September 30, 2011

My Imago, My Friend, My Inspiration

My mother, my imago, inspired me to write my entire life. I put her on a pedestal and hoped someday to reach the same status. The miasma of constant relocations, although difficult, ended up being our family’s saving grace. Most of my life I only had my mom, dad, and two sisters. We were a team; there was nothing else to fill the lacuna teenagers fall into. I survived in the cocoon of family, protected from peer pressure and temptation.

Writing Depression Cookies with my mom only strengthened our relationship. The synchronicity of the moves became clearer as we searched for their meaning. We believed readers would embrace our journey, especially when we intertwined it with others we had known. Even if they’d never moved, they knew disruption in some form.

It was essential for us to look closely in the mirror and be honest and raw with what we saw now, what we saw then. Our greatest hope was that this novel would open up a dialogue between all women to search for similarities instead of differences. Someday I hope my own daughters will read it and oscitate at all the things their Mom, and Nana, really do understand.

If you are left a bit confused and wondering why my vocabulary seems to be much improved from my last few posts, I must admit this post was inspired by the latest Campaign challenge. My first reaction was to tackle this as fiction, but I wanted to find a way to incorporate the words into a blog post I would write for our readers.

More about the challenge from Rachel Harrie's Campaign site:
Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:

·         include the word "imago" in the title
·         include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.

For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!

I’m happy to say I took on all the challenges, even making it 200 words exactly. If you enjoyed my interpretation, please visit this page and vote for me, #173.
While you are there, take some time to my fellow campaigners responses to this challenge.

September 29, 2011

Food Network-Style Writer Challenge: Exposing my Food Obsession

Yesterday, I was running at the gym and watching Food Network. My first thought... how unfair to be running and watching food. But I wasn't complaining when my four miles was over and I barely noticed. Clearly I'm obsessed.

I love food. Wish I didn't, but I do. I blame a mother who put out a Thanksgiving-like spread at almost every meal and greeted me at the door after school with warm cookies. Shame on you, Mom! ;-)

My favorite Food network show right now is Chopped. In case you aren't familiar with the show, four chefs are given mystery boxes containing three food items. These items are not obviously connected. Each chef must use these ingredients to deliver first an appetizer, then an entree, and finally a dessert. Each round has a different food basket. The winning chef receives $10,000.

For fun, I've reimagined the game as a writer's challenge. Enjoy...


Four writers gather in front of three book critics. After each round, a writer's laptop is unplugged and he/she is dismissed from the game.

During each round, the competing writers are given a basket with three mystery objects.

Round 1
Each writer must write a poem using the following three objects: a strawberry, a pencil, and a leaf. Time limit: 20 minutes

Round 2
The three remaining writers must write a short story using the following three objects: a dead ant, a flower, and a paintbrush. Time limit: 1 hour

Round 3
The final two writers must complete an outline and the first five pages of a novel using the following three objects: seeds, a baseball, and a stuffed panda . Time limit: 2 hours

Each week the mystery objects change, and the winner receives $10,000!

Would you participate in a televised writing challenge like this? What other types of game shows or television competitions would be fun to turn into writing games/competitions?

Have some fun with this. I did!

September 27, 2011

And the Award Goes to... Our Blog!

Awards make me happy and put a little extra spring in my step. It's nice to know people are reading and enjoying our efforts here. Today's Tub-Full Tuesday celebrates this idea.

We owe thanks! First to Sheri L. Swift and her blog, Finding Joy in the Journey, we have been awarded the One Lovely Blog Award. Her blog is truly lovely, and I've enjoyed connecting with her through Rachel Harie's Platform-Building Campaign and now She Writes. Thanks, Sheri!

Second thanks go to the Having Acquired the Words blog, one I've recently discovered. The header says it all, "Sandwich-Generation mom, daughter, wife, bohemian... creating between the slices." I love witty, and she strikes me as witty. She gave us the Versatile Blogger Award. We've previously accepted this award (see right sidebar), but were honored to be chosen again.

Rules for accepting the One Lovely Blog Award:
1. Thank and link to the person who nominates you (done)
2. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it!

Since we've been honored with several awards lately, I am going to pass to 10 newly discovered blogs instead of 15.

Now for the fun part... sharing the love:

1. Having Acquired the Words
2. Becky's Barmy Book Blog
3. The Bookworm is Here
4. Lindy Legends and Other Such Nonsense
5. Once Upon a Prologue
6. Amanda's Writings
7. The Guardian Writer
8. Just a Word in this Story Called Life
9. Scribble and Edit
10. Bridget Straub: Author, Artist, Mom

Several of the newly found blogs above are participating in the Falling Into Books Blog Hop with me. Find out more about my giveaway here.

Or click on this badge for all the giveaways.

Falling Into Books Blog Hop

September 26, 2011

Falling into Books Blog Hop Giveaway: Ready, Set, Go

It's officially giveaway time!

To recap my Friday post:

We are participating in our first Blog Hop Giveaway. *rounds of applause* *fireworks* The brainchild of Michelle Flick of Oh! For the LOVE of BOOKS, the Falling Into Books Blog Hop runs from Monday, September 26 to Friday, September 30. Winners will be announced on Saturday, October 1st.

We are giving away a signed copy of our novel, Depression Cookies. More information about our award-winning novel can be found at our website. This giveaway is open to all US residents over age 13. Details for entering are below.

Please click on this beautiful badge to participate in more fantastic giveaways.

Falling Into Books Blog Hop

Details for my giveaway:

- Please leave a comment below answering this burning question: What's the single most important characteristic of a meaningful relationship? (this is research for our next novel about a mother and her college daughter)

- For an extra entry into the hat, please join this site with Google Friend Connect on the right sidebar. One more entry for following me on Twitter. Please note if you did one or both of these in your comments below so I can count it properly. If you are already my friend and follower, thank you. We want to reward you with one extra entry (again make note in your comment).

The morning of Saturday, October 1 I will put all the names in a hat (with repeat names for extra entries) and have my oldest daughter pick. I know it's not as fancy as using an internet tool, but I haven't played with those yet and don't want to mess up my first official blog hop giveaway. I'll post a picture with my daughter pulling said name (for fun!).

Any questions, please leave a comment. Good luck!

September 25, 2011

A Flexible Challenge: What Could be Better?

If you frequent my blog, and little makes me happier, you've heard all about A Round of Words in 80 Days. If not, it's time you do.

Kait Nolan's challenge is "the writing challenge that knows you have a life." How grand. I considered joining NaNoWriMo next month, but ultimately decided to wait until the next one (or Camp NaNo next summer). First, Mom and I are committed to finishing the follow-up to Depression Cookies. I am going to be working on my solo YA project when Mom has the book, but know I can't completely commit to it.

ROW 80, however, lets me set goals and change them throughout as necessary. I learned so much from Round 3, my first. See my post detailing those lessons here.

Round 4 runs from October 3 through December 22, perfect for your year-end writing goals. Whether a longtime writer trying to finish a project or a newbie trying to kickstart scheduled writing, you will benefit from this lovely group of writers. And this Round, I am a sponsor.

From the ROW 80 site, a bit of explanation about the challenge:

  • We have 4 rounds a year, each running 80 days.

  • Your goal can be anything you like as long as it is measurable (e.g. number of words/pages, specified amount of time to spend on writing per day/week, number of pages edited, etc.–for more on what makes a measurable goal, see this post).

  • Once you have settled on a goal, you write it up on your blog (yes, you must have one) and link to it on the Goals Linky for the Round, which will be posted on the ROW80 Blog.

  • If your goal changes before the end of the 80 days, simply write up a new goals post and link to it on the latest check-in day.

  • We have check-ins twice a week on Wednesday and Sundays where you will update us the same way (e.g. write up a blog post of your progress and link to it on that day’s linky).

  • On Twitter we use a hashtag of #ROW80 if you wanna come hang out

  • And if you happen to find us after a round has begun, just write up your goals post and hop on in whenever. We’re a friendly bunch.

  • I hope you'll join us for Round 4.

    Do you enjoy the accountability of a challenge?

    September 23, 2011

    Falling Into Books Blog Hop: Giveaways Galore

    Pardon the interruption to our normal Friday Feature, but this is exciting. We are participating in our first Blog Hop Giveaway. *rounds of applause* *fireworks* The brainchild of Michelle Flick of Oh! For the LOVE of BOOKS, the Falling Into Books Blog Hop runs from Monday, September 26 to Friday, September 30. Winners will be announced on Saturday, October 1st.

    I'm posting about this giveaway early to give my readers a heads up. I will re-run this post Monday.

    We are giving away a signed copy of our novel, Depression Cookies. More information about our award-winning novel can be found at our website. This giveaway is open to all US residents over age 13. Details for entering are below.

    Please click on this beautiful badge for more fantastic giveaways. Information about the giveaway will be posted Monday, September 26.

    Details for my giveaway:

    - Please leave a comment below answering this burning question: What's the single most important characteristic of a meaningful relationship? (this is research for our next novel about a mother and her college daughter)

    - For an extra entry into the hat, please join this site with Google Friend Connect on the right sidebar. One more entry for following me on Twitter. Please note if you did one or both of these in your comments below so I can count it properly. If you are already my friend and follower, thank you. We want to thank you with one extra entry (again make note in your comment).

    On Saturday morning, I will put all the names in a hat (with repeat names for extra entries) and have my oldest daughter pick. I know it's not as fancy as using an internet tool, but I haven't played with those yet and don't want to mess up my first official blog hop giveaway. I'll post a picture with my daughter pulling said name (for fun!).

    Any questions, please leave a comment.

    Comments left before Monday, September 26 will not be considered, so please come back then. Just wanted to give you some food for thought for the weekend. Comments about your excitement over the giveaway or our blog in general, however, are always welcome. *smiles* Wishing everyone a happy weekend!

    September 22, 2011

    Dear Diary: Protect my Words and my Heart

    Today, September 22nd, is Dear Diary Day. Months ago, I ran across information on this special day and knew it was post-worthy. You don't need to be a writer to appreciate the value of words. Words helps us express emotion and desire, catalog memories, and communicate ideas.

    For mothers, remember all the cute things your toddler has said. Their words, so priceless when said, are often lost in the shuffle of life. Take a moment, write them down. Before you know it, they'll be packing for college.

    For writers, keep a journal in your car, purse, everywhere. Write every thing you see, feel, touch, taste... detail any sensory experience. Keep it for scenes and inspiration. Write whenever something touches you.

    For readers, write down how your favorite book makes you feel. A friend recently gave me a book lover's journal to record cherished moments from books. I want to remember why it touched me, not just that it did.

    For people struggling, write it down and let it go. Sometimes expressing your thoughts in words, in a private place, can be the first step to healing. The paper won't judge you. It takes your words without opinion. Close the cover and revisit it as you can.

    Part of the inspiration for Depression Cookies came from finding my teenage diaries during a move. As soon as I read the words, the emotions were so clear. Fears, desires, disappointments... all protected in a red velvet-covered diary with a broken lock. Some things were forgotten, but came rushing back with the power of the written details.

    May today remind you to record your thoughts, no matter your profession. Those words will always mean something. A diary or journal can be the simplest way to protect your heart.

    Do you journal? Will you start?

    September 21, 2011

    Top Five Lessons from my Friends: Last Round 3 ROW 80 Check In

    I'll Be There for You, Cause You're There for Me Too

    Can you tell I loved Friends? Well, I also love my friends. I must admit I have some blogger and writer friends right now I'd love to meet. I'm grateful for the online relationships and support, but I'm still wishing for a more personal dinner out. Maybe we'll all pick a conference to attend in 2012 or something. Just saying...

    It's hard to believe this is the final check in for Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days. I am so thankful to Kait Nolan. This challenge has taught me so much.

    Top Five Gifts From Round 3:

    I love to write, but it can be a very solitary existence. I'm a people person. I knew this about myself, but didn't think it applied to my writing. It does. Encouragment and camaraderie are essential to my writing life. Hearing about others' struggles and accomplishments makes me feel less isolated and more inspired.

    I learned something from every post I read during the challenge: everything from writing technique, editing hints, suggestions for formatting ebooks, cover art, trailer production to not being so hard on yourself when life gets in the way.

    Overall, I'm a motivated person. I like to succeed and fulfill goals. Still, knowing my fellow writers were working toward their own goals and planning to stop by, was a huge motivator for me.

    ROW 80 is unique because it allows the participants to reassess their goals and customize the challenge for their needs. This was a new concept for me. I tend to overschedule and run around like a mad woman. I rarely give myself permission to reassess. I've discovered my writing flows better when I don't force it.

    Life happens. Writer's block happens. You have to learn to accept change and move forward or life will take over. Easier said than done. ROW 80 participants have helped me learn this valuable lesson.

    Overall, I am happy with my Round 3 results. Mom and I are almost 25,000 words into our sequel. It took us 10 years to write the first book and its 176,000 words. I'm looking forward to better defining my goals in Round 4.

    The best challenge I set for myself this week was to visit every blog on Sunday's Linky. Success! It was my sprint to the finish. I wanted to give back some love to show appreciation.

    Round 4 starts October 3rd. I hope to see a lot of familiar faces as well as find new writer friends. Readers: this is a great place for you to check out writers and hear about some exciting book projects, most prior to publication. If you are on the lookout for new authors and books, you'll be thrilled with what you find.

    September 20, 2011

    New Mom Advice and Instructions: Tub-Full Tuesday

    People who are willing to pass on knowledge to help others fill my tub. I've often posted about the generosity of the writing community, but there's another wonderful group who live to give... mothers. I've yet to meet a mom who wasn't terrified to leave the hospital with her first baby. I know I personally questioned the sanity of the nurse who signed my exit papers. What did I know about this little person?

    My gut sent me running to my mom. She was unbelievable, so patient with all my questions. But she didn't live close by. I learn by watching, and I needed to surround myself with other women figuring it out. I needed new mom advice and camaraderie.

    One of my first Mommy-friends suggested a book I adore to this day, Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of my Son's First Year. She didn't hold back any of her fears. I was so tired with a newborn, but devoured this book in one evening. I laughed and appreciated the author's raw honesty about tackling the unknown beast of motherhood. Truly some of the best new mom advice I've ever received. At the core, we have to believe in ourselves and embrace our struggles and thoughts. The biggest defeat a mom can have is trying too hard to be perfect, it's simply unattainable.

    When I was querying my fellow moms about whether to have a third kid or not, a handful were truly honest. I so appreciated it, and I spread the love. I tell other moms all the time that they will inevitably love and cherish a new life, but they should consider the effort of different personalities, needs, wants and energies. It's a commitment, and one not to be taken lightly.

    A huge thank you to all my mom friends who constantly fill my tub and help me be a better mother and woman.

    Today, my mom and I are featured on, a wonderful site for mothers. I love their slogan... real moms. real life. Please take a moment to checkout their site and our interview.

    What is the best real advice a mother ever gave you?

    September 19, 2011

    Books on the Run: Guest Blog by Tara Silverthorne Carter

    I am thrilled to have my sister guest posting today. On this blog, you've been introduced to my mother and co-author and my baby sister and Webmaster/Blogmaster. Tara, my lovely middle sister, does not love to read in a family of readers. But that is not to say she doesn't enjoy a good book.
    Books on the Run
    I admit it, I am NOT a reader. I hear myself constantly telling my children, “Go Read” but they rarely see me pick up a book. I do sit and read my USWeekly, but typically I only read over homework and notes from teachers. 
    I have to say I am always interested in hearing what others are reading though. I had no idea about the Twilight Series until hearing my sisters and mom gab about it. I kept thinking, “I am missing something.”  So I tried to commit myself to reading a few chapters every night. And, I am embarrassed to admit this, I would end up drooling over the pages within minutes.
    What I love to do is run. I love waking up on a Sunday morning before my family is awake and going on a 10+ mile run. It is a time where I can reflect on the week’s accomplishments, put my to-do list together, or just get caught up in my head. During one of my long marathon training runs, I decided to download Stephanie Myers’ The Host. That book took over 21 hours, but every Sunday morning I was excited about doing my long run (even the 20 milers!). I got lost in the book. I felt so good that I was able to combine working out with reading. I had found my way into the READING world!
    I do not stick to one genre when it comes to downloading audiobooks. I listen to what my mom and sisters read and often download those. And, honestly, sometimes I just pick a book because the cover or the synopsis looks appealing. I have listened to books by Dean Koontz, Glenn Beck, and Jennifer Wiener. At times I like inspirational stories, scary novels and, I must admit, I love most young-adult vampire inspired novels.
    I'll probably never be a part of a Book Club, but I am okay with that. I wouldn’t want to see my book any other way than what I have pictured in my head. And if listening to a book gets me excited about a long run, I've killed two birds with one stone.
    Here’s to us who love books, just not in print format!
    I admit... I need to embrace audio books. I'd get to "read" a lot more books that way! Thanks, Tara, for the inspiration (on books, you know where I stand on running).
    Do you listen to audio books? If so, does it replace reading or enhance it?

    September 18, 2011

    Learning to Read: ROW 80 Check In

    Tonight, I sat patiently, okay maybe not so patiently... let's go with diligently. Tonight, I sat diligently doing flashcards with my six-year-old. The same 30 words we go over several times a week. She starts out on a roll, tearing through word after word, her confidence building. Then she hits a more difficult word, she stumbles a bit, but she gets it. A few more words give her trouble. They are the same words we've been over and over. I try to stay calm.

    It's my third child. I know it takes time and practice, but we both get frustrated. By the end of the cards, we are both exhausted and ready to be done. With my first daughter, I remember thinking she might never read. One night we sat reading Hop on Pop for the sixth or seventh night in a row. Her little sister sat beside us, just happy to be in the room. When she stumbled on the word "all" the same place she always did, I told her, "remember, we read this yesterday." She started hitting the book, but her younger sister calmly said, "all, sis, it's all."

    Tonight's exhausting flash card session ended up making me feel better. I realized I have thrown myself into a whole new world of blogging daily, the Twitter universe, Facebook as a writer (not just to announce my new favorite nail polish), dedicated writing, author building campaigns, flash fiction... the list is never ending. At first I was gaining momentum, taking the easier routes. As I gained confidence, I took on more, had a few setbacks. It's a lot to take in.

    Sometimes I'll blog for two to three days and the ideas will flow, then day 4... nothing. Same with writing. The words will come pouring out of me for pages, then they'll slow down and often come to an abrupt halt. I seem powerless against the creative beast who taunts me with flashes of brilliance followed by moments of defeat and exasperation.

    Do you ever feel this way? 

    A Round of Words in 80 Days has been a wonderful outlet for me to discuss writing woes or struggles and get amazing support and wonderful tips. I am so grateful.

    Question for my writer/ROW 80 friends... Mom and I work by alternating writing chapters. I don't like to work too far ahead because it throws off our rhythm and causes a lot of reworking and discussing. Should I start another novel I've had brewing, and work on that when I'm not working on our follow-up to Depression Cookies?

    I don't want to over-tax my writing brain. I thought about joining NaNo to move along my solo project, but committing 50,000 words in one month to that might leave my other piece high and dry... advice, please.

    My biggest goal for the following week: I slacked checking on my fellow ROW 80 buddies this week, so I'm going to visit and comment on every single person on the Linky Tool below before Wednesday's post. Wish me luck!

    Please join me and visit these inspiring writers here.

    September 16, 2011

    Not The Newlywed Game: Friday Feature

    On Fridays I like to feature the best thing I've read the past week. Some weeks it's a no-brainer, other times I struggle to find something. Or, more importantly, something entertaining!

    This week my favorite thing is a little something Mom wrote and sent my way. Enjoy!


    It Ain't The Newlywed Game
    We’ve been married 41 years. 41 years. Do you think we would know more about each other than the couples on The Newlywed Game? Well, check out this scenario.
    My husband and I recently attended a church marriage seminar for seniors to strengthen our communication skills. Lovely idea! And so needed. He declares I mumble. I vow he can’t even hear himself. He says I never told him. I steam he doesn’t listen. The seminar was a great idea until... the moderator began asking questions.
    It was all fun and games listening to other couples answer their questions with ease and comfort. We all laughed, ribbing our church friends that they must have rehearsed their answers. None of the questions were hard. None of them were intimate or personal. Most were common, everyday questions everyone knew how to answer. You know the break the ice kind of questions.

    We were in the middle of a hardy, raucous time with our friends when the instructor threw a question our way.  “Sir, can you name your wife’s favorite flower?”

    You should have seen my husband. Proud plastered itself all over his face. A smile spread from ear to ear. I must have smirked, feeling girlish, knowing he had the right answer.
    He touched my hand. Tears welled. With firm conviction, he loudly declared, “It’s Pillsbury!”

    The room grew quiet. The speaker looked puzzled. Everyone turned our way.

    After what seemed an eternity, I gasped, shoved his hand away, and said without one stitch of hesitation, “Fool! I use King Arthur!”

    Laughter erupted. Our faces grew brilliant red. My friend sitting next to me cupped her hands around her mouth, leaned in toward me and yelled, “He said flower!”

    My husband and I looked at one another and shrugged our shoulders.

    She yelled louder, “He said flower!”

    By now, we were getting riled up. How dare she contradict what we’d answered? Was something wrong with the woman’s hearing?

    When she screamed it out for the third time, we both stood up in unison, and walked out the door, huffed up and angry. Once we’d cleared the church doors, my husband flailed his arms, angry as a bantam rooster. “Well, you can tell who needed that seminar. And it sure to hell wasn’t us!”

    Trekking behind him, I agreed, wholeheartedly, “Bunch of damn fools! You can tell they can’t hear a blessed thing! Did you see how she acted?”

    My beloved whirled on me, shouting, “Acted? I lovingly gave the correct answer. Are you trying to start a battle with me?”

    Clearly we needed to head back into that seminar, but by the time I recovered from his attack, he was halfway down the block, struggling to open someone else’s car door. Guess it’s not the right time to remind him we drove to church with the lady who insulted us. Rather than tackle the problem further, I headed home, so befuddled I wasn’t certain if I should turn on 2nd Street or 3rd.


    I not only enjoyed the humor of the piece, but also the illustration of how easily misunderstandings happen. It's like the telephone game we all played as kids. One kid would say something as simple as, "The cat is up the tree" and inevitably, by the last child, it would become, "I really have to pee."

    It's a nice reminder to be clear and concise, whether in a conversation or the written word.

    When was the last time a misunderstanding led to humor for you?

    September 15, 2011

    A Day Late, and a Dollar Short: ROW 80 Check-In

    "What day is it? Where am I?" she asked, trying to push past the fog. She looked around but didn't recognize her surroundings. Her head was pounding, her muscles ached, her eyes heavy. She seemed to be caught up in some kind of white material. She reached out, searching for familiarity. There was a warm body pressing against her. In the background, she could make out some kind of music, or was it a beeping?
    She was trying to get one arm out and then the next when she heard a small voice, "Mom, mom, get up. We need breakfast and lunches and..."

    Forgive me the bit of fun, but thus are my days lately. I woke up this morning and realized it was Thursday. Where did Wednesday go? I'm a day late for my ROW 80 check-in. So far, I'm not a dollar short, but I couldn't help put finish out the phrase.

    My lovely children are over-achievers. I love this about them, and I support their various desires. But it sure does make life crazy. My middle daughter has yet to meet a sport she doesn't like. She swims three nights a week, runs twice a week with a girls' running program (which I now co-coach), and plays lacrosse. My oldest is in various social organizations and tackling middle school homework nightly. And, proud Mama moment here, reads at least two to three young adult novels a week in her spare time. My sweet baby does gymnastics and Girl Scouts in addition to class to prepare her for her First Communion. Her side hobbies include torturing the dog and her sisters. There are very few spare moments once they come home, and the days run together a bit.

    But, I'm here... Thursday, but checking in nonetheless.

    I'm excited about my progress amidst the flurry of homework, activities, and getting used to the school schedule again. Mom and I are now 22,000 words and counting on our sequel. We are keeping it tight to avoid the problem we faced in the first one. Depression Cookies tops out at 176,000 words.

    I hear the collective GASP of writers everywhere. I know, I know... the industry standard is 80,000-100,000 words. In our defense, we didn't hear this until we were in the publication process and we felt we had two novels strung together. Agents did not. Yet, we've won some awards and the reader feedback has been wonderful. Still, agents and publishers have set rules about first-timers. We get it.

    For this novel, we are determined to come in under 100,000, even if there are two stories going on. Editing will be key! We are determined not to make the same mistake as Kevin Costner did with Waterworld. Or at least we won't make it again. We aren't going to hand agents an excuse on a silver platter this time around.

    In other news: I'm half-way through my freelance writing course. I'm learning so much, particularly about positioning myself to find and query potential writing outlets. Check out Nicky LaMarco's class description here. Blog posts have been going well, except for the minor mishap of misplacing my Wednesday. I am not reading as much as I'd like, but something has to give.

    I look forward to hopping around and seeing how my fellow ROW 80ers did this week.

    Have you ever opened your eyes on a new day, but just didn't know which new day it was?

    September 13, 2011

    She's An Eagle When She Flies

    So much of who I am and hope to be is thanks to my beautiful Mom.

    Today is her 61st birthday (wait, was that supposed to be a secret?). When I think of Mom, of everything I love about her, it's best summed up by the lyrics of Dolly Parton's Eagle When She Flies. Dolly most have known my mama or someone just as dear.

    The lyrics:

    She's been there, God knows, she's been there
    She has seen and done it all
    She's a woman, she know how to
    Dish it out or take it all
    Her heart's as soft as feathers
    Still she weathers stormy skies
    And she's a sparrow when she's broken
    But she's an eagle when she flies

    A kaleidoscope of colors
    You can toss her around and round
    You can keep her in you vision
    But you'll never keep her down
    She's a lover, she's a mother
    She's a friend and she's a wife
    And she's a sparrow when she's broken
    But she's an eagle when she flies

    Gentle as the sweet magnolia
    Strong as steel, her faith and pride
    She's an everlasting shoulder
    She's the leaning post of life
    She hurts deep and when she weeps
    She's just as fragile as a child
    And she's a sparrow when she's broken
    But she's an eagle when she flies

    She's a sparrow when she's broken
    But she's an eagle when she flies
    Oh, bless her, Lord
    She's an eagle when she flies

    Happy Birthday, Mama!

    Mom and I at our Lifetime taping... adding to the memories.

    September 12, 2011

    Slacking Leads Me to Multiple Thanks

    I am honored to accept the Liebster Award. Time and I have been in a bit of a tussle lately, and I was losing. Emails went unnoticed, laundry undone, toilets uncleaned. This week is the week I rein it all in (or as much as I can). I have three wonderful bloggers to thank for this award.

    I discovered through an online English-German dictionary that liebster means dearest (or darling). What a beautiful concept to pass on an award to dear blogger friends. Sweet! This award is intended to show love to fellow bloggers with under 200 followers.

    Rule-follower that I am, let's start there:


    1. Show your appre­ci­a­tion to the blog­gers who gave you the award by link­ing back to them.
    2. Reveal your five picks and let them know by leav­ing a com­ment on their blog.
    3. Post the award on your blog.
    4. Bask in the cama­raderie of the most sup­port­ive peo­ple on the internet—other writ­ers.
    5. And best of all—have blog­gity fun and spread the love.

    My thanks:

    * Christine Calvin at Inspired Life: I met Christine through Blogathon in May. I connected with her right away, and visit her blog several times a week, if not more. She has a unique perspective, and I love hearing about her two beautiful daughters. Take a moment for inspiration, drop by her blog. Thanks, Christine!

    * Annette Mackey at Perspectives... : I met Annette through the Reader's Favorite Awards. We connected in the nominee round. She's been a huge supporter, and we've become Twitter-friends. Please check out her blog and her novel, Class Collision: Fall From Grace, a gold award winner in the Young Adult, Coming of Age fiction category. Thanks, Annette!

    * Elizabeth Mitchell at Leavekeeping: One of my fellow A Round of Words in 80 Days participants and now a fellow Campaigner. She has an amazing can-do attitude and always gets me pumped up to do the same. "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down" will forever make me think of her. Please stop by and show some love. Thanks, Elizabeth!

    Now, for the fun part. I get to pass the award onto Five bloggers. These are blogs I'm new to, but excited about.

    1. Imagination to Publication: Jessica Therrien is a fellow-campaigner, and she jumped in with both feet. She organized two ice breaker activities, so we could start getting to know each other. So much fun. She exudes enthusiasm.

    2. Bethany Lopez: Bethany is also a fellow-campaigner. I was drawn to her blog the minute I saw her smiling picture. Plus, she likes the Outer Banks, one of my favorite destinations.  

    3. Ramblin' with AM: I met Alana during May's Blogathon. She features Civil War and wildflower posts, but is open to other subject matter. Recently, she's blogged about the flooding and Irene-backlash in upstate New York. I always appreciate her take on beauty.

    4. Callie Leuck's Writing Blog: She endeared me with her story about how a bad book made her realize she could write. She comes across as knowledgeable and fun, a great combination.

    5. Zook Book Nook: She had me at the title. I love it. She shows motherhood, but not always in its glory. I appreciate her candor. Plus the site is just so darn pretty!

    Please visit and comment on these lovely blogs. They won't be under 200 followers for long!

    September 11, 2011

    Others Said it Better: ROW 80 Check In

    I love to write, and I have plenty to say. But I'm also not afraid to hand over the baton to those who simply say it better. A Round of Words in 80 Days is winding down, only two weeks left, and I'm already eager to sign up for Round 4. 
    Round 3, my first, helped me find myself as a writer. I now know I write better in the groove, and I cannot force a groove to happen. Instead, I need to succumb and let the groove have it's say, be flexible enough to accommodate it. My Round 4 goals will be so much better defined thanks to all I've learned in this round.

    But, most importantly, ROW 80 has given me the support to find myself and push through. Writing can be so isolating, and I've never been one for critique groups. I like the idea, but I'm never in one location long enough. It's hard to keep building a rapport with people, and it takes time to find a group that feels like home.

    I'm sure many of my fellow ROW 80 participants said it better this week, but two in particular seemed to be reading my mind: Jenny Hansen's Cowbell blog and Nicole Basaraba's Uni-Verse-City. And a special *woot* for Nicole, because she's also in one of my campaign groups.

    How did I do this week? Overall, I'm happy. I still need to post a book review, it's written but not posted. But I'm very proud of my writing progress on the sequel and my blog entries lately. Editing has suffered a bit, thanks to kids' activities kicking in, but I will make it a priority for this week. It's all about the juggling. That and finding and honoring the groove.

    Please check out other perspectives in the list below, and happy writing!

    Where Were You That Fateful Day?

    Ten years ago, yet it feels like yesterday. I'll never forget where I was, how one event touched every single American. It didn't matter the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your economic situation, or your political beliefs. We came together, to mourn and rebuild.

    The day started like any other. I was exhausted, mom to a 15 month old daughter and 3 months pregnant with number two. My husband and I were in the middle of relocating to San Diego. He was already there, and Jackie and I had our plane tickets to join him September 30th. The house was sold, the movers had come.

    The day before, my parents drove up. Jackie and I were going to spend a week with them before heading to San Diego. We woke up early, wanting to get a head start with several hours of driving ahead of us. For the first three hours, the car was filled with the lively sounds of The Wiggles and other kid music. Jackie drifted off to sleep sometime around 10am.

    Dad, having been a good sport, quickly turned on talk news. Mom and I were chatting about all my plans, the new baby...

    "Sh! Listen," Dad said.

    "What is it?" Mom asked, she could sense the concern in his voice.

    "Something's happened. I'm pulling off at the next exit," Dad said. The next exit was ten miles. We sat, silent.

    At first, it all seemed so War of the Worlds. Was it some kind of joke? We had no images, just the frantic updates of radio news. Ten miles seemed to take forever, but we finally pulled off. Jackie woke up the minute the wheels stopped spinning. Her nap shortened, she was not happy. Mom and Dad rushed from the car to see if they could find out what was going on. I was a few steps behind, trying to get Jackie out of the carseat and grab the diaper bag.

    I walked in. Fifteen people were gathered around a small television set. Even Jackie sensed the moment, she quieted. We stood there, watching. The images almost too much to bear. It seemed like a trailer for a sci-fi movie. It couldn't be real. I don't remember how long we stood there. The only sounds came from the television and the jingle of the bell, signalling another customer had walked in.

    The next few hours were spent in the car, trying to reach all of our loved ones. Ed in San Diego, my sister and her family in Albany, New York and many more. We could only imagine the people with loved ones on one of the planes or in one of the attacked buildings. We quickly verified the safety of our friends and family, but knew many of our fellow Americans were not getting such good news.

    That night, I sat reading Jackie a book and rubbing my belly, feeling blessed. My heart ached for the lost lives. I knew I'd never forget where I was the day the world stopped turning.

    Where were you when the world stopped turning?


    This song, by Alan Jackson, will forever be associated with the attacks. Every time I hear it, I get the chills. I wanted to copy the lyrics here today. If we learned nothing else from that horrible September day, I hope we all learned a lesson in love. One we can put into practice every day we have left.

    Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)

    Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
    Were you in the yard with your wife and children
    Or working on some stage in L.A.?
    Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
    Risin' against that blue sky?
    Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
    Or did you just sit down and cry?

    Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
    And pray for the ones who don't know?
    Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
    And sob for the ones left below?
    Did you burst out in pride for the red, white and blue
    And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
    Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
    And look at yourself and what really matters?

    I'm just a singer of simple songs
    I'm not a real political man
    I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell
    you the difference in Iraq and Iran
    But I know Jesus and I talk to God
    And I remember this from when I was young
    Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
    And the greatest is love
    Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?
    Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
    Or driving down some cold interstate?
    Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor
    In a crowded room did you feel alone?
    Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
    Did you dust off that Bible at home?

    Did you open your eyes, hope it never happened
    Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
    Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
    Or speak to some stranger on the street?
    Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
    Or go out and buy you a gun?
    Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'
    And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns?

    Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
    Did you stand in line and give your own blood?
    Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
    Thank God you had somebody to love?

    [Repeat Chorus 2x]
    And the greatest is love.
    And the greatest is love.

    September 9, 2011

    Knowing Others Struggle with Self-Doubt: Friday Feature

    Self-doubt rears its ugly head when I least need it. I've been writing for years, but only been public about it for a year. I am 39 years old, and I still send almost every piece I write to my mom or husband to see what they think. I struggle with the is-it-good-enough syndrome. Even hitting the publish post button causes me angst.

    What does this have to do with the best thing I read this week and our Friday feature? In the last few weeks, I wrote several guest post contributions, posted my first flash fiction piece, and wrote a very revealing article. I was drained. Each time I hit send and let the piece go, I cringed and wondered. Today, I stumbled upon an encouraging post by lovely Blogathon leader, Michelle Rafter: When it comes to story ideas, trust your gut.

    In the post, Michelle talks about an idea she hesitated to pitch. At the last minute, she added it to a list of other pitches. Much to her surprise, her editor loved it. The post did well and was picked up by and later inspired a The Washington Post blogger to use it as a basis for a post. She trusted her gut.

    This post came at the perfect time for me. Michelle is an amazing writer, and gives back so much to the writing community (like the amazing Blogathon). Yet, she still has moments of self-doubt.

    I spoke of self-doubt in a recent article. A few weeks ago, I participated in a Coach Betty radio show about finding inner beauty. After the show, Betty asked if I would write an article about my feelings. I hesitated. The show was hard enough, could I pull off an intimate article about the experience?

    Please take a moment to check out my Coach Betty article. It's raw and honest. She loved it. Guess we all can relate in some way to self-doubt. Now I just need to work on believing in myself. The worst you can ever hear is, "No." Not my favorite word, but I can handle it.

    When did self-doubt threaten to overtake your plans? What did you do?

    September 8, 2011

    Kreativ Blogger Award

    Our blog has been awarded the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you so much, Alberta Ross. I met Alberta through ROW80 and appreciate all her support and encouragement.

    Long post, short... the rules of the award are to thank the person who gave it to you (check), write seven things about yourself (ugh!), and pass the award to seven blogs (yeah!).

    I'd much rather describe one of my characters in detail than myself. I'm not all that interesting! It's almost 11pm, so I'm going to write the first seven things that pop in my head.

    * I am not a morning person.
    * I hate coffee, the smell of it makes me nauseous. Diet Coke is my version of a morning fix.
    * I would live in yoga pants if I didn't occasionally have to be presentable.
    * I played competitve league tennis in Colorado, and am looking for a Maryland team.
    * I will put chocolate chips in almost anything. This morning I had a bowl of Fruity Pebbles with, yes I admit it, mini chocolate chips.
    * When I write dialogue, I speak it as I'm typing to catch flaws. And I read aloud to edit. I'm alone a lot of the day, in my writing bubble. Probably a good thing with all my babbling.
    * I'm scared of the dark.

    Now the fun part, passing on the award. I'm so fortunate to have met some many wonderful bloggers in a very short period of time. I wanted to give this award to creative and inspiring blogs written by writers who reach out and support other bloggers and writers.

    And the Kreativ Blogger Award goes to...

    * Novel Publicity Blog
    * Julie Glover's Blog
    * Tiffany A. White's Ooo Factor
    * Staring Out the Window
    * Insignificant At Best
    * Annette Mackey's Blog
    * Loves to Read, Wants to Write

    Please take a minute to check them out.

    September 7, 2011

    Short and Sweet: ROW80 Check In

    My writing obligations are equal parts killing and thrilling me these days! Earlier today, I did my first flash fiction challenge of 200 words, ever. Please check it out here.

    It's 11pm, my latest ROW80 update. It'll be short and sweet.

    My progress this week:

    - I've written for hours upon hours, but little on my WIP. Still, I can tell the more I write, the more words flow. I quite enjoyed this flash fiction piece. In addition, I wrote two guest posts as well as posting on my own blog.

    - I've had editing challenges in my own WIP that have kept me from my other editing. Yet, I edited.

    - I've spent hours visiting blogs, especially with the Campaign in full swing. It's great to see so many ROW80 participants taking part.

    - I finished The Gentlemen Poet, and hope to have my review up tomorrow or Friday. The author was lovely. Hearing her passion for her book was inspiring.

    - I completed all my coursework, and helped with way too much 6th, 4th and 1st grade homework.

    I've had a week full of accomplishments, they just didn't follow the plan. I'll take it.

    Do you sometimes find unexpected success in not following the plan?

    Flash Fiction Challenge

    Rachael Harries has given campaigners our first challenge. In short, our task was to create a 200 word fiction piece. For an extra challenge, we could start it with "the door swung open" and end with "the door swung short."

    My first reaction was terror. I haven't written an assignment like this since writing classes. But the words came quickly. I hope you enjoy and leave a comment. Go easy on me!

    Lady's Choice

    The door swung open. The invitation was extended weeks ago, but she hesitated. Was she too old, too tired to give in to passion? What about the kids?
    She smoothed her skirt, feeling the lumps that weren’t there twenty years ago. So much had changed, so many emotions closed away. Her marriage once so dear to her was now long dead. Too many tears.
    Since she met him two weeks ago, needs began resurfacing—ones she thought she’d forever suppressed. She wanted to open herself up again, but it was all so raw.

    There he was, standing at the window. His back was to her. She still had time to run, but the draw to him was greater than her fear. When was the last time she allowed herself pleasure, a bit of selfish indulgence?

    Hand still on the door, she took in the scene. Champagne chilling, robes arranged on the couch, roses on the table. Then he turned. His blue eyes captivated her from their first meeting. Images of her husband and kids flooded her brain and heart. Yet her decision was clear.

    She took one step, closed her eyes and made her decision. The door swung shut.

    September 6, 2011

    Irene's Aftermath Deals More than Destruction: Tub-Full Tuesday

    Mom is posting today about her experience with Irene. And, yes, it's a Tub-full Tuesday post. So much can be learned when we least expect it. Enjoy!


    We waited expectantly for Hurricane Irene, bracing for the worse. The media threw New York under the transit, predicting a major weather disaster for the Northeast. North Carolina was told to hunker down and keep doing the same things they do with every storm that threatens the coastline. And we did. We ran to the grocery stores and bought every last loaf of bread and jug of milk. Generators were cranked up; new ones purchased. Everything not bolted down was put away. And we waited.
    Irene began her visit late Friday night with rain. By Saturday morning at 4:30am the power went out. At 6:30am, I began videoing the devastation, continuing every hour until 5:00pm when the winds abated.  During those long hours, the wind whipped in from the east, bringing six foot plus water surges from the Atlantic, up the Pamlico Sound to our home on Chocowinity Bay. Debris traveled with the torrent, dragging huge cypress trees, crab pots, sea trash, human debris, pieces of houses and old piers. Then we watched the wind direction change westerly and suck the water like a siphon back out to sea, but most of the debris stayed.
    As the storm died down, we walked outside to access the damage and begin the cleanup. So far this story sounds horrible, doesn’t it? In reality we have had a tremendous amount of blessings and laughter. Yes, laughter. And tears.

    We worked five 14 hour days. We found a six foot water moccasin. I screamed, my husband screamed… but my Paul Bunyon landed the axe perfectly! Then we laughed like crazy. The grandchildren were told the heroic story and think Papa is a true hero, saving their Nana. Later we found a copperhead in the sunroom. I was outside when I heard my husband scream again. This time he called for assistance. Son-in-law #2 came to the rescue. We are minus that sweet thing as well. Later we laughed as we drifted off to sleep from exhaustion.
    The sea took a lot of things, but it gifted us. I had been collecting driftwood for years. All were taken away, but more, much more were left behind under all the debris—pieces even more beautiful than I had before. Neighbors checked on one another. We assisted in other parts of our storm-battered county—delivering food, helping put tarps on houses, helping with debris removal, and offering lots of hugs and encouragement. Today we worked at the Disaster Relief Center. Again, tears and laughter. People are stopping what they are doing and helping others. Relief teams from Florida to Virginia are arriving with help and resources.

    Right on the eve of September 11, I feel a resurgence of American pride and ingenuity. I see firsthand what our people can do. Irene did not go sweetly in the night, but behind her she left people who are rolling their sleeves up and digging in. That’s what we should be about, always. Helping others.


    A link to a video Mom shot during the Hurricane:

    What was the last unexpected lesson you learned?

    September 5, 2011

    Revisiting the Beginning

    First of all, I hope everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day weekend. For all my non-US readers, I hope you are having an incredible Monday.

    Fellow campaigner, Jessica Therrien, issued another challenge in the get to know you vein. Her suggestion was to post your first or favorite post. My instinct was to go with my favorite, but I wanted to see where the journey began.

    My first post (originally published on 12/31/10)...

    Navigating Depression Cookies
    We are excited to have this medium as an interactive tool between us and readers. The tabs above should help you easily navigate the blog. In the FAQs section, both authors will respond to questions frequently posed by readers. To facilitate book clubs, something near and dear to both of our hearts, we have generated a list of suggested book club questions. The more feedback from readers, the better we can make these sections. We also have tabs to highlight upcoming news and events as well as information on how to get your copy of Depression Cookies.

    We promise to post often to keep you updated about our journey. Our plan is to let you, the reader, guide these posts.

    Especially important to us... this is a book about family. We want to hear your stories whether it's the Quillie in your life, the Drake of your dreams, mother-daughter experiences, the friend in need, the hardships of parenting, humorous moments, or the choices that define us. We'd love to see this blog become the place where we all share in Krista and Abby's journey.

    For the most part, we have stayed true to our original vision and gone beyond. We hope readers and writers alike feel welcome here. My goal is to join two of my passions, reading and writing. Let the journey continue...
    To my fellow campaigners, has your blog vision changed?

    September 4, 2011

    Spreading Myself Thin, but Enjoying It: ROW 80 Check In

    The devil on my shoulder has been winning lately, chuckling every time I sign up for a new challenge. He knows time is not my friend. As much as I love and appreciate the tool that is social media, it is a true time-sucker.

    "God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die." Bill Watterson

    I have learned so much from blog and writing challenges, but it often distracts from my writing time. I am excited to meet fellow writers in Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Campaign, but I need to work on my time management skills. Since I can't create more time, I need to create focus.

    What are your tips for managing time and focusing on tasks? Do you hit a bunch of easy projects first to make progress, or force yourself to sit with your WIP for x hours a day before you touch anything else? Help!

    Now to my progress report for A Round of Words in 80 Days:

    * Worked several hours on the sequel and will be emailing to Mom by tomorrow. Had to rework some scenes with inconsistencies. (I laugh, last week I put my goal was "Finish sequel"... what was I thinking? It truly was a typo.)

    * Posted most days, and posted a review on Mom in Love with Fiction. One more review set to post tomorrow.

    * Made good progress on my book club book. I'm looking forward to posting about my experience with an author present. The following month I'm presenting Depression Cookies to the same book club, so I'm interested to see how this goes.

    * Editing is going well. I'm so captivated by the book, I'm eager to ask for more chapters. It sure makes editing easier when you enjoy the piece!

    Next week's goals:

    * Manage time better between WIP and social media obligations. Since I wait on Mom in-between chapters, I'm going to spend an hour writing a day on my new YA project.

    * Finish book club book by Wednesday.

    * Complete editing and homework assignments. If I haven't mentioned it, I'm taking a great class right now... Get Paid to Write: Become a Freelance Writer. I'm exploring opportunities to write outside of novels and this blog, especially paying opportunities.

    * Visit as many ROW 80 and Campaign blogs as I can. I am ready to mingle and learn!

    Please check out the amazing writers participating in ROW 80. Many of them will also be part of the Platform-building Campaign.