In case you were wondering…

What’s the most popular post so far here at A Year with Mona? I know you’ve been dying to know. Well, here’s a roundup of the top five.


Far and away the most popular (and most shared on Facebook) is “Mugging on the Metro“–the story of the time I saw a guy snatch a woman’s cell phone right out of her hands and flee the scene.

A distant second is “This is the end…” An account of my progress with writing the end of my novel and how to make endings work in general. This one’s a bit of surprise, really: after a handful of reads when I wrote it last December, now this post, far more than any other, gets consistently read (or at least opened). Almost every day, people search for “the end,” and end up here.

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Audacious writing week

Put on the coffee, log off Facebook, and get the laptop charged up–it’s time to write. A lot. Yes, it’s time for an audacious writing week (came up with that myself). Okay, maybe that’s a bit much. Maybe aiming to write a whole mess of words doesn’t quite fit the mold of “showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks.” After all, it’s just writing; it’s not like I’m going to be swimming the English Channel or climbing the Eiger. But it does mean putting everything else aside, putting in the hours, and putting down the words.


Here’s a distraction I can handle: a lovely view of Notre Dame from Shakespeare & Co.’s new cafe.

Why now? Well, Merideth is off to D.C., the girls are on a ski trip with their school (gotta love the schedule of vacances scolaires in France!), so for me, it’s the perfect opportunity for a mini-NaNoWriMo of my own.

Now, I could use the time to get out of Paris to see another part of France; I did that in the fall and had a great week in Colmar and even got some good writing done. But doing that also means a lot more planning and energy spent finding places to write. So this week I’ll stick to Paris and see how much I can get done.

Planning the work, working the plan

Planning for this week has already paid off. Leading up to it, I spent time going through the manuscript, evaluating which parts need the most work, where the gaps are, and seeing what I could hope to get done in a focused week of writing. Suffice to say, I’ll have no shortage of material calling for my attention.

Having some specific writing goals helps, but the real enemy to getting the writing done isn’t found in the writing itself–it’s in all the distractions that clamor for my attention. (Like blogging, maybe? Hmm…) So, the more important planning I’ve done for this week has gone into how I’m going to organize my time, such as:

  • Getting to bed at 10. No binge-watching Netflix and noshing on Cheetos (can you even find those abominable things in France? I hope not!) and then waking up too sleepy and sluggish to get the writing started.
  • Getting up at 6 and getting ready for the day. (So far so good!)
  • Planning out some reading to give my brain a break from writing, since I can’t just write for eight hours straight. I’ll be starting each day with a chapter from 1 Peter and then dip into The Elements of Eloquence throughout the week for some writerly inspiration (I blogged about finding this fantastic book here. Check it out. Everyone who writes should read this book!). I’ve got a couple other books cued up as well.
  • Being intentional about exercise and meals and even chores.
  • Planning some lunches and coffees with friends and even a game night. I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done, but I still need to see other human beings!

So: here’s hoping for 15,000 words–or more–this week. I’m already more than 10% of my way there.

And now it’s time to get back to it. The next chapter is waiting.


Making connections in the blogosphere


How many blogs are out there in the blogosphere, anyway? I shudder to think. And of those, how many reward your web-surfing time with entertainment, a beautiful photo, a laugh, some encouragement, a provocative idea or a great insight? Well, those are the ones to seek out.

In the spirit of connecting people to cool content, behold: the Versatile Blogger Award. I’m still pretty new to the whole blogging scene, but as I’ve followed people’s comments and likes and looked through their blogs, it’s been great to discover intriguing people writing about all sorts of intriguing things all over this endlessly intriguing world.

So, thanks, bikurgurl, for nominating A Year with Mona for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’ve enjoyed your blog as well! Now, the rules state I’m supposed to tell you seven things about myself (which reminds me of those lists that used to fly around Facebook all the time) and then nominate 15 other blogs. Okay… I don’t even read fifteen other blogs, so I’ll have to go with quality over quantity.

The blogs I’m grooving on these days:

Angels in Paris – great photography from a friend here in Paris.

journeyinprocess – stories, photos, insights, inspiration. Another friend not only in cyberspace, but whom I’ve got to go on ministry journeys with to Italy and Lesotho. – another blog from a real life friend in Paris. Laugh out loud funny and inspiring? Yes.

The Voice of One – “To know and preach nothing but Christ….” Hmmm… another real life friend! From waaaay back. And writing stuff that challenges and inspires me.

Some writing sites:

anaspoke – tons here about the modern maze that is self-publishing.

helpingwritersbecomeauthors – my go-to site for writing craft inspiration and insight. I’ve learned a TON from K.M. Weiland.

theeditorsblog – “Write well. Write often. Edit wisely.” Some fabulous writing advice here. For when you mean business as a writer.

So: seven sites. Seven good sites.

And seven things about me? Here goes.

  1. I grew up in the same house until I went to college. Since getting married, we’re averaging a new place to live every three years.
  2. After my first visit to Paris in 1993, I said, “Yeah, it was nice, but I don’t know if I’ll ever go back.”
  3. I’ve frequented Starbucks more now in Paris than I ever did in the States–because you can order a big coffee and set up shop with the laptop for hours!
  4. I like to improvise when cooking, but baking–with all those precise measurements and instructions–stresses me out.
  5. I thought about being an English major for about a week my freshman year of college, but then said, nah, that’s not for me–I’m a musician!
  6. Sometimes I like to re-read my favorite books more than read new ones.
  7. I like focusing on the big picture and all of the details. Maybe that’s why writing a novel feels like a good fit.

So there you have it. Check out some of the blogs listed above. You’ll find something good.