Monday, November 30, 2015

Final NaNoNag

Today is the last day of National Novel Writing Month, and hopefully everyone has or will make it to the 50k finish line. If you have already, congratulations -- I am there, too, partying with you in spirit. Although I couldn't officially participate in NaNoWriMo this year I managed to knock out 56,123 words in November while working on two clients' projects, and finishing Ghost Writer, and beginning Twenty-One.

There's still plenty of work to be done. I need to finish one client's project this week; I have another new project due in three weeks. Somewhere in there I'd like to edit Ghost Writer and get it in shape, and continue with Twenty-One while keeping that one on a tight leash so it doesn't become my latest writing obsession (which it wants to. Badly.) And because I obviously don't have enough to do, I'm also working on Her Majesty's Deathmage. In December I'll probably be spending eight to twelve hours a day writing and editing. It sounds like a lot, but we don't call it the writing life because we spent all our time watching television.

This time last year I had just ended an eight-month hiatus from writing to deal with my eye issues, and I'd started my first job as a freelance writer. I remember only too well how nervous I felt; my brain was barraged by the usual what-if doubts: What if I'd picked the wrong client? What if I messed it up and ruined my chance to get another job? What if my mojo had evaporated? What if by striking out on my own I'd made a horrible mistake? I might have talked myself out of the whole deal if not for the work.

As always writing saved the day. It told me to forget about the what-ifs and get on with it. I'd done my research, and I'd chosen a reliable client with a great project. I'd outlined a terrific story. More than anything, I wanted to do this and make it work so I could get my career going again. I couldn't ignore everything -- doubt is like having a gigantic wasp nest dangling by a thread over your head; no one can honestly pretend it's not there -- but I could choose to focus on the thing over which I had the most control. The thing I loved and I was pretty good at doing, too. Which I did, and here I am.

Here we are. Now what are you going to focus on?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: More on Twenty-One (click on the title to go to the .pdf), with new material beginning on page 6.

For more details on Just Write, click here to go to the original post.

Image credit: My kid. :)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

LT Secret Santa

Library Thing is holding their annual SantaThing, a secret Santa book-giving event for LT members, and here are some of the details:


You pay into the SantaThing system (choose from $15–$50). You play Santa to a LibraryThing member we pick for you, by selecting books for them. Another Santa does the same for you, in secret. LibraryThing does the ordering, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

Sign up once or thrice, for yourself or someone else. If you sign up for someone without a LibraryThing account, make sure to mention what kinds of books they like, so their Santa can choose wisely.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others.


Sign-ups close MONDAY, December 7th at 5pm Eastern. By Tuesday morning, we’ll notify you via profile comment who your Santee is, and you can start picking books.

Picking closes FRIDAY, December 11th at 5pm Eastern. As soon as the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can."

It's wonderful fun, and I'm participating again this year, so who knows - if you join in maybe I'll be your Secret Santa. For more information on what to do and how it works, check out the LT blog post here.

Friday, November 27, 2015


While you're recovering from turkey day, here's a lovely short video on the beauty of Autumn (with background music, for those of you like my guy who have to work today):

Autumn Glory from Paul Frederick on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wishing You

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Dear Starbucks:

I'm on a strict, sugar-free diet, but every year I allow myself a couple of treats, like a hot fudge sundae on my birthday in the summer, and one of your cranberry bliss bars while I'm out shopping for the holidays. For the bliss, I always go to the Starbucks counter at my local Target store. The kids who work there are cheerful, they never mess up my order, and they usually have one or two bliss bars left in the treats case (they're very popular with tired shoppers.)

I look forward to my cranberry bliss bar because it's one of my just-for-me holiday traditions. Also, it's delicious. I bring it home and sit on my porch while I nibble away and enjoy every bite. I also have a vanilla latte with it, as that's my favorite Starbucks drink, and the two go great together. Having this treat always gets me in the spirit of things. I don't know why; maybe it's the cranberries. I don't feel guilty for this one little indulgence every winter, either (if you don't understand why, give up sugar for seven years.)

I've always liked Starbucks. Your employees are great; I've never seen someone grumpy behind your counters. You offer delicious products, and you do it with style. There's always interesting music playing in your cafes. Every other customer I see there is working on a laptop, and I'm pretty sure at least half of them are writers. After work even my twenty-something daughter and her friends regularly hang out at one of your cafes near our house, which gives them a chance to talk and relax in a safe place. I don't understand their love of iced coffee -- not something my generation drank much of -- but hey, it's coffee (as opposed to liquor, weed, or something worse.)

I wish you'd been around when I was their age. I probably would have lived at a Starbucks.

Since this is the season to be grateful for our blessings big and small, thank you for all that you do to make the holidays brighter for your customers. Especially my cranberry bliss bar. I had it yesterday and it was wonderful, as always.



P.S. Love the cup design this year. Makes your logo look very festive.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Before I Get 500 E-mails

I get a pile of requests for this recipe every year around the holidays, so I'm going to save some time and post it now. It's for those of us who want to make fudge but can't be trusted with a candy thermometer (I have broken like a thousand):

PBW's Famous No-Brainer Fudge

3 cups Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 can 14 oz. sweet condensed milk
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
dash of salt
[optional add-ins: chopped nuts, mini marshmallows, raisins, M&Ms etc.]

Put morsels, milk, extract and salt in a sauce pan and melt over low heat. Stir frequently to blend. When it looks like fudge -- after about 5 to 10 minutes -- remove from heat, stir in your favorite chopped nuts, marshmallows, M&Ms or whatever. Pour into pan (I use an 8" pie pan), spread out, cover with foil or plastic wrap and put in refrigerator. Chill for two hours, take out, cut into squares, enjoy.

Note on fancy toppings: Before you put in the fridge, you can also top the fudge with coconut, maraschino cherries, pecan halves etc.