Urban Word Wednesday: Vacationitis

Welcome to Urban Word Wednesday! New words, phrases, and sayings I am learning (and using in my day-to-day life) brought to you by ME…and the Urban Dictionary. You are gonna love these!

Vacationitis: The lack of concern for any of one’s responsibilities in the days (or weeks, or months) leading up to a vacation. Physical symptoms include the wearing of capris and jeans at work, flip-flops, or Uggs, and a lack of makeup or grooming. Dishes begin piling up in the sink, and the afflicted’s response to most questions is: “Uh, I’ll worry about that later.” Can happen as early as the date of vacation planning, or as late as the hours before the flight leaves.

Examples Of Use:

Hubby: so what’s on tap for Wednesday’s post this week? More of our sexual conversations, bedroom exploits, noon-hour rendez-vous, or shopping expeditions? Is nothing sacred between us any more????

Me: oh hubby, stop it, you know you love it! But no, I am afraid I will be disappointing you and our fans. I’ve got a terrible case of vacationitis!

Hubby: what!?!?!?

Me: given that we are flying out IN 12 HOURS for our 2-week vacay in Punta Cana, I can’t concentrate on anything…blog…work…urban word fun…it’s all totally escaped me. I am mush!

Hubby: well I can’t say as I blame you. I can’t concentrate on anything but grabbing our suitcases and flying outta here! Ola Punta Cana!

Me: knowing my readers, they’ll forgive our little bout of vacationitis!

Yip, you read it correctly – hubby and I are flying out of here for a little FUN in the SUN!! We are going to be in Punta Cana for the next two weeks. Squeeee!

No worries, I have the ever fabulous Jessica O’Neal swinging by for a guest post on Monday (squeeeee…thank you Jessica) and I have a few more surprises in store for you while we are away.

I hope y’all will continue to make yourselves at home here! Talk amongst yourselves, frolic in the comments, blogjack one another, enjoy shameless self-promoting, and have an all around party!!! I’ve taken the “first-comment” moderation off so all hell could very well break loose…FUN….have at er’ and let the good times roll.

I will catch up in person upon my return April 23, 2012! Till then…have fun everyone…I will miss you but will console myself with girlie drinks on the beach as I say “cheers” in each of your honor!!!

Have you ever suffered from vacationitis? How you stay focused when you are so close to jet setting to your vacation destination?

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ROW80 – Round 1 – final check-in

Well, I can’t believe we’ve got another ROW80 under our belt. 80 days/11 weeks and we rocked our goals out hard. We laid it all out there for the world to see and were accountable to one another while also being cheerleaders and support systems.

It’s an amazing community and a huge thanks to Kait Nolan for all her work to keep ROW80 ripping up the blogosphere and to all of this round’s sponsors for their encouragement and enthusiasm! I know I speak for all of us when I say it made a huge difference in my world!

Overall, I am pretty pleased with my success this round. I may not have nailed each and every goal, as you’ll see below, but I made huge steps towards making writing, social media, and a healthier lifestyle bigger parts of my life. That was the ultimate goal so I feel like this was a HUGELY successful round for me. And I’ll take that! Not to mention, I learned a TON about what works for me, and what doesn’t! Squeee!

Writing Goals:

Social Media Goals:

  • Done: Blog – post 4 times a week
    Goal: 44 posts
    Total: 47 posts
    24 047 words in total
  • Done: Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
  • Done: Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
  • Done: Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    I think I hit every week although might have missed 1 – although I hit more than 1 new person a few weeks

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Close: Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    Goal: 33 Cardio
    Total: 23
    Only 11 short 
  • Bit far off: BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    Goal: 33 BowFlex
    Total: 16 BowFlex
    17 off from goal so not stellar 
  • Done: Maintain a daily food/migraine journal

What I learned:

  • I have no issue nailing the social media stuff. Woot woot!
  • On the other hand, social media can be a time burner. I need to be careful that it’s not a detriment to my other goals. It’s about finding a balance. Maybe setting time limits or leaving it to later in the evening when other priorities are checked off the list.
  • I am not great at writing every day. Instead of doing small bursts of everything, I do much better when I do one or two main focus areas for each evening.
  • Making a list of priorities for each day helps me ensure I meet my daily goals, especially on weekends.
  • Putting things like TV or going to the movies off until after I hit my priorities (later in the evening or later in the week) is key to lessening procrastination and distraction.
  • Weeks when I came out of the gate hard and with momentum, I was able to keep that going all week. That means kicking my procrastinating butt on Monday night to get stuff done ensures a great week going forward.
  • When writing, I have to leave the couch and go into my office and shut the door. Distractions are extremely counter-productive to my creative nature. And I can’t help but get lost in whatever TV show is on.
  • No beating one self up! I do better when I shrug off a less than stellar week as “obviously I needed some down time” so I can move forward amped up for the week to come.

As you can see, I got a TON out of this round of ROW80.

I would also like to take a moment and thank all of you who read my progress updates, cheered me on, tweeted your support and were just all round fabulous! Each of you made the last 80 days a tremendously rewarding experience and without you, I’d be lost. So…THANK YOU!

Unfortunately, I won’t be returning to the next round of ROW80. I am on vacation from April 4-18, 2012 and when I return, I’ll already be 2 days behind in Laurie Schnebly Campbell’s Master Class: “From Plot to Finish” which is essentially the continuation of the class I am taking now. It runs until the end of April and I want to give it my full attention. But, I will still be around to cheer all you ROW80ers’ on! And here’s hoping I join in Round 3 with a plotted novel ready to be WRITTEN! Squeee….

Take care everyone and here’s to always Rocking the ROW!

How did you finish up ROW80? What were the valuable lessons your learned? Any tips/tricks to share?

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-n #22

Time for Sunday’s ROW80 progress update.

Don’t hold your breath. This check-in is going to be short and sweet since I made little progress since Wednesday. It was a crazy week with a lot of busy evenings and…we made this weekend my birthday celebration weekend (actual bday is tomorrow) so hubby and I kicked it up hard.

Writing Goals:

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    4 posts – total word count: 1649
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Done

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    2 Cardio (does dancing for 3 hours last night count?)
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    2 BowFlex 
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal

The wins:

  • Rocked the reading.
  • Rocked the writing course and Jenny’s contest entry.
  • Rocked the social media.
  • Rocked the dance floor.
  • Exercise wasn’t bang on but I am still pleased.

Where to improve:

  • On busy weeks, can’t let writing fall to the side.

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #21

Time for Wednesday’s ROW80 progress update.

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    542 
  • Finish James Scott Bell book
    In progress
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    1 down – 1 just about done
  • NEW goal: Complete weekly assignments of Plotting Via Motivation
    Homework Assignments – done

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    3 down – 1 to go
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Wednesday – done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Not yet

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 down – 1 scheduled for tonight – 1 to go Saturday
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    1 down – 1 scheduled for tonight – 1 to go Saturday
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #20

Time for Sunday’s ROW80 progress update. Work has gotten a wee bit insane and I had three evenings with plans so it was a bit of a challenge to balance it all. I wasn’t around as much on the social media front/blogging/twitter as usual but I’ll be around tonight and tomorrow night to visit y’all! All in all, I think it was a stellar week!

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    1524 total  
  • Finish James Scott Bell book
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    Done Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a ChickLit Novel
    3/4 through Save the Cat 
  • NEW goal: Complete weekly assignments of Plotting Via Motivation (March 5-30, 2012)
    Done (3 assignments)

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    4 posts – total word count: 1577
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Done

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    4 cardio 
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    3 BowFlex 
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal

The wins:

  • Did great on the word count and writing. Maybe not 100% but I am pleased
  • Writing course is going great!
  • I wasn’t quite as active on social media/blogging/tweeting but I’ll catch up with y’all this week.
  • Rocked the exercise this week! Round 3 of 8-week Death by Swimming started and I did 56 laps. Started skipping during BowFlex to amp up heart rate and work in some cardio (now known as Death by Skipping). Walked the dog with one of my best gal pals – what’s better than that? Did a total of 80 squats and 40 lunges (potty breaks and during BowFlex). I am feeling it today with a little muscle tenderness and shin splints but am super pumped. Hoping to keep up the work this week.

Where to improve:

  • Quite honestly, I think this was another bang up week. I felt like I missed getting around to all the blogs I normally do but I think the ebb and flow overall works out so I am pleased. Here’s to finishing up this round of ROW80 strong!

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #19

Time for Wednesday’s ROW80 progress update.

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    0 – so far
    I plan on doing my writing later this week since the week’s been full thus far.
  • Finish James Scott Bell book
    In progress
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    1 down – 1 in progress
  • NEW goal: Complete weekly assignments of Plotting Via Motivation
    Homework Assignment 1 – done
    Homework Assignment 2 – in progress (due Friday)

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    3 down – 1 to go
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Wednesday – done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Not yet

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 down – 1 scheduled for Thursday night (Death by Swimming resumes) – 1 to go Saturday
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    1 down – 1 scheduled for tonight – 1 to go Saturday
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

Author spotlight with Virginia Ripple and book giveaway

I am super pumped today because I am doing another, yes you read that right, ANOTHER author spotlight and book giveaway. SQUEEEE!

Today, I have the fantastic honor to feature Virginia Ripple. Virginia has been telling stories since she could hold a crayon but has also felt Called to ministry since she was a toddler. As long as she can remember her desire to write has been alternately eclipsed and balanced by her need to serve God. Since moving back to her home town, she has written two non-fiction books:

  • Fear Not! Discovering God’s Promises For Our Lives: when life seems impossible to cope with, God reaches out to remind us of his promises for our lives. Journey through scripture to meet God in new and unexpected ways as you discover what it means to “Fear Not!”
  • Simply Prayer: a non-fiction book that explains how we often make prayer a lot more complicated that it needs to be and gives ways to make prayer simple and enjoyable.

Her future plans include writing several Christian fantasies, as well as teaching various workshops and Bible studies. The adventure of writing non-fiction to writing fiction keeps her on her toes.

Welcome Virginia! I am so excited to have you here and to learn more about your process as a writer.

Thank you, Natalie for featuring me as part of an author spotlight here on your blog. I’m so looking forward to interacting with everyone in the comments.

So you’ve written two books that are non-fiction and are currently working on your first fiction novel, what are some of the difference between writing in the two styles?

Writing non-fiction is pretty straight forward. You have facts and anecdotes, things that will directly help a reader. While a non-fiction book can have entertainment value (and should if you really want to keep a reader’s attention), it doesn’t have to.

Fiction, on the other hand, means spinning a tale that may or may not create a change in the reader and it has to be entertaining. If it doesn’t, then there are plenty of other things that person could do instead.

In either your fiction or non-fiction, are you a plotter or a pantser? What’s your writing process?

I started out as a pantser for both, but I’ve since discovered things go smoother and faster when I have at least some kind of plan.

Generally I begin by imagining what the story might be about. I do a little work on who the characters are, but just the basics. Then I start plotting, filling in the details. After I’m satisfied with my outline, I start writing scene by scene. I don’t worry about chapters because then I get overwhelmed thinking about how many words the book “has” to have.

I can’t say I’m a complete plotter, because, as I’m writing a scene, sometimes the characters take over and lead me down a path I had no idea was there. After I finish writing that scene, I adjust my outline if I need to, make a few notes of things I made need to change later and move on.

How did you come up with your non-fiction or fiction ideas? Is there a different process for each?

There’s a very different process for each, at least for me.

With non-fiction, I look for questions to answer that could help someone. Being a former minister, I tend to see a need for people to re-connect with their spirituality, with God, but oftentimes we make it harder than it needs to be. That was the reason behind Simply Prayer. I heard a lot of people complain about spending just 15 minutes in prayer because “it’s too hard.” I wanted to help these people understand what prayer is and give some ways to do it that were fun and maybe not what they’d thought of before.

My fiction ideas come in flashes of scenes or dialogue. I rarely begin writing a story with the intent to answer a question or make a specific point. I hate fiction that is only a sermon in disguise. Why would I want to inflict that on a reader if I don’t like it?

How long does it take you to write a novel from start to finish?

So far it’s taken a year per book. I know there are others who can produce a book every month or every six months and maybe someday I’ll be able to do that, but for me it’s about quality. Well, that and my perfectionism.

My husband actually had to talk me out of scrapping Simply Prayer and starting over when I found a few typos in the proof copy.

What’s your advice to writers JUST starting out, like me? What do you wish you would have known when you started out?

What you learned in high school English isn’t enough to make a career of writing. In fact, it’s just barely a beginning.

Read as many books on how to write as you can. I like the Write Great Fiction series because it breaks everything down into components from structure to character building to dialogue. And don’t discount writing blogs.

Find people who will support your dream and make a commitment to work toward that dream every day.

What’s coming up next from you? Tell me more about your fiction work on the horizon?

Right now I plan on releasing this current book later this year, most likely around Thanksgiving. After that I have five more planned in this series.

What’s your favourite Urban Word? Ever used it?

I don’t have a favorite Urban Word, though I have to say I’ve had a hard time explaining my sudden laughter at work after reading some of the ones you’ve posted here. 😀

Would you share an excerpt from Simply Prayer?

The Proper Position

When you think of prayer one of the first images that often comes to mind is someone kneeling either in church or at the foot of a bed. But that doesn’t mean that kneeling is the “appropriate” and only way to pray. In truth it doesn’t matter what position you choose. If you feel more comfortable kneeling, then that is how you should pray. However, if you feel moved to stand, to sit, or even dance, then that is what you should do.

Imagine talking to your best friend. What do you do? You choose a comfortable position. If you’re home or in a coffee shop you usually sit in a comfortable chair. If you’re standing in line at the store you may lean over your cart. It all depends on the situation. However, when talking with your friends the position you’re sitting or standing in does not matter to the conversation. It’s the same with God.

The book sounds incredible Virginia and wonderful suggestions on how to make prayer a part of your every day life and how to keep it simple and easy. For years, I’ve used prayer as a way to feel connected with my Dad and Mamma K who have both passed on. I keep it pretty simple and basically just have a conversation with either of them in my head. Sometimes in bed before I go to sleep, sometimes when I am driving, and sometimes when I am just sitting watching TV or taking a bath. I believe they hear me and I believe when I have concerns or confusion, they speak to me by whispering to my heart. I have found it to be one of the most profoundly healing discoveries in my own life. You are right. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Virginia, thank you so much for swinging by my blog. Your two non-fiction books sound touching and inspiring. I can’t wait to see what your fiction holds for us. I wish you all the success in the world.

Enjoyed Virginia so much you want more?! You can:

What about you; any questions for Virginia? Have you made the switch from non-fiction to fiction and have advice to share? How does your writing process differ from hers? 

Book Giveaway Details

Prizes:

  • 1 special edition signed e-book of Simply Prayer (open internationally).
  • Grand prize: a signed paperback of Simply Prayer (open to US/Canadian)

How do you win?

  • The book giveaway is open all week; February 27-March 3, 2012 (11:59 pm AST).
  • You will earn one entry into the draw each time you comment on any of my blog posts this week.
  • Tweet about this post and earn an additional entry (be sure to put my twitter handle @nataliehartford in your tweet so I know).
  • On March 4, 2012, I will put all the names in a hat and hubby will draw the names of the winners.
  • Check back March 5, 2012 where I will announce the winners.

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #16

Time for Sunday’s ROW80 progress update.

So…I suck! There…I said it. This week was nearly a total right-off. After a 3-day migraine (thank you for all your wonderful support and suggestions), I played catch-up at work and at home which meant that I barely kept my head above water to achieve some of my other goals. That’s like 3 weeks in a row I’ve not quite hit – grrrr – so I am going to have to hit it hard this week.

Now, on the plus side, I signed up for 2 online writing courses after the first was highly recommended by Carrie Spencer:

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    466 – yip – dismal
  • Finish James Scott Bell book (must finish soon)
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    Done Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a ChickLit Novel
    1/3 through Save the Cat 

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    4 posts – total word count: 2248
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Done

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 cardio (told you I sucked)
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    Zero – (again…told ya…sucked hard)
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal
    Done!

The wins:

  • Super pumped for the 2 writing classes.
  • I managed to keep up with blogging (mine and others) and social media stuff (although I didn’t tweet as much as I normally do I did try to swing by as many peeps as possible to read and comment).

Where to improve:

  • MUST write this week.
  • I’d like to spend some time on my craft books as well.
  • MUST work out – so non-negotiable – must get back into this routine!

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #15

Time for Wednesday’s ROW80 progress update. Another slow week thus far (hmmmm…I hope this isn’t a trend). Today was the first day since Sunday that I’ve felt half alive. Been climbing up after a nasty 3-day migraine which has thankfully subsided. I did do some story plotting/thinking (when I wasn’t blinded by pain) but not a whole lot of writing.

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    466 – so far
  • Finish James Scott Bell book
    In progress
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    1 down – 1 in progress

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    3 down – 1 to go
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Wednesday – done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Not yet

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 done
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    1 scheduled for tonight if my head will allow it
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal
    Done!

How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

ROW80 – Round 1 – Check-in #14

Time for Sunday’s ROW80 progress update.

I took everyone’s advice from last Sunday’s check-in and spent most of my writing time doing some visualization, thinking and writing about how I see myself as a successful author to try to nail down my genre. In doing so, I discovered that I have a character arc/theme that keeps rearing its head. It wants to be told. It’s begging to be told. It won’t leave me alone.

I realize this is the issue I am struggling with because I can’t figure out how to show the character arc in a story without it being a self-help book. Hence the reason I keep bouncing around genres and why I can’t settle on a story idea because I haven’t hit on the right story and conflict to showcase it. And this weekend I started wondering if it can even be done?!?!?

That’ll be the question I’ll spend this week pondering and playing around with.

Writing Goals:

  • Complete outline of WIP
  • Write 1750 words a week, on average 250 words a day (can be on WIP or other writings like flash fiction, character development, world building etc)
    1347 – words total for this week
  • Finish James Scott Bell book (nearly done)
  • Read 2 other writing craft books
    Done Will Write for Shoes: How to Write a ChickLit Novel
    1/3 through Save the Cat 

Social Media Goals:

  • Blog – post 4 times a week
    4 posts (+1 guest post at Elena Aitken’s – total word count: 4381
  • Blog – post ROW80 progress reports twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
    Done
  • Tweet/Comment on at least 10 blogs a week
    Done
  • Comment on 1 new blog per week (ROW80 or otherwise)
    Done

Healthy Lifestyle Goals:

  • Cardio – 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday)
    1 cardio (another busy week and exercise took a back seat)
  • BowFlex – 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday)
    Zero – oops!
  • Maintain a daily food/migraine journal
    Done!

The wins:

  • Although I didn’t meet my word goal, I feel like I made good progress on figuring out what the issue is. I believe this will help me move forward and either find a way to write the story or let it go for now.
  • Rocked the social media.

Where to improve:

  • Gotta step up the exercise!

Have you ever started the writing process with a character arc first and built the story and characters around it? How are you making out with your ROW80 goals?

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