Monday, 30 June 2008

Book in a Month

Tristi is hosting another book in a month challenge for July. I've participated in her challenges before, but never been overly successful. I don't know why I can do NaNoWriMo and succeed, but struggle with Tristi's. At any rate, I'm going to give it another go. July is probably the worst time to recommit to writing. We have guests coming next week, and then another set of guests during our town celebrations. But, usually when I have the most to do, I get the most done. We'll see how it goes.

So my goal for this is to finish the book I've been working on, Double Deceit. I'm aiming for 500 words a day minus Sundays. Hopefully I'll have a few really good days to make up for the days when the guests are here. My goal is to get the first draft done by the end of July. I'll probably be on the road when the challenge ends as we leave for our summer vacation and a family reunion the last week of July. If the laptop battery holds, that means some good writing time on the road.

Good luck to everyone else trying the challenge. It

Saturday, 28 June 2008

A Closer Look Tag

Here is a fun tag from Josi. It was entertaining to do and hopefully interesting to read, or look at.

1. My Kitchen Sink - The kids did the dishes. They do a pretty good job.

2. Inside My Fridge - It always seems to full, but I think I inherited the "I can fit at least one more thing" gene from my great-grandmother. Usually fresh vegetables and fruit take up most of the room. And yes, one of the vegetable drawers is broken.

3. My Favorite Shoes - I wear these most of the time.

4. My Closet - Yes, I have one of those standard little closets with the bi-fold doors. But someday I'll have a walk in...maybe. Not sure if I really want to do the renovations to get it.

5. The Laundry Pile - Today is a good day to look here. But wait until Monday when the kids all bring their dirty laundry down. It'll look like this again Tuesday morning.

6. What My Kids are Doing Right Now - The girls are doing the dishes. (The youngest cleaned the sink). A few minutes later my son got home from soccer practice. It's pretty hot out there. I think that is his fifth glass of water.

7. My Favorite Room - This is probably my favorite because it is usually the cleanest and has the most comfortable furniture. My laptop is on the couch and I sit there quite often and work.

8. My Most Recent Purchase - All those cedar chips on the flower garden. The weeds were taking over and the old chips were nearly gone. Now the lavender and the rest of my herbs are happy again. (Most of them are still too small to see in the picture.)

9. My Fantasy Vacation - Someday I'll go to Scotland. If my oldest daughter gets her wish, we will go in three years when she graduates from high school and attend some highland dance competitions.

10. Self-Portrait

So there you have it in a nutshell. More than you ever wanted to know about me. I think I'll tag Mandi, Amy, and Ali. Have fun girls.

Friday, 27 June 2008


I get to give a talk in Sacrament meeting on Sunday and I have been putting off doing anything about it all week. The mental block I have with the writing seems to be extending to talks for church as well. The topic is gratitude. It seems like such an easy topic, yet I am struggling to figure out how to present it. Most of the time, I write my talk in my head and put it on paper Saturday night or Sunday morning, so I'm not worried yet. But if any of you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. It's a good thing I only have to give a talk every two years or so. Doing this on a more frequent basis could give me ulcers.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

"Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves--Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love."

I wasn't sure I wanted to read this book at all. I've read all three of the books from Meyer's Twilight series and enjoyed them for the most part. The Host is a science fiction novel. I'm not crazy about science fiction to begin with, so I almost didn't pick this book up.

The characters of Wanderer and Melanie are strong and much of the book deals with conflict and learning to live together in one body. Wanderer learns to cope with human emotions and the humans learn to trust the alien "soul". The story gave me lots to think about and I hated to see it end. In the final analysis, I think I liked this book better than the Twilight books.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Needing Sleep

My son took on a paper route (actually it's two routes) a couple of weeks ago. It's a great thing and gives him the opportunity to earn a little money of his own. My problems started when the paper called and asked him to take on a third one. Over the last week we have been trying to learn where the houses are and the best way to integrate them into his current routes so he doesn't have to add too much time.

We've gone over the map and on Sunday, my husband and I walked and then drove the 3.5 mile route so I could go with my son Monday morning and help him figure it out. I've been up with him at 5:30 am since Saturday helping. Yesterday and today we did it on bike so he could learn which was the quickest path to take.

It's refreshing being out early like that and we have enjoyed our bike rides. But the rest of my day hasn't changed and the other things I need to accomplish haven't gone away. My late night bedtime and early morning bike ride are beginning to conflict with each other. I haven't felt this tired in a long time.

On top of that, I started out Monday morning cutting sugar out of my diet. I've done okay for two days but meanwhile, I think I am GRUMPY. Yes, that's grumpy in capital letters. Given a little time my mood will level out, my son will be doing the route on his own, school's out tomorrow, and I might even get a little sleep. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out what things I can cut out of my day to be able to get a some writing in.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Write On

Today was one of those days I wish I could have more often. The two full-time kids I watch never come on Thursday, so depending on the schedules of the rest of the part time kids, sometimes I get a Thursday off.

I felt so productive. This morning I caught up on some work that has been piling up and this afternoon I was a writer. It is a role I haven't put on for some time. I prepared a manuscript for submission, did a writing exercise or two and wrote 1700 words on my current WIP. That's 1700 more than I've written in a long time.

My approach to the computer was a little hesitant. I haven't had any success increasing my word count for awhile, so I found myself fighting the opportunity. What if I didn't have anything to say? What if I still couldn't get the story to pick up? Like any talent, if you don't work at it, you'll lose it. But also like other talents, when you pick it back up again and work at it, it will come back. The words did come. Slowly. A few of these scenes will probably have to be re-written, but at least I'm getting closer to the end.

I've been thinking about why I write. Julie Coulter Bellon wrote a blog today called, "Is Writing Your Calling?" She sparked a big discussion about whether writing is a calling or a talent and what is the difference. No clear answer came up. Of course, the right answer is so individual.

In my case, I feel compelled to write. Sometimes I wander away from it and get caught up in other things, but I always come back to writing. I often contemplate my future and the things I want to accomplish. At times I consider going back to school and getting a degree. Other times I think about going out and getting a real job instead of staying home to watch other people's children. But whenever I seriously think about the options, I come back to the conclusion that I am supposed to write.

When I write and put my thoughts and ideas on paper for others to read, there is a sense of completeness in my life. There is a sense of doing what I am supposed to be doing - a calmness that I don't find anywhere else. I don't know if that means it is a calling or just talent that drives me. I do know I won't be stopping anytime soon. Where this compulsion will take me is still a mystery, but I'm sure fascinated by the ride.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

What would it be like to have magical candy? Nate and his friends find out in this fun book. Nate moves to town and is befriended by Summer, Trevor, and Pigeon. As the school year begins, the four friends begin working for Mrs. White at the new candy store in town. But she has more in mind for them than an after school job. Soon she is sending them on missions, armed with magic candy. But Mrs. White isn't the only magician in town and soon the kids are drawn into an adventure far more dangerous than they could have imagined.

I enjoyed reading this book as did my teenage son. It was full of action and surprising turns in the plot that kept me guessing what might happen next. My only complaint was with the characters. There were many times were I felt jolted out of the story when the kids would say something that didn't seem to fit. They were written as ten-year-old kids in grade five. Often, their conversation didn't seem to fit their age. The vocabulary they used and some of the things they talked about seemed to fit a teenager more than a child. Other than that, I really liked the book. This is one of my books from the Summer Book Trek.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Summer Plans

So now that we have less than a week of school left I've started to think more about what kind of summer I want our household to have. I admit, it is kind of a pointless project as all the great ideas I have usually last about a week or maybe two if I'm lucky. My day doesn't change too much. I still get up early so I can be showered and dressed when the kids I babysit show up.

This year will be a little different. My son has taken on a couple of paper routes, so he gets to be up bright and early every day. My oldest daughter is trying to find a summer job, so who knows what her schedule will be like. The youngest is still a carefree kid.

I used to come up with worksheets to keep their minds active, fun craft activities, and hobbies they could develop. Usually, those plans didn't last long and we relax into a couple of months free of routine. Many of the mothers I know persist in these types of things and have all sorts of fun over the summer months. I've reached the point where I feel like we've had a pretty good summer if the kids manage to get sunscreen on most days, eat a balanced diet, and don't lay around the house acting bored.

There are things we'd like to accomplish. The girls have expressed interest in doing some sewing. They are both capable of using a sewing machine and just need a little guidance. Just a few projects will keep them busy most of the summer. My dad is trying to talk my son into getting his ham radio license. I think it's a great idea. He likes to learn and has a mind like a sponge, so he should be able to pick up the knowledge pretty fast.My dad and both of my brothers have theirs and really enjoy the hobby.

As for me, I need to write. It has been months since I've been able to accomplish anything worth talking about. Many writers say you do what you have to do and keep whatever hours you need to in order to make it work. Believe me, I've tried. I've done a lot of typing in my sleep - none of it worth keeping. So even though I've tried getting up before everyone or staying up later than every one, it's not very effective since. I usually operate on six hours of sleep a night. Cutting that back to fit in a little writing leaves me acting like a zombie.

The more relaxed schedule of summer allows me more writing time and I lean a little on my kids to help out with the kids who come to our house every day. With two months ahead of me, I may actually finish the book I'm working on. Now that would make for a great summer.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Friday the 13th

Happy Birthday to my dear husband. I won't tell you how old he is. He says he feels old, but that could describe any number of ages, I guess. It's a good thing he isn't superstitious since his birthday ends up on Friday the 13th every so often. He went to the grocery store today to pick up a few things for the office. The bill came to $13.13. A coincidence?

I feel like we are the luckiest family around. He keeps us laughing and has taught the kids his unique brand of humor. There's never a dull moment at our house. Around here, we think he's a pretty great guy.

I took him to dinner last night, but we aren't doing anything spectacular today, although we did put a birthday candle in his breakfast. The big birthday plans are being saved for his 50th. So if you have any great ideas for that one, let me know.

So Happy Birthday and Happy Father's Day to our favorite husband and father!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

A Screw Loose

I was over reading Danyelle's blog and it reminded me of this...

About five years ago, we took the kids in for dental appointments. Because I had been a single mom with no insurance for a long time, my kids had never been to the dentist before, so it was full x-rays for everyone. Everything went without a hitch until the dentist called me in to see my ten-year-old's x-ray.

"There's something odd here," he said. "It's metal. Have you ever been abducted by aliens?" he asked my daughter. (Yes, he really did say this.)

She looked at him funny and said no, while I looked at the x-ray funny and asked him what he thought it might be. He had no idea and suggested we take her to the doctor.

So a few days later we took her to the doctor who ordered more x-rays. At the x-ray lab, the technician called me in to look at the x-ray, saying she'd never seen anything like it. We took the pictures back to the doctor's office where he looked at them then called his colleague in to have a look as well. He even asked if we wouldn't mind him taking them to a conference he planned on attending.

So what was it...
...if you look closely you can see the threads on the screw. The offending screw had been in her sinus cavity long enough to start growing into the base of her sinuses and had to be surgically removed. We can only guess that she put it up her nose as a toddler but never complained about it. The doctors were amazed that she had never had sinus infections to give us any sort of clue. Can you just see us trying to go through airport security not knowing this was there?

Anyway, now the old saying "she has a screw loose" makes my whole family laugh. I don't think she'll ever live that one down.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Heaven Scent by Rebecca Cornish Talley

Heaven Scent is the first novel by Rebecca Cornish Talley. The book is about Liza, a high school basketball star who is getting noticed by everyone except the one who's attention she want the most. Her father is busy with his law practice and rarely has time for the family. When her he misses her championship game, she decides things have to change. She never imagined the kind of change she would be faced with. As she faces a life much different than the one she planned, her friend Kyle introduces her to a new religion that might just help her troubled family in ways she never imagined.

This is a well written book that I enjoyed reading. The end left me hanging a little and I'm still wondering how Liza is going to handle her future. The book should have come with a box of kleenex or at least a warning, as there are parts that are real tear-jerkers.

Rebecca is joining me to answer a few questions about her book and her writing.

How did you get the idea of using the scent of perfume to help Liza?
My mother used to wear a distinctive perfume. She passed away when I was a young girl and during different times in my life, especially during trials, I've smelled her perfume. Sometimes, I've felt like she was so close to me, I could almost reach out and touch her. I wanted to write a story about the connection between heaven and earth and how our loved ones are never far from us.

I like how the story isn't totally resolved at the end. Are you planning on writing a second book about Liza?
I would love to write a sequel, but that probably depends on how well "Heaven Scent" is received.

You have a large family to keep you busy. How do you find time to write?
I just squish it in here and there. I try to write every day, but that doesn't always work. I've also discovered that trying to type with my 2 year old on my lap really doesn't work (he's deleted far too much of my writing). During the summer, it's much more difficult because all the kids are home and want to talk to me. I just do the best I can and accept I can't write as fast, or as much, as I would like at this season of my life.

Now that you have gone through the publishing process, is there anything you wish you had known before you started?
I wish I had known how important marketing/promotion is to the writing process. I didn't realize how much time an author has to spend on promotion. I love promoting my book, but I'd rather spend that time writing :)

What are you working on next?
I'm revising an LDS romance. It's a fun story about college life and the ups and downs of finding that one true love. I'm also working on an LDS women's novel about raising a large family. Thank you so much, Stephanie, for hosting my book on your blog. I really appreciate it.

Thanks, Rebecca. I'll be looking forward to your next book. Look for Rebecca's picture book, Grasshopper Pie as well.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

New Member of the Family

Saturday night we attended the wedding of my step-son. He's been dating this girl for five years and been engaged for one of those years, so she is already like one of the family. The evening went smoothly and we enjoyed the opportunity to share the occasion with family and friends we don't get to see very often. There was good food and dancing and lots of visiting. But for a years worth of planning, the evening seemed short.
Now they are off on their honeymoon before they return to real life and the process of starting a home together. Like all young married people, they have lots of learning and growing to do, but they are good people and I think they will go far.

Then there are those of us dealing with new roles. I asked my husband how it felt to officially be a "father-in-law". He said it made him feel old. So I guess that makes me the "step-mother-in-law". I don't know how it makes me feel. I'm only the step-mom, and that relationship has often been a little shaky. But I want the best for them, I worry about them and I do love them like my own.

The defining moment for me came just before we left the reception. My step-son leaned over to thank me for the quilt and give me a hug. A few years ago, this never would have happened. In the end, whatever titles we have, we are parents and over the weekend we gained a new daughter.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Heaven Scent Blog Tour

Rebecca Cornish Talley's blog tour for her book Heaven Scent kicks off today. Check out these other reviews and come back here on Wednesday to read my review and interview with Rebecca.

June 9
Ronda Hinrichsen

June 10
Don Carey

June 11
Stephanie Humphreys

June 12
Nichole Giles

June 16
Michelle Jefferies

June 17
Emily Debenham

June 18
Danyelle Ferguson

June 19
Ali Cross

June 20
Karen Hoover

June 23
Heather Justesen

June 24
Kim Thompson

June 25
Rachelle Christensen

June 26
Andy Lemmon

June 27
Karlene Browning

June 30
Marcia Mickelson

July 1
C. Lynn Beck

Friday, 6 June 2008

Summer Book Trek 2008 Reading List

So here is my list for the Summer Book Trek as it stands now. It will likely have books added to it as I go on, but I just don't know when to stop. (And of course, these are just the LDS writers on my list. It's a good thing I read fast.)

1. Heaven Scent by Rebecca Cornish Talley
2. All's Fair by Julie Coulter Bellon
3. Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage
4. The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull
5. Ripple Effect by Traci Abramson
6. Flying Home by Rachel Ann Nunes
7. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
8. Roses & Daisies by Anna Maria Junus
9. Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen
10. Surprise Packages by Lael Littke, Carroll Morris, Nancy Anderson
11. Red Dragon Codex by R. D. Henham

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Summer Book Trek 2008

LDS Fiction blog is holding a summer reading challenge. Since I will be reading books anyway, I thought I'd play along. There are prizes offered to make it even more fun - as if reading needs to be more fun.

The rules are easy:
1. Everyone can play along.
2. You can read as few or as many books as you want. The books must all be by LDS authors. If you are looking for new books, there is a list on the side of this blog under 2008 Whitney Eligible Book List. You can change and adjust your list as you need to.
3. Post a review of at least one of the books you read on your blog.
4. The book challenge runs June 1 through August 31.

There are more details at LDS Fiction, so go check it out. I always try to read lots of LDS fiction among all the other stuff I read, but it's always interesting to see what everyone else is reading too. I'll post my list tomorrow.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

I Want to Get Off...

There are days when I wish I could stop everything and start over again. Hand me a clean calendar, with no expectations from anyone and total freedom to schedule my days. That sounds like a piece of heaven.

I'd start by writing in all the things I need to do to stay healthy - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. There would be a time to study my scriptures, time to exercise, and time to prepare healthy and delicious meals. And time to write, since it is such a basic part of who I am.

Then when I know I am taken care of, I would write in the times for my family. Time to teach them, play with them, and just be with them. There would also be time for church service. But already, the calendar is looking full. And I need to be able to stop and refuse to add any more.

Unfortunately, life doesn't allow me that luxury. I need to be everywhere at once and I need to me so many things to so many people. It's overwhelming and frustrating much of the time. Usually when I try to simplify, the things I do for me are the first to go and I notice the lack quickly. It's important to fill our own buckets before we try to fill everyone else's.

As always, I'm looking forward to summer when we can all recharge our batteries. A few more weeks and we can relax the schedule a bit. Extra-curricular activities slow down to a minimum and we just enjoy the season. The two months of summer vacation are just enough to make me glad to get back into the routine when school starts again in the fall.

But right now I am counting down. Highland dance ended last weekend...10... Final band concert tomorrow night...9... Ballet ends this Saturday with a final recital...8... Step-son's wedding on Saturday...7... Soccer playoffs for two kids...6...5... Last school council meeting for the year...4... Last library board meeting of the year...3... School ends on the 26th...2...1... and we are home free. Until then, I'm just trying to hang on to what's left of my sanity.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Incredible Jumping Cursor

Typing anything these days just about makes me crazy. The laptop I'm using now has a strange quirk I'm not too fond off. I will be merrily typing along and suddenly, the cursor will be several lines above adding text in the middle of a sentence. We haven't been able to figure out why it does this and therefore haven't been able to fix it.

Some days it isn't too bad, but other days it takes much too long to write a simple paragraph. There are times when I'd just like to go back to paper and pen and postage stamps, but then I'd probably forget to mail the letter. C'est la vie.

Meanwhile I'm just trying to get through the next few days. Once this week ends, ballet will be done, and the wedding will be over. Things will begin to settle down as school is almost finished for the year (here in Alberta, the kids go until the last week in June) and there are only a few more soccer games. Until then, I'll continue to struggle with the incredible jumping cursor, and if anyone has any advice, I'd love to find a solution.
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