Monday, November 30, 2009

I Made It!

Friends... It's been a long and lonely process, but this afternoon, (Sunday) I actually crossed the finish line, and finished my novel. 50,211 words to be exact, in 30 days.

MY NOVEL.. it sounds so odd to say that, but I guess that's what it is, whether I ever do anything with it or not.

It actually is a novel... it has a beginning, middle, and end. There were many times I wanted to quit, to shoot myself....

{This photo was taken at about 30,000 words.}

I got stuck many times in the "middle muddle" but I had someone at my side, always ready to pull me out of the muck.

That someone, was Scott... who for the past 29 days, has cheered me on, watched every Marie Antoinette movie and documentary I could get my hands on, and had to push huge, thick, library books off the bed in order to go to sleep.
He put up with me on my laptop at 3am (in bed) when inspiration struck. He put up with me saying no less than 6 times... "I have nowhere to go with this plot... I'm stuck... help me." Which, he did! He was always ready with an idea... seriously! He's a real history buff, and even though my novel is fiction, I wanted to keep it historically accurate. I couldn't have done it without him.

Then today, when I woke him up, from "watching" the football game, he sat by me while I uploaded my novel to the word counter on the website, and watched my "WINNER" notification come in. The certificate was there, ready to be printed with my name on it... but I needed a novel title! As fast as lightening he simply said...

"Marie Antoinette: Past, Present, and Future"

{The certificate..."winner" just means I finished by the deadline}

I couldn't believe it... it's a great title, and might give you a hint to my plot.

This is the point at which I should be telling you to never give up, follow your dreams, etc... except that writing a book has not been a dream of mine for any length of time. I just took this challenge sight unseen, and managed to finish.
I'm really glad I did.

So, December is here, and it's off to the races of pulling together a great holiday for my friends and family... and hopefully...
a few blogposts!


Monday, November 23, 2009


Taking a blogging break, to celebrate Thanksgiving....

and hopefully cross the finish line with 50,000 words by Nov. 30.

Check back in on December 1.

In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday full of family, food, and fun...

and giving thanks to our Lord Jesus for all that He has done.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Just For Fun

SO... a friend asked me the other day if the new photo at the top of my blog was in celebration of Halloween... no... another friend asked if it was in celebration of the movie, New Moon... no... it's just a pic I took of the Eiffel Tower. I simply changed the coloring to sepia, and blurred the edges. I guess to some people, it looks like a huge moon. When I took the picture, I was trying to capture the detail of the structure. It's so delicate, like lace, yet so much bigger in person than you can even believe. I heard the other night that if they melted the entire tower down to its base, it would only be six centimeters thick! Now that's amazing!

Speaking of New Moon... I thought I would share some pics of a party we had last year, the night Twilight was released on DVD. OK... I know some of you are yawning right now, and sick of the hype, but I share for a reason... please bear with me.

My two daughters are 10 years apart. My oldest is married and expecting her second child, and my youngest is 15. I love it so much when they hang out... it's sweet. Of course then there's me... the old lady. When all three of us like something equally, I like to take full advantage, and jump in with them. So I threw this party for them and some of their friends... just for fun! We ate, laughed, and all watched the movie together on the BIG screen. It is a fun memory!

My youngest, and her friends.

This guy looks hungry...

so we gave him some Red Velvet cupcakes.


My oldest... she has a great smile.

Scott was the only male invited (it was at his house after all) and he won the trivia contest... all the girls were furious!

The whole gang.

BTW... Older sister took younger sister to the midnight showing of New Moon last night... I stayed home in bed! I'm a fan, but I'm not crazy!

Well, tonight's date night... guess where Scott and I are going????


P.S. Still writing...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Taking a Break

I've been writing all morning, so I'm taking a break... no, not by drinking as the above picture might indicate, but by blogging. Blogging isn't exactly a break from writing... but I feel I have to fill my blog friends in on my challenge (see previous post, Nov.9).

Just this morning, I crossed the halfway point! I can't believe it... over 25,000 words. It's been a lot harder than I thought, but also a lot more fun. Each night when Scott comes in from work, he says, "So, what's Marie been up to today?" I fill him him, and usually beg him for ideas on how to get her from where she is, to where I need her to be. I know this is hard to understand, but I don't want to give away my plot... not yet!

When I need inspiration, I do one of three things... I put on music, look at photos from our trips to France, or... the worse thing... I EAT. The last being my least effective help for writer's block, but the one I lean on most often :)

I am finding writing to be a little depressing. I know first hand why artists are known to be moody. It's a very lonely occupation, so to speak. I sit here, all alone, in my own private world.

If I'm not writing, I'm thinking about my story constantly. Sometimes when people are talking to me, I realize a few seconds into the conversation, that I haven't heard a word they've said, because I'm thinking of Marie Antoinette. I can't seem to help it.

On a lighter, and more hysterical note... this weekend I went to a Writer's Conference. My mom had asked me to go, way before I even knew about this challenge. Suddenly, it seemed like perfect timing, that we would be going to this conference, in the middle of my first attempt at writing anything other than a 3 page story. The first night, they gave those that wanted, an opportunity to read for five minutes anything they had written, and be critiqued. My mom and her friend, (my forever cheerleaders) begged me to read a little bit of my first chapter. I did....................

Let me just say, the silence was deafening... the critique brutal... this was a Christian writers group, so they were a bit surprised when my character came into the room. It's not that I'm writing a non-Christian book, but it isn't of the Christian Inspirational genre either. They weren't critical of my subject, it was my actual writing that lacked pizazz. As I was reading it, I knew it. I have a looooooooong way to go, so much to learn. Now it seems funny, but at the time, I was SO embarrassed.

Call me crazy, but this just spurred me on to MORE writing.

I will say, even though they did not receive my first chapter with enthusiasm that night, the next day, women kept coming up to me to ask me more about the book. I guess there was a spark of interest after all.

So, I'm off to more writing. Thought I'd share a few pictures of the places Marie has been in my book so far...


Marie and Louis' Bedchamber

An Outer Courtyard

The Gardens at Versailles

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quick, Hurry, Fast...

I have no time and I've had no sleep. When I finally finished writing last night, (late) I was about to turn off my light, and okay... I had to catch up in blogland!

OMGOODNESS... I cried when I read Ruth's post. It expressed perfectly how I feel about blogging. All I can say is ditto, because I couldn't have expressed it better myself.

I have so much to do...
Write, write, write... attend a seminar tonight and all day tomorrow. Get ready to throw a fifteenth birthday party for my daughter, as soon as church is out on Sunday. Sixteen teenagers... at my house... HEEEEEEEEEEEELP.

I made my dear husband a teeny, tiny, list of things to do, while I'm gone tomorrow. He's thrilled :) of course.

So, why am I blogging right now when I should be writing, cleaning, wrapping presents, baking, shopping for party ware... even taking a shower???? Because last night, when Scott brought in the mail, the MOST AMAZING gift was waiting for me... from... you guessed it...


A person who I've never met, but that I've connected with through blog and email. Many of you know her, but if you don't, her name is Adrienne, and her blog is awesome. Here's a picture of my gift...

{told you I needed a shower...}

Wasn't that the sweetest, most thoughtful thing? Adrienne knew I took the 30 day challenge to write a novel (see word count on sidebar). She knew my main character was Marie Antoinette, and she sent me this for inspiration. I love it, and it now sits proudly by my computer.

How sweet is that????

And as if that's not enough... another blog announcement! A friend of mine from 25 years ago, started a blog this week. She is HILARIOUS, and her post yesterday was the SWEETEST. Check it out. It will remind you somewhat of Ruth's post. All us gals think alike! Here's the Link... confidentiallykel. Her blog is already adorable! I love it.

Friendship is awesome whether in person or by computer. I never knew this was going to happen when I started blogging, but I'm so glad it did.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Congratulations Are In Order...

Yesterday was the Marine Corps Birthday, and today is Veteran's Day, so it's a perfect time to write about someone special in my life... my little brother, Col. Jeff Haynes.
He has served our country for 25 years with honor, dignity, and the upmost integrity. We as a family are very proud of him, and thankful for his service.

It is with mixed emotions that he has chosen to retire this month. He, his awesome and talented wife Lori, along with their three kids, are saying goodbye to military life. They have had some wonderful times, along with many tough times. It has not been easy moving every few years, getting the kids situated, and setting up house. Lori is a master at making a house a home, literally, in a day or two.

There is so much I could say about Jeff and his awesome service, but I've decided just to post some random pictures of him over the years, with a little Frenchness tucked in, as always!

These are all fun type photos. I don't mean in anyway to diminish the seriousness of the job at hand... protecting our country!!!!!!

With my oldest daughter, right after Jeff graduated Officer Candidate School.

My husband, with our daughter, and the gifts Jeff got her for Christmas!!!!!!

Commissioning ceremony in Austin, TX, with our parents, 1985.

His beautiful, awesome, and talented wife Lori.

In Iraq.

Passing out treats to the Iraqi children.

This was a very dangerous place to be.

This is funny, and not planned. Every single soldier in this photo has a cell phone in his hand, or is reaching for one!!!!

Jeff served alongside French troops in Afghanistan.

More French troops. Jeff is in the very middle of them.

Here is a group of soldiers, just hanging out.

So, Jeff, I salute you! You've shown incredible strength and bravery over the years. I know you will miss the Marines, but as I've heard a few times over the past few days,

"Once a Marine, always a Marine."
Good luck to you and Lori, as you adjust to civilian life. Enjoy your new place in the Texas Hill Country. Relax, kick back, and save us a seat, as you watch the sunset from your backyard. We'll be out to visit, shortly!

I love you!

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Challenge for November

Here is a picture of my bedside table in Paris recently.

I brought the top two books with me, and bought the Julia Child Cookbook at the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris. Yes, I paid WAY more than I just saw it for at Costco, but surely it will have special cooking powers because I bought it in France... right???

The special powers I need it to have, is the ability for it to get up and cook a meal all by itself~ yes, I had dreams and thoughts of all the meals I would cook from this book when I got home... and... well... Scott is still waiting! My personal goal is to roast a PERFECT chicken, like we have when in Paris.

We did go by the E. Dehillerin cookware store, and I bought 4 tiny tart pans, and a deal for getting the juice out of lemons...I'm such a devoted cook, I don't even know what it's called (my mother and my daughter are wonderful cooks but I missed that gene somehow).

A few days later, do you notice a slight change in my beside table when I returned from London?

This magazine was FABULOUS. Even though I didn't know 90% of the people they were talking about, I felt like I was a part of royalty as I read about their weddings and parties.

I'm focusing on books and reading today, because my blog friend Simply Colette and I, have taken a challenge at, to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November!!!!

I'm telling you all this, to keep me going. I love a challenge, but I usually start strong, and lose steam. I have written 12,600 words, and to be on track, I need to get to 15,000 by tonight. I've never written a piece of fiction in my life, and it's REALLY hard to do. The sub-genre I've chosen is historical fiction.

My main character???? MARIE ANTOINETTE. That's all I'm saying...stay tuned.

I was going to write and write when I was in Paris this year, but for some reason, I didn't write a thing! Here I am in a restaurant, all poised to write.... suffice it to say, I didn't get very far.

I'm hoping the pressure of writing a novel in 30 days, will at least get me going.

So I'm off to enter Marie's world. I will squeeze in a very special post later this week...just waiting for a few photos.


P.S. As you watch this video, notice when this store was established. Doesn't that give you chills??? It was opened only 27 years after Marie Antoinette met her fate. Oh- the sense of history in Paris is just awesome! The lighting is weird in this video, but I hope you get a sense of the fabulousness of all the copper pots!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Paris Purses #2

In my four years of traveling to Paris, I realized the other day, that I've bought 5 purses on my journeys. I guess purses are my souvenir of choice. I never planned it that just happened. Not once did I get on the airplane in Florida, and think,
"I wonder what fabulous purse I will get this year?"

No... never... not even once... but it's happened, every year, none-the-less.

Here's my purse story from year two. It was the BIG one. The most UNEXPECTED. The one I agonized over with no less than THREE trips to the flagship Louis Vuitton store in 2 days. Here's how it happened...

Scott and I were sitting in our favorite "watering hole" (...I'm so Texan) on the Champs Elysees, having wine and coffee, and the hours were passing unnoticed. I enjoyed so much watching the people pass, and the adorable, sweet waiters...

We had been sitting here was about 5pm, and we had at least 3 hours until civilized people in Paris eat, so Scott asked me what I would like to do until dinner.

Don't ask me why but the most unexpected, unpremeditated words came out of my mouth... "I would like to find the Louis Vuitton store, and buy a purse." As I said the words, I expected Scott to choke on his Merlot... but no, all he said was..."Ok."

Now, I feel there are two things I must fill you in on...

1. At this point Scott had no idea what LV purses cost...actually, neither did I.
2. I had refused to buy a black patent-leather purse in TJ Maxx a few days before we left, because I thought it was too much money...$35.

The year before (2006), almost to the day, we had walked past this exact same LV store, and there were guards at the door in perfectly tailored suits, so we dare not go in. This time, feeling much braver, we went right up to the front, where to our surprise, the sinister looking guard opened the door wide and said with a SMILE... "Bienvenue!" (welcome!). Oh... the feeling of belonging ;). If you look closely at the second picture, you can see two guards, right in the doorway.

We looked around and I watched Scott's expression as he saw the prices, and watched his brain calculate from euro to USD, and to my surprise, he didn't act like it was any big deal. I won't get into it, but it took three more trips to this store, and a stop at Dior, Chanel, and Gucci, before I made my final decision 2 days later. I knew it would be my only designer purse for the rest of my life, so I had to make the perfect choice. I can't say Scott was thrilled with the back and forth shopping, but he went along with it...and mind you, a trip to our local mall for him is considered pure torture...

When we finally made the purchase a few days later, it was evening, and the place was packed! The Japanese love LV, and they seem to have endless amounts of cash for purchasing, and Yen was flying around like there was no tomorrow. We waited while our saleslady took Scott's passport and Visa to the register area. It was extremely hot in the store. It was freezing outside, and the heat was cranked. About 2 minutes went by, and Scott looked at me and said...and I quote..."You'd think when a man is spending this much money, they'd offer him something to drink."

At that exact moment, our saleslady returned, and told us that it would be a few more minutes, and would we like to sit in the holding area, and have a glass of Champagne.
Scott looked at me and smiled and said, "Now that's what I'm talking about!" You would've had to be there... and know my husband... but that one line was so funny!!!!

Anyway... here is a picture of me in the store that night, and a picture of my purse. I loved it then, and I love it now, and every time I carry it, it brings a smile to my face. It's a fun, special memory of my favorite city (and store) in the world...

In fun!

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