30 June 2009

I think it's trying to tell me something...

The cell phone I'm currently using was bought in 2006 (I believe) when Hubby and I got a T-Mobile service plan after we got engaged. The phone has served me well, and I really do like it.

However, it's becoming crotchety, and is giving me not-so-subtle hints that it may, in fact, be time to get a new phone. Lately, my phone has decided it needs to randomly turn itself off and on, that it doesn't always like sending or receiving text messages, and that it can adjust its own volume level at will.

So I think it's time to let my current phone rest and get a new one. I've had my eye on one for a while, so perhaps this is the push I need to actually bring it home.

29 June 2009

This Week's Task List

Last week was a little crazy, and this week is looking a little chaotic, as well. Thankfully, I got a lot done last week, so there aren't as many tasks that'll carry over to this week.

  • Contact client about this week's little projects
  • Update CSW's financial ledger for June
  • Edit written section(s) of coffee house book (don't rewrite yet)
  • Give Hubby this week's honey-do list (Monday)
  • Give Dad-in-law the AF scrapbook photos to take in for his cadets to scan (Monday)
  • Work on putting Bean's nursery together
  • Contact the hospital about a childbirth class
  • Work on birth plan
  • Work on will with Hubby
  • Get shower invitation list to Mom-in-law ASAP

Are You Limiting Your Writing Life?

Anyone who writes has probably, at one point or another, heard the advice to "write what you know." While on the surface it may be good advice since it means you'll be able to write with knowledge, have you ever thought about how much it limits your writing?

Think for a moment about the different genres of fiction and literature that exist. Everything from historical fiction to urban fantasy to bizarro literature, many of which have a very frail link to "reality." And those who write these genres (well) have no experience in the field. They don't "know" what it's like to be a displaced artificial human or a Revolutionary War soldier or a man who, when he thinks about a particular children's lullaby, has the power to kill people.

And yet, they excel in their writing endeavors.

There is a balance between "write what you know" and "learn what you write." After all, even people writing fiction based on their own lives need to do some research to make sure their facts are right, and that the details are perfect.

So if research is necessary anyway, why would you limit yourself by only writing what you "know"? Instead, why not write what you want, and do the research you need to in order to become an expert in that field?

Perhaps "write what you know" should be altered slightly. Instead of taking it literally (which would mean an entire world full of exclusively realistic fiction), perhaps we should take it to mean that you should inject personal experiences into your writing in order for your readers to connect with the characters and stories. Perhaps it's not what you know from a research standpoint, but what you know from an experiential (is that a word?) standpoint.

What do you think?

Do you "write what you know"? If not, what do you write? Regardless of whether you write what you know or not, how much research do you do in a given writing week?


28 June 2009

Prayer Requests

This week, please join me in prayer that:

  • Frazzoo will find confidence as she faces a new job
  • Sisi and Ba have great birthdays (Wednesday and Thursday, respectively)
  • Hubby's friend Dustin will have a safe flight back to Virginia (Thursday morning)
  • Hubby and I will be able to come to a decision about a possible relocation opportunity

As always, if you have your own prayer requests to add, simply comment on this post or email me. You can even submit unspoken prayer requests!

24 June 2009

Adventures as the Mommy of a Fur Baby

I want to tell you a story.

Once upon a time (this morning), there was a beautiful, young, talented Queen who was all sweetness and light. Her subjects (the fur babies) loved her very much, but were naive, so sometimes they made decisions that weren't the wisest.

One morning, the beautiful Queen awoke to the sweet songs of the morning birds (my annoying alarm clock). It was very early still, so the sun wasn't quite up, and the Queen's bedchamber was still dim. When the Queen looked at the floor of her bedchamber, she noticed something unusual on the marble (carpet). It looks splotchy, she told herself. But she wasn't sure what was wrong. In the dimness of the room, it looked like the carpet had been splattered with water, but the Queen realized it would have had to be a lot of water because of all the discolorations.

As the Queen struggled to adjust her eyes to the light, she saw the source of the splotchiness. There on the floor was an empty treasure chest (catnip bag with one large hole and hundreds of tiny holes [shaped suspiciously like fur baby teeth]).

After giving the subjects a treat the night before, the King simply sealed the bag and "hid" it on top of his desk, assuming it was put away. During the course of the night, the subjects discovered the treasure chest and decided to break it open and dance in the bedchamber with the treasure, scattering the entire contents across the floor.

The Queen, after properly reprimanding the King for his mistake, cleaned up the contents of the treasure chest, and the subjects lived happily ever after (were drugged out all day).

The end.

And that's the story of why the Queen's bedchamber smelled like a weird Italian kitchen all day.

22 June 2009

This Week's Task List

This week, a very dear friend of Hubby's is coming to visit, so I'm trying to keep my workload light. I'll be home with Dustin this week while Hubby's at work, and though we'll be meeting him for lunch a few days (or more), I still don't want to abandon him during the day because I have scribbling to do.

So the writing I will have to do I'll do in the evenings while Hubby's home, and during the day I'll be more available.

Here's what I know about already this week:

  • Prenatal appointment (Monday at 6:00 p.m.)
  • Keep up with weekly articles from client
  • Work on Kentucky client letter for Palm World Travel
  • Write sales letter for client (due Tuesday around noon)
  • Get spare bedroom and bathroom ready for Dustin's arrival
  • Scan photos for Dad-in-law's retirement scrapbook
  • Help Mom-in-law pick photos for retirement slide show
  • Address retirement invitation envelopes
  • Send birthday cards to Sisi and Ba
  • Work on pregnancy scrapbook

21 June 2009

Prayer Requests

This week, please pray with me that:

  • Dustin will have a safe trip from Virginia to Florida on Tuesday when he comes to visit this week.
  • D--, who works with my husband, will get a peaceful end to her current divorce frustrations.
  • Erin, a friend from high school, and her new husband have a safe trip to their new home in California.
  • my prenatal appointment goes well on Monday.

18 June 2009

Should I Seek Publication? Should You?

This blog post was brought to my attention recently, and has really got me to thinking about where the publishing industry is right now, and where it's headed in light of the digital age.

With so many printing services available exclusively online, with Amazon's CreateSpace being a popular one right now, what's to stop anyone and everyone from digging out their old journals and "publishing" a book?

Jessica says:

I think one of the problems the Internet has created for publishing is that everyone thinks every book written deserves to be published, and let's face it, that's just not true. I'm not saying that the people the reader was talking about have no business being published ever, but I do imagine there are a lot of books written that aren't ready to be queried and may never be ready to be queried. The problem often is that there is no way to know that until you actually try.

Do you agree? Should everyone with a story be able to "publish" it? I'm sure you've come across books that you've wanted to chuck across the room (I have!), but does that mean they shouldn't have been published?

Your first instinct may be to say (or shout) "Yes! It does mean that! The book should never have left the trunk!" But consider this: not everything you write will be enjoyed by everyone who reads it. There may be someone who comes across your story and wants to chuck it across the room. And in the same city, there may be someone who touts your story and encourages anyone and everyone to read it. So who's right?

Maybe there are books that shouldn't be published, but then who decides which books should make it out of the slush pile, and which should be sent to the shredder? What makes one book worth reading while another should be used to prop up the short leg of the couch?

What do you think makes a book worth reading?

If you had a DeLorean, what book (or books) would you snatch away before it made it to bookshelves? Why?


17 June 2009

Prayer Request

Please keep a very dear friend of mine in your thoughts and prayers. She has a difficult career decision to make, with lots of pros and cons on both sides.

Please pray with me that she'll be able to make the best decision for her, and for her family, and will find peace once she makes the decision.

Where Do You Write? Mike at The Big Stick

A couple of days ago I asked where you write.

Mike at The Big Stick responded with a photo of his writing space:

He says, "As you can tell I'm a bit of a neat freak when it comes to my workspace. If it's messy I can't ever seem to concentrate."

Yes, we see that. And envy your organized-ness.

14 June 2009

Prayer Requests

This week, please join me in prayer for:

  • Hubby's coworker, D--, who's facing an unjust investigation by child welfare, and who may have struggles with her ex-husband as a result
  • Frazzoo's camp, that they can find the money they need for this year, and that it will be a good year
  • Scott, who died last week, and his friends and family who need comfort in this difficult time
  • Mom & Dad P., who are traveling this week
  • my sister, who hopes to purchase her own home in the near future
  • all fathers and fathers-to-be
  • a great year with Hubby, and for decades more (our anniversary is June 16th)

13 June 2009

Writing Spaces

I'm fascinated by individuals' writing spaces, and how that space contributes to individuals' writing processes. Thanks to Nathan Bransford, I found this site, which shares writers in their writing spaces.

The last, Samuel R. "Chip" Delaney, is my favorite photo (pictured right). Not only do I adore the composition, but I love how incredibly crowded that space is. It looks like my writing space just before I get sick of it and clean everything up.

I won't post a picture of my current writing space since it's in flux as we're moving things around to get ready for our little java bean, but once things get settled, I plan to post a picture of my writing space, which will most likely be either a corner of the nursery or a desk shared with Hubby in our bedroom. (Once we get into our new place, though, I'm hoping to have a bigger writing space...maybe even a proper office!)

Where do you write? An office? Your living room? On your bed?

Send me a photo and some bio/writing info about yourself, and I'd be happy to highlight your writing space here on the blog!

12 June 2009

"It's for my Craft!"

This gem of a comic popped up on Debbie Ohi's website when I checked it today, and I laughed out loud!

When I was in college working on my senior thesis and other writing projects, my husband (then fiance) and his best friend, Crouse, were constantly trying to get me to break away from my writing space to do things less than writing productive. I tried to resist, but writers have an amazing ability to twist the weirdest tasks into writing-related tasks.

Taking a nice, long walk outside? Setting and character research.

Reading blogs? Industry research.

Playing video games? Sure, that counts, too, apparently.

The harder I tried to resist Hubby and Crouse, the more they tried to persuade me that it would be, in fact, productive if I played a video game with them instead. In fact, Crouse would always announce "It's for your craft!" in an attempt to get me to walk away from the computer for a few hours of questing or raiding or whatever video game they had in mind.

What do you convince yourself is not a distraction in an attempt to not feel guilty?

This Weekend's Task List

I got quite a bit of work done this week, despite the fact that my pregnancy was sort of kicking my butt. I slept a lot, but still got quite a bit of writing done. So there's some things still left on my task list for this weekend, but not as much as I was afraid I'd have to do, so I'm counting myself a winner this week.

Here's what's left for this weekend:

  • Finish up eye health articles for client
  • Work on/finish health newsletter pieces for client
  • Arrange furniture in our bedroom and our little java bean's nursery so I can get everything ready
  • Mail response card for B & R's wedding (I wish we could go!)

09 June 2009

Feng Shui Your Desk

I've been trying to get my office space organized this week since it'll be moving pretty soon. In an effort to share my nesting/organizational tendencies with you, I'd like to share a handout I found in the midst of my cleaning.


Feng Shui Your Desk

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice of space arrangement to achieve a sense of harmony. Feng Shui was developed thousands of years ago in little villages of East Asia, and was used by Emperors to ensure their success. By applying Feng Shui to your work space, you will have the chance to experience a positive flow of vital energy. Divide your desk and workspace into the nine different areas of your life, as follows:

The left side of your desk is the Knowledge area - store reference materials here. Place symbols of Family here also.

The back left corner of your desk is the Money area. Keep this corner clean, dust-free, and uncluttered.

The back center area of your desk, or on the wall directly in front of you, is the Fame area. Display awards, diplomas, and certificates here.

The right corner of your desk is the Romance area. Place symbols of love here.

Closer to you on the right is your Creativity area. Keep your smaller work tools here, along with some "fun" items.

At your immediate front right is the Helpful People and Travel area. Place your rolodex and vacation pictures here.

The center of your desk is the Health area. If you want a healthy career, your work area should be clean and "happy looking."

Finally, your chair represents your Career area. Keep your chair well-oiled and clean. Polish any chrome and keep it dusted.

Applying Feng Shui to your desk may not guarantee success, but it's a bold step in the right direction.


Newborn Anteater in a Japanese Zoo

Absolutely adorable!

Guest Blogging

While Mike of The Big Stick is on vacation, I was asked to do a guest post for his blog. I was flattered, of course, and today my post on family prayer is up on his blog.

08 June 2009

This Week's Task List

I had a pretty easy week last week, but as it gets closer and closer to mid-August, I find myself more and more restless. So I'm trying to step it up and get as much done between now and then as I can so when our little java bean comes around, I can concentrate on taking care of him.

  • Work on newsletter pieces for new client
  • Follow up with formatting client
  • Prenatal appointment (Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.)
  • Work on coffee house book (Thursday is Fiction Day!)
  • Set up and organize Wyatt's nursery
  • Get Father's Day gifts for Hubby and Dad-in-law
  • Work on Dad-in-law's retirement scrapbook with Mom-in-law
  • Create retirement invitation spreadsheet for Mom-in-law
  • Work on pregnancy scrapbook
  • Finalize wedding anniversary plans (our anniversary is June 16th)

07 June 2009

Prayer Requests

This week, please pray with me that:

  • my brother's interview goes well (Monday morning).
  • my third year of marriage will be as blessed as my second year was.
  • my prenatal appointment on Tuesday goes well.
  • my sister is able to get a loan soon in order to buy the house she has her eye on.

As always, if you have any prayer requests you'd like to add, simply comment on this post or email me with the request.  I will add anonymous and unspoken requests, as well.

04 June 2009

Thursdays are Fiction Days!

Today is the first Thursday of my new work/writing schedule, so it's the first Fiction Day!

Hubby and I had some great conversations on our vacation recently, and one of the things he mentioned was that he doesn't want me to abandon my coffee house book.  I've been busy in my office lately, so I haven't had much time to write fiction.  So Hubby suggested I take one day a week to devote to fiction-writing (minimum, of course), and for that evening, he'll do his own thing.

So now that I've finished my other work for the day, I'm looking at what I need to do to get my coffee house book back on track.  I have a few organizational things to do, but for the most part, I'm ready to pick up the writing.

Doing Screnzy this year helped me a lot, I think.  Not only was I able to brush up on my dialogue, but the whole process gave me a new idea for the coffee house book that, I think, will be a more cohesive story arc, and will do more in revealing the characters and relationships.  It's making me even more excited about writing it!

Maybe I'll get this book finished after all!

I challenge you to set aside time every Thursday for fiction, as well!

02 June 2009

Scheduling is an Adjustment

I feel like my work schedule is constantly in flux.  I set up a schedule I think will work and after a few days (or weeks...sometimes hours), I find out it's not really working, so I come up wtih something different.

Yesterday, for example, was the first day of a new schedule for me.  It didn't work well, but I think that's because I wasn't feeling well today and ended up quitting early.  (I blame the little java bean.)  So I'm going to stick with it for the next couple of weeks, and decide if I'm going to keep it or readjust it (again).

I'm the type of person who does well in structure, and that's why I create these schedules and task lists for myself.  But I'm also realistic.  I know that I may not always account for everything, that meetings run late, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood to write from 9:00 a.m. until noon without several breaks.

I'll get it.

And then it'll need to be changed again.

Such is the life of a freelancer, I suppose.

01 June 2009

Where Would You Go?

I don't know about you, but as a writer, I've thought about what it would be like to go on a book tour.  (Okay...maybe not "thought about" so much as "fantasized about," but you get the idea.)  And one thing that comes up is where I'd want to go on my tour.  What locations (big or small) would I love to visit?

Here are a few things on my list:
  • MacMurray College (my alma mater)
  • Byron Public Library (I graduated from high school in Byron, Illinois)
  • somewhere in Chicago (so I can visit Frazzoo)
If you were designing a book tour, where are some places you'd want to visit, and why?

This Week's Task List

My first full week after vacation starts today, and I'm excited to be back in the office.  Happily, this week is starting out with a light work load, so it'll be easier for me to implement some of the changes I'm making in my life and writing world.

  • Implement new work schedule
  • Keep up with articles for client
  • Implement new record system for CSW finances
  • Work on coffee house book (all day Thursday)
  • Work on Dad-in-law's retirement scrapbook
  • Work on java bean's scrapbook