Sunday, April 25, 2010

Editing and being clearly understood

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret.
Matthew Arnold

I've taken a break from my co-admin duties on Cafemom's The Written Voice, in order to have some time to read and edit. The 3rd part of my Cross Passage Series, Hearts Restless Winds, had sat dormant on my computer for quite awhile. Although I had one printed copy of the manuscript to peruse, once I got to reading it and furiously scratching out parts, I realized the manuscript needed a huge make over.

Yet the fall, my original conception for publishing it, came and went because I got involved in another book project. Hence, my online group produced Our Written Voices, (poems and short stories), which I'm very proud to be a co-author.

But the New Year came around and then Valentine's and I realized I wasn't getting anywhere closer to getting the manuscript in order, so I told my group leader and dear friend, Susan, how much I needed a couple of months to concentrate on it and my family as well. Begrudgingly, she granted me the time and wished me luck.

And luck is what I need indeed. As I peruse each paragraph with a keen eye, I realize all the blunders within: the misuse of grammar; the occasional typo; the long winded-sentences; the lack of laying out the character's feelings or history. I suppose in hindsight being part of The Written Voice, where I enjoyed countless of poetry and short story submissions to read over, helped me with my editing process. I look at my writing a bit critical than before. Can't I take this eight sentence paragraph and punch it up with more active verbs? Can't I reduce it so it's not so long winded? Can't I take out repetitive phrases and make it more concise?

It is a grueling process.

I wish I had this critical eye a bit more available and knowledgeable when I produced my first book, Hostage to Her Heart. There are many pages flawed with a redundant usage of the word "that", where I could have easily substituted another more meaningful word, but I didn't know it then. I do now and this is where I have grown ever since.

My second book, Falling for Her Heart, reads a lot better. And thanks to my participation within The Written Voice, I find it has also shaped me into a better writer.

Do I still make an occasional mistake? Of course I do, but every good writer researches ways to make their craft better. The bottom line is to produce a book easily read and understood. We want a good story to tell and we want our characters to spring to life. When we accomplish this well, our readers convey to everyone what a wonderful story they've read. There's no better sense of pride when someone comes up to you and say, "Wow! I loved your book!"

It's what I'm trying to accomplish with Hearts Restless Winds. With luck, I may have it ready for a second proofread by mid-May and then final publication by June. One can crossfingers, light several candles to send up prayers, and then email me words of encouragement until I've done it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Family Picnic and Senior Prom

These past couple of weeks have been busy (as usual) and exciting. There was a family picnic, where the last six siblings born to my natural mother, Guadalupe, got together with our families on a picnic. It was amazing and fun.

We all gathered here in Temple at Miller's Park. It was a bit windy, but with a full sunny day, the temperatures were in the high 70's. Perfect weather for fun, pictures, and family getting reacquainted. We never got around to doing our genealogy charts as I had hoped, simply because there was so much going on.

My hubby Bruce was busy grilling hot dogs, sausage, and hamburgers, while me and my brother Tomas got it all assembled. My sisters, Mary, Delia, and Virginia were all having fun with their grand babies, as well as Richard and his wife Sarah.

There were about 15 youngsters running around, playing on the playground, to feeding ducks and geese by the pond; to busting open a pinata. They had even more fun when little prizes were given away, consisting of kites, coloring books, and - gasp!- water guns/toys. Even the grownups played. And, oh yeah.. they got some of us good! LOL. My granddaughter Mariah and my daughter Kayla snuck up on me once! Can you say Gotcha!!

At the end of the picnic, which seemed like 4 hours was not enough time, we vowed to do this again. Some of us shared face book connection to keep in touch. And we shared some pics.

The next celebration was for Kayla, my high school senior. The prom preparations were fun, from getting a perfect mask for the masquerade theme ball, to finding that perfect dress to match. We've always had luck getting something from Killeen Mall and the dress we chose was not only on sale, we got an additional 10% off for giving them an email for future advertisements. Debs is definitely the place we will always go to for special occasion dresses. Kayla already had high heel shoes from last year's prom and a wrap coat. She had already decided to wear her hair down (straightened with the hot iron) and so all was left to do was get her nails done.

It's kind of fun to sit and watch the process. She just chilled talking with mariah next to her, getting her toenails painted and her fingernails tipped and painted. I sat and watched their tv on the wall, just relaxing.

When prom night came, Kayla didn't have a date this year, so drove the car to pick up one of her girlfriends. It felt a bit odd, as all of her previous dances were escorted by her ex-beau, Chris, but this year, he was still at Army Reserves AIT training and her current beau was unable to go. I peaked in on her in the morning, as she slept, getting the camera from her purse to download pics. Surprisingly, she didn't take a whole lot of pictures at the occasion. I whispered, "Did you have fun?" and she nodded, with a small smile on her face. I think of all the dances, her senior year one should be memorable somehow and I suppose being stag, with all of her friends in attendance, will be something wonderful to recall after all.

So now we must think ahead to her graduation party (first weekend of June).I've plenty to do, from ordering invitations, getting food, to preparing a guest list. We've got a month to do it, but I fear it will go fast. For all the years my kids were in school, it's bittersweet for my last child to finished this saga of her life. But she's a bright kid with goals for her future, so I think soon enough, she will be a freshman year at college and going beyond. It's just part of watching your child grow up, but it's tough on a mom's heart to let go.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our Easter weekend

Easter weekend sprang upon us just like the Easter bunny zipping out from behind a bush. SPRINGGGGG! Lots went on. I don't think this family ever has a sane moment.

First of all, our dear friend Mark, decided to move to Texarkana. He had applied for a federal government job, with benefits, and a pay cut, but it was a new start for his life. He sold his house in Killeen and planned the big move about a month ago. Brucie had volunteered to help, forgetting it would be Easter weekend. It was ok by me though, because about that time, my daugther Tracy was planning to take her near 13 year old daughter, to Six Flags to celebrate her birthday. And since Ethan would spend the Easter weekend with his dad, that left what to do with AJ. So she asked me to babysit. So I agreed.

So on Friday nite, Bruce and Mark got the loaded up U-haul and took off to the Texarkana by the highway. I got to say goodbye, but was in the midst of doing a lot of errands (shopping for the weekend and getting stuff for my mom and paying her bills.) By the time I truly got home to sit still, it was around 9:00 p.m. I only got about two hours of "ME" alone time before I sank into bed.

The next morning, Tracy's tribe (hubby Chris, AJ, Mariah & her tag-a-long friend) came over. My youngest daughter Kayla and her beau Jonathon (Page) had decided to go in his car and follow them up to Arlington. It was last minute news to me and it did make me nervous. Kayla was adjusted to driving about Temple and she's a pretty good driver- but the HIGHWAY?? Yikes!!

But they took off around 7:15 and were on their way. Aj and I hung out at the house for about an hour, because he fell back asleep. Around 9:00, he finally woke up, had some breakfast, and then we took off to find some Easter baskets at the store. He got two actually: one stuff with car toys and an empty one for the Easter egg hunt we would attend together.

The place where I work, always puts on something for the kids, but since mine are older now, I didn't have a clue how the activities worked. We got there 20 minutes before the egg hunt began. I thought, "Wow! Just in time". We saw a helicopter across the field where children were getting to sit inside and inspect it up close. A power driven train was pulling the kids around the sidewalk. There were jumping booths and face painting; balloons were filled and given away. And drinks from a concession stand. It all looked like fun and festive. AJ waited in line for the egg hunt to begin and children lined up along the way. Then within ten minutes, the helicopter started up and flew off into the horizon. Then finally, the melee of kids springing onto the grass began.

AJ dashed here and he dashed there. He picked up all the eggs around him, jumping around like a cute rabbit. "Go AJ! Good job!" I shouted, encouraging him on. Somehow he filled up his basket and he was so proud. I was too. The egg hunt was over and much to my suprise, it signalled the end to all of the events. Wow! ok, for next year, I will know to come early. We stopped at a petting zoo where he saw some goats and a donkey. He even touched them. Still, Aj's face was turning pink. The sun was up over us and the temperatures were climbing to 80 degrees. So I figured with his blond hair and fair skin, waiting for another egg hunt elsewhere might make him too hot and tired. So we went home.

Under the shade tree, we took pictures. And then once inside the air conditioned house (Yes! I had to put it on for a bit) we rested. As he played with his new car toys and watched a cartoon movie, I whipped up some devilled eggs for our Sunday meal. I made banana pudding and then discovered I needed a few more ingredients from the store. So off we went again. By the time we got home again, we went outside to water my plants and tend to feeding the cats, which he helped. Then we went back again to be house hermits again. After a phone call from mama, a good shower, and clothed in his comfy pj's , it wasn't long until he was sound asleep. I ended up staying up late and then zonked out around midnight.

By 6:00, I was up again to get the ham ready with pineapple slices, marachino cherries, and a great honey/oj/brown sugar glaze. That went into the oven. Then I fixed an upside down pineapple cake, a lime-jello-whip cream fruit salad; Then made AJ some breakfast when he woke up and popped some sweet potatoes in the oven when the ham came out. By 10:30, my hubby was back home again. Then later, I made my fresh snap green beans and mashed potatoes. With soft drinks and tea, and some fresh rolls, we ended up with a great feast.

Tracy wasn't expecting the meal at all. So when she came to pick up AJ, her family ended up staying to have our traditional Easter gathering.At least with us and her family. She was very surprised and happy to eat the food I made. This year, my mom & stepdad didn't feel well enough to attend and my son Keifer had to work that day. My daughter Kayla and Page had decided to visit some friends up in Arlingon and she wound up eating at a cajun resteraunt, but had a great time, and came home safely.

Up in Denver, I know my daughter Lori and her family got to a church gathering for Easter. Even if the day was cold, it was a wonderful outing for her family. I can't wait for her to post pics, but she did send Mackenzie's pics with the Easter Bunny! She looks so tiny and swallowed up next to the large furry rabbit! Oh my! But how adorable and alert she seems.

And before all of these events, Chris got to pose as the Easter Bunny at AJ's school, so in this pic, that's AJ's Dad whose lap he's sitting upon! Cool, huh?

All in all, Easter ended up being a great weekend. Eventful and tiring, it is one I will always remember; especially the one-to-one time I got to spend with my youngest grandson. Until next time... take care....