Sunday, January 26, 2014

Are You Ready For This?

So remember a few posts ago when we told you that we were almost done with our book and ready to find an agent? Well, we are back from the first step in that process: a whirlwind weekend at the San Diego State University Writers' Conference. It was AMAZING! An awesome collection of talent, inspiration, professionals, tips and tools. We learned more than we could have imagined and have retained most of it (there was A LOT). For the stuff that overflowed out of our filled-to-the-brim brains, we have our notes...pages of them!

We arrived on Friday with great excitement and hungry for the experience of our first conference. We didn't know what to expect and our "best case" scenario was that we would get good feedback from the agents that were reviewing our work. Let's just say that it FAR EXCEEDED our expectations! Most of the time I think we both felt as if we were floating around (on cloud 9...oops I used a cliché!) We were affirmed and encouraged to the point that we kept waiting for someone to say, "Oh, we were just kidding!" But that NEVER HAPPENED! What did happen was a weekend full of what we LOVE to do and great people that turned our burning passion into a roaring bonfire! We CANNOT WAIT to get started on making our finished first draft the best that it can be. So you locals out there, when you see us at CP with our noses in our computers, if we don't look up and say "Hi," it isn't you, we are just hard at work and on a deadline and only have so much time away from the kids!

If you have an interest in what a writers' conference looks like, here's a snapshot of our weekend:

ONE "Conference Choice Award" (see above)

TWO networking mixers (we met so many great writers, agents and editors!)

THREE "Ask the Agent" panels (i.e., the pages of notes...)

FOUR advanced reading appointments with literary agents (pure gold people!)

FIVE workshops on writerly topics (again with the notes...fingers cramping and all)

SIX "New Adult" genre writer friends that we met (forming a new writing group as we write this!)

SEVEN hours of sleep (each night) in a fabulous house with gorgeous views, water and chocolate placed lovingly by our beds, and TIME to discuss our day without interruption

EIGHT outfits each, just to cover all our bases

NINE dollars for each "Happy Hour" cocktail...we sipped them slowly as we networked

TEN is the rating we give this FABULOUS conference!

We will see you again SDSUWC and we can't wait!

{J&H}

Monday, January 20, 2014

Never Fear a Good Challenge

VS.

This cookie photo courtesy of Cinnamon Productions, Ladera Ranch...world's best bakery and writing spot.

(Article published in OC Register on Friday, January 17)

Happy New Year! Well, I guess so. I’m on a diet and it’s hard. Like many, I spent the period from early-October (when Halloween candy hit the shelves at a low cost) through January 1 (when greasy food hit the spot from the eve’s festivities), eating whatever and whenever I wanted. Most of that three month period of indulgence has landed around my waist and it’s time to reel it in.

This year, one of my dear friends inspired me to join her with a two-week healthy eating challenge. There’s a book, a Facebook page and a support group to make sure we are successful. I’m sure at the end of it, I'll be one of the success stories but right now, this is how I feel: HUNGRY.

Though I've cut my intake of calories, I’m really trying not to starve myself. Something that's become very clear to me is that my need for food is psychological and it’s causing a very physical reaction in my body: cravings, hunger pains, heightened sense of smell (I swear I can smell the cookies from Cinnamon Productions a mile away), and crankiness. My poor family. I’m safest to be around pretty much only when I’m sleeping. My kids have been fairly warned and are being as sweet as pie...so sweet I might take a bite.

In all seriousness, I’m told these symptoms are completely normal and will subside by week two or three, if I make it that far. When I complained about the diet to my mom recently, she asked why I felt compelled to suffer through it. That gave me pause to think. Why am I depriving myself? Why am I allowing the desire for what I can’t have affect my moods? Why do I need to adhere to the diet’s rigidity? (Love her...my protective mama!)

But then I asked myself, well, why not? I’m the one who got myself into this position: addicted to sugar and craving carbs, not to mention the extra pounds of padding I've added around the middle. I'm the one who's moody because I can't have what I want when I want it. I'm the one whose self-indulgence landed me here. So I really am the only one who can change my position and perspective, and that takes work.

I may not enjoy every step of the way and I may growl on occasion, but I will appreciate a healthier me when I get to the end of this challenge, and I'll be proud that I did something good for my body. Isn't that what every challenge is about: hard work, good results and a rewarding sense of accomplishment?

As you evaluate your plans for the rest of the year, don't shy away from the tougher jobs that take more of your effort to fulfill, for they are well worth the work. They humble us and help us grow. Whatever your challenge may be, stay the course, and don't forget to celebrate at the end of the race, preferably with something sweet. As for me, it'll be a CP chocolate chip muffin and a Diet Coke. I can't wait!

{J}

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Embrace the Yield

Happy 2014 friends! I'm not sure about you but I feel like I'm still a week behind. I blame Thanksgiving. With just over three weeks between it and Christmas, I felt behind before I'd even left the gate. So anyway, I'm late with this post.

Like Holly, I had a tough time narrowing down my "one word" for 2014. My focused, intentional, motivating word, the word that would set the theme for the entire year. (That's a lot of pressure for one little word, don't you think?)

Maybe it was the recent lice infestation, or maybe it was turning 40, or maybe it was that I failed at my goal of fully organizing my house and garage over break, but by applying my 2013 perspective to the year ahead, I found this perfect word: YIELD.

There are many definitions for the word YIELD and I have identified those that appeal to my various states of being. You know how I like to have all my bases covered.

1) YIELD: To give oneself over without resistance or contention. In 2014, I will apply this version of yielding when I feel the urge to dig my heels in; when my way is (IMHO) the only way; when I really want to WIN. For example, when I'm arguing with my children and I can't hear my grown-up voice of reason over my stubbornness, I will take a deep breath and YIELD. Or when my lack of control makes my anxiety spike, like at the movie theaters (lice) and church (more lice) and when my kids want hugs (number one transmission of LICE), I will take a step back and YIELD. Life is worth living, regardless of my inability to shield my family from the harshness of it. YIELD is what I will do when I know in my heart that the battle isn't really worth the scars that will result from the fight.

2) YIELD: To bring forth as a result of cultivation. No, I'm not speaking of farming, nor am I a skilled gardener, but I can weave a slew of words into a blog post or a newspaper article or a novel, and in 2014, I will strive to make my words count. In my writing life, I will focus on clean edits, meaningful sentences and compelling messages. And at writing conferences (our first is in two weeks), I will work on cultivating connections with other writers and industry professionals. Hopefully 2014 will be the YEAR of the AGENT! We are actively seeking a literary agent to partner with us and bring our books to publication. Additionally, I will make my words count with my family and friends. Teaching lessons, giving praise, being kind, offering support and actively loving the people I am so blessed to know. In word and in deed, I will YIELD, foster and maintain meaningful relationships.

3) YIELD: To give place or precedence/acknowledge the superiority of someone else. This one is two-fold. Personally, I want to give precedence to my husband and children. I want to offer up my time and attention, not just when it's convenient for me, but when they neeeeeeed me. Like showing me a Minecraft world, or playing ping pong, or talking about friends, or taking a drive. Simply reconnecting. In 2014, I will "give them place" above things that may otherwise demand my attention. When possible, I will YIELD to my family members and acknowledge their needs before mine. That doesn't mean I don't matter in this equation, it means I recognize that my husband and kids do. In fact, in cultivating a system of serving each other we all learn that in giving we receive. And here's part two of this one: In my faith, I will actively acknowledge the superiority of my God, the one whose grace is undeniable, whose blessings are immeasurable and whose love is unyielding.

YIELD. Such a small word with such great potential. Have you found a word that will fit your goals and needs for 2014? We'd love to hear about it. Here's to health, happiness, growth, perspective, friends, family and YOU! Happy New Year!

{J}

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

One Word

Hello friends! Happy 2014! Jenn and I really can't believe it's been a year since we started this blogging adventure and we're so happy you are with us! We are quickly coming to the end of our book and starting the new journey of searching for an agent! We are excited to share those stories with you as well! (More to come on that later...)

Since this is our first post of the new year, I thought it would be fitting to talk about resolutions. I have been introduced to a new way of looking at resolutions for this year and it's SO great! If you've read any of our other posts, you know that I have a tendency to get overwhelmed with lots of goals or priorities. Thinking about sitting down and writing out goals for the year makes me break out in hives. It seems that things change so quickly (stability has not found a home with us yet!) that I can easily be distracted and goals I set fall away. In reading several blogs written by friends of mine, I heard about Oneword365.com. It's a twist on setting New Year's resolutions that changes the focus from specific goals to encompassing one definition of the year in everything you do. I LOVE IT! The WORD you choose should exemplify your year. Of course there are MILLIONS of words to choose from so that was very overwhelming until I sat down and started writing out words I didn't want to use.

Words on my NO list: selfish, greed, caddy, gossip, lazy, unfulfilled, desire, pretty, shallow, procrastinate, doubt, hate, past, and ugly.

Most of those are self explanatory. I added Desire because for me, at this point in my life, it feels like a selfish word. It may not have any negative connotations for anyone else. Also, Pretty because I have given that word too much power in my life. And Past because I tend to hold onto things for too long when I should let them go. (Anyone?)

Words on my list to narrow down: Positive, beauty, persevere, simple, loved, strong, aware, balance, focus, intention, hope, renew, authentic, trust, believe, follow, grace, and promise.

Each of these words represents something that I want to be intentional at this year. I want to focus on simplifying so that I can put more time into the things that really matter. Family, friends, and Jesus. I want the word I choose to show my children what my priority is. I want my family and friends to know that when I am with them, I am present in the moment. I want my relationship with Jesus to grow deeper. I want to serve more. I want to find a good ebb and flow when it comes to time for pursuing my dream of writing and time for work commitments. I want to find space to expand on my words and writing style. I want to eat and live in a healthy way. I want to be proactive with my week so I feel less stressed. All of these things can be encompassed in one word.

INTENTIONAL

The word intention is defined as "the quality or state of having a purpose in mind". Doing things with intentionality means having a purpose to do so. Setting goals with that in mind helps to simplify. If I am asking myself with each task "what is my purpose?", it will help me to weed out the things that I say yes too and prioritize. Does it help my family? Does it enhance my relationships? Does it glorify my God? Does it keep me on track to achieving my goals in writing? If my answer is no, then I can say no, knowing that it is helping me stay focused on what is important.

The great thing about this is that it's just one word that I can focus on each day. Waking up each morning and thinking about being intentional, starts me off with the right frame of mind. I need to be intentional about the time I spend with Jesus. Making time for Him each morning. I need to be intentional about my time with my children in the morning so it doesn't turn into a crazy scream-fest and then end with a "have a great day!", yelled to them as they run off to their lines. I need to be intentional about the time I spend with my husband so our conversations are more than "who's going where" and "did anyone walk the dog?" I need to be intentional with my friends so they know that I don't take them for granted. I want people to know that when I say I will do something, I will follow through (something that unfortunately can't be said of me at this moment).

I hope that at the end of 2014, I will look back and be able to see the difference in how I make plans, how I live my life, and how I serve others. My hope is that this post will be inspiring to you! Take a moment, or a few, to think of what your One Word will be. How will you define this coming year? What will your focus be? {H}