Category: writing

A few weeks ago, I hired a photographer friend to take headshots for me. Head shots? Oh geez. I know. It sounds a little hoity-toity. But I had a good reason.

For one thing, I’m pretty sure the last time I had  photos taken of myself –just me!– was when I was pregnant with Susannah (and the last time I had professional photos taken of myself was, oh, the tenth of Never).

For another thing, I was in the midst of the blog redesign and knew I wanted to include a new spot on the front page with my smiling face and a little note of welcome to readers. It just seems like the friendly thing to do!

So Christella met me at a nearby park and took a ton of pictures. She’s just such a sweet, kind hearted person. She blogs about her beautiful family, too – check her stories out over here.) We chatted and laughed and had a great time and then a week later she gave me a CD packed with dozens of great photos. How to choose!? Eeeek.

Here are a few (of the many!) that I just loved:

IMG_5289  IMG_5341  IMG_5419 B&W IMG_5384   IMG_5423

It was so much fun (and it totally counted as one of my self-care hours for the week!) and I’m really loving the addition to the front page of the blog.

 

 

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I feel a little bit like that scene in every movie ever where a character comes [into a room, down a staircase, out from behind a curtain] and s/he suddenly looks their very best and everyone gasps because this was the potential all along. Like, “Hey, we always knew you were [smart, funny, talented] but now your outside matches your inside!”

Yeah. I’ve been blogging since 2005. I started out, as most of us do, on a free site. I had nothing fancy to look at, and I was writing primarily for our long-distance extended family. Eleven years later, I’ve got my own URL and this space finally looks like what I’ve always envisioned. (even if my audience is still family and a few friends. I’m okay with that.)

The genius behind the look is Elaine at Elaine Griffin Designs. She was so easy to work with! I didn’t want to be one of those people who goes, “Um, I don’t know what I want it to look like, but, um, make it pretty and put a bird on it.” I hear that drives designers crazy. Luckily, Elaine has a great questionaire tool that helped me narrow my focus so that I could put into words what I really wanted for the blog. And she managed to turn that page of questions and answers into this! (imagine me making jazz hands all around the room) I adore my logo. 🙂 Don’t you? I think it’s absolutely lovely. (And look up there in your browser tab – she even made a coordinating favicon. Squeee!)

So if you need some web design awesomeness, please head Elaine’s way.

Aaaaaaand… I’m not quite finished. I have one more surprise coming, probably next week sometime – but that will get its own post. 😉 (imagine me happy-dancing away)

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Take a deep breath. This one is a doozy.

I’ve blogged about a lot of projects over the years. Sewing things and crafts for kids. Painting and quilting. Bible studies and volunteer work. But this one takes the cake. (I’ve blogged about some cake projects, too, come to think of it.)

I’m writing a book. I wrote a book. I’m writing a book.

In November, I signed up to participate in National Novel Writing Month, which urges people to take the pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. This was my first year, and I won NaNoWriMo! I ended the month with just a little over 50K.

 

NaNo-2015-Winner-Banner

That’s an awesome feeling. There are over 300,000 participants and I heard somewhere (can’t find my source again at the moment to link, I will if I stumble back over it though!) that around 25,000 people won. That’s a pretty small chunk of people.

But. As great as it felt to validate my novel on the NaNo website and see the big “WINNER!” logo, it was like scaling the first peak of a roller-coaster. You know what comes after the first peak, right? The first drop.

50,000 words does technically meet the definition of a novel, but it’s a really short one. Most modern novels are in the 80-85,000 range. Therefore, even though I won NaNo, I wasn’t really done.

I spent the month of December adding to the work, and a few days before the kids got out on their holiday break, I decided it was done!  (Well. Done enough to let a couple of people read it and give feedback.)

So then I was all, “Yay! I’m done! I wrote a book!”

I spent the two weeks of Christmas break trying NOT to think about my characters and my plotline. But then I got the feedback from my darling beta readers. And I had to admit, they had some great points. It was time to edit.

So. I  was editing away. Doing little re-writes here and there, and daydreaming about my main character again… and a few days ago I realized that the two secondary characters are really pretty close to having excellent story arcs of their own… if I just give them a few more chapters to develop.

Now I’m back in the saddle again. (The writing saddle, not the riding saddle.) My word count was around 67,500 at the end of my first round of edits; my new goal with these new chapters is to end up around 86,000 words.

And even then, it won’t be done. It will just be ready to send to a few more trusted beta readers. And then it will probably need more edits.

Not This Day

But one of these days, Aragorn. Pow! to the moon!

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I promised to get back into blogging this year, so how about a quick recap?

Abigail is four years old. She attends Parents’ Day Out at our church two mornings a week and dance (combination ballet & tap) class on Friday mornings. We started the school year doing preschool at home but – full honesty – I haven’t pushed her with academics nearly as much as I did her brother and sister. What can I say? Chris swears she’s the last baby and it just all feels so different with her.  She got glasses a few months ago, and our eye doctor diagnosed her with amblyopia – so she has to wear an eye patch a few hours each day to correct it. She’s in speech therapy for help with those adorable lispy mistakes she makes; I’m so proud of her progress but it’s always a little bittersweet when a kid leaves behind those babyisms and starts talking like a grown-up. She’s funny and tender and still a kid who’s smiley 99% of the time.

Susannah will be turning seven in a few days. She’s rocking the first grade at her Montessori school. She has lost a whole bunch of teeth – I have lost count and I didn’t write down every time she lost one. This seems like something a mom should keep track of. – and she always pulls them out by herself. She joined the Girl Scouts this year and is a Daisy in her school troop. (She’s selling cookies this week, if you need a Thin Mint fix. Just call me!) At church, she portrayed Mary in the Christmas pageant and she loves singing in the choir.

Jonas is nine (turning ten in February) and in fifth grade. He’s tall (Dad’s genes) and wears glasses (Mom’s genes) and such a smart young guy. He’s playing basketball this winter and played soccer in the fall. He’s also gotten a little more aware of Internet privacy, so sometimes he asks me not to put things on Facebook – I have a feeling that will extend to the blog, too.

Chris is happily practicing general surgery and really enjoys working with his partners. In addition to his dream car – the Mustang he bought in 2014 – in 2015, he got his dream truck! It’s a Ford F-150 something-or-other with a bunch of souped-up features that make him very happy (and that I don’t ever remember!)

And I’m making some changes. I’ve retired as a La Leche League Leader; even though I enjoy working with moms and babies, it had become difficult to continue doing volunteer work without much support. Plus, I need to make some margin in my time to add new things… like writing a book.

I’ve wanted to write a novel for my entire adult life, and most of my childhood, too. But I’ve always let fear hold me back – fear of failing. Fear that I couldn’t really write a long-form story that stays engaging and coherent. Fear that my ideas were too trite, too

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2015 was a complete blogging dead zone, and for a long time I wasn’t ready to talk about why.

For anyone new who stumbles across this blog and wonders, I’ll go way back to explain. In January 2012, my mom passed away. She’d been battling ovarian cancer for about eighteen months; it had progressed into her brain and spinal fluid, and she took her last breath peacefully at home with my dad and his mother and sister around her. I was in Kentucky, wishing I could be there, feeling torn about taking care of my little family and taking care of the family I grew up in. That’s a hard place to be, and reader, if you’re there: I get you. Hang in there. Over the next few months, I blogged a bit (and drank a bit) and cried a lot and got through the days. You will get through it, too.

In the fall of 2014, my two oldest kids started attending private school for the first time after homeschooling for their whole lives and we bought a new house. It was crazy around here, but exhilarating and vibrant. I blogged about it.

And someone from our family’s past showed up here on my blog. An old friend of my mother’s, who missed her deeply, and who had spoken angrily and rudely to all of us when my father remarried, found my blog and left awful comments. There’s this thing called comment moderation – on the backside of the blog, I can see comments and then I can approve them to appear or I can delete them if they are spam or, in this case, abusive – so the things she said weren’t made public, but they hurt me terribly.

After that, every time I sat down to blog about something – to share something sweet or cute or funny my kids did or said, to talk about something hard or challenging I was thinking about, to encourage anyone reading – I just couldn’t. I would hear her voice in my head, rebuking and incriminating and insulting, and I would shut the internet down and walk away.
Normally I have words to spare, but that encounter robbed me of my words. So for almost all of 2015, I didn’t touch this blog. I renewed the domain, and I kept reading the words of others, but I only put my own words out on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. This place felt invaded. Violated.

Now it’s the end of the year, and when I made my goals for 2016, I realized I wanted to use this space again. I’m going to work on a little facelift, and probably streamline the archives, and –most importantly– I’m going to start writing here again.

Life is too big and my words are too important to let the haters get me down. I’ll be here with bells on in the new year – and I hope you’ll join me.

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Meet the author

MICHELLE NEBEL

I write uplifting women’s fiction woven with threads of faith, grace, and Southern hospitality. My blog is where I share a glimpse of my life, and I hope you’ll find the thoughts here encouraging!

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