Saturday, January 24, 2009

If you're looking for something profound - you may not find it here...

I usually feel like I need to wait until I've actually got something worthwhile to say before I post - hence the scarcity of posts over the past few months. So now my new plan is I'll post regularly regardless. When you're ready for me to go back to the few and far between - let me know.

Several of my children have commented on my Christmas blog indicating that they thought I sounded like I had a terrible time. So first let me correct that misconception if anyone else got the same impression. I had a wonderful time with my family at Christmas. I just get frustrated with myself and my management of my time and my lack of organizational skills. And (as I was accused) I have a tendency toward the dramatic and possibly over-exaggerate somethings. (I guess that's why I write fiction books).

Anyway, the month of January is almost gone - which seems impossible. This week Andy got his driver's license (after two tries and not on his actual birthday since I was trying to meet a book deadline). Baby Banx has not joined us yet - but he will by Weds at the latest. So we're all pretty excited about that. Tommy is in Uganda again, temporarily, because of a visa problem. He saw that his was about to expire and so they applied for another one but in the letter written for him requesting that his visa be extended they said something like 'ask that he be allowed to stay so he can continue his work' meaning the Lord's work of course. But he was there on a tourist visa and isn't allowed to 'work' and the Ethiopian government didn't want to hear an explanation of how that word could be used more than one way. So he had to leave and they've applied for a business visa - so hopefully he'll be back in his appointed spot soon.

The only morsel of wisdom I can think of to share comes from a children's book that Mrs. Robinson (one of the teacher's I work with) was reading to her kindergarten class on Friday. It was about a short man who wanted to be taller. He admired a tall cow and wanted to be just like him. The only advice the cow could give was that if the short man wanted to be like the cow - he should do whatever the cow did. So the short man ate a lot of corn and ran around the pasture and at the end of the day he was still short and his stomach hurt and his legs ached. So he found a tall bull and copied him for a day with similar results. Finally he talked to a wise owl who told the short man that while he was short - he didn't really need to be tall. The owl pointed out that he himself was small - smaller than the short man - but he wasn't complaining or acting like a cow or bull in an effort to get taller. He was happy with how he was. There was a quote at the end (which of course I can't remember exactly) but it was something to the effect that he should change his attitude - otherwise he would spend his entire life seeking something he didn't need and couldn't achieve.

That was a pretty powerful statement for me and I've thought about it a lot since then. I'm afraid that I do spend a lot of time chasing after things I don't need. As part of my life reorganization plan I'm going to try and apply that test to all my activities and goals. If I don't NEED it and can't reasonably expect to ACCOMPLISH it - I should probably let it go. I'm beginning to wonder if lose weight falls into that category...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I'm sorry it's been so long....

This picture doesn't really have anything to do with my post - except that I wish I was at the beach! The past few months have been a blur. Nothing terrible has happened in my life but I've struggled badly with managing the day to day. I blame it mostly on my decision to go back to work at the beginning of the school year. I love what I do (assisting slower learners) but it takes a lot out of me. By the time I leave school, pick up my sons at their school, stop by the store or run whatever other errands need to be run and get home I'm exhausted. And there's still dinner to be made and laundry to be done and homework and, well, you get the ugly picture. Then try to mix in a little time to write LDS fiction books and you have true disaster. I'm not doing anything very well and I've got to figure out a better way.

My new plan is basically to try and put the Lord first and throwing off some of my responsibilities onto other family members. Both are easier said than done but that is my goal. And I'm so thankful for the opportunity to start a fresh year.

I have gotten a lot of questions about the Duty series (and I appreciate the interest). So I'll update everyone on my progress. I finished the sequel to Above and Beyond on Thanksgiving morning and emailed it to my wonderful editor Kirk Shaw just before leaving for the airport. I was in Utah for 5 days and had a good time signing with Michele Bell and Jennie Hansen, visiting with my daughter and her family and I even got to 'speak' to a book club in Orem (wonderful group of ladies). Anyway, I'm calling the third book Beyond Duty (and I'm kind of attached to the title so I hope they let me keep it) I use the term 'finished' loosely. I made pages of notes while on the plane about places in the book I know I need to revise. My plan was to do that the minute I got home. But when I got home I'd been gone so things were in a mess and I kept putting off my writing time. Then my computer crashed. It was the oddest - must unpleasant experience. One of my daughters was checking her email and it just froze and would not turn off. We unplugged it and got it off - but then couldn't get it back on. Fortunately my missionary son left his laptop with us - so we were able to hook it up but I've had a hard time getting used to using it. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but it's true. I guess you could say I had an emotional attachment to the old computer. I was thankful that I had emailed in my book - so I had a way to download it to the laptop. There is still a lot of important stuff on the old computer and when I get my royalty check in February - I plan to see if it can be repaired or if the info stored on it can be recovered. But for now it's just taking up space in my bedroom.

So things were crazy and I kept telling myself that as soon as school was out I'd be able to get ready for Christmas, clean the house for my daughter and her family to come stay with us for a week and generally get caught up on life. We got out of school on the 19th - not nearly enough time to do all that. And then I made poor decisions as far as time management (which my husband pointed out after the fact - so helpful). For instance, in the process of cleaning Emily's room for Josh and Laura to stay in while they were here - I had Clay take down the "Alabama Crimson Tide" border that had been up when the boys were in that room (some day I'll do a blog about how many times we've switched the kids' bedrooms and the number of paint colors on the walls). This was a painstaking process (that border glue was great). We ended up with thousands of tiny pieces of border on the floor - behind furniture - everywhere. I had expected it to pull off in big pieces and didn't anticipate the mess or the consumption of time. After we finally got it off - my husband pointed out that this time could have been spent better elsewhere since Josh and Laura didn't care if there was a border on the wall in their bedroom and after Emily goes to college in a few months one of the boys might move back into that room and might have liked to have the border. Oh well. On to the next bad decision. I have carpet in my living room. It's a light greenish color that shows dirt easily. The original idea was for us to stay out of the living room and thereby protect the carpet. But for years I've had my computer in here and we eat dinner at the dining room table often and so anyway, the carpet gets walked on a lot and it was filthy. I had been waiting to clean it until right before Christmas and somehow ended up on the day before Christmas Eve trying to rent a carpet cleaner. That was a process but finally we got home with it and Andy and Clay helped me clean the living room carpet, a rug in the den and the hallway. We took it back on Christmas Eve and the carpet looked much better - so I thought it had been a good investment of our time. But the weather was really wet and apparently we put more emphasis on spraying out the soapy water than we did on sucking it back up - so my carpets were wet for days. By Christmas night the carpet in the living room smelled terrible (thank goodness for Frebreeze) and the old wooden parque floor in our den was buckling up underneath the rug!!! It was like walking on a roller coaster. So in the end I would have been better off to forget the carpet cleaning all together. I could have just spread out blankets over the dirty carpet (I had to anyway since it was damp and smelly). But other than that we had a wonderful time over Christmas. Laura and Josh and Harrison arrived on Christmas Day and we had dinner and opened gifts. That Saturday my nephew (who left for a mission in Milan Italy yesterday) went through the Birmingham Temple so my three married kids and their spouses were all there with us and that was a great moment. Then on Sunday we all went up to Decatur to listen to Jonathan's 'leaving on a mission' talk. My kids made gingerbread houses and swapped coupons and recipes and reminisced and ate and ate and ate. It was hard to say goodbye, but I'm so thankful for the time we had together.

Now, I know you think I've forgotten that I started out talking about the final book in the Duty series. But I really am getting back around to that. I emailed with my editor yesterday and he said that the release date for Beyond Duty has been pushed back to May. I was a little disappointed - but the bad economy is effecting the publishing world like everything else and Covenant isn't going to publish as many books this year as they had planned - so I'm thankful that my book is coming out at all! And May isn't much later than March. Plus that gives me a little more time to make the revisions that I want to. So I have until next Thurs to revisit Beyond Duty and get it ready for my editor. Then it will come out in May. And I have a Haggerty book planned for the fall (I just need to time to finish it...)

I didn't renew my website but I'm trying to decide if I should. I don't have the time to keep it up (obviously...) but it was a good way to keep in touch and I'm afraid people will have a hard time finding this blog. So I'll decide about that soon.

And I got a lot of comforting emails about the incident with my son's mission website. I appreciate your compassion and support. It was just another one of those times when I didn't use good judgment. Not that anything I put on the website was bad - just not reverent or serious and I should have realized that missionary words and pictures have to be above reproach. Since I do have those judgment lapses about 100 times a day - its safer for me just to not post on his mission website anymore.

I'm sure there was more I meant to say - but I really hope to post more often so I don't get too far behind in the 'news'.