Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Friday Five

This week we took the dear daughter back to college. I'm excited for her, just sad for me. I love having her home. 

But, in order to focus on the positive, I'm going to post five great things about college instead of what I wanted to post, the five horrible things about having your kid go back to school. :D

1. Friends. Heather's got a great group of friends at school, and they were all really happy to see one another. I made friends in college that helped me become the person I am, that I remember fondly, and that I've kept in touch with over the years.

2. Learning. Heather was made to go to school. She loves classes and learning. I am the same way. I think that's one of the things I love so much about writing historical fiction. I get to learn and study and acquire knowledge.

3. Maturing. Every semester, she gets more and more mature, has more experiences, makes more decisions on her own. She's becoming such a wonderful young lady. (I'm skipping this one for me, because I'm not super mature...LOL Heather was born more mature than me.)

4. Being equipped for your calling. I'm so pleased Heather is studying education. Her father and I both studied education in college, and seeing her follow in our footsteps makes me happy.

5. Godly professors and advisers. I'm also pleased that Heather chose a Christian college where her classes would reinforce her Christian world view. Bible college for me was a real growing time in my spiritual life. 

So, what do you remember from college? What did you look forward to the most when you returned to campus?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

P. Allen Smith's Principles of Garden Design

Garden Arch

This past week, as I was blowing my nose and coughing and...okay, I admit it, whining...I watched an episode of P. Allen Smith's Garden Home. Not being much of a gardener myself, everything I know, I've learned from watching The Victory Garden and P. Allen Smith. :D

I do love the photos of the gardens Mr. Smith has designed, and he talks often of the 12 principles of design that he uses when creating a garden space.

What I was struck by, however, is how similar these design points are to how a novel is designed. Evidently there is a rhythm and structure to gardens, novels, artwork, whatever, that resonates with people.

I thought it might be fun to take a look at these principles of design and look for commonality between gardens and novels. Since there's lots to talk about, I thought we could look at one point each Monday.

The first point Mr. Smith uses in designing a garden is:

Enclosure - A garden room defined by borders of various materials.
  • Enclosures are vital elements in defining gardens as rooms
  • Enclosures anchor a garden to its location, giving both the house and the garden a sense of permanence and lasting beauty.
  • Enclosures unify house and garden into a cohesive whole, creating a virtually continuous living area.
  • Enclosures set the stage for a variety of moods and experiences.
  • Enclosures add a sense of security and comfort by providing familiar structures: walls, floors, doorways and ceilings.
  • Enclosures establish order by creating manageable sized spaces.

Enclosure in garden design can be compared to genre in novel writing - A novel is defined by genre.
  • A clearly established genre is vital to effectively design and market your novel
  • A clearly established genre will help you plot your novel
  • Staying within your genre will make your novel cohesive
  • Identifying your genre will help you understand what experiences and moods your readers are expecting you to create. Horror/suspense/thriller moods are different from women's fiction/romance/historical
  • Readers appreciate a writer who delivers on their expectations. Readers want to feel uncomfortable for the characters but safe in the author's hands.
  • Defining and staying within your genre will help you to hit the target you've aimed at rather than writing all over the place.
What other similarities do you see?

Some other questions for you:

1. What is your go-to genre to read?
2. What is your go-to genre to write?
3. Are you a gardener?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday Five

Banned Mercury-in-Glass Thermometer Since I have a yukky cold today, I thought the Friday Five should be:

Five Things I Want When I'm Sick:

1. Quiet.

2. Sleep.

3. Orange Juice.

4. Nyquil at night.

5. TLC from my family.

If it was wintertime, I could also add the "Feel Good Blanket" to the list, a blanket I've had since I was a child that just spells comfort and love. Alas, in the summer it is too hot for a blanket, so I have to make do with a "Feel Good Sheet" which isn't at all the same.

My family has been supplying me with lots of TLC the past several days, and I'm on the mend.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

World War One Wednesday

Cafe Rouge Steak

During World War One, Herbert Hoover became the head of the US Food Administration. He launched a campaign to conserve food on the home-front and ship tons of supplies to Europe to the American and Allied soldiers and war-impoverished England and France.

To do this, he urged homemakers to have Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays. Recipes for potatoes, fish, flourless cakes and rye and oat breads were printed and distributed. 

I wonder how we Americans would respond to such a challenge today. We don't like doing without. Would you be willing to forgo coffee so a soldier somewhere could have an extra cup? Would I want to give up bread or cheese or meat?

In a vaguely related aside, I am a card-carrying carnivore. I love steak. I also love watching cooking shows. What I don't like on cooking shows is that they never seem to cook the meat long enough. I don't want my steak mooing at me on the plate. I don't want to see any pink. This evidently makes me a steak-Philistine. 

So, a couple of questions for you:

1. What might you find the most difficult to give up if the US had a period of food rationing?

2. How do you prefer your steak cooked?

Also, I'm a guest blogger over at Melissa Tagg's Tag(g)lines today. I hope you'll venture over and join the discussion about prepping for a writer's conference. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Wisdom of Pencils


This past week my daughter brought home the newsletter from the childcare center where she works. As I perused it, I was struck by an article that provided me with plenty of food for thought.

It was entitled The Wisdom of Pencils, about five things that a pencil maker told to a pencil before he put it in the box. 
  • Everything you do will always leave a mark.
  • You can always correct the mistakes you make.
  • What is important is what is inside of you.
  • In life, you will undergo painful sharpening which will only make you better.
  • To be the best, you must allow yourself to be held and guided by the hand that holds you.
 It struck me how similar these things were to what God says to His children. 

  • What we do is important and our actions have consequences.
  • You always have the opportunity to ask for forgiveness and turn away from sin.
  • If you aren't born again, nothing else really matters.
  • Painful seasons are for our good and God's glory.
  • To glorify God, we must follow where He leads.
How about you? Any object lessons or sermon illustrations or articles that have struck you lately?

Friday, August 17, 2012

What? It's Friday????


The Friday Five is late today because I spent the day at the Mayo Clinic for my annual physical. Got the thumbs up from the doctor. Glad all that is over for another 12 months.

The truth is, as you get older, there are more and more invasive, constricting, poking, imaging, and downright personal medical exams and procedures the medical field feels are necessary to your well-being. Blah. Not much fun at all.

So, today's Friday Five is

Five things I wish I'd been doing instead of Doctor Day at Mayo.

1. Reading. I took my Kindle, but I never had much time between appointments to read it.

2. Sitting in the sunshine at the park. Today was about the most beautiful day we've had all year.

3. Watching my new favorite show, Leverage. :)

4. Hanging with my daughter. She's been working so many hours this summer, I feel as if I've hardly seen her. And I'm freaking out a little that she has to go back to college in less than two weeks! ACK!

5. Writing on my new WIP.

Are you good about going to the doctor regularly or do you avoid it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back At It

I've taken a little bit of time off from writing this summer, the first in almost six years. But now it's time to get back at it. I've spent the past few weeks noodling different story ideas and waiting to hear back on a couple of projects from some publishers.

One particular idea I'm very intrigued by, but it's not in my normal genre. It's close, but rather than historical romance, it's historical mystery with a dash of romance.

It's also going to take a BUNCH of research because the setting is a place that I've never been, and I'm finding resource material scarcer than I'd hoped.

And I want to write! I want to write historical romance! I want to write about the American West and cowtowns and the frontier and everything that makes my heart happy!

So I started a story yesterday. Boy did it feel good! I'm going to put a new word counter up, start back into my lovely #1k1hr group of Facebook, and write.

What are you working on? Have you ever taken a break from writing only to find your heart longing to return to the work you love?

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Sleeping Cat

The Olympics are over, and I suspect I'm not the only one with an Olympic sort of ennui. My love of sport, competition, excellence, sportsmanship, etc. has been sated to the full. I've watched untold hours of Olympic coverage, reveled in the stories of the athletes, the world records, the triumphs and tragedies, sense of world community and national rivalry.

But now it's time to gear up and get some work done. I've got a new story half fleshed out. I've walked through the first half of it with my sounding board, Heather Vetsch, and I need to get a proposal cooking. I'm intrigued by this story-line. It's got more mystery than I've been written in the past, so I'm feeling my way through the details.

Time to shake off that Olympic hangover and get back to real life!

How about you? Anything you're hoping to accomplish before summer comes to an end?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Friday Five


Hard to believe the Olympics are almost over! I've watched SO much of the coverage and enjoyed every minute of it. There have been so many great moments and so many great stories. 

So, today's Friday Five is:

Five moments I will remember from the 2012 London Olympics.

1. Gabby Douglas wins gold in the individual all-around women's gymnastics.

2. Usain Bolt wins double gold in the men's 100m and 200m.

3. Michael Phelps ends his career as the greatest Olympian of all time.

4. Oscar Pistorius competes for South Africa on 'Cheetah Blades' as a double amputee.

5. The whole Queen Elizabeth/James Bond thing! That was Awesome!!!


My husband's top memory of this year's Olympics

Staying up way too late because we're watching the Olympics coverage.

What are you going to remember about the Games of the XXX Olympiad?

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

World War 1 Wednesday

This is a picture of a memorial found in the city of Canberra, Australia. It memorializes the brave troops of the ANZAC forces of Australia and New Zealand who fought in World War 1. And not only those troops, but their war horses as well.

Recently the movie War Horse brought to the forefront the history of the horse during the First World War. One estimate puts the number of horses who served in World War 1 at six MILLION. In an era when the world was moving from agrarian to industrial, from mounted cavalry to mechanized infantry, the horses who were sent to war were up against the worst conditions possible. Thoroughbreds are no match for machine guns. Just as the tools of war were changing during the American Civil War and it took the techniques and strategies of warfare needed to catch up (no standing ten feet from each other and blasting away with inaccurate weapons as in the Revolutionary War) the weapons of the First World War were rapidly changing and becoming more and more deadly, to man and animal alike.

Of the six million horses utilized in World War One, it quickly became apparent that a mounted charge into the mouth of a machine gun nest resulted only in massive casualties, so most of the horses were used to haul equipment, as mounts for couriers, and in the use of pulling ambulances. Even used in these capacities, more than 25% of all the military horses in World War One died during the war. Chemical warfare, exhaustion, starvation, drowning, falling into bomb craters, bullets and disease. The ravaging effects of war were not confined just to the men and women who served but the horses, mules, oxen and yes, even camels who also served.

Question for you. Have you seen the movie War Horse or read the book?

Sunday, August 05, 2012


I'm kicking around a new idea for a historical romantic suspense story, and I'm looking for some recommendations for historical mysteries/suspense authors that you enjoy. I've read a lot of Anne Perry and Elizabeth Peters, Ellis Peters and Agatha Christie, and I just picked up the first in a new series by Victoria Thompson called Murder on Astor Place, but I'm always up for a new author.

Anyone like reading historical mysteries/suspense stories? Any recommendations?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Church Renovations


This month, our church is going to be deep into a renovation project that I'm really happy about. The improvements are long overdue and will make the church so much more pleasant. I'm especially looking forward to the nursery makeover. 

So, this week's Friday Five is:

Five things we'll be doing to renovate the church.

1. New Carpet! Woohoo! We'll be ripping the carpet out of the fellowship hall, nursery, Sunday School classrooms and hall and getting all new carpet. 

2. New Paint. The entire basement is getting a refresher coat of new paint (before we install the new carpet.)

3. New Lighting. The nursery has rather poor lighting, one of the classrooms is only half lighted, and the pastor's office needs some lighting help.

4. New Storage. The nursery is in dire need of new storage units and furnishings, and I am really looking forward to seeing this installed.

5. New Tile. The kitchen is getting new tile, and we're also adding tile to create a serving area in front of the kitchen. This will help preserve the new carpet when we're having a pot-luck meal.

Our church building is old, and there are parts of the building that are showing their age, but in the effort of being good stewards of what God has given us, we are steadily making improvements. We've replaced the roof, exterior doors, and about half the windows, and plans are going ahead to replace plumbing and interior doors, as well as the rest of the windows. Then I'm setting my sights on redoing the offices/workrooms. :)

Are you doing any renovations at your house or church? What is your favorite home improvement project?

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

World War One Wednesday

Olympic Rings on Tower Bridge

This week around our house has been all about the Olympics. I love watching sports, so the nonstop coverage of all the competitions is like crack. :D

There have been five Olympic Games that have been abandoned/put off because of war, the first occurring during the First World War in 1916. The city of Berlin had been awarded the games in 1912, but when war broke out in Europe, the games had no home. Berlin did host the Games in 1936, just prior to the start or World War 2, though the 1940 and 1944 games were abandoned later.

 What's your favorite Olympic moment so far in the London 2012 games?