Showing posts with label Picture Quote. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Picture Quote. Show all posts

Monday, September 22, 2014

Confessions of a Storm Chaser

When I'm not feeling well, the first thing my husband says to me isn't "Oh, honey, I'm sorry. Can I get you anything?" It's "DO NOT GET ON WEB MD." This is usually immediately followed by me hastily clicking the home button on my phone and pretending I was only scrolling through Facebook. 

I've gotten very good at covert Googling while "going to the bathroom."

For the last week and a half I've been battling the crud which has overtaken our house. At one point I was convinced my lung was collapsing under the weight of the mucus filling my bronchi. Kudos to my husband for not laughing out loud when I told him I SWEAR IT SOUNDED SO WEIRD WHEN I INHALED. 

I'll forgive him for laughing on the inside. 

My propensity for anxiety isn't limited to hypochondria. Confession: I will pretty much worry about anything. And everything. This is not the part of my personality that I'm most proud of. While I was coughing and sniffling and freaking out over the possibility that I might have to go to the ER doctor, I started reading Kate DiCamillo's latest novel, Flora & Ulysses, in which Flora is a self-professed natural-born cynic with a love for comic books (Ulysses is a squirrel, in case you were wondering). After my husband's very sweet reassurances that I was not, in fact, dying, but simply had a nasty cold, I couldn't help but laugh and read him a section of the book:

        "At the back of each issue of The Illuminated Adventures of the Amazing Incandesto! there was a series of bonus comics. One of Flora's very favorite bonus comics was entitled TERRIBLE THINGS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU! As a cynic, Flora found it wise to be prepared. Who knew what horrible, unpredictable thing would happen next?"

I'm rather uncomfortable with how much Flora and I have in common.

Which is why I need reminders like these:



Monday, August 18, 2014

A New Day

In my last post I talked about the joys of waiting...  

You send your manuscript, finally complete after months and months of grueling labor, to a magazine/publisher/agent...and then you wait. But...there are no guarantees. Sure, you could be waiting for that hallelujah-angel-chorus moment of acceptance. But you could also end up with that heartbreaking, pass-the-tissues-and-the-Ben-&-Jerry's-please rejection.

On Friday I was on my way out the door to run errands with a car full of kids and had just picked up my cell phone when I heard that adrenaline-inducing, new-email chime. I looked at the screen, saw the sender's address and my heart skipped a beat as I opened it and got my answer...



I haven't posted many details about this particular part of my writing journey which has been happening over the last few months, because in my opinion (and in the general opinion of writers and writerly professionals everywhere, if I'm not mistaken) it's not in good taste to kiss and tell, as it were, when querying. My writer's group, of course, knows all the nitty gritty details, but the long and short of it is this: I had a nibble on my novel query, sent an agent my manuscript, and after one phone call and several emails, sat back and waited to find out whether or not said agent would sign me.

In the end it was a no. A very sweet, very complimentary no, but a no nonetheless.

Honestly, I expected to feel crushed. Maybe even cry a little. Instead I found myself remarkably non-hysterical. In fact--dare I say it?--I felt relieved. Through this whole process I've grown and learned so much and received some invaluable encouragement and advice. Now I had my answer, and while it wasn't the answer I would have preferred, at least I knew that door was closed and the time had come to go knockin' on some new ones. So, I allowed myself the Ben and Jerry's (because you don't pass up the perfect excuse for indulging in tiramisu flavored ice-cream) and a good 20 minutes of pursuing the latest issue of Glamour (because Olivia Wilde) and then proceeded to stay up til almost midnight submitting my manuscript to Pitch Wars. And you know what? I think it's the most triumphant I've ever felt hitting "send".

After all, a dream isn't a very good dream if it's not worth fighting for, no?

Earlier last week, I bookmarked this quote for a future Picture Quote Monday and I think it's perfect for today. (Thank you to my friend Jacqui of Simply Jacqui Photography for the use of her photo). Here's hoping for some of that magic.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Picture Quote Monday {Duty}

Today, as we gather with family and friends around tables piled with food, let's not forget that at many tables, there are empty places and absent faces. While this is true on any holiday, it is the very essence of Memorial Day. It is our duty to ensure that the sacrifice of these men and women is remembered and honored. To all those who have given their lives in defense of ours, and to their families: Thank you.




Monday, March 24, 2014

Ready is Relative

Lately, I've become a big fan of now. I've also become a big fan of the phrase, "why not?" 
I think why not and now go together quite nicely, don't you?


Thank you to my indescribably awesome cousin-in-law, Avery, for bringing this quote 
(which I typed up on my vintage Royal KMG) to my attention.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Slow and Steady

My new novel is coming along, slowly but surely. I've been trying to remember that whether I end the day with 500 or 2000 words, any amount is progress and I should be proud of that. This week the ever-so-lovely Kelli Trontel (one of the coolest, most inspiring ladies I know) released her monthly collaboration with Thorn +Sparrow, and this month's desktop/iPhone wallpaper was exactly what I needed to help inspire me as I continue pushing through my first draft. It's the perfect reminder to take things one day at a time, and that all these little chapters will eventually come together to make something awesome.

So for this week's Picture Quote Monday, head on over to Kelli's blog and snag some of that inspiration for yourself!




Monday, March 3, 2014

Pass the Burnt Toast

Lately I've been suffering from that dreaded ailment all writers and artists fear: creative burnout. I've always thought creative burnout was something that happened when you spent too much time creating. But the truth is, I haven't done a whole lot of creating at all lately, and what I have done, I haven't exactly been enjoying. You may have noticed the blog has been quiet silent for the last couple of weeks. The reason is simple: I haven't had anything to say. I've been fresh out of ideas, even if I did have the energy at the end of the day to write something. I don't even have a book review to post because I'm only halfway through the novel I started reading a month ago. UGH. Enter cranky Ashley. Apologies to my poor husband and children.

This weekend I decided enough was enough. I was going to figure out what the problem was and fix it. And here's the conclusion I've come to: My creative burnout is really just plain old, everyday burnout. I suspect most of you will identify with me when I say I've just been too damn busy. I wake up in the morning with a to-do list at the forefront of my mind and by the end of the day if I haven't checked off EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM I feel like a complete and utter failure. There's always one more thing that needs to be done, but no matter what I'm doing I always feel like I should be doing something else. And relaxing? Ain't nobody got time for that. (Sorry, I couldn't resist)

As a result, my post-kids'-bedtime writing routine is no longer working because by the end of the day I'm exhausted, frustrated, and the last thing my brain wants to do is function. Writing has become a chore, just another thing on my crushing to-do list. And when your passion becomes a chore, you've got a problem.

So...what to do about it?


Easier said than done, right? It's a question I've heard a lot from my creative friends, especially those friends who are also moms. How do you balance doing what you want to do with doing what you need/have to do? Yes, I'd love to finish writing that novel, but there's also a house to be cleaned, the kids have to be taken to school (or if you're a homeschool mom like me, be schooled), the family has to be fed, this job has to be finished by that deadline...and on and on and on.

So how does one go from complaining (because let's be honest, we've all had a good whine about our schedules) to changing?

I'm not sure I have a one-size-fits-all answer, but I'd like to share my personal plan with you. I'm going to shake things up. I'm going to stand my usual routine on its head and attempt to go from night owl to early bird. Why? Because I'm tired of busyness stealing my joy. I really want to write that novel. And I want to implement something awesome from Don Miller, author of one of my all time favorite books, Blue Like Jazz. On his blog, Don has provided a free download of his Storyline Productivity Schedule. The first thing that struck me about the idea behind this schedule was Don's opening question: "What if problems like writers block and procrastination were less about your shortcomings and more about how you structure your work day?" The Storyline Productivity Schedule is all about managing your mental energy, not just your time. It helps you focus on one thing at a time, prioritize your day, finish projects, and allows for rewards and rest to help you periodically recharge. 

I don't know about you, but I think that sounds fantastic.

So for the next 30 days, I'm going to utilize the Productivity Schedule and hopefully be on my way to a healthier, more creative, more productive, and--most of all--more present and happier me. I'll let you know how it goes. If you're interested in joining me, you can read more about the schedule and download your free copy on the Storyline Blog. And if nothing else, I hope you find some encouragement knowing you're not the only one who struggles with finding a daily balance. We're all in this together. 

Here's to doing more by slowing down. Cheers!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Patience is Better (Unless You're a Zombie)

I follow a lot of book agents and writers on Twitter and it seems like lately my feed has been filled with a whole lot of  "I have an agent!" announcements and book cover reveals and publishing day congratulations. All of this has been equal parts inspiring, motivating, and painful. Seeing someone else reach their goal can make yours seem so very, VERY far away. And let's just say that patience is not my strongest quality. So for today's Picture Quote Monday I set out to find an inspiring quote about being patient and all its benefits, because I know for a fact I'm not the only person who struggles with this. I found plenty, such as this one: "Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait." -Longfellow. And this one: "Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet." -Rousseau. But sometimes, when you're in the midst of a difficult lesson, you just need a giggle.

Which is why I picked this one.


Unless, of course, you're a zombie.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Picture Quote Monday {It Couldn't Be Done}

I missed putting up a picture quote last week because the entire family decided to come down with a nasty head cold ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It's bad enough when the kids are sick, but when both parents are feeling miserable on top of it...double the not so fun. But thankfully, after much pitiful lounging about on the couch and the disinfecting of all surfaces, we are on the mend and here I am, up way too late on a Sunday night to bring you your picture quote.

Recently I was having an email conversation with someone, discussing the difficulty in selling pirate-themed picture books and picture books in rhyme. Then she said it didn't surprise her that I was attempting to write the impossible - a trio of rhyming pirate picture books. To which she said: BRING THEM ON! And she wrote it just like that, in all caps. It made me exceedingly happy.

I'd like to think that there's a little of the White Queen in all of us, if only we, too, would dare to believe in six impossible things before breakfast. When I came across this jaunty poem, I knew I had to share it. It can't be done? Psh. Do it anyway. Because the only thing that's sure to fail is the thing that's left undone.

Did that make any sense? I think I need to go to bed.






Monday, January 13, 2014

Picture Quote Monday {Compare}


I tweeted this quote yesterday, but it's just too good not to share again. Over the holidays I had a conversation with a family member about this very subject. She was frustrated with some difficulties she'd recently run into, and even more frustrated over the fact that a friend of hers had seemingly quick success resolving the exact same issues. My response: It's always going to be like that.

Now, on the surface, that doesn't seem very encouraging. But it's the truth. No matter how old you get, or how much progress you make, there's always going to be someone that seems to have it better and/or easier than you. I say this from experience—and it's something I still struggle with. But the problem with this is summed up so perfectly by the above quote. So often, we only see the other person's glorious finish, that destination we ourselves long for so much. But if we could see their behind-the-scenes clips, we'd probably see the same frustrations and roadblocks and difficulties we face. And chances are, along the way, they ran into someone "better" and felt the same way you do.

It's so easy to fall into the pit of comparison. Don't do it. Instead of letting another person's success bring about feelings of doubt, insecurity, and—let's be honest—jealousy, let it inspire you. Offer them congratulations. Then keep pressing on toward your own goals. You can't get to the light at the end of the tunnel without walking through the dark first. You can't win the game without playing the minutes. Keep moving forward, one step at a time. We're all at a different place on our journey, and someday, you'll have your own highlight reel to look back on.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Whatever

I don't know about you, but when it comes to the daily to-do list, I have a tendency to focus on all the things I haven't accomplished, rather than all the things I have.

For instance, I spent a good portion of this morning worrying over the fact that I haven't posted anything on the blog in two weeks. I mean, that's terrible blog etiquette. I missed a prime opportunity to start off the new year with a blogging bang. I really should be more prepared with these things. Maybe I need to add "be more organized" to my list of New Year's Resolutions Goals.

But then I looked at the quote that I meant to post last week (but of course never got around to) and I was reminded of one of things I actually do want to be better at this year.


In the last 14 days I've celebrated Christmas and rung in a new year, visited with family, learned how to play Farkle, worked on several graphic design projects, spent time with good friends, scored an awesome pair of shoes on clearance, watched my husband and son put together over a thousand Lego bricks, discussed wedding plans with my future sister-in-law, played about twenty games of Sorry! with my kids, and wrote and/or edited almost every single day. The house has been moderately clean, the bills have been paid, the laundry has been washed (if not put away), and all persons and cats have been fed.

That's a lot of awesome. The fact that I didn't put up a blog post doesn't seem like that big of a deal when compared with all the things I did do.

With 2014 ahead of us, all shiny and new and ripe with possibility, it's good to remember that one year is made up of 365 days. In the midst of setting goals and making resolutions, let's have grace with ourselves and our days--especially when they don't go as planned. Because there really is more to life than what makes it on the to-do list.



Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas! (And Bonus Recipe!)


I wanted to take the opportunity today to wish all my readers a very merry Christmas! I also thought I would share one of my favorite holiday (or anytime) recipes. This is a family recipe, handed down with minimal instructions ("mix this, add that, throw it on a sheet and bake until done"), so I've done my best to make it shareable. These cookies are amazing. At least I think so. They have a very cake-like texture, with a taste similar to madelines. They are great with frosting, but equally yummy just plain. And they freeze really well. In fact, my mom used to store them in the freezer or refrigerator and we would pull them out and eat them cold. Weird, but delicious. They're also great for giving away, because a full batch will make about 5 dozen cookies. Enjoy!

With the busyness of the holiday season and family staying with us for the next week, the blog will probably be fairly quiet for the rest of the month. Plus, I'm using our winter school break to edit, edit, edit! But I'm hoping to share new and exciting things with you in the new year. Thank you for making this first year of my blog a successful one. I hope 2014 is filled with joy and brings you closer to your own goals and dreams.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
~Ashley




Monday, December 16, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Pursue}

Dreaming is the easy part. But we all know how hard it can be to chase those dreams and try to turn them into a reality. The pursuit takes persistence, dedication, and lots and lots of courage. But isn't it all worth it? I hope you're encouraged (I need it to!) by this reminder that dreams can come true!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Christmas}

Christmas is in full swing at our house! This is our family's favorite time of year. Family is coming to visit, cookies are in the oven, and presents are hiding in the closet. Bing Crosby and Andy Williams are playing on the radio and our favorite old Christmas films are in the Netflix queue (if you haven't seen White Christmas, you must). And of course, there's at least one bookish ornament on the tree. In honor of the holiday season, here's a little peek into my home, and some of my favorite Christmas poems. 

From our family to yours - Merry Christmas! I hope your season is filled with peace, hope, and joy.





Monday, November 25, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Give}

As we enter Thanksgiving week, let's remember to be thankful for all that has been given to us. But let's also remember the opportunity we have to give a little of ourselves to those around us each day.


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Day I Almost Quit

It's noon and I still haven't put up today's blog post. Why?

Because I almost quit last night.

The last two weeks have been filled with some serious ups and downs. This year's NaNoWriMo project is not going easy on me. Some days the words have flowed well, but most days it's been an uphill struggle to keep moving forward. Not necessarily because the story isn't there, but because I'm not meeting my own expectations. Last year, I averaged 2,300 words a day and I was in love with my story. I knew exactly where I was going next, and the snags were few. This year, I'm lucky to meet the required daily 1,667 by midnight each night, I have no idea what to do in my next scene, and my entire story seems like one gigantic tangled mess.

I was hoping that last year's finished novel would be some sort of magical line in my writing career. Beyond this line, everything would be easier. Every first draft would be gold. Every story and character would be loved and cherished through the entire process.

Or something like that.

Instead: Reality. In all honesty, I knew it would be hard. No dream is ever easy to reach. No passion ever really reaches perfection. There's always more learning and growing and hard work to be done, even after harvest. But I was completely unprepared for how difficult this month would be. It seems my fifth NaNoWriMo is shaping up to be my most difficult. Last night, after ignoring my novel for as long as I could (it's only 36 days 'til Christmas--I HAD to finish crocheting that stocking), I finally sat down at 10:30pm and coughed up 1,000 words before giving up an hour later.

And then I tried to convince myself of all the reasons why it was okay if I gave up completely.

After all, I've chalked up four NaNoWriMo wins--that's not too shabby. We're all allowed to have an unfinished year, right? Why should I waste my time on a story I'm not enjoying? A story that will probably end up in the trash bin anyway.

And there was the truth. Or, should I say, the lies.

The story isn't good enough. 
I'm not good enough.
I'm wasting my time.

I went to bed discouraged and defeated--and while we're being real--with a soggy pillow.

But thankfully, dark nights are often followed by mornings of clarity. I was reading some sample chapters of an upcoming novel from one of my favorite authors (I'll be sharing those pages with you in a couple weeks, so stayed tuned for more info on that!) and I had a thought. It's a thought I've had many times before that has always given me new life when I'm in the writing dumps.

This book is made of words. Simple, everyday words put into sentences, put into paragraphs, put into chapters to make a book. The story is beautiful, well written, intricate. But it all begins with just...words.

I like words. I can handle that. I can do that.

So I sat at my computer and wrote 300 more words this morning. They might not be perfect, they might get thrown to the cutting room floor come December. But if I want to be a writer, I must be willing to risk the imperfect first draft. The messed up timeline. The characters who aren't sure who they are yet. The villains who seem undefeatable.

Because I don't want to be the person who missed out on a great story because she quit in the first draft. I don't want to be the person who misses out on future possibilities because I focused on present difficulties. My story might not make it to 50,000 words (it is a children's book after all, and I'm focused on the 35K-45K range) but I don't want to stop before THE END.


So, as a reminder for myself and anyone else who needs it, here's today's picture quote.




Monday, November 11, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Valor}

Today I want to take the opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to all the men and women who have served the country and the people of the United States of America. I am blessed to have many friends who have, or are currently serving with the military. Some of my closest friends have watched their husbands go to war and prayed daily for their safe return. I am awed by their strength and humbled by their sacrifice. To all of you: enlisted, past, present, families...thank you for your selflessness, your courage, and your valor.

The medal pictured above belonged to my husband's great(x?)-grandfather.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Second Spring}

If you read my seasonal post a couple of weeks ago, you know that fall is my favorite season. This quote sums up why quite nicely. Autumn always seems to be a time of renewal after summer's nonstop days. And now that the calendar--and the weather--agree that this wonderful season has arrived, I shall revel in it.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Nonsense}

Last week I discovered (thanks to Twitter) that Friday was Roald Dahl day. Which makes today the perfect day to share this quote I've had saved on my list of favorites. And if you're looking for more words of wisdom, head on over to my friend Chelsea's blog, Little Red Chair, for her post on Dahl, what his books meant to her as a child, and a collection of more great quotes from the children's book master.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Picture Quote Monday {Library}

I always said I wanted to instill a love of reading in my kids. The fact that the library is one of their favorite places makes me very happy.