November 23 2017

Book Review: Life-Changing Miracles

I was very excited to be able to read and review this book. The cover and title grabbed me from the start. I am always a sucker for hearing stories of how God works in other people’s lives.

I didn’t mean to start reading it yet. But somehow I just couldn’t stop myself. Just one story, to see what it’s like. So I opened the book telling myself I wasn’t going to read the stories yet, just the front matter and maybe the introduction. Then as I finished reading the introduction, my eyes quickly glanced at the right-hand page and spotted the title of the first story, Truck Driver Betty by Patti Ann Thompson.

You don’t have time to start reading now, there are other things you need to be doing now I told myself in the stern voice often used to get children to do as they are told without argument. I know that voice, but it doesn’t affect me, it is, after all, my voice. So I flipped through to see how long the first story was because I really wanted to read about the truck driver named Betty. Only 6 pages and the first and last weren’t quite full pages, more like two-thirds pages, it would be a fast read. Just to see what it is like, the cover is so inviting, and it does promise Life-Changing right there in the title. One story wouldn’t hurt.

So I quickly lost myself in the story about the truck driver named Betty. When it ended I realized my eyes we full of unshed tears. It was beautiful. As much as I wanted to read more, I knew I would put it away and get back to the other tasks awaiting my attention all while saying a quick prayer of thanks for that first story being such a good one. I just know that book will get read almost without me knowing I’m reading over the next few days. I appreciate the fact that the stories are short and easy to read in small bites of time. Sometimes small bites are all we can grab to read in, so this book is already a winner to me.

A few hours later, I realized I had accidentally picked up the book and read five more stories. They were all good, but none affected me quite like the first one. There are only 37 stories in the book and somehow on the very day, the book landed in my mailbox I had read 46 of the 235 pages in the book. Now I am wondering if maybe I need to ration the stories to make them last longer because you only get one chance for a first read. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

I hid the book away as I got ready to go on a trip with my husband wanting to save these stories to read on the plane or in the airport. I read several more stories one after the other. They are such quick easy reads that you can’t read just one at a time.

I especially read the one called Taking Away the Desire by Carol Nash Smith with interest. Her story was about alcohol addiction but I wondered as I read if this might help me keep from overeating and thus lose some of the excess weight I seem to always carry with me. As I finished reading this one it was like someone had read my mind. The next story is My Weight Destination by Michelle J. Welcome. As I eagerly read that story, I found myself wishing I too would hear God speak to me as many of the stories talk about.

It didn’t take me long to finish this book after I allowed myself to continue reading it. It was a great book to take along on our trip. Perfect for reading in the airport and on the plane. This book was a very enjoyable read. I especially appreciated the short length of the chapters/stories as this made them very easy to pick up and read one or two at a time. If you are looking for an uplifting book to read, I would highly recommend it.

If you are interested in buying this book, please consider using the affiliate link below. It won’t cost you more and I might make a few cents because you did.

Life-Changing Miracles: Real-Life Stories of Unforgettable Encounters With God

I was sent this book by the publisher to review. I will always give honest reviews on my blog. My opinion cannot be bought.

(This book arrived in my mailbox Saturday, 9/30/17)

November 17 2017

Excuse (Five Minute Friday)

Happy Friday! I know you are all plenty sick and tired of me talking about NaNoWriMo, but it is November and if you know anything about me, you will know this is my 5th year straight writing for the 50,000 word challenge in 30 days, it is what I do and that is my excuse. Hey, it is fun. Really, it is a blast! It is probably the hardest thing I do all year, but the most satisfying too. If you read my most recent blog post, you know all about how I was sick at the beginning of the month and how it took me until day 12 to catch up to where I was supposed to be. You also know I fell behind again right away. I am still behind. I could use any of those things as an excuse to quit. I could also use the fact that I’m not sure if I really have a clue how to plot or plan a fiction novel much less write one as an excuse and it would be a valid one. I could say it is too hard, I don’t know what to write, my story has taken itself in a different direction than I planned, my characters are not behaving themselves, they keep doing things I don’t understand and didn’t expect. Again, all true and all valid excuses. But I am not a quitter. I signed up for the challenge and I will win it. I have started lots of novels but never finished one. This is supposed to be the year I not only “win” the challenge, but also finish the novel during the month of November (I say that every year). I may not get that far, but somehow I WILL manage to write the 50,000 (or more) words before the month ends.

While I make excuses for so many things every day, there is no excuse for me not winning. Yes, I work full-time outside the home at a job during which I cannot write my novel. This month I have been working much longer days than usual and battled being sick for several days. Those excuses won’t cut it. I will spend every free, waking minute writing if I have to, but I will not make excuses for why I failed to get the writing done.

I am here to tell you that if I can win this challenge and write 50,000 words in 30 days while working full time and all those other valid excuses, then YOU can do things you probably don’t really think you can do too. In November 2013, when I “won” my first NaNoWriMo just before Thanksgiving, I felt like a million bucks. I was so proud of myself. I had so much confidence. I felt like I could do anything. I had just written more than I had probably written in my whole life combined. I had put my introverted self out there and gone to strange places I had never been before to write with strange people I had never met before. I found out that other people in my state, my city, my neighborhood are writers, I was not the only one who wanted to write a novel, but I am to only one who can write the novel I am currently writing. I am a winner. I AM a writer. I am not afraid of so many things I used to be afraid of because if I set my mind to it, I CAN DO ANYTHING! Mom always said it, but I never really believed her until November 2013.

So if you can’t find me and it is November, I am somewhere writing like my life depends on it, because the feeling I am supposed to write a book just won’t go away. God put it on my heart for a reason and it is my job to do everything within my power to figure out how to do it, learn everything I can and keep trying until the feeling goes away, I get it done, or I die trying. No excuses!

What could you accomplish if you stopped making excuse and got busy trying to get it done? I believe YOU can do anything if you set your mind to it. If you want to bad enough. If you quit making excuses.

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Excuse
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

November 16 2017

NaNoWriMo Progress Report

I started this as a Prep-Tober post, but then got sick near the end of October and into November with a terrible sore throat that turned into a cold. I was working 11 hours or more a day all week too. Not at all the way things were supposed to go, so on top of being sick, I felt bad that I hadn’t gotten as much planning done as I would have liked.

I missed the NaNoWeen celebration and this is always a huge boost to my word count just after midnight, but I was having trouble justifying going to an event that started at 11pm and ended at 3 am on a work night, so maybe it was just as well that I was sick.

I spent most of my reading time in September and October reading books on the craft of writing. I keep a recommended books page in my bullet journal that I can list books on when I hear about them and think I might want to read it later. Then when I am looking for something to read I search the library website and end up requesting a few to be put on hold for me. The problem with that (and it really isn’t a problem) is that often the books come in at the same time. I recently had seven books all about the writing craft come in on hold the same day. Sometimes, I will wait a couple of hours and then renew all of them to see which will be denied the renewal and then this is the book I will read first. It really is difficult to choose and most of the time I will have them on my library shelf until the library demands I bring them back because another patron is waiting to read them. Fair enough.

I tend to read a lot of books about plotting and story structure because that is where I feel the weakest currently.

Here are some of the ones I am working my way through now:

GMC: goal, motivation, and conflict: the building blocks of good fiction by Debra Dixon (The library insisted I return this since I had their only copy and someone else apparently requested it.)

Shut up & write! by Judy Bridges

So how am I doing on NaNoWriMo?

Here are my word counts by day:

Day 1: 0
Day 2: 0
Day 3: 710
Day 4: 1,111 (went to a 3-hour write-in)
Day 5: 1,762
Day 6: 2,174 (finally feeling better, but worked late)
Day 7: 2,219
Day 8: 2,971
Day 9: 2,249
Day 10: 2,070
Day 11: 2,224
Day 12: 2,614 (I finally got caught up!)
Day 13: 1,173 (trouble staying motivated)
Day 14: 1,274 (just plain tired, still behind)
Day 15: 1,686
____________________________________
Total So Far: 24,237 (should have 25,005)
Just 768 words behind where I should be.

I got off to such a slow start and was doing well consistently writing over 2,000 words a day for seven days to finally get to the word count I was supposed to have. Then I hit a slump and went below the goal of 1,667 per day and got myself slightly behind again. Don’t worry I am not giving up, just hitting the saggy middle at 20,000 words. It happens somewhere about then every year. I will get over it and write extra on the weekends if I have to.

How do you get ready for NaNoWriMo? How is your word count?

If you still need some help to stay focused but can’t go to a live write-in near you, try some of these virtual write-ins to help you stay focused. They all contain several timed writing sprints. I find these especially helpful when I keep getting sidetracked by other things instead of writing like I should be. I keep adding more to that playlist, so you may want to save the playlist to watch later by clicking the little clock in the upper right corner of the video screen shown below.

I embedded it below, so feel free to just come back here as often as you need to.

Don’t quit! I know you want to give up, but your future self will be very disappointed in you if you do. But if you stick with it right until the very end and give it your best effort, I promise your future self will be so proud of you and so will I.

November 10 2017

Silence (Five Minute Friday)

Silence is not a word most would use to describe me. I tend to talk to perfect strangers while waiting in line, make comments out loud to nobody in particular or share my unsolicited opinion on things. I can’t help it, it just happens. I just realized it sounds like I am describing a person with serious mental health issues. Hmmm, not sure how I feel about that.

Inside my head, there is not much silence either. I seem to hear negative feedback on my life in general, my writing, etc from what we will call my “inner editor” because “the voices in my head” sounds so much scarier. When I write, my inner editor gets diarrhea of the mouth and just won’t shut up. The constant barrage of negative comments I hear could stifle even the most creative person. Enter NaNoWriMo. If you want/need to write like I do, silencing the inner editor at least for short periods of time is crucial. Writing a fast draft of a novel in November helps me to stay focused on the task at hand while silencing the inner editor who would otherwise try to derail my efforts.

In order to meet the goal of writing 50,000 words in the 30 days of November while working full-time and trying to keep food in the house and laundry done, I must stay focused on keeping my butt in the chair and writing until my goal is met for the day. If I listened to my inner editor, I would constantly be revising the first sentence or paragraph instead of moving on to the next. I would end up with a very polished paragraph, sentence or even first page. That just won’t do! The whole idea is to get the words down so you will have something to edit later, like in December or January.
So, this short break from writing my NaNoWriMo novel for this month was brought to you by the word silence. Did you hear that inner editor? No? Then good, the silence has done its job. Now back to my regularly scheduled November writing plans. Until next time!

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up!
The prompt this week is: Silence
The assignment: Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.

November 9 2017

Music Makes It Fun

One night, as I was doing one of my least favorite chores, folding laundry, I had what FlyLady would call a “God Breeze”.

I turned the little clock radio on in the laundry room (59-minute sleep timer, so I don’t have to remember to turn it off). Just as I opened the dryer to fold a load of towels I heard a song start, then as it ended I was done folding the whole load already! I thought, WOW! it only took me one song to fold that load of towels! Then I thought of the old TV show “Name That Tune” and how they used to say, “I can name that tune in 3 notes” or whatever. Then I thought maybe instead of using the timer to help get disliked chores done, I could use music and try to guess how many songs it would take to do the chore, then see if I am right by actually testing the guess I just made. In my opinion, music always makes work more fun (even Snow White and the 7 dwarfs used to whistle while they worked!)

I thought I’d share this idea in case it helps any others to not dread the old dreaded tasks anymore.

What is your favorite tip for making housework fun? Share it below in the comments.