Monday, March 24, 2014

Thirsty

I have been thirsty for color lately. I guess it's because winter was longer and more wintry than usual. The other day I bought this darling, chunky little blank book and fun green metal basket, just because I needed to look at more color. Kind of a desperate attempt, but also darn cheap, as well as useful, and it has made me feel a bit better. (For those of you who wanted more pictures of my countertop, here ya go.)

The decor of my apartment (The Jewel Box) is mostly white, with hardwood floor and two large pieces of polished wood furniture. Minimal and clutter-free, except for cat toys all over the floor. I love it this way, and after almost two years, it's still like stepping into a cloud each time I come home. I have no intention of putting up lots of pictures, or adding bright cheerful throw rugs, or--gasp--painting over the white.

Still, I don't remember ever yearning for color as I have in recent weeks. I walk past a clothing shop each day, and let my eyes drink in the glorious bright shades of spring found in handbags, shoes, and clothing.

I've also shifted reading material. The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher is on the bedside table. Reading that first page was like rich hot chocolate after a long walk in a snowstorm, so delicious is Ms Pilcher's prose. Next in line will be a Marcia Willett novel. I don't know that I'll ever be as good at the craft as either of these women, but it's a goal.

Second Chances is still coming along, and I got some good feedback on the Other Project that will improve it considerably. It will involve reworking the beginning and tying up a loose end. (Oops!) I'm glad the story will be stronger and better for it.

I'm exercising nearly every day, which is good for many reasons. Each time I climb the first steep hill, I feel more alive than I have all day until then.

As I write this, there is sunshine. Three of us cooked a delicious lunch together and sat around the table talking for a long time afterward. I had supper with another dear friend the other night.

My thirst for color hasn't been just a visual longing, I guess. Maybe my soul has been a little thirsty lately. We are enjoying our nice, refreshing drink of rejuvenation.

I guess it is Spring after all.

Mags

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Time

I've been working on a different story the last week. (I know--shame on me for not finishing Second Chances before hopping to this other one. There's a good reason for the switch, though. At least, maybe there's a good reason. If it does turn out to be a good reason, I'll let you know. Otherwise we'll pretend this little conversation never happened, okay?)

I still need to finish Second Chances ASAP, and as of today I'm back on it.

The day job is gearing up for our super busy time, so I'll be more stressed than usual (which is saying something) there, and doing some extra hours too.

I'm trying to exercise and eat healthier. Exercising means taking long walks, and eating healthier means cooking instead of eating out often. So there's more time required. (Unless I learn to eat everything raw, which, though probably a good idea, I'm not quite ready for.)

One concern about my health is that I don't sleep enough. Compounding that, Daylight Savings Time throws my body clock off by an hour. Spring Forward? I feel like falling on my face instead, as if each night DST has stolen an hour of sleep. I won't take drugs, and I know exercise and correct diet factor into a restful sleep. But also it's important not to stay up late. So I've shortened my average day by going to bed half an hour earlier.

I also try to spend some time with friends, get out and away and have fun.

When I'm doing all these things, I'm not paying attention to Attila, and when I play with him too little, he gets even more feisty. He hasn't started eating toilet paper again, but it's been a near thing.

Life is so precious. I want to spend whatever time I have doing the right things. Just as life can take sudden turns, I try to be flexible so that if something of great importance comes up, I can drop what I'm doing and switch gears.

Which is why sometimes on the busiest day of the week, Attila and I will spend a little while rolling the Eye Ball around on the floor.



Aaaaaah. That's better.

How do you chill out after a stressful day?

Mags


Monday, March 10, 2014

Second Chances

Here is the beautiful cover for the story I've been working on.

I knew what Anne McClain Bradley looked like, but I wasn't sure about Pete Garrity. Having found him in a sea of stock images, and having his smiling face on this book cover, has made it easier to get to know him. Turns out Pete likes to run for exercise, for one thing. I didn't realize that until I looked into his eyes.

I'm in love with the couple, with the cover, and with the title and premise of this book. We all need a second chance occasionally, don't we? All kinds of things can happen that, if we didn't have the possibility of a second chance, it would be painfully difficult even to get up in the morning. Both Pete and Anne have endured loss. They've had emotional pain of different sorts, and dealt with it in different ways.

And they both have some letting go to do, before they can go on.

Which makes this book one of the most true to life I've written in recent years. My novellas, being short, have had simpler subject matter. This one is bigger, and I hope it will be as good or better than my other Legend stories.

It matters to me that Pete and Anne's story is told realistically and honorably, because there is a tiny bit of my own life lesson in it. Likely there's something you will relate to as well.

The way we meet and deal with hardship will color the rest of our lives. It can make us angry and bitter, or humble and grateful for each small blessing. We can be broken, or become stronger. Or we can overcome the brokenness, and become stronger yet.

Second chances. Sometimes the hard part is believing they even exist.

Magdalena





Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing on the Rails

Microsoft clipart
Amtrak is offering something cool, and I'm one of the many who would like to get in on it. It's a Writers Residency, which allows writers free passage on Amtrak so that they can write. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity, especially for someone (hint, hint) who loves the train.

When our son was six years old, we took Amtrak round-trip from Chicago to Los Angeles and visited family. A few years later, we took a comparatively short jaunt from Jeffersonville, Indiana to Chicago for a weekend. The Progeny loved playing with trains, and all of us loved riding them.

Since then, of course, "fortunes" have changed, life has changed. Train travel is still my favorite, although I haven't been able to take a rail trip for years. If given an option of flying, driving or traveling by train, I would take the train--and I tell people so, any time they are planning a trip.

Why not try the train? Many say they want to do it sometime, but what I have learned is that "sometime" may never come.

The train is great because you don't have to look for a good place to eat. It's in the next car, just a short walk away. You can actually enjoy the scenery instead of being concerned about traffic or where the cheapest gas can be bought.

Flying is neat because I like to look out at the clouds, but if I'm in a plane, I'd prefer to ride in my friend's small one so I can actually see what's down below. (I like scenery, speed not so much.) More and more, with airline travel, the journey is something to endure. The journey is part of the fun on the train!

When I signed up for July's Romance Writers of America conference in San Antonio, I stopped short of getting airline reservations. Ideally, I'd love to go by train. More than that, I'd like to go to San Antonio for the conference (Texas Eagle), and spend an extra day or two in Texas visiting family, then get on the train and head west to visit a friend in Tucson. Then back on to see more family in Los Angeles, then up to Oregon to see a cousin I've never met in person, then the Empire Builder route (which my husband and I talked about taking, but never got to) back to Chicago - Indianapolis - and home.

And all along the route there would be, not just sightseeing (which is great), but writing.

I thought of it, and realized how unlikely it would be that I could manage to take a trip like that. Still, I didn't look for a flight. Then recently a friend told me about the #AmtrakResidency program, and encouraged me to try to win one.

As our family took its long train trip, I wrote a travelogue that I shared with a few friends afterward. It's refreshing and rejuvenating to write in a different location, and the ever-changing view out the window of a train, although a welcome distraction, is also exhilarating. Exhilaration can certainly spur the writing juices!

I know there is a lot of competition among writers to get into the residency program, and whoever wins will never forget the experience.

I'd like to be one of them, and am hoping very hard that my trip to and from the RWA conference will be a wonderful excursion, instead of just an airline flight over scenery that's lost in the clouds.


Hopefully yours,
Magdalena