Tuesday, November 30, 2010

End of NaNo 2010

Today is the last day for NaNo.  I uploaded my words over the weekend (even though I am still writing).  I reached my goal, and am not worried about how far over that I have gone.  For my first NaNo, I found it quite fun and look forward to it next year.

I have two more chapters to add to Sleeping Handsome, then I need to go over it all again.  I think I am going to be a few thousand words short, so I need to evaluate what to add.

I figure I am about half-way through The Ruby Dagger, and will continue to work on this throughout the rest of this month.  Then will come much editing, as I am using this as a detailed outline so I can become familiar with my characters and the plot.

I am plotting a third book idea to go with Sleeping Handsome and The Lost Princess.  The working title is A Different Kind of Knight.   More to come on this as the plot solidifies in my mind.

How did you do with NaNo?  Will you do it again?  If you didn't NaNo this year, will you next year?  I know some of you were doing NaNoEditMo and NaNoReadMo.  How did it go for you?

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's beginning to look at lot like... Christmas!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving spent with family and friends.  We did here (even got to a hockey game-- the home team won, although we were all rooting for the visiting team :) ).

Saturday we got the tree up and "Christmassed" the house a bit.  We usually do this the day after Thanksgiving, but decided to wait this year.  (It will still be up until at least New Year's Day-- it's an artificial tree, so we can do that-- darn allergies keep us from having a real one!)

The back porch is almost done (which means later this week I can move the stuff out of my kitchen and back to where it should be).

I will be setting a date for our Cookie Party soon.  We had a fun time with this last year and are looking forward to it again.  Everyone brings a cookie to share (and recipe for me to post :) ) and I provide sugar cookies and decorating materials for all to decorate.  Erik just bought some new cookie cutters on his camping trips, and we are looking forward to using them.

What holiday traditions do you have?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WCC Wednesday

I am moving right along with my edits on Sleeping Handsome.  This past weekend I was able to get all but the last chapter tweaked.  I am holding off on the last chapter as I have some things I need to add in to tie up some loose ends (I also realized I need to go back and add a scene earlier on, too.)

Trisha is moving quite nicely with her NaNo project.  I am anxiously awaiting where she goes next.

Fiona has reached the love interest stage of her WIP and I am looking forward to seeing what she does.

Katie is waiting for me to read through and comment on the last section of her WIP.  I've skimmed over it, now I need to go through and make my comments for her.  I am torn with which love interest I like for her MC.  In the beginning I really liked one, then I met another, and kind of like him more.  We'll have to see what she does.

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, and Friday Black Friday, I am taking those two days off of blogging to spend with family and friends.  I hope you all have a wonderful time with your family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My First Thanksgiving Turkey

If you have never cooked turkey before, or even if you have, I thought you'd enjoy what happened with the first turkey I ever "cooked".

The first year my husband and I were married, I decided it would be a great idea to host Thanksgiving for my family and his.  I had never cooked a turkey before, but how hard could it be?

I bought the frozen turkey, left it in the freezer, and about two days before I was going to cook it, I put it in the fridge to thaw.  The day before, I realized it was still frozen solid and called my mom for advice.  She said to put it in the sink in cold water and leave it.  It would be fine.

So, Thanksgiving morning, I got up while it was still dark, started my oven and followed my cookbook recipe for cooking my bird (which I was still pulling chunks of ice out of-- this should have meant something to me, but at the time, I was ignorant).

I put the bird in and went back to sleep.  Over the next several hours I repeatedly basted the turkey and put together the other dishes we were having (the only other thing I can be sure we had was cranberry sauce).  The house smelled great.  Our families arrived (most of them, anyway).  And it was time for the turkey.  We pulled it out of the oven and tested the temperature.  Not done.  So, we put it back in and chatted with the family.  Eventually we realized the turkey was never going to finish.  It had still been frozen when I put it in the  oven.  So, we cut off pieces that were done (my brother assured us this was fine) and ate.  I put the turkey back in, to finish.  It never did.

After that, I only bought fresh turkeys (for a few years) and never had that problem again.  I've since returned to the frozen turkey (always making sure to take it out in time to thaw) and have never had a problem.

So, what's your turkey story?  Share below.

Monday, November 22, 2010

NaNo Update

Well, this weekend I did it.  I reached my 50,000 word goal.  Does that mean I'm stopping, with the rest of November ti just sit back and relax?

Nope.  I am continuing to edit Sleeping Handsome, and will work on finishing The Ruby Dagger (the actual story I began for NaNo.)

How about you?  Have you reached your goals?  If you did, are you continuing on?  Let me know, and good luck!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Recipe Friday!

Seeing next week is Thanksgiving, I thought I'd share a recipe my mom gave me that you can use for your leftover turkey. 

I have been doing the Thanksgiving cooking for a few years now, and other than the one incident the first year I was married (a post for another day), the turkey's been good enough we rarely have any to make leftovers. However, my mom made this last year, and it was delicious!

Thanksgiving Casserole
6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut
1 1/4 cups chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup butter cubed
6 cups unseasoned bread cubes
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp sage
1 cup chicken broth
4 cups turkey, cubed
2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup sour cream (divided)
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Boil potatoes until tender.  In a skillet, saute celery, onion in butter until tender.  In a large bowl, combine stuffing, poultry seasoning, and sage.  Stir in broth and celery mixture.  Place in a greased 9 x 13 pan.  In another bowl, combine turkey, soup, garlic powder, 1/4 cup sour cream.  Spoon over stuffing mixture.  Mash the potatoes.  Beat in cream cheese, pepper, salt, and remaining sour cream.  Spread over turkey mixture and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Awards and stuff!

A huge thank you to T.C McKee for the From You to Me Award.

Isn't is great?  I am honored to receive this from her.  She has a great blog- you should check it out if you haven't already!

So, now 7 things about me:

1) I love my husband and son who make my life very interesting
2) I am addicted to reading-- will zip through a book in a few hours
3) I love to go camping with family and friends
4) I've never been further west than Wisconsin
5) I've only been out of the US when I went to Canada and to Jamaica (honeymoon)
6) I love playing Rock Band/Guitar Hero
7) Winter (with snow) is my favorite season

Now I will pass this off to some of my favorite bloggers:

EJ Wesley - Love his weekly Trailer Talk posts.

Trisha Leaver- A great critique partner who has wonderful writing advice on her blog.

M.L. Mansfield- Very encouraging posts for all writers.

Regina Linton- Regina has been posting snippets of her WIP for the last few weeks.  She has captured
                      the Domestic Violence wheel perfectly.

Be sure to collect your awards.  Have a great day!

Tomorrow's recipe will be what to do with all those leftovers from Thanksgiving Dinner!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WCC Wednesday

Happy Wednesday Everyone!  Hope you are having a nice sunny day.  Here it is very gray, and rainy- oh well, it's a bit better weather in my WIP!

So, this week I have been busy with revisions on Sleeping Handsome (formerly Quest of the Hart).  I am cleaning up description and adding in some things that are missing.  So far, so good.

For NaNo, I am continuing on with The Ruby Dagger.  My characters keep taking me down tunnels and passageways I had no idea were there.  The most intriguing thing was when Moira (my thief) was handed a parchment by Dax (my knight) and asked if she could read it.  Her response was, "It looks to be an ancient form of"  and here is where she batted her eyes at me and said, just what language do we speak here in Ravenvale anyway? Hmmm.  Several minutes later I told her she speaks Aviaran.  And the story continued.

Trisha is moving along quite nicely with her NaNo project, and I am thrilled I get the opportunity to read it.  Her writing is like watching a movie play in your mind.

Katie hit a wall in her WIP, but she's moving through it.  We've talked about how to clear out some of the back story that was dropped in an info dump, and I know she will be able to fix this.

Fiona has nicely set up a link from the past to the present.  Her descriptions still amaze me.  Her word choice is phenomenal.

How are your WIP's?  Have your characters tossed you any unexpected issues?  How did you deal with them?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When All Else Fails

So, yesterday I talked about inner critic vs inner pessimist.  As I shared, I was having problems with my inner pessimist.  So, I did  what works best for me.  I asked someone with no emotional stake in my writing for their opinion, and my inner pessimist disappeared.

So, when all else fails in dealing with your inner pessimist, do you have someone to turn to? If not, give me a shout.  Sometimes it helps to have someone without an emotional investment take a look at your work.  I know it helped me.

Happy writing.  NaNo is halfway through.  How are your novels coming?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Inner Critic vs Inner Pessimist

So, there you are, happily editing away at your WIP (Work in Progress), trying to get a finished MS (Manuscript) to send to an agents.  Your inner critic is helping you to see the words that are repetitive, or unnecessary.  You find the sentences and paragraphs that do nothing to move the story along.

Then, your inner critic changes.  What is this swill you are reading?  How could you possibly think an agent would want this?  This is awful.

This, my friends, is not the voice of your inner critic, but your inner pessimist.  My reared her head last night.  So, I stopped editing, went back and read through my work (correcting only typos), then closed the netbook down for the night to come back today with fresh eyes.

What do you do when the inner pessimist strikes?  Have you learned the difference between your critic and pessimist?  Share below!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Recipe Friday!

Wow!  This is my 100th post! Seems like I just started doing this yesterday!

Today I am sharing a comfort recipe with you.  Macaroni and Cheese.  As you will see from the directions, this is a very forgiving recipe, and one you can experiment with.  Enjoy!

Macaroni and Cheese
1 box macaroni (can be shells, bow ties, whatever shape you want!)
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded or cubed (or more-- I use more)- see recipe for hints on the cheese
1-2 cups milk (I have taken to using Half 'n' Half as it is creamier)
1 stick butter
1 onion, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 Tbsp flour (or cornstarch)

Preheat oven to 350.

Boil your macaroni until cooked the way you like it and drain.  In the meantime, in a saucepan, melt butter.  Brown onions. Add 1 Tbsp flour (if not using onions, go straight to the flour once the butter has melted).  Add milk (I use a 10 inch skillet, and fill it about halfway with half and half.)  Add cheese.  (I use cubed, as it is easier and quicker for me to cube cheese than shred it, but it takes a bit longer to melt.  I use extra sharp (or sharper) cheddar.  Sometimes I'll add horseradish cheddar or some pepper jack to give it a kick.  I always keep several cubes out to mix in unmelted- this gives you pockets of cheese after it's cooked.)  Cook until cheese is melted.  Pour macaroni into a greased casserole dish (mine is about 4" deep).  Mix cheese sauce through.  Add remaining chunks of cheese (if desired) and mix through.  Put in oven, uncovered, and bake for about 45-60 minutes (top will be golden brown.)

Serve with your favorite vegetables.  I find it good with spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day!

Thank you to all the men and women who served and are serving to keep out country safe and allow us the freedoms and liberties that we have.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What I should have learned from my Query Letter

I know I usually post my Weekly Chapter Challenge today, and in a way this is related, but I wanted to share this with you so you could learn from my mistake.

When I first wrote my Query Letter, it was all about the conflict and problem solving my main character had to do.  Unfortunately, none of this occurred until about three-quarters of the way through my MS.  So, I worked on my query until it reflected the story I had written.  I ran it by several people at the Query Critique on Writer's Digest.  Tweaked it a bit more, then began my search for an agent.  It wasn't until I received a comment back about revising and querying that I began to worry.  Enter Trisha.  She looked over my first three chapter, and query letter.  After some IM'ing back and forth, I came to the conclusion I should have reached after writing my first draft of my query.  My story didn't begin where I had started it, that was all back story.

So, the lesson is, if you are re-writing your query because it doesn't fit the story your wrote, event though that was the story you meant to tell, check and see of you have too much back story.  And don't be afraid to cut it and start somewhere else.  I did, and this version is turning out to be even better-- some new characters have appeared, and my quest is more realistic than in my original version.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fitting it in

So, how do you fit writing into your schedule?  Do you get up early?  Stay up late?  Miss out on family functions?

I usually work out of the house two days a week, which leaves me three days to devote to household chores (laundry, shopping, cleaning chores that I haven't delegated to son for him to earn an allowance on) and writing (not counting weekends where it is a hodge podge of events).

On the days when I work, this month, due to NaNo, I've been trying to write either before I go into work or right after I get home from work (before my husband and son get home).  This leaves me free to spend my evenings with them.

Some days, like yesterday, this doesn't work.  Well, it does, but it doesn't.  Yesterday I wrote before going to a work meeting and eye appointment.  While waiting at the eye doctor's, I wrote in a notebook (not the NaNo story that was supposed to go in that notebook, but the one I am re-working).   I arrived home just as my son did,and my husband was already here.  Fortunately, after dinner, and before we watched Erik the Viking, I was able to transcribe my words and expound on them a bit, leaving me free to enjoy and evening with the family.

So, how do you fit writing in?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Busy Weekend

Wow!  This weekend went by so fast!  We had an impromptu dinner and game night with our neighbors on Friday.  Saturday dear hubby was up early to buy a Christmas present for the house-- a new bedroom TV (26" flat panel) with an actual working volume control!  (I really missed this feature.)  I went to the library in the afternoon for a NaNo write-in (was kinda weird, but productive.)  Then we watched Kick-Ass Saturday night.  (I really enjoyed the movie).  Yesterday was football, then Monday came.

So, how was your weekend?  Did you get lots accomplished?  How's your NaNo going?  Share below!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Recipe Friday!

So, this summer we were invited to a few get togethers where we needed to bring a dish to pass.  Wanting to take something different than normal, I made Fruit Pizza.  Now, I know this is more of a summer type dish, but, really, you can do it any time of the year :)

Fruit Pizza
-Sugar cookie dough (you can make your own or use 1-2 tubes of store bought-- I find the store bought easier to work with)
-8 oz sour cream
-8 oz cream cheese
-about 1 cup confectioner's sugar
-assorted sliced fruit

On a greased cookie sheet (13x18x1 - I have found putting foil on the sheet, then greasing it works best)  press out the cookie dough until it is a uniform thickness.  (You can get one tube on the tray and it will cook up thinner- if you use two tubes, you may need to increase cooking time.)  Bake as directed on the package-- check often as you only want it to be golden brown on top.  Cool.

Mix cream cheese and sour cream until smooth.  Add confectioner's sugar a small amount at a time until mixture thickens to a frosting-like consistency.  Spread on top of cooled cookie.  Arranged sliced fruit as desired.  Cut and serve.

I usually use sliced strawberries, kiwi, and bananas, dotted with whole blueberries.  Feel free to experiment with other fruits.  Enjoy!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaNo update and More Halloween Pics

So far, I haven't reached my 2000 word a day goal (well, I have, but more in that in a minute), but I have been around 1800+ for the first 3 days.

Today I worked on my NaNo story, The Ruby Dagger, and made my 1800+ word count, then went back to Quest of the Hart and began reworking that based on some comments from Trisha.  (She pointed out my story really started much further in than where my beginning was-- too much backstory!)  So, here's my question:

If I am working on two works during NaNo, can I count the words from both of them?  I mean, obviously if I cut and pasted stuff I had previously written I wouldn't count them, as they are not new.  But what about the stuff I am creating now?  Any thoughts?  Let me know in the comments.

Now, for some more Halloween pics!

Erik's Mom and Dad
My Mom and Dad

The Motley Crew!

What a couple!

Watch out for the gun...I mean viola!

This gives a new meaning to hair band!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WCC Wednesday

Well, I am on my third day of NaNo, and so far, so good!

I finished my first draft of The Lost Princess last week and have gotten feedback from Katie and Fiona.  In my rush to finish TLP before NaNo I didn't edit the last eight chapters as I wrote them, and the difference was amazing.  Description flew out the window, leaving my partners asking me to clarify or put more emotion in.

So, when December hits, I will have some work to do!

Last week I put a shout out for some readers for a short story I was working on and got a response from Trisha Leaver.  Not only was she willing to look over my short story, she offered to look at the one I have been querying, Quest of the Hart.  I, of course offered to read anything of hers she wanted, and was treated to an awesome ghost story she has just sent off to her agent!

Well, I must confess I am making drastic changes to QotH (may even re-name it) after some of Trisha's comments.  This is a good thing!  i had been having this nagging feeling in the back of my mind for a short time (which I think is why I wasn't querying widely).  So, while I am working on my NaNo story, I plan on doing some tweaking to QotH.

Fiona's story has taken an interesting turn, as the past and present have collided (at least for her MC) and now Lana has to fix something, but she isn't sure what it is!

Katie is polishing some things up and promises she will send me more soon.

So, how is your writing going?  Are you NaNo-ing?  Is it going well?  Share in the comments!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween 2010

We had a great time at our Halloween Party on Saturday.  Thought I'd share a few pictures with you from it. I hope to put more up on Thursday-- want to get permission from the parent's before I do! (I had a difficult time getting the photos where I want them, so I will post more later this week-- too frustrated to continue now!)

So, here we go!

The Rock Star (AKA- my hubby)
The Pop Princess (AKA- me)

The Mask-less Ring Wraith (AKA- son)   
Frankie and Johnny (AKA my niece and her boyfriend)

Sorceress (AKA my friend Jackie)    
Jeff and Kevin (Friends of Erik (and me))   


Monday, November 1, 2010


Today begins NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer's Month).  My goal is to write at least 50,000 words this month and win NaNo.  My daily goal is to reach about 2000 words.

I went to our local group's meet and greet on Saturday and was impressed by all the great ideas everyone has for their novels.  I was also impressed by the number of high school students participating.  We have a ninth grader who is doing her 4th NaNo (she's won 3 of them!!!!)

So, to all my fellow NaNo-ers good luck!  You can keep track of my progress with the word counter on the right.

Tomorrow I will be posting pics from our Halloween Party on Saturday (still have to download the pics from the camera).  We had a blast!  Hope you all had a great Halloween too!