Travel Often

“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” — Rosalia de Castro

Love Deeply, but Laugh Along the Way

"Happiness is only real when shared." - Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

View Marriage as an Adventure

"Love is a flower which turns into fruit at marriage." ~Finnish Proverb

Fuel your body with GOOD (It's the only one you get)

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything. - Arabian Proverb

Open your Soul to Motherhood

A Grand Adventure is About to Begin - Winnie the Pooh

A New Kind of Love is Born

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why Manuscripts Get Rejected by Literary Agents

Time to get back to work writing!

February began my query process. And guess what? Today, yes, I'm still querying hoping to snag that one literary agent who screams, "I LOVE THIS! Yes! Yes! Yes!" (i.e. the one who LOVES my story, my writing...and me as a person:))

Bite they have. I can't ignore this or get discouraged either (though it's so easy to)! I feel like I get so stinkin' close (so close) and then "poof" it's back to focusing on sending out more query letters again. I can't wait to show off my color-coded excel agent-tracking system someday on here. It's kind of like planning for my wedding all over again! Yeah!!

I needed one of my critique chicks - the awesome Julie Lindsey - to remind me today that she believes someone will sink their teeth in my mss. She mentioned some of her writer friends have received close to a hundred "no thanks" from agents and can't seem to get past the query stage. I've been able to get past it.

In the meantime, I'm working on making my manuscript (mss) better. 

Julie is right - I'm able to stir up some interest. But I can't help and think, if I haven't received a solid "yes", does that mean something is more than wrong with it? I've been very fortunate to have some really great agents read my work. They were kind enough to spend time writing back personal emails saying the story is definitely there and they like it but what I need is an agent who loves it and they believe he/she is out there; it's just not them.


But they know these things! I trust what they're saying. And so appreciate the feedback!

I also have a few literary agents who still have a partial or full right now, and I'm praying and hoping something is going on behind the scenes and that's why I haven't heard back from them just yet. (Have I mentioned I live in bit of a fantasy world?)

I have this email saved from my other critique pal Gabi that's a perfect analogy [for me]. She used my husband as an example. Back in my 20s, I wanted to get married so frickin' bad and was fed up with playing bridesmaid 20 million times and watching everyone else fall hopelessly in love. When would it be my turn?? I dated a lot of frogs, something was always patience wore thin. Blah, blah, blah. Sometimes I wanted to pull my hair out or cry myself to sleep wondering if I was destined to be single. Would someone magical be out there for me? Were all the good ones taken? Well, well, well....someone perfect did come along at just the right time. Took timing, learning and letting go to get there, but he sure was someone I fell totally head over heels for and he the same for me. And it's still happening day after day. I can't thank God enough for what we have. And that's what I need in an agent. Okay, okay...not all that lovely dovey stuff, but an agent who's crazy about my writing! Someone who supports me and wants to cheer for me and wants to see me grow and light up the world.

I want that. I deserve that.

However, I can't help myself from researching some of the other reasons my manuscript might have been rejected. I know agents are crunched for time. There has to be more to it and I'm on a mission to learn and grow. This is my dream we're talking about here and I can't just throw in the towel. Here's what I've found from several bloggers, agents, etc.

It's time to get to work!

Note: If you click on some of the highlighted words, they'll take you to the whole article.

1. Mechanical Problems
2. Passive Voice
3. Stale story ideas
4. No recognizable genre
5. Unsuitable word length
6. Too many adverbs (and flowery words/purple prose)
7. Predictability
8. Too many killers
9. Out of control point of view
10. Prologues that don't work
11. Plot with no spine
12. Writer uses phrase "fiction novel"
13. Doesn't seem organic/authentic
14. Too complicated
15. Too boring
16. Writer offers no reason to care for the character
17. Slipping into a sliding point of view
18. Too many stock characters
19. Too "moral"
20. Writers says how great book is over and over
21. Too many cliches
22.Unpleasant tone and attitude
23. Pacing is off
24. Genre isn't doing well
25. Bad dialogue
26. Not having the protagonist involved in climax
27. Spending too much time at the beginning on the story on a character who seems to be a protagonist but isn't.
28. Story starts too slow
29. Too many characters introduced too quickly (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has this and made it big. Hmmm)
30. Too much backstory
31. Flashbacks too early and too often
32. Story starts too quickly

For those who've had their mss rejected, what have you noticed? Please share!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tuscan Salmon with Rosemary Orzo

Tuscan Salmon with Rosemary Orzo
"Fresh herbs abound here - as does niacin, an energizing B vitamin: One serving of salmon dishes up nearly 70 percent of our daily niacin needs."
(Recipe found in Self Magazine April 2011)
serves 4

6 oz orzo
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion, divided
1 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
4 salmon fillets (5 oz each), skin on
1/4 cup plus 1 TBS chopped fresh basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Cook orzo as directed on package until al dente. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook 1/2 cup onion and rosemary until onion softens, 9 minutes. Combine with orzo in a bowl. Season salmon with 1 TBS basil, salt and pepper. Heat same skillet over medium-high heat. Cook salmon until golden, 5 minutes per side, flesh side down first; set aside. Add garlic and remaining 1 cup onion to skillet; cook until soft, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives; cook until tomatoes break up, 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in parsley and remaining 1/4 cup basil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve fish over orzo; top with tomato mixture.

When Karl and I went to Savor Minnesota, we picked up this awesome sauce made in Minnesota. The woman who makes it said it's fabulous over salmon. So I topped over our meal and it really was heavenly.

I also topped with some leftover feta cheese we had in our fridge. Yum! And white beans for more protein and fiber!

Karl's reaction - Whoa! This looks fancy. Mmmmm, that sauce is good. This is real good, babe. Real good.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Star Tribune Blog - Are you Waiting on Something?

My latest blog in Star Tribune! Are You Waiting on Something?

Waiting. I feel like I've been doing that a lot. You?
 Read more.

Pet Peeves

We all have em, right?

It's always good to get things off your chest. So I am. Because today wasn't a good day for me. Snow is coming. It's cold in late April (where are you spring?). I'm wearing the same turtleneck purple sweater I've already worn like 15 times this winter and am so ready to retire to the back of my closet. I feel so out of touch with fashion right now. I'm wondering what the heck I'm doing with my life. I feel like I have so much to give and I'm stuck. I want to do amazing things, but what if this is all I'm supposed to be doing? What if I'm supposed to be making labels for bins and fixing PowerPoints? No! No! It can't be. What's in store for me? Am I doing everything right to get to where I want to be? Ugh...I hate this feeling. Hoping I feel a little more refreshed tomorrow!! And I'm hoping venting will make me feel better. Enter below - a list of my Pet Peeves. In no particular order of course. Sometimes when I unload in my writing, I feel better.

1. Semis. Yes, as in those big ol' trucks. I work too close to them. They are slow, smelly and make me miss the green light (EVERY TIME) on the already strung out stoplight on my way to and from work Plus, I'm still pissed at the one who flung a giant sheet of ice off the top of its body and onto my windshield, cracking it into a thousand pieces as I was drove 78 mph on 35E last winter.

2. People who cough and don't cover their mouth. Seriously, didn't your mom teach you anything?

3. People who take the locker right next to mine at the gym when there are 100 other ones available. Maybe I smell good? Maybe they want to see what's in my gym back? I don't know. But it happens a lot.

4. People who can't figure out the merging system in Minnesota. As far as I see it there are no stop signs, yet I always seem to get behind the one person who believes they need to stop instead of accelerate. What am I missing?

5. People who tell me all about their bad day and forget to ask how I'm doing. Or they just keep talking and talking...and talking...and talking....

6. When I email a simple question and don't get an answer back, just a bunch of "I'm so busy" jargon. As I see it, you weren't too busy to tell me how busy you were. I ponder this one quite a bit.

7. Someone who tells me he has nothing to do and is bored, but then passes work on to me because he just doesn't want to do it.

8. Really great people getting cancer and then really mean people walking the earth healthy, continuing to do really mean things.

9. Fake people. You know the ones I'm talking about. The one who is so insecure they have to raise their voice several octaves hoping to sound sincere but have a perma scowl burned on their face.
10. Someone who disappears off the face of the planet when I invested time and money working with them and they continue to send invoices.

11. Writing up a "to-do" list and not being able to get to a single one because of course at that moment all hell breaks loose.

12. People who throw trash out their car window. Not okay with this. What did Mother Earth ever do to you??

13. Road construction, especially when it's right next to my house.

14. Potholes. Need I say more?

15. Snow in April. Boo hiss.

16. Working out and gaining weight. Could be the extra treats, but seriously...why can't I just eat an entire chocolate bar and be fine?

17. Trying on my fave pair of jeans and barely getting them zipped. See #16.

18. Lack of initiative.

19. People who don't think they're good enough. (Wait a sec....did I just contradict myself here?)

20. Those ambiguous damn posts on Twitter and Facebook that are usually followed by a ... and go something like.
"Not sure what to think..."
"I'll miss you..."
"Heart is breaking...."
"Not sure how much more I can take..."

And there are a ton of posts asking what's up and no response. So is it attention you're after, or what?

Do you have any you'd like to add? I promise it'll make you feel better! We are human and are all allowed to feel annoyed every now and then.

Here's to hoping for a good night's sleep. Answered prayers and dreams coming true tomorrow! Happy Christie is back tomorrow!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Living in the Moment

It's hard to do but maybe living is better than all that waiting

I'll be posting my next Star Tribune blog in the next couple of days. It has to do with waiting. Waiting is one of the hardest things to do, and also the most stressful. Sometimes we have no control over the way things turn out or the end result of something. Yet, we always seem to think we have all the control and easily let the worry(ing) eat us alive. We seem to forget that sometimes we need to let go (and let God) in order for the problem/fear to work itself out. I know I'm guilty of it. 

For instance, I had a mole cut out on Monday. No bigs, right? We all have moles removed now and then, right? Well, it kind of was a bigger deal. I took two years off from seeing the skin doctor. ----> insert stupid button here <----- I tan incredibly well. Friends think my skin is made of special sun-soaking material. My family says I inherited my grandpa's skin. That's good because, boy, do I love the sun. It feels good on my face. I'm happier when the sun is out, even more when I'm laying out. For once I finally feel warm when I'm basking under it. In my mind I think I'm invincible. There isn't any family history of anyone dying from skin cancer, that I know of...well, okay, my mom had two spots of pre-cancer found on her face. That was my first warning sign. And the fact I have blue eyes, blonde hair and fair skin was the next.

But I guess I pushed that aside. The sun loves me and I love it. But my last visit to the skin doctor kept popping up in my mind. He stopped on a mole located on my breastbone and told me to keep an eye on it. Since then, I have but it didn't sound so serious. If he was really worried, he would have shown more concern, right?

Since that visit, I've been to St. Lucia, Mexico, California, and Arizona (three times), and sure enjoyed all that sunshine. My husband kept pointing out the mole though. And when we found out the horrible news that our dear friend Erin was diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma, Karl practically yelled at me to get in to see the doctor. For a night I tossed and turned and felt bothered that he was so mad, but I knew why. He cares.

Fun in the sun! I was wearing sunscreen! Sun is brutal in Mexico!
I made my appointment and both the nurse and doctor didn't think my tanning habits were very funny. I undressed. Laid on the table and the doctor scanned every inch of my skin. Of course she just had to stop on the mole that's been giving me troubles. She said she wanted to biopsy it because it "looked suspicious." That word sounds so scary.

"Can you do it now?" I asked, surprising myself. Now? Did I just say that? I wasn't even giving myself a minute to think about it. Not when I heard Erin's story and how she wished she had her mole biopsied back in 2009 when she felt something was wrong with it. Ahh, intuition. Mine was telling me to have mine removed. Number one rule: listen to that voice whispering and pushing you.

Me and Karl looking majorly TAN in Riviera Maya.
I was moved to another room and laid on a table that resembled the operation tables on the show ER. Keep in mind the only surgery I've had was tubes in my ears when I was two (do not remember) and on my wisdom teeth. I didn't mind that I was completely exposed lying on the table with lights shining down on me. I just wanted the mole off. The doctor wiped some ointment and cloth along my skin and stuck a needle in close to the mole. "This will pinch."

A month before I had just gotten two fillings so I remembered what that "pinch" felt like. And to tell you the truth, it feels worse to get fillings or to give blood than have a mole removed.

Soon she was cutting it out with a tool that sounded like a drill. The smell was interesting, but it was over in three minutes. The nurse asked if I wanted to come back in 14 days later so they could remove the stitches. I opted to have my husband do it. He likes to cut out his own ingrown toenails, so part of me knew he'd have no problem snipping them out. (Yes, I love him for his weirdness.)

Friday, I got home from work and a letter sat in the pile of mail from Park Nicollet. I opened it and saw a pamphlet stuck in the mix. My heart dropped. Crap. They're trying to educate me on the type of mole I have. But my eyes landed on the results: atypical nevus. No cancer. (Huge sigh of relief.) There were more scribbles from the doctor and I couldn't make out most of her writing or code jargon. However, she asked to see me for 20 minutes. So that will be my next plan of attack, as well as always wearing sunscreen (and not just on my face).

Mole, Before (In St. Lucia - August 2009)

Mole, After - buh bye (April 2011)
So my question to you is...have you had your skin checked lately? What are you waiting for? Some of the facts below from The Skin Cancer Foundation might persuade you...

  1. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually. 
  2. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon. 
  3. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  4. Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
  5. Nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma and 13 million are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, typically diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.

Mexican Turkey Burger from a Housewife

I can't say I'm a huge fan of the Real Housewives (though I tend to get hooked when I turn it on). I used to watch Real Housewives of Orange County but then all these other states started to follow and I couldn't keep up anymore, plus I couldn't take all the stupid drama. But I can't seem to ignore Bethenny Frankel. She's popping up everywhere, and in my Health Magazines. She always seems to have the greatest recipes too. I decided to give one a try. I promise you, this burger won't disappoint.

Mexican Turkey Burger
serves 4
(found in Health - March 2011)
Bethenny Frankel's recipe

1 pound extra-lean ground turkey breast
1/2 of red and yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
a dash of Tabasco (I used Cholula and just got super pumped because they have a ton of delicious looking recipes on their website!!! SCORE!)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Make 4 patties; put them in the broiler on a foil-lined pan coated with cooking spray. I used our George Forman (thanks Aunt Susan D). Broil patties until done (5-6 minutes on each side). Each one is only 126 calories!! This is 59 calories fewer than a regular turkey burger and 132 calories fewer than a regular burger. Seriously....crazy, good flavor in these!

Karl's reaction: "I think this is one of my top five favorites. Yum, babe!!! It just needed to be cooked a minute less."


I added cheese ('s a Wisconsin thing) and used sweet potato fries and Suddenly Salad as sides.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tools Needed to Write a Book

Is it Doable to Write a Book?
We all have dreams (I hope. If not, get to work!). Mine was to write a book. As I wrote, I noticed something rather cool happening to me. Call it confidence or self-assurance, not sure. But my dream kept growing and growing into this wild adventure. Soon I wanted to be published. Then I decided I wanted to write full time as a career. Then I wanted my book to end up on the New York Times Best Seller List...oh, and I wanted to appear on Oprah, of course. Before you roll your eyes, this is what makes dreaming fun. We're allowed to let our minds take us places we've never been because we're kind of accustomed to taking life a little too seriously. Along this adventure I discovered dreaming is what living is about. 

My Focus Wheel. My mom made me design this last year. There are no boundaries. Nothing too stupid or ridiculous sounding (ha!). Keeps me writing (and dreaming)!

1. Set a Goal
Most of you know my story. I took a college course back in the day (UW-Whitewater) and the teacher asked us to write out our dreams and goals. One of mine was to become a writer. I had to put my dreams in a cardboard box, with a candle, noise maker and balloon and uncover the box years later to see if I met the dream. When I found the box several years later, I realized none of my dreams came true and the time had expired. Sad. From that day on, I was determined to make them happen. But life is so busy. There are a million distractions. When my family and I were sitting around a table in South Africa on New Year's Eve, I asked everyone what their goals/resolutions were for the year. When it came to my turn, I smiled and said, "This is the year I'll write my book." It sounded a bit silly coming out, but nobody laughed. And I realized the cat was out of the bag. The scary part? If I didn't do it, they would know. I might look weak. The great part? They could hold me accountable. Ask yourself what is it you want? What will make you happy?

My family in Cape Town, South Africa...moments before we discussed our New Year's Resolutions!

2. Take a Writing Class
When we returned from South Africa, it took awhile to get my focus back (hello...trip of a lifetime). I started to let life take over (again), until our community activity booklet came in the mail and I saw a writer was teaching a four-week writing class. I could handle that! It was all I needed to get started. Though she wasn't a published author (yet), she'd been in the business for several years and knew the ins and outs. She gave us plenty of advice and material to help us along. Plus, I met some great people who live in my community - one who gladly (or so I think) critiques my stuff and I get a man's perspective!

3. Make Time to Write
It's kind of like when you want to lose 15 pounds but in order to get there you have to workout and eat healthy. You know what you need to do to make it happen; yet, you let excuses take over. No more. You need to make writing a priority. Yes, I have a full-time job (8-5), not to mention three/four freelance jobs, volleyball, working out with a trainer, a husband, a house that needs cleaning, etc. But like with everything in life, we learn how to balance and fit everything in. I think back to when I was 12, reading The Babysitters Club books. I woke up, did a few chores, maybe watched some cartoons...sat in my room and read. Ahh, the life. But back then - to me - my life was crazy. Newsflash: every year gets busier and crazier and more insane than the last. You will manage. At least this is what I tell myself. So the minute 5:00 p.m. hit (okay...4:30) I was out the door and on my way to Panera where I'd write until volleyball started. Sometimes I woke up at 4 a.m. (does once count?). Sometimes I spent 10-12 hours on a Saturday AND then again on Sunday writing, editing, rewriting. Yes, I think I need glasses now. Yes, I had a lot of headaches. Yes, I had to miss out on fun nights out with friends and all the other cool stuff going on. But I want this. More than anything. Ask yourself how badly you want it.

4. Join a Critique Group
Gabi, my awesome Brazilian friend who heads up our critique group, and I were discussing this week how our group started. I guess I responded to a post on her blog. And before I knew it, our group was formed. Without them, my manuscript would be a chaotic mess written in passive voice with way too much back story and adverbs. I don't know how I will ever thank them, but we have something special going on! They've been most helpful and not only offer writing support but have become some phenomenal therapists too:)

5. Write Your Story's Synopsis First
The synopsis will more than likely change as you write. However, the last thing you want is to get to Chapter 15 (or any chapter) and get stuck because you're not sure the direction of your story anymore. Or how it's going to end. You get lost. And this is when giving up feels like the only option. I had three or four different synopsis. Thankfully a friend came across my post on Facebook about writing a book and asked to read my synopsis. And thankfully for me, he's a Hollywood screenwriter. He knows how these things work. We went back and forth many times and every time my story grew stronger. It made more sense to me. So thanks to him, I had my synopsis polished before I started writing...even if it was 10-pages single spaced. I can't say I ever got super stuck because I always had the synopsis staring at me in the face, guiding me through. 

6. Write What You Know!
Trust me, it shows and it's so much easier to write when you're passionate about the storyline and your characters. It makes for a great story when your heart is in it. Readers are smart people. They will know.

7. Do NOT Give Up!
If this is what you really want and really love doing, keep going! Our world is full of negativity. You can't let what you read or hear get you down. Everyone has a story to share, but make this adventure YOUR story. Choose how YOU want it to end. I understand how easy it is to throw in the towel. This is probably why only some 10% of people who claim they are "writing a book" have actually finished a manuscript. FINISH it. Your life will change once you write 'THE END'. You will grow a little inside too.

8. Start a Blog
Blogs are loaded with information for writers. There are contests, new agents looking for new writers, writers who are in the same boat as you, writers who have finally gotten published, agents with secrets to share, and so much more. Also, it's fun to track your own journey and to go back and see the mountains you've faced head on and climbed. Some you never thought possible.

9. Keep Adding to Your Goal List and Keep Dreaming!
So my goal was to write a book. I did it. Am I done? Not even close. Like I wrote above, as I started one dream, another one came to me. And another. The amazing part is what happens when we let ourselves dream. And how we grow as people. So get a pen and paper...or start your blog and start jotting down what it is you feel in your heart. Things you want to do with your life. And go after them!

What's your writing journey been like?

Shrimp "Spear-It"

Asparagus Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lemon Dressing
serves 4
(found in Self, April 2011)

1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
8 oz whole-wheat penne (I used whatever we had leftover)
a packet of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
a packet of fresh basil, chopped
2 TBS grated lemon zest
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup crumbled feta
I added a bag of frozen shrimp for extra protein

1. Boil asparagus until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove asparagus from water with a slotted spoon.
2. Add pasta to boiling water and cook as directed on packet.
3. Drain pasta and add to bowl with all remaining ingredients except cheese. Stir to combine.
4. I heated a skillet with olive oil and warmed the shrimp for 5 minutes and added to the mix.
5. Sprinkle cheese and salt to taste.

Karl's reaction: "This is refreshing! I like it. But maybe next time get the shrimp without the tails on."

Men! I tell ya! I liked this one a lot. The lemon zest really added some fun flavor!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chicken with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Balsamic Broccoli

Chicken With Fresh Tomato Sauce and Balsamic Broccoli
serves 4
(found in Shape Magazine...either March or April 2011 issue)

4 4-ounce chicken breasts
1 tsp paprika
   salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 12-ounce microwaveable bag broccoli florets
2 tsp olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
4 TBS balsamic vinegar (I used Aceto Balsamico from The Olive Tap in Downers Grove, Illinois. My aunt gave it to us as a shower gift. SO GOOD. Check out their website and get some today!)

1. Preheat broiler to high and place an oven rack 8 to 10 inches from heat. Line a broiler pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with paprika and season with salt and pepper. Place on pan and cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side or until meat is no longer pink in the center (160 F internal temp).

2. Microwave broccoli

3. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and olives, cook for 2 minutes more or until tomatoes are soft.

4. Divide chicken among four plates and top with tomato mixture. Place 1/4 of broccoli on each plate, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Karl's reaction: "Ohhh, babe, I really like this one a lot. This is real good. Mmmmmmmmm."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sitting Still

Is there such a thing?

My mom told me when I was little, I slept a lot. My older brother never slept. She had to wake me up to feed me and poke me to make sure I was alive. If only I could go back...

For the past year, I've been spending every minute of free time writing a book. And today I feel like I'm going to jump out of my skin. Why? My book is finished, tons of queries are out to agents, some even have my full manuscript in their hands, and I'm wondering what's next. Why can't I sit still and glow in the fact that I just did something huge? Why can't I enjoy the peace and quiet of this beautiful spring day? I think it's because I've always had something going on every single weekend for the past year, and now I have a weekend where I am caught up (or so I think). And I don't know what to do with myself. Sure I have projects sitting on the burner, but it's almost like I've been paralyzed and those other projects aren't enough to feed my tank.

In the meantime to keep my brain busy, I've been Googling. What are the agents doing right now? Is it one person reading my manuscript? Are they passing it on to others? Are they showing editors? I've come up with plenty of different responses, which only make me think even more. Kind of like when you Google "why does my throat itch" and minutes later you're pretty sure you have throat cancer.

Patience. A word I have heard many times in my life, but have such a hard time accepting. You better believe God and I have been conversing quite a bit these past couple of weeks.

So last weekend I decided to outline my latest book idea and during the week I started to write something new, which was really crazy in itself. And then I started to think of all these metaphors. I feel like my first "baby" is out in the world right now and I can't stop thinking about her, no matter how hard I try to distract myself. And I feel like I need to tell each agent, I know she might not be perfect in your eyes yet, but I love her and am so happy with her, but I'm still willing to work hard to make her the best yet. I'm fast and I'm eager to learn and I want her to run free in the world so bad.  But don't they already know all of this? Who wants to look and sound like a complete nut job? I guess I do since I just contradicted myself. Ha!

I live an insane life. And I'm a doer. I almost fell over when my boss told me that not everyone wants to grow and learn. They are content with doing the same job, with the same three responsibilities day in and day out. What? Are you crazy? I need to be doing ten projects at once to feel like I'm actually making a dent in my to-do list. Why is that? Why can't I simply r-e-l-a-x?

So for the first time in a really long time, I'm going to allow myself to go for a run and enjoy the quiet. By the time I get back, I guarantee I'll have a list of things to do and topics to Google.

How do you keep yourself calm while you wait?

Quick Easy, Healthy Lunch

Tuna and Bean Salad
serves 4
(found in Women's Health - April 2011)

2 cans of 3 oz chunk light tuna packed in water
1 can up cannellini beans
1 carton of grape tomatoes, sliced
1 can of corn
2 hearts of palm (canned), sliced - I used a whole can of artichokes instead because I couldn't find hearts of palm
1 tsp fresh parsley
1 TBS olive oil
I added a squirt of lime, but I think lemon would be good too.
1/4 diced red onion

Karl's reaction - Oh, this is refreshing! It's good.