming. Determine what works best for you and try not to compare yourself to someone else who does it differently.

 

  • Adjust your goals. Sometimes things come up earlier or later than expected. That’s okay. Just change the goals on your current WIP to reflect your new responsibilities. For instance, I planned on writing 15,000 words this week on my new book. However, the arrival of final edits for a different book arrived last week, so my goal became finishing the edits and writing 0 words. Next week, I’ll resume adding to my word count.

 

  • Celebrate the small victories.  When I turned the above-mentioned final edits in early, I celebrated by taking a long walk at a local park. Sure, I could have forced myself back in my office to “make up” for my missed words on the draft, but my spirit needed a boost. If we work constantly, we get burned out. NO thanks!

 

  • Get organized. The only way I’m able to juggle multiple projects is by staying extremely organized. I use Microsoft OneNote for all my notes. Each book has five or six tabs and multiple folders. I not only store my research, plot notes, character charts and scene lists here, but I also track my plotting, writing and revising progress as well as important business dates and promotion items. It’s easy to switch between books. All the info I need is right there.

 

  • Say no to distractions. I do not plan lunch dates, long phone calls or any other “optional” fun activities when I’m trying to finish a project. I create room in my schedule for these dates when I finish a draft or turn revisions in or whatever else I’m working on. Remember, it’s not a forever no, it’s a not-right-now no.

 

  • Give yourself wiggle room. If your deadline is October 31, aim to finish it no later than October 29. Hey, we all get sick, we have unexpected visitors, or we have a really bad day when we get nothing done. Life doesn’t go smoothly, so plan for the bumps by building in a time cushion.

 

  • Write down what works and what doesn’t. When you meet a deadline, take a minute to think about what helped you meet it. Also try to pinpoint anything that hurt your progress. Write these down as reminders the next time you have that particular task to do.

 

  • Do the bare minimum in real life. If you’re in the final week of a tight deadline and not sure you’ll meet it, get takeout for dinner, ignore the dust bunnies and do whatever it takes to turn your project in. Pizza and Chinese food might not be the healthiest, but if they give you the time needed to meet your goal, they’re worth it.

 

  • Smile! Multiple projects are a good thing! Much better than NO projects! It’s good to remember our blessings.

What did I miss? What would you add?

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

How Imperfection Saved My Week

My intentions were good–a little TOO good. I had a plan for this week. Since I’m on the tail end of a few big projects, I had to bring my A game if I wanted to meet my goals. Trust me. I wanted to meet those goals.

 

 

Unfortunately, my A game got lost somewhere in a bag of Tootsie Rolls, a 24-pack of Coke, an insatiable need for long-sleeve T-shirts, last minute family events and–oops!–a few forgotten items from a previous to-do list.

Monday afternoon I found myself wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, watching 666 Park Avenue reruns because my stomach felt iffy. No, it wasn’t the Tootsie Rolls or the Coke, at least not yet. A panicky feeling rose at the thought of all the things I needed to do that didn’t involve the couch, blanket or reruns. But just that morning I saw a quote on Google+ that said something like “If you ignore your body’s whispers, you won’t be able to ignore its screams.”

Well played, G+.

So ten minutes after the first ripple of nausea passed, another arrived, and I listened to that whisper. Reclined on the couch. Flipped through the channels. Came across the show mentioned above (I really enjoyed the episodes I watched and can’t figure out why it got cancelled. It had a supernatural/evil building in Manhattan, rich people who are manipulated and sometimes murdered within its walls, and it had good acting, interesting plots and a really spooky vibe. Oh well.) and tried not to think about all the things I needed to be doing.

Thirty minutes in, I felt better, so I figured I’d have lunch and a Coke. My stomach handled both fine, but I was really getting into the show. I knew I should be working on my project. Instead, I stayed on the couch and fired up my laptop to write guest blogs during commercials.

When I’d written the guest blogs, I turned the TV off and dove into the project. Got a TON done and I enjoyed doing it. After dinner I headed to the store to buy long-sleeve tees and a few pairs of pajamas. Shopping and I aren’t friends, so I have to go when the urge hits. Bingo! Another dreaded task finished.

How was this possible? I was lazy and still managed to meet my daily goals?

Hey, if doing what I wanted to do worked, I figured I’d give it a go on dinner. Yesterday I’d planned on making fish, but fish didn’t sound appealing. I passed. No one in my family was crying about this, trust me! Instead of the planned menu, I made twice-baked potatoes with ham and cheese. Yum! A nice surprise.

When I get too set in my ways and too focused on my agenda, I become miserable. When I lightened up, watched some fun TV, ate too many Tootsie Rolls, skipped the fish and bought my shirts, I still met my goals, and I was happy doing them. Frankly, allowing myself to be imperfect completely changed my attitude and saved my week.

What can I be a rebel about today? Hmm…

What have you done lately to boost your mood?

Have a fun day!!

Snapshot of My Week

Empty Coffee Cup

I’m late to the party on the blog today, but I want to wish you all a happy weekend! It’s supposed to be super cold here, but who cares? It’s the weekend!! I need it BAD because my week has been like this:

Stares at computer screen. What’s this scene about again?

 

Empty Coffee Cup
Why is this empty?? Where is my coffee?? HELP!

Fill my coffee cup. Take a sip. *ahhh*

 

Sophie
Wait for it…she hears a noise and starts yapping…

 

Dog! Why are you barking?? It’s wind. Wind!

Computer. What’s this scene about again?

 

laptop
My brain is as blank as this screen

 

Kids tumble into the house. How was school/cross country/baseball?

 

Run
Cross country…the blur…I think one of my kids is in there…

Blinking cursor. What’s this scene about again?

Yep. That was my week. I’m ready to move on to Saturday!

 

How was your week? Did you accomplish anything? Big weekend plans?

 

Have an amazing weekend!!

The REAL Change of Seasons

Today is the final day of September. Until now the weather has been mild. My kids routinely wear shorts. But tomorrow? The seasons change for real. Friday’s forecast calls for a high of 59 degrees. Saturday’s? 54. Really?

 

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What is it about October? It’s as if a switch flips from warm to cold.

As much as I love fall, I’m trying not to think about the upcoming milestones–turning the furnace on, wearing a winter jacket, the first frost… *sob*

Another thought that makes me cringe a teeny bit? I haven’t bought appropriate clothes for my kids yet. This means shopping for jeans, long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, coats and boots. I’m also on the hunt for a new winter coat for myself. I tried several on last week, but my heart wasn’t in it. I just didn’t like anything. Plus, I want a coat that can fight the bitter wind of harsh winters. Some of them are just too flimsy and thin.

On a positive note, my hubby bought (and installed) a fire pit for my birthday. Yay! I love sitting outside, getting toasty,  making s’mores and looking at the stars. I’m hoping we’ll have clear weather this weekend so we can try it out.

Oh! I made a decadent treat last week–Caramel Apple Pie. I’d watched The Pioneer Woman make it on Food Network. Let me tell you, it is delicious. Here’s the link to the recipe: “Caramel Apple Pie.” You can NOT go wrong with this one! YUM!!

A few other things I’m enjoying right now? Getting ideas for Christmas gifts, watching college football on Saturdays (and since cross country is almost over, I will be able to spend Saturdays on the couch! Yes!), throwing a pan of ribs in the oven all day long, and wrapping up in cozy throws.

I realize my part of the world has four distinct seasons (although spring is pretty iffy!). What signifies the change in seasons for you? What do you love about this time of year?

 

Have a terrific day!

 

I’m Not at ACFW Conference and I’m Jealous!

I shouldn’t be writing this. Really, I shouldn’t. Social media posts should be positive, uplifting. I want to be a light in this world, not a dark shadow! But I know I’m not alone on this subject, so I’m putting it out there.

I’m not at ACFW conference this year, and I’m jealous!

The logical part of me can recite the pros and cons list on why I’m not there.

We took our first week-long family vacation (no tent involved!) this year. We have a senior in high school with plenty of expenses, and a son in travel baseball with plenty of other expenses. We’ve put money into house projects ever since buying our current home three years ago. There are many more projects to do, big ticket items to replace, wish lists to fund. You know the drill. You live it too!

On top of that, there’s the time issue. Our kids both have cross country races this weekend, I’m trying to finish a draft of a book, and our church commitments kicked into gear last Sunday.

I’m sure you can relate to all of the above. You have your own expense and time issues. We all do.

So even though my logical brain processes and accepts all this, my insecure heart wails.

I’m missing out on the fun, the fellowship, the wonderful meetings with friends, the chance to meet my editor and the worship time. Waaahhhh!

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a conference (Yes, I’m blessed that I’ve attended them in the past!). I know how uplifting they can be. No, they aren’t perfect. Yes, they can be draining. But even during the not-great times, I loved spending time getting to know other Christian writers. I forged friendships I treasure.

 

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I miss these people! ACFW 2013

 

So what is really going on with these jealous feelings?

Where are they from, why do I have them, and more importantly, how can I handle them without becoming a jerk?

I spent some time in prayer yesterday morning. 

Where are they from? I’m afraid of being left out. Afraid my friends are moving on to newer, more exciting people. Afraid of being left behind in my career.

Why do I have these feelings? I’m a sinner. Imperfect. Immature sometimes.

How can I handle them without becoming a jerk? As I mentioned earlier, I prayed about it. And I realized that just because I’m not there this year, doesn’t mean God won’t get me there another year. If it really means this much to me, I should be praying all year for Him to find a way to get me to conference. I also have to graciously accept that I will not lose my friends and that I won’t be left behind in my career just because I’m out of sight.

I guess sometimes I just want everything to be easy. I don’t want to have to choose between paying for this or paying for that. I don’t want to have to explain to my family that this trip is important to me and that I’ll be missing their events. I feel selfish for wanting to go to a conference just because it’s  fun and I get to hang out with amazing writers.

Sigh.

I’m not at the conference. I’m jealous. But I’m doing something about it. Prayer, a right attitude and M&Ms work wonders.

 

Have you missed an event and been jealous because of it?

 

Enjoy your weekend!

*My second Lake Endwell book, Unexpected Family, is on sale now! Look for it in grocery stores, Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and anywhere books are sold. It’s available online, too. Go HERE for the links!*

Come On, Brain! Make Writing Easier for Me!

Yesterday was one of those writing days. No, not a good one where the words are jumping from my fingertips onto the page. Not a delightful one where I’m chuckling at what the heroine just said and swooning over the hero’s grand gesture.

 

 

 

It was a long, slow, painful writing day.

 

Right away I could tell it was going to be dreadful. Within minutes I’d exhausted my supply of Gobstoppers. Ate a fun-sized Snickers without even tasting it. Had a Coke by eleven am. Nothing helped.

 

Why is writing so hard some days? I don’t know, but I have a bad session about every eight or nine scenes. Ugh!

 

Looking back, I knew the problem. I was dealing with an unruly scene–a bridge between story points, if you will. Emotional growth needed to happen, but not too much or too soon. I had to get the details right for the scene to be believable. I doubted my original set-up. Realized I needed to beef up the reasoning behind a key theme.

 

By the time I finally wrote the scene, I felt good, but not great. The scene still lacked tension. So back I went, layering in internal reactions to what was happening. Hours flew by, but my word count stayed low. That’s okay. I’m ready to move forward.

 

Writing, like everything else, is like that sometimes. I want it to be wonderful, but my brain balks. Oh well!

 

Do you have those days when work feels impossible? How do you get through them?

Have a terrific day!

 

 

What Revs Your Sweet Tooth?

I’m dreaming of a cupcake. It’s a yellow moist beauty in a cute pastel polka-dot wrapper. There’s roughly half an inch of chocolate frosting swirled on top. My word, I can taste this thing! Mmm…I love cupcakes.

 

 

 

I also love Chocolate Lasagna. A wise, wonderful woman from church brought this delicacy to a church potluck, and yes, I demanded the recipe. Bless her, she emailed the link to me. It’s delicious. I’m sharing it here, Recipe for Chocolate Lasagna. You’re welcome.

 

Last weekend college football kicked off, so I bought a bag of fun-size Snicker bars. They are all gone. They’ve been gone since Monday. Will I purchase another bag soon? I think we all know the answer to that.

 

I shouldn’t be admitting this, but Kroger had a sale event on Klondike bars this week. Hey, when they’re on sale for $1.99 and they have flavors such as mint chocolate chip and cookie dough swirl, it would be a crime NOT to buy them. Right? Anyone… *crickets*

 

As you can see, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. I take my coffee full of sugar and cream. Sometimes I dollop Cool Whip on top for good measure. I’ve never met a blueberry muffin I didn’t like, and I brake for cookies. And cookie dough.

 

What revs YOUR sweet tooth? Or are you  more of a salty person?

 

Have a terrific day!!

 

*All month my new release, Unexpected Family, will be in stores! It’s available online, too. Click on Unexpected Family for links!*

 

 

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