Friday, February 26, 2010

The Friday Five

I'm feeling like a bit of a slacker these days.

Here are five things I've been putting off doing until...I'm not sure when...spring?

1. Cleaning out the van. It needs a vacuuming in the worst way.

2. Going through my son's closet and taking out all the stuff he's outgrown and sorting it for the rag-bag or give away.

3. Reorgainizing the pantry. I like to do this every few months, just to make sure everything is rotated in and out in a timely manner.

4. Going through my homeschool materials and evaluating what I will need for next year and what I need to list on eBay.

5. Dusting. My whole house. I spot dust here and there, but the whole house could use a good dusting. Baseboards, door panels, fan blades, lamp shades.

So, what are you putting off?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Three Ingredient Thursday


Today's Three Ingredient Thursday:
Peachy Sweet Potatoes


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Ingredients:
2 lb. dark orange sweet potatoes
1 cup peach pie filling
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
Preparation:
Spray a 4 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray and place sweet potatoes in the slow coker. Add pie filling, melted butter, salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Cover and cook on high for 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. 10 servings
To make this a four ingredient recipe, sprinkle the potatoes with your favorite crunchy granola just before serving for a great texture contrast.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's a mental game.


The great Yogi Berra once said, "Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical."
I think something similar could be said about writing. "Writing is ninety percent mental, the other half is hard work."
I think I have some ADD tendencies. I don't say that lightly. My mom has long known of this tendency. When I was in labor with my son she remarked upon it. (My daughter was an emergency c-section with no labor, so I didn't experience real labor in childbirth until my second child.)
Deep in the throes of induced labor and nearing the delivery, she said to me, "I think we've finally found something that takes all your attention."
Aside from childbirth, there are two things that take all my attention. Reading and writing. I think, because reading was one of the things in my childhood that could hold my attention, I gravitated toward it. I read voraciously, sinking into make-believe worlds that captured me completely.
When I started writing stories myself, I found the same complete absorption. When I sink into my fictional world, everything around me disappears.
But, the creation part, the sinking into the fictional dream, isn't all there is to writing. There's another part, the part that is plain, roll-your-sleeves-up, spit-on-your-hands, and dig-in hard work. The learning of the craft. The wrestling with knotted plots. The writing classes, workshops, how-to books, rounds of edits, and striving to get better.
Fortunately, in addition to a bit of ADD, I also have a passion for learning new things and conquering some new mountains.
Writing, for me, is the best of both worlds and plays into two really strong personality traits I have.
What about writing fits your personality?


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Tip For Tuesday



Thought I might try a writing Tip for Tuesday series for a bit. I've got a great selection of writing books I thought I'd dip into and share some of the pearls of wisdom contained inside.

Have you read The Art of War for Writers?

James Scott Bell has hit one out of the park with this manual. 77 tight chapters to help the writer strategize their writing careers, hone their writing skills, and sharpen their editing abilities.


The things I loved about this book:

1. How JSB broke things down into manageable bites. He's a tight writer at all times, but The Art of War for Writers has no extraneous words.

2. The clear divisions and direction. The book is separated into three parts: reconnaissance, tactics, and strategy.

3. The examples, graphics, and humor. When things got a little sticky or unclear for me, I'd turn the page and there was a concrete example or chart or witty turn of phrase that cleared things up for me.

The Tip for Today from The Art of War for writers comes from chapters 25 and 26

  • Write Hard, Write Fast, and the Fire of Creation Will be Yours.
  • Edit Slow, Edit Tough, With a Process Both Clear and Cool.

I've found this to be so true for me. The most lucid first drafts I've written have been my NaNo novels, where I don't stop to overthink things but let the words and the story idea consume me and pour out onto the page. And my best editing comes after a cooling off period, a time of reflecting and gearing up. Then rereading the entire work and making a plan for the editing.

How about you? Do you write hot and edit cool? Do you edit as you go? What have you found produces your most creative work?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Red Letter Writing Days

There are days when writing seems hard. When I feel alone, when the words won't come, when the entire journey is uphill.

Last Thursday was not that kind of day. Last Thursday was a Red Letter Writing Day.

Here's what happened:

1. My Writer's Digest Magazine arrived. I always feel so writerly when it arrives, chock-full of information and advice.

2. I finished the content edits on Maggie and the Maverick except for one final read-through. This is my shortest content edit ever, and I owe an awful lot of that to my dear crit partners.

3. Mary Connealy sent me a link to Crossroads Bookstore in Sioux Falls where we're listed on the home page for our book signing on March 12th.

4. I got my first royalty statement and my first royalty check! Wow! How fun was that???

5. I got the cover art for Clara and the Cowboy. I think it's so beautiful. What do you think?




In the words of my crit partner, Katie Ganshert, Holy Canoly! What a day!

Have you had any red-letter writing days?




Friday, February 19, 2010

The Friday Five


This week's Friday Five is about the snack food.
My favorite snack foods (though I have to go easy on them.)
1. Chocolate Chip Cookies.
2. Popcorn.
3. Grapes.
4. Hershey's kisses.
5. Goldfish Crackers.
What are some of your favorite snack foods?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Three Ingredient Thursday


Today's Three Ingredient Thursday recipe is courtesy of Katie Ganshert.
Ritzy Chicken
Ingredients:
Chicken Breasts
Plain Yogurt
Ritz Crackers
Instructions:
Coat the chicken breasts in the plain yogurt, then roll in crushed Ritz crackers. Bake at 350 for thirty minutes, then flip them over to bake for another twenty-five.
Thanks, Katie, for this yummy sounding recipe.
If anyone has a 3 ingredient recipe they'd like to share, please, email me at ericavetsch at gmail dot com.

Olympic Fervor


Olympic fervor is running hot around here. We love watching the athletes, the events, the venues.
And I like to hear the stories of how the athletes got to where they are. All the training, all the near misses, the heartache, the families that support them, the friendships they've made.
And I can relate. No, I don't have an athletic bone in my body. I have no desire to throw myself down an icy track face first in the skeleton, nor to ski and shoot like a biathlete. But I do relate to the journey to attain a dream. The hard work and training. Some near misses. A supportive family. And friendships I've gained along the way.
So, do you have a favorite olympic event or memory?
Also, stop by Heartsong Connection today. I've got a guest blog post up about lighthouses. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Guest Blogging Today

Today I'm guest blogging over at Pepper Basham's blog Faith and Fiction on Fire. She's currently interviewing authors about what they think makes for a great kissing scene.

It got me to thinking about the best kissing scenes. I have a favorite.

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, in The Quiet Man. That kiss in the cemetery...oh man!
Aside from the silk shirt...what makes this scene so amazing?

Everything that went before it. The chemistry between John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara sizzles. They are both intense, passionate, larger than life people. And you know that when they do get together, the sparks are going to ignite an inferno of emotion.

A good lesson. A really passionate, emotional, pivotal kiss can't come out of nowhere. It has to be a natural result of the tension built up until it culminates in a kiss.

Do you have a favorite book or screen kiss?

This week, Heartsong Connection is featuring The Marriage Masquerade. Pop on over for a chance to win a copy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

With Sadness


Dick Francis
October 31st, 1920 - February 14th, 2010
Dick Francis, the best-selling British thriller writer and former champion jockey, died on Sunday in his home in the Cayman Islands. He was 89.
A successful steeplechase jockey, Francis turned to writing after he retired from racing in 1957. He penned 42 novels, many of which featured racing as a theme. His books were translated into more than 20 languages, and in 2000 Queen Elizabeth II — whose mother was among his many readers — honored Francis by making him a Commander of the British Empire.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Friday Five


Five reasons I will be glad when spring comes:
1. No more chapped lips. I've got the humidifier going 24/7, and I'm drinking lots of water, and I think I've single-handedly put Chap-Stick into the black this year, but nothing's working.
2. Dry skin. I'm practically drinking lotion, but my skin's still dry.
3. The Minnesota Boot Bang. Every time I get into the car, I hit my boot against the running board to kick off the snow and muck and mush.
4. Layers. Coats, socks, boots, sweaters, gloves, hats, scarves. I miss my red sandals.
5. Color. I miss the color green.
What are you looking forward to about spring???
A shout out to my baby brother today. Happy Birthday, Nathan!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Today's recipe is a quick and easy yummy cornbread.
I'm not a fan of the grainy texture of cornbread. There's just not enough butter or honey to cover that grit.

But, I've found a way around it. :)
You'll need one box of Jiffy Cornbread Mix and one box of Jiffy Yellow Cake Mix.
Prepare the batter for each according to the box directions, then mix them together and pour into a 9x13 pan. Bake them at the temperature on the cake box, but you'll need to add extra time for the baking due to the double recipe. Keep a watch on it, and if it cracks slightly on the top, and begins to brown, you'll know it's done. Take it out too early and it will fall in the middle. Meh.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guilt


This week I was re-reading one of my favorite Dick Francis books, Longshot.
The main character is an author and survival expert. He's impulsive, self-reliant, practical, and smart. He's got a dream of writing fiction.
The book is peopled with interesting characters. One of my favorites is Gareth, 15 years old, and just figuring out who he is and the man he will be. He tells our hero, John Kendall, that one of the teen girls (now dead--murdered) who worked in Gareth's father's racing stable made a pass at him and it embarrassed the boy.
John tells Gareth that it won't be the last time a girl makes a pass at him, and next time, don't feel guilty. Then John makes the observation to himself that shame and guilt bother the innocent more than the wicked.
I thought this was an excellent observation, and an excellent insight into John's character.
A good lesson. The internal monologue we give our characters needs to do double duty. It needs to be an on-point observation, but it also needs to illuminate a facet of the character's ---well, character. :)
Question for you. Have you tried this, have you noticed this in other people's work, and do you have an example to share?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Brain like a sieve, but some exciting news...




For the past several days, I've been struggling to remember something that I wanted to share with my friend, CJ. I've remembered it a couple of times, and thought, "Oh, yeah, when I talk to her next, I'll tell her." Then, when the opportunity came, I couldn't remember it! So, I finally remembered, and I decided to post it here.




Because it's exciting, at least to me.




The Dead Sea Scrolls are coming to Minnesota!




Isn't that great? I can't wait to see them. The oldest known written Biblical texts. Not only the scroll fragments, but artifacts from the Second Temple Era of Israel.


The Dead Sea Scrolls—objects of great mystery, intrigue, and cultural and spiritual significance—are widely acknowledged to be among the greatest archaeological treasures ever discovered. This spring at the Science Museum, you will get the rare opportunity to see them up-close—and discover the historical and cultural context that makes them so important.



In addition to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the St. John's Bible will also be there.


At the conclusion of The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition, which showcases the oldest-known hand-scribed record of the Hebrew Bible, you'll see The Saint John's Bible, which represents history's newest hand-written illustrated Bible. A work of art that illuminates the world today, it's the first complete, handwritten and illuminated Bible to be commissioned in 500 years. It uses ancient techniques—it's written on calf-skin vellum with quills, natural handmade inks, hand-ground pigments and gold leaf—to present themes, images and technology of the 21st century. The result is a project that has monumental artistic and spiritual significance for our time. And it originated right here in Minnesota.
You can learn more about the exhibit by clicking HERE.
I'm so excited to see these amazing works of art, these words that are so dear to me, the greatest treasure that God left for His children, His message to us.
Question for you: Have you seen either the Dead Sea Scrolls or the St. John's Bible? Have you been to Israel? Have you seen a cool artifact that stuck with you?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Procrastination

Here's a little Monday fun, sent to me by Pastor Kevin. There's a bit of debate as to the necessity of procrastination in the writing process. Of course, procrastinators will say that procrastination is a vital part of the writing process. :)


I've pegged the meter on procrastination before. Thought my daughter claims to be the queen procrastinator around here. (Having bitten my fingernails wondering if she will get a term paper done in time, I can attest to her procrastination prowess.)

I'm of the opinion that a lot of the writing process might look like procrastination, a lot of starring into the middle distance and muttering, but not a lot of words on the page. But eventually, if you want to be a writer--a published writer--the navel gazing has to stop and the typing has to begin.


Question for you: Do you procrastinate? Is it part of your creative process, or is it an excuse not to write?



Friday, February 05, 2010

The Friday Five with Betsy


Today's Friday Five is courtesy of Betsy St. Amant. Betsy's new release A Valentie's Wish is out just in time for Valentine's Day. Betsy sent me a copy of the book, and I devoured it like a box of chocolates! If you're looking for an uplifting, entertaining read, check out A Valentie's Wish.
From The Back Cover:
Unless youth pastor Andy Stewart finds a suitable wife fast, he'll lose his job. Yet the woman of his dreams is his best friend. And Lori Perkins is still smarting over a failed engagement, so he can't just declare his love. His plan: he'll be her secret admirer and woo her anonymously with flowers and chocolates. And then, when romance is on her mind, Andy will confess his Valentine's wish—to spend his life with her. There's just one little problem. Lori seems to think her secret admirer is someone else!
A little about Betsy:
Betsy St. Amant lives in north Louisiana, has a penchant for chocolate and polka dots shoes, and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group. Betsy is multi-published through Steeple Hill and has been published in Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, ‘Kickboxing or Chocolate’, appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. Betsy has a BA in Christian Communications and regularly contributes articles to Crosswalk.com. She is a wife, new mommy, author, and avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God’s grace through her stories.
In keeping with the Friday Five and Valentine's Day theme, I asked Betsy for her top five most romantic date ideas.
Five Most Romantic Date Ideas

1. Some might argue, but I think there is still romance in the simple, traditional "dinner and a movie". You can't beat a classic! And this date works well for new relationships or old married ones. =)

2. I think horse-drawn carriage rides are always a winner. This isn't a year-round possibility, but a lot of big cities have carriage rides they offer during certain times of the year, usually in downtown or historic places. Even non-horse lovers can find romance in the clip-clop of hooves and the brisk wind blowing their hair as they snuggle up with their loved one.

3. There's something really special about picnics in the park. Something about a blanket on the ground and a basket full of fruit, cookies, and sandwiches just screams romance. Maybe because it's more intimate than a crowded restaurant full of bustling waitors and other patrons. Better yet, it can be completely free if you already have groceries stocked at home!

4. My husband surprised me for our five-year anniversary last August with a stretch Hummer. He and the driver picked me up at my parent's house, where we had dropped off our daughter, and then whisked me away to a five star restaurant and hotel. It was very romantic being treated like a queen! Of course, the diamond anniversary band also helped!! =)

5. Window shopping. Hold on, now, it's not nearly as boring as it sounds. Find a great outdoor strip mall or outlet, and hold hands while you tease each other about what would look nice on the other person in a window display. Snag an ice cream cone or cup of hot chocolate and take pictures by scenic landmarks or fountains. Try on outfits you would never consider buying and take pictures being silly in boas and hats. My husband and I inadvertantly did this while Christmas shopping this past season, and I have the most hilarious picture inside Pier One, with me wearing an antique, golden feathered mask. We had so much fun!

Thank you, Betsy, for the Friday Five this week. Very romantic.
Question: Tell us about a memorable date you've had.
Also, Happy Birthday to my dad, James Bonam. Love to you from all of us in MN.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Three Ingredient Thursday


Three Ingredient French Dip Sandwiches

2 lb. fresh beef brisket
1 pkg. dry onion soup mix
10-oz. can condensed beef broth

Preparation:
Combine all ingredients in 3-4 quart slow cooker. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours until beef is tender. Skim any fat from liquid in crockpot. Remove beef and cut across grain into thin slices. Serve on crusty baguette rolls and serve with the hot broth for dipping. 8 sandwiches
I like to melt Swiss cheese on the sandwiches too, so technically, that makes it more than three ingredients, I suppose, but Four or Five Ingredient Thursday sounds funny. :)
Question: Has anyone been to France?

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Time to tackle those goals


Beginning of a new month, and in the early part of a year, it's time to evaluate those 2010 writing goals.
1. Write Before the Dawn. This is the next book I need to finish. I've got a solid outline, and a rough draft, but I'm writing it from scratch, since I've learned a lot since I first penned this story. I've put up a new word counter to chart my progress.
2. Write A Light To My Path. Book two. All I have of this one is a one paragraph summary, a setting, and a hero.
3. Write Stars In Her Eyes. Book three. All I have of this one is a one paragraph summary and a setting.
4. Write a proposal for another book, one I want to pitch at the ACFW Conference. This is a book I've been thinking about for a long time. I've found some really fun things to include. I love Minnesota history.
5. Blog five days a week. I love my blog, and my blog readers.
6. Attend the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis in September. At the moment, the plan is for the DH and the boy to go with me and make a bit of a vacation out of the trip. (Alas, by this time the girl will be at college and unable to go with us.)
7. Assist with the Heartsong Connections blog. I'm really enjoying this new blogging venture. I'm hoping it gains popularity with Heartsong readers.
8. Accomplish whatever editing tasks cross my desk with the books in the pipeline. Usually, I forget to factor these into my schedule, and when I least expect it, content edits or copy edits or galley proofs show up and I have to get them turned around.
Question: Are you a goal setter? Do you write out your goals?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Big News!!!


I got word this last week that Barbour was setting up a book signing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and they invited me to join fabulous author Mary Connealy to sign books!
How cool is that?????
March 12th, 2-4 pm, I'll be with Mary at Crossroads Books and Music in Sioux Falls signing The Bartered Bride and The Marriage Masquerade.
Squeee!!!!
I'm a little nervous, but excited too. Mary C. is such a great woman, so generous and friendly, and I'm really looking forward to seeing her again. And I won't find it hard to chat up her books to customers. I LOVE her books almost as much as I love her. :)
Question: Do you go to local bookstores for booksignings?

Monday, February 01, 2010

You know you're a writer when...And A Winner!


You know you're a writer when...
1. Someone puts your book up for sale on eBay.
Through Google Alerts, I was notified that my name had appeared on eBay. Someone was selling my debut release at auction. The ink is hardly dry yet, and already at least two sellers have put it up on an internet auction site.
2. Someone tells you they found a typo in your book.
After it has been printed, after you can do anything about it.
3. Someone tells you they liked your book a lot...except for _____________.
Fill in the blank. The important thing is, don't argue with the reader. They know what they like. Respond graciously, thank them for taking the time to read the book and contacting you.
Good times.
Also, using the mystical powers of Random.org, a winner was drawn for Stephanie Morrill's Out With The In Crowd.
And the winner is:
CJ!
Congratulations, CJ.
Question: Was there an occurance, an interaction with someone, or an epiphanal moment when you thought, "Yup, I'm a writer."