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  • write to my grandmother every six weeks or so
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  • re-institute the cleaning plan
  • publish six books by September 2017
  • reach 120 to 125 pounds
  • walk the dog three times a week

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Friday, December 21, 2007

The Christmas Story

Matthew 2:18-25 ~

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

"She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

Luke 2: 1-20 ~

Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas

Well, five days and counting... There are no more official activities on the calendar, although my husband wants to drive to Plano to check out the house whose lights flash to music. Tonight is church; last night for two whole weeks.

Just remember, you can't have Christmas without Christ. And although many people say He is the reason for the season, I heard one preacher say that sinners (that's me {and you, too, BTW}) are really the reason for the season. If it weren't for us sinners, God would never have had to send his Son... Interesting concept, huh?

Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Thursday, December 13, 2007

To be busy...

Well, now that we're on the downhill slide to Christmas, it seems as if everyday is has something scheduled. And whose bright idea was it to get pregnant in March?? Not this year, of course, but back in 1995. So now we have a birthday to celebrate a week before Christmas every year.

Parties, school programs, and shopping, but no slow season. Usually around this time of year, our business experiences a significant slow down... but not this year. I'd been hoping for slow days at work to catch my breath, maybe get some writing done, but no...

I hate being so busy that I don't have any down time. I'm very much an introvert and need time to recharge my batteries so that I can keep on keepin' on one day at a time.

Well, stop and take a breath. Me? I'm actually going to go spend some time recharging with God's Word...

God bless...
Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cover Art


Well, it's official - we have cover art. I am one of eleven authors whose short story will be included in an anthology to be published March 2008. It's getting really exciting now, and I'm so glad I decided to take part. I almost didn't. The editor assigned to my story was very encouraging about my writing skills - and just in time; I was thinking of giving up. But I'm glad I decided against it. I've also hooked up with a couple of chapter mates to form a critique group. We have similar personalities, and we write in similar genres. Well, at least ones we all enjoy reading.

And I was voted in for another year as president of my local RWA chapter. That's a mixed blessing to be sure, but 2008 just can't be any worse than 2007.

I hope you like the cover, and if you're interested in reading the book, stay tuned. I'll be posting more info as we draw near to the publication date.
Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Cheer

I'm feeling a little over-burdened today. Work has been crazy as we've been implementing new features on a major client's Web site. Of course, getting calls as people try to navigate through the new system. For some learned people with major degrees, they can be quite dumb.

Needless to say, I'm not feeling the Christmas cheer right now. I've got a huge tingly knot in my left shoulder - a tell tale sign of major stress...

A useless path to go down, but I sure do wish I didn't have to work. Maybe someday that'll be true, and it'll coincide with no longer having children in the house. And then I can focus and concentrate on whatever I want. Whether that be reading or writing and or anything else.

I remember the days when my son was a toddler. The quiet afternoons when his sisters were in school and he napped - okay, actually he watched a movie (Disney's Winnie the Pooh) and I napped. When my husband worked outside the home. And I had very little responsibility save the kids and the house.

Ah, well... maybe someday I'll have the house to myself again during the day. But not anytime in the very near future. Not unless I start selling a lot of books. One can dream... er, write. Yeah, in all my spare time.


Friday, November 30, 2007

Taking a break and other things...

Well, I officially gave notice to step down as Cubbie Director/teacher at my church. I've been considering it for awhile, and I finally just had to do it. I'm looking forward to pastor's Wednesday night sermons, which I've heard are better than Sunday morning's.

On the other hand, I'm feeling a little down. I read other's blogs and I think, "gee, that's a great topic" or "wow, what interesting thought"... In comparison, my blogs seem odd, to say the least, if not random... Oh, well, I also did just read something about not comparing yourself to others.

Well, still got some work to do - have a good weekend.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Time for Dancing...

with Helio Castroneves, that is. After two nail-biting hours of dancing by the eliminated couples, Helio and his dancing partner, Julianne Hough, took the grand prize tonight, beating out Spice Girl, Mel B, for the top spot. Helio, a back-to-back Indy 500 winner wanted the same honor for Julianne. And he pulled it off.

They danced the same dance, the Quick Step, as the one I have video of below, if you want to check it out. The kiss at the end lasted a little longer. Methinks Helio has a wee bit of a crush on the very lovely Julianne. And I thought they had a really sweet chemistry, and the romantic in me hopes to hear that seeds of romance blossomed on the dance floor...

Writing

I think I'm a writing schizo. I had grand plans to work on 30K short story to submit to The Wild Rose Press. They've got a call out for them for an anthology/series. Of course, I still have my two full-length books to finish. And then what do I do...? Read the beginning of a teen romance I started awhile back, and got a wild hair to flesh it out to about 24 to 30 pages. The Wild Rose Press has five young adult stories, two full-length books, and three short stories. One at nine pages, one at fifteen pages, and the last at twenty-four pages. That's what led to the idea I could get mine done. Just coming off a short story slated for publication by The Wild Rose Press, I can obviously do it. I've written plenty of fan fiction around that length. I'd love to publish something on my own, though. Not associated with a contest or part of an anthology. Something *I* wrote and that was accepted for publication on it's own merit because it was good enough. Time to get crackin', er... writing.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Black Friday

Well, we did it. My husband and I got up early and braved Black Friday. We didn't get up as early as we'd originally planned - my husband stayed up till almost 3 a.m. playing games with our nephew and son. But we hit Sears at about 6:30 a.m. Oh my gosh... I was truly surprised by the number of people who were actually at the mall. The parking lot was FULL... We found a couple of good deals and went in search of a checkout line that wasn't miles long.

Next we hit Best Buy. Now they had their poop in a group. They'd marked the floor with red duct tape to indicate the path of the checkout line, which according to the girl wearing balloons to mark the end of the line, had pretty much snaked it's way around the whole store earlier that morning. They had every regular register open, plus had added an additional four registers on trestle tables. We were through the line and out the door in less than five minutes. Nice.

After that, Target. By this time, I think the breakfast lull had hit. Those who'd been out since 4 a.m. were taking a break. Target was no worse than any regular mid-day, mid-week visit. We picked out new ornaments and a few gifts and were on our way to find a new tree. We'd thrown away our previous, six-year-old, falling-apart tree.

We visited Lowe's, WalMart, and The Home Depot, comparing trees and prices. We ended up back at WalMart where we made a few additional gift purchases and bought the tree.

Then it was home. Two out of our three kids were up. My oldest and my nephew were still asleep, but rolled out when the Christmas music came on, and we enjoyed each other's company as we ornimated the tree. After that, my husband, my nephew, and two youngest kiddos got ready for LAN gaming, but decided they needed a new game. They braved WalMart again, but in the end, the new game wouldn't play on our various PCs for various reasons, so they fell back on the old standby, Dungeon Siege.

Meanwhile, I took the oldest child to work, and hit Target again for a couple of Christmas candles and a new Christmas place mat for my coffee table. After a hot bath to ease the aching in my knees and legs, it was time to wrap some presents to put under our sparkling new Christmas tree. A little JAG on the TV and I was set. By 9 p.m. I was falling asleep in front of the TV and hit the sack.

Now it's 2 a.m. and I'm wide awake. This long weekend has been relaxing. For me, the holidays are usually filled with stress over money: how are we gonna pay for Christmas this year? We're gonna have to charge it. This year, God blessed us with some money, and so far I'm stress-free. We're not adding to the debt we're trying to get out from under. Woo hoo. Okay, so that's it for my tale of Black Friday. I'm relaxing for the rest of the weekend. And will probably put up my four-foot Christmas tree in our office.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, too.
Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankfulness

What are you thankful for?

In the words of Linus, from "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving", America is the only nation that has set aside a day for giving thanks. And while most Americans celebrate with overeating, football, and family, are they truly thankful for what they have?

According to Andy Stanley, for Christians, giving thanks should be a daily standard. In all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: "in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus".

So on this Thanksgiving in 2007,
I am most thankful for Jesus, for His sacrifice on the cross that I might live with Him for eternity.

If you want more info an how you, too, can live forever with Jesus, contact me and we can talk.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Christmas Shopping

So... who's going to brave the crowds on Black Friday to get some good deals? We're considering it. Check out www.blackfriday.info for the ads. If we can save enough money to make it worth our while, we'll probably go... Argh. That means getting up in the wee smalls. And braving the coldest cold front to hit North Texas.

The good thing is that we can pay cash this year. No increasing our credit card debt to get through Christmas this year. Yeah, what a blessing.

Of course, I don't know what I want. Got the kids covered, got my husband covered, but what is it that I want? Things I'm unlikely to get, really and truly. For my husband and oldest child to attend church, for our family to be un-dysfunctional, to be out of debt, for every member of my family to accept Christ and have a true walk with Him. Well, money can't buy those things, but hopefully prayer will pave the way.

As a side note, Helio Castroneves made the finals of Dancing With the Stars (see blog below for more info).

Here's wishing a blessing filled Thanksgiving to you and yours...
Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's 4: 16 - In the morning...

Why am I up at 4:16 in the morning, CST? Arthritis in my knees.

Someone called my cell phone at 3AM and I woke up. And then couldn't get back to sleep for the aching in my knees. I lay there for about forty minutes hoping to drift back off, but to no avail, and decided my time would be better spent checking email and hoping the change in position would ease the aching. It hasn't. Oh, well. Life moves on.

Spent the day with my husband and two out of three kids. We saw Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Very cute movie. The ending was a little flat and a lot cheesy, but I spent the better part of the last half of the film dripping tears. Any movie that wrests that kind of emotion must be pretty good.

And after reading a few emails and visiting a few writer's blogs, I wonder if I can actually write military heroes as proudly announced on my web site. I love the military. I love the men and women who wear the uniforms. I want to honor them by writing about them. Can I do it? Don't know yet. The problem is, the one thing I know have slated to be published is a western historical - my hero's a cowboy. And then what's the next thing I decide to write? A contemporary romance based around heroes who work in rodeos. Well, in order to get back to my military hero theme, I'm going to make my hero a reservist of some sort. Whether he gets called up has yet to be determined, but at least that military aspect is now present.

I'm a web publisher/designer, too. I enjoy learning the craft & skills it takes to create a web site. I enjoy the design aspect of it much less than the challenge of making things work the way the end user wants them. I designed my web site myself, and have several others under my belt, including:
- TCCDLA ~ the client chose this design from a template, I just recreated it without the template, and then my husband did all the back end programming
- Gina Lee Nelson ~ an author friend of mine, she designed it, I implemented it
- The JAG Archive ~ based on the TV show JAG, this web site is a fan (me) created site, I used it to hone my web site creating skills; there's actually link to the first incarnation of the site, and you can see I've come a long way
If you're interested in an inexpensive, straight-forward site, please visit Pro Pages for more info. It's not that more complex sites can't be done, it's just a cost factor, not a skill factor.

Well, know that it's ten till five, I guess I'd better try to get back to bed for a few more hours of shut-eye before church....
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dancing with Indy race car driver Helio Castroneves

I found a new interest. Dancing with the Stars. It wasn't really my fault, see. I don't turn on the TV, my children do. And my middle child had Dancing With the Stars on, but then she bailed on me. And me, feeling kind of blah and bored, decided to just to stay in couch potato form and watch the rest of the show.

And really, it's not the show itself - it's Helio Castroneves. As mentioned in the title he's an Indy racer and back-to-back Indy 500 winner. I watched him dance with Julianne Hough and they made magic. Wow. So, then I had to go on YouTube and catch up on all their dances. Again, wow.

They have a special chemistry and it's lovely to watch. It hooked me. For a romance reader and writer, it's all about the chemistry...

Check out their Quick Step:
Sunday, November 11, 2007

Writing Retreat

Spent Saturday afternoon & evening, and Sunday morning at a writers retreat, put on by my local chapter of RWA, NTRWA. So far, rave reviews. It was a fun time to get to know fellow writers that one doesn't always have time to visit with on meetings days, especially me while serving as president.

I got some advice from a multi-published author Shelley Bradley, and that's always a good thing. So I have some new enthusiasm for pursuing this dream called publication.
Monday, November 5, 2007

Potpourri...

Not the dried flowers, leaves, and herbs that add fragrance to one's room... No, just a jumble of things as I haven't written here in awhile.

First off, I made the cut. My short story will be included in the North Texas RWA Silver Nuggets Anthology. NTRWA is a writing group, a local chapter of Romance Writers of America. To help celebrate NT's 25th anniversary, we had a little contest with the top ten entries being published in an anthology. Then The Wild Rose Press came aboard and did the judging and will be publishing this thing. Very cool. Yes, my first publishing credit. I'm excited about it. Right now, I'm working with an editor to spit polish my entry. It should be available for release in March of 2008.

Next week, I'll be attending my first writers retreat. Each year my writers group, the aforementioned NTRWA, holds a conference we call Writers Roundup. This year it's really a retreat more than a conference. But I'm looking forward to it. I've got a story I need help on, so that's what I'll be working on, with the help of my fellow writers.

Reading wise, I just finished the thriller, Blowback, by Brad Thor. Very good book, if you like this genre. Read it in a day. Comparable to Vince Flynn.

Read Basher Five-Two, The True Story of F-16 Fighter Pilot Captain Scott O'Grady. I'd read this back in the late nineties when it first came out, but I read it again for research for a story I'm working on. Also for research I read Black Aces High, The Story of a Modern Fighter Squadron at War. Very interesting and insightful - despite the swaggering persona depicted on TV and in movies, fighter pilots experience real fear when going into battle.

And God is awesome. I've been really searching for guidance on a particular issue and God has provided the answer and in spades. It seems every time I open my Bible, the passages I read speaks in one way or another to this issue - or to me in handling it. Even in listening to sermons online, again, my issue was addressed. So I know when the time comes for me to address the issue, someone's not going to be happy. But I'm here to bring glory to God's name and please Him... so that's what I'm going to do.

Speaking of sermons online, Andy Stanley is wonderful. He has an engaging style and speaks about issues of everyday life, not just interpreting various parts of the Bible. Visit the North Point Community Church web site and check out the collection of sermons.
Monday, October 22, 2007

Words...

As a reader, writer, wife, mother, listener to music, & child of God I know that words, whether spoken, written, or sung, are one of the most powerful things in the world.

They can uplift or tear down and destroy. They can create emotion from comedy and hope to sadness, anger, or despair.

As a reader, I love words that elicit happiness and provide laughter. As a writer, I want to be able to conjure up deeply felt emotions in others.

As individuals, we need to ensure that the words we speak (or write in letters and emails) are used appropriately, and convey the message we mean to convey. Especially in anger should we carefully choose the words we use so that, later when the dust settles, we do not regret the words we chose when our emotions were running on high.

As a woman of faith, the words I choose should be pleasing to God; whether chosen to encourage, inform, discipline, or correct, they should always be spoken with love. This is almost always easier said than done. I'm only human and I don't always remember to speak with love. Especially when my children have irritated my last nerve.

There is one Word that trumps all others... Jesus and the Bible. That's four words, you might think, but John 1:1 says:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So they could be considered one and the same. The Bible is the inspired WORD of God, and is all about Jesus, beginning to end. It's all about Jesus, the name above all names.
Friday, October 19, 2007

What you need to know about Christianity...

It's not a religion - or at least it shouldn't be. It's about a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Don't let people turn you off from Christianity. People are human. They make mistakes. They sin.

What you need to know: John 3:16...

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that who-so-ever believes in Him shall have everlasting life.

What's it all mean?

God loved
God gave
You believe
You receive

There's no sinner's prayer... There's just you saying: "God, I believe in You. I believe that Jesus came to earth, died on a cross, and rose from the grave three days later. I believe that He died so that I can live."

That's it. If you truly believe in that - if you can truly accept Jesus the Christ as YOUR Lord and Savior. You will go to heaven.

If you want more information or to discuss this I'd love to hear from you!


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Movie: Sydney White

My family went and saw the teen movie "Sydney White" last night. It's a spoof of Snow White, but I thought rather cute. I laughed a lot, which is always good. Some of the 'dwarfs' were a little too goofy for today's reality, but it's a fairy tale after all. For what it's worth, I'd recommend it. There's some bad language, but the kissing scenes are fairly innocent. Some implied nudity, but nothing you wouldn't see at the beach. And good overcomes the evil. Always a worthwhile theme.
Monday, October 8, 2007

On art and reading...

My daughter and I visited the Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth this past Sunday to check out the Ron Mueck exhibit. It was very interesting. I'd gotten an email from my mom with pictures from his exhibit, so we went to check it out. Here is my favorite sculpture - (**picture removed due to copyright issues**). This baby is about 20' long and perfectly lifelike - as are all the sculptures. They come in various sizes. Some teeny tiny, some huge like the baby.

I finished two books this weekend. The first one was Here With Me by Beverly Long, the sequel to Stay With Me, which I have not read. A good story. I'd give it 4 out of 5... It kept me turning pages. My only issue with it was that the love scene was a let down. She had these wonderful lead-in scenes, where the hero and heroine would get so close to making love, but be interrupted. For good reason, mind you; that's not my problem. But when the time came and they actually did make love, the reader does not get to be a part of it. The bedroom door was closed and I felt slightly cheated.

The other book I read was The Things We Do for Love: A Novel by Kristin Hannah. Wonderful, wonderful book. I laughed, I cried, I couldn't put it down. Even took it to church so I could read while waiting for my kids to show up. It's not a romance, per se, although there is a romantic happy ending. I highly recommend this one. And I just might have to go in search of some of her other titles at my local libraries.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Earplugs, anyone?

My son brought home his trumpet from school last week. He wants so much to be like his cousin, Evan, so he wanted to join band and play the trumpet. Of course, I haven't heard him blow much, aside from those first few days. Playing an instrument is hard work, but well worth the effort.

I took band in junior high, too. Learned how to play a few songs on the clarinet and that was it. Never learned to read music, just memorized the fingerings for the songs. I know, pretty sad. I told my son to learn to read the music.

Of course, now he's working on a 'book' and wants to write a computer game (he thought he could just create a website and have a game - I had to explain to the dear child he needed massive programming skills to write something such as Runescape).

Well, better get the boy to school so he can learn to read the music and play that trumpet...
Thursday, September 27, 2007

A time for nothing...?

I've been contemplating giving up all my extra-curricular activities to concentrate on my family. I'm almost completely free of PTA stuff. I am an AWANA Cubbies leader and, while I get a lot of satisfaction out of working with the kids, the frustration that comes with our particular situation (lack of enough volunteers) is wearing on me. After that is my formal writing activities - being president of my local RWA chapter. I don't even know if my calling really is writing. I'm struggling to put a coherent plot line together with appropriate goals, motivations, and conflicts. But I don't know if that's because I got so much else on my brain.

I'm ready to just focus on my family - my daughter is prepping for college, and there's a lot of things to do there; my son is in middle school and I want to keep him protected as long and as reasonably as possibly. This'll require my attention. My brother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and my dad with emphysema. My sister's marriage is struggling. As you can see there are a lot of situations requiring a lot of attention and prayer.

I think too many people are too busy with too many things and I'm tired of being one of them. I'm ready to get back to basics: husband, children, and home.
Friday, September 21, 2007

The End...

No, it's not what you're thinking. I haven't reached the end of my latest work-in-progress; although I wish it were so. (And, in fact, I've been seriously rethinking my writing.)

Actually, the end I'm talking about is the end of the world as we know it. I'm a Christian. Okay, big whoop. Lots of people *claim* to be Christians. Yeah, I know. Okay, I consider myself a person of faith. I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. A personal one. One that I work on daily. Doesn't mean I'm perfect. No. Far from it. In fact, many of my writing acquaintances might say they never knew. And for that, I'm sorry.

Back to the end. I truly believe we are living in the end times. That the second coming of Christ is imminent. I am ready to go. Are you?

Need more info? Google search David Reagan and End Times. He's one of the biggest proponents of the End Times. His web site has lots of Biblical based reasons for his beliefs. And they definitely strike a cord with me. Actually, he came and spoke at our church a while back. I don't think the church leadership was very happy with David's message, but it stuck with me all this time. For other views just Google search 'End Times' and see what else pops up.

Anyhow, consider where you'll be spending eternity. If you're not sure, contact me and we can talk. I know where I'm going, and I hope to see you there.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

College Night for Fort Worth ISD

Went down to the Amon Carter Exhibit Hall last evening for College Night. My younger daughter is a junior this year and wants to be a teacher. I thought junior year was a good time to get started on this process. Wrong. Just a word of advice: a) start pre-planning in middle school - getting the student involved in band/sports/groups/organizations, etc. b) start the college/scholarship research in the freshman year of HS. Yikes. I'm two years behind. Not too late, but I have a lot of work to do to catch up.

Sigh.

The best place to start is the guidance counselor or the college counselor at your child's school. This is one of his or her primary jobs. They will know of local and regional scholarships that you probably will not find on the Internet. If you want to your child to attend a community college for 'the basics' before sending them to the big school to finish the degree, make sure the credits will transfer to their school of choice - or at least find out which ones will transfer. Each college should have an equivalency guide that'll help you with this.

A few more *important* tips:

a) keep on top of deadlines
b) make sure the student really qualifies for the scholarships applying for
c) when essays are required, make sure the essay addresses the essay topic or answers the question
d) make sure the essays are proofed and spell-checked (have many people read them to make sure they are the best they can be)

Well that's all I have for now... Happy scholarship hunting to you.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Knee Deep in CSS...

I know. Most of you are saying, "Huh? What the heck is CSS?" Cascading Style Sheets that's what. It's a method of laying out & styling web sites without marking up the html. My husband had a huge web site project that he commandeered my help on. It was a good exercise on how to take a site or page using tables for layout and figuring out how to do it without tables. I learned a couple of new fun things to use for future sites.

Two of the web sites I've designed are:
The JAG Archive Okay, this is one of my geeky hobbies. I don't spend much time on it anymore, except to redesign it to practice & improve my CSS & html skills.
Jen FitzGerald.com This is my author's web site.

If you're interested in a web site of your own, visit www.propg.com for more information.
Monday, September 10, 2007

My thoughts on 'The Bastard King'

by Dan Chernenko.

This was my first foray into reading fantasy. It took me awhile to get into the book, both plot-wise and just reading wise. I'm really a fast reader and would have normally knocked out a book this size in half the time. So I don't know if it was because it was fantasy and I had a hard time getting into this alternate world or if the story just really dragged.

The story was about... gosh, I don't know...lots of stuff. In my writing world (that would be romance) there's a beginning, a middle, and an end - even when the book is part of a series. This book was really just a beginning. In my writing world there are two protagonists (hero & heroine), the villain, and maybe a few secondary characters.

This story has a succession of characters throughout the first third of the book... it started with an old king who finally had a son by one of his concubines. He married her to legitimize his son, however the gods only allow for six wives and this concubine made number seven. So to most of the kingdom, the child remained a bastard. The old king died while the child was young, and others ruled in his stead until he came of age.

This world has a lot of troubles and through a series of events, eventually a lowly ship's captain takes the throne. He doesn't exile or kill the bastard king, though. He offers to share the throne. Huh?

So we have the rightful king, who has very little power - lots of brains and very learned, but not a powerful man in the way people of his kingdom consider power - i.e. brute force. The usurper has the brute force, although he rules with an evenhandedness and penchant for thinking ahead before running into battles. He gets the kingdom under control and keeps the enemies at bay.

Now the Banished One is in exile to the south after falling from his position in the heavens as *the* preeminent god - and is considered the cause of all troubles wrought against this kingdom.

By the end of the book, it seems neither king, the two major characters of the book, have done much growing or changing, except they seem to grown to respect each other and what each has to offer to the kingdom. Also, the usurper forced the bastard to marry his daughter, so add some familial aspects to that relationship...

The next story is going to a quest for the Scepter of Mercy, supposedly a powerful thing which could offer the kings power against the Banished One.

Well, I wasn't really impressed with it. But maybe it was just this story. I don't know if I just couldn't really sink myself into this fantasy world or if it just really wasn't a good book. If you've read it, let me know your thoughts.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I'm listening, and I heard it...

Don't you just love when God talks to you - and you actually hear it and understand what He's saying to you? It's sort of an 'a ha' moment; you actually feel like 'hey, this is cool. God spoke and I heard. I must be doing something right.' Not that I got the answer I was hoping for.

I've been struggling with wanting to speak out and be heard, especially when I'm being insulted. But as Christians we're taught that we're either supposed to turn the other cheek or speak out in love. Well, I have a hard time with that, especially if I'm mad. I'm human. Of course, I want to lash out in anger.

But the bigger issue is I may be the only picture of Christ someone may see - and not necessarily the person I want to lash out at - so I have ask, how would Christ handle this situation? How does he want me to handle it? With kindness and love, mostly.

Of course, Christ got angry. Righteously so. I'm waiting for that day. (grin...)

I've also felt this calling to speak out, to rally other Christians to also speak out - to not be cowed by the those who revile Christ and all the he stands for, but how do you do that when the others don't want to play fair? The inclination is of course to reply in kind... oh, but that's not what Christians do. We turn the other cheek or we speak out in love. Well, look where it's gotten us; especially the turning the other cheek part.

I guess I need to keep waiting for further directions from God as to how to do that.

Okay, God, I'm listening.
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mi Vida Loca

I keep wondering if my life will ever be normal again. I have one of those personalities that likes order and schedules. There was a time when my life was that way, and I can clearly pinpoint the month and year that it all unraveled.

Unfortunately for me, everyone else in the family has no concept of being orderly and sticking to a routine. I have learned to take control and make order in any way/area I can. It's not always easy, though, when the one person whose schedule I can't control has a lot of influence over my own.

I'm hoping that someday when my children have grown and leave home, *then* I could get back to where I started. Only ten more years to go. (sigh...)
Monday, August 27, 2007

First Day of School

I sent my two youngest off to school today. The older of the two is a junior in high school - know the drill, knows the school. She's totally blase.

My youngest started middle school. Yikes. He wanted to ride the bus. Okay. Good. I hate the traffic jams around the middle school anyway. But he was nervous. He admitted it. He's a pretty cool kid in that regard - not afraid to cry or admit things.

I was nervous as a mom sending my baby into mostly an unknown for him. He went to transition camp a few weeks ago and rode the bus back and forth to that. He got a tour of the school so he's not totally without knowledge of his new surroundings. But that was only about sixty kids - all incoming sixth graders. This morning he had to face all the kids in all the grades.

And I wasn't there to support him. It's tough being a mom sometimes and knowing when to let your babies fly. I know he's fine. I haven't gotten a phone call from the school as of yet, so I'm certain he's where he should be.

But I'm looking forward to seeing him get off the bus, excited about his first day of middle school. He'll be full of chatter about his day and I'll sure be glad to have my baby bird back in the nest. At least until tomorrow morning.
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Happy Birthday, Grandma

My grandma in Denmark turned eighty today. I sent her flowers and she was amazed that I could send flowers from Texas to Denmark. I haven't seen my grandma in over a decade, and at this point, I probably won't see ever see her again. She's too old to travel and I can't afford a trip to Denmark.

This is really nothing more than a public service announcement - honor and cherish your parents and grandparents whether they live close to you or are far away. I don't do near enough for my grandmother, despite the distance. To be honest, I can't remember the last time I sent her a letter. She didn't even get a Christmas card last year - mainly because no one else did either, but I should have made a point of sending one to her with notes from and pictures of my kids - her only great-grandchildren.

Exodus 20: 12 says "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you."

I'd heard that this was the first commandment with a promise, but I couldn't verify it quickly for this post, but I did find this sermon online if you're interested in what it has to say about honoring mother and father. I also think this extends to our grandparents. At least it does for me.

And you can bet that I'm going to make that extra effort to send my eighty-year-old grandma letters and pictures more often. I hope you'll reach out, too.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It's all about the discipline...

In anticipating my next blog entry, I've been thinking about what to write. Last week, I had an epiphany: writers actually write. They don't just say they're writers and then play around with it, writing fan fiction instead. And after a workshop by some RWA chapter mates of mine and reading an article, I got that writers write. Everyday. Anything. Something. A journal, a blog, a short story, whatever. Just put the words on paper.
Okay, so I was going to write everyday. The new thing is blogs - so I thought I'd create a blog and post twice a week. And write everyday. But when?
It turns out that the easiest time for me to consistently write would be early mornings. That meant getting up earlier. Now after a summer of rolling out of bed at 7:30 and padding to my office by 8:00, (My husband and I own our business, and our office is in our converted garage.) it was tough to consider getting out of bed any earlier. It was working out for me, this relaxed schedule.
I did start getting up around 7:00 in order to spend time the Lord each morning. But now I wanted to write. How much time would I need to actually get anything accomplished? And how long would take me to wake up enough to see the letters on the keyboard - I am not a touch typist.
Five-forty five. That's what time I roll out these days to write. Fifteen minutes to let the dogs out, get something to drink, let the computer boot up, and hopefully I've woken up enough to be productive. I know some of you are probably snickering, and okay. But it's more about the fact of having to get up an hour and fifteen minutes earlier than about what time that actually happens, right?
But now I'm looking at the beginning of school. I have two school-age children who will be need to be prodded out of bed and gotten to school. So that means another adjustment to my alarm clock.
But I am a writer. And I write. At six o'clock in the morning. Argh...
And it's all about the discipline.
Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Time for Everything, Part II

In my house/office, there's a running joke that all the projects we keep coming up with, whether house or business related, will get done in our spare time. Of which, of course, we have none.

I recently read an article that said: to be a writer, one must write. I'll be honest and admit my writing habit is practically non-existent. There are so many other things that take up my time. Important things like my walk with God, my husband and our children, our business, our home, and my commitment to serve at church. Oh, and sleep. I do enjoy a good night's sleep.

And for awhile I entertained the notion that it just wasn't my 'time' to be a writer. Not that I was writing, but I'm an active member in my local RWA chapter, so I thought I would just contribute to others' success by serving my chapter and thereby freeing them up to write.

But after a couple of conversations this past week or so and some hard thinking, I decided it was time to be a writer. If I want it, then I need to make it a priority and work at it. I've also been suffering from a case of 'I-can't-do-this-itis'. I'd read a book and think, "Oh, I can do this. No problem." But as soon as I sit down with my current work-in-progress, I'd start thinking, "This is too hard. I don't have what it takes to do this."

But I just need to write. Yeah, my first few attempts probably aren't going to be publishable, but I can't learn from my mistakes if I'm not willing to make any. As the saying goes, you can't fix a blank page.

And though (gasp) I'm not looking to become rich or famous from writing, I do have a few stories I'd like to tell. And I *can* picture a book with my name on it on the shelf at Barnes & Noble.

Believe it or not, I watch no live television, so I've decided to give up some sleep. I probably get too much for a 39-year-old woman, anyhow.

It's time for me to be a writer.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Time for Everything

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
A Time for Everything
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--
A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

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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