Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Signing Off For Christmas

My blog writing has been sporadic lately.  Lots going on with Christmas on the way!  Let's see, in the past two weeks I've:
  1. Finished up working with my bookkeeping clients for the year,
  2. Bought and wrapped a bazillion presents,
  3. Got rear-ended by an over-eager high school kid (no damage done to the vehicle, but I've been a little sore),
  4. Got new windows for the house...engergy star...tax break applicable.
Actually, as I'm writing this, the banging is going on all around me as the contractors remove the windows we now have....kinda hard to concentrate.

Before I sign off, I wanted to share a little Christmas miracle.  Actually, it's a pretty big miracle for the people involved.  You see, there are two kids at my church who have been in foster care for years...good kids (I'll call them Ann and James) caught in the system because their parents are both incarcerated.  Apparently, they are elligible for adoption because the parental rights have been severed.  The problem is that the kids are teenagers, and who wants to adopt teenagers, right?

On Thanksgiving Eve, our church had a dinner.  One of the special parts of the dinner is that the floor is opened for anyone to get up and tell what they are thankful for in the past year.  This year Ann and James got up to tell their story...a heart-wrenching story of loss and gratitude...loss of their family, gratitude for the people who had made a difference in their young lives.

Two people were in the audience (let's call them John and Sue), a married couple who had never wanted kids.  John and Sue were so moved by story told by the teenagers that they could not sleep that night.  Thanksgiving morning came, and Sue got up early to fix the coffee and make breakfast, trying to hold back the tears.  She turned around, and there stood John, tears streaming down his face.  Looking at each other, they both knew...they wanted to adopt those kids and give them a permanent home.

A meeting was set up, and John and Sue came face to face with Ann and James.  The connection was immediate and strong.  Adoption proceedings began.

Normally, adoptions can take months, but because of the church family connection, John and Sue were able to qualify as adoptive parents under "kinship" laws.  Another church member was able to help expedite the process, and John and Sue found themselves signing the papers to finalize the adoption...just in time for Christmas.

I know that many of us get cynical over the years....we've been disappointed...we find it hard to believe.  But if you ask me if miracles happen, I would say that they do

I believe...do you?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Don't Go! P-L-E-A-S-E

My laptop is trying to die...I think.  The wireless has been acting up, and recently, I found that my DVD drive had bit the dust.  Ugh!

I wish I could say that I always back up my writing each time I sit down to work...but I don't.  In fact, before I learned the laptop was experiencing difficulties, my back-up habits were, at best, extremely sporadic.  I recently went online to a fellow writer's site and it appears that she recently experienced what we all secretly fear...a crash.  So several days ago, I sorted my files into those that were vital and those that are expendable, and I 've been making almost making a habit of backing up those important files.

The problem isn't with the writing files, which are fairly easy to copy over onto a thumbnail.  The problem is with my accounting files (which I do in my other-non-writing-life), Quickbooks backups, etc.  Those babies take forever to copy and download...at least on my system.  Believe me, the last thing I need is to lose a client's files!

But I'm rambling (again).  My real issue is a laptop that may be on its way out.  It's only a couple of years old.  How long are these things supposed to last, anyway?  Surely one should be able to stretch three or (gasp) four years out of a piece of equipment.  That's the real problem though isn't it?  Nothing seems to be made to last anymore.

Well, at least I know what to ask Santa for.  And while I'm at it, maybe an external hard drive, too...for backing up the system.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I've had this idea for a story rolling around in my head for the past few months and finally sat down today to start blocking out the plot, character sketches, etc.  I love the process of developing my characters, getting to know them...their histories, likes/dislikes, personalities...

The hard part is writing everything the way I see it in my mind.  Will the scenes play out the way I've pictured them?  Will the descriptions be as vivid, as sharp?  I guess my fear is that what I envision in wild, crazy technicolor will come across as boring black and white.  My characters deserve depth...will I give it to them?

I used to think I was the only one who felt this way until I recently read a wonderful book The Writer's Book of Hope by Ralph Keyes.  What was so encouraging about this book?  I learned that I am not alone!  I'm not the only writer who fears that what she put on the page isn't going to live up to what she sees in her head.  Whew!

And sometimes (like now, trying to finish this blog post) I don't always like what I write and that's okay, because I can always hit delete and start again...which is probably what I should do with this post!

Oh, by the way, I just found a contest to link to if you want to win a free edit from C. A. Marshall.  Go for it!  (I told you this post was random!)

Monday, December 6, 2010


I just spent Thanksgiving weekend with my wonderful family:  hubby, daughter, sister and nieces, and Mom.  We had the usual fare, turkey and dressing, ham, sweet potato casserole, an assortment of pies...yum!  There was just one important ingredient missing...Daddy.  This was our first Thanksgiving without my dad, who died earlier this year after a long bout with cancer.

My dad and mom, me(brunette) and sis

It was my turn to host the dinner, which involved lots of cleaning.  As a writer-home-business-owner, organization is not my strongest characteristic, and my desk was...well... trashed.  It was while I was clearing this particular piece of furniture that I ran across a picture of my dad with my daughter, taken at a school field trip.  My dad loved to fish, so my daughter had asked him to go when her first grade class went to a fish farm...sigh.

Dad with my daughter, Sarah

So now, Christmas is coming and part of me feels...empty.  My dad always loved the holidays, and Christmas was his favorite.  He loved shopping (I know, weird for a guy), and he, my sister and I always went together to pick out something for Mom.  (If we didn't go with him, he'd buy some useless something he just knew she needed from some catalogue.)  I'll miss that.  Who am I kidding, everything about this Christmas is going to be different.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

November Blog Chain

I'm participating in my first ever blog chain through Absolute Writers and I'm nervous, nervous, nervous!  The assignment this month: a drabble, which is a piece of fiction of exactly 100 words.  For the sake of NaNoWriMo, we were allowed to go +/- 5 words.  (I'm over by 2)

So why the nervousness?  One hundred words doesn't seem that hard, right?  Well, I've decided to put up one hundred words of my YA WIP, Finding My Escape for my fellow writers to see and comment on.  It had to happen some time, letting professionals view my work.  Enough procrastinating, here it is:

I walked through the door.  It was dark…almost pitch black, and I had this uneasy feeling.  Everything was wrong somehow.  It was so quiet.  I shut the door slowly and started into the living room, tripping over something that shouldn’t be there.  My hand fell into something sticky. 

I heard a sound in the kitchen.

“Mom?” I called barely able to breathe.

“Don’t come in here honey, RUN!”

The sound of a voice being muffled, a struggle, a crash, one feeble whimper and then…           

My eyes began to adjust to the dark and I found myself staring into my father’s dead eyes.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Good luck to all of you writers finishing up NaNoWriMo this month!  I've checked out many of your blogs and I am amazed to see many of you still blogging while writing 1667 words a day.  That's dedication and deserves to be recognized.

May your books all go Best Seller!  My (pen) cap is off to you!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: Smart-Self Publishing: Becoming and Indie Author

Note:  I realize not that self-publishing is not for everyone.  If you are considering self-publishing, read on:

I just read the absolute 100% number one BEST book on Indie/Self-publishing ever written.  (Can you tell I liked the book?)

If you are new to the idea of self-publishing, thinking about self-publishing or ebook publishing, remotely curious about ebook publishing, then go online to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and buy Zoe's book.  I've spent weeks researching the Internet for epublishing info and didn't come up with a third of what Zoe gave me in one book.

Let's cut to the chase - here's why I think the book is so good.
  1. It's thorough.  Extremely thorough.   The book covers everything from writing to marketing to editing to setting up a business plan.  It even explains in simple layman's terms (and I get giddy here just thinking about it) how to format your book for Smashwords, Kindle, and Nook.  That alone makes it worth the buy.
  2. It's written in easy-to-read, conversational style, plain English.  I sat down and read it in a couple of hours - all 334 pages.  I could format a book right now...seriously.  (Not that my book is ready for that...yet.)
  3. It includes many hints for troubleshooting the entire process.  Zoe is very generous with her trial and error mistakes and does not mind explaining what not to do and why.
  4. It's cheap.  At $2.99 it is a steal. 
I can't wait to start putting her suggestions into practice.  I just wish I'd found the book two months ago!  If you buy it, come back and tell me what you think!

So what do you think about the idea of epublishing?  Would you do it?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Have you ever made plans only to have to change them due to unforseen circumstances?  Well, for me, this past week has been one long unforseen circumstance. 

I had every intention of finishing the first round edit of my novel, Finding My Escape, but my daughter ended up being sick all week.
(Very rough draft of cover at left.)  A trip to the doctor gave the very vague answer "proably viral" which really means no-drug-exists-to-help-her-get-better-and-the-illness-will-have-to-run-its-course.  Sigh. 

Wednesday, it looked like I was going to have some time to get to editing, but my husband was hogging the laptop, (my laptop) googling a part for his Honda.  (Apparently, the tip of his exhaust fell off and he felt an urgency to order a replacement.)

And then, there's my day job.  I own a small bookkeeping business specializing in non profits.  During the day, I try to give the clients first priority (unless, of course, I have a sick child).

Even as  I write this, I realize that my excuses don't ring true.  My husband probably spent only five hours total on the laptop this past week which left me the remaining 112 (waking) hours to edit.  And while the daughter was sick, she didn't need my undivided attention, and her illness actually gave me an excuse to cancel some other commitments.

Truthfully, I spent hours on my Nook, and not reading either.  I confess, that what I spent most of my time doing was playing Sudoku.  I didn't get as much editing done last week as I would have liked not because my daughter was sick, or because my husband hogged the laptop, or even because I was busy with clients.  I got behind on my editing because I chose to play Sudoku.

In postscript, I did spend most of Sunday editing.  I got through about thirty pages.  I might have gotten caught up today... except that I had to post on my blog.

What excuses do you use for putting off getting your writing, editing, or other work done?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kindle vs. Nook

Since I began reading Joe Konrath's blog, my mind has been spinning with the idea of self-publishing via ebook.  According to the International Digital Publishing Forum, ebook sales have more than doubled in the past three quarters alone, so naturally, this option of publishing has been looking pretty interesting to a newbie like me.  Naturally, my research into e-publishing led me to info on e-readers.

Kindle, by Amazon, has long been the industry favorite, but the Nook, by Barnes and Noble was the #1 e-reader pick by Money Magazine.  I did a little research on both and ended up buying the Nook.  The Kindle was a great product, but I liked the touch screen offered by the Nook versus the keyboard on Kindle.  Also, the Nook allows me to upload anything in PDF format, which means I can have important documents handy, such as my daughter's school calendar (trust me as a mom, this was a HUGE consideration).

So, in the tradition of Edward vs. Jacob, I'd like to know what you think...  about the Kindle vs. the Nook (not Jacob and Edward).

Have a blessed day!


Monday, November 8, 2010

(Not Quite) the Beginning

I've spent years dreaming about writing my first novel.  It would be a best seller (of course) and sell a million copies.  I spent a few more years talking about writing said novel, receiving encouragement from family and friends, but still had not put pen to paper (or in the case of the laptop, fingers t keyboard).

Several months ago, I was having lunch with a former classmate (whom I'd reconnected with on Facebook) and told her about this said dream.  Not only did she offer encouragement, she went above and beyond that and offered the one thing no other friend or loved one had offered - NAGGING.

From the moment I told her I wanted to write a book, this girl literally harassed me every time she caught me posting something.  I finally got tired of making excuses, clicked off Facebook, and put fingers to keyboard.  The result is the first draft of my very first novel.

So Trena Mooneyham, this post is dedicated to YOU!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Deciding How to Publish is Making My Head Spin!

Almost from the time I started writing my book, I've been researching the publishing industry.  Aside from the fact that traditional publishing would require a lot of time and patience (something I'm short on), it appears that very, very few authors find success publishing via the traditional route.

Enter Joe Konrath, my new favorite blogger :

Reading Joe's blog has given me two things:  major insight and, more importantly hope.  If you are a fledging writer reading this blog, PLEASE head over to Joe's page ASAP (after you finish reading this post of course).  Joe has recently posted regarding his sucess in the realm of e-publishing and my hope is to follow in his footsteps.

I am also looking toward hiring an editor I discovered on his blog.  More on that later.

As I examine the plethora of e-publishing options, the one that stands out for me is Pubit, Barnes and Noble's new e-publishing company, launched earlier this month.  Because it is new, my hope is that the opportunity is ripe to get in on the ground floor as they make effort to promote their new writers.  My hope is to have my book edited and launched before Christmas.  (Of course, I'll do Kindle via Amazon, too!)

I'll keep you posted on the updates!

Fran Yoakum Veal