Friday, December 4, 2015

Meet "Flexx"

I have been "in the market" for a mini laptop/chromebook type thing for awhile. I missed the portability of writing in a notebook for when I'm away from home, but writing straight onto the computer was faster in the long run. So my solution was to get a mini laptop that I would be more easily be able to bring with me and write away from home. My husband and I stopped at Staples when we were in the area just to look at them and see what was available and what I liked. I also was looking online. I decided I liked the feature of the 2 in 1 tablets having a touchscreen as I've never been a big fan of the track pads.  I originally thought of getting a 10" tablet, but thought the keyboard might be a little small and since the main reason I was getting it was to type on it, I figured going with the 11.6" was a better idea. Since the 11.6" has a keyboard that is 97% of a full size keyboard, it functions basically as a full sized one would. One thing that I have to get used to, however, is that the right "Shift" key is only half the size as normal, so I keep hitting the up arrow instead of the shift!

I ended up getting the Nextbook Flexx 11 from Walmart using the bonus discount my husband got for working on Black Friday. I've been enjoying it and have written more in the last day than I have the whole month of November!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Breathe Writers Conference

I had the opportunity to attend my very first writers conference over the weekend. The Breathe Writers Conference is held in our neighboring town and took me about 40 minutes to get there. I was looking forward to it, but also a bit nervous, too. I'm not a "go out there and meet new people" type of person. On Friday, it went from 12:30pm to 8:30pm and on Saturday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. There were 18 states represented at the conference! I meet people from Ohio, New York, Texas, Illinois, and Tennessee plus Michigan, of course. All of my sessions except one were in class 102! 

My hope was to make some connections with some people local to me so we could form a writers group. I had wanted to go to another session by Susie Finkbeiner, but it was the same time as the one by Amelia Rhodes. I was thinking later that maybe Susie's might have been more what I needed, but then I remembered that it was in Amelia's class that one of the other participants mentioned also wanting to find a writers group. This precipitated me asking her if she wanted to see about forming one together. We exchanged emails along with another friend of hers.

When filling out the registration, it asked if I wanted a one on one with an agent/publisher/author/etc and my instinct was to check 'no', but I figured it was a good way to learn, so I checked 'yes' instead! Mine was with Bob Evenhouse, a local author. I talked to him about where I was in my journey and what I need to work on.

I learned:

  • Reduce "time vampires" from my life so I can get more creativity time. 
  • Authenticity wins over perfection any time
  • It comes down to taste. Not everyone will like everyone's voice
  • Use words to create a deep and vivid "dream"
  • Take advantage of 'Idea Friendly Times'
  • Create in the way God created you to create
  • Strive for excellence
  • Take joy in quiet accomplishements
  • Ultimately, we have an audience of One


Susie Finkbeiner: Claim Your Voice

Cynthia Beach: Capturing the Intensity

Plenary Session: Editor's Panel

Amelia Rhodes: Making Time to Write

Dinner table decoration

Evening session monologue: Alison Hodgson

Keynote Speaker: Steven James


Sarah Grimm: Writing Flash Fiction that Sells

Bob Evenhouse: Worldbuilding

Plenary Session: Don Perini

I almost forgot to take a picture of Ann Byle: Best Practices for the Living the Writing Life
with her is Zach Bartels who I forgot to take a picture of during "Morning Words"

Last Session with Steven James

My "Idea Friendly Time Capture Machines" for writing down ideas as soon as I have them.

I bought some "craft" books based on recommendations from the weekend

Friday, July 17, 2015

Home & School Mosaics Article: "Blossoms and Butterflies"

Today, my last article for Home & School Mosaics was posted. They are closing, so I won't have any more articles published there.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blurb to Book Update

I didn't make it on to Stage 2 of the Blurb to Book contest from Love Inspired, but I'll keep working and improving. They had 326 entrants for the 75 spots they had to fill!

Monday, March 30, 2015

I Completed a Manuscript ! !

I finished typing up all the words I had written in my spiral bound notebook! My novel is now all in one 243 page place!! What an amazing (and scary) feeling! Now on to edits....

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Blurb to Book

Love Inspired is hosting a contest to possibly end up getting published with them. They are calling it "Blurb to Book". There are three stages. The first stage is to give a 100 word blurb (like a book's back copy) and the first page (250 words) of your manuscript.

Here is my blurb:
Kelly Murphy’s been compared to others her whole life and never measured up. In order to appease her mother, she agrees to go to a singles group.  In Jeff Davidson she finds a mentor who accepts her for who she is, but is he the one who can give her the happily ever after she’s been longing for?

Jeff was young when he married, and didn’t know all that went into having a loving, godly marriage and it didn’t last long enough for him to learn. When Kelly joins the singles group he administers, he desperately wants a second chance.

and my first page:
Kelly Murphy dumped a bag of potato chips into a bowl before putting it on the table. If it were up to her, she would have just put the bag of chips on the table. But it was her brother's house and his son. She didn't have kids, or a husband, or even a boyfriend. Kelly tucked her honey colored hair behind her ear and glanced into the living room where Tom's three oldest kids were playing with her dad and a wave of longing swept over her.
Kelly went to the kitchen. "Sue, is there anything --" A wail sounded from the other room. Sue stepped away from the counter and Kelly held up her hand. "I'll get her. You finish up here."
Tricia stopped crying as soon as she saw her aunt walk into the room. "What's up Baby Bee? Ready to get up from your nap, huh?" The baby rewarded Kelly for picking her up by planting a wet, open-mouth baby kiss on her cheek.
Kelly returned to the kitchen, the baby on her hip. "So was there anything you want me to help with?"
Sue responded without looking away from the pork she was shredding. "You keeping an eye on Tricia will be a big help. Now that's she's crawling, she disappears quicker than a wink. She's trying to keep up with her brothers. And you're so good with her. Maybe one day you'll have some of your own."
"Yeah, that'd be nice." Kelly sighed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

"The End"

I finally wrote "The End" on my story!!  Happy dance!

BUT, it's not finished, yet.  I still have to fill in those missing scenes in the middle that I skipped over when they were not coming to me.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Speedbo 2015

Seekerville challenges authors to participate in "Speedbo" during the month of March. It is a way for people to step up their writing and reach self set goals. 

My goal for Speedbo is "to finish my WIP. I have a couple of scenes at the end of the book that I'm working on now, which will leave the middle section I skipped over earlier to finish during March."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Writer's Swag

I had seen a picture of a really cute writer's mug.  I decided to go to Vistaprint and see what I could come up with.  While I was there, I did a few other things, also!

Monday, January 26, 2015

My First Critique

Last week on Seekerville, I won a "gentle 5 page critique" from Missy Tippens.  I was excited and a bit nervous at the same time!  It would be the first time for anyone to read any of my writing other than family members (and however few people have found my "Happy New Year Flash Fiction".  I got her critique back today.  She gave me some pointers and places to clarify and work on.  She also pointed out things that I had done well.  I was very encouraged by her critique and motivated to keep on writing.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My "Workstation"

I don't have an office or special place to write, but I've been using the laptop at the dining room table.  I was having some problems with neck/back strain, so I started evaluating my work area.  The first change I made was to enlarge all my screens to 110% (does that mean I'm getting old?) and put a footstool under the table.  That helped some, but I was still finding myself leaning forward to write or view the screen.  I decided that if the laptop was another 2" or so higher, that would be a big help.  I scrounged around the house to see if I could find anything that would work.  I tried all sorts of lap desks and trays and didn't find anything that worked very well.  Most of them were too tall.  I did some research online to see what was available and saw a few that I thought I'd look into further.  Then I found a "laptop lift".  At first I thought that it would be annoying, but then I realized it would work better than what I was originally thinking of getting.  In the middle of my research, I needed to run to the school to pick up my daughter who hadn't heard that her Odyssey of the Mind meeting had gotten canceled before the bus left.  On the way home, we stopped at one of the thrift stores in town to see if they had something that would work.  I immediately found a Fellowes brand lift!  It looks like an older version, but for $3 I snatched it up!  It is adjustable, so I can change the angle if I want.  So far it seems to really be helping me be able to sit back in the chair and still type comfortably.  I also had gotten a cozy soft blanket at Goodwill last night since the corner I sit in tends to be sort of chilly.  I am all set now to write in comfort!

My workstation with "new" computer lift and cozy blanket

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year--A Flash Fiction

A Facebook Writers Group that I belong to has been talking about Flash Fiction, which Wikipedia defines as: Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as three hundred words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.  My group is going with 1000 words as the length.  

I wrote a WWII historical romance flash fiction before Christmas and a dream on New Year's Eve gave me a nugget for another.  I had hoped to get it finished by the end of New Year's Day, but with others wanting to use the computer, I just got it finished today.  

So without further ado, here it is for you to read:

     Elyse Richards tucked a lock of strawberry blonde hair behind her ear and looked around the mostly empty lecture hall.  It was the last day of the semester and most of her fellow students were already headed home for Christmas.  The only thing going on in class today anyway was that the TA was passing out the final exams with their results and answering questions.   At least it would be a short class. 
     “I've divided the finals into piles based on last name, so A-H is in the first pile there, I-P is in the middle, and R-Z is here at the end.”   Blonde Surfer Boy TA motioned with his hand.
     Elyse waited for the majority of the people to go down to the front to retrieve their papers before grabbing her backpack and standing.   She passed them, bumping shoulders with a few, as they made their way up the stairs to the back and freedom.  Five more minutes and she’d be free to spend the next two weeks however she wanted before J-Term started.  Not that there was going to be much to do on a nearly empty campus over Christmas break.  It wouldn't be the same not being with her family for Christmas, but it was just too costly to get a ticket back home.   Her paper was on the top of the stack of papers and she noticed the red 98% at the top.   As she turned toward the back of the room, she heard someone call her name.
     The guy at the desk wearing Bermuda shorts despite the snow outside was stuffing his paper into his bag and never looked up.  Her eyes scanned the distance between Bermuda Shorts Dude and Blonde Surfer Boy TA, the only other person in the room.   He took a step toward her, a genuine smile on his face.   “I thought you’d like to know you had the highest score in the class.  Are you going into math?”
     Blonde Surfer Boy TA knew her name?  Oh, of course, it was on her paper.  “No.  Reading, actually.”  I like math, but this is the only math class I have to take for my degree.”  She looked up at him from her paper.  She almost took a step backward, his eyes were so mesmerizing.  She had never before seen eyes that color.   They were a blend of blue and green.   Like a lagoon.  Fitting for Blonde
Surfer Boy TA to have lagoon eyes! 
     “Shame.  Mathematics could use more people like you.   Have a good break.”  He nodded at her.
       She heard the lecture hall door open behind her and she knew that Blonde Surfer Boy TA was also headed home.   She stopped walking and listened to his footsteps. He was walking away from her. She scowled, why should she care he wasn't following her?  He was kind of cute and all, but he was a TA and his hair was too long.   She shook her head.


     Elyse sat on a bench, a book hanging loosely in her hand, leg swinging.  She massaged the bridge of her nose and sighed.

     "Elyse!  Are you okay?"
     Her head jerked up to see who'd spoken.  Vaguely familiar, he had an athletic build, closely cropped blonde hair, and lagoon colored eyes.  "Blonde Surfer Boy TA?!?"  She clamped her hand over her mouth and winced.  She spoke from behind her hand.  "Sorry."  A peek at the man in front of her revealed an amused smile and twinkling eyes.  She shook her head, "It's something I do to keep people straight when I don't know their name.  Bermuda Shorts Dude, Dreadlock Chick,  Pink Princess."
     He chuckled.  "I know exactly who you are referring to.  It's Eric by the way.  Eric Masters."  He held his hand out to her.
     She took his hand.  "Hi, Eric.  To answer your question, I'm just a little lost."
     "What class are you taking for J-Term?" He sat beside her.
     "Sign language."
     "Where does it meet?"  Elyse pointed at the door across the hall.
     His brows furrowed, "You said you were lost."
     A quick smile, "I meant in life in general.  I miss my family and I don't really know any people here."
     "You should go to the New Year's Eve party."
     "I'm not into drinking and partying."
     He bumped her shoulder with his own. "I know."
     She tilted her head, "I know you, don't I?  I mean other than class."
     "We're in the same Sunday School class."
     She did a face palm, "Of course.  And you meant the party for class."
     He chuckled, "Yep.  I'll pick you up at 7:30, okay?"
     "I don't know anyone."
     "You will after tonight."
     Eric showed up exactly at 7:30, standing in the hallway of her dorm with another guy.  "This is Max O'Connell, my roommate."  Max nodded at her and they left.
     They went up the steps of the house and entered without knocking. Max left them as soon as they entered.  People stood around in groups of five or more as Contemporary Christian music played from a stereo in the corner.   Eric placed his hand on the small of her back and guided her over to the nearest group.  Rounds of introductions followed, with plenty of hugs.  The evening contained conversation, food, skits, and a devotion time.
     "Having fun?" Eric put his mouth near her ear so she would hear.
     "I am.  Thanks for making me come."  She turned to look at him, putting their faces mere inches from each other. Time stood still.
     "19, 18..." a countdown started and Eric grabbed her hand and pulled her to watch the ball drop on the TV.  More people crowded into the room, pushing them together. "3, 2, 1  HAPPY NEW YEAR!"
     "Happy New Year."  Eric peered down at her, still holding her hand.
     "Happy New Year." She smiled back.
     He leaned closer and brushed his lips against hers.  "Will you go out with me?"
     She nodded, “If it’s allowed with you being a TA.”
     “It is.”

Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Word

On the My Book Therapy blog, Beth Vogt encouraged writers to pick one word for the year.

  • Pick one word for 2015. It’s simple to remember one word, right? Focus on that One Word for the entire year. Ask God to use that one word to change you through the year.
  • Anchor your One Word to a Scripture verse. I also look for a “visual” of some sort: a photograph with a quote or a bracelet or necklace with my One Word on it. 

I thought about that and because I really like Isaiah 26:3 I decided to pick "stayed".  It's sort of an odd word, and I had thought some about using "peace" or "trust" but "stayed" portrays more of what I wish for in the coming year.  I need to focus on God and wait on Him.

thefreedictionary defines 'stay' here

Out of them, I liked these definitions the best.

  •  To linger or wait in order to do or experience something: 
  • Archaic To wait for; await: 
  • To brace, support, or prop up 

Synonyms:  lingerremaintarrywait
This hangs on my living room wall.
 I added the verse to a picture my friend Nancy Fikkert took.