It’s Almost Impossible to Discern the Path Forward With One’s Head Full of Junk

In a recent conversation with my friend Colleen, she impressed me when she told me that she fasted in order to discern God’s will for her writing.

(You didn’t know you did, did you, Colleen?  I’ll toot your horn for you.)

She impressed me because I had never thought of discernment and fasting together. That she had, that she did, and that she discovered that the answer to her prayer was not the answer she wanted but accepted it anyway left a deep impression.


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500 Words: Taking Possession at Michaelmas, and Other Miscellany

Happy Feast of the Archangels!  A Janeite cannot let Michaelmas go by without some sort of commemoration.  The Crofts have taken possession of Kellynch and Mr. Bingley of Netherfield Park.  Mrs. Jennings’ predictions of so-and-so being married and settled at Delaford have yet to come to fruition.  Or have they?

I am taking possession of my own domain—my writing domain—this Michaelmas with a 30-day resolution to write 500 words/day.  No less than 500, and not too much more.  Right now, I both need the challenge of consistency and the limit of a small word count.  I have a lot going on; large word counts are out.

My goal is to write something every day.  It might be the novel, it might be a blog post, it might be something for Real Housekeeping or  What it is doesn’t matter; that I write a little every day does.

Given that I attribute much of my writing success to my Guardian Angel, who wakes me up in the mornings to write, this feast day is an appropriate day to recommit myself to my work.

The kids and I returned from Oregon this past Saturday.  My brother and his new wife said their I dos on the 20th; now I have a lovely new sister-in-law.

"A new auntie, AND she gives me homemade ice cream?"

“A new auntie who gives me homemade ice cream? How’d I luck out?”

Jared joined us for the weekend of the wedding, while the kids and I stretched our trip out to almost two full weeks.  This gave me plenty of time to visit with my immediate family as well as my grandparents and my aunt and uncle who flew to Oregon from Missouri and Texas, respectively.  We had a family barbecue the day after the wedding, and other aunts, uncles, and cousins came, some of whom I haven’t seen for ages.

It was good.  Very good….

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7QT: The Accountability Edition

— 1 —

How’s that novel?


Cristina of Filling My Prayer Closet agreed to be my accountability partner.  We’re sworn to pester each other publicly on Fridays and remind each other of our goals.  I was thinking a tweet, a Facebook poke…

…and wouldn’t you know it?  She wrote an entire blog post about it.

Clearly my accountability partner means business.

— 2 —

My current goal is to have my second round of plot revisions/outlining done by this coming Monday, September 15th.  The kids and I leave for Oregon the following day, and it’d be great to have an outline done, finished, finito-Mussolini, before I go.

Revising my outline has become a form of Pressfield-esque Resistance for me.  I could revise from here until Kingdom Come and never actually start writing that second draft.  I need to cut myself off, and September 15th seems as good a deadline as any.

— 3 —

Here’s a section what I did while in Minnesota:

Screenshot 2014-09-12 at 3.06.26 PM


Pretty impressive, huh?

Impressively worthy of the PROCRASTINATION AWARD.

Now I’m morphing the above plot outline from a 1st person POV to a 3rd person, double POV/double protagonist.  Goals-Motivations-Conflict chart for character external goals (only the characters whose goals move the plot lines):

Screenshot 2014-09-12 at 5.10.38 PM


Outline of major plot points for each plot line:

Screenshot 2014-09-12 at 5.12.57 PM


Outline of individual scenes, in order:

Screenshot 2014-09-12 at 5.14.21 PM


This last one isn’t anywhere near finished, but it will be by Monday.

— 4 —

Commercial break!

This video is one my son’s current favorites.  So, so funny.  “Look at me busting out at the seams…”

— 5 —

“But I thought you had a draft…”

I do.  It’s the junk draft.  The exploratory draft.  The “let’s-get-through-this-story-and-see-what-happens” pantsing draft.

This is the real work.

— 6 —

“What does ‘T.H.A.D.’ stand for?”

Talking Head Avoidance Device, courtesy of Elizabeth George.  It’s the thing that’s being done while characters are having Important Conversations.

I tend to lean on dialogue too much; T.H.A.D. reminds me to think through actions, first.

— 7 —

There you go, Cristina.  Accountability!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

A Small and Unsettling Thought

If I were to die today or soon, I would have little to show for my life.

What works of love?  What works of God’s grace, incarnate in the world?

There’s nothing I can point to and nothing I can claim except my own selfishness and the hope of God’s mercy.  And I wouldn’t want to presume upon the latter.

When this thought came to mind as I drove the kids home from Ben’s therapy appointment, St. Thomas Aquinas and his work of “straw” also flitted across the mental radar screen.  All Thomas’s hard work and writing, and yet nothing next to the greatness of God.

There’s something here for me, for pondering.

ASUS Chromebook, CWG Conference, Minnesota, and More—All Part of Your Quarter-to-Two Rise-and-Shine Morning Edition of 7QT

Joining Jen and the gang with 7 Quick Takes.

— 1 —

It’s 2:12 a.m.  I’m up.  How about you?

Lazy bums.

— 2 —

I love my ASUS Chromebook. Really.  Truly. Do.

I’ve been meaning to write an SEO-laden lovefest of a post devoted to my darling ASUS, but I doubt I’ll ever have time for that.  Here’s a list instead:

  1. 2.5 lbs.  Fits in my purse.
  2. Keyboard feels normal-sized to me.
  3. Trackpad is smooth as buttah.
  4. The battery?  It goes, and goes, and goes.  I can go a full day of hard work, and up to a couple of days with intermittent work, without charging.  It’s amazing.
  5. Chrome OS? Love it.  No issues.  I was already a ubuntu devotee, if only for the fact that I don’t have to buy virus protection.  (Or software.  Or the OS, for that matter.)  Chrome appeals to me for the same reasons—it’s not bloated and it updates itself.
  6. I’ve figured out the workaround for almost every single thing I need to do on a computer, with the exception of Adobe and Scrivener (and the latter isn’t necessary right now).  My life already ran out of Google; now Google owns me.
  7. Beats using a tablet, any day.
  8. Did ya see the price tag?

I take it pretty much everywhere and do pretty much everything with it.  My only complaint is that the screen is a little shiny.  But for $230, that’s a flaw I’ll take.

— 3 —


…non-existent picture…

…is the pile of brochures, notes, and business cards from the Catholic Writers Guild conference in July, still sitting on my desk.  I’ve meant to follow up with everyone I met, but with our vacation, followed by one sitter moving out and the other sitter moving in, followed by the start of school—it hasn’t happened.

Soon.  In the meantime, I can encourage any and all Catholic writers out there to GO to the live conference next year.  It’ll be in New Jersey, but don’t let that deter you.

— 4 —

(I just made a NJ joke.  Can you tell I’m married to a NYer?)

— 5 —

My review of Rachel Jonat‘s new book, Do Less, is live at Real Housekeeping today.  Take a moment and check it out.  I’m a big fan of Jonat’s blog and have found her brand of minimalism both practical and life-altering.

— 6 —

Minnesota vacation photo dump:

[I need to put the pictures back in. Reinstalling WP, blah-blah-blah.]

— 7 —

That’s all for me.  Have a great weekend, everyone.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Yarn Along: Not Really Yarning Along. But I’m Reading Some Good Stuff!

My bag is slow-going. The trick to knitting, I’ve learned, is to knit.


I made some progress on our recent road trip (pictures, yes, I know), but while at the cabin I took a break from the bag and knit a pair of fingerless mittens as a thank you gift for our last babysitter. Can’t seem to find the picture I took of them, however.

Reading: I’ve rejoined the God’s Embrace program, now that Mimi is a little older. This year Michael Fonseca, the founder, is leading all Year Two and Year Three participants through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. …

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Four Years Old (and Mama’s Feeling It)


Ben turned four years old yesterday.

Today, he’s at school.  From 9:30 to 3:30.


Anyone else feeling old?  How did this happen?

We spent his birthday morning at the zoo.  John Ball Zoo of Grand Rapids is a great mid-sized zoo for a mid-sized metropolis.  It provided plenty to see while not too big for Ben to walk the length of it.

Married at 24, five years of fighting infertility, Ben in 2010, Mimi in 2013, and time marches on.

(Non sequitur, sort of: I was a teenager when my parents were my age.  Imagine that!



Self-Care Conundrum

“Do you have a piece of paper?” I asked my therapist today.

She stood up and, folding back used pages, handed me a yellow legal pad.

“I need some help here,” I said.  “I’ve already given up so many hobbies because I know I don’t have time.  So I need some help figuring out how to do self-care—”

I wrote, “Food,” on my list and began ticking off my food items.  She listened.  I wrote, “Exercise,” and began ticking off items.  And what about writing?  And sleep?  And my necessary morning puttering?

She listened as I named off my self-care tasks items and asked her how to fit them into my schedule.  But then, like a bird of prey, she swooped in for the kill.

“You know, I was wondering where I could interject—” she said.  I paused, and she continued.  “When I said self-care, I was thinking of things that are not goal-oriented.  Perhaps doing nothing.”

I’m not good at doing nothing.



Dishes: Choosing Between Heaven and Hell (#GoodEnoughMom)

Linking up with Charity at The Wounded Dove.

I hate doing dishes.  I’d rather clean bathrooms than do dishes.  I’d rather fold laundry than do dishes.  I’d rather do anything yucky or tedious than face the Goliath that is dishes spilling out of my sink.

We do not have a dishwasher.  Old house, old house problems.  But even if we did have a dishwasher, I’d still hate doing the dishes.

In high school I worked as a dishwasher/buser/food prepper at a great local seafood dive.  (Don’t ask me what my oyster-laden clothes smelled like.)  We washed all the dishes by hand except the glasses and silverware.  While I enjoyed and appreciated the job, I had my fill of dishwashing—enough for two lifetimes.

But doing the dishes makes for good writing.



“The ordinary activities I find most compatible with contemplation are walking, baking bread, and doing laundry,” says poet Kathleen Norris…

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