Sunday, January 31, 2010

Soon to be released: Devil's Food Cake

Devil's Food Cake, by Josi Kilpack, will be in stores mid February. It is the third book in the culinary mystery series. Sadie Hoffmiller is a fun character who just can't seem to stay out of the center of trouble, when it comes to murder mystery's. You'll fall in love with Sadie's fun and spunky character.

For more information, check out Josi Kilpack's website, or Deseret Books website.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thirteen Going on Thirty

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my 30th birthday is quickly approaching. In fact, it is exactly one week from today. Any guesses as to what is on my wish list?

Thirty followers!!!!

That means I’m holding a CONTEST….

There are three ways to enter.

You can press the “follow this blog” on left hand side of this page. That way I can see your smiling face everyday.

You can also follow me via “google reader”. I can’t see who follows me this way, so you’ll have to leave a comment to tell me. I love this feature, because it keeps track of all the blogs you follow, and lets you know when there is a new post. No more checking with each one every day, just to find it hasn’t been updated. If you don’t use it yet, and have questions about how to set it up, let me know. It’s a free service, included in your Google (gmail) account.

Follow me on networked blogs, also on the left side of the page.

Pick the one that works for you, or do all three. You’ll get one entry point for each.

I know you are all anxiously awaiting the announcement of the prize, so I won’t delay any further. The winner will get your very own copy of the movie 13 Going on 30.

I know, I know, you all want to win. But I only have one copy to give, so you’ll just have to enter twice, and hope for the best. J

Contest closes at noon on Tuesday, February 2nd. I will announce the winner by 7:oo that night. Good luck to all, and thanks for reading (and following).

Have a wonderful day.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Goodbye to Yesterday

Next week, I’m going to turn 30. I am not anxious, nervous, or embarrassed about it. I’m looking forward to many things in my 30’s. I’ll do a post about that next week. I even have a mission statement. ;) You’ll have to wait until next week to find out what it is. Today I want to focus on all the things I did and learned during my 20’s.

I’ve Learned:

1. To never say never.

2. To avoid spending time with negative people.

3. It’s an amazing feeling to create something from nothing.

4. My best ideas often come to me when I’m in the shower.

5. I have, and can use, willpower.

6. Potty training is GREAT birth control.

7. How to make bread, and can jam.

8. To never try to finish the laundry, or take out all the garbage. No matter how hard you try, once you turn around, there’s always more.

9. Chocolate makes my clothes shrink.

10. Life can sometimes be hard, but it’s oh-so worth it!

I learned that I want to be a writer. I’ve learned to limit myself, and enjoy my blessings. I’ve learned to cherish good friends. I learned that I have a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Most importantly, I learned the joy of becoming a mother to two of the most wonderful children sent from Heaven.

As I look back on the last 10 years of my life, I’m okay with saying goodbye. I accomplished a lot of good things, but look forward to the new phase ahead.

Bring on 30! I’m ready.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Back to Square One

Last week I went into a jewelry store, and approached the desk area.
“I need to have my wedding ring re-sized,” I said.
“Do you need to have it sized up, or down,” the woman asked.
“Down please,” I respond. I pull it off my bigger-middle finger. (I hate referring to it as my birdie finger, but you know the one.) It has been riding around on that finger for a half-year or so.
“Oh,” says sales woman. “Have you lost weight then?”
“Yes I have.” Even after six months, I still can’t help but beam when the subject is brought up.
“Really? How did you do it?”
I reveal my source, which is no secret.
I’m a huge fan. No, I don’t work for them. No, I don’t get paid for referrals for giving them commercial blog time. But it works! (I lost 50 pounds, and made it to my goal.)
“Wow! Congratulations,” says the sales woman. She pulls out the handy dandy ring-sizing templates, and we find a nice fit.
Then she asks, “Are you interested in purchasing our lifetime protection plan? That way, you can have it sized up and down as often as you need, for no extra charge.”
I stare at her. In my mind I’m trying to convince myself not to get annoyed.
Finally I say, “No thank you. I’m not going to need to have it sized up again.”
Which brings me to an observation. It must have been about seven years ago that I had the ring sized up to begin with. Looking back at that now, I wish I wouldn’t have done it.
It stuns me to remember how casual it was for me back then. Hey, my ring doesn’t fit anymore. I guess I need to have it sized up. Hey, my pants don’t fit me anymore. I guess I need to buy a bigger size. And then a year later, I’m buying a size up from that. No big deal. The pant sizes must be shrinking.
Before I knew it, I was 50 pounds overweight, and hating myself for it. How did I let myself get so out of control? It didn’t happen overnight, but it all added up.
I finally got to a place in my life where I was not comfortable with who I was. I dealt with a lot of self-esteem problems. I felt of little worth. I felt ugly, and just plain fat. It wasn’t who I wanted to be. So I found something that worked for me, and dusted off the old self-control. (Now that I made it to goal, the self-control issue is a constant thorn-in-my-side.)
When I walked back into that jewelry store a few days later, I approached the same sales woman. She pulled out my ring, and I looked at it. At first I thought it must be the wrong ring. It was so much smaller than I’d been used to.
I tried it on and it fit perfectly. It was just like new. It was the same size it had been when I got married. (Hey, just like the new me.)
Sometimes it becomes our worst nightmare when we find ourselves back at square one. Like writing a story, and realizing it’s not working out so you have to start over. Or mopping the kitchen floor, just to have the kids spill on it again.
But every now and then, finding square one again is exactly what we were after all along.
Have you ever been happy to find yourself back at the beginning?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – The Day Job

This morning I find myself even more crunched for time than usual. I’m back to having a day job. This is going to wreak havoc on my schedule.

It’s a good thing, but oh how I dread it.

I’ve been an independent subcontractor for an architectural firm since I had my first baby, three years ago. Before that, I worked each day at their office. But working from home was a blessing. I got to spend my days with my children, and work while they slept. It was a perfect opportunity.

Then the office got slow, and didn’t have much work for me anymore. My husband and I had planned for this possibility and built up our savings, thankfully so.

I work on a job-to-job basis, and over the last eighteen months I’ve only had about two jobs. I’ve loved the time off, because it’s given me more time to work on my writing. I wouldn’t have finished my first draft yet, if I’d been working regularly.

Last week, my office announced they had a job for me. Wonderful news!! I really do need it. It came at a much needed time, and was an answer to my prayers.

I am, however, worried about finding time to write. The two hours I usually set aside for writing time will now be for work. I’ll need to use even better time-management to squeeze it all in.

But I do know this: I’ll find a way. The work is truly a blessing, but so is the writing. I need to do both. Now I’ll just have to find a way to pull it off, and still be a good parent.

Wish me luck, and Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Phase Two - Revisions

Last September I was at a writer's conference, and took a class taught by Anita Stansfield. I have several pages of notes from that class, filled with great advice for aspiring authors. One part stood out to me stronger than the rest. It was something like this:

The first draft is to say what you want to say. The final draft is saying it how you want to. (And unfortunately, there is no magical number for how many drafts are done in between.)

When I started writing this manuscript, I had a general feel for how it would go. I knew where it would start, most of the main events that would happen, and how it would end. As I wrote, there were many times I found myself taking a jaunt down one path, realizing it was going somewhere I didn't need to go, and trying to find my way back. I now have several thousand words worth of completely useless ramblings.

I don't, however, feel like I wasted my time on those parts of the story. I learned so much during the writing process. I can actually see how my writing has improved, the further into the story I get.

My revised first chapter is completely different from the original. The first line is almost the same. The first paragraph is similar, but improved. After that, it's pretty much a re-write. I threw out most of it, and pulled things into the first chapter from several chapters ahead, which will cause me to do even more re-writing. But that's what this process called writing is, isn't it?

I don't know how many drafts I will go through, but at least I've started into this new phase of a writer's life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Getting in the Last Word.

I’m not talking about when you’re having a fight with someone, and always want to be the one to get in the last word (not that I have that problem…).

No, I’m referring to typing the last word in a story. I finished my first draft last week, and I must say it was satisfying, but oddly unsettling.

Now comes the time for revisions, editing, and doubts. Is the story really good enough? Will anyone want to read it? Will it help anyone, make them stronger or better somehow, by reading it? Because that is the reason I want have it published. If there is a way I can write something that will help build up someone else’s testimony, or make them strive to be a stronger, more faithful member of the church, then I have succeeded at my goal.

That’s where the doubt comes in. Why would something I say make a difference in anyone’s life? Well, I have read books that made me want to be better, so I hope I too can accomplish what other writers have. I know they are out there.

For now, all I can do is keep trying. If nothing else were to ever happen with my manuscript, at least I have built up my own testimony as I have worked on it. I still have a lot to learn about becoming an author. And even more to learn about life. But who better to help me through the journey than my Heavenly Father. With His help, I just may have a chance.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Draft - Check!

I just wrote the final words of my first draft. I’m done. It feels weird to say. I’m done! I’ve written a novel. I’ve heard people talk about how exciting it is to write “The End”, once they arrive at that point. For me, it was definitely exciting. And a little unreal. And slightly dizzying. But I haven’t been able to stop smiling since.

It came in at 77,500 words. I wonder how many of those original words I will be able to keep, as I go threw the process of revising and editing. I have a lot more work ahead. But today, I’m celebrating.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Writing Class

I just registered for a Creative Writing class. It's my first one, and I'm excited, and a little nervous. It will meet each Saturday for 2 hours, and last 6 weeks. The best part is it is taught by an author I've met, and I really like her books: Annette Lyon.

The class is about an hour drive from where I live (maybe a little more), so I would not have signed up was it not for the teacher. I know she will have a lot to teach me, and I look forward to the personal growth and development in my writing.

I also had my first chapter-meeting tonight, as an official member of the League of Utah Writers. I visited for a couple months, but tonight I was there as an actual member. I'm going to the Sandy chapter named Wordcraft.

Next month is their annual writing contest. It has to be short, only about two minutes, so everyone will have time to read their entry out loud. The topic is "Beginnings", so I'm going to have to get started on my brainstorming, and come up with a great beginning.

As for my WIP, I'm getting closer. I have about 2-1/2 chapters left. Am I crazy for hoping to finish up on Saturday? Wish me luck.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Optimistic Mondays – Re-charged!

It's Monday! My favorite day! Time to re-charge and start anew.

I completely blew my goal of maintaining my weight through the holidays. Yikes! Better get back on track, or I'm going to be re-joining my pre-weight-loss size in a matter of months. Not going to let that happen. But it's okay, because it's Monday. And afterall, I love Mondays.

As the first Monday of the New Year, it is even a more powerfully re-charging moment. I've been so excited for what this year will bring. I'm optimistic about the adventures that lay ahead of me. (Not sure if I used "lay" correctly. I pulled out the trusty grammar book (By Annette Lyon), but the words lay/lie seem to be my evil nemesis. One day I'll figure it out.)

I wasn't planning on posting any goals for the 2010, but over the weekend I changed my mind. Just a couple. Not resolutions, mind you. I wrote about my feelings of those here.

There are a couple of things that I would like to do during the year. To be fair, I stole these from other people/blogs.

1. Read 50 books. About one a week. My list of 'books-to-read' is so long, I really need to tackle this one.

2. Try one new recipe a week. I'll give that a try, but may change it to two a month. I need to expand my dinner options. (Doing this while sticking to a weight-maintaining plan may be tricky, but I'll try.)

I have lots of other goals for the year, but those ones I thought would be fun to post.

It's gonna be a great day, a great week, a great month, and a great year.

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 1, 2010

January Writing Goals

I signed up for a January Writing Challenge, sponsored by Tristi Pinkston. She is a published author of several books, and I'm excited to take this challenge. It is a set-your-own-goal challenge, but gives you a sense of accountability, knowing you're going to be reporting your progress.

It is a month long challenge, and my goal is to complete my first draft, about 10,000 more words, and then majorly revise my first chapter. I'm planning to enter it in a First Chapter Contest in March, and it needs lots of love.

I want to write at least 1,000 words a day, until it's done. That should put me finished by January 10th. Today, being the first day, I wrote 1,077. I'm off to a good start, but look forward to an even better finish.

First chapter, prepare yourself. You will soon be undergoing a major operation. I'm going to have to cut you into pieces, re-arrange, and add new pieces, and then do my best to put you together again. I only hope you come out of this surgery looking better than when you went in.

A Failure or Success?

My original goal, for finishing the first draft of my book, was my birthday in February. In early December, I got the idea that it would be great to finish by the end of the year instead.

On December 12th, 2009, I reached my 50,000-word milestone. Estimating that my first draft would come in around 70,000 words, I had 20,000 words to go. I counted the days on the calendar, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were 20 days left. That meant if I wrote 1,000 words a day, I could finish by December 31st.

I kept up with my schedule pretty well. I’d fall behind a couple hundred words one day, but make it up the next. In the end, did I pull it off? Yes. And no.

I did complete my 20,000 words in 20 days, placing my manuscript at 70,000 words. But it’s not finished yet. Upon further review, I now estimate another 10,000 words to finish it off.

My goal was to reach 70,000 words by New Years, THEREBY completing my first draft. I accomplished one of the two. Fifty percent. Did I fail at my goal, or succeed?

I’m chalking this one up to a huge success. I could have rushed through the final chapters, in order to finish the draft, but I didn’t. I took my time, trying my best to do it right.

I wrote a total of 29,450 words in the month of December. That’s 16,000 words more than any other month. There is no way I’m going to say that I failed.

I have so many revisions to do, once I do get it finished, that my head starts to spin just thinking about it. But it’s a first draft. My very first, first draft.

I’m just excited to be allowed to hang out on the writing field, with so many accomplished authors. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again; the support system for aspiring authors in Utah is amazing!

I’m so excited for 2010. I have so much to learn, so much to grow, and so much to write. It’s going to be wonderful.