Sunday, November 6, 2011

No NANOWRIMO for me this year

If my lack of posting is any indication, things are moving a little behind around here. I have a lot of things monopolizing my time like work and family. Okay, so I shouldn't begrudge the time family takes and I am thankful for my job, but I'm still having "balance" issues nonetheless.

I spent the month of October working on a new manuscript. One that just seemed to jump in front of me and annoy me, so I had to write it out to settle it down!  It is a new direction for me, not YA, and I am enjoying trying something new.

So this dry run in October answered an important question for me. Should I try NANOWRIMO 2011? After getting about 19,000 words written in October and not wanting to stop and try a new MS--the answer was no. There's still a lot of "new" with this MS and if I were to participate in Nano according to the rules, I would need to start a new book.

Just not the "write" time for me this year! I am feeling a little left out when I see all the twitter and facebook posts about Nanowrimo, but maybe next year! And even thought I'm not participating, I am still writing.

Good luck to all who are attempting this marathon! Let us know in December how it turns out!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tumblr

I kept seeing people talking about Tumblr and I decided to try it out. It is like a blog, but seems to be more about pictures and images, so I don't have to think of all the words and stuff. For more frequent updates, inspiration, or just cool photos--come check it out.

Aimee's Window Tumblr

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hello!

Hello Everyone!

First, I want to say thanks.  I received some very nice messages and phone calls as I dealt with the loss of my Nana. She died peacefully in the early morning hours of June 27th with my mom and my aunt by her side. The week of her funeral turned out to be an amazing time to see family, remember her spirit, and soak up the presence of my parents and remaining grandparents. Goodbyes are never easy, but I have to think about all the amazing things her life produced. Not only was she an amazing artist, whose works fill my house now, but she was just the sweetest woman who was loved by so many. I am happy to say that I have witnessed true love: It was watching my 92 year-old Paw-paw say good-bye to my Nana. They've been married for 63 years. How amazing that I got to witness and experience that!

I'm trying to get things back on track. We have traveled around, had some fun, and spent some money, but I am sad to say my summer is already winding down. Maybe the routine will help me get back on track.

So for now, I leave you with a gratuitous puppy pic from our recent travels.  Just because!



Friday, June 24, 2011

Life on Hold

Just when I thought I might be developing a solid plan for my blog, life takes over.

My grandma (I call her Nana) has been battling Alzheimer's for years. She is so strong and creative, it has been heartbreaking to watch her decline.  But the biggest heartbreak is on it's way. She developed a "pressure ulcer" or bedsore a while back, and in one of her rare moments of communication, asked that there be no more hospitals. So they are letting it run its course and infection has set in. She took a turn for the worse last weekend, and they placed her in Hospice care on Monday. I've spent all week bracing and preparing for that dreaded call.

So instead of blogging this week (and in the weeks to come), I am spending time with my kids and husband, calling my mom, looking through old pictures, reading family cookbooks, and journeying back and forth between home and hospitals.  I am finding peace day by day as I honor this amazing woman.


That's my Nana in the pink, helping my son break into his candy stash at Easter. The beautiful woman in blue is my other grandmother, Meemaw.

I hope you will bear with me while I "unplug" for a bit. My Nana loved the internet and had she not faded so much in the last few years, I am sure she would have loved reading all these blogs and Facebook statuses. Still, I feel it only proper to honor her in these last few days by spending time with the people she loved most.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Recipe Roundup

I thought I would share one of my husband's favorite meals. This is a great potluck meal and it freezes really well.

Green Chile Casserole

1-2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can green chilies, chopped
1 small can evaporated milk
1 pound cheddar cheese
1 package flour tortillas

Tear tortillas into pieces. Brown meat and onion together. Add soups, green chilies and milk. Mix well. Layer tortillas, meat mixture, cheese two times in a 9 x13 or casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven until bubbly.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Small Town Life

I grew up in a small town and I live in a relatively small town now.  City-dwellers would definitely call my town "small", but compared to where I grew up, it is a veritable metropolis. And by that, we mean that is has a Wal-Mart and a movie theater.

So why small town life? I don't know.  It's just me. I like knowing who people are, and I like knowing who their parents were and what their family is like. I like that it only takes 15 minutes to run to the grocery store. I could keep going on, but I just sound like the "Green Acres" theme song.




In this small town life, there are a few staples or even rites of passage. We got to enjoy one of these last week as we celebrated our little town festival. And every good festival or event needs a parade. I love small town parades.  It is like the best (and sometimes worst) of a community on display.



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During that parade, I had the privilege of watching a float of veterans roll down the street just behind those flags.  I hate being mushy in public, but I had to choke back a little emotion as they made their way by. When they passed, the crowds that lined the streets took a moment to realize just who it was sitting on that float. Several of the men had to have been World War II vets based on their ages. They waved their feeble hands and tipped their Army hats at the crowd. We stood and clapped, then the cheer began to roar down the street. It moved me to see the people who lined the streets to stand and clap and cheer for these men who have made such a difference in our world. I know this moment isn't just specific to small town life, but it still makes me proud.

On another note, we are "celebrating" another rite of passage this weekend for small town life: A garage sale. I hate them, but they are kind of necessary evil in our house!

Have a great weekend!




Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Hotternhell"


This was the thermometer on our back porch on Sunday, June 12, 2011. The sun was shining on it, so that elevated the temp a little, but geez, that's hot!

That's how we say it in Texas--"It's Hotternhell"(Hotter than hell!)

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Brownie Recipe

Since I am branching out to other topics that I love, I thought I would start with one of my favorites:  Food.  I don't really consider myself a "foodie." While I do love an episode of Top Chef, I am not what you would consider much of technician in the kitchen. I am more of a negotiator.  I love comfort food, have a vicious sweet tooth, and my most used kitchen device is probably my can opener.

But cooking and baking still holds a lot of meaning for me.  There are so many of my memories that center around the taste, smell, and preparation of food. One of my most prized possessions is a binder full of recipes that my Nana typed straight out of her recipe box.  She gave all her grand-daughters copies of that binder for Christmas a few years ago. Oh, to look through those pages and picture the dishes at a family holiday or church potluck.  I love how some things are just called "Church Salad" or "Papa's Favorite Cake."

So one of my earliest memories of cooking came sneaking up on me this week.  When I was in elementary and Jr. High, I used to tag-along with my older sister when she went to these, like, Home Ec parties during the summer. I am sure this event had some specific name, but I don't remember it now.  What I do remember was that the Home Economics teacher . . . Oh, wait. When I say "Home Ec", I am referring to the cooking/sewing class that was taught in my tiny school. In the days before political correctness and Title 9 (all good things, just a different time), all the girls took Home Ec and the boys took Ag. Just the way we were raised and I don't regret it for a second.

Anyway, so the Home Ec teacher would open the huge kitchen/lab/sewing room/living room in our tiny school and they would have this Home Ec class during the summer. You could go up there and use the school's monster, heavy-duty sewing machines and learn to cook a few things. The class was really for my sister, but I loved that kind of stuff, so I went too.

One of the first things I learned to make were Brownies. (I must capitalize out of reverence.)  I somewhere still have the 3x5 index card with my elementary handwriting outlining this recipe, but I don't need it anymore since I've had it memorized for a while. (Not an amazing feat, I can also recite the prologue to Romeo and Juliet as well!)

The sweet-tooth kicked in this week, and so I baked some Brownies. Yum!

And so I share with you, My Brownie Recipe.  Much loved and widely tested. I always think about that first batch in the Home Ec room. They remind me of simpler times, my mom, my sisters, and now my kids who love them too. I hope you enjoy.


Brownies
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups flour
3-4 Tablespoons Cocoa
pinch of salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup melted oleo or butter
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Mix eggs and sugar together. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt. Then add oleo and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in pecans if needed. Bake in a greased 13 x 9 pan for 35 minutes or until barely done.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Change of Heart

Ever since I started this blog, I have struggled for things to say. I felt pressure to have a blog because I want to be a writer. The blog was also handy to repost things to get entered into contests and such. I can't even count the number of times when I open up a new post and then I just stare at the screen. I find myself wanting to talk about my kids or my dogs or my cousins who inexplicably own a airplane or my brownie recipe or about my Nana who is losing her battle with Alzheimer's or . . . Well, you can see, the list goes on and on.

Then I straighten up, put my fingers to the keyboard and think: Write! This is a dang writing blog!

And nothing . . .

So the other day, to avoid the pressure of an empty blog post, I did what any self-respecting writer would do--I snuck over to twitter. In my feed, someone had posted a link to this article by Kristen Lamb.

"Eureka!" I screamed!

In her article she says this:

"Many writers start out hot and heavy for blogging. Then, about a month in, they hate their life, their blog and want to punch a fluffy kitten in the face. Why?
They aren’t blogging to create a brand. Our name is our brand. WE are our brand. The following on our blogs should be a following for US. We don’t need a writing blog, we need an US blog. I have blogged about being addicted to Febreeze. Does that teach you guys anything about writing or social media? No, because I don’t have a writing blog. I have a Kristen Lamb’s Blog.
An US blog doesn’t mean we talk about ourselves. Since when has talking about ourselves non-stop ever been a good plan for making friends? No, rather, an US blog takes our interests and connects with others on mutual ground."

So here we go.

I am changing what I write about.

I will keep the ideas of characterization, dramatic tension, and plot points in Scrivener, where they belong. Because that's what was happening anyway. If I wanted to write about writing, I needed to just go write the dang book!

So this blog will now be about me and hopefully my readers.
Here are some of the topics to look forward to:
Brownies
Parades
The Squash Plant that "might" take over my backyard

The ideas are endless. I can't wait to see what happens next!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Readin'

I always crash into summer with some reading. As soon as that last bell rings and I put that last box of papers away, I head to my little stash of books that I have been tucking away until I have "more time." Here are some of the reads I am looking forward to or have already enjoyed in my first few days of summer. Fun reading with cute boys--my favorite!

Love Story

Going Too Far

Water for Elephants

What Happened to Goodbye

Nailed

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Profession

We have 4.5 days of school this week. Then summer! My fuse is always a little short this time of year; I am just as ready for summer as the students are. So I love a little humor to lighten the mood, especially humor that pokes fun at my profession.

Here's a trailer for "Bad Teacher." My kind of funny!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Writing Warm Up



I keep coming to my blog, opening up a new post, and then I sit here and stare at the screen. I am having blog-writers-block. Ironically, I can open Scrivener, switch to full screen mode (which blacks out everything but the "page" and off I go. I worry about it some, but I guess it's okay to have writer's block on my blog if things are working in my manuscript. (Well, sorta working . . . it is just a first draft after all!)

So my only idea for a blog post today is to tell you about Scrivener. I could go on and on, but I will just tell you my four favorite things and then send you to a link where they say it better.

1. Full-Screen Mode where all you see is the page on a black background (or any background you choose). It keeps me from surfing around on Itunes or checking my email.

2. Name Generator. Very cool feature that prevents me from getting on the internet or looking in magazines to find names. And I keep working.

3. The Cork Board. You can switch to a view where all your chapters show up looking like index cards on a cork board. Makes me feel very organized and it looks much, much better than the pile of sticky notes, papers, napkins, receipts, and crayons that are actually sitting next to me.

4. FREE Trial. That's how I ended up buying it. I tried it free and I loved it. They also offer a discount for teachers, makes me feel the love!

So go to Scrivener get your free trial copy and generate names. You won't regret it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's about the love.

I was five years old when Prince Charles married Diana. I don't think I watched when I was five, but well, I was five so I don't exactly remember. I do know that I have been fascinated and nostalgic as the 2011 Royal Wedding approached. I am not a die-hard fan who stayed up/got up in the wee hours to watch the nuptials, but I did record it. Yesterday as I watched and joined in on the spirit of the celebration, I kept thinking about why I enjoy moments like these so much.

1. It's all about the fairy tale. I love the idea of a story that makes little girls dream and dress up and wish for princes. They are out there.

2. It's all about the dresses (and hats). I shopped for wedding dresses for YEARS before I finally got to buy one of my own. There is nothing more beautiful than a bride (in any color) in a fancy dress and veil. An unexpected side-effect of this wedding was the sheer fascination with the hats. I know there is lots of criticism and mockery going on about the hats, but I found them intriguing. How do they keep some of them on their heads?

3. It's all about happiness. I know not all weddings have a happy ending, not even royal ones, but they seem so happy today and so many people seem so happy to share in this moment. There is so much in our world that is scary and dangerous and depressing, I love a moment of happiness.



4. It's all about London. So I have been to London once. I went to Westminster Abbey once. I actually walked up and down Whitehall like four times. But in comparison to most of the people around me, I feel I am practically an expert on London. I felt the need to tour-guide a lot of folks through the locations of the royal wedding. And it makes me want to go back.

5. It's all about love. And I love love. I love stories where two people fall in love, so much so, that I write them, I watch them, I tell them, and I encourage them. When we get a chance to share in the story of someone else's love, we fall in love a little more ourselves.

Monday, April 18, 2011

True Life

True Story:

My daughter has run away twice in the past two weeks.

Now "running away" might be a bit of a hyperbole, but I can't keep the dang girl in the yard. She's five and she thinks she's independent--it's a constant, epic battle of the wills around here. She met a little girl down the street and will pretty much do ANYTHING to try and go down to her house. This wouldn't be so bad, but she's got this damn scooter . . . and well, I swear she like flies when she gets on it.

Tonight, my son was going to walk his friend halfway home--it's like a block and he's almost nine. I think this is a reasonable thing for an almost-nine-year-old to get to do. He and his friend leave out the front door, and moments later, I hear that ominous click that the garage door makes. I head out the front door and spot a little pink shirt flying down the street, AND THEN SHE CROSSES THE STREET!!

At this point, I am mad and scared and a little more mad. I can see her, I know she is ok, but she is all the way down the dang street. So I jump in the car (there is no way I could have caught her without vehicular assistance) and drive down the street to get her. I roll down my window, yell her name in my meanest mommy voice, and get out to load her and her scooter into my car. There was a very docile-looking refugee family standing by their vehicle watching as all this is taking place. I'm sure they thought I was kidnapping her, but they did not call the police.



I drove her home while she cried in the backseat. I have hidden her scooter and she is grounded from dessert. (You have to take away what they love.) We are all safe and sound.

And I know this will not be the last of my battles with her. She is strong-willed, creative, unique, and passionate. She's better than any character I could ever create.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Back in action!

April seems to be the month when I catch the writing bug. In April 2008, I was on the fourth straight day of standardized testing, my best friend was sequestered at home while she endured chemo, and I couldn't grade papers due to testing rules. Locked in my classroom with kids I didn't know, I started my first book. I watched those teenagers and realized how much I liked telling their stories. I started to make up scenarios about the very students sitting in my room. It wasn't hard. I didn't know too much about them, so my ideas weren't terribly tainted with reality. It was all fiction in my head, and I loved it.

I came home from school that day and started scribbling the ideas on a legal pad. I think I wrote about 5,000 words those first couple of days. The story just came pouring out. My first two "real" characters, Anna and Daniel were born. Not nearly as messy as real babies. And I was hooked.

But eventually the ideas slow down. Eventually my family demands to be fed. All productivity slows or even stops.

Those characters are never far away. They talk to me in the shower. They show up in my dreams. I hear kids at the mall make comments, and I think "Anna would say that."

Last week I got to attend a conference in San Antonio and hear Will Hobbs speak. His stories are fun and adventuresome, very different from my teenage love drama, but he said a few things that really stuck with me.

One: He started writing and eight short years later, he was published. It's great to hear a real publishing story. Not the I-wrote-a-book-in-my-sleep-and-publishers-threw-money-at-me story.

Two: One of his characters is based on a former student, he even named her. I will keep making up stories for those kids I see in my room every day. I love them too much not to!

So, off I go. The ideas are here and I must be a good hostess.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Birthday Wishes

My facebook wall in ON FIRE with birthday wishes which just reminds me that I am one year older and still "under-published." I have been writing for about two and a half years, which I know is a mere minute in the publishing world, but I would sure like to speed things up a bit. Each passing year moves me a little farther away from my teenage sensibilities and angst and moves me one year closer to having more to do. What if I run out of time to write? What if this dang book never comes together? What if I do get published and a bunch of teenagers keep wondering who the old lady is who is signing books? I know, I know, I'm getting ahead of myself, but it just a reflective day. So for my birthday, I wish for these things for my writing life:

I wish to always love writing.
I wish to always love young adult books.
I wish to find time to write AND be a good mom.
I wish to write something that gets noticed.
I wish to create characters who mean as much to me as the teens I am writing for.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

233 in the Library

I've been neglecting my blog. Sorry. The winter months are always hard for me. It is bitterly cold here in Texas, I am stuck in my house, my kids are stuck in the house, I am tired of wearing frumpy layers, yada, yada, yada . . .

So, I'm trying to snap out of my funk, and here goes.

I thought I would write about our recent trip to the school library. I try to take my classes every couple of weeks, but we hadn't been there in several weeks because of the Christmas break. I am happy to say that there were lots of books checked out that day.

Here are some of the more popular titles that students were asking about:

1. Hunger Games
2. Catching Fire
3. Mockingjay
4. Crank
5. Burned
6. A Child Called It
7. Dear John
8. Looking for Alaska

There were many other books that they talked about that day, but this is what I remember for now. I will get more info tomorrow to share. Happy reading.

I also opened a GoodReads account. Feel free to peruse my shelves!