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 12, 2013

What do you sacrifice each day for your writing job? How do you reward yourself for staying accountable?

You would think I had an out-of-the-home, paying job, the way I need to manage my time in order to find time for my writing job. And sometimes, like right now, that makes me just plain grumpy.   

So far this week, I have made each day’s goal of writing for five hours. That’s not five hours of doing writing-related tasks, but to making honest progress on my WIP. It also means not frittering my working-on-the-WIP-time away with distractions. I’m sure you’re well acquainted with those.  

I’ve made my goals, and yet it discourages me to see how hard it’s been to do that—writing for a mere five hours each day. Me, the lady who no longer has to be away from home for 45 hours each week to fulfill on commitments to a salaried job.  

In order to be accountable to my writing job this week, up until today, I have had to sacrifice my “reward,” which is to spend an hour scrapbooking when the writing is done. And I have needed to scratch my head and ask myself, “Why should it take from 7:30 am until 5:30 pm—10 hours—in order to squeeze out five hours’ writing time?"
·         On Monday, I made my writing goal by 4:30 pm, but then instead of scrapbooking, I had to get groceries and run other errands that took until 7:00 pm. After that it was dinner time and so on. (I never sacrifice sleep for my writing. Health trumps just about everything.)

·         On Tuesday, I made my writing goal, but I had to forfeit scrapbooking AND jogging. With writing and jogging each day, my housework wasn’t getting done. So I decided to spend two hours on housework in lieu of jogging. Unfortunately, housework (vacuuming) is not strenuous enough to bring my blood sugar down in the same way that jogging does. I need to start jogging again tomorrow. I was also still in the mode to learn everything I can about being a person with Type 2 Diabetes. So I began reading one of two additional books that I had purchased when I went shopping on Monday. (I had read several short books on the subject the previous week; these are more substantial, with specific guidelines to reverse the progress of the disease.) Again, I forfeited my scrapbooking reward.      

·         On Wednesday, I made my goal, but I had to manage my time around picking a grandchild up after school at 2:20 pm and then helping him with his spelling and his multiplication tables until his dad came to get him at 8:30 pm, when the men came in from the field for dinner. While said grandson was doing his reading homework, I managed to get some more exercise; I wet-cleaned the wooden shades on six windows. It took an hour. I forfeited my jogging time, but got some housework done. I also forfeited my scrapbooking reward, but I finished one of the two new books on reversing diabetes. (All last weekend, I babysat three other grandkids while their mother manned a commercial booth for their business at the county fair ... but I still managed to write for a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday before she brought them to my house.)

·         Today, Thursday, I made my writing goal, but I had to manage my time around a planned, one-hour Yoga class and an unplanned, two-hour stint at helping to move farm machinery. I had hoped to finish my writing by 3:15 pm, and have time to reward myself, especially after having forfeited my scrapbooking rewards all week long. By the time I had made good on my commitments, it was 5:15 pm.

Then my brain said, “You need to write a blog post. You check in weekly to keep yourself honest and accountable.”

So that’s what I am doing. I have eaten dinner. It was 6:30 pm, and I was planning to go do some scrapbooking. BUT THEN ... I discovered that I could not get to the New Post screen using Firefox. I HATE FIREFOX WITH A PASSION, but have been using it for the past two months because I cannot get on Google Chrome, and I don't want to give up my computer for three days while I take it into the shop. (You see, I want to fulfill on my daily writing commitments.) So finally after running a RegClean, and after Uninstalling Google Chrome, and after completing a Windows Update . . . (really, would doing that make Firefox work for me?) . . . I discovered it did not work. So I had to resort to getting on Windows Explorer.

It's now 7:30 pm. Hubby's just driven in and will want his dinner. So here it is, another day of forfeited rewards, alas. (Time with hubby trumps  scrapbooking rewards.)

What do you sacrifice each day to fulfill on the goals of your writing job?
Do you reward yourself for staying accountable?
How often are you able to do that? Or do other important priorities suck up that reward time?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

An Unexpected Wife by Cheryl Reavis: Book Review

An Unexpected Wife by Cheryl Reavis was published in July 2013, in the Harlequin Love Inspired Historical series. If you're not familiar with Love Inspired, it is romance with a Christian worldview and with an inspirational message that is always subtle, never heavy-handed.

These are my favorite kind of stories.

In this book that takes place right after the end of the Civil War, there is a lot going on! We have the heroine, Kate Woodward, who had a child out-of-wedlock, and the hero, Robert Markham, who feels terrible guilt about being unable to keep his brother from being killed in battle. Indeed, Robert felt so terrible about it that his family, and his intended (not Kate), believed him to be dead for over two years.

Making matters more complex, Robert's sister is married to Kate's brother, and each family fought on opposite sides of the war. So we have a house full of people with opposing loyalties, festering resentments, dark secrets and heavy, guilt-laden hearts. There are numerous secondary characters as well. None of their stories is gone into in any depth, but some of them do make life difficult for Kate and Robert.

Truth be told, I had a hard time settling into this book. The characters felt believable, realistic and likeable. The situation seemed plausible, but the pacing was, for whatever reasons, terribly slow. But because I felt the characters to be so real,  and I because could tell that Cheryl Reavis (the author) is a person of great wisdom and insight, I didn't give up on it. And when I say "give up on it" that is a measure of my own shortcomings as a reader with an unfortunately short attention span, and not because of any serious faults with the story.

 So I finished it, and was rewarded by reading it. As  writer myself, I felt the plotting could've been improved. I was also disappointed that there was absolutely no sexual chemistry shown between the hero and heroine, and not even a kiss on the final page, when they are married.

By definition, inspirational stories leave most of that behind the scenes. But there was so little longing shown between them, that it was hard to imagine that they really did love each other in the the way most of us feel toward our spouses. Both felt unworthy of love, and so maybe it will take being married for a while for each of them to feel loved and to be able to freely give love.

If you're not an impatient reader, and if you're okay with a romance that almost falls outside of the definition of romance (but is a good story nonetheless), give this one a try.

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