"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~ Dame Agatha Christie

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Ray of Sunshine ends a Cloudy Week

This has not been one of my best weeks of 2010.  I am trying quite hard to get well after being exposed to several sick people last weekend (one had strep throat) and so have muddled through in spite of the aches, upset stomach and sinus headaches.  No cards made; minimal writing done on TGAN; bare bones cleaning and cooking; no laundry...the best part (until now) of my week has been that I continued my perfect attendance streak at work by not calling in even though my body said "stay in bed".  The weather hasn't helped as it has been dreary, cold and wet much of the week.

Then, I open up my blog to post a review of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol and what do I find?

I got this really cool award from my friend Beverly over at GottHeartArt!  I feel a bit like I won the lottery!  She and I met shortly after Hurricane Katrina sent me back home to D/FW from New Orleans.  The stamping group we met through is now defunct, but we clicked from almost the first day we met--and I feel Blessed to call her a friend.  Thanks for my first blog award, Beverly!

If I understand how this works (and if I get it wrong, blame the headache LOL), I am to list ten of my favorite things and then pass the award to five people who inspire me...

1)    Chocolate--tied for #1 with coffee (there's a reason my avatar has a coffee cup LOL)
2)    Reading--my TBR mountain has over 500 very eclectic titles
3)    Writing--even if it sometimes slogs along at a snail's pace, I can no longer imagine life without writing
4)    Cardmaking and stamping--and crafting in general, especially eco-crafting
5)    Mexican food--I love food in general, but Tex-Mex has my heart ;-)
6)    Research--sounds crazy, but I must have been a librarian in at least one former life
7)    "Green" living--not as green as I want to be, but hope springs eternal; it is a passion
8)    The History Channel/History International--that's what reality TV means to me
9)    Star Wars--tied with Lord of the Rings; I have probably 75% of the movies' dialogue memorized
10)  Vintage 40's (before me, but not by much LOL) and 50's decor (see #7 above); ADORE thrift stores

And now to my Awardees (in alphabetical order)...these ladies' blogs are awesomely inspiring to me as a writer, as a reader, as a crafter, as a "greenie"--I wish I could award more ;-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Uber-Cool Site, Uber-Cool Scrubbies, Uber-Cool Bags

"Uber" is the term I use when I am super excited about something, and I am super excited about my new scrubbies sent by Christi because I sent her my stash of mesh produce bags.  These are great!  One is of the mesh produce bags, but one is made of plastic grocery bags (plarn), and I already love it for my non-stick cookware--no scratching and it is really quite sturdy.

I love recycling when I can, and I crochet when I can, so I had been saving my mesh produce bags to see what could be done with them.  My BFF Beverly over at GottHeartArt crochets the most wonderful scrubbies out of nylon net, but why buy net if something can be recycled?  So, I had been saving these bags. 

Well, crocheting is so far down my "want-to-do" list that it has almost fallen off the end.  TGAN is taking up much of my free time, and I still want to participate in card challenges when possible.  I'd love to read more (100 book challenge, anyone?).  If you read my recent post about a "To-Don't" list, you may understand why I decided to simply mail all the produce bags to Christi.  They are getting utilized and I get the storage space--what a win-win situation!

I haven't yet ordered any of her fat bottom bags, but one may be purchased soon as my new Spring/Summer purse.  Hop on over to Christi's site and look around (her blog is great, too)!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Writing Prompt Wednesdays

Michelle over at Southern City Mysteries has started this great Wednesday Writing Prompt.  Her prompt for today is "How the tides came crashing..." and here is what came to mind from that:

The ground was still soggy as Epps tried to gather fallen limbs.  The fast tide in this small creek made it obvious even to his young eyes they'd lived through no ordinary storm.  "Well," he thought,  "Mom and that Charles fella are saying we've gone back in time.  That sure means we were lucky not to have drowned.  How they expect to make a fire out of this wet stuff I don't know, but I better not go any further upstream.  If this really is around Bayou St. John, I could walk into swamp and be a goner for sure."

Well, it's a rough idea of one of my character's thoughts at the moment.  I promise it will read better in the finished novel ;-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Standing in the Shadow of Greatness

I know few writers personally but need to surround myself with intelligent, supportive, creative people who constantly strive to make positive changes in their personal life and who also attempt to positively affect others.  Some of my friends scrap, some know and understand gems, virtually all are voracious readers, and some make cards (as I do whenever I have "spare" time).

I was Blessed to meet one such person almost two years ago, and she is a crafter extraordinaire.  That has now been proven as she was just notified one of her cards is being published in the April 2010 issue of Scrap & Stamp Arts.

Go over to GottHeartArt and see some wonderous eye candy!   Beverly has been a talented crafter her entire life and her card designs run the gamut from cute and cuddly to clean and simple and into the lavish and elegant depending on her mood.  She's also been a featured/guest designer on several card making blogs, and is the current guest designer of the month at Creative Inspirations.

During NaNoWriMo last November, when I honestly wondered how I could ever accomplish 50K in 30 days, she was the best cheerleader a friend could ever desire.  Even now, when I worry about the direction my novel is taking or the time it is taking to finish, no matter how busy (or how sick) she is, she makes sure I know I have someone in my creative corner cheering me to the finish line.

In an age when so many seem to interpret the Golden Rule as "Let me get them before they get me", it is very refreshing to have honest, supportive friends, and it is wondrous to see those friends be recognized for the quality of their work...

Congratulations, Beverly--here's to greater success in the future for you and your cards!

Monday, February 8, 2010

250 A Day Progress Report

I'm determined to do this; and I was equally determined that it would only count if I wrote the words toward my novel.

I have a character who is not cooperating.  I have a job that required a LOT of writing to customers both Friday and today (well over 250 words each day).  I want to comment on blogs I follow.  I had to write e-mails regarding fraudulent bank transactions this weekend. 

The word count exists--the words toward the novel do not.  In my past, because I did not do this perfectly, I would give up and beat myself up for doing so.  Today, I acknowledge the last four days did not go as planned, but I will not give up. 

Everything that I wrote from Friday thru today had to be well-thought-out and highly edited.  Responses to customers must be concise, truthful, polite and grammatically correct.  Certainly the e-mails required to handle financial situations need to be business-like, firm, honest, and to the point.  I want my blog comments to be readable and contributory and as encouraging to the artist/writer as possible--a critique if you will, rather than a rant or criticism. 

My fiction has a tendency to "flow" and comes to me in brief scenes.  The editing comes after the plot.  I will head to bed now knowing I have written well for these four days.  Tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, perhaps Diana will either behave and let me write what I want about her, or she will have told me in a dream what her next move will be ;-)

At any rate, tomorrow's words will be some part of TGAN...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A "To Don't" List--Is this the answer?

I love Whatever...Whenever and visit this blog as often as I can...check out her links as well--she's artistic and funny and this post on over-achieving could have been part of my yet-to-be written autobiography LOL.

I have 24 hours in my day--established fact, right? And the job that pays for everything takes nine of those hours, including computer boot time and the 30-minute lunch that allows for nothing but eating.

Of the remaining fifteen hours, my body requires a bare minimum of six being spent in sleep, with 6 1/2 to seven being even better. Occasionally, I can get by with five, but the older I get, the less flexible my body is when it lacks proper rest. So, use six as the touchpoint, and we now have nine hours a day for everything else that "general living" requires.

Let's define general living as cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills/handling mail, personal hygiene (shower, anyone? LOL), etc. Granted, in a one-person household, a few of these things are not daily tasks--laundry is once weekly. Walking to/from the grocery store takes time. Carrying groceries by hand means more trips because there are limits as to how much I can carry. So, the days I go to the store are usually weekend days. Other errands requiring bus travel (I call it "destination shopping") are either vacation days or weekends because the bus trip alone can exceed an hour each way.

So, at nine hours a day times seven days a week, I have 63 hours to work with. If cooking for one takes a total of an hour daily, followed by an hour of general housecleaning and a half-hour of mail/business, the free time is reduced to 45.5 hours. With walking/bus times for the household shopping, let's reduce that by a minimum of 9.5 hours weekly.

I am a writer of historical/speculative fiction. I need time to research. I need time to write. I need time to network with other writers. I need time to study the craft of writing.  With the idea of my most recent challenge in mind, let's devote a minimum of one hour daily to writing, and perhaps another daily hour to research.  There go fourteen more hours, leaving 22 left to "schedule".

I am a paper crafter who sells Stampin' Up! as a sideline, primarily to receive the discount (although all new customers are quite welcome to my website LOL), and I enjoy my crafting.  In an ideal world, I would play with paper (or at least be puttering in my studio) for an hour a day.  22-7=15.

Who doesn't like to connect with friends?  I talk on the phone often with my friends; I follow various blogs (and have people who follow mine--wonder of wonders).  Welcome to my new followers--I am so happy to meet you!  Reading and responding to e-mail takes time.  Commenting on blogs takes time.  This socialization is important to someone who works from home.

Look at what I am doing to myself!  I have already posted that over-organizing and my pursuit of perfection denies me the opportunity to simply enjoy life!  I need to learn to say "no".  I need to learn to "hit a lick at a snake" and know that BALANCE is key.  "All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull person", and who wants to be dull?  I don't.

Who wants to join me and make a "To Don't" list? 

Monday, February 1, 2010

250 Words A Day Challenge

A lot of "general living" has occurred already in 2010, but I am determined to continue writing.  I am also determined to make writing a daily event.  As I cruise the various writer's blogs I have found, this great challenge badge appeared several places.

This is doable, even for someone who types as slowly as I do.  When a scene is percolating in my mind, I can write a mostly unedited 250-word section in 30-45 minutes.  If I learned nothing else from NaNoWriMo, I learned to put the words on a page.  Then if I walk away from it for a day or so, I read it thru the eyes of my audience and my editing is tighter.

So, even though my 10 for 10 in 2010 is already off track (I read nothing for pleasure in January, so I still have 100 books to read before December 31, and let's not even mention "exercise"), I am posting another public challenge to myself.  Now, if I could just fine some free widget somewhere that would keep a running counter of the number of days I succeed in writing at least 250 words...

(P/S:  this challenge is lenient, and I could count the words of this post as part of the 250.  I am setting the bar higher for myself, and the only words I will count will be those written for TGAN, aka "Don't Trust the Rain".  With that in mind, I wrote 369 in advance of posting this LOL)