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I'm a wife, mom, mom-in-law, grandma, and writer. To read more, visit :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 198

Wednesday, March 30, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Tweaking abounds. With numerous strands to tie together, there is much to fine tune as I close in on the final scenes. The rhythm becomes free flow/let the characters surprise/remind them what else is going on/tweak/free flow again.
            I vacillate – I want to see what happens to them, I don’t want to leave them. =)
            Some catching up with readers via emails. Also posted a discussion question  on Facebook about marriage, based on one of the issues that Desert Gift poses. The plan is to put something different out like that every week.
            Yikes! Going between the two stories is a memory challenge. Ha, ha, ha.
            Facebook link --
            THE DETAILS. . .Thomas Merton’s A Book of Hours arrived in the mail, a surprise from Son and Daughter-in-Law. Ohhh. It’s a beautiful book, and the writing is beyond description. It’s the kind that causes you to linger and stop often to listen. And I’ve only peeked inside.
            Mabel Annemarie Samuelson Carlson Kropp was born this day in 1900. She was my Swedish grandmother. I pause to remember her smile and optimism. She is still a source of inspiration.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Galleta Meadows Estates

Mammoth and me.   =)  These whimsical steel sculptures are scattered about the desert on the outskirts of Borrego Springs, all kinds of animals and a couple of historical people.

Day 197

Tuesday, March 29, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .After an extra-special three-day weekend, getting back into the story was like walking along a path in the woods overgrown with tall weeds. It took some doing to get to the clearing.  =) 
            The office felt too full, literally and figuratively (lots of pleasant energy from birthday emails and Facebook notes), so I left the room. I remember now that this often happens toward the end of a story: I need to leave the notes and the mess that have sustained me throughout, I need to get them out of my sight. It’s not time for cleaning them up yet though! I’ll still look at them, but for now I simply move.
            The weather was comfortable enough to sit outdoors, in partial sun for warmth (it’s spring; jeans and sweaters are still in effect for me) and partial shade in order to see the laptop screen.
            And then it flowed. My teenager surprised me. I hadn’t been sure how to show what was going on with her since she does not have her own POV scenes. She dialogued with another character and voila, she sprouted her wings.
            In yesterday’s post I forgot to mention that Jill, from Desert Gift, was “with” me in the desert. Her town is loosely based on Borrego Springs. My Guy and I ate a picnic lunch in the town square (which is actually a circle) where she sits in one scene. Too, too fun.
            THE DETAILS. . .Not much! =)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Days 194 - 196

Saturday – Monday, March 26 – 28, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Aside from one rather involved discussion with Protagonist, I took the weekend off and then some.
            THE DETAILS. . .I turned 60 on Monday.  =)  Whoa. 
            My Guy and I did something I’ve wanted to do for years: instead of zipping over to the desert for a springtime hike, we stayed overnight in a hotel (we did the tent thing twenty years ago with the kids, once).  I saw sunrise and gorgeous wildflowers in full bloom, heard coyotes and birds, and hiked a familiar trail and unfamiliar ones.  Actually one was a hike, the others were nature walks (according to the brochures).  ;)  A most wonderful, beautiful stepping into my sixth decade. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 193

Friday, March 25, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Surprise! The story is almost finished. At some level I knew it on Wednesday when Protagonist conquered her demons which led to her freedom to be and to love better and to her husband’s falling more deeply in love with her – but it did not sink in until today’s writing. Whoa! And another whoa!  She is now sharing her reward with others.  The reward, the “sword”, was won by making it through her darkest cave and returning to her ordinary world and using it to overcome the old that threatens her there.
            Details for the final scenes (25 pages or so) are vague. I outlined, imagined a gazillion different settings and dialogues to tie up remaining threads – and finally let it go. There are times when pushing and pressing do not work, most often at significant moments.
            THE DETAILS. . .Ready now for a weekend which includes birthday celebrations. Such timing is a gift from my Abba.   =)

Friday, March 25, 2011


This is a Bundt cake with white chocolate icing and a raspberry swirl inside, decorated with a green ribbon bow. It came from a place that makes only Bundt cakes. They know how to make them.  =)

Day 192

Thursday, March 24, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Up at 2 a.m., full of story that will not quit these days. I actually went to the desk and jotted notes, told myself that was enough and that I did not have to stay up and write them into the story.
            Email from editor: they are working on the new cover!  \O/  Whoa!  As usual, they ask for my ideas.
Am I jazzed or what? And I don’t see this until after 9 p.m. Guess what I go to sleep dreaming about? What my characters look like, what the setting is, what details we can enhance. It’s great.
            THE DETAILS. . .Obviously even I can see from the above note that I should back off even though I do not want to. So the lunch invitation from weeks ago turned out to be timely for my sanity’s sake. And it turned out to be an extra special event.
My Illinois Sis-in-Law, in town visiting her daughter and daughter-in-law, prepared lunch for me, my California Sis-in-Law, Cousin-in-Law, and Niece-in-Law. (Too many “in-laws” to read?) Because my birthday and California Sis-in-Law’s birthday are around the corner, she treated us to a French-themed afternoon – berets, cheese, salad, quiches, French bread, French words posted everywhere, French music, cake (see photo), and gifts.  =)  Merci beaucoup, PJ!
Home Group made it a full day of connecting with real-life people. 
Until the email noted above. =)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 191

Wednesday, March 23, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .I love my people. It was such a pleasure to watch and listen as they talked through some tough stuff today. They shared a moment of wonder and happiness in their relationship.  Sheer joy for me.
The fun – and challenge – of the past few writing days was not knowing ahead of time where or how this major knot would untangle itself. Now that it has smoothed out, I can look back and see the thread being woven into the fabric of their lives and it’s a beautiful pattern.  
The next couple weeks will be a weaving of the threads that still dangle into that pattern, enhancing and deepening the design.
I’m just so happy that they’re happy.  =)
THE DETAILS. . .Ohmygoodness. My Guy gave me my birthday gift early!  It’s a beautiful mother’s ring, something I’ve thought for years would be lovely to have. There are six birthstones in the order of when the young ones entered my life: January for Son, September for Daughter, July for Daughter-in-Law, August for Granddaughter #1, December for Granddaughter #2, March for Son-in-Law.
Is he a thoughtful one or what?  =)  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 190

Tuesday, March 22, 2011. . .           
            THE WRITING. . .Ack, ack, ack!!! Internet and computer not speaking to one another. Blog post is delayed. Emails unattended to.
            Naturally the upside is total focus on the story.  Perhaps emails (ah, talking to real people!!) pulls more than I want to admit.
            Anyway, strong emotional day with the folks. Protagonist is going to pop if she doesn’t express soon to hubby that she is wanting a fresh start in their relationship.
            My Guy helps figure out the internet thing…a simple unplugging, plugging back in.
            Stopped in our library to return (beautifully remodeled as mentioned before) and check out; I finally took the time to donate a couple of my books not yet on their shelves.  I met some lovely librarians and I have been invited to do things.  =)
            THE DETAILS. . .Haircut. And library. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 189

Monday, March 21, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Yes.  ;)
            THE DETAILS. . .A bike ride through puddles. The ocean is rough and frothy; the other night’s “super moon” makes an impact (according to the newspaper). Some In Plain Sight, a tv show with the most wonderful character development. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Days 187 - 188

Saturday – Sunday, March 19 – 20, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Spent Saturday morning at it. Ahh. A scene prompted by a note jotted on an index card who knows when took shape. 
            Reminder to self: Read those index cards on the storyboard!!  I often lose track as the story takes off and characters develop. Some of those notes become unnecessary – but others give insight that I don’t even realize until later.
The mail brought a letter on real paper via a publisher from a reader. =) She wrote how much she liked and appreciated Castles in the Sand. Was my day made or what?
THE DETAILS. . .Happy Spring! Reading, walking, church, groceries, spring rainstorm with high winds.
The Gifts of the Jews, an intriguing book by Thomas Cahill (he wrote How the Irish Saved Civilization). Enjoying the peek at ancient history; read about when writing (as in putting words on clay tablets) first came about. People actually used it to write down their stories. Stories! 

Day 186

Friday, March 18, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .It’s like reading a book when the characters have me hooked, I can’t wait to see what happens to them. 
            THE DETAILS. . .The Movie Nuts walked down to the theater and saw The Lincoln Lawyer. A good story. I’m eating up lawyer scenes these days, my lawyer character ever at the forefront of my mind.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY LITTLE SISTER IN ILLINOIS.  =) She’s two years younger and still cute as bug’s ear. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 185

Thursday, March 17, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Long, solid hours of digging deep into the characters’ souls and “showing” the impact of their decisions. An overdone day for me, exhausted, wiped out. After experiencing similar days with every book I’ve written, I guess I can conclude that it is a necessary part of my process.
            THE DETAILS. . .More birdsong around 3 a.m.  =)
            Happy St. Patrick’s Day! The Chicago River was dyed green this week, an annual sight to behold. I wore a green sweater at my desk.
My great-grandfather Jack Moore was Irish; my grandmother had the red hair and a wacky streak in her that did not come from her German mother. I think she had that underlying, inexplicable sense of joie de vivre because given her life circumstances, she shouldn’t have been smiling as much as she did.
Genealogy has long fascinated me. My now-16-year-old character (she had birthday) is on a quest to learn more about her heritage. And now I am back to The Writing.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 184

Wednesday, March 16, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .A plugging-along day, touch-and-go moments of tying some loose threads, letting others dangle and tangle.
            THE DETAILS. . .Whoa!  Middle-of-the-night birdsong!  I utterly adore this on the rare occasions it happens! It went on from 11:15 p.m. until after 1 a.m. The birds were so happy. I dozed, awoke, dozed, awoke, not wanting to miss it.  
I suspect it was an end-of-winter party for them. They’re all packing up to head to their summer home in Coal Valley, Illinois.  =)  What a treat to be invited!
            In The Darkling Thrush Thomas Hardy writes about that bird’s “full hearted evensong” at the end of a day:
“That I could think there trembl’d through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.”

Apparently Hardy was lamenting that he did not have that Hope, but that’s not my point. His words capture the essence of birdsong:  a Hope that lives in a creature doing exactly what his true self prompts him to do.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 183

Tuesday, March 15, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Middle-of-the-night “writing;” early morning “download” onto keyboard, into file.  =)
            Worked on Facebook author page. . .I wanted to put something new up for this week and thought of springtime in the desert, which is happening now and is the season for Desert Gift setting.  Tried to post a comment; got the message it was too long. Ack! I edited and deleted; still too long.  Grr.
 So I did it – I plunged into the murky world of Apps.  I followed the INCOMPLETE directions on how to turn it into a NOTE in order to preserve all those characters (not people, but as in the space used; words are not counted for these things which probably everyone reading this already knows).
Some confusion was due to this not being a personal page, but I stuck with it and eventually got the thing posted. It appears on the page now like any other comment.
            This was my first conscious foray into APPS.  So proud of myself.
            Mailed Desert Gift advanced reader copies to recipients of last week's Facebook drawing who volunteered to read, write reviews, post online. Many thanks to them.
            THE DETAILS. . .Errands. Potted a new jasmine plant. Enjoyed an episode of The Chicago Code (recorded) with My Guy; interesting characters and for this Chicago devotee, a satisfying fix.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 182

Monday, March 14, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Incorporated the weekend's jotted notes. Concerned about pacing.
Reminder: every scene must move the plot forward. One way this happens is in the change of a character: begin a scene with her in one condition (emotionally, mentally, physically: safe, in danger, happy, sad, etc.), end the scene with her in the opposite condition.
This is why we turn pages. This is why movies keep us in our seats.
Facebook author page – Three readers have responded to the offer to receive an early copy of Desert Gift, write a review, and post it online. Reviews on other author’s books sometime sway my decision to buy/read or not; they are an important aspect of the writing business. Sometimes I read about my own books and am delighted to learn how a reader “saw” the story in ways I did not have in mind.
THE DETAILS. . .Noon time walk. Early a.m. walks have disappeared in recent weeks as I jump first thing into the story. Makes for better writing and unhappy hips. It’s obviously spring break for some people; the pier is a busy, busy place.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Days 180 - 181

Saturday – Sunday, March 12 – 13, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Much note-jotting. Trying to live 48 hours in a balanced way.
            THE DETAILS. . .Finished Randy Singer’s book, Fatal Conviction. Gripping courtroom scenes, just the way I like them. One surprise twist after another. And, with an honest and even-handed touch, he tackles what could be explosive topics: different faiths and terrorism and government. Nice job.  Again, the power of fiction.  =)
            Grocery shopping with My Guy.
            And – oh the bliss! – I changed the clocks! In a daring move on Saturday, I set them back at 4:30 in the afternoon!


Friday, March 11, 2011. . .
THE WRITING. . .Pausing to remember the ‘big picture’ was most helpful. Sometimes the characters’ emotions become so intense I lost sight of it.  I press and press. My people just needed some down time like we all do in real life. Fortunately they were able to act on that – and it was very pleasant for me.
THE DETAILS. . .Saddened for the people in Japan. I checked the news periodically. The tsunami advisories for the West Coast occupied my thoughts and prayers as well, although for us in this area it was not a major threat in the least.
It was an unbalanced week for me – which usually means there was great story progress. Brain-break time essential!  My Guy and I walked down to the theater; saw The Adjustment Bureau. Very fun; took me totally out of my story; creatively done; and it brings up the topic of free will versus God’s plan. Ah, the power of fiction.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 178

Thursday, March 10, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Aftermath of Protagonist’s Worst Day Ever… =) She takes something away from it, she’s in a good place emotionally, ready to get back to normal but from a different head space – and yet. And yet. Her story is not over.
            Big picture thinking time. I know (well as much as I can know) details that are coming, but I need a better handle on her head space right now.
            THE DETAILS. . .Awwww, My Guy gave me an early birthday gift! What a surprise! He went to the farmer’s market for eggs and came back with cute cotton top and pants, colorful comfy writing clothes.  =)  He’s the best.
I’ve entered the truly unbalanced leg of the journey. Ack. The fictional folks crowd most other thoughts from my mind.
           HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my IOWA SIS-IN-LAW!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Omelette made by My Guy for me... spinach, bacon, orange pepper, provolone cheese, garlic... =)

Day 177

Wednesday, March 9, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Ew. Found myself putting a sermon in a character’s mouth. Bleagh! I sat back, listened, and let her speak in everyday language, in her tone. I rewrote and then I cried.  =)
            I always, always want to include the message God loves us beyond what we can imagine and that can make a difference in how we live. I want to incorporate the spiritual in the visible but as in real life, each character will experience this uniquely and then talk about what they know. Not to point fingers or condemn or say my way is the only way to experience God.
            THE DETAILS. . .It’s Ash Wednesday. Blessings on your Lenten Season.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 176

Tuesday, March 8, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Whew. Finished the Worst Day of Protagonist’s Life scene. This is it. It will make her or break her. We shall see. Actually it will do both.  That’s why we have Worst Days.  =)
            I try not to look at page numbers, but I do. Although my smart editors say “write the story until it’s done,” I have not broken the habit of checking to see where I am page-wise and then wondering if I can fill up enough of them. At least I have broken the habit of counting the number of words each day.
            I still need to learn to trust the process. Stories take on a natural rhythm. The main character begins at Point A and arrives at Point C. Point B is the how, the details, more of a curvy line than a point.
            THE DETAILS. . .Fat Tuesday! In a symbolic gesture on this eve of the Lenten Season when “halleluiahs” are not spoken and we keep a sort of death watch with our souls and pray that false things will die within us, I mix my metaphors or something and embrace the old practice of eating comfort food.
            Pancakes are in order, but I’m wiped out from the emotions of the day and not interested in cooking. My Guy and I walk to a fast-food place and bring home gyros and onion rings. Mm. I eat most of the pita bread instead of just the sandwich insides. Mr. Moderate Eater lets me eat three-fourths of the bag of rings. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 175

Monday, March 7, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Ack Monday mornings. Spent waaay too much time telling and then reworking paragraphs into showing. The ‘telling’ tells me what’s going on, that’s the upside, but the true feeling of the characters comes through only after I get in touch with their hearts and ‘show.’ This is what I crave as a reader. Happy with results and progress.
            Evening, caught up with Facebook’s author page, announced new drawing. Blessings on Tyndale’s marketing woman who gave me ideas such as this one. I offer Desert Gift copies now, the un-proofed copies that go out to reviewers, etc., to those who would like to read it, write a review, and post it online.
            THE DETAILS. . .Roasted a chicken. =)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Days 173 - 174

Saturday – Sunday, March 5 – 6, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . . I stewed a bit over the unfinished business – Facebook author page, emails from readers, emails from friends. Time for time off.
            THE DETAILS. . .I tended to plants and then I prepared dinner; friends (two other couples) came over to eat the dinner and brought lovely appetizers and desserts.  =) Nice time of laughter and learning new things about others. (So much history to cover when you’ve reached my age.)
            I looked at my plate of food and realized anew how much My Guy does for me. I enjoy having friends over and feeding them, but I could not begin to do it without his help and support. He vacuums and scrubs floors. He went to the grocery store for the potatoes and rolls. He got the English peas at the farmers market. He grilled the meat. I guess I set the table.  Ha, ha, ha.
            Sunday I received two wonderful gifts: a birthday blessing (on the first Sunday of every month, birthday people get a special prayer said for them) and a beautiful Pashmina shawl from Israel just because this woman likes me and her husband went there.  =)  Do I feel loved or what?

            Pork Tenderloin Surprise
            Slice pork tenderloin into pieces 1 ½ inches thick.
            Layer on each piece a slice of onion, a slice of green pepper.
            Set each piece on 2 pieces of bacon, criss-crossed. Then wrap the bacon over the meat; secure with toothpicks.
            Grill indirectly for 50 minutes.
            Near end of grilling time, top each with a slice of cheddar cheese.

Day 172

Friday, March 4, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Woke up with the story going full speed in my head. I love this part of the story journey. There is an urgency to be with them, to see what’s happening in their lives now that the Dark Cave has been entered. Good solid hours of writing.
            THE DETAILS. . .I know it my mind needs a break.  So I went with my husband for his late afternoon business meeting at the airport (to catch an associate before departure).  After that we stay in the downtown area and have dinner with brother-and-sis-in-law, yummy tostados and chimichangas and catch-up conversation. My mind touched base with reality.  =)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 171

Thursday, March 3, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Yummy, yummy, yummy. Lots of meat today, words to chew on and savor. Many surprises as well.
            Most days I change seating positions, go from desk chair to rocker, because my hips tells me to or the sun chases me from the desk (I’m anti-shutting the blinds). Today I didn’t budge. I missed lunch. Nice.
            THE DETAILS. . .Unwound by walking to the new and improved Library and roaming through it. All new paint and carpet, new arrangements, some walls down, restrooms (nuts, I forgot to check out the new plumbing), the staircase moved, a nice young adult section separate from the children’s, a huge large-print book section. Such a cheery place.
            I felt bad about the carpet on the stairs, though. It’s beautiful, a solid navy blue. Yep, shows every teensy tiny piece of lint and dirt and thread. It’s the kind that could drive you nuts in a house; you’d wear out the vacuum and eventually give up caring about conspicuous dirt.
            It reminded me of when a new library was opened in my hometown many years ago and the lighting was not conducive to reading. Go figure.
            Home Group…sweet time. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 170

Wednesday, March 2, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Perking along, writing a humdinger of a turning point scene, and it hits me: THIS CAN’T HAPPEN YET. There is a flow, a rhythm, to the release of information and I had jumped outside of it.
            The upside is I know how to fix it!  =)  No problem to insert a scene before this one, to tweak others. In the early days this would have thrown me for a major loop.
THE DETAILS. . .The new and improved, remodeled LIBRARY opened today! Yay! My Guy and I walked down to check it out, but not until 4:55 p.m. and they closed at 5. We did get to step inside. It’s so bright and welcoming. Can’t wait to explore it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 169

Tuesday, March 1, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Writing a nonprofessional person’s version about legal matters comes easily. Huh? I guess it’s the osmotic influence on me from all those books (John Grisham's, John Lescroart's, etc., etc., To Kill a Mockingbird, etc., etc.) and movies and TV shows (from Perry Mason to Fairly Legal) about lawyers. It’s also the mental puzzle aspect that intrigues me and is fun to engage in.
            And also it’s due to mucho help from AR. Thank you again!!
            I mailed copies of the Valley Oaks series as a donation for an auction, a fundraiser a school. Someone I do not know from Horseheads, New York, asked if I’d be interested.
            THE DETAILS. . .Yay, it is MARCH, the month in which SPRING officially arrives. I ran errands.
            Many birthdays in March, so I shopped for all the cards at once: Sis, Sis-in-Law, out-of-town Friends (plural), and Son-in-Law. I was excited; this was my first opportunity to buy a HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SON-IN-LAW card! =)  Big disappointment, however. Those cards either made derogatory references to his wife (the Daughter) or spoke of how wonderful his in-laws are (that would be me and My Guy).
            Bummer. This requires another trip to a card display.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 168

Monday, February 28, 2011. . .
            THE WRITING. . .One of those “sit back and let the characters do the talking” writing days. I could not have predicted this exchange between the Protagonist and her husband. It was uncomfortable for the three of us.  =) Ew, ick.
            My Guy ordered a used copy of my second book, Surrender of the Heart published in 1999 by Crossway Books. It has long been out of print but of course copies are out there. 
This one arrived from Wisconsin. It’s the hardback library edition (printed by Five Star Christian Fiction Series in 2000) (my copy was lost in the fire) with a very simple and pretty cover. According to the stickers on it, this one had at one time been on the shelf of the Angie W. Cox Public Library in Pardeeville, Wisconsin.
Isn’t that fun? Bless those librarians who stock my books on their shelves.  ;)  Bless those patrons who ask for them.
Surrender of the Heart was one of three finalists for the (then, second annual) Christy Award, a group that seems to have a low profile.
On the back cover is a review that I do not remember at all, from the Library Journal: “. . .a fast-paced, well-written story that boasts realistic, often funny dialog, some excellent description, and an appealing, upbeat picture of a sincere Christian congregation.”
Well! I like that a lot. (Pat, pat myself on the back.) It reminds me of what can happen in my stories. Thanks be to God.  =)
THE DETAILS. . .A bike ride.