Where's the fun Friday?

Friday, 30 December 2011

Today is supposed to be Fun Friday or maybe Fiction Friday, hell I don’t know. All I do know is that it hasn’t been much fun and I haven’t gotten nearly as much done as I planned thanks to this sinus infection settling into my chest. Nonetheless, I do want to give you something, because it is Friday after all (I actually had to check my phone on this one; I am so confused thanks to no school/work).
So here goes. As you know, I am an aspiring author. You probably also know that I have ADHD (not medically confirmed, but I don’t need anyone to tell me that I have the attention span of a goldfish, I already know that). For my writing, ADHD means that I always have more than one (usually more than 3) stories on the go at once and that I can’t stick to just one genre. I jump between romance and magical realism, but tend to spend more time actually writing romance and more time dreaming about the amazing MR I’m going to write someday (I have started it, just keep stalling out).
Lately, I’ve been following Susan Meier’s Goal Workshop posted on her blog (http://susanmeier.blogspot.com/) and I’ve come up with my New Year’s resolutions—5 for home/family and 5 for work/writing. Now I’m not going to tell you all of them now, it isn’t New Year’s Eve yet, but I am going to let in on one in particular. One my list of writing resolutions is the following:
“Finish two manuscripts for Harlequin in 2012 and submit them.”
This is a big one for me because usually I get bored somewhere around chapter 4 and start a new story. The only time I’ve finished a manuscript, I promptly deemed it crap and tore it to pieces. I’m going to do it this time. I have a plan.
I’ve already picked out the two stories I’m going to complete. I’ve brainstormed both and written a logline and blurb (the pitch/query kind, not the back cover kind) for each. My next step is to write a detailed breakdown of each chapter (one down, one to go) and synopsis for each. It seems that I don’t finish because I get bored with the story. Often it’s because I can’t remember why I was so excited in the first place. My thought is that if I have enough written down for each chapter it will keep the spark there and hopefully I’ll be able to keep going.
So, while my blurbs are nowhere near perfect, I’m still going to post them here. Well, not really here, I’m going to add them to my ‘Romance’ page. I’m doing this for two reasons. First, they will be out there for you all to comment on. I always welcome feedback, so I’d love to hear what you think about my ideas. And second, you all can hold me to my promise— if I start talking about some grand new idea, keep me in check people!

Writing on a Wednesday

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

It’s just past seven pm and I’ve managed to convince the little man to climb in bed and watch Scooby Doo. I don’t think he’s fallen asleep before ten at all in the past week. So, I’m trying to get him to bed earlier in hopes he’ll start to drift off sooner. Mainly so I can get some work done. As I sit here and type this, I know there are a few other things that must be done tonight. After all, I want to accomplish as much as I can in the time I have off.
My next stop is to take an editing exam that I’m really not looking forward to. I’m confident in my skills, I just dread spending 40 minutes answering questions when I’m already this tired.  Realistically, I should do two exams I’m so far behind, but I’m not sure if I could cope with that tonight.
So what’s with the exams? Well, I’ve hinted that I’m starting a new venture in 2012, those of you who follow me on Twitter (@ChristyKateSays) may have even seen the links to my new blog, so here’s the scoop. I have always had a natural talent for snark. In fact, I was the kid in grade school who pointed out everyone else’s writing mistakes. Yeah, I was popular (I also have a natural talent for sarcasm), so much so that the meanest kid in fifth grade nicknamed me Dictionary Davis (my maiden name).  Now that I’m all grown up, I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a grammar geek and a spelling snob. I get a thrill out of reading texts in search of poor punctuation and style inconsistencies, Bet you’re guessing I’m a lot of fun at parties, huh?
In my career, I am always the one tasked with proofreading all proposals and contracts written up by my manager before they leave the office. In my personal life, I work with a lot of teenagers heading into university and they always have me look over their essays before they print them off. My best friend even had me edit her essay answers on her first application as a doctor! So, I figure what better way to supplement my income when I’m working part-time after Scarlett is born than to do some freelance editing and proofreading. I already do freelance writing, but I’ve never been a huge fan of writing non-fiction (I do it for the money, it isn’t really a passion). Editing, on the other hand, is fun for me (yes, I know, I’m not right).
To get started, I set up a profile on Elance. I’ve been working on it for weeks, bit by bit, but tonight I think I added enough to get my feet wet. If you haven’t been on Elance and you’d like to do freelance… well, just about anything, you should check it out. They have jobs listed for everything from writers to programmers, design to admin support. Right now I am only using the free account. It’s limited, but until I can afford a monthly subscription, it’ll have to do. So far, I like the set-up, but I’m not going to lie, the back-stage applications which you use to complete and bill for work are very sophisticated and a little scary. I took the plunge tonight and submitted 9 proposals for editing jobs, so I guess if I’m lucky enough to land one I’ll have to learn the work area really quickly!
I have also set up a freelance blog of my own to advertise my services. My new blog, Proof & Polish (http://www.proofpolish.blogspot.com/) is now up and running, although it will be a few weeks before it’s settled. I’m adding new content and information to it daily. In the meantime, pop over and have a peek. I hope to pick up some business through it and would love your comments about it (anything—layout, colours, prices, let me have it!).
The site officially opens on New Year’s Day, so even though I’ll have my in-laws here celebrating, I hope to run some sort of promotional contest. Once I have the details worked out, I’ll post it here and there. After all, I am guaranteed to be the only one in the house that morning without a sore head. Well the monster, the 8-month-old niece, and me. Oh hell…

Fa La La La Blah!

Monday, 26 December 2011

I’m going to try to make this a quick one. But then y’all know how long-winded I can be. It’s Boxing Day here in the UK. No, I don’t really know what that means. When we first moved here it was the day that all of the women in my husband’s family got together for brunch in the morning and then proceeded to have a drink in every pub in town. In heels. I can’t claim that I was ever good at that particular tradition and, secretly. I’m happy that we moved away and that thanks to Hunter (and especially Scarlett on the way right now), I have the perfect excuse not to hit the town. Ever. I’m more of a few-beers-on-the-couch-watching-NFL kind of girl.
So we’re at home today—DH, the monster and I. The boys have just beat me at Scooby Doo Guess Who? and the little man is now upstairs in his room, once again refusing to go to sleep. God only knows what I’ll do with him when school starts again. I’m munching on Doritos and dip waiting for DH to sit down to watch Lie to Me. All in all, it could be a perfect evening… if it wasn’t for this damn sinus infection. Yep. Here we go again.
Only a few weeks ago I was on antibiotics for a sinus infection and was up consecutive nights running fevers and cursing the world as they slept peacefully. Then last night I awoke from a fitful sleep and realised it was back for round two.
Oh the joys of pregnancy. I’m feeling like crap and can’t do much about it. I am a big fan of herbal remedies, but after no sleep last night and a truly rotten morning, I’m ready to pull out the big guns. I just can’t imagine hurting Scarlett in the process. I will say, though, that I was surprised with how quickly the warm saltwater gargle knocked out the sore throat. It’s still taking the edge off. I think I’ll take the salt shaker upstairs tonight.
I really hope I don’t start in with the fever again tonight. I also wish I could hook the vacuum up to my right nostril and just keep it on low through the night. More than anything, I’d kill to just get some sleep. I wish there was something I could do, something I could take, just to get a decent night’s sleep. So, I’ve spent the last few hours ‘Googling’ to find out what I can take which won’t hurt the baby. So far, it looks like Sudafed and Benadryl may be options. I think I’ll call the midwife tomorrow and see. Fingers crossed.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, 25 December 2011

The 'magic' cookies we left out for Santa last night.

Just a quick note to say Merry Christmas to you all and I hope Santa
brought you eveything you wanted this year.

Cookies & Romances

Friday, 23 December 2011

It’s my favorite time of year. The tree is lit up, I’m about to tuck into a peppermint hot cocoa topped with marshmallow fluff and I’m plowing through all of my ‘work’ (writing) so that I can get into bed at a decent time tonight and curl up with my favorite type of Harlequin—a Holiday Harlequin! Ah yes, ‘tis the season for heart-warming holiday tales from all of our favorite authors. And there’s just too many to choose only one!
So what’s on my Kindle?
Well, I’ve already read Susan Meier’s Kisses on Her Christmas List. It was excellent-- the touching story of a wounded, lonely woman and a betrayed single father learning to love and trust again. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried (tears of joy) at the end—and I can’t blame it on the hormones. It’s on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Kisses-Christmas-List-Harlequin-Romance/dp/0373177690/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1324670361&sr=8-1
Earlier in the week, I started Holiday Hideout from Harlequin Anthologies. I’ve read The Thanksgiving Fix by Vicki Lewis Thompson, a super sexy story of a snowbound couple who are both dead-set against settling down. The anthology also includes The Christmas Set-Up by Jill Shalvis (next up on my reading list) and The New Year's Deal by Julie Kenner/ You can find this book on Amazon here:

Next up will be A Baby in His Stocking by Laura Marie Altom. It promises a tale of ‘friends become lovers’ which, considering I married my high school best friend, I am powerless to resist. Check out the blurb here on Amazon:

And last, but maybe most anticipated, is Debbie Macomber’s 1225 Christmas Tree Lane. This one is sure to be another Cedar Cove classic—Christmas, romance, and puppies! What more could you ask for? Fans of Debbie Macomber will be familiar with her Cedar Cove series, fans of romance who haven’t read a Cedar Cove book yet need to get going! Pick this one up on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/1225-Christmas-Tree-Lane-Cedar/dp/0778312690/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1324673667&sr=1-1
So there, you go. Some excellent holiday reads, a little late maybe, but hey better late than never. Besides, most of us will have some time off between Christmas and New Years and this list should fill it nicely.
Now if you need something to accompany your great read, the cocoa is just the cheap kind, stirred with a candy cane and topped with a dollop of marshmallow fluff and my Momma’s pecan ball recipe is simple. Enjoy!

Mom’s Pecan Balls
½ c butter, softened
2T granulated sugar
1t vanilla extract
1c chopped pecans
1c + 1T flour
Powdered sugar for coating

Beat the butter and sugar together. Once it’s combined, beat in the vanilla and stir in the pecans. Add the flour gradually and refrigerate the dough for about an hour. Roll the dough into small balls and place on a greased (or ungreased non-stick) cookie sheet. Bake the cookies at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Roll the hot cookies in powdered sugar immediately to coat them. Leave them to cool and then roll them in powdered sugar a second time. Makes 20-30 balls depending on how large you roll them.

Twice in one week?

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Well, here I am again.  Are you surprised? I am.
I’ve decided to try blogging regularly again. It’s Wednesday and looking at the schedule I originally set for this blog, I should be writing about writing.  I’m not going to claim that I won’t slip up from time to time—let’s face it, life with a full time job, a four year old, and one on the way is anything but easy—but I’ll go on record saying I’m going to try my hardest to stick to my originally planned schedule:

Monday Mominess- posts about parenting, pregnancy (might as well throw that in now) and cute/crazy things Hurricane Hunter does
Wednesday Writing- writing tips, thoughts on writing as a career and updates on my WIPs
Friday Fun- book reviews, fun stuff, recipes and all sorts of other fun stuff

Right. So Wednesday Writing. Well, I already told you that I haven’t written in ages, but I’ve made a pact with myself to change my ways. It’s less a goal than a necessity really. I realized that after reading a very cool blog post by author, Susan Meier. Susan used to teach a workshop on setting goals and now she is offering these lessons on her blog. The Introduction, posted on December 12, 2011, struck a major chord with me.
In it Susan says
In other words… We will find a way to reach any goal with a compelling “reason” behind it.’
(Please read the rest of the post and the series of lessons at http://susanmeier.blogspot.com/2011/12/its-monday-morningdo-you-know-where.html )
This may be the key for me. You see, I admit it—I’m lazy. I’m certainly not proud of it, but it’s true. All this time I’ve been making goals, but they were really more like wishes. I’ve wanted to write for Harlequin since I was about fourteen. In fact, I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was six! But I never really needed to be a writer. I’ve always had a way to make a decent living. That is about to change.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for my writing, I have discovered that after paying for gas to get to and from the hospital and childcare for two, if I work five days a week, I’ll be lucky to bring home £267 per month. That’s right—PER MONTH! If I cut back to 2 ½ days I’ll fall into a lower tax bracket and may be looking at £289 per month.
Gas currently costs me about £240 per month. That’s $376—can you believe it? And I drive a Honda Civic, not a Suburban! And while I could take a job in my town instead of driving into the city, the fact of the matter is I’d never make the salary I do now. I work as a research tissue technician for a major cancer hospital. There’s no equivalent, well, pretty much anywhere. So I’d have to take a job which would pay significantly less and I’d still have to pay childcare. I’d be in the same boat.
Here’s the real kicker-- I love my job. I don’t want to give it up, but I just cannot figure out how to pay £500+ of bills with less than £300. My only option is to find some ‘work-from-home’ jobs. I have written freelance web content in the past, so writing is on my list. I also have done a bit of editing and proofreading, so I’m looking down those avenues as well.
I’d love to say I’m going to focus all of my efforts on writing romance and magical realism, but let’s be honest. Even if (or when) I do get published, I probably still won’t make enough to make ends meet. That is not to say that I won’t put every available minute into my WIPs, but I need a more reliable paycheck, too.
I’ve already started looking into freelancing and I am laying some groundwork now, before the baby is born. I start maternity leave late in April and plan to take advantage of the time I have off work to write. I mean it’s not like I’ll be getting any sleep with a new baby in the house. I’ve been there before, but last time I was too overwhelmed to write—last time I had no idea what I was doing! At least this time I’ll know more and be a little more prepared. The plan is to have some work in place or at least a foundation and a little more experience when I return to work in January 2013. I’ll keep you posted.
P. S. Just in time to snuggle in front of a fire with a mug of cocoa—check out Susan Meier’s heartwarming Christmas tale:
Available on Amazon.com at: 

Scary words from a 4 year old...

Monday, 19 December 2011

Friday  morning, I heard the scariest words ever to come out of a four-year-old mouth.
‘Mummy! You are NOT going to believe what I’ve done!’
My first thought was, ‘Oh hell.’ You see, we don’t call him Hurricane Hunter for nothing. I had been desperately trying to grab a few extra minutes of sleep all the while knowing he was awake, but it never occurred to me that he’d decide to decorate the tree all by himself.  But that’s just what he did.

Fearing the worst, I followed him downstairs to find the tree ‘decorated’. I have to admit, there was a definite charm to the way he tangled all of the bead garland and heaped it onto the tree. His placement of the rest of the ornaments was precious, even though some didn’t survive and there were shards of red and white glass glittering on the floor.
He stood there proudly in front of the tree and asked ‘Do you love it?’. The tears collected in my eyes as I said ‘It’s beautiful’. And I truly meant it.
I know, it should’ve been decorated already, but in all honesty I had only just bought it on Wednesday. Between work, school, cheer and Hunter I haven’t had a minute to myself. Or a minute to go Christmas shopping. Right now, I’m just happy we even got a tree. If I had waited around for help from my ‘Bah-Humbug Hubby’ we wouldn’t have a tree.
As it was, by the time I made it to the tree farm the only ones left were too sad even for Charlie Brown. After searching high and low for a real tree, I gave up and set my sights on a fake tree. Finding the first 2 shops sold out, I started to pray. I mean, how do you tell a four year old that we waited too long and wouldn’t have a tree this year. In the end, I was able to find a beautiful fake tree that my son loves because it is ‘bigger than Daddy’.
I posted pictures of Hunter’s tree on FaceBook and was inundated with comments saying to leave it as it was—perfect, but I hate to admit that I couldn’t. Decorating for Christmas is something I look forward to all year! Once I pointed out to Hunter that we’d need to re-decorate to include the big rattan star lights we bought, he was only to happy for me to start over. I think he actually enjoyed getting to decorate it a second time.
I bought a 7 foot Duchess Spruce (pre-lit, of course, because I just don’t need the stress of lights) and had a vision of a country Christmas tree.  The trip home, combined with the fact that I am currently working on a number of projects aimed for the Harlequin American Romance line, has made me miss North Carolina more than I’d have ever thought possible and I can’t seem to get enough of the good old USA. I planned a full-on Country Christmas tree—with rattan star lights, felt decorations, cinnamon pine cones, dried orange slices and candy canes! And, of course, our ornaments from years past. I think it’s lovely.

Now that I’m off with Hunter until the New Year, I plan to take my little laptop, Della, down and sit in front of the tree to write as often as I can. The only downside is that I am now desperate to start a new story—a Christmas themed one. As if I needed any more to work on. Oh well, here’s to two weeks of baking cookies with my little monster and writing!

Ok. I warned you...

Monday, 12 December 2011

On my very first post, I said I was crap at this. I was able to keep up with posting for a while (very proud of myself there) and here we are nearly 6 months from my last post. As they say, life happens. So let me catch you up a bit.
Fate has been both a blessing and a curse lately. Here I am homesick (and it would seem some of the friends we spent so much time with at home have again forgotten we exist—except my best friend, Bethany) and the surprises and disappointments have come holding hands and skipping merrily one right after another. It hasn’t all been bad, so let’s get that bit over first.
When we returned, after finding the dream house back home, the hubby and a friend set up a new business venture and if all went well, he assured me the blue house would be ours by Christmas. Then his friend made a major mistake and they lost the  contract which would’ve put a deposit on our dream. I stayed positive and started looking for other ways, other escape plans. I even started playing the lottery (hey, you never know). And then, last week, I saw the news. Our dream house was sold. I hate to admit it, but I sat here and cried like a baby. For two days. I could cry right now just thinking about it.  I’m going to blame it on the hormones.
Which brings us to the biggest surprise—my most demanding WIP. I found out in August that I am pregnant. It was a mixed blessing really. You see, I desperately wanted a second child. Especially a little girl to pass down my family traditions to. And God knows we’ve tried. In fact, this is my eighth pregnancy. I’ve had 6 miscarriages. So I didn’t even tell my hubby about it at first. I think he figured we were done and I can’t really say he was pleased when I did tell him. Thanks to my history, I was scared. I just kept waiting for it all to be over. Terrible, I know, but 4 of the 6 losses had come after Hunter, so I had no reason to think this one would be any different.
Back in April, I tested positive for Lupus. I don’t have the full-blown disease, just what they call ‘sticky blood’. This means that my blood clots in the placenta, which stops the babies from growing. The doctor explained that I had a 80% chance of miscarrying again and started me right away on anticoagulant therapy—daily aspirin and nightly (painful) Clexane injections. Yep, every night I inject my belly. I feel like a pincushion—you should see the bruising! As if that wasn’t difficult enough, I had the worst morning (24 hour, really) sickness I’ve ever had. I was sick constantly from weeks 4-12. So sick I couldn’t read, write, or type. Every time I had to concentrate on words on the page or screen the words swam and circled until I was dizzy and ill. I had to give up writing for a while. I even missed a lot of work and got behind in my studies (so not like me).
This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, but I’m proud to say that we’ve both made it through. Our little girl, Scarlett Rayne, is due April 26th. And since we’ve made it past 13 weeks, our risk level dropped to 1%! I still need the injections, but she’ll be worth it. My hubby has come around. Of course, this postpones our plans to go home, but I’m still determined. And I’m going to keep playing the lotto. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll be able to have a blue house built to our specifications and we’ll move Hunter and Scarlett back home. I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

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