Writing Contests

This is rather annoying. I keep running across various writing contests and, without fail, I'm unable to participate. Either the deadline has passed by the time I stumble across the notice or I don't have anything to submit that fits the contest criteria. Of course, I could write something that fits, but the deadlines have been so tight that there's no way I could produce anything worth mentioning.

I need to stock my arsenal. I need stories that have been written, revised, and polished. Stories sitting there anxiously awaiting their turn on the front line.

Of course, if I had completed stories hanging around, I'm pretty sure I'd be sending them out to agents and publishers. I guess what I really need is more warning! More time to brainstorm, sketch out the story, and get the words on the page.

On the off chance someone out there has a romance story ready to be shipped out the door, there's a contest up and running at Gather.com. The prize is publication. Here are the details. (Hint, hint, Joely. You are so ready for this next step!)

Number Update

I have been writing. Not as much as I'd like, but sometimes RL has a way of interferring. We had to go to the in-laws' today to celebrate two birthdays and an anniversary. It was a very nice visit and I quite enjoyed myself, but I barely got 300 words after we got home tonight.

The numbers below reflect the progress made since my July 25th post.

Starting Word Count: 43,712
Ending Word Count: 46,372
Words Gained: 2660

Not good enough. Not by far. I really need to buckle down and get serious. My goal for this week is to break 60K.

It Doesn't Seem Fair

One of my sisters is going through a rough time. Again. It seems bad luck follows her around like a rabid dog. Just when things start to look up, she gets knocked down and bruised all over again. Bitten in the ass, so to speak.

I can't tell you how much it breaks my heart.

I'd like to wave a magic wand and fix everything for her. But I can't. Some problems are beyond the scope of good intentions. All I can do is listen and be there for her. And pray. Pray that God has a reason for hitting her with blow after blow. Pray that God will reward her greatly for all her trials and tribulations.

I just wish He'd hurry up about it.

Writing Update

Okay so I haven't made much progress since my last post on the subject. A week vacation and two nights of Harry Potter have thrown me off my stride. However, I did make a little bit of progress tonight.

Starting Word Count: 43,143
Ending Word Count: 44,712
Words Gained: 1569

Hmm. That's more impressive than I thought it would be. Go me.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows

I didn't get the book until Monday morning when I showed up for work. Danielle, the sweetheart, picked up my reserved copy when she stopped in to get hers. Since I was out of town on vacation this worked very well for me. Of course, I must admit I spent most of Saturday and Sunday lamenting over the fact that I would have to wait to start it after most everyone I know had already finished it.


But, I did eventually get my grubby hands on it and I managed to read it in...let's see...about 8 hours. Too bad those eight hours were spread out over two days, but I couldn't very well blow off work just so I could stay home and read!

I don't want to give away any spoilers. There are things I liked and things I thought could have been better. I'll give it a couple of weeks and, if I remember, I'll post my opinions. All I can say is I did have a "Ha! I knew it!" moment. I love being right. :-)

Home Again

If you haven't guessed..I was on vacation last week. My husband gets a tad bit upset when I announce to the world that we're leaving the house unattended for extended lengths of time. Can't imagine why! So, I left you in a lurch and I apologize.

But look at what I did while I was on vacation! That's a bear cub, people! A playful, inquisitive, bear cub who had a slight fascination with my hair.

In addition to visiting a bear ranch, the family (and by that I mean my extended family) also walked along a small section of Pictured Rocks, went on a Shipwreck boat tour on a glass-bottomed boat, went to a children's museum, trudged down many a trail to find a pretty little waterfall. At night we'd sit around a campfire and talk. There were many late nights, but I'm not complaining.

We even decided to spend an extra day in the area. Luckily the campground could squeeze us in. It was a close thing according to the hubby.

Our last day was spent with my cousin and her family. Everyone else in our group packed up early that morning and headed home. Not that I blame them. They had two very young children with them and they had been packed into a small camper and a tent for five days. I would have wanted to go home, too.

We spent our last day on the shipwreck tour and lounging around the campground. We took the kids swimming and ate dinner at a decent time for once. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

The trip was made all the sweeter by the knowledge that Alison Kent had drawn my name in her first drawing for the 70 Days of Sweat Challenge! Thank you, Alison! I hope you received my e-mail. I was in a hurry to get out the door that morning and had barely had time to post my numbers.

Saturday Numbers

Total Word Count (as of right now): 43,143
Total Since Last Update: 1119 new words
Total Since Beginning the 70 Days of Sweat: 5,481 new words!

Word Count Update

I'm done for the night. Ready for bed.

Here's the ending word count: 42,024.
That's 1,636 new words since my last check-in.

Not bad when you consider I went to the movies last night.

Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix

After work yesterday I took the boys to go see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. My goodness are those kids growing up! I'm curious to see how they're going to pull off the last couple of movies when its obvious the cast has matured beyond their book counterparts.

Not that it matters to me really. The story is what's important, not the age of my three favorite characters. (I will be sooo pissed if any of them dies in the last book...)

Watching the movie with the boys was funny. My oldest boy is a lot like his mom in that he doesn't care all that much for "scary" movies. Not that he thinks HP is exactly scary. He likes most of the movie just fine. The only parts that really get to him have that dramatic music score pounding through the speakers. He covers his ears, closes his eyes, and tells me "take my ears off, mom, when it's over."

Take his ears off. How funny is that!

My youngest, on the other hand, is quite a bit braver. He only flinched a couple of times. And he never covered his eyes.

I have to say I was incredibly impressed with Looney Luna. The casting was brilliant. I hope the girl playing her gets the acknowledgement she deserves.

I don't want to post any spoilers. Although if you've read the book, there really aren't any. They did a fair job of sticking to the plot and explaining things in the time allotted. My sister, who is very picky about such things, was even impressed with how well they did.

Happy Belated Independence Day!

My nephew in the parade

Now, this may come as a surprise (only if you haven't been paying attention!), but the family and I went camping over the 4th of July weekend. We pulled out of our driveway around noon on Wednesday for a brief road trip. The kids had just enough time between destinations to watch Bridge to Teribithia on the portable DVD players.

The long weekend (5 whole days) went by much too fast. I have to say, though, that so far this has been my favorite camping excursion of the season. I read. I wrote. I drank. I swam. I played "hillbilly horseshoes". I drank. I ate watermelon. I played horseshoes. I swam. I drank. I read some more. Wrote some more. And drank some more. Not to worry, though, not all of my beverages contained alcohol. After all, I had to be mom during all of the daylight hours.

By the end of our mini-vacation the group had already decided to come back to same campground next year and had made reservations. We asked for eight sites, but I'm hoping I can talk my family into joining the fun, which would bring us up to possibly 13 sites total for our group. I'm not holding my breath, though. My family has been voted the "least likely to commit". We'll call them spontaneous and leave it at that.

All I know is..next year our little family of four will be there!

Microsoft OneNote

Before I discovered Microsoft OneNote, which comes packaged with Office 2007, I was using NewNovelist-Version 2. Now, I've always been fond of NewNovelist, but it has its drawbacks. For instance, I started writing my story within the word processing portion of NewNovelist only to discover the export function did not work quite as well as the program claimed. I could export only so many pages. This required some copying and pasting to get the exported Word file up to speed with the NewNovelist file.

I also had trouble with the character profile section. For some obscure reason, it wouldn't hold images. The character questions didn't display in the most reader-friendly format. Too many clicks in my opinion.

Still, even if it didn't work quite the way I'd like, NewNovelist kept everything together that I needed. It kept me organized. And I need all the help I can get when it comes to story organization!

Then my work released and installed Microsoft Office 2007 on my office machine. After playing with the new features, I decided I wanted it installed on my laptop, too. A couple months later and I have it at home now, too.

This means I don't have to use NewNovelist anymore, because I've found something better. OneNote files can be shared across multiple machines. By saving my WIPs on a thumb-drive, I can take my stories and their related data with me.

Although I'm still relatively new to OneNote, here's how I've started setting things up:

1) For Series work I create one OneNote notebook. I name the Notebook after the Series, not the title I'm currently working on.

2) I then name the first tab "Word Docs" and link out to the respective Word documents that fit into the series. Right now, I only have the first book in progress, so there's only one link right now. But I already know that my villian in the first book is going to become my hero in another. Well, as much of a hero as he can become...you can't expect miracles!

3) Then I created a "New Section Group" and named it "Character Profiles".

4) Then I created a tab within the Character Profiles for the current WIP.

5) Inside that tab, I created several new pages and renamed them with my character names. I figured that the characters may appear and reappear in subsequent stories, so I'll want to have their info easily accessible. Yet, I'll also want to know what story they were in, how they first appeared and how they were left.

6) Each character page is populated with a series of questions. Everything from physical description to best friend's name is in there. I answer those as best I can, filling in as the story goes in some instances.

7) I also can use OneNote's capture feature to go browsing for pictures on the internet. When I find one that inspires me, I can capture it from any website and paste it into this same character sheet.

8) Once I've played around enough inside the character group, I can go back to the upper-most level and create another group for "Research". This time each tab is named according to the type of research. For instance, my current book is about vampires. So one tab might be named "Vampire Myths" and another "Biblical References". My story has a lot to do with God and Satan, good vs. evil.

I think you get the idea.

So, if you happen to buy a new computer and it comes with Office 2007, give OneNote a chance. It's a pretty impressive tool.

The Hubby Made it Home

As the title of this post implies, my hubby made it safely home from Boulder, Colorado. His plane came in on Friday. I got out of work, ran to the airport, and sat reading my book while I waited for his plane arrive. I really didn't have to wait too terribly long. The funniest thing was that he noticed other familiar faces and walked right by me. I had to holler a couple of times to get his attention.

The couple he recognized are the parents of one of his college friends. They were waiting to pick up their daughter who had just gotten home from Iraq. The hubby had been on the same plane and hadn't even recognized her...she looks a lot different in her soldier's uniform and buzzed haircut.

I hadn't noticed them standing across the way because I was, of course, reading. I sat facing the terminal exit and had my back to them most of the time. Oops.

After saying farewell to the soldier and her family, we made our way to baggage pick-up. It didn't take long to find his bag and make our way out to the temporary parking lot. Twenty minutes later we surprised the boys and their grandparents.

It was a nice little reunion. The hubby was definitely missed.