Photo Challenge Day 1 – Winter Clothing

dec-1-winter-clothing_edited-1I am so glad that the challenge does not have to be worked in any certain order.   Work today seemed all consuming.   I spent part of the work day on the road.   I got back to the office with emails that I had to deal with yet today and phone to calls to return.   It was just one of those days where at the end of the day I was tired because nothing was easy.

I looked over the list and living in Montana we have lots and lots of winter clothes.  So I grabbed some winter clothes put them in front of the stove.   I laid down on my belly and shot it from all sorts of angles, and then swapped out clothes and tried it some more.   This ended up being the best with a little Photoshop Elements thrown in.

December’s Challenge

If November was not challenge enough, I am taking on another one in December.   This month I am going to challenge myself to take a photo a day.   I follow a Worqshop, woman’s blog who’s creative work I admire.   On the last day of the November she told of this challenge she was doing for December.    I thought it sounded interesting enough to try it for myself.    I have tried photo challenges before, but failed often because I limit myself to scenic photography.  In my mind that requires you to get out and drive some place to find that shot.    This is further hindered by the fact that I work virtually for my employer from home, so many a  day I never leave home.   There is not even the drive to work  for me.      This challenge is definitely not scenic.  It will not only challenge me each day to take a photo but also will challenge my composition skills in ways I haven’t be challenged in in a long time if ever.      Here is my list of what I am to photograph this month.  Notice the third from last item; how could I not participate in this challenge?

I will be posting those to my Pinterest account at DianaAtLooking and possibly do quick posts here as well.

Novel Progress Report

Well I am nine days into this adventure and still going strong.   I have written just over 14,000 words.   This is good in that I am on target to finish if I continue to write like I have been.    But when I think about my goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month it is true that I am not very far in the process.  I sometimes wonder what I have written so far, and RangerSir has hinted he’d like to read it.  I have started this process before and not finished each time so am going to write until the voices in my head tell me it is over or the end of the month whichever comes first.   No getting diverted by early editing.

The good part of all of this writing is that for the most part my real life has not gone down the toilet or put on hold because I am spending all my time writing.   I still have a my job and show up and work each day.   I am carrying my load around the house, not letting RangerSir do a disproportionate amount of the general household chores ( I have a white chicken chilli in the crock pot, my last load of laundry in the drier, and manged to go to down and grocery shop before the mega storm arrives).  I still have carved out time to enjoy some of my other creative ventures including teaching a class, making some cards, blogging a little and reading some for pleasure.   Now that it sounds like I am having it all that is not true, my exercise program in almost nonexistent and I have two Christmas gifts to make that are not even started.    Life isn’t perfect but it is damn good and someday who knows I may call myself a novelist.   You just have to write one not publish one to call yourself novelist, but if I get lucky I could do both.

Now it is time to close this off and get back to the business of writing.

Writing Dialogue

I have taken a fair number of writing classes.   Most of them have revolved around business writing. I have mastered the fine art of writing proposals, documenting businesses operations, and general written communications.      In the course of my career I have learned how to use  general business writing skills and developed my technical writing skills.   I can write text for websites taking into consideration how it will affect SEO (search engine optimization).  I have been doing this all long enough that it comes easy.

I have recorded family history and taken classes to help me learn how to take dry dull, facts and figures and bring to life the people who I have researched.    This works writing style works well with my analytical brain.

Now I am writing my first novel and I have discovered I know almost nothing about the right punctuation for dialogue.  I know the fundamentals of the use of quotation marks and where the comma goes but beyond that I have no idea.     I am writing this novel  pantser style so there will be lots of editing to do when I am done.     I will be looking to take class, read a book  or some other way to learn more about the right way to handle dialogue.   Right now the ideas are flowing, and they say as long as that is happening if you are a pantser you keep on going.

They say in good dialogue writing the reader knows who is speaking without telling them. What a goal.


I am over 8,000 words tonight and I put in a full day of work.   I am getting a blog posting written and I worked on a gift a bit tonight in my studio.   Do you suppose this novel is providing all this energy?


The Novel Is Started

Today I started my novel as planned.   It started off pretty fantastic if I do say so myself.   So far this writing my the seat of my pants has worked.   I knew a few things about my character when I started and as I have written I have found out more about her.     I am not kidding myself that every day will go so well or I will always find the so much time to write, but I am making progress.   Watch how it goes on the right side of the page.   My goal is 50,000 words by the end of the month.   Who knows if 50k makes a novel or not, but it is a target to shoot for.

No I did not start my story this way.

There is a writer in there somewhere!

Many of us are sure that there is a book hiding inside of us.   It is not likely the next great American novel, but a nice book in there that folks just might like to read if we just put down on paper.   I am sure I have one or two, but just never seem to get off the dime and get moving.

At one time, probably the busiest time in my life, I belonged to a writing group when I lived in the Minneapolis metro area.   It was a great bunch of creative women and they were both published and non published, back when there was no serious self publish option like there is now with Amazon.    They were so supportive and willing to share.   They came from a diverse bunch of backgrounds and wrote in the whole spectrum of genres.   Some had a couple of names for the different genres they wrote in.   If you need to find out a procedure someone was always willing to help you find a person who you could run your ideas past to see if you got the nuts and bolts of how it was done right.   They knew chefs, chauffeurs, FBI agents, police detectives, corners, publishers, restaurant owners, wheelwrights,  and any anything else you might need.       I did lots of research, background work and my analytical mind went into high gear in all that “should do” stuff they tell you that you must do before you begin to write.   It should have been the perfect group of people to write with, but my timing was wrong.  I never got that novel written.

Well National Novel Writing Month is just about here again and I am going to give it a whirl again.   Only this time I am going to be a “let’er rip” girl this time.   There are novelists who just sit down and write by the seat of their pants and then go back and fill it in, edit it out, and make the story become a full-fledged novel.  I am going to try that  this time because the planning approach has not worked for me.   I am now in the state of less than a million people, Montana, in one of the more sparsely populated areas and so that cushion my writing group gave me to research before I wrote is gone.   I am going to write and when I find a spot I need some research I am going to punt my way through it and come back and find just who and what I need when the need is there and real.

It may be good.   It may be bad.   No matter, when the end of November finally rolls around I am hoping I have 50,000 words down on paper.  A story, that may become a novel.    It can’t be any worse than my previous attempt that never got out of the gate.   Tomorrow it begins

Hippy Dippy Earth Mama

When I went looking for hippy earth mama pictures most of what I got was young women. Do you suppose that means I was suppose to outgrow this before I got to my 50’s?

Since my last vacation I have been embracing the hippy dippy earth mama side of myself (HDEM).  It has allowed me to continue to vacation even though I am back on the job. I am a lot more relaxed and a little less obsessed about what must be done at the end of each day.    I am embracing a more holistic view of life, with much more balance than I have had in years.

My closest friends know that  I have always been a HDEM.  Circumstances, mostly my job, have meant I needed to keep it in check in order to conform enough to be successful.   After all we all like to eat and shelter.   It is even nicer when we are successful enough in our jobs that we have enough money for a little nest egg and don’t have to worry that we are one or two paychecks from financial disaster or maybe be extravagant and  take a vacation.

There were ties you could wear and ties you could not wear.

For years I work as a manager in the systems and information technology field for Fortune 100 companies.   It was lots of old school in those days.   I was younger than most of my co-workers and female in a male dominated field.    I remember working across the street from an IBM office and it was there I learned about the uniform that was expected after coming from a blue-collar family in rural Illinois.   White oxford shirt, dark tie, coat and no facial hair was the standard dress expected for successful men.  No Exceptions!  There were few women role models, but those few women did the best version of the IBM look they could muster in a skirt.    Sounds sort of strange in today’s world of so much more casual, but indeed it was the way it was.   At one company I was the first and only woman manager of a department of mostly men, many 20 years older than me.   Talk about needing to look the part and walk the talk, I was that person.  My co-workers had no idea about my secret life as HDEM, though I had a unstructured, orange sherbert blazer that I loved and wore once in awhile just to throw them a curve ball occasionally.   I was following all the rules of John Malloy’s Dress for Success by day and buying my off hours clothes a Minneapolis Ragstock. I was an IBM’er by day and a Bohemian Art Fart by night.      Few knew the real me.

I  have been back to work now almost a month since vacation.  I am once again wearing my  hat as the queen of all that is technical at work.  It is comfortable place to be at work.  I am working with codes, numbers bits and bytes, dollars and cents,  and weighing it all out pros/cons, budget and mission and putting forth ideas and methods. Once conditioned after so many years or wearing the right persona I  find it near impossible to let loose  during the work hours and maybe I am not supposed to.   My job is different now I work from home.   I no longer manage a staff.   I no longer work a Fortune 100, not even a 500 company.   Yet I still seek to be a good worker be and seeking to ensure that employer gets that 110% contribution from me.  Before vacation it meant working long hours because I was never sure when I reached that 110%.   Now the HDEM is hard at work in me.  My day planner is a wild collection creativity full of quotes, pictures, doodles, ideas and thoughts, sorta of a reminder of who I AM steadily throughout the day.  Reminding me of when it is time to let go of my work life.    It is full of things there were no provisions made for when a Day-Timer was designed.   I am letting my creative muse run wild at 4pm instead of hoping for a little time, maybe sort of, when I find some extra time when the end of the day comes at 6 or 7.    I love cook and making yogurt and granola from scratch again.   I am taking more solitary walks.     Our TV reception disappeared and we have not fixed it, no loss there. I am doing yoga and walking instead of just walking.   I am volunteering again.  I am seeking out those things I want to try to see if I might enjoy something I don’t know about yet.  Yep the hippy dippy earth mama is a live and well and not so sure she wants to go back to part-time.