Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back and Looking Forward

I hope you all had a blessed holiday season. If you're like me, you're probably holidayed-out by the time it all ends. My daughter-in-law was telling me, even on Christmas eve, that their family was already sugared-out

I'm always eager to start a new year. I keep a personal diary, which I like to read at the end of each year to see where I started, what happened, what I was feeling, and what I did. Feelings always lead to life-course corrections. Sometimes the spirit needs to prompt stubborn ole' me for a very long time, but eventually, I'm ready to let go of something and start down a better path.

There's peace after that happens, and an opening for new dreams or callings.

The biggest thing I let go of this year, regarding my writing, was the dream of being published in the Young Adult secular market. God had been showing me in numerous ways, for 18 months, that that wasn't where I should be. I finally let go in June. Yes, it was hard to let go of a manuscript I'd worked on (very part-time) for four years.

Should I have let it go, when I didn't even look for an agent to represent it?

I had sent it to several contests in June, and the judges' responses, in addition to several other industry professional responses (here's one of them) led me to believe that the story wouldn't sell. It wasn't because of my writing abilities, which is often a huge stumbling block for aspiring authors. More, it was the story concept itself. And if a concept won't sell, no matter how good the crafting, there's no point in working on it any longer.

I don't know how many people told me it read like Glee Fan Fiction. Ironically, I have never watched a single episode of Glee. The worst bad luck came when Glee did an entire season, apparently, on West Side Story, which played large in my book as well. I had my idea two years prior to Glee's West Side Story season, but in the scheme of things, that doesn't matter at all.

There were other reasons for moving away from YA, which I won't go into.

When I finally made peace with my decision to abandon the manuscript--and all the time and effort it would take to try to find an agent for a work that probably wouldn't sell in today's market--it opened time and space for me.

Time and space to work in a genre that, frankly, is better suited to my inclinations, knowledge and skills.

I switched to writing for the adult inspirational historical romance market, and between July 11 and now, I completed a 70,000 word manuscript. I am now in the early stages of revising it.

In 2013, after a lifetime of raising kids and working outside the home, I finally had the freedom to make writing my "full time job." I never keep hourly track, however I do spend as many hours at it each day as possible. I estimate that I spend about 20-30 hours each week on actual work on a manuscript.

If you asked my husband, he'd probably say it's all I ever do.

But he's wrong! ; )  There are always many other things that take up my time. The holidays are a recent example. Vacations are another. Or helping to move farm machinery. Or babysitting grandkids, which happens frequently. Or working to complete the (seemingly endless) list of home updates . . . Darned big things, not simple, daily housekeeping chores.

There are personal diversions as well, which are often necessary. In 2013, I needed to learn how to improve my (diabetic) health. I also spent quite a bit of time scrapbooking. It was wonderful to finally have that freedom!

With so much to do, I sometimes asked myself if I still wanted a writing career, after so many years of yearning for it. Wasn't that ironic? 

In the same way that I had resented how working full time at the library had kept me from working on my writing, the tables shifted. I discovered that I began resenting how working full time on my writing was keeping me from scrapbooking. Isn't that hilarious?

There was a difference, of course. No one was forcing me to write and not scrapbook. So when I was like an addict needing a scrapbooking fix, I took it.

There was a time during the year when my writing room was so full of notebooks and loose files and books, I felt overwhelmed, and like the walls were closing in on me. They probably were; the room was so full. I needed to remove at least half of what was in it, which I did, but have you ever had to deal with the sick feeling you get when everything you touch is laden with negative emotion? It wasn't like cleaning out a garage, or the kitchen, which is generally an emotionless process (for me).

I was removing boxes of books and putting them either in the storage-room library (adult fiction), or on the basement bookshelves (children's and YA fiction), or in boxes that would be donated to the library's book sale.

The storage room and basement shelves were also filled with books. Some, I had already read. Others, I still wanted to read, but realized, sadly, that I would probably never have the time to read most of them.

Unless I gave up my own writing dream, and opened space and time for it. 

Additionally, my writing room was filled with a closet full of notebooks that held my life's writing output. All the novels I've written, the journals I've kept, and all the information I've amassed. Physically, it was dozens of notebooks and reams of printed paper. None of that got tossed, but everything was so heavy when I moved it to another place.

"Is writing worth it?" I asked myself, with one of those ever-so-heavy notebooks in my hand.

Certainly, if I were doing it for the money, my time would be better spent working at a "real" job with a paycheck and benefits, which is what I had done for most of my life. Selling my time = paycheck.

But what was I getting now for selling my time?

Other than all the notebooks and several gigabites' worth of electronic files, there wasn't much, really, to show for it. 

Of course, if I want to make myself feel better, I can also realize that people who spend hours each day in front of the TV, or playing video games, or socializing on Facebook, or even reading fiction, have very little to show for their time, either. They are the consumers of life, certainly not the creators. Consumers are passive. Creators are active. Which one would you rather be?

Always, the writing calls me back.

It has helped me to better understand myself, other people, and my world.

Fiction is the platform where I can work with the same values and beliefs, and themes, that I might work with, were I to create a nonfiction website.

But writing fiction allows me to do it in an artful way. A way that goes deeper, by bypassing the rational mind and speaking directly to the heart.

And so I am beginning 2014 with the intent to keep writing fiction, at a rate of 20-30 hours each week. After I complete the revision of The Perfect Wife in (hopefully) two months, I'll enter it into ACFW's Genesis Contest (which requires a completed manuscript). Then I'll start a new one. I'll also start looking for an agent and/or editor for The Perfect Wife.

If the past 20 years of writing is an indication, I suspect that there will always be new ideas to explore, via the art form of fiction.

What about you? What did you learn about writing, or yourself, or (yourself + writing), in 2013? What is that leading you to pursue in 2014?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Weekly Writing Update

I've run across countless blog posts lately that give tips on how to maintain a writing schedule during the holidays

I have no doubt that it's possible, with a little planning and organization. 

But I would rather not. Maybe my age is seeping through, but I have too many memories of too many years' worth of crazy, stress-filled behavior, of me trying to do it all, including making time to write. 

So I am reporting that last week was delightful and full, but I wrote only 2,000 words on the WIP

I have been working up our Christmas letter. As most people like to do, I decided to write about the highlights of our year, many of which I blogged about. 

Bible Student conventions: Mike had the honor of serving at several conventions this year. It meant weekend trips to:
1.       Orlando, Florida (we arrived several days before the convention and did some touring)
2.       Boise, Idaho
3.       Sturgis (Saskatchewan, Canada) (we flew our airplane to Canada)
4.       Seattle, Washington (precisely, Seabeck, on the Olympic Peninsula).

We took a lot of Flying Adventures this year, in the RV7 that Mike built: 
      1.       Sturgis, Canada.
2.       Kamiah, ID
3.       Joseph, OR
4.       Sandpoint, ID
5.       Lake Roosevelt (Grand Coulee Dam), WA
6.       Painted Hills, OR
7.       Palouse Falls, WA

Ground Adventures, Holidays and Celebrations:
1.       A trip to Disneyland in January with our son and his family
2.       A bicycle ride along the Centennial Trail, which connects Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Spokane, Washington
3.       A Father’s Day celebration at Boyer Park with the family
4.       Celebrating the 4th of July in Canada with the brethren
5.       A Color Mob 5K Fun Run in Colfax for Cathy, Jessie and the grandkids. Hubby and son followed on their bike (Mike) or in his Samauri (Jeremy), taking pictures
6.       FIVE grandchild birthday parties
7.       A trip to Silverwood Theme Park with a daughter and her family
8.       Taking the grandkids to the county fair in September (babysitting them for three days while their mom and dad had a booth for Best-Fit Bath in the Commercial Building)
9.       Tagging along with the grandkids as they Trick-or-Treated in downtown Moscow, Idaho
10.   Thanksgiving at our house with the whole family
11.   Christmas eve (upcoming!) at our house with the family—this tradition’s been going on for 30 years

Updates to the house:
1.       A bathroom remodel: we gutted the third-floor bathroom, including stripping off the wallpaper to create a 100% new room. Excellent work, done by Best-Fit Bath( (our son–in-law)
2.       A bedroom update: we painted our bedroom, replaced the carpet, and bought a new headboard, bedspread and curtains in a pattern reminiscent of Hawaii
3.       We painted the laundry room, kitchen and family room
4.       A new deck; excellent work done by Best-Fit Bath
5.       Cathy upgraded the flowerbed along the north side of the house

Health and fitness updates:
A change in diet. We discovered that Mike is gluten intolerant, and Cathy is diabetic. After a change in diet habits, Mike’s lost 20 pounds (and need not lose a pound more). Cathy’s lost 22 pounds, and is within a normal BMI range (barely). Since she is already on a severely carbohydrate-restricted diet, she’s not interested in being on a calorie-restricted diet as well. Normal weight, though she is not skinny, is good enough!

Mike likes to fly the Kit Fox all around the county, landing on the hilltops of our stubble fields. He bought a GoPro camera and has had a great time making movies with the camera attached either beneath a wing tip, or on the tail wheel.

Mike is beginning to play the guitar again. Some evenings, Cathy will hear him strumming.

Cathy retired from her job managing the Youth Services department at Latah County Library District on August 1, 2012. Since then, she’s acquired a part time job during spring and fall work, helping to move our farm machinery from ranch to ranch.  

Cathy’s 88-year-old father visited us during the summer. He drove across Washington state all by himself. We were all worried that the old boy might not be up to it, but Dad knew that he could, and proved it to everyone.

Cathy is still writing and blogging. She wrote an inspirational historical romance manuscript this year, and entered the first few chapters into several national contests. She is a finalist in two of them. Key editors and agents will be reading her entry. If they like what they read, they might ask her to submit the full manuscript to them.  

Cathy is also very happy to have become a member of a women’s group and a book group.

Cathy also continues to love scrapbooking. Recently, she sorted their 2013 pictures and arranged them in Microsoft Publisher (which she uses to get an idea for how the pictures will look in layouts). In all, there will be 69-two-page layouts for 2013. That’s enough for five or six albums. While making each individual, two-page layout, she is working through the year chronologically, and is currently in July. 

That not only sums up my week, but also my year.
I plan to take a blogging break until January 1, 2014. 

I hope you will all have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year. 
See you then . . . 

I love your comments and read every single one of them, so if you wish to comment, please do! Sometimes, I manage to answer them. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Weekly writing update

Christmas is quickly approaching, with its delightful activities. I am being pulled away from writing more and more, and that's quite all right. But during the past two weeks, I didn't do any writing at all, and most of that cannot be blamed on Thanksgiving or Christmas activities, but on the reading I was doing.  


I'm almost done reading the e-books purchased from ProBlogger, which I had bought with the idea of improving my blogging and possibly monetizing my blog. I have a very long list of to-dos as a result. I became aware of hundreds, maybe thousands of other blogs, almost all of them outside of writing and book reviewing. I discovered that the audience for even the biggest writing and book review blogs is tiny compared to many of the other subjects out there. That said, it might behoove us as writers to do what social media experts have been telling us all along: branch out and get to know people outside of our small niche. Write about the topics we're interested in besides writing (or goal updating!).  

I've decided I probably won't monetize my blog, after all. People do make money off their blogs. Some people actually earn a living from blogging, but they're working at it full time, and they usually have a half dozen or more blogs. Even then it depends on a blogger's niche and her skills, as to her level of success. 

It looks as though it probably wouldn't be crazy difficult to earn $500/YEAR off a blog, but more than that would take significant effort.  

Though I don't intend to monitize at this time, I will probably make the switch to WordPress sometime in the next six months and design my website using Brandgasm, rather than paying someone else to design it. I will probably change the themes of my posts. I still need to decide the topics that I plan to write about. I have several ideas, but I need to figure out if I truly am interested enough in them to post about the subject(s) on a regular basis. 

For example, there isn't a massive amount of information being written on the Enneagram, and I have a deep knowledge of that, as well as in Life Coaching. 


As I said before, I went without writing for two full weeks. (But I didn't go without eating.) Yesterday, when I sat down to write again, I was happy to slip right into it, no anxieties. Generally when I'm away from writing for that long, anxiety eats me up for several hours. 

I still need to write 10,000 words, and then I will have a full draft of THE PERFECT WIFE. 

If you're interested, the contests that I am a finalist in have posted the finalists' names to their websites. My manuscript is called THE PERFECT WIFE. 

Windy City RWA 2013 Four Seasons contest finalists 

Mid-America Romance Writers Fiction from the Heartland contest finalists 

I'll learn on December 20 if I won the inspirational category in the Windy City contest. I'm one of eight overall finalists in the Mid-America contest, which does not select finalists by category. I'll learn on February 1 whether I won that one. 

For me, entering wasn't about winning as it was about getting feedback, which was outstanding! It was also, especially, for the chance to have key agents and editors read my work. 

What inspires me: 

The blogs I discovered over the past two weeks inspire me. Having ventured
outside my writing communities (Young Adult, Inspirational Romance), I discovered a much bigger world of writers. One of the biggest communities is BlogHer. If they decide to feature one of your posts, you could be read, potentially, by 90 million readers. That just blows me away. They also pay you $50 for your post. 

It's where Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond was discovered, and we all know that she has completely conquered the world. Her blog's popularity ranks under 5600 globally. By contrast, mine ranks 8,000,000 globally. If you want to see what yours ranks, go to Alexa and type in your blog addy.    

What else I'm up to: 

Christmas activities. I've been attending two or three Christmas functions each week. We're shopping in Spokane today. 

How was your week, reading, writing, or otherwise?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Weekly Update: "Ain't that the most beautiful snow you've ever seen?"

That's what hubby said when we got up yesterday and looked out the window. 

We're in for some VERY cold weather over the next two weeks. The temperature will remain in the teens at all times, with the wind-chill factor bringing it to below zero. Brrr!

Snow is significant to us. If it hadn't snowed, the cold weather probably would've frozen out the fall wheat we planted in September and October. If that happened, we would need to replant it in the spring, which is expensive. It could mean the difference between earning a livable income in 2014, or not.

But it snowed, and so we are safe for now. Snow acts like a blanket to insulate the crops from the ravages of too-cold weather, same as a blanket helps to keep us from freezing to death.

Last week's highlights: 

(I am shamelessly borrowing some of my heading titles this week from Molly, who writes extraordinary posts--thanks, Molly!)

Thanksgiving was wonderful. My three children, their spouses and our grandchildren all came for dinner. Everyone got along. No one pushed anyone's buttons, like last year. Yay!

We ate a feast at 4:30 that included turkey, of course, but also a melt-in-your-mouth seasoned prime rib from Costco. While the gals spent hours in the kitchen fixing dinner, the guys and the grandkids were outside tooling around on their motorcycles and four-wheelers and making movies with Mike's new GoPro camera. Between dinner and dessert, we watched the GoPro movies on our big-screen TV. The grandkids also decorated a gingerbread house.  

Some good friends invited us to their house for dinner on Saturday night. Thanks, Sharon! Check out her blog for a wonderful acappella version of Little Drummer Boy. Afterwards, we saw Catching Fire. 

It was a disturbing movie, but I wanted to see it in order to be aware of what popular culture is viewing these days. Regarding TV shows, I don't keep up with popular culture at all--except to watch Homeland. But I do like to take in some of the current movies. 

Currently Reading:

I am working through Darren Rouse's e-books on how to make your blog successful. For $107, which is 47% off the price of buying each e-book separately, I got the following e-books:
31 Days to build a Better Blog
First Week of Blogging
Blogging for Business
Blogger's Guide to Online Marketing
Blog Wise-Do More with Less
Scorecard for Blogging
I've finished First Week of Blogging; Blog Wise--Do More with Less; Scorecard for Blogging and am currently on day 18 of the 31-Days e-book. I am learning so much. If you've been blogging for a while, you don't need the information in First Week of Blogging, but as it came as part of the package, I decided to blast through it anyway. You never know when you might learn something new. 

Based on what I'm learning, and if I were to grade my blog, I would give my current level of effort about C-. 

The e-books are filled with links to online articles and sources of information that greatly enhance your understanding of the materials, so if you buy the e-books, do not neglect to read the additional links.  


No writing this past week, however I did spend two days looking at the stats on each of my 437 published blog posts and putting the information into various categories in a spreadsheet. This is helping me to understand more fully which area readers are embracing, and which areas are duds. It will help me think of new post ideas as well as new directions for my blog.

Are you interested to know which areas get the largest page views? The biggest duds?

Largest number of page views: In general, the category of posts that consistently gets the largest number of page views are our flying adventures. There are isolated posts from all of my 26 categories that have gotten more reads than many of the flying posts, but as a category, the flying posts consistently get the most hits.

Duddy page views: The categories which are a total dud for me, meaning that the posts each garner 50 page views or less, belong to the categories of Holiday Posts and Seasonal Posts . . . i.e. Autumn on the Palouse ... Winter on the Palouse ...


I ordered some pens for my Silhouette Cameo Portrait so that I can use it to draw as well as to cut. Eventually, I might order the Designer Software, so that I can create my own designs and upload them to the Silhouette store for sale. (Or am I only dreaming?) I completed a scrapbook layout of our flight to Kamiah, Idaho. 

On the horizon: 

My book group meets tomorrow night, and my women's club is having its annual Christmas luncheon on Friday. Hubby's getting interested in taking up skiing again, and so we plan to go skiing when the weather warms. 

Oh, and there is a manuscript to finish ... 

How was your week? 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Nine Ways we Lose Control of our Writing

Having a writing dream is easy. Maintaining, nurturing, growing it from dream to reality, day in and day out, year in and year out, is not.

Some writers think that writing a book is among the hardest things there is to do. When I look at what humankind has achieved outside of writing a book, I highly doubt that assertion. Let's get real.

But there is a steep learning curve, and it does take a concerted amount of effort to become a published author, whether you're going traditional or indie. 

Here are nine ways that we lose focus, and how to get back on track.

1. We don’t set goals. Goals need to be specific enough to write in a sentence or two. You need to set a date when you expect to achieve them and, again, you need to be so clear as to the results that you know when you have achieved them.

2. We set impossible goals. Goals need to be within our control. Completing a book in a year is within our control. Seriously. Signing with a particular editor who sells it to Random House and then having it hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list, if you are a debut author, would be an exponentially more difficult. Not impossible, but pretty unlikely.

3. We don’t pay attention to our goals. Don't create an elaborate calendar of what needs to be done and then ignore it completely. This is different from not setting goals at all, but not much.

4. We decide to quit working on our goal because we’re tired or stressed. Regularly scheduled breaks will enable us to keep working longer. Vacations help to ward off burnout. Just be sure to get back on track as soon as the break is over. Don't allow it to linger on for another week or two or three.

5. We attend to immediate situations to the neglect of long-range ones. No matter how busy we are, if we hope to have a writing career, we need to schedule even a small amount of time each day to work on writing goals. Now that writing is my job, it's easier to find time to write, and yet it sometimes amazes me how hard I need to work to protect my writing time. I have inherited from my aging father-in-law the job helping to move farm machinery during the spring and fall. I'm more available to babysit grandkids, and so that happens at least once each week. My social life could easily burgeon. Fortunately that one is generally the easiest one on which to set limits for most people. It's easier to say "no" to friends than it is to family.     

Take a hard look at how you spend every hour of each day and then brainstorm ways that you can fit in writing time. Maybe you could exchange babysitting hours with a friend. Maybe you could cut back on TV viewing. The possibilities are endless.

6. Sometimes we give everything the same priority when in fact, many things are not as important as protecting our scheduled writing time.

7. After a perceived writing failure, we focus on calming our emotions—overeating, watching too much TV, endlessly telling our friends all about it—when the better solution is to get back on track and start writing again. Granted, we need to take some time to process our volatile emotions. But for some personality types, this can stretch into days and weeks. If you are one of those types, take heed. 

Feel the pain of failure and then, as soon as possible, face your fears of returning to your writing goals. The best way to do it? By sitting down to write. It's uncomfortable. I hate it when anxiety feels like a cat clawing at me with very sharp nails. It spurs me to do any number of things to escape it—I’ll do three loads of wash. I’ll vacuum and steam clean the floors. I’ll eat a huge plate of carrot salad. No, two plates. I can’t eat chocolate or sugar, so rabbit food with a lot of chewing works well to calm me. 

But after that, I need to plant my butt in the chair and begin to write again. Once I’ve been at it for four or five hours, the pins and needles of anxiety melt away.

8. Another way we lose control is that we allow an initial failure snowball. Dieters are famous for this. If we blew it at one meal, we figure we might as well blow it for the rest of the day. Or maybe the weekend. Maybe we’ll get back on track on Monday. The same thing can happen with our writing. We miss one writing session and then, before we know it, we haven’t written for a week, and then a month. It’s much easier to get back on track immediately, rather than after we haven’t looked at the book for two weeks.

9. We decide we can’t write and we stop trying, in order to avoid further failure. Never stop! If you want to make this dream become a reality, you only fail when you stop.

Are you guilty of any of these? What do you do to get your focus back?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Deciphering contest results

I have now revised one of my contest-finalist entries and will be sending it back after one last read. For this contest, eight finalists in all were chosen from across the eight entrance categories, rather than the top three from each category. It's the only contest I know of that does it this way. But hey! It's the way they choose to do it and I'm not complaining. I love that they gave me a week to revise my 10,000 word entry.

It's also fairly rare for a contest to allow the finalists to revise their entries before being sent to agents and editors. In the other contest in which I am a finalist, my entry went to them exactly as I had originally sent it in.

So it was a busy week of looking at each and every statement made by a total of eleven judges; I combined the results of all into one file and saw a fuller picture of the questions that came up as judges read the entry. For example, here is a sample of nine concerns that I decided I needed to deal with. Judges wanted to know:

1.       what made the hero and heroine fond of each other, after an exchange of only three letters (judge needed that answer, in order to have more sympathy for the heroine)

2. why the heroine trusted that the mail-order marriage was God’s will

3. To have another sentence of specific information about one of the villains, without taking away the mystery

4. why the heroine longed to be a mother

5. why the heroine wanted to be married, and why, specifically, the hero is the right man for her

6. To be shown something that allowed the reader to believe the hero was indeed of a higher station than the heroine

7. To read more of the hero’s thoughts, in order to make him more likeable, despite his harsh actions. If she hadn’t read the synopsis, and learned the motivation for his behavior, she said she would’ve hated him.

8. Pointed out that a certain situation (birth of twins) which I used as a motivator, and the way I dealt with it, was out of the time period in which I am writing, and mentioned also that servants had to give notice, even in Georgian and Regency era books

9. Pointed out that the trunks of early motorcars were non-existent or very small, and so I should rethink whether the heroine’s bags were strapped on the car, or small enough to fit in a shallow trunk. Also, that cars were exceedingly rare in 1912, and if I want to have a few cars parked along the street, meaning that they were accessible to the common man, that I should bump my date to 1915  

These are some of the problems I addressed. Some just needed a sentence or two to fix. Number eight took rethinking and rewriting an entire scene to make it work for my Edwardian time period.

Here's a sample of what six of my pages looked like, after I had inputted the comments from eight of the eleven judges. There were places that universally stumbled the judges, and also places that were universally liked. Not all of the comments are critical: 

That's a lot to digest, isn't it? It was quite a learning experience, and I am sure that my manuscript is now far better grounded than it was before, having answered reader concerns. Their questions forced me to go deeper into the characters' motivations. Now I understand more fully the themes and conflicts that I will carry throughout the book. 

As a result of the streamlining (several judges suggested that I reduce the total number of conflicts), at least one conflict was completely eliminated. My hero no longer walks with a limp as a result of childhood polio, which removes him feeling he's less of a man because of it, and me having to deal with that specific conflict. 

Interestingly, while continuing to write the book, I kept forgetting to have him grab his cane, and so yes, it really wasn't an issue for him, or me. References to it were easily dropped from the story.

I still have plenty of conflict, perhaps too much for the projected word count . . . I'll discover that as I continue to write the novel. I will be so happy when I can start making forward progress again.

How was your week, reading, writing, or otherwise?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Beginning and End of Autumn on the Palouse

We're nearing the end of our Indian Summer. Quite often, we will see a skiff of snow on October 31, when the trick-or-treaters want to show off their costumes, but need to bundle up instead, hiding the costume under a warm winter coat.

On October 3rd, my marigolds looked like this. I was hopeful that I could see a couple more weeks' worth of blossoms from them. On October 4th, they were dusted with frost, marking the end of their bloom season.

With the number of good-weather flying days numbered, Mike decided to take yesterday afternoon off. In the morning, we watched our ten-year-old grandson play his last football game in the Kibbee Dome, at the University of Idaho.

By all rights, Mike and our son, Jeremy, *should've* worked yesterday afternoon, though it was Saturday. Why? Read on.

We're busy hauling our grain from home storage down to the Snake River, where it gets loaded on a barge and sent to Portland, Oregon. At the beginning of the week, our Kenworth suffered what Mike described as a truck's equivalent to a massive coronary, wherein it seized up and died, leaving son Jeremy stranded in a truck full of grain, the total weight which was about 90,000 pounds. The weight is significant, because Mike needed to drag the heavy, dead truck for five miles up the road before he was able to find a place where it could sit safely until they were able to unload the grain from it. They also need to figure out how to get the truck home, where it will sit in the shop until winter. Jeremy (a diesel mechanic as well as farmer) will overhaul the engine. Mike used the one-ton to drag the loaded Kenworth uphill. It nearly killed the one-ton as well.

So Mike and Jer decided to get out the Freight Liner, our other semi, and use it to haul grain. Super bad luck. It also died!

With both farmers frustrated as heck over last week's developments, and after having been working their arses off since late July, they decided to take the afternoon off.

I will repeat what I said before: With the number of good-weather flying days numbered, Mike decided to take yesterday afternoon off. Now you see a bit of a different flavor to the sentence, don't you?

We flew over Kamiah, Kooskia and Grangeville, and then headed down into the Hells Canyon area. The picture above shows Whitebird Grade hugging the side of the prominent mountain ridge. If you look carefully, although it doesn't show up plainly in the picture (my bad), you can see the old Whitebird Grade with its steep, winding switchbacks.

What you're looking at in the picture above, is the confluence between the Snake and Salmon Rivers. There is actually a short dirt runway down there, way down there, but Mike would never attempt to descend the thousands of feet into the incredibly narrow canyon and try to land there. The RV7 is a fabulous aircraft for many reasons, but it was not designed to be a short field airplane; this would not have been a good choice for a place to land. His Kitfox was designed to handle this type of runway beautifully, however the Kitfox is not very good for actually going places. It flies too slow (less than 1/3 of the speed of the RV7). It would've taken forever to get there, and not worth it unless there was a reason to want to do it.

Driving home from the airport, I decided to turn down Lake Street in town and I was so glad I did. The sun made the trees look like masses of gold.

After leaving town, and on the road where we live, I snapped a picture of our neighbor's maple tree--beautiful. This is where Bully Bully used to live (if you saw my picture of the huge bull with huge horns, that Mike was feeding apples). There are many cows in the pasture, but Bully Bully got moved to a different home nearby. You know, bulls and cows need to be kept separate until it's breeding time, i.e. the most convenient time for the farmer to breed his prize stock.

Lastly, at home, I went outside on our deck which our son-in-law DID finish (yesterday!) and snapped this picture of the patio below. The burning bush on the left and the American Mountain Ash on the right look stunning.

So now we are ready for the truly cold weather and more wintry days to set in. We were hoping to fly to Arizona next week, to visit some friends there for a couple of weeks. Not sure if that will still get to happen. Not next week, for sure . . . It depends a lot on how long it takes to solve the truck problem and haul the rest of our grain down to the Snake River. Then after that, it depends on the weather ...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Turning a corner

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I have begun to enter writing contests. In June and July, I entered my Young Adult Contemporary Romance in five contests. I have now received results from all of them.

In August and September, I entered my Inspirational Historical Romance in six contests.
I have now received results from all but one of these entries.

In all but two, the results were pretty good--close but no cigar. My YA submission always scored worse than my Inspirational Historical submission. 

In the other two contests, the results were great! I am a finalist in both. Yay!

What I will say about all of the contests I entered, and why entering contests is so worthwhile: The feedback is fantastic. Unlike the feedback you get from a critique group, where each individual member's knowledge of the craft may vary widely, contest judges are almost always published authors or contest finalists. They know the craft, and are able to spot weaknesses. Also unlike critique group feedback, these people do not know you, and are able to judge a manuscript on its merit, without fear of hurting your feelings.

Feelings should never be hurt in any case, but some writers tend to be sensitive about their work and even gentle criticism sends them into writers block. It's a huge fear of mine when critiquing the manuscripts of my friends. I may see a dozen things that need work, but I will gauge what I think they can handle, and may point out only two or three things, generally substantive rather than editorial. In the end, I am probably doing them a disservice, especially if they feel their manuscript is close to being ready for an agent or editor's eyes.

Each contest has its own score sheet for things that they are looking at, such as how well the opening scene is working; pacing; point of view; setting; characterization; dialogue; style; mechanics. Each judge is given the opportunity to comment freely. I've gotten both substantive (how well the overall story is working and what needs to be changed/improved) and line-edit type feedback. It has been, as I said, wonderful.

One especially helpful judge, who must be an angel, told me that the only thing between me and publication at this point is polish. I'd never understood (call me uninformed) what, exactly, was meant by polish. I thought it must mean that the words are so brilliant and evocative that they shine and float on the page. (Something that I could never achieve.)

It's more meat and potatoes than that. It means that you will not repeat a word more than once on a page. For example, you will not describe someone as beautiful at the top of the page, and then use beautiful again in the page, no matter who or what you are describing. In fact, if a word is a bit unusual--I used beacon twice in a 10,000 word submission--you do not use that word twice, either.

It means you will banish each and every cliche and replace it with your own fresh thoughts. It means you will replace most dialogue tags (he said) with action tags that contribute something to either the conflict, characterization, pacing, or any/all three. The action tags need to be more than "She bit her lip." (Which, again, is cliched and says nothing.) And, of course, you will not over-use adjectives and adverbs.  

So, what does being a finalist in two contests mean to me? It means that an editor and an agent (one each, from each contest), will be reading my pages. For one contest, that means Elizabeth Mazer, editor from Harlequin Love Inspired (the line I am targeting) will be reading them, as well as Amanda Luedke, from MacGregor literary (who I would love to have for an agent) will be judging my submission.

For the other contest, an editor from Bethany House will be reading it. As to the agent, I am being asked to request who I would like from a list of five agents. I will choose Nicole Resciniti from the Seymour Agency (a Christian agency--I would also love to have Nicole for an agent).

Being a finalist puts me one step further along the road to publication. I may discover that I still have a long way to go, but I am, at least, at this level.

If you're wondering about the type of things judges have said about my submissions, I've compiled a short list, below. These are all generalized, summation-type comments, and all are from judges who did not give my manuscript a score that was quite high enough to put me in the finalist category. All comments are about my Inspirational Historical submission.

What are the strengths of this entry?
  • An interesting setting, a likable heroine, a good voice, a strong sense of theme and genre (both as historical and as inspirational).
  • You craft interesting characters, and you have a good set-up for the conflict—a mail order bride arrangement contracted under false pretenses by a well-meaning child. Your command of writing craft is very good, and I found reading this entry very easy and enjoyable.
  • I have a strong sense of the time and place. The writing is strong. The conflict of having someone you didn’t know you were engaged to now working in your house is good. I like Sarah. She’s been through terrible things, but she’s still strong and capable and hopeful for the future
  • This work has so much potential. 
Writing skills:
  • Very smooth and controlled, neither overwhelming with detail nor skipping too quickly. There’s some telling at the start; I think this is more a function of where you chose to begin the story than of your style, and there are some inconsistencies (marked in text) that need to be reconciled.
  •  You are a very deft writer, with good narrative skills. 

If you are on the fence about entering a contest or contests, I would strongly encourage you to do so. The feedback is invaluable.  

How was your week, reading, writing or otherwise? Have you entered contests? What was your experience? Would you do it again? 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Writing Update: Opportunities Growing Like Mushrooms

When I was a children’s librarian, I used to like to include Mushroom in the Rain at least once a year, during a spring story time. What happens to mushrooms in the rain? They G-R-O-W.

It must be because we’re at the start of a new year--new school year, and certainly the beginning of fall--but opportunities are popping up all over.

Since reporting last week that I will be teaching two writing classes at the local library, several new opportunities have presented themselves. I’ve learned that agent Janet Grant desires to have more Harlequin Love Inspired authors in her stable. (Me! Me! Waving my hand in the air. That's the line I am targeting.) Should I choose to answer that call, I will need to submit a proposal to her by Friday. She works at Books & Such, a Christian Literary Agency. I’m on the fence about this; my manuscript isn’t finished but it may be, by the time she would be reading it. That doesn't guarantee that she would be taking me on; oh my no. Let's be real about this. But it is a direct invitation to send highly targeted material.

The Love Inspired Romantic Suspense line is increasing production to six books each month, coming soon. It needs new authors.

I also received an email about an ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) contest, First Impressions, that I could enter. There are only a handful of contests throughout the year that specialize in Christian fiction. This seems one that I should enter. I entered a portion of my current manuscript in seven RWA contests during August, and although they all advertised an Inspirational Fiction category, several did not get enough entries for the category to remain open. My entry got pushed into straight historical romance, where it will not compete well.

Additionally, even when a contest has an Inspirational category, all types of books (contemporary, historical, suspense, single title and category) are lumped together. This also results in judging difficulties. The ACFW contest has ten separate categories under the Inspirational umbrella. So . . . should I enter it? This opportunity sounds like a definite yes. The deadline is November 1st.

I was also contacted by Casey Herringshaw, from Bend, Oregon, about the possibility of a dozen of us living in the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area forming an ACFW chapter. Casey was sweet enough to set up a Facebook page for us to get to know each other and see how it evolves. I checked out everyone’s websites Oh, my. How impressive! Most are published, and from all appearances, very involved in the Christian publishing world. Each one of us would be highly capable of building and leading this group . . . assuming that anyone feels led to take up the challenge. My guess is that we're all too busy, but perhaps we will meet with each other a couple of times each year.  

I am hoping to find two critique partners from the group, though, as I am no longer writing for the secular YA market. Or if not from among these ladies, then from the ACFW critique partner exchange.

My local children’s writer group has been defunct for over a year. A couple people moved away; several were never serious about writing to begin with; several are too busy to write. Of the two remaining, both of whom are seriously pursuing a writing career in YA fiction, each has found other critiquing outlets. Such is the nature of critique groups.

So . . . it was a week of opportunities growing like mushrooms in the rain. I didn’t do a thing to seek them out. The one thing I have been actively doing, though, is finding Christian writer’s blogs to follow at some point. When will that point be? When I decide it’s time to pick up the pace on my own blog. The list just keeps getting longer, but I am not yet ready to commit to more frequent blogging.

Other developments over the past week: About my program for my women’s club, Athenaeum, I managed to switch program days with a gal who thanked me profusely and said I must be an angel for coming to her rescue. Her life was so overbooked on the weekend beginning October 18 (her program day) that she was worried about how she would fit it all in. She is my angel as well. I needed to switch my program date from November 1, in the event that the weather is good, and hubby and I fly to Arizona sometime after the 18th, but before November 1. I still need to decide what city to present . . . and to talk about it for 20 minutes.

What else have I been doing? Last night, we traveled to Coeur d’Alene (90-minute drive) to hear a presentation on the state of our nation’s economy, presented by our Retirement Investment company, D.A. Davidson. They brought in some experts from Portland and Boise as well. Here’s the good news: they have looked at all the data and current and projected business activity. They believe that by 2020, our national economy will be truly booming again. Not the slow growth that we are presently seeing, but BOOMING.

They believe that we will be energy independent, or close to it, and that manufacturers will be building factories in our own country, bringing profits back where they belong, and employing a million more Americans. A couple dozen manufacturers are already setting up plants in the U.S. (They showed us which ones, specifically, on a map.)

What they cautioned against: hoarding our money. Do not save your money in the bank, where it is very likely to lose value over time, they urged us. Invest it instead. Rely on people who do this for a living to guide your choices. Investment growth averages 8% over a decade when done by professionals, whereas if you are doing it yourself (and you are undoubtedly making moves based on emotion, rather than hard facts and insider knowledge), your growth averages only 3%. They were tooting their own horns, certainly, but they have managed our account very well over the the past 30 years. When we turn 68 years old, we are likely to be very close to our original investment goals.

That largely sums up the week, although I have not said a word about my writing update. You might think I am trying to deflect your attention in order to avoid an embarrassing truth. No, not at all. I didn't put in mega-hours on the book, but I did write for 10 hours. I made it through 8100 words, with a net gain of 1340 words. The "Finished" meter rose from 67% to 71%. (But I am only on chapter Nine of twenty-one plus chapters.)

My biggest challenge this week, despite the wonderful opportunities that appeared before me, was dealing with the loss of my old self. I'm feeling some sadness about not being able to eat anymore so many foods that I used to enjoy, even ordinary things like bread and mashed potatoes.

Harder yet is having to limit my food intake overall. On Sunday, I ate more than usual. I ate a large plate of vegetable stir fry (no rice or other grain), plus drank a light beer, and had frozen berries and unsweetened, fat free yogurt for dessert. My blood sugar didn't go up, but my weight shot up by over two pounds. When hubby eats like this, his weight shoots down by two pounds or more! Fortunately by Tuesday, the weight had gone back to exactly where it had been prior to my "big indulgence."

I switched out my summer clothes for my winter ones this morning. Having lost 20 pounds since January, I collected a tall stack of clothes I will never wear again, in sizes 12 & 14. I am replacing them with a tall stack of sizes 8 & 10, which are the clothes I wore last time I lost weight, about five years ago. To fit into the size 8's, I still need to lose another 15 pounds. But this time, I MUST lose the weight and keep it off, forever, or expect to face the dire complications of diabetes.

My mother, who had diabetes, used to say that she would rather live to be a happy grandmother than a grouchy great-grandmother. In other words, she would rather enjoy her sweets, even to eat normally. But our family is all to aware of what happened to her as a result of that philosophy. I don't want to put them, and myself, through it if I can possibly prevent it. (This is not to blame my mother; had she realized what would become of her, I'm reasonably sure that she would've chosen differently. Diabetes management was not as finely tuned in those days as it is now. Plus, mom had Celiac, which no one knew about, many years ago.

So I am constantly asking myself: Is that serving of mashed potatoes, or that slice of bread really worth it to me, to risk developing Alzheimer's? Is it worth it to skip exercise today? No. That thought is a powerful motivator to me to do what I need to do.

Nonetheless, I am still mourning the loss of the person I used to be, who had the freedom to eat normally.

How was your week, reading, writing or otherwise?

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Weekly Writing (and life) Update

I managed to work on my writing this past week, after playing hooky from it the week before. This week, I clocked twenty-seven hours. During that time, I began to write the book again, rather than compiling further notes about each scene.

I also decided on the writing class that I will teach for the community college in January or February. I’ll be using exercises from the book, The Playful Way to Serious Writing, by Roberta Allen. I've owned it for years, but it was one of the few craft-of-writing books in my embarrassing, ridiculously large collection that I had never read. I understand why, now. It is made up of brief exercises that are meant only to kick-start one's writing. Super limited in scope, but it will be perfect for my purposes.

Then wouldn’t you know it, but the children’s librarian at the library that hosts the community college courses contacted me, asking me if I would be interested in teaching some writing classes to middle-schoolers and young adults. I agreed to teach one class, using the same materials that I’ll be using for the adults. I might switch out some of the exercises for the kids and have more visuals for them.

I also completed a large reading project last week. I have finally read all of the reading materials I bought a month ago, when I discovered I had Type 2 diabetes. Among them were: Reversing Diabetes by Julian Whitaker, MD; Reversing Diabetes by Readers Digest; Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution by Dr. Bernstein, MD; The Diabetes Diet by Dr. Bernstein, MD; The Glycemic Load Diabetes Solution by Rob Thompson, MD; Insulin Resistance: How it can Cause Alzheimer’s by Catherine Foley; The Insulin-Resistance Diet by Hart and Grossman ; Low Carb Diet Strategies you Don’t Know About by Susan Campbell; The New Glucose Revolution for Diabetes, by (several authors); and Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD.

I selected books that would cover polar extremes of advice, from dozens more on the subject. While reading them, I took copious notes and have drawn my own conclusions. For example, the ADA recommends that diabetics eat at least 120 grams of carbohydrate each day. The general, non-diabetic population eats several hundred grams of carbs each day, by comparison. (Although we, as a nation, are killing ourselves by eating this quantity of carbs.)

Dr. Bernstein recommends a carbohydrate intake of only 30 grams each day. Polar extremes. The ADA recommends a low-fat diet. Dr. Bernstein, as well as most of the books I read, claims that fats aren’t the issue. Physicians have known for 20-30 years that it’s not the fats we’re eating that are giving us heart attacks. It’s the carbs.

For people who cannot handle carbs, i.e. diabetics and people with insulin resistance (and these people are well on their way to becoming diabetic), it seems counterintuitive to me that the ADA would recommend a low fat diet including 120 grams of carbs each day. I know that if I ate that much, I would be unable to keep my blood sugar within the normal range. I am able to keep it in a high normal range by eating 60 grams of carbs a day.

What does 60 grams of carbs look like? It looks like two glasses of milk, one or two servings of fruit, a salad at lunch and dinner that is no larger than two cups' worth of vegetables (or 2/3 cup of cooked vegetables) and, at dinner, no more than 1/2 cup of rice or potatoes. No bread or crackers at all. The rest of the diet is comprised of protein and fat. 

I found myself craving carbs the other day--even sugar--and so I did discover that I can safely eat chocolate when it is 90% cocoa/cocoa butter. The calories aren't any lower than typical chocolate at that level, but my focus isn't on calories, but carbs. What a decadent treat that was, to leave the grocery store, sit in my car, read People magazine and eat two squares of chocolate!

With that reading project completed, I hope to return to a fiction reading project soon. Being that my goal is to publish with Harlequin Love Inspired, I need to read copious books from that line. I own about 80 of them. I just need to find the time to read!

One other project currently stands in the way. A local women’s club that I belong to is starting up again on Friday after a summer hiatus. This club, Athenaeum, has a very long heritage in my town. Our theme this year is “Places,” and so for my program, which I will give on November 1, I need to research a town or city that I would like to visit.


That's all I've been up to, reading and writing-wise. Our deck didn't get finished. Hubby is finally, after being rained out pretty much all of last week, out in the field again. They hope to start seeding on Saturday. 

Our weather has gotten chilly. Interestingly, we replaced our heat and air-conditioning last fall. We used the new system for one month, but when hubby got the heating bill, he thought it was way out of line and complained to Ackerman, the heating/air conditioning company. His complaints fell on deaf ears, so we stopped using the new system. All last winter, we relied on our pellet stove instead, as we had done for many years.  

This year, upon the first chilly night, hubby again tried the new heater. This time, he did a more thorough investigation, and became convinced that only cool air was coming out of the ducts. The electric meter was also, again, running wild. He compared it to his father's heat pump, which he had bought the previous year as well. His dad has a 4,000 sq foot house. Ours is only 3200 sq foot. Warm air was coming out of his ducts. His electric meter wasn't going wild. Huh. 

Hubby had Ackerman come out, and discovered that his hunches were indeed true: the person who wired the new heater had done it wrong. When the heat pump was supposed to come on to HEAT, it turned on the air conditioner instead! Instead of pumping heated air into the house, it was sucking warm air out of the house!!!!

And this, after a couple of Ackerman lackeys been out to do "routine maintenance" on the unit twice since the end of summer. And charged us more than $100. 

End of story. And very disappointed with Ackerman. Hubby had always preferred dealing with Nolan, the other h/a company in town, but Ackerman gave us a slightly better deal. Now hubby is kicking himself that he didn't trust his instincts. We live in a small area, where businesses are few and reputation is everything. No second chances for Ackerman.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Word Count Progress Meters

I've never gotten into these little meters (top right sidebar), however I am always intrigued when I see one on someone's blog. So today, after my writing stint, I decided to put one on my own blog. I have begun to actually write my book, creating full scenes where there had been only notes about each and every scene.

I don't know how many words' worth of notes I erased today, but I ended up with a net gain of 900 words. In four hours. Snail's pace, for sure. But I'm the type of writer who needs to examine every single emotional nuance, every step of the way in a scene, so there is no way this process could ever be speedy.

I completed only three scenes today. And still have a zillion to go. But according to my meter, I have "completed" 50,060 words of a slated 75,000 word manuscript.

It's not really only another 25,000 words to go. Or is it? Really? Huh.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Bull Next Door

Hubby's taken a shining to the bull next door, which he calls "Bully Bully." Whenever hubby goes down to the airplane hangar (that is on our property; not the one in town) to fly his Kit Fox, he likes to walk a bit farther, to the very edge of our property, and say "hey there" to the neighbor's bull.

He's taken to giving the bull apples, which the bull will eat right out of his hand. The picture is deceptive. This bull is a really, really big guy. But isn't he a sweetie? Don't you want to run your fingers over his soft nose?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Writing Check-in, Sept 20-26: Remiss!

I played hooky from writing all week, so please, come beat me with a wet noodle.

What started this sea of neglect? The picture at left. It's our new deck, which is only about half finished. Son-in-law has only three more days in which to work on it, and then he'll need to call it quits until next April, or whenever weather permits.

He has jobs (for his bathroom remodeling business) lined up throughout October, and by November, the really cold weather will have set in.

Picture below shows all of the planks that still need to be set. Plus, he needs to finish the stairs and put up the railings.
So, THIS caused me not to spend time on my writing because we decided that any decking materials that are currently lying on the cement patio below the deck will be moved into the basement for winter storage.

Guess who hadn't cleaned her basement in the past year.

I spent two full days cleaning the floor and de-cluttering it. Overall, it wasn't terribly cluttered, but a related project truly ate up the hours.

My scrapbooking room, which I have written about several times, was fairly well organized, but too full for me to get to (all of) it easily. Which meant that I wasn't using everything and had even forgotten precisely what I owned.

I removed ALL of the paints, rubber stamps, inks, embossing powders, glitter, colored pens and etc from the scrapbooking room and put it in the area of the basement (picture at left) which I had once designated to be "the art area" back when we finished the basement, probably 30 years ago. But life got super-duper busy, and the "art area" never materialized, until now.

Stamping and embossing materials, which had taken up lots of small containers in the scrapbooking room, now take up more economical space in four drawers, at left.

My rubber stamps are still located in the same plastic drawers that they ever were, but are now under the counter top at the far right of this 20' strip of cabinets, or located in a big base cabinet, see picture below.

The drawers (picture at right) to the left of the cabinet hold wrapping paper and supplies (bows, tags, bags, tissue paper)--another project I had been meaning to do for the past three years, or maybe forever, but never got around to it until now.

When it comes time to wrap Christmas, birthday, wedding or baby shower gifts, will I ever be ready. Each type of event has its own drawer. I do, however, still have a big barrel of Christmas wrapping paper that is stored in a big closet to the left of these cabinets.

Picture to left shows more rubber stamps, as well as a cabinet area devoted solely to things that the grandkids are free to use. They can use most of my other supplies, if they ask, but these are especially for them. There is also another set of drawers full of things they can use inside the cabinet (picture above), and to the left of the rubber stamp drawers.

In the scrapbooking room, my primary work area looks much like it did before, except with more space to move around. I eliminated a 4' table and moved the two sets of embellishment drawers that had been under the table shown at left and put them under the counter on the north wall.

 The west wall (picture at left) has changed significantly. In addition to the changes made, the table top is now a true, second work space instead of a catch-all space.
The north wall is what has changed the most. It may still look a bit full, but now everything is completely organized, which makes a big difference. I finally sorted a box filled with stuff (pictures, mementos) from as far back as 2009. Now all of those things are stored in containers that are labeled for their appropriate years.

My paints, glitter, embossing powders, colored pencils, distressing tools, inks, had all been located in this area previously. I could access them, if I squeezed around the 4' table that I have since removed, but there was no counter space on which to actually use them. Now I can get to them by simply leaving the room and walking around a corner. Plus, there is counter space on which to use them in the new "art area."

So that project took up two full days. Got your wet noodles out to start beating me?

Another day, I got down on my hands and knees and cleaned the stubborn dirt out of the tiny divots in the vinyl flooring in 1/2 of the kitchen. Regular steam cleaning does nothing to remove that unsightly, ground-in dirt. It took all morning, pools of ammonia straight out of the bottle, and a whole lot of elbow-grease.

I'll do the other half, and the laundry room, and main floor bathroom sometime next week. I need to do it about every two or three years.

I also bought several more books on controlling diabetes and have read one of them, which was very long--over 500 pages!

In addition, I ordered the treadmill desk at the left. This one should work much better than the poorly designed (and cheap) one I purchased last year. With this one, I really should be able to work. Now that I have discovered I have a chronic health condition, I need to make sure to keep moving as much as possible. When I don't exercise for an hour each day, my blood sugar rises. In all, by about 25 points, which takes me out of the normal range (85) into the (low) diabetic range (110). The goal is to be at the 85 range as much as possible, every hour of every day.

I am going to give this new way of working, at the treadmill desk, some honest effort, beginning as soon as it arrives. It won't eliminate the need for my current, one-hour jog/walk, which I do at as brisk a pace as is possible for me, but it will get me off my #@* for several more hours each day, and that can only be good.

What else conveniently prevented me from writing? I was asked if I knew of anyone who would be interested in teaching an adult enrichment creative writing class, offered by the local community college during the winter quarter. Being me, my automatic response was "I could do it." (If you want me to; if you think I'm qualified.)

A few years ago, with the help of three of my writing friends, we put on a series of classes for young adults at the library where I was the children's librarian. It was a lot of fun.

This could also be a lot of fun. I still need to decide what I would like to do, and pass it by the person who is setting up the class schedule. We're scheduled to discuss it tomorrow morning.

It was a busy week, socially. It was book-ended with a visit from my daughter and her kids.

On Saturday afternoon, my daughter, a friend and I went to a class on aquaponics. That is a closed system where you raise fish in a fish tank and grow green leafy vegetables above the fish. The fish poop provides fertilizer for the plants. And when the fish themselves are ready to be harvested, you eat them too. My daughter, whose degree was in Landscape Architecture, and who has taken many botany and soils and horticulture classes, says it is our agricultural future.

Last but not least, hubby and I met over dinner with some friends last night who, on Friday, will be flying their airplane to their winter home in Arizona.

We're planning to fly our airplane there as well, to spend a week with them around November 1, after fall work is done.

We are excited. It also means that I need to get back to my writing. I feel thoroughly beaten with noodles now. I will get back to it and have a better writing report next week.

How was your writing week?

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