Sunday, December 21, 2008

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

I'm home and jet-lagged. The family room is loaded with suitcases full of dirty laundry. The good, the bad and the ugly from the trip will be discussed tomorrow.


Here's hoping public declaration, and the fear of public humiliation, will keep my list of goals from being packed away with the last of the Christmas decorations.

FIONA'S TOP TEN WRITING RESOLUTIONS FOR 2009


10. Write EVERY DAY. I mean it this time. I have made a good jump-start on this and I want to continue it. I'm not giving myself a daily time or word limit. Unrealistic goals tend to be demotivating. Two years of NANOWRIMO, which were derailed by an illness during the month, have taught me that the expectation that I can do x words a day and still live my life is not going to work. I think I'll go with 5,000 words a week. I may not make it every week, but I don't think I'll go crazy, or drive my family crazy.

9. Read outside my comfort zone. I have a jump-start on this, too. My birthday is in January, so I have ordered several books as presents to myself. They are all by authors who I have "met" online through blogs and chat rooms. They range from romantic comedy to cozy mysteries to noir mysteries to one horror book. I'm going to read them each for pleasure then dissect them to see what makes them explode---or fizzle.

8. Go to my monthly writers' meeting. I need the moral support. On-line writer friends are great, but it's not the same thing.

7. Go to a writing conference. I've gone to a national conference, and I want to do a regional one this year. This is my business--my new career--and I need to treat it that way.

6. Treat my writing time as work time. I can not allow unnecessary interruptions to side track me. Nothing short of an emergency--a REAL emergency--will have me stop my writing session.

5. Exercise EVERY DAY. I'm going to be spending a lot of time with my butt in the chair writing, and I'll need to get that butt out of the chair and moving to offset it. I foresee long walks with the dogs. This will be my plotting time.

4. Complete first novel. As in, from the beginning to the end. My Work In Progress is more a Work In Pieces right now.

3. Revise and polish first novel. Not obsessively. Not until I hate every character and want them all to die. But I don't want to send out anything sloppy.

2. Query agents for first novel. I have a list, I've checked it twice. I will recheck and send out emails, or snail mails, as needed. I have a list of 4 agents to get me started. I don't want 20 rejection letters in one week.

1. Begin next novel. This should really come after # 4, but it is my biggest goal for the year. I don't want to complete the first one and then.......wait for rejections. This first novel has been a learning experience, and I want to put that to work in the second one.


HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE.

MERRY CHRISTMAS



and Happy New Year. I'll be back on 1/1/09.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

THE "BEFORE" PICTURES









The camera has decided to cooperate, so here are pictures from the project.

The first room is going to be our family room. The guys are excited about this. It will be a nice place for doing puzzles, playing games, and watching movies. Now that the kids don't need a "play room" we can all enjoy this space.

The second room will be my office. Wow, that feels great to say. DH has not said much about my writing goals; he is a guy of few words. The addition of the office to the remodel plans, however, was a major show of support. It is the greatest gift he has ever given me.

The machinery is out back to drill the well for the geothermal unit. The cold weather has delayed that part, but they are supposed to be back on Monday. We will have in-floor heat in the whole redone area, powered by the geothermal unit. Toasty toes next winter!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And the dogs are gone, too



Scooby and Baby went to stay on the farm this morning. They were so excited to go for a ride in the car, but were not thrilled when left them. Oh well, they'll be in sheltie heaven for the next two weeks with nine other shelties to romp in the snow with them.

I don't know how I'll handle two weeks of no barking. Hmmmmmm, perhaps a week of walls being ripped down and jackhammers tearing out the concrete will give me my daily dose of noise.

I wonder if the jackhammers will get louder when the doorbell rings......

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Kitties are packed



Skitter Kitten and Mr. Whiskers are packed and ready to go. We have never sent them off before, so I'm worried how they will do. At least they will be staying in a home, and not going to a kennel. They'll probably be so spoiled, they won't want to come home. I know they will be happier away from the demolition in the house.

The dogs go to another house tomorrow. I'm so thankful for good friends who will help us out during the worst of the project.

The kids are going to miss the critters. Who am I kidding---I'M GOING TO MISS THE CRITTERS.


Do you have pets? Have you had to send them away for vacations or house projects? Will I get all the pet hair cleaned up before they come back in two weeks?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

when a house is not a home

We went to an awful Christmas party last night. It was at the house of someone my DH knows from work, and it was the weirdest home I've ever been in. It looked like a model home for a new housing development, totally sterile, but even a model home tries to look "homey". Perhaps this felt more like a stage of a house that needed the finishing touches to make it authentic.

There were NO BOOKS IN THE HOUSE! Can you imagine? Even in the "study" there were no books on the shelves. They were filled with tastefully placed "things" that only a decorator uses. They were not mementos from family trips or art projects by the kids. The shelves beside the fireplace --which was unlit even though it was 5 outside--were empty and faux poinsettia trees were placed in front of them.

The other thing that struck me as odd was the absence of photos. These people have kids, for goodness sakes, and have been married years. Where were the wedding pictures and baby pictures? What about the snapshots from the family vacations?

Then there was the art--or lack of it. All of the "art" pieces on the walls were giant metal scrolley-things that are there to take up space on huge walls. The house had vaulted ceilings in every room on the main floor and lots of wall space.

The "picture" over the fireplace looked like something you'd see in a high-end furniture store as a display, but not for sale--just there to take up the space. It was an abstract flower in blotches of dark burgundy and black. Burgundy was the "unifying color" in the house, as a decorator would say. The picture was obviously picked because the colors "matched" the decor.

All of the Christmas decorations looked like displays moved from a department store. The tree in the living room was one of those tall, super-skinny ones. Just little white lights and---are you ready?--burgundy and gold butterflies, six inches across, were perfectly spaced all over the darn thing. There must have been a hundred of them. They should have had price tags and a sign 3 for $10. Nothing hand-made by the kids was on the tree or anywhere else. Where were to popsicle stick ornaments, or the little balls decorated with glitter-glue?

We were there for 4 hours and I don't think anyone sat down the entire time. The chairs in the living room had multiple, perfectly arraigned little pillows with painful-looking beads on them. A sure sign of "don't sit here" if I've ever seen one. The couch had a cashmere (yes I checked the tag) blanket fanned over one side. The other end of the couch had a wooden serving tray on it. The tray wasn't used all night and no one moved it to sit down. It reminded me of a photo from a magazine or catalogue.

I feel so sorry for the kids.

I found this blog and think that picture looks like it came from a house I'd like to visit. It looks like someone LIVES there. It may not be my color scheme or style of decorating, but it is lovely, and it looks like a home.


So, what makes you feel at home in a new place? Is it the decorating, the furniture, the pictures, BOOKS? Have you ever been in a house that feels like stage, not a home? What do you think it takes to make a house a home?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

CHAOS ABOUNDS

Our major home-improvement project has begun. "Breaking ground" doesn't even BEGIN to describe the mess. AND, my camera died, so no pictures. I have to figure out how to upload camera-phone pictures to the blog.

Today, a red monster truck, complete with large drilling attachment, rumbled into the back yard, scaring Skitter Kitten and sending the shelties into a barking mania. It was that loud. There are three more days of drilling.

I know, drilling in Minnesota, in December, we are out of our minds. The reason is great, however. We are putting in a geothermal heat pump, and in-floor heat in the bottom story of the the house.

It sounds great, and will be when it's all finished, in March. Until then, we will have a week of jack-hammering up the basement's concrete floor before we get out of Dodge for Christmas.

When we get back, the walls will be ripped out, the floor dug down to the dirt, and the furnace suspended from the ceiling. Then the rebuilding begins.

I've got to get the camera fixed before then. I'm sure the sight of my house in ruins will delight many.

The end result---- heating and cooling, hot water and warm floors, all for a few dollars a month. And, green energy. Even with the cost of oil low, it should pay for its self in 8 years. The entire floor will be tile--easy to clean with two dogs, two cats and two kids trying their best to keep it messy.

BEST OF ALL--- a new office for me. Not a space in the dining room, not a corner of the guest room, but my own room. *sigh*

WHAT COLOR OF THE RAINBOW ARE YOU?

Your rainbow is shaded green.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What is says about you: You are an intelligent person. You feel strong ties to nature and your mood changes with its cycles. Those around you admire your fresh outlook and vitality.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.


Another cute quiz. It's gray and cloudy here, so green sounds nice.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

THANK YOU FOR GETTING YOUR FLU SHOT

To the woman who shook my son's hand at church on Sunday, thank you for getting a flu shot. My son has asthma, and even a mild case of the flu can make him sick for weeks. He will have a much better school year because he did not catch the flu from you and have to miss a month of school. People with lung illnesses are at a high risk for complications from the flu.

To the man who visited his grandmother for Thanksgiving at the assisted-living home where my grand father lives, thank you for getting your flu shot. My Grandfather is in his nineties, and will get to enjoy Christmas with his first great-great grandson because he didn't catch the flu from your grandmother and die before Christmas. The elderly, living in senior housing, can be especially vulnerable to the flu.

To the coworkers of my friend, who is allergic to eggs and has diabetes and cannot get a flu shot, thank you for getting your flu shots. My friend's juvenile diabetes has made her life very difficult. Anyone with a chronic illness has so many more things to worry about than those of us who enjoy good health. When those of us who are healthy get our flu shots, we are practicing "herd immunity" and protect many, many at-risk people.

Thank you to everyone who has gotten their flu shot. You have given your community a gift.

If you haven't yet had your shot, it's not too late.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

COMFORT READS

Inspired by Janet Reid’s post today, I was thinking about my "comfort reads" those books I curl up with when I'm sick, or feeling overwhelmed.

Sometimes I want to revisit old friends and enjoy the flavor of the characters more than the story. For this, I will pick up a Rex Stout or an Ellis Peters. Then there are times I have read, or tried to read, an awful book and I need to cleanse my mental palate with something familiar.

I like to reread LITTLE WOMEN around Christmas. I often dip into a Jane Austen in the spring.

There are also books I reread every year. One, my favorite book, is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I know the book hasn't changed, but I hope that I have and will get something new out of it.


What about you. Do you have a "comfort read" or a favorite reread for a certain time of the year? Or do you read once and pass it on? What do you do to forget a bad reading experience?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

COMFORT FOOD FOR THE EYES

The internet is a blessing and a curse. Wow, how original, I know. With the touch of a few buttons, I can see how the markets are tanking all over the world (well, not NOW, they're closed thank goodness) and I can read about crimes and natural disasters all over the world.

On the other hand, I can find whimsy and a smile in the most unlikely places. I check out some blogs when I need a smile. These days, I'm, writing about a suicidal mass-murderer, and I need to get her out of my head and see something nice.

Here are a few things that never fail to make me smile.

These are not laugh out loud sites, but they do give me little cheer.

The first is John Scalzi’s bacon cat which is funny just because it is.

As a foodie, this blog is a daily stop for me.

And last,
this is just too sweet.


Do you have a website you visit just to make you smile?


Happy winter to everyone. We have 4 new inches of snow, and we’re off to go sledding.

Monday, December 1, 2008

WRITING AND READING COMMUNITY HELPS AUTHOR



Author Jo Leigh’s husband died after a long illness with cancer. They had no health insurance, so some generous writers are trying to help her with an auction. Items to be listed for bidding on 11/28, 11/29, 11/30, & 12/2.
(Individual item auction links updated November 30, 2008 12:00 p.m. CST)

You can email for more information.

Holiday shopping + helping someone at the same time= Christmas cheer.

Please pass this on.

Now go shop!