There's Always Hope

Photo credit
No, that is not my desk.  I took the hutch off my desk, and it now resides in the storage shed in my backyard.  Along with an older hutch.  Yikes!  And, at the moment, the main part of my desk does not look like that.  Yes, there are a few things scattered on it, but only one notebook, a folder, and my Kindle are in a pile.  You see, I cleared off my desk a couple of weeks ago.

The rest of my office?  Don't ask.  But I want you all to know that last night, I did some sorting and tossing.  I cleared a corner of items that had been sorted to be put away or dumped, but had become a total mess.  It's now manageable and ready for some larger tossing.  I've decided to enlist the grandkids' help with shredding papers, and I gathered a stack of folders for papers to be filed. I even did some filing!

There will always be piles.  Like Becky, I usually have a good idea in which pile whatever I'm looking for can be found.  Generally.  But that doesn't mean we're disorganized.  What we are is busy, active people.

Raising four daughters was chaotic.  Raising anything is chaotic.  Yet we survived.  Nearly fifteen years ago, I divorced and left my home, taking the girls with me.  In the next two years, we moved three more times.  Each time, we tossed things into boxes and moved, never having time to sort through much of anything.  We're still sorting and tossing, after living here for the past eleven-plus years.  In fact, #3 daughter is coming later today to retrieve and toss her things from my attic.  Anything left is either mine to keep or dispose of.  Let's hope most is disposal.

But what you see is not always who you are.  I quipped yesterday to a friend in an email that I'm OCD and disorganized.  My youngest says that's not possible.  Oh, but it is!  There are certain things that must be done JUST SO, and to blazes with others.  All anyone has to do is take a look at my stringent writing schedule when on deadline, glimpse my story bible or my word count/page count charts, and you'll see the perfect example of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Why?  Because I have to.

And my comments about being a disorganized organized person?  (I think I finally have that right!)  Unbelievably true!  And I have proof!  While searching for a photo for today's post, I found not only the above photo, but an article that shed light on the subject.  Are You Disorganized or "Differently Organized"? pretty much nailed me.  Check it out.  Read the first paragraph and see if you don't agree.  I've been in one of those homes mentioned in the first paragraph.  In fact, only one room--an enormous and  beautifully maintained family room--was used very much.  In fact, I think the couple lived mostly in there.  Why would I think that?  The carpet in the (formal) living room had plastic runners on the carpet.  I'm not kidding!

There's always hope.  There's always room for improvement, even if it's something as simple as a pencil holder for our desks.  Instead of beating ourselves up, let's celebrate who we are and make improvements when we feel they're in our best interests.  Set priorities.  Are plastic runners on your carpet high on your list?  Go for it!  Do you feel comfortable with easy-to-find-piles or containers?  Enjoy!  Whatever makes your life easier, yet still comfortable and with a little room to improve, is basically all we need.  Live life!  Be happy!

Piles, I Have Piles! And We're Not Talking Hemorrhoids Here

Organization: the act of organizing.
Gee, thanks Webster. That helped a lot. Not!
Organize:  arrange or distribute into parts with the proper officials so as to work, or carry out, a scheme efficiently.
Aacckk! Now I have brain freeze!
Organize: put into working order.
At last, something I can understand.

Most people seem to consider me an organized person. They often comment on how neat, clean and organized my house is. I look at the dust just itching for a smiley face and roll my eyes. Maybe they need glasses? The piles I see on all three of my desks (yes, three) plus the top of both filing cabinets beg to differ. I guess it all depends on your definition of organized. I think we too often assume organization comes with cleanliness. I dare to state that organization can exist in the midst of bedlam. My piles may look chaotic, but I know what’s in them.

What I have in the filing cabinets and desk drawers are mostly in order, but where do I put all this other stuff? Tax return paperwork sits in shoe boxes, years of shoe boxes. Organized, hmm, yes, I guess. Efficient, no way. Digging through box after box trying to find which year we made which change in which thing is a total pain. I have rethought this process. I am going to fix it. Some day. Soon. No, really! The problem with teaching old dogs new tricks isn't that they can’t learn. It’s that their bodies refuse to follow through. My spirit is willing. My bod is not.

I have writing notes on sticky pads, legal pads (large and small), notebook paper, typed pages I printed for corrections and scrap paper of every size and shape. My current projects are stuck in clipboards, folders and piles. One stack for each book. Do the wobbly heaps make me crazy at times? Yes! Am I going to change them? No!

I have a small bible for each story on the computer, but I also have the information on paper. The problem with that is neither is complete as I put new information on whichever I feel like at the time. Technically, that could count for organization according to good old Webster. I know where everything is. I just have to look two places to find it all. When I get fed up, I input it all on the computer. Then I start my schizophrenic system all over again.

I would say after reading the other blogs, that organization is whatever works for you. My work-oriented brain understands how to be more professional. My creative side doesn't want to take the time to make files much less put everything in them. If I can find what I need in five minutes or less, I’m good. If I have to hunt longer, I fix the problem. It’s not always pretty, but I’m comfortable with the madness in my method.

Someday I’ll go through and toss all the bits and pieces from my brain that created my stories. Hmm . . . maybe not. I’ll let my kids do that. It will serve them right for giving me grey hair J Someday I will get better organized. Nah, won’t do that either. I like my system. I like paper. I like picking up pen or pencil and feverishly scribbling down my epiphanies. Computers are great, but I’m just old enough to prefer holding what I’m looking at, like real books. I like to feel the crinkly texture of my rumpled notes. I like squinting while trying to decipher my atrocious handwriting. Maybe I just like doing things the hard way. Yeah, that’s it.

Armed with a labeler and I’m not afraid to use it (Melissa Robbins)

   Organization is key with writing.  How would you keep it all straight?  Plot, characters, research.  It’s a good thing I like office supply stores more than one person should, but here are just some of the examples I found useful in my writing endeavors.

Notebooks – Go find the prettiest notebooks you can find or buy up a bunch during back to school sales in the summer.  Here is my collection of notebooks.  I’ve labeled each one with my handy dandy labeler.  Character information fills some.  Other notebooks contain research material, which brings me to number two.

Notebook Tabs – The same tab organizers I used in school for my different subjects help keep my information straight.  My teachers would be so proud.  These tab dividers separate RAF research, like planes,  aerodromes and 40’s fashions, etc. 

  Leather Notebooks – I once saw on an author’s blog how she used handcrafted leather notebooks to keep notes, story ideas, pictures, etc. straight.  Who wouldn’t be inspired by a beautiful notebook?  I made the two books on the left myself using supplies from Hobby Lobby.  The paper is thick sketch paper great for pens and markers.  I fill mine with scene and story ideas, sketches of my characters, locations, character information. They are easier to transport than my larger notebooks.  If you don’t want to make a notebook, Barnes and Noble has some beautiful ones.

Spreadsheets – Where would I be without my Excel spreadsheets?  Probably still combing through pages of my stories searching for George’s eye color.  With so many pilots and other characters running through my aerodromes and cities, spreadsheets allow me to keep track of all of them in one place.  Spreadsheets also aid me in corralling all the agendas.  In a mystery, everyone has secrets, but which character is willing to kill to keep that secret quiet?  My heroine may not know what’s going on behind the scenes, but I need to know. 

That’s just some of the tools I use to organize my writing.  What works for you?

Herding Cats, er, Herding Ideas: Organizing Tips for Writers (Penny Rader)

Bing image
My oldest daughter hosted our family for Easter lunch this past Sunday.  While we were eating, my mom asked if I’d been writing.  I smacked my forehead and said I had a blog post due, asked what the date was (my brain is still slightly addled from tax season), and was quite relieved when I realized I still had two days to pull together a post.

Daughter #2: “What is the topic?”  

Me: “Organization.”

She laughed out loud, which reminded me of a time when she was a little girl.  One day, while I braided her hair, she sat directly across from my bookshelf.  “Mom, you have a lot of books about getting organized.”

“Mmm, hmm,” I agreed.

“I guess you haven’t had a chance to read them.”

I fear my hands might’ve slipped and may have given a slightly sharp tug to the braid I was working on.

So, since anyone who knows me knows I’m a disorganized mess, I figured we’d benefit more if I checked around and found some tips and tools that worked for others and might work for us.  (Just for the record, I do like to be organized.  I just struggle with maintaining the organization…which then results in having to start again and again, usually after I have huge piles of stuff here and there and can’t find anything I’m looking for.)

Here are a few tidbits I discovered on my online search.  I do hope you’ll click on the links to gain the full benefits of the following authors’ wisdom.

  1. Carry paper with you.
  2. Construct, then write.
  3. Consider going digital.
  4. Don’t plan at all.

  1. Create a mind-map.
  2. Build your world.
  3. Develop the setting.
  4. Make character sketches.
  5. Visualize the end product.

10 Ways to Organize Your Book (Cassandra Marshall)
  1. Dry erase boards or Acrylic sheets.
  2. Post it notes.
  3. Crayola bathtub markers.
  4. Mirrors.
  5. Small voice recorders. Voicemail.
  6. Small pad of paper and pencil.
  7. Scrivener or Evernote.
  8. Clear packing tape on cardboard or your window.
  9. Desk mats
  10. Chalkboard paint.

Bing image
Low-tech organizing tools: 
  1. Sketches.
  2. Lists and outlines.
  3. Index cards.
  4. Sticky notes.
  5. Hanging folders
Software and Internet-based organizing tools:
  1. List and outlining tools
  2. Spreadsheets.
  3. Drawing programs.
  4. Mind maps.
  5. Storyboards.
  6. Transcription.
  7. Cloud computing.

How to Organize Your Desk to Aid the Needs of a Writer (by H.H., Ben Rubenstein, Dvortygirl, Flicket, and others)
Writing by Hand:
Bing image
  1. Take everything off your desk.
  2. Organize all papers into piles.
  3. Clear off the knick-knacks.
  4. Store your pens and pencils in a mug…
  5. Toss any pens or pencils that don’t work…
  6. Arrange paper, notebooks … within easy reach.
  7. Buy a drawer organizer…
  8. Replenish your supplies when necessary.
  9. Get a good light for the top of our desk.
Writing by computer
  1. Clear all junk on your desk
  2. Relocate anything that casts a shadow…
  3. Look on the desktop of the computer itself and remove all unnecessary icons…
In either case:
Bing image
  1. Get a nice chair.
  2. Locate the desk in a quiet location…
  3. Keep a notebook or legal pad at hand…
  4. Locate the desk lamp so that your hand does not cast a shadow on your writing.
  5. Keep reference materials nearby…
  6. Set up time to regularly address (toss, file or handle) the things that stack up on a desk…
  7. Consider carrying a portable desk…
  8. Finished.

When your ideas run wild, it’s too easy for them to frustrate and eventually overwhelm you. And this is where many writers give up. But you shouldn’t.
  • Learn how to tame your beast:
  • Establish a calm, centered mind
  • Study your breed.
  • Train your focus.
  • Walk your inner dog.

To find the method that works best for you, experiment with the following plot structure organizational tools:
Bing image
  • Index cards
  • Outline
  • Folders
  • Loose-leaf notebooks
  • 3-ring binders
  • Flow charts
  • Writing software
  • Your computer

-- some good ideas in the comments, also.
  • Organizing by scene:
  • Scene
  • Setting
  • Characters introduced
  • Characters mentioned
  • Backstory
  • Things to add
  • Things to delete
  1. A writer’s notebook
  2. Storyboard
  3. An inventory list
  4. Character timeline
  5. Printed drafts in a binder

  1. Identify your major scenes.
  2. Grouping scenes.
  3. Make a timeline.
  4. Make a hit-point list.
  5. What else must happen?
  6. Prioritize your scenes.
  7. Recheck your timeline.
  8. Start at the natural beginning.
  9. Where to from here?
  10. Organizing the train wreck.

What do you think?  Find anything helpful?  Have any tips to offer?

I Never Get Any Respect: As told to Sandy Van Doren ©

I’m built strong enough to do a lot of work, but not strong enough to do all the work.  Yet that’s what many writers expect of me.  Like this one:
She’s about five hundred dollars short of the ransom, and has less than twenty-four hours to get it.
Putting me between the two verbs of a sentence makes me work when I don’t have to.
She’s about five hundred dollars short of the ransom and has less than twenty-four hours to get it.
You see, not every and requires a comma.  Now, if there’s more than two verbs in the same sentence, use me.
She’s about one hundred dollars short of the ticket price, has lost too much blood to get up, and has less than twenty-four hours before he finds her.
Inserting a comma before and in sentences with three verbs is author’s choice.  If I would help make your words clearer to your reader, then I’d be happy to go to work.  Any more than three, I’m a must.

If and joins two or more main ideas that can stand on their own, I’m your mark.
She’s about one hundred dollars short of a bus ticket out of this mud hole of a town, and she just found out bus service will be discontinued in two days.
Each of these uses applies if you use any conjunction such as and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet, while, and whereas.
She’s about five hundred dollars short of the ransom but has less than twenty-four hours to get it.
She’s about one hundred dollars short of the ticket price, has lost too much blood to get up, yet has less than twenty-four hours before he finds her.
She’s about one hundred dollars short of a bus ticket out of this mud hole of a town, while she just found out bus service will be discontinued in two days.
Now, all that being said, an example of overworking me would be:
Her heart truly stopped for the space of several beats, when thick hands with short, freckled fingers reached for a hand towel, not more than eighteen inches from her, but within her line of vision.
Commas…and where none are needed or should be.  Comma #1 sets a dependent clause apart from the main clause it depends on for meaning.  Comma #2 is legit; it’s separating adjectives.  Comma #3 is keeping a descriptive phrase from the item it describes; the same with Comma #4.

Think of me as a rather mild mark of punctuation.  I can indicate a slight degree of pause or separation between words or groups of words.  I don’t have the strength to keep whole clauses apart.
The echo of a breaking tree branch cracked overhead, she whirled around and stumbled over a downed Aspen.
She turned to run, but a thorny shrub snagged the leg of her blue jeans, the world crumbled from beneath her.
That’s why you should pair me with a conjunction or use a semicolon.  Or break the sentences apart with periods and capitals.

The echo of a breaking tree branch cracked overhead.  She whirled around and stumbled over a downed Aspen.
She turned to run, but a thorny shrub snagged the leg of her blue jeans.  The world crumbled from beneath her.  
 She turned to run.  But a thorny shrub snagged the leg of her blue jeans, and the world crumbled from beneath her.
You know, I’m the most frequently used punctuation mark, as indeed I should be.  After all, I tell readers when to pause and where a word is missing.  I separate thoughts and descriptions, and I add rhythm to sentences.  Keep in mind, my main job is to create clarity for the reader, let him know what’s on your mind, tell her just how you want this sentence to be heard.

But, please, respect my limitations.  Respect.  Respect.  My kingdom for a little respect.  Oops, sorry.  I’m off my soapbox now.

Writerly Organization...another world...

Oh, the story I wrote as in my newbie ignorance, I wrote up a storm, a disaster, a novel! It  was a wondrous thing, full of detail and richness, spice and sarcasm, survival, accomplishment, and love.

And then...

Readers liked it.

I got a call from one who had tracked me down to tell me it changed her life.

Oh, good Lord!

Oh, and when was I going to write another one? A Zone book?

Uh...well...uwh...I wasn't sure I could write a book at all when I began. I was so new, I called a New York Publisher to ask how long an average novel was. If you've ever seen an Abbott and Costello film, I can assure you this ranked right up there with 'who's on first'. I finally ended the call in frustration with no real answer or so I thought. I'm sure the other party had a real laugh-fest on the idiocy of telephoners. Need I say, I hope we never meet? Remaining anonymous seems about right.

What does this have to do with Organization you probably wonder? Well here it is.

If you're only going to write one book about an area, place, family, world, whatever, then fine. DON'T TAKE NOTES. However, if the first book looks like a keeper and suddenly you need another book with ANY details that are repeated, and if you have written a four hundred fifty page adventure, futuristic, romance first book, then you are scr#%ed.

Worse, you do remember some details and they are idiotic. For example, as I was merrily writing a long and needed a name for an animal someone might eat, I called some bunnyhops or parachickens.  Really? I ask myself now, couldn't you (me) have come up with something a little better than that? Now I'm stuck with such for the rest of the entire set of storylines. You try remembering what area, some fool animal or plant is in. You try remembering how many children a couple has and if you've named them all in the previous novel.
Photo Album with file separators. TOTALLY INADEQUATE!

Turns out, in the second novel, I managed to get the first son born before his parents met.

Yup. That's a detail that needed nailed down somewhere. Think you'd not make that error? That little mistake came from mentioning, oh, so, casually in the character's own thoughts that he was over thirty.

So, whether your life is organized, your office is organized, or your head is organized, doesn't really matter. What matters is what you can prove. Find your method and keep it current. Details in advance of writing can be fun, but as I found out, details change and morph into other unplanned details. Keep diligent in your records for these things are like roaches. They hide everywhere and keep breeding. Remember timelines. Somethings (like parents meeting before baby delivery) are important. So timeline details are crucial.

I bring this disaster up for your amusement. I went back through the first novel and tried to identify and categorize places, people, things, geography, etc. I'm not sure what I'll do going forward. It is still a mess, because I foolishly compounded my problem by letting the characters in the second novel take a different route through the Proving Zone, I cunningly used DIFFERENT animals, geography, plants, for their story. Now, I'm in trouble exponentially.
Technology issues and instructions for using them. For example The IBLTD wand was held by a 'peace' officer. Can't remember what I called them. Order from a menu in a restaurant. First choice? Do you want a human waiter?

Note the 'note to self' in the image above where I thought maybe a indexed cardbox would work better? I'm sure seasoned writers have faced this self-induced torture before and found a way to figure it all out.
Guess what? I haven't yet.

Good luck.

Ms Unorganized

After watching the TV show Hoarders, many times, I came to the conclusion that my mother was a hoarder.  Let me first say that she wasn't as bad as many who have been helped on that show.  But after she moved from an apartment to assisted living, everything in her apartment was packed and moved.  Later, my daughters and their husbands and I cleared out a completely filled double storage unit, where her things had been taken.  Thankfully, all of her things had been packed by people who knew what they were doing.  Still, it was a reminder that she never threw anything away.  I've always believed that was because she grew up during the Depression, when so many did without.

My dad, on the other hand, was the complete opposite.  His closet contained his clothes and a metal shelf that held his stamp collection, which was his prized possession.  The top two drawers of his bureau held his keepsakes.  Other than two bins of his philatelic things, I have two boxes of his personal items.  That's it.  Two, medium-sized boxes that contained his life of nearly 77 years.  His father died when my dad was ten, and he quit school in seventh grade to go to work to help his family.  He also knew what it was like to do without.

Unfortunately, I lean towards my mother's hoarding, although not to the her extreme, and I do purge, whenever possible.  I wish I would have learned more from my dad.  It sure would save wasted time, hunting through drawers, stacks of papers and what not.

Why the difference?  I don't know.

Genetic?  I'm adopted, so I can't blame my poor habits on that.  Shucky darn!

When it comes to writing, my system is very much like Joan's.  Yes, I duplicate many of the things in the folders on my computer, but as I commented, that comes in handy.  I don't have a laptop, but I can still carry my story-bible-in-a-notebook with me and work wherever I go.  Call it OCD or whatever.  It works for me.

I'm a visual, hands-on human.  It has its pros and cons.  Pro, because it enables me to visualize.  Cons? (Note to Self: Add blogging dates.)
 Well, I sit here at my desk, I see three calendars.  One isn't even current.  I also created a monthly calendar for my desktop, hidden right now by my browser.  I add things to it when needed.  Our WARA meetings, a note for when I need to remember to take my oldest granddaughter to ice skating lessons, NO SCHOOL days, so I know in advance when I'll have four to five grandkids here all day, and whatever else I should remember.  One of my jobs is to take and pick up all five grandkids at school.  Four trips a day.  Luckily, the two schools are two miles or less miles from home and on different schedules.  Does that sound crazy?  I have alarms set on my cell phone for each time to leave.  If I didn't do that, I'd be getting phone calls from panicked children!

While my home is rarely ready for guests and I sometimes because frustrated when I can't find things, I manage.  I am semi-organized.  There are times when I'm so focused on what I'm doing that I don't notice the confusion around me.  Will I get better?  Maybe.  If I'm lucky, I might even have time to organize and purge this weekend!  Or next weekend, since my To Do list keeps growing, even today.  Or the week after?

And that doorknob in the photo at the top?  It's a wish.  There's no door on my office.  Which might be a good thing.  Those g-kids can create a disaster in a matter of seconds.  Genetic?  Maybe....

Organize to Succeed by J Vincent

The topic for this month is organization.  When it comes to writing there are several areas that need organization.

First is where you write.  Not only the environment but the computer you use.  Follow whatever arrangement seems most logical to you and that fits your situation. I have on my desk within easy reach a first name book, a surname book, a thesaurus, a dictionary and the relevant books I’m using for fact checking in my current book.  Many of these items can now be online resources. I have those I use frequently bookmarked in a folder named Resources on my browser.  Having them in a folder organizes them for fast and easy use instead looking through a ton of bookmarks. 

For my writing I organize my computer files in folders.  I have a main folder for a book in which I save the writing files and then subfolders for whatever areas that particular book needs. I still have a binder for each book I write despite the fact I also now keep the same information on my computer.  In both binder and computer I have a section/folder on characters where I paste a picture and also have a physical description as well as character traits and important events in the life of that character that predate where the book begins.  Since I write historicals I also have a calendar section for the months of the particular year(s) I am writing, like September through December of 1810 for my present book and a timeline of real and fictional events in the story.  Another section is for plot outlines and scene notes.  I also have a section for locations with photos or pictures clipped from wherever along with notes and diagrams of homes or castles or forts that my characters will have to move-fight through.  When I am writing and find I must make big changes I re-save my file with the present date.  That way I have the “old’ and “new’ versions.  I also save scenes I cut, especially if they are long.  You never know when you might want that information or scene again.  And since I sometimes self-publish I also have a folder for what I need to include in the ebook version.

Writing time also has to be marshalled to be available.  That may be exceedingly difficult in a busy life but I’ve learned if you don’t plan a time for it, you will never find any in which to actually write.  I don’t think it should be carved in stone but some workable framework has to be constructed to find available slots for writing in your day.  Once those are identified, set small incremental goals to use them.

All of this organizing will make writing easier.  You won’t waste time looking for information you know you have and will get more productive writing accomplished.  I’m sure I missed some areas and/or didn’t expand enough on others.  What organization techniques do you find most useful in your writing?

If It Ain't Broke by Theresa Jaye

Let me start by saying, organization is a gift that should be treasured. But it’s also a gift that not everyone is, well, gifted with. Nope. A gift like this should come in a big box with lots of ribbon and a shiny bow.  And instructions.
I never received the gift. 
When it comes to writing, my organizational skills are less organization and more . ..  frantic. Occasionally, my brain operates like an over achieving hamster running on a wheel. Once I’m lucky enough to get the wheel going, ideas pop out like popcorn. But this also means I have to write down these nuggets of wisdom quickly before the wheel stops spinning.     
In my world, spinning wheel = paper chaos.
I have story notes on Post-It’s. Plot plans on backs of envelopes. Snippets of dialogue on receipts. One time, I drew a map of my fictional town on a paper bag. I write in a pink notebook one day and then accidentally use the purple one in the car the next time or the recycled copy paper at my office. I end up with a stack of light bulb moments in various shapes and sizes. A disconnected mess of ideas in random forms.  
But, this works for me and as hard as I try to write in only one notebook or on my tidy stack of colorful sticky notes—it probably won’t happen.
Like they say, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.     

The Thing I Do For Research.

 Pat Davids here. Happy Spring.

If you want to be a writer, or you are a writer, you have to be prepared to do some research. I always knew that. Happily for me, I love research. Hours and hours in the library, pouring through old books. Finding out wonderful facts. That's real fun.

 As it turns out, sitting in the library will only get you so far when it comes to writing realistically about something you aren't familiar with. Take the Amish. There's still a lot I don't know about the Amish even after 12 books in my Brides of Amish Country series. Their culture is so diverse that what works for an Amish romance set in Ohio won't necessarily work for a story set in Pennsylvania.

Because I didn't want a dozen books about farmers and quilters, I had to investigate business run by Amish families. There are a few. I've been to visit an alpaca farm, ridden in a buggy, sat behind a draft horse in a wagon, took a tour of a printing press company and museum. I've visited a fabric shop and quilt store in an Amish community, visited with Old Order Mennonite women at a family run café, spent hours talking to my nephew's wife about being a nurse-midwife, and I even interviewed the cutest small town sheriff ever. (If I get arrested, it will be in Council Grove.) I have watched a buggy wheel being made in a blacksmith shop and seen a huge sewing machine for making leather harnesses.
In all, less than one tenth of what I've learned goes into any given book. But they don't call me the trivia queen for nothing. Just ask me. I'm sure I'll have an answer and if I don't, I will make one up. I write fiction, you know.

 For my latest book, THE SHEPHERD'S BRIDE, I have the privilege of visiting a sheep farm during lambing season. Talk about hard work, awesome dogs and cute, cuddly baby lambs. I will admit that a baby alpaca won my heart, but a baby lamb comes in a close second.

So I'm going to open it up to questions here. What would you like to know about the Amish, sheep or even alpacas?
Did you know sheep can be buried under the snow for nearly a week and survive? The heat from their bodies will melt breathing holes. They'll dig down to grass or eat each other's wool for food and they can get enough water by eating snow? Boggles the mind.