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2017 Goals

  • write to my grandmother every six weeks or so
  • call my moms every month or so
  • cook/eat better
  • clean out and organize my writng/craft room
  • 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, August 29, 2014

No more Friday Night Lights...


Because of this...


There's no more of this...







Tonight's the first football game of the FWISD season and for the first time in four years, we're not there. I'm a little bit sad about that...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On the subject of learning things from TV...


Recently, I've been watching another BBC show called Land Girls.


The series tells the tale of women during World War II who were conscripted or willingly joined the Women's Land Army--an organization started up during WWI to place women on farms to do the work of the men who'd gone off to fight. It is estimated that in Great Britain, 260K women served during WWI and 80K during WWII. In addition to the Land Army in Britain, there was also the Women's Timber Corps to fill labor shortages in the Forestry Service as well.

Just FYI, the show itself is basically a period soap opera, not a documentary, if you found the topic of interest.

There were similar organizations in the United States, The Women's Land Army of America, as well as Australia.


Anyway, I love history, and thought I'd share the love.


Monday, August 25, 2014

The countdown begins...


So we got a definite date for Sonshine to ship out. October 8.

Until now, it's been a nebulous end-of-October time frame, subject to change depending on openings in the training programs.

Having an official date (though still subject to change, I'm sure) makes it all the more real.

You all know how proud I am of him and how excited I was for him to join the military, but having a date brings it all home. My son is going out into the world to make his own way. For good.

It's a good thing. I know it is.

But it makes me sad...


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!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ode to Rayna James..


After losing our two dogs within six month of each other, I was relieved to be pet free for a while. I'd lived with fur all over my house for well over twenty years and looked forward to clean corners and baseboards, as well as a poop-free yard.

And I enjoyed that for almost eight months. Then Rayna came into our lives at the beginning of this year. That story is here. I wasn't really in the market for another dog. After being sans cat for close to a decade I had a hankerin' for some feline companionship. But I also wanted to wait until I was working from home or the kids were gone. Or both. Or who knows. But Rayna needed a home.

Fast forward seven months and I'd like to say how grateful I am to have had her around. We all know the emotional benefits of having a pet, and I have to say I've benefited much from her presence in our family. I won't go into all the sordid details, but my life has been enriched.

So without further ado, some recent pictures of Puppy Face...

She loves to play and we step outside several times in the course of a day to throw her ball. Though not the one pictured. Her preferred ball is a football shaped tennis ball, at the moment.

 Here she is in the office with me. The kids probably aren't home otherwise she'd be next to one of them.

 Rayna's favorite place to be...Sonshine's bed, preferably with Sonshine.

And outside enjoying the sunshine. I'd do that more if I could...

Do you have or have had a beloved pet that you couldn't imagine your life without?



Friday, August 8, 2014

Learning my craft and being kicked in the gut...


Last week I mentioned a certain workshop I attended at my conference. One that hit home.

The title was G-M-C and Y-O-U. I struggle with my characters' GMC, or in layman's terms, their goals, motivations, and conflicts. Knowing and conveying those things to the reader are part of the craft of writing. A part I'm not so good at. So I was delighted to see it listed in the conference program.

However, when I settled in and Maggie Montgomery started talking, I realized quickly that it was more writer's life than craft, but she was charming and funny and what she said was still helpful information. Also, there were no other workshops going on at that same time that interested me and I'm just not that rude to get up and walk out.

The two most powerful concepts I took away from what Maggie had to say were these:

A) You have to face your fears and deal with emotions you might rather not in order to tell the most compelling story you can.

B)  You have to trust that there's someone out there who needs to hear your story. That you were given the story for a specific purpose.

It's A that really resonated with me. It's not something I didn't already know. I have known it. I know I have to dig deeper, tap my emotions, face some demons. But it's hard. And scary. And sometimes life is just not conducive to that kind of an emotional dissection.

Her saying it was a reminder that you, I mean *I*, can't avoid it forever.

So I write on, honing my other skills, learning to tap my emotions bit by bit, hoping that each successive story is a little more powerful, a little more true.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nerve wracking and humbling...


I really was going to post about that workshop I mentioned last week, but not today.

About a month ago, I got a wild hair and decided to turn my attention back to writing with the intent to publish. Because of finances, I decided against self-pubbing for now. Editing services and cover art cost money that I can't afford right now. Plus, while I can look objectively at others' work, I can't do the same for my own. And I know there are aspects of my writing that probably need some guidance, so I decided I would submit to an e-publisher. Blah, blah, blah, a little research (and I mean a little only because I've done it all before), and I chose The Wild Rose Press as my target publisher. They accept books with as few as 7500 words. Shorter is right up my alley. And there aren't many books of that length to choose from, so perhaps I can fill that need. I hope it's there to be filled...

I dug up one of my (too) many unfinished works in progress and got to work. My target date for completing the thing and having it critique-partner/beta-reader ready was August 15th. Despite the 4th of July and my road trip to San Antonio, I'm just about ready to send it out into the world...

But am I?

Sending it to my critique partners is no big deal. They've read my work. I know them. So okay.

Posting fan fiction is not this scary. I can do that. Have done that. I still get feedback all the time even from fic I wrote and posted years and years ago. Great boost to the ego.


I read tons of stuff, e-publisher pubbed or indie pubbed and often think "I write as well as that." or "My writing is better than that."

But sending my "real" work to strangers? That prospect is a little more daunting than I anticipated. I really believe that sending my work out to non-writing readers, getting feedback from them, is an important step, and I want to develop a small group of them I can always rely on.

Anyway, there's a beta readers group at Goodreads, so I joined it and read through the listings of folks offering their services. Some are professionals, requiring payment, others are just book lovers. I contacted six people.

I figure it might take a week or two to determine if everyone is available and to come to terms. Or find someone else if too many of these people no longer beta read.That still gives me until my self-imposed deadline to finish my out loud read-throughs and search & destroy (of overused words) missions.

Keep your fingers crossed for me and I'll keep you posted!


Monday, August 4, 2014

So... San Antonio


I promised pics and so pics you shall have.

First of all, roomie and I stayed at the San Antonio Riverwalk. We were given a room on the 16th floor, facing west (the side with the balconies!).

 Our view of downtown... Those trees in the center canopy part of the River Walk.
And my view of the hotel from up the street a bit...

Interesting bit of trivia--the Riverwalk sits on the site of the historic Fairmount Hotel, which now resides one block west and three blocks south. The relocation of the Fairmount was recorded in the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest structure moved on wheels.

Since I was only a few blocks away from one of the greatest historic sites in our nation, I walked over to see The Alamo. I didn't go in and do the tour or anything, but I saw it and took the requisite pictures.

This is the iconic image everyone expects and thinks of when one mentions The Alamo, but the fort itself was a much larger thing.

Here's a model of the actual fort in brass. The structure in the above pic looks to be located in the middle-ish of the outpost.


I have a lot more pictures of buildings (of the architecture), but I won't bore you with them here. If you're interested, you can view them here at my Shutterfly.

I started walking the River Walk first, and thought I was only going to take a short walk to the Alamo. Then I got side-tracked by the buildings! I went back for the 30-minute guided boat tour and learned some interesting things about San Antonio. It was quite a lovely ride.

I wished I have gotten to actually walk more of the River Walk. Unfortunately, after my detour to the Alamo and the other architecture, my left leg was hurting. I went back to the hotel to rest it and wasn't able to get back to the River Walk when there wasn't a horde of other tourists impeding my pace.

 Taken while actually on foot from my starting point at the base of my hotel.

This waterfall is not only lovely, but serves to keep the water from stagnating here on this end of the River Walk.

The following two photos are two of the very few I took while on the boat tour. My particular boat ended up at capacity and it was hard to move, much less turn around with camera in hand and elbows akimbo.

The Rivercenter Mall sits at one end of the tour....


A couple of the bridges also serve as locks, so that the river can be controlled during heavy rains.

And there you have it--a few highlights of my trip to San Antonio...


Friday, August 1, 2014

Under the weather...


Despite the lovely cooler weather we had yesterday, I'm feeling a bit not good.

Anything more exciting will have to wait for Monday.

Have a good weekend.

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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