Emily M. DeArdo

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writing

Saturday Miscellany

books, behind the scenes, current projects, Jeopardy, knitting, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Normally, as you know, I don't do a blog post on Saturdays, but I had a stomach bug on Friday, which derailed my plans to do one then, so, here we are: Saturday! (Stomach's fine now.)

First, the winner of the Cultivate Book: Cristina! Yay! I'll get this book out to you in the next week!

Second: Next week marks a year since my appearance on Jeopardy!, which you can read all about here. The Tour de France, people! :-P (If you don't get that, read the posts....or try to find my episode online. I wish Jeopardy re-runs ran around here....)

Third: Take a look at this!

 

I'm kind of a fan. Do you like it? Let me know! I took the photo at the Franciscans of the Holy Land Monastery in D.C. a few years ago and I thought it was a good choice for the cover. 

And finally, in the knitting area: here's the second Christmas gift in progress. 

Yes, it's the same pattern as the first scarf. But man, I love this yarn too! This is called Sugar Cookie--same yarn as the last one, too. 

So, that's my miscellany for this Saturday! Hope you have a great weekend! 

Making Things Happen 2017: One Month Later

current projects, goal setting, Making Things Happen, writingEmily DeArdoComment
photo by the amazing  Amy Nicole Cherry

photo by the amazing Amy Nicole Cherry

So it's been a month since the Making Things Happen Conference began in Chapel Hill. 

And I can happily say that I've spent this past month doing things that matter--intentionally. 

Here's some of the things I've been doing: 

  • Daily Bible Study with the She Reads Truth app. Every morning, I do morning prayer, morning offering, and this. On the rare days I don't start with this combination, it is not a good day! I've even gone father in this area by  adding a small segment of Bible time in the afternoon, too; reading a chapter of an Old Testament book, and starting to read the Gospels again. It's quicker--maybe five minutes?--but it's a good check in. I'm being much more intentional about prayer, and starting my day with it, in various forms. 

  • Cleaned out my office closet from top to bottom! Yay!!!!! There are three areas of my house that are crying out for organization, and this was the first one I tackled. So much trash, so many instances of What the heck is this and why do I still have it?!?!? later, I have a clean closet, and a much cleaner office, too.
     
  • I've read through my ebook and made the first revisions. Huge step forward there. Now I know what I have to do to get it ready for some beta readers and I can make an action list of items to complete there. 
     
  • I did a lot of blog research and reading. I read a series on search engine optimization and I finished reading and implementing the ideas from a blog how-to series about using Pinterest and making blog upgrades. Maybe you've noticed, maybe you haven't. Most of it's been very subtle. :) It's part of an ongoing series about better blogging that I'm working through. One thing I really want to do is be a better blogger, so this research and workshops are things I've been needing to do, but felt so overwhelmed at the idea of doing all the things. But by reading one article, or implementing one change, every day--growth! Things get done. 

For the first time, I think ever, in the few years I've been doing Power sheets, I checked off all my monthly goals!

I'm deeply realizing that little by little is powerful.

Good things grow with that little by little, concentrated effort. 

 

When I sat down to do my April Powersheets, I read through all my conference notes, my goals, and the past months work I'd done so far this year, and I decided to be very deliberate in my goal setting--to choose to work slowly, to plant good seeds, and to let them unfurl in their time. Writing this actually makes me realize how much more I did than I thought I'd done since I came back, and that makes me feel fabulous!!

I am so excited to do my May Powersheets next week. In fact, I might even do them early. 

Has every day been a perfectly cultivated day? No! (haha.) But that's not what matters. What matters is that forward progress and growth. Not minute-by-minute perfection. And that's where I'm making strides. 

Easter notes

Catholicism, books, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Happy Easter Octave! Yup, that's right--Easter, like Christmas, has an octave. We are going to celebrate intensely for at least eight days. So get out the party hats. Eat the chocolate. He is Risen!

So just a few notes from around here, vis-a-vis Holy Week and other things that Happened on My Week Off: 

  • There is something about Holy Hour that is just so calming. No matter how I go into it, once I've spent any amount of time in front of the monstrance/tabernacle, I just feel soothed. This Holy Week was a little crazier than usual, due to getting spots removed from my skin, and my basement flooding over the weekend, so workmen in and out to fix that....but I did get my Holy Week adoration period on Wednesday. Whew. I needed it. Felt a lot better after that. :) 
     
  • Claire in Outlander talks about this: when she's before the Blessed Sacrament in the first book, praying for Jamie, she goes to leave, and a monk is coming in (you can't leave the Sacrament alone during perpetual adoration). She says that she was alone, and the monk said, were you? Claire thought about it. No, she wasn't alone. It's like that. (It's at the end of the first book--don't have it to hand for the references at the moment.)
     
  • (And yes, I will be doing a post about Outlander and Catholicism later this month!)
     
  • Holy Thursday is probably my favorite Mass of the year. It's just gorgeous, we get to chant the Pange Lingua, which I've always loved, and which was written by a Dominican (St. Thomas Aquinas). If you haven't heard it, "educate yourself!" Really. Sublimity. 
  • There's a solemn procession to the Altar of Repose, and then silent adoration until midnight. This year, you could've heard a pin drop during adoration. Seriously, when I put my rosary back in its plastic case, it sounded loud (and I was being careful!). It's indescribable, really, but just so heavy with solemnity and prayer. Love it. 
     
  • My favorite part of Good Friday is the veneration of the cross. I know some people think it's weird. But getting to kiss the cross (or bow/genuflect to it, whatever you choose to do) is such a small thing, but it feels so significant. Here's some more about it, if you're curious.
     
  • The Vigil, on Saturday night, is always happy, because we welcome new members into the church. But it's also sort of nerve-wracking because: CANDLES. FIRE. Small children! This year the woman in front of me had a Big Issue--the paper wax-catcher thing around the candle actually caught fire! Yikes! Fortunately she was able to put it out before the pew caught on fire. :) 

How was your Holy Week and Easter? Do you or your family do anything special? 

 

Yarn Along No. 52--and a blogging update

books, writing, yarn along, knittingEmily DeArdo4 Comments

(This post contains affiliate links.) 

 

I love the colors that I'm working in here, and the second skein is about to start--I've attached the end of the first one to it, so really, any stitch now I'll be working with new yarn. At this point, I've gotten used to the pattern and don't have to count or really even think too much about what I'm doing, other than to remember if it's row one, two, three, or four in a particular stitch pattern.  This doesn't mean that I can work on this while I'm watching TV--I have to be concentrating on this, but it's not nearly as tough as it was when I first started. 

The book I'm showing here is Voyager, Number Three in the Outlander series, which I love. This is the book that season 3 of the TV show will be based on, so I'm prepping for its September airing. Normally I re-read the series at least once a year. I'm also still reading My Life In Middlemarch which I talked about last week

(I'm generally reading 2-3 books at a time, so I pick one to show with my Yarn Along. :)  My knitting might not change much, but my books do!) 

As far as blogging updates: You've probably noticed that it's mostly yarn and books over here lately. Part of that is there's nothing I have a real BURNING desire to write about. :)  And part of that is, I think I need to ponder the overall theme and timbre of the blog in general--what sort of stuff do I want to write about, what do I need to write about, and what do you readers want me to write about? So I'm pondering all those things and hoping that y'all will send me suggestions or comments. (Wink, wink.)

I'm still working on the ebook--I have drafts of almost every chapter now, yay!--and I'm still working on getting the next book proposal written (same book, different proposal for a different agent). That's obviously taking a lot of writing energy, as well. 

So that's the writing update! 

 

Daybook No. 124: entering Ordinary Time

Daybook, behind the scenes, fiction, travel, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Outside my window::

Dark. I tend to write these on Sunday nights, so that they go up in the morning without me having to scramble to write. So it's Sunday night, but it was light until like 5:45 today! I love that. :) 

Wearing::

A skirt and a three-quarter sleeve robin's egg blue t-shirt. When I have to work around the house I'd rather do it in one of my dress down skirts because it's easier to move around in, and I was cleaning the kitchen this morning. 

Reading::

Kim, Anne of Green Gables, and I'm going to dig out my Queen Victoria books, because of Victoria on PBS. (No, I'm not watching it right now--the Steelers are on!) I have a feeling the series is not going to be as historically accurate as I would like, so I need to refresh my memory on the finer points. 

Played Disney Scrabble over the weekend. There are four "Disney words" in this puzzle: Song, Fox, Deb, and Hope. Do you know why? (Answers at the bottom)

Played Disney Scrabble over the weekend. There are four "Disney words" in this puzzle: Song, Fox, Deb, and Hope. Do you know why? (Answers at the bottom)

Looking forward to::

The Making Things Happen Intensive! I won a ticket to the conference, but I had to book my flight and hotel, and I'm done with my prep now! Yay! I am so excited to be attending this conference, and glad that the conference gets a good room rate and I found a decent airfare to Raleigh. 

Around the house::

Cleaning. Finishing the Christmas tree putting-away-ness. Putting it up, I usually have help. Taking it down, it's usually just me. So it takes a few days, especially since I like all the ornaments to go back--nicely--into their boxes. 

Random thoughts::

Is anyone else tired? What is it with this January? Is it the weird weather pattern of 3-4 days of FREEZING COLD and then 3-4 days of spring? I'm sleeping for 10-11 hours a night, and that's just weird. I shouldn't be sleeping like that. Anyone else, or am I just weird? 

Writing projects::

I'm making really good progress on the ebook editing, which is the first step here. I'm making sure every piece that I want to have in the book is first off, written, and second off, edited. Not finished, but edited. I'll have this goal met by the end of the month, then it's time for fine-tuning. 

I'm also editing my 2016 NaNo novel this month, to see if there's anything relatively passable in it. :) 

Fun Quote I found last week::

 

Tea is sacrosanct, thank you very much.

Dr. Gordon Wyatt, Bones

 

Plans for the week: 

*Lunch with Dad

* Mass at least once

*Finishing the Tree Takedown

*Taking yet more books/CDs/DVDs to Half Price Books

And knitting! Moreeee knitting--progress posted on Wednesday. 

 

Answers for the puzzle: In Disney Scrabble, Disney words are a wide variety of things and can include: ride names, movie titles, song titles, character names, etc. Obviously you have to prove it's a "Disney word." So in this case: Deb (character from Finding Nemo), Song ("Love Is a Song That Never Ends", from Bambi; "Happy Little Working Song" from EnchantedSong of the South; "With A Smile and a Song" from Snow White); Fox (Fox and the Hound), and Hope ("One Last Hope" from Hercules.) 

2017 Goal Setting

writing, essays, goal setting, Tidying Up, knitting, health, current projectsEmily DeArdo1 Comment

The last week of the year usually brings a few things for me--time with family, lots of books, and goal setting for the new year!

Ever since I discovered Lara Casey's powersheets, I've adored goal setting--and I've actually been getting things done. Her shop is called "Cultivate what matters", and that's what the powersheets do. Without them, there's no way I'd have finished my manuscript, written book proposals, sent queries, or upgraded my website/social media presence. That's probably the biggest thing the powersheets have done for me, but I've made progress in other ways, too. 

(And, no, I don't get paid to say this--I just love powersheets!)

I got my 2017 set in November and spent a few days doing the prep work. This is one of the best parts of power sheets. It's where you really get down to the reasons why you want to do things--why do you want to save money, or take that trip, or get that thing? What's your real motivation? Are you afraid to do big things? What's defeated you in the past from reaching your goals? (Lara's current blog series dives into this stuff, too!) 

So after doing the prep work and figuring out my "big" goals for the year, I then break those goals down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals for each month. The idea is that everything you do here is intentionally helping you meet a goal that will help you do what matters in your life. 

With all that said, here are my goals for 2017: 

1. To deepen my prayer life through more regular attendance at daily Mass and more times of daily prayer/devotions. If I don't have a deep, solid relationship with God, nothing else matters. 

2. Pay off the rest of my debts and grow my savings account. One of the things I really like about post-transplant life is my ability to travel, and I want to do more of that--and traveling takes money! So by cutting back on buying things I don't need (I'm doing the contentment challenge in January to help with this), I'll be able to pay off debts and have money for fun things like traveling! Again, there has been progress in this area, but I need to be more consistent. 

3. Be physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy by instituting regular workouts, weekly meal planning, and keeping up with my journal (I've been letting my journal slide of late. I don't want to do that!). I have grown in this area this year, but it's erratic growth. I need to make it a much more permanent part of life.  

4. Get the book published, offer a ebook for sale, grow the blog, and write what matters. I want to write things that matter to the people who read them--things that help you, inspire you, make you laugh, whatever. I don't want to write click bait. I want to write things that improve the lives of my readers. (So tell me what you want to read, OK?) 

5. Fuel my creativity by continuing to learn Italian, working on new art and knitting projects, and, of course, reading. I love learning new things! 

6. Simplify my space: Less stuff, more beauty, more organization, and increased hospitality. I made big progress on this this year as well--cleaning out my closet, taking many books to the secondhand shop (along with CDs and DVDs). So I'm proud of the progress I've made here. But there's more to do!

So those are my six big goals for the year. Each month, these get broken into monthly, weekly, and daily things I need to tend (in powersheets parlance). Daily things are things I want to make a habit--like exercise, checking my checkbook against the online transactions, reading the Bible for 10 minutes every day, practicing Italian. Stuff like that. 

Weekly things are things that get done every week: Daily Mass at least once, making a meal plan, doing a basic clean of the house, putting a certain amount of cash into my emergency stash here at home. 

Monthly tending are bigger things that I can do throughout the month. Some examples from my January tending list are editing my Nano 2016 novel, going to confession, completing a 30 day exercise plan.  

Some things are broken into monthly and weekly categories. The contentment challenge is broken into three months, with a weekly topic in a corresponding book. So there's a monthly "task", but also something to read each week. So the weekly devotion is written in my weekly tending list, so I don't forget to do that. 

I also write the daily tasks into my planner. That also helps keep me on track, because if my powersheets aren't easily available (though I always keep them on my counter, so I can find them quickly!), I can see at a glance what I'm doing that day. It's also great for things like the weekly cleaning--I can dust on Monday, vacuum Tuesday, etc. 

I find this is a better system than making resolutions. Resolutions are OK, but they usually don't have a plan or a why attached to them. "Lose 20 pounds" is a nice resolution--but how to do it? By going through the powersheets, I have an idea of how to do the things I want to do, how to achieve my goals, and how to be accountable to myself. I only have so much time here and I want to use it to the best of my ability!

Do you have goals for 2017? What are they? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daybook No. 121: Fourth week of Advent

Daybook, books, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

It's snowing. Again. We're receiving our entire winter weather in one wallop thus far, it seems. Snow, ice, temperatures in the single digits...but then it'll be almost 50 on Christmas Day. Ah, Ohio! 

Wearing::

A blue t-shirt, yoga pants, and oatmeal colored leggings--I'm writing this after I just did a workout at home. Go me, right? :) 

Reading:

I just finished The Catholic Table, which I highly recommend. For Christmas, my friend Tiffany got me Frog Music and the Alexander Hamilton biography that Hamilton is based on, so I'll be reading those this week. 

In the CD player::

The Christmas music playlist, obviously. 

Listening to :

Sherlock on the TV-John and Mary just got married. (I'm Netflixing the series.) 

Living the Liturgy:

Current projects: 

Working on editing the Catholic 101 ebook. I've been doing a few entries a week so that I can devote proper attention to them and not feel like I have to fly through them all quickly. Really excited about this project!

From the kitchen: 

Sicilian spaghetti tonight, involving yellow raisins, fennel, garlic, red pepper, and pine nuts. Should be delicious. I hope. :) Also a black bean soup and a Moroccan chicken dish. 

Plans for the week: 

Since it's the week before Christmas--trying to tidy up the house before the big celebration, finish any menu planning, etc, that has to happen for the post-Christmas parties and such. One nice thing about really cold temps (and ice) is that you have to stay inside, so that means a lot of housework can get done. In theory, anyway. :-P (No, really, I have gotten quite a bit down. But it just...keeps....coming....:-P) I'm also planning to swatch some new yarn for a basketweave scarf project, but that'll keep until post-Christmas. 

Christmas carol!: Well, OK, not really. But this was always one of my favorite parts of Messiah to sing. Handel loves altos. He sort of hates tenors and sopranos, but he loves altos. :) 

 

 

 

 

 

A Project for 2017

writingEmily DeArdoComment
Calvin and I are doing similar things here.....

Calvin and I are doing similar things here.....

If you've been reading regularly, then you know about my Catholic 101 series, which started as my project for 2015/2016. 

My Dad had a great idea--that I take the entires, add some new material, and publish it as an ebook. I've been wanting to do an ebook for awhile, and I think this is a great way to combine the old material with new material and create something really useful.

So I'm taking the entries, editing and enlarging them, and adding some new material, and I'll hopefully have something ready to go in the spring. I'm really excited to offer this! 

I'm not sure if it'll be Amazon or iBook format--maybe both. If anyone has experience doing this, can you leave your info in the comments in case I need help? :) Thanks!

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 128

7 Quick Takes, health, transplant, writing, fictionEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 

ICYMI: I wrote other things than the 30 Days series this week! Here's a post on the Four Last Things--in time for Halloween. (Or it was when I posted it!) And part II of my Houston Postcards.

II.

I had clinic on Monday. The X-ray is good, the PFTs are in their normal range, so that's all happy. The biggest happy, though? I got to go off prednisone! Yayyyy!

Prednisone is a steroid that does some nasty things to your body. It keeps inflammation down, and it's widely used in the transplant world. In other types of transplant, people can go off this drug after a few years. In lung transplant, that's much less common. So I knew that there was a good chance my doctors wouldn't let me go off it. But I'm 11 years out, I'm stable....I might as well ask!

"These lungs are basically yours," my doctor told me, so he didn't see a problem with me trying it. I have to go back for lung function tests (PFTs) in December, to make sure that nothing evil is happening in my lungs. But right now, I am off prednisone. 

III. 

I'm not going to lie: the first few days of this have been rough. After only seven days, your body adapts to prednisone and makes changes in a lot of ways. I've been on it for eleven years. Tuesday, Wednesday, and yesterday were a bit tough as my body adjusted to being off it, especially in the muscle/joint department. They liked steroids. I'm hoping that now that I have good lungs that are not full of Evil Bacteria, my joints will be happy without the prednisone. (CF people often have a sort of quasi-arthritis--it's not "real" arthritis, but joint pain, stiffness, etc. happens.) I really didn't miss all that insanity, so I'm hoping that they're going to be happy without the pred. 

IV. 

On Wednesday I got to see one of my favorite singers, Canadian artist Loreena McKennit. If you're not familiar with her music, here's a few tastes: 

 

 

She's hard to categorize; sometimes she's labeled "Celtic", sometimes "new age", and sometimes "world", but I just say she's great. She rarely tours, and very rarely tours in the U.S., so when tickets went on sale for her one concert in town, my friend Suellen and I jumped on them.

Our AP English teacher, Mrs. Low, had introduced us to Loreena's Music, with "Lady of Shalott" and "The Highwayman"--so we've been fans for a long time now. (Yikes, 17 years!) Hearing her sing "The Lady of Shalott" in person has vastly added to my lifetime happiness. 

V. 

I'm also doing NaNoWriMo! This is my fifth year. I'm writing a story about a girl who enters a monastery. I've been wanting to write a novel about nuns for awhile, but having seen a lot of recently released novels that paint nuns in a less than flattering light made me move this story forward over other NaNo ideas. It also has a strong ballet component, so I'm writing about two pretty rarefied worlds in one novel. (And no, it's not like the ballet in Trouble With Angels. Ha!) I'm going to hit the 10K mark today. 

(If you're not familiar with NaNo: The objective is to write a 50,000 words novel from start to finish during the month of November.) 

VI. 

As soon as I hit 10K today, I'm watching The Crown on Netflix. Seriously. I love Claire Foy, I love the Royals, I love Netflix....it all works together for pure binge watching enjoyment! (And there's going to be a second season! WOOOOO!) The goal is to have 60 episodes over 6 seasons. So Claire Foy is playing Queen Elizabeth II in the early part of her reign. I'm so excited. Seriously. Royal geek, right here. 

(And Stephen Daldry is directing episodes! He directed one of my favorite movies, The Hours.) 

VII. 

OK, wow, that's enough fan-girling for one post. Sorry guys. :) Have a great weekend! 

Next week--my October reading wrap post. It's long! It's fun! 

Seven Quick Takes No. 122

7 Quick Takes, food, books, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 

Happy Friday, everybody!!!!

Here's what I wrote about this week, ICYMI: 

Hospital Hair Salons (With a follow up next week!) 

Catholic 101: The Eucharist

II. 

We FINALLY had rain! Lots and lots of rain! My plant doesn't look like it's going to die now! Yay!!!!! (Even when you water a plant copiously, when it's 90+ degrees for many days in a row, the plant will look very sad.) Just in time for school starting, the weather has become less hot and more normal--70s and low 80s. I can handle this. In fact, this is sort of my perfect type of weather. I am ready for my sweaters!  

III. 

This was this week's Kitchen Adventure: 

This is the Guinness Cake. The Cake of My Heart. And next week, it'll get its own Food Stories post!  (It's been awhile since I've done one of those!) 

IV. 

I'm falling down on the reading this month, but I do have the new Mother Teresa book, A Call To Mercy on my iPad, as well as Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect.

V. 

In my own writing: I'm working on some submissions and still editing the memoir. Always, right? And NaNoWriMo 2016 is over the horizon, so I need to come up with a novel idea to write this year!

VI. 

After a long hiatus, I'm back to the knitting, because my new yarn bowl arrived. So back to those knits and purls. I'm using up some odds and ends of yarn so this is definitely a project for me, and not a gift. And I need to start thinking about Christmas gifts too, yikes! And birthday gifts for my fall people!

VII. 

Has school started where you are? I remember when it started at the end of August. The beginning/middle of August feels so odd for school start dates. Course they also get out a lot earlier than I did, too.But starting on August 16 (when a lot of schools here started) seems wayyyy too early for me. 

 

 

 

Summer Scribbles: Journal keeping

essays, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Today's SITS girls prompt: 

Do you keep a journal? 

I sure do. 

I have since I was 12 years old, actually, and my Aunt Patty sent me a Hallmark diary for my birthday. It's one of those that had the little combination lock that after about 20 uses just popped open without the combination, so it wasn't the world's best security measure, but my siblings knew better than to try to sneak my journal (although I didn't really try to hide it. It was always on my nightstand.) 

Since then, I've always kept one. Sometimes I write with more fervor than others, but I've always had one with me, and I save them all. In my house there are two big bins full of my journals. My currrent one is a red Moleskine I got at the Strand in NYC a few years ago. I generally buy journals when I'm on vacation and then they get used a few years later; when I was in California I bought a Bouchon Moleskine notebook. I've also got a notebook my parents brought me back from Disney World when they went back in 2011. People also gift me journals at an alarming rate, but I don't mind this. 

My blog isn't my journal, and my journal isn't my blog. This is something I think people can easily get confused, especially younger bloggers. What I write on this blog is obviously public. What I write in my journal is intensely private. Sometimes I'll use what I've written in my journals as a springboard for public writing, but this space is not where I pour out my soul. That's what a journal is for.  

Blog is different from journal, journal is different from blog. Important distinction, at least in my world. As much as I love my readers, there are some things that I'm just not going to share with the interwebs. 

 

Summer Scribbles: Let's Communicate

essays, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Continuing with the SITS Girls' prompts, this week's is: 

Do you communicate differently online than in person? 

Short answer: Nope. 

Long answer: Still nope, but with qualifiers. 

I try to write the way I talk. I want my pieces to have a sort of conversational air about them, like I was talking to you, instead of you reading words I've written. Some of my friends have told me that I've accomplished that, so that makes me happy, because it's one of my main goals. I don't think you need a stilted writing style to get a point across. I want to sound approachable and like myself. 

Now, when I'm communicating on things like Facebook, or comments sections of articles, I try to be a bit more circumspect, realizing that things like sarcasm don't exactly transfer. So I try to be nicer, in a way, than I am in person. Not that I'm mean! But writing WHATTTTT?!?!? on a Facebook page doesn't really convey the same thing that it would in my voice, with facial expressions, etc. So I can't do that all the time. I try to keep it cleaner for the sarcasm-impaired. 

But my hope is always that when you read my pieces, it's like we're having a conversation, and that my authentic voice comes through. 

 

 

Writing Update: Sending queries and other notes

writing, memoirEmily DeArdoComment

I thought I'd update you on the status of my manuscript, since it's been awhile. I'm still shopping the memoir manuscript around to different houses and agents. Each one wants different things in the query, so I've been adapting each proposal per regulations, and then sending them off. I have also completely re-written the beginning of the manuscript, including adding a new preface. I'm really excited about that part!

As far as fiction goes, I've uncovered a really old manuscript that I abandoned, and I've set to work finishing it. My goal is three chapters a month until a final rough draft exists. That's not a lot, but I wanted a sort of easy goal. I definitely surpassed it in May, writing about seven new chapters, so I figure I'll do the same thing in June. It's very easy to write once I'm in the characters' heads again. 

That's all for now, but I'm excited about the way things are going! I hope to have good news to share with you soon!

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 111

7 Quick Takes, writingEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

Before we get into Quick Takes proper, here's this week's posts: Catholic 101 on Pentecost and a Nashville Postcard

II. 

Next week: Catholic 101 is about Divine Mercy, and the Postcard is from Duck, NC--one of my favorite places on Earth. I'll also have a manuscript update! Yay!!!

III. 

Man, Barre 3 class on Monday was hard. I hadn't been all month due to post-trip recovery, and so it was going to be hard anyway, but I think the teacher felt like making it Evilly Challenging. It was almost all leg work and I've been sore all week--but I'm still going to class today. Because that's how I roll, people! 

IV. 

The Last CCD for the season is on Sunday. It was a really long year, but I'm always sad to leave the kids. But I'm happy to get my Sunday mornings back--I can either sleep in and go to a later Mass, or I can go on Saturday night like I do during the CCD year and sleep in Sunday morning. Either way, Emily gets more sleep, and that's a good thing. 

V. 

In the home improvement department, I have floating shelves!

The Pirate parrot also likes his new perch. 

I was tired of having books that didn't have "homes" randomly scattered around, so I decided to give the floating shelves a try, and I love them. They're so cool looking, and these books finally have homes that are not just stacks on the carpet! Yay!

VI. 

Two months until my Jeopardy! appearance on July 18. Yes, I'm going to keep reminding you about it. :-P 

VII. 

Did any of you watch Army Wives when it was on? I've found it on Netflix and man, it's sort of crazily addictive. Between it and the hockey playoffs, I'm spending too much time with my TV. 

Hitting Rewind

2016, goal setting, health, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment

So, 2016 started out with me being sick, but I could still make progress on my goals. 

Then we got a week in to 2016, and that all went out the window. 

I'd forgotten how much pneumonia takes out of you--the whole if I try to get dressed/put on make up/make a meal, I spend the next day wiped out and paying for it. I am feeling better, in that there's much less pain, I can breathe regularly, my heart rate is better, and I can take deep breaths! I'm sure my PFTs will be better on Monday. But as far as "normal activities", not a lot is happening yet, beyond the basic basics. 

That's OK--it just makes my goal tending Powersheets page look a little forlorn, these days. :) 

I go back to clinic on Monday for a follow-up, and assuming we don't see anything terrible, I will slowly start increasing things. But that, I don't just mean activity, I mean daily things, like writing/editing/reading--things that don't sound terribly strenuous, but can be when you're dealing with a limited supply of energy. 

One thing that has progressed, so far, is my art--I'm really glad to have decent brushes now, and to be playing with color and form. I will finish my Sketchbook Skool class by the end of the month, and that was one of my goals for this month, along with editing Tempest (and I did that, too--at least a first pass edit.) So this month wasn't a complete waste, goal-wise. 

And this might sound odd, but--the nurses I had in the hospital were pretty great. I don't mind spending time with good nurses. :) 

So I'm going to ease back into goals next week, and start February with renewed vigor--and hopefully a rescheduled California trip! 

 

 

 

Updates from the writing desk

behind the scenes, writing, current projectsEmily DeArdoComment

(No, I'm not going to ask you why a raven is like a writing desk.)

I have begun editing  Tempest, my NaNoWriMo 2015 winner. My editing process works in layersThe first is--I don't start editing right away. In this case, I gave myself more than a month to let the novel "sit" and give me a break from it. I want to approach it with fresh eyes when I begin to edit. 

Second--I don't read it all in one gulp. I've set about 45 minutes aside each day for editing. Yesterday, that turned out to be basic copyediting, for the most part, because I was really pleased with what I'd written. I think I captured Julie's voice really well in the first section, and that makes me happy. (Julie is my protagonist, for those of you just joining me.) The novel is divided into several parts, and yesterday I got through the first part and a few chapters of the second. 

Third--after I do my first edit, I go back to the beginning, and read it all again. Is everything still working? Do I like where the novel goes? Does the plot work? Do I need more detail anywhere? Do I need less detail? 

So far, that's how my process works. After these steps, I'll leave it alone for another few months, to, again, give myself distance from it. I repeat the process until I'm satisfied with what I have. 

Since Tempest is the first part of a planned trilogy, I need to make sure that what happens here is really clear in my mind (and in my notes!), so that when I go to write books two and three, they are built on the solid foundation of the first book. I've begun writing book two, but I've held off really getting into it until I've done at least one editing pass on Tempest

 

Daybook No. 113

Daybook, books, Catholic 101, current projects, fiction, holidays, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment

 

Outside my window::

Grey and cloudy. This is helped by my tree, which is glowing in the corner, and the Joy candle I have lit on my counter. I don't mind rainy days and this is a good day to get things done after the holiday weekend. SO much goodness happened, which I'll be writing about below--but suffice to say, I don't mind a rainy day today!

Wearing::

a Pure Barre sweatshirt, Athleta workout capris, and....flats. Yeah. This outfit is AWESOME, right? :) I'm going to be working out shortly, and since I'm hanging out around the house, does it matter what I wear? Well, OK, probably. But  don't care. :) 

In the CD player::

Renee Fleming's Christmas in New York, alternating with Part I of Messiah. And yes, Adele 25 is sitting on my counter, waiting to be heard.

Reading::

Cinder (again), and my crazy stack of Advent devotionals: 

Come, Lord Jesus is my FAVORITE devotional for this time of year. SO much wisdom, so much to pray about. 

Writing::

NaNo is over and I'm not even going to ouch Tempest until January. It is, though, tentatively the first book of a trilogy, so I've done some note taking and brief preliminary planning about those two books. I'm not pressuring myself to write anything substantial in those for awhile, and I'm sort of afraid to until I do Tempest edits. Suffice to say I have a vague idea of the content of those books, but that's all it is right now--a vague idea.

Also working on the new Catholicism series I talked about yesterday.  While I teach first graders, don't think I'm going to use first grade vocabulary and write like you are first graders, lovely readers. We'll use "big people" words and concepts. 

 

Tidying Up: 

I think I have just about reached the "click point" the book talk about--where you know how much of a thing you need. and you enjoy having. There are a few more books and movies that can go (this is like the fourth round of purging in that area), but I think I'm at the point of saturation. Yay! I didn't think I'd get here when I first started, to be honest. 

The second part of the book talks about finding places for everything. This is another hard thing for me because I have things that I need (like, Duct Tape), but where does it go? (It's too big for the junk drawer, it doesn't fit in the tool box, etc.) So that's what I'll be working on next. 

Since I've decorated for Christmas, there is some chaos around here, because I have to move furniture to put up my tree. But it's all good. 

 

Thanksgiving::

I had a great holiday. Did you? I hope you did. Thanksgiving day was in the high sixties here, so we got to hang out on the deck and enjoy the warmth before dinner!

And yes, that's my sister, who came up from Houston to surprise me! She's here until tomorrow. We've had a LOT of fun while she's been here--she helped me decorate my tree, we went to the Penguins/Jackets game with our brother, and we all (us siblings) had a great meal last night at The Barn, one of our favorite local restaurants. Since Mel lives in Texas now, I don't get to see her nearly as often as I used to, and it's always fun when she comes up! 

I also had a great day with my friend Sarah (who made that GORGEOUS wreath two photos up). We had lunch and talked on a rainy Saturday while her husband watched the OSU/Michigan game with some of our friends. She's another friend I almost never get to see, and not nearly as much as I'd like. 

What was the best part of your Thanksgiving Weekend? 

 

 

Daybook No. 112

behind the scenes, books, Catholicism, current events, current projects, Daybook, Dominicans, fiction, knitting, links, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Cloudy, a marked contrast from yesterday's blue skies and sun, but since It's going to be in the 60s, I'll take it. Especially since....gulp.....snow might in the future! 

Wearing::

My PJs--I just got up (it's 8 AM as I'm writing this) 

Reading::

North and South, Mockingjay, Rising Strong,  and The Betrothed. I really like North and South--Margaret Hale is a great character. I'm late to the Rising Strong party, but better late than never, and I also have Daring Greatly to read.

In the CD player::

Fun Home and Hamilton. No Christmas music until at least after Thanksgiving!

Living the Liturgy::

Today is Lucy Pevensie's feast day! And since she's my Dominican patron, I get to party all day. 

 

Around the House::

Doing the deep cleaning to get ready for decorating> I don't have much to do--the tree, a few baubles, and my Fontanini creche (one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received, ever). The Baby Jesus doesn't go in the creche until Christmas Eve, and the Magi make their way into the set proper by Epiphany. If you're looking for a Nativity set, I highly recommend this one. The figures are made of a type of plastic that means kids can chew on them, play with them, etc., and they won't break!

Speaking of Catholic households, this is a good article from Our Sunday Visitor that's worth a ponder. 

I'm also in the last stages of Tidying Up. I took three bags of books to Half Price books yesterday, so I'm still looking for the book/CD/DVD "click point" that Kondo talks about. I'm sure I'll find it--eventually. :) Until then, I just keep taking books to HPB. 


Creativity::

I have "won" NaNo--but the book's not done. Oh no. I'm going to write a sequel. (I can't believe it either!) Nothing about this book has gone the way I thought it would, but it's been in a great way. My friend Andrea says the "muse has inhabited me", and while that may or may not be true, it sure is fun. I will officially "win" NaNo on the 20th, when you can start verifying word counts. 

So I have to put an ending on this guy (a cliff-hanger, of course), and then start the new document for book two, maybe do some outlining--and then touch nothing until January. This is what usually happens with my NaNo books--I finish them in November and then don't touch them until January. That gives them, and me, a nice break before I begin revising/editing. 

And I can purl! You'll see the proof tomorrow in the Yarn Along. 

 

Pondering::

In light of the attacks on Paris, this is an excellent read. It's long, but it's well-worth the time it takes. 

There are so many problems in our world that are new, and all colliding at once--fighting a war against an enemy we can't see (as Judi Dench said in Skyfall), the Syrian refugees, elections, earthquakes in Mexico and Japan....

The only solution I can see to it is to pray more intensely. 

 

Plans for the week::

Not much, which is nice. CCD on Sunday, when we'll talk about Jesus' birthday (we talked about Advent last week). And then it's Thanksgiving week, and then we're into December! Holy cow!

 

This Week's Question: How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your family? 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 101

7 Quick Takes, writing, theater, holidays, behind the scenesEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

First an addition to the Daybook from earlier this week. I don't know what happened to the text, but I'd written a bunch about Hamilton that inexplicably disappeared after I hit 'publish'. So, I'm rewriting it here. :) 

 

Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schulyer Church) in a scene from  Hamilton . 

Phillipa Soo (Eliza Hamilton), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton), and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schulyer Church) in a scene from Hamilton

This musical has been getting a lot of positive press, and at first I was skeptical, because: rap? hip-hop? Whaaaa. No. Emily doesn't like that sort of music. But surprisingly, it works really well here, to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton. Most of us know Hamilton because of one of three things: he died in a duel with Aaron Burr; he's on the $10 bill, or he wrote a lot of the Federalist Papers. But he did a lot more than that. He found the New York Post, was the first Secretary of the Treasury, and served with George Washington during the Revolutionary War. 

The musical is sung-through (I think) and covers his life from his arrival in America as a young man, his graduation from Princeton, involvement in the Revolution, marriage to Eliza Schuyler, birth of his son, rise in Washington's administration, and then his political downfall and death. The musical was written and composed by its star, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Some of my favorite tracks are "Helpless", "Burn", "My Shot", "The Room Where It Happens", "You'll Be Back" (a hilarious song for King George III, played by Jonathan Groff), and "It's Quiet Uptown". 

Anyway, all this to say--give it a whirl. It's probably going to kill it at the Tonys and there's even talk of a Pulitzer Prize win. 

II.

I won NaNo! Yes, it's only the second week of November, but I'm over 50K, and I think there might be a sequel to this novel, because I don't think I can do the story justice in one setting. How crazy is that? These characters haven't stuck with the plan at all, but I've never written anything so fast, and as long as what the characters want works with the plot, then I'm fine with them dictating things to me. 

Right now I'm imagining them as YA novels. But of course anyone can read them. 

III. 

The Confirmation last weekend went well. I was proud of my cousin, and glad she picked a real saint--some of the kids just picked their middle names or something. (I know this because I asked one kid who her saint was--I'd never heard of this--and she said "it's my middle name." Eyeroll. Now, I'm sure there is a saint with that name, but come on, guys!)

IV. 

My Christmas cards are  done! Yay! I always love doing the Christmas cards. I usually start sending them out the first week in December, because some of my friends are in school and go home for the holidays, and I want them to get it before that happens. And I also love sending real mail to people. 

V.

I also binge watched Starz's Flesh and Bone this week. I wish the ending would've been more concrete, since the series isn't being renewed, but I guess it was probably shot before that decision was made? I love anything that has to do with ballet, so this series, which focuses on a fictional ballet company, was something that's like catnip to me. There were several great plot lines. (And also several tired plot lines--crazy artistic director, back-stabbing catty corps dancers, etc. )

VI. 

I'm moving on in Sketchbook Skool, too. Right now we're doing continuous line drawing ,which is something that I definitely need to work on, because my drawings looks crazy right now. Our assignment is to do one, two, and three objects this way, and then do one three object drawing and watercolor it. I'm a little afraid of that assignment. 

VII.

How are you guys doing on your holiday shopping/preparation? When do you put up your decorations? I Usually start the day of the OSU-Michigan game, which is the Saturday after Thanksgiving. 

 

 

 

Daybook No. 111

Daybook, current projects, writing, books, fiction, Tidying UpEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Gray and rainy, sort of windy. The last few leaves are clinging to the trees and it really feels like fall out there. Not that I mind. I'm ready for it, because I do love my sweaters, tea, books, and blankets. As long as it's not snowing (heaven forbid), I'm fine. 

(It's actually not my window. I'm at Starbucks, writing and getting lots of stuff done with a Peppermint Mocha to hand.) 

Wearing::

jeans, navy blue flats, fake diamond studs, and a sweater from Lands End that's "vicuna" (that's what they call this sort of creamy khaki color) and black stripped. It's super cozy and perfect for today. 

Reading::

North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell; The Betrothed for Facebook Catholic Ladies' Book Club; The Fiery Cross (again). I've also got one more Neapolitan novel to read, but I think I'm going to wait to pick that one up. It's the last one, so savoring is appropriate. I'm also re-dedicating myself to finishing City of God sometime in the near future. It's just sitting on my "to read" pile and mocking me. 

Writing::

So, NaNoWriMo is still off and running, and man, I am writing fast, but the book has changed a lot from my initial conception. I've changed the title, I've changed the plot--basically, the characters have told me that they want this story. Forgiveness is a major theme. I'm wondering if this should even be--gasp--a series. Because it might be too long for just one book. I can certainly write them as two. 

Julie (My protagonist) is a fascinating character to write, because she's really not like me, and that's a first. Most of my protagonists, up until now, have had some basis in myself. But not Julie. This is also a YA novel, and I've never purposefully written one of those before. 

I'm really excited about this project, which is funny, because at first I wasn't sure if I was going to Do NaNo at all--but now I've got characters that are really clicking, and a long-winding plot that might go for two books. I should hit the "winning" total- 50K- by the end of this week. 

Creativity In Other Areas::

My friend Sarah is going to help me master the art of knitting and purling in the same project! So we're going to hopefully have a yarn along update for you guys tomorrow! I'm also working on a bunch of new blog post ideas, including the return of the Food Stories posts. 

Quick Movie Review::

spectre-poster-black-white.jpg

I saw Spectre with my brother last night, and it was better than I thought it would be. I don't know if it was as good as Skyfall, but it's really close, in my opinion. I love how the writers drew all of the Daniel Craig Bond plots together into a cohesive web. I don't know if we needed the car chase through Rome, but "reason not the need", as Lear says. Daniel Craig is great as Bond, and I love Ralph Fiennes as M (although I miss Judi Dench!). 

The ending was a bit abrupt and left me wondering what the next movie will be like. Speculation on the Interwebs is saying that movie will be out in 2017, so I guess I don't have too long to wait. 

(Although, one thing--can we stop with the efforts to dismantle the 00 Program, please? I mean, how many movies do we need before the British Government realizes that it's a very bad idea to do away with Bond and his ilk? Come on, guys!) 

(I also now feel the urge to watch all the Craig Bonds in succession. Maybe I'll do that after I finish writing today.) 

Tidying Up::

I have just about reached the end of the categories! The next step in the book is "finding a place for everything", and that might take some time. I'm going to re-read that section and try to get an idea of a game plan. 

Kondo talks about a "click point"--as in, you'll know when you're reached the optimal number of things you need in a category. I don't think I've hit it yet with my books or DVDs, so I'm going to keep culling. 

Listening To: