July 27, 2010

Okay, 40, You're Up. Let's See What You've Got

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.  ~Norbet Platt
 As promised, for my 40-eth birthday, I have composed a bucket list. Some of you may have noticed I am greeting the idea of having a 4 at the beginning of my age number with a bit of trouble. Not too much, but more than I expected. I don't feel 40. As a matter of fact, I wish I could go back and do my 20's again feeling the way I do now. Kind of. Some of you may know what I mean.
As I began this undertaking, I was a little down, and I had 5 things listed. And I was stuck. Really? FIVE things before I kick the bucket?
So, I reviewed my list of things I'd done during my 30's. Then I thought of a few more.

  • Hiked through a rain forest
  • White water rafted near and far
  • Toured a cloud forest canopy on a zipline hike
  • Swam with sharks
  • Climbed Chichen Itza
  • Explored Palenque
  • Swam in a cenote
  • Became a dog owner
  • Climbed Heart Mountain

And I started to kick into gear, because there are a lot of cool things I haven't done yet, and I started to remember faded dreams and little goals, and if I feel like I could do my 20's over again, can't I put some of that energy and confidence into accomplishing a few of these things? Wouldn't that be SO much more beneficial then just wishing? All of a sudden, my 40's don't seem so forty-ish. They just seem... next.

My Bucket List
  • Visit Ireland, Wales, and the island of Anglesey, which is my maiden name
  • Learn conversational Spanish
  • Build a house (or rather, have someone build a house I helped design, for me)
  • Have 10+ novels published
  • Visit Machu Picchu
  • Write something non-LDS
  • Keep my back as strong as possible 
  • Get my personal story in book form
  • Be a better swimmer
  • Learn to fly fish
  • Play piano more often (I'm not great, but I could be better)
  • Take a latin/ballroom dance class
  • Own a jet ski
  • Go on a cruise
  • Visit Israel
  • Rent a catamaran and sail the British Virgin islands
  • Grow a beautiful cottage garden
  • See all of Cary Grant's, Kathryn Hepburn, and Audrey Hepburn's movies (for my feelings about Cary Grant, read here)
  • Get a college degree (I'm this close)
  • Eat in Italy
  • Participate in NANOWRIMO
  • Achieve HARD level on Rock Band drums
  • Take photography classes
  • Create a home with a comfortable, welcoming, joyous atmosphere
  • Be a temple worker
  • Learn some Tai chi
  • Ride a bicycle built for two

What do you think?

July 26, 2010

Commandments for Writers Series: #1

I'm reading Sol Stein's Stein on Writing and frankly, I love it. I read the beginning, then I've sort of skipped around, skimming here and there, and now I'll go back and read through it with a highlighter. But at the end of the book, Sol (let's call him Sol) gives us the Ten Commandments for Writers. They are genius. I thought it would be fun to go through Sol's Commandments as a series here on this blog.

1 Thou shalt not sprinkle characters into a preconceived plot lest thou produce hackwork. In the beginning was the character, then the word, and from the character's words is brought forth action.

Have your stories stemmed from characters? A character you just couldn't let stand there, but had to give him something to do? Not just something to do, but something to fight, to wrestle, to battle, to conquer? Because this character was someone worth the hours of plotting, hair-pulling, hand-wrenching, no sleep, pacing as your readers read, facing scrutiny and rejection for? Am I being overly dramatic? AM I?

Are your characters worth it? Click here for a Character Development list. Make them worth it.

July 23, 2010

Ready... Aim...

Ever wonder what putting your work in front of a critique group feels like? This about sums it up.

Gee whizz...

July 21, 2010

Thirty-seven, Thirty-eight, Thirty-nine...

With an upcoming birthday of a moderately astronomical number I never really expected to find attached to my name, I've been considering writing a bucket list. But another list kept pushing itself to the forefront. So, before I make a list of things I want to do before my time is up, I've made a list of things I did in my thirties, in no particular order. It was a fun decade for me, and I'll miss it.

1) Stepped into an airplane and flew for the very first time (Nebraska was my eventful destination)
2) Ran my own home business for 4 years
3) Smiled for my first passport
4) Used said passport to go to Costa Rica, my first time in a country NOT touching the USA
5) Dreamed in Spanish
6) Tiled a kitchen backsplash all by myself
7) Swore never to do that again
8) Built a picnic table
9) Gave birth to our youngest child
10) Potty-trained the third child
11) Moved twice
12) Discovered, then forgot about Tae Bo
13) Went to Mexico three times
14) Potty-trained the youngest child
15) Joined a book club
16) Read many, many books after youngest child turned three (and that's a magic number)
17) Joined a writing club
18) Wrote a memoir for my posterity
19) Canned about 400 quarts of peaches, pears, and applesauce
20) Taught the oldest child to sew, cook, and drive
21) Found my first gray hairs
22) Home-schooled 2nd child one semester
23) Taught Freshman Algebra. Which I loathe.
24) Was complimented by 2nd child's Geometry teacher on child's knowledge of freshman Algebra
25) Started a book club
26) Taught classes on canning, gardening, sewing, scrapbooking, rubber-stamping, religion, roasting meat, making pies, chocolates, and lip balm
27) Started a cookbook blog with my best recipes
28) Started a family blog
29) Learned to cook with Elk and Antelope
30) Learned to filet a fish
31) Wrote a novel
32) Wrote five more
33) Started this blog
34) Went to a Bon Jovi Concert, Wicked, and various band, choir, and piano recitals and concerts
35) Won a short story contest
36) Submitted three novels
37) Connected with a bunch of old friends and made a ton of new friends
38) Made it to nineteen years of marriage and counting

39) Had two of my novels accepted by Covenant Communications

Goodbye, thirties. You were good to me. Forties, I have another week; enough time to work on that bucket list. It's going to be a doozy, because I've seen what dreams can do.

July 15, 2010

Something's Burning

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you.  And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.  ~Arthur Polotnik
 I'm almost done reading through my REMNANT ms after being away from it for many months. As I edit, I am keeping my readers in mind, wondering what they might think of this next idea, curious as to what suggestions they will make, what they loved and hated. My stomach tightens at the thought, as always.

As soon as I'm done with that, I'll be going over The Orchard, due for release in Spring/2011, again for the first time in months. I'm anxious to look at it, see what I've learned since it was last submitted, go over it with a fine-toothed comb before my editor sinks her teeth into it. (Am I mixing my metaphors? Combs have teeth, right?) I have until the end of August. Then things may get moving, for reals. Maybe. I hope!

A lot of my friends ask about this publishing time line, expressing shock at how long it takes to put a book on a shelf (or, as I prefer, in my hot little hands), but at this point in the process, while I am anxious for all of it, I just want the fire to show through the smoke. My fire. The one fueling my hot little hands as they run over my keyboard. The one fueling these stories in my head.

I hope my readers feel the burn.

Is your fire showing?

July 4, 2010

Stuck With This Writing Thing

Great news! The first TWO books of the Finding Home trilogy, THE ORCHARD and THE INN, have been accepted by Covenant!

The sad news? The third book, THE LAKE, has been put on hold. Actually, I now have my first "temporary rejection", which I didn't know existed. It means they see potential and will get back to it after we see how the first 2 books do. Or not.

I started to get down about this until I focused on the fact that the first two books ARE GOING TO BE PUBLISHED. And that they've accepted the second book before the first one is even out!
I shouldn't start second guessing myself, worrying that everything else I've written since the second book must be drivel, or patting myself on the back saying, "Well, it was a good run, but now it's time to take up something that doesn't acquire so much attention, like dental assisting or librarian. Nobody critiques a librarian. Unless she laughs too loudly. I'd have to go with the dental thing.

But I'm not going to. Because the writing thing has attached itself to me like so much Krazy Glue.

I just need to figure out how to make THE LAKE stick. But later.
For now I'll focus on what is working. Thankfully, I have some of that to keep me from poking sharp objects into people's mouths.


July 2, 2010

Thursday Authorial: Beach Reading

It happens every time. We come to the beach and I run and jump and chase the aerobie or the foxtail or the kids. I throw the horseshoes and play ladder ball. I get out my stunt kite and go at it with the wind. I've been doing it every few years since I was a kid.
But I'm not 17, or 25 anymore. I'm not 30. In fact, I'm hanging on to 39 for dear life because in a few weeks I'll have to let that go, too.
So, I attack the sand and play like I always have, which is why I am now laying here on my bed waiting for the Aleve to kick in, hoping my back doesn't seize up so much that I can't enjoy going out to eat at the River House tonight. It's why, as soon as the meds kick in, I'm grabbing a book and heading back down to the beach. I will lie down and read and let my aging body attempt a recovery from the pounding I just gave it. What did I bring to read?

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, by Ben Sherwood
English Trifle, by Josi Kilpack
The Rescue, by Nicholas Sparks, though I have sworn off reading any more of his books. A friend gave it to me just before I left, so here it is in my bag.

My daughter brought The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan.
Son#1 is reading Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson.
Son #2 is reading Eldest, by Christopher Paolini
But right now they are throwing their young bodies around on the beach.

Now, where are my sunglasses?
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