Craft · Scrapbooking · Writing

Redoing a Scrapbook Album

Pocket Pages Megan baby album 011Not me. Ever. That was the statement I always made to myself when I read about scrapbookers redoing albums. Wasn’t the way I made layouts when I first started as much part of the “history” as the photos and journaling on the page. It showed how I progressed in the hobby and what was hot and trendy … or at least what I thought was awesome … back in the day. Besides, if I redid albums every time my scrapping style changed, I’d be documenting the same pictures over and over again. And there is the likelihood that, like clothing fashion, what was once trendy and is now mocked will become trendy again and the pages will once again look like they did.

To me, it was like rewriting a book after it’s been published. The project is “done” so no use going back and tweaking something that has left the to-do pile. My style has changed since my first book was published in 2002. One did not rewrite a book once it was published so it seemed “wrong” to redo an album, or even a layout, once it was placed into a scrapbook. Not to mention, all those other lonely photo longing for a page/layout of their own.

And then I did the unthinkable–I rewrote a book that had gone out of print. I still loved thedyingforredemption_small characters and most of the plot, but there was one part I didn’t like and cringed at years later. I decided it rewrite that part and also have it edited before I republished it on my own. There were two other novels that were out of print but I wasn’t interested in redoing them. I like those stories and felt they were told the way they needed to be told. And, I’m at a different place with my writing and am content with “letting them go”.

Along came the Project Life way of scrapbooking, or at least it finally got on my radar a few months ago, and I knew it would work perfectly for doing my children’s baby/personal albums. I always wanted to do a scrapbook for each of them separately but have spent my scrapping time working on yearly and event (vacation) albums. I had also started the albums in the 8 1/2 x 11 size and never liked the limited amount of space. My thoughts were always since I started it in that size, I needed to stay in that format.

I kept putting those albums off to the side and decided to go with my heart and redo the albums. One thing I am doing, is keeping as much of the original embellishments from the page that I can. I don’t want to alter the style completely of the pages I did ten years ago, but I want to change the structure to that of the pocket scrapbooking (as I’ve heard it called also). It has “breathed new life” into the project for me. On days that I am really tired, I find that pocket scrapbooking lets me enjoy my hobby as focusing on the smaller spaces is relaxing and manageable while a larger canvas just seems impossible.Pocket Pages Megan baby album 012

Books · Reviews · Writing

SRP Review: The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

This heroine review is going to be unlike any other I’ve written because I’m going to be talking about two characters, Linda and Molly. The reason this is unusual is Molly, the daughter of Linda, isn’t a point of view character so I only got to know her through Linda. Linda is the point of view character and while I enjoyed getting to know her, Molly is the character in The Goodbye Quilt who stuck out to me and made a place for herself in my heart.

I did like the main character, Linda, and enjoyed seeing her change and come into her own as she struggled to find a ‘new life’ and purpose for herself. Linda had jumped into the role of mother with her whole heart and now found herself kind of forced into a new role…which she wasn’t sure what it would be…when her daughter graduated from high school. What I really liked about Linda, and made her a self-rescue princess, is that she kept those ‘parts’ of herself she liked even though others felt she needed to branch out more. Linda grew while still staying true to herself at her core, which isn’t always and easy thing to do.

I’m thinking Molly resonated with me more because I have a daughter who will be graduating this year and will be venturing out on her own. I loved seeing Molly through her mother’s eyes and watching as Linda discovered the strength in her daughter. I held my breath at times as I waited to see what choices Molly would make, especially when she was pulled in two different directions. To me, Molly is a self-rescue princess because she stood up for herself and made her wishes known. What I really liked was how Molly made her decisions and voiced them in a strong and respectful way. It’s not always easy to get your point across to the people you love. Being able to do is while keeping your temper and attitude in check is a necessary skill and I believe a truly admirable quality.

Encouragement · Everyday Life · Writing

You are a Diva if — Not!

You are a Diva if…

you are not doing what others expect you to do at all times.

Or at least that is the impression I’m getting lately. Diva (along with narcissist) is a word I see and hear quite frequently. Sometimes diva is said tongue in check and a term a woman applies to herself, and other times it’s a putdown used against others. A recent blog post I read has me thinking about this a lot today and mostly because it has hurt people. Good people. Wonderful, hardworking, loving, giving women stretched almost to the point of breaking are made to feel that devoting time to their own dreams and goals is wrong. Sinful.

For most people, time is the most valuable and limited resource. Between jobs, second jobs (writing for some authors), family, household, volunteering most people are hanging on and just managing to get everything done. And sometimes tasks are not done and it adds on a layer of guilt and makes a person feel unworthy. Lacking.

Instead of trying to ease the burden, some are heaping on more guilt by labeling people divas or narcissists because they aren’t doing enough for others. And interesting to me, the “others” the labeler seems to be talking about is themselves. In these hand slaps, what I hear loud and clear is basically, “Using your time on yourself, and not me or what I say is important, makes you a Diva.”

Sadly, this phenomena seems to be more prevalent in Christian organizations and circles. If a woman (and yes, it’s usually a woman it’s directed at) isn’t giving all her ‘free’ time or personal time to causes and in support of others dreams and goals then she is a Diva with a capital D. To make sure she gets the point, some version of the “God is not happy with you” quote is throw in. I think sometimes in our quest to prove ourselves a good Christian to the world and make God love us, we forget 1. pointing out others ‘faults’/’sinful’ behavior isn’t proof and 2. He already does.

We do not know all that is happening in a person’s life at any given moment. Sometimes I don’t even know what is happening in mine. When someone doesn’t step up the way you feel they should, doesn’t do enough for you, it doesn’t mean they are a Diva. It could mean they have a lack of time. It could mean they’re struggling. It could mean they need your help.

“Do onto others as you would have them do unto you” should be said and thought of with a loving and giving spirit, not with a self-righteous and punishing spirit. As bling does not make a Diva, nor does having limited time to help others in their pursuits make a writer a Diva.


My Scrapbooking Mystery has a Cover!

I’m so excited. Nothing makes a book feel so real to me than seeing the cover art. Even though I wrote The End a while ago, and have since done one edit on Cropped to Death, nothing brings out the excitement and says ‘book is coming out soon’ quite like seeing the cover for the first time.

I love the cover of Cropped to Death. It says mystery, scrapbooking, and fun. All that I believe the book contains and is about. I’ve been very fortunate that the covers artists who have designed covers for my books have been wonderful. (Henery Press, Desert Breeze Publishing, and Stephanie Mooney who I hired for my self-published book)

And, I know it’s not easy to get the right look for an author. Most of us have a picture in our mind of what that story looks like but it’s hard to get the picture in our head to translate to others. Putting tens of thousands of words into one picture is not an easy task. Dying for Redemption (which I republished myself) was a cover created solely based on the information I gave the artist. Even though I wrote the book, edited, and rewrote before I republished, there were times I wasn’t sure what it’s ‘face’ would be. It took me a while to find a cover artist to contact because first I had to narrow down the right style. There were also a few times I wanted to write ‘I don’t know’ when asked about what I liked to see on cover.

Actually, I had this moment of panic with all my covers. There is something intimidating about describing the image for a book. It’s kind of like asking what does a writer’s dream look like. It’s quite real but yet not quite tangible. Yet, each cover artists I’ve worked with has done that, and sometimes even showed me the perfect picture that I hadn’t even imagined for my story.

Everyday Life · How To · Writing

Writer’s Block — aka Knee Injury

Who would’ve thought that a knee injury would make it hard to write? An injury to a wrist, finger, hand or an arm are understandable … but a knee? I never realized how important moving around was when I’m working on action scenes. I always knew I was a pacer … I wander around when I’m working out a scene … but never knew it was such an integral part of my process. Until now when I can’t do it and I find myself stalled just when I was ‘in the groove’. 

I’m an actress when it comes to action scenes. I can only see the action clearly enough to write it when I play the role of the hero or heroine and go through the motions (subduing the bad guy, kicking down a door, etc.). I want to make sure that if the antagonist is standing in a particular position that my hero or heroine is approaching them from the correct direction. How else can I know for sure if the scene works?

Right now, unless I want my character limping or hopping along (Wait –that could work in a story, I must take notes on getting around. Or not getting around as the case leans toward), I find the action scenes not as compelling and hard to write. I just can’t visual the description to make it work and not sound clunky or like well … an author is telling a story to the reader rather than the reader watching the action take place.

I might just have to hunt through the house and see if I can find the Rescue Heroes my son had saved for me. Though, I do believe my teen finally gave them all away. I might just have to resort to using Dora, Diego, and Boots and their assortment of critters to work out the climactic scene. Dora and Diego do have a helicopter, SUV and a four-wheeler available for their use. It could make for a very interesting scene.

Books · How To · Reviews

SRP Non-Fiction Review: Organize for a Fresh Start by Susan Fay West

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

This year, I’ve decided to add in one non-fiction (self-help or how to) review a month. With celebrating the Self-Rescuing Princess type, I decided this year to read at least one non-fiction book a month so I can either improve my skills in an area or learn a new one. For March, I decided to tackle organizing.

I really enjoyed Organize for A Fresh Start: Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life and how it focuses on organizing … from belongings, to finances, to time … after a person enters a new stage of life. It addresses how once a new stage of life is entered (marriage, divorce, children, grandchildren), the way we’ve done things in the past might no longer work. There are lists at the back of the book to help with decluttering projects.

I really liked how the book separates dealing with inherited items and those belongings of a deceased loved one, from regular accumulated stuff. The author acknowledges that it will be harder to make decisions on possessions passed down and those that had belonged to a loved one who has passed away. She is respectful about the feelings and memories associated with these special type of belongings and encourages people to take their time, even if it means a few years.

I found the book to be written in a very practical and encouraging style.  As I was reading, I kept nodding and started to understand why some of my organizing systems no longer worked. I have added more obligations and projects to my life over the last two years, and never took a look to make sure the old set-up for my office still worked for me now. Also, now that my children are teenagers, we need a new system in place with them to keep track of sports, work, and social schedules. Sometimes I walk away from books like this feeling discouraged and guilty for not having been able to keep everything maintained. This time I could see why our system doesn’t work and have some plans on what could work. No guilt, just helpful ideas.

Encouragement · Everyday Life · Writing

Setting Goals

I’ve been taking a finance class at church and this week’s assignment was about goal setting. The goal setting the course wanted us to focus on was financial ones. Plan out the big purchases we knew we needed to make in the next few years. List out the purchases and figure out the amount we needed to save for that item. My husband and I are determined not to use debt (credit cards and loans) as a method of purchasing large items. (newer car, kitchen remodel, vacations, etc). Thinking about $25,000 for a kitchen remodel is depressing. My first thought was we’ll never save that much. But, breaking the cost down to years, and then into months, made our goal seem doable. Reachable.

 I decided to take that mindset and apply it to my writing projects. I know how many books I’d like (and need) to complete this year and broke those projects down by word count. Writing 2,000 words a day (1,000 each book) for 2 different works-in-progress made the goal of completing those books more doable in my mind. Well, I did give myself permission to change it up if I’m in ‘the zone’. Write 2,000 on one book, and the next day 2,000 on the other project.

When I focused on the big goal –writing three books this year– it put a bit of pressure on my muse. I felt overwhelmed, discouraged and headed toward failure … and the year has just started. All I could picture in my mind was thousands upon thousands of words in a mish-mash, thousands of blank pages I needed to place all those words on. Three books. In one year? Not going to happen. Then I split those books into separate goals, then divided each of those books into  smaller daily word goals. By looking at those daily goals, I realized it was possible. Achievable. It didn’t look so bad when I saw how many words a day I had to write.

This week I started my daily goals for my projects. At the beginning of the week, I write down the words count I want to write each day, for each project and check them off as they are completed. I find myself more relaxed when I write. I didn’t think I could write 300,000 words this year. But I know I can do 2,000 words a day.

Whether it’s paying off debt, saving for a large purchase, or completing a book, the end goal because more manageable when it’s looked at in smaller bits rather than as a whole.

Encouragement · Writing

Taking My Own Advice

“Every writer’s journey is different.” This is a piece of advice I have given out, but haven’t been taking lately. It’s so easy to advise  and give encouragement to others, but so hard at times to do it for ourselves. I find myself questioning and comparing my ability, my commitment, and my success against how others are doing and managing their writing careers. And for the most part find myself falling short. Sometimes way short. Nothing shuts the muse down like brow-beating oneself.

But the truth is I’m not them. I’m not any other writer. I’m me. What works for one person will not work for me. Not only do we have different obligations, commitments, time available but also personalities. Some writers can write at a consistent breakneck speed, producing thousands upon thousands of words a day every day. I can’t. I can for a certain time period, but not on a daily basis. It’s just not the way I write best. I need time off to read, scrapbook, quilt.

Music is my muse. Without having time to just sit and listen to tunes that I have purchased, or spend some time browsing iTunes for new songs, I don’t feel ‘complete’. Some of my best characters and books have come from listening to a song and having a character or storyline come alive in my head. It’s my way to recharge. At times I feel as if any time not writing is wasted time. It means I’m not as committed as other writers. If I spent more time writing, I’d be more successful.

In order to live in the world of my characters, I have to spend time out of it. When my life only revolves around their lives (writing) then I find myself basing my worth on business … aka money. The self-defeating mindset that what I make determines my worth in life. A horrific untruth that I pound into my heart and soul. I keep reading advice that basically says the more books the better. I believe it and judge myself and work against that ‘truth’. I’ll forget about ‘my journey’ and try to duplicate others journey. Even worse, I start believing that if I’m not doing it that way (their way) it means I’m setting myself up for failure. An insistent voice scolds and says the only reason I’m not seeing success is because I’m not managing my writing career like them. But when I try, I fail and I realize the simple reason why … I’m trying to be someone else and not me. I forgot to take into account there is a difference between the words ‘mine’ and ‘their’.

What is theirs cannot be mine. For me to have ‘their’ success, I have to be ‘them’. I have to be someone else. I can’t. I can only be me. I have a different personality. A different background. Different obligations and commitments. I write best at different times. A different writing pattern and method is most suited to my personality and my life.  I have to find what works best for me and use all those methods to the best of my ability. 

Everyone’s journey is different and I can only succeed if I travel down mine.


It’s a Draft.

The other day, I struggled with turning off the inner editor and just allowing myself to write. I found myself over-analyzing every word. Each sentence took so long to write because I kept deleting them as they weren’t perfect. Just write, I’d tell myself and it worked for a few paragraphs, but then I’d start hitting the backspace key like crazy because one word didn’t feel right. I think it’s great for a writer to search for the perfect word but not at the expense of the writing.

And the writing was losing out. I didn’t enjoy it. I found a multitude of reasons for getting out of the chair or switching away from the work in progress. Laundry. Email check (I have three email accounts so this process can be a huge procrastination tool). Dishes. Another email check. Another load of laundry. The worst part of this struggle was the beating I gave myself. This book is not good enough. You’ll never finish this book. You are wasting your time doing this.

That voice was hard to overcome. I started saying “This is just a draft”, every time the critical voice spoke. Drafts are to get out the ‘bad’ words, the wrong words, the imperfect ones that will change when I edit. The book always get better after I edit so to get to the better, I had to first dump out the worst. There’s nothing quite like being your own worst enemy (or I guess ‘best’ enemy in a way) and harshest critic.

Finally, the mantra wore the inner editor down and it stepped aside so I could write. I know there will be changes but getting the words on the page the first time is always the hardest for me. It’s easier to fix the words when they’re on the page rather than stuck in my head.

Books · Reviews

SRP Review (Non-fiction) – The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

This year, I’ve decided to add in one non-fiction (self-help or how to) review a month. With celebrating the Self-Rescuing Princess type, I decided this year to read at least one non-fiction book a month so I can either improve my skills in an area or learn a new one. For January, I decided to tackle writing.

Now on to the review:


After reading The of War for Writers by James Scott Bell, I closed my eyes and hit delete, eliminating the prologue in my novel Safe and Sound. (After highlighting it which I did with my eyes opened.) I got that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I thought about it doing it, but the voice saying “laying the groundwork for the big reveal takes away from the conflict and leave them gasping effect when it is announced” won. I’m glad.

It has been awhile since a writing craft book, and I do love to collect and read them, has forced me to change my mind about a part of my story I held near and dear. I thought long and hard before I wrote the prologue because there is a mindset in the author community that prologues are bad writing. I worked hard to overcome the objections some writers have of prologues by making sure there was a valid reason for mine and that it worked for the story.

In Chapter 50, Mr. Bell writes that “Success may be found in 3 great scenes, and no weak ones.” The keys words for great scenes are Conflict, Emotion and Surprise. When I wrote the prologue, I felt it was necessary to set up the story, the romance, but in doing so I took away two of my writing tools for creating a great scene. The prologue gave the story emotion. Intense emotion. Tugging at the heart-strings, possibly making the reader teary emotion, but it took away surprise. And while the suspense conflict was there in those 2,000 plus words, removing the prologue created a bigger romantic conflict. Now all the scenes following Chapter 1, the  new beginning of the book, have an increased level of conflict, emotion and surprise as the readers wonder what lead to the revelation in chapter one … since the prologue is no longer explaining it.

More than having me look at my work in progress in another way, Mr. Bell had me realizing my worries about one aspect (promoting books) of my writing career was shaping all of it and the heart of it in a negative way.  The one sentence I highlighted in the book says, “Meaning, the more anxious you are about forcing success through self-promotional effort, the less creative energy you have for the writing itself.”

I’ve had some ups and down over the last year with my writing, or at least my attitude and joy of creating books. Those over-the-top dreams of sales didn’t match the reality at all so I figured if I tried harder (which means more time spent promoting and less writing) I’d see the results. And discovered that’s not the case. What was I doing wrong? Why wasn’t it working for me. It had to be I wasn’t doing it right. Getting it. Then, I’d ‘scold’ myself for the time wasted. Moan and berate the writer on how many more books would be completed if only they’d put their time and energy in a more productive pursuit. Not a very good way for a writer to treat another writer — especially themselves.

This year I will give myself a break. Treat myself the way I would my friends who write and come to me discouraged and doubting. I’d say words to build them up. Encourage them. Most of all, remind them their writing means something to me.