Wednesday, November 05, 2014

An open window

Sometimes you just have to sit back and listen.  Often, you need to pray.  Some days, all it takes is opening a window.

I did not sign up for the first class of the day, today but at the last minute thought I'd try to run over there.  By run over there, I mean last minute shower, grab a cup of coffee and pray I had time to make it over to the House of Seven Gables.  (Those of you who know me, know that this is how I operate even though it rarely, if ever, works out successfully).

By the time I got my coffee, I realized I had 4 minutes.  Still not feeling 100%, trying to run (with coffee) clearly wasn't worth it.  I checked out the library board, went back to my room, opened the window and realized how to make the old draft (the one I'd shelved and resolved to let go) work.

Months ago, I saw this Tweet from Donald Maas: "It is THE event of the year for fiction writers, space is limited.  Registration opens today.  Go.  Just. Go." with a link to Writer Unboxed.  I was pretty certain he was talking to me, specifically and I signed up.  I thought I was meant to attend his workshop but perhaps I was just meant to be here.

*Side note: I write historical fiction and am loving this hotel.  If in any doubt however, you know you're staying in an older hotel when you open a window and find you could get out through it! ;)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The UnConference (Part 1)

There is nothing like a writing conference to re-charge your creativity.  Attending an "Un-Conference" is, so far, even better!

Unfortunately, I've been sick on-and-off since it started so I only imagine the level of awesomeness for attendees who attended all of the sessions, today!  More to come...I'm here all week!

If you would like to follow along all sorts of writerly advice, go visit over on Twitter:
@Writer Unboxed

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Summer Reading List

     On the other side of Labor Day, it feels like summer should be over.  My kids have been in school for three weeks so our collective Summer Vacation ended a while ago.  It flew by far too quickly, of course.  I expected living in a hotel for the summer would slow our summer down.  The situation has made it easier for the kids to reach out and touch each other, breathe on each other, look at each other...but routines and getting up early still came too quickly.

     I have been out of school for quite a while but I still operate under the illusion that I will have more time to read during the summer and feel an obligation like I should be reading over the summer.  My TBR list grows but I don't accomplish half of the reading I planned.  I did manage to fit in a few!

     Tiger Hunting by Tracy Million Simmons had been sitting on my shelf for far too long.  I "met" Tracy years ago, online, as part of a Kansas writers' forum back when I was one of those.  I purchased a copy of her book as soon as it was available.  I don't know why I waited so long to open it up but I brought it along on our flight in July.  It was the perfect time to read her story.  Along with searching for a white tiger in Kansas, her book is about finding your lost voice.  I finished her book as we were landing in New Orleans which was exactly where I'd left mine.  I started a new story while we were there but hers is finished and lovely and has circus folk.  Go take a look!

     Someone Else's Love Story, by Joshilyn Jackson, is her best yet.  Yes.  I know.  If you've read this blog for a while, you know that I say that each time I pick up her latest book.  It's still true.  If you have read her books, you know what I mean. If you haven't read any of her books, are not sure where to start or if you aren't sure you have the time to commit to another whole novel right now, you are in luck!  Two of the main characters in SELS also have parts in a separate short story, my own miraculous.  You can get the e-book version for ninety-nine cents.  Go read it now.  You will then purchase Someone Else's Love Story.  It's like trying to eat one potato chip.  Once you get a taste, you will not be able to stop and you will have to read more about Shandi and her extraordinary son, Natty.    I have a vicarious crush on Walcott.

     The Rent Collector is a book I've read over a period of many months.  This doesn't sound encouraging as you're looking for a book that you can't put down and I'm admitting I did.  Lessons build upon each other however and this story was no less powerful read a few chapters at a time versus all at once.  We've all had countless vicarious journeys as we read to "escape."  This story is an excellent reminder of how learning to read is a true means of escape for someone who can't, otherwise.  Camron Wright has set beautiful stories, some familiar, amidst the stinging smoke of a trash dump in Cambodia.  Well worth the read.

     How to Have a New Kid by Friday.  You've heard of this one.  If you need it, you've probably already read it.  If you haven't, it's stuff you already know, but written in a step format so you can read a little each day and put it all together at the end.  (Of course, this is the one I read in one two-hour sitting).   I'm guilty of giving too many choices and too many chances so my own mom recommended this one to me too many times.  If you have the time, it has plenty of good reminders.  Otherwise, say what you mean, once and mean it.

     It is a "teacher in-service" day which means my kids have today off, giving them a nice four-day weekend to recover from the last three full weeks of school.  Looks like rain.  Maybe I'll get some writing in.  I have to, as that is the only way I feel like I've earned time to read.  I said I wasn't bringing many to the hotel but I still have a decent stack waiting to be opened.  Next on the pile is The Invention of Wings!  What are you reading this month?

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pocketful of Sunshine

Packing up "the library"/aka "my room" has been a slow, work-in-progress.  Each time I try to fill a box, I find a book I've not yet read, a draft of a novel I never finished or a box of photos I swore I'd scan or, at least, organize.  I've mentioned, I have a tendency to keep EVERYTHING.

Every so often, that makes it worth it.  Determined to finish this room tonight, I finally got to my file folders.  And I found artwork by and photos of Natalie and Christian from years ago.  Much, much too cute!

Under those were some more novel drafts.  Why didn't I finish those?  Under those--my answer.  A folder stuffed with "Volunteer Appreciation" certificates.  Each and every time someone takes the time to print one out, I shake my head and swear that I don't volunteer in order to receive any recognition whatsoever.  And I mean that.  I don't.  I don't need the certificates or thank-yous or gifts.

That said, I was tired from a busy day plus tired of packing and tired just thinking about moving and then to find so many things still unfinished...I will say it made my day to find a folder full of "thank-yous."

As it turns out, just because I don't have a folder full of finished products/novels/projects, that doesn't mean I haven't seen things through.  I am just a little better at finishing things you can't really see.  But for those who took the time to notice anyway, it's my turn to say Thanks!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sit still

I've tried to take some time this year to refocus--spending more time in prayer, or meditation or just sitting still.  I don't have a job outside the home, I am not an overly ambitious person but as you know, life is busy.  Lately, I have had to schedule quiet time to make it happen but it has made all the difference.  It is amazing what happens when you take the time to sit still.

I signed up as an Adorer for Perpetual Adoration. For those of you that I just lost,  the host, the body of Christ, is on the altar in the chapel.  People sign up for an hour to ensure He is never left alone.  I have to say, this is easily one of the best hours of my week.  Once there, I am not required to do anything for an hour except be there.  I pray, sometimes say a Rosary but most often I just sit.  I sit and listen.  It is perfectly quiet in there, of course, but I have learned more about myself, my faith and my place in the world by simply sitting still and listening.  Sometimes I jot down a few notes/thoughts that come to me that I didn't expect.  (A friend of mine once told me that her friend started taking a notebook with her to Adoration, started writing a book while there and is now a successful, published Christian author!)

I'm usually running to get in there!  I have it on my calendar each week, else I would never get there but I still try to fit one more thing/task/chore into my day, right before I go.  Whether you believe it is God, the universe or your subconscious that guides you, it is so hard for most of us to find the time to just sit quietly and listen.  Put it on your calendar!

Of all of the books I've read to my children over the years, one of my favorites is It's Hard to be Five, by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell.  Of course, my youngest doesn't want to hear it, anymore as he is SIX.  The struggles are real for any age!

I stepped out of my comfort zone a week ago and attended a weekend retreat at church.  I wasn't going to go; I have been avoiding it for years.  In my quiet hours at Adoration, I kept hearing a voice telling me that I should go this year but I attributed it to my "guilt voice" as I knew I probably should go but really was not interested.  Finally, just days before, after enough separate people had asked/encouraged/suggested that I go, I relented.  It was lovely, of course, to meet new people and learn more about my faith but what I did not expect was to have quiet time, alone.  This was exactly what I needed and never experience on a normal weekend!

I try to go to Mass on the days the kids have "All School Mass."  It is nice for the kids to see that I go, too and my youngest still enjoys having me there. ;)  But I'm rushing in the mornings, to get them all off to school, give the husband a kiss on the cheek and still make sure I have matching shoes on in time to get there.  Today I was a few minutes late.  Since then however, my day has gone so smoothly.

 So many friends of mine who are also mothers say that they purposely get up very early to make sure they have quiet time for reflection before getting everyone else up and on their way.  I haven't been able to do that, yet.  I am not a morning person. I stay up far too late and know that I can send up a few prayers when I finally lay down to sleep.  But the voices and the thoughts and the schedules all assault my brain at once and then it's tough even to fall asleep.  But making time during the day--even if it is running into Mass in the morning, going to Adoration after lunch or just sitting somewhere in my parked car for a few minutes with the radio off--has made all the difference.  Now, once I get to bed, I fall asleep immediately.  I know if I would go to bed a little earlier and get up a little earlier, our mornings could start off much more smoothly.  I am working on that.

Take some time to sit still, today.  Enjoy!