Monday, February 29, 2016

Happy Leap Day

Happy Leap Day. Here are a few fun facts about Leap Day or Leap Year.

      1.  Julius Caesar introduced the first leap year in 46 B.C., but Pope Gregory XIII tweaked the math of when the leap year would fall when he introduced the Gregorian calendar approximately 1,500 years later.

      2.  A whole leap month is added to the Chinese calendar every 3 years.

      3.  People who are born on February 29th are called Leaplings or Leapers.

      4.  A few well known people who were born on February 29th are motivational speaker Tony Robbins, musician Jimmy Dorsey, actor Dennis Farina, and rapper Ja Rule.

      5.  The Titanic sank in a leap year - 1912. Gold was discovered in California in a leap year - 1848. General George Custer was defeated at the Battle of Little Big Horn in a leap year - 1876.

Friday, February 26, 2016

This I know for sure...


I scheduled today off from my day job a few weeks ago. I wanted a long weekend to just be. And what have I been looking forward to doing most on my day off? Going to the library and the bookstore to browse to my heart's content. Most of the time my trips to either place are quick in and out affairs. 

Looking forward to spending the rest of the weekend with a book in hand and maybe a cookie or two.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress):  Revised two chapters and added new scenes that help move the plot forward.

Quote of the Week: “To fear is one thing. To let fear grab you by the tail and swing you around is another.” ~ Katherine Paterson

What I'm reading: I'm still reading Thread of Fear by Laura Griffin. I hope to finish it within the next couple of days.

Random things: As you can tell, I collect quotes. I write them down on anything I have handy at the time, from scraps of paper, to a napkin, to a gum wrapper. I keep them in an old jewelry box. I've started typing them into a Word document because some of them are becoming illegible with the ink fading especially those that I wrote on the back of receipts.

Random Photo of the Week:

                                                 A winter sunset in my area. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Revisions

I'm starting to think revisions have become the bane of my existence, at least in my writing life. I've been working on revisions for this manuscript for far too long and yet I don't seem to be any closer to being finished.
 
Some authors revise their manuscripts as they go along, others write flat out and then go back and revise after the story is completely written. Just like everything else in writing, there’s no right way or wrong way to revise your manuscript.  There’s only the best way that works for you.
 
For me, I use to alternate between the two depending on the story and how well it was flowing and how much pre-thought I put into the plot, characters, etc. The last two books I've written, I wrote from start to finish with no revisions, just a few notes here and there as I moved forward. I'm thinking this not the best way for me. I feel like it's taking me twice as long to get the revisions done as it has in the past.
 
I've rewritten entire chapters from a different character's point of view, eliminated entire paragraphs that seemed to serve no purpose, added more dialogue, more emotion, and internal thought to give the reader a better feeling of how and why a character is acting the way he/she is. The problem is I feel like I get so wrapped up in following the “rules” we’ve all been told when we first start writing that I’ve revised the life right out of the scene or chapter.   
 
Writing is a series of processes and one learns as one moves along in their writing what processes work best for them. I've definitely discovered I need to go back to revising as I write.

Friday, February 19, 2016

This I know for sure...

We received 18 inches of snow in approximately 12 hours this past Tuesday. My employer closed our office so I was lucky enough not to have to risk life and limb driving to work. Instead, I spent a large portion of the day shoveling snow.

While I was shoveling my sidewalk, the new neighbor next door was doing the same. He finished doing his own sidewalk and parking area and came over and started shoveling around my car.  I thanked him and he said he was happy to help.

Later when I was shoveling the front porch and stairs, a young man I'd never seen before was shoveling out his car that had been parked across the street and covered in snow from passing snow plows. We both worked on our respective areas without speaking. I moved down to shovel the sidewalk in front of the porch. Within a few minutes, he came over and helped shovel the walk. I thanked him for his help. He introduced himself and said he lived a couple of houses down.

I'm a relatively healthy in shape female in my early 40's so I was surprised that both of these people helped of their own accord. It's nice to know there are good Samaritans still around when you only hear how terrible people treat each other in the news media.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Revised two more chapters. I still haven't had a chance to revise the first chapter.

Quote of the Week: "The secret of getting ahead is getting started." ~ Mark Twain

What I'm reading: I'm still reading Thread of Fear by Laura Griffin. I haven't had a lot of time for pleasure reading lately.

Random things: I'm looking forward to having a couple of days off next week so I'll have a long weekend. I don't have anything special planned, just taking some time to relax and just be.

Random Photo of the Week:


                         My sister made individual fruit tarts for Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 15, 2016

An Unrealized Story Source

My nephew is a firefighter for the city I live in. It's a pretty large city with an approximate population of 210,358 people. There are 15 neighborhood fire stations (also called fire houses). He works in one of the busier fire houses. Why am I telling you this you ask? Because he has had some interesting experiences. He shares some of these experiences with his family. He never gives details such as names or the street addresses of the calls he responds to.

Some of his stories are funny - One time he and his crew were called to a home for a suspicious odor. When they arrived, the homeowner explained that his wife bought an enormous bag of onions and stored them in the garage. The onions then spoiled. Why did he call the fire department to come to his home? He wanted them to do something to get rid of the onion odor.

Some of his stories are heartbreaking - His crew was called to a bridge where someone jumped. The person didn't jump out far enough to land in the river below, but landed on the rocks near the water's edge. The person died of his injuries on scene. The person was thirteen years old and left a suicide note rolled up in the chain link fence near where he jumped off.

He also tells us about the pranks the firefighters play on each other in the house. He went into the fire academy right out of high school, graduated from the academy and was assigned to a fire house at the age of eighteen. Because he was so young and definitely the youngest guy in the house, they nicknamed him "Kid." On his first overnight shift, the guys he worked with made up his bunk for him with little boy sheets from the Disney movie Cars. Eight years later, his nickname is still Kid.

It didn't dawn on me until he stopped by last weekend and mentioned he helped deliver another baby (it was his fourth delivery) that I realized I have a wonderful source of story ideas. I asked him if he would mind if I "stole" some of his stories to use in future books. He didn't mind at all. He offered to answer any technical questions I may have. He also offered to arrange a ride along for me in the summer. They don't do them in the winter because the weather is too unpredictable.

So look to the people around you. You may have access to story fodder without even realizing it.

Friday, February 12, 2016

This I know for sure...

I've always preferred to have a small circle of friends. I'm not a great fan of things changing when there's nothing wrong with the way things work or are going. I would much rather spend a quiet evening at home than go out. As much as I love my extended family, I often dread having to go to family functions. 

I've always described myself as a loner. My family has always described me as being shy. It turns out I'm an introvert. I never really thought the term applied to me until I saw the picture below on Facebook. Nearly every item resonates with me.

(Borrowed from Susan Mallery's Facebook Page)


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Revised two more chapters. I didn't have a chance to rework the first chapter with the different point of view though. I hope to get to that this week as well as continue with the revisions.

Quote of the week: "Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work." ~ H.L. Hunt

What I'm reading: Thread of Fear by Laura Griffin. This is one of her earlier works.

Random things: The Lenten Season starts today. In addition to other things to get ready for Easter, one of my goals is to have the revisions of my WIP completed by March 31st. Yes it's after Easter, but only by a few days.

Random Photo of the Week:


                      Somebody is trying to cuddle on the edge of the cat bed much to Petey's dismay.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Searching for Topics

There are times I struggle to come up with topics for my Monday posts. I try to keep Mondays related to writing and/or reading. (Not that I always succeed - see last Monday's post about cheesecake bars.)

I've written some "How To" posts in relation to writing but am not sure how helpful they are since there are probably more of these types of posts/articles on the internet than a person could ever read. I'm not sure what I could say that someone else hasn't already said.

I was talking to a friend about my lack of ideas and she suggested I do "a writer's life" or "a day in the life of a writer" type posts. Sounds good in theory except my life probably isn't all that different than anyone else's. I get up, go to work, come home, make dinner and do all the other household stuff like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and the like, then it's off to bed to get up and do it all over again the next day. The only difference is that I also squeeze in time to write.

There's a writer that I greatly admire who often posts about her "I Love Lucy" moments. They're funny and make me laugh because many times I can relate to the situation. Fortunately (or is it unfortunately) I don't have these kinds of things happen to me, or at least not very often. And if something did happen, I'd most likely be too embarrassed to share it here. Another one of the downfalls of not liking to be in the spotlight.

I'm going to spend some time this week poking around other websites for ideas for future posts. Let me know if there's something you'd like me to write about or if you have questions you'd like to ask.

Friday, February 5, 2016

This I know for sure...


I've never understood the whole Groundhog Day furor. If he sees his shadow, then there'll be 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn't see his shadow, spring will come early.

I live in an area where winter starts in October and if you're lucky is over by mid to late April. Regardless of whether or not the groundhog sees his shadow, there will be at least 6 more weeks of winter. I don't think I can ever remember winter being done and over with in February. It's sure be nice though.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Revised 4 more chapters. I do want to go back and write a scene in the first chapter in a different point of view (POV) though. I think it'll be stronger from the new POV.

Quote of the week: “It is difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving.” ~ Henrietta Mears

 What I'm reading: One Last Breath by Laura Griffin.

Random things: There's a balloon exhibit being held this week at an office building downtown. It's located in the atrium and three stories tall. Everything in the exhibit is made of balloons. I've put one of the photos I took below.

Random Photo of the Week:


              A picture of a chipmunk, grass, and a tree stump all made of balloons. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Temptation

I went to a gathering over the weekend where the hostess served bite sized treats. I'm watching my weight (along with everyone else in January) so I appreciated the small servings. While everything was delicious, in my opinion the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake bars she served stood out among all the rest. After few us of banded together to plead for the recipe, she graciously shared it. I enjoyed them so much I thought I'd share the recipe with all of you. I hope you like them too. (Just a warning, it's hard to eat just one serving and they are not diet friendly.)

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

1 cup finely crushed OREO cookies. (She said it was about 14 cookies total)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ounces white chocolate, divided. (She used white chocolate wafers)
2 eggs
1/4 cup raspberry preserves (She used Smuckers brand)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the OREO cookie crumbs and melted butter together. Press into the bottom of a 9 inch square pan.

Using a hand mixer, beat the sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla together in a large bowl until well blended. Set aside. Melt 2 ounces of the white chocolate and add it to the cream cheese mixture, stirring well. Add eggs one at a time. Mix on low speed after adding each egg until it's well blended. Pour over the OREO crumb crust.

Bake 25 to 28 minutes or until the center is almost set. Let cool for 5 minutes. Spread the raspberry preserves over the top. Melt the remaining ounce of white chocolate and drizzle over the preserves. Allow cheesecake to cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Serves 18 bars

(My friend doubled the recipe and used a 9 x 13 inch pan, but still cut them into 18 servings.)