I’m a Grateful Person #gratitude

Every November we take a moment to either express our gratitude or our thankfulness. But like the saying says, Happy people are actually grateful, it is the other way around. Those who are grateful are happy.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I am grateful for everything in my life.

Such as:

  • the support of my family
  • the job I have with my employer
  • the feedback from my readers
  • the education provided by my professors
  • for the grades, I have received
  • having a pup like Keelaa for a new writing coach
  • for what I have managed to write this month in NaNoWriMo
  • and most of all for being alive and thriving in this bizarre world we live in.
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Absurbity of the Season

Hmm… interesting, my last post was at Halloween. Thanksgiving is only two days away, where’d the time go?

I know what happened. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) happened. By the way, how did you do with your word count this month? I got mine. Did you get yours?

Now that we’re done with that absurd writing challenge, what’s coming up next? Christmas? This is the craziest time of the year. It all starts with NaNo, then turkey in the oven, followed by hordes of Black Friday Shoppers heading out to the stores right after eating their Family Holiday meal. They should remain home to sleep off that bird but no, they run right out and join the crowd so they can fight over that $100 flat screen TV. See this is just the beginning of the craziest time of the year.

We fought with our word processors for nearly 30 days straight, forcing word after word on that blank white screen. They said write a 50k word story in 30 days or less but don’t worry if it is a mess. You will have the rest of the year to try to fix the thing. That is if it is fixable.

I wrote as though I was in brainstorming sessions. Now I have to drag and drop the chapters into different orders in hopes that I can get the timeline correct. Still that isn’t as silly as standing in line for a Black Friday ticket at the local Walmart. It’s the only time of the year when they are crazy enough to break every fire code rule.

Have you ever taken part in that absurd holiday tradition of shopping right after eating turkey? I did one year. The crowds didn’t bother me too much. What did bother me was how hard it was to find the items listed in the Black Friday flyer. Everything was scattered about the store. I thought they were kidding when they were handing out maps. What was I thinking?

Besides NaNo and Black Friday, I find the rest of the season pretty tame. I’m the one who puts up the tree. I’m the one who decorates it. I’m the one who tries to keep the spirit of Christmas alive. Oh wait, I feel a bah – humbug moment coming on. It will pass. I’ll inhale the scent of green pine needles, apples and cinnamon and most of all, chocolate fudge.

Oh, Fudge, the straw that broke the diabetic diet. I have to make several batches each year. This is hard to do without having a sample or two. Then there are the cookies and pastries. Don’t forget the eggnog too.

So, are you ready for the absurdity of this jolly time of year? No wonder people become stressed and angry; look at how crazy we become trying to take part in those traditional activities each year.

[/media-credit] What makes the first American Thanksgiving noteworthy is, for the first time, turkeys were actually consumed after they were sacrificed to “God” (the Christian version of the Babylonian turkey god). duckglow.wordpress.com

Turkeys Left Uncooked

Keelaa's selfie
Keelaa’s selfie

I’m so thankful that we were exempt from the Thanksgiving Snow Storm power outage of 2014. With the exception of a few power flickers, ours remained on the whole entire time. The only thing we lost was the internet and our phone. The cable was also out for a few hours on Thanksgiving Day, but I’m sure that was only so that they could repair the downed lines elsewhere.
Many people in NH didn’t get to eat their cooked Turkey on Thanksgiving Day. Some won’t be getting their power back on until Monday.
You never realize how dependent you become on the technology of our times. If it weren’t for cell phones, we wouldn’t have been able to call out for help had we needed to do so.
It was bad enough that we were lost without our internet. (Which should have been a blessing for me. It’s funny how I was able to avoid working on that work in progress. No matter what, we do learn to make excuses.)
Then when the TV went off, I should have dragged out a board game instead of leaning back on the sofa and taking that nap.
Keelaa, our new pup, who’s now almost 6 months old, didn’t enjoy the snow. She hated the fact that it was too hard for her to walk in and had to resort to hopping around when she occasionally would become stuck in the snow. Being able to eat the snow is the only benefit she found. Being like a little kid, she did take her sweater off after it filled up with snow.

Julie, on the other hand, our older dog, still loves the snow.

Julie's selfie
Julie’s selfie

She would stay out for hours if we let her. I think it is funny how black dogs like to turn white by using the snow and white dogs find every muddy puddle available.
ROW80 Check In:
First off – I didn’t finish NaNo. I’m not surprised. I’ve never finished a NaNo project on time.
I did manage to clean off my desk that I’ve said I would do for the past 6 months.
I haven’t given up on Sleeping on the Beach. I did manage to give that file another 1k words.
Two weeks ago I began working on another title. It too will be published under my pseudonym of Lydia Clark. She writes my hot & sexy titles. I had so much fun writing that last one I had to come up with another one that is sort of like it. Visit Lydia Clark’s website for more information.

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Black Friday Shopping:
Most of my shopping is done – yea! I hate doing last minute shopping.
The first item I bought showed up the other day when Santa came early. It turned out to be an early present. We wasted no time hooking it up. An Amazon Fire TV with the game controller. Oh – My – God – The system is excellent. It’s nothing more than a little black box that does WiFi and plays games with outstanding graphics. It is neat as can be.
All I can do is rave about the thing. Needless to say – I did join Amazon Prime.

How did your turkey carving day go? Lots of leftovers? Did you lose your power? How did you fair?

Turkey Day Disasters

Thanksgiving – In the US, it is time for family gatherings loaded with dysfunction. We all have at least one dysfunctional family member that we hope and pray decide to visit the other family member this time around.
But just because that family member has decided to spare us a visit this year doesn’t always necessarily mean that we won’t have a Thanksgiving mishap. They happen. Life happens.
I remembered my first Thanksgiving mishap many moons ago. My son was just a baby. That was well over twenty-five years ago.
I was tired of having the same old thing for Thanksgiving and wanted to try my hand at changing things up – turning away from the traditional turkey.
Sometimes it is best to stick with what you know for the sake of the matter. Don’t experiment on your parents. They’ll never let you live it down.
What I wanted to serve that year for Thanksgiving instead of turkey was a goose. They tend to be bigger, and I thought juicer than the average bird.
We even went to the extreme of getting a bird fresh from a farmer and plucking our own. No one told me about using a hot butter knife or pouring hot liquid over the bird to help with the plucking business. I spent hours plucking that bird instead. I only learn about the later technique after the fact.


Embed from Getty Images

It was our first Thanksgiving in our new home. A home we bought instead of rented. We wanted it to be memorable, not ordinary. So a goose seemed to be the answer for our change of tradition.
The plucked bird was stuffed in the usual turkey way and placed in the oven before my mom and dad arrived. Hopes of showing her that I was developing healthy cooking skills, which didn’t happen.
First the oven took too long to heat up. Apparently the regulator was gone, and we didn’t know it. Dinner wasn’t ready on time – almost two hours late.
Then Mom tried to help me make gravy. I didn’t know that goose was so greasy. The gravy didn’t want to set. Ugh!
Dad hates dark meat! That’s all a goose is made up of. Naturally he did nothing but complain about what a disaster Thanksgiving turned out to be. No one said, “Real mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, or anything about the desert being delicious.” All they could do was focus on the Goose no one wanted to eat.
Had I done a trial run before hand, I would never have selected to serve my father goose on Thanksgiving Day.

Thankful Thinking

I am thankful more often than not. I just don’t usually post what I’m thankful for, and I probably should. So this year for Thanksgiving I will post my 27 Thankfuls.

  1. I am Thankful I have a job. So what if I am a writer. I have a full time day job that I do enjoy. It is a good feeling to like your line of work.
  2. I am Thankful for being part of a loving family. Some families are full of so many crazy negatives that it takes away from being able to enjoy the time spent with them. If you find you are in this way during the holiday season, remember everyone is at a different place, everyone has a life story and a plan. You just need to wait and let it all come together.
  3. I am Thankful for those who are present in my life. You have been given to me for a reason. I don’t need to know the reason at this time, just enjoy the moments and have the aha moment later.
  4. I am Thankful for those who had been in my life. They taught me many a lesson and left me with many memories. Both Good memories and bad memories serve a purpose. Learning from your experiences make you a much stronger individual.
  5. I am Thankful for the food on our table. Lord knows some people are probably going with out and others will have more than their share. I know I have what I need.
  6. I am Thankful to be a descendant of the Mayflower. It brings even more meaning to my holiday knowing this.
  7. I am Thankful for being a New Englander. Our season weather is never boring. If you don’t like the weather just wait a minute it will change.
  8. I am Thankful our dog is feeling better. Julie is the best dog ever and we will greatly miss her when she is gone.
  9. I am Thankful I wrote those stories. I feel they are all tales that needed to be told.
  10. I am Thankful I am a writer. I have found a constant outlet for my own entertainment.
  11. I am Thankful for my fans. They are the ones who have read and liked my stories.
  12. I am Thankful that NaNo is almost over. I never did expect myself to finish that WIP on time, but it did give me motivation to get a good head start.
  13. I am Thankful for online ordering. I don’t have to face the crowded stores if I don’t want to. I shopped last year on Black Friday. That was an experience.
  14. I am Thankful it is warm out. We are saving on heating fuel.
  15. I am Thankful that the next writers meeting is only two weeks away. I can’t wait to see my friends at the NHRWA chapter once again. They are such a great group of gals.
  16. I am Thankful for starting the next work in progress. It feels good to be writing again. Now if only I could keep my butt in the chair, it would hurry up and get done.
  17. I am Thankful for almost having my granddaughter’s sweater done. I have one sleeve and the hood left to do. It needs to be mailed to her by December 20th if she is to have it in time for Christmas.
  18. I am Thankful for the Hens who lay our eggs. If only they would lay more often so we would have plenty of eggs for all the goodies I plan on baking in the coming month.
  19. I am Thankful for the love of my life. He has brought me nothing but happiness for the past fourteen years.
  20. I am Thankful my son is back in recovery. May he find strength to continue on this journey he is taking. I know the path is long and winding and some do die along the way.
  21. I am Thankful for knowing the mothers/friends in my life. One lost a daughter and a son at very early ages, randomly. The other, lost her son before his time too, accidently. Their strength they have exhibited has shown me that if this were ever to happen to me for what ever the reason, life can and does go on. They are my heroines.
  22. I am Thankful I have a granddaughter. She is sweet. Someday in the future we will have a week together.
  23. I am Thankful for the service workers. They are the ones who help keep us safe.
  24. I am Thankful for planting apple trees this year. Hopefully we will have a great crop come next fall.
  25. I am Thankful for the garden we had this summer. Our freezer is full of peaches and green beans.
  26. I am Thankful for the price of gas dropping. It has made it a little bit easier to afford those Christmas gifts.
  27. I am Thankful I don’t have to travel for the holiday. The weather is not the best, but it is fine if you are remaining home. Oh and the traffic at this time of the year is amazing.

Sunday Scoopful and #ROW80

Can you believe it is already the third Sunday of the Month? Where did the days go? Next week is Thanksgiving.

Being the third weekend of the month means that yesterday was the third Saturday of the month, and it was the day my other writing group meets. The Monadnock Writers’ Group meets every third Saturday of the month from September to June at the Peterborough, New Hampshire town Library, downstairs. For all but two months, we are entertained by a speaker, a guest who shares tidbits about what it means to be a writer. We have had screenplay writers, poets, artists, photographers, and others who have something to share with the art form of writing.

This weekend we were visited by Judson D. Hale, Sr., The current editor-in-chief of The Old Farmer’s Almanac and Yankee magazine and is Chairman of the Board at Yankee Publishing. He shared tidbits of what an editor faces when it comes to submissions. He gave many example of queries he has received over the years and why he told the person no and why he said yes to a story. He said it was all in the blurb or tag line of the story on whether or not he found the story to his appeal. If the story line sounded boring he would say no, and if they gave him a blurb with juice to it, he would say yes. It wasn’t the subject matter that made the difference it was all in the way it was presented.

Judson had some genuinely excellent points, and he shared his witty humor with us along with some of his favorite quotes.

So who is doing NaNo-ing?

*raises hand…

ROW80 Check In:

I’m still NaNo-ing. Yep, that’s right. I haven’t given up hope just yet, even if I missed writing a few days this week.

Remember, my best is writing a first draft in 90 days. So, if I can beat that best, then I win my own personal goal, even if I don’t finish the work in progress in due time to make the NaNo goal.

Today I am happy to report my 5k for today. I might finish the first draft by the end of January.

I did have to go and revamp my plot outline before I could go any further. It is so helpful to have that plot point by plot point all figured out. The characters may not always behave the way you might want them too, but if the goal is there already for them to get to the rest of the character building falls into place.

It does not matter if your character is not as strong as you wanted them to be. They can still be kick ass and sweet and simple too. The most crucial thing is to make your characters likeable. Then you can pick the characters off one at a time if they don’t want to behave.

I must say, I can’t kill off characters as easily as Suzanne Collins did in Hunger Games. As I read her book I was miffed at how easily she was able to kill them, one after the other. In the end, I found myself saying – out loud – huh? Now why did she kill him off, I kind of liked him? He must have been a terribly crummy boy for her to do that to him.

Now I am learning the art of killing off characters (lol). At the 20% point of the work in progress, I have successfully managed to kill off one character. I wonder how many more characters that I can kill off by the end of the story.

Happy NaNo-ing and may your WIP treat you well for your next ROW80 check in.

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After Thanksgiving #ROW80 Check-in

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Holiday.

I know I did. This was the first year in a long time that my son has been home for the holiday. It was so good to have him here.

Main Aisle, Macy's 1st Floor, Black Friday
Main Aisle, Macy’s 1st Floor, Black Friday (Photo credit: LarimdaME)

On Thanksgiving night we went out and did the unthinkable and went Black Friday Shopping. What an insane idea that was. I didn’t know that there could be that many people living in the area to fill a store up the way it was that night. I mean everyone was parked everywhere, on the grass, in the road, and up on the highway. Then there wasn’t one single shopping cart to be found in Walmart. People were sitting on them waiting for 10 o’clock to come around so they could turn in their tickets to get their TVs they were waiting for.

I only managed to find three out of nineteen items I had on my list. I should have printed out a map of the store before going. Then I would have known where everything was going to be. Maybe next year, even though Mike said there won’t be a next year. I guess he didn’t have a good time being my personal shopping cart. But he was a good trooper none the less.

ROW80 Update:

This year I did not officially take part in NaNo WriMo. I was too busy struggling to get the first draft done for Road Salt.

So, I am happy to announce folks, the first draft is done. I made it to the end of the story. I even formatted the file for Smashwords and I think it passed the vetting process on its first time around. Now I have to begin the edit process. Hopefully I can have the first edit done by Christmas.

I did not make my end goal for word count on the first draft. One of the problems I have when I write is that I tend to write very tight, almost too tight. When I go back through the story I am sure I will be able to make my end goal after answering the same questions for each chapter.

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • How
  • Why

If I can answer all the above I am sure that there won’t be too many gaps in the story. This is what I did when I did the last edit on Friends of Choice. Just by answering those questions I was able to add another 14k words to the manuscript.

If anyone is interested in being a beta reader for me and giving me some constructive criticism on Road Salt you can view the first draft on Smashwords for free… https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/258513

The more ideas I can get on this story the better. I do know that I need to delve deeper into my characters for this story. That will be what my main focus will be on while I do the first edit.

It really isn’t supposed to be an entertaining read, but if I could make it entertaining that would be all the better.

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