Monday, March 30, 2009

Running Backward Up A Hill Blindfolded...

I realize that's what I've been doing recently...I can't see where I'm going and I'm having a hard time seeing what's right in front of me, or behind me, as the case may be.

I've got end-of-winter blahs and I think that has a lot to do with my inability to get back to revisions. I'm burnt out. After November's NaNoWriMo and the holidays and starting revisions- I'm simply burn out.

Spring is coming- see my peach blossoms? Aren't they purty? They make me smile, just like the blossoms that are coming out on my lilac (the first year I'll get to see it in bloom- if the frost doesn't kill them off).

Still, as pretty as it is, it doesn't fill me with the desire to work on my writing. I haven't gotten the overwhelming sense of urgency that I HAVE to get the revisions done in quite some time and, as I said before, a break away should be good for me. I need it every once in a while and I haven't had time away since, I guess Fall Break last October.

It always does me good to touch homebase- to go back to where my roots were so firmly planted. It revives my sense of "me" and maybe that's something that's missing from my writing/revising right now. I'M not there with the characters- nope...I've crashed and burned into cinders, so it's time to pick them up and glue them back together or gather a few fresh parts of myself to bring back- regenerating bits and pieces of me and reigniting the core of where the fire to write burns in my gut. I need the kindling and the spark and I know where to find it.

These trips back home are the main place those things reside. I'll get the fire going again. I'll come back with a new fire lit under me and a stronger desire again.

Hope everyone has a great week!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Work and Other Things

Well, I'm 2 weeks smoke-free and I've still not gotten anything done with revisions. Of course, that's probably going "on hold" over the next 2 weeks and maybe I can come back to it refreshed and ready to read through and really dig in like I need to.

The reason for 2 weeks I won't be able to concentrate on it? This week I need to get the house cleaned up and pack mine and my daughter's things for our annual Spring Break visit in my hometown with my family the next week. So this week is going to be filled with dusting, vacuuming, getting all the laundry caught up in a major way, figuring out what hubby wants to buy for himself that week for meals, etc.

I've been sticking with the Gazelle. 26.25 miles this past week and feeling pretty good. Not sure what I'm going to do about it while I'm up visiting my family. If the weather's nice enough, I'm hoping to go walk at the park on the walking trail. I know I probably won't be doing nearly as many miles as I do at home, but walking on the Gazelle and walking a park path are a bit different, so I hope it still evens out.

Anyway...if you don't see or hear much from me over the next two weeks, fear not- I will return. :o) (Hopefully rejuvenated and rearing to get back to work.)

Have a good one! I'll try to post when I can.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Getting Back in the Groove

Yesterday I actually opened the manuscript I've been currently working revisions on and I worked through about 17 page, though I didn't add much to it...maybe 50 words, but it's better than the "nothing" I did last week.

Of course, today hubby has taken off work, so we'll see if I get anything done. I've been needing less distraction, but haven't been getting it. Last week my sister and I played Scrabble online against each other everyday and I just haven't been able to concentrate for anything.

I have been 10 days smoke-free and I've been doing 5 miles a day on the Gazelle other than over the weekend. I lost 2 lbs in 2 weeks. This week I started doing 5.25 miles, so we'll see how that goes.

I've been trying to eat healthier, but in doing so- all the fresh veggies and fruit is taking it's toll on my stomach. I've had an upset tummy since last night. Woo hoo!

Trying to get things organized and ready for a couple weeks from now when I go up to visit with my family during the kids' spring break from school. My grandmother sent me some irises and I planted them yesterday morning down along the side of the house. Hubby's mom is definitely having to take it easy so she doesn't have another attack. They're still not sure what set it off, but she got to go home yesterday from the hospital and she's on a bland diet.

I'm going to see what I can get done today. Have a good one!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Good Grief!

This new Internet Explorer 8 is driving me crazy this morning...I could go to just about any other website but I couldn't get in HERE! LOL

I was about ready to pull my hair out...

This week's felt long, but I feel good. I haven't had a cigarette in a week- Of course I haven't gotten any revisions done, but I think this is a time of baby steps for me and for once I'm not "multi-tasking" everything. Hopefully next week will find me pulling things together a little more and getting back to revisions while I go through Week 2 of not smoking.

Right now my thoughts are pretty single-minded, though I am also thinking about my mother-in-law. She's been in the hospital the past two days because she had a pancreatic attack. The doctors don't know exactly what to do for her, though they have her on antibiotics right now, I'm assuming to help bring down swelling or infection around her pancreas because it's swollen and has fluid around it.

Have a good weekend everyone. I'm going to try to get back to blogging next week.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Top O' the Mornin' to ya!

I'm feeling my Irish heritage this morning. If there's truth to my ancestry, my great great (not sure how many greats- too many to count this morning) grandfather Newton came over from Ireland in the 1790's. Of course, my bloodline is a huge mix of German, Dutch, English, Irish and possibly Scottish. It's hard telling what else...but my red hair inspires me to lean more toward the Irish side.

I sent my kids off to school dressed in something green today and I myself am wearing green, too. No need to get pinched if you don't have to, right? LOL

I would love to travel to Ireland and go kiss the Blarney Stone. It would be cool and the whole gift of gab would be wonderful, but I'm pretty darn gabby as it is...so not sure what that would do to me! LOL

I didn't plan ahead this year to have anything Irish for meals. Wish I had gotten some cabbage at least, but didn't think about it- but anyway...

Here are two of my favorite toasts..

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be ever at your back:
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and the rain fall softly on your fields:
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
May those who love us, love us;
And those who don't love us,
May God turn their hearts;
And if He doesn't turn their hearts
May He turn their ankles
So we'll know them by their limping.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lucky Tomorrow...

Tomorrow is St. Patty's Day and I'm hoping it brings me good luck- not only with the whole stop smoking thing, but also to get me back into my revisions. I've been putting it off in lieu of what else I've got going on, but tomorrow I'm going to put distraction aside and get some more work done on the one I've been working on.

I really need to- I need to learn to work on my manuscripts without my old habit so I can get used to it. Who knows- maybe I'll find I get even more done without stopping for a break ever so often. We'll see...

Hope everyone has a good evening.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Taryn Up In Smoke

I started another blog adjacent to this one for my daily diary/journal-(You can find it under my profile, of course) because tomorrow I'll be starting the patch to stop smoking, if anyone wants to check out that blog. Thought it might be better to have a separate blog specifically for my journey to kick the habit.

Taryn

Spring Into Writing with KYRW

Click on the Spring Into Writing with KYRW Flyer to see full version.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I've Got a Bridge To Cross

This week has been a rough one on the personal front. A lot going on that is better kept to myself, but let's just say that's why I took a step back and haven't posted in a few days. I've been at an emotional crossroads.

I've added extra scenes to my current revisions, but there were other things on my mind and heart this week that took precedence over everything else.

One was my own ridiculous slide into melancholy- and the sudden overwhelming fear that engulfed me with self-doubt about my writing. I hit a downward spiral and found myself crying like I haven't in a very long time. Made me feel like a silly little child, bawling my eyes out and wondering what makes me think I know anything about writing romance novels.

This sprouted its ugly little head on top of numerous other things- things that are and aren't beyond my control- It's just been a crazy week and I'm looking forward to a trip to Wal-Mart tomorrow, even if it's mostly to pick up darling daughter a new pair of shoes. She's outgrown her 10's and the 10 1/2's she has are really snug...so size 11 it will be!

In the midst of all this insanity I've gotten back to the Gazelle- after a month away. On Monday I did 2 miles. Tuesday was when everything welled up on me and overflowed, so I figured I'd make up for what I missed the day before. Instead of simply doubling my "miles walked"- I decided to try something different- an hour on the Gazelle, just to see how much I could get out of it. I wasn't breaking much of a sweat doing 2 miles a day- so in just under an hour- I tackled 5- so Wed, Thur and today I did 5 miles each. Go me! Now if I can just keep that up 5 days a week! Maybe I'll add a mile or two on the weekends- just to keep me in the habit.

Another thing- my husband and I are both smokers, but the recent price hike has given us a lot to consider. I've been smoking for 16 years, so this is going to be tough, but I know I can do it, though I might need help from one of those smoking cessation products, but it will be worth it to get rid of a habit I shouldn't have started to begin with. I'm truly tired of it and though I haven't quit cold turkey before, I am going to tackle this.

I realized at this very moment that I haven't mentioned my smoking on here before because- in all honesty- I'm ashamed of it and I know in this day and age it's looked down on, but considering I'm finally at a place where I feel I'm done with it, there's no need for me to shamefully hide in the corner. I'm making a good decision for myself and my family and I know that. Please feel free to hold me accountable! LOL (I'm sure support and encouragement from friends/acquaintances would help tremendously.)

It will save us so much money and it will also improve our health, our lives and our children's lives, without a doubt. Please wish us luck in this. Last night we were talking about it and I said something about how we're going to "try" to quit and I said, "Scratch that- we're not 'trying' to quit- We're GOING to quit."

So needless to say, there's a lot of changes occurring in my life now- A lot of turning inward to find answers, to understand and to make major adjustments where they need to be made- emotionally, mentally, physically and health-wise.

Shew! That felt like a mouthful! Have a wonderful Friday and a lovely weekend!

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Bit of a Breakthrough!

After my weekend filled with laundry, dishes and cooking and sharing recipes, I thought last night that I needed to do a little brainstorming for my revisions. Last week sucked. I was stuck and it seemed I had NOTHING more to add. I got some things added, sporatically, but otherwise I'm way off the word count and 59 pages off from my goal.

So where do I go from there?

I went back to my character questionaire sheets that I filled in before I started writing. I forgot my heroine could play the piano. I hadn't included any scenes that had that! I suppose I forgot because it was a talent she didn't remember she had either! LOL But now I know there could be room to add a scene with it, especially since the hero is musically inclined as well.

There's some other quirks too- things that need tweaking, so I can add those.

My hero rebuilds classic cars in his spare time..oops...forgot that, too. Would fit nicely to incorporate more interaction with his brother, brother-in-law or his best friend- resulting in a conversation in regards to his situation/feelings for the heroine.

I'm sure I'll stumble across more now that I reopened the gateway to who my characters are.

I've also determined today will be the fresh start I need- not just for my revisions, but also for me to get back to doing the Gazelle, so here goes! I'm off to improve myself and my novel!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Round the House

I haven't done any revisions today- mostly laundry and dishes and cooking- which brings me to my recipe for round steak that I mentioned in the previous post. Thought I would go on and share it so I don't forget.
It's actually a recipe I found online and though I don't get a chance to fix it very often, it is a nice change from the same ol' same ol'. I usually buy round steak when its part of a special meat sale at our grocery.

Round Steak Supreme

1 1/2 or 2 lbs round steak (top or bottom round- recipe calls of thicker, but I use the thin)
Large jar sliced mushrooms
1 envelope dry onion soup
1 envelope or beef bouillon

(You can also add fresh onion and green pepper, if desired)

Place Round Steak in a foil lined 13 X 9 casserole dish. Drain mushrooms and spread across the top of meat. (add onion and green pepper here if desired). Sprinkle with dry onion soup mix and beef bouillon. Save back packet from onion soup mix and add 2 packs of water. Wrap tightly with foil.

Bake at 350ΒΊ for 2 hours. (says to serve with white or beef flavored rice. Purely optional. I fixed it with mashed potatoes and corn this time around)

Food Stuff

Yesterday I tried out a recipe I just decided to throw together. Actually, it was going to be something else altogether- Cheese Ravioli dish- but apparently our local grocery pulled their frozen cheese ravioli from their freezer- even though I had seen it there for the past month or so and I used to work at the same store in my hometown- the cheese ravioli wasn't a "temp" item, so I was quite baffled they didn't have them anymore.

Guess that's what I get for passing by the freezer compartment the past several weeks and saying "I'll get them some other time." I should have gotten them "then."

So anyway...since they didn't have the ravioli- I got some penne pasta and threw this recipe together. I'm certain it's probably not original or unique, but it was different for us. Hubby and I liked it- 6 y/o- not so much..

Sausage and Green Pepper Penne Pasta

1 lb tube of Sausage, grounded and browned and drained (I used Tennessee Pride Mild)
1 or 2 Green Pepper(s)
1 Tbsp stick butter
1 16 oz box of Penne pasta
1 jar Spaghetti Sauce (your favorite- I used mushroom)
1 8 oz bag of Italian Blended Shredded Cheese
Cooking Spray

1. Cook pasta until tender and to your taste, while you brown the ground sausage.
2. Cut peppers to suit (bite size) and saute with Tbsp. butter. Leave slightly crisp.
3. Drain pasta- use the same pan to mix together the cooked sausage, peppers and spaghetti sauce and heat.
4. Mix drained pasta back into pan and stir well to mix all ingredients.
5. Spray a 13 X 9 casserole dish with cooking spray and pour pasta blend into it.
6. Sprinkle top with Shredded Cheese and put under broiler long enough to melt cheese and slightly brown.
Serve with favorite garlic bread.





Tonight I'm making Round Steak Supreme. Perhaps I'll share that recipe later.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Life at the Keyboard- Music

Like most writers, I spend the majority of my time during the weekdays here- in front of the computer. I check emails, chat with friends, blog and read other blogs and I work on my novels and revisions with all those notebooks and pads of paper scattered around me- sometimes with music as the backdrop and sometimes the comforting silence is my companion. Depends on what I'm dealing with at the moment.

Weekends are a bit harder because I don't have a writer's cave I can disappear into. I'm planted in the living room and weekends or days off from school/work for the kids or hubby tend to become a major distraction. Hubby usually has to have to television on or the kids are playing or needing something at all times. It's then that I slam the headphones on and lose myself in music that fits what I'm working on. It varies.

Sometimes I make a playlist of really romantic soft slow songs and other times I just need that pounding rhythm rocking it out, blurring the lines around me so that I'm sucked into the story.

During the writing process, I generally use songs that fit the moment, the momentum and the emotion my characters are going through. There are scenes that need melody, but not lyrics and that's when I turn to one trusted musician-Jim Brickman. Any of his piano instrumentals can give me the boost I need without so much as a word (though I still can include the one he did with Martina McBride- My Valentine.)

I have seen times where music cannot possibly help me and so I turn it all off. No music, just sweet comforting silence. Well, almost silence- the computer humming, the ceiling fan's whirring, the washer or dryer in the background.

My musical tastes and needs vary from novel to novel. During the writing of my paranormal historical, I chose songs that haunted me, slow, heartbreaking songs that filled me with melancholy and heartache in order to achieve the mood I needed to get the emotions onto the page. A few songs in particular from when I wrote that one are from The Ben Taylor Band's Famous Among the Barns album. Island, No More Running Away, Rain, and Tonight.

During my contemporary about the country singer- yes- I absolutely relied on country music to do it for me. Brooks and Dunn, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Clint Black. I used Garth Brooks (as Chris Gaines) with songs like That's the Way I Remember It, Lost in You, and Driftin' Away. This one is not linked because the CD was discontinued by the manufacturer. Maybe it wasn't his brightest, shiniest moment when he went a little split personality- but I actually really liked the CD and the songs I mentioned in particular.

Most of what I use are songs from contemporary artists. The list could go on and on but a few of my all time favorites to use while writing are-

98ΒΊ-Was It Something I Didn't Say, Take My Breath Away, I Wasn't Over You, Don't Stop The Love
Maroon 5- She Will Be Loved, Must Get Out, Sunday Morning, Sweetest Goodbye, Little of Your Time, Won't Go Home Without You, Nothing Lasts Forever, Goodnight Goodnight, Not Falling Apart, Better That We Break, Back At Your Door (sometimes their entire albums)
Alicia Keys- No One, Like You'll Never See Me Again, Fallin'
Whitney Houston- Nobody Loves Me Like You Do
Meat Loaf- If This Is The Last Kiss (Let's Make It Last All Night)
Robin Thicke- Flowers In Bloom, Cherry Blue Skies, Complicated, Lost Without U, Sidestep, Magic, The Sweetest Love, Cry No More
Jewel- Stronger Woman, I Do, Thump Thump, Loved By You (Cowboy Waltz), Near You Always, Morning Song, You Were Meant For Me

There are plenty more, but I'll save any other references to music choices for another blog, but I will leave on this note. One of the ones I have used the most and actually listened to over and over again is Sara Bareilles' Little Voice.

The link takes you to the newer version, which has a 2nd CD I didn't get when I originally got it.

Of few of my absolute favorites off there- One Sweet Love, Gravity, Love Song, and Between the Lines- Fairytale is fun, but in all honesty, it's an absolutely great CD all around.

Do you listen to music when you write? If you do, what are some of yours? Are there any songs you find yourself listening to repeatedly, regardless of which manuscript you're working on?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Feels Like The First Time

Inspired by a little thought that trickled through my mind while reading a comment to my previous post, it really got me to thinking about what writing a first draft is REALLY like- at least for me.

Fellow Kentucky Romance Writer Amy Durham said "I don't want to nit-pick on the first draft. That's when the writing is so fun, and all I want to do is just WRITE!"

So you might ask, what is writing that first draft of a novel like?

For me- It feels like the first time.

The beginnings of a whirlwind romance. The first time your hand meets his by accident and ZING goes your heartstrings. That first kiss, that first touch, the first time you make love to the man you know your heart belongs to, who's heart belongs to you.

I know it's the romantic in me who sees this comparison as completely plausible. I don't fall in love from my head- I fall in love from my heart, so it makes sense that when I write, I do the same. I write freely, without worrying about the nit-picking of my internal editor. At least I try my best not to, because writing that first draft IS fun and exciting and it moves me in ways I never dreamt possible. So in that respect- it's very much like falling in love for the very first time.

The story seems to rise up like the first tingling embers of a gentle caress and it spreads through you like wildfire, igniting passion and desire and the need to take things to the next level. And when you're caught up in that moment in time, looking deeply into the eyes- searching the heart and soul, of someone (or in the case of a first draft- something) you love with your entire being, you give yourself over to living in those moments and experiencing it, tasting it, feeling it. You let your inhibitions go and give yourself over to learning to trust what you feel and allowing your heart to lead you where it may.

In a love relationship, especially a new love, you don't critique every first touch or kiss or embrace. You don't find fault with your beloved. It's new and you want to see where it will go- how long it will last and whether it's meant to be the forever-after kind of love you have always longed for.

There will always be "problems" that have to be worked through later in all relationships, but falling in love for the first time is the rare opportunity to express yourself as openly as possible without fear or rejection.

You don't say- "Well, your kissing technique could use some work."
You don't say- "How about we 'fix' you?"
You don't say- "No, no- You're doing this all wrong! What's the matter with you?"

LOL

No, you are lost in his eyes, centered and focused on the emotions you feel, the racing of your heart and being on sensory overload. Everything around you is beautiful and it makes you feel good. It puts you on a natural high and you want that feeling to continue and grow and deepen. And in truth- you'll never love this way again- not like you do in the beginning of that relationship when everything is so new and fresh. It burns upon your memory for a lifetime.

There's emotional gratification from being in love and feeling love just bursting at the seams. Sometimes it blinds you to other things going on around you because you're so caught up in the swirl of emotions and joy. You can't imagine anything ever being better.

Writing a first draft is like that. When you can "fall in love" with the story and just allow yourself to feel it- to know it in it's unaltered, uninhibited natural state, without questioning it. In turn, you also give yourself permission to bare your soul and connect to the story- not just the grammar and sentence structure and punctuation and page count, etc.

You'll never pour the story out with more emotion or more openly than you do the first time you write it. Sometimes relationships/stories are smooth and easily fall into place like traveling down a fresh section of interstate and other times they aren't- they're bumpy and hard to navigate like an old country road that's never been paved and has potholes everywhere (dare I say "plotholes")- but either way- usually worth the trip.

And yes, you'll have corrections to make later, things to work on, and improve upon, to make the story stronger and more cohesive and lasting. But that's the great thing about love AND writing- you start a new relationship OR story with the sparks and fire and anticipation of the things to come because you're not holding back- You give your heart.

Sure there will be issues that come up down the road- after the romantic notions take a back seat to "real life," but with either one- if you want it badly enough, you'll work hard to sustain it, to improve it, to make it the best "LOVE" story you can possibly have.

(Could I rambled on enough this morning? HEHE)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Battling Conflict Internal

The Internal Editor (I.E. for short) can be a rather tough cookie for us writers. "She" can be loud, obnoxious and noisy and tends to be a blabbermouth. Now, of course, I reference I.E. as a she because "she" is a part of me.

I am sure there are those who appear to have no internal editor and just write like they think, talk, react- giving little thought to grammar, punctuation, tense, sentence structure, etc. I'm sure they have an internal editor hidden somewhere, but perhaps not nearly as mouthy or prominent as others. Perhaps he/she hasn't grown into the behemoth most of us writers have grown to know, love and hate.

Our internal editors are helpful when it comes to revisions, but when writing a first draft of a novel- sometimes not so much. It depends on how we balance out the logic with the fantasy of what we write. Sometimes our I.E. is so locked in on corrections and perfection that it overpowers our ability to write what's in our heart.

"Writer's Block" sometimes settles in as our Internal cautions us that we need to "fix" everything before we can move on. Other times, our characters give up even trying to tell their story because they have to fight and scream over Internal's constant criticisms about what's been told so far, or how it's written and how wrong we are.

Everyone's method of getting their stories down is different. I've found, that for me, it works best when I bind and gag my I.E., toss her in the closet and slip her a little nourishment from time to time so that she doesn't die completely while I type my little heart out.

I'm not ashamed of her by any means. She's a hard worker and points out the things I need to fix, polish, edit, reword, rework, etc.... but there comes a point where I can't think for all the sputtering nonsense she overflows with while I'm in the middle of a first draft.

She drowns out the heart of my story and makes me doubt myself and my ability to write. I have to make her leave for a while because I can't concentrate on what my characters are telling me or follow their lead if I keep listening to her and going back to change this or that.

Do you listen to your Internal Editor while you write your first draft? Or do you lock him/her away until you reach The End?

Is there any way to balance writing and internal editing? Can you do both with success simultaneously? Can they work together in harmony or does there need to some boundary line- a division- between the two?

This has been a recent topic of discussion on fellow writer, Devon Matthews' blog. Feel free to join in the discussion here or there.

What works best for you? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.