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Archive for December, 2013

2013: Looking Back

I was going to do my December & yearly recap tomorrow, but got my annual report from WordPress today and decided to do it now. Tomorrow I will have a post looking ahead though.

Some interesting stats:

I had 114 new posts this year with 214 pictures uploaded. And the blog was viewed about 1400 times. My most viewed post was Writing Wednesday: Bittersweet Days in which I shared some memories of my father-in-law and a snippet from a new WiP that was a step out of my comfort zone.

Most of my visitors came from the two linkys I post to, so many of my readers are participants in ROW80 & WiPPet. Not surprising. Others found my blog with search results for: 5th birthday morning, shamrock duplicate stitch, pre k name writing, duplicate stitch a shamrock, and fallon brown. And most came from the US, UK, and Canada. Again, not surprising. The top commenters were Eden, Kathils, Regi McClain, Beth Camp, and Adrian.

So, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read and even comment this last year. I know I don’t always reply(I try to, but it doesn’t always happen), but I do appreciate every one of you.

Since it’s not only the end of another year, but the end of another month as well(funny how that works), I’m going to evaluate December’s goals.

  • Flames of Redemption: Fill in details – Done
  • Slow Revenge: Edits – Done
  • Stained Snow: Send to CP – Done
  • Healing the Heart: Re-plot – Set aside
  • Read: Structuring Your Novel – Done
  • Read: 8 novels/novellas – read 14
  • Knit: Little Lion Sock Critter, Lapghan, Ski Hat – finished the lion and more than half the lapghan.
  • Crochet: Fireman Baby Booties, Cowboy booties, and 45 minute Cowl – finished the fireman booties, working on cowboy booties now.

I achieved most of the goals for the month. Not all of them, but some just got shifted around. Like plotting out the new WiP instead of working on Healing the Heart. Tomorrow I’ll look forward to the next month’s goals.

I didn’t actually set out any goals for the whole year. That may be something I change next year though. But, I have kept track of the words I’ve written and edited this year, and the books I’ve read.

I wrote 322,976 during 2013. That’s spread out through 7 different projects. The month’s totals ranged from 2724(February) to 81840(November). I finished 4 first drafts this year. And edited another WiP almost to the point where I’m ready to publish it.

On the reading front: According to goodreads, I’ve finished 167 books this year. Some of those were short stories or novellas, others full-length novels.

I’ve definitely accomplished a good amount this year and worked at stepping out of my comfort zone. Hoping to do even more next year, including publishing my first novel.

Sunday Summary: On Break

So the final round of ROW80 for 2013 ended on Thursday. Of course, true to form, I’m not really taking much of a break. On Thursday, I was still working on the scene outline for my new WiP, which has a working title: East of Abilene. I finished that on Friday as well as the character worksheets. I didn’t fill these out fully, but did basic physical and personality descriptions. I tend to find out their quirks and other things as I write. Ready to get started writing it now.

Friday morning was spent cleaning the kids’ rooms and living room then taking the Christmas tree down. I remember when I was younger, we left the tree up until New Year’s. I like getting my house back before that though. We also got rid of two of our three couches during the week(donated one to our church on Monday and sold the other on Thursday). We have so much more space in our living room now. There’s actually room for the kids’ train table. And they’ve been playing with it almost non-stop.

This weekend has been spent more on reading and knitting. I finished reading Second Chance Romance. While I did mostly enjoy the story, there were a lot of grammar issues that kept throwing me out of the story. Then, I read On His List, by Wendy Sparrow. Very quick read(finished it in less than 2 hours), funny, and good. I just started ParaWars:Uprising by Caitlin Greer.

I’ve finished the first 3 strips of the lapghan I’ve been knitting. And the first two blocks of the fourth strip. There are five blocks in a strip and I still have one more strip to do after I finish this one. Problem: I ran out of the color I need for the next block. So, I have to put it on hold for now until I can get to the store and get more. Of course, I don’t have the label for it, so I’m not sure of the exact color. Going to have to take the little bit of yarn I have left so I can match it, I guess. Until then, I’ll start working on the next project on my list.

Planning to write the first words of East of Abilene today and hopefully sharing them for WiPPet on Wednesday. Will also evaluate my progress this month and for the year then and look forward to my goals for next year.

Photo Friday: Bountiful Christmas

We had a busy Christmas week, but my house is back to normal again. This post will be short on words, but heavy on the pictures.

On Monday, the kids and I made cookies to leave for Santa.

Ready to make Christmas cookies

Ready to make Christmas cookies

cutting his own cookie

cutting his own cookie

cutting out cookies

cutting out cookies

finished cookies

finished cookies

I made some powdered sugar icing but it wasn’t quite enough to do all the cookies. Still, it didn’t turn out too bad.

On Tuesday, we headed over to my mother-in-law’s once my husband got done plowing. We had pizza, pasta, and wings before opening presents.

a new fire truck

a new fire truck

a new puzzle to do

a new puzzle to do


storing his candy in the truck's ladder

storing his candy in the truck’s ladder

We came home and there was a letter from Sam the elf, along with some new pajamas.

reading the letter

reading the letter

showing off their new pajamas

showing off their new pajamas

And more presents waiting in the morning.


she doesn’t look excited, but she actually was when she opened these.


a monster truck from papa and grandma who are in Florida


very excited about their new train table.


a story drawing pad


dinosaur train book


her first story in her book


a new dino to play with


Then, we headed down to my mom’s.


in front of the tree


this was like fire truck #5 this year.


a new coat


monster slippers


more pajamas

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The kids have been busy the last couple days playing with all their new toys. The new train table definitely seems to be a favorite, although the girl really likes to play with her Rapunzel doll and horse too.


Merry Christmas & Final Round 4 Check-In

I hope everyone who celebrates had a merry Christmas. We had a good couple of days. My husband had to plow most of the day Tuesday. He got home around 3 in the afternoon, and we turned around and headed back out to go to his mom’s. It was good we didn’t have a set time to be there. We had to pick up the pizza and stuff on the way, so we ate once we got there then the kids opened their gifts. The boy got three fire trucks and some other things(think the trucks were his favorite though). The girl got some stamp kits, which seems to be her favorite.

My husband had to go back out and plow again that night, and I’ll admit I was a little worried he wouldn’t be home before the kids got up in the morning. And our son did wake up at 5 a.m., before he got home, but he laid in our bed and watched cartoons. His sister didn’t wake up until 6:30 and we started opening gifts at 7. She was really excited about the math flash cards in her stocking, and the story drawing pad she got. The boy loved the little police car in his stocking and the big train table and new train track.

We went down to my mom’s a little later that morning and they got a lot more toys. He got two more fire trucks. She got a few different dolls, some clothes, and some more books to read. It was a pretty good Christmas. I even tried to take advantage of some quiet time at my mom’s while everyone else was downstairs watching a movie/sleeping to get some plotting done. I say tried, because then my mom and sisters sat down with me. I still got my plot points figured out though.

I didn’t have a whole lot of goals for the last week of the round since I knew I wouldn’t have time time/routine I usually do, and I didn’t have my morning alarm set for Tuesday & Wednesday.

  • Finish back stories for Western Shiny(which may possibly have a title) – Finished these and did even more plotting. Think I’m set on at least a working title for this. It could always change later though.
  • Read through Rock Your Plot(Cathy Yardley) – finished this yesterday
  • Read: The Best Thing(Jaci Burton), Ripped, & Once Upon a Snow Day – finished all of these. Right now I’m about 37% through Second Chance Romance(Asrai Devin).
  • Knit: Lapghan – finish strip 3 – Not quite finished yet, but I’m on the third block. I still need to get more of the one color. Going to keep going until I need that color though unless I get to the store to get more before that.

Since this is the final check-in of the round, I’ll evaluate how I did on my initial goals. I’ll be doing this month’s goal evaluation next week.

  • The Choice – Finish 1st Draft – DONE
  • Slow Revenge – Publish – not there yet. Ended up editing it again. This goal will be moved to the next round.
  • Stained Snow – Edited and sent to Beta Readers – This is currently with my CP
  • Healing the Heart – Rewrite as novella – no
  • Chasing the Ghost – Finish 1st draft(or close to it) – didn’t even start it.

I ended up rewriting Flames of Redemption for NaNo instead of starting Chasing the Ghost and plotting a new WiP. I do want to get to both of those last two goals(which are #2 & #4 in a series) during the next year. I’ll focus on getting Healing the Heart out first though. Of course, that means getting Slow Revenge published first.

Sunday Summary: Maybe White Christmas

It’s not usual for us to have a green Christmas around here. Usually we have at least a foot of snow to play in. And we did. Until Friday, when temperatures got up to the 40s and it rained all day. By Saturday, all our snow was melted except for what had been piled up by the plow. Today, even that is pretty much all gone. And it’s been in the 50s all weekend. Seriously, this is not normal for northwestern PA. It is supposed to drop back down into the 20s starting tomorrow and we’re supposed to get some snow. Not sure how much and if it will stick. So we might be looking at one of our rare green(or brown, considering it’s extremely muddy) Christmases. We stopped at the two dollar stores in town today and got the kids’ Christmas jammies(that Santa’s elves will sneak in while we’re out for Christmas Eve) and stocking stuffers. So, all Christmas shopping should be finished now. I don’t usually wrap the stocking stuffers, although I might because, since we keep things small, they’re usually done unwrapping everything in about 15 minutes and we don’t have to be down to my mom’s until later in the morning. And it’s doubtful the kids will sleep past 6 or so. So, we’ll have plenty of time.

Now, for how I did the past week:

  • Finish edits on Slow Revenge: I finished these up on Thursday.
  • Brainstorm on New Shiny Idea(that was sparked while watching Tangled yesterday even though it has nothing to do with Rapunzel) – did this. Think I have the basic plot ironed out, although it could change as I outline. I’ve been having fun with the research(Kansas in mid-late 1860s, cattle drives, etc.) and writing back stories. Have 2 done and 2 more to write.
  • Finish Structuring Your Novel
  • Read: Finish Slow Ride(ARC of Kat Morrisey’s book), Second Chance Romance(Asrai Devin), and Black Opal(Catie Rhodes) Like I said on Wednesday, I got in the mood to read more Christmas-related stories. I read Kait Nolan’s Be Careful, It’s My Heart(loved it!), then I started Jaci Burton’s Kent Brothers trilogy, which are all set around Christmas. Finished the first 2(liked the second one better than the first) and am about 80% through #3. Then, I have Ripped(Sarah Morgan) and Once Upon a Snow Day(Kait Nolan) lined up to read.
  • Knit: Lapghan – Finish Strip 3, have strip 4 almost finished – haven’t worked on this very much this week.

Won’t have too many goals for next week, with Christmas and all. Probably baking cookies tomorrow with the kids. Tuesday we’re going to see my husband’s grandma then spending the day with his mom, and Wednesday we’ll be at my mom’s most of the day. So, anything I do get done will probably be Thursday and Friday, and the round ends on Thursday. Which, I will probably be waiting until then to post my round recap, even though I usually do that on Wednesday.

  • Finish back stories for Western Shiny(which may possibly have a title)
  • Read through Rock Your Plot(Cathy Yardley)
  • Read: The Best Thing(Jaci Burton), Ripped, & Once Upon a Snow Day
  • Knit: Lapghan – finish strip 3

I may or may not post something tomorrow. If not, I’ll be back on Thursday. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, whether it’s white or green.

My First Interview

I wrapped up edits on Slow Revenge yesterday and started brainstorming my western shiny(as I’ve been calling it, since it doesn’t have a title yet). I have the protagonist’s back story written out and will be starting to work on the other Main Characters’ stories. Then some outlining before I actually start the writing phase. Which I’m really excited to get to.

Also, my interview with K. L. Schwengel over at My Random Muse is up today. So, you can go check that out if you want. Talk of Saturn, monkeys, and knitting incidents ensues. As well as WiPPet, of course.

Not much else going on over here. Have presents all wrapped up. Today is the girl’s last day of school before Christmas vacation. We’ll probably make cookies either this weekend or on Monday. Not planning on doing much work next week, but I know how that plan usually goes.

Writing Wednesday: Wrapping Things Up


I haven’t just been wrapping up presents this week, but trying to wrap up all my goals for the year/round/month as well. As far as the presents, everything is wrapped except for the kids’ big joint present, a train table that we can’t really wrap. We’ll probably set it up and throw a blanket over it after they go to bed Christmas Eve.

For this week’s WiPPeT, I’m sharing 15 sentence(1+2+18-2-0-1-3) from the second part of Adrian’s conversation with Kayla’s ex-fiance(I shared the first part a couple weeks ago).

“She’s okay, right? Kayla. You said she walked into the fire.”

Adrian had to swallow past the memory of seeing her sitting in that ambulance. “She’s fine. Made herself sick on the smoke, but she’s fine.” And he had to see her. Make sure of it himself.

“Good. I never wanted anything to happen to her. That’s why I did what I did. I couldn’t handle living every day wondering if she’d come home to me. I wasn’t strong enough.”

“I’d think the wondering would be better than not having her at all.”

“Then you’re stronger than me.”

I won’t be posting next Wednesday, but I’ll be back in the new year, hopefully with something new.

Now, for my progress this week:

  • Finish edits on Slow Revenge – 30/34 chapters done.
  • Brainstorm on New Shiny Idea(that was sparked while watching Tangled yesterday even though it has nothing to do with Rapunzel) -Haven’t started on this yet
  • Finish Structuring Your Novel – Finished reading this on Monday.
  • Read: Finish Slow Ride(ARC of Kat Morrisey’s book), Second Chance Romance(Asrai Devin), and Black Opal(Catie Rhodes) – Finished Slow Ride yesterday. Decided to change what I was reading next though, so started Be Careful, It’s My Heart by Kait Nolan.
  • Knit: Lapghan – Finish Strip 3, have strip 4 almost finished – only about halfway through strip 3. Probably not going to meet this goal right now. Part of that is the fact I’m almost out of the one color of yarn I’m using. I’ll probably have to put it aside until I can get more.

Next week will probably be more about relaxing(hahaha) and crafting/reading when we’re not doing family stuff.

Spoiling Santa

No, I don’t plan on spoiling Santa for my children any time soon. They are growing up fast enough as it is. I’m starting to think it will be spoiled for my son, that he will do it himself, sooner than I would like though.

I mentioned that last Wednesday we had the Christmas party at the fire station for the kids. Nathan was a little hesitant about going up to Santa then. But, he did go up on his own and sat on Santa’s lap. He seemed fine. Well, on Sunday we had another party, this time at the Moose. He was all ready to see Santa again. The kids’ names were called and we headed up to where Santa was sitting at the front of the room.20131215_145207

But, when we got up there, he just stopped. He suddenly wasn’t so sure. He looked at Santa, like he was thinking, “You’re not the same guy I just saw the other day.” He did finally go up and sit with him, but he seemed uneasy about it.

Not quite sure about this Santa.

Not quite sure about this Santa.

At three, I really wasn’t expecting him to be that observant. His sister, who is six, still seems to be oblivious to the fact that the Santas are different. We’ve never taken them to the Santa at the mall, and she avoided the one at Kraynak’s last year when we went. I guess this is just one more of those glimpses into how different these two kids are. They did both like their gifts though.

Cash register

Another monster truck
Another monster truck

Sunday Summary: More Christmas

I may have mentioned that our Christmas celebrations tend to be stretched out. It started last Saturday when we had our Christmas with my husband’s stepmom and his siblings. In the past, it’s started as early as the weekend after Thanksgiving(which we referred to as “Thanksmas”). In the past several years, his brother’s moved between here(Pennsylvania), Nebraska, Florida and now Ohio. So, our celebration has depended on when he was back here. We also have to split our holiday between my dad & stepmom, his mom, and my mom & stepdad. After my niece was born five years ago, we started combining her birthday party(12/12) and our celebration with our dad. We’ve worked it out so we spend Christmas Eve with my husband’s mom and Christmas day with my family. This is so less stressful than trying to cram visiting everyone in one or two days.

We had Christmas with my dad last night. After my niece’s party, we exchanged gifts(Amazon gift card for me, which has already been half spent). Then, he took all of us out for dinner. All of us = 12(not including my dad & stepmom). Later this afternoon, we have another Christmas party for the kids at the Moose Lodge in town. The girl has a party at school on Friday then the rest of our Christmas celebrations the next week. I really should get to wrapping everything. That will probably happen next week while she’s in school and the boy is napping(fingers crossed he’ll nap next week).

  • Read through & mark up Slow Revenge – Finished this on Wednesday. Started editing on Thursday. I’ve finished through Chapter 18, have cut out 3 whole scenes. Currently sitting at more than 4000 words less than when I started. I’m about halfway through so hoping to finish it this coming week.
  • Start outlining Healing the Heart – started this, then decided I wasn’t going to rewrite it, just planning to revise.
  • Structuring Your Novel – Part 2 – finished this part on Friday. About 90% through the book. I’ll probably finish it tomorrow.
  • Read: Eleanor & Park & Fangirl – both by Rainbow Rowell – finished both of these. I actually stayed up until 1 Friday morning reading Fangirl. There’s a reason I try not to sync books to my phone when I’m going to bed. I can’t read my kindle in the dark, but I can read on the kindle app on my phone. I wanted to keep reading but it was after 11 when I went to bed, and I convinced myself I’d probably start falling asleep if I was reading in bed then I’d put it down. HA! That didn’t happen.
  • Knit: Lapghan – Strip 2 & start Strip 3 – I did finished Strip 2 yesterday and sewed it together with the first strip. I think I’ll do this as I finish each strip instead of waiting until the end and trying to remember which one goes where. I did start Strip 2, but only got about halfway through the first block. Not quite as far as I’d hoped to be.

My goals for next week:

  • Finish edits on Slow Revenge
  • Brainstorm on New Shiny Idea(that was sparked while watching Tangled yesterday even though it has nothing to do with Rapunzel)
  • Finish Structuring Your Novel
  • Read: Finish Slow Ride(ARC of Kat Morrisey’s book), Second Chance Romance(Asrai Devin), and Black Opal(Catie Rhodes)
  • Knit: Lapghan – Finish Strip 3, have strip 4 almost finished

Family Friday: Santa Came to Town

Every year, our town’s volunteer fire department has a Christmas party for the children/grandchildren of the members. They have pictures for the kids to color, and milk and cookies to snack on. Santa and Mrs. Clause even come for a visit.

Nathan went on all day about Santa coming to town. “Ta tanta. Town” When he showed up, he decided to check him out from a distance at first.


He did give him knuckles when he walked past, and of course my phone wasn’t fast enough to capture that picture.

It has been six years since we’ve had a picture with Santa that did not involve tears or a freak out. That would have been when Hayleigh was four months old. We’ve never done pictures with a Santa at the mall, but my husband’s uncle used to dress up at Christmas Eve. And then we’ve had the fire department’s Christmas party. Even last year, Hayleigh would barely walk up to him. She was slightly better with Mrs. Clause.

A little hesitant as she walked up, but no tears.

A little hesitant as she walked up, but no tears.

This year there were finally no tears! Still some hesitation from both kids as they went up. But, they sat with Santa and took their gifts without a problem. Nathan was even going to sit there to open his present.

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Nathan was really excited about his new monster truck.


Hayleigh was more excited about the apple and orange in her bag than the actual gift.


We have Christmas with my dad tomorrow after my niece’s birthday party. I already know what we’ll be getting from him(gift cards=new books for me). Then, Sunday we get to see Santa again at the local Moose lodge. Santa may just need to stop all this traveling and get some kids’ presents wrapped before they find them in the closet though. 😉

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