The curse of the missing screw / The never ending "to do" list.

When I get toward the end of a writing project, I have a certain amount of nervous energy that bubbles around inside of me. I don't know if it's because I'm anxious to see what people will think of my new book, or if it's because my "to do" list grows much longer than I'm comfortable with. Finishing up a book is a tremendous amount of work. After I finish my draft and read it several times, my process is this: Beta readers, more personal revisions, professional developmental editing and proof-reading, further revisions, further edits (on the revisions), professional formatting, cover design, teaser/marketing material development, ARC distribution, copyright application, and eventually publication.

Over the last couple of weeks, my (nearly complete) YA novel More than a Moment, has been bouncing back and forth between me and my editor.  In an effort to re-direct some of my excess energy, I started refinishing an old buffet cabinet that I picked up. I enjoyed a quiet day with my mom sanding and priming the old cabinet while my mother-in-law watched the kids for me.

Over the next couple of days I painted it by myself. It wasn't quite the color I imagined (I wanted that mason-jar-blue color), but it's close enough. My mom suggested spray painting the hardware that came on the buffet rather than replace it. I tried it and I love how it turned out. Up close it looks like it's enameled! 

After waiting impatiently for it to dry, I gathered up all the hardware this morning. And wouldn't you know. I'm missing one screw. There's one knob that I can't yet attach. I guess I'll have to add "going to the hardware store" to my "to do" list.  

The almost done entertainment cabinet.

The almost done entertainment cabinet.

Reflecting on my "longest night" (On becoming a mom)

Every year since I became a mom, I can't help but reflect on April 20th. Like this year, the 21st fell on a Tuesday. My earliest contractions came on Saturday evening and being 40 weeks pregnant - I welcomed them. Sunday, I was even more excited - unlike the Braxton Hicks contractions (which always faded away) my contractions were still coming. They weren't particularly steady or close together, but they were still happening. 

Then, Sunday became Monday. In the early morning hours I requested my husband pack the car and drive me to the birth center. He called our midwife, and in the dark, we drove for an hour. The contractions were strong and I was unprepared for the news I was about to get.

When I had my exam, the midwife told me that I was experiencing a very slow early labor. She told me what to watch for and sent me home. It was such a disappointing (and painful) drive home. I labored around the house that day -- mostly kneeling on the floor with my head rested in the seat of the glider in the nursery. We didn't go back to the birth center until seven that evening when I was in so much discomfort that I couldn't stay home any longer.

Our midwife confirmed that I had progressed enough to "check in," but that I was nowhere near delivering. As I settled into my room, I had no idea what the following hours would bring. 
What I learned on the longest night of my life was profound, and it will stick with me forever.

*** I learned that even though I was a "big picture" person, that I needed to take things second by second. I had to focus on the "right now." I had to focus on the very breath I was taking, rather than thinking about the ones to come.

*** I learned that my body was stronger than I ever gave it credit for. By the time I birthed my daughter, I had only slept for three or four hours out of the prior 48.  

*** I learned just how supportive my husband was. He was on his knees next to me as much as possible. When he had to step away for a moment, my birth assistant was there. I was never alone. They later told me that he was "husband of the year."

***I learned just how much love and support a simple touch or word of reassurance could convey.

*** I also learned how important silence was. I felt so many things that night that words will never be able to describe. I'm thankful I was able to internalized them in the quiet, dimly-lit room.

I remember walking up and down the hall, staring at old black and white photographs of women helping women. Women becoming moms. I thought a lot about the women in my life that had come before me. Finally gaining a clearer understanding of what they'd gone through to become moms.

I remember being relieved when I saw that the sun had come up. The longest night of my life had finally come to a close. Instinctively, I knew my daughter would be born that day. It was a day well worth welcoming.

The 21st was beautiful and miraculous and one of the best days of my life. But the long dark night before it was such an important part of the journey - the uncelebrated part. There is no cake to celebrate the day before a birthday, but maybe, there should be.

Perfect afternoon for a "special day"

I was born in the early 80's. I was lucky enough to have 3 sisters and a stay at home mom. The five us created a lot of memories during our days together. My dad worked full-time, but devoted his nights and weekends to the family. Growing up it was rare to get one-on-one time with either parent, but my dad came up with a tradition that ensured at least one awesome bonding day each year.

Every summer my dad would plan what he called "Special Day." I'm not sure if they were on Saturdays, or if he took a day off of work, but what I do know is that we looked forward to these days with great anticipation. It wasn't often that we found ourselves sitting in the front seat in Dad's car with no one else clamoring for his attention. 

Over the years traditions developed. I usually opted for a trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum and lunch at Chi Chi's (The only Mexican restaurant I was familiar with). My sisters often chose mini golf and ice cream. What we all remember is a day with Dad where we were the center of his attention.

Yesterday morning I was teaching a ukulele lesson and the phone rang. My Dad invited me out for an outing. It wasn't a planned "special day" and perhaps that made it all the more perfect. I buckled the kids into their car seats and picked up my dad. Just like old times we went and had lunch. It was a perfect afternoon - a special day with a new generation. After lunch we walked along the Little Wolf river. The trails were muddy, the trees were bare, and little voices rang out everywhere.

A new generation goes out for a "Special Day."   

A new generation goes out for a "Special Day."


I ran out of episodes of Parenthood / March 2015 progress update

I really need to get better at juggling my workflow. Somehow I ended up with all three of my completed manuscripts out to beta readers and my editor at the same time.  This would have been perfect if I hadn't run out of Parenthood episodes to watch on Amazon prime, BUT somehow, the two coincided. While I wait for  my name to creep up the hold list at the local library, I'm taking some time to update a few things on my website and start on marketing materials for the new releases. I have preliminary designs for all the book covers and am working on the back cover blurbs.

I started off 2015 with too many completed (but not edited) projects on my computer and several new stories bouncing around in my head. I promised my husband that I'd get my finished books out before starting any others.  My plan is to release my  YA romance this summer followed by Totem and Summit in the Fall. Or perhaps I will do it in the other order. Either way, if things go according to plan, I'll have four novels out in the world by the end of the year and hopefully at least one new project in the works. I'm sure I'll finish watching the end of Parenthood too :)