Gratitude and celebrating life’s simple luxuries

image by Louise Vansleve, accessed at WANA Commons

image by Louise Vansleve, accessed at WANA Commons

The holiday season, filled with turkey, pumpkin pie, sugar cookies, and brightly wrapped presents, is a season of abundance. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’m reflecting on gratitude. I think part of cultivating gratitude in our lives—every day, not just during a certain time of year—is to find joy and contentment in the little things that fill our days. And I believe gratitude is the key to true, lasting happiness.

Part of gratitude is being able to see the little things in life as luxurious, the ability to revel in a pot of coffee shared with an old friend, the ability to find wonder in a majestic mountain view or to find delight in the pages of a good book.

So here are a few of the little things for which I’m grateful—year round:

  • a bar of handmade lavender soap from the local farmers market
  • a cat curled up on my lap on a cold day
  • a cup of Earl Grey and a good book (just finished reading Jessica Spotswood’s Star Cursed, perfect cold-weather reading)
  • holding hands with my husband
  • lazy Sunday mornings
  • a full moon in a clear sky
  • the feel of sand beneath my toes
  • growing basil in my tiny balcony garden
  • Sunday night chats with my two best friends
  • a cup of coffee to start the day

What about you? What simple luxuries are you most grateful for?

And, before I forget, happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Lastly, my midweek ROW80 check-in…

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Wrote 1,224 words in novelette “Stolen by Magic.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. No progress to report this week.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for Monday and Tuesday. Taking the rest of the week off from social media to celebrate the holidays with family.

2.) Blog twice a week. One post this week.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Goal met for Monday and Tuesday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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The one-year mark: Sunday ROW80 check-in

ROW80LogocopyYesterday marked one year since I left my day job to write full time. I’ve learned a lot over the last year, and I’ve put a decent number of words on the page. There are things I miss—the collaboration, the social aspect of working in an office—but the benefits have been worth it. I’ve grown in leaps and bounds as a writer. I’ve finished four first drafts and one second draft. I’ve read numerous books on the craft of writing. I’ve found my voice as a storyteller.

I still have plenty of room to grow. But I know I’m on the right path, and I’m grateful—more than words can express—to my husband, the best first reader I could ask for, a steadfast supporter of my work, who didn’t even hesitate when I told him I wanted to do this. I’ve always felt called to be a storyteller. And now I’m on that path.

ROW80 check-in…

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Created a beat sheet for “Haunted Kisses.” Wrote 2,381 words in a new story, “Stolen by Magic.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Two of three books read. Finished reading Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat.”

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Goal met.

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Goal met.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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WIPpet Wednesday: “A ghost situation.”

For today’s WIPpet, I’m sharing a bit of my current WIP, “Haunted Kisses.” For those of you who aren’t familiar, WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of author K.L. Schwengel. It’s an opportunity for writers to share their work. Click here to support other WIPpeteers!

This week’s math is simple. Here are 19 sentences for Nov. 19. Tara is breaking the news to her BFF, Violet, that she has a roommate who’s a member of the dearly departed persuasion. Enjoy!

It wasn’t until they were seated at the table, a steaming hot cheese pizza between them, that Violet’s eyes narrowed. “You still worried about Bradley?”

Tara played with the piece of crust remaining on her paper plate. “No. Bradley is ancient history. More than ancient. He’s Mesozoic.”

“Do you not like your new boss? Word around town is he’s one of Patience Point’s most eligible bachelors.” Violet gave her a wicked grin so enthusiastic Tara couldn’t help but join her.

“No. It’s just…” She leaned forward, brushing her blond hair behind her shoulder. “A ghost situation.”

Violet let her breath out in a whoosh. “Twenty-four hours in town and you’re already seeing the dead. That’s a record, even for you.”

“Tell me about it.”

Tara felt positively sick about it, but Violet’s enthusiasm didn’t wane.

***

ROW80 midweek check-in…

Writing                                                                          

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Not a whole lot of progress to report. Created a beat sheet for “Haunted Kisses.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. One of three books read. Currently reading Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat.”

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.

2.) Blog twice a week. On track to meet this goal.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On track to meet this goal.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Sunday ROW80 check-in

Cold, wintry weather arrived this week, and it’s only going to get colder, so I’ll be making lots of soup and chili and drinking many cups of tea in the week ahead. I found a recipe for turkey chili and another one for chicken gnocchi soup that I plan on trying. What are your favorite cold-weather recipes? I’m always on the lookout for new recipes to try—especially for my slow-cooker.

I’m also pleased that I’m ahead of the game with my holiday shopping. Usually I wait until after Thanksgiving, but my family did our gift-exchange drawing early this year, and I happened to find a few things I knew some of my family members would love. I also found some cute Christmas cards (they feature owls!).

Hands down my favorite part of the holidays is buying, wrapping, and giving presents. I love finding the perfect gifts for family and friends. Well, that and the cookies. I also love the cookies. What about you? Have you started shopping for the holidays yet? What’s your favorite part of the holiday season?

ROW80 check-in…

Writing

ROW80Logocopy1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Added changes and corrections to second draft of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic” and sent it to my critique partners. Did character background for hero in “Haunted Kisses.” Finished two scenes and started another in “Haunted Kisses.” Now that I’m reading Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat,” I’m going to do a beat sheet for this WIP before I go any further. I think it will definitely help.

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. One of three books read. Currently reading Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat.”

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Goal met!

2.) Blog twice a week. Goal met!

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for all days except Tuesday, but I commented on several blogs on Friday, so it all balanced out. Let’s call this goal met for the week.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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WIPpet Wednesday: “Goblins be damned.”

It’s time again for WIPpet Wednesday, the brain child of K.L. Schwengel. Click here to join in or to see other writers’ WIPpets.

This will be the last excerpt from “Good Old-Fashioned Magic” for a while as I’ve just sent it off to my critique partners.

Here’s this week’s math: 1+1+12=14. Some background: Maddy and Michael are on the run from Knabb, the goblin master, and his horde of goblins. Maddy’s fire magic is down, so they’re defenseless. And now, Maddy has just fallen down a ravine and injured her ankle, and Michael has climbed in after her. Things are looking pretty grim.

Here are 14 sentences from “Good Old-Fashioned Magic”:

He rested his cheek on her head. “Whatever happens, remember this: I’ve been falling hard for you since the first time I saw you. Goblins be damned. I’m crazy about you, and I want you to know that.” He took her face in his hands as he kissed her again, slightly deeper.

“Me too.” She mentally kicked herself. He’d just run a goblin master through with a fireplace poker and followed her into a ravine. Now wasn’t the time to hold back. “Ever since our first date.”

“Before then,” he insisted, so stubbornly he forced a smile out of her.

The full moon shined down on them, and despite the cold, warmth surged through her. She kissed him, this time slow and deep. Even in the chilly darkness, she could feel the dim light of the stars bearing down on them.

***

Lastly, a midweek ROW80 check-in:

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Added changes and corrections to second draft of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic” and sent it to my critique partners. Planning to spend the rest of the week doing character background for “Haunted Kisses.” I also have some plot stuff I have to figure out before I move forward, so hopefully I can sort that out this week and put some serious words on the page next week.

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. One of three books read. Started reading Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat.”

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.

2.) Blog twice a week. On track to meet this goal, though I missed last Sunday’s check-in due to a migraine. Ugh.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for Monday, not for Tuesday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

How are your goals, writing or otherwise, coming along?

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WIPpet Wednesday: Meet the goblin master

I just finished doing a read-through of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” so this week’s excerpt is from that story. This is the scene in which Maddy and Michael meet the goblin master, the right-hand man of the warlock who’s spent decades hunting down Maddy and her ancestors and tormenting them for sport. (Maddy’s a witch by the way.) Since today is Nov. 5, my math is 1+1+5=7. Here are seven paragraphs from “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.”

Michael was expecting more goblins, or some orc-looking creature, stinking and swinging an ax and growling like a feral beast. What stepped off the back porch and through the now-decimated doorframe surprised him, to say the least.

It was a man, with the swagger of a lumberjack and one brown eye, one green. His black hair was cut short, and a scar slashed across his face, twisting one corner of his mouth. He was dressed as if he was on his way to the Renaissance Faire, right down to his thudding black boots. But he’d just broken down a solid hardwood door, so Michael guessed he wasn’t stopping by for a pint of ale.

Maddy withdrew her hand. She looked as confused as Michael felt. That couldn’t be a good sign. “Who the hell are you?” Maddy demanded.

The man’s face contorted into a half-grin. There was something off about this guy, though Michael couldn’t pinpoint what. “Knabb. You must be the little witch, Maddy MacRae.” He mimed doffing his nonexistent cap. “Pleased to meet the firecracker that blew my goblins to smithereens,” he said, his voice deep and full of gravel.

This was the goblin master? Michael hadn’t been picturing someone so—human.

Michael glanced around the room, looking for something—anything—to defend himself and Maddy with. The fireplace poker was within reach. Maybe if Maddy distracted the goblin master, Michael could catch him by surprise. Then, they could make a run for it, like Maddy had suggested. He tried to meet her eyes, but her gaze was locked on Knabb. She cocked her head as she studied him.

“Nice glamour,” she remarked, as if making small talk, but with a little bite in her words. “Did MacLir make it for you? I hear it’s his specialty.”

***

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K.L. Schwengel. Click here to read other writers’ WIPpets.

ROW80 midweek check-in:

A slight change in plans (again). I have a lot of irons in the fire at the moment, so I’ve been bouncing around on projects lately. Instead of having project-specific goals, my first writing goal will just be to make measurable progress on one of WIPs.

Writing

1.) Make measurable progress on one of my WIPs. Completed a read-through of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Ready to enter necessary changes and corrections and then send it off to my critique partners.

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. One of three books read. No progress on this goal so far this week.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.

2.) Blog twice a week. On track to meet this goal.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On track to meet this goal.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Sunday ROW80 check-in

For my husband and me, Sundays are days of leisure mixed with a little bit of housekeeping. It’s laundry day, a day for vacuuming and dusting, but it’s also a day for long walks and scenic drives, for baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies, or for lazy afternoons curled up with a cup of tea and a good book. Today was a perfect example. We watched “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part one” this morning and went for a drive to take in the autumn leaves, which are falling quickly. But there are still chores to be done and blog posts to write. I like the balance we’ve struck on Sundays, between work and play.

What about you? How are your Sundays spent?

ROW80 check-in:

ROW80LogocopyWriting goals:

1.) Work on a first draft of my YA steampunk novel “The Clockwork in the Stars.” Wrote 3,532 words on this project and on a novella, “Haunted Kisses.”

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. One of three books read. Finished reading “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Target met.

2.) Blog twice a week. Target met.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Target met.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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