Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Goals for 3 in 30

In the month of March, I participated in the 3 in 30 challenge hosted by two amazing blogging mamas. At the end of February, I posted three goals I wanted to accomplish for this month. You probably don’t remember, so here is the short recap.

1. Finish major edit of Dividing Spirits.

2. Drink more water.

3. Start walking.

Well, you’ll be happy to know that I accomplished exactly ONE of those goals. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, then you already know I finished my major edit of Dividing Spirits. Exciting, I know!

Now is the time to let you in on what my goals are for April.

The first two are going to be the same goals I had in March, but was not successful with. So, my first goal is to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Since society has successfully ingrained in my head to be scared of tap water, and bottled water is ridiculously expensive, I invested in a filtered pitcher (the nozzle on our tap isn’t the right kind to hook up a filter). This way there is always cool, healthier water for me in the fridge.

I’m also going to start walking more. The park is about a half mile away, so if I take the kids there three times a week, that’s a mile—which is definitely a start right?

My third goal is probably the one to put the most pressure on me. I want to read and rewrite most of The Impossible Choice. IC (as I fondly refer to it as) was the novel before Dividing Spirits. The story was beloved by many of the people who read it (professional writers and good friends/family). However, I set it out to 3 agents and pitched it at a conference with no bites. At first, I was pretty bummed and put it aside to write Dividing Spirits. Lately, though, I’ve felt the push to go over it again.

Last night it hit me. I knew how to fix IC! Most of it anyway. I started jotting notes down like crazy. My mind just would not be quiet—which is a good thing, I suppose. So, for those of you who thought I gave up on that emotional and suspenseful novel, have no fear. It’s coming back bigger and better!

I hope you were able to accomplish your goals last month! If you would like to share your goals for April here, we can keep each other accountable—a checkup mid-way.

Happy April!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Inspire Me!

One day…

One day I will have an office to call my own, and not a little corner of a room. When that time comes, I’ll have the freedom to design it however I please. I can draw inspirations from here and there to create a place that is wholly and purely—me.

However, being a military family that lives on post more often than not, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. So, instead, I have my own little corner carved out in the bedroom. There’s not much to it, really. A desk, a file cabinet with a printer on top. Yep—that’s about it.

So, how do I take a place like this and make it my own?

1. Personalize it! You have your own unique tastes—allow yourself to splurge just a little to use those tastes to create your work space. Like colored sticky notes instead of the plain yellow? Get a few to go crazy with. Maybe you always wanted a mouse pad with Taz on it (if you don’t know who Taz is, quit reading immediately. Just kidding!). Personally, I love all things color, so I have colored sticky notes, colored pens, colored paper clips…the list goes on. What can I say? Color inspires me!

2. Play with it! Just like when you first move into a house, sometimes the first set up doesn’t end up being the most ideal. Maybe you thought having the notebooks stored below the desk was best, but you found that you were spending too much time digging for a specific one. Instead, maybe they need to be stacked neatly in the open space above the computer so you can select the one that you need with ease. Make these changes as needed, don’t let them fester and get under your skin. It’s easy to take a few minutes to rearrange.

3. Plaster it! Don’t forget…your walls are your friend. So, invest in a couple of corkboards or whiteboards. These are great ways to keep track of lose papers, hold calendars, and jot notes. Don’t go overboard—unless that’s your personality. Clutter often gets me down more than inspires me creativity.

4. Pictures! Paper! And Parcheesi? You know what sometimes inspires us the most? Those little trinkets that make us smile, the ones that distract us just enough to all our minds to muddle through that last road block. So put up a couple of pictures of family/friends, or of beautiful mountain views, flowers…whatever tickles your fancy. Write your favorite quotes or short excerpts of books/poems on colorful paper and post them around your work area. And Parcheesi? Sometimes games that work our brains will stimulate more activity. Now, I technically have no idea what Parcheesi is…it just started with a ‘P’.

I’m still in the process of getting my “office” sorted out. As the days go by, I hope to start incorporating my inspirations into my work space. I know I have those pictures somewhere…

What are some steps you can take to up the inspiration quota of your work area?

UPDATE: I just finished the substantial edit of Dividing Spirits! Yes, I’m super excited to have that done. I’m putting the novel aside for a bit to work on the query/synopsis/proposal part of the writing process. After that, I’ll probably do some more planning for Sam’s Way. The story is really starting to come alive in my head. In a couple of weeks, I’ll come back and do another run through Dividing Spirits to pick up anything I may have missed, possibly add in some more layering. Fun stuff!

Where in the World is Ralene?

Okay, so the title didn't have the same ring as Carmen SanDiego. I tried...but it all sounded strange.

Anyway, this week I'm blogging over at Encourage. Empower. Extend. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Normally, I don't let those posts interfere over here. But, I wrote a devotional on peace as we prepare for the month of April. Won't you join us over there to share what you think of when you think of peace?

Tomorrow, I'll be back here talking more about the work environment that inspires us.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Homeschool Saturdays

In the past, I've made it a point not to post on the weekends. However, as my life takes some more twists and turns, I find three things taking over my life. Writing, of course, but also family (duh), and HOMESCHOOLING.

For those of you who hadn't heard, my husband and I decided to homeschool are kids pretty much from the start. We got all those arguments from family and friends on whether or not we were doing the right thing, but this is the route we feel led to take for a variety of reasons.

Up until now, I haven't talked about it much on here. We've been "unofficially" homeschooling our two daughters who are pre-k age. Alana just turned 5, though, and would be starting Kindergarten in the fall. Time to look at things from a little more official standpoint.

I don't plan to start the Kindergarten curriculum until August, but now is the time that I'm doing my research and making my plans. Believe it or not, I'm actually not procrastinating. And as I do my research, make my plans, etc, I'm going to share my journey with you guys. I figure those of you who homeschool might find some new insight, even if you've been at it for years. Those who don't, maybe you'll get a peek at a world you've not been exposed to before.

Monday through Friday is still all about faith, books, and writing...but Saturdays are for Homeschool Wrap-up!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don't Sit There!

As the unpacking process reaches the point of “no boxes”, I’m busy arranging, rearranging, and changing my mind again. You know that crazy indecisiveness as your mind toys with the million and a one choices and strategies—even as I type, I’m resisting the urge to move the living room furniture once again.

Part of this process is, of course, setting up my work environment. Being a writer, I have specific requirements for optimum creativity. Ideally, I like a quiet place with lots of light and few distractions. In my old house, I was blessed to have areas to make a complete separate office. However, due to circumstances that I won’t talk about because I’ll just want to scream, our new house is bigger, but a different setup. I don’t have the extra rooms like before.

After much contemplation, measuring, mouth-twisting, I finally made some decisions. My work area is now split into two areas. Downstairs, right off the kitchen, the house has a built-in desktop. This area is my work station during the day. It’s where I compose my blog posts and delve into reviews. I check my emails and play on Facebook and Twitter. It’s also where I do all the rest of my organizing of life—menu planning, organization plans, homeschool schedule, etc.

Our big desk fit nicely on one wall of our bedroom. Now, normally, I would not like the desk in our room. After all, the bedroom is supposed to be a sanctuary, a place to relax. But due to space constraints, this was the best option. So all my novel-related work will take place up there. We have a nice big window to let in lots of light. I can shut the door on the world and settle into some peace and quiet.

Now it’s time to set it up in exactly the way I think will jumpstart the most creativity. Not sure what that is yet, but I’ll have fun playing with the set up. I do know that I want to get one corkboard for character/setting notes/pictures. I’m a pretty visual person, so I think that will help stimulate my muse and get me “in” the story.

I’ve noticed that I have different preferences depending on what I’m writing and where I am in that project. When I’m writing a first draft, nothing bothers me. I can be inside/outside, standing up/sitting down, on the couch or at my desk. I just get excited to write! When I’m researching or editing, though, I’m much pickier. I want quiet. I want a specific set up. The biggest difference, I think, is that when I’m writing a first draft, I can do that in short spurts. Twenty minutes here, thirty there. When I research/edit, I get frustrated with anything less than an hour. Strange, huh?

Work environment can be pretty essential to who we are as writers. It can affect our energy, our focus, and our creativity. Do you know what your preferences are? How do you mold your surroundings to fit those preferences?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's on Your Shelf?

Quick personal update:

We got our new washer and dryer yesterday! Hallelujah! My mountain of laundry will take a few days to get through, but still...doing laundry in my own home. *sigh* No, the picture is not of our exact set (I couldn't find a picture of the one I have), but it's close except for one big thing. Mine's crimson! They're so

Okay, back to the blog post.

I've been trying to read some more lately. I figure if I can't be working on my WIP as much as I want, I can supplement that time with good books.

I typically have three books in rotation at one time--a fiction, a non-fiction, and a book on writing. Currently, those three are:

Blood Ransom by Linda Harris (Kindle)--This is an overseas suspense novel about a woman and a doctor who get caught in the middle of a political scandal in Africa. So far, it's pretty good. It's not the best book I've read, but it's entertaining and keeps me turning the pages.

The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman (paperback)--If you've ever been to my home, you know that I am not the most organized person in the world. In fact, quite the opposite--I'm messy without being dirty. Cluttered maybe? lol... Anyway, I won this book in a blog giveaway a few months back. Now that I'm getting into my new home, time to get organized!

The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke (Kindle AND paperback)--I'm sure most of you have heard of this book. It is an awesome tool to own. I have started it a couple of times (please don't let that be a reflection of his work as it is my own fault), but life keeps dragging me away.

What's up on my TBR pile next? Frank Peretti in my fiction pile, Max Lucado in the non-fiction, and Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell for writing.

What about you? What's on your shelf right now? What are you looking forward to reading?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Beginnings

It’s that time again, folks. I’m reaching the end of my major edit in Dividing Spirits—I hope to finish by the end of the week, possibly the end of the month if the ending fights harder than I’d like.

With one project ending, another one is beginning!

On Saturday, I didn’t have what I considered enough time to edit before I had to tackle more boxes. So, instead, I contemplated what my next project would be. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been slowly planning out the next novel in the Dividing Spirits series. However, earlier last week I read a blog post that got me thinking.

I have not sold Dividing Spirits to a publisher yet. There is no guarantee that it will ever be picked up (though I hope and pray that it is!). So, if I put a lot of effort into the next book in the series, but Dividing Spirits is never picked up (or it isn’t picked up for a few years), then I’ve put in all this effort without a chance to bring it full circle.

So what do I do next?

Well, I’ve decided to go ahead and outline the next two books, and then an overall outline for the series (it’s a trilogy of trilogies, so NINE books). That way if Dividing Spirits is picked up, then I have the lineup for the publisher to check out before I delve into it.

As for my next project, though, I started brainstorming one of my other ideas. The overall plot has been in my head for a year or so, and I’ve been jotting notes here and there as they come to me. So, on Saturday, I started to flesh it out more by talking to the characters! Let me tell ya, these are some interesting people…and a few scary ones as well. I mean, c’mon, I do write suspense. Eek!

I got the short bio for my antagonist written out, even found the perfect photo for her online. Turns out she looks an awful lot like Lauren Graham (mother in Gilmore Girls, also some bit parts in several movies). She’s also an abused wife—which will require some research on my part to be sensitive to what she’s gone through. Her sister died from a disease when MC was in high school, which inspired her to become a doctor. Well, I won’t bore you with the details now.

I’m sharing with you because I’m excited for this new journey. As sad as I am to put Ninevah to the side for a while, I’m ecstatic to meet new friends to occupy my head for the next several months!

Tentative Title of the next project? “Sam’s Way”, it’s the name of the town that the majority of the novel takes place in. Yes, it is a supernatural suspense. Eek! Watch out for all the demons and ghosties! Hehehe…okay, not quite.

Back to Dividing Spirits, I don’t remember if I mentioned on here that I entered the ACFW Genesis contest. It’s the first 15 pages and 1 page synopsis of the novel. The first round will be wrapping up in the next two weeks. I’m anxious to get some professional feedback from the judges (one of the perks that makes the entry fee totally worth it!).

After I see how it goes with Genesis, I plan to start querying. Eek! That’s an exciting and terrifying time in itself.

So look for upcoming posts on both the querying and the planning process. FUN!

What are you working on? If you’re not a writer, do you have some other project to work on? (On Wednesday, I’m going to talk about my latest reads and catch up on the latest from you all!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Alana!

Today, my oldest child turns 5!

I know, right? It seems like just yesterday--ok, not really. It actually feels like so long ago. It's hard to remember life before kids. The kids are sucking out my brain!!!!

Okay, I'm better now.

As I was saying, Alana is 5 today! I remember it all very clearly (except for about 12 hours during/after delivery). We had just moved to Fort Hood. We'd been in temporary housing for 3 weeks and had JUST got our house. It went like this: Friday, sign for housing; Monday, household goods arrived; Tuesday, go in for blood pressure check and get admitted to the hospital immediately.

Yeah, you can imagine the thoughts zooming through my head as the nurse wheeled me (in a wheelchair--as if I couldn't walk!) from the Women's Care Clinic upstairs to Labor and Delivery. I finally called my husband and somehow amidst my blubbering, he figured out that he needed to get to the hospital ASAP! Talk about freaked out! I could hardly think straight. It was my first child, we were on a new post where we knew no one, we had just got a house and nothing was unpacked.

Then my doctor comes and tells us that they aren't going to induce labor right now, but they are admitting me to the hospital, hopefully for two and a half weeks. Um...but my house isn't unpacked!

Well, that didn't last. Two days later, due to complications, they induced labor.

I won't go into the horrors of the labor/delivery, it might scare some people. Let's just say 21 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing, Alana finally made her appearance! At 5 lbs 11 oz, she was a tiny bundle of joy!

Groggy mommy didn't notice much for the next few hours as she came off of some meds and some shock effects to her body.

Today, she is a super smart pre-schooler who loves to learn and draw. When she's not curled up with her pencils/crayons, she likes to play dressup with her sister and running around outside!

Happy Birthday, Alley Cat! (it's what my dad nicknamed her b/c of how she sounded when she was born)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Contest for Writers!

Calling all my writer friends--you must check out this contest!

We're always looking for fresh eyes, right? This editor has plenty of experience and she's GIVING IT AWAY! The prize for this contest is a free substantial edit. Yes, you heard me right...a free SUBSTANTIAL EDIT.

But hurry, time is running out.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday Night Done Right

I don't watch a lot of TV anymore. I just can't get into a lot of shows. However, Lifetime does Sunday night up right.

Last Sunday (not yesterday, but the week before), Army Wives premiered with it's fifth season. It's a promising season that has me on pins and needles! Yay!

Premiering along with Army Wives was a new show called Coming Home. You know all those videos of soldiers coming home you've seen haunting the web--well the made a tv show out of it. I was kind of skeptical of how they would sustain a show like this, but after two episodes, I can see it has staying power. It's like America's Funniest Videos meets One Last Wish foundation. People send in videos of their homecomings to share with all of us (and make us cry). But the show also sets up a big homecoming for a lucky fammily. The first week it was for a father and son who loved sword fighting. Yesterday it was uniting a single father with his violin-playing daughter at a symphony. Can I hear the collective "Aw..."? lol...

So, what do I do on Sunday nights? I pop some popcorn, grab a Diet Coke and box of tissues, and settle down (usually in my bedroom) in some comfy PJs. Two hours of tear-jerkers...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Boxes, Boxes...What's a Tsunami?

Okay, contrary to the title, I do know what a tsunami is. It's that thing that drowned New York in the move "The Day After Tomorrow". It's also the thing that hit Hawaii really early this morning. Guess what?

I slept through it.

I know, it's bad to say, but I did. We're far enough inland and up high enough that we were unaffected by the waves. The coastal areas were hit, but so far no major least not compared to the coast of Japan.

I awoke this morning, not thinking about much. I set the kids up with some cartoons and turn on the computer. I started to contemplate breakfast as I pulled up Facebook. Voila...a bunch of posts on my wall expressing concern and prayers. Um...did I miss something? Oh wait, there was supposed to be a tsunami last night. (Yes, sometimes I'm a little slow in the morning)I rushed to find my phone--sure enough, voicemails and texts. Oy! Darn that time difference!

First thing I did after that was call my mom.

Since then, I've been trying to update everyone. I hate that I made everyone worry so much. I wish I had been up earlier so that I could have assured everyone I was okay.

Now, though, my prayers go up for all the people in Japan who suffered, not only a earthquake with hours of aftershocks, but also a 23-foot tsunami.

At some point, I'll get back to unpacking. :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Boxes, Boxes...Where'd the Baby Go?

Just kidding!

We didn't lose the baby. I don't think. Wait...where'd he go? *big grin*

So, yes, today we are knee-deep in boxes, well, more like chest-deep. They are stacked in every corner, by every piece of furniture. Whereever you turn...there they are. I'm imagining a Stephen King novel called "Attack of the Cardboard Boxes". Yeah, pretty scary stuff.

For now, NO ONE is allowed to touch them. No one but ME! That's right. I prefer to do the unpacking all by myself. That way everything goes where it needs to go and not just thrown around. Hubby doesn't argue because he hates moving/unpacking. He takes the kids to the park, to the store, out for dinner...and I get set up house. LOVE IT!

It's amazing to me that our whole lives are packed into all these boxes. Each one a small snapshot of our lives. From a vox of DVDs to a tub of toys, what do they say about us? I'm sure I'm being too philisophical for a mid-week blog post, and it's probably because I'm too tired. Maybe once the insanity recides, I can see more clearly and turn this paragraph into a more formal post.

I'll keep this short for now. These boxes aren't going to unpack themselves. Although, how cool would that be? In the meantime, how do you feel about moving--love it, hate it? Any good moving stories out there? Let's dish!

Sunday, March 6, 2011


The long awaited day arrives tomorrow.

My family finally gets to move into our very own house!

I cannot tell you how we have counted down the days, hours, and minutes. It has been a long, frustrating road. Let me give you just a peek at the past few months.

On December 6th, 2010, movers came to pack our stuff up and haul it off to be shipped to Hawaii.

On December 13th, hubby and I dropped the van off in St. Louis for it's long trip overseas. Then proceeded to take our 30 day vacation (a little less than 30 days).

On January 9th, we began the 14 hour trip from St. Louis, to LAX, and finally to our home state for the next few years...Hawaii. We check into the nice little inn on post.

February 8th was our original move in date, but due to circumstances beyond our control, we lost the house. A new move-in date was set for a different house--March 4th. Did that happen? Nope.

Here it is--tomorrow is March 8th and we'll finally be in our new digs.


On just as happy of a note, my youngest daughter celebrates her 4th birthday today! Unfortunately, we don't get to celebrate quite as fully as we normally like to, as we are hurriedly packing up the room so we can move tomorrow. However, we plan to throw a family party on Tuesday evening.

Four years ago, I lay in hospital room surrounded by my mom and two sisters (husband was deployed at the time...he has a knack for arranging that when I'm pregnant). Labor was induced at about 8 in the morning, and Kyra arrived 8 1/2 hours later with only a few issues.

Today, she is a excitable drama queen with lots of energy. She's rarely without a smile and she loves to be the center of attention. Her favorite color is pink and she is obsessed with princesses. That's what she is...our lil' princess.

Happy Birthday, darling!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let's Share--Websites

Yes, that's my son. He STOLE my husband's cupcake at a FRG meeting last month. It was hilarious. Hubby gave him a small taste, and the next thing we know, Connor swings himself forward, mouth wide, right into the cupcake. Yeah...too funny.

On Wednesday, I shared with you all some of my favorite websites. Now it's your turn! Let's share some more websites that we find useful, edifying, or just plain fun.

Have a great weekend all!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oh, the Places You Should Go

I'm kind of at a loss of what to blog about today. Rather than having the kind of writer's block where I have nothing to write, I'm facing the opposite problem. I have too much that I want to write about and not enough time at the moment to organize it into separate, coherent posts. I know, why am I complaining about such a "problem"? No worries, I'll get everything organized pretty quickly.

In the meantime, I thought I would highlight some of my favorite sites to visit, or blog posts that stood out to me.

Hope for Women Magazine- This is definitely a girl-y magazine--but in a good way. From profiles and interviews with some pretty amazing women to health to fashion to life in general, Hope for Women strives to encourage women to be strong pillars of faith in all areas of their lives.

If you're a military spouse, Wives of Faith is a wonderful community of Christian women who support and encourage each other through the ups and downs of military life. The site offers a host of different activities like Blogs, Bible Studies, local groups, and even a community forum.

Also a big thumbs up to PWOC International for their blog. Their devos are poignant and I love reading the updates from the different regions. If you're a military wife and haven't heard of PWOC, visit their website for more information!

And if you want to hear about the daily dealings of the fab Army wife, visit my good friend Kimchi's blog: Fab Life, Army Wife.

When it comes to writing, there are a hundred blogs I could point you toward, but two of my favorite are Jill Kemerer's and The Writing Alley. Both blogs feature fantastic women who are fun and witty. Both blogs offer different perspectives on writing and the writing life.

So, go, peruse, enjoy!