Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work in Progress):  No writing last week! Argh!! I had such plans, but life got in the way. My mom had an unexpected doctor appointment, my brother injured his eye and needed assistance, and to top the week off, I had unexpected family visitors two days. Hope to have a more productive week this week.

Quote of the Week: “To do what you can while you are where you are – that’s all you can ask of yourself.” ~ Unknown

What I'm Reading: I started reading First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett this past Monday. This is the first book in the Debutante Diaries series. I had started it previously, but only got a few pages in before I set it aside to read a book from the library that couldn't be renewed.

Random Thoughts:  We're in the middle of the Polar Vortex this week with high temperatures of 5 or 6 degrees and minus 25 to 30 degrees below zero with the windchill. I think everyone should be able to stay home, drink tea or hot chocolate, and read books during this kind of weather.

Random Photo of the Week:

                           Somebody trying to keep warm in our freezing weather.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Baking Bread Part 2

Last Monday I wrote how developing characters is similar to the process of baking bread. Keeping with that theme, I'm sharing a recipe on how to make your own pita bread. I've always wanted to try making my own and finally did it this past weekend. They came out okay, but I think they'll get better the more I make them.

Pita Bread

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups all purpose flour

Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a large bowl and set aside for 5 minutes
Add 3 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil, salt, and 1 cup of all purpose flour to yeast mixture. Stir until mixed well. Add 1 cup flour, stir, then remove dough to a lightly floured surface and begin kneading. Add the remaining cup of flour and knead for about 3 minutes or until the dough and flour have combined and will form into a ball.

Grease the bowl with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, then put the dough back into the bowl. Turn dough over so all surfaces are coated in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then with a thick towel. Set aside to rise until double in size or 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Uncover the bowl and divide dough into 10 equal pieces. lightly dust with flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a moist towel.

Lightly flour work surface and rolling pin. Roll out each dough ball to 1/4 inch think and place on a baking sheet. Let the rolled out pieces sit for at least 10 minutes before baking.

Bake for 3 or 4 minutes or until dough puffs up into a ball. Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate and cover with a lightly damp towel. (If a pocket doesn't form when baked, you can spritz the next batch with water and continue to bake it.)

Makes 10 pitas. These are best if used within one week.

Friday, January 25, 2019

This I know for sure...

I just finished reading The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard. I read it in two days. It was so interesting/compelling that I found myself picking it up every time I had any kind of free time even if it was just 10 minutes. It's been a while since I've read a book so engrossing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work in Progress): No writing last week. Starting this week and looking forward to it.

Quote of the Week: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation." ~ Audre Lorde

What I'm Reading: I started reading The Woman Left Behind by Linda Howard on Monday. It's the second book in the GO-Team series.

Random Thoughts: I live in upstate NY so snow and a long winter season are expected. I tell myself and anyone who asks me how I feel about the winter, that I'd rather have it be bitter cold and no snow than have to deal with snow falling in amounts greater than 4 inches at a time. This past Monday the high for the day was 9 degrees and with the wind chill factored in it was minus 24 degrees below zero. Frostbite warnings were repeated throughout the day that you shouldn't be outside with any exposed skin for longer than 10 minutes. I still prefer the cold over the snow, but maybe not that cold.

Random Photo of the Week:

How I felt after being outside shoveling the 18 inches of snow that fell overnight last Saturday.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Developing Characters and Baking Bread

I love to bake bread. I find the kneading of  the dough very relaxing and maybe be a little bit stress relieving. In a way, the process of developing characters is similar to baking bread (although not as a stress reliever if the character(s) aren't cooperating).

When I first start developing a character, I make notes about his/her background, height, hair and eye color, occupation, family, what is his/her hang up(s), and his/her name etc. This is like mixing the ingredients together when making bread.

After I have all of the above characteristics written down, I leave the sheet on my desk for a couple of days in case I have a new and or better idea or come up with more information I think will be relevant. This is like leaving your dough to rise.

After a few days, I go back and massage the information, changing some things, deleting some things and adding more information such as the goal the character is striving to reach. This is like kneading your dough.

I'll leave the newly revised character sheet alone for a day or so just to be sure I like how everything has developed. Again, this is like letting your dough rise.

If I feel like I know the character well enough, I'll start writing their story, sometimes tweaking things as I get further along in the manuscript. The writing of the story is like baking the bread.

Finally I'll have a completed draft and the character(s) have gelled in the way I imagined/wanted them to, then it goes off to a beta reader to see how they like the story and characters. This is like giving your nice, freshly baked loaf of bread to a friend to enjoy. (And maybe keeping a loaf to enjoy yourself as a celebration of finishing the book.)

Friday, January 18, 2019

This I know for sure...

I don't know if it's because the new year is still relatively new or something else, but I feel like this is going to be a great year. I already have accomplished things I put off for months last year.

It may because I already have things checked off my "Get Done By End of Year" list, but I'm feeling a great sense of possibility. This year is going to be my year of doing (and being done with procrastinating).

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work in Progress): No writing last week. I took the week to get the last of my new processes in place so that this year will be more productive.

Quote of the Week: "Don't wait until you have reached your goal to be proud of yourself - be proud of each step you take toward reaching your goal." ~ Alyce Keegan 

What I'm Reading: I started reading First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett last night. This is the first book in the Debutante Diaries series.

Random Thoughts: Last week I stated what my word of the year and phrase of the year for 2019 are. I've found myself telling myself at different times in different situations that this is my year of doing. I'm not sure where the phrase came from, but I'm going to keep using it.

Random Photo of the Week:

                  Not a photo, but it seems appropriate given the beginning of the new year.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Keeping Track

I don't do many writing How To posts because there are other bloggers/websites who specialize in those types of posts. That being said, I wanted to share one of the processes I'm putting in place to help keep me on track with my writing this year.

I'm going to use a project tracker. I'm very visually oriented so being able to see at a glance how my writing is going on a daily and/or monthly basis should help keep me motivated to keep at the same pace or try to beat the previous day's/week's/month's pace.

I came across the word tracker and project tracker spreadsheets by Svenja Gosen. They are amazing. If you're interested in using a tracker, you should check these out. They are free or you can donate an amount of your choice. Here's the link to the website - Svenja 2019 Word Trackers

Friday, January 11, 2019

This I know for sure...

One of the things I want to be better at this year is staying organized or "on top of things." I have a crate type box that sits on a credenza. I drop papers and other miscellaneous things into the crate with the intention of putting the items in their proper place when I find time.

The problem is I usually don't find time until two or three months later. By that time, the crate is usually filled to the top or overflowing. I spent Wednesday evening going through everything in it. Some of the things I didn't even know why I put them in the box to start with. I'm sure I thought I would need/use the item/paper when I set it inside, but weeks later, apparently the items aren't so important or useful to me.

I'm going to put cleaning out the crate on my weekly Saturday chore list. For some reason, I do very well at getting things done that are on that list. I'm also going to work on putting fewer things in the box to start with.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work in Progress): No writing last week. I took last week and will be taking this week to get processes in place so that this year will be more productive.

Quote of the Week: "Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed." ~ Cavett Robert

What I'm Reading: I started Hot Winter Nights by Jill Shalvis Sunday evening. The book is part of the Heartbreaker Bay series. I really enjoy her books.

Random Thoughts:  I chose "Focus" as my word for the year. I'm also using the phrase, "Be More Consistent." I want to focus on the important things and let go of the things that don't matter. I also want to be more consistent in healthy eating, exercising, writing, and staying organized.

Random Photo of the Week:  

            This is one of my favorite holiday cards that I made for Christmas in 2018.

Monday, January 7, 2019

A New Beginning

It's hard to believe it's the beginning of a new year already. I spent the past weekend taking a hard look at what I wanted to accomplish in 2018, but didn't and then looking at what I want to accomplish by the end of 2019.

I'm trying out a new method of tracking my goals and staying on track. It's obvious from looking back over the last couple of years that the method I was using doesn't least not for me.

In addition to writing and health related goals, I'm thinking of doing the 100 day challenge. I'm still deciding if I want the challenge to be writing or exercise related. I might do both, but I'm not sure if it will be easier to do them at the same time or to do one and then the other after the first one is finished. I won't be doing it in January though. I'm thinking it might be better to do it in March when I usually start to get off track.

Friday, January 4, 2019

This I know for sure...

I never manage to get everything I want to get done in December done by the time New Year's Day rolls round. This week I'm sitting down and writing out my writing and health goals for 2019.

I'm also picking a word for the year that I'm hoping will help keep me on track. I've narrowed it down to "Determined" or "Focus." I'll be making the final decision this weekend when I put my 2019 goals on paper.