Tuesday, December 23, 2008

HIBERNATING!





Like many of you, I'm hibernating until after the first of the new year. Merry Christmas! See you soon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

WHAT CHRISTMAS SEASON IS COMPLETE WITHOUT ELFING YOURSELF?



Send your own ElfYourself eCards


Let me know when you ElfYourself so I can come visit!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

REFILLING THE WELL

After finishing my book I decided to take a mini-vacation. There's no shortage of chores, demands, and activities to fill the time, especially this time of year. However, instead of going whichever way the wind blew, I wanted to zero in on refilling my creative well. (How's that for flowery and abstract?)

In the past, I've tried cooking, drawing, and scrapbooking to stir up the juices. Speaking of which, I really should do more scrapbooking since I have dozens upon dozens of cutsey kid pics. Anyhoo, this year I'm trying something different. You'll never guess what I took up, and I'm a bit surprised myself. In fact, I feel more--a-hem--mature. OK, I feel much older.

Are you ready?

Don't laugh now!






I took up crochet.

Yep. Crochet. 

Briefly, I battled between crochet and knitting, but crochet won out because there's only one hook as opposed to two needles. Did you realize you can learn almost anything online? I went to THIS SITE, watched the videos, bought the hook and yarn, and gave it a shot.

I'm not brave enough to post a picture of my scarf. OK, at this point it's only a square and my hubby accused me of making a hanky. I explained that it's not finished, and by the way, he should probably be nice to me now that I'm carrying a hook. Maybe when the scarf is complete I'll show you, gaping holes and all!

What do you do in your off-time to spark your creativity?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A MIXED MARRIAGE

Did you know I have a mixed marriage? You see, I was born into a Packer family, and I married a Viking. So far, so good ;)

Recently I had a brilliant idea to get my hubby tickets to the Vikings game for his birthday. So for the 1st time in 4 years we had a weekend getaway! Needless to say, it was a hit.

Here's us at the stadium. As you can see, my hubby is the fun one. But hey, I look silly with yellow yarn braids!



This is the view from our seats. We were singing with the angels. Here's the amazing thing, it was actually a good view, and the people around us were fun and friendly. Isn't it wonderful how guys can talk, yell, slap each others hands, and fist bump with strangers, bonded only by team?

Here's us the night before in the plaza. We kept asking strangers to take our picture. This one was taken by some very nice police officers.

Here I'm holding our little mascot. It's a tiny silver viking, purchased in Europe by my parents. This little guy went with us everyone, and got his picture taken multiple times.

Ahh, the blessings of a mixed marriage! Yes, I am now a happy little Viking wifey =)

So friends, if you're ever looking for a present for a significant other, buy an experience! The memories and time together are worth more than any "thing" I can think of, and a lot more fun =)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting to Know Your Friends (Christmas!)

Last week I got this nifty Getting to Know Your Friends Christmas Edition from Jennifer Hudson Taylor. I love these things! Before you read my answers, be forewarned that I am a Christmas nerd--it's because I spent WAY too many years in retail and I mostly choose to celebrate Christmas in a very low-key manner that doesn't involve carols. 


1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?   Gift bags! Our family has started reusing them over and over and over for every occasion. It's become quite comical.
 
2. Real tree or Artificial?     Artificial--I love to reuse.
 
3. When do you put up the tree?   Dangerously close to Christmas
 
4. When do you take the tree down?   As soon as Christmas is over!
 
5. Do you like eggnog?   Love, love, love it! 
 
6. Favorite gift received as a child?    An Olivia Newton-John record. LOL, how embarrassing is that?!
 
7.  Hardest person to buy for?      My husband

9. Do you have a nativity scene?      Yes--if only I could find it! 
 
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?     Christmas cards if I can get to it--bad, I know!
 
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?   LOL, I almost don't want to answer this one, but I have a very specific gift in mind, and it involved a grocery store.
 
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?       None. Can't think of one.
 
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?     You SOO don't want to know--I *try* to shop early, but we mostly go the weekend before Christmas.
 
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?  No

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?    Fudge, or maybe the turkey. Quite possibly the mashed potatoes, because we all know how I feel about those.

16. Lights on the tree?   Does anyone put up a tree without lights? I've never seen one.

17. Favorite Christmas song?      We three kings, or What Child is This.

 18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?   Spend the night at my mom and dad's, even though they only live 5 mins away.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?  Yep.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?   No preference

21.  Open the presents Christmas eve or Christmas day?   One on Christmas Eve, the rest on Christmas day.
 
22.  Most annoying thing about this time of the year?  OK, I might get bashed for this answer, but here it goes.....endless Christmas music!!! (Too many years in retail, hearing it 9+ hours a day, non-stop from the day after Thanksgiving until the day after New Year's. UGH!!!)
 
23.  Favorite ornament theme or color?     Silver

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner.  Didn't we already have this question? LOL! Turkey and mashed potatoes. 

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?  Great question.

 26. Who is most likely to respond to this?  Hopefully all, and to all a good night!

OK, now it's your turn! Let me know if you post so I can come read your answers =)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

REPETITION IS NOT THE BEST FORM OF FLATTERY

The good news is that last night I finished my "quick" read-through of my WIP, and today I can start inputting changes. The bad news is, all of my repeaters were WAY more obnoxious than I thought. The only way to truly dig these up is to read the book all at once, because when I'm writing a chapter a week, or editing a few chapters a day, the words/phrases don't stand out nearly as much as they exist in the entire text. 

It happens every book, there is some word or phrase that gets overused to the point of absurdity. In my first book all my characters "tossed their head back in laughter." Aside from the obvious floating body part, the phrase wasn't even all that original! Oh, and lest you think it's because I'm a dork, I also found a bunch of repeats in a bestselling author's book--their characters were "gazing" all over the place!

Here's a list, though not an exhaustive one, of my repetitious phrases:

*cupped shoulder--while the gesture seemed original the first time I wrote it, after every character cupped another character's shoulder to show support, it began to sound stoopid

*ran her fingers through her hair--great way to show an anxious moment. However, if I let my characters (not just one) continue to run their fingers or hands through their hair unchecked, they'd be completely, unnaturally bald, which isn't great for heroic types.

*schoolgirl crush (blushed like a teenager, etc.)--what I can't figure out is why I used this phrase so much. I think I was trying to show how their attraction was new and fresh, unfortunately the phrase was not.

*breathing--Man, my characters do an awful lot of breathing, sighing, drawing in a long, slow breath, exhaling, and inhaling while counting to five or ten. Every time I turned the page, someone else was breathing. Seriously, we know they do it, it's not something that needs to be shown every chapter. I really ought to trust the reader to get that characters breathe. Honestly, it didn't seem like that much during the writing or editing, but when I read it all at once....

Now it's your turn: give me your favorite (or least favorite) pet phrase in your current WIP, or even the book you're reading!


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

MEET MY FRIEND DANA.....

This year I chose my own birthday present. After posing a question to the ACFW loop, asking their opinion of the AlphaSmart, I settled on the Dana. Here she is:




There are dozens of reasons people gave for loving their AlphaSmarts, but in the short time I've had mine I came up with a list of my own. Here's the top 3:

1. It runs on batteries--NO CORDS TO PACK WHEN WRITING ON THE GO!

2. The slender size allows me to pack it in the purse--okay, it's really a tote--that I normally carry without any extra bulk.

3. There's no boot-up or shut-down time whatsoever. You hit on, and it turns on to the page you were writing when you last hit off.

A few people warned me that the screen size was the only thing that bothered them about the AlphaSmart, but since I got the Dana that's not a problem. It shows about 9 lines of text, which is plenty for me to see without having to page up.  I won't be using the Dana for editing. Although it has copy/paste functions, it wouldn't be nearly as quick and easy as my laptop. But for fast drafting or writing on the go, this is the PERFECT solution.

Here's a secret: I purchased my Dana (barely used) for less than 1/2 price from a generous soul on the ACFW loop. The jury is still out on whether I'd have paid the $429 to get a brand new one, but I have a feeling that I won't be writing without Dana ever again. (You should have seen my elation when I found myself writing in my comfy bed surrounded by pillows! Or in the library on my lap while the kidlets played! Or in the car during my oldest daughter's voice lesson!) 

Anyhoo, just thought I'd let you in on my fantabulous recent find, just in case someone was asking you what you want for Christmas =)

Monday, December 08, 2008

A FINAL PASS

After a looong week, I finally reached my goal (12,000 words.) While this might not be stellar for some writers, it wiped me out. But MAN it felt good to type THE END and hit print. Today I started a final pass on the hard copy. Amazing how many little things I still crop up, so I keep reminding myself that I have to only change things if it's making the manuscript better, not if it's just making it different. (I think it's Jerry Jenkins who said that, but I'm not positive.)

Now I can focus on other projects, like editing the videos I shot of a gymnastics exhibition over the weekend. My babies did a most excellent job! Sadly, the video editing software that came with the camcorder is, to put it bluntly, garbage. It doesn't help that I haven't practiced using it much, either, since I've been otherwise occupied. Anyhoo, with a bit of luck, I might post videos in the near future.

Here's to a great week!!!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

BLOG ENVY

The acute condition where one blogger envies the stats 
(also referred to as "hits" or "unique visitors") 
of another blogger. The condition may also spread 
into envying the interesting content 
and the number of commentors of another blogger.

Example: After a surge in my friend's (who shall 
remain nameless) blog stats, I have an acute
case of blog envy.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

DARK PURSUIT

This is my favorite Brandilyn Collins book so far--and that's saying a lot! The masterful plot and fast-paced action kept me flipping pages and looking over my shoulder way past bedtime. In fact, this is a book you'll want to read in one sitting, if possible, because once you start you will NOT want to set it aside. Dark Pursuit is on my list of favorite books for the year--highly recommend for those of you who enjoy suspense, and for all you chickens out there, turn on all the lights and do whatever you have to do to read this book!


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dark Pursuit

Zondervan (December 1, 2008)

by

Brandilyn Collins



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Brandilyn Collins is known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is currently working on her 20th book. For chances to win free copies of her work, join her Fan Club on Facebook. Here’s what Brandilyn has to say about why she wrote Dark Pursuit:

In John Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan’s followers, kicked out of heaven, boast about storming the gates and reclaiming their territory. Beelzebub scoffs at their boasting as merely “hatching vain empires” and suggests a different revengeful scheme: seduce mankind away from God. So Satan visits the Garden of Eden to teach humans the very thing he and his cohorts have learned to be futile—the dark pursuit of hatching their own vain empires instead of following God. He presented man with this “gift” of death, disguised as life. And man fell for it.

Upon this theme of man’s fall and spiritual blindness, I created the characters and events in Dark Pursuit. The story clips along at a fast pace, with much symbolism running underneath.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Dark Pursuit—A twisting story of murder, betrayal, and eternal choices

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, reclusive and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks...

Read the first chapter of Dark Pursuit, HERE.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

8,000 and a Broken Flip Flop

This year for my birthday my parents got me every readers dream: a gift card to Barnes & Noble. Usually I have to rush through the store with the tots, or make it quick because we have someplace else to go. But last night my tots got invited to a sleepover and my hub was working. That meant my oldest daughter and I would have the run of the store!

I dreamed. 

I planned.

I salivated.

Every fiber in my body tingled as we pulled into the parking lot. Then the moment I stepped out of the car....SNAP! I looked down and--oh no!!--my flip flop busted right at the thong. I couldn't hold the shoe on my foot despite the strength of my toes and my willpower combined. 

Reluctantly, I climbed back into the car, and I'm almost positive I threw up a little in my mouth. 

"We can't go inside. We....we have to go home." I slumped over the steering wheel.

"Wait!" says my daughter, who loves to browse at books nearly as much as I. She grabbed a rubber band from the ash tray--thankfully I never clean the car--and asked for my shoe. With a broken rubber band, she rigged my shoe!

Despite the fact that I looked like a hobo (see below) we browsed, read, and shopped our little hearts out. I bought three books and left with a beloved green B&N bag, and a heart filled with glee.

Sadly, that's the last I'll be wearing of my favorite flip flops. (One, two, three...big sigh!)

On a brighter note, I only have 8,000 words to go until I finish my book!

Monday, December 01, 2008

10,000 and COUNTING...

...or is it UNcounting? In any case, I have 10,000 words left to write on my manuscript. If I write 2,000 words per day, I can be finished by Friday! Of course there will still be the fine tuning and whatnot, but the bulk of the work will be finished. Looks like waking up at 5 a.m. is starting to pay off, but I won't really feel it until it's done. I crave that sense of accomplishment that comes from a completed manuscript. 

Please be my cheerleader friends! I'll be posting daily to see if I'm on target to reach the goal.
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