Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting Rid of Stuff

This morning I read. As I read, I thought about what I would need if I had to minimize my household belongings to 10 boxes. Wouldn't 10 boxes fit into the back of a wagon? Probably. So what would I pack in those 10 boxes? Obviously, not furniture. What would be the most important possessions in my home? Is there anything that I feel like I just cannot live without? Well, technically, there is absolutely nothing in my home that I can take with me when I die. There are sentimental "things" that I would like to look at from time to time like my photographs, and my books, but those would be useless to me otherwise. Mentally, I made a list of things that I feel that I just cannot live without. In my mind, those things went into the 10 boxes. Then, I charged myself a hundred dollars for each box to move them to another place where I might "settle" if I were moving. In light of paying money to take the stuff with me, I realized that it didn't mean as much to me as I thought it did. In reality, I would settle for just the photographs, and some books. That cut me down to 2 boxes instead of 10.
With all of this in mind, and a desire to be organized, I decided to get rid of some "stuff." This all started back in the Fall, and to date, I have gotten rid of about 8 truck loads of "stuff." I also watched a couple of episodes of Hoarders. If you've been wanting to clean out, this show will convince you to delve into the backs of closets, and the eaves of attics. No box has been left unturned in my house. And I'm not finished yet. My husband says that I have to make a mess to clean up a mess. So I've made a few messes. What of it? I have purged and cleansed my inner storage. Now I'm working on organization. I've been spending time trying to "teach" the kids where things are supposed to go. Surprisingly, they are beginning to put things in the right places.
As I've been cleaning, here are the two questions I've been asking myself? "Do I really need it? Can I live without it?" Chances are that the answer will be "No" at least 9 times out of 10-- to both questions. That means that you can cut up to 90% of your clutter just by asking yourself the same things. Give it to the local thrift store. You can get a receipt for what you think it's worth. (I don't get the receipt.) Bag it up. Get rid of it. And if that doesn't work, you can always watch Hoarders, again....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Craft books and Genre

So, when I went to the ACFW Conference way back in September, I took lots of notes. One thing that resonated over and over was this: For every 1 writing craft book that you read, you should read 4 more books in the genre that you want to write in. I have diligently been trying to do just that, but time constraints have had me in a gridlock. So far, I have managed to read these books:
1. Craft ebook by Randy Ingermanson called "Writing Fiction for Dummies." This has been my favorite craft book so far. Randy is candid and refreshing with his style of "teaching." A far cry from some boring how-to's that I've forced myself to indulge.
2. Historical Fiction with a hint of Romance by Suri Mitchell called "Love's Pursuit." This book is superbly written although I was a bit confused for the first three chapters as to who was speaking from scene to scene. I loved the message overall, but I am a hopeless romantic and I must say that I am all for happy endings. So if you haven't read this book, it is a must read and I won't give anything away except this, I think it's a Pocahontas story, and a good one. It's not an Amish book as the cover implies, but it is a book about Puritan life, and offers lots of juicy historical bits to sink your teeth into.
3. Historical Romance by Kim Vogel Sawyer called "A Hopeful Heart." Kim is writing so fast that I'm beginning to get behind on her books. I have two more of her books to read since this one came out. But this book was a charming read. It's about a girl who goes to a school of sorts for training to become a Rancher's wife. Written in true Kim Sawyer style, this book is another must read.
4. Contemporary Romance by Kaye Dacus called "Love Remains." Although this one wasn't in my genre, I enjoyed it because I am from Tennessee, and this story was set in Tennessee. Of course it was a romance, so I would have enjoyed it anyways. I really liked how the characters kept God at the center of everything they did.
5. I'm trying to read another book that is just sucking the life out of me. This book I won't name, but it is supposed to be a historical. The main problem with it is that it doesn't compel me to turn the page. I'm only reading it so that I can say that I did. I think it has too much information about things that are not necessary to the story. I've heard that called an "info dump." It's not a must read, but you will have to figure that out if you try to read it yourself.
6. I began reading "Courting Miss Amsel" by Kim Vogel Sawyer yesterday, and I was really impressed with even the first page.I've learned alot from reading first pages. I've spent hours at the thrift perusing first pages. It's a good exercise. You should try it. Then I have a Francine Rivers book ready to read after that. I've heard raves about it, so I intend to see for myself.
Have I learned from this exercise? You bet. While all of these authors are good in their own rights, they are still individual authors with individual voices, and individual styles. You have to stay true to your own writing, and let it flow, all the while learning from others.
I'm getting closer to finishing my manuscript. My goal was to finish by the end of January. That has now turned into Feb. as I have hit upon a twist and a loophole in my plot. (a good one) So I am now trying to work it in. I think it will make my story stronger and better. Back to the next installment of my WIP!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chickenpox and Church pews

It's through groggy eyes that I'm viewing this screen this morning. I discovered yesterday that I do indeed have chicken pox. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I am a full grown adult with 5 glorious children, and I have had them before. The case that I had at the ripe old age of 6 was a light one, and that, it seems, has been my demise. So now, I have yet another light case so far, none the less, a case, and thus I am contagious. So the field trip that I had so laboriously planned for Saturday is now postponed, and the choir on Sunday will not have a pianist. No groceries will be bought today, and, I fear, no clothes will be washed as I am just not feeling it. My brain tells me that this will be the perfect time to continue work on writing my break-out novel, but my body tells me that it will not sit all day, but it will lay. We will see what writing is to be done.

As for the church pew. It is absolutely gorgeous! My cousin got a whole set from somewhere, and it has always been my dream to have one in my house--(well, one of my dreams,) and so he gave me one. The big boys and I worked really hard to get it from the back deck, to the front living room last night. We should be given honorary engineer degrees. We used the little red wagon to move one end, and Mom/son power to move the other end. It fit perfectly in the spot we had measured for it. And the seat cover matches the carpet in that room which is now going to be our music room. Since we all play something, the need for a music room far outweighs the need for an antique showroom. So I made space for my prizes in an attic closet, stripped the border from the top of the wall, and plan to paint one wall sometime this weekend. I will post pics when everything is complete. We shall see about that too. But just seeing it in the house made me feel better.

My parents always got me a little prize of some kind when I was sick, and it made me feel better, so, I guess the church pew can be my prize............ :o)