Hot Chocolate…

“Are you making more hot chocolate?” I ask, hearing my husband fiddling around in the kitchen.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he says, as a cupboard door closes with a bump (someday we’ll get those cool ones that slowly close themselves the last few inches) “I have no knowledge of these events.”

Seconds later an enormous mug, (I’m talking 5 inches high and 4 inches in diameter!) is plunked beside me, two dozen marshmallows already half melted into the rich, creamy chocolate yumminess.

“Did you want some?” he asks.

Usually I would gladly drink his beverage for him while he’s waiting for it to cool, but this is the fourth time we’ve danced to this tune, with the same mug (the last time it had scoops of vanilla ice cream slowly melting like iceberg in the Pacific- like the one the titanic ran into, but just melting- not sinking ships). I’m also thinking “it’s after ten- do I really want to drink this just before bed?”

I take a few sips — just because it’s there, and to save him from having to drink it all himself (what kind of wife would I be?). After a few minutes he comes back and starts drinking.

“Where did it go?” I ask as he walks into the next room and returns without the mug.

“It’s… empty?” he offers sheepishly.

“Empty,” I repeat in disbelief. Suddenly four huge mugs of hot chocolate seems insufficient. I want more…

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Only 3000 to go!

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I recently finished a novel and started the “great agent hunt” — aka, begging great agents to represent your book to publishers. While doing research on agents and picking the ones I wanted to start with, I found that several of my favorite agents were asking for manuscripts over 75,000 words long. Mine came to 65,500 words. (I will mention that all the publishers I was looking at accept 65,000 word manuscripts).

At first I considered sending my manuscript out as is (it’s been worked and reworked a dozen times over the past six years and I felt it was ready and complete) but after some consideration, decided that I am a “professional” and will keep within the specific guidelines requested buy each agent/publisher… even it it requires opening a vein and coming up with an extra ten thousand words while maintaining a lean manuscript (still cutting every adverb and adjective I can!).

It was surprisingly easy. I started at the beginning, just adding tidbits here and there that give more insights into the characters — their wants and challenges, and the events that tie them together. Several more scenes evolved, involving singed books, contemplated suicide, and more of that wonderful romantic tension that goes so well with chocolate! (I admit, I have cravings). I am now on page 156 out of 261 and only have 3000 words left. My confidence is growing.

If all goes well I will have my final manuscript ready to send out by early February and my “great agent search” will continue. Of course one of them will love it (fingers crossed) and my first book deal will be in the works by the end of 2014 (a girl can dream, can’t she 😉 ) By early 2015 you can all be snuggled up with a warm blanket on a comfy couch with lots of chocolate, flipping pages of a great novel — not mine, but that’s only because publishing will take longer than that!

Don’t worry, I’ll get there. Besides, even if it takes another decade, I’ll still beat the average age for finally getting published!

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Parenting in a Super-Hero Cape

I'm sorry - you don't get to see a picture of me in it!

I’m sorry – you don’t get to see a picture of me wearing it!

At reading the title, a lot of people will probably think I mean to tell them how to be a “super” parent. All I can really say to that is… good luck! I do think this might help you on your path, however. When I talk about parenting in a super-hero cape, I’m being pretty literal. Find an old sheet, cut out a nice panel of material (long enough to catch the wind under it when you “fly” through the house), attach it to a string or Velcro (being aware as you make your choice that strings can choke you when a child abruptly latches onto the back of the cape, and Velcro can scratch your neck if not attached properly.)

And then wear it!

I know, sounds crazy, but it will change how you discipline, how you clean your house and fix your meals, how you interact with your children and maybe even how you flirt with your spouse!

My three year old is into batman right now (and every other superhero) and likes to wear a cape. One afternoon while I was tying it on him, I noticed the bright orange cape I had found for my husband’s stocking (just for the fun of it). I decided I would give it a try. Soon my son and I were freeing the house from the villain of clutter. Instead of being a chore, it became a game. Toys were soon put away, dinner was made, and mostly while interacting in a fun way with my kids. Even discipline was done with a sense of fun and humor (I try to keep my discipline about being responsible for actions, and not just punishment).

If cleaning your house in a cape doesn’t make you feel special, I don’t know what will!

In reality, it’s not just about wearing a cape – it’s remembering not to take yourself too seriously. Remember to play! Remember to make-believe! Remember that life can be fun!

I dare you 😉

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Book review: “The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman

Attention all you writers out there who want to hone your craft. Maybe you’re working toward being published, or maybe you just like scribing, either way, I highly recommend this book!

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I recently finished reading it and found it very very useful. Every chapter was brief and to the point, with information on what flags a new writer from a seasoned one, and what will get your manuscript either noticed or trashed. It covers such things as:

* Opening hook

* Use of adjectives and adverbs

* Metaphors or similes

* Dialogue

* Characterizations and settings

* Pacing and progression

I had borrowed it from the public library, but I think as soon as I post this I will go on Amazon and order it!

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A Theme for the Year

Happy New Year! What an exiting time for those who love to set goals — and those who just want a fresh start to life! I, personally, am a goal maniac. I love to set them, along with elaborate plans and list of what to do to achieve them. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I partly succeed and other times it’s a flop. I still maintain that I always learn from the experience.

I read this article and while I think it had some great points about creating systems, I don’t think people should give up completely on setting goals and resolutions. While systems and habits move our lives forward, goals can give us purpose and act as a driving force. They can outline specific milestones that will propel us forward. But what of the “reduced happiness” with ourselves and “unnecessary stress” that causes? We need to recognize what we did accomplish in the trying. Will we stop pushing ourselves once we’ve accomplished our goal? That really depends on the individual. Just because you finished training for a marathon, doesn’t mean you can’t set a goal for the next one or maybe even the IRONMAN; it doesn’t mean that you can’t create systems and daily habits that will compliment your goals, but continue even after you’ve accomplished what you set out to do!

I think everyone is different and the most important thing is to find what works for you, and not give up on trying to improve yourself and your life. As for me, I have a theme to base my goals on, and systems to make them attainable and a part of my daily life.

A friend of mine told me about using a single word to set a theme for the year, and a love the idea of it, so this year I have made DEVELOP my word. Examples of goals and systems are as follows (keeping in mind that there will be more specific timelines and plans for each):

  • Develop my writing. Write five days a week for at least on hour (It’s a good thing my hubby supports me in this!) I also have a list of books I need to read on the craft.
  • Develop my music. Every afternoon pick up either the guitar or violin and play for at least 15min (or a close approximation of playing!)
  • Develop my endurance -running or cycling up to 5 km. After a couple of babies I can’t do much without huffing and puffing. Run or cycle every other day.
  • Develop my relationship with Christ. Before I get started on anything else in the morning (besides meeting the needs of my kids) sit down with my scriptures and study journal, seeking references to the Savior and his love for me. (there us a lot more involved in this one, but you get the idea:)

I find as I consider my theme, it not only affects my goals, but also the very molecules of what I want my year to look like, and who I want to become.  I wish you the best as you plan your year and make plans to become the person you want to be!

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You Might Be a Writer If…

This is dedicated to all those strange people known (or unknown) as writers. You know who you are. But if not, you might be one of us if:

  • You can’t finish  reading a book, before you have to set it down because you came up with an idea for one of your own.
  • You have a hard time finishing a story, because you have at least 5  more forming/ complete in your brain.
  • You can’t enjoy a long bath because you get an idea while relaxing and you have to get out to write it down (yes, this blog was so conceived)
  • Your three year old opens a word doc. instead of a fun, colorful game geared for his age. He spends the next twenty minutes writing randomness (Mom does it, it must be epic.)
  • You start narrating your own day to day activities in the third person – while you’re doing them.
  • Your spouse asks you what’s wrong because you’re making faces at the computer (actually you are trying to figure out how to describe an expression!)
  • You can’t read someone’s published work without picking out spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or just thinking, “They should have written it this way, instead.”
  • Your biggest dread is when you finish the book, and have to then sum it up in a page short synopsis, or worse yet… a sentence or two log!
  • You sit down to write for an hour, only to glance up five hours later and wonder who was tinkering with the clock. (You wish they would turn it back so you have time to finish!)
  • While someone tells you their life’s woes, you pick out parts that will fit in your next story. (…Of course I would never do this!)

  • You feel jealousy over every published work in the library.
  • You spend hours fantasizing what the cover of your book might someday look like.

Of course this is just a partial list, so please share some more. I look forward to hearing from you!

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11th of November and Christmas Decorations?

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So you might be wondering, “Why are you writing about this a week after the fact- crazy person- just decorate for Christmas!” The truth is, I already put thought into it and we can’t let all that go to waste now, can we?

First, a couple things about me. I love our veterans and Remembrance (Veteran’s) day has always been important to me. The first Novel I wrote was based on World War II and the people who both gave their lives and survived Hell. (I’m being literal here – not swearing!) I’ve spent too much time researching and listening to their stories to not have respect.

Second, I love the feeling of anticipation- honestly,that’s the best part of Christmas (who cares about presents and chocolate! Oh, wait…) Before I had toddlers to eat my tree, I would often decorate on November 1st – or if I was in a really obstinate mood – October 31st! (I’d apologize to all the Halloween buffs, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t be sincere.)

I didn’t even consider that the two were conflicting.

Isn’t it possible to do both? I mean, aren’t our veterans, in a lot of ways, the reason we celebrate Christmas? They have given us that freedom. Didn’t they miss Christmas with their families so we don’t have to? Maybe the point isn’t that we shouldn’t decorate for Christmas, but that we should thank them for it!

The more I thought about it, the more I decided that one of these days when my kids are a little older and start to “get it” (And won’t pull the tree over while trying to throw ornaments across the room), I want to decorate for Christmas in November 11th.

That day would look something like this:

  • Join a memorial service
  • Have lunch (Food is important- especially if the kids are still young)
  • Watch a 1940s Christmas/World War II movie that depicts what it was like to have loved ones away. “Since you went Away” comes to mind, but I haven’t seen it recently enough to be sure if it would be my choice.
  • Start putting up the Christmas tree with decorations you would have found (or made) during the 40s. Tell stories and discuss what it would be like if Daddy was at war, or what it would be like to be stuck in a foxhole on the other side of the world. Sing “I’ll be home for Christmas” etc.
  • End the evening with a war classic like “The Longest Day” (a must watch for everyone).

So there it is, my opinion- do with it as you will. Feel free to let me know what you really think! 😉

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