Monday, September 30, 2013

What to write

I've been so focused on meeting my self-imposed deadline for completing my manuscript, I didn't give any thought to what I would write about for this post. I usually start thinking of ideas at the end of the prior week for each Monday's post. And now it's time to write the post and I have no idea what to write about.

I could tell you I'm about 60 to 70 pages out from completing the first draft of my manuscript. It's taken much longer than it should have to get the first draft down on paper.

I could tell you how I met friends for dinner last Wednesday. Though we keep in touch through email, I don't actually see these friends except when we meet for dinner every 6 months or so. The strange thing is when we do get together, it seems no time has passed at all since we last had dinner. Is it because we keep in touch with weekly emails in the intervening time? Or is because we know each other so well?

I could tell you about the book I'm dying to read but am not sure I'll have time to start it this week. Maybe I'll tell you more about it on this week's What I'm Reading Wednesday post.

I thing I can tell you is it seems Sundays are the fastest day of the week. I never seem to accomplish everything I set out to do on a Sunday. I've tried whittling the day's "To Do" list down so I have a better chance of getting everything crossed off by the end of the day but I always seem to have one or two items left on the list at the end of the day. 

Oh and one last thing I can tell you. It's hard to write a blog when you have no idea what to write about. :o) 


Friday, September 27, 2013

This I know for sure...

I'm a list maker. Lists of things I need to do on a daily basis, weekly basis and sometimes, if it's going to be a busy month, a monthly list as well. I also make lists of books I want to read, books I want to buy, things I need to buy at the grocery store, and around the holidays, gifts I need to purchase just to name a few types of my lists.

I tried giving up my to do lists for a couple of weeks and felt like I was doing the things that needed to be done at the last minute and that they weren't done as well as they could have been. I even forgot to do a couple of items and when I remembered, it was days after the thing should have been taken care of such as returning library books. I believe in supporting my local library, but I hate paying overdue fines.

The lists help keep me organized so I'm back to making my lists.  My name is Katherine and I'm a list maker.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

This week I'm reading the contemporary romance Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins. My sister picked it up at the library for me. I'm only about 90 pages in and I'm really enjoying it.

Here's the blurb:
After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon's Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father's wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she's not thrilled…even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.

Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist's assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn't the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn't the only thing that needs a little TLC….


Monday, September 23, 2013

Today I'm over at Mia Downing's blog sharing a couple of funny anecdotes about my writing life. I hope you'll stop by and share a funny incident in your life.  Link: www.miadowning.blogspot.com

Friday, September 20, 2013

This I know for sure...


This post was inspired by a conversation with an old friend whom I call Sally. Sally remarked that one of our mutual friends would never be a success in life because she spent too much time volunteering instead of putting all that effort into doing things that would bring her more money.  Our friend works a full time job making a pretty good wage as well as volunteering a couple of nights a week and on weekends so it surprised me that Sally had written her off as being unsuccessful. It also left me feeling sad that our friend is living a wonderful, fulfilling life and yet others consider her to be less successful than she could be.

It left me wondering how other people define success. I realize everyone has their own definition of what being successful means. And that for some it can mean making millions of dollars, or winning an Oscar or Emmy or Grammy or any other type of industry award that brings a measure of prestige, or hitting the bestseller list, or even having raised a great kid who's become a productive member of society.

So I ask...What does being successful mean to you?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday...or Not

I've had a busy few days since I posted last Wednesday so I'm still reading When I Find You: A Trust No One Novel by Dixie Lee Brown. Since I don't have a new book to post about, I thought I'd share a breakfast recipe I make for the holidays or if I need to serve brunch. I hope you enjoy it.

Egg and Bacon Pie

6 slices bacon (I've used turkey bacon)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 large eggs
5 large egg whites
1 cup milk (I use 1% milk)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10 inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned. Remove from the skillet. Allow to cool.

Add the olive oil to the same skillet, then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Transfer to a large bowl. Add eggs, egg whites, milk, flour, dill, salt, and pepper to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Crumble bacon into the bowl and stir in mozzarella. Pour into the prepared pie plate. Top with the tomato slices. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over tomato slices.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the top is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

*Makes 8 servings

*I serve it with fresh fruit salad and toast. If you're going to serve it alone, cut it into larger pieces, but it will serve fewer people.

Monday, September 16, 2013

15 Minutes

The other day I was bemoaning my lack of consistent exercise to a friend. Having her own busy life and responsibilities, she commiserated with me and then told me about a trick she just learned from her new personal trainer. (Her husband bought her 10 sessions with a personal trainer as a birthday gift per her request. She's hoping it will jump start her exercise plan.)

Amy, the trainer, said a lot of people think they don't have time to exercise because they think they have to do it for 45 minutes or more to get any results. That's not necessarily true. On the days my friend doesn't have a training session, Amy suggested she exercise 15 minutes a day every day with the goal being to exercise 100 consecutive days. Surely, she could squeeze out 15 minutes a day without too much of a problem.

Three weeks later, my friend has exercised every day so far. The first couple of days she watched the clock like a hawk and as soon as she hit the 15 minute mark, she was done but then she noticed she started going a little longer - 17 minutes, then 21 minutes. She's up to 25 minutes and she says she doesn't feel like she's sacrificing anything else to exercise a little longer than the original 15 minutes.

She marks each day that she's exercised with a little smiley face on her calendar and says she likes being able to see all those happy faces lined up in a row at the end of the week. It gives her a sense of accomplishment.

Needing to exercise on a regular basis as an attempt to stall having knee surgery, I'm taking the advice of Amy. Starting today, I've scheduled 15 minutes to walk on the treadmill every day this week. I don't know if I'll make it 100 days in a row, but I'm certainly going to try. I even went out and bought little smiley face stickers to put on my calendar.

Friday, September 13, 2013

This I know for sure...

A person's health is one of the most important, yet neglected aspects of  every day life. I have really bad knees - 4 knee surgeries within 4 years and 3 of those were within a 16 month time span. Between yesterday and today, we've had a couple of cooler rainy days and I've been hobbling around because the dampness is making my one knee ache miserably.

While I try to eat healthy 80% of the time, I don't exercise on a regular basis. It's more here and there if I can fit into my day. I know if I exercised on a more regular basis, it would help with the pain and stiffness. Like the commercial for Celebrex says, "a joint in motion, stays in motion." 

I need to make exercise a priority, now just to find the time.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

After reading a non-fiction book for the last 3 weeks or so for research purposes, this week I'm back to  fiction.  I'm now reading When I Find You: A Trust No One Novel by Dixie Lee Brown.

 Blurb:

As a former Marine, Walker could find a needle in a haystack. But when he's asked by the U.S. Marshals to track down a nanny fleeing from the mafia, he's sure she'll be more trouble than she's worth. Especially after the sexy little thing clubs him and leaves him for dead. Walker's stunned by her courage—and her curves—and can't help feeling drawn to this damsel trying to dig her way out of distress. He'll find her, and when he does, it'll take more than the mafia to tear him away.

Darcy Maddox never expected to be running for her life. But when it suddenly looks like foe may become friend, Darcy's faced with a choice: Go it alone or trust a man she just met—never mind the way his touch gets her heart pounding. The choice seems simple enough until she realizes it's not just her life at stake—it's her heart.

I've never read anything by Ms. Brown but I have to say I started it last night and had a hard time putting it down so I could go to bed. Even only being a few chapters into the story, I'd say if you're looking for a good romantic suspense, go get a copy of this book.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Writing Routines and Rituals

One day last week as I was getting ready to write, I realized without any intentional thought on my part I had somehow in the last month or so developed a routine when I wrote. Prior to the last 6 weeks or so, I would come home from the day job, talk with my mom for a bit, and then sit down at the dining room table with my laptop. I'd write a paragraph or two (or less), get distracted by something or someone who happened to stop by (most of my siblings stop by a couple of days a week to visit with my mom) and before I knew it, my designated writing time was up and it was time to make dinner. If I managed to get 5 pages a week written, I considered it a good week.

Determined to finish the first draft of my current WIP (work in progress) by the middle of October, I knew I had to stop the distractions. I started retreating to my bedroom instead of sitting at the dining room table. I still talk with my mom when I first get home but try to limit it to 30 minutes. She was fine with the new limit but I felt guilty at first. She pointed out we talk at dinner and during clean up and while watching the news so I felt better and that I wasn't neglecting her by spending such a short amount of time with her when I first arrive home.  Now when one of the siblings stops by, they yell hello up the stairs. I yell hello back and continue writing. I also started writing longhand in a spiral notebook while listening to classical music. The words seem to flow better and, on some days, faster than when I typed directly on the laptop. 

Now when I arrive home, I visit with my mom and head upstairs, my cat leading the way. I lay horizontally across the bed with my notebook and Ipod. (I only use one ear bud and leave the door open in case my mom needs me.) The cat jumps in the window and suns herself while I'm writing. Some days the words flow like water, other days like molasses but each day I write at least 5 new pages. 5 pages a day instead of 5 pages a week.

When I mentioned to a fellow writer the difference the change in my routine has caused. She said she found she had better results when she lit a candle before she sat down to write. She felt like the lighting of the candle was a signal to her brain that it was time to write. She has noticed a difference in her output on the days she starts her writing sessions by lighting a candle versus the days she doesn't.

So now I'm curious -- Do you, my fellow writers, have routines or rituals you follow when writing?  Do you notice a difference in what you're able to accomplish when you follow them versus when you don't?


Friday, September 6, 2013

This I know for sure

I'm an "Eeyore" type person by nature. My closest friend calls me a pessimist, but I prefer the term realist. I do admit that I tend to be a bit of a cynic, but I've been trying hard the last year or so to change that.

The other day I was looking through a magazine and there was a lithograph with the following Chinese proverb:
         I cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from passing over my head,
        But I can keep them from building a nest in my hair.

I'm adopting it as part of my campaign to stay more optimistic about things in general so on those days that I find myself backsliding, it will remind me that any situation can be worse if that's the attitude I have.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I'm still reading Deadly Fighting Skills of the World by Steve Crawford. I know, it's going on three weeks and I'm still reading the same book. My excuse is that there's a lot of information so I'm taking copious notes, highlighting passages, and bookmarking pages with sticky tabs.

The weather here in upstate NY has gone from hot and humid one day to cool and in the mid 60's the next so this week I'm sharing a cold weather recipe that's quick and easy and a big hit in my house.

Crock Pot Chili

1 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup dry red wine (When my sister makes this, she uses water instead and says there's no noticeable difference.)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 - 15oz can of kidney beans, undrained
1 - 14.5 oz can Italian style stewed tomatoes, undrained. (For a kick of extra heat, you can use Mexican style stewed tomatoes with jalapeno peppers instead.)
Shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Cook the ground beef in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat until browned, stirring it until crumbled. Add the chopped onion and next 7 ingredients (up to and including the garlic).  Cook until the onion is tender. Pour everything in the skillet into a crock pot and stir in the kidney beans and stewed tomatoes. Cover with the lid and cook on the low heat setting for 4 hours. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.

Makes 6 - 1 1/4 cup servings

Monday, September 2, 2013

Celebrate?

For those of us who live in the US and Canada, today is the Labor Day holiday. A day off from work to celebrate workers. Sounds strange, doesn't it? 

Here's the official definition from the US Department of Labor:
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. 
(Copied from http://www.dol.gov/laborday/history.htm)

So I plan on celebrating my contribution as a member of the American working class by sleeping in (It's a rare treat not to have the alarm go off at 5:15am on a Monday morning.) , leafing through a few magazines that I haven't had a chance to look at, and spending a leisurely day doing whatever my heart desires.