Showing posts from 2017

Stained Glass

It's been a challenging time for my hobby...with Glass Warehouse closed, I just work by myself. Which, 90% of the time, is just fine. But every once in a while, I need help or advice...duh. Becky MacKenzie from GW is organizing an open studio series at D&L Glass, which sounds exciting. I don't love the idea of driving to 52nd and Pecos, but I'll do it anyway. I found this design (the left side of an antique English window) and decided to try it. My challenge was to combine multiple shades of the green glass for the leaves, so that it looked somewhat organic. I think it worked!

Stained Glass Work

I've switched from writing to stained glass lately. Here's one of my early projects. I love the color.

Starting A New Work = Painful

I'm struggling to begin Chapter 1 of the second story in my Elvira Grey series. I've thought through a possible new story, thanks to hours wasted down the rabbit hole called (LOL). I do love reading the Woodland Daily Democrat, circa 1892-1893. It's painful for my eyes and I feel like I need cheat er glasses for my bifocals, but one gets the sense of the language, the happenings in the community, and the topics that seem important. And the advertisements are extremely helpful! In fact, I think I've come up with a great idea, and it's based on an actual situation. This book will  focus more on women of that era: Elvira and Ada, of course, but also other women of different classes and ethnicities. And prostitution. And religion. And flawed people. Now if I could just type a few words into Scrivener.

Editing Never Ends

I'm polishing my completed manuscript of A Certain Deceit so I can send it to editors and agents. I was incredibly fortunate at HNS-2017: I pitched to two editors and they both want to see it (one partial read and one full read). I've gone through a hard copy, looking for nits, correcting grammar, and identifying any holes/issues to correct. I've had two other people read parts as well. It has taken me almost a month--I wanted to be careful and precise, not gloss over things. I bled a lot of red ink all over my text, then went into Scrivener and made my revisions. I copied my updated text from Scrivener to MS Word, chapter by chapter, and scrolled through each document, so I could see Word's editing function. This feature is handy and points out things I might have missed. I thought I'd done everything carefully. Then, as I'm preparing to send out the partial request, I saw an error! A big one, in the scheme of things, because it was on the third page (&q

Golf Extravaganza

Dad came for his annual visit last week (he left today). The man is 83 years old and he's a golf-a-holic. Which means that John and I get to follow him around our course, spritely at the beginning and dragging by the last round. This year was no different, despite his health issues. We played one 9 hole round and three 18 hole rounds in five days. That's a lot of golf...I feel like I'm overdoing it if I play 2-3 times a week. He's a perfect example of someone with a passion and a goal. Each morning, he set goals for his overall score, the holes he'd improve upon, mistakes he'd avoid.  It was admirable, since my goals usually involve survival, or not dropping out after nine holes. I played fairly well, better than last year, so I was happy. I know it makes him happy to see me playing well. John played even better, which, after twenty years of being tortured on the course by my father and brother, was the most satisfying of all.

"Just Say You're a Writer"

One of the Saturday sessions at HNS-2017 resonated strongly with me. Susanna Kearsley spoke about "Twin-Stranded Storylines", a subject I needed to hear about, since I tend to enjoy books that employ this technique. And I thoroughly enjoy her novels. However, before I get to the guidance she offered, one thing she said made the entire room laugh, then go quiet, as each person processed her simple piece of wisdom. Susanna said that when you're researching a project, just tell people you're a writer. Don't hedge around why you're asking nosy questions, or trying to find weird details (my words) from someone. In her experience, that admission--I'm a writer--breaks the ice, and then people bend over backwards to help. She acknowledged those words are difficult to say (and I would add, even more difficult to process if you've never allowed yourself to believe it). Her presentation was professional, well-organized, and thoughtful. The advice she offered


I volunteered at HNS-2017, and wow was that a smart decision (LOL). I hesitated before clicking the button during the registration process. What if the time commitment took away from my experience? Conflicted with sessions I wanted to attend? Or was just a hassle? But I took the plunge and now, in retrospect, I'm so glad I did. None of those initial worries occurred. In fact, I think it added immensely to my overall experience, especially since it was my first time at HNS. I met people right away...really! Even if my interactions were brief, I enjoyed making contacts with writers. learning about their work, or commiserating with them. After the first afternoon, I spied friendly faces, sat with acquaintances at sessions, and learned from them, many of whom were more experienced than I am.  And, I enjoyed helping attendees register or find their way, which was gratifying. So, next time, I'll click that button again!

How NOT to Promote Your Book

I attended a session at the HNS-2017 conference yesterday morning that taught me a valuable lesson. If you want to sell your book, there are a couple of things you absolutely should not do. The session was actually a Preconference Academy offering, a two-hour block devoted to Dynamic Pacing. It's a skill that's incredibly easy to recognize when you're reading, but often seems impossible to construct and maintain throughout any type of written document, from proposals, to marketing materials, to, yes, novels. The speakers were Irene Goodman, a "super agent" with decades of experience, and Selden Edwards, a novelist who got his book (The Little Book) published after thirty years. He's now working on his third book. I was actually quite interested in his personal story, how he managed to persevere for thirty years. And I was ready to buy his book. Until he opened his mouth, and wouldn't shut it. He seemed to believe that the session was all about him an

Historical Novel Society Conference

I'm excited and intimidated to attend the HNS-2017 Conference in Portland. I've been working in my little office for so long on my novel, which I lovingly refer to as Elvira, even though it's titled A Certain Deceit, that I'm in my own little world. I know I need to climb out and be brave and begin to share my work with someone other than John (and Ellie). But a large gathering like this is waaaayyy outside my comfort zone. My initial impressions are that people are so friendly! (Not exactly like all those work conferences I attended, where colleagues pasted on their smiles and wanted to rip your throat out.) And while there are a lot of published authors, there are many, many more in my boat. We've been pecking away and it's become time to either put up or stay in our little dens forever. I'm looking forward to learning more about the publishing business. But even more, I want to figure out what more I need to do with my own work. I have scheduled a

Picking Up the Paintbrush

John Constable: Weymouth Bay I spent yesterday familiarizing myself with the set of acrylic paints I bought a few years ago. When I painted before, I used water-based oils. But I had challenges with them, mostly because of the drying time and my need to transport my canvases to and from class. I decided to try acrylics this time, because I liked the idea of being able to load layer-upon-layer of color, but not have to wait forever. (Yes, I have issues with immediate gratification.) My set has just a few colors, so I had to mix colors, and I love that part! I know I'll need to buy a few tubes, the ones that are so hard to get right (magenta and some of the purples). But I like the process of creating the colors. But my ability to render anything half-way decent is completely gone. Well, that's not quite fair. It just takes a lot of time and I have to change my mindset. I have to relearn which brushes to use, as well. But, that's part of the process. And after thinkin


It's an interesting emotion, fear. The heart races, breathing quickens, your mind fuzzes. Even for the most ridiculous things. The possibility of startling a rattlesnake in the brush (this week's adventures in golf), the threat of being trapped in a hailstorm (I mean, who wouldn't want ping-pong ball size orbs of ice raining down on them?), or the anticipation of an upcoming event that pulls you outside your personal fortress. As I get older, I seem to experience more fear and it ticks me off. I long for the days...decades ago...when I didn't worry so much. Truth be told, I didn't know enough to worry then. I didn't know as much about health scares, or the claustrophobia of a raging thunderstorm. And worrying about trying something new caused some anxiety, but I didn't seem to obsess about the details like I do now. I'm trying to work on it, though. Play golf with people I don't know, even though I utterly dread it. Try new things that push the

Elvira's Next Story?

Now that I'm finished with my third revision of Elvira's story, I'm thinking about my next project and planning for the Historical Novel Society Conference in a few weeks. I'm trying to get motivated, actually. I think I'm just setting my expectations to very low, but hoping I'll learn things. I realized I need to have an idea of what Elvira's next book might be about, in case someone asks me and I've been noodling about it. I know, if I choose to write the next one, she had to be stronger, and come into her own. She'll no longer be the tragic widow. Her life has to stabilize and she has to be a character that people will want to follow, someone they care about. I suppose I have less worries about Jim and Wyatt in that area. So it's an interesting plotting exercise: work on something I may never write.

Happy 20th Wedding Anniversary


Na Pali

I took a zodiac boat tour of the Na Pali Coast thirty years ago, give or take. I still remember how majestic it was, from the slippery seat of that tiny boat. This visit, we timed the weather well, and scheduled a boat/snorkeling tour from Hanalei. The boats are bigger now, and there was even a toilet! Thank gosh I didn't need to use it. What a stunning morning we had. Lovely crew, the rest of the group wasn't too irritating (except for the young woman who styled herself a supermodel), and gorgeous views. Spinner dolphins trailed us for a while, and turtles greeted us languorously. It rained coming back to Hanalei (of course), but the sun was out once we docked. And rainbows, as it should be.

Travel Conundrums

I'm torn between two travel scenarios. Time is limited. Life is short and there are so many places to visit. So is it better to go to a new place every "big" vacation, or return to places you know well and love? We have a checklist, like most travelers. Spain and Morocco. The South Pacific. The Low Countries. Parts of Asia. We typically wander by ourselves, but I'd like to try a river boat cruise and possibly a small, specialized tours, like we did on the Big Island. That three hours taught us more about Hawaii's flora and fauna, the volcano, and the people than we ever would have gotten on our own. It is a quandary. We love Kauai. It's beautiful. It's relaxing. The skies and water change constantly. We know where to eat, which beaches to lounge on, and which sites to revisit. In other words, it's a "chill" vacation. Completely different from visiting a new place, which can present such joy, but also stress and anxiety. We have a friend


Our flights were uneventful, despite the madness at LAX and we arrived in Lihue on time. Even better, we got a free upgrade to a 4-door Jeep. We realized that the 2-door we rented would have been challenging with golf clubs, so lesson learned there. The condo is fabulous, as usual.  And yes, we witnessed our first rainbow early the next morning.

Novel Revisions, Draft 2

I just finished my second round of revisions to the novel, which now has a new title! After weeks of toying around with ideas, I've hit on A Certain Deceit. And, for now, I like it. I thought long and hard about using a geographical reference as a title. The problem with that strategy is that my setting isn't exactly well-known (e.g., Paris, The Hebrides). Also, the most logical title, Cache Creek, might be challenging to pronounce, for some people. I still haven't completely ruled it out, but I decided to go with a title that conveys a bit about the book. I'm happy with round 2. At this point, I'm blind to everything, and need some feedback from fresh sets of eyes. So I'm going to put it down for now and wait until I can get it. I signed up to attend the Historical Novel Association conference in Portland in late June. I'm taking some workshops and have signed up for 2 opportunities to pitch the book. That feedback will give me an idea of what I'm

Workout Fallout

I know going to Body Lift class is good for me. I'm getting stronger, I can tell. When I started in January, I could only use 3 and 5 pound weights. Now, I've graduated to 5 and 8 pounds, as well as learned to do sumo lifts with the bar. Who knew? The only issue is the class sucks the life out of me for the rest of the day. Where's the great rush of energy I'm supposed to feel?


I decided to test Scrivener, a software program created for writers. I wrote the first draft of my novel using Word and creating separate files for each chapter. I then used it for the first draft revision. It works fine, but it's clunky and will be a nightmare when I go to assemble the whole thing. Also, it's a pain to manage word count, etc. I downloaded a trial version of Scrivener, watched a few You-tubes, and decided to dive right in. A few hours of cut, copy, paste, later, I had created my Project and was ready to begin Draft 2 revisions. The first thing I realized I could do was easily break up my chapters into scenes. This function alone makes revising easier! I'm going to purchase the software.

Book Revisions: Round 1

I've made it through the entire manuscript for a "first draft" revision. I'm not sure I hate it as much as I thought I might. I have really worked to make Elvira a less cardboard character, at least from the perspective of other characters. I'm worried it's too simple a story. And of course, there aren't any vampires. I still don't have a title.

Tagging Along to Chicago

I played "corporate wife" and tagged along with John on a quick business trip to Chicago. We always talk about me joining him, but sometimes his trips are too painful. Some are too quick. And some are definitely to locations I have no interest in visiting. This trip was perfect, as he didn't have mandatory dinners each night with his colleagues. I hadn't been to Chicago in at least three years, so I was looking forward to visiting my old haunts (Art Institute) and going to new ones. The weather wasn't exactly perfect, but it definitely didn't snow or storm. I walked miles, learned to "Uber," and visited some new museums. Perfect! My new favorite museum is definitely the Richard Driehaus Museum , a Gold Coast mansion that has been refurbished to its original glory. The collections were stunning, especially the Tiffany lamps and fixtures, the tiles, and the ornate wood floors and moldings. Totally worth the admission fee and taking the time to att

Self Improvement = Pain!

I am not a terribly vain person. I hate spending time in front of the mirror, staring at myself. I don't do selfies. The major thing I dislike about aging is the wrinkles around my lips. It's irritating, because I never smoked and didn't use drinking straws, but got them anyway. But, in the past few years, I've noticed that the "old lady age spots" that I have on my back keep growing and multiplying. To be honest, I don't see them (duh), so they've been out of sight out of mind. Until last year, when I put my bathing suit on. How many ways can you say gross? Then, as I started to work out more, the ones along my bra line started to itch and bleed. With our trip to Kauai on the horizon, I decided I should have them removed. I know they might come back, they're hereditary (thanks Mom!). But at least I could get rid of the ones I have now, and my back won't scare small children. I made an appointment at the cosmetic dermatologist and went in y

China Cabinet, Round 2

The new one came, and it was clear they'd had the base rebuilt. Thank goodness, because passive-aggressive me didn't want to have to reject it a second time.

New china cabinet...

Sometimes, it really is all about home decorating. I haven't had a china cabinet, or any sort of kitchen/dining display piece, since I sold my old one in Madison, to make room for THAT kitchen remodel. Of course, we moved to Colorado and I realized the piece I sold would have been perfect here. Sigh. Anywhoo, I've been shopping for the last year for something that would work in our space. Compact, nice looking, and functional. Finally, we found what we wanted after a trip to Ethan Allen (after visiting at least ten other stores). I can now display some of the pieces I've bought as well as some of mom's china. The delivery was scheduled for yesterday, earlier than promised, and I was excited. Until the guys wouldn't even come to the front door. I guessed something was wrong after a bit and my guess was, unfortunately, correct. Apparently it had been poorly packed, and the base had a huge scratch in it, one that didn't look repairable to me. So I got to reject

Finished the Novel...

I set a goal of December 31, 2017 to finish my novel. I knew I needed a deadline, but I've also learned I need structure, I need to work on it at a consistent time every day. So, by acknowledging and addressing my lack of discipline, I finished it yesterday. Well, I finished the first draft. The last few chapters have been really hard. I suppose because I was writing the final chapters, so they had to be compelling, make sense, and complete my story. Also, I was writing an ending that didn't quite match the early sections of the book, sections I knew needed revision. So I had quite a battle with myself to plunge forward, instead of go back and revise. I was mostly successful, mainly because I forced myself to NOT go back. There will be enough time for that. I've been calling this thing the Elvira Grey book since I started writing it, almost three years ago, even though I slapped a title on it when I submitted my partially completed work to Michelle at the end of 2015. I h