Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Some Passing Thoughts on Life

Some days if I stare at a blank page and a flashing courser long enough, words come and the make sense. Today is not one of those days. So, I leave you with the words of other people.

I bookend my days in gratitude, things I keep to myself.  I am grateful for all of the wonderful people I've met over the years. Many who have shown that no matter how hard things get, it will get better.


Monday, September 18, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - Mid-September Check In

I can't believe how fast this year has gone by.  It's hard to believe that next week it will be officially fall, never mind that Pumpkin Spice, Carmel Apple, and Apple Cider everything are out and about.  Along with Halloween decorations. This is my favorite season.  I finished Write by Karen Peterson and am reading The Write Type by her.  I've adapted some of her exercises to my own use.  I may go back and follow the exercises exactly, but I'm not sure at this point.

I had hesitated to add dailies to my bullet journal, because I have a day job Monday through Friday with a schedule that doesn't change.  But, recently I started adding them along with my weeklies, so that I can keep track of my writing time better and any other tasks I want to get done.  I don't add a time line, because at the moment I don't see the need.

My weekly goal is to spend 7 hours on writing or writing related tasks.

The first week of September - 4th - 10th -- I wrote sentences for 2 hours, people watched for 1.5 hours, and worked on my website for 8 hours.

The 2nd week of September -- 11th -- 17th -- I wrote for 4 hours, researched a variety of things for 7 hours, and worked on my website for 8 hours.

So, for both weeks, I met my goal! Which makes me really happy.

I'm going to continue with my daily tracking, because I have to check in with myself daily on whether I made a goal or not. If not, what did I do and why.  There were a couple of days when nothing got done because I was either taking care of family or self-care was more important.

Every morning after I complete my Miracle Morning Routine, I set a goal for the day. Most of the time it is to write 1 hour on Behind the Masque, because I want it finished and I keep missing my self imposed deadlines.  I also write down my mood at that moment.  And a reward. Right now, I'm on a stitching kick, so that is my reward if I make my goal. Although, honestly, I may stitch even if I don't make my goal.  Then at night I write down what I actually did, my mood, and where I was. The section under that is what I read for the day.   You can see on this day, I did write, but not on what I wanted to, so I didn't make my goal, but it does count on my tracker.

My goal this week is to write 7 hours on either Marked or Behind the Masque.  I also want to read for 30 minutes a day and to go through one box stacked in my office.  My big goal is to have my house completely de-cluttered by Halloween.

What are your goals for the week? What do you want to accomplish this week? This Season?


Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day!!

Today is Labor Day, at least it is in the US. There is historical meaning behind the holiday. However, for most Americans it is a reason to hang out with friends and family and cook-out. In Michigan it also means that public schools and some Colleges and Universities start classes tomorrow. I'm blessed to be able to spend part of this weekend with R, R's boyfriend, and my family. We nearly lost my brother Friday to a burst appendix. He wanted to sleep, his fiancee took him to the hospital. They are getting married next weekend.

A friend of mine posted a list of places besides Houston that were hit the hardest when Hurricane Harvey hit.  Here is a link to a New York Times article on those places. Consider donating time, money, or supplies to those areas that are also affected by Hurricane Harvey. My post last Wednesday had several links to those willing to help those affected.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Helping the Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has battered parts of coastal Texas and has set his sights on Louisiana.  While it is heart rending to see the damage and aftermath Harvey is leaving in his wake, it is heart warming to see people helping people. Something this world needs more of.

People are bringing in food, clothing, and other necessities. Some are bringing in food and kennels for animals. The Cajun Navy out of Louisiana brought in their boats and are helping to evacuate people.

Once the rain clears, the clean up and the healing can begin.

Money, food, and clothing are all being collected to help.  Several organizations are setting up blood drives.

You can find a Red Cross Blood Drive location here, just type in your zip code.

NPR published this story on helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey - Here - it contains links to several organizations that can help.

The New York Times has published this story. This article also contains links to charities that will help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

More on the Cajun Navy is here and here and a donation link is here.

I've also heard of the Texas Navy, organized a lot like the Cajun Navy, but I haven't been able to find any more information on them.  

The stars of Supernatural - Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins have started a crowdraise to support help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. That can be found here.

There are issues that we as a country must still deal with, but if we can come together now, we can over come those issues too.


Monday, August 28, 2017

From the Writer's Desk - Wrapping Up August

In about an hour I'm taking R to get her/his books for school. S/he starts college on the 5th. Where has the time gone? Not just summer, but the last 18, almost 19 years. Today also marks 12 years since my dad passed away.  One week ago R's father passed away. Time has a way of dulling the sharp edges of sorrow.

Last week, my goal was to write for 7 hours. Working on any type of writing or pre-writing task for a total of 7 hours during the week.
Great goal. I know I managed to write - actual in the seat, putting new sentences to story - writing for 2 hours.  The rest of it - I don't know, because I didn't track it. I didn't sit down at the end of the day and write down what I actually accomplished that day. So, poor planning on my part, means I have no way of knowing definitely if I made my goal or not. So, today I need to start tracking what I work on.

I also was going to read 30 minutes a day. This is in addition to the 10 minutes I read first thing in the morning as part of my Miracle Morning routine. I stitched this week more than I read. Again, that lack of tracking accurately is coming back to bite me. I didn't read every day. I need to.

So, my goals for this week are the same as last week.
Write 7 hours - equals 1 hour a day.
Read 30 minutes a day.

I have a Bullet Journal, it's easy enough to create a log - maybe incorporate it into a weekly or daily spread - where I can track/log what I work on, what tasks, and what I read. I'll share what I come up with.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Line of Fire

From Resplendence Publishing

Christian Williams has lived with his secret his whole life and he’s not ready to give it up, he’s especially not ready to face the consequences.
Consequences be damned, Hayden Medema is tired of living a lie. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is dead and gays are serving openly in the rest of the military, the Navy SEALs should be no different.

After coming face to face at a gay bar in a different city and a whirlwind weekend of sex, Christian and Hayden along with fourteen other SEALs are sent on what appears to be another routine mission, until someone learns their secret and everything goes horribly wrong. 


Christian Williams pulled into the parking lot of Diversions, turned off his car and stretched. The hour drive from base to one of the city’s five gay bars had helped him relax. They were gearing up for several months of intense training and the scene here was just what he needed. He knew the gay bar close to the base was a hit with both the civilians and military guys. Still hadn’t told anyone other than his dive buddy, Jason Morganstern, that he’d preferred men to women for as long as he could remember, so going there wasn’t a possibility. SEALs weren’t gay, just ask anyone. He also had no desire to be a daddy, which he was certain many of the younger guys wanted. He’d been surprised to learn Jason was also gay. Jason was picky, he wanted a boy in the bedroom and a partner outside of it. Christian had no such desires. He wanted a partner who gave as good as he took and, more importantly, could deal with life in the Navy.

Withdrawing his driver’s license and sixty dollars, he tossed his wallet in the glove compartment. Keys in hand and several condoms and a small bottle of lube in the pocket of his jeans, Christian locked the door of his Jeep Grand Cherokee and made his way across the mostly full parking lot. After showing his ID to the bouncer and paying the cover charge, he strode through two sets of double doors and was immediately hit by the loud music. Surveying his surroundings, he automatically noted the exits, potential partners, problem areas and the people and places to avoid.
The dance floor and the bar were crowded. Men in snug tee shirts and even tighter jeans filled the room. This was one of his favorite places to play and hunt. There was little doubt in his mind that he’d find a partner or two tonight with the same needs. Tonight he wasn’t looking for a life partner, tonight was about no strings attached sex. A quick fuck. Hard. Fast. Sweaty. All male. The US military may finally be okay with gays serving openly, but several of his teammates were less than accepting. A couple of them had gone as far as making threats during several rounds of pool and more than a few beers at Hell’s Dune, the SEALs favorite bar. It was run by a grizzled former SEAL known only as Brick. Decent food and decent beer were great unless you were looking for bed companions. Those, he wouldn’t find at Hell’s Dune.

Taking a deep breath, he inhaled the scent of men and relaxed. He knew the bartenders and a couple of the bouncers by name, but no one knew he was the military, let alone that he was a SEAL, so he could be himself. Almost. Christian made his way to the bar and ordered a beer before he turned and watched the crowd. Most of the patrons tonight appeared to be college age, but he’d already seen one or two potential partners.

“Hey baby,” a tall, lithe twenty-something with big blue eyes and dark hair said, squeezing in next to him at the bar. “Has anyone told you that you give new meaning to the phrase tall, gorgeous and yummy?”

Christian rolled his eyes, praying the man hadn’t been talking to him.

“Let there be a God and tell me you’re not here with anyone,” the younger man purred, trailing his fingers over Christian’s arm.

His cock stirred at the promise the man wanted to deliver. It’d been too long since he’d fucked someone and even longer since he’d been in any sort of relationship where tender touches and caresses were normal. Looking down at the man, Christian shook his head.

“Sorry kid, I’m not interested.” He gave the guy points for approaching him, but the younger man wasn’t his type, and Christian wasn’t willing to act like he was. The man was cute, but Christian could probably snap him in half if he wanted. He needed to let loose, not worrying about whether his partner could handle it.

“Aw, don’t be like that. I’ll show you a real good time.” The man’s hand slid over his stomach and started working his shirt out.

“Back off,” Christian snarled, pushing past the other man and ignoring the whimper of protest. Stomping across the building, he looked for another vantage point.

Christian sighed. As though he’d needed any more proof on how long it had been since he’d been here. At one point in time, despite the low profile he preferred to keep, the young twenty-somethings, at least the regulars, kept their distance.

A firm ass clad in tight denim caught his attention. The other man danced at the edge of the dance-floor with a group of men. Taking a long drink from his beer, Christian set it on the table, knowing and not caring that it would be gone and the table taken over by others before he reached his quarry. He was two feet from his destination when the dancer turned and faced him. Christian stopped and stared.

“Medema! What the hell are you doing here?” Christian asked as the music was interrupted by the DJ announcing a slow song.

“Same thing you are, looking for a good time tonight,” Hayden replied and took a step forward.

Sparkling blue eyes peered out at him as Christian looked the man up and down as though he hadn’t seen him before, hadn’t seen him in little more than swim trunks. Short brown hair topped the long, lean frame. Hayden Medema matched him in height, but with more of a swimmer’s build, the man wasn’t nearly as wide. Still, Christian had seen him carry a fallen comrade fifty yards to safety. As long as he’d known the man, Christian had never guessed he was gay.

“I—” Christian began, at a loss for words. Dressed in snug blue jeans and a white-fitted polo-style shirt, the other man was gorgeous.

“I didn’t expect to see you in a gay bar.” Hayden smiled, stepping into Christian’s personal space. “I’m certainly glad you’re not in denial.”

Christian swallowed and shook his head, willing his blood to continue flowing to his brain. “Nope, not in denial. Just extremely cautious. It’s not like we have the most gay-friendly job or employer. Or even co-workers.”

“Agreed,” Hayden shrugged, “but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little bit of fun together now and then.” Hayden’s fingers trailed slowly up Christian’s abdomen and over his nipples. Gasping, Christian let out a full body shiver as the sensations went straight to his cock. It hardened and strained against his jeans. “Very nice,” Hayden said stepping closer and pressing into him. “Come home with me,” Hayden whispered, flicking his tongue across the sensitive part of Christian’s ear.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Writing and Quilting

I'm currently reading "Write" by Karen Peterson, and in it she uses what she calls a patchwork quilt method of writing. It's where you write a scene here and a scene there and at the end you piece it all together, like a patchwork quilt.

I can't write like that. I write chronologically, page 1 until the end. Ideas for dialogue or other scenes get stuck in a document called "Notes for Insert Book Title Here". 

But in the part I finished this morning she said basically, like with a patchwork quilt, writing a book doesn't happen in one sitting.  And that struck me. I'm a self taught quilter. It gives me an excuse to buy pretty fabric.

But also like quilting, the first book, the first draft isn't pretty.

 This is first quilt I ever made - it was a mystery quilt. I made it while I stationed in Okinawa (about 20 years ago).

And a close-up of one of the squares - the squares in the corners - are actually supposed to be squares, the points on the triangle should just touch the square in the middle.   R didn't care that it wasn't perfect s/he appropriated the quilt about ten years ago.  It's worn and frayed on the edges. S/he doesn't care. It's on the bed all winter long.

By comparison, these are the first four squares for an Underground Railroad quilt I started making two years ago.  The squares are actually square. The points are points and they meet up. It's a more complex pattern also. 

At this point, I consider myself a advanced beginner or intermediate quilter.  (Examples of quilts by master quilters can be found here at the National Quilt Museum).

Writing is like quilting in a way, when I think about it. The first draft or even the first novel can be like a first quilt, with plot points not adding up, questions not being answered, or a lack of consistency. But just as with quilting, or really anything, the more you practice (writing more books or stories or revising a story) and the more you learn (attending workshops, reading books on the craft of writing, listening to podcasts, etc.) the better your writing becomes.

It's a good reminder to have patience with myself, to not expect perfection, mistakes happen - they can be ripped out and re-done. It's okay to screw up occasionally. THAT is what the revision process is for. To fix the mistakes.

But also, it's a reminder to relax and enjoy the process.

I love to read. I love to write. I love to quilt. I enjoy both the finished product and the process.