A little titbit for all of the parents in the UK...

Monday, 30 July 2012

Today is the first day of summer. It’s also the first day of the unofficial pool to see how long my monster lasts. I have threatened him more than once with the ‘Keep it up and your sister is going to be an only child’ line. And that was before I had to be home with him ALL DAY. Now, don’t get me wrong... I really do want to be a ‘World’s Best Mom’ and I do really try, but my patience only stretches so far.

What my monster needs is activities to entertain him and wear him out. I think I have found the perfect solution (assuming we have a fair amount of sun this summer)—a membership to the National Trust! 
Here’s why...

The National Trust membership for a family of two adults and unlimited kids is £70.12 for the year when paid by direct debit. It comes with newsletters, a magazine... all sorts, but most importantly, it gets you free entry and car parking to over 300 properties!

This weekend I had a good look through the copy of Primary Times which was sent home in Hunter’s bag and found that not only is Tatton Park listed (a favourite place for our family),but there are many other places listed which are only a short drive from us. Free entry and parking at Tatton alone would be worth it as much as we go there. They have some great things for us to do this summer, in addition to feeding the animals at the farm and playing in the massive playground.

I also found Lyme Park which, as it turns out, is only about a 20 minute drive for us and offers a different kid-friendly activity each weekday this summer! I’m really excited about this one. I have marked several days out there on my calendar, including making and flying animal kites, watercolour painting, skimming stones, learning about water mini-beasts, and listening to a story teller in the garden.

You can even use your membership for entry into attractions in other countries. We are spending 
a week in Italy next month and I’ve already found a place to visit for free there!

It looks as though summer may be ok after all. And not as expensive as I originally thought. Thanks to membership in the National Trust. If you are home for the summer with school-age kids (of course, I’ll have Scarlett in the pram as well), it may just be the best £70 you spend.

Check it out here:

Summer is here...

Friday, 27 July 2012

Hunter's last day of school was today. I won't lie. I went trough the massive pile of things he's made during the year and cried a little. My baby boy isn't a baby anymore. He's finished his first year of school.

I've started planning a million things to keep us busy this summer. Mainly so he won't drive me crazy. I swear, that kid has the energy of 14 kids. The only thing I know for sure is that I need to find ways to burn off that energy. I would just throw him in the backyard and let him chase the dog, but we can't guarantee we'll have sun all that often.

To that end I have signed us up for membership in the National Trust. That'll get us unlimited trips to Tatton Park. Tatton is brilliant. There are gardens, a mini train, a farm where you can feed the animals, and a killer playground. The membership includes parking, so aside from gas and a picnic lunch it'll be a free day out! Turns out membership includes a few spots in Italy, as well. So we might save a little on our vacation this year. Not bad for £70 per year.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a 'Fun Friday' post, so I feel obligated to give you something at least. And here it is...

I robbed this from a friend on Facebook. I have no idea where it came from (so sorry, I can't credit it) or even if it works (but I'll be trying it out soon), but seriously, how cool is this?

Until Monday, have a great weekend everyone. And let me know if you make any glow sticks, or bottles I guess.

Paying my dues...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

I am paying my dues.

I was not chosen for the HAR pitch. Unlike the HI pitch where I never entertained thoughts of winning, I actually did think I had a chance with this one. So, yes, I am rather disappointed. But I'll live.

I wish they had given us more of an ideas of what they wanted. Or maybe a little feedback on what was lacking. I swear, I still feel like I have no idea what to write to enter these pitches. I guess I'll never really know. Maybe they'll post the winners so we can have an idea of what it takes.

I do know that I'm not giving up. I'm also not going to be so hard on myself. You know that whole 'burning the candle at both ends' thing? I skipped the ends and threw the whole damn candle in the fire. All because I am so desperate to get published that I was trading sleep for writing. I'm also battling one hell of a throat infection (probably a side effect of no sleep and too much stress).

I think it's time to relax a bit and write what I want to write for a while. Without worrying about contests and trends. I'm still taking classes to finish up my degree and once maternity leave is over it'll be back to the grind. In an effort to accomplish as much as possible while on leave, I've seen writing as a chore. Something that has to be done, not necessarily something I want to do.

I think it's time to find my passion in writing again. I'll still write VB, but in my own time. Not just because I want to hurry so I can enter it in a contest. I'm going to just write.

SYTYCW and New Voices are both on the horizon. Will I enter? Who knows. All I know is I have to keep writing.

And keep paying my dues.

Mommy Madness

Monday, 23 July 2012

It's 5am. Yeah. I'm up. Sort of. Baby Bug woke at 4:30 for a bottle and seems to have no interest in going back to sleep. I am not impressed.

It used to be that she'd have her bottle and go right back down. Then she started this 'let's play a bit' malarkey. It wasn't bad when she was waking around 6. I just stayed up and got stuff done. I wouldn't even mind being up fro 5, but this is pushing it.

It doesn't help that I am ill. DH gave me this nasty crud which has my throat so swollen it hurts to swallow anything, even drinks. In the interest of being completely debilitating it also causes ear ache and head ache. Excellent. He has it, too, but while he's slept and watched Mad Men all weekend, I've kept the house clean, kids happy, and been to three birthday parties. Must be nice to be male, huh?

And I have 15 things on my to-do list. That's right 15. It'll be 14 when I finish this post. All I want to do is go back to bed. Which I am going to do. Right now. I think Baby Bug may have finally drifted off.

Night all (sort of). Happy Monday.

Making friendship bracelets...

Friday, 20 July 2012

Have you ever had one of those days when you have a hundred things on your to-do list and all you 
want to do is listen to Bob Marley and make friendship bracelets?

That's what last night was like. I blame Mollie Makes,

I picked up Hunter from school and needed to go to the grocery store.While I was there I got this month's edition, mostly because it has a cute skirt pattern in it, but also because of the friendship bracelets 
on the front cover. The skirt, by the way, is the type I'd wear on the beach while listening to Bob 
Marley and tying a million knots in DMC embroidery floss. All the way home all I could think about 
was the big bag of floss I had at home.

Of course, then I got home and there was dinner to cook, kids to bathe, and battles over bedtime to fight. 
I never did get to pull out my floss last night. I still haven't. 

Today, I looked at my to-do list. Including the overdue tasks (I seem to always have something overdue), I had 21 tasks. At six am, with little sleep (Scarlett had a rough night) I knew there was no way I'd get through them all. And nowhere on that list was anything I wanted to do. Nowhere did it say relax

I thought back to the good old days, when I could pack up the car and head to the Outer Banks without a care in the world. Or sit on my front porch swing, safety pin a knot of floss to the knee of my jeans, 
and make a bracelet. 

I know I'll never get back to that carefree place in my life, but I am determined to find at 
least a little of that freedom. 

From now on I will turn down opportunities to take on more responsibility. I will finish all of my to-dos during the day (of course, this will get a little tricky once I go back to work). I will spend my evenings 
doing things I want to... like writing, reading, spinning, crocheting, sewing, or any of the crafty 
past times I've collected over the course of my life.

I will let go of the stress of being a grown up and remember what it was like to be 17. I will live 
in the moment. And let that moment take me back to 1993 now and again. 

I will make friendship bracelets.

Writing Wednesday

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Well, tomorrow is the deadline for entering the Harlequin American Romance editor pitch contest! My entry is ready, or as ready as it will ever be.

I keep tweaking it. I probably should've sent it in early. Oh well.

Wish me luck!

I miss the South...

Monday, 16 July 2012

...enough said.

Some Friday Fun with Elizabeth Gilbert

Friday, 13 July 2012

In the interest of having a little fun for Friday (not to mention that I am way behind on to-dos and it is one am), I'm not writing a lengthy post today. Instead, I leave you with this really cool video from TED 
(a new favorite site of mine). 

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love talks about creativity and the stigma attached to being creative.

It's attached. Go watch it.


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

I'm starting to think that all of my problems can be summed up in three letters: G M C.

I lack GMC not only in my writing, we'll come back to that in a minute, but also in my life. It's not that I don't have goals. On the contrary, I have tons of goals. I have too many irons in the fire. At least that's how my grandma would've described it.

I've looked back over my 2012 Goals and was shamed how few made it past February. I think it's time to have another look at my life and where I want to be. My ADHD has me taking on way too much. It may even be time to cut back on some of my hobbies. Hell, it's not like I have time for hobbies anyway...

Ironically, my characters have the opposite problem. When I am thinking of a story I can see it playing out in my head, but most of the time I can't tell you what the characters are actually trying to achieve. I do manage to figure it out eventually, but it really does hold me back.

The WIP I'm working on for Harlequin is fine, but the magical realism that I am so drawn to is a mess. I know exactly what is going to happen, I even have most of the scenes plotted, but I have no clue what the characters actually want.

It's almost like what I'm writing is a slice of life piece. And it is definitely more plot-driven than character-driven, the problem is I want it to be character-driven.

So I think it's time I found a good book on GMC and started studying. I know there is a great one by Debra Dixon which is simply entitled 'GMC: Goal, Motivation, & Conflict' but I have yet to find it in a store (or better yet on Kindle).

Does anyone know of any others which are particularly helpful?

Getting it all together...

Monday, 9 July 2012

Well, it's Monday again and as usual I am behind on my to-dos. Not tragically behind, but behind nonetheless.

I think it may be time to re-visit my 2012 resolutions. It occurred to me last night as I lay in bed, with my eyes half open thanking God that it was bedtime, that I've gone way off track. I can't really remember what my goals were, not all of them at least, but one that stands out is finishing all of my work before five so I could spend the rest of my night with my family.

It's shocking to realise that even though I'm not working full time I still don't have enough time to do everything I want to do. There's feeding the baby every three hours and laundry (which I forgot today and need to get home to ASAP) and housework and coursework... The list just goes on and on. I started writing this while sitting in the car at school waiting to pick up Hunter!

I am pleased to say I have carved out time in my schedule during the day to write, so that's a step in the right direction, but it occurs to me that my maternity leave will be over in the blink of an eye. Then what?

How will I juggle being a mom of two, cancer research technician, cheerleading coach, student, and writer? I think it's time to look ahead and find a schedule that will suit me once I'm back at work.

Damn. I just got this schedule to work.

Fantastic Friday

Friday, 6 July 2012

Well, at least that's what I'm hoping for. Dear hubby and I scored massive 'cool parent points' yesterday by keeping Hunter out of school and taking him and Scarlett to the zoo. It was a very special day. My little monster turned five. :-)

Bat Cake.

So we walked the zoo for nearly four hours before coming home for pizza and cake. Hunter used his birthday money, and a bit of my money, to get that enormous iguana he's snuggled up to below. I usually don't but from the zoo shop since everything is ridiculously overpriced, but I couldn't resist a pair of ladybug glasses for our little bug.

Chillin' after her first trip to the zoo.

Today we're sending him to school. DH has the day off and wants to go back to the gym. I have loads of writing to do, but my priority this morning will be the wedding outfits I'm sewing for Scarlett and I. I need to press a bit more on Scarlett's dress then sew it, do the bloomers, and start my dress. The wedding is next weekend. I think I'll try to get some writing done this morning, at least my rewrites.

Yes, it is as long as he is. ;-)

Why is there always so much to do and so little time?

Valentine Bride it is!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Well, it seemed that several people read my synopses, but only two commented. And wouldn't you know it was one vote for each story. Figures.

The vote for VB came from my cherished critique partner who has already read some of VB. She knows the story and if she thinks it's strong, I trust her.

But, I admit, the ADHD got me and when I read SandyB's comment (thank you so much, by the way) I got excited and started to concentrate on ATS. That's when the story really started to develop. A couple of things came out of brainstorming that surprised and thrilled me. Now I need to figure a way to make it all work. And that's way more than I can do before the deadline.

So, I'm going to enter Valentine Bride. I really do love the characters and the story. It has a lovely little town, quirky characters, and Southern charm. ;-)

I may have another look at that synopsis before I submit it, though. Any suggestions?

Donna Reed-esque

Monday, 2 July 2012

Mini-post today. Mainly just to say I've been here. I'm trying do desperately to check things off my to-do list.

Part of said to-do list is printing up the Season 5 Information Packs for cheer. They're 17 pages long. I need 55 of them. I've already finished the forms. In total I printed 215. Did I mention my laser printer jams about every fifth page? It's a good thing my diet prohibits alcohol.

Then there's 2 articles and a scene to write. And cut out the material for mine and Scarlett's dresses for the wedding. And, of course, clean house. I'll be doing that in my pearls. Yeah. Right. I haven't had a shower today!

I just know someday when I retire (if I ever get to), I'll look back at this blog and call myself a ninnie (a word my grandmother would've definitely used to describe me) for taking on so much.

And so, I think I need a mini-post today or I won't have time to post at all. Time to get back to work.

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