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Archive for October, 2014

Writing Wednesday: Rough Start

It wasn’t a rough start for the writing, that’s actually been going pretty well. But, Monday morning my husband’s grandparents left for their annual trip to Florida. They usually stay down there until the end of April. Last year they came back a little early because he’d been sick and in the hospital quite a bit. My step-mil(it’s her dad) went down to help drive them back up here. And he was back in the hospital by the time they hit Pittsburgh(at least a good hour drive south of where we live). Honestly, the drive home nearly killed him. His health has been deteriorating, and this summer was the worst. He probably spent more time in the hospital than home. They live right next door to us, and the kids love going over to see them. Every day when they get home from school, they want to visit. We weren’t sure they were going to risk making the trip again. But, they did. Like last year, they were following a friend down. My husband got a phone call around 8:30 Monday night. They were at a hospital in North Carolina. He’d become unresponsive in the car. Apparently he had a living will, and they took him off the ventilator. From what my husband told me, they said he could live another ten minutes or ten years. Well, it was closer to the first. That’s about how long before we got another phone call saying he had passed.

This wasn’t exactly unexpected for us, but we knew it would be difficult to tell the kids. They’re only 4 and 7, and they didn’t know how bad he was getting. They were already asleep Monday night when we got the phone call, and I didn’t want to tell them before school. So, I spent most of Tuesday diving into fictional worlds so I didn’t have to think about it. Not exactly a healthy coping method, I know. My husband sat them down last night after dinner and told them. The girl cried, although I’m not sure she completely understands. The boy didn’t seem to understand at all. So, it looks like we’ll be having a funeral this weekend

So, it’s Wednesday, which means a WiPPet snippet. Hosted by the wonderful K.L. Schwengel, we use this time to share a bit of a current WiP. Feel free to join in, one and all(I’m a dork, it’s okay). I’ve been sharing from Law of Choice(Kurztown .5), and today will probably be the last I’ll share from this WiP. On Saturday(hopefully), I’ll be starting book 2 in this series. You still may see some of these characters, but they’ll be about 5 years older. Since I’ll be working on Doren’s story next month, I decided to share a little peek of him. So 13 paragraphs(1+0+2+9+ bonus sentence) from the end of Chapter 8.

“Doren,” Brian greeted him with a hand out. “I didn’t realize you still worked for Jesse. How-?”
“I usually stay in the garage,” he broke in, his voice a little rough. “But, I was the only one he had to run out here.”
“I’m sorry. I heard about what happened. How are you?”
“Getting better,” he said, but Brian heard the crack in his voice. “Think I’ll be done with physical therapy in a couple more weeks.”
It wasn’t completely what he’d meant, but it gave him some of the answer too, since he wouldn’t talk about it. “Well, that’s good at least.”
“Yeah,” he said, but his jaw was tight. It made the scar running from in front of his ear down his neck ripple. “So what happened here?”
“That’s what I’d like to know. It was fine the other day when I drove it. Then, this morning, it didn’t want to steer right. And I think there’s something wrong with the brakes. It was all I could do to pull over and stop.”
“Sounds like you’re lucky nothing happened. I’ll get her hooked up and take her in. You need a ride?”
“Yeah. I was headed to work. I guess I’ll need to find someone to take me home again.” Or he could just stay with Ashley again.
“I’d heard you had some trouble the other day. You doing all right?”
One hand clenched into a fist. Then, he let out a breath and relaxed it. “Yeah. As long as I stay away from my father, and he leaves my mother alone, I should be fine.” What was the point in avoiding it, when everyone in town seemed to know anyway?
Doren turned from the chains he was working with, and Brian could see the sorrow in his eyes. “I’m sorry, Man. My father and me aren’t quite seeing things on the same page right now, but I’ve never-”
“No one should,” he said before Doren could even finish the thought.

Like I said, my writing has been doing fairly well this week.

  • The Choice – start revisions once I get it back – still waiting on this. But, I did get in touch with her, and I should have it by Friday.
  • Healing the Heart – send to CP after I get The Choice back from her
  • Chasing the Ghost – write 5 scenes – I’ve finished 2 scenes and have the 3rd started. I’ve written 3500 words so far. So, on track with this.
  • Short Story – revise – I did this, just need to proofread and it will be done.
  • Callum’s Story – back stories – I have Callum’s back story done. And I found my heart breaking a bit for him, even though he brought a lot of his pain on himself. Will be working on the love interest’s back story today, and they have some history together.
  • Read: Rise of the Machines – I only have 2 chapters left to read.
  • Knit: slippers – I have the second slipper started. Didn’t get any work done on it yesterday though.

I’ve also read: Flat-Out Celeste(Jessica Park), Reunion of the Heart(Elaine Jeremiah), and Diving In(Stacey Wallace Benefiel).

Monday Mentions: Making Progress, Fixing Crutches & Regional Writing

I skipped posting last Monday, although the first two links were what I was going to share then. I think from now on, I’ll save the links until I have at least three things to share. Also, I’m planning on branching out from writing links. I’ll still have those, but I’d like to share other things too. Maybe something I’ve found while researching. Or just a cool thing I stumbled on.

Making Progress When You Don’t Have Time to Write Lauren Garafalo posted on Novel Adventures about how she gets the little things done when she doesn’t have the time for any major writing. Time isn’t always an issue for me since I’m home all day, but I do find I get more done when I use the little moments, like waiting for kids’ buses, to get stuff like plotting done. It’s also when my characters sometimes like to start talking to me, whether I have a notebook with me or not.

Fixing the Top 10 Gesture Crutches : This looks like an older post by Jordan McCollum, but it’s something I tend to struggle with. My characters shrug and shake their heads an awful lot.

Writing Our Region : Elizabeth Spann Craig wrote about writing your region and not overdoing it. For her, that’s the south. Although I laughed a little bit as I read, because some of the things she mentioned fit for my area of Pennsylvania. I always thought of it as more a small town thing though.

Snowflakes Rachel posted about her plotting method. I’ve used the snowflake method before. In fact, I still use my own adapted version, as well as pieces of other plotting methods. I’ve found this works well for fleshing out a plot. At least, it lets me see it a bit better.

How about you? Have you read any good blog posts lately? What are your worst gesture crutches?

Sunday Summary: Making Progress

The second half of the week went better than the first. The boy went back to school on Thursday. I got back into my regular routine. I actually got ahead on my goals(in fact, it’s almost 10 a.m. on Saturday as I write this). I have the pants for the boy’s Halloween costume done. The waistband look a bit screwy. Had some trouble stitching the elastic in, but the rest of his costume covers it, so it will work for a night of trick-or-treating. And we now have 4 ton of pellets stacked up in the garage. We’ll probably be getting one more, and we’ll be set for winter.

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  • Healing the Heart – send to CP – still sitting on this.
  • The Choice – start revising as soon as I get it back from CP – waiting on this still
  • Chasing the Ghost – write 5 scenes – 5/5 written. 6356 words
  • Flames of Justice – 1250 words – 764/1250. After my words on this on Wednesday, I had no idea what I was doing with this. I’ve decided to set this aside for now. I may revisit it after I finish Chasing the Ghost and my NaNo.
  • Short Story – finish fleshing out & read over again – I finished fleshing it out. It’s now just over 3k. I printed it out last night and plan on reading it through Monday.
  • Callum’s Story – Brainstorm – I did all the brainstorming on this. I’ll start on character back stories this week.
  • Read: Rise of the Machines: Section 4 – finished this. One more section to read through.
  • Knit: slippers – I have the first slipper finished.IMG_0240Went shopping Saturday and finally got some more yarn to finish the slouch hat I’d started last month. I’m not sure it’s exactly the same shade, but think it’s pretty close. And I got some yarn to make another hat that’s on my list. I’ll work on those once my slippers are finished.

I also read Memory War(Paul Anthony Shortt) and So This is Love(Barbara Freethy).

Didn’t get as much done this week as I’d like, but still making progress. For next week:

  • The Choice – start revisions once I get it back
  • Healing the Heart – send to CP after I get The Choice back from her
  • Chasing the Ghost – write 5 scenes
  • Short Story – revise
  • Callum’s Story – back stories
  • Read: Rise of the Machines
  • Knit: slippers

Photo Friday: Halloween Time

I’m a little late getting this post out. I realized this morning that I did not have a picture of the girl in her costume, even though I had one of the boy. And, of course, they were both at school at that point. Then, we picked them up from school to go to the funeral home for viewing hours for my husband’s grandpa. After that, we came back for dinner with the family then trick-or-treating. Got a picture of both of them and individually, but that was right before we were heading out the door. So, now it’s almost 8. We’re home and both kids are in bed. The boy didn’t even make it home before he was asleep.

vampire girl!

vampire girl!

My MIL came over last weekend with some pumpkins the kids had helped her pick out. Plus they both brought one home from field trips to a local pumpkin farm. In all, we ended up with 10 pumpkins(3 really small ones that we didn’t carve).

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The girl wanted to be Elsa for Halloween and the boy decided he wanted to be Olaf, even though he’s never watched the movie(she’s seen it twice). His costume didn’t come with any pants, and we couldn’t find any plain white sweat pants for boys. So, I bought some white fleece and a pattern and decided to make them myself. Was doing fine until I got to the waistband. I royally screwed that up. But, the rest of his costume hid it well enough at least. The girl’s hair isn’t long enough to do a good braid, so I took some white(off-white really) yarn and made a thick braid out of it and tied it onto one of her hair ties.

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Writing Wednesday: Interrupted Routine

On Monday, the boy’s preschool called me around 10:30. He had a fever of over 101, so I had to come in and get him. Since he had to be fever free without medication for at least 24 hours before he could go back, I knew he’d be staying home Tuesday as well. Well, Monday all he wanted to do was lay on the couch. He didn’t even want to eat lunch. At dinner, he only ate a couple bites of the manicotti I made. This boy never turns down food, so I knew he didn’t feel good. He seemed to be doing better Tuesday morning but said his throat still hurt. My kids have a history of not showing signs of strep(when he was 2.5 we only found out b/c at a well-visit, the doc noticed his tonsils were enlarged and did a test), so I was worried even though he no longer had a high temperature and was eating more normally for him. We scheduled an appointment for that afternoon and my husband took him in. Apparently all he has is the common cold with a sore throat. His temperature remained under 100 all day, but last night he was laying on the couch beside me, and he felt really warm. I didn’t take his temperature that time(honestly, I usually don’t unless they’re acting really off. My kids tend to run warm anyway). Of course, he’d felt well enough all day to have me wishing I had sent him to school. He still has a harsh sounding cough this morning and hoarse voice, so I’m planning on keeping him home again. Hopefully he’ll be able to go back tomorrow.

I’ll get to my progress for this week, but first WiPPet time! Still, sharing from Law of Choice for now. Today I have 23(1+0+22) lines from Chapter 6. Patrick is Brian’s boss. Ashley’s picking him up after work. Brian had a bit of trouble the night before with his father and Ashley had picked him up.

Patrick waved him off. “They’ll still be there in the morning. Go have dinner with your girl.”
“She’s not-” His face colored then, and he glanced toward her. She had to force the smile to stay on her face.
“We’re not together right now, Patrick,” she told him. “Just friends.”
His eyes narrowed for a moment, then he just shook his head. “Stubborn kids can’t even see what’s in front of them,” he muttered then turned away. “Go on, Brian. Get out of here.”
He seemed to be just as thrown as her by Patrick’s words though. He just stood where he was for a moment. Then, he moved forward and took her arm. “So, we are friends?” He asked as they stepped outside.
“You’ve always been my friend, Brian,” she told him, but her mouth felt dry as the words scraped across her throat.
One corner of his mouth jerked up. “Do your other friends try to kiss you in your car?”
So, he did remember. Thank God. “Not typically. Maybe if they’ve had too much to drink, and I’m taking them home.” She tried to keep a straight face, but her lips kept turning up into a smile.
Brian let out a groan. “Now you’re just trying to get me worked up.”
She laughed. “Never thought you’d be the fantasizing type, Brian.”
“You’ve always starred in my fantasies.”
Her breath caught in her throat, and she felt heat move through her. They used to talk to each other like this, but it had been a long time. “I’m sure there have been others starring there too.”
His hand tightened briefly on her arm then he relaxed his grip, his hand sliding down to take hers “No, Ashley. There hasn’t been.”
That brought her to a stop, and she turned to him. “You can’t tell me you haven’t been with anyone else in the last three years we haven’t been together.”
“There were…a couple. I tried. But you were the only one I ever saw. I tried to make it work once with another girl. She was nice and funny.” Her face started to heat, she didn’t want to hear this. Why had she even brought it up? Then, he was taking both her hands. “But, it never felt right, Ashley. It was never you. I was always looking for you.”
“I was always right back here.”

So, how have I done this week? Not too bad, considering the interruption to my routine.

  • Healing the Heart – send to CP – Still waiting on this.
  • The Choice – start revising as soon as I get it back from CP – don’t have this back yet.
  • Chasing the Ghost – write 5 scenes – I’ve finished 2 and am working on #3 now. So, on track here. I’ve added 2858 so far this week.
  • Flames of Justice – 1250 words – 501/1250. Haven’t written on this yet today, but as long as I do, I’ll stay on track.
  • Short Story – finish fleshing out & read over again – haven’t worked on this at all this week. Need to get to that.
  • Callum’s Story – Brainstorm – got some of this done. I’m definitely thinking this one will come before Nolan’s, so that will be set aside for now.
  • Read: Rise of the Machines: Section 4 – I’ve read through Chapter 20. Have 3 more chapters to read in this section.
  • Knit: slippers – I’ve finished the heel on the first slipper. Hoping to at least finish one slipper this week.

Also this week, I’ve read: Dirty Rotten Scoundrel(Liliana Hart), Time’s Echo(Rysa Walker), One More Night(Lauren Blakely), and Whiskey, You’re the Devil(Liliana Hart). Still working on the boy’s pants for his Halloween costume as well. Glad I’m not trying to win any prizes with them. My sewing isn’t exactly neat. But, they should work for a night of trick or treating at least.

Manicotti Disaster of 2014

Recently, I’ve been making up a menu for our dinners each week. Well, Monday-Thursday. Friday is more of a leftovers day(or pb&j/cereal for the kids). Weekends usually see us out and about/at family things, so I don’t worry about planning those. When I don’t plan, it usually gets to be about a half hour before dinner, and I have no idea what to make. Also, this has led us to trying new things.

Well, last night, I had manicotti on the menu. I’ve never made this before. I’ve done stuffed shells, although I think my mom’s recipe is different from most. Mainly, we use cottage cheese instead of ricotta and include ground beef in the mixture(most recipes I’ve seen only call for the cheese mixture). Since it was a new recipe, I made sure to follow the directions exactly.

So, I opened the box of manicotti. One of them was broken, so I didn’t bother putting it in the water to boil. I followed the directions on the box to boil them. By the time I drained them, every single one had come apart. A few of them were still enough to wrap around the cheese mixture after I’d put it on. Most of them I had to piece together. I was about ready to toss them all, but I’d already mixed together the filling.

I didn’t have any problems with the cheese mixture, although wrapped the shredded noodles around it was a problem. Covered them with the sauce and put them in the oven. About five minutes later, I realized I hadn’t sprinkled Parmesan cheese over the sauce. Pulled the pan back out(thankfully remember a hot pad), took care of that and put it back in.

Then, I went back to the recipe and read some of the reviews. One offered a quick tip: you don’t have to pre-cook the manicotti noodles. That they’ll cook in the sauce. We’ve gotten the no-cook lasagna noodles(hint: don’t use these for slow cooker lasagna. They get really mushy.) before that you can do this with. I didn’t realize you could do it with these though. Lesson learned for next time at least.

And, in the end, they didn’t turn out too bad. They wouldn’t win any prizes for presentation, but even my picky princess asked for seconds(the monster was sick and only ate a couple bites of his).

Sunday Summary: Readying for Winter

For some, October might seem early to be getting ready for winter. But, considering it’s only about 37 degrees(F) here this morning. We have two tons of wood pellets stacked up in the garage right now and three more waiting for us down at the co-op. We can only haul one ton at a time in our little trailer, so we’ll be getting the rest throughout the week. Over the last few years we’ve developed a good system of unloading them. I pull them down and hand them to my husband, and he carries them into the garage. Works good until I actually have to climb into the trailer to get the last of them, and have to stay crouched down since the trailer isn’t quite tall enough.

I fell a bit behind on my goals on Wednesday. Editing out ‘was’ too me all that day. I played catch-up on Thursday and Friday. I had all my writing goals finished by 6 Friday night. Yesterday meant playing catchup with crafting and other goals. I finally figured out the new sewing machine and fixed the girl’s nightgowns that my MiL had made for her. And cut out two pieces of white fleece to make the boy some pants for his Halloween costume(seriously, we could not find any white sweatpants anywhere). And I’ve been fleshing out a short story. It started as a flash pieces I wrote during the Story a Day challenge a couple years ago. It was less than 500 words then. Right now it’s sitting at a little over 1800 and I think there’s 2 more scenes to add. And it’s putting ideas in my head for a new series.

  • Healing the Heart – finish polishing – I finished this up on Friday and rearranged chapters Saturday(I had some around 1k and at least one that was over 6k. now all are between 2-3k-ish). It’s now ready to send to my CP as soon as she’s ready for it.
  • Chasing the Ghost – Draft through Chapter 8 – this is done. Added 5857 words this week. Chapter 9 starts with a scene that would happen about a month after chapter 8 ends, so I need to figure out what happens between then. That will probably move the current start of 9 to a later chapter.
  • Flames of Justice – write another 1250 words – I wrote exactly 1250 words this week, and no, I didn’t end in the middle of a sentence.
  • Brainstorm Pirates idea & Nolan’s story/decide what to plot next – decided to put the Pirates idea aside for now. Did some brainstorming on Nolan’s story. Realized it’s going to start later than I’d planned, so thinking Callum’s story might come first after all(which had been the planned next story until Nolan started telling me his).
  • Revise RoW80 sponsor post – done & sent in on Friday. Keep second-guessing what I wrote, but I just need to stop worrying about it.
  • Read: finish Firelands & Summer of Change(Elena Aitken) – just finished Summer of Change last night. Really enjoyed it. That finished my goal of 10 books for this month. Also finished listening to The Collector(Nora Roberts). I may have loved the side characters’ love story even more than the main characters’, but I liked it.
  • Read: Rise of the Machines – Through Section 3 – got through this on Friday.
  • Crochet: Lamb hat – finished this yesterday. I have 2 more projects on my list for this month, but I don’t have the yarn for either of them. So, I’m going to make myself a pair of slippers instead. IMG_0236

Goals for next week:

  • Healing the Heart – send to CP
  • The Choice – start revising as soon as I get it back from CP
  • Chasing the Ghost – write 5 scenes
  • Flames of Justice – 1250 words
  • Short Story – finish fleshing out & read over again
  • Callum’s Story – Brainstorm
  • Read: Rise of the Machines: Section 4
  • Knit: slippers

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