Friday, January 25, 2013

Things I Have Learned So Far

I'm not through with my journey writing this novel, but here are some things I've learned so far.

1: If you’re gonna pants it, prepare to edit. A Lot.

Pantsing. Discovery Writing. This thing I do when I'm just starting and trying to make a blank page not so blank by filling it with thoughts and voices and observations from a brand new character's point of view. Since starting this novel, I have done a ton of research in learning how to write and edit. But I started by jumping in and writing. When I hit a few snags, didn't like where things were headed, I listened to more writing advice and joined a writing group. After I figured out where my story had been and where it was going, I wrote an outline and a synopsis. Some things I’d started with just weren’t working and so I changed them. Halfway through. This meant my writing group who was getting chapter by chapter were now getting chapters that did not mesh with some of my changes. This is why I say join a writing group after you have a complete MS, but, you know, it's not like I follow my own advice, ever.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Who Am I?

self-portrait, 2006
Today's Writing Prompt: Who Am I?
(Snippets from an essay I wrote when I wasn't writing my novel.)

From a physical standpoint, I'm not sure I can say there's anything markedly different about myself from anyone else. Not my hair, my eyes, my height, or my somewhat lumpy feminine shape. I am told all the time that people have met my twin somewhere. Not even my name is unique. Christine van Soolen is also my cousin-in-law who lives a few states over, as well as a murder victim in some crime novel. (Although fair warning: If you address me as, “Christine,” I’ll assume that either I'm in trouble or that you're talking to the lurking shadow behind me. Careful there, my shadow is a dragon.)

So who am I? I am dreams, wishes, and stars on a summer night. I am laughter, compassion, games, and wisdom. I am giggles, secrets, whispers, and books stuffed on a shelf. I am busy, bloody, grumpy, overwhelmed, frustrated, and vulnerable. I am an unending desire for chocolate and a need to hit something. I am love, friendship, motherhood, patience, hugs, and kisses on the cheek. I am clutter, spattered paint, and smudged charcoal. I am she who listens to wind, paints the clouds, and converses with trees. I am strange, weird, hard to understand, opinionated, and bossy. I am words overflowing, ideas refusing to be ignored, stories wishing to be told with bright colors.

I am everything and nothing. I am enough.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Conversations On Math

Snippets of conversation with my daughter about math:

Beau: If I pass my AP Calc test, I won't have to take Math 1050 in College
Me: That'll be awesome. That was not my favorite class.
Beau: Mom, did you take any other advanced math in college?
Me: I took Statistics
Beau: That doesn't count.
Me: Tell me that again after you've taken it online.

A little bit later:

Me: I took Statistics as my 2nd math class because I did not want to factor polynomials any more.
Beau: But those are easy! And factoring is used all the time! How can you hate it?
Me: Give me Chemistry math any day, I can do that. It makes logical sense and I can visualize it. X amount of this to mix with x amount of that to yield Y and Z in solids, liquids, or gasses. It makes sense. Factoring polynomials? Are you kidding? That's like trying to see music.
Beau: Mom. Chemistry makes no sense at all. The whole idea of these teeny particles that are constantly in motion, but while in a solid? That's confusing.
Me: But solids are constantly in motion.
Beau: Mom, your eyes are weird. That's why you have glasses.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Game of Domestic Goddess

Originally posted as a note on Facebook, August 4, 2011, I panicked today when I couldn't find it here on my blog. Ah the joys of getting old, but it was one of my favorite posts.

I decided to re-post it here to share my geekness with the rest of everyone. You're welcome.

Today I leveled up in the game of Domestic Goddess:

I achieved the Feat of Strength "Berries Aren't Just for Bears" while handpicking ripe currants and blackberries from my back yard. My little ones were in tow, learning how to ignore the bees and bugs to get to the juicy ripe red berries.

Monday, January 14, 2013

For the Love of Books

Why do I love books? Oh, let me tell you.

My earliest memories are of my mother reading to me. Everything she read, she read aloud, from scripture to The Exodus or The Silver Chalice. I’m surprised I still remember the names of those books. I couldn’t have been more than four when she was reading them to me. Curled up in bed, she’d already read my favorite story, “Dory and the Weather Box,” and I was sleepily imagining pink clouds and purple lightning as my mother opened her own book to read. She would sit in the room with my brothers and I until we were completely asleep.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness

The winter storm Gandalf hit last night. (Yes, some wise-guy named the storm Gandalf. I'm totally serious.) There are a lot of people in my neighborhood who walk, whether to the bus or to work or to the store, there is a lot of foot traffic in front of my house on a daily basis.

Since today was considered a snow day and my kids had the day off, we went out and tackled the foot of snow that had fallen. And then tackled the snow on the sidewalks in front of our neighbors houses, too, because people were walking in the street.

Kudo's to my kids who cheerfully pitched in to help make life easier for those who life around us. Mina did the walk in front of one neighbor's house all by herself while I worked on the walk in front of ours. And then we tackled the other neighbor all the way to the road crossing together.

We're drinking hot chocolate now and watching more snow fall. It was a good morning full of good deeds.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Today I successfully completed the following quests: Serve A Neighbor, Write Sprint, and 10 Minute Cleaning Spree. This earned me 3 physical points, 5 mental points, and 2 social points. While doing those quests, I successfully fought the Guilt Monster, avoided the Procrastination Station, and the Sticky Chair. However, the Sleepy Face monster totally got me this morning, and I slept in again (after getting the kids off to school.)

I know I posted about playing the game of Domestic Goddess … like, what, a year ago? Well, someone actually made it a game. It’s called SuperBetter, and for a gaming addict like me, it’s totally awesome. I get points and skill-ups for things I do all the time. My goals are small and reachable, and my friends (allies) can send me personalized quests and awards. It’s pretty awesome. It’s not a time sucker; I don’t spend all day on the web site, I just log in once every couple hours when I’m checking facebook and twitter and update quests and bad guys.

Monday, January 7, 2013

First Drafts

Oh my goodness, I'm going to do it again. Another post about writing, and writing groups. I couldn't help it, though. Robison Wells () tweeted this gem this morning: "In the first draft, the ghosts just visit Bob Cratchit; tell him he's had a wonderful life." And all of a sudden I could hear all of the various responses in the voices of people in my writing groups.