Thursday, December 30, 2010

28 Days to New York Writers' Conference!

Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. Henry Ford

Only 28 days till I fly to New York for the International Children's Writers and Illustrators conference! My intention is to find an agent and a publisher for the first of the six book series. Today I worked about four hours on the story (the kids are at the farm with the grandparents in Iowa) and redesigned my business card to hand out. Wishing each of us enormous luck and perseverance during the month of January on whatever journey we're on. Happy almost New Years;-).

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve 2010!

Happy Holidays! Feeling blessed for all the good in life and working to just be in the moment throughout the next few days. Wishing everyone joy and happiness. Eileen

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moments verses Milestones.....

It was a really nice weekend. Greg and I had date night on Saturday and enjoyed Social Network, about Facebook and its founders. Then today we snuggled in on a bitter WI winter day and never ventured outside, napping, playing board games and reading stories - along with probably too much t.v. watching for the kids.

Tonight Kirk and I read a picture book about JFK. I'd picked it up at a thrift store because Kirk loves to quote the line, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." It was an interesting story, and as we read it, he asked a lot of good questions, and I was thinking how knowledgeable he's getting about U.S. history. Later we were reading a story about feudal times and the adventures of Jeanne de Montfort during the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453) between England and France, which I didn't even know happened;-). As we read, I was again thinking how much further ahead Kirk is than I was at his age, that he's reaching certain milestones quite early.

This morning, I watched Kai trying to sound out the word cat and jet and was thinking within a year, he'll be reading too. What an exciting milestone that will be.

As I work on my books, I think about the January trip to NYC and the hopes of meeting an agent and think, what an exciting milestone that will be.
And so on. Then tonight I flipped my little motivational calendar to the next page and saw the quote "Life isn't a matter of milestones but of moments. Rose Kennedy"

How timely a reminder! It is so ironic that we were just reading about her son - his life's milestones wrapped up in about twenty pages. Also ironic that I was thinking earlier today how fun it would be if I could be 25 again, with my whole life stretched out in front of me, and still feel uber young and full of possibilities, but somehow know I'd marry Greg and we'd have these wonderful kids. I found myself thinking how much less angst I would have had, and how much I would have enjoyed my twenties. But life doesn't work that way. The season of contentment doesn't tend to come in one's twenties along with that smooth skin and flat stomach;-)...

And the milestones are pretty few and far between. Should I get an agent, I would be over the moon and we would toast the evening and celebrate. But even assuming a five hour celebration with friends - itself a long party when we don't tend to be the party type, that celebration of the milestone, would be the culmination of probably 400 hours of writing. So surely, "life" was more a matter of those moments typing away at my laptop at Panera and not the short milestone of the accomplishment.

It's not a new idea, but enjoying the journey is a lesson I seem to need to keep reminding myself of. And with the kids, I need to remember not to be always looking for the next milestone - Kirk's front teeth to grow in, his Christmas play at church, Kai learning to read or turning four. Instead I want to enjoy all the minutes in between, which wiggle out of my grasp and dissipate into the air if I'm not present and watching and aware (thank you Eckhart Tolle for lots of good advice on this).

So that is a rather long winded way of saying, "seize the journey" and not just the milestones along the way since the time you spend traveling along the road is a lot longer than the exciting moment of arrival at your destination;-). Good wishes to each of you on your journeys.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Phones and friends and family....

In an effort to live more in a state of gratitude, I've been trying to be more conscious of all the things I'm grateful for. Tonight I had a lovely long chat with a friend in San Diego and earlier in the week a good talk with another dear friend in Santa Fe. In between, I try to call my mom in IL every few days to update her on Christmas shopping or little stories about the kids that I know she'll enjoy. I think how lucky we are to be able to "reach out and touch someone" with such ease. The minute something happens I can feel connected to the people I care about most, even hundreds of miles away, something that throughout history wouldn't have been possible. So thanks Alexander Graham Bell and even Charter Communications;-).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bloody feet and waterproof boots....

It has been bitterly cold here in Wisconsin, so much so that I don't even do my nightly walk with my neighbor and our dogs. I've been reading up quite a bit on the Battle of Trenton, otherwise known as the crossing of the Delaware, and reading about how many of those soldiers went on that long night march with no shoes and just wrapped rags around their feet. Imagine if you will, marching through snow, in a bitter storm, with no waterproof boots, with your feet cracked and bleeding, and of course, your life on the line. I don't think we can really ever completely appreciate the sacrifices that built the country we live in. So signing off with lots of appreciation for current warmth and past dedications. Puts "bad traffic" and "bad roads" in perspective...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Character building;-)

I'm really enjoying the learning process involved in writing. My work today was to further develop my characters - with help from writing exercises. A Google search revealed 45 questions I should be able to answer about my characters - type of clothing they wear - cherished items in their rooms - music they prefer. It's really reaching to create someone from scratch - but then it's all about building character - for both the book and the authoress;-). Good wishes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Painting the pictures of our lives....brush stroke by brush stroke....

Oh the metaphors just flow when I'm in my writing mode;-). I spent four hours today on the story and it was a good day's work. Afterward, I treated myself to a thrift store outing (I decided to give up that goal of not shopping till January 1 - noble, but life is short and thrift stores really do bring enormous fun to me - whether the fun of a new blouse for $2 or a great Newberry award winning kids' book for 50 cents that I can take apart and highlight the heck out of for tips on good writing). Today I found a lovely painting for $6. The colors and subject matter made me smile. On my bucket list is to someday do my own original paintings of flowers - to bring my summer garden hobby year round and even richer.

I am making good progress on my paint by number (2 hours during Kai's nap on Sunday) and it occurred to me that painting this picture, and watching it evolve bit by bit, is sort of like this new life I am creating - and it's fun to watch it take shape and see how much even a bit of time can move things forward. So here's to hoping each of us works to paint a lovely painting, stroke, by stroke, of our own best life (as Oprah would say).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Believe in yourself.

Today was a fun stay in and avoid the 6 inches of snow outside kind of Sunday. I worked on only thinking about the positive all day and when I felt myself slipping, would instantly remind myself "Think of 10 things I love" or "Think of 10 things I am grateful for" and it worked quite well.

Attached is a video clip from Tracy Porter's website. She is also based in WI and has grown a successful business of gorgeous home products and now clothing too. If you get a chance to watch the video, it's inspiring. She repeats more than once that you just have to choose to believe in yourself, a message for all of us most of the time;-).

For some reason the link won't show. You can go to and see video of their interview.
Good wishes! Eileen

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Life is a highway....

Yesterday I had breakfast with what I call my CEO club - two other women also starting companies with high hopes and nascent business skills. Ironically, the one most worried is the only one with actual sales for her product - not enough to break even yet, but actual shipments going out and checks coming in. She is deathly afraid of failing, but the other woman and I kept reminding her over our tea, she'd already succeeded.

She had been a stay at home mom of three for 16 years, living on a shoestring budget and had a dream of creating a product to help children. Her husband said "Go for it, just don't spend any money," because times were tight. She used the university system here to design her idea a place called Fab Lab (open to all inventors). Her daughter spoke some Chinese so she placed the actual calls to factories using her daughter's basic vocabulary and found one to make her product. Then she waded through her own trademark registration, customs laws, etc.

I look at that and think she can't fail because she's already succeeded. She really is a different woman than she was when she started two years ago, more confident, more knowledgeable, more willing to take on risks. I have enormous, enormous respect for her.

She has told me she has many, many other business ideas and I am sure that even if this product doesn't have the market success she hopes for (and I actually think it will), another idea she develops will. She will be starting from a new, stronger position.

Even if she never chose to do another business, she still has the strength of character she gained from this endeavor. We go out of this world with no more of the outer trappings than we came into it with. But, hopefully, we depart with a spirit that has evolved to a higher self. My friend has traveled down the road of risk and challenge and hardship and persevered, so she has evolved in this lifetime and become more of the woman she wants to be. Surely that defines success!

I share that story because I see so few women who realize how amazing and successful they are. Any time you are trying to become a better you, whether by learning to meditate, trying to laugh more each day, reading a self-help book or taking a class, you are going further down the highway of the journey of self-development, you are evolving and thus you are succeeding. Good wishes! Happy December.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Edit is finally here! A big step!

Tonight the editor emailed the revised clean copy along with the bloodied one to show his revisions. This is so exciting! He says it's in good enough shape to send out and cautioned me against too many changes (I have 20 pages of changes based on additional research that I've been working on while I was awaiting his comments). He also cautioned me against adding too much historic detail which he thinks will drag down the story, but the pages I want to add have a lot of the battle included, which Kirk thought was really interesting, so I guess I'll have to make a final call on that. But still, all in all, I'm excited to meet this milestone! Happy evening to all. Eileen
p.s. Should any of you be working on something similar, a professional edit cost $300.