Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I have about 14 minutes before class starts ... my first one of the day and it's math and I'm not ready for the quiz we have. I am quite certain I forgot EVERY math related thing I learned over the fall semester.

However, there is reason to celebrate. Last night, I bought my tickets to the March 12th, 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins game against the Boston Bruins! I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. I have every minute detail of every mile of the journey planned. I have a list of things to do in the city that is at least as long as my arm. There are 27 octillion photographs planned.

I am the happiest girl in the world right now. I wish today was March 11th. I'm finally going to get to see my city ... and I'm fully prepared to call back home and have my things shipped to Pittsburgh because I'm sure once I get there, I'll never want to come home again.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Progress has been made. Effie is moving along very nicely. I'm only a few hundred words ahead of schedule and still plan to do a little more writing tonight (actually it's the wee hours of the morning) before I head to bed.

Currently, my story has about 82,000 words and 260 pages but just for the month of January, I have 20,400 words. You see that little ticker on the left side of the page just below the button that says "50k in 31 Days"? That's right ... it says 40%.

I shouldn't be surprised that I can actually hammer out words when I need to, but I'm super duper, totally, supremely, extraordinarily happy that those words are happening in January instead of counting down the days to the next edition of NaNoWriMo.

And since I'm here anyway, I'll share with you the photo I took for 1.11.13 --- water.

Despite multiple attempts urging my husband to please clean up the back half of the deck where all the garden stuff was, he has obviously failed to comply and this is photographic proof. We watched 10 inches of snow melt in just 3 days and this planter witnessed it all.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Project 365 (2013)

Okay, I admit I'm far behind the times. I've heard of Project 365. I have a few Facebook friends who consistently post pictures labeled "Project 365". I knew the gist of what it was and thought it would be super cool to participate. Participating in this year's photo campaign was a mini goal for me, especially since I'd gotten a new camera for Christmas. I figured it would be a great way to learn all the features on my camera.

By no means am I a photographer or photography enthusiast. I think I'm far too literal most of the time to really be a good photographer, but I digress ...

The point I'm getting at is that I missed the first 8 days of January. I might have cheated and tried to catch up but the very first picture theme was "Today", and seeing as how I took no New Year's photos, I figured it was best to begin the project with my integrity intact.

So ........ here are the two photographs so far this year.

1.9.13 --- Paper

(This is part of the cork board calendar I made to keep track of when school assignments are due. The 14th is the first day of of the spring semester.)

1.10.13 --- One o'clock

(I wasn't very prepared today so I had to improvise. My television has been tuned to NHLN all day, every day since news of the lockout ending was made public.)

Insomnia, Hockey, and Antibiotics

So far, I'm on the fence about whether this year is off to a great start or not.

Pros: The NHL came back from the lockout.
I get to start planning my Pittsburgh trip.
My writing has come a bit easier than in non-NaNo months.
Just a few weeks away from getting my new laptop.

Cons: I haven't been to bed before 4 a.m. since January began.
My son had strep throat, tonsilitis, and an ear infection all at once. At one
point, I was waking every four hours to give him antibiotics, although I wasn't
sure I was actually sleeping when my eyes were closed.
My car was towed away while visiting a friend at their apartment because
apparently there's a sign at the gate to the apartments that only residence with
permits are allowed to park in the front row. It was buried under under the
forty-seven feet of snow dumped on our Midwest town.

I haven't written in a few days, but I'm not discouraged. I've been busy being a mom. Even still, I'm only about 500 words away from being right on schedule for my 50K in 31 Days challenge. So, while the house is quiet and I'm not dead tired, I'm going to go write. My goal is to finish the chapter I'm currently working on.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Meteor Shower!!

That exclamatory title was the embodiment of my attitude yesterday when I found out there was going to be a meteor shower at 3 a.m. Stay up until then? No problem! I felt all spontaneous and inspired. It'd give me the perfect excuse to go out and use my new camera. I had all these wonderful little cotton candy dreams about becoming the next Sally Gall of night time photography.

Did I mention I live in the Midwest where it is currently freezing and where about twelve inches of snow is still waiting to melt?

We live in the city, not the inner city, but close enough that it'd be difficult to catch the meteor shower because of city lights. No problem though. I called my mother and made sure it was okay that I show up in her driveway at 3 a.m. and wait to be amazed by the splendor of alien nature. She lives in a small rural/suburban town where the closest they come to street lights are the headlights from cars on the interstate.

So I packed up the truck with blankets, over-sized couch cushions, a big fluffy robe with a hood, my laptop and car charger, my camera, and I headed for my parents place at two in the morning. I get to their driveway, throw the pillows in the bed of the truck and lay down, wearing my winter coat, my fluffy bath robe with the hood, my winter Penguins hat, two pairs of socks and prepare to be amazed by the splendor of outer space.

It was seven degrees.

And I lasted about 45 minutes. I might have held out a little longer if I wasn't sure my brand new camera would have fossilized in the cold. Ready to see my super spectacular moment captured in time via digital photography?

Prepare to be amazed ...

No, don't adjust your monitor settings. Those first two pics are not the same. They're two different photos. If you look carefully enough, you'll see the faintest smidge of a gray star in the second picture. The third picture, well, I think that's a star but at that point my fingers were about to give in to frost bite so it looks a little more like a streaking meteor than it actually is.

It didn't help that a blanket of fog was rolling through the area, or that our local Fox affiliate posted contradictory "optimal viewing times" than did NASA.

And to top the story off, I had to call my sleeping-has-to-get-up-in-a-few-hours-told-me-it-was-a-bad-idea husband to talk me through switching the truck to four wheel drive because while all the streets leading to my parents were clear of snow and ice, the cul-de-sac they live on (with a slightly uphill angle when exiting) was most assuredly not de-iced. I seriously contemplated camping out in the middle of the road until dawn, when my step-dad would be leaving to work, and asking him to help me figure out how to drive uphill all so I could avoid calling my husband and admitting he was right ... but the idea of loitering in my parents' neighborhood during the predawn hours in the middle of an Arctic freeze was even less appealing than admitting there's a slim chance my husband was right and it was a waste of time, and that I'm not, in fact, the next Sally Gall.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

50k in 31 Days

Okay, so I'm a little obsessed with NaNoWriMo. As I've mentioned in other posts, it's the one time of the year where I seem to get things done. Having a goal and a deadline do wonders for my word count so a friend of mine came up with the idea to do NaNoWriMo throughout the year.

That's right ... a year of NaNoWriMo.

Through a quick Google search of NaNoWriMo spreadsheets, she found this awesome website that has done all the super hard spreadsheet stuff for you! A great big thanks to Svenja for the phenomenal effort. These new spreadsheets include a calendar for the entire year so you can pretty much so tailor your writing goals yourself and still feel like you have goal/deadline to meet.

So that's what I'm doing right now. I'm learning the ins and outs of the new spreadsheets and inputting my word count for today ... 3649

That's right, there are 25 minutes left in this east coast first day of the year and I have 3649 words already. The power of a deadline!

Monday, December 31, 2012

See You Next Year ... And Not Because I Plan to Forget the Blog for Another Year

2013 is mere hours away at this point. It's snowing ... again. And while I loathe slippery roads and shoveling snow, I actually really love watching snow fall before it is trampled by salt trucks and exhaust fumes. Somehow, it is a fitting end to yet another year in which we survived an apocalypse of some kind. Our little patch of Earth is covered in snow. George, our garden gargoyle, is buried under a frozen mound of it somewhere in the yard. I told myself I'd rescue him from his icy prison but I haven't made good on that promise yet.

As I look out on the last snowy night of 2012, I'm tempted to scramble and make new year's resolutions I know I'll never keep. The house is quiet. I'm here alone. All there is, is time to think. I've never been one for new year's resolutions but I do plan to make some changes in the coming year. I won't list them here because I'd hate for them to be used as evidence against me this time next year, but the intentions are good.

I'd like to share with you all, a list of things I've learned over this past year ...

1. I'm a pretty lucky girl. I have an amazing husband and one of the coolest kids, ever. I didn't learn that this year. I've known for a while, but reflection always seems to start at this point.

2. Volunteering my time at a hospice organization was probably the greatest thing I've one this year. I haven't been there long, only a few months, but I'm supremely proud the work I do there. I'm not so much proud of myself as I am proud of the difference I make. Every day when I go in to me my patients, they are genuinely happy to see me. One lady fell asleep shortly after our visit and when I thought I'd leave to give her some time to rest, she told me it's just nice knowing someone else is there with her even if she's just sleeping. I don't have to do much. I just visit for a few hours a week, but it makes me feel so good to know that I'm a part of helping people, of taking away a few hours of loneliness every week when a person needs it most. That is an amazing feeling and I'm happy for the opportunity to do what I do.

3. Having an NHL season taken away during the season I intended to go to Pittsburgh and actually catch my first live NHL game was a soul-crushing event I'll only recover from when the NHL resumes.

4. You're never too old to go back to college ... or go for the first time as was my case this summer.

5. My son did not inherit my imagination, something I discovered while watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas when he so very seriously informed me that the Grinch would be physically incapable of stealing Christmas if his heart were indeed two sizes too small.

6. Sometimes, letting go of toxic people is for the best, even when it makes you feel guilty because they're close family or friends. You cannot wait around for happiness. Life is short. You cannot let yourself get sucked into a a tangled web of crazy chaos just because you share the same bloodline with someone. And that's OKAY.

7. Avatar: The Last Airbender is the greatest cartoon ever invented in the history of animation and no amount of argument or persuasion will ever change my mind on this theory. As a wannabe writer, I think it has all the elements of what makes a great story. There are good characters. There are bad characters. There's romance and laughter. There's awesome secondary characters and multiple settings that somehow become secondary characters in a really quiet but obvious way. Prince Zuko, the ultimate character. Starts out a bad guy with a supremely wise uncle at his side. The banished and disgraced Prince of the Fire Lord out tracking the Avatar in order to reclaim his honor and his rightful place as heir to the Fire Nation. But right away you can see how tortured he is. There's good in him, but it's never that simple. Every time you think he's taken a step toward progress, something sends him right back to scheming and conniving and hunting for the Avatar. He's an amazing character and probably the reason I love the show so much.

8. Nothing makes me happier than when my son tells me he's proud of me. There is this inconceivable moment where I feel like I must have heard wrong. It takes a few moments for these words to sink in but when they do, my heart aches with pride in him. I am raising a good boy and I am sure he doesn't even realize just how much it means to me ... almost like I'm the kid and he's the parent. It's a beautiful feeling.

9. On the other hand, I may have mothered him a little too much. During our recent cooking lessons in which I try to teach him to be self-sufficient and independent because he is only eight short years from being an adult, he recently asked me why he had to learn to cook and clean and do laundry. And I quote, "Won't there be someone at my apartment to cook and clean?" To which I replied, "No son, you're thinking of a hotel."

10. Apparently my love of the Pittsburgh Penguins extends to any object that has the image of any penguin on it as my Christmas presents this year included a penguin blanket, a penguin gift card, penguin pajamas, a stuffed penguin, and a Christmas penguin gift bag that hid the backpack on wheels I requested.

I'm sure there are other important things I learned this year that I could have included in this post, but these are the ones that jumped out at me and asked to be observed. I hope you all have a wonderful, safe new year celebration and may you be happy, healthy, and lucky all the days of 2013!

Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Forgetful Misadventures

I keep promising myself that I won't forget to blog. I keep promising myself that I'll find something to blog about. I keep promising myself that I won't listen to the blog advice that warns not to write about yourself because you're really not that interesting or the blog advice that warns not to give out too much writing advice because sometimes you're the only one who really knows what you're talking about.

Truth is, I don't have an exciting life and for I don't know how long now, I've really done very little writing. Between being a full-time student, a wife, and a mother, I really have little time for the other things in my life that used to really make me, me, like; writing, photography, going out to my local Borders and ordering a hazelnut latte while I hammer away at the keyboard getting lost in the various coffee and new book smells (okay, that one really isn't my fault since Borders decided to go out of business). The point is, I'm not feeling much like a writer these days and it's gone on much longer than I care to admit.

There was a point in time where I could easily come up with 100,000 words in a matter of just three or four months. There was a time when I was writing about three or four novels a year as well as a short story for NaNoWriMo. The ideas flowed easily. I didn't have to outline or put too much extra effort into my work. It just flowed, organically, as if the words already existed and I was just the instrument through which they would appear on screen. Now, I can barely open a Word document without feeling the creative juices turning off, like a light switch.

Sometimes, I'll be thinking about my characters and stories all day long. I'll have these scenes playing out in my head and I'll be thinking about the best way to weave all these plot points together. I'll tell myself, "as soon as I get home, I'm writing. No excuses," but as soon as I get situated, my brain goes blank. Everything I had been thinking suddenly seems like it's on the other side of a link I'm missing. I know what people say. The best way to get through writer's block is to write. Believe me, I've tried. I haven't touched my journal in over a year. I used to write in it every other day or so. I have three incomplete stories waiting for attention, all three of which I started as NaNoWriMo or CampNaNoWriMo projects.

Whatever this is, it feels debilitating. I look at my document and I want to write. I have the story in my brain somewhere, but it's obviously being held hostage by something I can't even negotiate with it because it refuses to answer the phone. I feel guilty when I avoid writing. I feel guilty when I open a document and try to write but can't. It's been far too long. I used to never start another story before I finished one. I would keep notes for any ideas that popped into my head so I could come back to them later, but I always had to see a project through to fruition before I began another and now I have nothing to show for the 150,000 or so words that the past few NaNoWriMos have given me because I can't finish the stories.

Funny enough, they all seem to begin to lag right about the same place ... right after the 200 page mark. For instance, the third installment of Tallulah and Gennadi's story is only a chapter or two from being complete. All the ends have been tied together except for forgiveness. That's the last of what needs to be said and I can't. With Fiona and Declan, I know the problem is a little more complicated than that. I have about 100 pages left to go and no idea how to get my story from where it is to where I planned for it to be and that might be because Declan was never supposed to be the hero. He was supposed to be a secondary character, a romantic red herring, but he proved to have a little more say over the matter than I did. And with my current WIP, Effie and Foster, I know exactly how the story ends and the events that lead us there, but I can't come up with the words on paper. It's maddening.

And because I have so much trouble writing, something I love so very much, I've avoided the blog. I feel ashamed that I can't write. Something you love so much shouldn't be this difficult, should it? That's what I keep telling myself. I diverted my attention by learning the gist of Twitter. I might be the last holdout to give into the Twittersphere. But that was just a diversion. If I could say it was about connecting with other authors, I could convince myself it was a step in the right direction.

So, if you've hung around and read through my entire sob story, perhaps you have a woeful tale of writer's block to share with me. Some advice? Some encouragement? Something to make me giggle and distract me from my problem once again? At this point, anything is welcome.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Long Lost Blogger

Hello! It's been quite a while since I've posted. It seems like it's fairly easy to forget blogging when real life gets busy. I am trying to convince myself to create a schedule for my writing, including blogging, because it's important to me and I seem to have way too much going on to stick with it otherwise. I just finished my first semester of college and am hoping that after I complete the prerequisites, I get accepted into the nursing program. When I'm not buried in study materials or trekking around campus, I have been exploring other creative outlets like candle making, scrap booking, and Twitter-izing. Okay, so maybe Twitter isn't exactly the creative exploration I think it is, but considering how emphatically opposed to it I was, it feels like a creative outlet for me. I also have been reading about how great of a tool it can be for writers which is why I decided to give it a try. I'm currently working on a new WIP that is tentatively titled When the Weatherman Says Rain. It's my comfortable genre of chick-lit and so far I'm very happy with the progress. I had the idea a long time ago, inspired by the week of Paris shows on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and only just now have gotten around to really getting serious about the idea. I'm participating in Camp NaNoWriMo with this manuscript so I'm making much more progress than I would had I decided to write at my leisure. Excited to be back! Hope you all are doing well and are staying busy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Altered State of Mind

How many times have you been browsing the net or chatting with a friend and saw/heard of something you never really knew anything about but immediately felt compelled to try?

Well, the other day, while trying to get some writing done in a mini creative pow-wow at Archivers while some friends were scrapbooking, I mentioned how I used to scrapbook but just grew bored with it after a year or so. One of my friends mentions that I should totally look into altered books, that she thinks I'd have so much fun making one and that the writer in me would probably fall in love with the creativity of blending words from a book into my own words and art. I'm not much of an artist. In fact, I find it hard to draw a straight line without a ruler, so I was skeptical to say the least. Besides, as a writer, I couldn't fathom tearing pages out of a book and drawing/painting/stickering/scribbling/collaging over them.

And then I Googled and saw images like this ...

And I thought how creative and beautiful.

Maybe I'm not as artistically creative as the picture below, but it might be fun to experiment with color and texture and throwing out all the structured rules of writing for a bit of whimsy.

And so, I decided to try my hand it. As a very studious type of student, I wanted a website to thoroughly detail each step. I didn't want to get it wrong, but there are no such websites. Oh, there are plenty of sites out there for techniques and tips, but none of the sites seem to list, in numerical order, the steps used to complete such works of art. Perhaps that is the beauty of such a project. There is no right way to begin it. There is no right way to finish it. The possibilities are endless.

I'm working on a project now and I'm totally obsessed. I feel like I've only just gotten into the good part. I've torn pages from my chosen book. I've glued pages together for stability. I've primed pages to easily paint/color/draw/write. I've painted and textured the cover. I'm trying to decide how I want my pages within to look.

The control freak inside of me wants to make a power point presentation to outline exactly what each page should look like, which is kind of defeating the purpose of the project to begin with, but at least I've begun a project. I have been taking pictures for before/after presentation so I can't wait to share with you when it's completely done!

Have you ever made an altered book? Are you interested in trying?