Clean Teeth & No Cavities

This week I had my every-six-month dental cleaning and check-up. I don’t really look forward to going to the dentist, although he is a very nice person and a good dentist. His employees are very nice people, too. That said, there is something about having sharp instruments inside my mouth scraping off plaque I just don’t like. And I don’t even want to think about the sound the drill makes!

What I do like is how my teeth feel afterwards. They feel smooth and clean! And I am always happy to hear I have no cavities. Yeah!

Just as the dental hygienist cleared off plaque from my teeth, my carefully chosen friends are reviewing the draft of my book finding typos, grammatical errors and cumbersome sentences to fix in my manuscript. When I see their suggested changes and get the revisions made, my book will be smooth and clean, too, just like my teeth!

It’s not easy sending my baby off to the world for others to see. Scores of questions arise in my mind… Will they like it? Will they understand it? Will they see it in what I hope for them to see? Answers in the negative would be like having a root canal or crown put on. Answers in the positive would feel good like the “no cavities” report I got from my dentist.

So far, everyone I’ve heard back from has been positive and encouraging. Sure, they found some typos, grammar errors, and long sentences for me to rephrase. Overall, though, they got what I was saying and understood it to be my truth, my voice, my story. Cool!

I am very grateful to my book reviewers for making the time and putting in the effort to carefully review my draft and provide me with compassionate and constructive feedback so my book can be the best it can be. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

And to my dentist and dental hygienist, thank you, too, for my clean and healthy teeth!

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Thankful for a Blessed Thanksgiving

Since I completed the draft of the core content of my book last Tuesday, I awarded myself with a trip to my home town of St. Louis to see my family for Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful meal at my sister’s house and a fun visit with all who attended. Afterward, I went to my favorite Irish pub, John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub & Garden, with my nephew and brother to enjoy the music of my friends in the band, the Irish Brigade. The music was grand and we had a great chat as well.

I also managed to get an interview completed for another book I am writing, but more on that later!

My sisters and I helped my Mom decorate her apartment for Christmas and then the family gathered again on Saturday night to cheer the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to victory at my brother’s house. He was especially pumped about the outcome of the game as ND is his alma mater. He and my Mom stood singing the ND fight song as the game ended. The Irish are #1 in the country and get an invite to the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7th. “Cheer, Cheer for Ole Notre Dame…”

Now, I’m back home in Little Rock and back at work revising my book and all the other stuff that gets included in the front and back of the book. I expect more edits and refinements will need to be made across the next several days as the document is proofed and reviewed by some trusted friends. That said, I’m feeling good about where things stand at the moment and how the process has worked thus far.

There is much more info to come, so please stay tuned. I welcome your comments and questions and appreciate all of you for following my progress.

Til next time!

Consider it done!

On Tuesday around 4 a.m., I sent an email to my editor with what I described as a completed draft and invited her feedback. I had worked across two days to add more than 6,000 more words to my book growing it from seven chapters to an even dozen. It felt complete to me and I wondered if it would feel the same to her.

I got a reply back from her about mid-day saying “I consider it a complete draft, too!”

🙂 That felt good to see!!

She went on to say that what I added made the content more powerful. And she called me a “solid writer from the get go.”

Woo Hoo! This was music to my ears!

This meant I could award myself by going home to St. Louis to be with my family for Thanksgiving. You see I had made myself a deal and set up my trip to St. Louis as my personal incentive to get the book written. If I thought the book was in good shape (i.e., completely written with only minor edits to make) by Tuesday, then I’d go ahead and make the trip. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t go. I’d stay in town and keep on writing. My editor’s email sealed the deal. I’m going to St. Louis!

My next steps will be to make the few minor revisions my editor suggested, which I’ll do on Friday, and finish preparing the table of contents, the “about the author” section and what’s called “front and back matter.”

I’m on course and on schedule. Yeh!!

I will have more to share with you about the contents of the book across the next few weeks so there is much more to come.

Thank you all for reading and keeping up with my progress – especially those of you who have left comments. I really appreciate the encouragement and feedback. It keeps me going!

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving. I know I have much for which to be thankful this year!

Struggling to get into the FLOW

You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything to my blog yesterday. That was because I was busy WRITING my book. To be honest, I was really struggling with it. On Friday, I thought I would get an early start and plow through most of the book content so that Saturday would be a breeze. WRONG! I got bogged down on Friday in what I would describe as my personal “story.” I pulled up the original draft of the book from June of 2010 and attempted to write an introduction to the book that described for the reader how I got to where I am today. I thought that if I did that, it would help me get started in sequential order from the beginning. NOT SO! When I did that, I got so jumbled up into my “story” that I couldn’t write the core content of the book, which is the meat of the thing – the songs and stories themselves! So Friday night, I rewrote the intro as a “preface” and that seemed to work better. I then went to bed so I was good and rested for a productive day on Saturday.

But when Saturday came, I just couldn’t get going. I hemmed and hawed and it was like pulling teeth to write the core chapters. I realized, though, that the chapter I wrote earlier in the week as chapter two REALLY needed to be chapter one and that got me started writing the other chapters. I took a break for a couple hours and came up with a format to each chapter – quote, story, song, reflective questions. I drafted a series of quotes as an intro to the first seven chapters, then sat back down at the computer and got writing. That did it! I got into the flow and didn’t stop until 3:30 am Sunday morning.

I sent off my “popcorn draft” of the whole book, including the introduction and preface I had written the night before, to my editor and went to bed hoping for the best.

I was ever so thrilled to see my editor’s email this morning. She agreed with me on where to end the book, agreed I needed more content to bring the book up to minimum word count for publishing and said, and I quote, “…overall I’m loving it. I think it’s wonderful – good flow and clarity to it. Just enough info.”

WOO HOO! I am on the right track and the train is moving in the right direction!

I felt so good at what I had completed to date that I took a break from writing to celebrate and attended the third Sunday Irish music session and Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas monthly social at a local tavern. We had good music, good chat and good cheer. Then I returned home for dinner and to get back to writing.

This evening, I participated in a coaching call with the editor and got additional clarification on my next steps. I have about another 3-5,000 more words to write, with some additional chapters and songs to add in, and then I will be ready to proof, edit and revise. I’ve earmarked a few key people to send the manuscript to for feedback and am on track to get a draft to them this week.

Oh, and I won the “Don’t Listen to Donna Award” on the coaching call tonight for listening to and acting upon my own instincts on what my book needed, versus what the editor originally suggested I do. I’m proud of that as well. Listening to and following my gut instinct has not been something I’ve done well in my past and is something I’m working to improve upon for the future.

Overall, I’m very excited to have completed what I have written to date and excited to have time scheduled this week to continue moving forward to complete the book.

More to come tomorrow…

Clearing My Space

I’ve cleared my space for writing my book and I’m ready to go!

On Thursday, November 15, 2012, an appointment I had scheduled was cancelled, thus providing me with additional time to make some preparations for my writing weekend. I took advantage of the gift of time to clear the space of the place where I was planning to work from – the kitchen table.

I have a tendency to cover flat surfaces with stuff, mostly paper. I personally call this condition – “Flat-Surface-Itis.” I believe inherited it from my parents and suspect each of my siblings are also afflicted.

Early in life, I associated it more with my Dad who would on occasion take over the entire dining room table with insurance paperwork – he sold insurance for a living. He used the table to spread out his paperwork and organize his calls for the coming day. The paper would remain there until such time, however, as my Mom got on to him, and then he would clear it all off so we could eat Sunday dinner as a family at the dining room table. He had a desk to work from in another room of the house, but the surface of it just wasn’t adequate enough to spread everything out he needed to see. I understand that completely! I like to see everything in front of me when I’m working on a project and have everything I need readily at hand.

So with the gift of extra time, I cleared my space on the kitchen table for my writing weekend. I do not have a “before” picture, so let me describe it for you.

The table is oval in shape and placed in front of a bay window looking out to our deck and the green space of colorful autumn trees behind the house. The table was covered in a wide U-shape with mounds of paper – not neat stacks mind you, MOUNDS. They had started out as neat stacks originally, but something happened to them over the course of several weeks. The mounds began to merge into one another so that you couldn’t really tell where one mound began and another ended. The mounds ranged in height from about an inch to more than 6 inches and included file folders, three-ring binders, documents, catalogs, newspapers, etc. There was a cleared square space of about two feet by two feet where my husband could sit at the table and read the paper in the morning. For several weeks now, I have worked in and cluttered this square space by day and cleared it each night so he could have his space for reading the paper every morning.

In approaching the mounds of paper I needed to clear from my work area, I called upon an organizational technique I learned about years ago – handle each piece of paper only one time. I picked up each individual piece of paper, reviewed it to see if there was any information I needed from it or any action I needed to take. If I determined it was a piece of paper I no longer needed and could trash it, I placed it in the recycled paper trash bag. If it contained confidential information, such as account numbers, I would shred it first. If it was a piece of paper I needed to keep for future reference and had a file for it, then it got filed. If I needed to keep it but did not have a file folder already, I made one and filed it, using a stand up file holder for this purpose. If I needed to take action on the piece of paper such as write a name or phone number down in my address book, or pay a bill, I immediately got up from the table and did that.

This process, though tedious, involved a lot of getting up and down and walking in the house because to follow the process precisely, one must take a given piece of paper and place it where it needs to be. For example, if I keep paid bill receipts in another room of the house, I’d take the paid invoice to that room, and filed it with the other paid bills we keep there. If it was a document that I needed to file in my office, I got up and took it there and filed it, then returned to the kitchen table for the next piece of paper to handle.

By the end of the day, my kitchen table was ready and organized for my writing weekend. And as a bonus, I’m quite certain I walked at least 10,000 steps getting my exercise in as well.

What are some of the ways you clear your space? What methods do you employ to get organized?

I’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment below.

Off to a good start!

I was relieved to see the words “This is a good start!” from my editor today. She understands what I’m tryiing to get across. Yeh!

That said, she wants to see a little more “Peg” in it and provided some questions to prompt me to do just that. I was given clearance to either proceed to drafting the whole book (the BIG next step) and adding these revisions in later, or revising the popcorn draft now and running it by her again before proceeding. I attempted to work on the rewrite tonight, but am feeling a little hindered by the fact that I’m working on a chapter out of order. I tend to be a sequential thinker. I like to start at the beginning of something and work my way through to the end. So to revise chapter two (the chapter I happened to choose for my popcorn draft) and revise it in the way she suggested, I’m feeling like I really need to go back to chapter one and work on it so I can see how they hang together.

Interesting delimma I have created for myself! On the one hand, I think each chapter should stand on its own, but on the other hand, they do need to connect to one another and flow from one to the next to the next.

So… stay tuned… I’m still thinking this through in my head and may need to sleep on it before deciding what action to take to resolve it. Enough thinking for tonight. In the immortal words of Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow!” 😉

Completing my “Popcorn Draft”

My goal and writing assignment today was to complete my “popcorn draft” – a quick draft of one chapter from my book to write and send to my editor for review and feedback to see if the content is passing mustard! I’ll let you know tomorrow what she thought about it!

The chapter I chose to write today is the story behind the song I wrote entitled, “What Makes God Smile?” The song was inspired by my reading Chapter Nine of Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life” back in 2003. If you haven’t read his book, I encourage you to do so. He’s a gifted writer and preacher and leads a wonderful and growing ministry at Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA. I had an opportunity this past September to visit his church with my cousins who have been members from the very beginning days of the church when it would meet in a tent up on a hillside near Rancho Santa Margarita. The church is on a large campus now with many buildings. I must say visiting Saddleback Church was a WOW experience! The church members are very involved in volunteering and they thoughtfully minister to every age group within their congregaton. And the live music was great! It was uplifting, spiritual and engaging. I encourage you to visit there sometime if you are ever in or near LA. You will receive a warm welcome.

FYI, Warren is actually planning to publish a new edition of his book this coming January, under the title of “What on Earth am I Here for?” so stay tuned and look for it on the book shelves come 2013!