Monday, January 31, 2011

Life Gets In the Way

Over the last few months, I've found life getting more and more in the way of my writing. Yeah, I've kept up with my blog posts. I've sort-of kept up with my book reviews.

But my books? My plans to do freelancing? Eh, not so much.

Photo by ~in-door (not an actual representation of my bathroom)
This is frustrating for me. I hate feeling like I'm behind, even if it's in my own mind. Yet, I look around my apartment, and see the floor that needs vacuuming, the boxes that still need unpacking (or better yet, taken to Goodwill or our storage facility), the bathrooms that need cleaning, and then I feel behind in my housework.

Yes, I realize I'm a mom.

Yes, I realize I'm a mom of a little boy who has some special needs. And a mom to a toddler. And a mom to a chocolate Labrador. And a wife to TMOTH.

But I still feel behind. Okay, I am behind.

Oy.

Let's face it right now: life will try to get in the way of your best laid plans. I didn't think this time last year when I was newly pregnant with my son that my new home-away-from-home now would become the hospital. To date, my son has been admitted three times since November, the shortest stay being one night, the longest being seven days.

Yuck.

But in the midst of it all, I can still see my other priorities.

Sure, it would help if I got more cooperation from TMOTH. I'm not complaining; he's as frustrated by everything as I am.

Photo by ~underawartorsky
But, it sure does help if I plan my day and try to work some of my priorities around the family priorities. For instance, I'm writing this blog post at 8:15 in the morning a couple weeks before it's supposed to post. My husband's at work, my kids are asleep. It's going to snow later today, so we'll be stuck inside. When I'm done with this, I've got another post to write, then, hopefully, I'll get to do some editing on Homebody.

I'm having to train myself to be more of a morning person so I can get things done. Dr. Pepper helps tremendously!

Have you had to make changes in your own life to get done your goals? How has that worked for you? Do you regret it, or are you resigned to the fact that this is how it will be for a while?

Until next time,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Like It Or Not: The Kindle

For many, many months now, I've been following the dawn of the digital age of the book world. While music had theirs many moons ago and digital is now the norm (when was the last time you bought a CD?), the book/literary arena had been trying for a long time.

Probably more than 10 years ago, I watched as e-books tried to get a foothold. The devices were large, clunky, heavy, and the options for books were, shall we say, limited. Rarely could one find a mid-list author, and it was doubtful you'd find a bestseller. I watched and waited as the technology improved, but the quality of the books you could get didn't.

Those days are now behind us.

I'm sure many of you know the history of the Kindle and its competitors. If you don't, it's an easy enough thing to learn about through Google or Wikipedia. The original Kindle was released a few years ago, and has gone through many advents since then.

I held out, waiting for the technology to improve to my standards.

And did it ever!

In the last six months, I decided it was time for me to jump on the e-reader bandwagon. The iPad was too expensive, plus it was backlit, so I didn't want that--it makes eyestrain much worse. The Sony e-reader, while good technology, didn't have all the bells and whistles I wanted. The Nook by Barnes & Noble, well, there was one I could get behind. But it sadly lacked a couple of options I desperately needed: primarily the ability to read .doc or .rtf files (those used by Microsoft Word.)

And there was the Kindle by Amazon. No backlit screen. Hundreds of thousands of books at the ready. Could handle, if a little clunkily, the .doc files I needed to take with me. One of the few drawbacks was the fact I couldn't have removable storage. But, with storage for about 3500 books, I didn't think that would be an immediate concern.

So, with gift money from Christmas, I ordered a Kindle.

My first purchase: a free copy of Emma by Jane Austen. I can't believe the number of free books I can get through the Kindle store! Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, L.M. Montgomery, even Winston Churchill and some interesting-looking documents put out by the OSS (the precursor to the CIA.)

My first two books read on my Kindle: Sweet Revenge by Diane Mott Davidson and A Man Called Outlaw by K.M. Weiland.

While reading, I made a few observations, and thought I'd share them with you in case you're considering taking the digital plunge as I did.

First, the reading experience. You'd think holding a book would be preferable to holding a piece of technology. But, really, I've found the experience is natural with a Kindle. I don't have to try to keep a book open, or worry about accidentally dropping the book and losing my place. I can lay my Kindle down while I'm folding clothes or cooking dinner and only occasionally press the little page turn button to advance. Unless you've got a well-worn book, that's probably not going to happen.

It's pretty easy to get your books from Amazon. I bought the Wi-Fi version, and as long as I'm within range of a hotspot, I'm good to go. So, next time I'm in the hospital with my son (hopefully a very, very long time!) I won't be without fresh reading material. For an extra $50, you can get the 3G version, so you can get books pretty much wherever you've got a cell signal.

On the not-so-hot side of things, I like the fact I can send my .doc files to my Kindle, but the formatting sometimes is strange--paragraphs or indents where there shouldn't be. Also, I haven't figured out whether I can send the file back to my computer in a usable way.

I purchased a Bible version shortly before my Kindle arrived. I love the fact I can take my Kindle to church and take notes on it, but the search function is a little clunky, at least for my version (I think I got the free ESV version. I'm looking for another version to get as well, but checking the reviews.) If the pastor is doing rapid-fire changes in passages/books, I may not be able to keep up. Fortunately, the one time I've tried this so far, there's been notes to follow and the changes have taken a few minutes to happen, giving me a chance to make whatever notes I want, then go to the Table of Contents, find the next book I need to go to, get there, then select the chapter I want.

Overall, I've really liked using my Kindle so far. My daughter thinks it's a big phone and frequently puts it up to her ear to jabber. Fortunately, I figured out real quick I could password protect the device so now she can't change my page when I'm not paying close attention.

Money-saving tip: definitely get a cover for your e-reader if you choose to get one. It'll protect it and keep the screen clean. But, be sure to check around. I ended up getting my cover at Best Buy. They had some of the same ones as Amazon, and since they sell the Nook, and the Nook and the Kindle are approximately the same size, you can purchase Nook covers for your Kindle. They ran about $5 cheaper than the Kindle ones, and the same manufacturer produces both.

In the future, I'd really like to see the functionality improve between the Kindle and other types of documents, like the .doc. As a writer, it'd be nice to be able to make notes to put onto my computer while I'm out, or when my husband's working on our computer. Also, I'd like to see the web browser and MP3 player (both of which are considered "experimental") improve. To browse Facebook, for instance, takes a lot of time, and it's almost not worth it, especially on that small a screen.

I'm actually quite glad I purchased the Kindle. I'm looking forward to catching up on my classics (I've read very, very few) and the opportunity to try new authors/books for little or nothing is something I'm ready to take advantage of.

Have you taken the digital reading plunge? Which device do you have? What are things you like? Things you'd change?

Until next time,

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Beginnings

This month, the ChristianWriters.com blog chain's topic is New Beginnings.

This got me thinking about all the "new beginnings" in my own life. I'll be 29 in a few months, and over the last decade or so, I've seen a lot of them:

Photo by *Jaymz-86 at DeviantArt.

  • Learning to deal with life after my parents' divorce.
  • Getting married and moving away from my dad and sister.
  • Starting new jobs.
  • Failing at projects.
  • Becoming a mother.
  • Writing new stories.
That's just to name a few. I've left out several that are more private that I don't care to share today.

New beginnings, like a new year, give us a chance to change things about ourselves or our situations that need to be altered, or you want to stop or start doing in your life. Sometimes it's in the form of a rude awakening: a job loss, financial difficulty, the loss of a close loved one. Sometimes, it's just a situational change, a new baby, for instance.

How you face your new beginnings tells others a great deal about you. Are you bitter about what's happened, or do you accept it with grace?

Many people don't get the chance to start over; many choose not to do so even when given the opportunity. There's many things in my life right now that I feel like I'm back to square one on. They're out of my control (as so many things in life are--that's a really important lesson to learn) so I have to accept them, deal with them as best I know how to, and move forward.

I'm blessed that my new beginnings are easier by having Jesus with me every step of the way, as well as TMOTH (The Man Of The House--my husband).
"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." -- Jesus in Matthew 11:30
No matter what new beginnings I have month to month, year to year, I find great comfort in this passage, knowing my Lord and Savior is right there with me.


How about you? How have you handled the new beginnings in your life? Are you faced with any new things right now?


Until next time,

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pet Peeves: Yea vs Yeah

Photo by ~Seizen at DeviantArt.
This has been bugging me for a while.

So, today, I'm going to bring you one of my biggest pet peeves, educate you a little, and see whether you share the same pet peeve, or if it's something else.

I see the terms 'yea' and 'yeah' used interchangeably ALL THE TIME. It drives me up the wall. Their definitions are similar, but not the same, and for me, there is a difference. There's definitely a difference in pronunciation. Since when I'm reading I "hear" the words, this can drive me nuts: on Twitter, on FB posts, in an IM conversation like Skype...

"Yea" is an older term. It's used a lot in formal voting situations, like in Congress. In the political meetings I go to, we typically use the form "aye" but that's neither here nor there. It's pronounced like "yay" and can also be used in place of "hurray" or other similar words.

"Yeah" is also a form of yes, but it's more a slang term. You say "yeah" when you're in agreement. "Yeah, I'm coming." "Yeah, I agree with you." It's pronounced more like "yah".

See, a little letter "h" can make a huge difference!

So, next time you're writing, whether a conversation in a book, a FB post, or a text message to your mom, try to get this one little thing right.

And educate others whom you see misusing these words. Without some education, we're going to lose our unique language!

Until next time,

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Newbie Novel Writing

In case your New Year's resolution is to write a novel, here's a friendly wakeup call for ya. :) Enjoy!



Until next time,

Monday, January 03, 2011

Reflections on 2010, Looking Ahead at 2011

Photo by ~chalee-80 at DeviantArt.
New years is here, and quite frankly, it couldn't have come soon enough. There's plenty of things I'm glad are in my past that came and went with 2010. Hopefully, they'll stay in the past, and won't be back to haunt me, either in memories or by those backward looking souls who choose to bring them up.

The biggest blessing of 2010 was the birth of my son. No matter what else happened, I can still look back and say 2010 may have been a bad year for a whole bunch of reasons, but at least I got my little boy out of it.

I was also blessed in 2010 to have three folks read the manuscript of Homebody in its entirety. Micah, Julia, and Nina all have helped me get this book into shape. Holly is going to take one last look at it in the next couple months, then I'll be sending out updates on submissions! :D


2011 looks like it'll be an interesting year to come. I have a handful of goals, the top one being to attempt to land an agent. Ideally, I'd like to have signed by this time last year. Sooner would be awesome. The feedback on my novel so far has been encouraging, so I'm hopeful my final edits put just the right touch on it to entice an agent to offer me representation.

I'm also hoping to expand things here at Word Wanderings. Tell me what you'd like to see more of. Personal items? Certain aspects of writing? Guest bloggers? I'm finding that I enjoy sharing certain aspects of my life with everyone, though I don't want this blog to become a mundane repository on how my son's weight is coming along or whether my daughter is finally potty trained.

I think I may be trying my hand at freelancing in 2011 as well. Every time I read an article on freelancing in The Writer or Writer's Digest, I find myself thinking, "why am I not doing this? It sounds perfect for me! I could so do freelancing!" I've been batting around some ideas for stories, including some opinion pieces. (I do have lots of opinions. A lot. I mean seriously. My name is Liberty. Shouldn't I have opinions--and lots of them?)

So, that's the plan for the next 363 days or so. And, I'll be using this clip to prod me into following through:



So, how about you? What are your goals for this year, writing or otherwise? Tell me. And, share what changes or improvements you'd like to see over the next year here at W.W.

Until next time,

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