Showing posts with label novel writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label novel writing. Show all posts

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sailing Through Your Plot: 5 Steps for Easier Execution

When you first conceptualize your story idea, writing flows free. As you write, new ideas join in and demand to be made note of for later and new characters arrive on the scene like it's a popular new club. This is a beautiful writing stage. But, even when it ends -- when you're fixing plot holes or are stalled, in need of new ways to move your plot forward; you can employ a few strategies to keep making progress on your story no matter the day or writing session.


Here are 5 Ways to Easier Execution:

1. Interview your characters.

Your characters (and your creative subconcious) know all sorts of details you need for your story. Ask your characters what motivates them and what they're scared of. This is helpful even for small details like what a character is wearing to his job interview, whether he is fighting hayfever, or if he is nervous about his bank balance. These give you a sense of what is of concern and what can move the plot forward plausibly.

2. Check back with your outline.

If you still need to make an outline, check out my free resource on the righthand sidebar. An outline helps to guide you when you are compiling ideas and want to combine them in an order that makes sense to your reader. It gives you a place to plug in those scenes written on envelopes or typed into notes on your phone. Outlines save time while allowing you to enter creative inspiration mode and let your mind explore, knowing you will have something to come back to and nothing will be wasted. (a note on finding out a scene does not fit after all -- do not throw it away! file it -- virtually or otherwise and use it as a resource for a future story that needs some more meat)

3. Explore your setting.

Setting often contributes to character and plot development. If a trendy coffee shop is nearby, the main character might decide to become a barrista, meet another important character there, or write some poems on a tiny table for one. Climate is going to determine what your character is wearing and what the local economy is doing (especially if it is a tourist town or a place with extremely cold winters) Use your setting to determine the direction of your story.

4. Map out character growth.

If you know your character is going to get less judgemental or defensive as she develops, put her in a variety of situations that will enable this to happen. Who does she have to meet? What will they say? What can she observe about life? Character growth is a great place to show not tell. Showing things makes your reader feel like they are discovering. Telling them makes them feel like you think they're stupid. Example: TELLING - Sara noticed she was feeling less defensive and judgemental. Contrast that with SHOWING - Sara couldn't remember the last time she had enjoyed a whole night out without worrying about what she was wearing, whether people liked her, or being put off by someone's unusual behavior. Jane was right, it was so much more enjoyable to live and let live. 

5. Ask why?

Going through your manuscript and asking why people are doing what they're doing means you will learn more about them. These character flaws and strengths will determine how they act later on in the story. Delving into that early on makes the story flow and make sense. Unless a character is growing or has had a life changing experience, you don't want them to start acting in a way that is not anything like what they have done in the past. Knowing a bit about them means you can introduce a plot twist and know instinctively how they will respond. 

Have fun employing these steps no matter where you are in your writing progress. They can be used more than one time. They are helpful in finishing up the first draft. They come in handy when you are filling plot holes identified in the second draft. And they are great for tightening up any loose ends before you send your manuscript off for its final copy edit. Feel free to share them with your writing community and compare how they work for you.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Completing your Writing Project with the Same Enthusiasm You Started it With

You know this scenario: you have a great idea, have made good progress with your action plan, but now things are starting to slow down. Your project doesn't have the same appeal, you are getting tired of the strategy, and you're starting to feel like you may never complete it. Is it doomed? No! You are just confusing strategy with outcome. The latter is the focus. The former can be replaced.



Here's how to go about doing just that:

1. Review what you want to accomplish and why you want to accomplish it.

Your writing project, when you first conceptualized it, pitched it, and started working on it; had promise and you were excited to make it happen. The reality of sitting down to write, fighting your inner editor, and worrying about the outcome may have dampened your enthusiasm. Maybe you're even worried that you'll never get it done at this rate. But you can recapture that first momentum by selling it again to yourself and picturing the completed project and what that will accomplish for you and how it will feel.

2. Post a visual representation of the finished project where you can see it regularly.

Designing your cover, author bio, and back cover (even if someone else will doing the real ones down the road) and posting them on your computer desk top or office bulletin board means the project will become more real to you and you will naturally be drawn to making it happen. You don't have to spend a lot of time to make it happen. Make a mock up in Microsoft publisher or canva or delegate the project to someone on fiverr

3. Brainstorm a variety of strategies for making the process enjoyable.

The beauty of the brainstorm is that ideas can be collected quickly. Don't limit yourself. Giving yourself permission to put down the ideas that feel silly at first can help you stumble onto some brilliant ideas (ie. paying yourself $1 for each 10 minute writing session = vacation funds and a finished project) You may find rewarding yourself with a walk, reading, TV watching, socializing etc also works. Maybe it's making your writing session inviting with a new venue, accessories, or favorite food or drink. Try a few strategies and record the results and you'll find what gets you producing.

4. Varying up the approach to execution.

Within the same project, you can take different approaches within your writing sessions. Let's say you have a book outline, several drafts with different tones and points of view, and an imbalance in the attention you have given the chapters. You will need to fill in the book outline, merge the documents and move the project over to the tone that works best, and focus on the chapters that need beefing up. These are all components of the project, but as long as you stay focused on the overall project and outline, you can do them in any order you want. Some days may be better for identifying gaps, others for editing flow, and others for research and developing further content. Having a flexible approach means one of the approaches will appeal on any given day.

5. Adjust the delivery date if necessary, but find a way to overdeliver.

Keep touch with your due date and the amount of work left to do when adjusting your daily goals. If you are far behind, set aside a stretch period where you will overachieve on your usual productivity. This is not a strategy that can work for days, but it is perfect for sprinting within the overall marathon of the project to make up time. You can also adjust your delivery date. Just remember to make your daily goals doable and then hit them consistently with your new approaches. Keeping focused on your project and steadily executing on it means it will be great when you finish up. Pace yourself and have fun.

Remember to stay away from negatives including approaches that haven't worked for you, days you were less than productive on your project, or defeating self talk you may have engaged in. Don't beat yourself up. Learning is part of the process. Review what has gone well, re-engage with your great idea, and go make it happen!

Saturday, October 08, 2016

The Secret That Can Help You Achieve More With Your Writing

Do you ever wonder why some writers manage to execute their word count consistently, learn new technologies and publishing procedures, get their work to market, and build network contacts all in the same hours per day as the rest of us?
Their secret is now yours.
High achievers in every field use a strategy, whether conciously or unconciously, known as speed of implementation.

Here are 5 ways to use it to your advantage:

1. When you learn something new, use it right away. 

Have you ever been in a workshop or read or watched something that was genius and you thought "that would help me" but then you put it away, got distracted, and when it occured to you later to use it, you had to go looking for it and review the process? Research shows that when we use knowledge right away, we retain it better, and will find more opportunities to use it in the future, both cementing our competance and confidence. When you learn, put that time invested to use. Think of the multiple applications it can have and try it -- no perfection necessary. You can always polish up something you've done, but if you wait to execute because you worry you won't have enough time to get it perfect; you'll likely be doing the reverse. Waiting means using the knowledge when you're not fresh from learning it. (If you want to try something new today: think book covers, marketing materials, or blog art, try canva )

2. When an idea comes to you, take action.

Taking action on a new idea doesn't necessarily mean bumping the current project. It may been a supporting idea that fits in your current project or something you can use as a side interest like a contest submission or a guest blog post. If it is something larger and something better put off, you want to get enough of the idea captured to come back to it later and start it up without a hiccup. A 1 page synopsis and an outline while it's fresh will do that. Also, if you meet up with an agent in the time between idea conception and execution, you will still have something to pitch. (If you're interested in having the opportunity to pitch to an agent or editor, sign up for the pnwa's annual conference early bird deadline and have pitches included in your registration)

3. When you meet a new connection, reinforce the relationship. 

Even if you don't start a new project with your new connection, introducing them to someone who would mutually benefit from the new contact keeps you in both of their minds. Adding a new contact to your social media outlets like facebook, linkedin, or instagram, or exchanging blog or website addresses also lets you have intermittent contact, making it a natural move to touch base when something arises that would benefit your writing careers. (For example, The Town Crier is accepting applications for a 1 month editor in residence with an honorarium attached -- assemble your list of 8-10 writers you'd draw on and apply here )

4. Use the principle towards your daily word count. 

You've heard me say it before: outcome is what matters, strategies can vary. Pick one and use it until you find a better one. You can reward yourself with any number of motivators. Use a writing prompt if that's what gets you going. Set up a challenge with a friend. Commit to a set number of words or minutes writing a day. Speed of implementation means that your scene concept becomes fleshed out before procrastination kicks in. This is why you'll see established prolific writers turn out a predictable number of books. They have practice consistently producing (and the motivating advances that accompany them). 

5. Fight the fear.

You may be a better writer than many you see in the marketplace, but if others don't see your work, what good is that to you? Bringing your writing to your readers is scary, sure, but it is also rewarding. When you receive constructive critique that improves your project, connect with a reader that really enjoyed your work, or inspire another writer to try; you will know why you're doing this. And yes, your work will not be loved by all, but that's ok. The world has plenty room for a variety of voices, subject matters, and approaches. Take a leap of faith and share yours today. 


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Keeping Your New Ideas from Sabatoging Your Current Project

Once you start to work and make progress on your project, it may look like all sunny blue skies ahead. But it is important to make plans for not only in case of writer's block, but also for what to do when that flowing creativity results in too many ideas. The newest idea threatens the one you are slogging through and looks like more fun/easier to execute/more interesting/what have you... If you have been at this for a while, you know following this path means you can land up with a bunch of good ideas and no completed projects.



The siren song of a new idea can spell death for the current project if it is abandoned before it comes to full bloom. That doesn't mean you have to hold off until this project is wrapped and launched before getting into the new idea. You just have to be smart about it. Here is the strategy to both stay the project's course and not lose the new ideas:

1. write it down

Taking the time to sketch it out means you won't lose the inspiration. You can add more ideas as they come up. Just keep the notebook or digital file nearby as more details are sure to come to you as you continue to work on the current project. If you don't get rattled by it, you can just enjoy it as a side benefit of creative juices flowing. And celebrate! You are generating twice the ideas you anticipated.

2. see if you can tie it into a series

Sometimes new ideas arise because you have hit upon a theme that especially resonates with you or the market is timely and references to it keep arising in daily life. Don't worry that you will lose out this opportunity. If it doesn't tie into your current work as a supporting book or series addition, just keep working on your notes. It might be a stand alone series by itself. And given the success model that sees authors of multiple books hit the best seller lists, this is a direction you'll want to develop in.

3. use it as a reward

Working on a new idea when it's hot has the side benefit of feeling like a reward. Working on your current project for a timed set (even 10 minutes) and then switching to develop your new idea for another five or ten is a model that when repeated can have you producing what you need to on your current project while not losing the momentum of the newly hatched ideas.

4. test it out

As you develop it, give your new idea some test runs by writing a short scene, posting an article or blog post on the topic, or discussing it with your fellow writers and beta readers. Taking it for a trial run lets you see if it is an idea worth pursuing and how much interest there is for it.

5. prioritize it

Not every new idea will make the cut and go long term project. That's ok. Keeping a running list with time frames and markets for them (agent submissions, short story contests, guest blog posts, linked in articles... etc) means you will spend the appropriate amount of time on each project according to its purpose. If you use vision boards, mapping out each project on one bulletin board (virtual or not) is a good way to keep an eye on each of them.

Let me know if this touches on your experience with new ideas. Do they help you or harm you when it comes to your production?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Finding Space to Write Even if You Can't Go Away


Before I started going away and investing in time at conferences, writing weekends, and on location writing; I imagined that not having had previous access to them was the barrier that was keeping me from more production.

But I was wrong.

As great as those opportunities are and they are great for networking, connecting with new information that can help propel your writing career forward, learning new skills, being creatively inspired and cementing your identity as a writer; they are not the answer to writing output.

Writing output is the work of snatching time throughout your day, as many times as you can per week, whether it is early morning, during breaks at work, or instead of your favorite TV show at night. It is rewarding yourself with a day off in which to write and guarding it on your calendar. It is setting the timer and making it happen, even if it is in 10 minute blocks.

Here are 5 strategies to try:

1. The Early Morning Silent House 

Set your alarm 1/2 hr earlier than normal. Wear clothes to bed that you will be able to write in and set up your writing instruments on your dining room table or office so that they are ready to go. Take the time to pour a glass of water or run the keurig but no more. Spend the time writing.

2. Breaks at Work

Have your scene ready to go and set a timer. Stand up and write if you want a change of position. You can also get up and stretch your legs by putting away items in your office after your break is over to avoid sitting all day even though you've used up your break.

3. Trading the equivalent of a TV show 

This is another set the timer option. If you want to add the novelty of "getting up during commercials" set the timer for 2 minute breaks every 10 minutes to give yourself a moment to stretch and let the dog out.

4. Alternating chores and writing 

This one has the benefit of having both chores and writing feeling the least like work and is my current personal favorite. Do a fast version of a usual chore. (whatever you are noticing most needs attention) and then write a specific word count (ie 100-500 words) and then go to the next chore alternating until you are out of time, chores, or have hit daily word count.

5. Rewards for a Job Well Done

Productivity research is now indicating that rewarding ourselves for something doesn't help us in the long run because it cements in our mind that the habit needs a reward and is a punishment in itself. The way around that (because who wants to give up rewards?) is to connect the reward to the habit you are trying to reinforce (for the writer: new notebook, jump drive, writing session, mug, pen, resource handbook, class or workshop, etc)

So, know you will get things done, even if this is not the season of wide open writing time for you. Your strategy is out there waiting for you to unearth it. Start experimenting!



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

3 Ways your Writing can Benefit from a Bad Day

Of course we'd all like perfect days in which to do life and in which to fit writing. Because shouldn't one make sure everything is going smoothly before trying to fit in something else? I don't believe so.




We can't control whether all of the conditions are ideal, but we can control how we respond to any conditions we find ourselves in. Responding with creativity is the best way to turn things around. And a bad day often makes the best creative fodder.
Here are the 3 ways your writing can benefit from a bad day:

1. It gives you believable characters.

A bad day makes you able to empathize with your characters. No one's life is perfect and writing about perfect lives is boring. We know what we know, but we also write about people different from ourselves. We need a broad range of experiences to give to these characters to bring them to life in order to resonate with readers. If one of your developing characters now gets put into your bad day situation, you can think through their response to it and work it into the storyline. A believable character is one who faces situations we can see ourselves facing and has human responses to them.

2. It can serve as a good read for someone else.

For your own benefit, writing your bad day onto paper serves to give you some distance. For others, it can be entertainment. Whether you write it humorously or poignantly, it can serve as a good read for someone else (who may well be escaping his or her own bad day) Good for you -- helping your readers out! A great story is one you can sink into. Readers who have this experience will be back for more.

3. Your writing will benefit from a production boost if you use it as a distraction technique.

Sometimes you'll need a break from whatever was going on that made it a bad day. Writing is the perfect fix. Getting into someone else's story is the exact opposite of minding your own business and it's a great break from reality. Your word count will thank you.

Sometimes a little rain is good for your art in a way that nothing else is. Benefit from it and then move on and have a great day tomorrow.



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

5 ways to fit novel writing into your busy life

The most often asked question about writing a novel is how to fit it in around obligations and the busyness of life, not to mention the exhaustion that can strike at day's end. Doesn't it take a big act of discipline to sit down to work on your novel when you'd rather be vegging out in front of the TV? Yes and no.
The thing is, creativity is the fuel for the rest of life. 
Making time for it is a matter of self preservation, not self denial. 
That said, there are a few tricks for getting life in order enough to do that work you'd like to do. 
Here are my top 5:

1. Obligate yourself to your art 

When you have advertised a deadline, promised someone a completion date for a commissioned piece, or set a progress chart and a friend willing to be an accountability partner; you suddenly take your creative work a lot more seriously. This is a positive cycle that once you set up and execute according to plan, is a momentum machine. You, by virtue of practicing your craft with regularity, now feel more like a working artist. Holding your identity more securely, you are less likely to fall victim to writer's block or any other creative paralysis. You know, because you've done it repeatedly, you can show up and create and will be happier for it.

2. Make the rest of your life easier

Likely you do not have large blocks of time just sitting around waiting to be filled. You will have to carve out the time. Be on the lookout for time you can capture. For example, when one season ends and another is to start, examine what activities are still in line with your goals or which could move over to make room for your writing. Grouping things like completing your errands all on one afternoon a week, socializing in groups, and speeding through chores on a set day, all work to reduce the time your writing is interrupted. By making a few changes in schedule, you should be able to capture a few sessions in which to do your creative work. (if you have a particularly challenging schedule, you can submit your question on how to make this happen for you to the everyday writing coach at everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com)

3. Structure your creativity to increase your freedom

Before you begin work, decide on a timer, a word count, or a template to fill. Having the structure in place means you can focus on the project's content. If you are in the planning process and don't have a clearly mapped out idea about where your story is going to go, channel the doodler in you and give mind mapping a try. It may seem like a contradiction, but the more outlines and supporting documents you have in place, the more you are free to explore your story without wondering how much farther you need to take it before it arrives.

4. Build in stepping stones

Each project is built from individual parts. They may not be as clearly laid out as the table of contents format, but you'll have an idea of where you need to go in terms of plotline, character development, or word count. The components of your structure give you the stepping stones for your project. It works well to tackle a small piece and complete it rather than go back and forth setting up for the writing event only to stop a while later because you've run out of time. Working in small blocks on the larger work means you will be thinking about the project in between your sessions and essentially writing in your head. It will also increase your overall excitement about your project.

5. Determine to be flexible

You might find as the summer days get longer, you have more time in which to write. You could do it then. Unless you are hosting out of town guests. Then, you could decide to work on your project before they get up. Perhaps you work on your novel on your lunch break, but you have a lunch meeting coming up. That day you could record ideas on your coffee break or while prepping dinner. You may have one desired outcome in terms of finished product, but you can get there a number of ways. Don't sabatoge yourself by being married to your first plan. Megan Hyatt tells us wisely in her great article on achievement and goal setting , "The way to achieve our goals is to hold them tightly and our strategies loosely."

Having a plan and building in creative community will make your writing happen. Enjoy it and come back and share your strategies with the rest of us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Don't Underestimate What You can Get Done In Your Lunch Hour




The other day, on my way to work, I reworked the illness of my main character’s mother and ironed out all the details that would affect plot line following. Before I knew it, I was at my turn off. I counted it as writing time. Because I know that this pre-work is what makes sitting down to write in a structured early morning session work.
When I started writing novels, each chapter was a page and they were housed in duo-tangs. Because when you’re seven year old writer, that’s how you roll. The main difference between my writing then and now is in the keyboard practice and schedule.
Sometimes aspiring writers get hung up on the fact that living adult life takes a lot of time – the working & raising a family obligations that cannot be shoved aside for leisurely days of writing. But this is not a new thing.
At seven, you can’t write while you’re at school, but you can run home and write in your orange duo-tang instead of heading to the park.
When you are in the child rearing trenches, you can’t write while changing diapers; but at naptime, you can sit down and work on your story instead of scrubbing the house.
When you have a day job (or two), you can’t write while commuting, but you can give your writing your lunch-hour instead of meeting a friend for lunch or get up early and write before doing anything else.
I am thrilled to work a seven year old novelist into my summer writing project. I have fond memories of my own orange duo-tang.
If you want to connect with other writers or get feedback on your project, put the 2016 Writer’s Weekend on your calendar (Oct 21-23 in beautiful Hope, BC) For more information email michelle.vandepol@ufv.ca or everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Books You Jump Out of Bed For

 holiday is also good for getting thrifting in -- 75 cent hammered silver cup my latest find.

If you are the kind of reader to have several books on the go at the same time, you are likely the kind of writer to do the same with your novels in progress.

So even though I have a few books I really should finish, I had to jump out of bed and write out the newest that came to me in a big chunk while trying to fall asleep last night: title, plot, sub-plot, main character, and even cover design. Time off work is good for the creative soul.

What writing hot looks like this morning: one fourth of a chapter in 30 minutes. At that rate, it would take 1 work week to get to first draft. But given that most of my writing is done cold (making oneself sit down and get to fleshing out the next scene) it will likely occur within scheduled early morning sessions before my daily walk. Even at that optimistic production rate, this means 100 days until draft completion. I think I have my 2016 project before me.

If you have a writing question or want some feedback on your 2016 writing project, email me at everydaywritingcoach@gmail.com

Saturday, October 17, 2015

bliss


It's that weekend again.
Writing fires have been lit, both literally & figuratively.
We have camped out until it's time to come back to the real world.
But first we will have our notebooks, and laptops, and endless cups of tea...

Here's what the weekend is all about

Saturday, November 22, 2014

visiting our annual haunt



This time I’ve been more present, less encumbered by first time nerves. I’ve been here to appreciate the humor of having to label my dorm room door because the first day at the end of a work week packed full I was too tired to remember which door was mine. (I found it on the third try --Allison will not let me live that one down ;)
I’ve been here to appreciate turning on the light and reading in the middle of the night without worrying about getting my religiously observed 7 hours or waking D who is also logging hours to fuel his next day (and who has the side of the bed with the lone lamp by virtue of keeping later hours and being no less voracious a reader).
I’ve been here to stare at the ceiling getting caught up in the old glow in the dark stickers which appear when the lights are all off to show me an artificial version of the big dipper, a clever trick that makes the room seem like less of the small containment cube it is.
I’ve been here to witness the first time nerves of other people, the palpable thrill when they say at loud what they only admit to themselves about their writing, and when I discover that my new favorite author could well be someone I’ve led through workshops only hours before.
I’ve been here to eat meals laid out at prescribed times, to get bossed around by a schedule I made myself, to thoroughly enjoy the feeling of camp, and to feel smiley on the inside when a fellow writer declares this the best camp experience she never had as a child.
I’ve been here at the writer’s weekend.
And next year, you could be here too.
 Email me to enquire about a spot. michelle.vandepol@ufv.ca

Monday, June 23, 2014

rooms of sadness and other things i study

read and loved this book. it was about the kind of darkness you have to read through fast so it doesn't sit too long on your soul, but half way through the book, it took a turn and the heaviness lifted and as a mother of boys, the relationship between mother and son really resonated with me.

currently studying some really interesting material and making notes for what may be the next novel.
if you need a writing prompt click here.
if you want to win $100 to spend on good eats click here

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

the next book's homestretch

tackled laundry mountain on my snow day.
released another finished short story to my reading team.
googled story research -- this morning -- what would be the typical heart rate of someone on life support?
this week is about getting my cover finalized in preparation for the new book's release in the next few months.
keep an eye on the blog for the countdown.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

fitting in words wherever they fit



fitting in words on my lunch break. updates: did join goodreads.com after all (thanks, sue for the good advice) just finished Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen and am re-reading A Moveable Feast -- both of which have not yet been recorded on the aforementioned GR. my office is decorated with quotes to work by and my Christmas gift from little c (who cut up a spotted webkinz and one of d's socks to craft his take on an etsy staple -- you know I love it :) if you have writer's block -- might I recommend "birthday cake tea" by David's Tea? (one of my co-workers got me hooked a few years ago -- it's like drinking dessert minus the calories) A note for you if you're located in the Fraser Valley and have thought of blogging but haven't been able to set aside the time to learn and set your blog up. Come to Blogging 101: we'll get you set-up, ready to go, and help you stock-pile posts. Because who has time for anything more complicated?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

rain sunshine sandwich

it's back to rain again.
but when it was summeresque to celebrate Victoria Day long weekend
i made all sorts of plans for the coming months.
and picked wildflowers in the field
and got my kids together with their friends
and got D & I together with our friends (a wonderful family bbq with d's college buddy and family -- minus our middlest who was camping with his friend but with little c who dazzled the visiting teenage girls with his endless energy and vocal strength and the high schooler who made like youtube was visiting and they were not ;) a ridiculous amount of eating, multiple rounds of my fave new game (D + I won by a slim margin which i was surprised about given his nature as a man of few words), and a few glasses of red.
and again with our dinner party crew (who 2 years in have tackled nearly every theme dinner out there in style) this one was a curry chicken extravaganza with deck lounging cocktail hour to start and a campfire to end. i am one of the most unimpressive participants in terms of foodieness -- my theory is to let the true stars shine and just play a relaxed supporting role -- my low key contributions were a plate of cut up Chilliwack Fresh and a blinged out curry colored shirt.  
about that rain. its fine for the work week where it acts as a charm for soccer and encouragement to write instead of garden.
 wildflowers make me happy
 looking next door. little c's horse friends live there -- we don't know their names he's taken to calling them lucy and stan ;)
 gumboots pour deux
an intentional bid to teach confidence and gratitude. little c loves it as much as the middlest did when I started it with him when he was the same age. how it works: you write something affirming about the child specific to them and their character and abilities and they write something they are specifically grateful for. no repeats. it's addictive and so much easier than telling them to stop whining. (ok, still have to do that ;) but it's a good way to cap the night off. set a number before you start.

Monday, June 04, 2012

i spy summer

today is not a good example, but it's been sunny. like break out some oil grown-up SPF 30 and sit outside a bit. so when it was, you know i rushed outside with a big stack of mags and some starbucks to soak it all in.
it started when i visited thetis island with my girlfriends last weekend. that got me started.
now i just want summer to arrive.
first though there is a few more weeks of work to get in and a fascinating course to finish.
my summer mode involves some e-book publishing too. so you know i will be reading geeky how to manuals at the beach.


for now we're in full june rush -- end of the school celebrations, fieldtrips, graduations, sporting events and yes, even a musical. i'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

planning dates, book formats, and other curiosities

sometimes i am mid day and realize there is quirk in there. like the other day when d and i met up for a romantic mid work day date (ok it was 20 minutes at mickey Ds eating extra value burgers and talking day logistics, but i counted it) when i realized he was wearing his computer techie shirt with his name stitched on it and i was sporting my work name tag. we are nothing if not easily identifiable ;) and today i realized the day's tasks might have chugged right along on the power of my secret curious george toe bandaid. (it's easiest to let little c do the first aid gear choosing as he does still believe in the power of the character bandaid.)

on the holiday front, the easter loot has been labelled and packaged. thrilled with my last minute finds (among them - a bunny car, a very manly viking ship cross-stitch kit, and a few good books) i do the kind of hosting that is easy -- hide a few plastic eggs, dole out the loot, pull the pre-glazed ham out of the oven, and serve peep chicks and bunnies on top of cake mix cake and icing (hey, it's cute and it beats bakery lard slab cake ;)

i am thrilled to be blogging at work as part of my job -- i will have to do some research on workplace blogs over the long weekend because the typing the occurs rapidly at home is more stilted there -- let me know if you blog for work and have pointers to get over the unexpected writer's block.

i am also seriously considering the next book's debut as an e-book given the popularity of all those hand held devices (no, i am not an owner -- still have managed to hold off on being a cell phone operator too -- amazing i know ;)  i like dropping off the map from time to time.  in unrelated news i found a copy of my book at the thrift store today (weirdly thrilling even though it means someone was thinking i'm done with this) so you know i grabbed it having given the last copy away.


i'm off to catch up on blogs before i take the boys on their paper route (the middlest keeps making like a carbon tax payer and off-loading the work on the other two to do in exchange for more $ -- it turns out he's too social to schlep. i'm on to him... ;)

Monday, March 19, 2012

snapshots that attempt to do the weekend justice




i am in love with these adorable bridesmaid heels that have a LBD to match.

there are good weekends and bad weekends and weekends where you are in love with your life. this last one was in the last category. from movie dates with d at home to lots of meals just us 5 that didn't have anything to do with me cooking, to plenty of fluffy reads and starbucks to some sweet times -- watching family movies together, little c revamping my old misprinted work nametag into something he could use, and tucking the middlest into bed amid his classic reads and artillery collection. i also acquired some iron bead earrings via little c's crafting. (i will have to find something wild printed to match them for a future dinner party). monday is d's guys night out so you know it's likely i am knee deep in a good book and having the kids make cupcakes. the novel is shaping into something coherent. i've decided to aim for a summer finish.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

the ghost of Christmas present

still reading. (i'm onto this one) this time among wrapping paper debris. little c awoke at 4:30am and told us about it and then waited patiently (shaking presents more likely than the couch sitting i was picturing as i slept) until 6:59. a minute before we told him he could wake everyone. the flurry has subsided, the coffee has been made, the middleschooler is back in bed, and the two youngest are on their second round of chess. i'm going to take that as permission to eat more chocolate and read more pages.

so thrilled to tell you i have acquired a job at the university i used to attend. the people are fabulous, the new schedule is amazing, and the work year coincides with the academic calendar which means i have calculated 2 months in which i can have 6 hour writing days and 2 months after that in which to do some old fashioned summer holidaying with the kids and d (when work can spare him)

i couldn't be happier. but will try not to get too pollyanna into the novel and wreck it.

ps. i watched The Christmas Carol this year for the first time ever -- i am glad it was this production -- it was amazing (i am often late to the classics -- took in Handel's Messiah for the first time live last year as well)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

of boys and storylines


it is precisely at moments like the other night on the couch when i looked up from where i was sitting reading, pretending to be into the family tv viewing choices, and saw my middlest, a half year away from middle school knitting something for his great grandma and accomanied by his plastic rifle to which he had added my exercise stretchy bands and his 10th birthday telescope to make it have a scope, that i love being the mom of boys. that mix of sweetness like a layer of icing on something much messier and noisier. so it is no surprise that i am thrilled my leggy blond sister in law gave birth yesterday to another little sweet Vandepol boy. the middleschooler couldn't wait to rush to the hospital to welcome him. yes, we were a family of those annoying visitors only a few hours after the actual event. i would feel worse about that, but she is the type to offer you her chair when you come in, and be home quick as a wink and then out galvanting with the toddlers in tow two seconds after that.
today is a tackle that to do list day, more storylines (more mother and teenage girl drama dialogue) arrived in my head this morning while dashing out for treats for the kids' lunch. so you know i will make time to scribe those down too.