2014. How's it Going So Far?

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
That's the quote I discovered and put on my Facebook banner.  I thought it said a lot about what we've blogged about this month.  At the beginning of a new year, we make resolutions, goals, promises to ourselves, our families, our friends.  Those things are sometimes easy to make, but oh so hard to keep.  At least for me it is.  And it takes work.  Hard work.

It's been quite a month for many of us. 

Pat, once again, has graciously accepted to wear the crown of WARA president for another year.  Bless you, Pat. ;)  As always, she keeps us going and reminds us--or at least me--that time goes on, whether we're paying attention or not.  Yeah, a lot of "not" days for me.  It seems the days go by faster and faster, leaving me to wonder why it was January 1st yesterday, and now it's almost the end of the month.

Theresa has decided to take on a new "identity" as Theresa Jaye, but she'll always be the same sweet, caring and giving person she's always been.  No matter who "she" is, she'll  always tickle our funny bones with her blog posts and her positive outlook on just about everything.

Joan continues on her journey of conquering health issues, while living in limbo during an extended move from one house to a new one.  Not an easy feat!  No doubt she'll conquer the boxes and everything else, before the year is half gone.

Nina taught us how not to make a pocket calendar and that she's filled with determination to win her battle with technology.  Aren't we all?  Thanks to Nina for sharing so many organization tricks!  I can use all the help I can get.

Penny reminded us all of how important she is to all of us and that we're a lot like a family---we're here for each other.  That may be one of the best things anyone can ever learn.  Thank you, Penny. :)

Melissa wants to be the odd duck. ;)  She's looking forward to her "new year" in late August, when all of her offspring will be attending full days of school.  No more half-days for her bunch!  Or her!!!  I remember those days well and seem to be repeating them again with my g-kids.  I guess I didn't learn the lesson the first time around!

Becky found good things about breaking her arm.  Now that's an accomplishment I need to learn.  No, no, not the broken arm, but finding good things in what we perceive to be not so good at all.  Becky, really? Titanium?  Wow!  Is that like Superman or something?  Thanks for showing us the best way to handle the rough spots.

Me?  I mentioned setting goals and a lot of other useless things.  I'm still on the road with them, but I'll admit that some days I just want to sit down and let the day go by.  Can't do that, though, so I'm up and chasing my dreams.  C'est la vie.

Thank you to all of our bloggers for making this little spot one of my favorite places to stop and not only catch up, but learn more about each of you.  And thank you to our visitors for stopping by!

Today is the best day of the year!

Porch Skating, Anyone?

When I picked the subject of new beginnings for our January blog, I had no idea that my life would take an odd turn. I woke up on December 8th with the Lord’s words echoing in my heart. He said, “Walk into your future with joyous expectation.” I thought, what? I wasn't feeling particularly joyful or expectant that morning. As I prepared for church I began to speak those words out loud. I felt His joy rise in my heart.

Looking out my front door, I saw ice on my van. I eyed the porch and sidewalk but they appeared dry. Even though it was only about ten degrees outside, I decided to go start my van sans coat. I took one step and went flying, breaking my right arm on the porch edge.

After my mind had a minute to process the shock I thought, this is the future I was to joyously expect? I didn't understand. No way would anyone look forward to something like this. As things unfolded, I ended up having surgery. Now I am the proud owner of a titanium plate, about eight screws and thirty stitch marks.

This was not the new beginning I had envisioned for 2014, but you know what, it’s okay. During this new and temporary phase of my life, I have met many wonderful people. My doctor’s were awesome. My friends gathered round and helped me through the toughest days. Needing help to put a bra on was a humbling but necessary experience. I learned to ask, and accept, the help I needed.

In a totally weird way this has been an awesome experience for me, but I have no wish to repeat it. Doing everything left-handed engaged my brain in puzzle solving, which is something I enjoy. How do I get that tee shirt off using only one hand? I ended up pulling it straight over my head, wiggling the good arm out then gingerly sliding it off the unhappy one. Ever try using a hand-held can opener backwards to how it goes? I learned all kinds of new tricks.

Try being a writer who can’t use a pen or type. AACCKK! That was frustrating. I finished my latest masterpiece only four days before my ice-skating debut. I had revisions, editing and many little details to correct. I also had nothing but time for weeks but no way to do the work. Probably a good thing in retrospect, the painkillers made me pretty loopy for a while. No telling what I would have done to that book.

It still ties my arm into painful knots when I type too much, but at least I can type. That is a blessing. The revisions are still awaiting their turn. I have about six more weeks to play the invalid so I suspect I’ll get them done. After that, it’s job hunting for me. My little vacation will be over.

I am hoping the attitude adjustment I received will stick. Everything goes down easier with that spoonful of sugar. The big potholes of life aren't so bad when you have a good attitude. I am determined to continue walking into my future with joyful expectation. Even when it’s not something on my to-do list.

New Year? Not Quite for Me (Melissa Robbins)

Many people see January as a fresh start, a clean slate.  Honestly, to me, it’s not.  You see I have three kids in school and in my head, the “new year” starts at the end of August.  The kids are a grade older.  They have new teachers.  Ah, the smell of fresh pencils and paper.  The calendar that holds all of our family activities goes from July to July instead of starting in January. 
Last fall, my youngest started half day kindergarten.  It was that new found time where I adjusted my goals.  I went from having three hours three times a week to four hours five days a week without kids. Still doesn’t seem to be enough time to write though.  Is there ever?  Like my kids are half way through school in January, I’m halfway through my writing goals, which makes me feel happy that I didn’t “accomplish” my 2013 goals.  When August 2014 comes around, that’s when I’ll make new goals.  All of my kids will be in school all day. 

So do we have any others out there that start their new years in August instead of January or am I the odd ball?  

It's a New Year. Yay? (Penny Rader)

Joël, Evelyñ, François
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I have a secret, one I've never admitted to anyone.  Not even myself.

I dread the new year.

Sounds silly, doesn't it?  A new year should be, well, all fresh and shiny…and new, filled with anticipation and all sorts of possibilities.

I do wish I felt that way.  Instead, a new year brings new expectations.  It means I have to set goals for the year.  Goals I know I won’t reach – I haven’t met many goals I've set for several years.   I keep telling myself “baby steps.”  And I’ll occasionally make one or two of those baby steps, but they’re very few and far between.

Since negative people are such a drag to be around and I don’t want to be one of those people no one wants to be around, I work hard to keep a smile on my face and have a positive attitude, to be kind and non-whiny (yeah, big fail on that today), yet here I am in the new year:
  • Still not organized.  
  • Still not healthy or slender.  Mostly sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Have lost a few pounds, but still have quite a few to go. Blood tests always come back as normal.  Migraines and tummy issues flare up at really inconvenient times.  Sometimes medication helps, sometimes not.   Would love to have steady amounts of energy instead of almost constant fatigue, instead of looking at upcoming events and wondering if I’ll even have the energy required to participate in whatever family event, etc, is approaching.  I’m embarrassed by how relieved I am when there’s nowhere I have to be on the weekends or after work.  Too bad energy can’t be conserved and stored for withdrawals later.
  • Still haven’t finished another writing project.  Have barely made any progress on writing at all.  I've had one book published…over four years ago.  If I were a Harlequin author I would've been expected to have written 8 -12 books by now.  If I were a single title author with one of the big NY publishers that number would mostly like be 4 – 8 books.  At the minimum I figured I’d have at least another novel drafted by now (I am a slow writer) and working on polishing it (which is my favorite part of writing).  Writers write and I haven’t been.  
  • Still haven’t defeated my nemesis: fear.

So now that I've thoroughly depressed myself (and probably you, if you're still reading), I went hunting for some quotes to lift me out of my funk.  I figure if they inspire me or make me smile, then maybe they’ll be helpful to someone else.

Conor Thaxton
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“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. ”  ― Joss Whedon

“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly. I tell myself that I’m going to do my five or 10 pages no matter what, and that I can always tear them up the following morning if I want. I’ll have lost nothing—writing and tearing up five pages would leave me no further behind than if I took the day off.”
— Lawrence Block

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”  —Ray Bradbury

“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer.”
―  Barbara Kingsolver

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“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”
―  Jane Yolen

“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten, --happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.”
―  Brenda Ueland

“This is for writers yet to be published who think the uphill climb will never end.  Keep believing. This is also for published writers grown jaded by the process.  Remember how lucky you are.”   ― Terry Brooks

"Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?" ―  Jon Bon Jov

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“A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack and a pointed stick collecting stuff.”
―  Tony Hillerman

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world as you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”  ―  Charles de Lint

"Don't look back. Write a page, turn it over, and move on. It's easier to make changes to a book that's finished."  ―  Mario Puzo

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is continually fearing that you'll make one.” ― Elbert Hubbard

Teresa Robinson
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“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. Something more will arise for later, something better.”  ― Annie Dillard

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes and having fun”
― Mary Lou Cook

“No one can tell the story you can tell. No one knows it. No other human can feel the emotions swirling around your characters or feel emotion on behalf of those characters unless you put those characters on the page…. Have I convinced you that if you’re a storyteller who’s not telling stories, then the rest of us are deprived?”  ―  Beth Hill

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What do you do to get yourself out of a funk and rediscover the joy of life, of creating?

Organization Has Its Moments of Comedy

A person likes to think they can learn. A person likes to think they’re kinda smart sometimes. A person can suffer from delusion.
Below is my notes to myself that I make each year to make my own purse calendar. The idea came about when Daughter Dallas, for Christmas one year, gave me the gift of understanding what I really needed to keep myself aware of my own life.  The system has been modified a bit, but mostly, she was spot on.  This includes a purse calendar—custom made for me.

I like the calendar as it opens the way I like and I have lots of room for notes, telephone numbers, extra information, and yet it fits neatly in my purse. Every year I use a card that came in during the holiday season for a cover. The making of these pesky things is not as easy as you’d think. The first year took four days. The second only two. Then I realized I liked them and needed to write down the instructions. Below is a log of these instructions.
I hope you enjoy how silly they are.  Really, no editing was done to protect the…well…oh, just read it…

To make next year’s purse calendar use image 2010 L.  Up its size to 110%.  Or use the one in the Calendar file.  Place original face down on screen.  Make sure center aligns closely with top of calendar page.  There is a penciled arrow on the one in the file.  Short head space to the left.  Leave room for stapling.  Make 7 and one extra without the back side.  Reverse the copies in the paper feeder to make this work.  The paper in the feeder copies on the top and heads to the right so to copy the back side make the print face down.  The head leading to the right needs to lead with the short head space end.  Good luck.  If it takes you less than six hours, you’re gaining.

In 2011 it took me less than 30 minutes.  I used 2010L and ran it through the Brother copier.  I made 7 copies.  Then I put them, short margin in head first upside down, and printed one to make sure. Then another 6.  Voila! All good.

Good job!

In 2012 it took me less than 30 minutes but what were you smokin’ in 2011?  I used the 2010L and ran it through the Brother copier, made 7 copies and got to dig them out of the copier!
Correct procedure: Use 2010L copy. Make 7 copies using the Brother. Put them in the bottom paper drawer—short margin in head first, face down. Print one to make sure, then the other 6. All good.
            Whew! Worried for a bit.

            In 2013 opened file, read directions, MADE BIG mistake! Were you smokin’ and drinking in 2012?
1.     Use image 2010, make sure when printing to Brother that you select box for fit to page to make original for copying.
2.     Make sure center aligns closely with top of calendar page when placing on Brother screen top.
3.     Make 7 copies.
4.     Put copies in bottom brother tray. Place them FACE UP, Narrow margin to side. Short header margin towards crotch.
5.     Print one to make sure.
6.     Print 6 to finish.
I managed to get finished in less than 30 minutes, but good GAWD!
Do, better next year. Idiot….
Smooches to self, go make serious relaxing beverage.


PS The darned Blog thingy didn't print on time as it was set up to be by me--the operator/blogger! Obviously the Blogger God, Organizer God, and the Laugh God are all having a great party over this one! This was written on the last days of 2013 so that I would have a jump start on 2014! I looked to see how it appeared today, 1/13/2014 and nothing.....technology...makes...me.........AAAaaaaAAAA! Another moment made for comedy and technology.......

On Your Mark, Get Set, Goal

It's a good thing I looked at the calendar, because I would have forgotten I needed to be here today.  I know it's January.  I know we've moved into 2014, but other than that, I'm a bit lost.

It would be nice to escape setting goals right now.  I thought I knew where I wanted to take this year.  But recently I've realized my old goals, the ones I've been making and usually meeting, aren't going to work for me the way I'd thought they might  It's time to step back, rethink, and re-goal.  Yes, a sort of New Beginning.

My writing goal in 2013 was to write 200,000 words.  I met that goal.  In fact, my WARA friends may not know, but I wrote 232,653 words, not counting blog posts.  The total for those was 49,666.  I'll let you do the math.  How did I do it?  I wrote three books.  Three and a half, to be more precise.  Half of one of those three was rewritten last month is scheduled to be released in August of this year  The other two?  That's the big question.

I enjoy writing.  I love writing.  Sometimes it's crazy, but in the end, it's satisfying.  There's very little of the process that I don't like.  But then I've written something or other most of my life.  I also enjoy reading, something I haven't had much time to do this year.

Because the majority of my life is writing, I keep an eye on what's happening in the publishing world.  If you haven't noticed--and you'd have to be a complete non-reader to do that--that world is changing.  E-books are everywhere.  Many traditionally published authors, including our own Deb Stover, have decided to explore this new experience for both writers and readers.  Personally, I haven't bought a print book for quite some time, but I've definitely amassed a lot of books for my Kindle--written by both traditionally published authors and indie/self-published authors.  If I only had time to read them!

So here are my goals.  I expect some certain people to keep me on them.  You know who you are.
  • Goal #1:  Read more
  • Goal #2:  Give myself permission to enjoy life more
The first goal is covered by having more books than I could read in a year.  The second will be somewhat taken care of by the first goal.  Reading to me is enjoyment. :)  
  • Goal #3:  Have a more positive attitude about myself and my life
    Goal # 2 should help with #3.  And I've taken other steps to achieve it.  Several months ago, I began practicing meditation.  I hadn't been sleeping well.  I'd toss and turn, unable to go to sleep.  Once I finally did fall into dreamland, I (thankfully) slept well.  I needed to turn off the worry and problems of the day, and I found that meditation before bedtime solved that.  Although doing it in the morning is probably better and helps the day move along more smoothly, bedtime was the only time I could carve out to do it.  Hey, I tried yoga a couple of years ago, but my body rebelled.  And when the body rebels, the mind does, too.  Sleep comes quickly now, no matter what problems and obstacles the day has presented.

    There are more things to work out, more goals to set, but those three must come first.  Like Theresa Jaye, I need to reinvent myself.  I'm grabbing her shirttails and going along for the ride.  After raising four daughters and basically helping raise five grandchildren, it's time for me.  Selfish?  I don't think so.  Now to figure out who me is. :)  Oops!  Who I am. ;)

    It all takes time.  We have to learn to know ourselves, we have to search our hearts for what we truly want.  After that, we have to go for it!  Once we do, those goals are more easily made.  I may not get as far as I hope, but I'll at least be on the road.  If nothing else, I'm stubborn.  Once I make up my mind to do something, I do it.

    Making goals?  Always.  It's something I had to learn to do, but once learned, it's become a habit.  Reaching them--or trying to--also became habit.  I'm eager to see what 2014 will bring.  It's good to see that so many here are, too.

    Happy 2014!  May your wishes and dreams come true!  I'm going to work to see that mine do.

    Thanks Goodness for New Beginnings J Vincent

    A new year.  A new home.  A '"new" book Honour's Compromise released.  And almost late for my first blog of the year.  Not a perfect clean sweep but almost, no pun intended. 
    Last year was filled with seemingly nothing but upheaval.  I bounced, jerked forward, heaved, pitched backward, and packed my way from May to September.  Packing, selling our home, not selling our home, reselling our home, cataract surgery times two, problems with both, other health issues, and then new home issues helped October and November provide their own problems.  Needless to say very little writing got done. I am not complaining.  I couldn't me more thankful for our new home, and I am brimming over with gratitude for all those who made the year endurable and at times pleasurable.  Those who helped pack, move, unpack or just lent encouraging words will always be remembered with great fondness.  But I'm veering off topic.

    January is a perfect time to reboot habits and get back into a "normal" routine.  The house is a little over half unpacked--we'll not speak about the research library. I can now cook, do laundry, take a shower, and sleep in a bed--what more do I need?  I almost have my office put back together. I plan on finishing that tomorrow.  So my new beginning starts right now. 

    Tomorrow I will key words onto a blank page.  Since goals are the only way to achieve anything I'll take a baby step. I will write for a half hour at a minimum each day this week.  On Sunday I'lll set new goals.

    But what works best?  Now should I write  time-wise, word-wise, or page-wise. What works for you?  Do you mix it up?  How do you stay on goal? 

    With wishes for everyone to have a properous prolific writing new year!

    Introductions Are In Order by Theresa Jaye

    Have you ever awakened from a grand and satisfying, as close as possible to hibernation, sleep and decided you wanted to become someone else?  To take on another's identity?  To change your name without any serious repercussions or explanations?

    I know, right.  Who hasn’t? 

    As of today, I am going to be someone else.  Or go back to being someone else. For you see, today marks a new beginning for Theresa and a tragic ending for Reese.  She had a good run, but her time is up.  Oh, I’ll still have the nickname, but it will be reserved for those near and dear to me to use when they want to sweet talk me into doing something for them.  Like baking six dozen cookies or whipping up a little three-course snack. The rest of the world will have to be content to address the new me with the old me’s name.

    This is my new beginning.  Going back to the old me. 

    Come on in and introduce yourself.  I have a feeling we’re going to be great friends.

    Hugs, Theresa

    New Beginings

    Pat Davids here.

    Our blog topic for this month is NEW BEGINNINGS.

    I'm starting a new term as president of WARA, so I guess you could say that's a new beginning of a sort.

    As a writer, I immediately think of the start of a new novel. That oh-so-important first sentence. Sometimes, I nail it when I start the book. More often than not, it comes to me when I'm a few chapters into the new work. Catchy first sentences are awesome when they're done right.

    As a nurse, I think of babies when I think of NEW BEGINNINGS. Nothing is more full of promise than a newborn child. The world and everything in it is new to a baby. They see everything for the first time. Mother's face, Dad's face, the sky, the sun, the stars. Nothing is old hat to a baby. What an awesome way to start people.

    So, maybe I should combine a catchy first sentence with a newborn baby it for my next novel, what do you think?

    Come one writers. Step up and give me an opening line. I'll go first.

    Carly Winston stared at the three handsome men grouped nervously at the foot of her hospital bed and wondered which one of them was the father of the baby she held in her arms.


    Pat Davids here.
    Happy New Year, everyone.
    It's 2014 already. Remember when we were waiting with bated breath for 2000 to arrive? Would the computer age survive or would we all go dark and descend into chaos?

    It seems like only yesterday we were wondering if the Mayan's had it right and the world was doomed in 2012. The blockbuster movie by that name was okay, but not awesome. Turns out the Mayan's made great calendars but they couldn't predict their own downfall or the downfall of the planet. Actually, their calendar was predicting a new beginning, not an end. That was all Western hype. However, it turns out the Mayan's didn't exactly get the new start thing right, either. The universe is spinning onward as before. Nothing much has changed in our tiny corner of it.

    In the face of such monumental failures to predict the future, I will refrain from making my own predictions for 2014. I've learned life is whimsical. As soon as I think I have things figured out, a new curve ball is hurtled in my direction. 2013 was no exception, I don't expect 2014 will prove to be any different.

    I do know I love the game of life. I love the game of love, too. It's why I write romances. In spite of highs, lows and curve balls, I believe love makes our journey worthwhile. Sometimes, in the hurry-up rush of keeping-up, we forget to tell the people who matter how much we love them. Today, in the early hours of a new year, I'm going to take a moment to make sure they know how much I care.

    I love you to infinity and beyond,
    Kathy, Josh, Shantel, Mom, Dad, Greg, Bob, Mark, Gary, Theresa, Deb, Rox, Marietta, Barb, Mary, Kayleigh, Sadie, Charlie, Gladys, Edna, Boyd, Marilyn, Vern, Millie, Verna, Eugene, Henry, Rita, Ed, Gemma, and my David, always and forever darling.  

    Here comes 2014!

    Pat Davids here.
    Happy New Year to all my WARA friends and followers.
    May the new year bring loads of happiness your way.
    I'm starting the year off with a new favorite quote. This one is by Henry Ford.
     "If you think you can do a thing or you think you can't do a thing, you're right."
    So what's your favorite quote?
    Pat the Prez