August 25 2016

​Building a Book

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They say there is only one good way to eat an elephant, one bite at a time. This is a great way to do most everything in life. Do a little bit toward the goal, then do a little more. If you keep doing this, eventually, all that forward momentum will pay off and the dreaded task will be done. 

Building a book works the same way. You write a scene, then another scene, and eventually you have a whole book full of scenes. Hopefully they are in order and you can connect them together without much trouble. I started a challenge in March 2015 to write 500 words-a-day (http://goinswriter.com/my500words). When I actually did it, it was awesome. I had so much enthusiasm going into the month, I even wrote a blog post about it the last day before the month started and posted it as a way of committing to the challenge for the whole world to see. Then a few days in, I found some reason to skip a day. I then felt like I needed to write 2 days worth the next day. One day, I was inspired and wrote over 2,000 words on one piece. I was so happy, but then the next day I used my over-achievement to justify coasting without writing. Once I messed up my streak, it got harder and harder to talk myself into meeting my 500 words-a-day goal. I convinced myself it was still ok, because I was still way above goal for the month so far.

 If you want to read some of what I wrote, and see the variety of subjects I chose, click on the archives of this blog for February and March 2015 I gained a total of 8 days of writing out of that challenge, so technically I failed miserably. I gave up even pretending to do the challenge after the eleventh of March, but you know what? I wrote and posted on my blog 8,135 words in 8 days of writing, 12 calendar days total (February 28th to March 11th). In my writing history, that is a win, especially if you consider that back then, I was really a November-only writer, trying desperately to turn myself into a year-round writer. Am I a year-round writer yet? Well, not exactly, but more so that I ever have been before. In case you find yourself wondering why November, go visit http://nanowrimo.org/. I had felt like I was suppose to write a book for a year or more before I found this website in the wee hours of November 1, 2013 and I felt like this was God’s way of telling me to stop thinking, dreaming, planning and talking about writing a book, and get busy doing something about that feeling that just wasn’t going away. 
I’m still not perfect, but I continue to try to improve both my writing skills, my consistency and my word count totals. This year has been my best effort yet to write consistently, even if it is only once a week, I try to keep writing.

This post was spurred by the photo below of the Eiffel Tower in various stages of construction. It sparked the idea that all great things take time and consistent effort to finish. This includes writing a book. Do you have a goal on your bucket list that you could work on a little at a time? What are you waiting for? Don’t tell me you don’t have time, I don’t believe you! I’m calling your bluff. You found the time to read this, so you can find 15 minutes a day to work on some goal and stop using the lack of time as justification for not getting around to that goal. If you need more help with putting 15 minutes to work for you, go see The Fly Lady at http://flylady.net/. Use a reward system and make big stars on your calendar with a bright colored marker when you do your 15 minutes each day. It may sound like elementary school, but it really works. You see the pattern and you don’t want to mess it up by being a slacker for a day. I’m thinking that as a warm up to writing everyday in November again, perhaps I should try the 500 words-a-day challenge again. Leave a comment or email me if you think I should do it and you are willing to join me. For me, writing is really a group sport and I do better if I have someone else to hold me accountable. (781 words)


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August 18 2016

A Different Kind of Vacation

Back in April, hubby and I went on a different kind of vacation. Why was it so different? Well, we didn’t have either of the kids along. Now don’t get me wrong, we love traveling with our kids and took them with us all the time when they were children. Now that the kids are grown and graduated from college, we don’t feel the need to take them along on trips as much anymore. It would be fun to do a group trip again sometime though. We should find a time when all four of us can get away from work at the same time and just go.

Another reason it was different is because we didn’t get to leave when we had planned because of an emergency at hubby’s work. Instead of Friday early morning, we finally got to leave town at 7:30pm on Sunday night. Our trip was supposed to be extended on the other end because he couldn’t get away on time, but we still only had the condo from Saturday to Saturday, so we were planning where we would go once we checked out of the condo. Just before noon on Friday of our trip, my boss called, not sure how I missed the call, but it went to voice mail without showing a missed call. She left a voice mail telling me I was needed back to work by Monday morning at 8am because she had an emergency. We were planning on going back to work on Wednesday, not Monday. Not a happy time for either of us, but really didn’t see as we had a choice. It was the first time both of our works interfered with our vacation time. I REALLY don’t like having my vacation time taken from me that way.

This is the first long trip we have taken where I did all the driving and hubby sat in the passenger seat. He refuses to drive with me in the car because, when he terrifies me with his driving, I can’t help reacting with a gasp or a squeal, maybe even a shriek. I mean, the man thinks the speeds posted on curves are merely suggestions and that they can always be at least doubled safely. I was taught in driver’s education, a million years ago, that for every ten miles and hour you are driving there should be a car length between you and the car in front of you. So on the interstate, I try to keep a minimum of five or six can lengths between my car and the one in front of me. I also try to make sure there are about three car lengths for me to slide into when switching lanes. Hubby does not observe these rules. I don’t think it is just a matter of the car length he is using being Smart Car verses Cadillac either. So anyway, his driving terrifies me. I would rather not have driven the 800 miles each way, but really what choice did I have. When we got home he was lamenting the fact that he missed doing the highway driving. I told him I missed being the passenger too, but since he didn’t go for the deal I offered where I react half as often if he drives half as scary, it may not be the last time I do the driving on a long trip. Hubby did all the driving on the island while we were there, so that was something.

The most unusual thing about the trip was that we only ate out two nights while we were at the condo from Monday afternoon to Saturday morning. One of those dinners was to celebrate my birthday. We went to the grocery and bought food to get us through the rest of our meals and snacks. We almost didn’t never the condo except for a walk to the beach a time or two. The rest of the time I was either, reading, writing, crocheting, surfing the net or we were working together to make a meal. That is NOT normal for us on a vacation. We usually would plan to eat out at least one or two meals a day and visit several museums or tourist attractions. Hubby did some reading, worked some Sudoku puzzles on his Nook, or played one of his computer games. The condo had a wall mounted TV, but we never even turned it on. I made the comment that I felt guilty that we spent the money for the gas and condo and the time to drive there to basically do what we could have done at home. He reminded me that the most important part of getting away was that we were a twelve hour drive from work. Point taken, well worth the cost.

We especially liked sitting out on our little patio/balcony to watch the goings-on around us. We had a few meals out there, did some reading too. My favorite thing to do out on the balcony, which was only about four to six feet off the parking lot level was to crochet. I would go out after eating breakfast and do a row or two on the shawl I was making. It was a very relaxing time while we were at the condo. While I was driving, not so much, but then I don’t particularly enjoy driving the way hubby does. 

The best part is that we decided before we left the condo that we were booking another trip next April and that this would be our relaxing escape from work vacation. We will have a fall trip that is more the typical tourist type vacation, but the spring trip is planned specifically as a get away to relax. I can really embrace that plan. (976 words)

August 12 2016

​NaNoWriMo Is Coming!

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This is August already. Oh My! November will be here before we know it and I have no idea what I should do for my NaNo project. I feel like I should tackle the whole writing 50,000 words on a new fiction novel thing as is the intended thing for NaNo. But, I have currently got no less than five previously started novels that are as yet unfinished. Quite honestly, I can’t say I am particularly jazzed about finishing any of them right now. I plan to finish all of them eventually, but probably not until I figure out whether I have written workable plots and where they need help. I just don’t feel like I am ready to tackle the editing of any of these projects yet.I know I shouldn’t start yet an other novel until I finish some of the ones I have started but I know I don’t have time between now and November to do any of them justice. Three of them have between fifty and sixty thousand words written on them and the fourth has just over thirty thousand words written. The fifth book is a different animal altogether. It is a non-fiction book that may be mostly finished it is about sixty pages and have right at ten thousand words. I kind of want to spend August and September working on polishing this book and getting it self-published either on Amazon or on a website of my own in PDF format. Doing that would require a lot of research of the pros and cons of self-publishing with Amazon. I should probably admit here and now that while I really, really want to be published and have confidence in the need for a book like mine, I am also terrified that I will do the publishing thing wrong somehow and mess up my chances of actually successfully launching my first book. I wish I had someone I could trust and then get to lead me by the hand through the entire process and have confidence because of their previous success and experience that it would all go smoothly and turn out exceedingly well. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone like that who I would feel comfortable asking to help me publish the book.
So, that is where I am as an author. I DO consider myself an author even though I have yet to finish a book or be published. I would love to figure out a way to make a living on my writing. That is my goal, my dream, my torment. I may present myself as a confident person, but inside I am a small child cringing in fear that I will do something wrong and disappoint someone important in my life. I know this is not realistic or founded and I don’t even know who it is I think I would disappoint. Maybe I am afraid of disappointing myself. Maybe I am scare that if I fail everyone will know and laugh at me and then I won’t want to try writing anything again because if I fail, no one will take me seriously as a writer. If I never try to publish anything I have written, I need never experience rejection, there will always be hope of being published…someday.

Another part of me says I should just go for it. What do I really have to lose by trying? Should I use my real name, or assume a pen name? If I succeed, of course, I would want to have used my real name so everyone would know it was me. If I fail, I would rather it be a pen name so I could have a do-over without ruining my real name as a writer. There are so many decisions to be made when you are a writer.

So I am listening to music while I write this and the song Day One by Matthew West just came on and I am wondering if that is Divine intervention telling me I should just do it already. I feel like I am supposed to be writing a book, but have no idea what sort of book I am to write. I feel like I pray for guidance a lot but have yet to hear that “Still Small Voice” I have heard and read so much about. This causes me to question whether I am doing God Will with my life. Am I following God’s path or wandering down my own path selfishly? How is a writer to know?

So sorry, I seem to have gotten off track. I was talking about what to write for NaNoWriMo in November which is only about ten weeks away. I want to write another of the Crafty Ladies Series books, but have no idea which of the Crafty Ladies to feature in the next book. There are seven ladies in the group and so far I have attempted to write a mystery (Marni’s Story) and a romance (Lu Ann’s Story) so the question is not only whose story to tell next, but what genre it should be. Can you have two or more different genres in a series? Should I try to write in yet another genre in hopes of finding the one that clicks for me? The five books I have begun were, in order: memoir, mystery, romance, historical romance and non-fiction. Obviously, I am still trying to find myself as an author. I have no idea what genre to write or whether I should focus on one or just write what feels right? While I am at it, I question what sort of things I should be blogging about as an author, especially as an unpublished author.

I am getting better about writing throughout the year instead of only in November, so I am happy about that. I still don’t feel driving to write with any kind of regularity and often question what I should write when I do sit down to write. Most of my writing outside of November happens on Thursday nights when I join the ladies in the Thursday Nights Writing at Panera group at various Panera Bread Cafes around our fair city. Sometimes if it weren’t for meeting every week with this fabulous group of ladies I don’t think I would be half as far along the path as I am now. I actually participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July this year and have successfully met those goals as well as completing the November challenge of 50,000 words in 30 days three years in a row. This makes me feel successful even if I haven’t finished any of these books. I know I must keep writing, because I can see a lot of confidence and understanding that has come about as a result of these five “wins”. I KNOW I can do it again this November, I just have to figure out what book to write.

Please leave your comments and suggestions below. I would love to hear from you. If you have a favorite go-to book for story structure, outlining a novel, plotting, story arcs, character development, etc. Please let me know what they are in the comments. I need all the help I can get! (1,224 words)

(Note: comment was originally left 8/19/2016)

March 7 2015

Lu Ann Barrington Character Sketch

Lu Ann Barrington is in her mid to late fifties. Lu Ann was a recent widow after being married for 36 years and when she got the money from her husband’s life insurance, she decided to use it to open her own business so she could be surrounded by people who enjoyed the same things she did and earn a modest living while doing it.  She opened her store only after she had paid off her house and car and put money in her retirement account. She was nervous about spending the money to start the store but felt she had done what she could to ensure her financial future by cutting her expenses and paying off her debts. She didn’t know if she could make it work, but she hoped she could if she started small. She was confident she could teach others to quilt, knit and crochet, she just wasn’t sure she could make a living doing it.  

Stitches in Time is her brain child. She always loved to sew and do all sorts of crafts, but never seemed to know what to do with herself. She never went to college, never really wanted to even. She married her high school sweetheart and settled into married life trying to be the perfect home-maker. She never really worked outside the home, at least not for pay. She had done a lot of volunteering and being on various committees at the church and helped to organize the occasional bake sale, rummage sale or other fund raising event. She wasn’t without experience, after all, being a wife and mother for so many years had given her wisdom and experience a plenty. Her resume was a little thin, so being her own boss seemed the perfect solution. 


Lu Ann wanted to help others develop the love of all things stitched like she had. She wanted a place where they could learn to knit, crochet, do cross-stitch or quilting, or even make their own clothes. She would offer classes for those who didn’t know how or those who wanted to learn more. She would offer the supplies needed to do all the projects that they could think up and give a ten percent discount to those who were buying supplies for the classes she offered. She was best at quilting, so she began by offering basic quilting classes and decided to wait and see what else her customers were interested in learning. She would meet lots of new people and thus would ease her new found loneliness. 


She bought a large Victorian house near the business district of the small town, she made the upper level into her living quarters and the lower level was renovated into a store front. The living room now housed the quilting fabrics with the walls lined with notions of every kind. The dining room table was where they hosted quilting classes. There were lots of extra outlets installed and smaller tables around the edges of the walls so the customers could set up their sewing machines and work during classes. The kitchen was condensed to a much smaller version of its original size to use as a break room and the space saved from reducing the size of the kitchen made a great storage room. The rooms in the rest of the main floor had been combined to house the yarn arts area. The walls were lined with cubes to hold the various yarns, and there was a comfy seating area with a sofa and a few overstuffed chairs that customers could hang out and knit or crochet in or for seating during classes.


By living above her shop, she saved time not having to commute to work. She also saved money by being able to sell her house she had shared with her husband and the kids when they were growing up. She had loved the old house but was glad to be away from all the old memories now that she lived alone. 


Lu Ann has a very strong faith and hopes having her shop will give her the chances to gently lead others to a relationship with the Lord too. She helps with various groups and tasks as needed at the church she has been a member of for many years. (717 words)

February 28 2015

My March Challenge

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My goal for this year, well one of them anyway, is to become a year-round writer. For the last two years, I have been a November only writer. I want that to change. Today, February 28, 2015, I stumbled upon the website, http://goinswriter.com/my500words, and decided this was just the challenge I need to help me become a year-round or daily writer. I know I just have to make myself do it and that a challenge is the way to get that habit started. I am giving myself a break, and letting the idea soak in for a day before I have to start. Besides, it is a 31 day challenge and tomorrow is the first day of a month, March, with just that many days in it, how convenient! So beginning tomorrow, I will write 500 words a day. I know I can do it. I have done it during November before. I have written as much as 5,000 words in a day during the panic mode I call NaNoWriMo, err November. I love the rush of writing as part of a massive group in November. I have joined a few regular writing meetings this year in an attempt to keep from putting writing on a shelf only to take it down again when NaNo time comes around.

So, I have no idea what I will write about each day, but have a few writing prompt sites saved and a book of prompts in my Kindle library. I actually have a short story in progress that began as a writing prompt a few months ago. Maybe if I ever finish it, I will have the nerve to post it here. Not feeling confident in my writing capability, is part of the problem. Feeling like nobody would want to be bothered to read anything I have to write about is most of the problem. I’m not sure what to do to get over all of these feelings of lacking when it comes to writing. I DO know that I won’t get better if I don’t actually write, and if I don’t get better I will never get over the fear of letting others read what I have written. I have this blog I created a fairly long time ago, if you are reading this, you have found it. I’m not sure how anyone would find it, because I haven’t shared it with anyone until today. Today after signing up for the My 500 Words challenge, there was a place to link your blog as a participant, so I did it! My blog, Lighthouse Life Lessons, is blog number 1,854 on the list. I feel safe that it is so far down the list, that nobody will bother reading it, but I feel better knowing I was confident enough to link it there and someone just might bother to read it. I am assuming no one has ever bothered to read anything I have written before because there have been no comments on any of the posts. That makes me happy because that also means there are no negative comments. No news is good news, right?

So I may post some of my daily writing here. I might actually get brave and decide that just for the next 31 days, I will post my 500 word offerings here if only to prove to myself and the world in general that I did it. I like having a picture or graphic in each blog post. Somehow, that makes my writing seem more interesting so maybe I should go search Google Images for some inspiring photos I could write about for a few of the next 31 days. (Word count = 614)


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