Feb 27, 2009

Jamee's Birthday Photo Tribute

Today, Jamee would have been 43 years old...so it's fitting I break my 2 week JameeForever posting slump with a little photo tribute for her, still as much an important part of my everyday life as she if she were still here on earth. I've got some special photos for you---my mother purchased a scanner and has graciously been scanning family photos for me and emailing them. I'm trying very hard to get as many as possible put into layouts for a nice photobook...the first ones I haven't yet gotten finished.

Jamee at MU:
I'm on the far left, Jamee next to me (bottom row)

1984 h/s graduation:
Dad and Jamee, 1966
Another Dad & Jamee layout:

I hope I have more family photos to share with you over this year, I'm thrilled to have these and some of my teenaged years I never had before. (Mom, can you send more of those?!) But this is Jamee's day...and a day to celebrate the wonderful impact that she left in my life--it runs deep and never-ending.

Feb 13, 2009

Is There a Novel In You?

Pretty awesome, isn't it?! Okay, if you're like me and you believe you do but just don't quite know how or where to begin, help is here. Check this out directly from the author, Susan May Warren:

And you know I won't do a blog tour for great books without a great contest too, and this is no exception!

Enter the contests for the LOVE TO WRITE blog tour! http://www.litfusegroup.com/latest/current-blog-tours/71-the-love-to-write-blog-tour-for-my-book-therapy

You have two chances to win!

Want to win a copy of From the Inside…Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You (http://www.lulu.com/content/5272647) for your very own? Leave a comment here (http://www.mybooktherapy.com/index2.php/?page_id=177) and tell us what kind of novel you have in YOU.


Do you already have your novel down on the page? Does it need a little THERAPY? Enter to win 10% off a Book Therapy Session (http://www.mybooktherapy.com/index2.php/?page_id=188 ) (that’s a savings of $30+) by leaving a comment here (http://www.mybooktherapy.com/index2.php/?page_id=177) telling us a brief synopsis of your story!

All winners will be chosen at random. Contest ends 2/28 and the winners will be announced on March 2nd!

Now if you're like me, you'll want a little 'peek' inside to see just what this is about before you buy...here ya go:

Four Keys to a Writer's Life

As you prep for our journey, I want you to start exercising! We're going to get in shape! Work off the dust of our minds and tighten the flab of our daily schedules so we can utilize the writing time we have in our days.

Writing is much like every other discipline. It takes commitment. After all, as much as we'd like it to happen, those books don't just download from our brains automatically! It takes nurturing. Did you know that your brain has a well of words for each day, and you need to replenish those words after you use them? It takes time (something we're going to figure out how to get!), and it takes a game plan.

Let's start with Commitment. The fact is, writing will take you away from your family, your health club, your church, your social groups, your online gaming, your Sudoku, your television…you get the drift. There are costs. The keys to keeping those costs in line are:

1. Priorities
2. Balance
3. Perspective

Writing should ALWAYS come after spending time with God (that's also the nurturing part!) and rarely above family and church, but sometimes it does come before workouts and social life.
My friend Judy Baer (writing coach, extraordinaire) shared this illustration with me once: “Stand on one foot and balance. You can’t stand perfectly still, but rather, you have lean to different sides to keep your balance.”

Writing and life should be like this -- different sides require attention in different waves. If you are to invest in writing, then know that you might have to give up other things. Don’t worry—it’s not forever!. But for a while. If you were training for the Olympics, you'd have a training schedule, and it would ramp up when you had specific events to meet. Take a look at your life and see if you can carve out one hour per day, or three per week to invest in writing. Then, put that on your calendar in RED. It's an appointment. Be there.

Nurturing: Your brain needs a steady supply of new words, spiritual nourishment, research facts, and good writing to keep it fresh and ready to put prose on the page.

Spiritual Nourishment: Writing is largely a spiritual event. You are connecting on a thematic level with your reader, and that happens in the spiritual realm. Sure, we access many of these metaphors through emotion, but looking past feelings to their deeper meaning and sources helps broaden your understanding of your book, your character’s journey, and most importantly WHY you are spending time writing this book. Make a habit of spending time soaking in God's Word, or a devotional book like Streams in the Desert, or whatever form of spiritual food you need for your diet. I like to read theology books, but sometimes a great devotional book puts my spirit into the right frame to see beyond myself, to tap into the bigger picture and inspires me to write.

Research: make it your goal to keep up with the world. Technology. Medicine. Trends. Don't be afraid to use the Discovery channel for interesting plot ideas! Know what’s happening in culture and politics. Read biographies, current, and past – you’ll be inspired with new story ideas. Subscribe to Reader’s Digest and National Geographic. (At least TiVo the channel!) To communicate to our world, you need to understand it.

Read Up: Fill your mind with great writing. Start your writing time reading the Psalms, or perhaps a book of poetry. Read the classics, yes, but also make it your goal to read in your genre! Most importantly, find authors that are better than you and soak in their words, analyzing why they are fabulous. Feeding your mind and your soul will give you the materials you can draw from as you create.

Time: This is one of the hardest areas for new writers. Most of us don’t have hours in the day to wait for the muse to find us. We have thirty minutes after supper, or perhaps three hours on a Saturday morning.

Here's a few strategies for maximizing that time:

1. Plan ahead for your writing time and get your family to help you protect it. I have a sign on my door that reads, “Cry Me a River.” In short…they’d better have a good reason to come through that door when it’s closed (only if there’s blood or fire is the general rule). When my children were young, I always had an open door policy. However, I asked them to respect my time, just like I respected theirs. That meant that I spent time with them first – reading, helping with homework, fixing dinner – whatever they needed. I also involved them in the writing process. If they allowed me to finish a chapter, we’d celebrate with something fun (yes, there was a lot of ice cream in those early days). And I promised that when my first book got published, I’d take them to Disney World. I kept that promise. Enlisting your family’s help will free you from guilt AND give them an opportunity to share in your victories as you write. Make them your partners.
2. Keep a notebook of ideas that will invariably come to you as you wash dishes, walk the dog, clean the bathroom, drive to work, sit in a boring meeting, or even in the middle of the night. Sometimes you can't dash to your computer to put in that perfect sentence--so put it in your notebook. You'll have a collection of words and sentences to jumpstart your creativity when you sit down to write.

3. Don't clean up your writing space mid-project (okay, I know, that sounds like a messy person's excuse but...) if you simply walk away from your computer after you finish a scene, you'll be able to slip right back into it when you come back. I always suggest having a special room to write in so you can close the door, even if it's a section of your bedroom--something I did for years. I had a little garage-sale chair with a pile of books on the opposite side of the bed--my little alcove. But, if you can't find a separate space, invest in a little basket to throw all your writing gear in (research books, etc), and then set it somewhere where it won't be
“reorganized” (as my husband calls it!). Keeping your research handy helps you maximize your time when you sit down and dive back into your story.

Finally, you need a Game Plan, and I'm not talking plotting versus seat-of-the-pants writing here--I'm talking about a little journal that you keep AFTER your writing session. Write down any thoughts you have for the next chapter, as well as your goal for the next writing session. Maybe you want to go back and revise the previous chapter or fix certain words. Maybe you need more research. Maybe you just want to plow ahead, but have notes for revisions.

Keeping a journal of your writing time helps you focus on each writing session without having to ask, "Now, where was I?" This is especially true if a week or more has gone by in between writing sessions.

Now, for all of you who have little children and think, "Hey, I don't even have time to wash my hair—I can't possibly find time to write,” my words to you are, well, let's see, greasy hair versus seeing your dreams come true. You can wash your hair when your kids go to school. No, I'm not that bad! I like clean hair, but I well remember the days when I typed with my children on my lap, or stayed up late with my laptop while my husband snoozed beside me.

He sure woke up when I got that first contract.


Join me on the journey and learn how to write the novel in you!
God bless you on your writing journey!
Susan May Warren

Be sure to go here for more bloggers with great information and tips for writers: http://www.litfusegroup.com/latest/current-blog-tours/71-the-love-to-write-blog-tour-for-my-book-therapy

One last thing--believe in yourself, step out and try. I did just that this week and I'm so glad I did--I'll let you know all about it soon. The point is, I knew I had it in me, I took a chance and asked for the opportunity, and I got one!

Feb 12, 2009

Quickie Update From Boot Camp

Hey a few of you have been asking about Boot Camp, am I sticking with it. Yes, I've completed Traumatic Weigh in AND three classes (including an extra long one last night) and I'm feelin fine! I re-bff'd Julie and even let her be my boobie bands partner last night (it's not as sexy as it sounds).

Julie, Celia and I all three agree the ladies are great, we'll stick it out AND the 20 something gal in the short shorts and tank really cannot get by with the built in shelf-bra alone. I slipped some round band aids into my purse last night, maybe Julie can stick them under her water bottle....

Feb 10, 2009

Boot Camp Quitter Failure...Right Here!

Julie, my once-very-dear friend, has been urging me to join her gym, something very similar to Curves, but not Curves. I've been putting it off, although I know I need to do something to stop the muffin once and for all. After a barrage of calls, emails, begging and pleading, she finally tried a backdoor 'in'. Boot camp. She was signing up for boot camp and wouldn't we have great fun together there? It was just a short-term commitment. We'd laugh, do a little cardio, hang out in the infrared sauna...it'd be awesome bonding time. So okay! I'm in! I hurried down there with my checkbook and signed myself up. AND recruited our friend Celia to join too.

Day 1, no exercise but traumatic. Weigh-in day....where I discover I've upped my muffin by 10 pounds this Fall/Winter season. Sheri (my drill sergeant) informs me that while she can't promise it, she's fairly certain if I stick to a reasonable diet and this program, I'll be down 15-20 pounds by the end of March. Okie dokie, I'm in.

Day 2, we arrive, exchange hellos, laughter, stand about chatting with the gals. I do a cursory glance about the room for the 'fat' 'older' ladies Julie assures me she primarily frequent this gym. And...helloooo!! Uh, I'm pretty much IT. I AM the older fat lady working out with Julie (who, by the way, is and always has been gorgeous and thin and I'd never think to join a gym if I looked like her, no way no how).

I'm not one to hold back my feelings. Under my breath made sure Julie knew I pretty much un-bff'd her from that point on. Then the exercise started full throttle. Lunges, squats, squat-walking, bending and jumping up (in my case, I soared to about a quarter of an inch off the ground (see diagram, I'm on the far right), then ending by extending two arms and feet, holding this position for 30 seconds each as I'm parralleltothegroundareyoufreakinkiddingme?! We exercised about 20 minutes that night, not bad, right?

Day after Day 2: Oh, I DO have butt muscles after all. I know this because they hurt like my arms, legs, shoulders AND back hurt today.

Day after Day after Day 2: No change.

Day after Day after Day after Day 2: I can get down the stairs without turning sideways and stepping...and I've got abs under there somewhere, I feel them.

Day 3: I am withdrawing, I am in over my head. I call Celia (who is roughly in the same position I'm in) and let her know what I'm thinking: either refund the money or give us three months' membership at the gym. Period. I am NOT doing this boot camp and I refuse to workout tonight. She's in agreement, we're the old ladies and we cannot do this. We bargain with each other that no matter what, we'll exercise and will be accountability partners to each other. Plan to arrive at gym 30 minutes early to tell Drill Sgt. Sheri.

I arrived after Celia, who covertly meets me outside the gym to tell me it didn't go well...she wouldn't let her quit. Wouldn't let her quit?! Nuh uh, no way, no how, not gonna happen, you're smokin something if you think I'm staying. Sheesh, I'll have to do this myself. I marched myself in, told Drill Sgt. Sheri I was in over my head. She smiles and I detect she was ready for me, she knew.

"No you're not"

I can't do this

"Yes you can"

I'm going to quit

"No you're not"

But I hurt everywhere

"You're fine"

You don't understand, I'm not young like these ladies! Leaning in, I declared I cannot keep up

"You'll keep up. So why don't you and Celia go warm up on the cardio machines?"

Who in the hey hoo (borrowing that from JenGi) does she think she IS? I'm the customer and I.am.right!!!

An hour and 20 minutes later, I emerge from boot camp. I can't even quit boot camp right. But I'm victorious nonetheless. I did it and I do believe I can do it again! I'm ready for tonight Wednesday night now. I think I'll hold onto my capri's I didn't wear last Summer either. Just in case I decide to finish boot camp after all.

Photo Challenge..And A Surprise

My friend (who happens to be an amazing CT gal, by the way), Valeri Gail, challenged me to go to my pictures file, go to the 6th folder and grab the 6th picture in that folder. Even as I key this, I have yet to do this, I'm scared. Okay here goes:

Wow...hmm. For those who don't know him, this is my dear dear friend, John, who passed away last Spring. In fact, I believe this is the last photo he ever took. I took it on my phone, something told me I needed to. It's not a good photo, it's clear he's hurting, but friends, let me tell you despite what it looks like, he was trying to smile. He was in great pain and still managed to smile and let me know he was going to be okay.

I'm going to challenge six ladies:

Mrs. Aunt Bea

I'll be back to link up, but if you get this in the meantime, I'd love to see.

Feb 9, 2009

That's Progress

My older two know this, but clearly my post-Pampered Chef-child has never had put much effort into instant drink mix making. In deciding upon Kool-Aid for Alex's lunch, our pitcher already had green tea in it. No problem, I go down to me knees in front of the cabinet, breath deep and go deep, finally pulling out another pitcher (and the coffee filters I forgot I had, a tea jar with crusted instant tea 2" deep at the bottom and, hooray, a little packet of vanilla flavored coffee grounds).

Alex chose cherry, dumped the packet along with sugar inside and filled it with water. He hesitated, looked at me, down at the pitcher, me again, (I'd have said 'up at me' about three months ago, but now, my 11 year old little baby boy looks at me eye level) in all seriousness and asked "Mom? How are we supposed to stir this?".

With that, I know the art of stirring Kool-Aid into those great mini tornadoes that sometimes seep up and over the edge, is lost in my home. I don't do so well with progress...it took me two years to finally switch over to boot cut. It'll take me another six to switch back..and by then I'm not even certain we'll be putting our jeans on one leg at a time. I keep thinking there has GOT to be a better way.