Going Back To Basics

 

Welcome to Rudan Thursdays where we talk about…things! Anything from books and movies, to blog posts and authors, to food and drink ~ and everything in between!

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Yesterday was my mom’s birthday. She passed away over three and a half years ago. I think about her every day. Every single day.

Many of you have noticed my absence these last few months. This post by Roni Loren scared the **** out of me. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I literally did nothing.

I have to be honest with you – I’m not a huge fan of blogging.

Oh, stop, it’s not like that.

I am a perfectionist; it makes me crazy writing these posts. English was my favorite class in school…I work in the legal field…these, combined with my fear of failure (and success), make it quite a challenge to get them perfect.

I agonize over every word – is it the right word for what I’m trying to convey? I stress out over every punctuation – should that be a question or a statement? I search and search and search for the perfect images to complement the tone or subject of my posts. I even spend too much time wondering when the best time to publish my post is.

It’s exhausting.

So what does this have to do with my mom? I’ve been thinking a lot about what she would tell me about all of this. My mom was one of those moms (like me, and many others lol) who thought that her child was 100% perfect in every way. The fact that I stood upright, spoke, and blinked was enough to make my mom swell with pride. While she was alive, it was sometimes exasperating, sometimes funny. Now, remembering makes the loss of her that much sharper, more poignant.

What would my mom say? She would tell me that I’m brilliant just for trying. She would tell me how outstanding (that was her word for everything I did) my blog is. She would also tell me – as would marketing experts – since I want to be published one of the things I need to do as a writer, besides writing, is get my name out there—and this blog, among other things, can do that.

She would give me a hug, tell me I’m an outstanding writer, and put my big girl pants on.

And stop punishing myself.

And post when I have something to post.

And not worry about it after that.

As a good friend of mine recently said: I’m a writer who blogs, not a blogger who writes :)  Besides, how will any of you get to read my books if I’m spending more time perfecting posts instead of polishing manuscripts?

That said, I will do my very best to keep to my Tuesday & Thursday schedule, but if I’m busy writing, or busy with my family, or busy learning from geniuses like James Scott Bell and Larry Brooks, then the post will have to wait.

Besides, you’re a laid back bunch, I know you’ll forgive my lapses :)

So talk to me. Do you ever feel pressured to be perfect? What do you do about it?

(I’m trying so hard not to focus on how many times I typed the word “write” in this post…lol)

 

The Joys of Moving ~ A ROW80 Check In

Well…we did it. We found our new home. In fact, in just a few short hours, we’re going to go sign the papers and get the keys.

Goal. Met.

Most of you are familiar with the trials and tribulations of moving, so I’m sure you’ll understand why in the next few weeks my posts will be even shorter than usual :P

  • Writing ~ Not a lot of words on paper this week, BUT I was able to outline a fourth book in this series. That’s exciting!
  • Reading ~ Made progress on Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. Words cannot describe his genius.  I’ve held off on Shadow Game by Christine Feehan, I just cannot get into it. Instead, I’ve been reading Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D. I believe I’ve made years worth of progress normally achieved through 1 hour therapy sessions on the couch in 1 week of reading her wisdom a couple of hours each night. A must read for every woman.
  • Exercise ~ the sinus headaches are getting better, I only missed one night at the gym. I’m noticing changes in my abs that I’m quite excited about. 2 babies and about 10 years of eating like crap with very little to no cardio is finally starting to improve – woohoo!! :)

So talk to me. For my writing pals, how are your goals coming along? Are you in ROW80, and if so, how’s that goin’ so far? For my non-writing buddies, what goals have you set for yourself and how are you making progress?

Falling Apart: A ROW80 Check In

This week has been a doozie on all fronts.

A week and a half ago, my allergist said I had a sinus infection, so he loaded me up with all kinds of meds to knock it out.

Well…they knocked out the infection, which is great, but they also took me out! I’ve been going to bed with migraines and waking up with them, which means I’m not sleeping well – as usual – and not getting my hour of writing in the morning. I missed 3 days at the gym because my head felt like it was going to explode every time I tried to use a machine.

My follow-up appointment went something like this:

Doc: So, Kate, how are you feeling? Everything good now?

Me: Not great, nope, I’ve had headaches all week. This is pretty much the worst I’ve felt in a while.

Doc: Really? What happened? Tell me about it, what’s going on?

Me: Well…*explained about the migraines and the gym experiences*

Doc: Hm. *stares thoughtfully at me* We could just put you down.

And that is why I see this man. He thinks outside the box :P

One highlight, though, is a friend recommended a book titled, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D.  I’ve been reading it all week, and she has opened my eyes! If you haven’t had the experience of reading her wisdom, I encourage you to do so immediately.

No new news on the home-finding front ~ still looking..

So talk to me. For my writing pals, how are your goals coming along? Are you in ROW80, and if so, how’s that goin’ so far? For my non-writing buddies, what goals have you set for yourself and how are you making progress?

ROW80 Check In

I’m sitting here, in a post 4-birthday-party-weekend stupor, trying to remember what happened over the last week. Pretty difficult considering I cannot remember what happened only a few hours ago.

Alright, I’ve got it now…a pretty good week this time around:

  • Writing: Not as many words per day as I’d want, but a helluva lot more than last week. Plus I was able to get two very important pieces of my plot puzzle in place, which is exciting!
  • Exercise: Still going strong here…missed Tuesday night for my daughter’s birthday, but I figure that’s an acceptable excuse.
  • Reading: I finished Envy by J.R. Ward!  AH-mazing!! I stayed up ’til 2am to finish that sucker…worth every minute late I was to work the next day :P I also made great progress on Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell.

There you have it. I’m off to rest my brain and enjoy what’s left of the Oscars.

So talk to me. For my writing pals, how are your goals coming along? Are you in ROW80, and if so, how’s that goin’ so far? For my non-writing buddies, what goals have you set for yourself and how are you making progress?

The Domino Effect and ROW80 Check-In

And so here we are, one week after I took the plunge and decided to state my goals to the world…

I’m not proud to say that I did not have a good week, friends. No I did not.

Thanks to unforeseen powers, and my lack of self-control, I did not get one single word added to my wip this week.

Not. One. Word.

How did this travesty happen, you ask?

I’ve noticed that the domino-effect has quite the hold on my life. For instance, one night (don’t remember exactly which it was now) I decided that I could stay up until midnight to watch some programs that I’d missed several weeks in a row, which then made me oversleep the next morning–though I was able to scrape together enough minutes to work on my outline…then the next night we had a power outage that set my evening routine back a couple of hours which meant I didn’t get to bed until about as late as the night before, and you guessed it–I overslept…only this time by quite a bit and was almost late to the DJ. Fast-forward to yesterday morning when after a week of no writing, staying up late and over-sleeping, I woke up feeling depressed and had a bad case of self-loathing.

(in case you’re wondering, “DJ” stands for Day Job)

There is this niggling at the back of my neck hinting that my lack of focus might have something to do with my habit of behaving like a deer-in-headlights any time I make progress in my writing career (you may recall the kind words from an agent I shared last check-in). Get caught up on that here.

I will say, however, that my goal of going to the gym every day (except Fridays) is still going strong. Haven’t missed a day yet – well, except for yesterday when Hubs came home, saw me in my PJs and unkempt hair at 2:30pm, and promptly decided to drag me off to Knott’s Berry Farm. Watching my toddler ride rides, and being in the fresh air (as much as can be found in Southern California) did much to improve my state-of-mind. Which, at that time, it was probably more important to spend time with my family and get out of my head. So, everything is still going well on the exercise front.

As for reading, I didn’t read any of my fiction book, Envy by J.R. Ward this week. I DID however, get quite a bit of my craft book in, Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I had several inspirations for my wip as well as the series I’ve got brewing. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Mr. Bell is a genius!

Ok, well, that’s it for this week. Time to get my head back in the game and start this next week strong.

So talk to me. For my writing pals, how are your goals coming along? Are you in ROW80, and if so, how’s that goin’ so far? For my non-writing buddies, what goals have you set for yourself and how are you making progress? 

Taking the Plunge ~ ROW80 Check-In

That’s it. I’ve decided. I’m doing it ~ I’m taking the plunge.

I’m joining #ROW80 :)

We’ve shared our fears and discussed how fear can play a role in everything we do. In opening up and baring my own fears with all of you, I’ve been able to dissect some of them and even overcome a few.

Hence my decision to finally take responsibility for my procrastination, and take the steps necessary to achieve my dream. In case you hadn’t guessed it, my dream is to become a published author. Just thought I’d clarify that :P

Ok, so here are my goals for Round One:

  • Write ½ hr to 1 hour every morning before getting ready for work, since this is the ONLY peaceful, quiet time I have. I have sub-goals for this one: The first is finishing up the draft outline for my WIP. The second is working on revisions and the bit of research left. Finally, one more read through with revisions…then, done!
  • Read 1 craft book and 1 fiction book per week. I haven’t been as good about reading the craft books as I have been about the fiction…go figure. Having set this as a goal will help me focus and get the important reading done. For craft, I’m currently reading James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure, which is amazing…he’s is truly a genius. THANK YOU Kristen Lamb for pimping him so much!! For fiction I’m reading J.R. Ward’s Envy. Man, I’m really diggin’ me some fallen angels :P
  • Go to the gym every evening except Friday (those are grocery shopping nights :P). I have trouble sleeping, and feeling sluggish during the day, so this will help in those areas, as well as improving my overall health :) I’ve already had a great start on this one. And actually, getting exercise has been a critical part of all the progress I’ve made lately.

I’m SO excited I decided to do this, and SO happy my good friend Jenny Hansen pushed and shoved encouraged me to join.

Since the spotlight is still glaring above me, and while I’m uncomfortably warm under it, I may as well share some pretty exciting news, which was another poke that got me here today:

I belong to an online chapter of RWA: Hearts Through History Romance Writers. Last week, I participated in an online conference, and at the end of the week we had an opportunity to pitch to some fabulous agents and publishers.

Because I’d made so much progress the last several weeks with going to the gym every night, which helped me fall asleep, which helped me wake up early, which led to me writing every morning…I felt that I was ready to really put myself out there and have an industry professional take a small peek and let me know what areas could use some improvement.

So, Friday morning at 7am I sent in my pitch for my wip, HIS BEWITCHED HEART, to Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency. A few agonizing hours later she responded by saying:

“I love how organically you’ve woven in the details about witches in your writing. Very well done. This is superior writing and an excellent concept.”

She finished by asking me to let her know as soon as the novel is finished.

I’ve had friends, family, and my husband tell me that I have talent and that they liked my writing. But to have someone of Sara’s caliber tell me I have “superior writing” is just…well, words cannot describe how I’ve been feeling all weekend.

Ah, but now, now I have a book to finish!!! :) As Jenny said in her #ROW80 post this morning, I’m fired up!

For you other #ROW80’ers, and for those of you who haven’t posted your goals yet, go here to use the linky tool.

So talk to me. Are you part of the #ROW80 club? Do you have a goal list that you actively pursue on a regular basis? What helps you meet your goals?

Enter Strange Lands

Welcome to Tursan Tuesdays, where I take you on a journey through the Celtic world.

I recently came across this bit of fun, and immediately thought of all of you.

This is a collection of artwork from the book, “Strange Lands: A Field-Guide to the Celtic Otherworld” by Andrew L. Paciorek.

Here’s a blurb about the book, in case you haven’t picked it up yet:

“Strange Lands is a deeply researched and richly illustrated information guide to the entities and beasts of Celtic myth & legend and to the many strange beings that have entered the lore of the land through the influence of other cultures and technological evolution. At nearly 400 pages and featuring over 170 original illustrations, Strange Lands is an essential accompaniment for both the novice and seasoned walkers between worlds.”

So talk to me. What did you think of the faeries and other wee folk? Do you enjoy Celtic artwork? I have always love it, and I find these pieces fun and interesting. Have you read the book Strange Lands? What did you think of it?

NaNoWriMo ~ It’s Not Too Late!

Welcome to Rudan Thursdays where we talk about…things! Anything from books and movies, to blog posts and authors, to food and drink.

Continuing my earlier post on NaNoWriMo preparedness, we’re going to catch up with Mr. Brook’s tips for successfully making it through the whirlwind that is National Novel Writing Month.

Larry Brooks, author of DARKNESS BOUND, is The Storyfixer.

If you’re going to participate in NaNoWriMo and you’re still wondering how you’re going to tackle it all, or if you’re just looking for tips, Storyfix.com is the NaNo resource. You still have plenty of time to prepare for NaNo ~ as long as you quit lagging and move your tuckus!

Let’s get to it:

#15 – Stuck? Try This and Move Forward. Larry shows us how watching and breaking down the scenes in a movie can help fuel our imaginations and pull us over the creative hump.

#16 – Consider an “Arena” Story. Larry explains how we can use the time, place or culture of a story as it’s main component.

#17 – Learn From Others Who Have Been Down This Road. Larry invites us to leave comments in order to share our own stories, tips, and advice on how to prepare, plot, or structure our novels. Some really great stuff here.

#18 – Don’t Confuse “Quirks” with Characterization. Larry urges us to go below the surface of our characters and really bring them to full color reality.

#19 – Center Yourself Within The Big Picture. Two of them, actually. Take a step back and really look at your concept. Do you know the ins and outs? Do you understand exactly what it’s going to take to turn it into a page turner?

#20 – To Edit or Not To Edit…. Know the difference not only between the right and wrong times to edit, but the right and wrong ways to edit! Yes, there are differences!

#21 – Still Struggling With Your Concept? First, know exactly what a concept is ~ it’s not just an idea. Next, Larry offers a fantastic approach to get our creative drives in gear.

#22 – Stare Down Your Limiting Beliefs. You cannot write well if your pride or ego are in the way. Get rid of those limiting beliefs ~ Larry explains how. 

#23 – Harness The Power of Resentment. It’s what separates the good from the great. Dig deep into your character and harness their motivation. Let them come alive on the page with visceral emotion.

#24 – Sharpen Your Hook. Whether it’s with your prologue or first chapter, grab your reader by the throat right from the beginning. But don’t squeeze…

#25 – A Strategy for Introducing Your Hero. Larry offers awesome insight in the myriad ways to introduce your hero/ine. And no, it doesn’t have to be on page one. On a side note, have you read his books? I’m just starting on BAIT AND SWITCH, and WOW. I’ve been thinking about the characters all day!

#26 – The Panster’s Solution to Story Planning. This is a “NoNoWriMo.” Here, Larry explains that it’s a definite no-no to sit down and write without a plan, but it is also unrealistic to think you need to have every single scene laid out and planned to the last detail before writing. Great tips and advice here!

#27 – How To Optimize Your Scenes. Larry shows us how we writers can ‘study and master’ the skills of story planning and scene writing.

Ok, we’re ‘coming down the home stretch’ as Larry says. T minus 5 days and counting to the big kick off. Puns intended :)

5 days…that’s plenty of time! We can do this!

Catch me over at New Kids On The Writer’s Block for the final up-to-date summary of Larry’s NaNoWriMo planning strategies. After that, you’re on your own! :)

So talk to me. Have you been keeping up with Larry Brooks’ planning tips? What do you think of them? Are you prepared? Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month ~ why or why not?

The God-Fathers

Welcome to Tursan Tuesdays, where I take you on a journey through the Celtic world.

Today we’re going to get up close and personal with the big daddies of all the Gods – the GodFathers.

Nice, eh? Yeah…my husband made fun of me too, go ahead, laugh it up.

Are you done now? Ready to get serious? Let’s do this…

First we’ll get to know Cernunnos, from Celtic mythology, next will be Ometecuhtli, from Aztec mythology, and finally, Apsu, from Sumerian mythology.

No, no Zeus this time. I know, I’m sorry. He is just too obvious, I can’t do it.

Cernunnos

courtesy of celticmythpodshow.com

Cernunnos is known by many names, two of which, interestingly enough, are the ‘Horned God’ and the ‘Green Man’. You’ll recall from my earlier post, The God, these monikers have also been associated with him. It seems that along with being a fertility god, Cernunnos is also God of Nature, the Underworld, virility, life, animals…the list goes on.

He is described as having a cyclical lifespan; born during the winter solstice, marrying The Goddess at Beltane, and dying at the summer solstice. It is also said that he is the Lord of the Wild Hunt ~ guiding souls to the afterlife, and paying karmic debts.

It is believed that Cernunnos is the same creator God in every tradition, only known by different names depending on each tradition’s language and culture.

According to Celtic tradition, Cernunnos is the first-born of and consort to The Goddess (All Mother, Anu). He is the diversity of life, the Ancient One, Lord of the Animals and the Green World.

Ometecuhtli

courtesy of probertencyclopaedia.com

Ometecuhtli is the creator God in the Aztec tradition. He is the Lord of Duality, and together with his consort or female counterpart, Omecíhuatl, he rules Omeyocan, the Dual Heaven (Double Heaven, Two-Place).

He is a fertility God, like Cernunnos. Makes sense considering he is responsible for all life on Earth. It is also said that he releases the souls from Omeyocan and carries them to the infant bodies within the mother’s womb before birth ~ an intriguing mirror-like parallel to the Lord of the Hunt (or Wild Hunt) aspect of Cernunnos.

Apsu

Tiamat & Apsu courtesy of dhushara.com

The story of Apsu is a bit different than any other I’ve come across thus far.

Apsu is the god of the ocean. He created the sky and the Earth. He exemplifies the elemental nature of the deep waters of the earth, and together with his consort, Tiamat, created life and all of the gods.

This next part is a bit murky… It seems, that Tiamat, or possibly Apsu himself, could not bear the noise and chaos of their children. Apsu, wishing peace for his mate, planned to silence the gods, but was instead murdered by Ea (Enki or Enkil), whom we would call his great-grandson.

This is the first instance I’ve found where the creator god was mortal. I assume the finality of death was not the real result. I imagine his “death” was more of him becoming nature itself, or something along those lines. Very interesting!

So talk to me. What do you think about these GodFathers? How fascinating are their similarities and differences? There wasn’t much on either Ometecuhtli or Apsu, do you know of any stories or traditions involving them? What other creator Gods do you know of? Besides Zeussheesh.

Your Health!

Welcome to Slàinte Sundays where I give a toast to those posts I enjoyed during the week.

Before we get to the link love, I wanted to let you all know I’m adjusting my blog schedule from three days a week to two days. With the family and day job schedules picking up, and NaNoWriMo looming, (not to mention the holidays are comin’ up hot) I have less and less time for my novel and blogging. I’ve made the decision to cut back on blogging, because, let’s face it, my novel is much more important! J

Anyhoo…For the time being, I will incorporate my Slàinte Sundays with my Rudan Thursdays. I truly enjoy sharing my cyber finds with all of you and am not willing to cut them. So while I won’t be able to share every week, there will still be plenty of link love goin’ around ;)

Ok, let’s get to it…

On craft…

Jenny Hansen shares Writing Lessons From The Late Great Stephen J. Cannell.

Kristen Lamb continues her series on Structure with Part 3 – Introducing the Opposition.

Jody Hedlund guest posts over at Jenny Hansen’s blog, talking about plot ideas and structure, very helpful with NaNoWriMo coming up.

Amber West has some great NaNoWriMo tips for all of those pantsers out there. Check this out.

On publishing…

Bob Mayer offers a tribute to the reader in his post, Readers Rule: The Ultimate Gatekeepers Publishing and The Rise of the Author.

Kait Nolan shares her Open Letter to Barnes & Noble about PubIt!

On motivation…

Jenny Hansen offers great tips on critique partners or groups via Dan Rockwell over at Leadership Freak. And I swear I’m not stalking Jenny, she just has so many awesome posts, how can I not share them?? ;)

Sonia Medeiros says ‘let there be blogs’ in her post on blogging and blog fatigue. Did she write this just for me?

Kristen Lamb reminds us to keep our heads in the game, and breathes new life into that blog fatigue by sharing boring statistical information on blogging and its benefits.

Lyn Midnight is a girl after my own heart in her guest post on spiraling out of control, over at David N. Walker’s blog. No, Lyn, you are most definitely not alone.

On networking and social media…

Jen Talty, via Bob Mayer’s blog, talks about the importance of branding.

Techy Tips

Carrie Spencer – finally! – shares much-needed information on ping backs, via her pal Woodie, cause he knows WordPress. I’ve been waiting for so long! ;p

Just for fun!

Shéa MacLeod shares creepy crawly stories in her post, The Queen of Fire and Darkness Meets the Scorpion King.

Jenny Hansen talks about her undies fetish, interest, um, ok, she’s talkin’ about g-strings people. You gotta go check it out.

Piper Bayard and Kristen Lamb need your help with campaign slogans. They’ve got awesome options to choose from, go cast your vote! Piper/Lamb 2012!

Natalie Hartford brings us the compliment to the tow-hitch stripper pole: The Tow Hitch TV!

Gene Lempp teaches us about the Ancient Silk Route in his latest post from Designing from Bones.

Marcia Richards tells a true story of ‘sweet revenge,’ a family’s quest for justice, and making a difference the American way. I got chills reading this. Amazing post!

Jess Witkins offers an interesting post on Sleep Paralysis. Pretty scary, actually. My husband has this happen sometimes.

To Jenny, Kristen, Jody, Amber, Bob, Kait, Sonia, Lyn, Jen, Carrie, Shéa, Piper, Natalie, Gene, Marcia, and Jess…

Slàinte…your health!