Thursday, February 23, 2012

Living Large in London...part three of three

If you missed part one or part two of my London photos, please feel free to clink on the links and check them out.

 My fantastic Bonus-Mum scored us some tickets to Buckingham Palace.  It was the last couple of days before the Queen came back for the season.  This is the front gate.

The tour was exceptional, but you couldn't take photographs inside.  I was super excited because Kate's wedding dress was on display.  It was absolutely wonderful!  They had a video playing that showed how the dress was made and why certain things were done.  The lace was handmade.  It had four flowers on it: the thistle for Scotland, the daffodil for Wales, the shamrock for Ireland and the rose for England.  They also had a replica of her flowers on display and her jewelry and shoes.  The wedding was shown of a wall in a loop.  It was lovely to see it again and in such a special place.  When we went to the next room they had copies of the wedding cake and the special Digestive Biscuit cake that Prince William had requested.   They both looked fabulous.  

After the tour we went to the garden tea room and to my surprise guess what was on the menu?  Digestive Biscuit Cake.  Let me tell was DIVINE!  

Of course, they had the traditional scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream on the menu.  

Then we had a lovely walk through the gardens...

I don't know what these strange looking things were, but they were under one group of trees.  I'm guessing they are some kind of fungus.

Then we went for a walk.  Check out the side of this building...

Pretty cool?

All around Hyde Park we saw artists selling their wares.  I remembered  a hippy (it was the 70's) gave me a strand of beads when I was little.  I know Mum took me to Hyde Park, so I'm wondering if this was where I got those beads.

I got the very best seat on a double decker floor front seat.

As you can see it was a busy day....we got caught in a double decker bus jam.

Then we went to St. Paul's Cathedral.  It was HUGE!

Here is the entryway.  I took this photo before I saw the no photos sign.  UGH!

Then we walked across the Millennium Bridge.  There were people getting married on it and getting wedding photographs taken.  You can see St. Paul's in the background.

That's Tower Bridge in the background.

A replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theater...

We walked....

and saw remnants of old London.

some lovely old churches....

and a church cat....I expect he was waiting for some lunch leftovers by all the people sitting in the churchyard eating.

Does anyone recognize this place?  

I'll give you a hint...

It was one of the places depicted in MY FAIR LADY.  You can click HERE to see if you were right.

Thank you for stopping in and checking out my photos.  I really do love traveling and taking pictures.  This trip was huge for me....I spent time as an adult in the city I was born in.  My Dad and Bonus-Mum truly made this a special trip for me.

If you could go anywhere in the world and money was not an option, where would you go?  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Plotter? Planner? Pantser?

If you've been wondering where I was for last four weeks, I've been busy planning, plotting, pantsing, critiquing, editing and revising. I've never written a full length novel.  A chapter book is the biggest project I've completed so far.  At the last two conferences I met with editors and agents.  We talked about my picture book EVERYONE DID THEIR PART and they suggested that I should expand it into a mid grade novel.  Sooooo...I've been working on it.  As of right now I'm on Chapter 9.

I did a lot of research to get ready to write this story.  I interviewed several people, read a load of books,visited historic sites, visited websites, and of course took loads of photos when I was in England.

While I was reading I jotted down notes of words and phrases I wanted to use in my book.  I typed up all my notes and then broke them down into different categories: fun words; phrases; sites and sounds in particular places; scenes broken down into locations,  and character descriptions.

Then I wrote them on note cards and stuck them on poster board. I sorted them into specific groups.

I sorted the cards into where that scene should take place.   So I have a bunch of these:  The Blitz, The Train Station, The Train, Leek, New Home, New School, Countryside, Town Market, and Church.  I'm sure I will be making more of these as I go along, but this is where I'm at right now.

I was able to enlist my dear friend Gary Pennick to take some photographs of Leek.  I haven't been there since I was 6 or 7.  I'm bowled over that Gary agreed to do this for me.  He didn't hesitate for a second.  (Thanks you, Gary)  It's just another reason I love my bloggy friends.  (HUG)

My Brilliant Niece, Bethany Runyan, did this great gator picture to help me get the right frame of mind for
 the other writing project I've been working on has been with my wicked cool cp, Lenny Lee.

We did four versions of the story before we sent it to the people who volunteered to critique it.  Lenny and I adore everyone who helped out!  Thank you, Corey, Janet, Robyn, Melissa, Susan Quinn and Jackee!  We <3 you!

We went over everyone's critiques one at a time with our manuscript and made lots of changes.  So are ready to send it out one last time before we start querying.  I'm so excited (I think Lenny is too).

(Insert photo of my massive bicepts here.)

The other thing I've been doing is working on my health.  I joined a fitness club.  I go six days a week (usually).  We alternate with kickboxing and strength training.  That sounds easy right?  Well let me tell you, I leave so exhausted I can barely walk each day.  Yesterday when I got home, I went up to take a shower...I was pulling my socks off and BAM I fell over.  So other than my balance issues, I can proudly report I have made progress.  On day 1, I could do 4 push ups in one minute, 31 sit ups and run a 12:21 mile (in the winter in Iowa).  On the last day of week 5, I could do 31 push ups and 36 sit ups.  I didn't run the mile as it was about 3 degrees and the wind was howling.  I haven't lost any weight but my waist went down 2.5 inches, chest 1.75 inches, and arm (biceps) down .75 inches.  So I am pretty pleased with my progress.

One of the great things about the program is it also has a nutrition side to it.  You keep track of your carbs, proteins, vegetables and water intake.  One day a week you get to have a fun day.  You get to eat or drink anything you want.  It is supposed to be a metabolism booster.  Let me tell you....I live for Saturdays!  Walt and I go out for brunch after I get back from the gym and we either have dinner out or order in.  Sunday is a no exercise day, but I'm thinking about walking or running on Sundays.

So as you can see, I've kept busy in a productive manner.  I did miss all of you and am glad to be back to blogging in the evenings.  Can't wait to see what everyone has been up to.

Hugs to all.....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Winner Is...

OMGoodness I missed you guys!  I've been working on myself and my writing like crazy this month.  I'll give you a progress report on Thursday.  Without further any further delay... (drum roll)...

The winner is Stina Lindenblatt
(Thanks to 

If you don't know Stina, you need to pop over and get to know her.  Not only does she have a great blog, but she is also a contributor to Querytracker's site.

What have you been working on over the past few weeks?

Hugs to all....