Wednesday, February 29, 2012
And speaking of reading, don't forget to venture over to She Reads and hear from Erica Bauermeister, our author of the month. Her book Joy For Beginners is one to read if you haven't. And her other book The School of Essential Ingredients is just delicious. Very soon we're announcing our March pick-- one we're very excited about. The author is a Christian who has ventured into the general market with her newest title. Stay tuned to find out who it is!
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Yet there's still stuff that needs doing.
That's when the half page to-do list comes in handy. Take a normal sheet of paper that you use, and literally fold it in half. Then write your bare bones, have-to-do-this-or-the-world-will-stop, list on that half page. Write the other stuff on a longer list another day. A day when you have more energy, more happy, more motivation. But don't beat yourself up about the half page days. We all have em.
(For you techie types who have all this on electronic gadgets, just ignore this advice-- this will not apply to you. I still love paper, paper, paper. I realize that makes me backwards and I fully accept that. Embrace it, in fact.)
Monday, February 27, 2012
It did not. :(
Thursday, February 23, 2012
On my iPod: Raise Your Glass by Pink ("Don't be fancy, just get dancey...")
I am thinking I need to do this for this new novel I'm starting on. Now if I could just find the time apart from actually writing the thing...
I did kind of start this for my books on Pinterest. If you're on there, look for me and check out the bard I created for my upcoming novel The Guest Book.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
And also remember to check out the latest postings over at She Reads where we talk about books that will keep you turning pages long after your bedtime.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
I love (in no certain order)...
the NC coast
my white noise app on my iphone
my kids' faces
my husband's hands
my Friday night at 5 glass of wine
flowers in a mason jar
rivers, creeks, streams, ponds, lakes, oceans-- bodies of water
writing when I'm not on deadline
writing down my gifts
Sarah Addison Allen books
my crazy jumping dog
soy sauce and wasabi, mixed
John Hughes movies
sheets with a high thread count
Cherry Coke Zero
vanilla ice cream with homemade hot fudge
family around the table
a clean kitchen sink
egg salad on toast
kosher dill pickles
the Pulpwood Queens
chocolate chip cookies
new books released by my favorite authors
date night with my husband
The Blue Nile
Icehouse (the group, not the beer)
Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and Splenda
thirtysomething on dvd
being a homebody
books about writing
Law and Order (any of them)
little girls in tutus
climbing into clean sheets on a made bed (hospital corners!)
a perfectly toasted marshmallow
my husband's popcorn
movies that make me cry
movies that make me laugh
talking to my teenagers
Monday, February 20, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Today is the first day since the surgery that I've felt like myself. I woke up with more energy and actually can think of eating a food that's not white (I've lived off chicken noodle soup, french bread, grits, cereal, etc. since Thursday.) I even felt like writing this post, which is saying something. Yesterday I thought of trying to get some writing done and the mere thought made me feel like hiding under the covers. What a difference a day makes.
While I do feel better I'm determined not to push it. So today as it rains outside I've decided to finish the book I've been reading, watch a movie Curt rented for me from Redbox, and glean some more wisdom from the copy of On Writing I fished off the bookshelf the other day. Stephen King knows his stuff. (Duh!) I could do nothing but post quotes from that book on here and take up a week's worth of posts. And I just might do that.
I also spent some wonderful time in Isaiah this morning and journaled for the first time since February 13th. I love journaling but sometimes I take unexpected and unplanned breaks from it. Tomorrow I'm writing about journaling though, about the magic of it. Because I do believe in it-- and I miss it when I don't do it. Journaling makes me feel closer to God, connected and invested. My spiritual life suffers when I don't include it in my morning quiet times.
I also plan to shower today. This is also an improvement, trust me.
Tomorrow and Tuesday the kids are out of school. I expect by Wednesday we'll all be bucking for some normalcy. I'm hoping to have written 10,000 words of my new novel by this time next week. I know that sounds like a lofty goal but my deadline got moved up and knowing I've written NOT ONE WORD is weighing on me. If I was 10,000 words in I'd be 1/8th of the way done-- and that would at least feel like something. That's 1500 words per day, every day, starting tomorrow. Hoping I can tell this story well. I see so much potential, if I can only sort out how to get to the heart of it... and discover what the true heart of it is. I think I know-- but I don't want what I think I know inhibit what could be.
Finally, the photo at the top is not one I took. It's one that came up when I googled "winter scene." I wish that was the scene outside my window. I'm in the mood for one good snow. We haven't even come close here in the midst of one of the warmest winters I can remember in quite some time. For now I will content myself with a photo, and while I'm at it I can pretend that I feel good enough to go for a long walk down that snow-covered road. Happy Sunday, wherever you are, whatever you're doing. And by all means, take a long walk down a snow covered road if you can!
Friday, February 17, 2012
My computer does this weird thing with the colors showing up funny if I've had the thing on too long without shutting it down. I am NO tech genius so I have no idea what it is or how to stop it. I just know that once the colors start looking wonky it's time to shut the thing down. So I shut it down and then... voila! It comes back up fine.
Turns out my computer needs to shut down sometimes.
You know where this is going, don't you?
I had a hellacious past couple weeks getting my copyedits done and holding down the homefront while my husband traveled constantly. Plus I'm keeping a child now every day after school and let me just tell you that when people joke around about "oh what's one more?" they know not of what they speak. Because "just one more" is just enough to throw off my carefully balanced life. But we're working through it and I'm glad I'm doing it-- he's a nice kid and he needed a place to stay every afternoon while his mom works and I make a little bit of pocket money that pays for things like my Dunkin Donuts coffee habit and the occasional lunch with a friend. And I'm glad he doesn't have to be in the daycare center he was in where a kid punched him in the stomach. That hurt my heart.
But anyway, all of that stuff I just listed? It made my colors go wonky. Things went from watercolor to technicolor.
So this week as the edits got turned in and the surgery approached it was everything in me to dive right into my new novel that needs writing, to work on this ebook idea I've had, to write blog posts and return emails and... do more work. But instead I went into shut down mode. I did some shopping. I talked on the phone with friends. I met some folks for lunch. I cooked. I read good books. I rested. I watched some mindless shows I'd DVR'ed but not taken the time to watch.
And when things popped into my head that needed doing I jotted them down... on next week's list. And I reasoned that life wasn't going to end if I took some time to shut down. And slowly, the garish technicolor faded into a muted, soft watercolor. And I felt myself exhale.
Shut down mode.
Give it a try.
(PS. As I wrote this post I kept picturing this video.)
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Reading: 1ooo Gifts by Ann Voskamp
See that topiary? It sits in my guest bath-- a little kitschy thing I picked up at a craft fair years ago. I think it might be just for Christmas but it matches my decor so I leave it out year-round. I stuck it in our guest bathroom and honestly I didn't think about it very much after that. I hardly ever go in that bathroom, after all. (My kids clean it.)
But recently I noticed something about this topiary. Pieces of the bark-type stuff that is glued to the foam ball had fallen off, leaving an ugly hole. I wondered how many guests in our guest bathroom had seen this less-than-lovely sight? So I did what any self-respecting homemaker would do. I simply turned the topiary around and hid the hole. Good as new.
After I walked out of the bathroom an analogy came to me: about holes and our tendency to want to hide them. My reflexive action of turning the topiary around wasn't even something I thought about. I just wanted things to look nice. Even if they weren't-- I could project the image they were by hiding what was really there. And so it is with lots of things-- the kind of mom I am, the kind of wife I am, the state of our finances, what I really think of certain people, things that happen to me, that hurt me. I figure out as quickly as possible how I can hide those holes.
I think that's what this new direction with my blog is all about-- it's an effort to not hide the holes, to show some of the ugly. But I find I'm still trying to put a pretty face on things. It's my go-to, my reflex. I don't want to tell you that I cuss and I drink and I listen to that rock and roll music (you're supposed to hear the grandparents in Sixteen Candles when you read that). I don't want to tell you that I have some pretty ugly thoughts and urges or that I'm not really a nice person at all. I don't want to be vulnerable about some things that have hurt me recently, have left me reeling and honestly questioning not my faith but the people who purport to share it. I struggle with still wanting to hide those holes.
Because holes? They're unsightly. No one wants to see those... or do they?
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
My post is up over at Southern Belle View! Today I shared some tips for having a better marriage. We're all sharing our relationship tips this week. The wise women I blog with have some good stuff to share. So if love is on your mind this Valentine week, that's the place to be!
As always, remember to check out She Reads-- we're sharing posts from our selected author of the month, Erica Bauermeister, who is one of my writing heroes. Seriously, you should read either or both of her lovely lovely books. I want to be her when I grow up. No kiddin.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Reading: Story by Robert McKee
Last Wednesday my friend Jill and I got to see a preview of The Vow. I'd seen the trailer and was already planning to see it, so when I got invited to see it in advance, I was thrilled. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about the movie because I think honestly the trailer does a good job of expressing what the movie is about. Unlike some trailers you don't see all the best moments in the film and it doesn't give it all away. Rachel McAdams is just beautiful, as always. Channing Tatum is not usually my favorite but he did a good job. Here's a brief summary:
Paige and Leo (Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum) are a happy newlywed couple whose lives are shattered by a car accident that puts Paige in a coma. Waking up with severe memory loss, Paige has no memory of Leo or their marriage, a confusing relationship with her parents (Sam Neill and Jessica Lange), and an ex-fiancé (Scott Speedman) she may still have feelings for. Despite these obstacles, Leo endeavors to win her heart again and vows to love her and rebuild their marriage.
What I really want to say about the movie is that it's based on a true story. And when I first saw the trailer I thought "what an imaginative premise for a movie." Well I had no idea it was based on real people. And to make things even better, I got to talk to them! First, here's a bit about them:
Based off of their 2000 book “The Vow: The Kim & Krickett Carpenter Story, I can’t tell you how extraordinary their story is. They fell in love and married. But due to a car accident just two months after their wedding, Krickett lost all her memory of Kim and their union! Through their shared faith, Kim’s patience and Krickett’s compassion, the couple fell in love all over again and recently celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary!!! Currently living in New Mexico with their two children, Kim works in local government and Krickett is a substitute teacher.
And here's what I learned in our conversation:
Kim and Krickett are real people in a real marriage. That's what stood out to me the most-- while they are thrilled with the movie, and that it was number one at the box office-- they just want to use this entire event as an opportunity to share their message: one of hope, but also one of what real love takes. Kim said, "People have used words like 'miraculous' and 'heroic' to describe our story, but really we just did what we said we were going to do in honoring our vows. In our world today, doing that gets you recognition." He noted that a few decades ago, "til death do us part" meant the actual death of a soulmate." But in our time, it's come to mean the death of a marriage. He emphasized that, while he and Krickett have an amazing story, their day to day lives now consist of working at their marriage like the rest of us. Most of all, Kim and Krickett hope this movie (and the book they've just released) inspires people who are struggling in marriage to keep working at it and for people who are thinking about getting married to go into it with a sense of what marriage takes.
I asked them about the whole experience of having their life story made into a movie, and here's what they had to say:
On how close the movie is to the real thing: "Some things are exact. The car accident was a different accident entirely. Of course it's hard to tell a 19 year old story in 104 minutes but the crux of the story is intact. The studio took some artistic liberties we wouldn't have taken, but overall we're happy with the movie. Channing and Rachel spent time with us, studied interviews of us, watched us closely, and read parts of the book to prepare. They nailed it."
On what people in their lives think of all this: "We have the support of the people in our life. The recent attention has re-reminded our friends how special the story is. We've gotten congratulatory messages from our friends and are blessed to have their support."
On their kids: Krickett says, "They're the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." And Kim says, "They're the blessings of our vow." The kids have been part of it all, and have traveled with their parents from the east to the west coast to interviews and appearances and been real troupers. "This is a priceless lesson for them to carry on in their legacy," Kim says.
On walking the red carpet at the premiere: Krickett says, "I got to be a princess for a day." And Kim adds, "It was a lot of fun. Like a second wedding for us."
To see pictures of Kim and Krickett and learn more about their recently released book-- which has a LOT more details and the rest of the story of their marriage-- go to www.facebook.com/TheVowBook.
Thank you Kim and Krickett for inspiring us and for sharing your real-life love story!
I'm reading: Little Gale Gumbo by Erika Marks
This week promises to be busy. My copyedits were due today, which meant I turned them in and then ran a bunch of errands that hadn't gotten done because I was in constant editing mode. I rode around listening to the Whitney Houston tribute station on Sirius and have been humming her songs ever since. While I was running errands, I managed to find some cute spring/summer clothes for my youngest. Marshalls had just gotten a shipment and I snagged 7 complete outfits for $118. I know it's early to be thinking spring but in a few months I will be SO GLAD I went ahead and bought her stuff. Only five more to buy for... ahem.
Looking ahead to the rest of the week...
A phone interview with the real couple who inspired the movie The Vow, brunch with a friend and Valentine's class parties on Tuesday. Our traditional family Valentine's dinner on Tuesday night, complete with red food (spaghetti), red drink (Cherry 7Up), and these cupcakes for dessert. (Confession: I'm looking forward to them a bit too much.) I've got Bible/book study on Wednesday morning and a story consult conference call Wednesday night. And Thursday morning I have surgery scheduled. It's not a big deal but I will be out of commission Thursday and Friday. And somewhere in all of that I need to start writing my new novel. Ah, the life of a busy mom. The word abundant comes to mind...
I'd appreciate your prayers for my surgery. And because I know you're curious as to why I'm having surgery, without going into a lot of detail, I'll just say get a mammogram. Because they can find stuff and get to it before it becomes a problem. I'm certainly glad I got mine, and glad that it's not cancer and-- because I'm having this surgery-- won't have a chance to become cancer. If you've put off having a mammogram, consider this your Public Service Announcement: Do it.
I'll be back this week with a review of The Vow and inside info on the real couple behind the story, Kim and Krickett Carpenter. I've also got a few random thoughts I'll share with you about hiding holes and pens with eyes and shut down mode.
Hope to see you here!
Friday, February 10, 2012
I think that this is how you write characters that seem true to life; not because they are based on real-life characters, but because their reactions to your imagined situations are true to life.
Quote by Catherine McKenzie from post on Writer Unboxed
Thursday, February 09, 2012
Reading: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Lately I've been enjoying being home. Taking good care of my kids, my house, attending to my home life in a way that could be described as thorough. And it's been good, satisfying on a personal level. I love investing in my home-- meals, groceries, decorating, errands, volunteering at school.
It's rewarding in its own way. An end to my means.
It's not my only job and, lately, I've been aware that in all this homefront investment, I've been neglecting the writing that needs to be done. This reality kept creeping in, a long bony finger reaching out to tap me on the shoulder and whisper in my ear in a menacing way, "You're not writing." Mostly I tried to ignore the sinister voice... but long bony fingers? They've got more of a reach than you might think.
This past weekend my husband and I talked through the stress that this dichotomy was causing.
di·chot·o·my /daɪˈkɒtəmi/ Show Spelled[dahy-kot-uh-mee] Show IPA
noun, plural -mies.
1. division into two parts, kinds, etc.; subdivision into halves or pairs.
2. division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups: a dichotomy between thought and action.
3. Botany . a mode of branching by constant forking, as in some stems, in veins of leaves, etc.
4. Astronomy . the phase of the moon or of an inferior planet when half of its disk is visible.
Yep, that word describes it-- being divided into two parts-- my writing and my home. Both must be attended to. Both bring me their own type of joy. Both are what I was created to do. And yet both seem to war with each other-- which is where the "mutually exclusive, opposed or contradictory" part of the definition comes into play.
So this weekend my husband and I talked it over, because he's who I go to whenever I'm feeling uncertain because he has this wonderful (and very male) ability to see past all the emotion and just go to the black and white facts of the matter. He helped me see that what I need to get back to is some good old-fashioned discipline. (Yeah, I hate that word too.) I'd let my home life swallow up my writing life in one greedy gulp. It felt good, easy, natural, so it was easy to feed.
Once I headed down that path, I couldn't quite see my way back out. Curt helped me to see (in the way that only an honest husband can) that I must put the brakes on, do a three point turn, and get back to the place where I could live life in both camps. Mutually exclusive, yes. But also possible to do both. With some discipline. (Yeah, that word again.)
So this week for me is about getting the discipline back. Discipline to TURN OFF THE DISTRACTIONS and write. Discipline to prioritize what needs doing first and actually do those things first. Discipline to do the things that can't be done with children in the house when the CHILDREN ARE NOT IN THE HOUSE. (I know this is basic, but bear with me.) Discipline to designate errands to one day only. Discipline to actually get on the treadmill and exercise instead of just gripe that I can't find the time anymore. And finally, discipline to get away from SO MUCH TV. I'd have time to read all the novels I need to read for She Reads if I'd just read instead of watch it at night. And really, what is another episode of Law and Order or Cold Case going to do for me?
My life has felt out of control because I haven't even tried to control it. And so that's what's on my mind right now-- developing a plan that gets both halves of my life back in balance.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Reading: The February issue of Southern Living Magazine
This week over at Southern Belle View I'm sharing my love story. Head over there to read my story-- and the love stories the other Belles are sharing!
Over at She Reads we're talking about our pick of the month-- Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister. I'll include a bit about the book in case you'd like to add it to your reading list. This book is one I personally loved. Erica has earned a spot on my short list of favorite writers. I think you will love her too!
At an intimate, festive dinner party in Seattle, six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate's recovery from cancer. Wineglass in hand, Kate strikes a bargain with them. To celebrate her new lease on life, she'll do the one thing that's always terrified her: white-water rafting. But if she goes, all of them will also do something they always swore they'd never do-and Kate is going to choose their adventures.
Shimmering with warmth, wit, and insight, Joy for Beginners is a celebration of life: unexpected, lyrical, and deeply satisfying.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
On My iPod: High by The Blue Nile
Reading: The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux
There's a song by Kate Bush from the 80's that I have on my ipod. The chorus is, "If I only could, I'd make a deal with God, and I'd get Him to swap places. I'd be running up that road, be running up that hill with no problems."
Ever felt that way? That if we could be in charge there'd be NO PROBLEMS. Every journey we took would be obstacle free. And I used to wonder if it was wrong of Kate Bush to put those lines in her song. To say it out loud, that thing I know I've thought... but didn't think others did. And certainly not something that someone should sing about. You know, so that other people could hear. Nevertheless, I liked the song, and it earned a permanent place on my ipod.
Then the other day I read this gripping line in Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts, a book I've vowed to read every year so that the ideals can slowly but surely seep into my skull. I think in 30 or so years (and 30 or so reads) it should be taking root. In the first chapter, Ann writes:
"If it were up to me..." and then the words pound, desperate and hard, "I'd write this story differently."
As I read this line, my brain recalled the chorus of that song. And a connection was made-- not that Kate felt it or I felt it or Ann felt it... but that we all have felt it. That desire to trade places with God and be the one to make decisions, to be in control. That sense that we would do it better is pervasive and enticing, and scary, as Ann goes on to say:
"I regret the words as soon as they leave me. They seem so un-Christian, so unaccepting-- so No, God! I wish I could take them back, comb out their tangled madness, dress them in their calm Sunday best. But they are, released and naked, raw and real, stripped of any theological cliche, my exposed, serrated howl to the throne room."
But the truth doesn't lie in our wild thoughts, our feelings and unreliable emotions. The truth lies in the humble response from her brother in law, who lost two sons:
"Just that maybe... maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds." And Ann writes, "There's a reason I am not writing the story and God is. He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, what it all means. I don't."
The next time I think about swapping places, about getting to write the story, I will remember that profound truth over all-- that I don't know the end. And because of that, I shouldn't get to dicker with the middle. No matter how many times I'm tempted to sing along, to join in with the other voices.
Monday, February 06, 2012
Grilled Barbecue Pork Chops, Broccoli Cheddar Rice, Corn
Tortilla Chicken Soup topped with cheese, tortilla strips, and sour cream (the link I provided isn't the recipe I use, but it's a good idea of how to make it, step by step)
Chipped Beef on toast, black eyed peas
Baked Chicken Fajitas
Crock Pot Sloppy Joe Sandwiches, Tater Tots and Lima Beans
Pork Tenderloin and gravy, baked potatoes, green beans.
This one's easy-- put the pork tenderloin in the crock pot and sprinkle with pepper and garlic salt. Blend cream of mushroom soup, french onion soup, and golden mushroom soup with a whisk. Pour over and cook all day. Makes a delicious pork tenderloin with gravy to put over your potatoes-- or whatever starch you choose.
Friday, February 03, 2012
Which is why the idea of selecting a word to pray for my kids for the year really really appealed to me. That I could do. And so, I thought about where each of my kids are and the needs I see in their lives, and picked a word. I also picked a word for my husband. Then I took an index card and wrote each person's name and the word and laid the card on my nightstand so I'd see it when I woke up and when I went to bed. That means that at least twice a day-- sometimes more-- I'm praying those words for these people I love. It's been the single most consistent prayer effort I've ever made. Why? Because it's simple. I can do simple.
I have decided not to share the words here, because they're private for the people they apply to and I want to protect that for my family. But if this idea appeals to you, I challenge you to start thinking about it-- and a word will come. Praying one word has been a great prayer exercise for me. I feel more committed than ever to praying for my family-- and I'm already seeing answers in response to my prayers-- which is the nicest part of all.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
6:30 (am) Wake up. Make green tea and sip while having my quiet time.
7:00 Get kids up. Make lunches and make sure everyone stays on task, eats, and leaves the house with teeth brushed and shoes on.
7:30 Leave for school.
8:00 Arrive home. Eat breakfast. Do household chores-- laundry, dishes, tidy up, one big chore like cleaning a bathroom, mopping the floor, vaccuuming, etc. Start meal in crockpot if dinner plans require that.
9:00 Settle down and answer emails.
2:00 Get on the treadmill. Read a book while walking fast. Sweat.
2:45 Shower and dress
3:15 Get kids from school. Try to absorb shock of ALL THE NOISE that comes with them after quiet day at home.
4:00 Arrive home and supervise snacks and homework. Start dinner, watch children, make helpful suggestions about how to spend any free time. Talk to children about their day. Give directions about after school chores. (Usually I've made a list as things occur to me during the day.)
6:00 Dinner. Assign dinner cleanup chores. Listen to grumbling about child labor laws and the unfairness of it all. Tell them it will make them better wives/husbands and besides I cooked it so I don't have to clean it.
7:00 Baths and any unresolved homework issues.
8:00 Start the bedtime process.
9:00 Watch Cold Case or Law and Order or Castle if it's Monday night. Or read a book. Anything that doesn't require too many brain cells.
10:00 Fall asleep from sheer exhaustion.
As I said, hardly a single day goes by just like this-- but this is what I aim for. I think having something to aim for is good.
Wednesday, February 01, 2012
And don't forget about She Reads, where this month we've selected a novel (and writer) I am CRAZY about. Don't miss it... or her!