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Archive for January, 2015

Family Friday: Report Cards & Castle Guardians

I mentioned in my ROW80 check-in on Wednesday that the girl brought home her report card Tuesday. I said a few things about it, then, but I figured I could go into more detail today.

Our school only really score three things(at least for 1st grade): Word Study, Math, & Reading. These are scored as either Advanced(95-100%), Proficient(75-94%), Basic(50-74%) or Below Basic(0-49%). For the second quarter, she scored 97, 95, and 96. So, all advanced. The other subjects(writer’s workshop & “specials” – like gym, art, etc…) are either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Satisfactory is just put in for the report card as 70%. I’m sure if writer’s workshop was scored on the other scale, she’d be close to 100%. Her teacher is always impressed with the things she writes.

Something new they sent home this quarter was the Lifetime Learner Characteristics. There are 6 different areas, all either scored: Consistently(C), Most Often(M), Sometimes(S), or Rarely(R). The girl scored a C in: Uses Time Wisely(a little surprising since she tends to work slow), Works Independently(not surprised by this), Produces Legible Work, Completes Homework, & Demonstrates Respect for People and Property. She scored M in Listens and Follows Directions. And the comment from the teacher: “is such a bright little girl. She is an excellent reader and speller.”

For the middle of the year DIBELS testing, they only did three tests: Nonsense Word Fluency(NWF), Oral Reading Fluency(ORF), & Whole Words Read(WWR). For each of these, they have 1 minute to go through as many words as they can. The goal for NWF was 43, she scored 123. The ORF goal was 23, and she scored 155. And for WWR, they wanted an 8, she scored 43. In fact, she’s already outscored the end of the year goals as well. So, obviously, school is going well for her.

Then, this made me laugh when I walked into the girl’s room the other day:

Castle Guardians

Castle Guardians

I asked her why her brother’s dinosaurs were with her castle, and she told me, very matter-of-fact, that they were guarding it. Well, okay, then. I love the things she comes up. And he usually goes along with it.

IMG_0448It’s kind of dark, but I’m not so sure the princess shoes will do much good for putting out a fire. But, they match at least 😉

Writing Wednesday: Still Ahead

Sunday morning the girl woke up with hardly any voice and complaining her ear hurt again. So, Monday morning we were back off to the doctor. She was just in there two weeks ago with an ear infection. It was so bad, the doctor wanted us back in next Monday to make sure it had healed up. After she’d started the antibiotics two weeks ago, it seemed fine. Until Sunday. Her throat was inflamed but strep test was negative. The doctor more antibiotics for the ear, so hopefully this will knock it all out. And the perforation to the ear drum is healed, so we don’t have to go back in. In good news, girl brought home her report card yesterday(the first part of that sentence pretty much sums it up). Most of it is either satisfactory or unsatisfactory(she got all S for those). The 3 things they actually grade(word study, math, & reading) she got advanced(95-100%). And the testing they do, she way outscored the goal(goal = 43,23,8. she scored 123, 155, 43).

I’ve been fighting a sinus/cold thing since Sunday. That seems to be getting better now at least.

Despite that, I had everything for Monday done by dinnertime. And everything for Tuesday was crossed off by 10 Tuesday morning. So, I got ahead and started on today’s goals. So, it’s still been a good start to the week. Before I get to that progress, it’s


Today, I have 14 paragraphs(28-15+1) from Scars and All. This is the same day as what I posted last week, but later, after dinner.

When their sundae came with two spoons sticking out of it, Doren lifted one of them out, fudge sauce dripping off the side of it, and held it out to her. His body heated as her tongue flicked out and licked ice cream from the edge of the spoon. He could imagine that tongue wrapping around him. He nearly groaned. This needed to stop, or he was going to embarrass himself. Then, she was pulling the spoon into her mouth, her eyes still fixed on him. Her eyes were filled with just as much desire as he felt.
She released his spoon and lifted her own, holding it out to him. Payback was a bitch, right? He didn’t take the spoon into his mouth, but scooped his tongue through the ice cream on it, bringing it into his mouth. He heard her release a breath, tinged with a moan. Doren didn’t lick the ice cream from his lips but leaned over the table, pressing his mouth to hers. Her moan was a little louder this time, but he swallowed it.
“Maybe we should go,” she murmured. “I think it’s already freezing our brains.”
“But, we haven’t finished our ice cream.” God, why did he even care? He just wanted to touch her again.
“We keep this up, and it’s going to melt anyway. Plus–” she ran a finger along the edge of the sundae, scooping ice cream onto her finger before plucking it into her mouth. His mouth dried up as she sucked her finger clean,– “I can think of another treat we could share.”
Had he stopped breathing? From the way his chest ached, he was pretty sure he’d forgotten how to. “Cassie.” There, he had to breathe to talk.
“Doren,” she said, her eyes shining.
He snatched up the bill the waitress had put down with the dessert and slid out of the booth. “Come on.”
He caught her grin, then she was grabbing her purse and following him away from the table. He felt her right beside him as he paid for their dinner, and it felt like one of the motors he worked on was revving in his chest. He needed to touch her. Not here, he reminded himself. Then, she slipped her hand into his as they headed for the door. The sweetness of it sent a lance straight through his heart.
When they were out in the parking lot, he turned toward her and rested his forehead against hers. “Are you sure, Cassie? That you want me? I’m not exactly a good bet.”
“Why would you say that?” she asked, reaching up to cup his cheek.
“The last woman I was with is dead. Cassie, I don’t-”
She put a finger over his mouth. “Stop talking, Doren.” He smiled around her finger, but she kept going. “I’ve wanted you since I was about fifteen, but neither of us is the same as we were back then. I want to learn who you are now.” Her gaze skimmed down his body then back up to his eyes. “Everything about you. And you did say you’d show me the rest of your tattoos.”
He laughed then. “You have a real obsession with those, don’t you?”

So, will Cassie finally get to see his tattoos? You’ll have to wait and see. 😀

  •  Flames of Justice – Finish 1st draft – Almost there. I’ve added 4489 words this week. I have 1 scene left to write. Once I finish this, I have a short story I want to write in this series. It’ll take place shortly after Flames of Retribution(book 3) and involve one of the characters that’s been in each of the books so far(except Flames of Justice) and a character that just showed up in book 3. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now, though.
  • Brainstorm – idea for Caitie’s(Flames of Retribution) brother’s story. not sure if this will be a full novel or just novella, but he’s been bugging me to write it. – I have started this. Have some of the brainstorming done, and this story is forming in my head.
  • Read: The Minaldi Legacy(Courtney Cole), Calculated in Death(J.D. Robb), and Soulless(L.S. Engler) – I finished The Minaldi Legacy Sunday morning. I found it kind of meh, particularly the second story. It felt like the same things were being said and nothing really happened. I started Calculated in Death on the way to my nephew’s birthday party. I haven’t finished it yet. Part of that is that I’ve been exhausted by 7, and fallen asleep on the couch the last couple nights, so haven’t had as much reading time.
  • Read: Forensics for Writers – Finish – I finished Chapter 18. One more chapter to go.
  • Crochet: Flower Pop Hat – I have this finished. Just need to do the flower.IMG_0451
  • Knit: Baby Doll Dress – won’t finish this, but I want to at least get it started. – not started yet

It’s been a pretty good start to the week. How is everyone else doing?

Monday Mentions: Outlander, Different Genres, & Doing It All

For anyone, like me, who was looking forward to watching Outlander on Starz but couldn’t, the first half of season 1 is being released on DVD in March.

And another post from Ava Jae on Writing in Multiple Genres. If you’ve followed me for long, you’ve probably seen bits about my different projects. Most of these have been romantic suspense. I also have a contemporary romance series, and I’ve started 2 different Western series. These are all in the adult category, though. I do have one outlined that’s a YA fantasy. As you can see, I don’t box myself into one category, although they do all have romance running through them. I have thought it would be better to narrow my focus. But, I don’t see this happening. My characters tend to rebel if I don’t listen to them, and that includes telling the stories they need me to tell.

And from Tawna Fenske, on the question: How do you do it all? I tend to get a similar question, and while my answers aren’t exactly the same(I haven’t given up TV, but I don’t watch that much), it’s not all that different. Part of it for me,  is the fact that I don’t have a ‘day job’. So, I have more time. Especially since both of my kids are in school now. Going back to the TV thing, I don’t, ever really, just sit and watch. When I do have it on, I’m usually crafting. Or maybe that’s when I’ll work on my plotting or read. But, I can’t just sit and watch. It’s almost physically impossible for me(I’ve tried. I get really jittery with nothing to do). I do set up weekly to-do lists, which I break down into daily ones. And I work my way through them. Sometimes I even get ahead and start working on the next day’s. But, I stop by 5 p.m.(dinnertime in our house). Otherwise I’d just let myself work until bedtime. And that’s when I start to get burned out.

What about you? Have you seen anything interesting this week that deserves mention?

Sunday Summary: Forging Ahead

I’ve been forging ahead all week. My plan of working through the to-do list until 5 then reading after dinner seems to be working well. I even started working on the scenes I’d planned to write next week. I was actually through almost everything for the week by dinnertime Thursday. Which was probably a good thing, since the boy got sick Thursday night and was home Friday. He spent most of the morning sitting watching movies, so I knew he wasn’t feeling well. For me, Friday was mostly a knitting & reading day.

Yesterday, husband had a class with the fire department, so we just stayed home. So, another reading day for me. Today is my nephew’s 4th birthday party, which I only found out about a couple days ago. My sister said she sent a message last week, but I never got it. Already had his present(well the second one, because I got the first before Christmas, and he ended up getting it for Christmas, so I had to get something to replace it). It’s about an hour drive over there, so I’ll probably read on the way.

  • Flames of Justice – halfway through Chapter 5(which is 5 planned scenes. more may jump in there). I’m through Chapter 5. Ended up moving one scene to the previous chapter, & added another one to chapter 5. Wrote 7 scenes in all, almost 8525 words.
  • Flames of Restoration – Outline – finished this
  • Read: Animal Attraction(Jill Shalvis), Half Bad(Sally Green), The Sweetest Thing(Jill Shalvis), & The Raven Boys(Maggie Stiefvater) – Read all of these. Had trouble connecting with the characters in Half Bad. Everyone raved about this book, and I wanted to love it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. I still added the next one to my wishlist. Might not be a high priority buy for me, but I’ll probably end up reading it sometime. I also finished The Sweetest Thing Friday. I really liked this one, and the next one is added to my wish list. And I had The Raven Boys finished by lunchtime Saturday. It just pulled me right in. And I read Archer’s Voice(Mia Sheridan) yesterday. I really enjoyed this one. Got weepy(with mostly happy tears) several times, and nearly threw the book(well, kindle) toward the end(thought one of the characters had died & I was gonna be really upset. It all turned out good, though). I started The Minaldi Legacy(Courtney Cole) last night. This is actually 2 books in 1, and I read the first one a couple years ago(I think). So, I’m doing more of a skim read-through of that before I read the second half. I’m 16% through that right now.
  • Read: Forensics for Writers: Read through Chapter 16 – finished this Wednesday. Only 3 more chapters to read.
  • Knit: Vertical Stripe Tie – get through row 11 – I finished this project Friday night(well, technically Saturday when I wove in all the loose ends. Although I still need to block it so it doesn’t roll up)IMG_0450

I love getting everything finished. Even getting ahead. And I’m hoping to finish Flames of Justice early this week.

  • Flames of Justice – Finish 1st draft
  • Brainstorm – idea for Caitie’s(Flames of Retribution) brother’s story. not sure if this will be a full novel or just novella, but he’s been bugging me to write it.
  • Read: The Minaldi Legacy(Courtney Cole), Calculated in Death(J.D. Robb), and Soulless(L.S. Engler)
  • Read: Forensics for Writers – Finish
  • Crochet: Flower Pop Hat
  • Knit: Baby Doll Dress – won’t finish this, but I want to at least get it started.

Fiction Friday

Today I’m sharing a little snippet of my short story, “Forever Again” that is in the World Unknown Review, available now. This is actually a bit of a prequel to Duty to Protect. If you’ve read that, you may recognize these characters. Although they’re about 20-ish years younger in this story.

Rick kept glancing at the door. Then, to the booth where the little girl sat. He thought she was coloring on the back of the paper place mat at first. Then, he noticed her lip held between her teeth and how careful her hand moved. He couldn’t hold back his curiosity and moved toward her table. He realized she was writing on the place mat, not drawing. He stood back for a moment, watching her, then her head snapped up. There was a brightness in her eyes at first then it slid away to cautiousness. “I’m not s’posed to talk to strangers.”
“That’s a good rule to follow,” Rick said. “Sometimes strangers do bad things.” And sometimes it was those you knew. He’d dealt with both in his time as a lawyer, on both sides. “But, I know your mom.”
“Strangers sometimes say that,” she said, continuing to write.
He couldn’t stop the laugh. She had obviously been fully schooled in ‘stranger danger’. “You’re right. They do. I’ll go back to my table if you want.”
“It’s okay. You can stay. If my mom doesn’t know you, she’ll yell at you when she gets back. And Amber and Lizzie wouldn’t let you do anything to me. We’re family.”
“Lisa, what have I told you about talking to people you don’t know?”
Lisa turned her head and smiled up at Leann. “He said he’s a friend of yours. I told him you’d yell at him if he was lying. You don’t like it when I lie.”
He watched as her mouth twisted up into a wry smile. “That’s right, I don’t.” She glanced over at him, and his own smile tugged wider. “Rick is…a friend. Sure. Did you get any food?”
“Lizzie’s bringing me some. I’m okay, Mom.”
Leann set her hand on her daughter’s head, and something moved through him. He wanted to take them both in and hold them. Something was going on here, he just wished he could figure out exactly what. On impulse, he asked, “Would you mind if I joined your beautiful daughter for lunch? Since she’s not allowed to talk to strangers and all, you could introduce us.”
“It seems she’s already taken care of that.” She sighed and picked her apron back up. “Go ahead and have a seat. I’ll check on your food.”
He didn’t take a seat, following her toward the kitchen instead. She turned on him before he reached the doors. “You can’t follow me in there, Rick. I told you I’d bring you your food.”
“I’m not worried about the food. I’m worried about you.”
“I’m fine. Everything’s fine. Perfectly normal.”
His brow furrowed. It wasn’t fine. It might be normal, but he didn’t think it was fine. “What’s going on, Leann?”
“Nothing, Rick. I already told you.”
“You did, but you’re upset. I can tell. What happened?”
“You don’t know anything about what I’m feeling.”
She started to turn but he closed his hand around her wrist. Not hard, just enough to keep her facing him. He didn’t want to frighten her, but he wouldn’t let her keep running. “I’m not a stupid man, Leann. I was a husband for almost seven years. I know when a woman is troubled. I’ve been a father for nine. I know when a child is fibbing about what they’re feeling. I’ve been a lawyer for nearly a decade. I know when someone’s being defensive. What’s going on?”
He watched the color drain from her face. “What kind of lawyer?”
“Prosecutor. With the Fremont county district attorney’s office.” She sighed, and he wasn’t sure if it was relief or disappointment. “What’s going on, Leann? Do you need me to prosecute someone?”
She shook her head. “You can’t prosecute someone for being a total idiot.” She glanced back toward the table where Lisa sat. “And if you could, you’d have to take me to court. I’m the one who married the asshole.”
Married. The one word felt like a lead weight in his stomach. He dropped his hand from her wrist. “I didn’t realize you were having marital difficulties.” He glanced down toward her hand, but he knew she didn’t wear a ring. He’d looked before.
She gave a sharp bark that was probably meant to be a laugh. “Difficulties? Most of our marriage was a difficulty. That’s why I divorced him almost two years ago. He still does everything he can think of to make my life difficult, and Lisa’s. That’s what I really want to strangle him for.”
Some of the tension dropped away from him. He reached for her hand again. “Do that, and I really would have to see you in court. That’s not where I want to see you.”

If you pick up a copy of World Unknown Review, you can read more of Rick & Leann’s story.

Writing Wednesday: Pulling Ahead

It’s been a good week so far, even with both kids being home on Monday. Part of that could be that I only have 1 plotted scene a day to write. I may add more in as I go, but if everything sticks to the outline, I only have to write 1 scene a day to finish this by the end of the month. And the way I’m going, I could have it finished by the end of this week. More on that later, but first…

WIPPET WEDNESDAY! Okay, maybe I’m more excited about that than necessary. I’m still sharing from Scars and All. This week I have 13 paragraphs(1+2+1+2+0+1+5=12+ 1 bonus). This is right after last week’s. Doren & Cassie are in his office & just kissed again.

“I, uh, I had that…that thing to, um, show you. Right.”
Damn, he was cute when he stammered. And he was apparently as off balance after that kiss as she was. He moved around the desk, and she went to his side. She couldn’t quite keep her eyes off the large tattoo on his arm though. She hadn’t been able to make it out too well at the picnic, other than the Celtic cross. Now, she could make out more of the details. The top of the cross was covered by his shirt, but she could see the horizontal beam wrapping around his bicep and the rest of it going down almost to his elbow. Now, she could read the words in the middle, inked in a fancy script. “Always loved, never forgotten.” They came out as a whisper, and he jerked away shifting so his arm was away from her. “I’m sorry,” she said and felt tears spring to her eyes.
He shook his head. “No, I am.”
His voice was rough, but when she looked up into his eyes, they were filled with sorrow, nothing even close to anger. She reached out toward his arm, but was surprised when he didn’t pull away, letting her run her fingers down the tattoo. He even pulled his sleeve up so she could see the rest of it. In a script like the words, a name was written above the top of the cross. “Your girlfriend,” she murmured.
He stiffened. “You’ve heard then?”
“A little. Mason said no one really knows what happened, but there are a lot of rumors. Why don’t you dispel any of them?”
He wouldn’t look at her. “What good would it do? People will believe whatever they want. I lost everything that night. The woman I loved, any future I had in football, my chance at a college degree. My whole goddamn future, Cassie. And my father’s respect. What do I care about what everyone else thinks of me? I’m good enough to fix their cars but not to even keep eye contact with.”
She shifted to the side and nudged him so his body was facing hers again, but he still kept his head turned away. Cassie reached up and cupped her hand under his chin, tipping it down so he had to look at her. “What they think doesn’t matter. But, you haven’t lost everything. You still have your family, I’m sure they believe in you.”
He shook his head. “Dad believes every damn thing people say about me. He’ll barely look at or even talk to me. All anyone sees are my scars. No one looks at me anymore, Cassie. They only see what they think I am. I haven’t-I haven’t been with anyone since I got out of the hospital. No one will even look at me.”
“I’m looking at you, Doren,” she said softly. “At you, not your scars. Or at your tattoos. Although,” she added, tracing a finger down one of the lines on his other arm, “I have been wondering just how many you have. Do you think I could see the rest of them?”
He let out that choking laugh again, and she looked up to see color flooding his face. “They may not see you, Doren, but I do. You’re still that sweet boy I knew in school.”
He gave a quick shake of his head. “Sweet boys don’t chase thrills. They don’t race cars or bikes.” The color left his face again at that. “Susan thinks I’m trying to kill myself.”
“Are you?”

Like I said above, I’m doing very well this week. In fact, by the time the girl got on the bus Tuesday morning, I was all but done with my goals for the day(only had to do laundry) and was starting on today’s. This post was actually mostly written yesterday. My plan had been to keep working through each day’s to-do list. Then, I decided that I’d work through the lists until 4-5, then after dinner, as long as I have everything else for the day done, I’ll read the rest of the night. We’ll see how this works out.

  • Flames of Justice – halfway through Chapter 5(which is 5 planned scenes. more may jump in there). – I’m almost through Chapter 4. Have at least 2 more scenes to finish(I’m part way through one of these). I’ve written 3717 words this week. I’m just glad the characters are talking to me again.
  • Flames of Restoration – Outline – I did the plot summary, signpost scenes, and beat sheet for this. I just have to do Chapter & scene summaries now. Although, I don’t know why I bother with the chapter summaries, as it always seems to change once I write.
  • Read: Animal Attraction(Jill Shalvis), Half Bad(Sally Green), The Sweetest Thing(Jill Shalvis), & The Raven Boys(Maggie Stiefvater) – I finished Animal Attraction Monday night. Loved it! Started Half Bad Tuesday morning. The beginning was really weird for me, but sticking with it. I’m 64% through right now.
  • Read: Forensics for Writers: Read through Chapter 16 – I’m through Chapter 14.
  • Knit: Vertical Stripe Tie – get through row 11 – finished through row 7 right now.

I’m well on track for getting everything done this week. Hope everyone else’s week is going well.

Monday Mentions: Writing and Fear, Negativity, and Reviews

I have a few different posts this morning.

First, from Ava Jae on how she Became a Morning Person. I’ve always been a morning person, although I used to be a bit of a night owl as well. This was fine in high school. I could stay up(usually reading or writing) until 1 or 2 in the morning, and still not have a problem getting up at 6 for school. Even when I started college, I tended to do this. Then, I started having more trouble getting up for those morning classes. And, then, I got married. To a truck driver. There were some days he wasn’t home, and I found it harder to sleep when he wasn’t, so I ended up staying up all night, usually writing. But, I still couldn’t sleep during the day. Then, I got pregnant with our daughter. I’m not sure if she slept late from the time she was born. I didn’t really have much choice but start waking up early again. But, I wasn’t getting up early to write. In fact, in those years, I wasn’t doing much writing at all. That wasn’t until after my son was born. And I found if I got some writing done in the morning, I tended to be in a much better mood the rest of the day. So, I started setting an alarm to wake up a little earlier every day. My son is now 4, and I’ve been doing this since he was about 6 months old. I’m currently waking up around 4, if I actually sleep all the way to my alarm. The kids get up around 6 or so to get ready for school. So, that’s about 2 hours to get things done before the day really starts.

Last week I also saw this post from Jami Gold on Handling Negativity. I’m not always the most positive person, but I try. In my spaces, particularly online, I try to keep things positive. I may rant/vent occasionally, but I try to keep that to a minimum. And I certainly don’t like to take any negativity to other people’s spaces.

And another post from Ava Jae on Writing and Fear. Some good thoughts on writing what scares you, and the fact that it doesn’t get less scary the more you write. I’ve been stepping more and more out of my comfort zone with my writing, and it does scare me about how these stories will be received. But, the secret is not letting it stop you. Sometimes the scariest stories are the ones that need to be told the most.

And finally, L.S. Engler posted over the weekend looking for Reviews for a Review. She put out the first volume of the World Unknown Review last month, but even though it’s selling moderately well, it’s still lacking reviews. I have a story in this, and there are several others as well, including a novella from L.S. herself.

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