Sunday, December 21, 2014

One more thing off the list

 Last night, I was able to cross off one of my goals for this Round. The Children’s Christmas Program came off without a hitch. Ok, honestly, there was a bobble or two, but no hitches.

Big goal - Publish “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”   I have still not received a physical copy of the book. My publisher says that he has been in contact with the printer on a nearly daily basis and that now with the holiday crunch, they just have not been able to get my book out. I’m pretty bummed about it, but also try telling myself that God must have some great reason for letting this delay continue to drag on. 

Small goals
Finish writing my novel – Yep, finished that a while back and haven’t even looked at it since. 
Work on my third devotional – Nope, haven’t looked at it. That is what January 1 is for.
Submit three pieces somewhere – Yep, submitted three pieces. I believe two were rejected and one is still pending.
Christmas program at church – Yeah! All done!

I think that I am restructuring my goals for next Round. I think I will have a few big goals for the total Round (write so many days on the new devotional, have edited six chapters on the novel), but otherwise I think I will take it week-by-week. I don’t foresee myself being as busy as I have been the last four months, but maybe if I take it a week at a time, I can set up goals which are attainable and which keep me moving forward instead of falling into the quagmire of the past month. (Here’s something truly amazing, I spelled “quagmire” correctly on my second try! I don’t know, I think that is amazing.)

In the meantime, I hope everyone has an especially Happy Christmas. See you all in the New Year. 
 There's only six kids in our whole Sunday School. But I keep telling everyone that if we fall to one kid in Sunday School we need to keep it going just for that one. 
I really don't do anything for the program except put it together. Two women lead this creative expression ministry and two others run the Sunday School. During the actual program, my only job was keeping the middle schoolers who were ushering on task. 
Oh, and taking pictures!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Busy Week that included Christmas Seals

I am pretty sure that I already told you that this past week was not going to be productive as far as ROW goals. I got home from work at 7:30 on Monday. Tuesday I met a friend for supper at the Chinese restaurant and after that had to drop some stuff off at church, so it was going on seven when I got home. Wednesday I had to stop at church after work to make sure that everything was a go for the Christmas program on the 20th. I confirmed everyone’s assignments and handed out parts. Thursday I was at church one more time, to bake cookies for the bazaar this weekend. I actually had made my cookies already last weekend, but I roped the others who were done with their baking into helping me color the program covers which didn’t get done by the kids the night before. Friday I had the day off from the day job, but went to see my daughter. Had planned on having her help me with Christmas shopping, but we continued to get sidetracked with one thing or another. Yesterday, I was going to go shopping with my Kinship kid, but she had a change of plans, so I stayed home and actually got some housework done and decorated for Christmas.

Whew! I have four totes and several other boxes full of Christmas decorations and other years I have put everything out. This year, I said I don’t really care, I am cutting back, this is ridiculous. So I put out my nativities, hang a few things on the wall, put out about a half dozen knickknacks, and I am done. When the hubby came home from work, he said, “Well, it looks nice. All you have left to do is the tree.” I gave him “the look” and told him he could do the tree this year. We’ll see.
When my mom moved last year, she gave me an old Mexican nativity set. I don’t remember where it came from. It’s pretty cool, but I didn’t know that seals were at the Jesus’s birth. Oh, of course, Christmas seals.
Sorry, Lord, I couldn’t help it.

Anyway, no writing got done. If you read my Wednesday post, you know my publisher did list “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” on  The ebook is currently available, but I am still waiting for the paperback version.  Still. Impatiently, I might add.

 How has your week been? Are Christmas preparations getting in the way of your goals? 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Just had to share

I wasn't going to post tonight, because I have to make Christmas cookies for the church bazaar and because I still thought I would sneak in some decorating and card-writing during the week. But I got the following email from my publisher:

Great news: the ebook version of The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days is now available on Amazon:

The print proof shouldn’t be far behind – the modifications have been made and approved, and the proof should ship very soon.

Have a great evening.

Just wanted to share. Hope you all have a great evening too. I promise to check in on Sunday. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I had something going on after the day job every night this week, except for Thursday, when the hubby really just wanted me to watch TV with him for once. I knew I was going to spend very little time in my office writing or working on writing, but it still has me down that I have nothing to show for the last seven days. It’s more than that even, but I can’t get into it here. I know the first of the year is coming and after the holidays, I have plans to hole up in my office for the rest of the winter.

As far as my goals, as you may have guessed, not much got done. I did finish my church’s Christmas program and have all the people and kids I need. I have to call two parents tonight just to confirm something, but other than that, I think I have it. I want to bounce the final copy off one of my musical friends to see if she thinks the lineup makes sense. Then this week, I just need to start handing out the parts, talk to the secretary about making me some copies. Yea, I think that may be it.

For the coming week, I am once again straying from my goals. I work late on Monday, I am meeting a friend for supper on Tuesday, I have to catch up with everyone at church on Wednesday, I have to go back to church on Thursday night to help make cookies for the bazaar on Saturday. Umm? What do you think about Friday? Help set up for the bazaar or go Christmas shopping? That one is a no-brainer, don’t you think?

While working on my other blog last night, I had to take some pictures of Mary and Joseph from one of my nativity sets. Alice was checking out Joseph. Or more likely, she was put out because I was using her couch. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

all that's left

The last day of November, which means tomorrow is, for me at least, the first day it is appropriate to begin the Christmas season.  Maybe I will work on Christmas cards this week. Yea, right.

It also means that we are two-thirds of the way through this Round. As much complaining as I have been doing here the last few weeks, I think I will have all of my goals in the bag in just a few weeks.

Big goal - Publish “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”   On Friday I signed off on the final electronic proof. Both the cover and the interior look fantastic. I’m pretty excited to get a physical copy of the book in my hands within the next week or two.

Small goals
Finish writing my novel – I finished writing the really super-rough draft of my novel last Sunday. The working title has been “Jenny’s Story” or sometimes “A Tale of An American Woman”, which had started out as “A Tale of An African Boy”, when I was originally telling the story from both Jenny’s and the boy’s perspectives, but decided a while back that I should stick to one (or as it turned out, three or four perspectives) instead of seven or eight. As much work as this book has been, I don’t know if I will ever write the African Boy’s tale, but it is still a possibility. But to circle back to the beginning, I need to think of an actual title for this thing.
Work on my third devotional – I actually did a little bit of research on it and wrote a hundred words. I know, oh, boy, but a person has to start somewhere.
Submit three pieces somewhere – I have officially submitted three pieces, having been rejected by one and having not heard back yet from the other two.
Christmas program at church - Boy, I need to get to work on this, don’t I? It is just under three weeks away. Yikes.  

I spent yesterday at a craft show, once again peddling the wares of my daughter’s nonprofit organization and telling everyone I could all about it. It went quite well I thought, got rid of a lot of stuff and made $240, which I believe is the second or third highest income for a single day. The suitcase I have toted around to nine different sales in the last 17 months is getting pretty empty.
 My space at yesterday's craft show. A lot of this stuff has gone to new homes. 
All that's left in the suitcase

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Book, a Back and a Bathroom

Despite a rather dismal beginning to my vacation last weekend, I managed to rally my incapacitated back and my nonfunctioning muse and actually got a lot done since I last posted here.  

Big goal - Publish “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”  My publisher continues to say that we are ahead of schedule. By the end of this week or the first of next week, they are to send me the final electronic proof. Once I sign off on that, it is another week or two to get a physical book proof and then, wonder of wonders, within another two weeks I will have a shipment of books to begin peddling. End of this project is actually in sight.

Small goals
Finish writing my novel - Seeing as this has taken nearly two years, it shouldn’t really qualify as a small goal, huh? My gauge however was that I was up to somewhere around 68,000 words earlier this fall. Those final words should not have taken that long. But Sunday night, around 9:30, I entered an “ # “ into the computer (which used to mean “the end”. Does it still?) My final figures came in at 71,695 words and 39 chapters in 21 months. Now I will put it away for a while to rise like bread dough (or ferment like red wine, or even perhaps fester like an open wound). I still have research to do, so depending on where that ends up, I may need to make a lot of changes. I know, I kind of put the pie before the pumpkin, but that’s how I roll. But no matter, I have to give myself a big pat on the back. I have finished the rough draft.
Work on my third devotional – Unfortunately, congratulations are perhaps a bit premature, as I didn’t look at this at all. I don’t’ know. I will get inspired here real soon.
Submit three pieces somewhere –This is very impressive. I submitted two pieces quite a while back. I had heard back from one – rejected, and hadn’t heard anything on the other, so I sent another email inquiring and they emailed me right back, that they will be in touch in about another two months to let me know. But none of that is as exciting as my next piece of news, because, yes, just this morning, I submitted a short story to Apple Valley Review. That makes three submissions this Round.
Christmas program at church – I didn’t do much on my own, but several people actually approached me to sign up for something. Next week I promise to really crack down on this. Because I let our Sunday School teacher and our Puppet master decide what songs they want to perform, I just have to hope they have come up with something and then I can plug it into the program. Then assign my handful of reading volunteers their readings and I’m done. Right?  

As I lamented on Sunday, I had big plans to paint my bathroom while I was off this week. Despite a painful and crooked back, I pushed through, and with lots of moaning, groaning, crawling around ungracefully and resting in between, the hubby and I got the bathroom back together this morning.
I hate it when I don't take a "before" picture. This is from 2007 and I don't know what I was thinking when I took it. Could I have straightened up anything in this bathroom?
This is "during" just as the hubby was finishing the ceiling. 
Ta-da. I am working on a lighthouse theme. I only have three lighthouses right now (you can't see the lighthouse rug), but I have high hopes to hit up the second-hand stores.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

One more tale of woe

Friday was the beginning of a week’s vacation and I had so many things planned. My biggest goal was painting my bathroom in time for Thanksgiving. Right now 15 people total should be gathered around my table on Thursday and I wanted them all to be able to use my bathroom with bright, fresh walls.

I’ve had a back ache all week, nothing bad, just enough to slow me down a bit. Saturday I had signed up for a craft show to sell our Kenyan crafts for our nonprofit, and the hubby and I were able to set up most of it Friday night. All I had to do Saturday morning was put out a few more things and organize a little bit. I stopped at the gas station for a bottle of ice tea, as I hadn’t slept much the night before because I was worrying about stupid stuff.

I got back in the car with my drink and – boom – just like that my back went out. We have patients all the time complaining about back trouble. Yes, I believe them that their back hurts, but when they are walking down the hall, I find it hard to sympathize with them, because I can see by the way they hold themselves, that even if they’re in pain, their back is not “out”. When my back is out, when I’m standing in front of the mirror in my underwear, it is obvious something is wrong. My right hip is out of place by at least three or four inches. I’m not kidding, I look like I could be in a carnival side show. I feel pretty pathetic when I walk, because I can’t make myself not limp. I also try to hang onto something so that if my back spasms, I don’t fall down. Because falling down would be like a turtle lying on its shell. “I’ve fallen down and I can’t get up.”  

I could go on, but let’s cut to the chase. I got through the sale, sitting in my chair as much as I could, selling some stuff and talking about the nonprofit to anyone who would listen. I came home and went to bed. At least I am now caught up on my sleep. By the end of today I may even be caught up on my reading. Writing? I can only hope. If I sit too long in my office chair, as comfy as that it, my back does lock up and moving again is quite the chore.

And all the while those bathroom walls are calling me. No, I think they are mocking me. So what did I get done this week before I became disabled?

Big goal - Publish “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” Let’s just concentrate on the positive. We have finalized the cover and, at least on line, it looks better than I could have imagined. It makes me all the more excited in anticipation of holding the actual book in my hands. My publisher says that we are ahead of schedule, but I am looking at the calendar, trying to figure out just what schedule that is and how I am going to have books to sell before Christmas. Oops, that does not sound like I am looking on the bright side, does it?
Small goals – Look, I deleted my small goals because you had to be getting bored with all the no’s.

So, I guess I can work on the small goals this week and those bathroom walls can just mock me all they want. 
At least the cover of the book isn't mocking anyone.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

update and a photo-bomb

I’ve been feeling guilty about not posting on Wednesdays, so I thought I would write a quick update this morning to let you know, if anything else, that I am still alive.

·         The Devotional – I am still waiting for the finished cover concept. The holdup is that there was a miscommunication between me and my publisher, but that was ironed out last night, and he just this morning sent me some revised covers to review. Otherwise the layout process is coming along. My publisher says we are ahead of our timeline, but I don’t remember getting any such timeline – I just wanted 100 copies of it by mid-December so that I could sell some to my adoring fans for Christmas presents. We will see.
·         The Novel – I wrote one of the final scenes at work yesterday. Only 390 words. But it is something. I just want to sit down and finish it, but I just don’t have any blocks of time anymore.
·         The Devotional in progress – Haven’t even looked at it.
·         The Christmas program – We have a meeting at church tonight, so hopefully I will catch up with our Sunday School teacher and a few others. No one seems very enthusiastic about it this year, so it is an uphill battle. I just refuse to give up on the handful of kids we have in our church. The church will never grow if we don’t get the kids motivated and encouraged. So, I won’t give up.
·         The Nonprofit – My daughter and I worked on the nonprofit for a couple hours Sunday night. We want to start pulling together the team of volunteers she is taking to Kenya next fall, so we are writing up an information packet to give to prospective travelers. There are five people who have expressed an interest in working with us, now we just have to get their commitment. We also are going to have a booth at craft shows this Saturday and next Saturday. Three months ago, my daughter ordered more jewelry, artwork, and other items from one of her contacts in Kenya. Our package has yet to arrive. I try not to get mad about it, because I know this is just the Kenyan way, but it would be nice to have some more new stuff for the craft shows. Two months ago Maggie said she was sending it back to the states with one of her volunteers. Three weeks ago, she said she was sending it with another volunteer who was leaving that day. If only she would give me the name of that volunteer I would bug them, but I am fearful she never sent it with any volunteer. I will practice my patience. Hakuna Matata.
·         Exercise – I am trying really hard to run/do aerobics at least every other night. I have been doing pretty well, but only 10 minutes a night. I want to increase that time, but just haven’t been able to push myself.

I think that’s it for now. I was going through old pictures of the pets for my other blog, and stumbled across this picture of Betty. Don’t you love Barney photo-bombing it!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

BICFOK (I am not swearing.)

Are you sure this is right? Is it really Sunday again, already, and once again I didn’t post on Wednesday? I really think that I have been living in some kind of time warp. I absolutely positively cannot believe that I have been getting absolutely positively nothing done! Arrggh! I am so frustrated with myself! I keep thinking this madness is going to end and I am going to get back on track, and then I look at the calendar and – arrggh! – another entire week has passed!!

So what have I done this week?

Big goal
1)      Publish “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” On Tuesday I got the latest round of edits back from my publisher. I read through the entire manuscript (which is only 10,000 words, so don’t feel sorry for me) that night and sent it back, having found only two typos. The next day my publisher emailed me back that they found and fixed the typos and that the manuscript is off to the layout people. I should get the final proof this week. After that is ok’ed we can proceed to printing. Or we could, except that I haven’t ok’ed the final proof of the cover. It seems so close, and yet so far away.
I also sent my publisher twelve quotes which I pulled from the manuscript to be used in promoting the book. Which means that my original list of ten things to do is now complete.
Small goals
1) Submit three pieces somewhere. Let’s just say “no”. I don’t know where I am at anymore. But I think it is still at two legitimate pieces. The book where I log in all my submissions is like an arm’s length away and I am too lazy to even reach over and check it.
2) Finish the novel No, I opened the file and then apparently closed it again without doing a thing.
3) Start my third devotional, with a tentative title of "The Early Ministry of Jesus in 40 Days".  Hmm? Another manuscript which I opened , glanced at and then closed without having accomplished anything.
4) Christmas program at church. Didn’t do a thing.

To my credit, we had a major snowstorm Monday and Tuesday. Again with the time warp, because it feels like it was weeks ago and that we have been buried in snow for months. I am already ready for Spring. I think the sudden descent into Winter has sucked out of me what little ambition I did have.

Wish me luck this week and especially the week after. I have the week of Thanksgiving off from the day job, and though I have a list of things to do around the house, I hope to find time to write. BICFOK (butt in chair, fingers on keyboard)
My yard outside my office window last Sunday. 
The view outside my window on Wednesday morning and ever since. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Still feels like I am taking it easy

Oh, dear, it looks like I didn’t write anything here on Wednesday. Once again, I have no idea where the week went. I whittled away on a few goals, but I still think I need to focus on getting my focus back. Or not. Maybe I will just keep taking it easy.

Big goal
1)      Publish “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” On Thursday I got the first round of edits back from my editor and proof-reader. So I worked on that most of the day and night on Friday and sent it back at ten o’clock Friday night. Yes, it could have waited and I could have re-read it one more time and sent it on Monday morning. But I just wanted to get it back to my publisher. The more I read it, the more I started losing my mind. Yesterday, I emailed my revised biography. So now it is all back in my publisher’s court and I just have to wait for my next task.  I have huge doubts that this book will be out in print by Christmas, but all I can do is keep getting my stuff done as efficiently as I can and stop looking at the calendar.

Small goals
1) Submit three pieces somewhere. Haven’t submitted anything in a while, but I did do some market research on Saturday. The way the markets are, you are better off finding a potential market first and writing something specific to their requirements, instead of writing a piece that is going to sit because you cannot find a market for it.  
2) Finish the novel. I did indeed work on the novel, finished chapter 35 and wrote 800 words on chapter 36. In the past I lamented that I thought it would end around 30 chapters and not make the recommended 40 chapter mark. It does not look like that will be a problem anymore.
3) Start my third devotional, with a tentative title of "The Early Ministry of Jesus in 40 Days".  I have most of the Bible verses outlined already so I did take a look at it once this week. Nothing came to me, so I put it away. I know that God is going to have to help me with it, so there is no use working on it if I don’t feel Him hanging out.  
4) Christmas program at church. Didn’t do a thing. 

I did spend most of Saturday afternoon with my daughter working on her nonprofit. It has been a while since we have worked on it, so it was a good thing to get back at it.
 I cannot wait to get back to Kenya to help out these kids. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Where does time go and where do things like giant numbers go?

Holy cow, I cannot believe it is November already. 

I have an obsession with planning vacations and on Friday I talked the hubby into taking off the first week of January with me. I told him we could fly somewhere warm. He was actually onboard with that and I spent all of Friday on line looking up various options. Today I finally came to my senses, realizing we cannot afford any such trip. I told the hubby we would just stay home that week, keep the curtains closed, all the lights on and turn up the heat – all so we could imagine that we were some place warm where there is never any snow on the ground!!!

Yup, we have snow on the ground right now and I am really dreading the next five months!

Big goal
1)      Publish “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” – I had planned on getting my updated bio to my publisher this week, but that didn’t happen. It is on my to-do list for today. I did get the cover concepts from the graphic designer. It seems like none of them is ever the clear-cut winner and I always ask for some tweaking. That should be done this week. I am still waiting for the first round of edits from the editor, but I have high hopes that that will happen this week too.

Small goals
1) Submit three pieces somewhere. Haven’t submitted anything in the last week, so am still at two submissions, one a rejection and one resolution unknown.
2) Finish the novel. I did work on the novel, writing close to a thousand words (I really should return to keeping track of my word count, huh?).
3) Start my third devotional, with a tentative title of "The Early Ministry of Jesus in 40 Days". Nope, but I had this moment of insanity this week where I thought that since everyone else is doing NaNoWriMo in November, I could write this devotional this month, writing one entry a day, two entries on some of those days, but my total word count is only around 10,000 for these books, so I should be able to easily do that, right? Yea, it’s the 2nd today and I haven’t started.
4) Christmas program at church. A family of four volunteered to run the kitchen for me, getting drinks and snacks for the Jesus Birthday Party we always have after the children’s program, but that’s about it. Our Sunday school teacher is pretty negative about getting her single class of six kids to participant much, so I gave her my pep talk and not much else to do at this point but hope and pray.  
One of the covers still in the running and I don't know where the big "40" went that should be right in the middle. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I am not soliciting

Last Friday, I received an interesting email from my publisher, Life Sentence Publishing. They would like to see more reviews of my devotional “The Christmas Story in 40 Days” on Amazon before the Christmas season. They say my goal should be to get 30 reviews in 30 days. To which I wanted to reply, “but the book is all about growing closer to God in 40 days. Shouldn't I try to get 40 reviews in 40 days?”

So that has been consuming much of my free time the last few days – emailing family, friends and soon-to-be former friends that I would like them to write a review for me. Of course, then I need to get them a copy of the book, which I figure I should offer for free if they are willing to write a review for me. But I can’t give away all of my books. So I have told them, that if they don’t already have a copy (really? And you call yourself my friend and you don’t have a copy of all of my books?), I will loan them one. I trust them and am sure they will get this copy back to me, but then what am I going to do with it? I haven’t quite figured out all of the logistics, but most people have been willing to cough up the money if I lay a book in their hands.

And, yes, the book is available for e-reading, but it seems that many of my family and friends don’t have e-readers or they just want that book in their hands. I can never tell.

At last count, out of 51 people personally emailed or facebooked, seven say they will write a review and one has actually done it. I am a long ways from 40!

I’m just going to throw it out there, that if this kind of book sounds like anything you might be interested in reading and writing a review on Amazon for, let me know. I will get you a book. Somehow. If you want one. And if not, that is totally fine. This blog is not about solicitation, it is about my writing journey and that is really what I wanted to share with you tonight.

I guess as helpful as reviews would be, it would also be helpful to get advice on how to prod people into writing reviews for you. I’ve read up on this and have yet to find something that actually works for me. Or is like a 15% success rate the norm? 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

My week? Meager goals and a wedding

I was planning on keeping it simple this Round. But it seems that if I don’t have a long list of stringent goals I just don’t do much of anything. Is anyone else already tweaking and adding goals? Or subtracting goals??

This is the meager list I began the Round with.

Big goal
1)      Publish “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” – I have finished eight of the ten items on the list my publisher sent me. I told him I would work on my biography this week, but sorry to say, that did not happen. I got an email from him the other day saying that my editor has finished the first round of edits and that they are sending the manuscript next to be proof-read. Hopefully by the end of the week they will send it back to me for my review. Also, the graphic designer for the cover art will be back from a ministry trip and should get back to the cover this week. Sounds like things are moving along.

Small goals
1) Submit three pieces somewhere. Last Sunday night I submitted the flash fiction piece, “Would You?” to Splickety magazine. The last time I sent them something, the editor emailed me back within two days that they didn’t accept it, so going a whole week has to be a good sign, unless of course they never received it for some strange internet-glich reason. In any event, that was my second piece submitted already this Round.
2) Finish the novel. I actually worked on the novel, writing one section of about 300 words. I cannot believe how I am dragging that thing out. It makes me wonder if it is meant to be.
3) Start my third devotional, with a tentative title of "The Early Ministry of Jesus in 40 Days". I don’t remember working on it this week. Hmm?  
4) Christmas program at church. Didn’t do much with the program this week, just got our organist on board. I keep thinking I have lots of time, but it less than two months away!

What else have I been doing? We went to a family wedding on Friday. It was such a beautiful fall day. Ideal weather! And such a beautiful couple. Best wishes to Ann and Joe on a long and joyful life together.
The couple with Ann's dad and step mom. The sad part of the wedding was that her mom had died of cancer right before Ann graduated from high school in 2007. The happy part is that her mom was watching from heaven and certainly approving of it all. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Coming Out of My Funk

I’m sorry I didn’t post earlier this week. There wasn’t much to say and I had been in rather a funk.

I had a meeting in the next town over on Thursday morning and the boss told me to take the rest of the day off. It was a sunny day, with temperatures in the 50s, which felt warm after the last few weeks. So I took a walk through the city park of that town and along its main drag. When I got back to my own town, I took another walk, through the neighborhood where my best friend in high school had lived. Her dad passed away last year, and they recently sold the house, Mom moving to be closer to her daughter. Walking that street was like walking back in time.

I don’t know if it was the fresh air or the sunshine or dredging up memories, but my funk seemed to lift. A feeling of success came over me, a feeling that whatever comes my way, I will conquer it.

Not that I conquered all of my short list of goals since then. But there has been progress.

Big goal
1)      Publish “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” – I am half-way through the list of ten items my publisher sent me. One of the items was my thoughts for the cover picture. On Friday, my publisher sent nine concepts which his graphic designer came up with. I picked two and made suggestions to make them better, because nothing is ever perfect the first time around. I am also waiting to hear who my editor for this project is going to be and when I will get the first round of edits from them. That’s always the biggest task and one of the most important, I feel, because we do want this book perfect. Right?

Small goals
1) Submit three pieces somewhere. I haven’t submitted anything more, but I did hear that the piece I submitted to Christian Flash Fiction Weekly was not chosen as the winner, but it was still on their blog, so that is still exposure.
2) Finish the novel. Still haven't gotten back to it. 
3) Start my third devotional, with a tentative title of "The Early Ministry of Jesus in 40 Days". I did pick all of my Bible verses and slotted them into 38 days. I know, that’s not 40, but it usually shakes out as I start writing stuff. I never know when a Bible passage is going to scream to have the attention of two entries.
4) Christmas program at church. Just waiting to hear who wants to participate, and if I haven’t heard from every single kid in our congregation in the next three weeks, I will start calling them. 
I don't know how I could ever be in a bad mood when I get to cross this bridge every day. I'm blessed to live in an idyllic place. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Keep it simple? Yeah, right.

I am so into keeping it simple right now that I am amazing even myself. I’ve had a stupid cold for three weeks now and my back went out the other day. There is nothing more for me to do except be lazy! Nah, that ain’t gonna happen.

What is going to happen is that today my daughter is having a work day for her nonprofit, Tumaini, all day at her house. I need to leave my house at nine (shortly) to get to her house in time to help her make breakfast for everyone before we start working on our various projects.

I need to leave her house by three, so that I can pick up my Kinship kid on the way home and still have a little bit of time to spend with her before I have to run her back home. Because she is just as busy being a sophomore in high school as I am being a middle-aged crazy lady, I haven’t seen her in like six weeks.

But that’s it. Nothing else crazy all week, except our women’s church group on Wednesday night.

Anyway, what did I do in the last week? Well, on Tuesday, I got the list of ten things I need to do for my publisher by November 18 or so in preparation for the publishing of my third book, “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”. I got four of my tasks accomplished. Yeah, me! Except that of those four things, only one was in any way time-consuming. But hey, a task is a task.

I need to work on my thoughts for a cover design this week. Bleah! The most important part of the book. So, hence, a time-consuming task.

And my small goals:

1)      I submitted a piece to the blog, Christian Flash Fiction Weekly. First time I have posted something to their blog. I may be way off, I have a lot to learn about flash fiction, but it does seem to be quite the trend, so I should work on it.
2)      Did not work on my novel. What a surprise.
3)      Did not work on my third devotional in the series.
4)      Did meet with our pastor, our lead Sunday school teacher, and the puppet master. Got them all on board for the Christmas program.

And that’s all folks.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cutting back and moving on

At the end of each Round, I look at the calendar, and think, "oh, look at how many days until I have to finalize my new goals and post them on my blog." And then the new Round starts and I am like, "Bleah! What am I doing?"

I guess this time it worked out for me. I will have no time in the next three months for a long list of goals. I have one big goal and several minor goals and that's it folks.

Yesterday, my publisher agreed to take me on for another book. This will be the third fall in a row that I will have a book out by the end of the year, and that to-do list between now and then seems to get more daunting each year.

So that's my big goal, get my third book, which is my second devotional and will bear the title, "The Early Life of Jesus in 40Days", published by the end of the year.

As far as my small goals:

1) Submit three pieces somewhere, because getting published anywhere is a good way to market myself and because I think that all writers just need to keep submitting stuff.
2) Finish the novel. I know you are all sick of hearing this. I still have those last few chapters to go but this will still happen by the end of the year.
3) Start my third devotional, with a tentative title of "The Early Ministry of Jesus in 40 Days". That's the problem with starting a series. It is not a series if you don't write more books for it.
4) Christmas program at church has a date. December 20. I wrote the program last weekend, but it is still going to take lots of tweaking, phone calls, meetings with my sunday school teachers, etc., before that date to pull this off again.

 Anything else that comes up in the next 80 days - - well, I am just going to pass. Well, except maybe Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wish me luck!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

I'm Calling this Round a Success

Is today the end of the Round or do I have a few more days? I can never remember how this works, but I am sending you my final figures for the Round anyway.  Things I accomplished are highlighted in green, things I came close on are in yellow, and my failures are written in red.  I just have way too much fun with color.

A. Weekly goal
1. Read my assigned blog posts as a ROW80 sponsor.  I think I did this.
2. Read ten hours a week in one of the books I am reading.  I have been reading lots so I would have to say yes.   
B. Goals for the Round                           
1. Have finished reading five books.  I have finished five actual books, “The Boy at the Museum”, “Years of Stone”, “Sell Your Book Like Wildfire”, “The Two-Edged Sword” and “God Called – He Needs Your Decision”, plus  the manuscript of that friend of a friend.
A. Weekly goal
1. Work on my novel, “Tale of an American Woman”. I finished chapter 33. This seems to be as good as it gets.
2. Edit “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”, the second book in the Bible Stories in 40 Days series. Finished!
 3. Write two blog posts here and three posts to my other blog, The Dino Chronicles. Yes, I blogged on schedule.  
B. Goals for the Round.  
1. Have finished the first round of edits for “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”. Finished!
2. Start editing my novel.   I know that I should probably finish it first, but this goal seems to be hanging out there like an ingrown toenail.   
3. After reading that manuscript of a friend of a friend (I should give it a title, huh?), write a critique of it. I wrote a one page critique and rewrote two pages of her manuscript to give her an idea of some of the changes this thing needs. I met with her this week, spent an hour giving her feedback. I hope I helped her and she doesn’t give up on her dream of getting her story published.

A.      Weekly goal.
1. Promote either one of my books on one other site or in person. Boy, I don’t remember doing this at all. Shoot.
2. Comment on my assigned blogs for ROW80. I think I did this.   
3. Research markets for an hour. Actually I did drag out my 2012 Christian Writer’s Market Guide and checked out a few markets. The only reason I did was because I was once again rebooting my laptop and couldn’t just sit here watching it do its thing. I think a goal for the new year needs to get getting a new laptop.
4. Walk several streets of town, taking pictures and blogging about it.  I walked a few streets on Friday and on Wednesday when I stopped at the old hospital, I got some wonderful news. Two girls from our church were there salvaging the old marble and other cool stuff from the oldest section of the hospital. One of the girls is doing this for her girl scout Gold Award. She plans to build a memorial garden using as many things from the old building as she can and possibly selling bricks to raise money for her project. I was overjoyed to hear this, as that old section is the part of the building which remains dear to my heart.
B. Goals for the Round
1. Have submitted three pieces somewhere. Yes, I submitted pieces to Splickety Love, Guidepost magazine and a Poetry Challenge.  
2. Have sent a copy of “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” to my clergy-friends for their input. Yes.  
3. Have finished walking every street in my town.  I think this goal may have to remain open-ended for now.

A. Nonprofit – Tumaini Volunteers We are having a meeting today to work on the Business Plan, elect officers and assign an Audit Committee. That all sounds very productive!
B. Sewing -- Finish one project this Round. Yes! Have sewn two things.
C. Church –
1. Get addresses for our college kids and find them all mentors.  Cheating or not, I am saying this goal is complete. I have addresses for eight of my nine students and all of those have mentors.Yes!
2. Write our children’s Christmas program. (Since this is a brand-new goal, I can hardly mark it in red yet.) I talked to our Sunday School teacher last night, and she only has five kids in class right now. How abysmal is that. I’m not yet going to despair as we still have ten confirmation kids to pull from as well as our high schoolers. I will start work on the program in the next few weeks, keeping in mind the low numbers and need for simplicity. I will not give up on our kids.

I now need to start working on tweaking these goals for next Round and the end of the year. Hard to believe that is only three months away. And so much to do yet!

How about you? Are you satisfied with what goals you accomplished this Round or are you still pushing to get those last few things done? Or have you just plain scraped a bunch of stuff? Whatever has been going on in your world, I think the best thing is to still have goals, if you don’t get them done at least you thought about them. (Kind of like dieting, right?) 
 Callie and Cassie hard at work.
 The original entrance of the old hospital.
Salvaged arch from the entryway. Cool stuff. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Out of the Blue

Here is it ten o’clock Wednesday night and I am just now starting to blog. And I have a meeting at seven in the morning. Why am I not in bed?

I can’t think of anything I have honestly done since Sunday. Oh, I think I finished the next chapter in my novel and still have two to go, at least. I am beginning to drag this out. Maybe I will end up with 40 chapters after all.

I have another address and another mentor for my church’s college kids. I also wrote to my Compassion Kid in Kenya. I have really been slacking on that. I posted another item on the Esty store of our nonprofit. I finished my critique of the memoir of the friend of the friend and am meeting with her tomorrow night. I hope it goes well; I don’t want to offend her. Totally out of the blue, I met her daughter today. After we talked a minute, she goes, “Did you write two books?” I answered, “yes”, and started into my sales pitch. That’s when she told me that I had just read her mom’s book. She was sure that her mom just wants any kind of feedback she can get and that I won’t hurt her feelings if I am critical.

I hope to get a lot done on Friday, but my day off is starting to fill up already. Figures. And I work the day job Saturday morning, and am going to spend the day Sunday working on the nonprofit with my daughter and the rest of our board. 

Not seeing much end in sight. And only a week left in the Round!
But lots of thing can happen totally out of the blue.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

That's How It Goes.

Not quite as impressive this week, but I am still plowing ahead.

A. Weekly goal
1. Read my assigned blog posts as a ROW80 sponsor.  I think I did this.
2. Read ten hours a week in one of the books I am reading.  Let’s just say, yes.  
B. Goals for the Round                           
1. Have finished reading five books.  I have finished four actual books, but I also did finish the manuscript of that friend of a friend. I don’t know how many words it was, but it is in a two and a half inch ring binder, so I’m counting it.

A. Weekly goal
1. Work on my novel, “Tale of an American Woman”. Started chapter 33. I really need to stop being distracted and just finish it!!!
2. Edit “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”, the second book in the Bible Stories in 40 Days series. Finished! And this week I did contact my publisher and he is excited to see it as soon as it is really ready.
 3. Write two blog posts here and three posts to my other blog, The Dino Chronicles. Yes, I blogged on schedule.  
B. Goals for the Round.  
1. Have finished the first round of edits for “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”. Finished!
2. Start editing my novel.   I don’t know how I will get this done, but I am not going to despair yet.  
3. After reading that manuscript of a friend of a friend (I should give it a title, huh?), write a critique of it. This is not the only brand-new goal that I added just this week, but this one I actually did. I wrote a one page evaluation of it and re-wrote a two-page section to give the author an idea of what editing she needs to have done on this thing.

A.      Weekly goal.
1. Promote either one of my books on one other site or in person. I personally talked to three women this week about my books, telling them where they are for sale and offering to get them a personal copy. I also emailed five friends to tell them I am working on the second devotional in the series and that it would help that second book if I had some more reviews of the first one. All five of them got back to me that they are on it. I think that is a good percentage.
2. Comment on my assigned blogs for ROW80. I think I did this.   
3. Research markets for an hour. No, not really.  
4. Walk several streets of town, taking pictures and blogging about it.  Umm, I don’t think I walked at all. Right now I am obsessed with the tearing down of our old hospital, so I walked around those two city blocks four times.
B. Goals for the Round
1. Have submitted three pieces somewhere. Yes, I submitted my third piece to Splickety Love and heard back within two days that they rejected it. On the upside, I heard from an online magazine that I sent a piece to in March and they wanted to let me know that they have sent my piece to some committee for consideration, so I can at least take that article off the rejection list and put it back on the still-waiting list.
2. Have sent a copy of “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” to my clergy-friends for their input. Yes, it is in the hands of three of them.
3. Have finished walking every street in my town.  The weather last week was abysmal, but the forecast for next week is looking better. I am going to keep going and see what I can get done before it snows.

A. Nonprofit – Tumaini VolunteersFirst of all, you have heard we have been granted tax-exempt status. Which is the tip of the iceberg. Our new immediate goal is to write a business plan which we can present to potential large donors. We are having a meeting next Sunday to work on that.
B. Sewing -- Finish one project this Round. Yes! Have sewn two things.
C. Church –
1. Get addresses for our college kids and find them all mentors.  No change here, but I still am doing better than other years.
2. Write our children’s Christmas program. I know, who does this? With one week to go in the Round, I added another new goal. I know this won’t happen this Round, but I wanted to write it down so that I wouldn’t forget it for next Round.

And that is how my life goes. Basically around in circles. But what’s a girl to do?
 My biggest distraction of the summer. This was the ER entrance of the old hospital in my town, as it looked in July.
 Here it is as of last Thursday. Needing some emergency services itself. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Short and rather useless

Wednesday still comes up way too fast. Monday I didn’t get home from the day job until 7:30 and I had one lousy day. I sucked it up, went online and actually did some marketing. I still hope to publish my second devotional this fall, so thought I should push the first one a little bit. I emailed some of my friends and bugged them about writing reviews of it for me. Several admitted that they didn’t own a copy of it yet (what kind of friends are those??), so I popped copies of the book in the mail to them on Tuesday.

Tuesday night my daughter and her fiancĂ© came up and we took them out for Chinese. (Num!) Then she and I spent the rest of the night looking up wedding ideas on Pinterest. I know, not something I usually waste my time with, but a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.

And tonight is Wednesday. It is cold out (43 degrees Fahrenheit!!) and has been raining most of the day. (We had two and three-quarters inches in the rain gauge.) This weekend is the Fall Ride motorcycle rally in my town, so I have two motorcycle trailers parked in my yard. (It’s a long story (and I don’t even know why I mentioned this.).)

I am feeling that I have overused the parentheses, so I think I will cut this post short and wish you all a good night. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Adding Purple to my Green and Yellow

A. Weekly goal
1. Read my assigned blog posts as a ROW80 sponsor.  I think I did this.
2. Read ten hours a week in one of the books I am reading.  I’m reading “Crooked Lines” by Holly Michael, “God Called . . . He Need Your Decision” by Randy Kirk, and “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer, as well as that manuscript of a friend of a friend. I would say there was ten hours spent in all of those books this week
B. Goals for the Round                           
1. Have finished reading five books.  I am still at four.  “The Boy at the Museum”, “Years of Stone”, “Sell Your Book Like Wildfire”, and “The Two-Edged Sword”.    

A. Weekly goal
1. Work on my novel, “Tale of an American Woman”. Wrote chapter 32, which went well, but led me to add another chapter.  
2. Edit “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”, the second book in the Bible Stories in 40 Days series. Finished!
 3. Write two blog posts here and three posts to my other blog, The Dino Chronicles. I blogged here twice and four times in the Dino Chronicles, which wins me a green highlight.  
B. Goals for the Round.  
1. Have finished the first round of edits for “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days”. Finished!
2. Start editing my novel.   I still might get this started in the next two weeks.

A.      Weekly goal.
1. Promote either one of my books on one other site or in person. Umm, I somehow need to make this a more concrete goal by next Round. I have been neglecting all my social media except for Facebook, so I did do some outreach on LinkedIn and Good Reads. I also took my two books into another store in town to sell on consignment. The store owner knows me and so she goes, “I was wondering when you were going to bring your books in.” A good sign, I guess.
2. Comment on my assigned blogs for ROW80. I think I did this.   
3. Research markets for an hour. Yes, I did. See B1 below.
4. Walk several streets of town, taking pictures and blogging about it.  Walked only twice, but am still ahead of myself on the blogging circuit.
B. Goals for the Round
1. Have submitted three pieces somewhere. Here we go. I submitted my third piece for the Round, sending the flash fiction story, “The Perfect Height”, to Splickety Love. I know, as if I have ever written a love story ever in my entire life. But this one is kind of cute. I hope they like it.  
2. Have sent a copy of “The Early Life of Jesus in 40 Days” to my clergy-friends for their input. Yes, I did this and my dear husband even read it and gave it a glowing review, as if he would give me less than a glowing review.
3. Have finished walking every street in my town.  So, since I decided that I am just not going to get this in yet this fall, I have plotted out in my head four or five remaining areas, so that is my goal for the year, not necessarily the Round. 

A. Nonprofit – Tumaini Volunteers Ok, so this is the goal that has me completely blown away. Like blown away into the next century! My daughter called Friday afternoon and said she had some exciting news. She followed that statement with what they call a pregnant pause and now I know why they call it that. I was sure the excitement she felt was not going to be such to this woman who has no intention of ever being a grandma. But luckily the daughter finally burst out that she had just gotten off the phone with the IRS and they have granted our non-profit tax exempt status. I never, ever in a million years thought it would be that easy. We were all sure that it would take at least a couple rounds of forms being filled out before they deemed us worthy. The IRS woman told Val that the official letter would be coming within two weeks, so we both decided we wouldn’t get excited and announce it until we had the letter in our hot little hands. On her way to work that night, Val stopped at the post office box and - this is the part you will not believe – there was the official letter from the IRS. Sweet Lord above, can you even believe it!! Much excitement now! Much, much bigtime excitement! (That was way too much green, so I had to throw in some purple!)
B. Sewing -- Finish one project this Round. Yes! Sewed one dress and last night finished sewing a book bag for my writer group. Once again, ahead of the game!
C. Church – Get addresses for our college kids and find them all mentors.  We have nine college students, I have addresses for seven and mentors for five. This is really good and qualifies for yellow.  

And I don’t believe I told you about the latest with my stupid dog. So last week I posted his ALS ice bucket challenge. I got home from work on Tuesday and his vet had left a message. The stupid dog had won their pet photo contest for last month. What is up with that! The dog has more fans than I do! 

(No pictures of the dog this week, just the book bag I sewed.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

So close and yet so far away.

Holy cow, how did September jump onto the docket? Here in Northern Wisconsin, I am still waiting for summer to start. I think I will be waiting for a lonnngg time.

Labor Day, with only the living room to clean and some laundry to wash, along with the usual crummy weather, I was fired up to finish my novel. Just two last chapters, I’ve been telling myself now for months. But this is why I am not a plotter. I wrote what I had hoped would be my second to the last chapter, and my darn main character went crazy again and off on some tangent and then God sent her a premonition, which is a good lead-in to the next chapter, but that means the next chapter is still not going to be the last chapter. I just don’t get how other novelists do it. Maybe I need to take a class. Or just get a handle on my characters!

Here is part of that scene. I know I haven’t shared anything about the story, coz there are some big twists and turns, and hopefully surprises which I don’t want to ruin. The premise of this scene is simple though. The main character Jenny and her husband are staying in a church in Nairobi, Kenya. They have embarked on their first ever mission trip and have spent two days visiting a slum and an orphanage. In the morning they are leaving for the Bush. This scene takes place on August 6, 1998. I don’t want to ruin it for everyone, but if that date means something to you – shh, keep it a secret.

“Do you think we are doing the right thing?”
            “What do you mean by that?”
“I don’t know. I know we prayed about this, but do you think this is where God wants us to be? Do you think He really wanted us to drag these other people here?”
            Paul raised himself up on his elbow and studied her face. “What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know. I’m just suddenly scared. I feel like we shouldn’t have come, like we aren’t safe anymore.”
            “Is it all of John’s talk about crime in the slums? Or hearing all the sad stories from the orphans?”
She shook her head, staring up at the ceiling. Water stains darkened the patched drywall. The room was adequate, though it was small, musty and lacked a window. But there was something outside the walls of this building, something beyond this Christian compound. As if an insignificant virus had started to march down the street of the neighborhood outside, a disease that wormed its way into the lives of those who were not aware.
She studied the water spots on the ceiling. Before her very eyes, she thought she could see them spread.
Mathare Slum, Nairobi, Kenya, when I was there in 2006.