Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Since I won't have access to my computer over the holiday, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, by sharing an Autumn-ish/Thanksgiving-ish picture, created by my 6-year old son, Braden, that is bright, cheery, and makes me smile.

The idea for the picture came from a single acorn ... he found one, and decided he wanted to collect enough acorns to give one to each of his classmates. Our only problem ... we are surrounded by maples, not oaks!

But, in a stroke of luck, we were visiting his grandparents up in Washington a couple weeks ago, who just happen to have an oak tree on their property. So ... the collecting of acorns began ... and a few oak leaves came along for the ride as well.

When we returned home, Braden created this picture using the oak leaf he'd collected. I then took a picture of his creation and - thank you technology - created a card for each of his classmates. He then stuck a real, live acorn onto the front of each card, as if it was hanging on his colorful, little oak tree. So cute.

It makes me thankful for my budding Picasso and his 3-year old sister ... quite the artist in her own right (she has skipped the whole 'stick people' phase, and gone straight into drawing people that look like ... ahem ... a certain boy part! It makes us giggle ... and she is so proud of her work!).

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with all things bright, colorful, and happy as well!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The BEST Brownies Ever ...

are No Pudge Fudge Brownies! Have you ever tried them? We've been fans for a long time. We made them this week when we had a friend over for dinner (brownies + a healthy-but-yummy vanilla ice cream + chocolate/caramel drizzles = YUMMY and easy dessert!). I like delicious foods, but I also like my foods to be healthy. 'No Pudge' is an angelic marrying of the two! You simply combine the mix (made up of ingredients that you can pronounce!) with vanilla yogurt and "Voila!" ... moist, fudgy brownies. Perfection! No need to make them from scratch when you've got these available. Who am I kidding ... I've never made brownies from scratch. I simply didn't eat them until I discovered this product. We've only tried the 'Original' flavor ... but I believe it also comes in tasty combos, like Mint, Raspberry, and Cappuccino. So ... next time you're craving brownies, but don't want to waste that craving on something that will simply clog your arteries ... head on over to the store and pick up a box of No Pudge Fudge Brownies. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Location, Location, Location

As far back as I can remember, my best thinking/remembering/clarity-inducing/idea conceiving-moments have come when I am 1) in the shower; 2) drying my hair; and/or 3) driving my car. They all have one thing in common ... none are the most conducive to writing down those brilliant thoughts, ideas, and things to remember!

Why am I bringing this up?

Because today was one of those days when I remembered several things I still needed to do, thought of the perfect way to structure a sentence, and got a great gift idea ... each while doing one of the above. Of course, the moment I sit down at my desk in my office (which also multi-functions as a guestroom, place for all things related to management of the home, place-to-put-anything-without-a-designated-home, and general storage area), those great ideas seem to float into oblivion. Maybe it's the warmth of the shower and blow dryer or the combination of motion and music in the car that's driving the creativity ... or maybe, it's just time when I can't do anything else, so my thoughts start flowing naturally. Yes ... maybe that's it.

So ... do you have a place, or time of day, or activity that seems to spark those creative juices, brilliant thoughts, and moments of clarity?

If so ... I hope you have some time to go to that place today!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rejection = Working Writer? Maybe ... but it's a hard sell!

Two years ago, I attended an Oregon SCBWI conference and heard one of the presenters (a published author) say she loved getting rejections because it proved she was still working. At the time, I was new to the industry and thought it a bit counterintuitive. If I remember correctly, "Huh..." was my in-my-head-not-uttered-out-loud reaction.

So ... two years later, I've received a number of those infamous rejection letters, and I have to say, I do not find them the slightest bit endearing, pleasing, or motivating. In fact, I've found they have a way of sending my stomach into fits and ruining my entire day ... which then makes me a bit wistful for my prior corporate life of regular paychecks, fabulous health coverage, and a pension plan.

Can you tell I received a rejection yesterday?

I tend to look at many things through rose-colored glasses ... and I've tried, with rejections, to grant them the same response of the author noted above. To no avail. Granted, rejections do accomplish a number of things ... they are humbling; they make you appreciate little successes all the more; and they are a fabulous test of perseverance. But, in no way, shape, or form are they proving to me that I'm still working. A contract, however, would accomplish that for me.

The rejection I received yesterday was a bit more devastating than those that have come before it. Last year, I made it to the 'final round', I'll call it, with a publisher ... I was one of the last manuscripts standing after 7 long months of elimination rounds (my term, not theirs!). Two weeks before Christmas, as I was wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin' ... plannin' and dreamin' (sorry, those Ani Defranco lyrics just popped into my head!), I received an e-mail that they had agonized over the decision and decided not to go with my book. Ughhh ... not what I'd wished for from Santa.

I LOVE this publisher ... I adore their books, and I admire the way they communicate quickly and continually with their potential authors ... via e-mail! And, I so wanted to work with them. Early this year, a new book idea - that fit this particular publisher's genre - made its way to my head. And, I've been working on it ever since ... writing it with this publisher in mind. So, after writing and editing and polishing and editing and cutting and polishing ... and then fighting the paranoia that seems to accompany me sending anything to any publisher even after I've researched it to death, I've been rejected.

So, today ... I'm trying to look at my rejection as proof that I'm still out there working ... writing, researching, editing, perfecting, learning. I have to admit, though, my glasses on this one are still a bit grimy.

A Veterans' Day Tribute

... by one of my all-time favorite artists - Steven Curtis Chapman. So very talented ... he wrote and recorded this song in just two weeks, in time for a release today, Veterans' Day, via this link: http://stevencurtischapman.com/thomasmcbride.htm?roi=farm-15950977-116699-caa0b537b54a32e086af4c64c39fd86c.

I believe the link is only good through November 15th. SCC wrote the song after meeting Corpsman Thomas McBride, the subject of the song, after he was critically wounded while fighting for our country in Afghanistan.

Thanks to all Veterans ... including my Grandpa Don, and my brother-in-law, George, who is currently on his second tour in Iraq ... so far away from my sister and their son. Be safe.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Perfect Christmas Album ... Again!

Yes, I know that Halloween just passed us by, and we haven't yet celebrated Thanksgiving; and I know that I generally make recommendations on books, not CDs. But - technically - songs are just a compilation of writings put to music; and, now that it's November, I feel I can kinda sorta get away with writing about a Christmas CD!

Last week, my hubby and I attended the Amy Grant "Lead Me On" 20th Anniversary tour. It was AWESOME ... as always ... Amy Grant is one of my all-time favorite artists. Her songs are made up of words and melodies that I consider absolute perfection. After the concert, I couldn't help but purchase Amy's new Christmas CD, "The Christmas Collection", made up of a bunch of her favorite songs from previous Christmas albums, plus four new recordings.

One of the new recordings, which she co-wrote - "I Need a Silent Night" - is right up there with "Breath of Heaven" and "A Christmas to Remember" for me ... the words and the music are amazing and so very relatable, and I can listen to it repeatedly (literally!!!).

As for the kids, Amy's "Jingle Bells" is the one they ask for repeatedly (yes, we've been playing just this Christmas music in the car over the past few days ... after all, it's a new CD ... we can't just let it sit there, waiting for the 'official' day to begin playing Christmas music!) ... and I have to agree, it is an awesome arrangement that goes so fast you can barely take a breath if you're singing along! It puts a big smile on the kids' faces, and makes for a very fun ride to school in the morning!

So, if the clouds and rain and cold weather are getting you in the mood for the holidays, and you're looking for a new Christmas CD to enjoy, this one comes with my high recommendation!