Saturday, January 24, 2015

Turns out, it is possible to be a crazy cat lady without being old or single.


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Sorry I've been scarce here. I'm still working on revisions. In order to focus, I've been going to Corey's office first thing each morning. Working there helps me treat my work as a job and not get distracted by things around the house. And I've been doing a fairly good job of not opening my Mac again once I come home in the afternoon. That's helping me maintain some form of mental balance.

My birthday is coming up on Tuesday. I'll be 33. I had planned to do another Birthday Acts of Kindness kind of thing this year, but with revisions in full swing, I changed my mind. Instead, we'll probably go to dinner after Corey gets out of a meeting that evening. I will spend the day working. But I ENJOY my work, so that's not a bad thing at all.


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Corey had to spend the last few weekends out of town. In his absence, I let one of the cats, The Doctor, sleep in our bed. As a result, he's become rather spoiled. If I roll over, he will crawl across me and lay down so I'm facing him again. He prefers to be touching me at all times, even if it's just one paw laid on my arm. It is both adorable and somewhat pathetic.

For both of us.

Turns out, it is possible to be a crazy cat lady without being old or single. ;)

I finally watched the season 8 finale of Doctor Who today. I like Clara less and less, but it was worth suffering through her just for that salute. I can say that without it being a spoiler, but if you watched it already, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Hopefully, I will have more of substance to share soon.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Candy Crush on Middle Places


I downloaded a bunch of games when I had the flu. I was worthless for reading and writing, so I watched endless Netflix shows and played on my phone – butt planted firmly in the recliner.
Of course, once I felt better, I quit playing those games.
Mostly.
*blushes*
I may still spend too much time with Candy Crush: Soda Saga.
I thought I’d play it for a while and then move on, but that didn’t happen. Each night, before bed, I find myself moving around candies, trying to “pop the bottles” and “save the bears.” I have thought, a few times, about how playing that kind of game is similar to revising my book. If I move this scene here, it changes everything over there, so now I have to come up with a new plan to fix that. And when I fix that, it changes where everything else is lined up, so now I have five new problems to solve.
It’s an easy metaphor.
Last night, however, something a little harsher hit me.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE READING, CLICK HERE TO VISIT MIDDLE PLACES

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Heather the Heretic on Middle Places


Martin tells me they are out of school for December, and he is praying for a good harvest.
Martin lives in Kenya, and we exchange letters through Compassion International. He is the oldest of my Compassion kids and he writes the most often. On Saturday, I opened a letter from him, his thin writing in blue ink on beige paper, a lion yawning from the backside of the note. I read the letter aloud to my husband, sharing in the joy of Martin’s news of doing well in his classes and enjoying learning more about “the Christ” at the Compassion center in his village.
He finished his letter with a question. Martin asked me, “Are you remaining faithful to the Christ?”
My husband and I met eyes over the top of the page. He knows me so well. He knows all of the things I struggle with when it comes to Christianity and the Church. He jokingly calls me a heretic, but he loves me, and he never makes me feel like there is something wrong with me – with how I am currently handling my faith.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

And I Read 2014



In January...

I spent too much time playing Frozen Freefall on my phone.
I performed a poem on MLK Sunday at church.
We had to put Hocus to sleep. *sobs*
I turned 32.
Leila and I spent a weekend in Memphis.

And I read...

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris
A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin
**The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle
**The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
**The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie O'Martian
A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin
A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle
*Stand Tall by Joan Bauer



In February...

Corey and I traveled to Israel for almost two weeks.
I stood in the Sea of Galilee.
My heart broke for Palestine and Israel.
The boys spent two weeks with their grandparents in Tennessee.

And I read...

A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
The Future of Us by Jay Asher
Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen



In March...

I spent a lot of time trying to process my experiences in the Holy Land.
I began the process of getting Haydn back into public school.
I organized lessons for the last months of homeschool.
I wrestled with the book I was writing.
My small group did the 7 Study and I learned some hard things about myself.
Haydn turned 12.

And I read...

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
The Opposite of Fate by Amy Tan
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan
Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther
Couldn't Keep it to Myself by Wally Lamb
Atchison Blue by Judith Valente
Rilke's Book of Hours by Ranier Maria Rilke



In April...

I only wore 7 articles of clothing for 7 days.
I shared poetry via Instagram, daily, for National Poetry Month.
A tornado hit our town and destroyed so much.
My boys helped serve food at a church in the path of the twister.
My sister's youngest, Ronan, was born.

And I read...

*Wildwood by Colin Meloy
Where Fault Lies by Carrie May Lucas
**Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
She Loves You, She Loves You Not by Julie Anne Peters



In May...

There was a lot of title brainstorming for the book I was writing.
Corey took a solitary silent retreat.
We adopted two kittens, The Doctor and River Song.
Corey spent a LOT of time doing tornado clean up.
I binged on Mad Men.
David turned 10.
Savannah turned 14.
I got to beta read Tracie's book.

And I read...

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The 7 Experiment (Study Book) by Jen Hatmaker
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
In the Dark Before Dawn: New Selected Poems by Thomas Merton
Lay it on My Heart by Angela Pneuman




In June...

I tried to regain my footing after completing a draft of Renascence.
My previous agent and I decided to part ways.
Haydn went to Camp Lake Stephens for a week.
I wrote a few vignettes.
My friend, Amanda, got married, and Corey did the ceremony.
One of my girls from our previous church got married. I felt old and very proud.


And I read...

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
I Shall Not Be Moved by Maya Angelou
Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
Harmless by Dana Reinhardt
Deenie by Judy Blume



In July...

I returned to the query trenches.
I ate too much Taco Bell, because I was stressed.
I made an awesome new writer friend, Carlee.
Haydn got braces.
David and I went to South Carolina for a week.

And I read...

*Loser by Jerry Spinelli
*Melissa Explains it All by Melissa Joan Hart
What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
The Group by Mary McCarthy
*The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
*Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle



In August...

I took a poetry class and really got a lot out of it.
The boys returned to public school.
I decided to enter Pitch Wars.
Gifs became a regular part of my blog.
I became a Jamberry consultant.


And I read...

Between by Megan Whitmer
The Secret Place by Tana French
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
Story of the World Vol III by Susan Wise Bauer
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth



In September...

I got into Pitch Wars with the awesome Dannie Morin as my mentor!
I had a bad experience and my friend, Amy, made me laugh until I felt so much better.
I dove headfirst into MAJOR revisions for Pitch Wars.


And I read...

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Nun Too Soon by Alice Loweecey
(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn
Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor
The Rule of Saint Benedict by Benedict of Nursia



In October...

There was a lot more revising.
I beta-read for my friend, Carlee.
I spent a few days on Lake Martin with some of the Middle Sisters.
The Pitch Wars deadline arrived.
I was the TARDIS for Halloween.


And I read...

This One is Mine by Maria Semple
*Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
The Sweetest Hallelujah by Elaine Hussey



In November...

I spent a weekend with girlfriends in Brandon.
We bought onesies.
I participated in (and won) NaNoWriMo.
I ate a lot of Twizzlers.
I got a lot of requests in Pitch Wars.
There was a BIG happiness I will blog about soon.
I had family here for Thanksgiving.

And I read...

The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
*The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Larger Than Life by Jodi Picoult
The Memory Garden by M. Rickert
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen



In December...

Corey and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary.
Our cats started spending more time outside to save the Christmas tree.
I caught the flu from Haydn and watched a LOT of Netflix.

And I read...

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
**A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Homeland and Other Stories by Barbara Kingsolver


*Audio
**Reread

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What's a Writer to Do?



When I'm not writing, for one reason or another, I am still a writer, and I am still working.

How to be a writer not writing...

The topic has been on my mind over the last month for two reasons. First, I have some revision to do, and I really wanted to start before Christmas. I did organize my notes and make an overall plan for the changes, but my husband kept pointing out how, er, intense I was about the whole thing. I wasn't happy unless I was typing, but I wasn't happy then either, because there was so much I needed to be paying attention to outside of my book-world.

So I walked away from Nikki-Mac, letting the Scrivener app sit unused on my dock. I focused on preparing media for our Christmas Eve service, wrapping gifts, and running last-minute errands before the holiday.

I figured, when we made it to Tennessee a few days after Christmas, I could get back to work. It's peaceful by the river, and there would be no tasks for me to accomplish - no dishes to wash or meals to prepare.

Instead, I caught the flu. My husband and sons left to visit my stepdaughter in Alabama and then to stay with my in-laws in Tennessee. I stayed home.

I had all the time in the world, but no ability to focus on my work. I couldn't even focus on reading a book, let alone writing one. All of it required too much brain-power. On top of being sick, I don't sleep well when I am home alone. My brain triggers fight or flight as soon as the lights go out, and with all that adrenaline pumping, I am alert and miserable until the sun rises.

I watched a lot of YouTube and Netflix while I had the flu.

The thing is, I never really quit writing during that time. I quit typing. I quit making active notes and changes to my manuscript. But my brain kept on turning the prose over and over. I kept thinking about my characters and some of fuzzy areas dissolved into clarity. I found a great writing podcast and listened to that. I read a few short stories and thought about why they worked. As for all the Netflix, I thought about those stories too. How did the writers keep my interest in the characters from season to season... What tiny comments and scenes did they stick in to make me care about a character or situation without beating me over the head with their purpose? When I turned a movie or show off without finishing, why did I do it? What could have changed my interest level?

I lay awake at night and, instead of wasting that time, I thought about fear, about how the brain processes fear. I thought about my characters at those moments when they feel afraid and transferred my all-alone-at-night anxiety into their bodies. I had vivid dreams when I did sleep and I thought about what those dreams meant.

I do this all the time.

My friend and I sometimes talk about retirement and what she will do then. It is always what she will do, because I don't plan to retire. I don't think I can retire from being a writer. Even if I one day quit pursuing publication and never make another dime, I will still be a writer, and I will still write. If I can't put the words on paper, I will be writing in my mind. I will examine stories and wonder why the author did this or that. I will read books and talk to other writers.

So, tell me, writer friends, how do you write when you aren't writing?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Dreaming into 2015



2014 has drawn to a close and I didn't do any of my traditional end of the year posts. I apologize. I could still do them, but I feel like it's time for a change. Instead of scrambling to make the bookish year-in-review posts I skipped while sulking around with the flu, I am going to focus on the future.

It's 2015, y'all.

Every year, I ask God for a theme. This is not a resolution kind of thing. It has zero to do with goal-setting or expectation for the year ahead. Instead, I take what He gives me and use it as a lens with which to look at the events of my year,

Last year, my theme was Oblation. I thought that was my theme because I had started the process of becoming an oblate to a monastery. A year later, I am not an oblate, though I have not 100% abandoned the idea. It just turned out to be wrong timing, and I am unsure when the right timing might happen.

Oblation is another word for devotion, and 2014 was full of me learning about devotion... I learned where my devotion was misplaced and misfocused. I saw where I needed to be more devoted and I also struggled with religious devotion.

A. Lot.

That's usually how my themes go. I think they mean one thing and God flips me on my head. The year of Purpose and Vision? The year of Freedom? Lawdy... The year of Patience? Those were some crazy years.

This year?



Dream.

That's my word.

The implications are manifold. And I want to believe this gift of a 2015 theme means my own writing dreams are about to come true.

They might.

But I suspect there is a lot more to my theme than book publication. I suspect God is planning to teach me a thing or two about chasing dreams... mine and Corey's... the dreams of my children and friends...

Maybe there are some dreams I will have to let go of. Maybe there are new dreams to be embraced.

I won't lie and say I'm not nervous. When I first heard the word in my head, I asked God to send confirmation. Because the word scared me. I'll admit it. The year of Patience didn't show my patience paying off. Rather, I found I needed more of it that I could ever dream of possessing. So the word dream made me worried... what if it means I will LOSE my dreams instead of making them come true?

The thing is, whether God gave me the theme or not, what will happen this year will happen. I may as well jump on board.

And, yes, again and again, the theme has been confirmed.

2015 is very definitely a year about dreaming.

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