Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May Wrap-Up

I've been dreading this day. The last day of May. The day of accountability. A day of reckoning.

But no matter how I attempt to stall the passing of time...I just can't do it. (I've noticed I blog a lot about time passing. Hmm...) If I thought I'd make any sort of wonderful progress in the next day or two, I'd put off this admission of my shortcomings. However, the next few days are packed full of t-ball trophies and ballet recitals so I have no time to fluff my true results. No cheating allowed.

So, here's how I did on my May goals:

I wanted to add 30,000 words to my novel. I barely hit half that. Ouch!

I wanted to create a spreadsheet to track my daily word counts. Thanks to the help of my husband, I now have a very cool spreadsheet that automatically calculates weekly and monthly totals. He even added a countdown until September's conference and somehow created the "average" words I need to add per day to stay on track. It's very cool.

I wanted to research agents and editors to meet with at conference. I did that.

I wanted to actually register for conference. I did that!

I wanted to plan my son's birthday party. I did that. Iron Man will be appearing on June 11th.

I wanted to finish reading four books that have been sitting on my nightstand. I did that. (And found something else I need to dust.)

I wanted to dust all the baseboards in my house. Not quite. I did get some of them done but not all...what a boring and back breaking task. No fun. No fun at all. But it needs to be done so I'll push that goal into June.

All in all, I'd say I did okay except for actually sitting to write. That will forever be a struggle for me. That and stopping time. :)

Hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Would You Survive?

I'm always whining that I have so much to do. My to-do lists drag on and on. And yet, when the kids are finally tucked in for the night and their silly excuses to get up one last time have all been used, I don't often do what I need to do.

I usually turn on the TV.

But this week, I didn't have any TV. That's because my husband and I are experimenting (nothing x-rated, mind you). We canceled our cable. We have no TV. Nothing!

The premise behind this crazy idea is pretty simple. Cut out the things in our life that are hindrances to our productivity. The TV is the number one culprit. Which seems funny since it's never on during the day unless the kids are watching a movie before nap time. Chris and I only watch a few shows together in the evening. Nevertheless, it does eat up quite a bit of our time.

I'm on day three of this no TV experiment and it's much harder than I thought it would be. I miss the escape. I miss the entertainment. I miss all my music channels that I blare when cleaning. I'm having such a hard time that my body is physically reacting. I just happened to get sick. (Okay, so the two are not totally related but it feels like it. P.S. It's even worse being sick when there's no TV to watch from the couch.)

Our original agreement was to try to make it a month. After one day, we said we'd try for one week. After three days...I'm ready to give up altogether.

How about you? Do you love TV? Would you be able to survive without it? What are some of your favorite shows?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Cherry On Top

When I was a little girl I would spend countless hours playing dress up in my mom's beautiful church dresses. I would put on her clothes, find a matching pair of high heels (a pair that made the lovely click-click sound when I walked) and I would play "house". Sometimes all day.

I loved make believe play. That's probably why I enjoy stories so much. I am fully able to immerse myself in some other reality, to whisk my mind to another time and place. I had lots of practice growing up.

I knew from a very young age that the single most important thing I wanted to accomplish was to have a family. I praise God that He allowed that to be my path and even better, that I still receive so much joy from being a wife and mom.

On some days, the reality of my fulfilled dreams is so heightened that I go through my day loving the silliest of tasks. Something like packing my son's snack or finding my daughter's ballet tights or washing peanut butter and jelly off my little ones face brings me to a moment of thankfulness to my Lord that I get to do what I love. I get to play house every day.

Please don't misunderstand...I don't have this "feeling" all the time and we, just like every other family, have those days that you just want to pretend never happened. But when I'm able to step back and see my blessings, I'm able to praise God for the simple things in life.

My writing feels like the cherry on top of an already perfectly piled ice cream sundae. A sundae that has all vanilla ice cream smothered in too much hot fudge with just a bit of whipped cream...and no nuts. That sundae is perfectly created without the cherry but ohh, when that sweet, red cherry is lovingly placed on top, I know that I serve a God who gives us immeasurably more than anything we can ever think or even imagine.

My writing is extra. It's something that I enjoy doing and I probably always will. I'll always strive to learn all I can and push on toward the dream of publication. But I'm already living my dream, the dream God seared on my heart when I was only six.

Are you living your dream? When do you experience moments of complete satisfaction and joy in your life?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bring On The Summer

I don't know how it happened but the end of this school year completely snuck up on me. The last thing I remember was Christmas break and now...somehow...there are only five days left of school.

Part of me is relieved that the 7:55 drop off time will be eliminated and we can begin a more leisurely lifestyle. But I'm also having one of those mommy moments. You know, the moments when you wish you could just freeze time and hold onto the season a bit longer.

Ahhh, how time goes by.

Now that school is practically over, I get to start thinking about fun things to do with my kids over the summer. Sure, relaxing by a pool with my laptop sounds like great fun for me but I'm one of those nerdy moms that likes to put on my "teacher" hat and find educational outings and places to explore with my kids. Learning is fun after all. And the secret bonus for me is that some of our adventures breed great story ideas!

So bring on the adventures! Bring on the summer!

Do you have any fun summer plans?

(Happy Birthday, Jen!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Weekend of Firsts

I had the coolest weekend! I just have to share the many writer-joys that I experienced the past few days. All firsts for me.

- My daughter had her yearly ballet pictures taken a few days ago. This seemingly mundane (but adorable) stop on my to-do list turned into a moment of reflection for me when I struck up a conversation with the photographer as his assistant posed my little dancer into a pretzel-like stance.

It's been on my mind lately that I need to add a photo of myself to my blog. (I have been dragging my feet on this task because truth be told I hate taking pictures and then publicly displaying them for all to see.) In my conversation with the photographer, I asked if he did head shots. His hilarious answer was "I do. Are you an actress?" I chuckled because that profession couldn't be further from who I am. Then out of nowhere, I heard myself say, "I'm a writer." After those words involuntarily flew out of my mouth I stood there thinking to, I've never said that before. That sounds kinda nice!

- I had the extreme honor of meeting one of my blogging person. I gotta say, I felt a bit star-struck as I sat across the table from the delightful Keli Gwyn. I've never sat and talked writing before with another writer. It was very educational and too much fun! Not only did she ask me questions about what I'm working on, she kindly critiqued my story (and gave me a run for my money) right on the spot. I'm new to critiques but so far, I'm loving them! AND...we hit it off so well, we decided to be roomies and traveling buddies for conference in September. I can't wait!

- Which brings me to my next first. I registered for ACFW's conference..knees shaking and everything. WOW!!

- I found my hero. Well, I found his face. I've had this picture of him in my head for the longest time but I haven't been able to find an actual picture that I can hang up and daydream about. But I just so happened to have a fun girls night out on Saturday and we saw the movie Something Borrowed. Well, not long into the movie I was completely distracted because the actor playing Dex didn't look like a Dex to me. He looked like my hero. So I'm very pleased to introduce Benjamin Black (although in real life his name is Colin Egglesfield). In the movie he is clean shaven and sophisticated so I had to search for this picture of him. I think the stubble makes him look rough and tough like a cowboy, don't you? :)

- Another first that I experienced this weekend was in the same movie theater while I was watching the same movie. After I had gotten over my surprise of seeing Benjamin I found myself dissecting the movie as it played. I've never just automatically done that before. My mind was constantly looking for goals and motivations. I was even predicting when the conflict would appear based on pacing and the overall story line. And I was watching the simple details the writers added to advance the story. It was very neat...if somewhat distracting.

Do you remember when you first referred to yourself as a writer? What were the circumstances? Do you search for pictures of your heros/heroines when brainstorming/writing? When watching movies or TV, do you notice or look for the different story elements?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I've been so focused on my May goals that I have completely forgotten about the blogging world - reading other blogs and writing my own. Apparently, I'm a very single-minded person. :)

Still no dusted baseboards but I did plan my son's birthday party and I even felt crafty enough to make "homemade" Iron Man invitations.

Now, I'm in up to my elbows in "conference research". I'm hoping to feel completely confident in my decisions in the next day or two before I click the register button.

But I'm wondering...if you've been to a writing conference, how did you decide who to meet with? If you don't have an agent is that the best place to start? Or is it more beneficial to meet directly with a publisher? So many questions...

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Love Test

There are moments in my days of mothering when I'm sure a dumbstruck look appears on my face and I stare mutely at one (or more) of my children. They have the ability to completely surprise me with their reactions or comments or even their sometimes volcanic emotions.

Who are these little people anyway? What makes them tick? How can we as parents (almost always learning as we go) learn to show our children love in the exact way they expect to receive it?

When my husband and I were dating, we read through the popular book, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. We took the fun little quiz and found out that my husband's love language was touch while mine was time. We recently took the same quiz again and my love language is now gifts (or as I like to call it: meaningful gestures). Surprise of all surprises, my husband's is still touch. Shocker!

What I didn't know is that a similar version of the love language test is also available for your kids. I highly recommend doing this with each of your children. If nothing else, it's loads of fun.

About a month ago, we sat Cody down and asked him the 20 questions. Turns out he's a total words-of-affirmation kiddo. So we try to make an effort to love him up with all kinds of praise and attention. He's loving it...and always wanting to hear more. As I tucked him in bed last night, he asked, "mom, did you see how fast I went on my bike?" Sure it could have been a bed-time stall tactic. Or it could have been him letting me know in his own way that he needed a little more "love" from me. Either way I was happy to applaud his new two-wheel fast bike-riding skills.

Take this test with your kids today. You might just be surprised with what you learn.

Have you ever done a test like this with your child? What was their "love language"? What is yours? Do you find your "love language" fluctuates or is it always the same?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Goals For May

This calendar year seems to be flying by way too quickly. My kids only have three more weeks of school and the ACFW conference is in four short months. How did that happen? I swore last September that I would be prepared and calmly waiting for this September's writing conference. Unfortunately, it ain't lookin' good. Bring on the panic.

In order to get myself more organized and to help check off a few of my mental "to-do" items...I'm writing them down. I know, brilliant concept, right?

Here's what I'd love to cross off for May:

~ Add 30,000 words to my WIP

~ Create a daily word count tracking system to hold myself accountable.

~ Finish researching the agents/editors/mentors that will be attending this years conference and make a decision about my appointment slot.

~ Actually register for the conference instead of just daydreaming about it. (And start looking for a possible roommate.)

~ Plan my son's 6th birthday party which is coming up at the beginning of June. I've already been told that Iron Man is his theme of choice.

~ Finish reading the four books that are currently collecting dust on my nightstand.

~ Dust every single baseboard in my house. (I'm sort of okay if this one doesn't get done. But in a perfect dust.)

That's it. Simple, right?

What are your goals for this month? Do you find that you accomplish more tasks if you write them down? At the end of an average month, do you usually feel productive or like you could have done better?