#7QT Simplified Accountability

It’s been quiet around here, have you noticed? My last post was on Monday wherein I shared all of the sad reality that is my social life. Pink Ladies aside, just because it’s been quiet here, doesn’t mean it has been quiet. Are you ready for this? Because I don’t know if I am ready to relive it.

— 1 —

I have an accountability partner (Rhonda) for my work in progress aka novel aka WIP (as the real writers call’em). Every Friday (starting with last week) we have to check in with one another about where we are with our WIP, and keep each other honest about meeting our self imposed goals. True to my procrastinator style, it was 10PM, when I realized I committed to sending my goals in. My thought “hey, it’s still Friday until it’s not – at midnight.” Knowing that typing it all up would take too long, I scribbled it on a piece of paper, took a picture of it, and emailed it. Talk about bare minimum! I didn’t even think this through, I just grabbed the most important things in my head and plugged them in.

— 2 —

For me, this week, I was supposed to write for at least 10 minutes every day, and read books each day, and not just any books as you can see:

#7QT Simplified Accountability #organization #WIP #amwriting via @fillpraycloset #books #reading

Just taking a look at this tells you a couple of things.

S/C is self care. Clearly, I squeezed that in there at the last minute, sound familiar? I did bowl on Friday, but by Saturday morning, I had a full on sinus infection complete with plague. No beating myself up for not going on a walk on Sunday. I was kickin’ self-care in the face though with all the soup I’d made for myself, the reading and lounging albeit with infected sinuses. Such a pretty picture.

— 3 —

Novel. Even with being so close to death’s door dramatic. Here’s what I took care of this week:

  • A rough draft of the outline for Act I. If you think about a novel in three acts: beginning, middle, end that’s where the Act I comes from.
  • Fleshed out my protagonist’s character sketch
  • Character sketch for my love interest
  • Character sketch of a couple of minor characters
  • The beginnings of the character sketch for my antagonist
  • Trolled Instagram for pictures to match what I see for these people I am creating. I’ve added them to the top of the character sketches so when I open the file I can be sure to say hello to them! I am also a bit of a visual person, so seeing them, makes them more real for me
  • Working back and forth with Rhonda via email, I was able to touch upon some parts of the plot that needed work. So I’m researching some
    science-y things to get a better sense of how I could incorporate that to complete some open threads going.

Full disclosure: I didn’t write yesterday and I haven’t written yet, today. Yesterday was spent in the waiting room, Mike had surgery and is recovering nicely at home *Florence Nightengale reporting for duty* I would say that I wrote so much over the weekend (about 3 hours) in anticipation so I am on track. See? Flexibility, people.

— 4 —

Reading. Well, I am focused on reading a writing craft book, a book that my WIP would live next to on the shelf, short story so I can snapshot a full story and get concentrated character arcs, setting, prose style, etc. and spiritual books, because – we’re Catholic around here (I chose Thursdays for the Luminous mysteries. I need some shine in my life)

Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way “mysteries of light”. Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12). Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom…Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus. Pope John Paul II

Last week, I mentioned that I was reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz. Can I be really honest here? I wasn’t digging it. I really gave it a chance and got more than half way through. In the interim, I received a book by my sweet friend Katie Cross titled Miss Mabel’s School for Girls. She is mad legit. How could she not be, look at her public note of affection on the envelope?!

#7QT Simplified Accountability #organization #WIP #amwriting via @fillpraycloset #books #reading @kcrosswriting

Devoured it in two nights. It held my interest better than Koontz. You can quote me on it. She asked me to read the book, as I’d already read the novella Isadora Interviews prior, and the second in the series is about to be published (and sent to me next week to preview!). As I began the book, I thought WOW she really wrote this. The book is magnificent in it’s artwork and binding, not to mention the story is captivating, well researched and holds your interest. But then, you know, my worst critic showed up as I turned on my book light to tell me that I could never write as well as she could, that I should just give up right now. Instead of falling prey to it, I just sent Katie an email with all kinds of questions about the craft. While this book wasn’t on my accountability list when I started, I allowed myself this treat. Aren’t I so good to myself? Can this count as self-care, too?

I replaced the Koontz with Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I read some of her poetry when I completed some undergrad coursework during my grad work (follow that?), so when she came up as a potential “competition book” based on what I’m writing about, I did a quick library swap. The editorial review on Amazon notes:

In Oryx and Crake, a science fiction novel that is more Swift than Heinlein, more cautionary tale than “fictional science” (no flying cars here), Margaret Atwood depicts a near-future world that turns from the merely horrible to the horrific, from a fool’s paradise to a bio-wasteland. Snowman (a man once known as Jimmy) sleeps in a tree and just might be the only human left on our devastated planet. He is not entirely alone, however, as he considers himself the shepherd of a group of experimental, human-like creatures called the Children of Crake. As he scavenges and tends to his insect bites, Snowman recalls in flashbacks how the world fell apart.

For short story, I read some Kafka. You know, light reading. Metamorphosis where the main character wakes up as an insect and has to manage how to live within the confines of a room in his parent’s house, and The Judgment where the main character thinks he’s pulling the wool over his dad’s eyes, when WHAM! His dad is totally on to him and can exert such power that the main character…well, you should read it.

#7QT Simplified Accountability #organization #WIP #amwriting via @fillpraycloset #books #reading

For spiritual reading, I’m all over this book, St. Dominic The Grace of the Word by Guy Bedouelle. Are you surprised? I’m not. From Amazon’s editorial review:

The focus of the biography is the way in which St. Dominic embodied the role of Christ as preacher and the results that came from this grace. From his earliest youth, Sacred Scripture was the very heart and foundation of Dominic’s spiritual life. He never ceased to plunge into the Word of God, to study it, to pray it. Bedouelle thus documents how St. Dominic’s whole life and mission was one continuous proclamation of the power of the Gospel to transform individual lives and society.

#7QT Simplified Accountability #organization #WIP #amwriting via @fillpraycloset #books #reading

— 5 —

Blog. This week, I lied about blogging on Tuesday, and blogged on Monday instead. I didn’t beat myself up too much, because I have to be flexible and you just had to know how my first night of bowling with a new friend went. It was hard to not blog more. I missed it, but, as you can see, I wrote and read a ton more.

— 6 —

Social Media / Other. Rhonda thought an imposter got to my inbox and sent my accountability email. Usually I am all.over.social.media. To say that I would only be promoting blog posts and doing #fridayintroductions on Instagram, was very unlike me. However, I have to take a step back, like she says, to take a really great step forward. I think I am doing that. Even my Chinese food fortune cookie says so:

#7QT Simplified Accountability #organization #WIP #amwriting via @fillpraycloset #books #reading

I am working my way through Learn Scrivener Fast tutorials, twice a week. As the tutorials aren’t very long, I can get through a lot in a short amount of time. Ever use a tomato timer? Or the Pomodoro Technique? That’s what I’ve been using to work for 25 mins and then break for 5 mins. Very helpful in keeping me on task. The thinking is that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. I just think it keeps me focused.

I also took a step back from working with the RCIA team and cantoring this fall. Believe it or not, that adds about 20-30 hours back to my month. While I will miss these parish activities, I know that sometimes saying no, is ok if there’s a goal in mind. Don’t just say no because you just want to sit on the couch and watch reruns of Pawn Stars everyday. Follow your calling, and cut out the extra. I also need to be sure I am around for Mike. Not to mention, when he is back to his old self, he’ll be traveling again, this time internationally. The boys will definitely need Mommy a whole lot more.

— 7 —

It’s Gabriel’s birthday today. He’s 7 and I can’t believe it. He pitter-pattered into my bedroom last night and told me this would be the last 6-year-old kiss and hug I would get, but not to worry because I’ll get the first 7 year old kiss and hug.

And we’re back to bowling tonight. So how was your week?

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

The Fantastic Four

Let’s start my Friday evening, shall we? It’s really pathetic when I look back on it – but there’s always the funny and that’s all that should remain.

The Fantastic Four #bowling #friendship #marriage by @fillpraycloset

FF509” by Apparent file taken from Marvel Comics official website. Original file would have been placed on Marvel’s site for promotional purposes.. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

I got home after work and I hadn’t been feeling well all day. Denial is always the name of my game where germs and illness are concerned so while I knew something was coming, I knew I could put it off for a few hours to get my bowl on. Mike signed us up for a league that meets every Friday evening, just after work. This is an attempt to get us out more, socialize and do something fun together. Naturally, I’m anxious but am willing to give it the old college try (what the heck does that even mean, Cristina?).

I shovel the delicious dinner he made. I only know that because the kids tell me. At this point, I am losing my taste buds with every bite. I’m coming down with something fast. I guzzle more water than necessary, and begin to clear away the dishes as Mike heads up to take a call upstairs for work. That man is “on” all the time. He hollers at me from upstairs “Honey, you think your new friend would still want to go with you? I’m thinking about it, and we really can’t afford to take all of us bowling this week. I’ll stay home and you can go” In this league it would be $30 for both each week, then another $16 for the boys to play too. Oh yeah, we planned on taking them. Earlier at a lunch, I’d mentioned the possibility of Mike not being able to bowl on account of his medical situation and if she would be interested in covering for him after surgery.

I stared at the floor, eyes wide thinking social situation without Mike. He’s the best crutch. He can talk to anyone about anything: politics, current events, pop culture, movies, music – you name it. At least my new friend would be with me. Right? Cool. I call her. No answer. Per my usual, I leave an oddly awkward message, complete with howling like a coyote. I abhor voice mail and do what I can to get through it – laughter, remember? If I leave you a voice mail, you’ll want to save it. She did.

In any case, I’m panicking. I called the poor gal 30 minutes before we had to be at the bowling alley! What if she had plans? I texted her, I just left you a voice mail. Call me. A few minutes pass, and I wipe the small beads of sweat that have formed on my forehead with the back of my hand. Whether it’s the sickness or a hot flash, I can’t tell. She calls back!!

Me: Hey, did you get my voice mail?
Her: No, I got your text. I called.
Me: Well you’re going to want to save that message. It’s a classic. (Who does that? Me.)
Her: Ok, I will. What’s up?
Me: Wanna go bowling with me? We’re broke as a joke so if you come, you can take Mike’s place and bowl for him. (I’m such a great friend. ‘Hey hang out with me, my husband can’t’. I told you I was awkward)
Her: Yeah sure, when do I have to be there?
Me: 20 minutes.
Her: I can literally roll outta here 5 mins before and get there early.
Me: Awesome. See you there. Thanks.

I then send a text a few mins later, as I shut the dishwasher door so hard that all the dishes clang, and it’s $14 buck to play, ok? She replies immediately, Yup.

Not only is she helping me out, she has to pay to play. Damn, I suck.

I hop in the car and peel out. I have to use my husbands car – which is HUGE – because he has more gas than I do, and I just don’t have the time. I don’t live 5 minutes away from the alley, more like 15 and it was 6:15PM at this point.

As I tap my foot on the break for the 16th time (traffic) I realize I’m wearing thong sandals. Why is this a problem? You need socks! I forgot socks. So I grab my phone and plead with Siri to transcribe my message Forgot socks, can you bring a pair? I suck.

Her response: NP

At this point, I’m thinking she’s totally regretting this friendship. She’s figuring it out that I don’t have it all together. But, it gets better. And by better, I mean more pathetic.

I pull in and she pulls in at the same time. Homegirl has her own bowling ball AND shoes. Who knew? I receive a text from Mike, who is always worried when I go anywhere alone, and tells me to pull money out from the ATM across the street.

We walk in and it’s pandemonium. The place is hoppin’ and not one lane is free. I make a note to myself for the next Friday and all subsequent Fridays the boys will have to bring their devices, they aren’t going to get to bowl at all. We walk up to lanes 21-24 where our league is set to bowl and I see the Lady in Charge. They’re already bowling and I still have to rent shoes and get a bowling ball. Read, unprepared and late.

I’ll skip the part where my friend can’t believe how big my feet are when I mention my shoe size. Size 8 if you’re interested. And for someone who is 4’11”, that’s just mean.

As we walk back to our lanes, I tell her that I have to hit the ATM across the street. She asks why. Because it’s free, that’s why. The one in here will charge me the price of a latte to take out $20 bucks! Sad state of affairs people, but I really have no shame at this point. I have clown feet.

She chimes that she’ll just pay for us and I can pay her back later.

In my head, I tell myself, you’re a really crappy first date you know?

The Fantastic Four via @fillpraycloset #bowling #fridaynight #friendship

My friend, getting ready to lay the “Sleeper Smackdown” on the pins. She’s good.

We played three games, wherein I bowled an amazing 103, 94 and 104 respectively. My Bowling Baller friend did well enough not to notice her scores. The Lady in Charge mentioned that there was an open spot on my team and asked if she’d want to join it. She needed a day or so to think it over. Of course, I forced it by way of writing her name in pen on the score card simultaneously telling her, she didn’t really have a choice. I’m even forcing things on her. Poor thing. She didn’t know what she was getting into when she showed up. Now she’s committed to 7 months of weekly bowling with me, Queen of the Low Scoring Bowlers who really thinks we need matching satin jackets a la Grease – and Mike, who will be on “medical leave” until he heals up for the next 6 weeks. He and I are two peas in the same nutty pod. Or maybe she is too, we had to come up with a name for our team and she said it had to be fantastic. The “Super Fantastics” was her suggestion. Mike was not feelin’ it. So as a compromise, I came up with “The Fantastic Four”, this way she’s Fantastic (she is) and Mike gets that super hero vibe (which he is).

The Lady in Charge named me Captain. God Bless us everyone, Tiny Tim. I don’t know the first thing about bowling in a league. The people in the next lane let me know as much with their nasty looks for bowling when they were. I didn’t know that two people couldn’t occupy the same space. All these rules!

I have yet to meet our fourth member. She couldn’t make it this Friday, but should be here for the next. Let’s hope she can fall in with the Pink Ladies The Fantastic Four.

The Fantastic Four #bowling #friendship #marriage by @fillpraycloset

The rest of the weekend was spent, on the couch with antibiotics, NyQuil, Sudafed, Delsym and Emergen-C because I paid dearly, as I always do, when I avoid oncoming sinus infections, and played Words with Friends with my new Bowling Baller friend. I think she’s going to hang around. Yay.



Prayer Requests for September

Let’s bring back the prayer requests. I thought we could support one another through prayer on the first Saturday of every month. I hope you’ll join us.

How can I pray for you?

Prayer Requests via @fillpraycloset #prayer #Catholic #saints #support

If you leave your request, you can also leave any Saint name you’d like to intercede on your behalf as well. For me specifically, please pray with the intercession of St. Benedict and St. John of God.


#7QT Breaking up the Days

I’ve been spending some time at the library, shocker. But there are some books that I pulled and I thought I would share them with you here, along with some other stuff I’m totally into. Because it’s Friday and I need these kinds of days to break up these kinds of days.

— 1 —

While at the doctor yesterday having tests done, the technician asked me what my book was about. I explained that Reading Like a Writer shows the importance of slow reading and how each word builds upon the other to create intrigue, suspense, build character, plot, etc. My favorite part so far, is Prose’s list of what you need to read right now. That’s what it’s called. I found it interesting that her choice of words, the immediacy is so perfect here and makes me want to set out on her recommended journey. Throughout the book she builds upon the parts that make up a story: words, sentences, paragraphs, character, narration – in exactly the way she is trying to impress upon you to read. Not the kind of critical reading we were taught growing up where we had to take the socio-economic  perspective of the times and include that with a topic sentence and the rest of your hamburger paragraph. Anyone remember those? In any case, if you want to write, the best way, is to read the greats. I think maybe, that’s how I learned.

Reading Like a Writer #FrancineProse#Books, Clothes and #Podcasts @fillpraycloset #7QT @stitchfix

— 2 —

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to genre lately as it relates to the novel I’m working on. I think it will help me to narrow in on all of these ideas. I don’t want to be boxed in by a genre, of course. However, if the point is to sell a book, you gotta know which shelf it would sit on. Who it’s friends are going to be on that shelf, know what I mean? I picked up the first in the Odd series by Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas. I never thought I would read his books because I was always more of a classic literature kind of gal (except Austen, we’ve talked about this. BUT, Prose is giving me reason to pick it up again for one last try – see, that book is a handy resource).

But why did I choose this to read? Honestly?  Koontz’s The City and Innocence weren’t available at the library – and I wanted to read how he created characters, specifically supernatural ones. This isn’t to say that I am whipping out werewolves or vampires in my novel, but there are some special qualities in the mix and I can learn what works and what doesn’t, for me anyway, if I read the work of others. *No, I don’t presume my book will be buddies on the shelf next to Koontz. My last name starts with a T. Ha!”

#Books, Clothes and #Podcasts @fillpraycloset #7QT @stitchfix

— 3 —

I think it’s safe to say that I like to learn and study. I read a few books at a time and now I am working my way into podcasts. It makes vacuuming less boring and tedious. Enter in DIYMFA (Do it Yourself Master of Fine Arts). I don’t know how I came upon this podcast / site, but I like the downloadable worksheets I received for subscribing to emails from her site and the podcast I listened to this morning “Five Promises in the First Five Pages” was informative and helpful.  She read opening lines that packed a punch to show examples of just how important those first pages of your manuscript are. Another nugget, specifically about world-building was not to drop details until absolutely necessary; don’t infodump. She gave the example of building a castle made of Legos: beautiful turrets, walkways, stairs, etc. and getting so wrapped up in it, that nothing is happening inside the Lego castle.

While I don’t see myself dropping cash for a course, I’ll keep listening and gathering information like the school squirrel that I am.

#Books, Clothes and #Podcasts @fillpraycloset #7QT @stitchfix


— 4 —

Last week, I attended a free webinar Learn Scrivener Fast as it was co-hosted by K.M. Weiland (and we all know I love her!) Scrivener is a program where you can organize your writing, keep notes and create ebooks. I know I’m leaving out a lot more of it’s functions and capabilities. However, the introduction I got in the webinar was really great. I appreciated the structured templates and the virtual corkboard to get all of your notes together – color coded by any parameter (character, theme, needs work, you name it).

There was a deal (of course) where you could purchase the courses at a discount – and it also included a template for outlining and structuring your novel, based on the principles of outlining and story structure K.M. Weiland discusses in her books, one that I just finished and still another that I’m working my way through. I loved her book, so this “freebie” was a no brainer for me. There was also an audio, hour-long presentation by K.M. Weiland Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration included as well. I got the basic package and can always upgrade later to nab the extra goodies, like Scrivener for Bloggers and step-by-step instructions to create an ebook with snapshots.

#Books, Clothes and #Podcasts @fillpraycloset #7QT @stitchfix

While some take the view that Scrivener offers 2 hours of training when you download the program, it’s my understanding that the classes offered by Learn Scrivener Fast, are the easily digestible kind. At no more than 3:14 minutes a piece, for me, that’s the kicker. How much time do we all really have to pick, pause and peck to learn one thing that will help us get through whatever obstacle we have ahead of us? Give me efficient, give me fast, give me dinner, Mommy. Can you picture it?

— 5 —

I hate to shop. I know, that’s weird. I am a short gal with a body meant for someone 5’6″. I’ll just leave it at that. As a self diagnosed social introvert, I don’t like to try clothes on at a store, where there is always that question “need a different size”. My response is – “please give me a minute to remember why I hate full length mirrors”. Pants are always too long, shirts are always too tight and I always need ice cream afterwards.

Ever hear of StitchFix? It’s simple really, and I know I am late to the party. You fill out a profile (and yes, you have to be honest) and a stylist (<— I have one now!) will pull items for you based on what you like and what you don’t. You even have an area to free write and add clarity to the profile. For example, mine says:

I work as an executive assistant in an office where the dress code is business casual. I have a sleeve tattoo (right upper arm to my elbow), and my entire back, so I’d like to keep those covered in the office. On the weekend, anything goes. I sing at church a few times a month, so would have to cover up for those days too. Don’t know what my jean size is, usually get 10. Petite with lots of shape!

I also noted that I wanted a little edge to the Bohemian Chic flavor I chose. Who knew I had flavor even? The pricing is $20 a month and you receive 5 pieces, choose what you want to keep and the 20 is applied to the items you keep. Easy peasy! I was spending $20 a month on a craft box subscription that Gabriel was not into any more, so no harm done there. Not to mention, if you have a Pinterest account, you can leave your username and pin stuff you like – this way the stylist can really see what you’re into. I pinned a picture of myself in my favorite skirt!

#Books, Clothes and #Podcasts @fillpraycloset #7QT @stitchfix

I received a pair of pants and four tops. The pants were s-m-a-s-h-i-n-g. I would never pick straight leg pants on account of, my legs but these were awesome. The fit was great and they weren’t LONG! Slight problem, the price. They were a little too much for me, but this doesn’t mean I can’t go out and find a pair in my price range! And you know I will, because she also sent these two tops that I dropped my jaw for. Just look at the tops people. These are just the cards they send with looks that you can style the tops with, suggestions (because I need help. That skirt up there? At least 6 years old, and I straight up took it from a roommate at a convention I went to. She unpacked it, I saw it and said “that’s not going home with you”. She thought I was joking.)



#Books, Clothes and #Podcasts @fillpraycloset #7QT @stitchfix#Books, Clothes and #Podcasts @fillpraycloset #7QT @stitchfix


Perfect for work, covers my tattoos, and perfect for date night. I loved it! As for the other two tops, one was a sweater (just got a few, so I didn’t need it) and the other was a top I didn’t need to have. I chose the best and will return the rest. And there’s no one peering in on me asking if I need a bigger size. #winning If you sign up and use my referral code, I get $25 credit. Help me not enter stores and remember why I shouldn’t have had all that ice cream. It’s kind of an obligation at this point.

— 6 —

I forgot to tell you that I also picked up George Orwell’s 1984 at the library. Can you believe I’ve never read it? No. Not even I. Back to that genre chat we were having, I want to read this to see if any of my novel fits, or shares anything that could be sci-fi related. Intriguing isn’t it? Will there be Catholic themes – oh yeah! But there’s also romance, maybe sci-fi, maybe fantasy, a little suspense, peppered with some Dystopian jazz. Not literally, jazz. How does that all work? Does it work? I don’t know. It’s a work in progress, ahem, writers say it’s a WIP.

#Books, Clothes and #Podcasts @fillpraycloset #7QT @stitchfix


— 7 —

My husband signed us up for a bowling league. Granted, he can’t play for the first few weeks due to medical issues. So the averages are all me. Can you imagine? He’s trying to get us to be more social and do things together. Which I love. The bowling with my new cold, not so much. That’s tonight. All I really want is some NyQuil and Throat Coat tea, but this was a really sweet gesture on his part, so I’ll offer it up. Who knows, I may just bowl my face off and bowl over 150.

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!