Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Clancy making himself comfortable after I had just finished vacuuming the couch and fluffing up the cushions.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Kindle, Finally!

I'm so excited, as I got a new Kindle yesterday, and I am already totally in love with it. I've been thinking about getting one forever, but for the longest time I thought I would hate it as I was sure I would never want to read a book electronically. I was insistent that I wanted a "real book" that I could hold in my hands.

But then I remembered that I had the exact same opinion when Ipods first became popular. I was certain I would always want cds. Then I got an Ipod, and it became my favorite toy ever. I've always been a music nut, and the Ipod only added to that, as I sampled music I never would have thought of buying otherwise. I have a feeling the Kindle will turn out the same, and will merely add to my love of reading by allowing me to discover authors I may have otherwise missed.

One thing I am very excited about with the Kindle is that I will now have the chance to read more of the works of my blogging pals. Ever since I became active in blogging, I have wanted to be able to read so many of the books I see on blogs, but when I tried reading them using the e-reader on my laptop it just didn't work for me, and bothered my eyes. Now I'm looking forward to going back and checking out all of the books I have missed, and also being able to participate in more book launches in the future. I'm excited that the Kindle gives me the opportunity to indulge my love of reading while also supporting my fellow bloggers!

I already downloaded a few last night, including Semper Audacia by M.Pax, and, in the spirit of the season, The Christmas Village by Melissa Goodwin and Once Upon a December Nightmare by Cherie Reich. I can't wait to read all of them.

In honor of my new toy, I decided to start writing reviews here on my blog, hopefully once a week. I've been wanting to try my hand at book reviews, as I thought it would be a great chance to sharpen my own writing skills while at the same time supporting other writers, so I feel like now is a great time to get that started. I hope to start sharing my reviews this week.

I am hoping that writing reviews will also help me to get back on track with regular blogging, as there is no question I have neglected that this month while I have focused on my WIP. I'm still thrilled to be making progress on that front, but I have missed blogging.

I only hope that now I don't end up spending so much time with my nose in my Kindle that I end up neglecting writing and blogging both! I need to make sure that doesn't happen, but I can't deny that organizing time is not my strong suit. I'm almost as bad at organization as I am at following directions. ;)

I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful holiday, and I am looking forward to catching up with all the blogs I have missed this week.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

Image courtesy

I didn't intend to take a blogging break last week, but that's exactly what happened, as I've still been wrapped up in my writing cocoon and working on my WIP. November has turned out to be a great novel writing month for me, even though I didn't sign up for NaNoWriMo!

I have the good fortune to be off work this week, thanks to a combination of vacation time and the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US. I'm going to continue to take a bit of a break from blogging while I focus on writing, and move closer towards my goal of a completed first draft by the end of this year. 

Best wishes for the week ahead to everyone, and, to the NaNo participants, best of luck as you sprint towards the finish line!

To everyone celebrating the holiday, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and a wonderful time with your loved ones. 

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

Friday, November 11, 2011

Seven Days

That's how far I made it in the NaBloPoMo challenge this month. That's actually worse than my previous record of eight days when I first tried this daily posting challenge back in January. If I ever find myself signing up for one of these challenges again, I need someone to slap my hand and remind me that this kind of challenge is simply not for me.

I actually have a great excuse for my latest NaBloPoMo failure though, as I got a burst of inspiration for my WIP, and have been writing every day this week. It's a little funny to me, as when I tried a daily writing challenge back in May, I froze up and didn't write anything. Now when I try a daily blogging challenge, I go blank on blogging, and end up writing more steadily than I have in months.

It's backwards, but that's fine with me as I'm really excited about my writing progress, and I feel more on a roll with writing Polar Night than I have since I started writing it back in the summer. I was wrapped up in a writing cocoon this week, and it felt great. I wrote nearly 5,000 words, and managed to cross over the 27,000 word count on my ticker.

In addition, my jumble of ideas for the story seemed to come together as I was writing. A writer friend of mine talks about the moment when you can feel your story coming together as similar to when you are working on a jigsaw puzzle and suddenly see how all the pieces are going to fit together. That's how I feel about my novel after this week. The puzzle pieces have fallen into place.

I'm not sure what got into me this week, but I also wrote a query letter to Fido Friendly Magazine about a dog story I am interested in writing, and I wrote and submitted an essay for the upcoming Chicken Soup For the Soul book, "I Can't Believe My Dog Did That." Of course, I have no idea if either of these submissions will be accepted, but it felt great to send them. This is the most productive week I've had in ages.

So while my seven days of NaBloPoMo posting fell well short of what I intended, my past seven days of writing have been totally exhilarating to me. I guess it just goes to show that, to paraphrase one of my favorite songs, you don't always get what you want but, sometimes, you do get what you need.

I got what I needed this week, and I am excited about continuing on this writing high. My goal was to have the first draft of my novel done by the end of this year and, for the first time, that goal actually feels within reach.

I am anxious now to catch up on my blogging, and I hope everyone has had a great week. To all the NaBloPoMo participants, I wish you the best of luck in finishing the challenge!

Happy Friday to all, and best wishes for a great weekend ahead! :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week

The Humane Society of the United States

The first week full week of November is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, an annual event that was launched by the Humane Society of the United States in 1996.

The celebration is designed not only to spotlight shelters and rescues across the country, but also to increase awareness of animal welfare issues. I'm happy to have the opportunity to participate in this special week, as both my dog Clancy and my cat Nate were rescues.

The HSUS site lists special events every day this week to help spread the word about animals currently waiting in shelters for their forever homes. Today's focus is on the Shelter Pet Project, a fun site that collaborates with to help pet lovers find adoptable dogs and cats. 

If you're interested in finding shelter pets in your area, all you have to do is click here, and enter your zip code and whether you are looking for a dog or a cat. If you want to do an advanced search, you can limit your criteria by age, sex, breed, and size. It couldn't be easier, and just one search will introduce you to loads of lovable furry friends who want nothing more than to be part of your family.

Visit the National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week site here to learn other ways to help homeless animals and spread the word about this important week. In addition to helping shelter pets across the county, you may just find a new best friend of your own.

The Humane Society of the United States

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Snapshot

I'm distracted by football today and don't have a post prepared, so I am cheating a bit here in order to keep going with NaBloPoMo. I don't want to think about the fact that I have not even made it to the one week point and I'm already cheating! 

I just wanted to share one of my favorite pictures of Clancy, taken last month on his birthday. I made some doggie cupcakes for him, and he was completely fascinated by them. He made us laugh as he was totally serious about the whole business, and sat at attention while we sang Happy Birthday.

For the record, I blew the candles out for Clancy before I gave him his cupcakes. He's a smart dog but I don't think he would have managed that too well. :D

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Favorite Thing About Writing

 Tuesday, November 1, 2011
"What is your favourite part about writing?"

This was the prompt for the first day of NaBloPoMo, but as I had already written a general post for Tuesday I didn't use it at that time. I was thinking more about the question though, and decided to go back to it today, as I came to a realization this week about what I love most about writing.

Except for the daily blogging, I didn't do much writing this week. In fact, I managed just one day of work on my WIP, Polar Night. I only wrote about 2,000 words, but the time I spent doing so brought me to this post.

In recent years, I've struggled a great deal with anxiety. This is primarily because of real life issues that are stressful to me, but in addition, I think it is just part of the way I'm wired. I'm prone to anxiety in the same way I'm prone to motion sickness and skin allergies.

At any rate, this week was a difficult one for me on this front. But as I looked back on the week today, I realized that the time I had spent writing had been the time that I could best banish the anxiety, and feel the most relaxed and content.

I've tried all kinds of things to deal with managing stress, and I have found that exercising regularly is a great help to me. But nothing works as well as writing, and somehow just sitting down with my laptop and putting words together helps me relax in a way nothing else does.

This realization reminded me of a passage from one of my favorite books, Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott.

"Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. The thing you had to force yourself to do - the actual act of writing - turns out to be the best part. It's like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward."  ~ Bird by Bird, page xxvi

This was the case for me this week. While I didn't do a large amount of writing, what I did was indeed its own reward.

Writing is the best antidote for anxiety that I've ever found, and I don't know of a better way to take a break from the inevitable stress of the "real world" than by sitting down and simply writing.

I'm looking forward to a weekend of doing just that, and I know that even if I get stuck on a chapter or struggle to find just the right words, I will still feel the reward that comes from the act of writing itself.

That is my favorite thing about writing, and the reason I'm so glad I discovered, however late, the joy that it can bring.

Happy Friday to all, and I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend ahead. :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A-Z Challenge Blog

I've been meaning to give a shout-out to the new A-Z Challenge blog, and I figured there was no time like the present, as participating in NaBloPoMo has reminded me of the crazy (but fun!) blogging days of April. In addition, I'm thrilled to have another posting day under my belt. Three down! :)

I can say without a doubt that the best thing I have done in my first year of blogging was to sign up for the A-Z in April Challenge, hosted by the wonderful Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out. Thanks to this challenge, I felt like I started to find my place in the blogging world, and by the end of the month I was significantly more comfortable about blogging. Even better, I met the majority of my blogger pals as we all went through the letters of the alphabet together.

I know April, 2012 is a long way off, and if you're like me you're thinking more about the upcoming holiday season than you are about spring time, but I still wanted to post the news that the A-Z Challenge now has its own blog!

Arlee set up the blog to share news and information about the challenge, and to give all the bloggers interested in participating a place to congregate. The challenge was extraordinarily popular last year, and I've no doubt 2012 will be even bigger.

It's never too early to follow the blog and make sure you are up to date on all the challenge goings-on as we close out 2011 and head towards 2012. If you are interested in sharpening your blogging and writing skills, meeting tons of great bloggers, and having a great time being creative, I can't recommend the A-Z Challenge enough.

Go HERE to follow the blog, and help spread the word around the blogosphere. The April flowers will be here again before we know it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Last Meal?

This is NaBloPoMo writing prompt for today:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011
If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be? 

My first thought when I read this prompt was that whatever the meal, I would want to have a perfectly made gin & tonic with it. Bombay Sapphire Gin, tonic water, lots of ice, and just the right amount of lime. I can taste it now just writing about it.

When it comes to the meal itself though, it's hard for me to think of a specific food. I think for me, it would be more about where the meal would be, and who else would be there.

I love eating outside on my sister's back deck on summer nights, enjoying good food while my dog Clancy runs around the yard and plays with the neighbor dogs. I also love sitting in my other sister's basement watching football and eating party food, my favorite autumn tradition.

For food, we could have something yummy on the grill, or take-out Chinese, or we could just fill up on snacks like chips and salsa. We could have pizza and beer while we cheer for our teams, or my favorite party munchies like taco pie or chicken dip.

When I think of the meals I enjoy the most, they are the meals when I am relaxed and content, and enjoying spending time with people I love. I'd want my last meal to be that kind of experience, whatever I had to eat. I know that's a little sappy, but it's the truth. The food itself doesn't really matter.

The gin & tonic, on the other hand, is essential. ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy November!

November is here, and I know tons of writers are participating in NaNoWriMo this month. I'm not one of them, as I discovered when I tried to do May - You Write Your Novel last summer that those kinds of challenges don't work out well for me. I seem to end up unable to write a single word, and respond by hiding in my closet, shaking and muttering about word counts. ;)

But for everyone who is participating, I wish you all the best of luck, and I am looking forward to cheering you on as you write your novels!

For my own November challenge, I decided to sign up for NaBloPoMo, which stands for National Blog Posting Month, and post every day in November.

I tried this way back in January when I first started this blog, and only made it about five days. But now that I have more blogging experience under my belt, I thought I would give it another try. We'll see if I can make it past the first week.

I thought this would be a great time to try NaBloPoMo again, as the site has moved to the BlogHer publishing network, and there will be a party going on all month to celebrate NaBloPoMo's move. The theme of the month is "blogging for blogging's sake," and I thought that sounded like a fun theme to try. There will also be writing prompts and, best of all, prizes! :D

I also thought the timing could be good for me, as I have been so scattered and unorganized lately with my blogging that I hope this will help me get back to more of a regular pace and schedule. Last week's great Killer Character's Blogfest reminded me how much I enjoy blogging and how much fun it can be, so I want to continue with that spirit.

So I'm jumping in to NaBloPoMo with both feet, and we'll see where I'm at when it's time to turn the calendar over to December. I think this is going to be a fun month.

One post down!