29 December 2013

Three Pleasant Surprises

The first two pleasant surprises are for you. The third one is mine.

Since you’ve stopped by to visit, we’ll talk about you.

FIRST, this is not a blog post about the holiday season. By this point, most people are over it. This blog post is over it.

SECOND, this is not a blog post about New Year’s Resolutions. I will not bore you with the, “I need to change my life in thirty six different ways. This will start in January 1st and go through the end of my days.”  Whatever.

So THIRD (I’m pretty happy about this) I’ll tell you about my pleasant surprise.

The cool bit is that I both caused and received this surprise.

How’s that for awesome? Hmmm?

(I must note here that I didn’t do it on purpose, nor did I set this up.)

A few months ago, a writing buddy and I did a retreat up in Park City for three days.  We wrote, she barely let me eat, and I typed just over 30,000 words on my manuscript—finishing the story for the rough draft of my second book of New Sight.

I rejoiced. I may have done the dance of joy (you’ll never know). It was awesome.

Once I got home I realized that I had to go back and completely re-vamp chapters four through twelve. So I spent a few weeks doing that. Just last week I hit the spot where I got to do more editing than creating. The groove kicked in, and I blew through about ten chapters in a couple of days. Yay!

Now I’m poised at the edge of the last quarter of the novel. I’ve fixed the beginning, edited the middle and eyed the ending with suspicion.

You see, the last 30,000 words is what I wrote in Park City. I hadn’t read it since. I hardly remembered what I wrote because we wrote so much over that weekend.

Yesterday I hit the end of my editing. I had to read the last 50 pages to see how much, if any, of it I could use. My hunch was that I would have to re-write most of it.

A good workout as well as about ten minutes of talking myself into it came before I sat down at the computer and started to read.

The first chapter was really good. The second was okay. The third worked like a charm…and this kept going.  All the way through the end. I can use almost all of it! It makes sense, and some of it is even well-written.

Go me!

And that, after the month of chaos that we call December, was a most welcome and a very pleasant surprise.

What about everyone else? Anything jump out and surprise you in a good way over the last week or so? We could all use some encouragement right now, I think. So share!

12 December 2013

How Does a Shepherds Crook Become a Candy Cane?

Because the Christmas/Holiday/Winter season is upon us, I've been thinking about traditions.

When I was a kid, we got to get up on Christmas morning and open the gifts in and near our stockings. Santa gifts. Each kid's presents were color coordinated. It was the same every year, and we loved it.

What we didn't love was then having breakfast BEFORE we got to open the presents under the tree.

Seriously, my dad would make breakfast-hot, delicious, wonderful breakfast. And believe me, he would take his own sweet time about it.  Pancakes? Yes. Bacon? Yes. Cold cereal? Don't be ridiculous. Eggs? Yes. He did it to torture us. He's really a pretty great guy, but this is one of the times he thought he was SOOooo funny.

And now it's payback time. Ever since I got into my teenage years, and the other sisters had moved out, we have forced my dad to make breakfast for us on Christmas morning. Hot, delicious, wonderful breakfast.  

Hey, there are three women involved in this plan. Of course it's mean. Duh.

Now that he's getting older, we've all started to help him out. We're not that terrible.

As an author, I've been wondering about traditions. I mean seriously, how did a shepherd's crook get twisted into a candy cane? How did caroling door to door come from angelic hosts of heaven announcing the birth of the Savior? What did the progression involve?

Let's take our breakfast tradition.  If generations passed, and a great-great-something grand kid of one of us asked their mom why we made the oldest man in the house make turkey bacon before we could unwrap presents on Thanksgiving, what would she tell them? (Yes, I put Thanksgiving in there on purpose. This is like the telephone tree games you maybe played as a kid. The message starts out, "The flowers are pink" and ends up, "The woman's face is on fire.")

Take one of your traditions. How could it "grow up" into something...sinister? funny? twisted? world-wide?

It's these kinds of details that can make a book or a story feel so much deeper. More real.

I'm serious, leave a comment on how one of your (maybe) completely innocent family traditions could evolve into something much more interesting. It'll be your fun for the day.

08 December 2013


Everyone has silly-and some not so silly-family traditions.

Am I right?

My family can be neatly described as quite dull, and even we have interesting things that we do. Traditions.

Some go back as far as I can remember, and some are new.

Allow me to elaborate. Because I just know you're all dying to hear about it. :)

Let's start with something simple. My mother can draw out the act of making sugar cookies to an all-day event. And not necessarily in a good way. Making a cake from a box is also an endeavor not to be undertaken lightly. And trust me, we sifted the flour in. Twice.

When making said cakes, my mother always used a plastic spatula to mix with. Always, always, always. The plastic spatula was the only instrument for mixing that I knew. Literally. Nothing else existed.

Until I started making cookies and cakes and cupcakes and such with my friends.

I distinctly remember two of my very best friends making fun of me mercilessly because I wanted to use the spatula to mix with.

Because for something like fifteen years, the spatula had been working just fine for me.

But NOOOoooo...they said a fork worked better. That a spatula wasn't effective. At all.

It was quite a blow to me to see that a fork is a very efficient tool for mixing. All those years my mother had been wrong. She'd been lying to me! But wait, the spatula does work, but a fork works better.

That's what traditions can do. They can twist things around until no one really knows why we're performing them, but we do it anyway because "that's the way it's always been done."

I know I got off of the #BeMeanToCharacters thing a few months ago, but this is another way in which you can twist your character's world. Make something that they think is right-has always been and will always be-wrong. Or just a little bit off.

Trust me, it's annoying.  Really annoying. Heck, it could have ruined some very precious friendships if I didn't have the personality I do. I could have been offended and never talked to these girls again. But, luckily, I hold my relationships close to my heart, and I do everything in my power not to allow the little things to get in between us.

05 December 2013

Creative Juices Gone?

Mine are.

I tried to write on Monday, and after an hour and fifteen minutes I knew that I wasn’t going to get any writing done this week.


Well, if I knew that I’d be writing and not blogging.

These are my “This could be the reason” reasons:

1-I haven’t been putting much into my creative brain, so maybe I’ve tapped everything that was in there and now I’m left with nothing but a rather large, echoy chamber with wood paneling and bad linoleum floors.

2-I’m stressed. The day job always seems to get more demanding near the end of the year, and this time around is no different. The pace there is just below break-neck, and by the time I get home I can hardly type a sentence without making about six mistakes.  Plus I haven’t been getting nearly enough sleep.

3-Not enough sleep. Not nearly enough. I blame The Distraction (aka my husband) for this one, because he’s a night owl and he is evil. Actually, there are a lot of reasons for this, but the point is that I need more sleep to function at my expected level of awesome. Right now I’m not quite at level “I’m alive.”

4-There is some part of my story that I’m missing or misrepresenting. I don’t get writer’s block, per se, but I will get hung up in one section of a manuscript if I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to handle it. And at this time I am indeed at one of those spots.

5-Part of me just wants to play, and right now writing isn’t playing. The creative process of writing is difficult for me. The editing and fixing side is much more to my liking. And I’m having to rewrite a big swath of my work in progress, which is making me cranky.

6-ObamaCare. Just kidding. Everyone else is blaming either the president or the Tea Party for something, I figured I should too.

7-There are too many dang distractions at the end of the year. Between the holidays and, well, the holidays, things get more than a little crazy.

8-Not enough Kung Fu fighting lately. Physical activity is good for you. I take a Kempo class, and I haven’t been getting there as much as I would like to. Excuse, excuse, excuse…

So my goals should be to read a book and take a nap. Or beat someone up.

I long for these things each and every day, and it pretty much never happens.

Anyone have any other reasons for a lack of creativity?

Or do you have good ideas for how to snap out of it?

01 December 2013

A Deal with the Dice Gods Gone Awry


Isn’t it Obi Wan who says there’s no such thing as luck?

I’m trying to decide if I agree or not.

Here’s how it went down. Thanksgiving night. Hanging out with my husband’s family.

Let me point out that they are all highly intelligent and strategy minded.

Me? I love to play card games that require little to no thinking whatsoever. I’m no good at extended strategy, and if there are dice involved—well, let’s just say at some point in my universal existence I made a deal on the wrong side of the dice deity. And not in a little way.

So when I agreed to play games with them, I knew that I would be trounced.  It’s pretty much expected, and I don’t really care. Most of the time.

Shock overcame me when I won our round of Citadels—a card game. I kind of creamed the others—mostly because they weren’t expecting me to do anything grand. And frankly, I didn’t notice I was doing anything grand until I had almost won. Go me! (or something)

The next game they pulled out was Settlers if Catan.

There are dice involved in Settlers. Pretty much you have to rely on the stupid, six-sided spawns of evil to get anything at all in that game.

I’ll spare you the gory details of the first two rounds. Allow me to simply say that the number eight is usually rolled more than never in two games.

During our third game, I finally got the chance to put one of my settlements on a six.  This means that whenever a six is rolled, that I get stuff. Yay!  And if you do the math, you’ll note that six should be the most rolled number in the game.


In the whole game I think six was rolled a total of seven times. And four of those times I didn’t get to collect because someone put the stupid black soldier on MY number six spot because THEY had a number six spot that they knew would get rolled if I wasn’t going to benefit from it.

This is a true story. And the sad thing is, that it worked for her!

If I were a character in my book the finale would have to be her getting stuck in some sort of D&D game with a D20 dice that she has to roll a 5 or above and NEVER does.

That’s when she would whip out her ninja skills and kick the die into dust, then go get the bad guys.