Monday, November 15, 2010

Yeah, yeah, yeah

As my children keep pointing out to me, I've been neglectful...

Catch-up on what's been going on...

Busy this fall, still teaching the teen Bible studies, but without Jen's help; also teaching a weekly fiction writing course to homeschooled teens; helping Tim with college apps (2 apps completed, 2 acceptances, 1 app started, 2 yet to begin); had my mom and sister here in September (not sure if I've written since then or not); still church treasurer; hosted a church-wide bonfire in October -- really enjoyed that; still homeschooling about 4.5 credits for Tim; starting to get ready to host the family's Thanksgiving; doing the lion's share of taking care of house, family, and pets (except guinea pigs); and when I get (or create) spare time, burying my nose in a book.

Also distressed because after keeping weight I'd lost off for over a year, about 5 pounds have found their way home....

Main thing in my life? God is still good.

That's all. (It's enough.)

Thursday, September 09, 2010


What a terrible week. I don't know if this is spiritual warfare and the good guys aren't doing too well, or if God didn't want me to try and do this retreat and I'm being punished for running ahead of him and acting on my own agenda.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday nights

I like our Friday night family tradition. It isn't particularly earth-shattering or even original (pizza and movie) but I like it anyway. Last night, the pizza was from Papa John's (Becky's favorite) and the movie was the first three shows from Season One of The Andy Griffith Show -- thanks, Netflix! Afterward, we finally burned all the sticks from the yard that have been piling up around the fire ring, then sat by the fire and read an Agatha Christie short story aloud.

As a mom, I definitely prefer that to sending my kids off to a Friday night high school football game, but I worry sometimes that they're missing out on things. Certainly, neither of them is interested in those things at this point. I just hope none of us ever look back on these years and truly regret the decision to homeschool.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Finally finished!

Definitely running a bit late on getting ready for school this year! I finally ordered the last needed curriculum today -- though that wasn't entirely my fault. It's brand new (can you say 'beta checkers!) and wasn't available for order yet.

I also wrote my notification letters over the weekend, but I still need to photocopy the standardized tests and deliver them to the school. Bittersweet - Tim's last notification ever, after doing so faithfully for the last 12 years.

I've got the orientation and first class sessions planned for my writing class, and the next half dozen or so partially planned. So that's still a lot of work to be done. I won't bother planning way in advance, though. It always ends up getting tweaked so much that it's just not worth it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Advanced Creative Writing

I guess that's the title of the class I will be teaching to some homeschooled high schoolers this year. I had thought of calling it Fiction Writing, because usually creative writing includes poetry, and unfortunately, I can neither write nor teach poetry.

I started working on the lesson plans last night, and I am really looking forward to teaching the class. I love the idea of being able to encourage and help young writers, and frankly, I'm sure my own writing will benefit from revisiting some of the material, as well.

I will have to be extremely organized and disciplined this year, though, or I'll fall behind. This will be every week, and I think the teen Bible Study lessons will be every other week. Fortunately, for me at least, most of the heavy lifting of homeschooling will be Doug's work this year. That was the case last year, too. It's the math and science courses that take so much time. Their other classes are either elsewhere or not too difficult.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plan your Work and Work your Plan

That's what I'm going to be trying to do in the weeks/months to come. My plan:

1) Use short stories to focus on specific weaknesses in my writing - most notably the inability to write truly nasty characters or to have truly nasty things happen to my protagonists.

2) Try to find publication venues for those stories to build up some credentials.

3) Keep working on Rachel's Heart and/or The Blue Flame.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Well, for my birthday I got three 4 things I asked for, and 2 that I didn't. I had asked for some small notebooks, citronella candles, and pepper spray. I also got a wonderful scented candle and a book - the newest book by Francine Rivers.

Which reminds me... I need to get back to my Writer of the Week posts!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Writer's Circle

I was so glad that our group met last night instead of the usual first Tuesday of the month. I had thought I would miss yet another meeting because we were on vacation from last Tuesday until Monday evening, and after going for a couple of years with missing very few meetings, this spring I found myself missing quite a few.

I'm especially glad I attended because there was some great discussion and great information last night. We were each asked to bring books or website info that are the resources we find most helpful as writers. I wish I'd been able to do a better job on the assignment -- I don't in general feel as though I've been a very faithful member in recent months -- but others had some wonderful information.

I've been saying this for at least a month, but I think I'm going to be able to get my life back into order and start writing again soon!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Books, books, books!

My life is beginning to calm down a bit, so I grabbed three books when I took Becky to the library today. Two were Kingsbury books that I don't think I've read yet, and the third was secular -- a historical fiction that sounded promising. They're in another room and I'm too lazy to go check the author/title, but hopefully I'll like it enough to write about it.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


What a luxury to own (and have to take care of!) only one home.

God is so good and gracious (even when things don't work out as I would like, but somehow I seem more aware of it when it does.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Nothing like a two month hiatus...

I've done almost no writing for the last few months; I feel like I've been a poor contributor to my writing circle, either not able to read the pieces, or just giving them a quick read and offering very shallow critiques.

BUT, we are moved into our new home (I love it!) although we still have a couple of minivan loads worth of stuff at the old house. By this weekend, however, we'll be moved entirely out of there and have it cleaned up for the new owners, who take possession next week.

Once I feel like the worst of the chaos is tamed in this house, I'm going back to trying to be faithful with my writing (and exercising.) I've still been reading novels -- I'm not sure I could live without it, frankly. But it's been more like a starving person gulping down food, than a connoisseur taking time to appreciate it. Every few weeks, I grab a handful of books at the library, and read 3-4 in a day or a day and a half, and then get back to work.

Fortunately, this is a temporary state of affairs.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Personal stuff, again.

The current situation as regards job/house:

Thursday, over half my husband's branch was laid off (ten out of nineteen). We knew it was coming, and knew it would be pretty bad. He's okay so far, but we believe there could be a couple more next week. Fortunately, enough issues have come up and required resolution with the purchase of the other house that we haven't yet had to acknowledge that his job is in question, and that if he gets laid off, we'll have to back out of the whole deal.

I sincerely hope that everything is completely settled by the end of next week. I definitely struggle with concentrating on my writing with all this going on.

Thursday was an especially rough day. I knew the layoffs were coming. Doug's two closest friends there, both believers and one his office mate, got laid off. Half of me was grieving for them, and feeling very tense about everything, but at the same time a realtor was bringing someone by the house that afternoon. So I had to force the other half of me to clean like mad.

Who says...

...that I can only work on one story at a time? Recently, after working on One Faith (tentative title for my Amish novel) for a while, I found myself thinking of my YAF story. So I just switched over, and worked on it for a while. Perhaps I'll give myself a little flexibility to work on whichever story is happening in my head at a given time.

That doesn't sound very professional, though. It seems to be inviting writer's block... because what do I do when none of them are happening in my head? But the problem has tended to be wanting to work on more than one story, as opposed to not having anything to write at all.

Anyway, this is going to be my new attempt at being more productive in my writing!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Writer of the Week

I wandered into the library the other day just desperate for a good story to take my mind off all the junk going on (as the final days before we have to close on the house purchase tick by and my husband's job is still not totally safe from layoffs!) Unfortunately, our library puts their shelving info at the bottom of the spine, which makes seeing the publisher a challenge. So I wandered around, until a book called The Lightkeeper's Daugher, by Colleen Coble caught my eye. I picked it up, as well as a very different looking book by the same author, called A Cry in the Night.

I can't say that I read exclusively Christian fiction, but I usually prefer it, so I'm always excited when I find a new author, and can say that I enjoyed both books tremendously, even though they're quite different from each other. The Lightkeeper's Daughter is historical romance, and A Cry in the Night is more suspense/thriller. Though they both have a strong suspense theme, I find that encouraging, as I've heard numerous times about the tendency to 'brand' authors so that publishers expect them to stay within one genre. My writing so far includes historical/biblical fiction, Amish romance, a futuristic thriller, and a YA/teen fantasy novel.

I spent some time poking around Colleen's website, and am also intrigued by the way she is exploring the world of e-publishing by offering downloads of her work.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Thirty minutes a day!

Our writer's group had a guest speaker, Nancy Christie (website) on Tuesday who said something which astonished me.

In just two months of writing for thirty minutes every day, she had gotten 55,000 words done of her novel!

What made it so meaningful to me is that my biggest problem with writing the last few months has been a struggle to know what to work on. I've felt like I ought to write the sequel to Free Indeed, but I've had two other stories that I really want to work on instead.

But I was encouraged by the idea that if I am faithful to write 30 minutes a day, I could finish one and within several months, be able to work on one of the others... I guess when you count editing, it would be at least six months, but still, that's better than I'd been anticipating.

Instead of 30 minutes seven days a week, however, I will probably end up doing 35-40 minutes five or six days a week.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Moving ahead with it...

We still haven't been given a definitive answer on Doug's job, but he's gotten some pretty positive indicators, so we are moving ahead with the house deal. We accepted the counteroffer yesterday, and will be putting ours on the market within the next week.

Needless to say, writing will once again take a back seat.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Not exactly writer's block, but...

I've definitely been having a tough time with my own writing lately! One reason, certainly, is the uncertainty surrounding our future. On February 1st, we found out that about half the department my husband works in will be laid off before the end of the month. The very next day, we received a counter-offer on the 100+ year old farm house that we would have taken in a heartbeat, but can't until we know what's going on with the job. If he is laid off, the chances are pretty high that we would have to move, probably out west somewhere, to find a job in his field.

Of course, I know a professional writer would sit down and crank out words short of (perhaps even in spite of) a personal tragedy, but I do have one other issue, which may be closer to true writer's block. I have been experimenting with my writing a bit, and have found lots of things that don't work. I have discovered about myself that I don't write well if I try to plot in advance... in fact, I kind of don't write at all. This is especially true if I'm trying to follow the suggestions in how-to books on writing publishable novels!

For now, it seems, I will stick with what works: I start with a few strong characters and an interesting situation, and then follow them around and see what happens. It sounds really strange, even to me, but it is apparently the way I write.

Writer of the Week

I've read a couple of books this week by Cindy Woodsmall and enjoyed both. I noticed both had a copyright of 2009, which makes her (by my definition) a prolific and proficient writer.

The Hope of Refuge has the subtitle An Ada's House Novel, which suggests that it's at least loosely part of a series, the earlier books of which I've not encountered. As I read, I found myself teasing out the clues of what the earlier book(s) may have been about, and I will put them on my future reading list. It was an fascinating juxtaposition of two utterly different worlds: Amish life and the harsh environs of New York City's underbelly.

The second book I read, The Sound of Sleigh Bells, was also a good read, although I found the first more interesting. In both, the plots were sound, the characterizations and settings authentic, and the writer's voice pleasing.

For more information on this author, click here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I have a good friend who is planning on beginning to homeschool next year. She's concerned, as she feels her own education level is inadequate. Though I understand her concern, I think she will probably do a wonderful job. In thinking about it, I came up with these reasons.

In my opinion, three qualities are important to success in homeschooling. One is devotion to your family. She has that in spades. I've always appreciated that she is sad when her children go back to school at the end of the summer, unlike so many moms who are eager for it.

The second is discipline and organization. Check.

Finally, and probably least important, is academic ability. Although her intelligence is obvious, her education may not have been as good as is desirable, but with the excellent curricula tailored to homeschoolers, this is easily surmountable.

She'll do great!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lots going on!

Several weeks ago, we made an offer on an old farmhouse. The property was not in foreclosure, but was a short sale, so a bank's approval was necessary. While waiting to hear from the bank, my husband was informed that in the next few weeks, approximately half the employees in his group would be laid off. The following day, the bank countered our offer with a number we would have accepted, but until we find out if my husband still has a job, we're hoping not to have to respond. All this happened a couple of weeks ago. We might have heard about the layoffs already, but apparently all the snow shutting down the government prevented meetings to finalize the cuts from taking place.

Hopefully, we'll know something in the next few days, but my daughter keeps muttering about 'Dad losing his job on my birthday.' (She turns 15 on Friday.)

We are trusting that none of this is a surprise to our faithful God, and trying to wait with patient faith to find out what will happen.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gappy, aren't I

On the miniscule chance that anyone follows this blog, let me explain my recent absence. We just made an offer on a 110-year old farmhouse, and I have been busy with phone calls and appointments, etc.

I'll update when there's news, but it may be a while since there's a bank involved on the other end.

Writer of the Week

I enjoyed reading the second in Irene Hannon's Heroes of Quantico series. I like to think that her portrayal of the men who protect our country is accurate, though I don't actually have her personal knowledge.

Just today, my daughter and I heard a quote from a highly placed public official in which it was referenced that he had dropped the 'f-word.' As we were discussing our frustration with the lack of morality in public figures, a police car zoomed past, speeding but with no lights or siren... one assumes, breaking the law because he thought that an officer of the law is above it.

So, I enjoy Hannon's stories, but I appreciate her portrayal of men who should be heroes, as heroes.

Discover more of her books here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Writer of the Week

I've always been a fan of many genres, so it would be somewhat difficult to choose a favorite, but a top contender would be historical fiction based in Great Britain. The author I've chosen this week is Sandra Worth. Though I've recently discovered her, and only read one of her books, The King's Daughter, it's a sure bet that I'll search out her Rose of York series, too.

The King's Daughter tells the story of Elizabeth, notable for being the first Tudor queen. Worth did a wonderful job of bringing the time period and the characters to life, making the era one I'd like to investigate further.

Her website is here.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Your character's voice

I learned from James Scott Bell a tool that I've found useful in getting to know my characters better. He calls it a 'voice journal'; it allows your character to speak to you in a stream-of-conscousness manner.

I've found it helpful to keep updating the voice journal as I write the story. For example, after my lead has a meaningful conversation with another character, I go to the voice journal to hear what she thinks and feels about it. If I feel a bit of writer's block coming on -- I'm not sure what scene to write next -- I write in the voice journal instead of the story. It often gives me the ideas I need to continue, and at the very least, keeps me writing and 'in' the story.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Snow, snow, snow

Oddest thing happens here in the winters... the snow cover on the roof of our porch ends up sagging down like this.

There is no visible means of support, and the only reason I can come up with is fact that the wind always blows from the side, and must, over time, gradually push the snow further and further.

This is the first year we've gotten a photo of it, but it happens almost anytime we get a large amount of snow that doesn't melt quickly.