Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sending Some Your Way...

No, I'm not going to share my cold/cough/bronchitis (although I'd be just delighted if you took it). I'm sending you a moment of niceness. We need it desperately right now- in our world, our nation, our town, maybe even in our own families or ourselves. So, take a few moments to just BE; no worrying about edits, holiday errands, work, troubles, etc. Whether you celebrate the holidays or not,  inhale deeply, think of something joyful, and let go of stress.

It won't last long because of busyness of our lives, but it only takes a moment to appreciate all the good things.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Going Into Survival Mode....

This is what Thanksgiving looked like:

The food began with the antipasto:

(Obviously my husband is Italian, so we started with this traditional dish before we moved to the pasta, then the turkey, then dessert.) When we were finished (six and a half hours later) this is what I felt like:

Now the Christmas/Channukah/New Year's season has begun. I love the holidays, but yes, they can be a bit frantic. There is so much I want to do: see concerts, decorate, get together with friends, visit family, revise that NaNoWriMo novel, do well at books signings, etc. Sometimes it can make a person anxious, depressed, angry, sad, exhausted, disappointed, and/or afraid. For those of us with loved ones-family or friends-who suffer from a chronic condition, whether it's a physical or mental illness, it's important to keep a handle on things that are stressors. The National Alliance on Mental Illness put together these guidelines which they share every holiday season and I want to pass along to everyone:

1)      Talk with one another about your expectations of the holiday season. In particular ask your loved one what they envision as the best scenario and then discuss your own… make concessions on both sides and have a plan for dealing with problems.
2)      Anticipate problem areas such as situations that your relative (and you) cannot handle well.
3)      Make some strategic plans for handling these potential hot spots.
4)      Remember, visitors can always rent a hotel room. Neither you nor they have to stay with extended family. Limit time exposed to relatives or friends that hurt more than help.
5)      Develop a secret code that means “get me out of here!”
6)      Don’t let adult children fall back into the “child” role when visiting.
7)      Don’t over-schedule yourselves.
8)      Work on creating good memories.
9)      Start new family traditions. Do what is most comfortable.
10)   Remember to focus on your relationships and not on getting things done.
11)   Make time to have fun or attain peace and quiet.
12)   If there’s something you really don’t want to do during the holidays, say so.
13)   Be gentle with yourself. The ideal holiday doesn’t exist.
14)   Don’t compare yourself with others, or judge yourself or others.
15)   Find a place where you can be completely alone each day even if it is just for a little while and retreat.
16)   Prioritize what is important – Eliminate what is not.
17)   Learn the difference between complaining that relieves tension and complaining that causes it.
18)   At the end of each day focus on what is good.
19)   As you fall asleep make a realistic mental list of what is crucial to be accomplished next day. You really should blank on this one because nothing beats taking care of yourself and your loved one and avoiding stress is important.
20)   Learn to say NO, thank you.
21)   Holiday cards … not really necessary … or just write them out as you get them from others if it bothers you.
22)   Gifts … does anyone really need another kitchen gadget? Give the gift of time or food. Discuss in advance that you won’t be exchanging gifts, very understandable in this current economic environment.
23)   Decorations … keep it simple. Don’t make work for yourself unless it is a source of relaxation and pleasure.
24)   Visitors, company … Holidays are too intense. See them after holidays. Set aside a time. Large crowds can be disturbing and bring about different opinions and expectations. Our ill relatives don’t understand that when company is there your attention has to be focused on them.
25)   Go out and do something different … go to a movie, walk in a park, ride the ferry. You do not need to do anything.
26)   Make plans that exclude your ill relative – if it is ok with them then it should be ok with you. Guilt should not be part of the decision.
Some helpful websites:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness http://www.nami.org/

PsychCentral holiday survival guide: http://psychcentral.com/holidays/

Psychology Today holiday tips: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201212/10-tips-surviving-the-holidays

There is nothing to 'celebrate' if we're miserable, so I wish you all a comfortable, peaceful, holiday.


Artwork courtesy of Microsoft Clip Art
Holiday list courtesy of NAMI of Somerset County

Monday, November 24, 2014

It is... finished.

Yay! I'm done! My NaNoWriMo novel is finished. Now before you get green faced, let me explain that this is a middle grade novel, which means that 50,000 words is a tad long. Yes, there are MG books that are that long-and longer, but this one won't be. That doesn't mean there won't be more words to add--there will be as I fine tune my research (questions always pop up about tiny details that you need to have answered). And as I revise, I'll find sections that need more description or clarification.

And before you think thoughts of me being an over-achiever because I finished well before time (this is such a crazy month- WHO picked November? Wouldn't the doldrums of January have been better? Or the emptiness of February? The isolation of March?) Let me tell you that my novel currently stands at 28,741 words.

Don't scream that I'm cheating- I've worked on a short story (which adds another 4,272 words to my  count because hey, it's writing and I had to get it in under deadline and I'm counting it), kept up (pretty much) with my blog posts, and dabbled in a few other things that didn't contribute to my word count. (I didn't add Facebook or Twitter chatter, emails, or texts, even if writing related either.) All that might total up to 50,000.

The purposed of National Novel Writing Month is to write that novel--which I have done so I have achieved the goal. This is an historical fiction and I see it as a two year project. More research,  revisions, and writing are required before I even breathe a word to my agent. Last year's NaNo project, Lethal Dose, is currently making submission rounds, and a middle grade project I finished just prior to starting NaNoWriMo 2014 is with a critique group. I have a lot of work to do.

But that's another facet of NaNoWriMo; to get you used to writing/working consistently. No one does the same amount every day, but to write everyday (okay, I slacked off when I was sick, but there were days I wrote double the guideline of 1,700 words), I have achieved this.

So I'm calling this a win: novel drafted and finished, wrote almost every day.

How is your NaNo journey going?


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Good, The Bad, and the Really Nasty

The Good: I have a great idea for my NaNoWriMo project.
The Bad- I'm stuck on the title and how to connect to the ending.
The Nasty- I'm 3 days behind.

The Good- I'm over my intestinal infection.
The Bad- I have bronchitis, horrible sore throat, and congestion.
The Nasty- all that green gunk coming out of my lungs and sinuses.

The Good- I have antibiotics to clear up the green gunk.
The Bad- I've had so many antibiotics lately my gastro tract feels like I've gotten punched in the gut.
The Nasty- Bathroom issues, 'nuff said.

The Good- I made it through our bell performance at church yesterday with only 2 missed notes.
The Bad- The performance was in the middle of the service so I had to sit, sick, in church while I waited to play.
The Nasty- I forgot my son at church and had to send someone to pick him up.

The Good- It's not snowing.
The Bad- It's a driving, dripping, rain.
The Nasty- Had to go out to doctor's and pharmacist in it.

The Good- I have 2 kitties, a fireplace, and a cup of tea.
The Bad- I have to hunt down the kitties for a snuggle, go downstairs for the fireplace, and my teacup is empty.
The Nasty- I just want to pass out from exhaustion, but there's so much to do.

The Good- (all out)
The Bad- (too many more to list)
The Nasty- It's Monday


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Catching Up--and Sprinting Ahead

I'm ahead on my NaNoWriMo word count. By the estimate on the NaNo site, I should be done by November 29th.

I want to be done sooner.

No, I'm not trying to overachieve, or hoping to say I was the first done, or gloat when others talk about the daily word struggle.

I'm antsy. I see the story and I just want it written because there are story ideas lining up, like airplanes on the tarmac, waiting for takeoff.

I don't think I'll live long enough to write all the stories from ideas that are jotted down in my notebooks, swimming in my head, or that invade my dreams. So many ideas, not enough time... Even if I lived to be 100 (and there's a very good likelihood of that since I come from a line of long-lived relatives), I still won't have enough time. Immortality, which is sadly unobtainable, would be the only way I could write down everything. Maybe.

Stuck? Hey, so was I, two days ago. How did I get past it? Did I mull it over while doing something else? No, my garden is nothing but dead stuff and that's usually where I do my mulling. Now it's just a place to be depressed until spring. I can't sit in front of the words on my laptop when I don't know what comes next. That just frustrates me and makes the writer's block seem insurmountable.

So I just skipped it. I went around the blockade, the writer's wall of doom.

There was a scene that would come later in the book so I just started writing from there. Eventually I'll have to stitch them together, but as Aragorn says in The Lord of the Rings when the companies of Middle Earth are about to face doom at Sauron's gate and their courage may fail, "Today is not that day." I'll worry about piecing it all together on a snowy cold day in January when I start serious edits. (December is off limits for editing and writing if I can get away with it. If a book deal comes through that requires revisions, well, I'll hop to it.) But for now, writing that scene has jumped started the creative pulses and the race is on to finish. And as I wrote, my head swirled with how to incorporate the new scene into the manuscript. Sometime it does come together that easily, other times, not.

The successful hurdle of this block has let me stay in the race at my own pace. I'll wait for you at the finish line--unless you beat me there first.

Keep writing, and NaNo NaNo!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just. Do. It.

Yeah, you're busy. Who isn't?
I understand- you don't like/trust/want any of the candidates offered to win. That's the choice.
You feel your vote doesn't matter. Past elections prove you wrong.
Why did we fight two wars for independence (Revolutionary War, War of 1812- read your history) if you're not going to use the rights you have? That's like spending all your money on a fancy car--and letting it sit in the garage, unused.

Get off your lazy duff and exercise- your body, your mind, and your rights.

In some countries, voting your conscience is a death penalty. Be defiant- VOTE.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Racers, To The Starting Line!

Okay all you brave souls, it's


NaNoWriMo 2014!
Are you ready?
Have you: signed up at NaNoWriMo ?
Written a cursory outline of your project?
Gathered all the materials you'll need?
Stocked up on comfort foods so you don't have to stop in the midst of inspiration?
Warned everyone that you'll be crazy at least once a day until you write?
Surrounded yourself with pictures, objects, texts to help you through a block?
Reminded yourself that it's about writing, not about perfection, and that if you don't finish, you're still a good person?
So many people are doing this. You are NOT alone. Reach out if you're struggling. Let's all cheer each other along. There is no prize other than personal satisfaction and knowing that unlike so many people who talk about writing, you're actually DOING it.
I'll be posting here and there (I won't be counting my blog as part of my NaNoWriMo word count because it's not my project), so I may miss a day or two.
Come December 1st, let's all catch up, take a breather and push off any revisions until January when there are no holidays and only long stretches of winter which is perfect for going back to work.
Until Saturday....