Thursday, July 31, 2008

Footloose and internship free!

Yesterday was my first day post-internship! Wow. It was a pretty long six months, but once I got over the hump of my initial fact-checking timidity, got to know the magazine and the staff there better, and got some fun writing assignments, it was a pretty good time. I'm very grateful that I did it because I got to know some awesome people, it filled part of my day (which I was really needing early on), and I'm sure my writing is better for it. PLUS--I have three freelance assignments for them already! Oh yes, I'm finally taking home a paycheck. Maybe I can go buy myself a tank of gas, haha. Anyway, so far my tally of articles for them is upwards of 30, so that's pretty cool. I'm not sure if you can search for my name on the mag site, but if you're bored, give it a try:

So what did I do on my first day off? Dusted the house, bought some floss at the store, picked up a library book, answered emails, took a shower, interviewed a chef for one of my freelance projects, organized my notes and started writing the article, lifted weights in my living room (oh yeah), and read two short stories and a speech. That last bit had me flopped on the couch, trying to get rid of a headache. But it was STUDY, people! To be a good writer you have to be a good reader. And I just happen to enjoy that part immensely.

Anyhow, I'm excited about the more flexible schedule I have coming up, though I plan to fill it almost entirely with structure so I don't go stir crazy. I want to spend at least 4 hours a day on writing/researching for that second novel project I have hurtling through my brain, and also I plan to get involved with the youth group at our new church out here in Bellevue (still Mars Hill, just in our own 'hood). I am really excited about that! I'm meeting with the youth leader today, so more on that later. Also, I think some other kind of volunteering may be in order. Finally, I'm still dealing with a sore knee, which is totally ridiculous at this point: it's been 6 months. Yes, that's the entire time of my internship! But I don't think it caused the malady...I've got a doctor appt. today to try to do tests and figure out what's really wrong. If you had a second to send up a prayer, I'd appreciate it. I'm getting desperate at this point!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blog is back open!

Hi all--we've decided to open the blog back up to whoever stumbles upon it, meaning you won't need to sign in anymore. We did that following the break-in because I was extra sensitive about privacy, but thankfully we've moved past that and I've realized that some folks probably didn't care to take the extra step of signing in, so there's a bit of self/blog-preservation involved as well! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First Anniversary Painting!

So here it is! Mom and Dad commissioned this painting for us to celebrate our first anniversary! I couldn't believe it when we opened the package. Isn't it amazing? And I totally know which picture from our wedding album this is--we're on the dance floor, amid the crowd, just looking at each other. I love the way the painting captures that feeling with its layering of perspective. I don't know if that's an appropriate art term, but it sounds good to me! [I took the photo looking down to get rid of most of the glare, so that's why some detail is lost]

The artist is an Indianapolis guy who curates a gallery connected to a church there, and my Dad met him through being on their board. I can't believe they were all working on this for months and we had no idea! It will certainly command a special place on our wall, and remind me daily that it's been a year and I've still not framed any wedding photos! Have to get on that. Of course, more than that, it will give me happy thoughts of our wedding and my sweet family. What a special and unique way to commemorate our first anniversary. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Monday, July 28, 2008

PNWA Summer Conference

I've been putting off posting about this, but there's really no reason I should. It was a great experience! I attended the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association annual summer conference two weekends ago. It was my first writers' conference, and I was actually unsure if I should even go up until the day before it started, but after thinking about what a great opportunity it might be to meet other writers as well as agents and editors, I decided it was worth it. Someone switched hours with me at the magazine, and so I went for basically the whole thing: Thursday afternoon/evening, and all day Friday and Saturday.

I was kind of nervous at first, wondering if I should really be there, but conferences like this are for people just like me: you're committed to writing and hope to make a career out of it. Most people were older than me, but I met a few girls just out of high school--that was impressive! And after the first day I was totally glad I went. The sessions just kept getting better and better, whether on pitching your project to an agent, what you can do with a first person narrator, or important communication skills and revision techniques. Two of the best sessions were actually taught by a romance writer from Atlanta, GA! Not what I would have expected, but she was really intelligent about the business of writing and I enjoyed her workshops immensely. I did take a plunge and submit a two-sentence pitch in the first session I went to on pitching to agents, in which the presenter was reading them off and commenting on what was good, bad, etc, but he didn't read mine. But it was good practice just to formulate the pitch, because I had an agent meeting the second day with a woman from Sacramento. She seemed like someone great to work with and recommended I submit a query letter and synopsis to her colleague at the agency. So that's a start! I didn't meet my dream agent or editor (in fact, no editors there were acquiring the kind of book I have), but I made some good connections and learned a lot.

If anything, it really did motivate me to continue striving for publication, and also to not just focus on this one book and wait to write the next one. That had been my idea: I was going to put all my energy into making this book as perfect as it could be and not write anything else until I had found an agent who wanted to promote it and a publisher to buy it. But that's all wrong, because I already do have an idea for a second novel and two short stories, and I should get on with them because who knows what'll happen with the first one. It may never get published, and I don't want to sit on that one project for the rest of my life. Also, continuing work on something else will help me distance myself emotionally from that first book, which will ultimately help me make it better. I'll be able to edit and revise ruthlessly!

So that's where I am right now. I've had fun setting up some spreadsheets with business expenses, due to the fact that I'm going all in with this as my business. I am learning all about the tax writeoff! The other half of it (or small percentage) is freelancing. I already have three assignments from SEATTLE magazine to do as a freelancer! It's definitely a great payoff from my internship these last three months, and my last day in the office is tomorrow. I counted up all my pieces, including those freelance ones, and I have more than 30 published/to be published in all. Pretty amazing! There are some other local mags I may try to break into, but for now I think I'll just take what they give me and keep on with the fiction writing. So that's my quick writing update. I have entered the world of self-employment!

PS, the bread is Tim's gargantuan Rustic Italian loaf from last weekend--we let it rise an hour too long before baking and this is what happened!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Our wedding on!

My photographer just emailed me that our wedding is finally on (their Real Wedding Section)! He'd sent them some photos over the winter, and they called me and I filled out this HUGE questionnaire, but then I kind of forgot about it. So now it's online! Go here to check it out, or just click the link on the title of this post:

Also, Luke posted something about it on his photography blog here:

Scroll down to the July 16 post titled " features another real wedding"

He tells me that The Knot is also featuring our cake in the spring/summer 2009 magazine issue of The Knot, as well as the spring 2009 book The Knot Guide to Wedding Style! Pretty cool. But do they know that I copied the cake from the cover of a Martha Stewart Weddings magazine? (they do, but maybe they don't care)

Yay! It's fun to be famous, even if only for frantic brides-to-be searching for a hairstyle.

By the way, Monday was our 1 year anniversary! We had a great time just hanging out and cooking something new, a marinated Thai beef salad, at home. All our traveling recently kind of counted as an anniversary gift to ourselves, so we just kept it low key. And as soon as I take a picture of it, I'm going to post the uber-fabulous surprise gift my parents sent us. It'll knock your socks off!

We are so thankful for all the support from family and friends over the last year. God has given us grace to deal with the unexpected, and I just feel so blessed in our marriage and where we are in life. I totally love our apartment and living in downtown Bellevue! At first it kind of felt like we were being (self)banished to the nether regions, but being closer to Tim's office has been so great, and we're just getting involved with the Bellevue campus of our church (it has 7 campuses across the city), and I'm super excited to start volunteering with the youth group there. Tim's job is still going well, despite the long hours, and we feel fortunate. Now that a year living in Seattle is under our belts, maybe my biggest complaint is that June was gloomy and summer didn't start until July! Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers. We hope to stay in good touch with you all in year 2!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our trips

If I got too detailed this post would be way too long, but I'll share the highlights! It was quite a long trip to London since we had a direct flight to Seattle, but once we were there--and struggled with our luggage on the train, the Tube, and through the busy streets around Victoria Station, plus up the four flights of stairs at our non-air conditioned hotel (which took us forever to find!)--our vacation had begun!

We definitely sabotaged our time zone adjustment by taking some late afternoon naps, but that was probably needed due to walking all over the city. We stayed in the historic district of Westminster and saw all the highlights on foot: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and then on through some of the Queen's gardens to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery, our one museum stop of the trip (it was free!). Of course I brought brand new shoes so I got blisters all over my feet, and after succumbing to band-aids all over on the first day I just started wearing my white American sneakers. Oh well.

We covered a lot of ground, checking out shops on the Strand, Shakespeare's Globe, and the streets on both sides of the Thames. One fave was the Tower of London, the only thing on our list we couldn't see on our own for free (and some things, like the Globe, which I'd been in before but Tim didn't care to tour, we appreciated from the outside), but it was pretty awesome to see that fortress that has been standing for 1000 years and was the seat of British government for much of that time.

There was lots of good food to be had, from kebabs and curry to Moroccan delights and fish and chips! Of course everything was ridiculous as far as prices go, but that's what you gotta do.

After two full days in London we took the train about an hour northwest to Henley-on-Thames, site of the Royal Regatta. After hustling around the city it was certainly nice to relax in this charming brick and Tudor town nestled in the English countryside. Our B&B was quite pleasant, and a typical day started with a scrumptious breakfast of fresh fruit, cereals, toast and cheese with jam, tea, and all the fried eggs, sausage and bacon we could want! Then we'd dress up and head down to the race course, where all the fashionable ladies and gentlemen in the Stewards' Enclosure gathered to watch the heats before the finals on Sunday. Once again I brought the wrong shoes, painfully pinching heels, so I wore flip flops the rest of the time, though some folks clearly turned up their noses (but I wasn't the only one!).

Lunch was sandwiches from the grocery store, dinner typically pub grub. It was wonderful to be lazy by the river and watch the boats come down. A progress board showed each crew's status on the river at every 1/4 mile, and because we were at the finish line it was quite exciting to watch the single-elimination races. Cornell unfortunately was beaten by giant freshman boys from Stanford on the third of five days, but that meant we got to spend more time with Mike.

We didn't take any side trips, but we were happy to explore the quaint shops of Henley on the lunch or tea breaks on racing days. I got to see the Regatta Shop were Tim bought my white feather hairpiece that I wore to our wedding, and I think he really enjoyed being in town without the stresses of racing. We had lots of great pub food, and I tried my first shandy, which is bitters with lemonade (aka Sprite). Girly drink, but what can I say? Also we had great tea. And lots of Pimm's, the honey liquor you mix with ginger ale. Add some lemon and cucumber slices and you're good to go! Just like iced tea, only better. And not really tea at all.

There's quite a bit more I could say, but check out the pictures on Facebook by clicking on the link to this post or using the web addresses below (there are three albums).

Cheers! :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

London and Henley!

We're back in Seattle for the rest of the summer. Whew! Cool pics and trip notes to come soon!