Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. Mine has been absolutely fantastic. Extremely busy. Again, life interferes. I had last week and this week off work. I planned on doing lots of writing and editing. Well, mostly editing. That hasn't happened. My goal was to have the paranormal book edited by the end of the year isn't going to happen. Oh well. I've gone through the first round of easy edits, and now I have to work on the big stuff. Research, new scenes to add, all the time consuming stuff. Hopefully this week will be a little tamer than last, at least during the days that is, and I can make a dent in some of that. We'll see how it goes. I have been doing research on cars. Learning about extreme luxury super-cars, and now I have the bug. I watched a Top Gear marathon on xmas eve with my Dad, drooling over the Aston Martins and Mercedes. Discovered I'm a bit of a nut for Mercs. So at least that much has had progress. Must know what my characters drive.

Have a safe and happy new year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Meeting with Editor Alice Pope

Alice Pope is the editor of Children's Writers and Illustrator's Market. I was very excited that she was the one reviewing my manuscript. She had a lot of helpful ideas and feedback. Most of it makes sense to me, and because of that, I think I have another major rewrite. Maybe it's good I haven't sent any more query letters for Moonlight Cafe. (I got another rejection yesterday, btw. Still have one more out waiting for a response.) I wrote the contemporary storyline in first person, and the historical storyline in third person. Alice thought I had a better grasp of third person. She also didn't feel as if she knew enough about Vincent. So I think I'm going to rewrite it in third person, and add back the parts I originally had told from Vincent's point of view. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I'm editing my paranormal novel. Close to done with the first read through, but am coming up to the part that I think will need the most work. There are also things I need to go back and add, so even after I finish this read through, the first round of editing won't be done yet. Once it is, I'll read the entire novel out loud to myself. Then we'll see what I need to do from there. I hope that have the much done by the end of the year. Two weeks off will help.

I'm going to let Moonlight sit until I finish the above edits with my new novel. I had gotten to the point where I was sick of it and didn't want to look at it anymore. However, Alice's feedback and ideas have made me excited about it all over again. So a little more time away, then I'll get back to work on it.

Alice also asked if I'd considered writing a straight historical fiction. I haven't, but it's a thought. She very much liked that part of Moonlight Cafe. I'll let that sit in the back of my mind. I like the idea, but don't have a storyline. That's okay, I have plenty of other writing work and ideas to keep me busy for at least the next 6 months, if not the whole next year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Conference Day 1

Wow! Today was jam-packed with information about writing and publishing. I learned a lot about agents, query letters, revising, marketing, online presence, and publishing. I met some great people at the conference and did a bit of networking. One woman I met is in a writing group with a man who was published in the most recent "Best of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing" anthology. It was a great opportunity, and I'm so excited about what I've learned. I have a lot of ideas for my website and marketing for my novels.

Tomorrow is the one on one editing session. I found out I'll meet with Alice Pope, who edits the Children's Writers and Illustrators Market. I am very excited for the meeting, especially now that I know she is my editor! I'm also very nervous. This is the first time a professional has seen my novel; my baby. I welcome any feedback she can give me though to help make my novel and query letter better.

I'm going to post this and head off to dinner with Mary and one of the women we met today, Candace. Yum, Cheesecake Factory. :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Welcome to Cincinnati

I'm in the hotel in Cincinnati for the Writer's Digest conference this weekend. Tomorrow will be filled with seminars on various aspects of writing. Sunday we meet one on one with an editor from Writer's Digest. Mary and I got here around 7:30, well, 8:30 since we're in a different time zone now. Hung out in the hotel for a while, checked e-mail and whatnot, then went to Fridays for a drink and some dinner. I think we'll be off to bed soon. Have to get up early in the morning. Part of me wants to stay up and work on editing my novel, but I've been fighting off a cold this week and am very tired. I think I'll just go to bed and get some much needed rest.

More tomorrow on what I learn. I can't wait!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Excited Editing

I just made a small edit, added 2 short lines to a chapter, that made a line I already had written work so much better. I didn't even realize how much it would improve the chapter until after I added the 2 lines for an entirely different reason. Very exciting when things like this happen. It's amazing how big a difference such small changes can make.

Another Dream Story Idea

I had a dream last night that I believe will be the basis of the story for the next novel in my paranormal series. I wonder if they'll all come to me this way?

I started editing my novel tonight. Went to Barnes and Noble for a while to maintain focus away from the internet. Now that I've begun editing, it will be much easier for me to keep focus while I am home surrounded by distractions. I am making a lot of notes on things that I need to fix, backgrounds I laid out in the beginning that don't match what I have later in the novel, things like that. But so far I am very happy with what I have and haven't made any major changes. I know there will be some, but I haven't reached them yet. I also have a small Moleskine notebook I keep in my purse where I have a page for each character so I can make notes about things like hair/eye color, backgrounds, anything I don't want to forget, so I can easily reference it. I hope to finish editing this by the end of the year. I have 2 other novels waiting to be written.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Writer's Digest Conference

Dec. 12-14 I will be in Cincinnati for a conference that Writer's Digest is hosting. It is limited to 50 people. Saturday will be filled with seminars. Sunday I will meet one on one with a WD editor! I sent in the first 50 pages of The Moonlight Cafe for critique, and an editor will spend 30 minutes going over it with me. I am so excited! Mary is going with me, so we will share the cost of the hotel and gas, though with her Prius, gas won't be a major issue.

I debated if I wanted to go or not. The workshop is $200, which isn't too bad, but hotel and driving...I wasn't sure I wanted to spend that money. Since Mary is going it will be easier. I'm glad I signed up. I think this will be a wonderful opportunity. I can't wait!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Draft is Complete!!

The first draft of my paranormal mystery is complete!!! Yay!! Right now the word count is 90,890, but I think it's going to end up around 95,000-100,000. The final chapter is pure, utter junk, and I have a feeling that one is going to be a struggle, but that's why it's called a rough draft. There are several parts I need to flesh out, research to do, things like that, but I'm so excited to have the rough draft done! I sat down to work on it tonight thinking I had a LOT more to write and that it would take another week or two, but the words just started flowing and everything fell into place. I wrote the final 3300 words in an hour and a half. Again, much work is needed, but I'm excited. There are plot points I planned out that won't happen until the next book. New characters introduced themselves right up until the final few chapters, taking the story in new directions, and they will be fun ones to learn more about in later books. Now I need to think of a title. Hmm...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

End of NaNoWriMo

It's the last day. My final word count according to Scrivener is 87,562. When I upload it to for verification it comes in at 87,454. Real life has interfered the past 2 weeks and I have not written as much as I would have liked, though I am still very happy with my final word count. I still have no idea how long this novel is going to be when it is finished. There is one plot point I have barely touched on, so I need to come back to that. I think the main conflict is coming close to being resolved, though my characters could hijack it at any time. The writing has been slower the past 2 weeks than the first 2, but I think it is because I have been busier in the real world and haven't had as much focused time to write.

I took a break from my Nano novel (that is still untitled) yesterday to go through the edits Tina made for The Moonlight Cafe. I got it back from her a month ago but haven't looked at it yet. She had some very good ideas, subtle changes that make a big difference to the overall story. Now I need to get back to working on query letters for it.

I hope to have the Nano novel complete by the end of the year. A first draft, that is. I have 2 full weeks off around the holidays, so I will be able to get a lot of work done then. I'm very excited about that break. I was very productive over the break last year, when I only had a week off, so two weeks will be amazing.

Next Saturday is the TGIO party - Thank God It's Over. I look forward to socializing with my fellow Nanos guilt free. We socialize at the write-ins, but I always feel like I should get back to writing.

I guess my next task is to think of a title for this novel. I haven't thought about it at all, so hopefully it won't be too difficult to think of one. I'm not very good at titles though. I might have to consult Sylvie. She's our title queen.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Not Quite 70

I'm at 69,588 words so far. 176 paperback pages. I'm still not sure how long this novel will end up. They mystery is slowly starting to reveal itself to me, but I don't know exactly where it's going yet. The writing has been a little slower. Social obligations set in this weekend. I wrote 2000 words Thursday evening, a disappointing count for me, then nothing till this morning. The time off was bad for my creativity. I sat at my computer this morning and pounded out a few hundred words, then was stuck. I walked away for a while, then went to the write-in. Thankfully words started flowing again, and I ended with a total for the day of somewhere around 7000 words. That's more like it, in my opinion. I stopped writing tonight at a cliffhanger between chapters. I know what is going to happen in the next chapter, but am not yet positive about the ones after that. I stopped here so I will have an easy start tomorrow, rather than having to start on a chapter that is cloudy to me. This way I can get the words flowing, and it will be easier to figure out what happens next.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Yes, it's been almost a week since I posted. I've been too busy working on my novel. I have reached the goal of 50,000 words and then some. As of now, I have 55,068 words!! (That's 139 paperback book pages.) I had the day off work today, so spent the entire day writing. I wrote over 11,000 words today. Amazing! I would love to keep writing, but I really need to get some sleep. Another cold is beating me down. I've been taking Airborne and Zicam for it, and bought some Mucinex tonight. This has been a bad year for me being sick. I'm officially tired of being sick.

But back to my novel. I think it's going to be at least 75,000 words, maybe more. I'm not really sure yet. There's still a lot of the mystery to solve. I don't even know how it's all going to work out, so it's hard to say how much longer it will be. New twists are revealing themselves to me every day. Very exciting!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Over Half Way Complete

As of right now, I have 27,173 words of my novel. I went to the write-in tonight and spent about 4 hours there. Wrote approximately 7K words. I also chatted quite a bit while I was there. Part of me was thinking "shut up and write!" but part of the point of going to a write-in is to meet people and be social. I'm hoping to make some new writing friends by the end of the month. Not that I don't love my Zen Writing Group, but the more writers in my life the better. One girl in particular and I seemed to hit if off tonight, Becky, so we'll see how the month goes.

The bad thing about having the write-in at a bookstore...buying books. I bought 2 books tonight, but they're for research, so it's ok. What did I buy? "Italian Witchcraft" and "Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions." Vittorio is Italian, and the first one practically jumped off the shelf into my hands. I had to buy it. The other one was almost as adamant, as I think a more general pagan background would be helpful as well for my novel. I know enough to get myself in trouble, to think I know what I'm writing about, but have someone who is Pagan read it and say "no no no, that's all wrong." I've had Pagan friends, but never studied it much myself. I must admit though, Earth religions interest me, so I'm excited I can use my novel as an excuse to buy these books.

I'm exhausted. I had planned to come home and write some more, but I think I'm going to hit the hay early tonight. Maybe watch an episode of Ghost Hunters to unwind.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2/5 of the way there

4 days into November. I should have 6668 words written by now to be on track for the goal of 50,000. I have 20,911 words!!! I have 8 more days to be at that point. This novel is ALIVE. It was so hard to tear myself away from it to go to kung fu tonight. I wrote from the minute I signed off work this afternoon until the minute I had to leave for kung fu, came home and wrote 2200 more words. I am hoping to reach 50,000 words by Nov. 15. At this rate, that will be easy. There is one member of the St. Louis Nano group who wrote something like 140,000 words last November. I don't think I'll get that much (stupid day job interferes), but I'm aiming for at least 75,000, if not 100,000. It's a little early to tell though. I'm not sure how much my novel will need. But at 20K words, there is still plenty of story to go.

I read Laurell K. Hamilton's blog every day. She often talks about having an idea of which way the story is going to go, but then one of the characters, or even a new character, walks on stage and says, "No, that's not what's going to happen. Here's the real story," and takes her in a totally different direction. I've often thought of how cool it would be to experience that. Now I have. There was a scene in which my main character, Elena, was supposed to meet someone. As she was waiting to meet this man for the first time, Vittorio (who I hadn't even dreamed of until that moment) came on stage and said, "HERE I AM. LET'S GO." and the story took a completely different turn that I was planning. I will admit he took the story into a much more romantic direction than I planned. I originally planned to have a hint of romance in this novel, but not much. Well, Vittorio blew that out of the water. But that's ok, it all works wonderfully. I think I'll be stepping away from the romance for a while. Unless Vittorio argues with me. He is quite enamored of Elena. (I'm not giving anything away.) And now I have reached the paranormal aspect, which is very exciting to me, and will soon get back to the mystery.

I've also found I need slightly different music for this novel. I listen to music while I write, but it can't be anything with lyrics, or if there are lyrics, they have to be in another language. Otherwise I get too distracted. Until now I've written best to very mellow things such as Mono, Enya, explosions in the sky. Now I'm finding slightly more energetic music works better. Sigur Ros (similar to Mono, but with a bit more energy), Nine Inch Nails Ghosts album, Native American drums, and Middle Eastern or Indian music are working quite nicely with this novel. I don't have much Middle Eastern/Indian music though, so if you know of any leave a comment and let me know.

Now I must try to wind down and go to sleep. 6:00 will come all too early. I'm still wide awake. Here's a little tidbit for you all. Once I'm ready for bed, I turn out the lights, but play a few games of Mahjongg on my iPhone. That helps my brain shut off so I can go to sleep. As it is right at this moment, if I simply lay down and tried to sleep, even as tired as I am (an hour and a half of kung fu tired me physically, writing 8000ish words tired me mentally), I would not be able to fall asleep for quite a while. My brain is still thinking about the novel far too actively.

So goodnight all. More soon.

Oh yeah, tomorrow is the first Crestwood write-in. I'll head over there after work, around 4:00. They said they expect to have people there until 9:00. I already told my writing group I might not make it tomorrow night if the novel keeps this intense flow. If it does, I just might be at Barnes and Noble until they kick me out at closing time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

SSM Rehab Foundation

OK, this isn't writing related, but it's for a good cause. My best friend Renee is running a marathon for SSM Rehab Foundation on Nov. 16. On Wednesday, November 12, the Applebee's in Crestwood (Missouri) will donate 10% of all sales to the foundation. You have to have a flier for it, which you can find here:
Print it out and bring it with you. I know the economy stinks right now, but treat yourself and your family to a good dinner out and help the cause. Thank you!!

Oh, and congrats on running 20 miles, Renee. 6 more will be no problem at all for you. Good luck!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

On a Roll

I had written 5700 words by the time I left for the write-in today. I wrote another 3500 in two hours at the write in, for a total of 9120. It's 10:20, and my grand total for the past 2 days is 11,660!!! I'm more than a fifth of the way done, and it's only 2 days into November. I'm so excited about this novel, and want to keep writing. I'm tired though. I've spent more than half the day writing. I took a short break to watch 2 old episodes of Entourage, and to run to Target for a few things. Other than that, it's been all writing. I need to get some sleep. My brain is tired, but energized with ideas at the same time.

Tomorrow I'm going to my parents' house for dinner. Tiberius will be happy about being able to run around in their yard. He is not very happy with me right now. I haven't played with him much today. But this story is so alive in my head, I can't type it out fast enough. As much as I hate to say it, poor puppy may just have to entertain himself this until this novel is done. Not entirely, of course I'll still walk him, but I don't want to do anything but write. Too bad I have to go to work tomorrow to make money. I think I'll bring my laptop to my parents' so I can write, but Tiberius can get some exercise at the same time. I'm sure they'll understand. I won't ignore them the whole night.

And We're Off!

I woke up extra early yesterday to start writing my new novel. I wrote 1692 words (the NaNo website is super slow this morning, so I haven't been able to update my wordcount there for the widget on my main page Then I went to Tina's for our monthly writer's day. It was just Tina, Sarah, and me yesterday. Sylvie is in Trout, and Mary had her grandkids. It was a great day. We did a bit more talking than writing, but that's always good too. I wrote another 2222 words there, for a grand total of 3914 for the day. That's 2 days worth of words! So I'm off to a good start. And I have all day today to write as well, so hopefully I'll at least double that, if not more. The only plans I have is the St. Louis Write-In from 2-4, but that will be more writing.

The idea for this novel came from a particularly vivid dream I had one night months and months ago. I woke up and thought, "That would make a great story! I must write that down before I forget it!" Then it sat in my ideas file. I pulled it back out for NaNo, figured out a basic plot, and off I went. Already 2 characters have introduced themselves to me I didn't know about. Plans for the main character are manifesting in my brain. And, are you ready for this? I think this might be the beginning of a series. It started out as a mystery. It's still going to be a mystery, but it's also going to have a paranormal undertone to it. That bit of plot came to me at Tina's yesterday, and I am extremely excited about that. I love the paranormal, and have wanted to write a book in that genre, but haven't come up with an idea yet. This one came about so naturally that it's going to be perfect. And then Elena, my main character, told me that this won't be the end for her. She has so much more to experience and learn, there's no way she's going away after one novel. How cool is that, that she's already starting to talk to me after only 4 chapters? She didn't say it directly, but the idea was definitely there in my mind. So a paranormal series has begun. Yay!

And now I can't wait to write some more, so I'm off. It's a beautiful Sunday here in St. Louis. You'd never know it's Nov. 2. It feels more like April. I'm going to take my laptop out on the deck and enjoy this weather while I'm writing.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NaNo and Query Updates

I've been sick off and on the past few weeks, so haven't sent any more query letters after the first 4. I have received 2 rejection letters so far. That's expected, so I'm not terribly disappointed. When I get up into the dozens and dozens of letters sent, then I might start getting disappointed.

I went to a NaNoWriMo kickoff party last weekend. A bunch of people in St. Louis got together to talk about writing and whatever. No actual writing was done, as you're not supposed to start until Nov. 1. I met some new people and got ideas for keeping the writing going, even when you're totally stuck. It was a good time, and I look forward to the weekly write-ins during November (when people get together to write or discuss what they're writing.)

I've thought and thought about the idea I had and was planning to write. I have been unable to come up with a even a bad plot line to go with the basic idea. So, I scrapped that one for now (it would have been a mystery type novel.) I had another idea waiting in the wings thanks to my trusty "idea" file. I write down plot ideas, images, character sketches, whatever catches my fancy, for later use. I freewrote about this new idea to see what kind of genearl plot idea I could come up with, and was pleased with the results. This will also be somewhat of a mystery novel. I've never written anything mystery before, short story or otherwise, and have read some, but not a ton of, mystery novels, so this will be a nice change and interesting experiment.

In 28 hours I will begin my quest for 50,000 words in 30 days.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Querying Again

I sent 4 query letters yesterday. These were to some of the big names I dearly want to hear from. Ann Brashare's agent, Meg Cabot's agent, Laurell K. Hamilton's agent. I want Ann Brashares agent. Her's went via e-mail, the autoreply said expect to hear back within 3 months. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


National Novel Writing Month. It's every November, and the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That's about 1700 words a day. Don't edit, just write. It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, the goal is to just write. In December you can go back and edit and make it better. I'm going to do it this year. The Moonlight Cafe is done, and I'm stuck on Discovering Family, so no better time to try it. I have a general, basic story idea that's been floating around in my head for over a year, so I think that's what I'm going to work on. I'm very excited about it.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Writing Day, Edits Complete

Today we met at Mary's for our monthly writing day (though we didn't meet at all in September.) I was excited to have time dedicated solely to writing. I haven't worked on my novel at all since the last writing day. I haven't been in the mood for it. But it's so close to finished, I knew I just needed some dedicated time with nothing else to do but write. Today is exactly what I needed. I finished the edits I had listed for it. Sylvie read my novel and gave me the manuscript with her comments, and I finished the edits she suggested. Now it is complete. Tina, Sarah, and Mary are still going to read it, and I'm sure they'll have some great suggestions and I'll make some more edits when they've read it through, but it is at a point with which I am very happy. If I changed nothing else in it, I would be satisfied. I'm ready to start sending it out to agents. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up the momentum for that. The sooner I get it out there, the sooner I can hope to get out of corporate america. I know it will still be a long time (most likely) until I can afford to live on my writing alone, but once it's out there at least I'll have a better chance at it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August Writing Day

Our monthly writing day was at Sarah's yesterday. Sadly, Sylvie couldn't make it, as she was a Trout Lodge. Everyone else was there, and it was a great day. I worked on my one page synopsis and query letter, and started rereading Discovering Family. The group gave me great suggestions for the synopsis (I didn't read the query, though I think it still needs a bit of work), and a few ideas to tighten things up in the novel. Soon I will be ready to begin my hunt for an agent once more.

The day ended earlier than usual, at 4 instead of closer to 5. We didn't chat as much in the morning before we started writing. I was a little disappointed in that, but it's ok. It was still a great day, and very productive.

I have 13 chapters written on DF, and finished reading them last night when I got home. I'm going to keep working at it, though I'm at a point where I'm not quite sure what needs to happen next. I know what the next major plot point is, but not quite sure how to get there. I've found before that free writing helps. I'll just start out with something like "I don't know what to write next, this needs to happen, but I'm so stuck..." and eventually ideas will start flowing and I can get going again. So that will be the next task on DF.

A wonderful side effect from our writing day is I discovered a salad I really like. Sarah made turkey chili (from a can, but it was excellent...have to ask her what brand it was) and a simple salad of greens, avocado, and dried cranberries. The cranberries made it for me! I'm trying to eat healthier, but am not a big fan of salads. The sweet cranberries made it so delicious, and gave it that extra something to make me really enjoy it. So when I went grocery shopping tonight I bought Mediterranean greens (mostly spinach, I think...I hate iceberg lettuce), an avocado, and dried cranberries, and some raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Wish me luck in my quest to eat healthier. And of course my quest to find an agent.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Need More Writing Time

Since I finished my novel and gave a copy to Mary, I haven't written anything outside of writing group. I guess I needed a break, but I'm starting to feel restless. I haven't thought about what my next project will be, but I think it's time I do so. I think I'll start by rereading what I've written for Discovering Family and see where that is. I've also been pretty busy lately. I started taking Kung Fu again, so that takes up Tues and Fri nights. But, I don't have to leave until 7:30 for it, so I do have a few hours after work to myself. I think I'm going to start dedicating at least an hour of that time to writing (Tiberius needs time too.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Virtual Writing Group

Tonight was an interesting, fun exercise! Instead of meeting at the Zen Center, we had a virtual writing group meeting. Kim has moved to Austin, Kate had dinner with family and wouldn't make it in time, Sylvie and I were loathe to sit in the heat of the un-air conditioned Zen Center library, so we decided to meet virtually over e-mail. Someone would e-mail a topic, then we would write on that word for 7 min, then e-mail it to the group, then move on to the next topic. It was great fun! We didn't talk as we normally do, but got a lot more writing done. Normally we only write 2 pieces, rarely 3. Tonight we wrote 4 pieces. This will be a wonderful alternative during bad weather this winter. I greatly enjoyed the evening.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Moonlight Cafe is Complete!!

I wrote the last chapter last night. It wasn't the final chapter in the novel, rather one that fit somewhere in the middle. But it's really done! Some people from my writing group are going to read it through start to finish, so I'm going to wait to start sending query letters until I have their input. But for all intents and purposes, it's complete! Yay!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Almost Finished

I have one more chapter to write in The Moonlight Cafe. I hope to finish it this week, but I have a pretty full week ahead of me, so carving out time might be tough. But one more chapter. That's totally do-able. Then I'll have to rework my query letter, update my research on agents - I have a list of agents to query, but it's been a while, so I want to make sure they're still accepting queries - and start mailing out query letters again. Very exciting! Then I'll have to decide which project I'm going to work on next. Do I get back to work on Discovering Family? I hope it's not dead in the water; it's been so long since I looked at it. Do I start Vincent's novel? That's the one I'm leaning towards. Or will something completely different come to mind? Ah, the possibilities.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Quote

Yes, I've been remiss in updating my quote of the week. The last time I changed it was almost 2 months ago. I'm sorry. I have a new one there now. I'll try to get back to changing it every week.

You can tell how progress on my novel is coming by my blog posts. I've noticed that when I work on my writing more often, I also post more often. I have something to post about then, and since this blog is mainly about writing, that's no surprise. I have 3 more chapters, maybe 4, to write, and Moonlight Cafe will be done. I've written tonight, but not for my novel. I had a scene pop into my head I wanted to get down. I don't know what the scene is for. There's no plot for a story, just this scene or 2. But I wanted to write it down, and file it away. Sometime I'll use it, I'm sure. And no writing is ever wasted, even if it goes unused. I write because I love it, not because it has to have some deeper purpose other than pure creativity.

I'm off to finish the scene, then take Tiberius for a walk. Neither of us like this July heat, so I wait until the sun goes down to walk him. I also get up early in the morning to walk him, before it gets too hot (though this doesn't alway happen...those of you who live in St. Louis know it can be perfectly miserable at 6AM.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

July Gathering

We gathered at Sylvie's house this past Saturday for our monthly writing day. We missed Mary that day, who stayed home rejuvenating from a tough week at work. Sylvie made the BEST sausages in a blanket and scones. We talked, ate, wrote, ate some more (pizza for lunch), and shared our writing. I had been feeling completely stuck on my novel. I finally printed the whole thing out and started reading/editing on paper. I read some new chapters on Sat, and the group gave me wonderful insight on what is missing, so I finally know what to do to finish it. I'm excited once again to work on it! I finished my read through yesterday, and marked a couple places where I need to add chapters.

I'm so thankful for our monthly gatherings. They always help move me along when I'm stuck, and the group lets me know what's working and what isn't. I've incorporated my edits into my computer file, and marked 5 areas that need additional chapters. Then, it will be finished!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Writing Days

Last Saturday (the weekend before July 4, that is) was our monthly writing day at my apartment. It was, as always, a great day, and so fun to show off my new place to the group. I wrote a new chapter for Moonlight Cafe, did some editing. I have some fact checking to do, and bit more editing, maybe one more chapter here or there, but the end is in sight. We have another writing day at Sylvie's this weekend. Last month's was later than usual, this one is earlier, so they ended up 2 weeks apart. You won't hear me complain though! I've been having a bit of trouble focusing, so I need these concentrated writing days to see me through the end. I think this novel is almost done for me. I've been working on it for so long, doing rewrites and editing, I'm ready to see it complete, for real this time, and get back to Discovering Family. I just hope after being away from that one for so long it isn't dead in the water. Or I might keep that one on hold for now and start my next young adult novel. Hmm, decisions decisions.

In the Moment is Here!!

Announcing In the Moment: Writing from a Spacious Mind. My writing group's anthology is finally here, ready for purchase by you, our loyal readers. :)

We've worked long and hard putting this together, especially Mary who did the formatting and publishing. Thank you Mary!

Tell your friends and family, and let me know what you think. I'm so excited about this!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Saturday I sat on my balcony for several hours working on The Moonlight Cafe. It was a beautiful day, and I made a lot of progress. I still have a few more chapters to add in to flesh out the story, to make it more real, but the majority of it is there. The story is complete. The word count is a lot less than it had been, but it's all it needs to be.

Tonight I reread the final third of the novel, the part that was almost completely new. I made a few edits here and there, added a few things, but all in all I am happy with it. I'm hoping to have it ready to send out in a month. Or, to start sending query letters again, anyway. I am very excited. I can't wait to share my new chapters with my writing group next Saturday.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

New Digs

Well, it's been quite a while since I last posted. I'm finally settled in my new apartment. When I bought my house 3 years ago, I swore I'd never go back to apartment life. But now I like it! I'm on the third floor and have a wonderful balcony. I'm sitting on it right now. It's covered and shady, and I can sit outside even if it's raining. Tiberius also loves being out on the balcony, watching the people walk by below. He's adjusting quite well to his new home. I wake up early every morning to take him for a walk, since he doesn't have as much room inside to run around. And in the heat we've had here in St. Louis, I can't walk him in the afternoons because he doesn't deal well with it (and neither do I!) So he gets morning and evening walks.

I'm much closer to work...I only spend 20 minutes on my commute each day as opposed to a full hour or more, so that gives me more time for writing and everything else. I'm slowly getting back in the writing groove. Since our last writing day on May 10, I hadn't written anything until this past Monday. I managed 1 chapter. I've also written a little bit not related to my novel. Probably nothing that will ever see the light of day, but writing nonetheless. Once I finish this post I'm going to try my hand at another chapter of Moonlight. I must say, I can't wait for our next writing day, which is June 28. I get to host it this time! I love hosting it, and it's even more exciting this time because I'll get to show off my new place.

So today marks the end of my second week at the new apt. I spent the first week unpacking. It pretty much feels like home, but I left my computer desk behind, and need to buy a new one. It won't feel completely homey until I have my writing space set up. The room that will act as my office is extremely empty right now. It has my bookshelf and nothing else. I bought some chairs for my balcony yesterday, but still want to find a little table to keep out here. And here's the biggest shocker of them all...for the first time since I moved out of my parents' house seven years ago, I have cable. I even have a Tivo. It's pretty nifty, joining the 20th century like that. :) I haven't watched a whole lot yet, but having the Discovery Channel rocks! Just in time for "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions" which started last Sunday.

Well, time to do a bit of writing. Now that I'm mostly settled, I should be able to write, and post, more often.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Congratulations Sarah!!

One of the members of my writing group finished her novel on Wednesday!! Sarah has handed her manuscript to her editor for review! Way to go Sarah!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Writing and Music and Moving, Oh My!

I know, it's been too long since I've posted here. I've had a lot going on. I'm moving in 2 weeks, for which I can't wait. I'll have more time after the move, because I'll be 5 miles from work (and everything else I do) instead of 30. That adds almost an hour to every day. I've been spending most of my free time packing and getting ready for the move. I'm getting rid of a lot of stuff. I'm going from a house to an apartment less than half the size. I also realized that this will be my 7th move in 7 years. That will cure almost anyone of the pack-rat mentality. Anyway, I'm going to try to make up for my lack of posting with a longer than usual post tonight.

Last Saturday was our monthly writer's day. It was an amazing day! I was the first to show up at Tina's. She opened the door in surprise and exclaimed, "Is today the day?!" We had originally planned to meet on May 17, but changed the date to May 10. She still had the original date on her calendar though, so wasn't expecting us. Her day was clear, however, and the spontaneity was fun. It also gave her the blessing of not having to spend the entire next week cleaning her house in preparation for us. Mary brought a copy of 'In the Moment' for us to proofread. We all went through our poems and marked any necessary changes. Mary will make the changes, and then it will be available for purchase! I'm so excited! This will be my first publication. As soon as it's ready for purchase, I'll post details here and on my website. The cover is gorgeous. Mary's husband Tony is a professional photographer, and did the most beautiful picture of a tree for us. The whole thing is beautiful.

Soon after everyone arrived, we got to watch a parade! The grade school down the street from Tina was having their picnic, and the parade went past Tina's house. We stood in her front yard waving to the kids and collecting candy. We gathered a bowl full by the time the parade had passed. Just as we were about to go back inside a tree in Tina's front yard showered us with helicopters! I can't remember the name of the tree, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about...the seed pods that spin down from the branches like a helicopter blade. It was like a snow shower, but of helicopter pods instead. It was gorgeous, worthy of a poem. Poetry isn't my strongpoint, but I just may have to give this one a try.

I only managed to write one new chapter of The Moonlight Cafe during our writing time. I know what to do for the rest of it, but the details aren't all solid yet. And with everything going on in my life, I had a hard time concentrating. I got an easy chapter done, but the next one wasn't as clear in my head, and my thoughts were scattering every which way like ping pong balls, never resting in one place long enough for me to form a coherent sentence. But at least I made some progress. And once I'm done moving, I'll have more time, and hopefully a calmer mind, to focus on finishing Moonlight.

Our next monthly meeting will be at my new apartment. I'm very excited. I haven't held our gathering since last...April, I think. It was supposed to be at my house earlier this year (February?), but everyone was sick, so it was cancelled. I love hosting our writing days, and will be excited to show off my new place in the process.

I'll continue my extra long post with a non-writing related subject, though it's still creative. Music. I got to see my favorite band this weekend - Dream Theater. Sadly, they rarely stop in St. Louis on their tours, but I love them enough to travel. I've only seen them in St. Louis once. This time around the most convenient location was Cleveland, OH. (translation: required the least amount of time taken off work.) Yes, I drove 8 hours to see a concert, and it was worth every gallon of gas. The show was amazing. I love music, especially live music. This is the third time I've seen Dream Theater, and I'm sure I'll see them many more times - as long as the keep putting out albums, I'll be there. This was the second leg of their tour for this album. I saw the first leg in Chicago last fall. This show was very different, but great. I hadn't expected the set list to change so dramatically. For me, one of the most energizing experiences is seeing a good live show (one of the most energy-draining is seeing a bad live show.) I went with someone who loves Dream Theater even more than I do, and it was an amazing experience. I've seen shows with people who are there just because, and it's great, but seeing it with someone who loves it as much, or more, than you do is an awesome experience. The energy of who you go with can add a lot to the overall experience.

In my last post I wrote about an "aha!" moment with my novel while I was out driving. I had another of those - I now call it a Big Bang moment - on the way to Cleveland yesterday. This was for a part I didn't even consciously realize needed fixing, but this idea just popped into my head, and everything became clear, and I know it will be smoother and more coherent. I can't wait to get back to work. I shall have to remember that, when I suffer writer's block, driving seems to be a catalyst for brilliant ideas.

About the only thing that has stayed the same in my life recently is my job. Almost everything else is changing. But with change comes opportunity and the chance for new experiences, and a lot of things seem to be falling into place, like 'In the Moment' nearing publication. I've had many moments of muddy thinking (that's the best way I can think to describe it) in my life, but lately I have been blessed with some clarity, aided by a lot of hard looking into myself and introspection. I've learned some tough lessons with this self-examination, but the lessons have been valuable beyond measure. I will keep these lessons in mind as I move forward.

Once I am settled into my new place I will post more regularly. I hope this tides you over until I make it on again.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Haircuts and Breakthroughs

I was feeling restless tonight. I did a bit of cleaning, watched a few episodes of Wolf's Rain (a Japanime series I had never seen, but so far has definitely grabbed my attention), and it was only 8:00. I had to do something, get out of the house, but didn't know what to do. So I hopped in my truck and just started driving. I don't think I've done that since high school. Maybe college. I got about 20 miles down the state highway, driving through a small town and saw a sign for Great Clips. I was just thinking yesterday how badly I need to get my hair trimmed, so I stopped in and did just that. Back in the truck, somewhere around mile 30, I had a breakthrough for my novel. I finally figured out what to do with the character/story line that has been giving me so much trouble. I will cut it out entirely, and I know what I'm going to replace it with. I think the novel will work much better with this new idea.

I tried to find a diner to stop, grab a bite to eat, and jot down some ideas, but the only one I found had just closed. It was now 9:00. I turned around and headed for home, and stopped at the local 24 hour diner for some coffee and toasted ravioli. I jotted down almost 2 pages of notes, then headed for home. I probably won't have much time to work on it until writing day next Saturday (had I said it was this Saturday? It's next weekend.) But I have notes and am ready to go whenever I do have time. And even just the notes feel much more real, more alive, than the chapters I have written but will now cut out.

I'm not sure what gave me the idea, if my subconscious had been working on it this whole time, but I'm more likely to believe it was my restless, somber mood, Mogwai playing on my iPod, driving through dark country highways that did it. Whatever it was, I'm glad I took that drive. Cut out some chapters, write new ones, then I just might be done with this thing.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stalled Writing

I'm about 80% done with The Moonlight Cafe. There's one character that I'm trying to develop more, add more to his story. He's just not coming alive for me, though. I had an idea that I thought would help, but so far it's not panning out for me. I don't know what to do to make him real to me, to make me care about him. I'm stuck to the point where I'm contemplating cutting out the entire part of the book with him in it, and replacing it with something completely different. I'm not sure what to replace it with though. I'm going to do some freewriting on it to see if I can figure something out. If it weren't for this character's part of the book, I'd be done. I'd have to cut out 10 chapters or 43, and rewrite some others. A quarter of the book, gone, if I take him out. But maybe it would be for the best.

We had our monthly Saturday writing day a week and a half ago. I edited the chapters that are done, and tried to think of a way to make this character come alive. After that day, I decided to step away and let my subconscious work on it for a while. Still nothing, so I'm going to have to go back to my conscious mind to work this one out. It would help so much if I didn't have a day job. But that's not going anywhere anytime soon, so I've just got to work around it. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Comfort Books

I don't mean any in particular (though there are definitely books I have read countless times that bring me comfort.  A Wrinkle in Time comes to mind first and foremost.)  Right now I just mean that books are a comfort to me.  I've been feeling a bit vulnerable lately.  It's nothing bad, just changes in life setting me a bit off-kilter.  It hit me full force at work today, so I decided to get up from my desk and take a walk.  Border's is conveniently close to my office building, so I walked there to get a vanilla latte, one of my addictions.  While waiting in line I noticed that the 4th book in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series was finally in paperback, so on a whim I purchased it.  I've been waiting for it a long time, but I've been trying to cut out unnecessary purchases, and books have found their way into that category.  There's always the library, right?  Not to mention the stack of books I already own yet haven't read, and the other stack my parents have lent me.  But that book called out to me, and I listened.  So now I will have some comfort reading.  Apparantly that book being right there by the cafe was the universe's way of telling me to sit back and relax for a while.  Will I be smart enough to listen?  Knowing me, probably not, but I'll try to go easy on myself.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mac Problems

After a rough couple of weeks, I finally felt light enough to get back to working on my novel. I worked on some editing on Saturday, then let my laptop go to sleep, as I always do. When I came back to it Sunday evening - nothing. I forced a shut down, restarted, nothing. So I packed it up, trekked to the Apple store, where they told me my hard drive was bad. They took it in, backed up as much of my data as they could (everything except my bookmarks - darn!), and replaced the hard drive. When I booted it up Tuesday night, I discovered that my network card was apparently missing, which meant I couldn't connect to the Internet to download any of the programs I use, including Scrivener, my writing program. Still no writing for me.

Let me pause to say I have my novel backed up, but because Scrivener is a Mac only program, I can't work on it on a Windows-based PC. Lesson learned - once a week I will not only back up the Scrivener files, but will also export the manuscript to a Word document.

On Wednesday, I took the Mac back to the Apple store. They had neglected to install the drivers for my network card. Fixed that, and everything appears to be working now. I decided to take this opportunity to upgrade to Leopard, finally, which took a couple of hours. So last night, still no writing. Hopefully tonight I will finally get everything back to the way it needs to be so I can get back to work.

In the meantime, I worked on an essay about my Grandma in my writing notebook. The first draft is done, and once I edit it and am happy with it I will put it up on my website (it's too long for a blog post.) So the past five days haven't been all wasted, writing-wise, just haven't made any headway on Moonlight Cafe.

And since my Mac is in upgrade limbo at the moment, I'm posting this from work on my lunch break. I've never felt so lost without technology as I have these past few days without my Mac. I have come to depend on that thing all too much all too quickly. It's wonderful when everything works, but when it doesn't, it's very frustrating.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sad Week

Sorry I haven't posted in a while.  It's been a long, sad week for my family.  My Grandma passed away early Easter morning.  She would have been 92 on Tuesday, and had been in and out of the hospital the past year, so it wasn't unexpected, but it was still very sad.  I haven't written anything in the past week, and this is going to be a short post.  But I wanted to let you know I haven't disappeared.  Grandma is the first close family member of mine to pass, so it's a new experience for me.  I know she was ready to go, and I'm happy that she is in a better place now, but said for those of us left behind.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Writing Saturday

Saturday was wonderful! Of course, our writing days always are. Tina and I went to Sarah's house - The Treehouse. It's beautiful, trees everywhere, hence the name. The three of us shared new chapters, but did more talking than writing (we didn't write at all.) But we shared, and got ideas to improve what we already had, and shared each other's wonderful friendship. It was a great day, and I, as always, can't wait for our next Saturday meeting.

And while this isn't related to writing at all, I want to congratulate my best friend Renee on completing the St. Patrick's Day 5K run in under an hour. It was her first run, so CONGRATULATIONS!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Chapters

Between last night and tonight I have written 3 new chapters for The Moonlight Cafe. Let me say, for me, a chapter is short; on average, 3 printed, double spaced pages. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter, but 3 is a safe average. But even so, I think 3 chapters in 2 nights is a good accomplishment for someone with a day job. I'm happy with the progress, though will have more research to do with one of the new story-lines.

We are having our writer's day this Saturday with the 3 of us who can make it. I am very excited, and can't wait to share the new chapters.

Now I must be off to bed. It's past my bedtime.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rewrite Part 1, Complete

The first part of my rewrite - changing the point of view to first person - is complete. Yea me!

Almost Done, Sort of

I have 6 more chapters to rewrite into first person point of view. I might finish it tonight. Then I get to work on the really fun stuff. Building character, adding a story-line or 2, describing little things to bring the story to life. I'm having a lot of fun with this rewrite, and think the novel is much stronger because of it.

Our monthly writing day is this Saturday, but with 2 of the 5 members unable to make it, we might reschedule. Part of me wants to reschedule so everyone can be there (though it will be a long time before Sylvie can make it - she is out of town a lot for the next few months), but part of me wants to have it anyway with the 3 of us who can make it. We missed last month due to most of us being sick, and I'm really looking forward to this Saturday. I will go with what the group thinks best. Though if we do meet, it gives me more motivation, because I want to bring new work on The Moonlight Cafe, not just rewritten chapters. We shall see.

And now, I'm off to rewriting those last chapters.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Take Time

Driving to work this morning I realized how often I don't take time to pay attention to the simple beauties in life. There is a stretch of highway, just before the bridge, that is farmland, with trees edging the road. The trees are bare this time of year, stick figures reaching towards the sky. Yesterday morning, the view was stunning! The trees, the grass, everything in sight were covered in white. It looked like a completely different landscape, just from the snow cover. On top of that, there was a dense fog surrounding the bridge. I could only see maybe 50 feet in front of me. This added to the beautiful white landscape. I thought about how gorgeous it was. Yet by the time I had reached work, I was annoyed and cranky, and had completely forgotten about the white beauty. I let something as mundane as traffic overcome any sense of peace I had gained from just passing through the beautiful scenery. I didn't think of it again all day. It may as well have not happened.

Then this morning, I noticed how everything was back to normal on that stretch of the highway. All the white was gone, and it was once again a dreary, winter landscape. I remembered the beauty from the day before, and realized that I had forgotten all about it, as if it hadn't existed. It made me realize that I need to take more time to truly pause and admire the world around me and appreciate it. I too easily let the mundane aspects of life take over and cause me stress. I told myself that I must remember the beauty from yesterday, and think of it (or any other simple pleasures in life) when the world gets to be too much, and to step back for a moment and pause, take a deep breath, and relax. I told myself I must remember that, and to write a post in my blog about it when I got home. It must have worked, because here I am writing about it.

So when work, or family, bills, or whatever it is that causes you stress rears its ugly head, try to remember to take a step back, even if just for a moment. Think of some simple pleasure in your life. Take a few deep breaths. Always remember: "This, too, shall pass. "

Currently playing in iTunes: Tempest by Lisa Gerrard

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

More Snow and Dreariness

More snow fell on St. Louis yesterday. Sunday saw temperatures of 70 degrees and above. By the drive home Monday afternoon it was sleeting. By Tuesday afternoon there was anywhere from 6-12 inches of snow on the ground, depending on where you lived. Today it was 40, and most of the snow has already melted. I am infinitely ready for spring. I like snow, but I'd like it to stick around a bit longer, rather than melting a day later and leaving the world in a muddy ruin.

The dreary weather has been affecting my mood, and my creativity. I've been pulling myself to the computer to write, and have made progress. I'm about 3/4 of the way through rewriting The Moonlight Cafe in first person. Once done with that, I will work on other changes, and additions, to the story.

On the evenings that I just haven't been able to make myself write, I've been catching up on my magazines. I have subscriptions to Writer's Digest and The Writer - must haves for any aspiring writer. I've gotten several months behind, so I've been catching up. I read these with a highlighter in hand, to mark areas of specific interest. Then I go back and copy these areas into a notebook for future reference. Sometimes it's ideas to improve writing. Other times it is a list of publications, contests, or agents.

I'm also going to take some time to work on some short stories, things that might find publication a bit sooner than a full-blown novel. I have a list of magazines I want to submit to. Nothing written yet, but I'll get there.

As I write this, my puppies are playing in my office. They're tugging a Santa hat that came off one of their xmas presents. Tiberius got a stuffed teddy bear wearing a Santa hat. The hat is all that remains, and it is one of his favorite toys to carry around. From the tiny ripping noises I hear, it might not last past tonight. The puppies are always good for a mile, even in the dreariest of weather.

Currently playing in iTunes: Ben Pode Santa Maria by Azam Ali

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I had an idea for Moonlight Cafe that I thought might make it even better, so rewrote a few chapters to try it out. I loved it, so am in the process of rewriting the entire novel. I'm about 1/3 of the way done. This rewrite is easier than the initial go through. If I work hard, I should be done in about 2 weeks. What am I changing? I originally wrote it in third person, mainly from Brenda's point of view, but with snippets from Vincent's point of view as well. I decided to try it in first person. It works a lot better, especially considering that I am going to write another book telling Vincent's story. I promise, it won't be redundant. It will show what Vincent did before and after he met Brenda, in the time between, and with a totally different view on their time together. But first I'm going to finish this rewrite. Everyone who has heard the change so far likes it a lot better, including myself. So querying agents has been put on hold until I am finished with the change.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Taking the Plunge

I finally joined the rest of the online world. I've been protesting it for a long time now, but everything I've ready about marketing yourself as a writer says you need a couple of things - a website, a blog, and a myspace page. I set up the website. I set up the blog. I never really wanted to join myspace, but the more I think about it the more I see the benefit of getting my name out there and networking. So I did it. I set up a MySpace page. If you have an account, please add me as a friend. Let your friends know about it. Name recognition is key in the publishing world, so I'm going to get my name out there as much as I possibly can. So please stop by when you have time. Thanks!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dreary Weather

I've been in quite a funk ever since Friday. The weekend was kind of rough, then the weather got bad. We had a "wintry mix" yesterday. That's code for a mix of all kinds of bad stuff. Sleet, freezing rain, snow, you name it. Took me almost 3 hours to get home in it all, which didn't help my mood. So I haven't written anything since Friday. But I'm going to change that tonight. Writing makes me happy. I enjoy it, and I love my stories. If I can escape to another world with my writing, maybe it will take my crankiness away, even temporarily. So I'm going to get back to work tonight.

Here's to hoping for some brighter weather real soon. Too many people have been sick recently, and it's too gray. Try to stay well.

Currently playing in iTunes: Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

Friday, February 8, 2008

Peaceful Journeys, Freckles

One afternoon in October, 1993, I was watching TV in our family room after school. I looked up at one point and saw my Dad outside on the patio. That was odd, I thought. He usually came inside through the garage, never went around to the backyard. A few minutes later I looked outside again, and he was kneeling on the ground with a tiny Beagle puppy. Oh, he found a stray. Poor puppy, I thought, and rushed outside to pet it.

Our Cocker Spaniel, Belle, had passed the year before. I asked my parents for another dog, but they weren't too keen on the idea. I almost didn't believe my Dad when he told me that tiny puppy was my new puppy! My parents told me I could name her. I couldn't decide, and finally settled on Freckles, because she had tiny spots all over her body that looked like, well, freckles.

Freckles was 2.8 pounds at her first vet visit. She was 8 weeks old my dad brought her home. He got her from a guy he worked with who had a litter of 3. He held tiny Freckles against his shoulder the drive home, and she howled the entire drive. He says his left ear is still ringing today from that drive home.

Our first year with Freckles was trying, to say the least. She quickly earned the nickname Devil Dog. I never thought a dog that tiny could cause such pain with her biting. We wore gloves when playing with her to protect her hands. My Dad resorted to buying leather work gloves from the hardware store. Freckles loved books, and we had to remove all books from the lower bookshelves. She tried our patience, and more than once my parents talked about getting rid of her. It would have broken my heart. In my freshman religion class, we started each day by going around the room and each person could say something they wanted to pray for. Several classes during Freckles' first year my prayer was that my parents would not get rid of my puppy. We stuck it through, and when she turned 1 she was like a different dog. Calmer, no more biting - tolerable and extremely lovable.

Four years later when I went away to college my parents gave me a wooden Beagle statue to take with me. I set it on my desk in my dorm room. When I transferred to a college in St. Louis and moved back home at the end of the school year, I kept the wooden Beagle on my desk in my bedroom.

Even though I only lived with Freckles her first 8 years (after that I had my own apartment), she was my dog. My parents never changed her tag, which had my name on it.

Last year Freckles started having health problems. She had to go to the bathroom often, and woke up several times in the middle of the night. After several months, my parents found out she had Cushings Disease, had a tumor on her spleen, and en enlarged liver. The vet prescribed medication to ease the effects of Cushings Disease, and referred my parents to a specialist for the tumor. They visited the specialist, but in the end decided to do nothing. Freckles was 14, and if they opted for surgery, there was a chance she wouldn't survive. They decided to make her life as good as possible (as if they hadn't already made it better than any dog could hope for!), as long as she wasn't in pain.

My Mom works from home, so has been with Freckles all day, every day for the past year, leaving the house as little as possible so she would be there anytime Freckles needed to go out, which was often. It was trying for my Mom, but Freckles wasn't in much pain, and still looked happy most of the time, so my parents stuck it out.

Last night Freckles had a very bad night. She couldn't get settled down to sleep, and was restless all night. She wouldn't eat or drink. This morning she was obviously very miserable. My parents debated what would be best. Maybe they'd wait till Monday and see if she felt better over the weekend. But they knew. They called the vet, and he squeezed them in for an 11:00 appointment. During this time, I was in a meeting at work and didn't know anything was wrong.

When I got back to my desk at 10:30, I had a message from my parents on my desk phone as well as 2 missed calls and a message on my cell phone. My grandma has also battled a slew of health problems the past year, and when I saw all the missed calls I knew that something was wrong with either my grandma, or Freckles. My mom answered the phone, but handed it to my dad because she was crying. He told me what was happening. I told him I'd meet them at the vet's office. When my dad asked me if it would interfere with work I simply said, "It doesn't matter. Family is more important than work. I'm going to take care of a few things real quick, then I'll be at the vet by 11." Thankfully the vet is only 15 minutes from where I work.

I cancelled the meetings I had in the afternoon, asked my teammate to take care of anything that might come up that afternoon, then went to find my boss to tell her I was leaving for the day. Ronnie was still in the conference room, talking with a few stragglers from the meeting I had just left. I didn't know one of the people in the room, and told myself I wouldn't cry in front of strangers. That didn't turn out so well. I told Ronnie (who also has dogs) what was going on, and started crying. Ronnie is a great boss, and told me to do whatever I need to do, not to worry about work, and asked if I needed someone to drive me to the vet. I told her thanks, but I would manage.

At the vet, we hugged and kissed and petted Freckles. My Dad gave her one last backrub, one of her favorite things. The vet and his assistant were very kind. After he gave her the shot, he whispered "Peaceful journeys" to her. My parents and I petted her until the end, and after. She went peacefully. Freckles laid her head on her paw, as she always did when she slept, and looked very peaceful when it was over. Now she's with Belle, our Cocker Spaniel, and Chico, the Chihuahua my parents had when they were first married. She can run and chase birds again. But we miss her.

She never went to the park. When we get her ashes, we're going to take her to the park I take Loki and Tiberius to, and we're going to spread her ashes there so she can be with my boys whenever they are running around at the park.

I love you, Freckles, and will miss you.

Currently playing in iTunes: Pie Jesu by Sarah Brightman


Freckles puppy.jpg




Thursday, February 7, 2008

Quote of the Week

I've added something new to my blog. At the top you'll notice the Quote of the Week. Every Monday I'll post a new quote there, so stop by (at least) every week and check it out.

New Blogging Software

I found some new blogging software for the Mac called MarsEdit. I'm on the trial version right now, and this is my first post with it. So far it looks pretty cool, and if it keeps up I'll definitely be purchasing the full version. It allows you to easily add photos, and even this:

Currently playing in iTunes: Wait for Sleep by Dream Theater

Very neat. I don't know what it is about Macs, but when I was on my Windows computer I never cared about nifty software. Could I access the internet/e-mail? Could I listen to music? Did the word processor work? Great. That's all I cared about. But being a Mac owner is turning me into a computer person. I find myself spending time looking at new software products, and Mac has a great Shareware community. Instead of Word, I'm now using Scrivener for writing. It's a great program that allows you to not only write your novel, but organize research, download info from the web for offline access, and store pretty much any file you could need (pictures, videos, research documents) in the project file for easy access. I highly recommend it.

I just need to be careful not to spend too much time playing with new programs, and detract from my writing time. But I doubt that will happen, I love writing too much to ignore it, and the novel I'm working on is too interesting for me to step away from for long. I just happen to have new "toys" to make the work even more enjoyable and easy.

But back to Scrivener for a minute. At one point I decided to find some writing software. This was before my Mac. I spent several hours searching for programs, downloading trial versions, trying to figure out how to use them, and uninstalling them when I couldn't figure it out. I finally gave up, realizing that was wasted time I could have spent writing. But once I got the Mac, a fellow Mac user - 2, in fact - told me about Scrivener. I downloaded the trial version, spent 30 minutes on the tutorial, and was ready to go. Easy as that.

So I'm going to get back to writing now. I'll leave you with a picture of my literary dog Loki, easily added with MarsEdit.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Soothing Rain

It snowed last week, and is supposed to snow again tomorrow, but right now there is a hard, steady rain falling outside. Usually I listen to music when I'm writing, but not now. One of my favorite things is the sound of rain. I have a candle lit on my desk and am ready to go for the night.

The yard is soaked and muddy, the street in front of my house will soon turn into a swiftly running river because the storm drains don't work, but I don't care about any of that. The only thing that does bother me about rain is the muddy puppy paw prints that get tracked through the house if I am not fast enough to clean their paws when they come in from outside. With 2 dogs, about the only way to manage it is either block of the kitchen doorway, or only let one dog in at a time.

The rain is already slowing down. I better get to work before it stops completely. I hope you all enjoy the rain tonight. I will be busy writing.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Happy Groundhog Day

It seems Punxsutawney Phil predicts 6 more weeks of winter. That would be fine with me if it would stay cold. But here in the Midwest the weather keeps going up and down. Snowstorm 2 days ago, and today I was out in just a sweatshirt. I prefer one or the other, not the constant change. Oh well, I guess I can't dictate nature. And I must admit, I love snow, and my puppies especially love it. They've been spending a lot of time outside running around in the white stuff.

I've been reading The Moonlight Cafe aloud to myself for a final check to make sure everything flows smoothly. I'm 10 chapters in (it's 43 total), and so far, other than some minor changes, I'm happy with it. I'm also printing out the final version. I have a hardcopy of an older version, but not the final. It's always nice to have a hardcopy backup in the case of a computer catastrophe. I'm trying to be better at backing up all my stuff, digitally and hardcopies, where possible. I started a binder containing my short story printouts, and have file folders for various versions of Moonlight and the beginnings of Discovering Family. I need to upgrade to Mac OS Leopard, and I want to buy their new Time Capsule for backups to make everything easier on me. Something for my To Do list.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Old Friends and New

We had a pleasant surprise at writing group on Monday. Rick, one of the founding members of the group (though he hasn't come in several years) came back! I love his whimsical writing! And he brought along one of his friends who had never been to writing group. The Monday night group is growing! If Rick and Jordan continue coming, that will put us at 9 members! Wow! That means our meetings could run quite late, depending on how much reading, writing, and sharing we do. With the newer members we have started doing timed writings again, which I had missed doing. I don't know if we'll do them every week, but I do enjoy those very much. When I'm at home, I almost always work on my current novel. Rarely do I merely write whatever comes to mind just for the fun of it. That doesn't mean working on my novel isn't fun. Don't get me wrong there, if it wasn't fun I wouldn't do it. But the free-writing we do on Mondays is purely pleasure. Often something we write has the makings of something longer, but it might not. So here's to the growing group!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ideas, Ideas, Everywhere

I've been slowly making progress on Discovering Family. This one is going to take a while, I think. Partly just because it is going to be longer than The Moonlight Cafe, but partly because it starts in the late 60s or early 70s, before I was born. It is going to require a lot of research on the time period so I can make it feel authentic. It also takes place in a city in which I don't live. One I have visited before, but not lived in, so it will take location research as well. I guess it gives me a reason to take a trip back there, for it's a city I love. Vacation in the name of research. :)

I also had another idea pop into my head yesterday morning. What's that? Creativity on a Monday morning? I know, it's very strange. So I had to get the first 4 paragraphs down on paper before I logged into work. The first sentences were very loud in my head, and I wanted to get it down before it went away. So next time I go to look at it, I'll have a starting point.

So now i have 3 idea on which I want to work, in addition to others that are patiently waiting their turn, and a possible major revision to Moonlight. Yes, I'm already sending out query letters for it, and it is done, but that doesn't mean I can't keep playing with it, right? It might be a while before I find an agent. Out of 8 letters I've received 4 rejections. Oddly enough they haven't hurt. Maybe because they're all form letters, very impersonal. Maybe when I get a personal letter it will hurt more. As Tina has found, the ones that say "I like your novel, BUT..." are the ones that hurt most. Makes sense. We'll see.

So many ideas, so little time. I'm not complaining. I'd rather have this problem than the opposite.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Busy with research

I've spent the past week doing a lot of research.  It's not for my novel though, it's for something my writing group and I are going to do.  The beginning stages are the hardest and take the most time, I think, but the research for it has taken away from my writing.  That's ok, though, because I've been kind of stuck at a the current scene anyway and needed a break from it.  Hopefully I'll get back into it tonight.  If not, I'm going to work on some ideas for another young adult novel.  One or the other, I will do creative work tonight.  This other project is very exciting though, and I'm not at all complaining about the work on it.  It's left me a bit wiped out though, which is why I haven't posted anything recently.  The last time I got stuck on a scene I started freewriting about the fact that I was stuck, why I thought I was stuck, and where I needed to go with the novel.  It helped.  After about 2 pages of handwritten complaining, ideas started flowing.  I will try that again tonight if I don't get anywhere.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Writing Day

Yesterday the 5 members of the Zen Writing Group gathered at Tina's house for our now-monthly writing day. We scheduled dates for each month through July to meet, just the 5 of us. Monday nights are for anyone, but these Saturdays are just for us five. Yesterday was a very exciting meeting, as we came up with some new ideas for the group. I'm going to leave it at that for now, until we have the details hammered out, but there will be much excitement in the coming months. I can't wait until I can tell everyone about it.

I made progress on my new novel. We spent an hour of solid time writing. Next month we are going to aim for two hours. Between planning out the new stuff, talking, lunch (Tina made a fantastic potato soup!), and sharing what we had written, we didn't write as much as we would have liked. But that's ok, the day was absolutely wonderful.

I also have ideas for 3 more young adult novels. Moonlight Cafe has 2 main characters, and the main characters' best friends. I am going to write stories of the other 3 characters, which will encompass the timeframe of Moonlight Cafe, but also what these characters did before and after. Now I have to decide how much time to devote to Discovering Family (the new novel I am working on), and the first of these three.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ready, Set, Query!

I have my first query letters to agents ready to go. Tomorrow on my lunch break, I'll go to the post office and send them off. This is so exciting!

I spent the majority of my holiday break editing The Moonlight Cafe. I finished editing tonight, and spent the rest of the evening putting the finishing touches on my query letter and synopsis, and preparing the packets to be sent out. Each agent wants something different. Some want the query letter and synopsis only. Some want the first 5 pages, or 10, or even 50. I have carefully researched agents, what their requirements are, and what genres they are looking to represent. Wish me luck.

And of course, happy new year to you all. I hope everyone had a safe new year. I spent a quiet night in with Cory, which was a nice change. Usually we host the party at our house. We don't like going out New Year's Eve. Too many amateurs. But this year we spent the evening just the 2 of us. It was very nice and relaxing.

I made one of the most stereotypical resolutions ever - to get in better shape. I didn't set a specific goal, just the generality of "better." Maybe I'll actually use that gym membership this year.

My other resolution was to write at least 4 days a week. It doesn't have to be a lot, just something. I figure 4 days is reasonable. Sure, just about every writing guide out there says to write EVERY DAY, no matter what, but when it comes to setting goals, I think being reasonable is much better than every day. That doesn't mean I won't write more than 4 days, but it does mean I will write at least 4 days every week.

Good luck on any resolutions you made. I'm really going go try to stick to mine this year. The writing one should be easy. Getting in better shape, well, we'll see.