About this Blog

Here you will find information and writings by Carrie Dalby, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as the ups and downs of life.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Time is Here

The juggling routine is improving. I've managed to write several pages this week, on both fiction and non-fiction projects. Hooray for me!

The things I've been reading on the side are:

Teach Me by R.A. Nelson

For my fluffy book (I have to indulge myself every so often) I just started The Luxe by Anna Godbersen. YA historical but I had to try to book just based on the cover. I've had my eyes on it since it came out.

And then there is the December issue of the Ensign magazine, in which a small article of mine was published.Check it out at:

This is my second paid for/published item. My first was a personal essay in the final issue of TALL magazine back in 2005. If there is an interest (be sure to vote on the side bar) I'll post that essay on here next time.

My plan is to attempt to finish the first draft of Corroded by the end of the year but I'm not going to let it bother me if that doesn't happen. I also need to finish a magazine article that is already accepted by the National Association of Retail Buyers (NARB) for publication in their March 2011 feature.

Which reminds me, I didn't want the month to pass without posting a MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone. The kids and I have been enjoying the season including special crafts, driving at night to look for lights, and Christmas music (the favorite among the younger crowd is the Charlie Brown Christmas album). This is the only Christmas my children will be 12, 5, and 2 so I plan on enjoying it, no matter what else is going on in my world.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Five Second Rule

I've been in the midst of a transitional period for the past few weeks. Once again, it's necessary to play the part of a juggler as my responsibilities shift, the weight of new expectations ruining the balance of my old schedule.

I tossed the objects into the air one at a time. Family first, of course. I wouldn't feel the need to find the harmony of a well balanced life if it wasn't for my family. I like to think I'd be a happy hermit among bookshelves, somewhere that the air is crisp and the scenery predominately green. Alas, family demands me to live in a hectic here and now.

Then came homeschooling, which is a different aspect of family—or rather the core of having children in the home. The more I teach, and the more I learn, the more I love it. The added bonus: it's a good excuse to acquire even more books.

Of course, there was also Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations that needed attention. I even managed to finish a scarf for myself, so I can move on to the next project to be gifted. And I didn't give up reading. Here's a sampling of the past month:

(I was lucky enough to meet Laurie on November 18th—for the second time—while she was on tour to support this new release. She's wonderful!)

Next came the earth ball of the juggling world: serving as Primary President (Jr. Sunday School) for my church's local congregation. This is something I've done for many years, but have enjoyed a lovely 23 months hiatus while serving as the building's librarian. In the library there isn't much take home work to do—the bulk of my calling was fulfilled during church hours on the Sabbath. But now I'm working more than twelve hours a week, both the time at church—caring for the needs of over fifty children and a dozen fellow workers—plus the planning, pondering, and praying that goes along with it. The benefits are wonderful, though. Volunteer work is fulfilling on many levels and church duties are no exception, especially when children are involved! Once the new leadership (that's counting myself) settles into a routine, and the plans for switching classes in 2011 are arranged, the time involved will reduce by about half.

But for over a week I've neglected to pick-up an important ball.

It's down and rolling away.

But I just stopped it with my foot and am ready to pop it back into the air like a hacky sack. The ball is writing and my WIP, Corroded, is smudged from neglect. Time to stretch the five second rule to a ten day rule and juggle for my own sanity.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Hope everyone had a magical weekend. Here's a peek at one of our seasonal adventures.

On a side note, if you put both an orange and a vanilla flavored Tootsie Fruit Roll in your mouth at the same time it tastes like an orange creamsicle.

Autumn on the Gulf Coast came and went and came and... I hope it sticks around this time! The crisp weather of fall (if we're lucky enough to receive typical seasonal weather) is invigorating. I usually get inspirational writing boosts this time of year but it hasn't happened yet. So, I'm sitting at my desk with the table top fan blowing on my face, praying for the courage to step forward with my WIP. I haven't made major progress on Corroded (because of other projects—and laziness) in at least two months. This blog is my jumping point to get back into the swing of things. I need to face the climax of the novel and conquer!

Even growing up in the also sporadic climate of coastal California, inspiration happened this time of year. I believe I began each of my novel length stories in the fall, starting at fifteen years old. The bulk of my poetry was written in autumn, with a generous helping of winter and some spring sprinkled in. Flipping through my poetry notebook I can count on one hand the poems written during the summer months. And speaking of poetry, I haven't written a cataloged poem since I was pregnant with my oldest in 1998. Question to self: What's up with that?!

But for now, I've got a terrifically awful poem to share. Remember, these poems are two decades old in some cases. Don't hold it against me! This one happens to be from the autumn I started college, at seventeen years old.

Breath of Life

Days do ever pass
Leaves turn golden and fall
Attending our last class
Is a walk down an endless hall

Sometimes it will seem
Like it's you against the rest
But your light will forever beam
You know you're one of the best

So keep in touch
With that strong sensation
It will give you much
Over-powering elation

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Soggy Blog

Yawn. It's close to bedtime but I haven't written anything more than a few e-mails and a FaceBook status today. The need to put thoughts into words, to feel the letters and spaces flow effortlessly through my finger tips, was too difficult to ignore.

Sometimes I feel the need to write on paper. The mesh of print/cursive—that I was always corrected by the students for using when substituting in elementary school—is therapeutic some days. Especially when using one of my favorite Profile Paper Mate pens. The act of moving the pen over paper is art itself.

But other times, like tonight, I need the soft music of the keyboard—the gentle sound created is just enough to fill the void on a finally quiet night. Seeing the words fill the screen allows me to feel that I'm accomplishing something, even though I cheat and use a size 14 font.

It's been a long day. From standing in line at the local Wal-Mart Supercenter for 30 minutes because their debit/check/credit card server was down to having to rush to a pediatrician appointment for the princess (no worries, it was her two year check-up) to dealing with the oldest child's meltdown (and not backing down on the repercussions.) Yes, it's been a long day!

And why am I blabbing about nothing? I suppose it's about writing and life, as usual, but there is a deeper meaning behind this blog.


Plain and simple. I'm avoiding my W.I.P. because I've spent over a month working on a short story. And this past week I've added a non-fiction magazine article to the mix so Corroded has been wilting in the heat of the southern summer. Well, hopefully its smoldering, but I feel so removed from it that I can't help but think it's less than it was... that I'm not able to return to the hundred plus pages without the storyline falling into the abyss of flatly written mush.

So, instead I choose to write a squishy blog. At least I've filled up a page in my document file. Any writing counts, right?

And to go along with this soggy puddle, here's the first poem I have record of writing, way back at eleven years old.


Trees grow, very slow.
By the sea and by me.
They grow in lawns and by ponds.
Very slow do they grow.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Still Here

It's been an ebb and flow of family and friends lately.

Laughter and tears.

Wiggles and giggles.

A thousand mile road trip in our new-used car, packed to the gills with luggage and kids.

Living in a hotel room for ten days and being adopted by the staff.

Meeting extended family members for the first time and saying good-bye to others.

Homeschool, social gatherings and sending the youngest boy off to preschool.

And that little princess... she turns TWO next weekend!

I haven't been reading or writing blogs for over a month. But, I'm ready to jump back on track and ride this blog out to the end of the year—and beyond.

Keep your chin up and smile!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Turning a New Page in Life

My somber previous post has scared me away from blogging. But there's now a (leaky) cap on the gushing BP oil well, so that's a bit of an improvement. Enough said, there isn't much Pollyanna in me about that issue. But here is a link to a haunting song by Mithril, inspired by the oil spill. The images on the video are all from better days gone by on local beaches. (My three kids each have a picture included.)


This week marks my first attempt at homeschooling my twelve-year-old son. He has a Neuro Immune Dysfunction, which causes autistic behaviors and has been receiving special services through the public school system since he was three. But there is no way I am going to send my sweet, innocent boy into the whirlwind of middle school. I've known I was going to homeschool him for the past year—and have been studying all I can on the subject and networking as much as possible for this socially awkward mother—but I spent most of my free time (amid numerous events and sick children) last week charting out an actual weekly planning page—a hybrid of a dozen I've looked at—and choosing the first week's goals. And, I must admit, I also zoned out on Free Cell several times. I wrote absolutely nothing on my WIP and barely logged one journal entry in my notebook.

There is a time and a season for everything, and right now I need to restructure my day to fit it all in. I need to decide if I'll write in the morning before the kids wake, which has been my exercise time, or attempt writing at night, when my mind is mostly mush, since quiet time might need to be used for one-on-one with the eldest. It's a good thing Laurie Halse Anderson's WFMAD is next month—I need some motivation!

Back to the homeschooling experience. Day One=Field trip!
Community experiences at the post office, pediatrician's office, pharmacy, and mall. Walking the mall was the fitness time for the day, too. At home, we took turns reading two books about farmers and pigs, and I let him flip through a third. Our unit study/theme is farms, which is something he loves. He copied twelve spelling words (taken from the farm books) three times and did thirty-five addition problems as part of a math review. And there were no meltdowns—success!

I praised him throughout the day and before bed I asked him if he liked doing work at home. He said yes and smiled. A warm fuzzy!

On a personal note, I've finally gotten around to some lighter--but deep--reading.

as well as

Still many more books on my library list and on my own shelves to read.

In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee I'm closing with one of a series of five poems I wrote for a freshman high school report. Each poem had to be from a different character's perspective. Give me a break, I was only fourteen....

Personal Guide

Watching you grow up,
that's what it's all about.
Teaching you,
watching you learn.
No matter what you do,
I'll always be here for you.

I was put on Earth to guide you.
So come, little children,
stay close to my side.
It's a wicked world
and I don't want to lose you
to its powerful influence.

But don't be afraid,
I'll help you..
If there is any doubt in your mind,
just stay close, my child.
That's what I'm ere for;
a parent is a guide.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

On a Serious Note

A week and a half ago, this was the view from our hotel room (compliments of my big sister, booked weeks before the Deep Water Horizon explosion) on Pensacola Beach. Beautiful, except for a slight tea colored staining along the water line. My children and nephews played in the sand, well above possible contamination. And blessed be the hotel's pools!

But the oil has been gushing for over two months. Response is slow. Lack of nationwide support is disheartening. It might be a political statement from those with the power and money. It might be a way to show the evils of offshore drilling, by slowing the response to create prolonged damage. It might be a control game between public and private and government sectors. Heck, the oil rig might have been blown up by an enemy sub! I don't know. But I do know our waters, our land, the creatures, and even the people who call this section of earth home are suffering.

Pensacola Beach had clumpy, brown oil washing on shore for several hours. Miles of scenic beaches are now splattered with sticky grime, much more difficult to clean than the previous tar balls. No skimmers were spotted from the shore and the state government admonished the federal government to send more skimmers to protect the coast of Florida. There are only a few skimmers covering the whole state—if you call that “covering”.

Four dolphins washed ashore off Pensacola Beach yesterday. Three were successfully placed back in the water but the forth, oil clinging to its side and face, didn't survive. It made crying sounds and the rest of the pod—believed to be the dolphins who swim by Fort Pickens every morning—were jumping out of the water, trying to communicate with their lost member. A family vacationing from Arkansas, as well as other bystanders, were the unsung heroes. They shed their own tears as they worked to scrap off what oil they could with their bare hands. It's difficult enough to explain to a four year old that the gulf water is dirty and we can't play in it or build castles with the moist, easily shaped sand... but to witness the death of an innocent creature is an unforgettable teaching experience I hope to never encounter.

Bayley's Seafood, opened in 1947, is a landmark near Mobile Bay. I'm not even local but I know it's practically historic in nature among the true seafood eateries of L.A. (That's Lower Alabama, not Los Angeles or Louisiana. I've learnt me somethin' down here!) My family passes Bayley's every time we drive to Dauphin Island. Their recipes are award winning but the owners are speaking out that they might have to close. Every week there is less fresh seafood to be bought. Less items to sell to customers.

A local charter boat captain—a husband and father—committed suicide on his boat and it is speculated at this time that his worries over the oil spill (dare we assume the fact that he wasn't able to run his business as normal had anything to do with it?) were the catalyst.

These examples were taken from the first ten minutes of News 5 Wednesday night. Multiply these stories—and all those in the weeks before—by the unnumbered days that the oil will still be gushing. And then, again, by the time it takes the free floating oil to be collected, or washed up on the sugar white sand beaches of the gulf coast. Only then can we accumulate an idea of how catastrophic this is for our earth. For our wildlife. For our economy. For our health. For our children's children.

And that's not even touching on the dispersants and other chemicals being used...

On a sweeter note (let's hope this link works, you might need to copy and paste), here's a video of Norah Jones preforming "Dauphin Island" earlier this month:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

So Much to Read, So Little Time

Most of my down time lately has been spent reading. Studying is more like it. Up to my ears in non-fiction reading. Here's a sampling of titles, all from the local library:

Secret Lives of Boys: Inside the Raw Emotional World of Male Teens by Malina Saval
*Graphic language at times—the first chapter has it the heaviest.*
Over-all, a fascinating read. Boys are a lot like girls when it comes to worries/fears.

Exiting Nirvana : A Daughter's Life with Autism by Clara Claiborne Park
It's refreshing to find a book dealing with an older child on the spectrum. And one that's artistically inclined, like my son. Since I have so many informative books to read right now, I'm using this one as my light/nighttime reading. As interesting as it is, I look forward to some fluff.

1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger's by Ellen Notbohm and Veronica Zysk
Lots of good ideas: some old, some new. Taking notes...

The Everything Homeschooling Book by Sherri Linsenbach
Need I say more?

On a good—possibly pathetic—note, I've written over twelve chapters of Corroded. Eleven of those (89 pages) have been through the mill in the awesome critique group I'm in. Thank you, QuillMasters!
My main character is based on me as a teen, but amplified. The more she stretches her limits, the more fun (and harder!) it is to write. It's almost like reliving high school, thinking about all the “what ifs” and if I had that chance, would I have been brave (or stupid) enough to do or say something... For the most part the answer is no. And, an enormous NO for ever wanting to actually go back and live through it again.

Speaking of me as a teen: back by popular demand (well, all four people who voted wanted to see more) is a random poem from a seventeen year old me.


Crashing waves against the sand.
The tempest whirls in my head.
A soul
dragged down
by Satan's grasp
Has left the world
victim of the

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Numb no More

I've felt emotionally numb off and on over the years, especially since becoming a mother. It's difficult to draw the line between mother-fatigue and depression but either (and most diffidently the combination of the two!) could be counted as a cause of the numbness.

Since my WIP is a teen novel, I felt the urge to reconnect to my younger, emotional self. Pictures from the era provide an opening but it's my poetry that drags all the emotions back—kicking and screaming.
And, wow, was I in touch with my inner angst!
Check out my brooding self in Pebble Beach, 1992....

Oh, I miss my hair!

I thought it'd be fun to start adding a few poems to each post—providing a flash-portrait of some of the imaginings of my former self. I'll even put the desperately awful ones up.

I'll start things off with a poem which I turned in to my Creative Writing teacher and he wrote a “please see me” note on the bottom of it. I was too embarrassed to confront him, thinking he might be suspecting abuse or something. But he never followed up on it, not sure if that's good or bad... hmm.

The poem, written by my sixteen year old self, was inspired by the movie ___________.

Wait, you tell me!
(Hint: 80's fantasy. No, the movie title is NOT in the poem/title.)


Illusions surround
my every move
Walking through the corridor of eternity
I feel tampered with and used

Down the path I see someone I know
look again
it isn't who it seems to be
A face turned and twisted
in my mind
to become fantasy

But after all
what is a face
or a smile?
They are things we hide behind
truths we run from for miles.

What movie do you think it is? Comment!
The first correct person might win an autographed copy of the poem. :)

And don't forget to vote.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Dreaded Year-end Blog

Or shall we call it “The New Beginnings Blog”?
Yes, that's much better. See, barely a year older and already wiser.

Speaking of birthdays, here's a picture of my most awesome gift.

I'd get frustrated with it but it's too much fun. Whoever created this is an evil genius.

Since I changed my New Year's resolutions into birthday goals, I pulled out the dusty list and decided what was mastered, what needed continual coverage, and what had to be ditched. Here's the latest line-up.

For my “physical” goal, I dumped the “get below ___” and have set in place actual monthly mile goals, as well as how many times a month, to chart my exercise. Life is too short to live by numbers, whether it's counting calories or trying to get those last five (or twenty, or more...) pounds off before you can feel totally happy with yourself. Just give me jeans that don't create a muffin-top effect and a shirt that doesn't make me look six months pregnant and I feel great. But I must admit, it's getting harder to find those clothes...

“Mental” was difficult to keep (no snide remarks, please!)—reading one non-fiction book a month. Some months I read more than one and other months I was lucky to keep up with my scripture studies and my few magazine/newsletter subscriptions (which are non-fiction). So, I'm keeping it simple: Keep learning!

“Spiritual” is a keeper. I still need to improve the quality of my prayers. It's just too easy to whisper a quick “thank you” and snuggle into bed at night. Or keep hitting snooze until all the kids are running around and I forget to start the day on my knees.

For the “emotional” aspect of life I've broadened my goal to include more things but removed the actual time constraints. So, instead of completing an emotional inventory once a month (I only got around to doing two this past year) I'll “keep track of my emotional state by regular (how's that for a cop out?) journal keeping, testing, and meditation.” In case you were wondering, I do the Beck Depression Inventory and Burns Anxiety Inventory tests to track my ups and downs, as suggested by a great counselor many years ago. But that's another entry...

“Social”: I totally suck with all things social. I'm keeping my dinky goal of having one date with my husband a month because I really need to work on spending quality time with my man. And I'm too much of a wallflower to attempt weekly/monthly social gatherings.

I think “Family” is the only goal I excelled at. We are in the habit of weekly Family Home Evenings so I'm upping the goal to have daily devotionals. Just a mini something, beyond the reading of a verse or two of scriptures before bed I already do with the kids. I'll be homeschooling my oldest next school year (yet another future entry) so the daily devotionals would work well into a schooling schedule.

“Financial” is tough. Didn't meet the goal but I'm thinking positively and increasing—actually decreasing—the numbers. Oh, those pesky numbers again! Didn't I just write something about life being too short to live by numbers. Might need to rethink this one...

I came close to meeting my “professional” goal. I wanted to complete the first draft—I'm about two-thirds of the way through—of Corroded, my WIP (work in progress). My new goal is to have Corroded polished in time for the 2011 submission deadline for the Delacorte contest. Hopefully the publishing company will keep that contest going, but if not, I'll look for an agent or submit elsewhere. Delacorte offers a yearly prize for the best contemporary teen book for a first time novelist. The winner is published with an advance as the prize money. Since that goal will actually extend beyond my next birthday—submission is in the fall—I've also added to begin my historical fiction novel, which I've been researching/thinking/planning/etc on for the past couple years. Plus, I will be open to submitting short pieces for publication or contests when the opportunities arise, but I don't want to add in a goal for those. Less stress.

Feel free to urge me along with these goals. Keep me on task by asking me how something is going. I do much better at staying focused when I have someone checking on me. That's why my BFF (Blog Free February) was so successful—I felt I had to answer to Laurie Halse Anderson.

On to other things...

I've read several interesting books in the past month.

The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry kept me as interested in the story as The Lace Reader, her first book.

It always helps when Hawthorne references are thrown in but the mental issues driving the story were well crafted by themselves. The fact that I visited Salem two years ago makes her books that much easier to visualize while reading. Brunonia's books are two out of maybe six “adult” fiction books I've read in the past year or more. They aren't squeaky clean, so reader beware.

From the local library I borrowed The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by James Alexander Thom.

His actual novels are now on my to read list. The book is a great source of information and easily digested. I even read it before bed several times instead of my usual fluffy reading.

Speaking of fluff, my last nighttime read was the type of novel I'd usually skip. But since I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader's copy (which I also got for The Map of True Places) I tried it out. One of those upper class high school novels... it's called She's So Dead to Us, written by Kieran Scott.

It's better than I expected—stayed up three nights in a row, way past my usual lights out, to read. But even though the ending was more of a beginning (sequel/series in the works, I'm sure) it's not something I'll seek out again.

Tonight I'll start When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead because Newbery winners seldom disappoint. Another library selection.

A few other things of interest that happened in April:

I saw my first 3-D movie since Captain Eoo at Disneyland in the mid 1980s. Alice in Wonderland was great! The technology and the story were a great match. I loved the older Alice and how the movie started and ended. Still not my favorite Johnny Depp performance, though. That goes to Benny and Joon.

Took a day trip to New Orleans to spend a few hours with my awesome cousin who was down south from out west on business. We hadn't seen each other since a reunion in 1994, I think it was. I'd have to check the cow shirt to be sure...

The family spent “A Day Out with Thomas” one rainy Saturday afternoon. The kids LOVED all the trains, especially the ride on Thomas the Tank Engine, even though he was terribly SLOW.

Spent a dozen collective hours at the Little League park.

And all the kids went to the dentist for cleanings, the youngest for the first time. We'll be dealing with a cavity-filling appointment in the future. Gag.

No, they aren't that bad on the little princess's teeth. This pictures makes me feel a little better, though.

Wow! It looks like I need to return to blogging more often. This blog is huge!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's Been a Month

I haven't blogged in over a month now. I've thought about it a few times but life rolled on without typing.

Haven't read any blogs in about two weeks. Will skim through and check-up on a few right now.

Hadn't checked Twitter or FaceBook in over 48 hours until just a few minutes ago. And that was AFTER writing half a page in Chapter Twelve of Corroded.

My birthday is less than a week away and most goals will not be perfected by then. But I'm much better off than I was a year ago.

Look for an updated blog/ramble next week....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sand Castle Dreams

I played in the sand this evening. Up to my elbows and across my lap. I didn't worry about getting gritty—I only cared about sharing a memory with my kids and reconnecting with my inner-child.

There was a fair amount of rain earlier today. Not enough to create standing water but it soaked the ground just right. The “sand pit” in the yard was perfect for building tunnels and towers. So down I went. A pale dusting of sand covered my black crop pants within seconds. By the time the first tunnel was constructed, and the Matchbox van successfully pushed through, damp sand clung to my bare arms. Somewhere between the second tunnel and the sandcastle mound the grit worked its way down my shirt. It might have happened when I grabbed the littlest Godzilla before she could collapse the prized passages.

By the time we were finished, I was far dirtier than the kids . Instead of trying to brush the sand off I rubbed it between my hands and fingers, then up and down my arms. My skin is now smoother than it's been for ages.

On a different note:

Yesterday I finished reading Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin. It's a historical novel about the life of Alice Liddell, who was the inspiration for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. What could have become a scandalous story was treated with dignity. The emotions were sensual and honest but the whole story was respectful. The ending unveils what I wish to believe of Mr. Do-do-dodgson and young Alice.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Did It!

I survived Blog Free February, with the bonus of not using social networking sites. But to be fair, I must list my infractions.

I cheated day one, February first, only to check Laurie Halse Anderson's Live Journal site to see if she posted about Blog Free February since she didn't over the weekend. She'd posted, calling for her readers everywhere to decrease their internet time to increase their creative productivity. I was geared up and wrote two and a half pages that day—more than twice my regular amount.

February tenth I received a message from from our dear old Facebook stating that my BFF from elementary school was requesting friendship. I went to that acceptance page only. Then, I sent an e-mail to tell her I wouldn't be on FB until next month.

On February eleventh a cousin tagged me in a photo on pesky FB and one of my sisters and another cousin commented on the photo. I gave in to the curiosity and looked at the photo page and was rewarded by a black and white group shot of more than a dozen cousins from a family reunion circa 1982. And yes, I did leave a comment that it looked like I was pulling out a wedgie.

February nineteenth a BFF from middle school requested my FB friendship so, once again, I logged on to the friendship request page only. (Blog Free February didn't mean I had to ignore my BFFs.) And while I was there I went ahead and friended all the other people who had requested I add them over the last few weeks. Yes, I had ignored many other FB requests.

And the results of my month long effort. Drum roll, please...

I doubled the productivity of my most successful writing month (since I've kept track of my page counts last fall.) More than tripled my average writing page count per month. I actually wrote while the kids were all awake during the day and after they were all asleep several times. I'd been limiting myself to nap-time only writing for some silly reason.

I've listened to more music than I have in the last few years, partly due to my new iPod and iTunes account. With my complete music collection on my computer it's easy to listen and find inspiration while working. Long live Mitch Malloy!

Plus, I increased my mileage for exercising. Since I wasn't checking several sites first thing in the morning (and didn't have half a dozen or more e-mails about follow-up comments on FB) I had more time to devote to my workout before the kids woke up.

I've decided what I can live without: TMI and information over-load.

Aside from hiding the apps on FB (which I've been doing for months) I'll be hiding some people from my news feed to cut down on the time I spend catching up with family scattered across the states and close-to-my-heart-but-far-way friends. I think I concurred the need to scroll through every posting since last visit. But in case my OCD flares and I get the urge to do so, having less people on the news feed page will shorten the time doing so.

Twitter I was only checking once a day, but I could easily go a day or more without it. It's diffidently a good networking tool so I want to keep it around.

As for blogging... I won't try to post weekly but I'm sure I'll blog at least once or twice a month. I'll probably drop a couple of the blogs I've been following, too.

On a side note, I've been awake for several hours and haven't checked FB or Twitter of any blogs. But I will as soon as I post this. :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gearing Up for Shutting Down

This past week I've slowed my social networking considerably. Didn't check Twitter all weekend and only checked Facebook once a day—and I did not post an update each time. It's been easy to slack off, but I had a busy week with appointments and errands. I was away from the house during my productive hours so I didn't get much writing done, either. Plus, I had a last minute church lesson to prepare Friday PM-Saturday.

In total, I wrote my blog post and a little over a page on my WIP (Work in Progress). I barely squished together my seventh chapter to submit for my next critique group meeting.

News Flash:
My birthday is a little over three months away. YIKES!

Since I decided to re-write my 2009 goals to be “Before I Turn Thirty-Four” goals, I really need to get focused on the personal deadline of completing my first draft, among other things.

I have goals in eight categories: Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Emotional, Social, Family, Financial, and Professional.
My writing goals are “professional”, so I'm behind schedule on that.
I'm halfway to reaching my physical goal—hooray for me!
Good progress on mental and emotional.
Just about mastered the family goal—will need a new goal for the next year (the current one is a carry-over from the previous year).
Been mediocre on the spiritual and social aspects, but I'm humble enough to admit it.
And the financial front totally stinks—diffidently a carry-over for next year!

How have those of you that create goals been doing?

I'll be taking notes of my productivity during February so I can see how it goes and will report back on the second of March.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You Want Me to Do What?!

My post last week sparked some interesting conversations. I had more feedback than ever before, thank you Megan for commenting so many times, including a response from Laurie Halse Anderson. LHA is one of my writing heroes—it was super generous of her to offer me advice. THANK YOU!

Besides LHA's comment on my post (go back and read it if you haven't) she added the ideas into her own blog http://halseanderson.livejournal.com/279838.html and is calling for a Blog Free February.

I am going to accept the “BFF” challenge—including NOT reading blogs—as well as take a hiatus from Twitter and Facebook. I'll still use my e-mail and internet since I use both for conducting the businesses of life (critique group, financial, etc) but will do so sparingly.

It would be great if everyone I know takes this challenge so I don't miss any news/tidbits as posted in said places. (Yeah, I know... fat chance!)

But for now, here's the latest from my reading corner:

I'm reading The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale and laughing a lot during the evening hours. It's an honest look at the inner workings of a religious wife/mother, with a ton of humor and fairytale-ish happenings. Charmingly deep. Deeply charming.

The daytime reading, besides scripture study, is The ABCs of Writing for Children complied by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff. The collected quotes make it perfect for stop-n-go reading while mothering the little princess, and princes, too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Great Quandary

I'm a follower of about two dozen blogs. On Mondays I usually scroll through the last week's postings. It actually took over an hour—about three hours, with hit-and-miss computer time while mothering the little ones—to catch up on all the posts this time. I'm in need of a new strategy to combat the blog information highway. Several of the blogs I've just started reading. If they don't turn out to be what I hope them to be, I'll quit wasting my time with them. But for now, I think I'll have to check in at least twice a week to keep my time more manageable.

And my Twitter feed is backing up, too. I'm only following twenty-three people. Mostly writing related, of course. I used to only check in once a day but it's getting difficult to keep up with those as well.

I won't even get into Facebook... well, maybe. I keep my friend list small. I'd like to keep it under a hundred always, it's in the low eighties right now, but I'll see how that works out. I have deleted a few people over the past year. Like those who never, ever comment/message me and have over three hundred “friends”. I figure they wouldn't miss me anyway. FB, since it is my family and friends on there, I try to check twice a day. And even then, it's usually between a hundred and two hundred updates within the past ten-twelve hours. And that's with blocking apps!

I deleted my MySpace account months ago. There was only one friend I haven't found anywhere else—on the sites listed above—that I'd like to keep up with, but it wasn't worth keeping MySpace open just for him. Well... no!

And, yes, because of my OCD I do feel the need to scroll back through EVERYTHING since I last posted on each site. I just don't want to miss that one thing that might make the difference to me or be oblivious to the vital information in the life of a loved one.

I'm trying to decide what online tools are the best use of my time. My goal is to build a network of writing related people/information. The Twitter account is great. I mean, the likes of Laurie Halse Anderson and Meg Cabot are following me—can't beat that! Though I doubt they scroll through all the tweets on their lists... especially Meg Cabot, since she's close to twenty thousand or something crazy like that. And most of the blogs I've started following recently were from links on Twitter. People keep adding me, mostly other writers—I do block the spam/weird ones. I think when other writers/etc see me being followed they are adding me to their network, too.

But since my FB account is private I need a public place to link my blog to—don't I? Or do those of you reading out there—that linked to this blog via Twitter or Blogger—do you think a blog is necessary for an emerging writer? Can I create a decent enough writer's space on a Twitter home page? Or should I make a public page for my writing on FB and people can become my fan? (Oh, I feel the ego swelling...)

Please weigh in on this, either in the comment section below or on FB, if you are lucky enough to be my friend, or tweet me.

And while you are at it... do you prefer this blog to be personal (child number three did x, y and z today) or keep it more about reading/writing/etc? Or a mix of both?

Speaking of... in the last post I mentioned I wanted to start listing what I'm reading. Last week I read three little devotional-type books about motherhood plus finished up True Blue Forever by Joyce Sterling Scarbrough. (For those keeping score, I try to read non-fiction during the day and fiction at night to keep myself diversified.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, Better Me

I skipped last week. And I don't want to muddle through any hum-drum excuses or anything. (Cough. Cough.)

All the blogs I read have posts wrapping up the blogger's 2009 thoughts so I figured I'll actually go along with a trend.

I've enjoyed a year of raising kids and appreciating the differences between boys and girls, now that I finally have a girl.

Read lots of books, as usual. Too many to name, but Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson was the most haunting. I'll try to start mentioning what I'm reading with each post.

Writing—yes!!! I joined the local Writer's Guild and was honored in being extended a spot in a small critique group.

I actually went to the movie theater TWICE. Of course both movies were for books (in two different series) I enjoy. Can you guess which ones?

I've improved my health and am sticking with regular exercise.

My life-list for bird watching is now at seventy-six species I've identified.

I've been able to complete numerous knitting projects and feel like I might be ready to advance to more varied patterns.

My husband and I celebrated thirteen years together a few weeks ago.

And... a bunch of other things. You can go back and read my previous posts if you really want to know more.

Love and best wishes for a productive 2010 to all—especially to Katherine Paterson as she takes over the position as the National Ambassador for Children's Literature.