Friday, September 28, 2012

A Few Things to Remember

Alrighty, I did it…I finished Book 4. I finalized the cover with my graphic designer just last week and ordered a first copy. Last step will be to read through it one last time to check for typos, formatting issues, etc. Then I’ll order a bulk shipment and share them with the world!


Sometimes when I’m in the midst of writing and editing and promoting my books, I forget a few things:

1.      How I am living my dream as a children’s book author

2.      How incredibly proud I should be for finishing yet another book, in spite of being a full-time mother

3.      How ridiculously blessed I am that God decided to give me the writing bug and do something fun with it


And sometimes when I’m in the midst of cleaning, changing diapers, pushing West on the swings, and making dinner, I forget a few more things:

1.      How I am living another dream of being a stay-at-home mom

2.      How incredibly proud I am of my hard-working husband who never makes me feel guilty for staying home and thinks it’s best for our family

3.      How ridiculously blessed I am that God gave me this sweet little boy who delights me more each day and reflects God’s goodness every time he smiles and says “Mama”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why Couldn't I Be from Texas?

I got an email the other day that bummed me out a little: a rejection to Sherlock Academy. This one in particular was a little disappointing because they've been reading and considering my Book 1 since the beginning of summer. I submitted it to them, they read the first 50 pages, and requested more. They liked my writing style, etc. But in the end, they said they are a small house that at the moment is only publishing Texan authors and/or stories based in Texas.

I wanted to ask them, "Then why did you bother to read my story at all? Thanks for wasting my time!"

Instead, I emailed back a polite thank-you for reading my story, etc. I also mentioned I am brewing a new story in my head and would they be interested in reading a book proposal on it? It could be based in Texas. I have a small plot in mind with a working title:

The Tree House Wars

I'll let you know when I have more to say on this story....

....or when the Bright Sky Publishing has more to say on it....

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ring In the Season

Now that it’s officially autumn, the Shaws have made some changes, as they always do this time of year. We busted out the fall decorations and decked our halls with autumn garlands, wreathes, and pumpkin-scented accents. (Halloween decorations will join on October 1, per tradition).

I also exchanged my summery wardrobe for my autumn one of sweaters, skirts, and tops all in fall hues of orange, mustard-yellow, brown, and rust. I always swap my wardrobe per season to be more festive and keep my wardrobe fresh and exciting, at least for myself.

A few new flavors are on our menu this time of year. I always make this delicious apple bread, and pumpkin-spice cookies. I also try to cook more homey stews, roasted meat and veggies, and corn bread.

As you can tell, the Shaws are all about embracing the season!

Friday, September 21, 2012

A New Verdict

I got some very encouraging news the other day in regards to my high cholesterol. My mum-in-law (she’s British, you know) called me and said she had read an article online about cholesterol levels in nursing moms. An average level for a pregnant or nursing mom is 200-350!

I’m 320, and yes, I’m still breastfeeding Westly a little.

This made my day! My doctor probably didn’t think to ask me if I’m still breastfeeding. While I know high cholesterol runs in my family and I still may be in danger of it being high in me, I felt better knowing that my extremely high level is probably related to my nursing.

Whew! I’m not as bummed about this whole thing anymore. I’m still going to eat oatmeal for breakfast (I got some yummy brown sugar oatmeal at Trader Joes), and limit my dairy intake. I don’t have to drink that glass of milk at night, or snack on cheese a few times a day, or order my Starbucks with whole milk. But I’m not going to stress about my diet as much.

It’s nice to have one limitation somewhat lifted from my life!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Report Is In

I got the verdict on my blood work taken last week. My cholesterol is very high! An average healthy range is 130-200. Mine came back at 320. I am told to go on a strict low-cholesterol diet for three months, then take more blood work and see how it’s doing.

I was not too shocked by the results for a few reasons: my mom and grandma both make bad cholesterol and have to watch it. My mom takes medicine for it. I could have inherited this. Also my diet tends to be the high-cholesterol type. For goodness’ sake, as the nurse was on the phone with me giving me the results, I was eating string cheese!

While we tend to eat fairly well at the Shaw Manor—low sodium, no soda, lean meats, no hygo-oils in snacks, etc.—I LOVE cheese! And all things creamy. Not to mention bacon, chocolate, eggs, etc. And let’s not forget my Starbucks fetish. Yes, those are all high-cholesterol.

A few days after this report, I got kinda down about it. I was most bummed about having to change my diet and watch what I eat. I didn’t want another limitation on my life. As a stay-at-home mom, I already have a lot of limitations on my life: living on a tight budget, having sleep interrupted, restrictions on free-time, etc. I want to be able to eat what I want and have that frapp or bit of chocolate if it makes me feel better.

Besides, I’m too young to be worrying about dieting this way! And I don’t care for oatmeal or Cheerios, which are the some of the best fighters against high cholesterol.

You can see why I am bummed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dance Party

Little Westly had been developing his dance moves recently. He pushes the button on his Mozart-playing turtle and proceeds to get his groove on. He just started twirling. He bounces and does squats. He reaches up on his tip-toes. And he runs around the room. I love it.

The funny thing is he is very serious about it. He enjoys it, but you get a sense from him that he takes his dancing very seriously. Which makes it all that much cuter.

I think he’s like his Mama. I enjoy writing immensely, but I also take it pretty seriously. Almost too much so maybe sometimes. When I am getting a little overwhelmed by my plot, or frustrated with landing a great title…

…I watch Westly dance and am reminded I need to do the same. And we have a dance party. Though instead of Mozart, I move better to Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's That Time of Year

It seems every year the holidays are promoted earlier and earlier. The other day I noticed Starbucks is advertising their fall bevs and snacks. Jamba Juice is decorated for Halloween already! And Target has their Thanksgiving stuff out.

Too soon! Let’s enjoy one season and holiday at a time. I’ve decided I won’t drink a pumpkin-spice-latte till the first day of fall. I won’t bust out our Halloween decorations until the first day of October. And I won’t give thanks until….Oops! Just kidding! I try to give thanks everyday…hee hee

Though someone should come up to me and say “Look who’s talking!” For my Book 4 is set around Valentine’s Day.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fainting and Plotting

I had to go in to get blood drawn. I was recommended to do so as a routine examination since the last time I had blood analyzed was when I was pregnant. At first I put it off. Then the last few weeks I’ve been feeling dizzy, tired, and having minor headaches. So I decided it was a good idea to draw blood and see what’s going on.


I have THE worst veins for drawing blood. I always have—except when I was pregnant. The increase blood supply did wonders for my veins and blood pressure. I always have to lie down, endure much prodding and poking, and hear over and over how small my veins are, etc. I usually do okay with it, for I really don’t have a phobia of needles or blood.

But if I let myself, I can psych myself out and start to feel faint. Of course going in on an empty stomach (because of fasting for it) never helps. This time I definitely was on the verge of fainting. I felt hot, cold, tingly, broke out into a cold sweat, and had to inhale deeply and get my mind on something else.

And I thought about my character Rollie in Book 4 I’m finishing up. There is a moment at the end when Rollie overhears some shocking information and reacts by feeling faint. I drew on my past experiences, but now I was able to double-check my writing as I lay there feeling on the verge of passing out!

The great literary experts always say “Write what you know!”


Monday, September 10, 2012

British At Heart

Westly is starting to say little words, or at least mimic the sounds of the words. My favorite thing he says is “Mama”. The way he says it just melts my heart every time! He says it in a slightly deeper tone. But when he says “Daddy”, he says it in a slightly higher tone. We found this quite amusing. Then we remembered something we observed in London years ago. British women tend to have deeper voices, while British men tend to have higher voices. We decided that Westly is British at heart since he says “Mama” low and “Daddy” high!

It got us excited to hopefully take him to England someday. Though our financial prospects are not looking favorable toward that! Maybe if I can land a great book deal someday and earn a little money off it, we can celebrate with a trip to ‘other homeland’.

And Westly will find he fits in perfectly!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Light at the End of the Tunnel

I sometimes get so tunnel-visioned about my writing. For instance, right now all I can think about is Sherlock Academy: finishing Book 4 and starting Book 5 to wrap up the series. I forget that I can also work on other little writing projects on the side in my extra time.

Wait a minute, extra time?! HA! Now that’s a funny thought.

But really, I have a ton of little kid stories that would fit well on a children’s magazine page. It doesn’t hurt to submit them and see what happens. What have  I got to lose? A little bit of my extra time? Pshaw!

Next month it’s my turn to submit something to our writer’s group for critique. I think I’m going to submit one or two of my little magazine articles/stories for critique and then submit them and see what happens.

It’s good for me to set smaller writing goals to keep myself from getting too tunnel-visioned about my writing. Still Sherlock Academy and its secret tunnels will be my chief focus for a while…

…Westly permitting, of course—he does take a lot of my focus!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What's In a Name?

Writing is a funny thing…even funnier than my kid sometimes. Granted, Westly makes me laugh quite often—like the other night as we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar before bed. He loves sticking his fingers into the holes punched in the pages where the caterpillar ate. I pinched his fingers from the underside of the page as he poked his through and he giggled so hard it made me laugh. 

Writing for me isn’t always a funny ha-ha thing. It’s more like a funny “Really?!” thing. Right now I’m working on giving my fourth book a title. Sometimes titles just come to me, either before I’ve written the book, during the writing of it, or after with some reflection. And sometimes the title totally eludes me. Here’s the funny thing going on with naming my Book 4:

Before I even started writing it, I knew the premise of the plot and immediately had a title in mind. All while I wrote it, the title stuck. Then when I finished the book and re-read it last week, I started having doubts about the title. This weekend I’ve been brainstorming with Michael on titles. After making lists of titles, scratching out some, perusing my big thesaurus, and talking out my thoughts and reasoning….

…I think I finally landed on a title (TBA). And the funny thing about it is by changing the title I have to go back and change the name of a key component of the story! But this new title sounds so much better, is way more intriguing, and is a better summary of the story. So I’ve got to change a few things in the story to correspond with the title. Kind of a pain, but it will be totally worth it.

Book 3 was funny like that. I had no titles in mind as I was finishing it. After some brainstorming, Michael and I came up with The Holmes Brigade as the title for Book 3. Now here’s the funny thing: before the title, the storyline of the Holmes Brigade did not exist! I created a whole side-story about the secret club based on this interesting title we came up with. And the best part about that, the Holmes Brigade storyline became not only an important part of Book 3, it also became the story crux of Book 4!

Like I said, writing is funny!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day = Rest Day

Happy Labor Day to all. I do hope you or your spouse are observing the holiday mainly by not working…or uh, laboring. When I was little I used to think the day was set up to honor birthing labor. I thought it was a day to honor all the moms who labored to birth babies.

Now that I’m older and a labor survivor, I’m back to thinking there should be a day for this. After all, child birth is the hardest and yet most exhilarating experience of a lifetime—especially natural birth. I’m a witness. But then I suppose the birthdays of your children are also memorials of your birth story.

Well, however you choose to look at this holiday, I hope it’s the opposite of labor—both working and birthing. I hope it’s restful!