Saturday, October 9, 2010

Procrastination or Success

Procrastination is usually the product of fear. If you don't try, you won't get rejected. We try to avoid pain or rejection. Life involves both risk and opportunity!

As with muscles, however, if we don't work them, they won't get stronger. If you have a project you need to start or finish... get to it! In my writing, if I don't submit what I've written, I won't know if it will get published. When I receive a rejection letter, sure it doesn't feel good, but at least I know I've tried. I nurse my wounds for a while, eat some dark chocolate, and then rework the project until it once again shines. After studying another publisher, I can submit it to the new "house".

Although I've only sold one article, I've completed a lot of steps toward publication. I've taken a year-long writer's course, attended conferences, been a part of writer's critique groups and writer's groups, worked draft after draft of the same manuscript, and then researched and submitted the manuscripts. These steps have made me a better writer.

Is there a project you been meaning to get done or even started? Is there a junk drawer, counter, table, room that you've been planning on cleaning up? Commit today to getting even one tiny section of it done. When I break a large project into smaller ones, it seems more attainable to complete.

Ask yourself what the worst thing is that could happen if you either got rejected or didn't complete the project.

I commend my husband for his "stick-to-it-iveness". He is a farmer. He has to research what seeds to plant, work the fields, plant, fertilize, check for weeds, repair/upkeep equipment, harvest, and then either store the grain or sell it. None of it happens overnight or without vigilance. He has to plan - and it's that way with the hay fields and the cattle.

Make a list for the project you need to work on. Get step one done today. Tomorrow, you can work on step two. Don't let the fear of rejection or failure hinder you from trying. There probably won't be a "perfect" time to start - you have to jump in today!

Yesterday, I was reminded of several verses in Ecclesiastes 11: 4-5 that Solomon wrote toward the end of his life: "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wildlife, Writing, and Time

Here's a critter my 18 y.o. found in one of our window wells. We put a wooden fence post in and it climbed out during the night.

We've been busy since I last blogged. Among other things, the kids started school, we went on a float trip to southwest Missouri, we finished making hay, my 5 y.o. contracted whooping cough (yes, she had had her immunizations!) and my husband has been working on a workshop.

I've been diligently working on several manuscripts. I submitted the photobiography I wrote to a major publisher. I made major revisions to the rhyming picture book I started about 10 years ago. I am finishing (today) the revisions on an ABC book (and took hundreds of photos) and two days ago, I started a new concept book and took over 100 photos for it (many duplicates). I received critiques on those manuscripts (and just requested another) and have implemented many of the suggested changes.

Where do I find the time? Well, today, I got a lot done while in town waiting for my husband to do several errands. I also try to write first thing in the morning before my 5 y.o. is up and then I write some more after I've finished her home schooling. If something is important to you, you will find the time you need. Pretty soon, I will be helping with harvest - either driving a tractor or delivering implements and meals. There will be a lot of waiting time. That's when I will have my handy-dandy notebook to write or make revisions.

Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward."

Monday, August 9, 2010

2nd Annual Oakdale Farms Writer's Retreat

We had a fun/productive weekend with ten authors/friends from Iowa. They were able to write by the pond or in the house, traipse around a pasture looking for a cow about to have a calf, and eat/talk/laugh in abundance.

Dori Butler described the weekend well in her blog:

I finished the (very) rough draft for my current work-in-progress (WIP). I need to research publishers now so I can work on the slant. All I'll say for now is that it is another nonfiction manuscript.

I haven't heard from the agent I queried about the biography I wrote. I'm not sure if the problem I had with a hacker blocked any reply from her or if she is just not interested in representing me. Since my phone number was on the query, I'm presuming the latter. Perhaps if I sell the manuscript on my own, she will be interested in representing me for future projects.

Psalm 145:8 "The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tiger Salamander

Our area of Missouri has received more than nine inches of rain over the norm so far this year. (It feels like we've received nine FEET over the norm.) We haven't been able to cut/rake/bale any hay yet this year; and the garden is the consistency of quicksand.

The ponds are full of tadpoles and frogs, as well as mosquito larvae and many other plants, animals, and insects. My son, Mitchell, was able to capture a Tiger Salamander I had found hiding in one of our window wells.

It was about eight inches long and had yellow spots on a brownish/black background. After I took the pictures, I researched them online at the National Geographic website and the Missouri Department of Conservation XPlor website.
On another website, which I can not locate right now, I found out that it's not good to handle the salamanders because it hurts their protective slime layer. Hopefully we haven't damaged this one - the kids didn't handle it very long.
We released it in a shadowy, wet area next to the pond. Since they can live up to 16 years in the wild, perhaps it has many more years to go.
Genesis 1: 20, 24, & 25b "And God said, 'Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.' And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.' And God saw that it was good."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Flag Day

I've had trouble updating my blog. It is most likely "operator error," but, just the same, I haven't been able to get it working. This was supposed to post last week.

June 14th is Flag Day in the United States. It commemorates the adoption of the American Flag. Over the years, there have been many "human flags" formed.

This picture is of school girls carrying umbrellas for a "Human Flag" Altoona, PA - Sept 25, 1912. The parade celebrated the semi-centennial (50 years) of the Conference of Loyal War Governors. This conference occurred on Sept 24-25, 1862 during the Civil War. It included governors from fourteen states. After the conference, the governors sent an address (letter) to President Lincoln saying they pledged their support and extra troops. This enabled the North to win the war. From: Altoona Mirror Souvenir Booklet

I don't have the picture, but, "at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, located in Baltimore, Maryland, a “Human Flag” first lived and breathed on Defender’s Day, September 12, 1914. That date was the one-hundredth anniversary commemorating the War of 1812’s successful defense of Baltimore from the British. The date also honored the anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s penning the words to what is now our National Anthem.”

Another "Human American Flag" was formed c.1916 by 2500 school children in the Pageant of Escanaba, (Michigan) measuring 46’ x 75’. The entire school district put on a pageant of the town’s history. There were skits or speeches about all the inhabitants from the Indians in 1634 to the melding of immigrants from sixteen countries by 1916.

This Living Flag photo was taken of 10,000 men at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station Nov 1917 by Arthur S. Mole. He stood near the top of the Administration Bldg. The photo was taken for the Dec. issue of the Great Lakes Recruit magazine.

On June 14, 2010, Flag Day, 7,500 Sailors from Training Support Center, Naval Hospital Corps School, Recruit Training Command, Naval Station Great Lakes and other commands onboard the installation, formed up to create a living flag. (Photo credit: Naval Station Great Lakes Facebook page)

The U.S. might do well to heed the words God spoke to King Solomon. 2 Chronicles 7:14, "...if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

Friday, May 28, 2010

A day in the life of a farmer's wife

Today was a typical "farmer's wife" day.

Get up
make breakfast for 4 y.o.
do dishes
put in a load of laundry
Sit down to edit current WIP
Call from husband - soybean wagon needed so they can fill up the bean drill & planter
On way to field, auger bolt shears off and the whole auger falls to the ground (while I'm driving)
Husband and two co-farmers come to where I'm parked in the middle of a gravel road, disconnect auger, take it home to weld it, (luckily I had my netbook computer and was able to edit the WIP for a little while!), reattach everything and we get to the field
While filling the planter, I notice the top of the auger is about to come off. End up reattaching it twice.
Go home (2 miles), fix lunch for kids, self, and husband
Bring husband his lunch and drive home
Lay down with 4 y.o. and read her a book
Knock on the door-- grrr --- (husband is the financial secretary for a local cemetary) Guy who mows the grass at cemetery would like to be paid
Drive back to field to get husband
Lay down with daughter --- fall asleep!
Just as I'm waking up, husband calls - needs me to come get him again because they need to move to another field
Get home and sat down to look at some photos a relative of the person I'm writing the biography about had sent me - VERY COOL!!!
Realize I need to make supper for guys in the field
Make supper - two calves are in the yard - help the kids lead them (haha) back to the pasture
Take supper and 4 y.o. out to the field for a "picnic"
Get home, put laundry in dryer, put dishes away
Sit down to work on WIP..... but it's only 7:30pm ... a lot could happen before bedtime!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rest in Peace

Almost every Sunday for the last three years, I, and my family, have visited my mom at the nursing home. If we happened to be in town during the week, we would drop in on her then, too. One month ago, she entered the hospice program because of advanced dementia. Friday morning I got a call that she was unresponsive and that I should come in.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that she knew who I was when I got there and I gave her funny kisses on her cheek from my son which made her smile. I told her that I loved her and she whispered back that she loved me too. There was an hour or so that I was able to talk to her before she needed pain medicine to stop the coughing from another case of pneumonia. At one point, when I was trying to help her get on her side, she was concerned for me (because a month ago I had hurt my back doing farm work - but she didn't know it was better now) and her concern was touching in the midst of her own pain.

I will cherish that last day with her perhaps more than any other. Saturday morning at 8:55am, she went home to be with the Lord. I know that many people don't get the chance to say a last "I love you."

Hazel Ruth (Mason) Montgomery 1921-2010, may you rest in peace. I love you Mom.

Revelation 21:4 "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Last week, I went to the Chicago area to finish some research for a biography I'm working on. I was able to get information at the Lake County History Museum (Curt Teich Archives), Great Lakes Naval Museum, Shiloh House Museum in Zion, IL (pictured); and the Chicago Historical Museum archives.

Museum curators are great sources of information. One of the best pieces of information I found at the Chicago Historical Museum. I was so excited, I did a "happy dance". Guess that shows I am passionate about my subject? I also saw a 1918 newsreel that had to do with the subject of my WIP. Very cool!

The return trip was a little stressful when I found out my mother was in the ER with a possible stroke (she had a bad infection that was mimicking the symptoms of a stroke). She is better now and also trying to get over pneumonia - again.

Now, if I would just recieve some research books I ordered 6 weeks ago - it would be great! I need to finish organizing the info I found in Chicago and get the manuscript written!

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Diamond Glint on Snow

Back in the 1980's I read a poem in a "Dear Abby" column. I have a copy of the poem next to my biological mother's photo (she died when I was 3 1/2). The poem is by Mary Elizabeth Frye. I've been thinking of the poem since my aunt just passed away - and today I see some "diamond glints on snow". Ms. Frye changed the poem a little, but I like this version:

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

It's hard to see, but click on the photo and look toward the bottom portion for the "diamond glints on snow".

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Best of the Best

I made a trip to Kansas City Sunday to pick up my 18 y.o. The ground was warm enough to make the snow very slippery. A 6-7 hour round trip drive took over 8 hours. Several cars that passed me were in ditches further up the road.

Meanwhile, the farm is under a blanket of 4-5" of snow. I can see animal tracks across one of our ponds and along the tree line. With a bright blue sky and the white snow - the scene is very striking.

A writer-friend of mine is on the Chicago Library Best of the Best list for two of her children's books. Her name is Jill Esbaum and her books are published by National Geographic Books for Kids. They are Picture the Seasons: Apples for Everyone and Picture the Seasons: Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie. Way to go, Jill! Here's the link to the list:

Jill has some great rhyming picture books too. My daughter's current favorite is: Stanza.
I'm hoping to pitch the photobiography I'm writing to National Geographic Books. I'll be in good company - they have some very nice nonfiction books - and of course, great photos to go along with them. I need to go to Chicago soon to finish my research. I'm looking forward to seeing where the subject of my book lived and worked.

Isaiah 40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom

The kids and I sang "Happy Birthday" to my mom yesterday. She was having a pretty good day.

At the end of the video, my son is motioning to me that Grandma needs a shave. I don't know how to edit a movie to take it out!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Day

Today is my mom's birthday. My 4 y.o. and I made her a "heart" cheesecake. (We added some food coloring to some of the batter.) Since one of her son's birthday is Valentine's day (and the other's birthday is Feb 8) we decorated with hearts.
On New Year's Day, two bald eagles visited our farm. Last week, when one of my sisters was visiting, we drove to Keokuk, IA. We saw several HUNDRED eagles. They just flew past in wave after wave. Quite awesome!
About a week ago we had 15 turkeys travel past. A day before I took these photos, there were four tom turkeys. Two had quite long "beards".
These three were scrounging around the pond bank for seeds or something.
Deuteronomy 5:16 "Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you."

Thursday, January 28, 2010


For a blog that I was going to update at least once a week, I'm not doing a very good job. Perhaps I will do better this year!

I've been conducting more research for the photobiography I'm working on. I hope to make a trip to Chicago in February to complete the final research. Of course, that will depend on the weather - of which we've had a lot of rain, sleet, snow (only about an inch on the ground) - but mostly VERY cold temperatures. The wind chill today is -13 degrees Fahrenheit. My 18 y.o. has had nine days off from school because of the weather and flu. They will be going to school until almost June.

I've read some good books for writer's lately. One is: The Giblin Guide to Writing Children's Books by James Cross Giblin. I gleaned a lot of good information from it. The other is: Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon. It was a step-by-step guide to writing a proposal.

I'm traveling to Massachusetts next week for a memorial service. My aunt lost her battle with cancer. A fine lady who will be missed.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2, 4 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, ... a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance..."