Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking ahead to 2012

This past year was a good one for my writing. Of the eleven writing goals I set, I kept six of them, which seems on paper like a not-so-stellar percentage but is actually one that I'm very proud of. I did more writing in 2011 than I had in several of the previous years combined, and to me that in itself equals an extremely successful year! One of things I'm most proud of is that I kept my goal to submit some of my work, something that I've always been more than a little hesitant/afraid/nervous to do.

Now once again it's time to set my writing goals for the upcoming year. I have other, non-writing goals as well, things like reducing clutter, becoming better at organizing the house, and exercising daily (ugh!), but here I'll focus only on my hopes for the upcoming writing year.

1. Continue writing my daily 100-words entries. I've been doing these entries for nearly a year and a half, and they've been unbelievably helpful in keeping me focused on writing each day.

2. Continue to submit. As I wrote above, finding the courage to send out my work has been difficult for me, but now that I've crossed that hurdle, I intend to keep running!

3. Take a good look at the projects--several novels and a handful of short stories--I've started but left incomplete these past few years and decide whether to continue them or trunk them.

4. Continue working on my kids' journals. This is a huge writing project in itself. Over the years I've kept records of the things my children have done and said, trying to capture the memories that they probably won't be able to recall on their own. This project is as much for me as it is for them, and I've been enjoying compiling all these bits of their lives and turning them into a cohesive story.

5. Continue posting to this blog. Starting it was one of my resolutions last year, and I'm happy to say that, aside from the time I spent on vacation in August, I've posted entries every day. (The name I gave my blog--The Daily Dose--was a great incentive!)

6. Focus on writing poetry. Poetry could probably be called my first love. After years away from it, I started writing it again a little over a month ago, and I felt (and still feel) like I'd come home.

7. Take part in more writing challenges. There are so many all over the Internet, and many of my blogger friends post prompts each week. Last year I started taking part in a drabble challenge organized by Aheila at The Writeaholic's Blog, and I intend to continue with that one and participate in others.

8. Continue working on my father's memoirs and on my own.

9. Develop my idea about a fictionalized account of my grandmother's youth. This is an idea I've been kicking around for a few months. I'm not sure yet what it is--a novel? a short story? maybe a poem?--but it's something I'd like to explore in 2012.

As I look at my list, I realize that during the year I'll probably come up with other writing goals--I almost always do! For now though, I'm happy with the ones I've posted here, and I'm very eager for 2012 to begin!

What about you? What are your writing goals for 2012?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Books I Read: 2011

One of my goals this year was to read 104 books, an average of two each week. I'm excited to be able to say that I made that goal--and surpassed it--with a total of 108 books!

One of my writing projects was a young adult novel, so, in getting myself familiar with what's current in YA, many of the books I read were young adult. I also worked on memoir this year, and some of the titles reflect that interest as well. I'm currently reading three books:

1. Best Friends, Occasional Enemies by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
2. Mornings Like This by Annie Dillard
3. Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett (a reread)

Here's my 2011 list:


1. Killer Cruise: A Jaine Austen Mystery by Laura Levine
2. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
3. The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
4. Fragile by Lisa Unger
5. I'm Down: A Memoir by Mishna Wolff
6. Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop
7. I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure, edited by SMITH Magazine
8. Thin, Rich, Pretty: A Novel by Beth Harbison
9. This is Where We Live by Janelle Brown
10. How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway


1. The Paricular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
2. It All Changed in An Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by SMITH Magazine
3. To Wish or Not to Wish by Mindy Klasky
4. With Friends Like These by Sally Koslow
5. Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak by Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by SMITH Magazine
6. The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
7. A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff
8. Deep Down True by Juliette Fay


1. This Must be the Place by Kate Racculia
2. Die for You by Lisa Unger
3. Rescue by Anita Shreve
4. I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson
5. On Folly Beach by Karen White
6. Haunted Rochester: Supernatural History of the Lower Genesee by Mason Winfield
7. The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw


1. Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock
2. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
3. Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook
4. A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand
5. The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
6. Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros
7. I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
8. A Girl From Yamhill: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary
9. My Own Two Feet: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary


1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. It's Not Really About the Hair by Tabatha Coffey
3. Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary (reread)
4. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary (reread)
5. The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson
6. Friendship Bread by Darien Gee
7. Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
8. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Shaffer and Annie Barrows
9. Cleaning Nabokov's House by Leslie Daniels
10. How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron


1. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
2. These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
3. When You Were Mine by Elizabeth Noble
4. The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
5. Freefall by Mindi Scott
6. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
7. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
8. Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure


1. Peace, Love & Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
2. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
3. Displacement by Thalia Chaltas
4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
5. Hourglass by Myra McEntire
5. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
6. Paper Towns by John Green
7. Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks
8. Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
9. Monster High by Lisi Harrison
10. We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
11. Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
12. Happyface by Stephen Emond


1. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
2. Wild Ink: How to Write Fiction for Young Adults by Victoria Hanley
3. The Rites & Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson
4. The Writer's Desk by Jill Krementz
5. You Don't Know About Me by Brian Meehl
6. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
7. Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
8. Stay by Deb Caletti
9. Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski
10. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
11. Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock


1. Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
2. Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner
3. Monster High: The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrison
4. If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
5. Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mylnowski
6. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (reread)
7. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
8. The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern


1. When We Were Friends by Elizabeth Joy Arnold
2. The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
3. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
4. The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly
5. Mothers & Daughters by Rae Meadows
6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
7. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
8. The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin


1. Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
3. The Lost Songs by Caroline B. Cooney
4. Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft by Natalie Goldberg
5. I Gave My Heart to Know This by Ellen Baker
6. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson
7. Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook
8. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (reread)
9. Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter


1. When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson
2. Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz
3. The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff
4. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
5. The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe
6. A Love That Multiplies by Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar
7. A Year and Six Seconds: A Love Story by Isabel Gillies
8. Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock's Ultimate Survivor by Ozzy Osbourne

I also started several books this year that for various reasons I couldn't bring myself to finish. I'll include them here as well:

Books I Started But Couldn't Finish:

1. Tales from the Teacher's Lounge: What I Learned in School the Second Time Around--One Man's Irreverent Look at Being a Teacher Today by Robert Wilder (completed 142 pages)

2. Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield (completed about 49 pages)

3. How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley (completed about 160 pages)

4. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (completed only a few pages)

5. Model Home by Eric Puchner (read 230 pages)

6. Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart (read 164 pages)

7. Minding Ben by Victoria Brown (read 14 pages)

8. The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs by Christina Hopkinson (read 21 pages)

9. Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell (read about 44 pages)

All in all, it was a good reading year. Here's to an even better 2012!

Gearing up for "Resolutions: 2012"

Today's 100 words:

Now that it's nearly the last day of 2011, today's project will be evaluating the year's list of resolutions--I like to call them goals--and writing a list for 2012. I know without searching for my list, though, that 2011 was a good year for my writing. I accomplished many of the goals I set for myself, including submitting some of my work. I also wrote more in 2011 than in the past few years combined, so all in all, I'm very happy with where I stand on the creative front. I hope to do even more next year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Eve

Today's 100 words:

New Year's Eve will be the same as it's been for the past several years, I'm sure. Hubby and I will rent a movie or two, then after we put the kids to bed, we'll sit down in front of the television with our "treat": bags of chips, bowls of dip, and a bottle or two of wine to toast in 2012. I sometimes miss the New Year's Eves we spent before kids arrived--the leisurely dinners, the fancy clothes, being out with other excited, half-drunk people... But NYE now is nice, too. It's homey, comfortable. It's about family.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Today's 100 words:

Today looks to be the first day this winter that we're getting snow that sticks, not melting away immediately after falling to the lawn and driveway but remaining, blanketing, warming in the way only cold snow can warm, and I know the children will be excited when they awaken this morning, when they race to the living room window and discover that finally--finally!--the cold, white, frozen fun awaits them, and they will want to play in it, don their coats, boots, and snow pants, mittens, hats, and scarves, but it's still too early, much too early, for that.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back to myself

Today's 100 words:

Last night, for the first time since the holiday season began--and we all know it seems to begin earlier and earlier each year--I was able to sit down and really concentrate on my writing. It felt wonderful to be back at my computer working, editing some poetry I hope to submit in the next couple of days. I get frustrated when my writing times are interrupted; it's like a piece of me is taken away, leaving me empty. Being able to write again--really write--was like coming home. I was finally my true self.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Almost that time of year

Today's 100 words:
Now that Christmas is over--now that the gifts have been unwrapped and life is starting to return to its less hectic, less busy pace--my thoughts start to turn toward the new year and what it holds. In the next few days I will no doubt be writing another list of resolutions--(I prefer to call them goals)--things that I hope to accomplish in 2012. I went through the list I made for 2011 and was happy to discover that while I didn't achieve everything on it, I did meet many of my objectives. I'm hopeful for 2012.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday!

Only the echo

Today's 100 words:
It's just past 6 p.m. now, and after only three hours of sleep last night, I'm ready to drop. It was a nice day passed in a whirlwind of torn paper and crumpled bows, a constant chorus of children screaming their delight over the gifts Santa brought. But for all the preparation that went into the holiday, it's over much too soon. The late nights spent wrapping presents, days spent baking cookies, time spent writing out cards...all for moments that pass too quickly, and suddenly night has fallen, leaving only the lingering echo of my children's delighted laughter.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas Eve dilemma

Today's 100 words:

When I became a mother, I think that my brain's reasoning portion was removed, and I lost all my ability to make even small decisions. Case in point: tonight's 1.5-hour-long Christmas Eve service begins at 11 p.m., and I've been debating whether we should go. It seems like such a late night for the kids, and when I think of all I still have to do after they go to bed, I feel exhausted. Still, I want my kids to understand our Christian faith and the true meaning of Christmas. I'm sad the service isn't earlier.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I spy

Today's 100 words:

My parents' bedroom shared a wall with my bedroom, and I remember surreptitiously taking a glass from the kitchen before going to bed one Christmas Eve, then holding it up to the wall, trying to hear what my parents were saying as they wrapped gifts. When morning finally came, my sister and I sneaked peeks at the tree in the living room while we waited for Daddy to get up, then headed to our stockings, always filled with chocolate and small gifts. Christmas was the only day of the year that Mom allowed us to eat candy for breakfast.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Today's 100 words:
I used to proclaim that I had no regrets in life, but lately I've realized that I do. Today I regret getting angry with a truck driver who didn't move over as I was coming up a freeway entrance ramp, causing me to run out of lane and drive across the rumble strip. I was upset and showed him, but once I calmed down, I wished I hadn't let my temper get the best of me. The trucker didn't move because he couldn't; the cars on his left wouldn't let him. It was just one of those stupid, unfortunate events.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"That's so annoying!"

Today's 100 words:

One thing that truly boggles my mind is my husband's seeming inability to put the glasses he uses into the dishwasher. Most mornings I'll find them lined along the countertop, even though the dishwasher itself is only a few steps away. I guess we all have things that irk us about our loved ones. I know that I do things that drive my husband insane. For one, I'm a proud member of the time police. When we have to be somewhere, I nag the family to hurry up, counting down the minutes until we have to leave. Annoying, I'm sure.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It endures

Today's 100 words:

When I was growing up, I could look out my bedroom window and see two nearby trees, one a cherry and the other some sort of pine. The cherry tree was old and had all the character that old trees possess: crooked, perfect-for-sitting-in limbs; peeling bark; an aura of history. I knew as I looked at it that it had seen many things as it bore its fruit year after year. The pine was younger. I had watched it grow from small to suddenly tall, a sentinel beside the shorter cherry. That watchful pine is gone now, but the cherry endures.

Monday, December 19, 2011

An unfortunate tradition

Today's 100 words:
It occurred to me when I looked at the date this morning that the countdown to Christmas has truly begun, and I'm starting to feel a bit of panic. When my sister and I were on Facebook last night, chatting as we each wrote Christmas cards, she told me that she had finished all her shopping last Monday and asked if I was done yet. My answer? "Hahahahaha. No." It seems to be my (unfortunate) tradition that I finish most of my Christmas preparations at the last minute, so I fully expect to be buying and wrapping presents right up until the moment Santa arrives.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Today's 100 words:

I've always loved butterflies. Even as a young child, I was content to sit and watch them, inspired by their colorful wings and their seeming delicacy. I hated to find dead ones and would bury them in my sandbox, feeling in my heart that a creature so beautiful deserved not to be stepped on but mourned. As I grew older and learned more about them, butterflies started to represent something else to me--new life and the possibility of change. If a caterpillar could emerge from a cocoon as a new, changed being, then maybe I could too. Butterflies became hope.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter disguised as spring

Today's 100 words:

The weather we've been having so far this season has reminded me a lot more of spring than of almost-winter. Yesterday it rained, and the air had that wet mud smell, that fresh scent I always associate with spring, and it made me long to skip the cold winter that likely still lies ahead and go directly on to the season of freshness and newness and life, that time when buds start bursting on trees, the grass turns green, flowers bloom... I like the starting-over that spring represents, the idea that everything--that everyone--gets a second chance.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Getting older

Today's 100 words:

My husband, who is thirteen years older than I am, keeps telling me what hell it is to get old--how hard it is to watch things that previously worked well start to deteriorate, like eyesight and knee joints. I'm not quite to that point, but I have noticed in the past year or so that I can no longer go without as much sleep as I could in my college days. Back then I could survive for days on a couple of hours, but now I long for days when I can sleep for more than five hours a night.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Could I be more behind?

(Title said in the style of Chandler Bing.)

Once again I'm finding myself having to apologize for how far behind I've gotten on my blog reading and commenting.  I don't know what it is -- the season, NaNoWriMo-induced burnout, my recent long nights spent readying submissions -- that has put me in this state of lethargy, but whatever it is, I'm sorry. I'll be back to reading and commenting soon!

Just like Mommy

Today's 100 words:

There are days when I don't like how much power being a mom holds. When I see my kids mimicking me--especially the parts of me that I'm not proud of--it's like a spotlight shining down, showing me just how imperfect I am. I suppose that realization is a good one, as it highlights the areas I need to change, but it's heartbreaking as well because I don't want my kids to use my actions as an example. I have a short temper, and sometimes I have a hard time holding it back. I don't want them to be like me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wish lists

Today's 100 words:
The kids worked on their letters to Santa yesterday, dictating their wish lists to me. They're still little, so they needed encouragement about what to say, but it was fun to hear what their two- and four-year-old minds came up with!
I remember when my mom would ask my sister and me to write our letters. She would sit us down with the JCPenney Big Book, and we would thumb through it, excitedly adding toys to our lists. I remember one year when I just had to have a giant teddy bear and another when my most-desired gift was a woodburning set. Santa delivered both times.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Today's 100 words:
I remember watching the last episode of M*A*S*H with my dad, he in his favorite green armchair and I on the floor with my back pressed up against the couch. It's one of those snapshot moments I can remember from my childhood, small vignettes of things I did or said, the ones that for whatever reason have stuck with me all these years. I remember asking my mom once what M*A*S*H stood for, and when she told me--Mobile Army Surgical Hospital--I said it over and over again for weeks, like a chant or an incantation.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The busy season

Today's 100 words:
Christmas is only two weeks away, and I haven't done much to get ready. The kids and I picked up a few presents for daddy, but that's been the extent of my preparation. Today after church we'll buy our tree, and then hopefully this week I'll find the time to buy more gifts and decorate. There's just so much to do, and I get stressed thinking about it. Every year I vow that the next year I'll be more organized and shop early and not have to stay up all night on Christmas Eve, yet every year is the same.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Feeling creative!

I hope I don't jinx myself by putting this in black and white, but the last three or four days have been some of my most productive writing days ever. After last month's NaNo marathon, I decided to focus my writing efforts on poetry rather than prose, and that decision really seems to have had a positive effect on my creativity. Aside from an occasional poem or two, it's been years since I've put all of my attention on poetry. Most importantly, I'm having fun--the muse is giving me her undivided attention, and all is well in my writing world.

How has your writing been going lately? What projects are you working on?

Friday, December 9, 2011


Today's 100 words:

It's snowing today, the first real snow we've had so far this season. I remember how excited I used to get as a kid when I saw those white flakes falling from the sky and covering the ground. I would immediately think of snowmen and snowball fights and snow forts, and my sister and I would beg our mom to let us go out and play, then spend the proverbial forty-five minutes donning snow pants and coats and hats and boots and mittens before venturing into the snow, only to come in fifteen minutes later with cries of "I'm too cold."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Writing highs, writing lows

Today's 100 words:

It's sad that writing highs don't seem to last very long, at least for me. That poem I wrote two nights ago? I loved it for about a day, but now I see its many faults. I don't think it's bad to be critical about one's own work--on the contrary, I think it's a good thing--but still it is discouraging when Lady Doubt (as I call her) steps up and whispers in my ear, eager to give her unwanted opinion: You can't write. This is terrible. Why would anyone want to read this? But despite it all, I keep writing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Obeying the Muse

Today's 100 words:

I should have gone to bed earlier last night--and I tried to--but just as I was getting ready to say my Twitter and writing chat room good-byes, just as I was beginning to shut down my computer, I was hit by a sudden wave of inspiration for a poem I'd been working on, and so I stayed up later, much later than I had intended, because as all writers know, when the muse calls, she must be answered and tended to and babied and cajoled, for it's never certain when she'll grace us again, and we must seize every opportunity.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Today's 100 words:

I saw two ravens this morning, both perched at the very top of adjacent trees, both swaying gently in a wind that was clearly evident so high in the air but less so down near the ground. I've often wondered why birds always seem to sit on the highest branches, but I suppose it's because the higher they are, the better they can see where their next meal is coming from, what unsuspecting animal will serve as their dinner or, for those who aren't carnivorous, what attractive plant or food morsel or pile of garbage will become their next feast.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Today's 100 words:

It's raining today, one of those I-wish-I-could-stay-in-bed-and-just-forget-about-the-world kinds of days, gray, no hint of sunshine, the only sound the pitter-patter of raindrops on the window, on the roof. It's an I-want-to-just-sit-and-read-all-day kind of day, curled up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea or hot chocolate, letting the world go by while I live someone else's story, experience someone else's life. It's a never-get-dressed kind of day, a stay-in-my-pajamas kind of day, a day to let the world go on without me while I disappear inside myself and hide away, safe behind my own four walls.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Today's 100 words:
I've written before about my admiration for creative people like writers, artists, and musicians, those who aren't afraid to push boundaries with their work. I found such an artist online last night, a painter whose work is so inspiring to me--or maybe it's her endless creativity and passion I find most inspiring, the way she "does her thing" her way and for her reasons. With my own craft, my writing, I unwillingly hold myself back. I don't know where to find the freedom that others seem to come to so easily.
I want to be free.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Just like kids

Today's 100 words:
When I owned those amaryllis plants--more than twenty--I thought of them as my kids and worried about them in the way one worries about her children: Are they getting enough sun? Enough water? Enough vitamins? Are they too cold? Too hot? I suppose I behaved that way because I didn't have any human children then. Still, the plants were my babies. I had invested a lot into them, and I wanted them to thrive. These new bulbs I bought recently are not my priority now that I'm caring for my own kids, but I still want them to do well.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mommy Guilt

Today's 100 words:

As parents, we all want our kids to be happy, but sometimes we can't do everything they'd like. For example, today I didn't take my children to storytime. I know they're disappointed, but I needed to do other things. Enter Mommy Guilt.

My mom didn't drive, and my dad worked long hours, so I didn't get to do some of the activities my peers did. I also missed many of my friends' birthday parties. I'm sure Mom must have felt the guilt I do now, but I don't feel deprived, and my children won't either. I need to remember that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Today's 100 words:

December 1. It doesn't seem possible that it's already the beginning of the last month of 2011. As a rule, I dread December. I love what the spirit of Christmas represents, but I hate all the extra things that need to get done this month: the family pictures that have to be taken, the clothes that need to be bought before those pictures can be shot, the Christmas shopping that needs to be done, the Christmas cards that have to be written and mailed, the last-minute gifts that need to be purchased and wrapped... It's a lot of stress.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Today's 100 words:

People say that the anticipation of an unpleasant event is often worse than the event itself. I agree. I remember when I was a kid and was told I needed to get a shot--the thought of that doctor's office visit filled me with such dread; I would worry about it, think about how much I didn't want to go and how much the shot would hurt. Then when the time came for the injection, it wouldn't be that bad. All the worry was for nothing. In some ways, I'm still like this today: stomach knotting, dreading things for no reason.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


This morning's 100 words:

Even though I don't have much of a green thumb, I do love plants, especially flowering ones. Among my favorite is the amaryllis, a lily-like plant known for its clusters of large, showy flowers. My amaryllis obsession started when I was a kid eagerly watching the gorgeous red flowers open on my mom's plant. Years later, I started buying my own, and at one point several years ago, I owned more than twenty amaryllis plants of all different colors and varieties. This year I purchased three bulbs, which I'll plant today and watch over with my own two children.

Since I wrote this entry this morning, I went out to the store and bought another bulb. Now, in addition to the paperwhites I have growing on the kitchen counter, I have four pots of amaryllises. I wonder what hubby will say when he discovers that the coffee pot and toaster have disappeared... (Come on, honey, the plants needed the space!)  :)

Monday, November 28, 2011


This morning's 100 words:

I love sleeping in freshly changed sheets, love the feel of the cool smoothness against my skin, appreciate how no wayward limb--a misguided leg or foot--can escape from the tightly tucked blankets. I always sleep better when I've washed the sheets, changed from the striped ones to the flowered or from the solid blue to the solid red. Somehow the night seems easier, less fitful, my dreams more peaceful and less frightening than the ones that occur as I try to rest in the times between changes, those more tossing-and-turning, not-very-peaceful kinds of nights.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Short sleeping

This morning's 100 words:

I slept wrong last night and woke up with pain radiating from my left shoulder. I was so tired -- completely exhausted from these last few days of family and travel -- that I don't remember anything after my head hit the pillow. I wish I felt more rested, but I think I've built up too much of a sleep deficit to ever truly catch up. My husband calls it "short sleeping," and I've been doing that ever since my son was born nearly five years ago: going to bed late, getting up during the night, seeing the sunrise again and again...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I didn't think I would have time to post an entry before we left for our trip, but I do. Happy Thanksgiving to all! Here are today's 100 words:
When I was a kid, my parents, sister, and I would go "over the river" to grandma's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Well, there wasn't a river, but we did drive six miles into town to celebrate with Grandma, my two uncles, and sometimes my cousin. I could count on certain things every Thanksgiving: my uncle Joe would always sneak olives off the tray before dinner and grab the turkey legs for himself; my dad would always carve the bird; the cranberry sauce would always be homemade; and the Packer game would always be droning on in the background.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving thanks

Today's 100 words:

Yesterday was our four-year-old son's first-ever Thanksgiving program. He stood with his class at the front of the gym, arms to his sides, a little nervous or self-conscious, I think, and sang two songs. I snapped pictures while Daddy videotaped, and every time the flash went off, our son would slide his eyes away from the teacher and toward mine.

I can't even begin to describe how incredibly proud I am of my smiling little boy and how hard it is to believe that the baby I brought home from the hospital is already so big.

Since my family and I will be traveling over the holiday, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and extend a huge thank you for reading my blog! I'll be back and posting on Friday or Saturday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Too fast

Today's 100 words:

I've taken to measuring the passage of time by the gasoline needs of our car. Every two weeks--on Thursdays, to be precise--I have to fill the tank. Those are, of course, "normal" weeks in which we don't do any extra driving, just our usual trips to the grocery store, the library, storytime, church, and preschool. The two weeks seem to pass by so quickly, and when I let myself think about it, I realize that my children are two weeks older, then two more weeks, then two more... They're growing up before my eyes--and before I'm ready.

Monday, November 21, 2011

That day

Today's 100 words:

He came home from school that day to find the house strung with laundry, every surface covered--the backs of chairs, the dresser tops, the counters. Even the pictures on the walls had been removed so that the nails that had been keeping them in place--keeping them from succumbing to gravity--could accommodate hangers topped with dresses, shirts, pants, curtains...everything that could be held by those bent and twisted wires. He watched, openmouthed, as his grandma stood at the ironing board, her right hand moving back and forth across an old housedress, an overflowing basket waiting beside her.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Today's 100 words:

Sometimes the sound of the leaves dancing across the pavement in the wind startles me, and I whirl around, expecting to see someone behind me, whether friend or foe I don't know -- perhaps someone wielding an ax or maybe only a box or two of Girl Scout cookies. My heart will perform its adrenaline jump, and when I see no one there, I'll sigh and turn back to what I was doing before the leaves played their tricks on me. They must laugh in their crinkly way at my fearfulness, their ancestors having frightened me in this same way for years.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Letting go

This morning's 100 words:

If I spend my life looking back at the past, dredging up regrets from long ago, exhuming them from the memory graves they deserve to stay buried in, then I'll miss the present, the things of today--of this moment--that won't be allowed to become memories of their own because I'll be too busy focusing on the yesterdays and the should-have-beens and the why-didn't-Is to even see the people in front of me, too destroyed by the long ago to notice the now. To keep the present, I have to let go of the past.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I spy

Today's 100 words:

The tree house was the perfect place to spy on people. High in the backyard maples, it wasn't noticeable unless someone were to look up, and even if a person did see it, it would be difficult for him or her to know if the house was occupied. I spent summer days reading there, sitting in my little red chair near the screened-in window, looking up from my book from time to time to watch leaves dancing in the breeze and listen to the people outside, talking freely, never suspecting they were sharing their secrets with me.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Today's 100 words:

The bedroom was cold. I could almost see my breath fog in front of my face, and I cupped my frozen fingers to my mouth and blew hard, trying to warm them. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and walked out into the living room. The thermostat on the wall read fifty-four degrees, and my stockinged feet ached from the frigidness of the icy wooden floor. Snow fell outside, and blankets of it heaped themselves against the doors and windows. I knew then that I would be trapped for a while, no heat, no way out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


This morning's 100 words:

I could lie on my back in my childhood bed and see that tall pine tree through my window, see how the very top of it, eight feet or so, looked just like a Christmas tree, perhaps even the perfect Christmas tree, and I thought sometimes in my child mind that it would be nice to cut down that tree--to watch it fall, then lop off the Christmas tree part and decorate it. But even my five-year-old self understood somehow that everything seems perfect from far away. It's up close that the flaws become visible.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The one where it all catches up with me.

I wrote 50,115 words on my writing project in the past two weeks. I was on a roll. My fingers were flying across the keyboard. My creative mind was out of control. I even had a few 5,000-word days last week.

All of that changed today. As of 4 p.m., I've written...*drumroll*... around 300 words.

I've lost my oomph. My creativity. My mojo. Whatever it is, I think that the adrenaline I was running on to complete the NaNoWriMo requirements so quickly is gone now, replaced by fatigue and the inability to pull ideas from my addled brain.

I'll try for more words later tonight after the kids go to sleep and the house is quiet once again. And if that doesn't work, I'm hoping I can just sleep it off.

This too shall pass.



Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNo news: I passed 50k!

I've written 50,115 words in the past two weeks. Whew! There are still two more weeks of NaNoWriMo to go, and I'll definitely keep working on my project. Tonight, however, I'm taking a break!


This morning's 100 words:

As I write this today, my very good friend is having surgery, a planned C-section. She doesn't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, and all of us--most of all her, her husband, and their two daughters--are eager to find out. She's chosen names but hasn't revealed those yet, either.

Last night I dreamed that her husband called to tell me that the baby was a boy named Jacob. There was static, and I couldn't make out the middle name. When I asked him to repeat himself, he hung up on me.

UPDATE: My friend texted me around 4 p.m. to tell me that her son, Wyatt James, had been born!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


This morning's 100 words:

Yesterday was Sarah's birthday. She and I were in the same class in high school, and although others thought we were friends, we weren't particularly close, especially as we got older. I saw the listing for her birthday on Facebook; otherwise, I probably wouldn't have remembered it at all. Sarah and I had a strange relationship. We were friends when we had to be--when we were thrown into a situation together--but most of the time we only tolerated each other. I thought she was rude, loud, and sometimes obnoxious. She thought I stole the guy she liked. I didn't.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Today's 100 words:

The littlest things in life can make me absurdly happy: finding a forgotten Hershey's Kiss in the bottom of my purse; discovering that a book I've wanted to read for ages is finally sitting on the library shelf, right where it belongs; getting an unexpected message from a celebrity; easily making a left-hand turn on a normally busy street; receiving an email from someone I haven't talked to in a very long time; holding a door for a stranger who acknowledges me with a "thank you"; waking up to a beautiful writing morning.

I am happy today.

Friday, November 11, 2011

100-word NaNoWriMo update

Today's 100 words:

NaNoWriMo is going well. Yesterday morning I crossed the 25,000-word mark, and I ended the day at 28,500. If I can keep up my pace, I'll finish early, which is good because we might be traveling later in the month.

I've done and "won" NaNo two other years--2003 and 2009--and I've learned that one of the keys to writing 50,000 words is to make sure that you love the project you're working on. It's hard to push through if you don't care about what you're writing. You have to be all in.

Since I wrote this piece this morning, I've passed 30,000 words on my project. Only a little over 19,000 to go!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Current NaNo word count:


And now I must go to bed. :)

The snail

This morning's 100 words:

I found a shell-less snail in our living room last night. It was lying on a rug, and when I first saw it, I assumed it was a raisin dropped by one of my children. When I bent to look more closely, I saw the tiny antennae, so I picked up the creature with a napkin and put it back outside, where it had been, I'm sure, before hitching a ride inside on the dog.

When I was a kid, I found a snail in the yard and put it in a margarine dish under my bed.

I bet you all can guess what happened to that poor snail!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Another dream

This morning's 100 words:

I had another weird dream last night, although it turned out to be a lot easier to understand than the one I had the night before. This time, my family and I were in a huge house--definitely not ours--and we were getting ready to leave. I was going crazy, though, because I couldn't get my watch, a wind-up wristwatch that my parents had bought me when I was twelve, to stop beeping. It turned out, of course, that my real-life wake-up alarm, my cell phone, had been going off for quite some time.

I guess all these late NaNo nights are starting to make me sleep-deprived--even more so than I was before November started! My current word count is 23,762, but I'm sure I'll attempt a few more before I go to bed tonight. My story is pretty all over the place right now, but I'm excited to have written so many words in such a short period of time.

How's NaNo been going for the rest of you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The dream

This morning's 100 words:

In my dream, my husband and I were sitting across from each other in a romantic restaurant, our table lit by candlelight. I was reading the menu, and then my husband was standing beside the table, cleaning the top of a dresser. He was angry about the clutter, and I said I liked everything the way it was. Then there was no light; everyone else was sleeping, but we sat. I was trying to read a book; I reached my hand across the table to my husband, but he wouldn't take it. I woke up unsettled, my stomach in knots.

I was limited to 100 words this morning, but I remember other things about the dream as well. A picture in a frame stood in the middle of the top of the dresser, and some figurines (two, I think) surrounded it, as did a candle. There was a newspaper there, too, as well as a doughnut wrapped in a napkin (probably a memory of the doughnut my son took home from the church coffee hour last Sunday.) In my dream, my husband tasted the doughnut, then went into another room to spit it out, and his face was red and angry.

I've never analyzed dreams, nor do I know anyone who does so. I do wonder what (if anything) all of this means...

Monday, November 7, 2011

What we remember

This morning's 100 words:

It's funny which things in life we hold in our minds forever and which we forget. I don't remember all the particulars of the bigger events like childhood birthday parties, vacations, and high school graduation. However, I do recall the details of several everyday, mundane occurrences, such as watching The Mary Tyler Moore Show with my mom after supper one night while we waited for my dad to come home from work. I guess this shows that our everyday lives--our normal, day-to-day living--hold value and significance and meaning, perhaps more than we ever knew.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNo update: day 6

My word count total now stands at 16,009. I'm getting there!

The same

I'm reading a book right now, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, in which the 45-year-old father of the protagonist is still having trouble figuring out what he wants to do with his life. He's an ornithologist, but it seems to be more of a hobby than a vocation; he writes books but never completes them, and his unfinished manuscripts languish in a locked desk drawer. He fears his wife will leave and that his son won't be proud. He's lost. He's a relatable character, I think. Haven't we all felt this way?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

NaNo update, day 5

It's the end of day five now, and I added 4,396 words to my novel today, bringing my word count total to 12,159. I'm exhausted but happy that I've managed to build myself a bit of a surplus in case I have some non-writing days ahead.

And with that, I'm going to sleep. :)


This morning's 100 words:

I watched my four-year-old son as he slept this morning, tapping his fingers against his sheet as though he were dreaming of playing a piano, and I realized for the first time how big his hands have gotten--how long his fingers, how wide his palms--and I thought of the plaster plaque I helped him make for Daddy when he was two and how that no matter how much he tries--we try--his now-hand and his then-hand could never share that plaster space again: my little boy growing up so very fast.

Friday, November 4, 2011


This morning's 100 words:

There's a show on Bravo right now, Work of Art, that chronicles the search for "the next great artist." I believe it's in its second season. I've watched several of the episodes and have enjoyed them, as even though I'm not an artist myself, I admire the creativity that these people possess. They have a true vision and can see beauty and possibility in everything they look at, turning a lump of clay or a sheet of paper or even a piece of plastic into something beautiful and meaningful. I hope to do the same with my writing.

NaNoWriMo Update: So far today I've added 1,092 words to my novel, bringing my total to 7,095. I hope to get in a few more before midnight.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNo - and - Where does the time go?

Heh. Inadvertent rhyme up there in the title. :-P

First, my NaNo update: I managed to write nearly 2,100 words today during the time my son was at school and between cooking meals, bringing my word count thus far to 6,003. I may try to get in a few more words tonight, but all in all, I'm happy with my progress.

Second, the passage of time: Other than NaNoWriMo, the thing most on my mind today is how fast the weeks are going by. It really feels like my son started preschool yesterday, and he's been going there for eight weeks now! Time goes way too fast, especially when you don't want it to.

Sorry for the short entry, but it's time to make dinner now, and then I hope to begin responding to the comments I received on this entry. Thanks again to all of you who offered advice!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No you didn't!

Yes. I. Did.

I began a new writing project on the second day of NaNoWriMo, which is better, of course, than switching projects on day twenty or even day ten. After meeting my 2,000-word goal last night, I read my story and decided that, while I think it's a good idea, it just wasn't working the way I wanted it to work. I went to bed discouraged, even entertaining the idea of quitting NaNo altogether. But then this morning I was struck by a plot bunny, and my shiny new NaNo project, a young adult novel I'm really excited about, was born.

So now I'm frantically trying to catch up with the rest of the herd. So far today I've written nearly 1,200 words, and I hope to hit my two-day minimum of 3,334 before I go to bed tonight. If I can get more words, that would be even better; my original plan (before the project switch) was to reach at least 4,000 words by the end of day two.

So if you've got any luck to spare, please send it my way. :)

How are the rest of you NaNoWriMos doing as we near the end of day two?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNo, Day 1

This morning's 100 words:

Well, the first night of NaNoWriMo is over, and although I only managed to write for an hour, I'm happy with the 401 words I have so far. My story is going in the direction I had anticipated, but the voice is different than I had thought it would be. The protagonist may be just a little more irreverent than I had planned, but that irreverence seems to work, and I'm glad the words are spilling from my fingertips and finding their way to the page the way that they are. I'm hoping I can reach about 2,000 words today.

After writing for a good portion of the day--between other tasks like making lunches and changing diapers and breaking up kid-fights, of course--I managed another 1,601 words, ending the first day of NaNo at 2,002. (Unless, of course, I decide to write a few more words after I post this entry!) The writing went much more slowly than I had anticipated, and the voice that I wrote about in my 100-words paragraph above didn't really extend through the words I wrote today. The story, too, seems to be taking a different turn from what I had anticipated, which is all right, I guess, but it leaves me feeling a little out of control. However, it is a rough draft, which is something I need to remind myself every so often as I try to fight the perfectionist demon, who demands that I edit as I go. Still, all in all, I'm happy with the word count I've accomplished today--if not with the actual words themselves.

So--story number one in my collection is on its way to being completed (in a first-draft version, of course). Now I wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

For those of you taking on the challenge, how was your first day of NaNoWriMo? Did you meet your word count goal? And is your story taking the shape you'd thought it would, or is it veering off in another (exciting) direction?

Monday, October 31, 2011


I've always kind of hated that NaNoWriMo starts on November 1. I like to use the day before to make changes to my outline and try to fill in plot holes, but Halloween makes that a little difficult--especially since I have two children who are eager to go trick or treating. But I guess that's part of the challenge of NaNo: trying to fit 50,000 words around an already busy schedule to prove that writing is possible, and I (and everyone else who wants to) can find the time for it if it truly is a passion. That, I think, is the real lesson NaNo teaches.

So for all of you taking on the challenge: Good luck! I know that despite my tiredness and the fact that I need to get up at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, I, for one, will be sitting at my computer at midnight, typing away.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

I have the best readers!

I want to thank everyone who commented on yesterday's entry about my lack of offline writing support. Your encouragement means so much to me, and I'm grateful that you took time away from your days to offer me your wisdom and advice. My NaNoWriMo prep is lasting until the last second, as usual, but I want you to know that I'll respond to each comment as soon as I can. Thanks again!


I wrote today's 100 words about being a high school senior asked to decide on a college major. I had no idea what I wanted to do. Up until that point in my life, I had already changed my mind a million times: I'd wanted to be a singer, an archaeologist, an orthodontist (back in my braces days), a journalist... I had no idea what to tell the people who asked. I finally decided on broadcast journalism as my major but ended up switching to English by the end of my first semester. English stuck; I went on to graduate school for a master's, then taught college English and journalism classes for several years. I've never regretted the switch!

This morning's 100 words:

All the college applications had a place for us to select a major, and I remember how weird it seemed that I, a seventeen-year-old high school senior, was being asked to make what seemed to be such a life-altering decision--a huge, can't-go-back, set-in-stone decision--and I felt so ill-equipped to even know, to even pretend to have an inkling of an idea about what I was supposed to do with the rest of my life. I was facing a test I hadn't studied for. I didn't know the answer.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Do you get support for your writing?

Writing is a lonely endeavor, most often a one-person job in which we sit in front of a computer, typing away while the world outside goes on without us. There's no gathering around the coffee machine or chatting with the worker in the next cubicle. Instead we spend a lot of time in our own minds, listening to the voices that speak to us, stopping occasionally to stare at the wall or, if we're lucky enough to have one nearby, out the window.

Because writing is such a solitary activity, it's good to have people around us who support our work and our writing dreams. These people could be husbands, wives, children, friends (online or "real")...anyone, really, who cheers us on as we work toward our goals. But what if the person you're closest to doesn't support your work? Then what?

I learned recently that someone close to me--my husband--doesn't think of my writing as anything more than "my wife's hobby." It hurt to hear that, as becoming a published writer is something I've wanted since I was a child, and I've been working hard to achieve that goal. He thinks that the hours I spend writing stories and drabbles and working on novels is just time wasted in front of the computer, and that's a hard thing to deal with. I have a lot of online support, which I'm extremely grateful for, but there are few people in my offline life who take much of an interest in what I do and recognize how important it is to me.

What about you? Do you have writing support from the people closest to you? And what do you do when someone you respect doesn't respect your need to write?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Playing hooky

This morning's 100 words:

I'm playing hooky today, skipping the kids' storytime in favor of a few more minutes of sleep and some extra writing time. I call it a mental health day, and I need it after a week spent getting up too early, frantically trying to capture all the pieces of the chaos and coax them into something tamable. It's the season, I guess, the time of Halloween costumes and parties and an evening spent trick or treating in the cold, shivering on the sidewalk as my children go from door to door, plastic pumpkins in hand and wide smiles on their faces.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trick or treat!

Today's 100 words:

Today I was a mom helper in my four-year-old's preschool class. The kids were celebrating Halloween, each arriving in costume and ready to trick or treat at several offices throughout the building. Even though times have changed since I was a child, the costumes really haven't, and it was great to see familiar standbys like Spider-Man, a police officer, and the ubiquitous princess, all popular choices from my own childhood. It was clear that the kids were having a great time, and watching them made me nostalgic for the days when Halloween meant candy, games, and fun.

What memories do you have of Halloween? Any favorite costumes?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


This morning's 100 words:

It's funny how some memories from long ago shine clearly in my mind while other, more recent events are sometimes difficult to recall. Recess in elementary school: I remember certain moments so well that I have a hard time believing that decades have passed since I was that little girl swinging on the swings and climbing on the monkey bars. After rainstorms, I remember walking along the perimeter of the school, looking for worms I could rescue from stomping feet. I played foursquare near the doors and king of the hill next to the tennis court. Fun times; simple times. I'm glad I remember.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

100 words on NaNo prep

I experienced a breakthrough with my NaNoWriMo planning yesterday, one of those eureka moments when suddenly all parts of the story came together and made sense. I still have more planning to do before midnight on November 1, but I'm happy that the story pieces have finally gelled, and I'm looking forward to beginning this project. Whether I'll be able to complete the 50,000 words this year remains a mystery. Normally I would say yes, I'll definitely win, since I won my previous attempts in 2003 and 2010. This year, with my more chaotic life, I'm not as confident.

Monday, October 24, 2011


This morning's 100 words:

I was thinking the other day about growing up, how things seemed simpler then, and I remembered an evening when my parents were working in the garage, staining furniture for the new-addition bedroom my sister and I were to share. It's a fleeting memory--I was still very young--but I remember how hard my parents were working, and I can picture my mom as she bent over a dresser, brush in her hand, stopping every few minutes to wave the annoying hum of a mosquito from her ear.

Yesterday was Mom's birthday. Happy 74th birthday, Mom!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The hidden part

A 100-word vignette:

Throughout the night, a heavy drumbeat of rain pounded against the roof and tapped a staccato beat against the windows, and Beth listened from her bed, eyes open, and watched as bolts of lightning illuminated the room, dragging everyday objects--the dresser, the lamp--from their shadowy hiding places, exposing them for what they were, and she thought about her inner self, exposed that way, brought to the light so everyone around could see the real her, the true her that she kept carefully tucked away from prying eyes, and she clenched her fists determinedly. She couldn't let that happen.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

On tiredness and writing

This morning's 100 words:

I have only a few minutes to write this entry, perhaps ten, and it's always on days like this when I need to write quickly--think quickly--that I can't roust a topic from my tired mind. Instead I think of the day ahead, what needs to get done, the places I have to go, and somehow that thinking always seems to spiral out to scenes I don't want my mind to recall, at least not so early, not when I've just woken up and the day is still new and horrible memories still seem shadowy and faraway.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Today's 100 words:

He told her he doesn't love her, that he never has, that he never should have dated her, certainly never should have married her, that their two children were not conceived in love but in pity, pity for a wife who loved too much, so much that his heart ached even though he looked at her much of the time and hated her, hated her personality and the things she said, hated being in the same room with her, and he told her yesterday that he's not going to pretend anymore, pretend to love her, pretend to love their life together.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NaNo plotting update

Ever since deciding a few days ago to participate in NaNoWriMo despite the circumstances, I've been hard at work on plotting. I don't think I've mentioned yet that I'm not planning to do a traditional NaNo this year; that is, I'm not writing what's usually thought of as a novel. Instead, I'm planning to do a series of interconnected short stories. The "interconnected" part is what will keep me from being a NaNo rebel, although I certainly have nothing against people who set their own rules and do NaNo their own way. I fell into that category last year with my memoir, and my main hangout on the NaNo forums was the wonderful rebel lounge.

Anyway, I've gotten most of my story ideas down and have pretty thoroughly outlined two of them. However, I still have a lot of work to do if I'm going to be at least mostly ready before November 1. I think I'm getting close to nail-biting time!

For those of you doing NaNo, how's your planning going? And for those of you NaNo-ers who have blogs, how often do you think you'll post during November? I've been wondering what to do about my own schedule.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A necessity

Today's 100 words:

I love to read. Each year I resolve to read 104 books, a manageable two books a week. In 2005 I started keeping lists of the books I read, and although so far I've never met my goal, I've always come close, reading anywhere from 95 to 102 books a year. This year I expect to succeed, as I've already read 86 books. I can't imagine my life without the escape that reading provides, can't fathom being unable to immerse my mind in someone else's life and forget about my own. For me, reading isn't a luxury; it's a necessity.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm back!

I decided this morning that I'll be participating in NaNoWriMo after all. :)

To all of you who offered encouragement in response to yesterday's post: thank you. I had been feeling pretty dejected about NaNo after I was told by someone close to me that my passion for writing is "stupid," but I felt better--and determined--after I read your encouraging responses. I wrote a response of my own this morning, where I tried to explain the reason that this person's lack of support hurt so much. (You can find my response here.)

What I learned from this experience is that although writing is a solitary activity, it's still necessary for me to feel supported by others and to have a sense that what I'm doing is important. Yes, I can write for me (and I do), but to know that someone is out there encouraging me and cheering me on reminds me that my passion is as important as anyone else's and following my dream is worthwhile.

I don't know how NaNo will go for me this year. I'm hoping that I'll make or exceed the word goal, as I did the two other years I participated. I think that this year my success will likely depend on my ability to find time to write around the distractions of my two very young children, which might prove difficult without family support. No matter what, though, I know that I have friends I can count on when the going gets tough. Thank you!

Monday, October 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo uncertainty

There's now a possibility that I may not be able to participate in NaNoWriMo next month. I can't really get into the details right now, except to say that someone very close to me has discouraged me from making the attempt. I've been having a lot of fun brainstorming and prepping and have really been looking forward to working on my project, but I'll need to see what happens in the next few days in order to decide if it's going to happen this year.

Just don't count me out yet. ;)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

They hear

"You fight about money, 'bout me and my brother..." P!NK, "Family Portrait"

Mommy and Daddy yelled at each other in the car yesterday. They were smiling and talking before we left our house, but by the time we got to the costume store, their voices had turned into angry whispers, and then they got louder and louder. Mommy even said a bad word. I didn't understand that or why they were screaming. They always tell Jana and me not to fight; they put us in time-out if we do. What's happening to them? What will happen to us? I'm scared.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Progress! (A very brief update)

Last night I did more brainstorming for my NaNo project. I'm happy with how well it's going so far, and I'm starting to get excited for November!

For those of you participating this year, how is your planning going? Are you ready to begin?

Friday, October 14, 2011


Today's 100 words:

It's difficult to stand up for your beliefs when you're young--or at least it was for me. I abandoned so much of the woman I was when I entered graduate school; I became a different person, began ignoring my knowledge of what was right and what was wrong, started becoming someone I didn't like very much. But once I was on that roller coaster--once I set off down that path--I found it hard to stop, and it's only just now, years and years later, that I'm beginning to come back to my beliefs--and to myself.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The secret

Today's 100 words:

You had wanted to keep us a secret, you said after everyone had found out we were together, dating, seeing each other--whatever they wanted to call it. It's funny that I didn't get that memo, didn't know that we were supposed to act one way in private, another in the sight of our friends, didn't know that my leaning my head on your shoulder or holding your hand would be acceptable in one place and not in the other. Relationships shouldn't have those rules, and neither should love. But I remember now: you never said you loved me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NaNo, NaNo!

I can't even put into words just how incredibly happy I was to write this 100-words entry this morning:

I think I've finally settled on an idea for this year's NaNoWriMo project. Now I have to see if I can keep my enthusiasm for it going until midnight on October 31. The fact that I woke up this morning still excited about the idea is a good sign, I suppose. Now I have to work on an outline and somehow succeed in striking that delicate balance between planning too much, which could easily lead me to hate the idea, and planning too little, which could paralyze me in November and cause me to be unable to write at all.

I'm not sure yet if I'll attempt the 50,000-word goal or if I'll become a NaNo rebel and set my own goal this year. Honestly, I haven't done any real writing for so long that getting even a few thousand words on this new project would feel like a win to me. Like everyone else who's attempting NaNo, I need to figure out which things in my life I can let go of for the month in order to make my writing a priority. Having young kids makes working difficult, of course, but I know that many other NaNo participants have not only that concern but countless others and still manage to meet their goal. Since I don't think I can convince my husband to take on the laundry, cooking, and cleaning duties for the month, I guess I'll just have to wait and see how much I'll be able to accomplish. Regardless of the word count, I'm looking forward to the challenge.

If you're participating in the insanity this year, what things will you put on the back burner for the month? How do you restructure your life around NaNo?

And finally, I'm counting on you guys. Help me out here, okay? Don't let me lose my NaNo enthusiasm! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today's 100 words:

Her posture was perfect. She was tall, yet she never slouched, never seemed to notice that she stood taller than most people around her. She wore her height proudly, and I used to wonder sometimes if I would have been able to do the same if I had grown taller than the five feet four inches I used to be and the five feet three inches I'm told by doctors I now am. I usually like to blend in, not stick out, and my short stature allows me the luxury of hiding behind others, becoming invisible, listening and observing unnoticed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

"Tyler, meet George."

My friend Tyler is on his way home after staying with us since last Wednesday. It was a wonderful visit, and I'm sad to see him go. While he was here, we toured Niagara Falls, the Memorial Art Gallery, the Susan B. Anthony house, and the George Eastman house. It was fun to see these things through Tyler's eyes, as I've lived here long enough now that I don't think I appreciate all the really wonderful things there are to do and see and explore in this city.

I wrote today's 100 words about yesterday's visit to the George Eastman house, which was probably my favorite of all the things we did:

I have a (strange?) fascination with wanting to know how famous people died. Yesterday Tyler and I took a tour of Kodak founder George Eastman's house, and I kept waiting for the docent to mention his death by suicide, but she never did. When we were left to explore on our own, however, we found his suicide note and death certificate in a tiny, out-of-the-way room. I suppose the docent didn't want to disappoint the tourists by bringing up something so dark. I find it interesting, though, because I believe that this earthly life isn't the end.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Filling in some gaps

I wrote this 100-words entry after I asked my visiting friend, Tyler, where we had met. An entry I wrote last week shows that his memory is better than mine!

I asked my friend Tyler where we met, and he said that it was in our Milton class, not the Arthurian literature class, as I had thought. I remember now: Professor Andrews had us move our chairs into a horseshoe shape, lined along the edges of the walls, and Tyler sat across from me but closer to the front. He said that we were in the Arthurian lit class together the next semester, which I now remember to be true. Whereas I despised the Arthurian class, I enjoyed Milton. Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained--important works.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

For the memories

A recent 100-words entry:

It's hard to get up in the early mornings when the world is still pitch-black and even the sound of traffic in this large city is muted. The lights seem almost too bright for my eyes as I sit here at the computer, willing the words to come, willing the coffee to seek a path through my muddled brain and force coherent syllables from my fingertips to the keyboard to this white box where I type each day, squeezing thoughts from my tired mind, thoughts that maybe someday I'll be happy to look back on and grateful to have.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Writing isn't easy

I wrote this 100-words exercise earlier this week:

Sometimes I sit in front of my computer for quite a while before I think of something to write in this little white box. I don't know why it's so hard sometimes to pull words from my mind, draw them through my fingertips, and, like magic, it seems, make them appear on the screen. But as Anne Lamott and countless other writers have said (or written), writing is sometimes a struggle, and no matter how successful a person is, there will be days when writing a page, a paragraph, even a sentence is all that he or she can manage.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Shoe: A Drabble

Aheila's Drabble Day prompt this week is Shoe, and the extra challenge is that the shoe begins or ends its journey on the side of the road. Check out her blog for the rules. Here's mine:
Mr. Olson had smelly shoes. Everyone knew it: his students, his colleagues, his wife. He, too, was aware of his fetid feet. But today he had a plan.
When classes ended, he walked to the faculty lot, removed his offensive loafers, tied their laces together, and hung them over his sedan's side view mirror. Then he drove home barefoot, confident that his stinky shoes would air out in the wind. 
Unfortunately, though, his loafers went on the lam, and to everyone's delight, he was forced to buy new ones. But he smiled, knowing it wouldn't be long before he could conduct his experiment again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

All roads lead somewhere--even if it's nowhere

This morning's 100 words:

Tyler, my friend from graduate school, will be visiting for a few days. I don't remember how we met--perhaps it was through a mutual friend. More likely we met in the Arthurian literature class we both took. I have no idea why I enrolled in that class. I love literature--I was a lit major--but I confess that the Arthurian tradition bores me to tears. So though I'm not sure why I was taking the class, it was probably how I met Tyler--and it led me to Rob, who I thought was the love of my life...

**Tyler arrived a few hours ago. It's great to see him again!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The girl who broke up with her boyfriend

How it should have gone:


"Greg, there's something I have to tell you. Can you come over?"

"I'll be there in a few minutes."


"What's going on? You sounded so serious on the phone."

"Greg... I don't know how to say this, so I just will. There's someone else. I'm sorry."

How it went:



"Hey. When do you want me to come over?"

"Um, I don't want to see you anymore."

Monday, October 3, 2011

100 words on children growing up

Autumn cooled the air this morning, its chilly blast creeping through my bedroom window, sending me scurrying for warm clothes. Afterward, I rocked my two-year-old, enjoying her warmth and thankful that she's still willing to cuddle, that I'm still her world. It hurts my heart to think that one day my children might shun me as I try to kiss them or run from my open arms. My four-year-old hugs me when I drop him off at preschool, and I want to cling to him, knowing that my days of being number one aren't forever.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Today's 100 words:

As I age, the weather seems to get colder, and those things I loved as a child--kicking through piles of leaves, playing tag in the crisp autumn air--don't interest me as they once did. Instead, the cold seeps into my bones, and the last thing I want to do is venture outside. But I'll do it for my kids, who for weeks have been awaiting winter's appearance. My oldest asks me often when the snow will come, when he'll be able to build snowmen and make snow angels. Soon enough, I tell him. Too soon, I tell myself.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blog awards!

Many thanks to the wonderful Caitlin at All About Growing Up and Becoming a Famous Author, who recently passed on some blog awards to me: The Versatile Blogger and The Irresistibly Sweet Blogger. Make sure you check out her blog; she's incredibly funny and encouraging!

So now it's time for me to pass on these awards to others and share seven random facts about myself. Here we go:

1. I'm a binge cleaner. I do the necessary daily chores like dishes and laundry, but I don't do the real cleaning until I know I'm going to have company. Guess what? My friend is visiting this week...

2.  I used to be a college instructor, but my dream job for when both of my kids are in school is to work at a library or bookstore. I just love the idea of being surrounded by books all day!

3. I love taking a big spoon of peanut butter and dipping it into a dish of chocolate chips. (My mom started me on this when I was a kid. Thanks, Mom!)

4. Don't ask me to choose! I have a horrible time making decisions, even simple ones.

5. I love to make soup. It's freezing here today, so tonight I'm trying a recipe for butternut squash soup.

6. One of my favorite TV shows of all time is Felicity. I once saw Scott Speedman (he played Ben) sitting on a stoop in NYC. To this day, I'm kicking myself for not talking to him.

7. I've been watching Gossip Girl on Netflix for months. It's my guilty pleasure. I love the drama!

And now I'm passing on these awards to two of the many blogs I really enjoy:

1. April at A Writer's Ramblings
2. Shannon at Books Devoured

Have fun!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Showing my age

Today's 100 words:

I wonder if elementary school girls still pass around those homemade books made of lined paper and construction paper covers. I remember them from the eighties, when I was in the fourth grade. Someone would create one of these books and then fill them up with questions, leaving spaces for the girls to place their answers as the books traveled surreptitiously around the classroom. I remember one question was "What boy do you like?" and in my naivety--Who would really answer that?--I wrote "Mike," which was true, but it made me an enemy (for a time) of Edie.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Today's 100 words:

They say that everyone you know--everyone you see--is going through something, and if it's your friend or your sibling, your husband/wife or child, you probably know what that thing is, and because you know, you're able to acknowledge it and try to help, if that's what that person wants, or ignore it, if that seems to be what the person is doing, at least on the surface. For the other people, the ones you don't know, all you can do is speculate: smile at that cashier/teacher/company CEO and wish him or her a good day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Doing this for me

I spent a lot of time this afternoon thinking about writing and about how it hasn't been fun for me recently. I've been too wrapped up in worrying about what other people will think of my work, and as a result, I've become paralyzed, unable to write a single word without analyzing it and second-guessing it. I delete more words than I write, and my inner critic tells me that none of my ideas are interesting, that my prose is flat, that no one will ever want to read--much less publish--anything I write. This thinking has gone on for at least a couple of months now, bringing so much insecurity and fear with it.

Today I decided that I was no longer going to let these negative thoughts keep me from doing what I enjoy. I made the following declaration this afternoon, via Twitter:

Decided the only reason to write is because I love it. Worrying about who else will like it stifles me. I need to do this for me. #amwriting

Do this for me. For me.

I can't let worrying about not being good enough keep me from putting words on the page. I can't keep listening to my inner critic as she tells me that I'm no good and should just quit. If I love writing--and I do--then I have to do it for that reason: for the love of it. If other people like it, that will be a bonus. If I can get some of my fiction published someday, that will be wonderful, a very proud moment, I'm sure. But I learned today that writing with my eyes solely on publication--concerned only with what other people think--doesn't work for me. I'm happiest when I'm doing my 100-word exercises, which I once did as mere writing warm-ups but have recently been taking more time with and really contemplating what I want to say. I don't know what that means or where those little snippets can take me. I only know that I enjoy writing them, and I have to let that kind of enjoyment spill over into the projects I'm working on: the collection of short stories I'm planning; my young adult novel about Jed; my NaNoWriMo project, if I choose to do one this year... The bottom line is, I need to write because I want to. I have to do it for me and no one else.

I'm not giving up my dream of publication. That's still something I want very much. I just realize now that I can't place all my focus on that dream. I can't make it the only reason I write. First, I have to write for me, and as I realized today, that's really all that matters.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You live, you learn

Today's 100 words:
They say what goes around comes around, and I think there's some truth in that. Greg and I dated for six years, through high school and part of college. He was sweet, kind, and wanted to be with me, always talking about our future. For a time, I felt the same; I thought nothing would drive us apart. But then I met Rob--older, attractive, dangerous Rob--and I left Greg with no real explanation. But one reaps what one sows, I think. Not long after, Rob, who I loved like Greg had loved me, dumped me in the same abrupt way.

Monday, September 26, 2011

On loving books and needing to eat

Today's 100 words:

I love my books and don't part with them easily. Even if I didn't particularly enjoy some of them, I still want to own them and often wish I had every book I'd ever read. What an amazing chronicle of my life that would be, to see all of my books from infancy through old age, all bearing testament to the kind of person I was at each stage: the things I enjoyed reading about, my favorite authors, the way my reading tastes changed...

(In graduate school, I sold The English Patient so I could buy lunch.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

On ramen and memories

Today's 100 words:

I cooked Rice-A-Roni at the old, rust-colored stove in my first place. I was a poor graduate student, and rice was one of my staples--rice and ramen noodles and Carnation Instant Breakfast. Sometimes I would buy chicken, rolling it in mayonnaise, crackers, and spices, a recipe I can no longer remember and cringe to think of now, but back then I enjoyed it. It was strange and exhilarating to be on my own in that tiny wood-paneled A-frame house, scene of so many firsts, keeper of so many memories, blissful and painful at once.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Today's 100 words:

I slowed down as I walked past his office and glanced inside, as I always did. Even though we were no longer together, even though he had told me it was over, that he couldn't be with me, that he didn't see a future for us, I couldn't stop caring for him, loving him. I "stalked" him, I suppose, but never maliciously. I just wanted to know he was okay. But that day I looked into his office and saw him talking to her, their heads bent close together. I understood. I wasn't her. I could never be her.

Friday, September 23, 2011

On apples and envy

This morning's 100 words:

I think the most difficult thing about sending my son to preschool is knowing that I won't always be the one who will experience all of his firsts. I won't be the only one with funny or cute or sweet stories to tell about him. Yesterday his teacher had the class taste different kinds of apples, and when I picked up my son, she described for me how funny and joyous it was to watch him taste a Red Delicious apple--how his face lit up with surprise and delight. I'm envious that she saw it and I didn't.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tagged! Ten random facts about me.

A game of tag has been making its way throughout the blogging community, and today I was tagged by the lovely Carissa. To play, all you need to do is be tagged (see my list of "victims" below!), write a list of ten random facts about yourself, and then tag four more people. Fun!

Here are my completely random facts. Enjoy!

1. I'm a reality TV addict--and I make no apologies.

2. I love ginger ale, but I'm particular about the brand. It has to be Vernors.

3. I won a library poster contest when I was in the second grade. That was the high point of my art career.

4. Ozzy Osbourne is my favorite singer.

5. I have a crush on Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass (played by Ed Westwick). Don't judge.

6. When I was sixteen, I worked as a desk clerk in a Super 8. It was not my favorite job.

7. I worry about everything.

8. I've never dyed my hair.

9. I would rather talk face-to-face than call someone.

10. Dirty Dancing is my favorite movie, and the wonderful Patrick Swayze was my first celebrity crush.

I hope that was random enough! I'm tagging:
1. Tara
2. Charlotte
3. Scott
4. Tersia

Have fun!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My 'vision' and what it taught me

Last night as I lay in that hazy place between not really awake and not quite asleep, I saw a picture of myself behind my closed eyelids. I was sitting at a computer that had been placed on a long table, much like the kind one finds covered with paper or plastic tablecloths at church potluck dinners. My fingers were on the keyboard, but at that moment I wasn't typing. Instead I was looking over my shoulder at the people behind me, rows and rows of them, many sitting so closely to me that their knees jammed into my back.

One gentleman in particular caught my attention. He was an older man, tall and thin, with just a hint of a belly, on which he rested his folded arms. He was seated near the middle of the room, his long legs stretched out before him. His head, covered with thick, white hair, was bent toward his chest, and his eyes, hooded by fuzzy gray brows, were squeezed shut. As I watched him, his body started to list. One part of me--the human me, the compassionate me--was afraid he would fall off his chair and hurt himself. The other part of me--the writer me sitting at the computer--was afraid for myself, that my writing was boring him, putting him to sleep--and so I tried to type--something, anything--to wake him up, to make him interested. To make my work--my dream of writing--relevant.

The other people in the room were younger and eager. They sat at the edge of their chairs; they clutched notebooks and pens; they periodically glanced at their watches or at the gray clock that hung high on the wall. Some of them were the owners of the knees that pressed anxiously and painfully into my back. Like the old man, these people made me feel rushed, like I needed to hurry and write something brilliant and wonderful and unlike my usual work. They were writers just waiting for me to fail so they could step in and take my chair and my computer. And my dream.

The vividness of this waking dream was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning. Before bed, I had been rereading Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, and in it she talks about the things that keep us from writing--those nagging voices that whisper in our ears, trying to convince us--oftentimes successfully--that what we're doing isn't valuable or important or worth anything in the grand scheme of things. I think the people I envisioned were probably my inner critics--the old man showing me through his actions that my work is boring and the others not so gently reminding me that I, sitting and accomplishing little, am lazy and need to step aside and allow the "real" writers to work.

I find it interesting that this "vision" occurred just as I'm getting ready to embark on a new project. I don't know if it bodes well or not. But what it has shown me is that I need to stop procrastinating and start doing: start working, start writing. And I need to stop second-guessing myself. It's so easy for me to believe the voice that says that my project is stupid, that my ideas are unworkable, that writing is too hard, that all I'm doing when I sit down to write is wasting my time, and that since few people in my life seem to take my writing seriously, why should I?

The answer is this: because I want to. And no matter what the critics say--no matter if the old man falls off his chair from boredom or the eager writers continue to try to shove me aside--they can't change that simple fact.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

But have I learned my lesson?

This morning's 100 words:
My hands are numb this morning, the way they always get when I haven't had enough sleep. It's a pins-and-needles feeling, and I don't know why it happens, but I wake up with it whenever I don't allow myself to rest. The stupid thing is that I know I need to get more sleep, but each night I go to bed well past the hour I should. I stay up late reading, usually, or writing, then finally turn off my light for my scant five hours of sleep, knowing I'll complain the next day about how tired I am.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Seldom a lightbulb moment

Today's 100 words:

Story ideas don't come easy to me. They never have. And nonfiction ideas arrive slowly as well. When it was time to write my thesis in graduate school, it took several long meetings with my thesis director before I could settle on a project. Some people are fortunate to see ideas in everything: they read an article, hear something on television, or have an unusual dream, and suddenly they're brainstorming their answers to the what-ifs. I envy them. Ideas come slowly to me, thick like molasses, and it takes a lot of shaping to form them into something viable.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fall's kiss

This morning's 100 words:

I can feel fall's kiss in the air today, the sharp coldness stealing in through the open window, bringing with it that crisp smell only autumn can possess. Spring, as fall's opposite, its fraternal twin, doesn't exhibit the same crispness, that same sense of a cold sheet snapping on a line, that feeling of sharp electricity that seems to be in the air when the trees start to shed their leaves, the pleasant scent of decay rising around them. Spring's is a clean smell, a washed-earth smell, signifying a beginning, while fall, though lovely, takes us closer to the end.