Saturday, November 15, 2014

Earrings? Latte? Cheesecake?

Finished the first draft of CRYSTAL WAVES this fine (but cold) Saturday morning. As soon as I'm done blogging, I'm heading out to "reward" myself with a little something for getting through a book that's just about 80,000 words long.

I have some Weight Watcher flex points available, so I'm thinking it's a good day for a sugary latte that would warm my Cuban, sugar-loving heart? Or something really decadent, like a slice of cheesecake?

How about something nonfattening (but also not too expensive) like a cool pair of dangly earrings?

Am I the only author who does that, or do other writers treat themselves to a little something after getting to write the words THE END?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Big, Juicy Book!

Looks like CRYSTAL WAVES is going to be an even bigger book than I originally expected. We're over the 75,000-word mark and I imagine it'll be even a bit more than it is currently by the time it's wrapped up. (1 1/2 sections to go, y'all.) I'm leaving the release date for about the same time, around Thanksgiving, but we could be seeing an early December release for this book, too. The paperback version may be later in the month.

So if you're a fan of chubby, longer works, this one's for you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

CRYSTAL WAVES Soundtrack

For fun, here is the "soundtrack" (or more accurately, songs that are mentioned/"appear") for CRYSTAL WAVES. Since the book is first draft is very close to being done, I doubt any more will be added. VERY surprised that there were this many, too. CRYSTAL WAVES takes place from 1972 - 1973, so most of the songs are from that era or earlier.

If you happen to look them up on YouTube...enjoy!


"Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again" - The Fortunes
"What You See is What You Get" - The Dramatics
"California Dreaming" - The Mamas & the Papas
"The Wonder of You" - Elvis Presley
"Put a Little Love in Your Heart" - Jackie DeShannon
"Spirit in the Sky" - Norman Greenbaum
"Sweet Hour of Prayer" - Traditional Christian Hymn
"I'll Never Find Another You" - The Seekers
"Riders on the Storm" - The Doors
"White Christmas" - Darlene Love
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" - Bing Crosby
"O Come All Ye Faithful" - Traditional Christmas Song
"Be My Baby" - The Ronettes
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" - John Denver
"Day By Day" - Godspell
"Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?" Hurricane Smith
"Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque" - The Partridge Family



Sunday, November 2, 2014

October 2014 in Pictures

Enjoying the Blue Ridge during the onset of autumn

A field trip to a farm with my buddy (aka granddaughter, Aubrey!)

Relaxing at our church's fall festival

Our choir during the service for the Fall Festival

Aubrey's mom showed up for the field trip, too

And more field trip fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Book Recipe

You heard right.

Writers: Want an interesting "recipe" for writing a book? Here goes:

Ingredients

1 book
1 decade (give or take a year or two)
Twenty some-odd other books you've written over the course of that decade
10 years' worth of experience
A heaping of enthusiasm

1) Lose, deep-six, burn, leave on the New Jersey Path train (well, maybe you don't want to do that, but you get the picture) all traces of the original manuscript, leaving only the concept and a couple of memorable characters.

2) Combine the experience of that decade with what you've learned from writing the other books and pour it into a large heaping of enthusiasm.

3) Write and develop the new version of the original, bake well with love and generous doses of caffeine. As with any book, stir from Page 1 all the way to the words THE END.

4) Pray, pray, pray (to be done often during the whole process).

5) Edit, polish and publish.

Servings: Unknown, but it does go a long way. Absolutely no fat, cholesterol, carbs, or calories.

The result is a dish that is entirely new and uniquely different from the original. I haven't stressed about making it like the first book, which I don't remember as well except for certain events and, as I said, two VIP characters. One was a man in the original; she is now a female character and, in my opinion, readers will take to her even more.

It hasn't been easy. This has been a book like ONE SWEET DAY, which took longer to write, as well as more development because of the cast of characters. CRYSTAL WAVES has an even larger cast.

It's a journey that I never thought I would be taking again as a writer. I've enjoyed it and am really looking forward to sharing it with readers sometime next month.

So to the writers out there: If you've got a "lost" book like this somewhere, don't be afraid. Stock up on the coffee and jump in headfirst!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Shoes & Accessories for after 50

Up until this year, I've always been one of those women who LOVES jewelry. Especially the unusual kind or anything handmade or Bohemian! Usually, though, I end up picking up whatever's in clearance at Target or JC Penny or Belk. There are very few "real" items that I own--like my wedding band and the string of pearls to the right, a present from my husband that he recently had restrung for me. Everything else I own is costume.

But this year, I've started to pare down. Part of it, I think, IS being over 50. I had that discussion with my best friend, Linda, who agrees that there comes a time when you look around your house and realize you have TOO much stuff. A great part of it, too, is that this year (actually, it started happening last year), I would go into a store and *almost* pick up a necklace or another bracelet, and a familiar Still, Small Voice in my heart would ask, "Do you really need that?"

Does it look like I need more bracelets? This has been pared down, though it's taken a couple of years of doing so. It's taken being honest with myself, noticing what really gets worn, what just sits on this stand, and what has value because it was a gift. (Like my Pandora bracelet, which doesn't have a lot of beads yet, but it is of value to me as a gift from my husband, and most of the beads I do have are gifts from and representing my kids, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

In case you haven't figured it out (and that's okay; I'm skirting around the issue anyway!), there is a scripture that keeps coming back to me. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Jesus, Matthew 6:19-21, NASB.

This scripture, and others, together with minimalist blogs that I've been reading over this year, have gotten me to take a good look at my little "treasures" that I've stored up in this house. More on all of that in another entry, but for now, I have found that less is more after 50 when it comes to accessories, too. Your tastes also change as you get older; what you absolutely, positively had to have, even at 40, now doesn't capture your attention or fit with your wardrobe or who you are now.

Like...how pared-down I've gotten my necklaces! This has taken a lot of honesty, too. Yes, it was so cute when I bought it, and I had all good intentions to wear it...and then it rarely made it off my necklace shelf to see the light of day outside.

So this, plus my pearls, are seeing more of the light of day. I tend to add *very* sparingly to this. I'm opting for the elegance of simplicity, as well as wearing what I REALLY like. I really love flower jewelry, colorful beads, and understated, thinner necklaces with one pendant at the end of it, and I still love Bohemian. On the other hand, let's keep it simple: Let's have a few items I truly love on hand, something that will complement a dress or outfit, rather than accumulating stuff just for the sake of it.

Earrings have been a lot easier. Again, I only own one pair of "real" earrings--the pearl ones that go with my string of pearls. But at right are my current favorite earrings. Yes, I have more, but these are my go-tos, the ones I wear most of the time. The blue stone ones, especially, have garnered a lot of compliments! I consider those my Friday, Celebrate-the-End-of-the-Week earrings.

I know a lot of women like the bigger earrings, but at 54, I'm just finding the smaller, more understated and dainty earrings suit me. Those big, fun hoop earrings are some that I still love--but again, better to have earrings you really love than to buy out everything the store has in stock, clearance or otherwise.

And the daintier ones go soooooo nice with short hair!

Shoes have been more of a problem to pare down. First of all, you need a great pair of running shoes, for walking, for comfort, for work (if you're allowed to wear them). If you hike, you need a pair of hiking boots (like the ones peeking out in this picture). If you're a North Carolinian, how can you NOT have some flip-flops?! I'm sure some women, even after 50, can't do without their high heels.

Again, I'm at a point where I know what I love. Your clothes will rule what you have as shoes to a large degree, too. I've come to three conclusions:

1) I want to be comfortable
2) I prefer kitten heels to high heels

and

3) I really love boots. Cowboy boots, black boots, ankle boots, short boots (like these in the picture, still in great shape from last year). When the weather calls for them. Otherwise, I really love sandals, though I haven't managed to pare down in that area OR the boots.

Keep in mind when there are days that a colorful scarf (or one of those infinity ones that Linda rocks!) will better suit an outfit than a necklace, any day.

Full disclosure: I'm NOT a belt person. I only own 2. So I guess that's one area that's easy for me to pare down.

How about you? Have you gone through your accessories? Have you found what you love, what you use all the time, what was nice at 25 but now it's just collecting dust?


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Health & Fashion After 50

Let's face it: Just because a woman isn't 25 anymore doesn't mean she doesn't want to look and feel her best. What worked at 25, fashion- and health-wise, may not always work at 50+.

In this entry, let's take fashion first. Now I'm not an expert on fashion by any stretch of the imagination. Yet as someone who is looking to simplify and pare down in all areas, including her wardrobe, I have come to realize that less is more. As someone who doesn't have a big budget to work with, I've come to appreciate the idea of staples.  As in, wardrobe staples. Something even designers advise women to have in their closets.

Before I mention my own choice staples--those go-to, mix & match clothes that I love and feel good wearing, let me point out that I've come to the conclusion that I'm happy with my size. Size 6 in Misses, size 7 in Junior, occasionally a size 4, depending on the cut/designer/store.

I mention this only because I've spent part of this summer trying to get down to smaller sizes until I came to the conclusion--and God impressed upon my heart--that happiness is not found in dress or jeans size. Neither is joy, and happiness and joy are not the same thing. Trust me, though: Neither the Misses nor the Junior sections in a store will give you self-esteem, confidence, poise, or well-being. All of those things should come from within. They don't come with a price tag attached, no matter what this consumer-driven society tells us.

Another thing, too: It's okay if we, as "mature" women, can't wear what we wore at 18 or even 30. I'm not saying that we have to dress like old ladies, either. In fact, women of our generation, those last few years of the Baby Boomers, have a more youthful style, more fun and bright and fashionable, than generations before us.

I like what a friend and former coworker once told me: "A woman should dress like an actress making an entrance onto the stage." She meant the clothes themselves; I believe it's about the confidence and healthy self-image the "actress" wears like a dazzling gown.

Now here are my "staples." These are all personal choices, but I found it interesting while surfing the Internet that others consider some of these to be their staples, too.


A comfortable pair of mid-rise, "skinny" (straight-leg) jeans
Remember the days of not eating a bite all day at college because you poured yourself into skintight Jordache jeans that morning? Yeah, um, no, those days are over for me. Let's go for fit, style AND comfort. And lunch, ya'll. Let's go for lunch that day, too! Look for the words "curvy" and "stretch denim." These look great with the legs tucked into boots, with kitten heels or ankle boots, high heels (if you wear them) and sandals.


A comfortable pair of mid-rise, boot-cut jeans
(Please see above for the skinny jeans comments, because they fit here, too!) Oh--and I prefer Levis, but Old Navy and Target have some great selections in these, too. In both, skinny and boot-cut, the dark denim just looks dressier.


A pair of black jeans; a pair of white jeans.
These can be dressed up very nicely. They're also both the Un-jeans of the jeans world.


Stretchy, long- or short-sleeved solid tops
Stock up on all colors! Dress up with scarves, necklaces, or just a cute sweater.


Tank tops, preferably solid
Yes, you heard right. Tanks! You can wear these under a shrug or another shirt. They look great with jeans, skirts, shorts, you name it. Make sure the fit is good.


Leather jacket
One that comes to your waist, no longer. It's a cool item, whether black or red, and it looks good with jeans, skirts, and pants.


Black skirt and black dress pants
I prefer both to be comfortable. And I also happen to be one of those people who believes you can never have too many black pants! Black is so basic, and it can be paired with a top or sweater of bold or multiple colors. If that's a black pencil skirt, even better.


I would also like to include a very pretty, very feminine and crisp, button-down white blouse. Something that pearls, real or bought at Target, would enhance.

Agree with my list? Disagree? What are your staples?

Tomorrow--let's talk shoes & accessories!