March 30, 2012

Living Content

I've been struggling this week with being content. I am a pretty patient person, but this week I have been to the edge and have been battling the cranky pants in the closet - oh wait, I still don't have a closet!

Yes, today marks six weeks that my bathroom has been under construction. We are still sleeping on a mattress in the living room, with our clothes in the kitchen and my undergarments in a paper bag. Six weeks. For a little bathroom. Here's an update on what things look like at this stage:

Where the toilet will be, with the sink next to it.

Still have to add some tile, but part of the shower door is in.

Dust, dust, everywhere...

And my poor bedroom. They did put a ceiling fan in...a guilt offering maybe?

Things are looking a little more productive now, and well they should. I even got a ceiling fan, which I believe is a guilt offering for it taking so long. I think what is so difficult is having people in my home off and on, disturbing the flow of my daily life.

We are told in the Bible to be content in every circumstance, and that can be a difficult thing. We will always struggle with our feelings, but even in the midst of anxiousness, frustration, fear, and anger, we can practice the presence of Jesus. It is in His presence that we find our peace and contentment. He is the Prince of Peace.

So that is what I'm trying to do. PTP...Practice the Presence of Jesus...be continually aware of Jesus in my life and His great love for me. And you know what? It seems to be working.

What are you dealing with that you need the Prince of Peace to stand with you on? 

March 26, 2012

REVIEW: Love on the Range by Jessica Nelson


Love on the Range, by Jessica Nelson

Back cover copy: 

Any other socialite would view being packed off to a remote Oregon ranch as a punishment. But Gracelyn Riley knows that this is her opportunity to become a real reporter. If she can make her name through an interview with the elusive hero known as Striker, then she’ll never have to depend on anyone ever again.

Rancher Trevor Cruz can’t believe his secret identity is being endangered by an overly chatty city girl. But if there’s one thing he knows, it’s that Gracie’s pretty little snooping nose is bound to get her in trouble. So he’ll use her determination to find “Striker” to keep an eye on her…and stick close by her side.

My thoughts:

I found Jessica Nelson’s debut book to be a delightful romance. Sweet, fun, feisty, and with a little mystery all in one. I loved the hero and heroine and thought Jessica did a good job in developing their character arcs. You could see their gradual growth and are able to connect with them emotionally and route for their love. The romance was sweet and genuine, not contrived, and I found the hero’s journey overcoming his unworthiness was real and compelling. The secondary characters were fun and unique, giving the book a well-rounded feel. And best of all, there were some good kisses! 

If you love a sweet, fun romance, you will enjoy Love on the Range. Jessica is a good writer and will no doubt have many more books to come!

You can find Jessica Nelson HERE.
You can purchase Love on the Range HERE.

Tomorrow I'm interviewing Jessica at The Writer's Alley and I'm giving away a copy of Love on the Range! Stop by and find out more about Jessica and her journey. Comment tomorrow at The Writer's Alley for a chance to win a copy!

March 23, 2012

What Speedbo Has Taught Me

Writing a book in a month is a daunting task, but I signed up for Speedbo (a Seekerville project) with the hopes of getting some much needed words on the page. I plowed in, writing as much as I could, and then my computer had to be put in the shop for almost a week. I wrote longhand, but didn't get the word count I wanted in every day. And of course, our bathroom has been under construction, and has displaced us from our bedroom to the living room. It is like camping, living among a ton of dust, sharing a bathroom with the whole family, with a mattress on the floor and my underwear in a paper bag.

Despite all the obstacles, I wrote almost every day, but soon was dissatisfied with my WIP. I was bored with it. It was a struggle to envision scenes. I really didn't care about the characters. And the word count has withered to nothing in the last couple of days. I've been praying about it, wondering what was wrong, and I've come to a few conclusions.

I need to write in the genre that I love to read. I love historical romance. I do read contemporary some, but it does not keep my interest like something set in the past. I particularly love Regency and Medieval eras and have read vast amounts of books in those time periods. So why would I be trying to write a YA contemporary? I have no idea, other than I have THE BEST story concept that would make a fantastic book. Since I am still new to writing, I probably need to stay with one genre while I grow as a writer. Stick with what I know and get good at doing it!

I need a road map before I journey into the making of a book. I went into Speedbo with a story idea. Actually, I had developed characters, backstory, and motivation for a different book, but then thought the story would be better as a YA. So when I started Speedbo, I just used the concept and some of the backstory and went with it. Well, I really didn't think it through and floundered with holes in the motivation and plot. What a mess. My personality tends toward lists and rules, so I think I need a detailed map to move me through. I wonder why I didn't think about that beforehand? Duh...

I need to go to bed early during Speedbo. I write best in the early morning before anyone gets up. It's quiet, there is nothing on TV, Twitter and FB are quiet, it's perfect. The problem with getting up at 5:00 a.m. is that I get super tired in the day and don't want to get up in the morning. I need to get in bed earlier so that I am well rested and ready to write first thing. This was difficult for me this month because of the construction in my home and our mattress in the living room. But I hope that once things are back to normal, I can get into a routine and get into a good writing habit once again.

I've been praying a lot about all that I have been learning and made a financial commitment to developing my writing. I joined the My Book Therapy Team. For $14.99 a month, I have access to a wealth of information and tools. I want to be proactive in my writing and I think that the tools and books they provide will teach me what I need to know to write well and write strong.

What have you been learning on your writing journey?
Or what have you been doing to better yourself in your dreams?


p.s.  I lost 1.4 last night at my WW weigh in for a total of 19.6. Slower than molasses, but a steady loss.


March 21, 2012

Tagged Am I

Awesome, beautiful blogging friend Melissa Tagg, tagged me! The rules of being tagged are simple: answer the questions provided and then tag 11 others. 

1. Book or movie and why?

Hmmm, this one is hard for me, because I love both!  Now that I have been writing, I am tend to analyze as I read now, so it is not the escape it used to be. I still love books, but to escape, I'd have to go with a movie.

2. Real book or e-book?

I love my Kindle and the ease of it, but there is just something about turning real paper pages that gets me. Also, you don't get the beautiful covers in color on my Kindle. I miss that.

3. Funniest thing you’ve done in the past 5 years?

This is probably not the funniest thing, but last weekend I was at a baby shower and since I am the preacher's wife, I got asked to say the prayer. It was the first time I have ever gone completely blank during a prayer. Seriously, I actually said..."Well, oh my goodness, um, yeah, I can't think of what I want to say..." Awkward, but I totally laughed at myself, which got everyone laughing too. Hopefully, I have given freedom to those who feel like they CANNOT pray!



4. How would your best friend describe you?

Happy...most of the time, goofy...alot of the time, blessed...on a daily basis, forgetful...yeah, all of the time. I always forget to call her on the days we schedule to go out for coffee. I need a personal assistant to keep me organized.

5. How do you put yourself into the books you read/write or the movies you watch?

In writing, I tend to make my character go through what I have gone through or am going through. It's just part of the whole "write what you know" thing. When I watch movies, I am always the gorgeous heroine with the fabulous figure and witty comebacks. I'm sure I even do my own stunts.

6. Favorite kind of car and why?

A Jaguar all the way, especially the older models. They used to be so incredibly cool and indulgent. I would look fabulous with my graying hair blowing in the breeze while riding through the streets of Fort Worth. *snort*

7. Would your choice party be a catered meal or a BBQ out back?

I love the relaxed feel of a BBQ, but oh, to not have to cook...that would be awesome!

8. What’s your favorite season and why?

Autumn, because I adore the vivid colors and the crisp, cool air. Plus, an added feature being I can wear more layers and not expire from the internal heater I carry around with me.

9. What specific lesson have you learned – Spiritual, educational, occupational?

Spiritual: Rest in the security that I am in God's hands, and they are big enough to carry me through whatever lies ahead.
Educational: I need to keep learning if I want to be smart and successful.
Occupational: I need to write every day or else loose the momentum to keep going.

10. Besides writing, what’s your favorite thing to do when you get some extra time?

Watch movies or TV series on Netflix, read the massive amount of books on my Kindle, or take a nap.

11. What’s one place you can be found at least one time every week?


Redbox. I love to go and get a movie for a dollar. It feels so futuristic to put in my card and pop out a movie. 


All right, now I'm supposed to tag 11 other bloggers. And like Melissa said...if you were already tagged elsewhere OR you consider this the online version of chain letters, forgive me. :)


Let's have some fun. Answer any of the questions...of course, I'd love the hear about your "funny" stuff!


March 19, 2012

What My Son Has Taught Me

Last night was the post season basketball banquet. Sure, there was good fajitas and lots of sweet tea poured out, but what was so special about the night was watching my son get his plaque from his coach. It was a huge moment in my eyes, because last year he was on the 9th grade B team. This year he was a starter on the JV team. I realized in that moment my youngest child has a lot to teach me.

Hard work pays off. After my son's 9th grade season, he would get his basketball, go outside and shoot around. He did this every day, even through the summer -  and I'm talking 100+ weather here in Texas. At the start of school he asked us to take him to our church gym, where he would set up chairs on the court and maneuver around them to develop dribbling skills. He worked hard, and it paid off.

Make use of the tools that will help you succeed. My son decided he needed protein shakes to help him gain weight and build muscle. He drank three shakes a day even though they don't taste all that great. And while he didn't gain that much weight, he did gain muscle to made him strong.

Surround yourself with people who will help you. While my son has a built in support system in us, his parents, he also had friends he could text and go play a pickup game of basketball.

Coach Whitfield and my son
Don't give up. At the beginning of the basketball season, my son was still sitting on the bench. He would be one of the first picked to go in after the start of the game, but he was not a starter. That might have made some people give up trying to better themselves - but not my son. He kept practicing and shooting at home, even after a long practice at school. He kept drinking those shakes. And it paid off, because it wasn't very many games into the season before the coach made him a starter.

There have been so many times I have wanted to give up my writing. Fear, slow progress, doubt...all that makes me want to give up sometimes. But when I look at my son, I take courage. He has been teaching me that working hard will pay off. I need to write every day and build up those writing muscles.

I need to work on the techniques that will make my writing shine. I need to utilize the tools that I have. Writing books need to be read and highlighted. Conferences need to be attended. Websites need to be utilized (www.mybooktherapy.com - I just became a Team Member!).

I need to surround myself with other people who "get" the whole writing thing. I have my fellow Alley Cats at The Writer's Alley who are always such an encouragement to me. I have developed online friendships that help me grow as a writer. I have family members who are cheerleaders and encourage me to keep going. There is a huge support group for writers, and you just need to jump in and be an active participant in the world of writers.

I am proud of my son and for what he has accomplished. He is an inspiration to me and I wish I was more like him in so many ways.


March 16, 2012

Fabulous Friday News

My daughter and I
Spring Break has turned out to be awesome! And here's why...

TRIP: We decided at the last minute to go to Austin, Texas to see my daughter, who couldn't come home for the week due to a new job. We left Sunday and came back Tuesday. We walked down  Congress Ave., walked around the Capital at night, ate good food, and spent some time down by Barton Springs. It was so good to spend some time with my fun loving, beautiful daughter.

CONTEST NEWS: I got third place in the Great Expectations writing contest! I was among good company, placing along side Carol Moncado and Susan Ann Mason.

WEIGHT LOSS: I lost 1.8 pounds at my weigh in at Weight Watchers yesterday, giving me a total of 18.4 pounds since the first week of January. Yay!

MOVIES: I went with a friend yesterday after my weigh in to see This Means War, with Reese Witherspoon. It was just the kind of movie I like...fun, action, romance, and hilarity. I've also rented Tin Tin and The Four Musketeers that I plan on watching.

BOOKS: I finished Love on the Range, the debut novel of Jessica Nelson. It was such a sweet love story! Now I am reading Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings and it is really good.

WRITING: While I didn't write on my trip, I am writing every day and making slow, but steady progress on my new WIP. My word count is not huge, but the daily writing is a HUGE deal for me...something I have been needing to get into the habit of (again).

FOOD: I made two new recipes this week. Chicken Parmesan (4 pts+) and Chocolate Chip Scones (5 pts+). Both were delicious and easy, easy to make.

So there is my Spring Break, a week well spent. How was your week?


March 13, 2012

March 09, 2012

Friday Fun Day

It's Friday and it WILL be fun, because the world is getting back up on its axis and becoming a little more normal. I got my computer back and am thrilled by that! My husband was sweet to let me use his, but I still felt lost without my own laptop in my lap.

The bathroom is still not done, but I'm ignoring that fact.

I weighed in last night at Weight Watchers and finally....FINALLY...am losing once again. I lost 2 pounds, bringing my total to 17.6 in weight loss. After two weeks of being at 0 in loss--and not even gain--I was ready for some progress on the scale.

And today is a special day, because...

  1. It is JEANS day! And Jeans Day always means a more relaxed day. A happier day. A fun day.
  2. It is the last day of work before Spring Break!!!!! (And since I work for a school district, I get Spring Break off!)
  3. My big projects at work are completed and I can catch up on slower paced work.
So what is so special about your Friday?



March 07, 2012

Striving for Who, What, When, Where, Why?

Some days I feel like I am taffy, pulled in so many different directions. So many goals. So many needs around me. So many things I want to do. So what do I focus on first? What do I strive for the most?

I had one of those "step on my own toes" moments this morning in my daily quiet time. I am using Jesus Calling, Devotion for Every Day of the Year, by Sarah Young, and what I read spoke to my heart and I wanted to share a part of the text with you today:

Save your best striving for seeking my face. I am constantly communicating with you. To find Me and hear My voice, you must seek Me above all else. Anything that you desire more than Me becomes an idol. When you are determined to get your own way, you blot Me out of your consciousness. Instead of single-mindedly pursuing some goal, talk with Me about it. Let the Light of My Presence shine on this pursuit, so that you can see it from My perspective. If the goal fits into My plans for you, I will help you reach it. If it is contrary to My will for you, I will gradually change the desire of your heart. Seek Me first and foremost; then the rest of you life will fall into place, piece by piece.  I Chronicles 16:11; Matthew 6:33

Yep, a toe stepper for sure. I tend to go forth doing what I want to do, asking God to bless my efforts instead of listening for His leading and praying about which direction to take.

The answer to the "Who, What, When, Where, Why" of striving is easy. It's our Lord God. It's always all about Him. He is the One and Only. He is the answer...the best answer. Always and forever.

May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.


March 05, 2012

Whine and Dine

So how do you write when life is just plain getting in the way? You sit down and write, even if it is only for an hour. Even if it was ugly getting it down on paper. Let me tell you about my weekend of frustration.

I battled a headache Friday, so I didn't write much at all...maybe a page. I ended up getting into bed before nine. Remember, my bed is in the living room due to the construction in my bathroom/closet, and has been for the past week--and will be for another week. So, my "sleep" was not that restful due to traffic through the room.

This isn't me, but I should wear a mask.
Saturday morning we took my computer to Best Buy and were told to take it to Fry's. Best Buy would make me buy a mother board and Fry's "might" be able to solder the power connection tight. Well, Fry's can fix my computer, but it would take a while to order the part. They said for ME to order the part and bring it to them and they would fix my computer. My part is due Tuesday, so maybe by the end of the week I will have my computer back into my hands.

So I am back home Saturday, just finishing a 1K1HR (1000 words written in an hour challenge) when my husband said that the construction workers had unplugged our freezer for their power cord and all our meat was thawed out.

WHAT????

Yes, we ate well Saturday night, and Sunday night, and will tonight as well. We had to cook a ham, some ribs, a bunch of pork chops, chicken breasts, a roast, and  a pork loin. Great food, but really, Saturday was not the best of days.

SoSunday we come home from church to more dust in the house. Seriously, I don't know why they can't shut the bedroom door to keep the dust from the rest of the house. It's crazy. My poor husband keeps coughing.

Okay, I'm going to quit complaining and whining. I'm gonna have a nice bathroom. I get to eat well. I am living. That's cool, right?

And I did get some words on the page. That is always a good thing.


March 02, 2012

Cranky Pants, Jeans and Other Stuff

Not me, but might as well be.
Yes, I have a pair of cranky pants that like to come of the closet from time to time. If you know me, you know every once in awhile me and the cranky pants go head to head. I don't want to wear them, but sometimes I give in and slide them, making life a turbulent whirlpool for the people around me.

Well, at least at home. I snap a little louder at home than I do work or church. At those places, I tend to be a little more subdued. I don't laugh as much. I complain a little more. Just plain cranky.

What's weird is that I couldn't put my finger on why I am so cranky until a sweet friend pointed it out to me. Uh, duh...I am having a bathroom gutted, sleeping on a mattress in the living room, and keeping my undergarments in a brown paper sack.

Hello...

I suppose that is the root of it all. I'm out of my routine. I'm not organized. There are strangers in my home every day. It's weird that I didn't think of that myself.

Oh...I did have some icing on my cranky pants cake, so to speak, when I went to Weight Watchers last night to weigh in. Last week I had gained nothing, but I had lost nothing...and I ate terrible! This week I have been diligent and ate well, staying under my points, and just knew I would have a good week at the scales.

Nope. Nada. I lost NOTHING! My cranky pants got tighter just thinking about the fruitlessness of being good.

So, there you have it.

But today is a new day. And I get to wear JEANS to work! That already puts a smile on my face.

So what are you looking forward to today?

March 01, 2012

Speedbo and Me



I am embarking on a new adventure this month and it is called SPEEDBO, hosted by the incredible ladies at Seekerville. If you have heard of NaNoWriMo or Book-in-A-Month, then you know what kind of adventure I am talking about.

SPEEDBO stand for Speed Book...I think. It is all about writing a book in a month, or at least write as much of a book in a month as you can. You set your daily word count. You don't have to share if you met your daily goal. You just write the most you can, every day. Simple as that. I've even added a word count meter in the side bar...look to your right...to keep track of my progress for the month.

Stop by Seekerville's blog HERE for instructions to sign up. Did I mention they have tons of prizes to dish out for those participating and commenting on the blog? Hmmmm, yeah...they are awesome like that.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up and be my accountability partner! 



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