Tuesday, October 25

Final Tally in My 21-Day Writing Challenge

Man, I’m amazed. I did it. Twenty-one days, I hauled my happy butt out of that nice warm bed, trotted right to my office, and sat down and wrote. I didn’t stop to make coffee or get dressed or check email or social media. I wrote. Final word tally for three weeks is just over 22,000 words. 

So, what’s the takeaway? First of all, I can do it—I can write. That’s a biggie because I’d pretty much convinced myself I was no longer much of a writer. Life got in the way and I let it. I think that happens to all of us, don’t you? Illness, death of a loved one, finances, jobs, family responsibilities, housekeeping—it all distracts us. And of course the first thing we allow to drop off our plate is the one thing we love doing the most. Is that a woman thing or a human being thing? I’m not sure, I should probably get Husband’s take on that one, although now that I think of it, I see Son doing the same thing. He’s overwhelmed with work, family, caring for a home, being a husband, parenting a young child, trying to finish up his PhD. Music, which he loves, gets done in spurts instead of every day. It’s not a priority. Pleasure’s the only reason to play guitar, so it can wait. It must be an adult thing . . .

Second, I’ve wondered frequently in the last couple of years whether writing is worth the effort when I’m so frustrated with ads and promotions and trying to figure out ways to get my books in front of a larger audience without spending a small fortune. In May, at Spring Fling, I pitched the Women of Willow Bay to some traditional publishers and every single one requested to see a full of the first book, synopses of the other two, and a proposal for the rest. So far, I can’t say the results have been very spectacular. One editor turned the series down, although she repeatedly told me how “wonderful” my writing is; another is mildly interested in the last two books that I haven’t put out as an indie; and publisher #3 has pretty much ignored me. But you, know, after twenty-one days of writing every day, I can say that yes, it’s worth the effort. So, I’ll probably try some other publishers while I’m writing Sarah and Libby’s stories. I’m even considering a Christmas novella for next year so I can tell Jack Reilly’s story as he graduates from Julliard and goes out into the world. Who knows? 

And third . . . yeah, there is a third, but it has nothing at all to do with writing. It has to do with proving to myself that I’m not losing my ability to focus and commit, which is something that I’ve worried about since Dee got sick and David died and CL was diagnosed with breast cancer, and Kate died and my body has started to sometimes feel like it’s ninety-three years old. For the past couple of years, sticking to anything except work has been hard. I’ve promised myself so many different times that I was going to maintain a diet, an exercise regimen, a housecleaning schedule; that I’d go to the gym regularly, that I’d swim in the lake or walk the shore every day, that I’d get on my bike or get the damn gardens weeded every week or . . . well, you get the picture. But it wasn’t happening and I was feeling more and more like somehow, I’d lost control of the disciplined person I once was. Well, she’s still in there—go figure, and I’m doing a little internal squee that she hasn’t abandoned me completely. 

Can I keep it up from now on? Maybe. Dunno—I guess we’ll just take it day-by-day. That seems to be working out so far . . . at least it has for the last three weeks. Thanks for sharing this journey with me. Next Tuesday, back to our regularly scheduled Word Wranglers . . .

Monday, October 24

And what would YOU like for Christmas?

The holidays are coming so fast! It's okay with me--I love the whole last two months of the year--but it's all so busy and I never get everything done I intended. Gift-giving's gotten remarkably easy. We and our kids are all at stages that if we need something, we go get it. The grands all love gift cards. (And so do we.) There's just not that much to it.

Except some people who never quite grow up love packages under the tree. All the better if they're wrapped instead of gift-bagged. The girls in my family and I are all like this. We don't complain about gift cards or gift bags, but there is something so personal about a wrapped present.

Since it's hard to know what to get people who don't have need or don't play with toys, I thought I'd make a list of things I like getting, some of which I would never think of as gifts but would make perfect ones. Please comment and tell us what you like, too.

  1. Thumb drives. 
  2. Dish towels.
  3. Socks.
  4. Lotions and foaming soap from Bath and Body Works
  5. Tea bags--all kinds but must be caffeinated.
  6. Ornaments--got a real fondness for Santas and snowmen.
  7. Stapler--I only put this in here because I need a new one and am too cheap to buy a cool one.
  8. Clear Solo cups, because I don't like red and blue ones.
  9. Padded mailers--I use them all year long.
  10. A book of stamps.
And that's about all I can think of. How about you? What would you like to have?

Since I'm here and since it's all been so exciting, in case you haven't ordered these yet, please do!

http://amzn.to/2e20qBV and http://amzn.to/2dBpRJt

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 22

A Day at the Spa

 From the Thermea Spa website at www.thermea.ca
This year for Mother’s Day my daughters gave me a gift certificate to a spa. It was kind of a surprise, because, really, I’m not a spa kind of person. I’m more of a “I feel guilty taking a day off to go to the spa because I should be working” kind of person. As you might have guessed from previous posts, I can be a little tightly wound at times. But the gift was given with love, so I was happy to accept.

Due to a busy summer, my younger daughter and I couldn’t fit in the spa day until late September, which happened to be her birthday. (Her older sister lives in another city and couldn't be with us.) So we had two things to celebrate – Mother’s day and her twenty-eighth birthday.

Let me tell you a bit about Thermea Spa. It's a Nordic Spa, based on the kind used in Scandinavian countries. There’s a Finnish dry sauna, scented steam rooms, a relaxation room, and pools that range from cold (like icy cold), temperate (still pretty cold) to hot (oh, thank goodness!). Did I mention that all of this is outdoors? The various buildings housing the saunas and steam rooms surround the outdoor pools. A main building contains a wonderful restaurant and the massage rooms. More on that later.

From the Thermea Spa website at www.thermea.ca
Rachel and I got to the spa around ten in the morning and there was already a line-up at reception. I had no idea this place was so popular. We were assigned lockers in the ladies change room that contained fluffy white robes which we were to wear over our bathing suits. Unfortunately, I got an extra-long robe. Of course the shortest person would get the longest robe. While everyone else’s robe was knee length, mine hung around my ankles. Oh well.

The first thing we tried was the steam room scented with eucalyptus. I made the mistake of wearing my glasses, and the instant I stepped into the room, they fogged up. But once I got my bearings and breathed in the eucalyptus, I felt my air passages opening up. And the relaxing began.

In a Nordic spa, you’re supposed to begin with a hot treatment, then follow with cold, then temperate, and then hot again. For best results, repeat three times. So after the steam room, I plunged into the cold pool up to my knees for about ten seconds and raced out. No way was I trying the cold waterfall! Then the temperate pool (I maybe lasted twenty seconds this time) and finally the hot pool. Heaven! We hung out here for a while, just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful fall day. By this time we’d worked up an appetite, so we went for lunch and had a celebratory glass of wine with our delicious meal.

Finnish dry sauna - From the Thermea Spa website at www.thermea.ca
Then we repeated the process, this time trying the dry Finnish sauna. At least my glasses didn’t fog up this time. After we’d done the cold/temperate/hot pools again, we made our way to the relaxing room, which turned out to be my favorite place. Basically we sat in heated lounge chairs, listened to music on head phones, and just – relaxed.

Relaxation room, my favorite place - From the Thermea Spa website at www.thermea.ca
By then it was time for our massages. We had adjoining rooms and we each had our own masseuse. I’ve had massages before, but never a hot stone massage, and I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. My masseuse Jenna told me if at any time I felt uncomfortable or it was too hot, I was to let her know. When she placed a row of hot stone down my backbone, on top of a sheet so they didn’t touch my skin, it felt wonderful. So warm and comforting and relaxing. Then Jenna used the warm, smooth stones in her hands as she massaged my muscles. It was honestly one of the loveliest experiences of my life.

After an hour and a half of bliss, we were done. Rachel and I showered and changed and headed home, both of us feeling very mellow. It had been a great day.

I learned a little something. It’s okay to take a day off now and then just to pamper myself. And I don’t need to feel guilty about it. Taking care of myself might even make me a better writer. At least it makes me a more relaxed one, for a while, anyway. After whining about how stressed I felt earlier this fall, I think I needed this.

What do you do to relax? Do you think taking a day off just to relax is important for your health?

Friday, October 21

The Opinion of Beauty

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” the saying goes. What the saying doesn’t relay is the fact that sometimes that beauty is us… and sometimes that beholder is not us.

Take me for example. A middle-aged, overweight woman doing her weekend chores in mis-matched bacon-grease-splattered sweats and my did-I-forget-to-brush-it hair up in a haphazard ponytail. Bad morning-coffee breath, no bra support, and fat rolls thanks to kids, love of food, and DNA. Yep, I cut a fine figure.

So when hubby comes up behind me and enfolds me in his arms, making hubba-hubba noises, bumping my backside with his pelvis, kissing on my neck and telling me I’m more beautiful than a young Helen Mirin who happens to be on the television at the moment… it’s all I can do to keep from laughing and checking him into the mental hospital.

Then I tell myself he’s acting this way because I’m making bacon, which would tug at the heartstrings of any sane person.

Then I tell myself he feels this way because I’m the mother of his children and a loving wife… naturally, he appreciates having a competent and willing accomplice in life.

Then I stop myself from my mental self-flagellation because my husband isn’t a liar or superficial. He’s telling the truth: he thinks I’m beautiful. And while I might not feel it at the moment… while I might not agree with his opinion, I can’t deny it because it is his opinion. I might scoff at it, but I try to do that inwardly because I wouldn’t want anyone to scoff at my opinions or choice of wine or my preference in reading materials, etc.

I think we writers can tend to do this very same thing with our own books. While we're thrilled that readers like them, part of us questions whether the reader needs to be checked into a mental hospital. Surely our writing isn't that good, no matter what anyone says. Surely, when our writer friends say nice things about our books, they're only being supportive because that's what good writer friends do for each other. And if/when a reader comments that our writing isn't good, we naturally get upset (who wouldn't?) but part of us also secretly feels vindicated because we knew we were frauds as authors and someone finally had the guts to call us out on it.

There's no pearl of wisdom here, because I obviously struggle with the ugly demons of self-castigation...  But the truth is that everyone is entitled to their opinion on our writing. While we'd like for those who don't like it to keep their opinions to themselves, we also need to check our own opinions about our writing. Rather than nit-picking the things we wish we would have done better/differently on a story already published, let's embrace it and call it beautiful. At the moment we determined "This story is the best I can write," we beheld beauty. And while that may be a matter of opinion, it's our opinion. 
At this moment, my husband is the “beholder” and is entitled to his opinion of beauty. Which happens to be me. So I swallow my laughter and words of denial, turn to him with a come-hither smile on my face and say something like, “Hey stud… could you empty the dishwasher for me?”

Wednesday, October 19

Found On Kristina's Desk - Again

Periodically, I look around my office space and realize - wow, it's been a while since I cleaned off my desk...and I start cleaning and realize there are things here that...shouldn't be. Today, I'm telling you what's on my desk while cleaning my desk because I also have a blog to write..You know, the old two birds/one stone thing. Although, wouldn't this be three birds/one stone? Anywho, here we go, cleaning off my desk and telling you guys what I find buried in the depths.

A sheet of Jamberry Nail Wraps (I am so, so addicted). What's weird about this is the sheet is filled with only the tiny bits of wraps left over after cutting/filing the excess. Why do I keep this stuff? *trashes*

A band-aid. Still in its wrapper, thank goodness, or I might scare you guys. *saves for later*

My Tom-Tom Multisport watch. And my defunct VivoFit II. These have actually only been on my desk since Monday, when I brought it here to charge post-workout. And I'm using it again on Friday, so I should just leave it here, right? *saves* And an aside, I'm wearing my Apple Watch...and I've never really been a watch girl, but here I am. One girl, three very different watches.

My fortune from a few weeks ago when RadioMan and I went to the Chinese restaurant. That's a picture of it above. You guys know how I love fortunes, this one, though, I think I'm going to keep for a while...I like the message! PS: Margie, that coaster under the fortune is still my faovrite...it's with me every day and I love it! *saves*

A used (and also expired) rewards certificate from DSW. Boots people, I loves the boots...but since I've already redeemed this one... *tosses it into the trash*

Unsharpened pencils with no erasers. Why are pencil erasers so flimsy all of a sudden? These erasers fell out as soon as bebe opened the package. Mental note: do not buy this brand of pencils again. *trashes*

bebe's stack of books she bought at the book fair this week (we kept her to four, I'm not quite sure how). She was supposed to put them on her bookshelf, but apparently my desk got in her say. *saves*

My first iPod Touch...which is basically useless now because it's operating system is so old...but I can't get rid of it because RadioMan and bebe had it engraved and the message is...funny and sweet and silly and it makes me smile. *saves*

There is more, but I'm tired of cleaning up I have a book to write so the rest of the mess will have to wait. What is on your desk that makes you smile?