Thursday, February 23, 2012

Writing - Difficulties and Decisions

Each Wednesday night I attend a Writer's Workshop.  There I learn from others who are Real Authors.  (This means they have been published and actually paid for their writing!!)  I have been blessed to hear their words of wisdom. 
Last night, both speakers shared information I needed.  One of them spoke extensively about marketing yourself and your eventual product (in my case, a novel - or even better, a series of novels).  Topping the list was social media - Facebook, Twitter and blogging.  I currently do two of the three. *sigh*  I MUST add Twitter.  I do not want to add Twitter.  I feel too many hours of my life are taken up by my laptop and phone.  Do I really want/need to add more electronics time into my life?  *sigh*  Unfortunately, the answer is yes.  Now I must decide when to make this leap.

Another technological leap I need to make includes changing my blog.  This is going to be difficult as I am not blog savvy. Thank goodness for teen age sons who love to play on the computer.  I'm hoping my 15 year old can help.  If not, you will see a plea for someone to walk me through how to add pages for each topic I want to cover.

What are these topics?  I want to start with  "My Life", "OOTDs", "Recipes" and "Writing" with others added as needed. I won't write on each daily.  My plan is to post to each tab at least once a week. 

For example, today's post would be under "Writing" if I had it set up.  Under writing, I will talk about my adventures in working on the book, the progress I'm making, etc. I may sometimes post a few paragraphs, or a scene from my book for feed back.  What do you think? Would you be interested in reading a snippet here and there?  I really want to know...

A recent (today's) frustration with writing is how much, or rather, how little time I've spent writing my book.  I keep a log of how much time per day I spend writing and/or editing my book.  Today, I decided to total the amount of time I've actually spent working.  I was appalled to see that since January 10, 2012 I have only spent 47 hours and 45 minutes working on it.  I really thought it was much longer!  Over all, I've probably spent 51-52 hours if you add in the hours spent in the fall before I started logging my time.  Those hours were when I developed my list of characters, thought about the plot and wrote the first half of Chapter 1.  Then I stopped and didn't work on it again until January.  Sad, but true.

This means a couple of things to me.  If I continue at this rate, I will not finish writing my novel this year. It has taken me almost 2 months to do one week's work, and barely write 4.5 chapters. I must spend more time writing and less editing. Actually the editing can wait until the story is written. 

How much more time should I spend each day? I've noticed I can write two hours at a time before I start fidigiting and need to do something else for a while.  So, my plan is to write two hours each morning and two hours each afternoon.  Between times, I will clean house, cook, do laundry, run errands, whatever.  But, I need to spend at least 4 hours per day writing.  It's going to be difficult and will require tons of self discipline.  I hope I can do it. 

Coffee:  Yes, a pot of Community Coffee Breakfast Blend with half and half.  I'm still trying to stay away from the fake, nasty, additive filled creamers that taste soooooo wonderful.  Something else that isn't easy, but worth doing.  :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Friendly vs Friendship

The difference between friendly vs friendship has been rambling around in my mind since last week's post.  As I haven't anything more interesting to write about this morning and as this topic keeps circling in my brain, I am going to write it out so I can move onto other thoughts. 

Here goes....

First, let's define these two words.  We will go to the expert:  Webster's New Dictonary.  Really.  I have a real dictionary.  I bought it for the kids to use instead of googling everything.  It's a lost art.  One I'm trying to reclaim in my home, but I digress.  Back to the task at hand.  Definitions. 

Friendly is defined as follows: 1 of or like a friend; kindly  2  not hostile; amicable  3 supporting; helping

Friendship is defined as follows:  1  the state of being friends.  2  friendly feeling

So, this means we now need to define Friend:  1  a person whom one knows well and is fond of  2 an ally, supporter, or sympathizer  3 a member of the Society of Friends; Quaker

Okay.  That's what Webster has to say on the subject.  Next, MY thoughts on the above. 

First of all, I say a resounding YES to the definition of friend.  A person whom one knows well and is fond of.  I must say (again) I miss my friends.  The day to day, seeing them face to face friends.  The people I know WELL and am FOND of.  Dearly fond of them.  And, I miss them.  Desperately.  Why?  Because, currently, I have no one (other than family) in Waco that I "know well and am fond of." 

That brings me to the main topic.  Friendly vs Friendship.  I've mentioned Waco is a friendly town.  Everyone is so nice.  Really nice.  So far, I've only met one person who wasn't nice to me.  One person in seven months who wasn't friendly.  Wow.  Those are some pretty awesome odds! 

***Please note, I am NOT talking about people's actions while driving, I am talking about face to face interactions.  Driving on I-35 (or any other road, for that matter) is a different experience entirely.***

Getting back on task:

Friendly.  Yes, people here are friendly.  They practice being friendly.  They "bless you" when you sneeze.  Total strangers.  From other aisles in the store where they can't even see you!  They make small talk over tomatoes.  Chit chat before, during and after Bible study.  Meaningless/meaningful talk before and after church services with total strangers.  It's a rare person who doesn't speak to you or wave at you in your neighborhood.  They smile.  They open doors for you. Small acts of kindness are everywhere. 

But, and this is the important part, this isn't friendship.  Yet.  They are being friendly.  Very friendly.  Awesomely friendly.  So friendly I want to be friends with them.  I've met several ladies I want to know better.  To possibly become friends with them.

When does friendship happen?  It happens when there is trust.  When, over time, we "know each other well."  To do this we spend time together.  We talk.  We share bits and pieces of our lives.  We have lunch together a few times.  We (finally) visit each other's homes.  We see each other act and react with others - and see honesty there.  When a small "secret" has been shared...and it's gone no farther.  When you know you can trust the other with deeper secrets, your emotions, your thoughts and dreams, etc.

But, all this takes time.  It's a slow process.  One that rarely happens over night.  I'd venture to say, it takes two years.

Yes, I know there are times when you meet someone and instantly "click".  A spark is there.  It ignites and instantly you are BFFs.  I've had that happen.  But, it's not the usual process.

And, that's okay.  Although I am lonely, longing for the day when I have true friendship, I am enjoying the process of being friendly with those I meet and having them be friendly in return. Why?? Because I know, one day, eventually, friendships will develop.  They will be deep and true.  They will last, because they developed and matured over time.   

Lighter topic:  Coffee:  Yup, yummy coffee.  More than half the pot, with half and half.  I'm trying to stay away from the "fake" creamers.  But, I will admit to having Peppermint Mocha creamer in my refrigerator.  I love the stuff.  I haven't duplicated it yet, so I keep buying it.  But, I've cut my consumption dramatically. 

Have a great day.  Have a cup of coffee with a friend, if possible.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Southern Girls....

It's Tuesday morning.  It's cloudy with a slight chill in the air. I didn't sleep well last night and thus have a headache. 

And, here I sit.  In Starbucks.  With my computer and ever present cup of coffee, wishing the employees would brew the coffee a little bit quieter.  The sound of grinding beans is at concert proportions it seems.  It's almost more than I can bear at the moment - even as I delight in the aroma.  There is war within me.  I love, yet hate, being here this morning.

And, in the midst of all this angst, I am so thrilled to be here.  Here in the United States.  Here in Texas.  Here in Waco. 

Have I told you about my new hometown?  I am absolutely, positively in love with Waco, TX. If you drive through on I35 in the 15 minutes it takes to pass through town you don't see the real Waco, which is found in the heart of the people who live here. 

Waco is a small city here in the Heart of Texas.  I'm ashamed to say I don't know our population, but be assured, it's not a "small town".  But, it has that small town feel.  I recently read that Waco has two main pursuits - Friday night football and Sunday morning church.  It's true.  I think 80% of the people living here go to church somewhere. 

This brings me to one of the reasons I love Waco.  Where else in the world can you go to Wal-Mart and as you check out your cashier says "Thank you and God bless" and MEAN IT??  The greeter says to you on your way out, "Have a blessed day."  When you go to a restaurant - chain restaurants - they have "One Nation UNDER GOD" written in their windows.  God is alive and well in Waco. 

You can see it in the people.  They are friendly.  They are kind.  They are welcoming.  They are wonderful.  They take it seriously.  Southern hospitality is at it's finest in this place.

If all this is true, then why am I having such trouble finding a church and friends?  I won't belabor the church thing today.  Let's just say the quest for the right "fit" continues.  However, we are getting closer.  As for the friend thing, have you heard of the 2 year rule with Southern women??  It's something I used to laugh about until I was on this side of it.  Let me try to explain it to you - from both sides. 

Southern women are sweet, kind, considerate, welcoming, and generally wonderful. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  Do not cross one.  It will get ugly.  Especially in a town where everyone has always lived there. Women in these places are a clique-ish group.  They have a circle of friends from years past.  They not only share secrets, they are part of each others secrets.  They not only know where the skeletons are hid, they helped put them there. 

When someone new comes to town, they will be awesome to them.  So nice.  So kind.  Welcoming.  To a point.  There is an invisible line, a force field, that keeps people out.  It's the chill in the sweet smile. The reserve in her eyes.  The slight edge in the tone of voice.  The "Oh, I'd LOVE to go to lunch with you but I'm..... already.... I've already got plans.  Maybe another time??"  and, then they avoid you for a couple of weeks until you've gotten the message and won't bother asking them again.  They invite you, not the other way around. 

This isn't done to be mean or malicious. It really isn't. It's a self protection.  Southern women have soft tender hearts.  Hearts that can withstand great trials.  But, hearts that once someone is allowed inside, can easily be shattered in millions of pieces.  So, to protect themselves, they make you wait.  They watch you, waiting to see if you are honest and true.  If you are reliable.  If you are friendship material. If you are going to stick around. 

How do you take a joke?  How do you cook?  Do you do your nails and hair every time you leave the house?  Do you do them just to stay home? Do you keep your house clean?  (Eventually, someone will stop by to check this out.  Trust me, I know.) If they tell you a secret, will you keep it?  Do you gossip?  Do you like the same tv shows, movies, books, etc?  Are you smart but pretend to be stupid?  Are you stupid?  Are you smart and you don't care who knows it? Are you a know it all?  Are you well dressed?  Are you.....  the list goes on.

After about a year, if you seemingly measure up, they will allow you on the very outer fringes of their society.  You know, where you might get invited to lunch at a restaurant with a small group of them.  If you pass that test, in a few months, one of them might invite you to go shopping.  And, slowly, but surely, if you perserve and prove your worth, you will finally be allowed into the group.  Once you are there, it's the most wonderful, warm, welcoming place you could ever be.  Full of friends closer than family who will defend you to the death - or at the very least a few broken nails.

I'm at month six in this process.  I have another 18 to go.  I hope and pray they go quickly.  I miss the community of women.  I need my girlfriends.  But, until then, I will hang out at the local coffee shops alone with my computer and cups of coffee, writing and observing.

Coffee:  today's blend is Starbucks Veranda Blonde with sugar free vanilla syrup and a generous amount of half and half.  Yum.  It's almost gone, so I will soon ask for a free refill (I love being a gold card member) and possibly a multigrain bagel or a yogurt.  Who knows....  

*****It should be noted there ARE exceptions to the above.  You know who you are.  :) *****

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Food. I love food. Rally, I do... *said in my best cartoon girl-mouse voice*

I just got lost in blog-land, blog-ville, blog-world?  I dunno.

An hour ago, I decided I NEED to make brownies.  I also decided to try a new recipe from a blogs.  Pioneer Woman's blog, to be precise.  Warning:  Her blog is addictive. I've watched her show on Food Network, so I know how she sounds.  When I read the blog, I "hear" her voice.  That was an hour ago.  I still don't have a brownie recipe - not because she didn't have one on her site, but because I don't have any caramels to make the one I want to make.  *sigh*  Guess I will wait until tomorrow and pick up some caramels when I stop by the grocery for the bread I forgot to buy today. 

Bread.  I want to start baking our loaf bread.  I wonder if my picky son would take it to school for his lunch...  Hmmmm.....

Speaking of cooking, I have a huge success to report!  No, I haven't developed the perfect homemade coffee creamer - yet.

Drum roll please.  Tonight I made a meal the entire family liked!!  With two very picky teen sons, this is a huge huge HUGE success.  It's a rare night when no one complains about the meal. Tonight was that night. 

What was this incredible meal?  It was "Alice Springs Chicken" (Outback Steakhouse) a la Top Secret Recipes.  This is what my hubby orders at Outback if he's not in the mood for steak.  He said this was very close and asked me to add the recipe to my binder!  I served the food restaurant style by fixing everyone's plate and putting it on the table.  I rarely do this.  But, tonight it worked better as the picky teens had special requests.  One asked for no mushrooms (more for ME!!).  The other requested no cheese.

I wish I'd taken pictures. Before - with the plates full of food and looking scrumptions - and After - with *almost* empty plates and full tummys.  :)  Unfortunately, I didn't think of pictures until I started writing.  Oh well.  Back to the meal....

Along with the chicken I served garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and yeast rolls.  It looked lovely.  It looked scrumptious.  The plates were *almost* empty at the end of the meal. One didn't like the potatoes, the other doesn't like broccoli.  But, I didn't let that bother me.  They LOVED the chicken.  :) 

Am I belaboring the point?  Sorry.  I'm a tad bit excited.  Have been since dinner.  And, I still don't have any dessert.  *sigh*  Tomorrow.  Oh wait.  Tomorrow is the Super Bowl.  I'll be busy making snacks to eat while watching the game.  Monday.  For sure....Oh, no...I'm busy all day Monday.  This week.  Yes.  At some point this week I will make a homemade dessert.  I hope.

Coffee - Obviously not enough.  OBVIOUSLY!  But,what I had was yummy.  Community Coffee brand.  Chicory and Coffee.  Yum. Cafe au laits today. *Happy face*

I'm gearing up for my trip to see Justin. I will probably make this a lot over the next few weeks.  We have plans to go to New Orleans the Saturday I'm there.  On the list of things we must do are #1 - go to Cafe du Monde for cafe au lait and beignets and #2 go to Preservation Hall to hear the best jazz in the world being played.  :)

I love New Orleans.  Can't wait to see the city with my eldest son who is there this weekend with friends.  He's doing research for when I go.  Right.  I know. Let me live in the land of denial.  I'm happy here.  :)

Happy Weekend!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sitting in a coffee shop....

This morning I sit in the Bellmead Starbucks, listening to the sounds around me.  Coffee being made, voices blending in conversation and the door opening and closing. 

I've been here for hours.  Three of them to be exact.  I've had two venti coffees and a cheese danish during this time.  I've worked on my book, reading, editing and writing.  I've done day four in my Beth Moore Bible study on James.  I've researched insurance agents (MUST change to TX from VA, OOPS!!!) and I've read blogs. 

It's been a busy morning.  My brain is fried.  I am sleepy.  And, I have two more hours to pass until I take lunch to my hubby at work.  What I truly want to do is take a nap.  Instead, I will probably go wander around in Wal-mart and HEB for a while, hoping I won't find something to buy.  Unless it's coffee.  I've been looking for a particular blend recommended by a friend.  So far, no luck.  But, I will keep looking until I find it.  Even if I have to drive to Dallas.  I am determined.  :)

By now, you are probably wondering a couple of things.  Why am I hanging out in Bellmead?  So glad you asked.  Hubby has hurt his foot, is wearing a "boot" and can't drive.  Thus, I am his chauffer until the boot is gone. Since he needs me at lunch time, I stay in Bellmead all morning so I'm not making extra trips across town.  His foot will be okay.  Eventually.  No, we don't know what's wrong other than it has something to do with a tendon. 

The other things you wonder are #1, what is this blend of coffee and #2 will she REALLY go to Dallas to find it?  The answers are "Lunch with Elvis" and "Yes."   I won't make a special trip to Dallas to find it, but if I haven't located it before March 1, I will be stopping at every HEB between Waco and Dallas looking for it. 

A ha!  Another question has arisen!  What is the significance of March 1?  I am spending the night then because dark and early on March 2 I am flying to see my son in Biloxi for the weekend.  I can't wait!!!  I miss him so much it hurts some days.  It will be good to spend some time with him, seeing the sights and talking.  Catching up on his life and filling him in on ours.  It's going to be a great weekend. 

Wow, I just checked my watch.  I've managed to pass another 30 minutes while people watching and writing this blog!  Yes!!  Only another hour until it's time to pick up lunch.  Time really does fly when you are having fun...and not watching the clock.  :)

Ew, my coffee is cold.  But, I will finish it.  I need the caff.  Desperately.  Dreary cloudy days do not agree with me.  As we need the rain, I won't complain - much.  And, definitely not aloud.

Have a wonderful weekend!