Friday, December 31, 2010

I Have Until Midnight

It's that time of year again to say goodbye to the old and bring in the new. That sounds like no big deal, right? We do it all the time. It's just another day.


I PANIC. I wonder: Did I do everything I set out to do last year and keep to the goals I set for myself year after year?

I'M TALKIN' RESOLUTIONS, PEOPLE!!! I make resolutions. I think I posted about this briefly when I first started blogging, but let's face it, I had no followers, so a bit of repeat here won't make a difference (It's HERE if you want to go back and read it).

Resolutions are meant to be life altering. You're supposed to pick these really far-fetched resolutions that will make you a better, smarter, more fit, generous, likely-to-do-it, kind of person. That's why it's so hard to make and stick to these resolutions.

When making resolutions, people don't think: I'm going to lose weight this year--and then put it all back on next year. Or, I'm going to be more generous and donate to my favorite charity--but this year and this year only, forget about those needy people next year.

SEE? Resolutions are meant to be made and kept FOREVER! F-O-R-E-V-E-R!!!

Breathe in breathe out. Everything will be okay. There are better ways to go about this.

Here's how I do it: I pick two resolutions per year. One is far-fetched, and the other is simple--designed to be a fail-safe.

For this year, I picked: Finally write my first book (lots of previously failed attempts). And my fail-safe was: Make one new meal per month that I've never made before to add variety to my family dinners. Guess which one I failed at? But I kept at least one and got halfway through the other. I have a completed book (actually 3 completed books) and made 6 new recipes this year.

Now I'm going through to check on old resolutions. Am I sticking to them? Let's see. One year I resolved to be more generous. Yep, I did the best I could with charity work this year. I focused on my kids' school, Haiti, NaNo, Miss Snark's and Locks for Love. My husband focused on the Challenged Athletes Foundation. At the end of this year, we feel like we've done the best we could to help others in need.

There was that year I planned to get in shape. I was iffy on this one at best. I did manage to participate in Camp Pendleton's Mud Run in June even though I was too busy writing my book to train. I vowed never to do it without any training again, even if that meant a little jog around the block every now and then. That one hurt but I made it back in 1 hour and 35 mins (you can read more about it HERE in an old post, there's even a video). I felt so bad about how hard it was to run this one that I started working out in the living room but then dropped that routine as soon as the kids started school. I'll have to work harder on it this year to stay healthy.

I was able to update a few pictures on my family tree wall, we did buy a new tree for the yard, kept up the vegetable garden, blogged at least once per week from the time I started, but I KNOW I've dropped the ball entirely somewhere. Last year we dropped the ball on making at least one improvement on the house, but we added bookshelves this year so I'm hopeful it hasn't been entirely dropped.

I think I know what I missed: I STILL HAVEN'T SETTLED ON A NEW SET OF RESOLUTIONS FOR 2011! That was a past resolution I made when I was in college. I promised myself I would make at least one new resolution each year for the rest of my life, no matter how big or small. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, huh? At least, I have until midnight.

It's almost easier to make the far-fetched one (even though I'm going to be stuck with it for more than one year) than to pick the fail-safe.

My far-fetched resolution is to query all year and land an agent. That's somewhat out of my control. I can't just say my resolution is to get an agent. I should actually modify that to say, in hopes of landing an agent. Otherwise, that would be like saying I have the power to choose an agent. I can't force an agent to like my work and want to work with me. But, I can say that I will continue to query throughout the year. I tend to query cautiously. I only sent 12 queries out this year. It wasn't terrible. I did get 2 partial requests. But I should have queried more. So, this year, I'm going for it. I'm querying like a querying fool, if you will.

Now, what the heck is my fail-safe resolution going to be? I HAVE NO IDEA. It almost seems easier to call my far-fetched query resolution the fail-safe. I have a lot to think about today.

I'll get back to everyone and let you all know what I picked for my final resolutions. I wish you all a Happy and Safe New Year! If I could make two wishes for each of you it's that I could read more about your journey or your life in querying and that you would all add an Email Subscription to your blog from FeedBurner since I tend to keep up more with those blogs and get behind on many of my other favorite blogs. But that's selfish, I shouldn't say all that. But I did, and now you know. I hope that you query and put up an Email Subscription box. If you can do either of those, please let me know so I can sign up or follow along on your journey.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Synthetic Ice Skating

Yep! I live in sunny Southern California where Christmas means mostly sunny days with a bit of rain from time to time.

Don't get me wrong, just because we live in a holiday hot spot doesn't mean we don't long for a white Christmas. We've got it covered though. No snow? No problem! We get in our truck and 4x4 it up to Big Bear where we play in the snow for a couple of hours and then shovel loads of it into the back of our truck and drive it all the way back down to our house and unload it on our front lawn.

Most people don't want to drive up the mountain to touch the snow. Probably because they don't have chains or a 4-wheel drive vehicle. That's okay. Plenty of trucked in snow for everyone. In several locations throughout Southern California, shopping centers and cities will pay to have snow unloaded in parking lots or grassy parks. It's free to stand in line to touch that snow. No sledding though, or snow ball fights. Just the wonder of touching the snow. This is almost as funny to think about as a decent fall in the snow.

What!? No black ice? No scraping windows? No shoveling? Easy peezy, right? Yep! More or less. There are always those rare occasions when it snows or gets icy out.

When I grew up in Utah, going to the grocery store meant risking slipping and sliding around with my grocery cart in the parking lot, frozen locks in my VW Bug, and falling at least a half a dozen times through the 6 MONTHS (give or take) of snow and ice. Good times had by all.

There is this one memory I have from a date I went on in high school while living in Utah: My date had just closed the door for me after I got in my side of the car, what a gentleman, I thought. After what felt like a minute or so of waiting for him to get into the driver's side, I looked back and didn't see him. I looked all around through the windows and still didn't see him. I wondered where he got off to just when he finally opened his door and said, "I slipped on the ice and fell behind the car." He was fine. It was pretty funny though. I still laugh when I think about all of the follies snow and ice brought into my life. My kids won't have those stories.

They will however, sit around and think about the times they went "ice skating" on faux ice. When it's too hot to keep outdoor ice rinks frozen, you wait for the shopping centers to call in the experts over at EZGlide Synthetic Ice, or if you live in a regular neighborhood you wait for them to call an equivalent.

I think because it's fake ice it should be cheaper to skate on. Sadly, because it's manufactured, it's expensive, at least to me, to skate on. I'm sure $13.00 per person regardless of age, isn't more than skating on regular ice, but it's fake, people!

Here's what happened when my kids skated on synthetic ice for the first time:

Do you have any good slip-sliding stories to share? Hopefully all of you are having a safe and fun holiday season! I won't be back until after Xmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

'Tis the Season to be Elfish

Click here for my Query Blogfest Entry.

Being Half-Elfish (no seriously, my ears are huge, my body is short, what else could I be?) I really do enjoy giving more than receiving.

It took me two weeks but I managed to bake:
18 mini loaves of Banana Bread
18 mini loaves o Zucchini Bread
139 pieces of Fudge
150 Lemon Cooler cookies
200 Fattigman's Bakels cookies (Norwegian)
124 Mint Chocolate cookies
200 pieces of Divinity

For a total of 849 pieces of baked goods divided up amongst 30 boxes of baked goods handed out to neighbors or mailed to family across the states.

Do you bake for the holidays? I learned this custom of passing out baked goods from my mom. I think it's nearly a lost art though. Mainly because baking is expensive.  I realize I do way more than most but still, a bag of walnuts is nearly $10. Nothing about holiday baking is cheap.

Let's face it, nothing about this holiday is cheap. Sure, I save a lot by doing Black Friday but I put all that savings and more into my baking, wrapping paper, tape, labels, postage for 150 xmas cards, postage for packages, and Christmas activities for my family.

So, for me, it's hard to dig that much deeper for donating to charitable causes. But I love to give. So, over the years I've found some charitable causes that don't cost me a dime, or hardly anything. Some years have been better than others so I've found ways to donate that don't cost a lot.

Locks of Love: I grow my hair out for two years and then hack it off and give it to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization that "provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis."
As a matter of fact, I just did it today.

 Can't donate your hair? Here's the rest of my list:

  • Lit World Book Drive I found this charity through Heather Kelly's blog Edited to Within an Inch of My Life. This charity takes new OR gently used books for their drive.
  • GoodSearch the search engine that donates. Just choose your charity (mine is NaNoWriMo) and search for anything on the Internet. Your chosen charity will earn money per click through.
  • Cell Phones For Soldiers I love this charity. It was started by kids. The goal is for you to send in your old cell phone which will be recycled and then soldiers will get prepaid phone cards to call home with. Are you getting a new cell phone for Xmas? Here's your opportunity to donate.
  • It's always a good idea to clear out some space for new toys. When we do that, our gently used toys go to Kids Rewind or Goodwill. Kids Rewind will give you cash "on the spot" for your gently used stuff. You can also purchase other gently used items while you're in there. Can't beat that.
  • It won't cost you a thing to cut your Box Tops for Education and take them into a public school of your choice. I've been on the PTA Board as the Auditor at my children's elementary and I can tell you for certain that collectively those Box Tops raise a decent amount of money that goes back into the school.
  • SunnyD, our most favorite orange beverage, has a Book Spree. Basically, schools that participate by turning over 20 labels/class will receive 20 books in return. The school that submits the most labels can earn $2,000 worth of books or $1,000 worth of books for their school. Get going. If you already drink SunnyD, then start saving up those labels for next year's Book Spree.
Charities Worth Your Hard Earned Money: (Something to think about in the New Year. Maybe add it to your Resolutions.)
  • Miss Snark's First Victim  Now, I didn't get a chance to participate this year, but I know many of you did. That hasn't stopped me from giving her a small sum to keep the event going. I hope to participate the next time. Any amount will do, really.
  • NaNoWriMo Your money doesn't just ensure all of us crazy writer's have an opportunity to participate again next year, it also provides for the youth writing program.
  • Any Soldier I love this program. There are a lot of soldiers out in the field that aren't receiving care packages, or letters. This cause collects donations and then puts care packages together and sends them to soldiers who don't usually get anything.
  • Adopt-A-Family for Christmas sponsored by the Salvation Army. My high school participated in this cause. It's epecially rewarding if you can get a group of families in on this. The year I did it, our donor family had lost their job, the mom was sick, and all they wanted was something for Christmas for their kids. My class got a tree and decorated it. We all bought gifts,wrapped them and then essenially brought Christmas to this family with a Ham for their dinner. We made sure the kids were at school so they didn't have to know their parent's couldn't afford Christmas that year. This was one of the greatest and most memorable charities I've ever participated in.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Query Blogfest Entry

“Taryn, who should I go to the dance with, Justin or Brady?” “Taryn, which car should I ask my mom for a Prius or a Jetta?” “Taryn. . .”

Ever since Taryn Powell turned sixteen he can’t seem to get away from these types of questions. Just how the dungeon master of the Dungeons & Dragons after school club became so popular is dumbfounding.

Taryn might be dumbfounded but he isn’t dumb. His popularity soared when he found out he was adopted after his real dad died and left him a book he doesn’t plan on reading, a trust fund with an undetermined amount of money in it, and a Mazerati.

He might understand his popularity but he hasn’t quite figured out that he’s only half-mortal and heir to the throne of destiny. Now, if he had opened up that book he set aside he would know a lot of things about himself and probably wouldn’t have offered random advice to the kids at his school. But he’s popular now and determined to finally get somewhere with a girl, and not just any girl--any big-boobed girl.

Before he can claim the title, God of Destiny, he must first get his mind out of the gutter and prove that he’s not the one ruining the lives of every kid in his high school.

My YA fantasy novel, THE GAME MAKER’S APPRENTICE, is complete at 54,000 words.

Patricia A. Timms
This concludes my entry into Jodi Henry's Query Blogfest. Please feel free to leave constructive feedback even if you're not participating in the blogfest.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Have You Heard?

Jodi Henry Query Blogfest Dec. 12th
 Jodi Henry is hosting a query blogfest from December 12th thru the 18th. If you haven't signed up you should. And I'm not just saying that because I don't want to be alone in this, because I'm not, there are at least twenty others ahead of me on this venture. And I'm also not just telling you because I get extra points for doing so--I genuinely think everyone should finish up their edits, realize that perfection is subjective, and help me clog up the system with a bunch of queries this coming year.

I say, if you're thinking of querying in the new year, then you better be working on that query right now. And what better way to grow a thick skin (necessary for querying) then to put your query up in all of it's glory for everyone to comment on? Right? Right.

I'm not sure which query to put up though. I have a query I managed to get two partial requests on but I've since decided to change the whole book from 3rd person to 1st. And then I have my NaNo book which I finished on the 19th of November and have already done a once-through on the edits, but I would really like to beef it up to 65k from 54k. Do you think 54k is on the low side for YA? My first book was 74k. Hmmm. Time for twenty (really just five) questions: