Just in case you're wondering, I'm still around! My life took an unexpected but positive turn a couple of weeks ago at a writer's conference and I'm busy polishing "Diary of Bedlam" until it shines like a beautiful gem. I promise to be back very soon!

Yesterday I did something I never did before. I posted in my status that the first person to respond with their ring size would get the ring I made in the studio. It was fun! I got a great response and as a result I'll be making a few more rings in the coming weeks.
The resulting ring, pictured below, is sterling silver. It's a lovely peridot set in a bezel. I'm really pleased with the result, and I hope the recipient (my cousin Eileen) is too.

A couple of days ago I was walking Stuart and I came upon the most delightful discovery in a trash heap:


Before I continue, I need to explain something. I find it very hard to pass by old furniture or other possibly useful stuff, even if it's out on the curb ready to be picked up by the trash man. I'm not saying I'd actually get into a dumpster to explore, but if something's just sitting there and it has "good bones," I just might not be able to resist the urge to take it home with me.

This might be a low-volume blogging week for me–I haven't decided yet. However, that's no reason why we can't have some fun!

Over at our favorite home decor website, Young House Love, they're celebrating their two-year blog anniversary and this week they're giving away a huge prize–a $500 gift card from Lowes!

I have to admit there are quite a few home improvement projects I'd like to tackle:

Dream projects
1) Remodeled kitchen
2) Remodeled master bath
3) Re-designed fireplace facades in living room & master bedroom
4) Custom office for Mick

Essential projects (Yawn!)
1) Window repair and replacement
2) Refinishing of hardwood floors
3) New carpet in bedrooms

What are some of the projects you'd like to do in your home?

$500 would go a long way in starting some of those projects. Head on over there now and enter the contest. And while you're there, be sure to wish John & Sherry a Happy Blogiversary!

Link-o-rama An eclectic selection of links for you this week:

Man vs. God– Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins independently answer the question "Where does evolution leave God?"

Agatha Christie's Notebooks - 73 still survive. So what's in them?

Pat Tillman, Anti-War Hero - Jon Krakaurer's new book, Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman is discussed. The Daily Beast's John Douglas Marshall interviews the author.

Top 40 Books of All Time Chosen by Lee Child - Lists like this always make me feel like a literary troglodyte, having read, in this case, three on the list. And why didn't he include Are You There God, it's Me, Margaret?

National Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo is Nov. 1 – 30th. I'm thinking of using that time to write my second novel (all the while trying to finish my first). What about you? Isn't it time you get started on your literary masterpiece?

Awwww. Isn't it cute?


I've been wanting to sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for a long time and I finally did it. This one is Farm Fresh to You and the produce is grown in Anaheim, CA.

Overall, I am pleased with the contents of the box. The only thing I don't like in it are the bell peppers, of which there were five. I gave those away. The fruit is fantastic (apples and nectarines). Really sweet and very crisp, just the way I like it.

My challenge is eating everything while it's still fresh, which I don't think will be a problem. In fact, I welcome that challenge because it's a great way to get more fruits and vegetables into my diet.

I can't wait for my next box!

As you know, I'm in the process of editing the first draft of my novel. Wow–it's much harder to do than writing the first draft. I find my brain is constantly overwhelmed, almost to a state of numbness. Could it be I'm just obsessing too much at this point and should be concentrating on smoothing out the story instead of agonizing over every. single. word?

One of the more challenging aspects of this task is figuring out how and where to incorporate back story and description. For example, I've edited my first chapter to within an inch of its life. I even said to Mick, "This is really good!" Then I re-read it (again) and found that every other paragraph consisted of long, drawn out descriptions. Um, how could I have missed that during all those hours of re-writing?

I do not consider myself a visual learner (I'm not exactly sure what kind of learner I am) but I realized I needed some kind of visual tool to guide me in weaving description and back story into my narrative.

I got some highlighters and a paperback I didn't mind defacing and highlighted description in green and back story in pink:


The photo above is just a random page in the first chapter, but it gives you an idea of how much this author describes people/things and how she includes back story.

I think it's important to pick books in your genre for this exercise (especially in my case since mystery/crime tends to stick to a fairly strict structure). I'd also do it with a book you've already read since this is a tedious process that takes a lot of enjoyment out of reading the story itself.

The next task is to go back to my manuscript and highlight description and backstory the same way I did with the book. Is there too much pink or green? Can I figure out a more effective way to weave in the back story?

Obviously, every writer is going to incorporate these elements in a different way and my aim isn't to duplicate another writer's method. However, since I'm still learning the process, exercises like this are a good way to illustrate the way novels are structured. Of coures you don't have to do it only with back story and description. Try highlighting dialogue or simply all the times you write "said." It will give you an idea of whether or not you are overusing certain words.

What tips and tricks have you used to help you in the writing process?

We returned home from our trip yesterday, exhausted, but glad to be home. I gave in to the temptation to go to bed early, which resulted in a 2am wake time. I'll have to do better tonight.

Coming home means I have to go back to work, of course. Luckily, I got plenty of inspiration in London to continue writing my novel.

That said, I'm feeling very much like I want to nest today and it has resulted in a web search for some home decor. It's more or less fantasy decor in that I'm really not in the mood to spend any money. However, there's a few things I'd like to put on my wish list:

White Resin Parrots


I really, really want these. I'll have to stalk them for awhile to see if they go on sale.

Curved Upholstered Chair



I have the perfect place for one of these chairs. Blue is my favorite, but any of them would do.

Cellula Chandelier 


Let's face it. The chances of a piece like this ever entering my home is remote, for a few reasons. First, it's pretty damned expensive. I don't think I could drop that kind of cash on a light. Second, it would require a total re-do of my decor, thus adding to the expense of the already pricey chandelier. Third, Mick would hate it.

Still, I do think it's rather grand.

Thanks for indulging me.