Sunday, January 31, 2010

And the winner is....

Sorry this post is so late in coming. We had guests over, and this is the first chance I've had to post anything.

Before we get to who won, I would like to take a moment to thank all of those who took the time to enter. Thank you!

I`d like to tell you about this very scientific process.

First, I wrote everyone's names on a notepad according to how many entries they were afforded (It doesn`t look like much in this big bowl, but there were about 50 entries in total).

Then I hand cut the pieces so they were the exact same weight (very tricky to off-set the amount of ink used in some of the longer names).

Afterwards, I folded each paper to precise specifications and placed them in the hand-crafted bowl I bought on my trip to Meh-hee-co in December (isn't it pretty??).

I then had child #4 (a very lucky number, I might add) mix the contents of the bowl and choose a paper with her left hand while standing on one leg and patting her head with her right. Surely, such lengths have never been taken in all of blogdom to generate a truly random number. I never trust those computerized number generators. What are the chances they'll pick the first or the last?? Exactly.

Anywho, enough rambling...the Ophelia book goes to Suzette Saxton!
Congratulations, Suzette! I'll be emailing you shortly to find where to send the book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Hmm, I'm wishing I'd taken a little more time so I could have some fancy handwriting...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Is it Friday yet?

This week has been soooo long! After 2 weeks of blissfully warm weather (I'm talking above zero celcius, people!) winter came back with a vengeance, bringing a TON of snow and a bitterly cold wind that turns -15 into -40. Blech! I want to go back to Meh-hee-co.

<-- For some more of this

And a little of that -->
(And no, that's not me in the picture - my pasty white body would've been too much for the camera, trust me.)

Anyone want to join me??


Monday, January 25, 2010

Can't type - now what??

We just had a blizzard hit this weekend in which we went from 2 inches to 3 feet of snow, drifting to 6 feet in some places.

My poor husband had been out clearing our driveway for over an hour by the time I joined him.  I don't mind going out to shovel (most of the time), but I just spent the last 90 minutes chipping ice and snow - and I can barely move my hands!

You would not believe how many of the wrong keys have been pressed while trying to access my blog and type this little entry. It's pretty comical. I feel like I'm typing with sausages instead of fingers.

I had a wonderfully insightful, life-changing post planned and everything, but it's just going to have to wait. (Okay, so I didn't really have anything planned, but it sounds good, doesn't it?) I'm off to grab some hot chocolate and maybe slather on some salve to get mobility back in my forearms.

Happy Snow Day!

Check out the snow drift by our back fence!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The art of being happy

Hmm, that title makes it sound like I should have some killer advice for being happy. How about this: Live every moment like it could be your last, and live in a way that makes it easy to lie down at night knowing you did the best you could. Cuddle your kids, kiss your spouse, and be kind to the crabby person in line at the store. Maybe their dog died or something. You never know.

Anyway - the other day I was given this lovely little Happy Blog award from Karen over at I'm Always Write... Thanks, Karen - what a fun surprise!

The Rules…

I have to tell ten things that make me happy and then nominate some blogs that make me happy. Yay! Happiness rocks!
Let the games begin!
Happiness is...(and not in any particular order)
1. Garlic toast - I could seriously live off the stuff (mind you no one would want to live with me, but, mmmm who cares???) I'm also going to add bread in general. I can't wait to get to heaven and eat all the bread I want without turning into a ball of dough. Don't even bother telling me I can't eat all the bread I want when I get to the other side. I'm not listening...lalalalalalalalalalala...
2. Family - I love being surrounded by the sound of my kids wrestling with my husband, or playing video games and laughing. Just happy, bustling, joyful family moments. One of the best times of day is when the kids or their dad come home after a long day away. Everyone is so happy to be home, and I get extra hugs and kisses to make up for what we missed.
3. Dance parties in the living room - I crank our favourite tunes and sing and dance and have a great time. Nothing cures a case of the blahs like an impromptu dance party.
4. Curling up with a good book - I love to read.  That is an understatement in the worst kind of way.  Thankfully, I read about 100+ pages/hour, so I can usually finish a book in a few hours.
5. Power tools - Oh, who am I kidding - not even just power tools. It could be a hammer, planer, chisel, whatever. If it has potential to build up, tear down, or reshape - the kind of joy I get from the stuff should probably be illegal.
6. Sitting by the Christmas tree in the middle of the night - I already discussed my love of this back in December. The post is here in case you missed it.
7. Going to the book store or the library - surrounded by books!! When I'm rich I want to buy a bookstore or library and live there. Or maybe I could just build a house with a huge library with big, comfy chairs, soft lighting (like, say, Christmas trees) and walls of bookshelves with huge sliding ladders. Until then, I can be content with just visiting what's open to the public.
8. My pyjamas - I heart my pyjamas and think the world would be a happier place if everyone had to wear fuzzy pjs. But maybe not in hot places. They could wear lighter jammies. But not nightgowns. I hate nightgowns. I don't know why.
9. The Gospel of Jesus Christ - I know God lives, and that He sent His Son to atone for our sins so we could have a way to get back to live with Him again. I love knowing where I came from, why I'm here and where I'm going. I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and it makes me so happy! People sometimes think weird things about us mormons (which may or may not be true, haha), but if you want to learn more, you can go here.
10. Clean laundry - Sure, it takes forever to fold and (make the kids) put away, but that fresh out of the dryer smell--mmm, can't beat it! I love watching the kids carry their stack of clothes with their noses buried shirt-deep. They're always excited (but maybe they're just happy to have clean clothes to wear).

Okay, so some blogs that make me happy...

1. The Renfroe Scoop - Becca is getting lots of love this week because of her fabulous post on Snowmandalism, but her blog is so much more than that. She's got recipes, book reviews, and witty banter. What more could you ask for? Reading her blog will put a smile on your face. She writes just the way she talks and even though I only knew her for a short time, I can tell you that she is as fun in real life as she is on her blog.

2. Book Dreaming - Shannon O'Donnell's blog is a delightful place to be. I know she has this award already (it was one of her posts last week-ish), but she deserves it because her blog is uplifting and enjoyable. If you don't already read it, it's a wonderful blog to add to your list.

3. Rants and Ramblings - Rachelle Gardner is a literary agent with a wonderful blog. I've learned so much from reading it, and always come away inspired in spite of knowing how difficult this business is to break into.

4. Free Book Friday - Free books make me VERY happy. Here's a site where you can enter to win on a weekly basis. There's also a site for free young adult books here.

5. Mormon Mommy Blogs - Don't let the name fool you. There are lots of moms on there who aren't Mormon, but it's got wonderful, inspirational topics about things we're all going through while trying to keep our families happy and keep our sanity.

Well, I think that's enough happy for one night. I'm off to do something that brings me supreme joy - SLEEP!!  That ought to have been number one on my list, but come on - what tired mother doesn't love her sleep? I think garlic toast was way more unexpected, don't you? (Except to my mom. She knows all about my garlic obsession - hi mom!)


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mid-January Recap

In case you missed the funniest post on snowman tipping and possibly ever, go here.

In case you haven't entered my Ophelia book giveaway, go here. (Spread the word!)

If you want to sign up for the next 10K day on January 23rd, go here.

Hmm, that's about it for tonight. Hopefully I'll have more time for a real post tomorrow!


Friday, January 15, 2010

For your amusement

If you need a little pick-me-up, I would like to direct you to this hilarious wintery post on Snowmandalism. I will warn you, this is not for the faint of heart, as there is a very graphic photo of fallen snow people. Also you may end up with a stitch in your side from laughing. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Go here to view.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

What I really meant to say, was...

No ranting about bus drivers like the last post, I promise! :)

I actually just wanted to talk a bit about goals. I've never been big on self-imposed deadlines or that sort of thing, but I do think it's sometimes necessary to lay down the law. Even though I've been strapped for writing time for several months, I still want to have something to shoot for. I won't call it a deadline (because it's my blog and I can write what I want...), but I will say that I'm aiming for a piece of fiction that's ready to send to agents by the end of April.

It's a little ambitious, considering everything I've had going on lately, but as I've gone over my writing, I discovered that it's definitely do-able. A pleasant surprise, to say the least. Barring any major plot complications/edits along the way, I ought to be able to get it done. Mind you, if it takes longer to make the manuscript really shine, then I'll do that, but I need a target and I think this should about do it for me.

Now let's see if the rest of my life can co-exist (happily) with this new goal...

How about you - getting close to submission on your WIP?


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Upcoming 10K days

The RSVP page is up here for the 10K days. They're on the 14th and the 23rd of this month. It's free to sign up, and great motivation for focussing on writing for a whole day or two (or in between feeding children, etc.). Don't be scared off by trying to write that many words in one day. It's just a nice way to give yourself permission to write. I have yet to be able to dedicate an entire day, but I try, and it's always very productive. Also, it's a nice little community of writers. Thanks, Milli, for hosting these days!

Well, I must say that posting about a 10K day is much more exciting than grumping over my kids' mean bus driver. Um, which I'm going to do anyway because it's cathartic (go with it, k?) . She drove away with only 1 child, while leaving the other 2 watching it leave from right across the street. (We only live 3 houses down and across one street from the stop. She can even see them coming because she drives toward them before turning and stopping at the corner.) The one that made the bus was almost in tears at school because he told her to wait, and she refused.

This isn't the first time she's been early and they've missed it. It takes a lot to get me riled up, but I was so angry. I called and complained, of course, but it took me a while to feel good this morning. Fortunately, I hit the gym right afterward and got rid of some of that aggression. Unfortunately, on the way home from the gym some guy cut me off to pull into the mall parking lot, and then started making gestures at me like I was using a cell phone (illegal while driving, of course). I was actually resting my hand on my cheek while driving. Even if I had been on the phone (I don't even own a cell phone), that was no excuse to cut me off. If he had slowed down, there was nobody behind me for a block, and he could've easily changed lanes safely. We don't have a whole lot of traffic in my little city.

So, I'm very happy that the morning is over and done. I look forward to a fabulous rest of the day! :) (Here's hoping that kid (who doesn't always listen) on my son's soccer team doesn't accidentally trip me again tonight. Both of my knees are bruised from last week...)


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Problem solved

I know, I know. Three posts in 4 days? What's gotten into me - I'm a blogging machine! Don't get used to it. :) Actually, I just noticed that my comments weren't enabled for anonymous commenters, and I didn't want to exclude anyone from my first ever, super awesome (says I) Ophelia book giveaway.

I've rectified the situation, so if you want to enter, click on the link, comment on the post and you're in! Just make sure you leave me an email address in case you win, or check back when I post the winner on the night of the 31st. Or maybe, just maybe, you have me bookmarked on your computer and visit me frequently, but couldn't enter the contest or even say hello because of my comment settings? And you thought I was being so rude and that maybe I was prejudiced against Anonymous, and what did he ever do to me anyway?

Well, prejudice isn't something to take lightly, and it's all better now. Comment away. Or don't. This is a pressure-free zone.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Making the time

I thought this would make for a good topic, so thanks Terresa, for asking how I find time to write!

As many of you know from reading my blog, I'm an at-home, home-schooling mom (only the oldest, thank goodness) with five children ranging from 7-13. Life is pretty busy already, but throw in 4 nights of sports and piano lessons, along with various and sundry activities...well, you get the idea. I'm a busy lady.

So, when do I write?

The short answer is here a little, there a little. I took a notebook to #4's dentist appointment this morning. I didn't get much done, but every little bit counts. Even the bad stuff is worthwhile, because it can usually be edited into submission.

The long answer is, um, longer. :)  Honestly, I'm not as organized as I would like to be (story of my life), nor do I write as much as I perhaps could (who needs sleep, right?). In fact, September to December was pretty crazy for me, so there was even less writing going on than usual. I don't stress about it. I figure that this is a luxury. I'm not yet agented, or published, so I don't have deadlines to meet. Obviously, I anticipate that situation will change in the (hopefully not too distant) future, but for now, I can appreciate and enjoy this freedom.

Today is actually a great example of a rather typical, busy day. I got the kids off to school, then ate breakfast and had some personal study time (I teach Sunday School, so I'm working on the Old Testament). At 9am was #4's dentist appointment, but I took a notebook for the waiting room, and wrote/pondered for 45 minutes. We got home, and I sat for about an hour replying to emails, looking up some curriculum for #1, and catching up on a few blogs. Then I took #1 to band at the jr. high and hit the gym. Picked her up, ran home, had lunch, went to the church to help paint cabinets (my kind of service project).

Got home at 5, fed the kids so #3 could get to piano by 6. Dad's home, so he can drive him - yay! Finally got in the shower, then off to soccer with #5 (I help coach). Back by 7:45, give #5 a shower, get the kids into their jammies (me too for that matter). Kids have playtime for 1/2 hour, so mom gets on the computer only to read a post by Natalie Bahm on time management. Feel guilty, so get back to work on this post (which I started this morning during my "free time". Kid's playtime is over, time for bedtime snack. Feed kids, make them get ready for bed, then sit down to finish this post because it's dad's turn to tuck them in. Scratch that, I had to tuck in #5 because he's a crabby stinker tonight.

It's now 8:58pm and my total for writing today is about 300 words. They weren't even that great, but it was better than nothing. On a normal day, I would do some writing tonight, but I didn't fall asleep until 1am last night, and 3am the night before (darn Evil Body Clock) so I am exhausted and hitting the sack after putting this up.

Now, some days are busier with home-schooling (depending on the projects or whatever), but generally, there are bits and pieces of time to throw some words onto a page during the day. Writing in large blocks is a rarity, which is why I've become a fan of the 10K day (a day dedicated to writing).

Frankly, after days like this, I'm amazed that I finished and edited an entire novel. I don't know how working parents do it. I don't know how people with little ones can do it (okay, so I realize that not everyone has 5 kids in 6 years, but I need my sleep and didn't get enough for about a decade). Compared to many others, I believe my efforts are sorely lacking.

Sometimes I get frustrated that I can't do as much as I would like, but I wouldn't trade all of that time I spent with my kids over the years, and I wouldn't trade my time homeschooling #1 for the last 2 years (I pulled her out just as my youngest was starting school, so I could've spent all that time writing). There is a season for all things, and my time will come. This keeps me going when I've written a half a page by the end of the day.

My life really is my bliss, but it wouldn't be so if I made myself feel bad over things I can't control, so I plug along, writing when I can and where I can. Every day brings me closer to my goal of being published, and that's what counts.

So, my fellow writers, be patient with yourselves. Be kind to your fragile ego. Embrace the process, and be consistent. You'll get to where you want to be when the time is right.*

Well, that's enough waxing philosophical for me tonight. I'm off to bed! Here's hoping Evil Body Clock is broken tonight.

P.S. Don't forget to enter my contest for the book giveaway!
*At least that's what I keep telling myself. If it's a lie, I don't want to know. Denial: it's not just a river in Egypt, it's a way of life.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New year, new look, new contest!

A new age is upon us, and as we venture forth into a new decade...*coughcough...cough...* (sips hot honey lemon water) Phew! Sorry about that. I don't know what got into me.

Ahem. Hemhem.

I love the start of a new year. Even though nothing really changes from 11:59pm on December 31st, it's fun to have that fresh, clean slate sort of feeling. I started this blog on the cusp of 2009, but I'm just barely getting the hang of this whole blogging thing.

I know, slow learner, right? Well, I'm not usually this slow on the uptake, but my life has been too busy to do much more than randomly track my thoughts, feelings and experiences with writing, querying, and raising a family. I do my best, and I hope to improve. I'll be aiming for posting twice a week, which is pretty realistic for me. I've come to terms with the fact that I'll never be a once-a-day blogger. Oh, how I admire those of you who blog so faithfully, and who offer so much incredible information* to us aspiring authors!

Okay, all this goal-setting is wearing me out. Let's get on with the fun stuff, shall we?

My first ever book giveaway!

I'm beyond excited to share this book with you. I found it quite by accident at the bookstore this year, but couldn't resist the story of Hamlet from Ophelia's perspective. It's faithful to the original, and if you've ever wondered why in the world Hamlet would choose Ophelia, this book gives some good reasons. I will give a disclaimer: I'm no expert in medieval literature, and I'm not into retellings, so if there's a better one out there, you'll have to let me know. That said, I loved this book.

So, if you're interested in getting a free copy of this book, here are the rules:

1. Be a follower and comment for 2 (count 'em: 2) entries. (You can comment without following too. I don't want to leave anyone out. If you follow me on some sort of reader instead of that Google thingy on the sidebar, make sure you let me know.)
2. Show me some blog love and link to the contest for yet another entry. (Yes, I'm trying to bribe you, but everyone should know about a free book.)
3. If you follow me on twitter and tweet it, you'll get another entry. (Be forwarned: if you add me on twitter, you'll get bombarded with my tweets about 4 times a week. I'm crazy like that.)

The winner will be chosen randomly on January 31st by one of my children from a hand-crafted Mexican bowl from my trip, no less, and posted on the blog that evening. (I may kick myself for this when I get to the post office, but I'll ship to you even if you're on some remote isle of the sea.)

In summary: contest, hand-picked, hand-crafted, Mexico...what more could you ask for???

Here's to a new year, and many blissful moments!

*I can only promise (mostly) useless, yet (hopefully) entertaining subjects that range from homeschooling to querying, and everything in between.