In between


This was my view last week. We were with the in-laws in San Diego, catching up and doing touristy stuff. It looks like it was hot, doesn’t it? Not so much. If it was 70 when I took this, I’d be surprised. It was like this the whole time we were there.

Then we came home, and it was in the high 40’s and raining. Yeah. You don’t really want to see that. In fact, there’s a good chance if you know me personally, you were in a place where it was also raining and cold.

I’m home for a few days, and then I’m off again to Mom’s and this view. We should have great deck-sitting weather. If we don’t, we’ll probably sit out there anyway.happyplace.JPG




January wrap up

January isn’t a productive month for me, but this one was better than most. When I packed for the rendezvous, I was intentional about setting things up to be able to work at least part of the time. I made sure to take a table and chairs for inside my tent, packed the wireless keyboard for my iPad and took extra batteries. I downloaded Scrivener, and made sure my WIP and my Excel tracking sheet were available before I left. I even asked Eric to send me back to the tent after breakfast, even if I insisted on washing breakfast dishes. (You saw the view from our kitchen in last week’s post. Can you blame me?)

In short, I used up all my efficiency for the month before January 10.

It did work, sort of. I wrote 5 days out of 14. Not much on the face of it, but usually I spend an hour or two the whole time with a journal and my lap desk, so I’m calling it a win.

The external batteries turned out to be a partial fail. We had a small one and a big one. If I’d been the only one using them, it might have been all right, but Eric was charging with them, too. I think we got one charge for each of our phones and iPads before we used up all the juice. The next morning I took the big one up to the charging station at the front gate and left it for a couple of hours. I went back to check on it, and it was 8%. The lesson learned there is to take multiple small batteries because they charge faster.

Scrivener was a mixed bag. It was great to have all my info with me and not have to copy/paste stuff when I got home. The transition between home and away was seamless, thanks to Dropbox. There were a couple downsides. Because I didn’t take a mouse, I couldn’t highlight text to count words. I got around it by noting total word count in Excel before I started writing, and subtracting it from the new total when I was done. Also, because I saved to Dropbox and not to a hard drive, I had to be online for at least the start (to retrieve everything) and the end (to save new work). That meant using battery time for the iPad and my phone since I used my personal hotspot to access the internet.

Maybe next year, if I do the batteries right, I’ll write more. I might not. We do a lot of visiting since we camp with family, and we have friends we only see there. This year I did a lot of sewing, and there was the one day out with Dad to go to the flea market.

Even apart from the rendezvous, though, it was a fairly productive month. I think word count was about 20% higher than the last 4 Januarys. I didn’t start tracking the amount of time I spend at the desk until the middle of last year, so I have no figures for that.

January 2017 numbers:

Words: 11,536
Days in office: 16
Hours in office: 19.25*
CPE: “Take Off Your Pants” by Libbie Hawker
Finished projects: The draft titled “Looking For Help” until I find the real title
Blog posts: 4
Newsletters: 0

Not great on paper, but it’s probably the best starting point than I’ve had. How’d January go for you guys?

Happy February!

*This is only writing time and doesn’t reflect time spent reading craft books or listening to podcasts. I should probably record that time, too, but honestly some days I’m doing well just to remember to clock in when I sit down.

Home From The Pilgrimage

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, or if you follow me on social media, you’ve probably heard stories about the Alafia River Rendezvous. It’s a living history event held every year in central Florida. Thousands of people converge in what amounts to a huge field to camp, shop, and visit 18th century-style. My dad got me into it, and I’ve gotten Eric into it, now that he gets actual vacation time.

This year was a little different. I took my iPad and keyboard, and downloaded Scrivener for iOs so I could write while I was there. Mostly I wanted to have the option because it’s far easier for me to write daily than take time off and have to restart. It keeps my momentum up. The other reason was I wasn’t thinking when I signed up for an informal JanNoWriMo (similar to National Novel Writing Month, which is in November) organized by a Facebook group. I figured I could do 20,000 words instead of the 50,000 they require with NaNoWriMo. If I’d been home all month it would have been easy.

I did write about 5 times. My word count was about 3,800, so I didn’t get a ton done, but I did get the short story I was working on finished. Needless to say, I’m way behind on that 20,000 word goal. At this point I might make it, but since I finished what was the current story, I’m not positive. Regardless, I’ve written more this month than I usually do in January, so that’s something.

Here’s a few pictures of our vacation.

Wedding pictures


Last Saturday was the big day! Eric and I renewed our vows at the Eastern Primitive Rendezvous. We were able to invite friends and family who weren’t there to camp since we scheduled it on a public day, but we also had friends who were camped there, some of whom have known me since I was a little bitty thing. Here’s Eric and me with my mom and dad. Yes, Dad is holding a flintlock pistol. He wasn’t going to let Eric get away!








The start of the ceremony.









I’ve never been handfasted before. Pastor Mike tied our hands together with a strip of tartan. I’m pretty sure, since we’ve been married 25 years, the year and a day part doesn’t apply!








And the kiss. This is actually the second one. We kissed too fast the first time and the photographers missed it, so we had to do it again! Darn!!!

Taking a break

I took a break from conference prep the other day to take advantage of the relatively cool weather (it was only 90*) for some rendezvous prep. We bought a new tent and wanted to practice putting it up, plus Eric and the Boys built a bed and we wanted to see how much space we had left with it inside.

Our new tent is marquis style, and we found it much easier to put up than a wall tent. If you’ve never put up a marquis before, this is how you do it.

First, schlep all the pieces out of the garage.









Spread the roof out on the ground and get it as square as you can.








Next, you raise the corners, securing the poles with two ropes and two stakes each. Don’t tighten the ropes too much.






Arrange the ground cover. (We didn’t when we were practicing.) The center pole goes in next, followed by the rest of the side poles. Ours has three on each side, but the number varies with the size of the tent and the manufacturer. Each of those poles gets one rope and stake.





After that, it’s just a matter of putting up the side curtains, which hang from a rope that goes around the inside, under the scallop. The drooping side curtain in the picture was done on purpose, by the way. That’s 18th century air conditioning. Hopefully we won’t need that when we go to Ohio next month!
We do have a fly (the tent name for an awning) that we’ll attach when we get to the rendezvous to give us a shaded outdoor area. It was too hot to mess with it Sunday. We attached it but didn’t stake it up. I didn’t get a picture of the bed, but it does fit with plenty of room to spare, so if we have a rainy day we won’t be packed in like sardines.

Total time to put it up, including carrying everything around the house to the back yard, was about 90 minutes. I think it took about half an hour to take it down, and probably another 20 to 30 minutes to wrap up the ropes and carry everything back to the garage. Since we’ve practiced, we’ll likely be faster next time, and the hardest part will be figuring out how to configure the walls so our doors and stove hole will be positioned correctly.

The other thing we didn’t put up was the shower, which is basically four poles, eight ropes and stakes and a pair of cross beams at the top wrapped in canvas. It’s about two feet by two feet and stands behind the tent. It’s not strictly necessary, but it is nice to have when you’re in camp for a week. I’ll have rendezvous pictures to post closer to October, including (hopefully) plenty of pictures of our vow renewal ceremony (henceforth referred to as The Wedding).

So, this is what I do for fun! Well, this, but in petticoats and stays. What do you think? Too crazy for you?

All Shook Up

I know, I know, I’ve been scarce lately. Summers are crazy for everyone, but just when things settled down, lunch with a fellow writer shook them back up.We got on the subject of conferences and how neither of us is going to ACFW this year. I told her I’d considered going to the Oregon Christian Writers Conference because a friend of mine is the director, and the agent I want to pitch to will be there. However, I wanted the book to be done and spit polished before I pitch. She strongly encouraged me to go anyway, so when I got home I e-mailed one of the mentors at My Book Therapy who is familiar with the story. She told me to go, too. When I told Eric about it, he said, “Bye.” Yes. He is my hero. And my biggest fan.

It’s all been pretty surreal, but I did get separate confirmation. A couple days after I registered, I was going through the mail and casually mentioned to Eric that if I’m going to Oregon, I guess I better buy airline tickets. I mean, it’s only 2,000 miles one way. That’s when I found a check from my former boss. She’d gone over the books and found two paychecks I hadn’t cashed. It didn’t cover all of the airfare, but it made buying them a lot less painful!

Long story short, I’m working like a fiend to get everything ready. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one seeing God’s fingerprints all over this!

Newport research, part 3

The last house we saw was Kingscote, which is one of very few examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the U.S. It’s also the oldest of all the Newport mansions, built in 1839. It fits the term ‘summer cottage’ better than any of the other houses. Never mind the fact that the stable had more square footage than my house!






From Kingscote, we went to the Green Animals Topiary Garden, which was ten miles or so north of Newport. It’s not only the oldest topiary garden in the U.S., it’s also the furthest north. The topiaries were started in 1905. They’d only been open for the season a couple weeks when we were there, so some of them were a little shaggy, but it was still fun to see.








I thought the basket of flowers was especially fun.






The house had a wrap-around porch with rockers, so after walking in the garden, we stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the view.

















Our last day there, we drove to Woods Hole, MA and caught the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. This is the hotel in Edgartown where we had lunch.






Then we walked down a path between wild roses










to the small lighthouse,










where we took in the amazing view.

The best part of Martha’s Vineyard? The two new story ideas I got, of course! Getting three books out of one research trip will give me some extra bang for my bucks. Now all I have to do is write them.