Category Archives: Diane’s Life

Lost Kindle Content? Not Really …

A large percentage of you (us … whoever) own Kindles of one sort or another. Over the years, I’ve helped readers with some technical issues as they’ve come up, and it hit me today that you might not be making use of the powerful database that is your personal Kindle library.

Every Kindle book you’ve ever purchased from Amazon is yours forever and resides in the cloud on the Amazon servers. Even if you can’t find the content on the Kindle you hold in your hand, you still have access to it – you just have to find it and download it again.

If you’ve been on the fence about upgrading your device and choose not to because you think you’ll lose everything – have no fear. Amazon has your back.

A couple of months ago, my Kindle was inundated with books that I was no longer interested in reading. Buried deep in the bowels of my Kindle list, behind all of those duds, were books that I had completely forgotten I owned. I wiped my Kindle clean – erased everything from it and started out just like it was a brand-spanking new device. Ahhh … perfection.

How did I get to the books I wanted to read? There are several different ways … read on, MacDuff.

Of course, there is a search function on the Kindle – just be sure you are searching the cloud – not your local device (unless you know for certain the book is already downloaded). Using that, you can download a book / any book you’ve ever purchased. You won’t be charged for it again.

Or … you can do the work from your computer. I grabbed a couple of screenshots along the way.

And no, you can’t go to the book page on Amazon and download from there – silly of them, I know.

1. You must go to your Account page and then find “My Content and Devices.”

Here is where you will find every electronic device attached to your Amazon account.

But more importantly for this situation, you will also find all of the content you’ve purchased (even if it was free).

 

2. Here’s what that page will look like when you arrive (only with your content – not mine):

Do a quick search (over there on the right side of the page) for the book you want to send to your Kindle again. The book will present itself to you (how cool is this?)

Then, click on those three little dots (ellipsis) beside your book.

3. A popup – much like this one will happen, giving you many options.

If you want to deliver it to your Kindle or any of the other devices on your account, you can do it right there.

Et voila – finis!

~~~

A couple of notes about books delivered to your Kindle.

  1. If you delete a book and re-download it, I’m almost positive that if the author has sent up freshly edited content, you will receive the newest edition. I haven’t verified it, but seriously, why would Amazon maintain multiple edited copies of a book?
  2. In the past, many of you have informed me that there is something dreadfully wrong with the book on your Kindle – missing pages, chapters half gone, etc., etc. No, that’s not actually something that I did – the file was corrupted somewhere between your Kindle and Amazon. Simply delete the file from your Kindle and re-download it. All will be well.

~~~

And now … back to Book 19. Many, many words to write before I sleep.

Late Night Crazy Brain

It’s that time again.

I’m two weeks out from the next newsletter. When that hit me today, I’m pretty sure all of the air inside me left in one fell swoop. Whoosh.

Over these next two weeks, I will finish Book 19 and get through the first round of re-writes and edits. I will come up with a cover and a title and write at least one vignette. I will do my best to stay connected online. (There will be much fun in the newsletter, make sure you’ve signed up! Click here to get ‘er done – then come back and finish reading.)

I will also snuggle three cats as much as possible and try to sleep whenever they allow. They’re not terribly agreeable with my morning sleep time. No, it’s not because they want food or water or clean litter. I make sure to have that all in place before I drop into bed at whatever weird hour I finally land there. No … it’s attention they want.

TB is a brat. There are two things that he knows drive me crazy when I’m attempting sleep – scratching on the window beside me and meowing at me. I can’t sleep through those noises and he knows it. The horrible, rotten cat that I adore will sit on the ledge of the cat tree, scratch at the window and meow, then stop and look at me to see if I’m paying attention. If I don’t respond appropriately, he does it again. And then again. And then again. Until I’m about to crawl out of my skin.

You see, I try to avoid responding to it because the last thing I want is for him to believe that his bad behavior will get the response he’s looking for, but good heavens, I can’t help myself. I just want to sleep. He also picks at Earl, knowing that will elicit a reaction.

Then, both Earl and Grey, knowing that I’m fully awake, land on top of me looking for attention and affection.

I know, I know … it’s a terrible life, but guys, I need sleep! Yep … I’m a whiner. My creativity is gone when I’m exhausted. Fortunately, a nap always helps. Even if it’s a twenty minute chair nap with a cat on the desk in front of me and my face buried in their haunches. At least they’re good for that. (I do adore my kitties – don’t believe my sarcastic comments for a minute.)

So what I need from y’all are kitty and puppy pictures, Star Wars memes, funny stories, heartwarming tales and reminders that there is a real world beyond my imagination. I’d ask you to send M&Ms, but I’m afraid you would and I’m just kidding. (No I’m not / yes I am / no I’m not / of course I am). Okay, I have the M&Ms covered. It’s okay. Well, they’re not M&Ms, but close enough. Are you confused yet? Maybe coffee instead (good heavens, will the crazy Diane shut up so we can finish this post? You have plenty of coffee in the house).

There, I dealt with the crazy person who lives up there in my brain. Do you realize that sometimes she talks to me in a weird French accent? It’s like Pepe le Pew has taken over my internal dialogue (not a monologue, there are too many words for that). It’s really kind of strange. And then there are the times when instead, it’s a cowboy drawl. Not just Texas or North Carolina or even Oklahoma. Really bad – movie-bad – cowboy drawl. It’s been known to show up as a Scottish accent, or even Cockney. Which is ridiculous because I can’t mimic an accent out loud to save my life. I’m awful at that.

And … there you have the insanity that happens to me when my really awesome nap ended at 8:45 pm and I’ve written four thousand words and my brain is still wired.

Tomorrow morning is going to be here soon and three cats will vie for my attention. The funny thing is – when I finally crawl out of bed, they’re satisfied and go off to hide for their own naps. It’s just not fair.

Okay, I have to give you a link to a hilarious video on 9 Weird Habits of Writers. I won’t put it on my Facebook page because she’s pretty raucous and there’s some blue language, but this is nearly spot on. I sent it to my sister last week and she laughed and laughed. Just about the time I thought I was unique, this video explains my life exactly (well, except for the taking my laptop with me everywhere – I don’t do that). But be forewarned – if you are offended by this young woman’s language – I warned you. From here on out, it’s your responsibility. (Link HERE – and it’s about an 8 minute video.)

Good night!

A Teacher and Her Kids – Thank Yous from the heart

Seriously – May this card be with you? These kids are awesome!

My sister, Carol, teaches fifth grade. Her kids are never easy – a mix of cultures, education levels, a range of disabilities and behavioral issues, few parents are involved – education these days is a mess. We hear it all the time, but I don’t know that any of us can fully understand what we ask teachers to do if we aren’t in the classroom. And the thing of it is? Few of us have the courage to walk into a classroom and offer to help.

I’m so proud of Carol and the huge amount of herself she pours into those kids. They struggle, she encourages. They fight her off, she keeps loving them. They pout, sulk, scream, rant, rave – she stays steadfast. They steal from her and lie to her and Carol returns every day to remind them that they get to choose between living a life of integrity and one of shame.

The kids know that when she sits them down for another “Ms. Greenwood lecture,” that she is teaching them how to live in the big world out there. They might moan and groan, but even when she isn’t teaching them ‘reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic,’ they’re receiving important lessons from her.

I can’t be in the classroom with her, but I get to be the ‘fun’ part of her kids’ year. I sew up little pouches at the beginning of the year, then Carol and I fill them with pencils and things that the kids can use and have fun with. For Pi Day (March 14), I delivered a case of moon pies to Carol. On Star Wars Day (May 4 – May the 4th be with you), I delivered Star Wars bookmarks. If something special comes to the school that requires funds for the kids to purchase something, Carol and I make those funds available.

This year, we read about a kindness board that used post-it notes. I sent a huge stack of colorful post-its. The kids write kind things on those notes and hang them on the board. They get to see kindness every day.

One thing Carol does on a regular basis is ask her kids to write thank you cards. See … bigger learning than just the basics.

She handed a stack of them to me yesterday. I can tell that she talks about me in the classroom. They know I’m an author. They know I love cats and Star Wars. Those awesome kids integrated what they knew of me and what Carol reminded them I’d given to the classroom over the year into each note.

Yeah. I cried.

Now, while you all are going to try to tell me how great it is that I do this for her classroom, that’s not the point of this story.

You all know teachers. Don’t ask them what they need help with. Nobody ever responds to that.

Offer to do the crazy things – like moon pies and bookmarks, opening day gifts to help the kids get started with a bang. Buy a package of fun-colored paper for the teacher to use. Heck, buy the teacher a gross of pencils and an electric pencil sharpener. Give the teacher an Amazon gift card to buy extra supplies for kids who don’t have everything they need. Sew, knit or crochet gift bags or silly stuffed animals. Buy supplies for a creative bulletin board. There are so many things you can do.

But I promise that though teachers desperately need so much help and so many things, they’ve learned to do a great job with those kids – without those things. You have to find creative ways to offer to help them.

I need to get sewing on this year’s first-day bags. These little thank you notes spur me into wanting to do more and more for Carol’s classroom. As long as she is teaching, I get to be part of these kids’ life and I love it.

Support your teacher friends. If you don’t have a close friend who teaches, make one. Be creative. They need you. Kids need you. We’re all in this together.

Mid-Month Catch-Up

Where in the world is Polly?

In the June newsletter, I announced a contest – Where in the World is Polly? I’m not ready for you to do anything yet, but you should be taking pictures this month of a Bellingwood cover in the world.

Pull a cover up on your e-reader or use a paperback. It can be any of the Bellingwood books. Hold it up at the beach or a concert, your back yard, a garden, in your favorite chair, from a mountain top, at a restaurant, with your best buddies. All I want is to see Bellingwood in your world.

Be sure it’s the COVER of a Bellingwood book, not content or text.

Hold on to that picture, because in the July newsletter, I will set everything in motion for the contest.

~~~

Reviews.

Oh, how I hate asking you to write reviews for me, but they help so much, both in increasing the rank so others are made aware of Bellingwood and when I attempt to do advertising outside of Amazon. Everybody wants to know how many reviews you have.

Anyway, I need you and I’m not very good at asking for help. You don’t have to write a lot of words, but you certainly can.

If you’ve written a review that you want me to see, please copy it and post it as a reply or send it directly to me in an email. I’m very careful of reading reviews on Amazon because the bad ones literally spiral me down into a blithering puddle and I spend the next two days questioning why I even bother to write. Now I get myself out of that faster than when I first started writing, but it is still painful to read such terrible things about my heart’s passion. No matter how I try to avoid reading the bad reviews (because I know they’re not good for me), it’s like watching a train wreck – I can’t look away.

I appreciate you so much and that you take the time to read my books and hang out with me, means the world!

Here’s the link to Book 18 – Just Around the Bend. If you’ve read the Prequel, I’m desperate for reviews on that as well, so click on this link to write a quick one.

Thank you!

~~~

Newsletter and Facebook

If you haven’t signed up for the newsletter, you want to do that today. I’ve got a LIST of things to tell you in the next one. Click here to stay in touch with what’s going on.

Newsletters go out once a month on the twenty-fifth. Every quarter, I announce the new book, but there is so much more – contests, a fifteen-hundred-word vignette, cover reveals, more short story announcements (oh, I have a new one coming in July – you’re gonna love it), and other fun things.

If you haven’t joined the Facebook Bellingwood page, you should. It truly is becoming a bit of Bellingwood online. Wonderful people from all over the world hang out and it is so much fun watching you all start to interact with each other. You’re amazing! If I have fewer words than a blog post – that’s where I put them. I also have a terrible tendency to tease the story while I’m writing the next book.

~~~

Earl adores TB, who barely tolerates all of the attention Earl wants to shower him with. So when I see TB allowing Earl to rest his big ole head on the belly, I smile.

Finally …

Book 19 is being written. My crazy brain is telling me about stories that aren’t even supposed to be in this book, too! I’m building up a list of characters who are planning to show up in Bellingwood in the next few books. Do you have any idea how worn out my brain is from pushing them back until it’s the right time? Imagine having all of these people talking to you whenever you slow down enough to listen.

By the way, if you DO have that many people talking to you, you might want to consider writing stories. Evidently, there are characters desperate to have their tales told to the world and you’re the only person who can do it. No … I’m not kidding.

That’s enough for today. I love you all and am so grateful for you being part of what I’m doing here.

Which One Are You?

Mom, won’t you PLEASE pay attention to me?

I regularly get questions about which of the characters has my personality or characteristics. It finally hit me that I gave each of the five women who comprise my main characters – Polly, Lydia, Beryl, Andy, and Sylvie something of myself. Now while I’ve given them each little pieces of me, they’ve filled out their own personalities. I think these women are familiar because they are so like all of us. You aren’t just a bunch of Lydias or Beryls, but you all recognize something of yourselves in each of them.

Sylvie got some of my fears and regrets – as well as the tenacity to push through them. The other night I was binge-watching NCIS and Ducky said “If you are in hell, keep going.” That made so much sense to me. We all do that. It’s why we’re still here, though I can’t describe much of my life as hell.

But Sylvie represents the part of me that was certain I had my life-plan in place at the age of twenty-one. I had a degree in music education and intended to teach or move right on to get my Master’s degree in Christian Education and Music. I’d spend my life working on staff in churches. Sylvie had a life-plan. She was going to be a nurse. Children and an abusive husband changed her plan.

I didn’t have those, but life changed my plan and I spent the next twenty years running a quick printing shop. Like Sylvie, it was surprising when things changed and I realized that something better was in front of me. I’d spent fifty years volunteering and working in churches – in multitudes of positions both musical and non-musical – too numerous to list here. Things change. Sylvie changed and moved forward. So did I. That’s where the two of our personalities converge.

Andy Saner-Specek. Andy is the part of me that is the introvert (it grows greater as I age, that’s for sure). She is content to be in supportive roles. She is highly organized and makes sure that the people around her are safe and have tools they need in order to live out their dreams. She has plenty to say, but doesn’t need to speak up all the time. Sometimes it’s awesome to just sit back and enjoy the chaos around you.

Beryl Watson. I think all of us would like to think we are Beryl. She’s wacky and wildly creative. On the outside, it looks as if she doesn’t care what others think of her. Beryl is a side of me people will rarely see. If I could have gotten away with wearing the wild clothing she wears, I would have, but it was never appropriate for the jobs I held or the life I lived. I tend to be outspoken at times, but usually get myself in trouble, so I’m more circumspect. But trust me, those words are in my head and it’s all I can do to keep them quiet. The thing with Beryl is that she cares very much what people think of her, so she is quite calculating in how she presents herself to the world. If they’re going to talk about her, she’s going to be in charge of what they say. She’ll own it – before anyone gets a chance to comment. Those who have rejected Beryl in the past hurt her badly and she will never let that happen again if she can help it.

I’m that person. I’m hyper-aware of people’s responses to me and to others. Sometimes I read more into a response than is actually there, but if there is going to be any discussion about me, I want to be the one who has created the conversation.

Lydia Merritt. The part of Lydia that I gave her is her awareness of others. I’m not as hospitable as Lydia is, nor will I drop in on people to take care of them, but I do my best to pay attention to those I encounter – whether online or in person. If there’s a need I can meet without them asking for help, I will do everything I can. Lydia makes me want to be better at that behavior. There are so many other aspects of Lydia that I wish I could apply to myself. Her unfettered generosity is something that I love about her and will always strive to emulate. Oh … and she drives my Jeep.

Polly Giller. I’ve written before that in many ways, Polly is representative of my mother. The one aspect of myself I gave to Polly is her tenacity and willingness to do whatever it takes to get things done. This was a value instilled into us by Dad from a very early age. No matter what, tasks will be completed. If you start something, you stick to it until you are finished. You don’t quit. When you’re ready to be done with something, you make a plan to walk away from it … you don’t just drop out.

Now the things that drive you crazy about Polly are also from my personality. When she whines because it gets to be too much or she gets too nosy or she wants to tell people what to do – well, that’s me. You’ll often notice that she deals with a lot of these things in her head. It’s better that way and while she might seem annoying, it’s her way (my way) of working out the nastiness inside before letting it loose on the world. Who cares if she’s whiny inside her head? She has to work through it.

Also, the story she told about not wearing underwear to school one day in Kindergarten was mine. I was that rebellious little girl who thought she knew better than Mom. I got two blocks from home and ran back crying because I realized how wrong it was. There are a lot of Polly’s embarrassing stories that come from my background.

~~~

Before I close, I need to tell you what happened to me today. I just love people.

I had errands to run and figured I’d head for Ames to do a couple of them and maybe pick something fun up for lunch. Living in the country doesn’t offer many opportunities for fast-food. My Jeep has been absolutely filthy and I hadn’t had time to wash it yet, so I ran through a car wash in Boone and headed east to Ames.

When I brought my car up to speed, it started to shake. Damn it. I pulled up the tire pressure numbers and they were just fine, so I didn’t have a flat. I tried to talk myself into believing that the roads were just that bad. But when I crossed the bridge and took the entrance ramp onto Highway-30, I knew it was me, so I pulled over and called my garage. I love these guys. I trust them completely.

His first thought was that maybe with the heat, one of the tires had a bubble or maybe a belt on the tire had slipped. I was now about 40 miles from the garage in Webster City (Gerber Auto, if you want to know) and I asked if he thought I could make it. Sure, he said, just don’t go very fast. I also knew that if I didn’t make it, they’d come get me. Like I said, I love these guys.

I made it there with no problem. When I got to the counter, Josh smiled at me and told me they’d take care of me – not to worry. Then … the owner came out and took my keys. He wanted to drive it to see what the problem was. For some crazy reason, I told them that I’d just come out of a car wash before it started. The next question was – you drive a lot on gravel, don’t you? Of course I do.

The owner took the car out, then brought it back and drove into a bay. They knocked out about two pounds of mud that had gotten caught up in behind brake calipers. He drove it again and returned to tell me it was driving smooooooth now. When I tried to pay, Josh glared at me and said, “You’re welcome.”

Of course! Thank you!

I went back out to my Jeep, drove away and just wept. THIS is Iowa-nice. For a girl who knows nothing about cars, I am grateful for a garage who treats me with respect and the guys who take every opportunity to teach me something new so I don’t have to rely on them. I know how to wash the undercarriage of my Jeep now. But they also told me it would happen again and they’d take care of me the next time.

If you ever wonder why I write stories of good people in Bellingwood, it’s because they are so real in the every day parts of my life.

And … I stopped at Dairy Queen for a pork tenderloin. Oh yeah – that’s another thing Polly got from me.

Day Off!

Book 18 – Just Around the Bend flittered across the digital universe to editors / proofreaders last night.

Ahhhhh …

For the first time in two weeks, I slept more than a few short hours last night – like nine and a half hours. I felt like a normal human being today. It didn’t help that a headline I whipped past in the last few days informed me that sleep deprivation causes the brain to eat itself. Great. People, we need to get more sleep on a regular basis.

I know that I’m about half as creative when I don’t get enough sleep, so I cheat and take a nap before I start writing at night, but that doesn’t give me enough energy to do other things during the day.

My sewing machine was put back to work today – that felt awesome. I have a few projects that I want to finish this weekend before I go back to work at my computer. So many things. So much excitement to come.

I turned my iron on and Grey jumped up to see what I was working on. As the iron heated up, she started doing her blinky-eyed thing. You know, that blink that tells you how much cats hate what you’ve got going on?

I’ll bet you think this is cute. No. This is Earl baring his throat to TB, who is mad at him and more than ready to sink his teeth into it. Silly boys. At least TB doesn’t attempt to break skin. He just wants Earl to stop pestering him.

Grey doesn’t like the lotion I put on after a shower. She doesn’t like the cleaning wipes I use beside the stove. She doesn’t like onions or garlic. And she doesn’t like the heat from my iron. Oh yeah. She also doesn’t much care for the Godiva Chocolate Liqueur that I’m enjoying on my first night off in months. Blinky-eye, blinky-eye.

It’s pretty cute.

I’m relaxed, no longer sleep-deprived, the weather outside is gorgeous, I have a few minutes to do something other than focus on Bellingwood … this weekend is nearly perfect.

Before I have time to miss my friends there, I’ll be back at it.  Notes for Book 19 are already being gathered.

Boxed Set 2~~~  FREE BOOK

The second boxed set is free until May 31. (Click here) If you’ve been waiting to move forward with the community, now’s the time.

If you have friends you’d like to invite to join you, they can get the first boxed set (Click here) for $6.99 and the next for free. That’s a lot of reading.

~~~  BOOK 18 – JUNE 25

Release day for Book 18 is June 25th. Not too much longer.

~~~  WINE PARTY – JUNE 16

Wine & Trivia night is Friday, June 16th. You don’t want to miss it. So much fun and lots of prizes. Be sure you’re part of the fun on the Bellingwood Facebook page.

I Love Language … and Words

Yeah, yeah, yeah …

I’m supposed to be working, but a new book just showed up on my front door step and I can barely contain myself.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love words? Oh my goodness, but they make me happy. (okay, whoops, I was totally gone there for about thirty seconds while my mind wandered off to chase down some of my favorite words. Anyway …)

David Crystal’s book, “Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar” is sitting in front of me and I’m typing this before I’ve even finished the preface … because, well … words!

I have to share this with you because it made my heart skip a beat.

grammar
from Old French gramaire,
which was an adaptation of Latin grammatica
which in turn came from Greek grammatiki
meaning ‘pertaining to letters or literature’
which later narrowed to mean just the language of texts
which in the Middle Ages meant chiefly Latin
and so took on the meaning of ‘special learning, knowledge’
and then ‘secret knowledge’ as in magic and astrology
which is how it was first used in Scotland in the 18th century
when the word was pronounced with an l instead of an r
and the meaning developed of ‘enchantment, spell’
and later became the word we know today, meaning
‘charm, attractiveness, physical allure’
spelled
glamour (British English)
glamor (American English)

(Crystal, 2017)

Process on that little passage, then re-read the title and subtitle.

Think about how that single word transformed throughout the centuries and what a gift it is. These are the things that thrill my mind and send me wandering off the normal path of life so I can explore deep and creative thoughts.

My goodness, I love words.

Words Matter

After five distinct pieces of information came at me today regarding the importance of words we use, it suddenly occurred to me that the message was bigger than just taking it in and moving on. My mind began spinning through memories, thoughts, impressions … and well … words.

The first was a post about a young woman and her daughter. She realized that the way her little girl responds to the world comes from her reactions. So when she stands in front of a mirror with a swimsuit on, rather than talking about how fat she is or focusing on her flaws, she spoke of how beautiful the color of the suit was.  Because what that child hears is what she will believe is important.

How many times have you talked about how fat you were in front of your children? Oh, for heaven’s sake! When I think about my childhood, my mother was up and down with her weight and it was always part of the conversation. We walked through stores and she’d point at overweight women and ask us whether they were fatter than she was. Good thing Mom raised smart children … we knew the proper response. But that’s how she saw herself … not the beautiful woman that she was. And that’s what she taught us to see in ourselves. What was truly important was shifted away in the wake of manufactured imagery.

Words matter.

Then I watched an adorable video (link here) of a girl who came out into the garage with makeup on. Her father asks “What do you have on your face?” and without hesitation, the little girl said, “Beauty.”

Amen, child.

Words matter.

In Michigan, a Muslim couple invites groups of people they’ve never met before into their home for a meal and open themselves up for questions – nothing is off limits. Before the evening has ended, their hospitality and the ensuing discussions taught a very diverse group of people that they have more in common than anyone realized. The conversation changed them all (link to article here).

Words matter.

One of Max’s favorite actors is Charlie Chaplin. The final speech from The Great Dictator (1940) is powerful, but I don’t know if I ever really paid attention to the words. This video of it being spoken by people around the world … different accents, different races, different genders, different languages … it ripped my heart to pieces. It’s a four-minute video, but I finally heard what he said. If you’d like to read the speech (and you really should), here’s the link.

Words matter.

Finally, one of my contemporary heroes when it comes to words is Seth Godin. He writes daily updates and they are often very powerful. Today’s post from him finally caught me and I realized how many different ways I’d been inundated with the importance of words in just a few minutes. Here’s the link to the post, but I’m going to quote the entire short message here … it’s just that important to me.

“Just words

How about, just bullets, just diseases, just starvation?

The whole “sticks and stones” canard is really dangerous. When a stone gives you a bruise, it’s entirely possible you will completely heal. But when a torrent of words undermine your view of what’s possible, you might never recover.

Words matter. They can open doors, light a way and make a difference.”
– Seth Godin

Do you remember that song you learned in Sunday School – O Be Careful, Little Eyes? (tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands)

One verse came flying into my mind as I typed today:
Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say, 
Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say, 
For the Father up above, Is looking down in love,
So be careful little mouth what you say.

Words Matter.

~~~

TB & Earl … keeping me company in the midst of my writing frenzies.

Book 18 is nearly finished. I wrote nearly seven thousand words last night in order to catch up to my self-imposed deadline – first draft will be finished tonight. This next week will be long hours of ripping it apart to deal with all of the holes and errors I created along the way. But it will be put back together and come out a much better story.

As much as I love the writing part, this is when it starts getting fun for me. Because I love creating order from chaos (my entire life is chaos), there’s nothing more wonderful than seeing all of the broken pieces line up to create the story that I’d intended.

This afternoon I MUST start working on the title and book cover. There’s a newsletter coming out on Thursday and I can’t wait to share what’s been going on. Be sure you’ve signed up so you miss nothing!

Crazy Days

I like to think that Earl loves me best, but the truth is – he’ll do anything for TB’s attention. How cute are they?

I love my life. I love it so much. I’m a lucky girl.

But wow, this crazy schedule that I’ve set for myself wears me completely out a few weeks every quarter. I’m in the middle of a big push to finish Book 18, get the title and cover worked out and the book off to initial proofreaders and editors. All of that, plus a vignette and the newsletter by May 25th. Yep … Hauling some serious tushie around here.

Because there have been several other projects that dropped into the mix since January 1st, the only way for me to achieve all of my goals (and seriously, I keep adding to the list), I’ve really had to step up my word count for each day. Last year, I liked to kick into gear within a week after publishing a book, giving me plenty of leeway for the next book. If I only wrote fifteen hundred to two thousand words in a day, that was still fine, though I usually pushed to about three thousand words at the end of the writing cycle.

Lately I’ve been regularly writing around four thousand words per day to get this book out on time. The Abiding Grace story took time to write and a *secret* project (yeah, I hate that too, but you’ll know within a couple of months, I promise) took up writing time.

Then it hit me. Book 18 needed to move through my fingers right now! This is the best part about Bellingwood. I truly live there in my head. Yeah, yeah, yeah … it’s not that weird.

Okay, maybe it is. All I had to do was tell the characters that we were on location again and they stepped up. Strangers drop in, everyone starts telling me their secrets, their dreams and hopes, children dig out their best behavior. It’s pretty cool.

Tomorrow night (Thursday), I’ll hit the three-quarter mark of my targeted word count goal. The stories are starting to come together and find their end. It’s fun to see things slow down. This is going to be a strange summer in Polly’s life. Lots of changes are ahead for her family. But first we need to get her through some endings. Nothing tragic – it’s all very exciting. But you know how moms can be.

I plan to finish the very rough first draft Sunday night then spend an intense number of hours re-writing, fixing, adjust, destroying, reconstructing and putting the manuscript into good order. When Memorial Day weekend gets here, there might have to be a few glasses of wine that find their way to my lips.

I’m so glad that you are part of this life with me. Thanks for hanging out.

Welcome, Morning!

Grey on the left and Earl.

We’re all friends here, right?

I had all sorts of good intentions yesterday. There is so much to do before the newsletter comes out on Tuesday morning (have you signed up for it yet?). I wanted to hang out with people on the FB page and talk about their cute fur-beasts. I even had a wonderful supper in the plans.

But instead, I dealt with the worst bout of food poisoning I’ve had in twenty-five years. Oh good heavens! Things were happening here that have no place on the planet we lovingly call home. From Stygian depths came explosions of horrors.

I can laugh about it this morning. Though I’m not quite one hundred percent, I’m so much better.

My poor cats didn’t quite know what to do. TB ended up hiding. He tried to hang with me and be supportive, but terrible noises and foul emanations scared him away. Earl was just plain shocked. Fortunately, Grey stuck close as I moved from the bed to the bathroom.

Let’s not repeat any of that … ever again.

The last time something this awful happened was at least twenty-five years ago. Carol and I both got it and chased each other in and out of our adjoining bathroom.

The time before that had been 1984. The reason I remember the year was because Mom, Carol and I were in Minneapolis to begin training for our brand-new franchise print shop. On the trip up, that fateful Sunday evening, Mom and I ate some bad potato salad at a buffet and the two of us moaned, cried and delivered ugliness all night long. Before training even began, we had to postpone a day because we couldn’t remain upright for longer than it took to get into the bathroom.

About one thirty this morning, the worst of it was finally over, though I ached. Carol had made me promise to call her if I needed her, no matter the hour. I just sent a message that I lived.

Little by little, I returned the house to some sort of normal – putting things back that had been strewn around in my thunky travails. The poor cats needed food and water, so I took care of them. However, though I lamented the fact that I was going to be sorry, I didn’t get my cold-brew coffee made. We’re going to hope that it hurries this morning.

I’m pretty sure I know what caused it, but trust me when I tell you that everything in that refrigerator is suspect. I have an iron stomach and food never takes me out that badly.

We all have stories about these awful moments in our lives. I hope you’re able to laugh about yours. What’s the worst case of food poisoning you’ve ever experienced?

Mom and I were terribly embarrassed to tell the people at our printshop corporate offices that we couldn’t come in that first day of training. Did food poisoning ever embarrass you?

Come on … we’re all friends here, right?