Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Okay, so for all of you who have been chomping at the bit for me to take a break, it's time. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about click here.) I plan on spending the next two weeks with family, and I look forward to catching up with all of you when I return after the New Year. So, anyone want to place bets on who gets some good news while I'm away? Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tis The Season, Part 4...

Finding the perfect gift for your child is a relief. Watching your child's eyes light up when they open that gift is heartwarming. But watching the same child pace in anticipation while they wait for someone else to open a gift is truly priceless. (Do I sound like the Visa commercial? That's what I was going for. No? Well, maybe I should practice a little more.) Anyway... one of my favorite holiday moments was when my mom, my two brothers, and I adopted a family for Christmas. Instead of buying gifts for each other, we decided to spend the money on a family in need. This is nothing new, I know. But we were fortunate enough to actually get to meet the family and give the gifts to them in person. My kids were so excited to watch these underprivileged peers open their gifts that they couldn't sit still. That was more exciting to them than walking down the stairs on Christmas morning to their own brightly wrapped presents. It really was a wake up call about the true meaning of the holiday. I don't think any of us have ever viewed Christmas the same way since we watched those children get excited about opening necessities like shampoo and toothpaste, coats and gloves, and if they were lucky, a doll or a toy car. Okay, so this is where I'd normally relate my post to writing in some way, but I'd hate to take away from the whole "giving" message, so I'll leave it alone. Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tis The Season, Part 3...

If you've been around here this week, you know I'm sharing some of my favorite holiday memories. Since I told a farm story yesterday, I thought I'd stick with that theme and share another farm related memory today. As I mentioned yesterday, we have a dairy farm. What I didn't mention is that we don't actually live on the farm. We live in town in a neighborhood. (I'd explain why, but that would be some really unnecessary back story.) Anyway, a couple of years ago on Christmas morning, my husband brought home an unexpected guest who was in need of a warm place to stay and a meal. That's what the holidays are all about, right? Welcoming the needy into your home? Only this needy one came in the form of a newborn calf. It was so new, in fact, that it couldn't stand yet. It's mother had died while giving birth, and the poor calf was starving for milk and freezing. My kids took turns bottle feeding it in our garage while all the neighbors came to see the strange visitor. After all, most of them had never been that close to a newborn calf. Sometimes the most unexpected moments are also the most memorable. Same goes with writing. I just love it when something unexpected happens in my manuscripts. Any unexpected holiday memories you'd like to share?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tis The Season, Part 2...

So, you all know that I'm tired of my kids thinking the holiday season is all about the newest gadget they want. This week, I'm sharing some of my fondest holiday memories in hopes of negating their commercial mindset. Today, I'd like to share a memory about one of the first Christmases I shared with my husband. I was nine months pregnant with our first child, and my mom had just moved 800 miles away. My dad was spending his Christmas morning with his new wife and her family, and my brothers were who knows where. I felt completely and utterly alone. (I'm sure my hormones didn't help, but still...) Most of you know that we are a farm family. My husband runs a dairy farm and buys and sells Holstein cattle for a living. And anyone who knows anything about farming, knows that Christmas is not a day off. I was aware of this when I married my husband, but that didn't stop me from being a little miffed about the fact that he had to go feed pastures and pastures of cows on Christmas morning. Rather than sitting at home alone, I decided to join him. About halfway through the first pasture, I realized my mistake. It was a bumpy ride, and I had a five pound baby in my womb resting on my full bladder. There was a foot of snow on the ground and no bathroom within miles. My husband kept talking to me and making jokes, trying to keep my mind off my dire circumstances. At the time, I was absolutely miserable, but looking back on it, I can't say I have any regrets. I learned a valuable lesson while spending quality time with my husband. Isn't writing the same? Every stage we are in, we may make bad decisions, but sure enough, we learn from them right? We always, and I mean always, look back on those times fondly, even if we we're miserable at the time. And, more often than not, we have no regrets. So, what about you? Any holiday memories that didn't seem so great at the time, but you cherish now?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tis The Season...

Does anyone remember what it's the season for? If my kids add one more outrageously expensive gift to their Christmas lists, I think I might have to boycott the holiday all together. No... I won't do that, but I am ready for them to start thinking about what it's really all about. Regardless of religious affiliation, I think this time of year is about family. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I'd venture to guess that it has something to do with spending time with loved ones. So, this week, I want to share some of my favorite holiday memories. None of which have anything to do with presents received. I'm going to start off with something that was a tradition for my family when I was growing up. Every Christmas Eve (if we weren't traveling to Grandma's house), my mom would cook up a big batch of beef stew and an enormous pan of monkey bread. (Hey now, I never said my favorite memories wouldn't involve food.) As a family, we shared many meals throughout the year, but this meal seemed special for some reason. No one fought or argued. No one was in a hurry to get to a practice or a meeting or whatever else we were involved in. It was just us with all the time in the world. Lately, I've heard a lot of buzz about the added stress the holidays bring. Thinking back to when I was a child, it was the opposite. Things seemed to slow down for my family. I want it to be that way as an adult. So, this holiday season, I think I'll try to slow down and remember that life is so much sweeter (with or without monkey bread) when I'm not in a hurry to get somewhere else. Same kind of goes for this thing called writing. When we're always trying to get the next best thing, whether it be finishing the next novel, signing with an agent, selling to a publisher, hitting the Bestsellers list, etc., we fail to truly enjoy the craft of writing. What about you? Do you have any slow-mo holiday memories to share? If so, please do.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Friday Everyone!

I'm smiling because I got some great news yesterday! My dad has recovered faster than expected and will be released from the hospital today. Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers. You guys are the best! So, today's Friday's Fluff post is all about my kind blog friends. You've been there for good times and bad times. You compliment me when I have something of value to say and support me when I slack off. You congratulate me when I'm up and encourage me when I'm down. It never ceases to amaze me the caliber of people I've become acquainted with here. So, here's to you dear blog friends! You make this journey a happier one. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Totally Random Shoes...

...for totally random thoughts. (Please note: no writerly advice ensues.) Hey, don't judge me. I'm entitled to random every now and then, right? So, yesterday was a really weird day, and I thought I'd share some of the things I learned from it. #1--Blogger absolutely hates me. Seriously, it does. I couldn't log on to do my post (which was kind of a waste anyway, but still), and then I couldn't comment on a few of my fave blogs or access the follower tool to follow some of the new awesome blogs I came across. Not to mention, I couldn't see who my new followers were. Yeah, so, Blogger doesn't like me. (Maybe HATE was too strong of a word.) #2--My kids are hyped up on "It's Almost Christmas" drugs, and they won't calm down. I kid you not, one of them (who will remain nameless) tied another one (who will also remain nameless) up with the DVD cords to get his way with the TV remote. Its not like there aren't 3 other televisions in the house. Yeah, so my kids are in overdrive. (Maybe ON DRUGS was too strong a description.) #3--My neighbors are even crazier during the winter months. Apparently, dancing 1/2 naked around an open fire on the driveway in 20 degree temps is acceptable to them. Now, I'm not one to judge, but really???? This isn't working for me. The man is loony toons, not to mention too flabby to be flaunting his body, if you know what I mean. Yeah, my neighbors are crazy for sure. (In this case, CRAZY is putting it nicely.) Okay, so those are my random Thursday Thoughts. Do you have anything you want to get off your chest? Really, now's the time. The more random, the better. Come on, if nothing else, you'll make me feel better about my random rage of thoughts. So let's hear it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Hold Onto Your Shoes People!

This may be my greatest Tuesday Tip ever! Don't believe me? Well, just keep reading. If you've been around here long enough, you know that when I get overwhelmed with the whole blogging thing, I take a break. What you may not know is that these breaks benefit you (my followers) as much as they benefit me. You see, every time I go on a break, someone who follows me (sometimes more than one person) signs with an agent or sells a book. Really, I'm not joking. During one of my breaks, my friends Roni Loren and Kate Walton both signed with agents. During my next break, my friend Tere Kirkland signed with an agent. The following break, Roni and Kate both sold their books. Most recently, on my last break, my friend Sherrie Petersen signed with an agent. (If you haven't already, you should go congratulate her.) See what I'm saying? My breaks bring good fortune to my bloggy friends. So, my Tuesday tip this week is this: if you want to find an agent or to sell a book, just follow me and strongly encourage me to take a break. I guarantee one of you will get exactly what you want.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is There Anything Good About These Old Shoes????

Maybe. Maybe not. If nothing else, they might be good for working in the yard. Or perhaps the laces can be used in another shoe. You never know. It's worth taking a look at if you ask me. Most of you know that I was on a little break from blogging over the last few days. I'm happy to say that I accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish and then some. House clean--check. Christmas decos up--check. Some shopping done--check. Really, I couldn't ask for more. Anyway, while I was pulling out Christmas decorations, I came across a box of old things I'd written. I had seen them about a year ago but didn't pay much attention to them. They were mostly essays and short stories I wrote in high school and college, or poetry that I wrote anywhere between the age of 10 and 22. This time, I sat on the cold concrete floor of the basement and re-read every single word. Most of these words were complete crap (and by crap, I mean a total waste), but some of the words and sentences, and even the plots, were salvageable. In one work, I found the glimmer of a totally unique and interesting story line. In another work, I found a beautiful description that I was surprised I'd actually come up with. Neither work in and of itself is worth much, but those two little pieces might just find a home in my more mature works. So, today, I beg you not to discount any of your old writing. Just like the shoes above, you never know when those old words might find a new home. What about you? Have you ever salvaged old writing and put it in a new piece of work?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stopping To Tie My Shoes

I wouldn't want my laces to trip me up, now would I? Every once in a while, we need to quit running full speed ahead and take care of the little details that might be holding us back. Right now, for me, those details involve laundry, dishes, Christmas shopping and decorating, dirty toilets and dusty dressers... you get my point. Even more importantly, my new WIP has sat untouched for over two weeks now. Today is Thursday's Thoughts day, and you want to know what I think? I think I jumped back into blogging a little too soon. As most of you know, my recent blog break was due to my father's hospitalization. Well, he's still there, and I am still being stretched quite thin between my constant visits with him and my responsibilities as a wife and mother. The past two days, I've spent every free moment at home catching up with blogs or visiting other social networking sites. It occurred to me last night when I returned from the hospital at 10:00 pm to a sink full of dirty dishes that I had neglected to catch up with some very important things. So, I've decided to take the next few days to do just that. I hope to get my house back in order, get a little shopping done, and dive back into my WIP. I think I'll feel more up to social networking without all of that hanging over my head. You might still hear a tweet or two from me (sometimes I just can't resist), but I won't be back on blogger until Monday. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Shoes of Teens

Whether you are the parent of a teen or a young adult author, it pays to know what teens are thinking. Yesterday, on my Internet home page, an interesting article popped up about this topic. It has no writing tips (sorry), but it does give us a little glimpse of the teen mind (which is always helpful when writing about teenagers). So, today's Wednesday's Website can be accessed here. I have to admit, even though I have three teens, I was educated on what they might be thinking. For me, it was a bonus read as a writer and as a parent. Enjoy!