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2014 Reading Challenge



This year, I'm again pledging to read at least 52 fiction books, though shooting for 60.

I did exceed my 52 book goal from last year.

2014 Goals

  • lose weight--get down to 120ish pounds (that's 16 lbs.)
  • pay off the credit card with proofing money
  • create bulb bed/plant bulbs on the side of the house
  • work on back yard
  • bookshelves in living room
  • ramp up proofreading
  • publish three more Romance Writer's Guides books
  • get my son graduated
  • read up on how to make the body work like it's supposed to and help my hubby lose weight and get healthy
  • read 64 books, including 12 books on plotting

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Friday, August 22, 2014

The Lie of Leinster Gardens


Watching TV can teach you things and take you places.

As I mentioned several posts ago, I finally discovered the BBC's Sherlock--a contemporary remake of Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective.

One of the location shoots took place at 23 & 24 Leinster Gardens, Bayswater, London and was referred to as the Lie of Leinster Gardens. I Google-searched this to see if was true and sure enough! (Click the address for a bit more detail.)

 (image from Wikipedia)

So basically it's a facade bridging two sections of five-story terraced housing, but there's no actual home behind the two addresses. The underground train system used random open spaces to keep the tunnels free from smoke and for the old steam engines to vent their steam...

Click here to see more images of the back side of the "house." There's also more info via this link.

I wonder if there are any such anomalys here in the States.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An excerpt...


Forgot about today's post, so an excerpt from an attempt at a historical romance with the iffy title of Love in Uniform...not very telling I know. Here's the blurb:

In 1942, after a whirlwind romance and plans to elope, Caroline Kerr discovers that her fiancé, Navy fighter pilot Lucas Ellingsworth, is also a secret government operative and is in town to make contact with her mother regarding u-boat incursions on the Eastern seaboard.

Soul-searching and a heart-wrenching tragedy convince Caroline that love is worth fighting for and forgiving for.


And here's an excerpt...

~

Caroline glanced at the watch pinned to her jacket. She was late. Please, Lord, let him be waiting for her. Don’t let him have left. She almost cried in relief when the bus finally rumbled to a stop. She climbed aboard and checked the time again. It was twenty minutes past the time they were supposed to meet. Fear clogged her throat, making it difficult to breathe. Ten minutes later, she hurried from the half-empty conveyance. It pulled away with a belch of black, foul-smelling smoke.

Caroline looked up and down the street, checked the other side. Nothing. No Lucas, no waiting car. Distress strangled her lungs. Anguish clouded her vision. She pressed a fist to her swirling stomach.

No, Lord, please no. What had she done?

She stumbled to a nearby bench and collapsed onto it. He was gone. He’d  left without her. How long had he waited? Had even shown up?

Perhaps it had all been a cruel joke, even though he hadn’t taken her to bed. What had she been thinking? She hadn’t even packed any clothes for the journey. She just walked out of her home to run away and get married. To elope! She was such a fool. A silly, silly little girl. Led on by a man more interested in his mission than in her.

A horn tooted twice and she jumped. Whirling around, a sleek blue sedan pull over to the curb beside her. He’s here. Oh, he’s here. A sob stuck in her throat, but the tears spilled over. The frigid air froze the moist path down her face.

Lucas hopped out of the car and came around to her. “What’s the matter, doll face?”

She clutched the lapels of his overcoat, his arms instantly circling around her. “I thought you weren’t coming. That you’d changed your mind. That it was all a cruel joke,” she said, weeping, burying her face in her hands on his chest.

“Caroline. I’m sorry. The car wouldn’t start. Come on.” He clasped her upper arm and led her to the car, opening the door and helping her into it.

She swiped her gloves across her cheeks as Lucas hurried around the vehicle. He eased into the car and slid across the bench seat and took her in his arms again. He pressed a kiss to her nose then to her mouth. Her lips softened and parted under the assault of his mouth. Her stomach somersaulted. And then he stopped. She felt bereft.

In one fluid motion, he stretched over the seat back and presented her with a half-dozen white roses tied with a pale blue satin ribbon. “The flower man was late, too.”

“Oh, Lucas, they’re beautiful.” She stuck her nose into the velvety blooms and sniffed, her heart full. “I doubted you--forgive me.”

“Done. Are you ready to do this?”

“Yes.”

~

Hope you enjoyed it!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Feeling Inspired


This past Saturday was my writers group meeting and I always look forward to gathering with my chapter mates during the meeting and then with my critique group afterward. The meeting after the meeting. Technically we're not a critique group anymore since we no longer critique for each other. But we still meet and catch up and support each other and brainstorm and just hang out. We've decided we're now a sisterhood and a support group. And it's good to have that. I leave feeling buoyed up for the upcoming month.

But back to the inspiration...

Two weeks ago, I mentioned my return to writing and my intention to submit to an online e-publisher rather than self publish as I feel that the editing experience would be good for my writing. So I'd chosen a publisher to target despite reading several books whose editors either failed to do their job or weren't very good in the grammar and punctuation departments. Since I'm strong in those areas, I decided to move forward anyway.

Also for the last week or so, there's been discussion on our chapter forum regarding a certain path to publishing success, and a friend of mine gave up her day job within sixty to ninety days of publishing her first four books. Of course, it took her nine months of preparation to get to the point of publication.

It begs the question, can I do that too??

I can try and I have nothing to lose right?? Well, except the costs of editing and cover art...but I can use proofing money to pay for that.

Between the plan now being called Liliana Nirvana in some corners and some other info from one of my writing sisters, I have a good chance.

Since I have sooo many books this {} close to being finished, it's not necessarily going to take me nine months to dive into the self-publishing pool. My biggest problem seems to be knowing what I want on the covers. Ugh... I'll need help from one of my other publishing sisters who does all her own covers.

The original (Liliana path to success) plan is to publish four books all at once and then have one ready to go sixty days later and ostensibly sixty days after that and sixty days after that and so on.

I'm going to alter the plan slightly as I have a set of three inter-related books and then another set of two related books. Of the five books, four are part of that almost/pretty much finished stage, leaving only one book to be written, edited, and cover are created to get the ball rolling.

And after talking to another of my writing sisters, I'm considering submitting my novelette to her e-publisher. She has nothing but great things to say about her experience and her editors. And they also accept short works although their minimum work count is higher than the other e-publisher.

So lots of decisions to be made, like my target publishing date. Due dates for various books to be finished and edited. Cover art designs to be considered.

The most important decision is making the decision to take time to write. There are a lot of distractions at home, so I'm going to try writing in the library. My branch is open late two days a week, so after work Monday and Thursday, I'm grabbing my laptop, iPod, and headphones and heading to the library. I also have time to write on Tuesdays while Sonshine supposedly has PT for an hour or so. No point in driving home, so I take my laptop and work. I've actually done that the last couple of weeks...and it's been good.

So I have some work to do--reviewing each piece of work, finishing what needs to be finished, sending off to beta readers, contracting or creating cover art, and setting deadlines...

Any words of advice?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Revisiting my 2014 goals...


So I was cleaning up and re-arranging the blog the other day and perused my list of goals. You know, we're seven and a half months into the year and only one item is 100% accomplished--getting Sonshine graduated. I could throw a second one in that category (working on the back yard), but since that's an ongoing project, I won't just yet.

As for the rest, let's see...

1) lose more weight, a goal of 120 lbs. -- I've made no progress what-so-ever. In fact, I gained a few pounds while in San Antonio, so I've got lose those first, then work on the rest. But I determined to get back on track this week and have hit the treadmill every morning as well performing my short bouts of calisthenics throughout the day.

2) pay off the credit card with proofing money -- well, proofing slowed way down, so I haven't been able to pay any extra on it. The plan had been to have it paid off by now, but...it's not.

3) created a bulb bed/plant flower bulbs on the side of my garage -- I worked on that a bit. I started by cleaning up all the brush that had accumulated from downed tree limbs. Then I pulled up most of the bushes that were there, but then things happened and I didn't get back to it. The chopped off tree is growing branches and leafing... grass is creeping (nicely) into the space... But there's more brush from more downed limbs and it needs a mowing. Not sure when I'm gonna get this thing put to bed... (pun intended)

4) work on the back yard -- see Wednesday's post


5) book shelves in the living room -- probably not happening this year

6) ramp up proof reading -- well, I just didn't. I could give you a number of reasons and they'd be all be valid, but at the end of the day, still excuses.

7) publish three more Romance Writers Guides -- um, nope. Couldn't come up with a topic that'd take me longer than 500 words to cover, so the project went on hold.

8) get Sonshine graduated -- done and dusted. Plus a bonus induction into the Navy. :)




9) read up on health and well being -- I've done a little. Remember the whole calcium thing? But not nearly as much as I'd planned. Maybe next year.

10) read 64 books, including 12 on plotting -- slightly behind, but have read three of twelve plotting books. None of them were really that helpful. No light bulb moments at any rate. So nine more plotting books and twenty-three other books. I do count anything I proof read. I mean, I'm reading it, right?? Does all my fan fiction count?? I read a ton of that...probably five epic (100K+ words) novels worth over the last seven months. Of course, Goodreads doesn't have a way for me to key that in...bummer.

What about you?? How are you doing on your goals for the year?


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The circle of life...


Okay, okay, so this post isn't going to be as deep as the title suggests, but there is an analogy...

If you've read this here blog for any length of time, you'll know I talk a lot about my yard. It's been a while, so I thought I'd mention it. But in the interest of not boring you, I thought I'd make some sort of point. Yeah, you're bored already, aren't you?

I used to have a really nice back yard. There was a lot of real grass and it covered most of the area referred to as the lawn. But through too much neglect, it is now more weeds than grass. I'd really like to have grass again. So I've been working, albeit slowly, to fix it. You'd probably shake your head if you came and inspected it up close a personal, but surprisingly, while it's not actually looking well, I think the process is coming along nicely.


Spring 2013 I decided to work on just the dandelions. We had a lot of them. So each morning and evening and during the days on the weekends, I would pick the heads off. No, I didn't actually remove the plant itself. As you can imagine, that was tedious process. For the rest of spring, summer, and fall, I just kept up with the mowing and weed whacking.

So spring 2014, back to the dandelions. And while I hadn't removed any plants, re-infestation was kept to a minimum. Despite preferring to stay green, I thought that a bit of chemical help was in order, so in mid-May, I weed-and-feeded the yard. Got those dandelions where they lived! Of course it took some time for them to wither up and die, but wither-up-and-die they did. In the mean time, it was onto the next issue. Sticker burrs.

I hunted them, pulling the whole plant, roots and all, when I could, pulling off just the seed pods when I couldn't. Two months later and the number of sticker plants dwindled. Time for the next round of weed-and-feed and time to find a new enemy.

Now I'm pulling up these small plants--I don't even know what the are. They have a central root system and then grow a bunch of arm-like tendrils. It turns out there are several varieties of these. So I've criss-crossed my yard over and over, puling these out even when they look dead (just in case they're only hibernating), still finding pockets of sticker burrs here and there as I go. I see the progress even if the project as a whole looks like a war zone.


Of course, the yard was mowed this weekend, so not much weed-picking going on until they start to grow out a bit.

 It doesn't look too shabby from a distance or at an angle!
Also, see there in the bottom right corner--I caught the huge butterfly flying past.

The point I started out wanting to make is just how amazing and interesting the cycle of growing things is. As the dandelions died off, a different weed took the spotlight. As summer progressed and things died off due to heat and lack of water (I only water my trees), more new things are coming into view. It's really been quite interesting and I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the cycle back into spring.

As the title of this blog says...a time for everything!

About Me

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Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
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Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America

Books Read in 2014

  • A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Two epic novels worth of Sherlock fan fiction (and counting) by various authors
  • Up All Night by Renee Ashley Williams
  • Oral Invitation by B.J. Hayes
  • Lights Out by Ann Campbell
  • Explicitly English by Rachel Leigh
  • M-theory: Mycroft, Moriarty, and Magnussen’s shared motifs, James Bond’s “M,” Mary and Janine, and the big gay long game by the loudest subtext in television (that's a screen name, if you hadn't guessed)
  • Noble Beginnings by L.T. Ryan
  • Christmas Justice by Robin Perini
  • Just A Fling by Olivia Noble
  • Running by Patrice Fitzgerald
  • Buster's Law by Laraine Lebron
  • Harry PotterPage to Screen by Bob McCabe
  • Professional Plot Outline mini-Course by Holly Lisle
  • The Plot Skeleton by Angela Hunt
  • Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley
  • Basher Five Two by Scott O'Grady
  • Mai Tai Marriage by Chris Keniston
  • Still Delicate by padfoot4ever (Harry Potter fanfiction)
  • Deliate by padfoot4ever (Harry Potter fanfiction)
  • Montana Sky by Nora Roberts (audio book)
  • Mad About Plaid by Kam McKellar
  • The Roles We Play by JoAnna Grace
  • Drowning by Racel Firacek
  • Whip Me Up, Tie Me Down by Lavender Daye
  • Game of Fear by Robin Perini
  • Lost in Temptation by Lauren Royal
  • What Wendy Wants by Nikki Sex
  • Improper Proposals by Juliana Ross
  • Kira's Keeper by Jan Schliesman
  • Improper Arrangements by Juliana Ross
  • Improper Relations by Juliana Ross
  • How to Kick Your Fat in the Nuts by T.C. Hale
  • Stop!!! Manifesting Money by D/C Russ
  • A Lady in Defiance by Heather Blanton
  • Secret Obsession by Robin Perini
  • Rebooting Your Life: A 12-Day Program for Ending Stress, Realizing Your Goals, and Being More Productive by Gibbons
  • 30 Daily Weight Loss Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle by Joshua Wylie
  • Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer
  • Coconut Oil Recipes: Nature's Remedy for Health, Beauty, Weight Loss, Allergies & Detoxing by Scarlett Aphra