diy the-sky-is-the-limit shirt

3 Jul

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This is not a diy blog, but this is a diy post.

Readers, ye be warned.

The bad thing about Pinterest is it brings all kinds of things to my attention that I don’t currently have and that I immediately want. Like a shirt that pretty much sums up my soul with the words “COFFEE, BOOKS, & RAIN”. The good thing about Pinterest is that it sometimes gives me hacks for how I can get these things FOR CHEAP.

I made that shirt up there, and I’m going to tell you how. But I hate those diy posts that have to make things complicated and that give you a picture of every single step to have to scroll past, so there will be none of that. I’m just going to tell you how to do it. Quickly and simply. With words.

Because I’m assuming you have a life you’d like to get back to.

Okay, here goes:

Get your shirt, a bleach pen (they can be found in the smelly chemical isle of your local store), and an idea. Masking tape is optional, as is white vinegar. You should also have something flat to shove up inside your shirt to stop the bleach from getting on the back. Stick that thing in. Make sure that the shirt is flat. If you want, take some masking tape and tape yourself a little border. That’s what I did to keep my words in a nice square. Now go to town with that bleach pen all over your shirt. It comes out like a gel so it’s pretty easy to figure out. When you’re done, let it sit for around 15 minutes. Different colored shirts are going to require more or less time. It’s not rocket science. Just wing it. Rinse in cold water and soak in white vinegar if you have it. I’ve heard it helps to stop the bleach. Then wash it in a load of lights.

Presto! It looks great! You’re one of the cool kids on the block!

Okay, over and out.



cssw :: logline

23 Jun

When villagers threaten to put them in the mission in town, Crow and her band of orphaned girls must work harder than ever to keep their home in the Spirit Woods. But the haunted forest lets a group of no-good boys invade, and a white bear is stalking the camp, causing the girls to wonder if the home they’re fighting so hard to save will keep them… or kill them.



Loglines suck to write. It’s a struggle to decide which points to show and which to leave out. For example, the girls are facing more problems in the woods than just boys and bears. For starters, a lack of supplies. But a bear that is white and also stalking seems a bit more exciting than a lack of salt and horse feed, so in I put it while the supply issue wasn’t mentioned.

I think fantasy is particularly difficult to have to sum up. You create an entire world over the space of hundreds of pages, and to try and squeeze it down into something that doesn’t sound utterly ridiculous is tricky. When people ask me what my novel is about, I become something akin to a train wreck.

Need an example?

“Well, there are these girls, and they live in this forest that is haunted, only it’s not really haunted so much as it is just… alive. And, well, they start having all these problems, and there’s this bear that keeps leaving them piles of teeth- like… animal teeth, you know?- and… and…”

It’s never pretty. I need to work on my talking skills, you guys.

Anyway, I don’t know how I feel about my new logline. I’m going to let it sit and take another look at it in a week or so.

Here is the blog post I used to help me form it.

Next up will be an elevator pitch :)

Okay, now I have to know something: when people ask you what your story is about, do you nail it or flub it?


a nook for a writer

20 Jun

I’ve had so many ideas for blog post circling around in my head -researching for novels, interests and how to priorities them, new book finds- but right now is not the blogging season for me. Adelveiss turned three-months-old yesterday. Enough said, I think.

When the time comes, I’ll have lots of content worked up. Until them, check out what I’m working on now.

I give you, my writing nook:


It is, in fact, a closet under the stairs which makes me feel an awful lot like Harry Potter (!). Trim still needs to go up in all those places where the walls meets, and my husband hasn’t put in all the shelves that will go up the stairs, but it’s coming together so well. Add a lamp and a rug, and it will be dreamy.

Many fine books will be written from this closet. I can feel it.

I’ll post progress photos as I take them!



i hope you’re scared

24 Apr


Remember my post about doing things scared? You know – the one that talked about how when you’re doing something and you’re scared you need to just , well, do it scared?

I’ve been thinking about that post a lot lately.

Because writing can be scarey. And I can’t seem to stop myself from writing.

I’ve been back at it since Adelveiss arrived, sending out queries for CSSW and jumping into the next project because it helps to settle my nerves. The truth is, I love querying. I missed it while I worked on CSSW, and I’m happy to be back at it, even if it does freak me out. Sometimes it feels good to be freaked out! It feels… hopeful. Like anything could happen.

And my next project is ridiculously fun, though altogether different from CSSW.

Anyway, I wanted to assure you guys that I am scared.

And I wanted to tell you -

I hope you’re a little scared too. In the very best of ways.




oh, baby – it’s time to slow down

31 Mar

I had a baby 12 days ago, and today is my husband’s first day back at work. This means several things:

  • I’m wildly in love with a new, little person.
  • My kids are doing significantly less math.
  • My home is a mess.

I’m completely fine with these three things. Look at this face and try and tell me that a sink full of dishes is a big deal…

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This is Adelveiss Leigh Burns. Her first name is inspired by the edelweiss flower and is the result of me watching The Sound of Music during early pregnancy. This, of course, is her song:

Her middle name is also my mother’s middle name. A beautiful name now shared by two beautiful ladies :)

I want my babies to slow me down, slow me way down, and Adel has been doing just that. The determined writer who spent the winter waking up at 5:30 and milked each hour of the day for more writing time is now in hibernation, replaced by a mama bear more interested in the quality of her milk supply than the number of her word count. I’m catching up on reading and going over flawed story aspects as well as potential fixes, but they circle in the far back of my mind, and I only let my attention drift there when all else has gone quiet.

Wake up time has been moved to 9 AM, the to-do list has been abandoned, and my expectations have been… significantly adjusted.

Here is all I want out of today:

  • Make some food
  • Make homemade play dough with the “big” kids
  • Love my family and myself well
  • Bless God

Dishes and toilets and word counts don’t make the list; they will soon enough because babies grow too quickly, but not yet.




productivity & perspective

7 Mar


If someone had stopped by my house two days ago at around three o’clock in the afternoon, it would have been easy for them to make a few unsavory judgments about me.

I was still in my pajamas, the sink behind me was full of dirty dishes, and I had a towel slung over my arm because I was just heading into the bathroom to take my shower.

Again, this was at three in the afternoon.

Here are some of the things that could have gone through their mind:

“She’s lazy.”

“Lucky stay-at-home moms.”

“Gee, I wonder when she finally rolled out of bed…”

“I wish I didn’t have a job and responsibilities to show up for every day.”

“Doesn’t she want to do anything with her life?”

They would have had quite a bit of evidence at their disposal for making those kinds of judgments too, but they’d still be lacking one important thing: Perspective.

Two days ago, come three in the afternoon, I was overjoyed with all I had accomplished. I’d been on  a consistent diet of 5:30 wake-ups for awhile, but that particular morning saw me up at 5:00. I had a hefty list of edits to make on my middle grade novel and a plan to get the story polished for literary agents. Long before the sun came up in the sky, I was at my kitchen table giving all I had in the form of a Word document. I worked until the kids woke up at 8:00 and paused long enough to get them ready for the day and fed. When they went off to play, I hit my edits even harder until it was time for the kids and I to get busy with their homeschool work. I cleared my computer and my mountains of notes off of the table, and we pulled out their papers and books. Letters, math, reading, and endless questions – we made a time of it, and soon we were clearing the table off again. I whipped together some grub for lunch, we ate, I cleared the table again, and, when the kids were settled in front of a movie, I got back to my novel. I worked until three o’clock, seven hours at my keyboard spent fixing, figuring, writing, and rewriting.

The kid’s movie was over and they were hungry for snack. Half in a daze, I got them food and told them how proud I was that they had been so good for me and let me get so much accomplished. Then I told them that I required a shower if I was going to be able to get my mind straight and have fun with them for the rest of the day. I took a shower, beaming and blushing with how close I was to my goal of querying agents, and got dressed.

Then it hit me: it was 3:30 before I’d gotten dressed.

Wouldn’t it be so easy for someone to assume I’d done little to nothing with my day had they only seen pieces of evidence with none of the perspective?

I’m a writer and a mom. Work for people like me looks a bit… odd. Productivity is difficult, when even possible, to measure.

As a writer, I can announce that I wrote 5,000 words in a single day, but only my fellow writers are going to see that number for what it’s worth. And there are many more days when I go backwards in word count, editing the heck out of my manuscript, yet those days are often just as productive and necessary.

As a mom, there are days when just keeping the kids fed and attended to is all I can manage. You moms with your teething babies know what I’m talking about. And if I take a much needed day to clean, organize, and revamp the basement, it might look amazing down there come 5:30, but the rest of the house is going to be in shambles and dinner is going to be a frozen pizza. And the neighbor will likely stop by and think I did nothing but scroll Facebook.

A farmer can bale X acres of hay, a teacher can go through so many lessons with so many kids, an IT guy can get his eight hours, and a mason can lay block for a whole basement.

But not all forms of work lend themselves to being measured this easily. And not all forms of work require pants.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, pajamas can be perfectly acceptable work attire.

Oh, and judging productivity accurately requires perspective. 


on writing & enjoying the process

19 Feb
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Morning edits with my writing partner who is, in fact, sitting on my edits.

Writing desperation. There was once a time when it looked like this for me: putting the kids to bed, kissing the husband good night, and making a pot of coffee. Come four in the morning the coffee pot would be empty and I’d be just crashing on the couch with many, many words under my belt.

I’m still desperate, but these days it looks like me setting an alarm and waking up at the buttcrack of dawn instead. As it turns out, sleep + coffee makes for more productivity than just coffee. Go figure.

Writers are desperate people. Desperate for time, for inspirations, for massive stokes of luck that shoot from the sky like lightning. And we’re desperate to make sense of things, namely, the stories that come to us. They’re always so enticing. And they’re always so dang flawed.

I will be done with my edits soon, and I will move onto querying. Soon, but not yet.

And, as I am at my least favorite stage of the writing process (the perfecting stage), I find myself growing increasingly antsy. Increasingly desperate. I want to query, query, query, and I want to open up that other story of mine and write, write, write, because querying and writing are such hopeful and fun endeavors while editing feels a bit like beating dead horses.

Desperate. I can get so desperate to be in a different place than I am.

When it gets me out of bed at 5:30, it’s a good thing; when it keeps me from enjoying the process, it becomes troublesome.

Being a writer is a joy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do and the only thing I want to do. If this is going to be my “thing” than I want to savor it, even when it sucks, just like I want to savor being a mother to my kids. Talk about two difficult jobs. And two jobs that you don’t want to squander and miss the joy of.

I’m at a trying stage in the writing process and getting desperate, but I want to enjoy it, even so. Writing is a joy. It’s miserably difficult and it’s a joy.

It’d be a shame to miss either, don’t you think?

“For those who can do it and who keep their nerve, writing for a living still beats most real, grown-up jobs hands down.”

- Terence Blacker



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