Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Salon: First Sunday in October

From the Sunday Salon's original website:  Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.  

Doesn't that sound heavenly --- that in our hectic lives we carve out a chunk of time to devote to reading and all things literary?  While I plan to use this space for that purpose, I am also going to use this entry as a way to summarize the past seven days and preview the upcoming week.

Today's Weather:  It finally feels like fall after a week of temperature in the 80s!  Yesterday I think the high barely reached 60 degrees and today is supposed to be the same.  I am ready to trade-in my t-shirts for turtlenecks and my iced tea for a pumpkin latte.

What's on the menu:  We had a delicious family dinner at an Italian restaurant in Lawrence, KS - Paisano's.  The portions were large and since I am unaccustomed to eating such rich food like the Baked Pollo Florentine I ordered, there are plenty of leftovers for today.

Highlights of the week:  It was a BUSY week for me as I had something planned every single day.  For a reserved introvert, that is a recipe for stress, which is why today I will spend time by myself in the nook.  However, the activities were fun and worthwhile.
  • Writers' Group:  As I reported on my Writing Wednesday post, for several months now I have felt the need to find a writers' group of like-minded people with whom I feel comfortable.... and I did:  the Heartland of America Christian Writers' Network.  The monthly meeting was scheduled for Thursday and I forced myself out of my comfort zone to attend.  It was a fabulous experience and I look forward to attending on a regular basis.  They even offer an annual writing conference not ten minutes from my home that I am seriously considering.
  • Penguin Run:  My youngest encouraged me to participate in this event several weeks ago.  I have voiced an interest in daily walking routines, and I adore penguins, so the opportunity to help sponsor the Kanas City Zoo seemed like the perfect foray into 5K events.  However, since injuring my knee early in the summer, I have not followed through on this goal:  my last daily walk was sometime in mid-August.  My original intent was to attend in a cheerleader role, taking pictures of Mandy crossing the finish line.  However, I succumbed to her peer pressure and decided to participate as well.  The walk was 4 miles, not 3.1, and the terrain had many more hills than I am accustomed to.  The good news is that I finished - and I wasn't the last one to cross the line (I think my time was approximately 55 minutes...); the bad news is that I should have trained this past week:  my hips are so sore I can barely walk today.  Oh well, it was for a great cause and I proved to myself that I can compete.  Perhaps this was the push I needed to get back into a healthy exercise schedule.
  • Pumpkin Patch:  Since 1995 we have taken the family to Shaake's Pumpkin Patch.  It is a relatively small family farm that offers free hayrides, a free hay bale maze, and lots of quality pumpkins.  It is indeed a family event, for all that are in town, and so my youngest and her boyfriend, my granddaughter and her parents, as well as Geoff and I continued with the tradition. The weather was perfect, the crowds weren't too bad, and a good time was had by all.  Brynn was old enough to understand the concept of selecting a pumpkin, and so she was excited to walk through the "punky patch" and find her "baby punkin"  The girls searched high and low for their perfect pumpkins and indeed succeeded.  Apparently tradition dictates that we can't select a pumpkin that is off the vine.... funny how I did not remember that little fact...
Teaching Overview:  I adore teaching writing - I think because I learn as much about the craft from my high school students as (hopefully) I teach them.  I love helping them revise a good paper and making it a compelling essay.  I love reading the finished products and viewing how class suggestions have contributed to the final success.  I absolutely LOATHE grading them.  I feel such pressure and responsibility putting a quantitive grade on a qualitative endeavor.  I try to be objective but writing is, by its very nature, a subjective art form.

Such was my week.  The classes were enjoyable - the grading was intense.  But this week I have a reprieve... a Beowulf final exam is the only assessment on the calendar and that is a relief.  We then enter the Middle Ages in Brit Lit and continue with the College Scholarship essays in English Comp.

Currently Reading:  Ugh.... I must report yet again that I did not complete Harry Potter.  My daughter says I should blame her:  she is not completing her end of the bargain and therefore not keeping me accountable.  But that's not true.  I have just focused on other things this week and allowed my personal reading to drop off the radar.  However, since I can barely move today due to the Penguin Run... I may actually complete this first volume in the series.

Writing Progress:  Well, again... no progress on any of the projects (as I reported on Wednesday), but I have made some writing decisions that I do believe will impact my writing activity for the better.

  • HACWN not only has monthly meetings, but they also offer a variety of small critique groups.  I plan to attend one close my home next Thursday.  I do not have anything to share yet, but I am hopeful that it will be a place where I will feel comfortable sharing, knowing that I will receive valuable feedback that will help me to grow as a writer.
  • NaNoWriMo begins November 1st.  I was on the fence about joining this year; I would like to focus on the ebook idea which will not be 50,000 words nor a work of fiction.  But after attending the writing meeting this week and receiving positive feedback on my fictional story idea ... I have decided that I will take the plunge.  I think having two completely different writing projects may be good in the long run:  if I hit a wall in one, I can take a break and work on the other. 
  • Kaye Dacus wrote a blog post about selecting which story idea to use for NaNoWriMo, and she said something that truly captured my attention:  Are the characters interesting enough to you, with sufficient mysteries and depth to them, that you’ll want to spend month upon month thinking about and talking to them? Are they real enough? Is there something they’ll need to learn/do that will give your main character(s) a growth-arc over the length of a novel?  While I have a story idea, I must confess that I have not spent much time developing my protagonist - I have spent most of my time researching the time period.  I think I need to take the time this week to truly flesh out Phoebe Cox ... and create a backstory that allows me to truly fall in love with her - a character that I care about - a character with whom I want to spend 30 days in intimate contact.  The following week I would like to do the same for the antagonist, creating a backstory for a man that leads a double life:  respectable businessman in the high echelon of society, while at the same time being the seedy, dirty-old-man who lurks backstage at the ballet.

Artist's Date:  Well, I had an artist date planned, but I had to make a choice:  honor the date and attend the Sketchbook Project's mobile library at UMKC ... or ... attend the HACWN monthly writer's meeting.  I chose the latter.  This week my husband and I are headed to Des Moines to attend the Heart of America used book sale, which does not necessarily qualify as an individual artist's date, but nothing inspires me more than being surrounded by books.  I am looking forward to this adventure.

Craftiness:  I was a bit crafty this week, due in great part to Trish's Pin It and Do It challenge.  I have committed to complete 4-7 projects by the end of the month, and I don't like to procrastinate.  As reported on my blog Monday, I created a set of birthday/all occasion cards ... and I experimented with a recipe for Pumpkin Pie ice cream a few days later.  Not sure I will be too crafty in the upcoming week, as I have much to do in the writing arena.

Photography:  The trip to the pumpkin patch was the perfect opportunity to practice my photography skills.  The skies were clear, there was a chill in the air, and the colorful gourds in the fields provided the perfect backdrop for family photos.  I took about 315 pictures, deleted 185, and found about 24 that were worthy of editing and sharing on my Flickr photostream.  This one was my favorite:  her expression is so grown-up, her body is so small, and her attachment to the baby pumpkin is evident.

What's on the Horizon:  A low-key school week (little grading and no outside meetings -- hooray!); a focus on writing where I am actually writing; and a fun outing with the hubby to a used book sale.  I am hoping the fall weather is here to stay and I look forward to photographing the colorful change of the season.


  1. I swear I have something on my calendar every single day anymore - my life is out of control! I love the picture of your granddaughter and can't believe she's so big already!

  2. Lovely photo of your granddaughter in the pumpkin patch...that is a wonderful moment.

    I like what you said about story ideas that can sustain the writer for "month upon month." Also, that the character's growth arc needs to continue for thought.


  3. I had a busy week last week, too, and very much looking forward to a quieter week coming up.

    Joy's Book Blog

  4. It took me awhile to finally get to the Harry Potter series myself, but once I finally did, I was glad I did. I then watched all the movies too. I enjoyed all of them, the books and the movies, some more than others (books definitely better than the movies), but definitely enjoyed.

  5. It was a busy, productive week, and one in which you moved forward in many areas, and in big, exciting ways! Super cool.

  6. Thanks for still stopping by my blog, Molly! It took me a while to fine you again. You sound so good and focused and able to move forward in life compared to a couple of years ago. Your little Brynn is simply beautiful and I can imagine how much her Grandma loves her! The pumpkin patch photos are so fun and I love to read about other family's traditions. As far as your writing ambitions! I know whatever you write will be amazing and I look forward to reading it.

  7. Hi, Molly. Since reading your response on my Sunday Salon blog post, I've been dipping into your blogs and thinking we have a lot in common. I hope you were able to check out Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith (2006) this afternoon. I realized I had not linked today's Sunday Salon to my earlier post about the book in 2007, so I corrected it for future readers. Here's the link for you, if you want to read it:

    I've added this "Emerging from Cocoon" blog to my sidebar under Blogs I read. It may interest you to know my email address is Emerging Paradigm. Uh-huh, we seem to be on similar paths. Thanks for stopping by, so now I can get to know you.

  8. I take zillions of photos but only a few are worth anything. I've been trying to learn more about editing apps lately.

  9. I love seeing your excitement these days. So many new things you are trying. Inspiring. :-)

  10. Yum! Paisano's sounds like my kind of restaurant. I think I would come home with lots of leftovers too. :-)

    We haven't yet been the pumpkin patch this month. We should probably do that soon! I love the photo of your granddaughter!

    I am glad you found a writing group, Molly. Someday I may give one a try--although right now I'm not sure when. Maybe when Mouse is older. I can't even make my book group anymore. :-S

    Have a wonderful week!