Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey with a side of Anesthesia

    Thanksgiving is a big time for my family. Of course a holiday always involves a drive back to the old home town to spend a few days with the grandparents, cousins, in-laws and out-laws and more home cooking than the law allows in most cases. K and I both have large families so we do our best to balance our visit between the two groups. That balancing act isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do when it has to be squished into just a few days but somehow it always works out.
    As I drove down Tuesday, I sort of pondered on exactly what this holiday would mean to me this year. In a lot of ways, this Thanksgiving will be a hard one because it’s been a long, rough year for me physically. Anyone who lives away from family understands how difficult things can be if you have to travel or become ill. I’m immensely blessed with family members who have come to my aid when we’ve gotten in a bind. If I’ve needed them they’ve come, no questions, they just show up and pitch in. I’m a lucky girl in lots of ways but especially where family is concerned.
    On December 3rd my family will pitch in again and help K, the boys and me get through a very rough couple of days. December 2nd, we will leave at five in the morning to travel to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for a pre-operative visit with my super-duper Endocrinologist Dr. Broome to discuss the surgery he will perform the next morning. Friday at 9:00 a.m. he will be removing my right adrenal gland because it has a tumor in it. The mass has caused a condition called sub clinical Cushing’s, and it’s a nasty little slice of misery in lots of ways. The doctor’s say the mass is not cancerous but won’t know for sure until it is removed and analyzed.
    I am so not a fan of being put to sleep, being cut on or really being any form of patient for any reason. I’m pretty irritated by the whole situation, truth be told. It will be a difficult surgery and there are some risks but anyone who knows me won’t be surprised by that because I can’t seem to do anything the easy way.
    Sister will be entertaining the boys for the days we are in Nashville. Mom and Dad are going with me to the hospital. Once again, my folks are stepping up to hold us up in tough times. There really aren’t good enough words for how wonderful my family is.
    That brings me back to my pondering of Thanksgiving. I’ll be giving thanks for lots of things this week but especially for my family, my husband, my boys, my friends and answers thanks to the miracle of modern medicine. If I’ve neglected to tell you in person how blessed I’ve been to have you in my life, let me do that now by saying thank you.
    Pain medication-induced haze can result in some pretty strange posts and text messages so I'm going to be out of the loop for a week or so. If you get a message from me that makes no sense, or a Facebook post that sounds like I've been smoking dope, now you know what the problem might be. As my family and I ride this next phase in the healing process, please remember to lift all of us up next week because I know we will need it. Happy Thanksgiving y'all and here's to many happy and healthier ones to come. 
Till then,

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Great Book, a Cool Song and a Goal

    I've never been a New Year's Resolution person, but goals I do pretty often. Last week I reached a personal goal for 2010 by reading my 100th book. The best thing gained by reaching this goal is that by reading all the time it has greatly encouraged both my boys to want to read more. Son#1 is excelling and out-reading most of the kids in his class and Son#2 will actually sit and let me read to him. Son#1 hasn't been competitive before and its a big deal for him to strive to push himself and out-read his friends and getting the most AR points. Considering #2's favorite thing to do with a book used to be to throw it across the room, his asking us to read to him is a huge improvement as well. Of course the books #2 enjoys all involve some kind of bug or lizard and lots of creepy-crawly pictures but I'm not going to get picky about it.
    My personal motivation for reading so many books was to flex my atrophied brain muscles. No one gives us new mom's a handout at the hospital that explains how having a baby will rot your brain if you'll let it. A few Christmas's ago my brother tested me on his Brain Age game and I was horrified when it told me my brain was 80 years old. At the time, we were living in Minnesota and I had a six month old baby who didn't sleep so that's not so hard to understand. Still, it shocked me enough that I realized I had to get the lead out and do something about it.
    Reading also helps to pull me out of my own story and rest my brain. Sometimes the old creativity battery needs a recharge, especially if the scenes or action in my story gets too intense. I read a piece of information a while back that says if you want to write successfully that you should also be reading at least 80 books a year. At first I thought that was nutty then I started to see the benefits and now I understand that statement and completely agree with it. Most of all, reading so much has eliminated television from my life. I wasn't a big TV person before but I had certain shows I enjoyed. NCIS, Biggest Loser, Criminal Minds, those were the ones I used to watch regularly. Now, I only catch a re-run here and there if K is watching it. And even then, I unusually start reading again after a few minutes. Needless to say, my reading sometimes irks my television-loving, anti-reading husband. I still enjoy a good movie but I just couldn't careless about most of what's on television these days. The fact that most of it is brain-draining reality shows has a lot to do with that too but don't get me started on that crap.
    My one guilty television pleasure is VH1's Top Twenty Video's every morning. I've always been a lover of music. I have specific artists that I enjoy all their work, John Mayer, Avril Lavigne, Sara McLachlan, Train, Eric Clapton, Cold Play and then lots of others that I pick and choose over their work. Music has quite a staring role in how my stories are formed so there's always some kind of music playing around here when I'm working. I've never been much of a poet so I totally respect the skill involved in writing the lyrics of a song. Writing a book is a lot like talking to yourself so that's easy for me but if you told me I'd have to write a song that would be a bad thing because I totally suck at it. There's nothing better than a good song to either get you up, strum your heart strings or even cause tears to bubble up to your eyes.
    In the coming weeks, I'll be posting parts of my first book and also the corresponding songs from the play list. My stories are meant to be enjoyed a certain way so I believe in giving a reader the whole experience. Read the words but listen to the songs too and I promise you will be able to tap into the emotion that fills the writing. Today, I'm singing along with The Script, Muse, Paramore, Jack's Mannequin and Kings of Leon. Some of these are parts of the play list but most are just for my enjoyment. Today I challenge you to find a good book to read, turn the stereo up loud and jam out to a good song and set a goal for yourself.
Till Then,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First Book Clue

So have any of you guessed what the first clue to Book One is (see blog photo)? No cheating by those who have read the rough draft now! Well, it is sort of a tough one, so I will add a tiny bit more to it.The model is wearing two necklaces which hold great significance to the story line. The small one is crafted out of recycled stainless steel and the other is crafted out of bone. Even the materials they are made of are significant to the story. Chelsea, the model, is quite a doll and all but she isn't the clue, thanks for being my prop model Chels!

The ways to win for this clue are to either (1) be the first one to figure out what symbol is on both necklaces, or (2) discover the name of bone necklace and where it originates from, or (3) discover the name of the creature the bone necklace is depicting. In the coming weeks I will be posting lots of clues about the story and then eventually pieces of the book. This story is chock-full of props and clues to figure out. Lots to look forward to so keep a sharp eye out!

Anyone who can discover the correct answer to what they are or where they come from will win a prize so put your thinking caps on people! Please send me your answer in an email or FB message so you don't spoil the fun for everyone. Also, a big thank you goes out to Stephanie Hembree for being my first blog follower!
Till then,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Okay, so I have a what do I do?

A blog...alrighty then. I So, now what the heck to I do with it? Well I guess I could start by saying hello and how you (whoever you are reading this) doing, and hope things are good with you and yours. Now that all that's out of the way, I will tell you the reason I suffered through the set up process of creating this dang thing. Which by the way, hey Google, if your listening, your set up process sucks. Any who, so I don't know if you heard or not but I wrote two novels this year. Yay me! Yeah, it was a very interesting experience and it went down sort of like this:
January 2010
I had been playing around with a story idea for a few years, but with small kids and work, moving to the frozen tundra of Minnesota, and then moving back to the south, there was never enough hours in the day or night to really put it on paper (or computer). I would daydream about my characters but couldn't seem to find a spare minute to bring them to life.Then, right after Christmas 2009, I got hit with the worst case of insomnia you can imagine. The entire month of January through March, I was averaging six hours of sleep a week. No, that ain't a typo, six hours for the entire week. I did learn something very valuable in that time though. There is absolutely NOTHING on television that will get you through the long, lonely nights like I was dealing with. Never mind watching that many infomercial will turn your brains to quivering goo. Plus, if you go without sleep for an extended period of time, reality and hallucinations will start to blur around the edges so much that you can't tell what's real and what isn't. Well, as you can guess by now, my issue of never having enough time to write was cured. I had hours upon quiet, kid-free hours to indulge my make-believe worlds and fantasy people. It was truly amazing to see the scenes spill out and become so real night after night. I had a blast!! Somehow, having something to do made going with out sleep okay.
July 2010
Bada Bing Bada Boom, six months and five hundred pages later I had my first completed rough draft. I was on cloud nine! The experience of breathing life into all my characters and places was invigorating. Unfortunately, no one warned me ahead of time how craptastic the editing process is. Just for the record, I'm so not for editing. Boring, boring, boring and did I tell you how BORING it is? Yeah, it's infuriatingly boring and irritating. My OCD goes into over drive big time when I start finding typos. Thank goodness for my family and friends who agreed to cold-read for me. By the end of July, my eyes were crossing and I just couldn't look at the words anymore. So at the end of the summer, Book One (as it will be known until the title is firmly decided upon by the powers that be) was hustled off to the wonderful proof-er and I was finally free to write again and give my full attention to the continuation! I had only been able to play around with it up to that point. Yeeee! I was giddy the first night I sat down to write on Book Two. The second go around was so smooth I couldn't believe it. My characters had found a groove and we all slid into it like we'd been greased. The story flowed and ebbed with a beauty and grace I couldn't believe. Then, six chapters in, I hit a wall. It was a serious chapter, necessary, but serious non the less. Frankly, it crushed me and I couldn't figure out why. Three weeks went by and I couldn't write at all. I was grieving my story, my characters pain and trying to work through it. I know that sounds weird, but the people in this story are so real to me, it's hard to pull myself completely out of their world sometimes. Heck, I didn't even really know I was going through the grief process until I looked up one day and finally got it. To pull myself out of the funk, I just started writing random things. Some went with the story some didn't. Some were so good they eventually became chapters. A month after it's first onset, I was better and writing full-on again.
August 2010
Good old August, well let us just say this about August. We named it Black August around the this house and I'll let your imagination run free with that. It was an awful time for us, lots of pain and misery for me personally, but I'm better now and on the road to recovery from the nasty little kidney stone and all it's left over aggravation. Oh and by the way, anyone who says a stint doesn't hurt never had one and should never say that where I can hear it.
September 2010
Recovered enough to drive to Laurel, I had a very wonderful and productive meeting with the proof-er. Son#1 had all A's and B's on his progress report too so I ecstatic about that. In addition, I was overjoyed with her findings and anxious to get to work on the tiny bit of corrections Book One needed. Of course, there was a bit of a re-write to work through on the first two chapters but it went better than I expected. Book Two was nearing completion and I began sending out the first wave of email queries. Boy, if you don't think that will make a girl queasy, it does, trust me.
October 2010 
My birthday rolled around on the second, the big 3-6 this year. It wasn't so bad really. I was more irritated with 3-5 seems like. Thirty-six just went right on by and I watched it go without feeling the least bit down. Book One was finally ready for snail-mail submissions and Book Two was being sewn up nice and neat. I've gotten crap-canned by a few agents so far and licked my wounds. No big-e, it's to be expected in this business and I'm at peace with that. There are plenty more outstanding's to look forward to. My new short-story series is going out as well so I'm anxious to hear back from those. They have set deadlines so it's easier to await those than the agent submissions that are just floating somewhere. My kid did me proud to round out October by dressing as a bearded dwarf from the Hobbit for Halloween after he finished reading it. All in all, a great month.
November 2010
Not meaning to out-right steal a line from VH1, but where are we now? Well, Book One is ready for someone to love it like I do and I hope they do very soon. Book Two is around a chapter and a half from a complete rough draft. It all depends on how a leading chapter goes if there will need to be another one added. I'm having a blast writing every day, it's a dizzying flow of creativity and I love it. I'm looking forward to what the end of the year holds for me and mine. I'm hoping to hit the hundred books read mark by the end of December this year since I'm at 94 novels read just for fun (not counting mine) at this point.

I'm anxious and a little apprehensive about what the future holds for my writing. At the same time, I'm silly with the joy of it. So keep a look out friends and neighbors, the best news is yet to come!
Till then,