Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I don't know WHAT I did to my back

But I've sure remembered how thankful I should usually be to be healthy. I've been throwing bales evenings for the cows, but that is nothing new. I've been working out nearly daily: Curves, cycling, and some rowing (hate that machine...), so I'm a lot stronger and fitter than I used to be. But last night after chores, a hot shower wasn't enough to ease back the muscle aches in my shoulders, and after awhile I realized that my neck and entire back hurt, and the pain wasn't going away. And why would I keep muscle relaxers in the house? No reason at all, apparently. Extra strength Aspirin it was.

I woke up this morning still stiff and tender so started with a call to the chiropractor. She saw me at 9:15 and really put my back through the paces. It was out pretty much everywhere. And it is still very tender. I'm going home shortly to my new bottle of muscle relaxers and hope that by tomorrow I'll have forgotten today existed. What a cool idea.

Instead of trying to concentrate on revisions today, I worked on writing classes I'm scheduled to teach soon at Forward Motion. I'm a moderator in the forum for the under-eighteen crowd, so it's back to school time in there. I made pretty good progress all things considered. All the first drafts are done (four classes of about 500 words each), so in a few days I'll look them over for holes and idiocies. I'm sure there will be some of each. There always are.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Happy Anniversary to us :)

On August 30, 1980, Jim and I were married, surrounded by family and friends.

Our wedding day Posted by Picasa

We have been surrounded by family and friends ever since, and the numbers have only grown. We are blessed.

25 years later Posted by Picasa

We have two children, both married young adults, of whom we are very proud. We have moved numerous times to swing with the job market; we have bought, renovated, and sold homes; we have gone through times of illness and stress. Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we are strong today. Thank you, God, for 25 years.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Today the customers did what I asked, and grouped themselves nicely so I had three groups in the store at once, and then they went away. Twice. Cooperative customers make Val a happy girl.

So does progress on revisions. Made just over 5K today, and I keep finding places to thread some of my sub-plots through the weave. I'm happy with the progress.

So, is there anyone who wants to come out and say something really positive about Steeple Hill romances? Because these are character books rather than plot books, I'm finding the characters quite complex. There are any number of ways to have a person turned off marriage for life! :p. And yes, some of them stretch things a tad. Or a large tad. I haven't read plain romances for eons, so I'm finding this an interesting side note.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Romance research

I had to go into town this morning to the farmer's market for vegetables for today's soup canning expedition, and while I was there, I swung by the church to see what they had for Steeple Hill romances in the church library. (I've always ignored them before!) But because I've gotten a fixation the last few days on romances and trying to write one myself, I figured I'd be smart to see what's out there.

Steeple Hill is a division of Harlequin, and here's what they say about their novels: "Heartwarming, inspirational Love Inspired stories feature a commitment to strong family values and high moral standards." They have four divisions, Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense, Cafe, and Women's Fiction. My church library seems only to have heard of Steeple Hill Love Inspired, though. I read two of them today, sitting at the kitchen table keeping half an eye on the pressure canner gauge. (Yes, I DID get some work done too!)

What have I learned? What can I summarize from two books? Both heroines were mid-twenties career girls sworn off of love for different reasons. One of the heroes was a widower with a child...can you say 'nanny'? Both stories are contemporary, which I already knew from reading the guidelines. That's my biggest problem with genre romance, I think. I prefer fantasy or sf settings. My last three books have had a romance as central to the plot, but don't quite fit genre romance on account of the setting.

Anyone have any recommendations of Steeple Hill novels from the 'other' sub-genres? I'll read a few more Love Inspired from the church library because they're handy, and I'm sure I'll find more common threads to help me shape my own story, but I have a feeling that mine might be more 'mature'. I need to find some of their Women's Fic to read I think, see if that's where the story I'm starting to dream up may fit better. Tips would be welcome.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Not only did the salesman-who-talks-incessantly visit this morning, but exuberant-and-opinionated-housebuilders spent the afternoon. Net gain of revised words for the day? 218. Ah well. There are days when the day job actually IS a job. I shouldn't whine too much.

Jim got the rest of the hay off today. What a good feeling. :) We even got the haystack topped and tarped before he left for his four days of work. It's going to be a quiet but busy weekend on the old home place, all by my lonesome. I think it's another soup canning weekend. At four jars a week, he's going through reserves in a fairly direct manner.

The back of my mind likes to play with other projects while I've got a revision on the front burner. At the moment, it's playing with two things. It still doesn't want to let go of the Shann and Taafa story, even though it's likely months more until I get back to revising it. However, a couple of chapters of that novel take place on a small sailboat, and I know very little about sailing, so I've started doing some research on that topic. It may come in handy for other stories down the road. With luck, I'll get some first hand research in sometime soon too as Jim and I are planning a charter day for our anniversary celebration, if we can book something up the lake.

The second project that is mumbling around on a back burner is a romance. I guess I haven't tried writing enough genres yet. :) I know a little about both main characters, and a bit about the setting. Much more to come, but I'm not ready to start forcing it. I think this will be my nano novel. I should (please) have False Perceptions revised with time to spare for planning out the romance. And there will be some research to do for this as well. All that is presuming I ever get through this revision. I may have to start bucking my natural trend and working on it evenings.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Good buzz on revisions

I revised two entire chapters today, for a total of over 6K. (Brings the total to about 21K). In both chapters there were extra threads that needed to be woven in that fit fairly well. In one scene, I had Cae and her fiance, Ramon, in a situation where Ramon reacted very strongly to a perceived insult to Cae. When I read through the novel a few weeks ago, I realized this section was quite out of character for Ramon as he is very non-confrontation early in the novel, and his subplot really is about him gaining a backbone. So chapter five was too early for there to be a flare of the new Ramon. Still, to completely remove that chapter would have pulled a major foundational wall out from under the novel. What other reason could Ramon have had to react so strongly now? I mulled it over for awhile and decided he could be goaded into it by the girl he *really* loves, who is NOT Cae. If he did it to impress HER, then he could come up with the nerve needed. It worked. It now sounds like Ramon. A rather stressed out Ramon, to be sure, but the reader has already gotten glimmerings that Jade means more to Ramon than she ought to in earlier chapters, so it's not a stretch.

And then there was more cocky Treyan to write, and that is always fun. He has discovered that Cae is engaged, and it doesn't impress him favorably. He is totally smitten, and hasn't ever heard of tact. Great fun.

Jim and his dad got about 1200 bales off the field next door today. Pretty impressive. Jim just might make his deadline after all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

And the crit is basically done

It takes awhile to crit an entire novel of 114K, but it's pretty much done except for a bit of wrap-up. Actually I need to double-check a few facts with Jim about electric fencing before I send this back to Mar,'s off my back for now.

I can't rush Jim; he's out in the field driving around in circles picking up bales at the moment. It seems like he's spent half the summer out there driving in circles, to be honest. But it rained yesterday, so that set things back, and today he had to fix an oil leak on the tractor, so they (him and his dad) didn't get a great deal accomplished yet. At least not considering that it's still cloudy, and that Jim has to return for work Friday night. I guess God knows what's going on, cause we sure don't.

Today was busy at work. First I did a call at a client's home. That's always fun, though I do very few of them. That was followed by a visit from our premiere ceramic tile company's sales rep. She only comes once a year. (She used to try to convince me she came every six weeks, but in four years I'd say only one year has she even made it twice, so I'm not biting for the six week idea.) And then customers in and out all afternoon. Even my boss felt sorry for me that I barely had any writing time today. (Okay, if you believe THAT, maybe you'd believe the six week promise too...)

But with the crit out of the way, I hope to spend the next two days focusing on revisions of False Perceptions. I'm now at 15K and want to at least double that before August ends. Surely everybody in town who's been thinking about flooring already visited me today! It should be quiet the rest of the week. (Hope, hope...)

Monday, August 22, 2005

I think that's it for visiting relatives for awhile!

But even so, I have to show off the youngest of my eleven great-nieces and nephews.

My littlest great-nephew, only five weeks old! Posted by Picasa
It was good to see my eldest nephew, his wife, and their three kidlets this weekend, as we hadn't seen them since their five year old was this tiny. So there was another picnic at the park, more playing in the lake with little ones, more pushing on swings, and a whole lot more photos. I'll spare you the rest :)

Today's big news is finally getting that article emailed out about mid-morning. I'm so glad I had some time on Saturday afternoon to completely rewrite and reorganize what I had; it's much tighter and stronger now. I got a chapter and a half critted this morning, and the afternoon finally belonged to revising False Perceptions again. I moved another 2k to the good side (or at least the better side) of the ledger, but there is still a long way to go. Still, if I remember correctly, I'm a few chapters away from the next real problem spot so things should be fairly smooth in the interim.

Now we just need a few more days of sunshine to get the second cut of hay baled and off the field. It will be a huge relief when haying is done for the summer, and Jim actually can choose what to do on his four days off. It's been pre-selected ever since he started working up there two months ago. Next year shouldn't be as bad because he'll be able to take some days off if he needs them; this year we pretty much had to work within the set parameters.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

My mom and all five of her daughters at the park. Posted by Picasa

My sisters and I playing one of MANY rounds of Hand & Foot. Posted by Picasa

My niece, Karenee, and I hanging out in the hammock. Posted by Picasa

Nearby Accident last night

So after I logged off I went and looked out the north window of the house, having seen the ambulance lights and heard the sirens approaching from the south. (Our property is about a quarter mile from the north/south road.) I didn't see anything at all out of the ordinary, no flashing lights, no fire, no nothing. So I went downstairs to brush my teeth, and the bathroom has one of the two east facing windows in the house. Ah, flashing lights! Nearly across from our house. I could see the lights from a couple of police cars and an ambulance (not sure about two) and the yellow of a tow truck. And THEN I remembered hearing a squeal of brakes earlier. (Yeah, I know I'm swift at adding stuff up...)

This morning I biked by there and a vehicle had obviously been in the ditch and dragged back out. A cop was there measuring distances between things that appeared to have flown out of the vehicle. I asked the cop if everyone was all right, and he glanced at me and said "yeah" so I didn't bother asking what had happened. It wasn't his day for PR!

Friday, August 19, 2005

All together now...

It's time, once again, to laugh at Val's goals, and especially to snicker at how far away she is from reaching them. "Revision of False Perceptions should be done by the end of August", I think I said. I believe I also made noises about completing yet another revision (of either Quest or Shann's story) before Nano. Laughing yet? I'm 9K into FP's revision, and haven't gotten a blinkin' thing done on it since early this week. Though I certainly will get back to it soon, it ain't gonna be done in two weeks, guaranteed. Nor should it be. If I pushed that hard, I'd be glossing over stuff. It deserves better. At least I hope it does.

What has really thrown a monkey wrench in my life this week is this article I pitched to Zette for Vision. I pitched it just a few days before deadline, and told her I was going to be away. She thought the article sounded good and said I could have until the 22nd. We are rapidly approaching that day, folks. And it's not done. Not, however, for lack of working on it. The project is taking on a mind of its own. Today I suddenly realized that I am actually sort of on email terms with a few people who could possibly help me with information, and as of ten minutes ago, they have all answered the emails I sent them. I am really excited about some of the info now in my hands, but need to re-shape for the article. Guess what I'm doing over the weekend?

And now excuse me while I go look out the windows on the other end of the house to see if I can tell why two ambulances have gone north in the last few minutes. I didn't think this town HAD two, and we're on a country road so it's not like it just went around the block. Hmm.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Back to work

I started to get back in the swing of things on Monday, with another chapter critted, a partial chapter revised, and some research done for an article for Vision ezine for writers. Anyone have any links they'd like to share on the changing face of Christian fiction?

Jim got home yesterday for his four days off. When he comes off of nights he seems to have no trouble sleeping most of the day away, spending a few hours watching tv, and then sleeping all night as well. So I didn't feel too guilty for picking up my new book that FINALLY came in the mail, Deanne Gist's A Bride Most Begrudging. I, er, finished it just before midnight. Good book? Yes. Riveting? Yes. Hilariously funny in places? My word, yes. I read parts of it to Jim (commercials only, of course) and he was amused as well. I told him how Deanne's husband struggled against reading her book, but figured he ought to once it was published (and of course liked it...) and that introduced a whole new batch of questions about my own writiing, and promises to read it any time I was ready. LOL. Gallantly even promised to read it if I wrote a romance. Wow. Deanne, your hubby is being a great example!

Friday, August 12, 2005

The Royal Mail is Slow

I've been waiting for a couple of weeks for my copy of A Bride Most Begrudging by Deanne Gist. I was really hoping it would show up this week...I even told my mother-in-law that she could read it first if it arrived while I was gone, but no such luck. This book is a new release from Bethany House, and has already gone to at least a second printing. I used to read historical romances, but I'd never heard the term *tobacco bride* before. Wish my book would hurry up and come. The reviews on Deanne's site are whetting my appetite.

Lucky you, I'm back :)

I had a wonderful time with my four sisters, my mom, my niece, and four of my eleven greatnieces and nephews. I'll hunt through the 159 photos I took over the week and see what I can post sometime over the weekend. I have to admit that my photos don't look that much like *sisters reunion* photos, but more like a week spent with some active and entertaining kids! The resident sister has custody of her 3 year old granddaughter, so the back yard is all set up with kiddy pool, sandbox, treehouse, and swings under a huge walnut tree. The resident child did a much better job of sharing everything than I expected her to, and there were very few altercations between the kids. And there is a large patio beside the play area for the adults to keep an eye on things. The weather was fabulous, and we took a picnic to the beach one day. Two other afternoons the kids got to go to a nearby park with a wading pool for a couple of hours. My sisses, mom and I had professional photos taken on Tuesday, and we've already had a look at the proofs and made our selection. It's all over but the memories!

I've been reading Bad Ground by Dale Cramer. I'm not usually into contemporary fiction, but this one came highly recommended, and it has not disappointed me yet. In fact, the first sentence was beautiful in itself: "Be anxious for nothing," his mother said, and then she went on to a better place and left the seventeen-year old boy by himself, with nothing. Is that not evocative?

What are some of the first lines you've come across lately that you think are particularly eye catching?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I'll be out of town for a few days

I doubt I'll get a chance to post again until Friday, August 12. And I can't even say I'll be thinking of you all :P (Much.)

I have four sisters, all older than I am. One lives in a town a couple hours away, as does my mother, who will be 83 later in August. The other three of my sisters have spent most of their adult lives as missionaries, as scattered around the globe as three people and their families can be. We have not all been together since June of 1991, and this week, we will be. (Now, everyone HAS seen everyone else, just not at the same time.) I'm looking forward to five days of good food, good laughs, lots of walks, talks, and late night games of Hand & Foot. For those of you who know my niece Karen (Karenee at FM), she and her kids will be here, too. I'm hopping the bus in about an hour to join the party.

Have a good week everyone! I know I plan to.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


I've actually finally started revising False Perceptions. I've been doing everything BUT for the past few weeks. Not that the read through and the synopsis writing wasn't helpful, but it wasn't the same thing as opening a new file for chapter one and starting to type it in all over again.

I have a couple of reasons for typing each chapter into a separate file. One, it makes the file sizes something that my old computer can handle. Secondly, it helps me keep track of word count. Probably more reasons. Third, it's now a habit?? To compensate, I build a table in Word and keep it in the chapter folder. Each chapter has a hyperlink, a word count (which automatically adds up at the top, where I can see it easier than the bottom), and a very brief description. When I printed FP out, I wanted consecutive page numbering, so I spent half an hour amalgamating all the chapters into one file, and then double-checked formatting, and then printed. Then the read through, with notes in red gel pen.

Now False Perceptions has a two sub-folders, one labelled fp_1 and the other (you guessed it) fp_2. And now fp_2 has two chapters under it, plus the new wordcount table for this version. I've added roughly 500 words to the book so far, for a total of 6K.

In the first chapter, my biggest problem was giving the novel a feeling of setting. I don't do description well, or at least not automatically. The concept of it being a science fiction novel didn't come through before. It could have been four people sitting at a table in any reasonably civilized setting. So now that is more clear. The second chapter's main problem was that I had a scene in a pov I never used again, a very insignificant character. Why? I'd written it that way for fun for an assignement in the 2yn class, and hoped during first draft that I could make it work. I couldn't. So now I've spent two days seeing this scene from Treyan's pov instead of Jerome's.

Then I thought I was homefree with the HUGE changes for at least a couple of chapters. You know, so I could revise instead of rewrite the thing from scratch. Not to be. I've had a brainwave (they do happen occasionally) in which a subplot can tie in more completely throughout the entire novel. Starting in chapter three. Tomorrow, I begin to tackle that one.

And meanwhile, I keep forgetting to blog. If you all commented and asked where I was, it might induce me to remember more often! :P

Monday, August 01, 2005

Busy long weekend

In a way it was a waste of a long weekend as Jim needed to finish getting the hay off the field. It was all baled his last days home, but he hadn't had a chance to pick them up. Yesterday was about the hottest day we've had all summer. At six pm it was 96 degrees on the north side of our house (the sun had just come around to hit the thermometer.) Needless to say he was ROASTING out on the tractor all day. Some of his extended family was camping about forty minutes from town, so we decided to drive up for the evening and overnight and then mooch breakfast. We didn't want to go to the hassle of loading the camper on for one night, so we just threw a foamie in the back of the truck (it has a canopy).

That was the best idea we'd had in a long time. It was actually kind of cold up in the mountains. It seemed like an incredible luxury to feel COLD; to WANT to wear long pants and a sweatshirt and socks and shoes. This is the creek we camped beside.

Today has been much cooler in the valley; there's been a stiff breeze and a fair amount of cloud cover. Jim got the remainder of the bales picked up today, and I got a bunch of weeding done. There was never going to be better weather for it, I can assure you. I'd put it off as long as possible. And with the breeze, the mosquitoes were kept at bay.

Jim has tomorrow yet at home, but I'm back to work. He plans to run some fencing down the one field he just baled, and turn the cows out in that field as the grass is coming up well again. I'd be really grateful to not have to throw bales for a couple weeks. Just trust me on that one, would you?