Friday, February 5, 2016

A Good Year

This post is a bit late but I tend to reflect over a period of time, not just on New Year's Day. I almost didn't post this since it is the fifth day of February, but I'm hoping to post more frequently this year. For me 2015 was a pretty good year...except for writing, a fact that I'm accepting as just that and not a reason to beat myself up.

That should make me frustrated and sad, and on some level it does a little bit. Except that my year was full of many highs, memories that I will treasure, a tragedy that still doesn't seem real, and a birthday that made me reflect on where I am now and where I'd like to be in the future. I made decisions about my down time that felt right for my mental well-being. That included more relaxing, spending time with family and friends, reading (however, no YA for months) and yes, less writing.

I had my doubts about whether I could return to that state of sitting down at my computer and loving the process of creating characters, setting, and a plot. Or if I even wanted to again. But I did.

So here are some of the highlights of last year...

My oldest daughter (2nd child) graduating from high school with all the activities involved (prom, award ceremonies, graduation, etc.).

That same daughter being accepted to many great universities and choosing the one which she is currently attending. Very time consuming but wonderful process. I'm so proud of her!

My son working abroad last summer. He's a senior at the university he attends and will graduate this year. CRAZY!

My second daughter receiving her Confirmation (on the night of her sister's graduation! how's that for a "what are the chances" kind of thing). We're now focusing on the college process for her.

My dad's health remaining stable through this past year. *Thank you, Lord!

Work responsibilities changing again. About the same hours, a bit more responsibility from last year.

Deciding to participate in NaNoWriMo as a total pantser. I'll share more about this in my next post.

Here's hoping that 2016 will be kind, full of happy times with those I love, and that my writing goals will be met. I wish all the same for you!

*I don't think I've ever alluded to my faith on my blog, but I have to mention here, that it's my faith in God that grounds me. If not for my love for and trust in God I can't imagine staying sane during the ups and downs of life.

Monday, November 16, 2015

NaNoWriMo Week 2

Week two wasn't as productive as week 1 in terms of word count. I color code each day of writing so I can chart my daily progress. Here's the breakdown if you're interested.

Monday - 132
Tuesday - 239
Wednesday - 886
Thursday - 317
Friday - 451
Saturday - 1,267
Sunday - 109

On Saturday I wrote 629 words during a live virtual NaNo Write-In. It was fun but I couldn't completely shut off the inner editor and went back after the hour to clean up a bit. 

I only added 3,401 words to my WIP giving me a grand total of ,8536, falling short of my goal to hit 10,000 by Sunday night.

However, I did write every day for a total of 15 days of writing in a row.

That's great progress for me.

Week 3 here I come! How has NaNoWriMo been treating you?

Monday, November 9, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 Week 1

I mentioned in my last two posts that after a year off from writing I decided that I wanted to get back to it. I had tried to restart a couple of times during the year but approached writing as more of a chore than a passion.

 But I missed it. And even though I have a WiP to finish, I needed to try something new to reignite that love of writing that had been such a part of me. Something fresh and new, at least for the time being. So after my two oldest kids were settled at their universities (one a senior and one a freshman), after my new class adjusted to school by mid-October, and my younger two kids were nearly finished with their fall sports seasons, I was ready.

I had thought of participating in NaNoWriMo but didn't want to commit unless I really had the desire to write every day in November. I knew that meeting a daily goal of 1667 words most likely wouldn't happen; I know my schedule, my responsibilities as wife/mother/teacher and my limits. But if I could push myself every day to write something, then I would feel successful.

Guess what? I signed up on October 31, Halloween night, after taking my daughter trick-or-treating.

After my first week, I've reached 5500 words! I know I'm behind, and probably will be the whole month, by I'm ecstatic! It had been such a struggle to write a paragraph.

It's a young adult novel with a working title of Melanie Sole.

Hopefully, this will be the push I need to fall back in love with writing. So far, so good!

Good luck to all of you participating! Keep going! You can do it!

p.s. If you want a writing buddy on NaNoWriMo, I'm Suzie F. over there, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Apparently I'm Doing NaNoWriMo

I thought about it. I dismissed those thoughts.

I thought about it again but hadn't planned a thing.

As of last night, I wasn't joining the thousands of people writing 50,000 words during the month of November.

Then I woke up, went on Twitter and thought,

"Why the hell not?"

My working title is "Whatever." No title, no notes, I'm just free writing whatever I feel like for a month.

So, apparently I'm doing NaNoWriMo.

Wish me luck!

Friday, October 30, 2015


Ben Stiller
Diane Lane
Chris Rock
Robert Downey Jr.
John Cryer
Elizabeth Hurley
J.K. Rowling

We have something in common.

All born in 1965.
All 50 this year.

I thought I'd be depressed, worried, melancholy. But no.

Instead I'm grateful, happy, loving life.

Today, I'm 50.
I haven't written in a year, but I've decided to start again. It won't be easy, but the decision is the first step.

I'm back.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Random Thoughts on a Snow Day

1. The only reason I can write this blog post today is because schools are closed AGAIN! Snow day #7 for me. As I look out my window we're in the  midst of being hit with snowstorm #3. By the end we will have reached about 5 feet total snow. We're running out room for this cold, white stuff!

2.  Even though it's easy to grumble about the negatives of the snow: no street parking, narrow streets, trying to navigate around snow towers at the end of the street, etc. there have been two shining positives. Because my husband's jobs require him to be gone for long stretches of work which includes shoveling, I clean our driveway and sidewalk in front of the house. My awesome neighbor never fails to help me with his snowblower when he's out. Those of you in snowy parts of the country know what I mean when you dread seeing a plow drive down your side of the street. Usually it means an extra pile of snow chunks and ice dumped at the end of your perfectly shoveled driveway leading to more back breaking lifting. There is an awesome driver in my neighborhood who drives a huge front loader with a plow on the front. When he sees me out there, he lifts his massive shovel over my driveway and drags the snow out  for me and purposely avoids dumping more snow at the end. So if you see a crazy woman chasing a plow with a bottle of water and screaming, "Thankyouthankyouthankyou!!" it's probably me.

3. Still reeling from the Harper Lee news last week.

4. Not going to rant about the Grammys, not going to rant about the Grammys, NOT going to rant about the Grammys. I'll just say that the real queen of 80s (and beyond) music, and the absolute highlight of the night...Ms. Annie Lennox. She certainly put a spell on me!

Any random thoughts today?

Monday, January 19, 2015


I've been friends with Donna Hosie for a long time. First, through our obsession love of all things Harry Potter. We were part of the staff and hung out on a HP fansite discussing, analyzing, obsessing, and speculating what would happen to our favorite characters while waiting for each Harry Potter book. Later, we both began writing our own novels and now Donna's a published author. I'm so proud of her and happy for her success. Her first novel with Holiday House Publishing is the first in a trilogy called THE DEVIL'S INTERN.

Book Summary:

"How did you die?"

It's the most popular question in Hell, and Mitchell Johnson has been answering it ever since he was hit by a bus at age seventeen and inexplicably ended up in the Underworld. Now Mitchell is The Devil's Intern in Hell's accounting office. Lately, he's noticed a disturbing trend: the volume of new arrivals is straining Hell's limited resources. Then Mitchell overhears his boss discussing plans to limit newcomers with a legendary time travel mechanism. With a device like that, Mitchell realizes, he could change history and prevent his own death.

But Mitchell's plot goes awry when his three closest friends--Alfarin, the Viking prince; Elinor, from 17th-century London; and Melissa, from 1960s San Francisco--insert themselves into his plans. It soon becomes clear that the fates of all four are entwined in dangerous and unpredictable ways.

With unforgettable characters and a thrilling premise, this original novel is by turns funny, poignant, and thought-provoking.

I'm going to be honest. I was a little hesitant at first to read Donna's book  because I wasn't quite sure where she was going to go with this story. I had no doubt the writing would be good, having read her YA series, THE RETURN TO CAMELOT, but a question lingered in the back of my mind. Would the focus be on Hell and the Devil? Hmm, not really my cup of tea or the kind of novel that I'd normally choose to read. When Donna landed an amazing agent and eventually a book deal with this novel, I knew that I would read TDI, regardless, and give her my honest opinion because we're friends. However, if it was an unfavorable opinion, I would tell her in a private email rather than review it online.

Well, I'm reviewing it here because I can honestly say that not only did I like it, it is a damn good story. Donna's novel is fun, fast-paced, and suspenseful at times and I fell in love with her characters (more on them below).

The beginning chapters in Hell were a bit slow for me. I wondered why Hell and Up There (the devils' term for Heaven) would argue about souls overcrowding their "places" but decided to suspend belief and just go with the flow hoping my questions would be answered. One of the first characters we meet is Septimus, the Devil's accountant, and he's great. Love how he handles the Devil and his relationship with his intern Mitchell. Without spoiling the story, I really came to like him even more later in the novel. And he has a great sense of style! Once Mitchell and his friends began their time travel adventure, I was hooked.

I'm a character girl which means that for me, characterization is often first and plot a close second. I loved the MC, Mitchell, and his three close friends - all well developed and very different from each other. I liked how they were from different time periods and cultures, but their personalities blended together in a believable and fun way. I'm drawn to novels with strong friendships and this one is a fine example of friends who support and love each other, and who literally go from Hell and back for each other. I loved Hosie's use of a time travel device and was creeped out by the Skin Walkers. I hated when I had to stop reading to go to work, pick up kids, etc. and couldn't wait to get back. That doesn't often happen for me with books, but when it does it's magic and it's instantly added to my mental list of "books to recommend." Can't wait for the second installment of this wonderful trilogy.

THE DEVIL'S INTERN has earned a Kirkus star review and a School Library Journal star review. For more information please visit Donna's blog: Musings of a Penniless Writer.