Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking ahead to 2012

This past year was a good one for my writing. Of the eleven writing goals I set, I kept six of them, which seems on paper like a not-so-stellar percentage but is actually one that I'm very proud of. I did more writing in 2011 than I had in several of the previous years combined, and to me that in itself equals an extremely successful year! One of things I'm most proud of is that I kept my goal to submit some of my work, something that I've always been more than a little hesitant/afraid/nervous to do.

Now once again it's time to set my writing goals for the upcoming year. I have other, non-writing goals as well, things like reducing clutter, becoming better at organizing the house, and exercising daily (ugh!), but here I'll focus only on my hopes for the upcoming writing year.

1. Continue writing my daily 100-words entries. I've been doing these entries for nearly a year and a half, and they've been unbelievably helpful in keeping me focused on writing each day.

2. Continue to submit. As I wrote above, finding the courage to send out my work has been difficult for me, but now that I've crossed that hurdle, I intend to keep running!

3. Take a good look at the projects--several novels and a handful of short stories--I've started but left incomplete these past few years and decide whether to continue them or trunk them.

4. Continue working on my kids' journals. This is a huge writing project in itself. Over the years I've kept records of the things my children have done and said, trying to capture the memories that they probably won't be able to recall on their own. This project is as much for me as it is for them, and I've been enjoying compiling all these bits of their lives and turning them into a cohesive story.

5. Continue posting to this blog. Starting it was one of my resolutions last year, and I'm happy to say that, aside from the time I spent on vacation in August, I've posted entries every day. (The name I gave my blog--The Daily Dose--was a great incentive!)

6. Focus on writing poetry. Poetry could probably be called my first love. After years away from it, I started writing it again a little over a month ago, and I felt (and still feel) like I'd come home.

7. Take part in more writing challenges. There are so many all over the Internet, and many of my blogger friends post prompts each week. Last year I started taking part in a drabble challenge organized by Aheila at The Writeaholic's Blog, and I intend to continue with that one and participate in others.

8. Continue working on my father's memoirs and on my own.

9. Develop my idea about a fictionalized account of my grandmother's youth. This is an idea I've been kicking around for a few months. I'm not sure yet what it is--a novel? a short story? maybe a poem?--but it's something I'd like to explore in 2012.

As I look at my list, I realize that during the year I'll probably come up with other writing goals--I almost always do! For now though, I'm happy with the ones I've posted here, and I'm very eager for 2012 to begin!

What about you? What are your writing goals for 2012?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Books I Read: 2011

One of my goals this year was to read 104 books, an average of two each week. I'm excited to be able to say that I made that goal--and surpassed it--with a total of 108 books!

One of my writing projects was a young adult novel, so, in getting myself familiar with what's current in YA, many of the books I read were young adult. I also worked on memoir this year, and some of the titles reflect that interest as well. I'm currently reading three books:

1. Best Friends, Occasional Enemies by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
2. Mornings Like This by Annie Dillard
3. Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett (a reread)

Here's my 2011 list:


1. Killer Cruise: A Jaine Austen Mystery by Laura Levine
2. Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster
3. The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
4. Fragile by Lisa Unger
5. I'm Down: A Memoir by Mishna Wolff
6. Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop
7. I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure, edited by SMITH Magazine
8. Thin, Rich, Pretty: A Novel by Beth Harbison
9. This is Where We Live by Janelle Brown
10. How to Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway


1. The Paricular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
2. It All Changed in An Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by SMITH Magazine
3. To Wish or Not to Wish by Mindy Klasky
4. With Friends Like These by Sally Koslow
5. Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak by Writers Famous and Obscure, edited by SMITH Magazine
6. The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
7. A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff
8. Deep Down True by Juliette Fay


1. This Must be the Place by Kate Racculia
2. Die for You by Lisa Unger
3. Rescue by Anita Shreve
4. I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson
5. On Folly Beach by Karen White
6. Haunted Rochester: Supernatural History of the Lower Genesee by Mason Winfield
7. The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw


1. Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock
2. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
3. Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook
4. A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand
5. The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
6. Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros
7. I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
8. A Girl From Yamhill: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary
9. My Own Two Feet: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary


1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. It's Not Really About the Hair by Tabatha Coffey
3. Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary (reread)
4. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary (reread)
5. The Stuff That Never Happened by Maddie Dawson
6. Friendship Bread by Darien Gee
7. Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen
8. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Shaffer and Annie Barrows
9. Cleaning Nabokov's House by Leslie Daniels
10. How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron


1. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
2. These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
3. When You Were Mine by Elizabeth Noble
4. The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
5. Freefall by Mindi Scott
6. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
7. What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
8. Reshaping It All by Candace Cameron Bure


1. Peace, Love & Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
2. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
3. Displacement by Thalia Chaltas
4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
5. Hourglass by Myra McEntire
5. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
6. Paper Towns by John Green
7. Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks
8. Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
9. Monster High by Lisi Harrison
10. We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
11. Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
12. Happyface by Stephen Emond


1. Where She Went by Gayle Forman
2. Wild Ink: How to Write Fiction for Young Adults by Victoria Hanley
3. The Rites & Wrongs of Janice Wills by Joanna Pearson
4. The Writer's Desk by Jill Krementz
5. You Don't Know About Me by Brian Meehl
6. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
7. Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
8. Stay by Deb Caletti
9. Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski
10. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
11. Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock


1. Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar
2. Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner
3. Monster High: The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrison
4. If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
5. Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mylnowski
6. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (reread)
7. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
8. The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern


1. When We Were Friends by Elizabeth Joy Arnold
2. The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes
3. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
4. The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly
5. Mothers & Daughters by Rae Meadows
6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
7. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
8. The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin


1. Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
3. The Lost Songs by Caroline B. Cooney
4. Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft by Natalie Goldberg
5. I Gave My Heart to Know This by Ellen Baker
6. Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson
7. Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook
8. Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (reread)
9. Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter


1. When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson
2. Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz
3. The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff
4. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
5. The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe
6. A Love That Multiplies by Michelle & Jim Bob Duggar
7. A Year and Six Seconds: A Love Story by Isabel Gillies
8. Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy: Advice from Rock's Ultimate Survivor by Ozzy Osbourne

I also started several books this year that for various reasons I couldn't bring myself to finish. I'll include them here as well:

Books I Started But Couldn't Finish:

1. Tales from the Teacher's Lounge: What I Learned in School the Second Time Around--One Man's Irreverent Look at Being a Teacher Today by Robert Wilder (completed 142 pages)

2. Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield (completed about 49 pages)

3. How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley (completed about 160 pages)

4. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (completed only a few pages)

5. Model Home by Eric Puchner (read 230 pages)

6. Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart (read 164 pages)

7. Minding Ben by Victoria Brown (read 14 pages)

8. The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs by Christina Hopkinson (read 21 pages)

9. Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell (read about 44 pages)

All in all, it was a good reading year. Here's to an even better 2012!

Gearing up for "Resolutions: 2012"

Today's 100 words:

Now that it's nearly the last day of 2011, today's project will be evaluating the year's list of resolutions--I like to call them goals--and writing a list for 2012. I know without searching for my list, though, that 2011 was a good year for my writing. I accomplished many of the goals I set for myself, including submitting some of my work. I also wrote more in 2011 than in the past few years combined, so all in all, I'm very happy with where I stand on the creative front. I hope to do even more next year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Eve

Today's 100 words:

New Year's Eve will be the same as it's been for the past several years, I'm sure. Hubby and I will rent a movie or two, then after we put the kids to bed, we'll sit down in front of the television with our "treat": bags of chips, bowls of dip, and a bottle or two of wine to toast in 2012. I sometimes miss the New Year's Eves we spent before kids arrived--the leisurely dinners, the fancy clothes, being out with other excited, half-drunk people... But NYE now is nice, too. It's homey, comfortable. It's about family.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Today's 100 words:

Today looks to be the first day this winter that we're getting snow that sticks, not melting away immediately after falling to the lawn and driveway but remaining, blanketing, warming in the way only cold snow can warm, and I know the children will be excited when they awaken this morning, when they race to the living room window and discover that finally--finally!--the cold, white, frozen fun awaits them, and they will want to play in it, don their coats, boots, and snow pants, mittens, hats, and scarves, but it's still too early, much too early, for that.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back to myself

Today's 100 words:

Last night, for the first time since the holiday season began--and we all know it seems to begin earlier and earlier each year--I was able to sit down and really concentrate on my writing. It felt wonderful to be back at my computer working, editing some poetry I hope to submit in the next couple of days. I get frustrated when my writing times are interrupted; it's like a piece of me is taken away, leaving me empty. Being able to write again--really write--was like coming home. I was finally my true self.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Almost that time of year

Today's 100 words:
Now that Christmas is over--now that the gifts have been unwrapped and life is starting to return to its less hectic, less busy pace--my thoughts start to turn toward the new year and what it holds. In the next few days I will no doubt be writing another list of resolutions--(I prefer to call them goals)--things that I hope to accomplish in 2012. I went through the list I made for 2011 and was happy to discover that while I didn't achieve everything on it, I did meet many of my objectives. I'm hopeful for 2012.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday!

Only the echo

Today's 100 words:
It's just past 6 p.m. now, and after only three hours of sleep last night, I'm ready to drop. It was a nice day passed in a whirlwind of torn paper and crumpled bows, a constant chorus of children screaming their delight over the gifts Santa brought. But for all the preparation that went into the holiday, it's over much too soon. The late nights spent wrapping presents, days spent baking cookies, time spent writing out cards...all for moments that pass too quickly, and suddenly night has fallen, leaving only the lingering echo of my children's delighted laughter.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas Eve dilemma

Today's 100 words:

When I became a mother, I think that my brain's reasoning portion was removed, and I lost all my ability to make even small decisions. Case in point: tonight's 1.5-hour-long Christmas Eve service begins at 11 p.m., and I've been debating whether we should go. It seems like such a late night for the kids, and when I think of all I still have to do after they go to bed, I feel exhausted. Still, I want my kids to understand our Christian faith and the true meaning of Christmas. I'm sad the service isn't earlier.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I spy

Today's 100 words:

My parents' bedroom shared a wall with my bedroom, and I remember surreptitiously taking a glass from the kitchen before going to bed one Christmas Eve, then holding it up to the wall, trying to hear what my parents were saying as they wrapped gifts. When morning finally came, my sister and I sneaked peeks at the tree in the living room while we waited for Daddy to get up, then headed to our stockings, always filled with chocolate and small gifts. Christmas was the only day of the year that Mom allowed us to eat candy for breakfast.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Today's 100 words:
I used to proclaim that I had no regrets in life, but lately I've realized that I do. Today I regret getting angry with a truck driver who didn't move over as I was coming up a freeway entrance ramp, causing me to run out of lane and drive across the rumble strip. I was upset and showed him, but once I calmed down, I wished I hadn't let my temper get the best of me. The trucker didn't move because he couldn't; the cars on his left wouldn't let him. It was just one of those stupid, unfortunate events.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"That's so annoying!"

Today's 100 words:

One thing that truly boggles my mind is my husband's seeming inability to put the glasses he uses into the dishwasher. Most mornings I'll find them lined along the countertop, even though the dishwasher itself is only a few steps away. I guess we all have things that irk us about our loved ones. I know that I do things that drive my husband insane. For one, I'm a proud member of the time police. When we have to be somewhere, I nag the family to hurry up, counting down the minutes until we have to leave. Annoying, I'm sure.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It endures

Today's 100 words:

When I was growing up, I could look out my bedroom window and see two nearby trees, one a cherry and the other some sort of pine. The cherry tree was old and had all the character that old trees possess: crooked, perfect-for-sitting-in limbs; peeling bark; an aura of history. I knew as I looked at it that it had seen many things as it bore its fruit year after year. The pine was younger. I had watched it grow from small to suddenly tall, a sentinel beside the shorter cherry. That watchful pine is gone now, but the cherry endures.

Monday, December 19, 2011

An unfortunate tradition

Today's 100 words:
It occurred to me when I looked at the date this morning that the countdown to Christmas has truly begun, and I'm starting to feel a bit of panic. When my sister and I were on Facebook last night, chatting as we each wrote Christmas cards, she told me that she had finished all her shopping last Monday and asked if I was done yet. My answer? "Hahahahaha. No." It seems to be my (unfortunate) tradition that I finish most of my Christmas preparations at the last minute, so I fully expect to be buying and wrapping presents right up until the moment Santa arrives.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Today's 100 words:

I've always loved butterflies. Even as a young child, I was content to sit and watch them, inspired by their colorful wings and their seeming delicacy. I hated to find dead ones and would bury them in my sandbox, feeling in my heart that a creature so beautiful deserved not to be stepped on but mourned. As I grew older and learned more about them, butterflies started to represent something else to me--new life and the possibility of change. If a caterpillar could emerge from a cocoon as a new, changed being, then maybe I could too. Butterflies became hope.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter disguised as spring

Today's 100 words:

The weather we've been having so far this season has reminded me a lot more of spring than of almost-winter. Yesterday it rained, and the air had that wet mud smell, that fresh scent I always associate with spring, and it made me long to skip the cold winter that likely still lies ahead and go directly on to the season of freshness and newness and life, that time when buds start bursting on trees, the grass turns green, flowers bloom... I like the starting-over that spring represents, the idea that everything--that everyone--gets a second chance.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Getting older

Today's 100 words:

My husband, who is thirteen years older than I am, keeps telling me what hell it is to get old--how hard it is to watch things that previously worked well start to deteriorate, like eyesight and knee joints. I'm not quite to that point, but I have noticed in the past year or so that I can no longer go without as much sleep as I could in my college days. Back then I could survive for days on a couple of hours, but now I long for days when I can sleep for more than five hours a night.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Could I be more behind?

(Title said in the style of Chandler Bing.)

Once again I'm finding myself having to apologize for how far behind I've gotten on my blog reading and commenting.  I don't know what it is -- the season, NaNoWriMo-induced burnout, my recent long nights spent readying submissions -- that has put me in this state of lethargy, but whatever it is, I'm sorry. I'll be back to reading and commenting soon!

Just like Mommy

Today's 100 words:

There are days when I don't like how much power being a mom holds. When I see my kids mimicking me--especially the parts of me that I'm not proud of--it's like a spotlight shining down, showing me just how imperfect I am. I suppose that realization is a good one, as it highlights the areas I need to change, but it's heartbreaking as well because I don't want my kids to use my actions as an example. I have a short temper, and sometimes I have a hard time holding it back. I don't want them to be like me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wish lists

Today's 100 words:
The kids worked on their letters to Santa yesterday, dictating their wish lists to me. They're still little, so they needed encouragement about what to say, but it was fun to hear what their two- and four-year-old minds came up with!
I remember when my mom would ask my sister and me to write our letters. She would sit us down with the JCPenney Big Book, and we would thumb through it, excitedly adding toys to our lists. I remember one year when I just had to have a giant teddy bear and another when my most-desired gift was a woodburning set. Santa delivered both times.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Today's 100 words:
I remember watching the last episode of M*A*S*H with my dad, he in his favorite green armchair and I on the floor with my back pressed up against the couch. It's one of those snapshot moments I can remember from my childhood, small vignettes of things I did or said, the ones that for whatever reason have stuck with me all these years. I remember asking my mom once what M*A*S*H stood for, and when she told me--Mobile Army Surgical Hospital--I said it over and over again for weeks, like a chant or an incantation.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The busy season

Today's 100 words:
Christmas is only two weeks away, and I haven't done much to get ready. The kids and I picked up a few presents for daddy, but that's been the extent of my preparation. Today after church we'll buy our tree, and then hopefully this week I'll find the time to buy more gifts and decorate. There's just so much to do, and I get stressed thinking about it. Every year I vow that the next year I'll be more organized and shop early and not have to stay up all night on Christmas Eve, yet every year is the same.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Feeling creative!

I hope I don't jinx myself by putting this in black and white, but the last three or four days have been some of my most productive writing days ever. After last month's NaNo marathon, I decided to focus my writing efforts on poetry rather than prose, and that decision really seems to have had a positive effect on my creativity. Aside from an occasional poem or two, it's been years since I've put all of my attention on poetry. Most importantly, I'm having fun--the muse is giving me her undivided attention, and all is well in my writing world.

How has your writing been going lately? What projects are you working on?

Friday, December 9, 2011


Today's 100 words:

It's snowing today, the first real snow we've had so far this season. I remember how excited I used to get as a kid when I saw those white flakes falling from the sky and covering the ground. I would immediately think of snowmen and snowball fights and snow forts, and my sister and I would beg our mom to let us go out and play, then spend the proverbial forty-five minutes donning snow pants and coats and hats and boots and mittens before venturing into the snow, only to come in fifteen minutes later with cries of "I'm too cold."

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Writing highs, writing lows

Today's 100 words:

It's sad that writing highs don't seem to last very long, at least for me. That poem I wrote two nights ago? I loved it for about a day, but now I see its many faults. I don't think it's bad to be critical about one's own work--on the contrary, I think it's a good thing--but still it is discouraging when Lady Doubt (as I call her) steps up and whispers in my ear, eager to give her unwanted opinion: You can't write. This is terrible. Why would anyone want to read this? But despite it all, I keep writing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Obeying the Muse

Today's 100 words:

I should have gone to bed earlier last night--and I tried to--but just as I was getting ready to say my Twitter and writing chat room good-byes, just as I was beginning to shut down my computer, I was hit by a sudden wave of inspiration for a poem I'd been working on, and so I stayed up later, much later than I had intended, because as all writers know, when the muse calls, she must be answered and tended to and babied and cajoled, for it's never certain when she'll grace us again, and we must seize every opportunity.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Today's 100 words:

I saw two ravens this morning, both perched at the very top of adjacent trees, both swaying gently in a wind that was clearly evident so high in the air but less so down near the ground. I've often wondered why birds always seem to sit on the highest branches, but I suppose it's because the higher they are, the better they can see where their next meal is coming from, what unsuspecting animal will serve as their dinner or, for those who aren't carnivorous, what attractive plant or food morsel or pile of garbage will become their next feast.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Today's 100 words:

It's raining today, one of those I-wish-I-could-stay-in-bed-and-just-forget-about-the-world kinds of days, gray, no hint of sunshine, the only sound the pitter-patter of raindrops on the window, on the roof. It's an I-want-to-just-sit-and-read-all-day kind of day, curled up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea or hot chocolate, letting the world go by while I live someone else's story, experience someone else's life. It's a never-get-dressed kind of day, a stay-in-my-pajamas kind of day, a day to let the world go on without me while I disappear inside myself and hide away, safe behind my own four walls.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Today's 100 words:
I've written before about my admiration for creative people like writers, artists, and musicians, those who aren't afraid to push boundaries with their work. I found such an artist online last night, a painter whose work is so inspiring to me--or maybe it's her endless creativity and passion I find most inspiring, the way she "does her thing" her way and for her reasons. With my own craft, my writing, I unwillingly hold myself back. I don't know where to find the freedom that others seem to come to so easily.
I want to be free.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Just like kids

Today's 100 words:
When I owned those amaryllis plants--more than twenty--I thought of them as my kids and worried about them in the way one worries about her children: Are they getting enough sun? Enough water? Enough vitamins? Are they too cold? Too hot? I suppose I behaved that way because I didn't have any human children then. Still, the plants were my babies. I had invested a lot into them, and I wanted them to thrive. These new bulbs I bought recently are not my priority now that I'm caring for my own kids, but I still want them to do well.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mommy Guilt

Today's 100 words:

As parents, we all want our kids to be happy, but sometimes we can't do everything they'd like. For example, today I didn't take my children to storytime. I know they're disappointed, but I needed to do other things. Enter Mommy Guilt.

My mom didn't drive, and my dad worked long hours, so I didn't get to do some of the activities my peers did. I also missed many of my friends' birthday parties. I'm sure Mom must have felt the guilt I do now, but I don't feel deprived, and my children won't either. I need to remember that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Today's 100 words:

December 1. It doesn't seem possible that it's already the beginning of the last month of 2011. As a rule, I dread December. I love what the spirit of Christmas represents, but I hate all the extra things that need to get done this month: the family pictures that have to be taken, the clothes that need to be bought before those pictures can be shot, the Christmas shopping that needs to be done, the Christmas cards that have to be written and mailed, the last-minute gifts that need to be purchased and wrapped... It's a lot of stress.