Our Writers’ Retreat

buggyWow, we had a terrific weekend!

The first two days it was just me and the kids with Papa.  I wrote in brief 500-word stints and got about 5K in two days on Billionaire #2.  I helped cook meals and did clean up duty while the kids rode horses.  They rode about ten miles a day, believe it or not.  We also took a super nice buggy ride.

That brown horse, Smoke, might look narrow and skinny, but that little fellow can PULL.  He hauled five of us and two dogs at times (there’s a huge Great Dane that gave us a little trouble, and KoKoKoNa hurt her pad–she’s not used to gravel roads) without pause.  One hill had him digging in, sparks flying, and he wasn’t even breathing hard when we got back.

The weather was perfect and so very rare for the middle of July.  Not too hot, not too humid, a very nice breeze on the back deck while I worked.

Molly arrived Friday night and we talked and talked and talked with Dad and Princess on the back deck.  Saturday morning we got up early (which is super rare for us!) so we could have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity:  a personal tour of the Harris-Cox Plantation, which is in our home town.

plantationI drove by that plantation every day until I left home and always loved that house.  I made up stories about it in my head and ate up all the gossip about “Slave Manor” as locals called it.

I never dreamed I’d actually get inside it.

Molly and I are co-writing a incredible story about this plantation.  Part fact…but mostly twisted legend and made up fantasy that we absolutely love.  This is our story.  Every crazy wonderful thing we both love.

I’ll share more about this plantation with lots of pictures and lore in the days to come.

 

My First Writers’ Retreat

It’s been a loooong time coming – but my Beloved Sis and I are finally getting together for a writing retreat next weekend at my Dad’s!  I’m taking off two days from work and taking the kids up Wed. night.  I know, not ideal, but I hope they’ll be so busy riding horses, etc. that I can still get a ton of things done.  Then Molly’s coming up for the weekend and we’ll laugh and talk and write ourselves silly.

We’re already making lists of what to bring, like coffee, Earl Grey tea, my milk frother, wine, duh!  But also bacon, cookies, Motrin, and of course my wrist braces.  Hopefully I’ll need them thanks to all the hard writing we get done!

We’ll be sitting out on the back deck with our laptops, listening to the cows, looking out over the rolling hills, drinking ice tea and watching the kids ride the fields.

I’m so stinking excited I can’t wait!

Survived the Move

It’s been a long couple of weeks but we survived!

The closing came down to the wire thanks to rain and a few minor issues with the final inspection (our town requires two trees in the yard and the builder had only planted one.  No joke!).  We packed up the other house and landed here with the movers before we could get into the house.  Nothing worse than paying guys by the hour and watching them sit in their truck, unable to do anything.

But finally we got permission to unload into the garage, and then the inspector finished up and we started hauling into the house.  I was hoping to have the POD delivered early and have most of that done first, but that didn’t happen either.  We left for the closing and the POD still hadn’t showed up yet.  Bad news, because That Man is physically unable to do that much hard labor to unload it ourselves and our movers were gone.

We signed paperwork enough to kill a few thousand trees and returned home to find that Papa and the girls had unloaded the entire POD into the garage.  I was dumbfounded!!

We returned to work on Tuesday, which was hard because I still didn’t have the house put together yet  My office is a shambles but I knew where my work equipment was enough to work.  I still have a ton of work to do in there and I need to rearrange a few things.  I have a cheap bookcase I’ll probably have to relocate.  I just don’t seem to have room.  This office is bigger than my other, but I have a window to work around and that changes the configuration just enough that I’m not sure where to put things yet.

With the three-day weekend, That Man put together Middle’s basketball goal (that was a seven hour job) and then organized the garage enough to get the van in.  I still have a ton to unpack out there, but most of it is stuff we don’t really need but also couldn’t part with.

Today, I finally finished the kitchen.  It was quite the challenge.  I have more cabinet and counter space here than the other house, but I lost a HUGE pantry.  (I had two at the other house.)  I do have a pantry here but losing that big walk-in pantry really hurt.  I love to cook and eat whole foods, so I have a ton of stuff.  Five gallon buckets of wheat.  Masa.  Oats.  Buckwheat groats.  The list goes on and on.  I finally moved in a smaller pantry cabinet we bought years ago (I’d planned to leave it in the garage) and that helped.

We also have a large walk-in closet in the master, so I plan to shift a few things in there that I don’t use very often.  My crockpot is in the coat closet on the shelf for now.  I’ll figure it out eventually.

I spent a lot of time thinking about how I use things, what goes together when I make bread or bake or cook dinner.  Hopefully things are organized enough that I won’t lose my mind when I start cooking dinner.

For That Man’s birthday we also replaced his rusted out grill, so now we can start shifting some of the cooking outside this summer.

Tomorrow:  steak on the grill!

Writing update:  I haven’t accomplished much with the move, but I did do something stupid.  Raise your hand if you’re surprised?  As you know, I love a good challenge.  I saw the Historical Heroes Writing Contest and Jeannie Lin’s post encouraging POC characters, and yeah.  I wrote something completely out of left field for me.  I don’t typically write straight historical (I much prefer fantasy or steampunk where I can tweak history to suit my needs) but Dante Silent Crow walked in and took over.  He’s half black, half Apache, and his heroine is in serious need of his protection as a gunman.  I had fun with it.  We’ll see how it goes and if nothing happens with the contest, maybe I’ll write it for fun.

Okay, that’s a really long post but I think I’ve updated on the most important things.  Do help an author out and maybe post a review of The Billionaire Submissive if you can?  I’d appreciate it!

Final Stages of the Move

Less than two weeks until the big move date!  Cue panic!

Today, we loaded everything I’ve packed so far into the POD, along with the kids’ loveseat that will go in the basement.  I’m going to have to go through another pile of stuff I thought was organized but the kids dumped more stuff on top of it.  From now on out, each box will get taken out directly instead of lingering inside.  It’s too easy to get buried, moved, etc.

I also helped Littlest clean her room today and oh dear Lord it was a nightmare.  Every time she “cleaned” her room by herself, she just shoved stuff under her bed or worse, in her closet.  So we dragged out tub after tub, filled with everything from crayons to dirty clothes to trash to stuffed animals and everything in between.

The worst, though:  doll hair.

Evidently Littlest is a budding hair stylist and has worked on every Barbie and doll she has.  Unfortunately, she never threw the hair away – she just hid it in her closet.  It was actually quite creepy!  (At least she didn’t take doll heads!)

We went through every drawer, every item of clothing, every toy.  I have a stack of stuff to donate and several more bags of trash as a result.  And her room is packed!  She just has the stuff on her bed remaining.

Only two more kids to go….

*dies*

Crazy Busy Summer

I wrapped up the synopsis, polished nearly 40 pages, and sent Billionaire #2 off to my editor.  Yay!  I’m hoping to finish it by the end of August, assuming she likes it.  The synopsis ended up being quite detailed – much longer than I really care to write (nearly 6K).  But as I worked on it, new ideas and layers came to me, so I recorded them.  I didn’t want to lose them.  I think it came out pretty well.  We’ll see.

I’m still drinking green smoothies.  My Dad brought me some fresh beet greens to try and I admit they were pretty tasty.  Nice and mild.  I have a spring mix that is so bitter I can hardly drink it even with a cup of mango and a whole banana in it.  (Once I eat the whole tub I won’t use it for smoothies again.)  Spinach is really my favorite, but I can do kale too.  It’s important to switch greens up to keep from having too many alkaloids build up in my system.

The two youngest monsters are away to church camp the rest of the week.  It was a scramble to get them ready (they only decided to go for sure on Sunday).  Princess is going to summer school and is already hitting extra band practice.  Middle has two basketball camps later this month and they’re planning two trips in June to head to my Dad’s farm (just 3 days each thanks to other activities).

Plus we’re moving by the end of the month one way or the other.

So it’s looking to be a crazy busy summer!

Baby Steps

(Her Grace’s Stable Giveaway still open!)

After two years on Weight Watchers, I’ve reached the point where I simply can’t stand the thought of counting another meal.  The thought of doing this the rest of my life is depressing.  I’ve been off the wagon more than on for most of the year as a result and definitely going the wrong direction.

So I’m switching my thoughts and reframing my goals.  I’m concentrating on what to eat, not what I can’t eat.  I CAN eat lots of super foods.  The more super foods I eat, the better I’ll feel and the less room I’ll have to worry about chips and pizza.  I’m not yet back to the place where I can cut most of the junk food out again, but I am working towards limiting it and filling up on the good stuff.

Since I got back from RT, I’ve been concentrating on whole super foods like avocados, cherries, mushrooms, and yes, I even tried sardines.  Not my favorite – the little fish bodies give me the heebee jeebies.  But I can smash them up with a fork and ALMOST eat them like tuna.  I prefer white albacore, which makes it harder to convince myself they are just like tuna, but I’ve not thrown up yet and they’re not horrible.  Not my favorite by a long shot, but I’m holding out hope that I can eventually look forward to them.  Coughs.  We’ll see.

I’ve even started making simple green smoothies each morning.  No yogurt, dairy, etc. but just greens, frozen fruit, maybe a banana, and water.  I drink a huge one off and on throughout the morning, and then when I’m done, if I’m hungry, I have some scrambled eggs in olive oil.  So far so good.  I actually like green smoothies more than I expected.  (I’ve been putting spinach in my workout smoothies a long time, but mixed with yogurt, protein powder, milk, etc.)  The only one that turned out gross was one with kale and cherries.  It was a lovely mud color.  However it tasted fine – just not aesthetically pleasing.

Starting today, I’m also doing a 30-day ab challenge on Twitter and a 30-day push-up challenge.  More small steps to hopefully get me back to some kind of regular exercise.  I don’t want to tackle anything too mind-consuming this month since we’ll be moving by the end of June.  Hopefully.  Assuming they finish the house on time.  Or we’ll be homeless!  No stress a all. *dies*

 

Realizations

It dawned on me tonight as I cooked dinner, though I’m sure it won’t come as any surprise to those who know me.

I’m stressed.  I knew that…but I didn’t realize how much it’d been affecting me.

I’ve just been out of it.  I haven’t wanted to cook.  I haven’t wanted to write.  The words won’t come.  I haven’t wanted to exercise.  I’m tired all the time.  Not sleeping the best.  Yet I don’t have anything to show for it.

I have been reading…but not fiction.  Lots of parenting books.  I have a teenage daughter.  Need I say more?

But as I spent nearly two hours in the kitchen tonight trying a new recipe and then experimenting some more, I realized it’d been a long time since I actually felt like cooking something that wasn’t fast and easy.  It’s like I didn’t have the mental capacity to try something new, let alone the energy to expend on a lengthy meal.

The light bulb went on.  For the first time in weeks I actually got off work almost on time.  I didn’t have to immediately jump in the car and drive somewhere to pick up someone.  I had the time to make ham and alfredo lasagna from scratch–and also a homemade cream soup using up the tidbits of wild mushrooms leftover from my Dad’s trip.

Both turned out delicious by the way.

So I have to be patient with myself.  My tank is nearly empty.  So that’s why I haven’t been writing much lately, not even the blog.  The big Evil Day Job project is winding down (hopefully).  RT is only two weeks away, so I’ll be frantic for that, but that’s at least FUN.  We’re hoping to close on the house in June so we’re already in yard sale, donate, throw away mode so we don’t have to move anything but the necessities.

I’ve got a lot going on right now other than writing.  That’s okay.  I just have to give myself time and baby my creative muse.  I’ve been stitching more and have been having a blast making all my book marks.  I’ve lost count – I need to box them up and ship them to the hotel soon.

Who knows – maybe I’ll even get my incredibly delayed Christmas gift finished and mailed.  So I don’t have to move it!!

Camp NaNOTMo

So Camp NaNo just hasn’t been going so well.  At all.  I’ve just got so much going on right now that I’ve not made any progress at all.  Between the house, my Evil Day Project (now in phase 3, sob, will we ever be done?), and all my RT scrambling, I’ve blown it.

On the bright side, I’ve used up one whole box of 250 business cards making book thongs.  I’ve mailed off some and given several away to my hairdresser, and of course we had a few boo-boos (holes punched too close to edge), so I don’t have exactly 250 book thongs, but I’m happy with how many I’ve managed to make.

Some interesting realizations while making all of these thongs:

1. 200 crimpers seems like a lot.  Until you realize it takes 4 per thong + all the ones that you drop and can’t find in the carpet.  (Those suckers are SMALL.)

2. It’d be a lot easier to store these thongs if I made them the same length.  But I just hack off another length – roughly – and move on.

3. Because I like each one to be as unique as possible.  Even if that’s more work on my part.  Sound familiar?  I just don’t like cookie-cutter approaches to anything.

4. I finally have a system down, using a single strand of black hemp or cotton, crimp the end, add a small bead, which holds the business card on the end, a charm, followed by a large bead and a couple of small ones depending on my mood.  A crimper to hold them in place.  Then a crimper, whatever small beads I want to add, maybe another charm, and a final crimper on the opposite end.

5. The silk ribbon was a huge pain in the ass because I didn’t have the right beads.  Tiny holes = huge headache, even with slender silk ribbon.  Much easier for large-hole lampwork or pony beads.

I’ve just about used up all my handcuffs and keys.  I have maybe 50 or so masks left.  I guess I’ll either be done at that point…

OR ORDER MORE!  You never know.  I’m kind of addicted at this point.

I’ll post some pictures of all my loot soon.

Colors Are Hard

I’m moody when it comes to color.

In writing, I’m all black and red, mixed in with grays and white.  Every once in a while I get a craving for brilliant blue or emerald green, but in general, my colors are solid.

However, in my non-writing life, I’m a little OCD with color.  I go through “cravings” where I like certain combinations and want to buy new kitchen towels or a new bedspread.  But after a year or so, I’m DONE with that color.  I’m glad for the item to wear out so I can replace it with the new craving!

I’ve loved blue and yellow.  Earth tones.  Antiqued reds and blacks.  Copper.  Chocolate and turquoise.  It’s crazy.  Sometimes I satisfy this thirst for color through my crafts — much cheaper than indulging in a new kitchen theme!  But even then, I get tired of certain projects because of the monotonous color scheme.  (I’ve never actually been able to complete a monochromatic cross stitch project before for that very reason.)

So now, we’re trying to pick out colors for the new house and I can’t make up my mind.  I’m afraid in a year or five, I’ll be sick of the color.  I don’t want anything brown or beige in the house.  Except maybe the wall color.

I’m trying to pick “timeless” colors.  Neutrals as my core colors, and then I can change the accessories as my whimsy changes over the years.  But if I eliminate browns, that means my neutrals become black and gray (I won’t have anything white – we’ve got three kids and two dogs).  I’ve already picked out clean black Shaker-style cabinets.  Now I have to figure out the floor color, and then the granite.

And I can’t decide.

We’ve at least narrowed the flooring down to bamboo.  The living/dining/kitchen area are all open and all the same flooring.  I can’t go too dark, since the cabinets are already dark.  But I don’t like light woods at all.  We almost went with carpet in the living room and tile in the kitchen/dining, but I don’t like the mix of surfaces.  We have that now in the rental (actually three surfaces with laminate wood in the dining room) and the carpet seams over time begin to look frayed and worn.

So bamboo it is.  But there are currently three different finishes we’re looking at.  Of course the girls aren’t helping any.  One likes this, the other doesn’t have an opinion, and Princess hates everything and can’t be pleased even if it was gold plated and blessed by One Direction.  I can’t pick the granite or wall color until I figure this flooring thing out.  Sigh.

Don’t even get me started on what flooring we’re doing downstairs in the teenage hangout.  *headdesk*  One wants ceramic tiles that look like wood, which makes the other want to puke.  ARGH!

To complicate matters, the places our builder has told us to go aren’t open on the weekend, and both That Man and I have to work.  Thank goodness for the online places that will send free samples!  I have one last sample coming this week and can hopefully finalize the flooring.  That will help pinpoint everything else.

Any favorite design pointers you can share?

Still Alive

Sorry I’ve been quiet around here lately.  The push to get the big Evil Day Job project I’ve been working on since last fall into production started last week.  I’m relieved and still very shocked that everything has moved and *knocks on wood* ran successfully last night.  I’m afraid this “easy button” will bite me later (this job runs monthly) but at least this first run was successful.  Woot!

Things are still stressful but nowhere near as bad as the last 3+ months have been.  Plus I know an upcoming project will let me work with Wanda again, so that’s super wonderful.  I can’t wait!  It’s probably been at least ten years since we got to work on a project together.

On the home front, we have faced a major stressful decision over the last few weeks.  Our lease is up in June, so we already knew we wanted to move.  I hate the heat pump in this house, we freeze all the time, our electric bill’s insane, and worse, starting this fall I have no bus service to the junior high for three years as Middle and then Littlest move schools.  We’ve been here going on four years, but we *have* to move.  I can’t worry about late afternoon meetings keeping me from picking them up on time.

But there’s nothing to rent in our price range that has at least 4 bedrooms.  Lots of mansions!  But nothing for an average family.  We’ve been looking the past year and still haven’t found anything.  So we bit the bullet and began looking to buy a house.  *gulp*  We signed a purchase agreement on a house last night.  *double gulp, passes out*

It’s in our old neighborhood before we moved here and the bus literally stops in front of the house.  The kids will have access to the community pool and playground (though they’re probably almost too old for it!)  It’s currently under construction, so it works perfectly with our lease timing, since the house isn’t technically on the market yet.  The teenagers will have plenty of space to hang out in the basement, everyone will have their own room, and I’ll still have a nice office on the main floor.  Plus the kitchen will be really nice and large.  (Our backup plan was an existing house in the same neighborhood, if it was still on the market in a few months, but the kitchen was ridiculously small.  Plus it’s been on the market since June, so there were no guarantees that it’d even still be around in April/May.)

So right after RT… I’ll be frantically packing us up to move again!  Hopefully this’ll be the last time we move until we’re ready to downsize after all the kids have graduated and moved out.

On the writing front, Mama C’s off my plate waiting on a decision, first round edits on The Billionaire Submissive are done, and I’m working on a new old project.  I’m not going to say which yet because I don’t want to jinx myself.  The words have been slow, but I’ve restarted my chain in March and chipping away every single day.  If the words start flowing fast and crazy again, I’ll let you know which one I’m working on!