Friday, December 30, 2011

My Year in Review

A year ago, I posted three major resolutions here. And for a while afterward I wrote weekly progress reports so that the cyber world would see how successful I was at keeping them. But soon life got in the way and I slacked off. At least, that happened for two out of three. So I guess the usual thing to do would be to do a recap and then next week I'll start out with my new resolutions.

My three resolutions were simple: Write more, weigh less, and create stuff. The third resolution was designed to make me start using up the basement full of craft supplies. Seriously. My basement is FULL of fabric, threads, wooden pieces, paint and other miscellaneous items only crafters would get excited about.

The writing resolution became easy to keep because I started to go somewhere with it. I finally submitted a story to a publisher and it was accepted. That kind of opened the floodgates and I've been writing steadily ever since. I've had three stories accepted so far, so I can't complain about my lack of progress there.

Weighing less is another matter. I like to eat. I like to put off things I find unpleasant, like cleaning my house and editing my writing. Eating is a way of avoiding them. Also, my husband is a very good cook. I don't want to insult him by not eating the fabulous meals he puts in front of me. That just wouldn't be right!

Sewing is one of my favorite things to do. I make time for it by working with two charities, making fleece hats with one group and quilts with another. Tuesdays are my sewing days. I go and meet with these groups and sew. I feel good about that. But this isn't helping me get rid of the stuff in my basement.

What am I going to do? As someone wise once said, we all have the same number of hours in a day. And since I'm basically retired (sort of) and my kids are self-sufficient, there's no reason I can't handle these three goals. I'm going to make a new plan and see if I can't get a little more balance in my days. Next week I'll start on it and share my ideas here. Like last year, I think I'll be able to stay more accountable if I'm sharing my progress with the world (or whatever part of the world happens to come here).

Wish me luck!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

This year, our family will celebrate Christmas a week late. That's because our daughter and her family will be traveling several states away to spend the holiday with her in-laws, who are anxious to see their son and granddaughter. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. The biggest advantage is I have an extra week to get ready for the festivities. I'm almost done with my shopping, but I can take my time cleaning and wrapping, and I have more time to write. The disadvantage is that Christmas Day is going to be super quiet with just the hubby, our younger daughter, her dog, and me.

On the other hand, the quietness will be kind of nice. Everyone but me will probably nap. I will have the entire afternoon to myself. There are a million projects around here waiting to be finished. Sewing and craft projects, reading material, cleaning, and of course, writing projects. The difficult thing will be deciding where to start. Generally I just work on what needs to be done next.

So I guess my Christmas gift to myself is time to indulge in whatever I feel like doing. I have no idea what it will be, but it will be something I WANT to do, rather than something I HAVE to do. And I'm not going to feel guilty if something else isn't done.

I hope everyone has a fabulous Christmas and that the next year brings you every happiness.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! I have one last sample from my Christmas novella, The Christmas Phoenix. Hope everyone has a blessed holiday season!

Jess munched happily, enjoying her meal, realizing this was the first meal her son had prepared for her by himself. He had helped Doug fix her birthday and Mother’s Day breakfasts, but that was long ago. He really was capable of feeding himself. Her dad had mentioned Rory needed more responsibility.

“You’re spoiling your son,” he’d said. “He’s going to turn into a wimp.”

She’d thought he was being too hard on his grandson. “He’s only fourteen, Dad,” she’d insisted.

A part of her knew her dad was right. But it was so hard. She’d start to ask Rory to take more responsibility, and she’d remember him standing at his father’s grave, so lost. And then she’d do the work herself.

“Mom, have you ever heard of a phoenix?” Rory’s question brought her back to the present.

She swallowed her bite before answering. “Sure. It’s a mythical bird that lives for a long time and when it burns, a new phoenix comes to life from the ashes. Why?”

“We’re studying myths in Language Arts. We’re supposed to write about a myth that applies to our lives. I think the phoenix’s story is a lot like us.”


“Because we had to start over again after Dad died. It was really tough for a while, like the fire and the ashes. But I think we’re starting to make it.” He bent his head over his notebook.

Choking on the lump in her throat, Jess couldn’t have responded if she’d tried.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out more excerpts at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I had dinner with my second eldest granddaughter last night. She's now eighteen and finishing high school. A huge difference between last year and this one is that she met me at the mall rather than me picking her up! She has her own car and works for a lot of the things she has. We talked about her college and career plans, as well as how her senior year is going. We shopped for her birthday gift and then she helped me find some Christmas gifts for her siblings. And then she drove herself home.

I've been taking her out for birthday dinners since she was about four years old, so I've watched this young lady grow from a precocious toddler into a strikingly beautiful, intelligent young woman. She's a caring individual, and to use an old phrase, "she has her head on straight." She's been through some great times and some tough times, but she's going to succeed, I just know it.

So I guess the point of this post is that I am so proud of my kids for raising such good kids. What a wonderful legacy. Life is good.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! Here's another short scene from my Christmas novella, The Christmas Phoenix:

"I imagine youสนll be busy for the next month, with the

holidays coming up."

"I suppose. The orders are starting to come in, now that

some people have seen my work. But my sister Donna is expecting

me at her house in Chicago for Thanksgiving."

"That's next week."

Jake's hands froze. His jaw dropped, and his eyes opened

wide. "Next week? Oh, no. I've gotta go shopping. We're

exchanging Christmas gifts because she and her family are going

on a cruise in December." He put the bowl down and started to

pace. "I hate to shop. I never know what to buy." He looked up at

Jess. "What should I get her?"

Jess laughed. "How would I know? I've never met her."

"Well, no, but you're a woman. I thought…well, never


She took pity on him. "When do you leave for Chicago?"

"My flight leaves on Wednesday morning."

"You've got plenty of time. Finish your vases for the

banquet, and then if you want me to help you shop, call me. I've

got Monday off from the hotel."

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and check out the samples from other fine authors at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Guest Blogging

Today I'm a guest at Brea Essex's blog. I'm talking about strong women as characters. Come and visit - and leave a comment!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Chainsaw picture from Mike's Garden Blog
Welcome! Here's another scene from my newly released Christmas novella, The Christmas Phoenix, available at Astraea Press. Jake finds himself encouraging Jess' teenage son to get up and help his mother:
Rory shuffled into the kitchen, poured himself a glass of orange juice and took it into the den, where he plopped down onto the couch and picked up the television remote.
“Mom, the TV’s not working.”
“I know. The power’s out. That’s why I’ve been outside getting wood.”
“Oh.” He put down the remote and picked up a video game.
Jess’ phone rang and she excused herself to answer it. While she talked, Jake looked over at her son.
He was taller than his mother, and looked pretty healthy. Why was he sitting there on the couch while his mom did all the work?
"Hey, kid."
The boy's fingers stopped, but his head didn't move. It was difficult to see his eyes through the hair covering his face. He'd just have to assume he had the kid's attention.
"Your mom's been working pretty hard out there. Why don't we help her out?"
The boy didn't move for a while, and Jake wondered if he'd overstepped. Finally the boy shrugged, and stood. Jake stood almost eye-to-eye with him. He wanted to shake the kid and ask why he would let his tiny mom work so hard, but held himself back. He didn't have the right. Better to just suggest strongly and hope the kid got the message.
"If the power is out for a long time, you two will need a lot of wood. More than what she has out there. I'll start cutting, and you can bring it to the side of the house. Okay?"
His words were again met with a shrug, but at least the kid was up. Jake wondered what it would take to elicit a verbal response, but decided a shrug was better than a refusal. Best to pick his battles, he supposed.
He held his tongue again when the boy grabbed a sweatshirt before following him to the shed. Did he really think a sweatshirt was good enough to protect him from the sub-zero temperature? Well, the boy was old enough to know better.
Jake found the chainsaw and got it to work. He and Rory went around to the north side of the house.
Hearing a door open, he turned and saw Rory go back inside. He took a deep breath to calm his anger. How had Jess saddled herself with such an irresponsible punk? Grumbling to himself, he pulled the chain and started to cut. He had a dozen or so pieces cut when a pair of gloved hands picked one up. Ah. The kid had finally realized he needed to dress for the weather. He now sported a snowmobile suit and a pair of boots.
The suit was a few sizes too large for the boy. It must have belonged to his dad. But though it hung loosely, the arms and legs were just the right length for him. Rory apparently had his father's height. Must be the dad’s boots, too. Poor kid.
He went back to cutting wood.

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and be sure to visit other great authors and their samples by going to Sweet Saturday Samples.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Projects

I'm no Martha Stewart, but I love to make things for Christmas. One of my holiday traditions is to make stockings for each of my children and grandchildren. They're not huge stockings - just big enough for a candy cane and several pieces of chocolate. The kids always take their stockings home, so I don't know if they're kept or not. But they've learned to expect their stockings, and I'm happy to make them.

Another annual project is fleece hats. I belong to a group called Warming Ears Ministry. Twice a month, four friends and I bring our sewing machines to my friend Diane's home and we spend six hours or so creating warm fleece hats in various styles and sizes. Most of them are given to charities - shelters, food banks, and other missions. Others are given to schools and others places expressing a need. Though most of the hats are distributed in the wintertime, we sew all year long. This year the six of us made over three thousand hats!

Last year, the Warming Ears Ministry had a last minute request for hats from a local charity. We had enough started, but they needed finishing. I offered to take them home and asked my two oldest granddaughters to help me complete them. I explained to them who the hats were going to, and they both readily agreed. We spent a fun afternoon sewing, cutting fringe, and tying knots. They shared their school experiences, and we finished the hats in no time at all. They felt good about themselves, and I was so proud of them.

I think the best gift we can give our children and grandchildren is the spirit of giving. The gifts don't have to be large or expensive, but when given with love, they benefit not only the receiver, but the giver. When we do that, we begin to understand the miraculous gift that is the basis of the holiday we call Christmas.