March 31, 2012

Sorry for the Silence, I See Only Letters

Sorry I missed posting yesterday (and almost today). I'm still here, but I'm dreaming in letters. My mind is constantly swirling with post ideas for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. It starts Sunday, April 1. As of now, I've only prewritten five posts of the 26 I need to write.

Did I mention I'm leaving for Spring Break tomorrow for five days?!

But, I thought I'd share my from A to Z theme. Ready? Wait for it...

Simply Succeeding

Are all the posts about succeeding? No.

Do the posts explore what is successful or not about a particular topic? No.

Simply succeeding just means I'd like to finish this challenge, pure and simple. Finally Finishing word have worked, or maybe even Ambitiously Achieving.

Please stop by starting Sunday, April 1 to see what my obsessed brain comes up with. A barely coherent damsel expects finishing goal happily in jubilant knowledge like many new, observant participants.

And, no, I will not admit how long it took me to come up with that sentence, and it's only A-P. I was going to go for a sentence with letters beginning all the way through Z but I do need to eventually sleep.

Happy Friday!

March 28, 2012

The Cost of an Inch Versus A Mile

Why is it some people are never satisfied? You give them an inch, they request a foot, you give another few inches, they request a mile.

I'm always taken aback by people like this. Except in rare causes, usually involving my children, I don't push back on people when they've already given me something. Especially people I know don't have great affection for me or don't know me at all.

But maybe I have it wrong. More than my husband or children give me credit for, I'm usually willing to explore the possibility that my thinking is all screwed up. Will you only get things in this world if you scrape, claw, and beg?

Maybe, but I'm not sure I'd be satisfied with things I manipulated my way into. Still, that could be the fault in my character I like to call guilt.

Take my book, Depression Cookies. I want people to read it. I truly think women of all ages and circumstances could find value in it. Beyond that, the themes in the book are excellent for opening up a dialogue between women. But I don't want to beg.

I want to convince you, sure. Moments of shamless self-promotion--not the easiest for me, but I'm learning. Begging? No.

My theory: If I beg you, you might eventually give in. But do I want an unwilling, pressured reader? Buying my book out of guilt, pressure, or pure annoyance is not going to win me any rave reviews. I want people to WANT to read it.

At the end of the day, I'd rather have an honest, well-earned inch than begging for a mile.

But that's just my opinion, what's yours?

March 27, 2012

The Tween is Reading Our Book: Part One

My daughter has been asking to read our novel, Depression Cookies, since the day it come out. I wanted her to be old enough to handle some of the themes. I also worried she might have a hard time distinguishing between reality and fiction, since the book has some common elements with my life.

Recently, I decided she was ready. I told her to discuss anything she wanted with me.

Yesterday this conversation happened:

Tween: Mom, you are a liar.
Me: What are you talking about?
Tween: In the book you said you'd never make your kids do all these things, and you do.
Me: First of all, the book is fictional. Second, I wrote a teenager's point of view.

She was still looking perplexed and had yet to uncross her arms and soften her stance.

Me: Trust me, dear, most teenagers swear they'll never do what their mom does. They truly believe that, so to a teenager it is not a lie. But I need to let you in on something (I leaned in close and whispered for dramatic effect)... all of you will.
Tween: No, I won't.

She huffed off. Later that day, she admitted she could relate to Krista (the teenage character I write in the book). I decided not to push my luck and remind her I was once a teenager. I'm hoping Krista can do that for me.

I'll be interested to see how the book affects her. It means a lot to me what she thinks. The side benefit is it will also open up a dialogue to talk about some sensitive issues. Wish me luck.

When's the last time you were nervous about a loved one's opinion/reaction?

March 26, 2012

Short and Sweet: #writemotivation Update

I'm still getting around to know my fellow #writemotivation participants, and somehow March is almost over. How did that happen?!

I am looking forward to April, but a bit terrified about the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For those who don't know, this is a blog challenge where you have to write posts based on the letters of the alphabet in order. It's my first year. I haven't written one single post yet, but I plan to change that this week. My goal is to write the first 10 posts by Saturday.


I did figure out my theme for A to Z, though: Simply Succeeding. Why? Well, I simply want to succeed and finish the challenge. ;-)

I plan to rejoin #writemotivation in April (and A Round of Words in 80 Days - ROW80), but I also want to take off the first week of April to enjoy my kids and husband as we travel for Spring Break.

I hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. Time will tell...

My #writemotivation Update

1. Work on my WIP for an hour every day, except Sunday.
I worked on my WIP, planning and editing, but did take off both Saturday and Sunday.

2. Do client editing work an hour a day, except Sunday.
No breaks this week. I need to finish a major project that's ready to be sent to the publisher. I'm so excited for this author, her first published piece. She's so excited, and I really enjoyed having a hand in it.

3. Read and review a book every 10 days, minimum.
I read three books over the last week. I'm in such a reading groove. I published three reviews this week on my review blog, Mom in Love with Fiction. It was a fun mix of different genres, but all good reads.

March 25, 2012

Celebrating The Ties That Bind

Today my husband and I are celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary. I am so blessed to have him in my life---he's my biggest fan and gave me three beautiful daughters (and so much more).

I wanted to share a poem my lovely cousin on my dad's side, Marty Silverthorne, wrote for our wedding day. Previously, I shared one of Marty's poems here.

Wedding Song
by Marty Silverthorne
3/25/95

Tia and Ed,
you have begun the wedding walk
down the aisles of history
into candlelight and wedding promises.
The sun celebrates in circles;
the river writes a symphony on the shore.

We have come to witness
whispered wedding vows
under the Carolina sun.
God will bind you in marriage
as you exchange gold inlaid promises.

As you adorn each other with wedding rings,
white doves begin to sing;
the Pamlico echoes amens.
White rays of a wedding sun
praise the way this union has begun.

Sun and moon of ten thousand faces
guide these newlyweds
through the flames of summer,
warm them through their first winter.
Stoke their hearts with love, honor, and peace.
Let happiness fuel their longest season;
lace them together in a testimony of love.

God bend these syllables into blessings,
turn these words into armor
as Tia and Ed accept their charge.
May these words fill life's darkest spaces
like the river's reverent whispers.

Tia and Ed,
as you walk towards your wedding sunset,
let the golden rays guide you,
the river's music soothe you.
As you leave this chapel united,
trust the sacred sun and rippling moon;
waltz through this world in white soled shoes,
dance beyond the boundaries of time.

I hope everyone had a lovely Sunday. Please tune in tomorrow for my #writemotivation update.

March 23, 2012

The Power of Choice

Long day here. Not bad, just long. I'm spent, and my creative side needed a good jumpstart.

So, I turned to BlogHer's NaBloPoMo prompts.

Friday, March 23, 2012
When is it good to have no alternatives?


It doesn't matter, because this is never true. Even if someone offers you only one choice, you always have the choice to walk away. It might seem like you don't have a choice, but you do.

Don't get me wrong. I've fought this idea before, but my husband has finally convinced me that you always have a choice. It's a good thing to teach our daughters, so he's won me over. When my daughters face peer pressure or any difficult situation, I don't ever want to hear, "I didn't have a choice."

Do you think there's every a situation without an alternative?

Thursday, March 22, 2012
Would you rather make decisions alone or try to work them out with another person?


I'm an opinion-gatherer. I ultimately want to make my own decision, but I like to gather a lot of information first.

Once I make a decision, because I know I've put a tremendous amount of thought and consideration into it, I own it. Right or wrong. I don't, okay try not to, second-guess my decision because I know I made it with the best possible information at the time. That doesn't mean I don't make bad decisions, but I know I made them with the best of intentions.

When it comes to parenting, I poll every single parent I trust on important matters--starting with my husband, of course. Then straight to Mom. Or vice versa, depending on who answers my frantic call first. Sometimes I call more for a sounding board than anything else, but any good input will be considered.

Who's your go-to person for hard decisions?

~~~~~

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

Denis Waitley

March 22, 2012

Things I Don't Understand

I wanted to discuss the light-hearted things that perplex me.

I'm sure the following make perfect sense to some, so feel free to enlighten me in the comments:

Coffee Addiction

Dating in Middle School - What good can come of it?

Too-short jean shorts - Or what I like to refer to as jean underwear.

Mantyhose (male pantyhose) - No lie. If you haven't seen them, check out this hilarious post from Natalie at Life Out Loud.

Piercings in the "private parts" - Actually I don't get tongue ones either.

Fun Dip - It's sugar, but colored. Why not just eat straight sugar and avoid coloring your tongue and teeth?

Clothes on dogs - We don't put cats in clothes or leave out small clothes for squirrels who might need them.

Down Comforters - They are lumpy and too hot.

The Bachelor - Quite frankly I'm offended. Way too many women vie for an over-inflated man. I have a better idea, and a more honest one. Let a bunch of up and coming actors and actresses vie for the part of a couple in a television series. See who has chemistry and wins over viewers. Take love out of it, make it what it is. People seeking fame and winning based on their acting abilities.

But that's only my opinion.

I know I'll think of several more after I hit publish, so there might be a Part Two in my future.

What don't you understand?


Thanks to Christine at Inspired Life for inspiring this post with her version here.

March 21, 2012

Report Card Time: ROW80 Round 1 Assessment

Congratulations to all my fellow A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) participants. We made it through Round 1! Whether you met all your goals or not, I'm sure you learned something about yourself and your writing. I hope to see all of you in Round 2!

It's time to assess how I did with my Round 1 goals. My girls get their report cards next week, so I guess we'll call this mine.

These were my goals at the start of Round 1:

Writing – I will write 500 words minimum daily. This is my “test mile” as Kait Nolan so eloquently explained here. If I get 500 words and nothing’s falling into place, I still have 500 words and I tried. I’m hoping for more, but I want to write daily and stick to it, so I’m starting small.

Goal Assessment:  B
I wrote, and most weeks I managed averaging 500 words a day, but not consistently. I need to recommit to a "test mile" number in Round 2, but be more realistic and aim for 5 days a week.

Blogging – Daily here (thanks to BlogHer’sNaBloPoMo and the Ultimate Blog Challenge) and three times a week at Mom in Love with Fiction. This writing will not count toward my 500 goal, but I do think it’s beneficial. I also owe Kait Nolan a ROW80 sponsor post this week!

Goal Assessment: A- 
For the most part, I met this goal.

Reading – I’m committed to more reading, because I know it makes me a better writer. To that end, I have joined the 2012 To BeRead (TBR) Pile Challenge, and I plan to join a couple more before the end of January. I’m still weighing my options, but I’ll be posting updates by Sunday’s check in. Plus, in addition to reviewing for Rebecca’s Reads, I’ll also be a part of the World Literary CafĂ© Review Team.

Goal Assessment: A
I've rededicated to reading, and I've been fortunate to read some great books this round. I still need to do some for the challenge above.

Editing – I will edit a minimum of one chapter a day on various projects. I am doing freelance editing, and I need to stay on top of it. I love to edit, but it sometimes hampers my own writing (editing too much instead of letting the words flow). Maybe by focusing daily on editing other people’s work, I’ll shake the need to edit my own… for now.

Goal Assessment: B
Overall, I rocked my editing commitments, but I need to work on time and energy management.

Exercise – Daily, some form. It’s New Year’s resolution time after all. And sugar, you’ve wormed your way back into my diet… good-bye!

Goal Assessment: B
Considering everything going on (and all the sickness in my house this quarter), I am happy with a B.

How did everyone else do this Round? Did you learn anything about goal-setting you care to share?

March 20, 2012

Thankful and Sharing: Blog Awards

Our blog received a couple of awards over the last week.

First, thanks to Sabrina at Much Needed Advice for Women for giving us the Versatile Blogger Award. I've recently discovered this blog and am quite enjoying it.

The Rules:

* Share 7 completely random pieces of information about myself. P
* Nominate 15 7 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award. (see note below)
* Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs. (see note)

Thanks again, Sabrina.

My 7 Random Facts

1. I love Once Upon a Time. My whole family watches it.
2. My tween daughter and I are SO excited to see the Hunger Games movie.
3. I love peanut butter on top of chopped up bananas and chocolate chips.
4. I can quote every line from the movie, Girls Just Want to Have Fun (starring Sarah Jessica Parker).
5. I have two left feet. I dance anyway, much to my daughters' chagrin. I've been banned from dancing in public.
6. My youngest daughter loves Justin Bieber, so I have a legitimate excuse to listen to him. Hearing his music always puts a smile on my face.
7. I can't stand the sight of blood. I look away when my kids get shots. So sad, my kids look and tell me it's fine. I hold their hands and look away.

Second, thanks K.S. Collier for the Sunshine Award. I have her young adult novel, The Veil, on my Kindle and can't wait to read it.

The Rules:

* Thank the person who gave you the award and provide a link. P
* Write a post about it. P
* Answer the questions below. P
* Pass it on to 10 7 bloggers who you think really deserve it and let them know. (see note)

Answer 10 Questions

Favourite colour:  My favorite color changes with my mood, much like my favorite genre. Today it's red.

Favourite animal: I grew up with dogs, and now my children are growing up with dogs. Hands down, my favorite. My daughter is highly allergic to cats (as was my Dad), so no cats in my life.

Favourite number:  A fortune cookie told me 1 & 5 were my lucky numbers when I was a teen. My first daughter was born 5/15 after infertility issues. 1 & 5 will always be my favorite numbers.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Diet Coke. I have a serious addiction.

Facebook or Twitter: I have an FB account as an author and for personal use. I only use Twitter as an author.

My passion:  My family first, then writing and reading.


Getting or giving presents: I truly love to pick out the perfect gift, to put a smile on someone's face. But I won't lie, sometimes there's nothing like receiving.

Favourite pattern: Not sure what this is asking.

Favourite day of the week: Friday, because I love the weekends.

Favourite flower: Stargazer Lily. They make me sneeze, but they are so beautiful.


I know awards are time-consuming, but I want to pass them along. A note to the following bloggers, feel free to accept either award officially or just enjoy the shout-out to your awesomeness:

Natalie at Life Out Loud
Elise at Elise Fallson
Eloise at Memoirs and Other Artifacts...
Julie Glover, Author
Kate at Teaching What is Good
Christine at Inspired Life
Alana at Ramblin' with AM

Take a moment and check out these blogs. You'll be glad you did!

March 19, 2012

Why I Love to Write About Teenagers: Part One

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to write. As a reader, I like almost all genres. But my favorite books have at least one thing in common... strong, memorable characters.

After writing Depression Cookies, I realized I love young adult characters. They are this great hybrid... the curiosity and naivete of children but with the will and desire to grow up. So much there for an author to work with.

I also love writing about teenagers, particularly females, because I have the perfect specimen living in my house. It makes research a breeze.

My daughter wants so badly to be grown up, to be trusted and looked at in a different way than her two sisters, who are 10 and almost 7. Yet, she doesn't want to know too much, especially about the birds and the bees (although she'd die to know I called it that).

A recent exchange with my teenager:

Preteen daughter: I want to teach you to play this Sims Life game.
Me/Mom: What's it about?
Preteen daughter: You get to run your own life.
Me/Mom: I do that every day.
Preteen daughter: Yeah, but you get to make people.
Me/Mom: I already did that, too.

My daughter started gagging. She ran from the room telling me I was gross.

Such a contradiction... she loves this game because she can manipulate the life of her made-up character, but she doesn't want to know where babies come from. Too funny.

I'm calling this Part One, because I want to further explore this topic. But I had to share this story first.

Do you study people to write your characters?

March 18, 2012

Will to Write: ROW80 and #writemotivation Updates

I don't need to be encouraged to write, but I do need to be encouraged to write consistently. I worry sometimes that I conditioned myself to write a novel in ten years (that's how long Depression Cookies took from idea to publication). When the desire to write hit, I went with it.

Mom and I want to publish our Depression Cookies follow up by the end of the year. Yesterday I particpated in the Lucky 7 Meme and posted a teaser (only 7 lines) of our WIP. Check it out here.

I copied and pasted the sneak peak directly from our manuscript and proceeded to edit it for an hour. No lie. Then I edited the whole chapter. Couldn't help myself.

Have you seen the commercial below where the guy is beating himself up so he won't touch the temperature on his thermostat? That's how I feel everytime I go near my WIP.



Because Mom and I exchange chapters, I always read my last chapter and hers before I start writing. It's so hard not to edit, but it takes up such valuable time. Going forward, I'm going to take notes of things I fear I'll forget (a new character, a plot point I want to address), so I can avoid going back and reading.

To meet our end-of-year deadline, I'm going to have to write. All the editing in the world won't get me to the finish.

Which is why I'm grateful for my writing community. They keep me motivated and feeling accountable.

*****

First, A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80). Round 1 finishes up this week, and I want to rock it to the finish. My goal is to write a chapter before the final Round 1 update on Wednesday.

ROW80 Update

Writing: Lots of time, little words. But that's all about to change. I will write a chapter by Wednesday. To meet that goal, I plan to hit a #teamsprinty #row80 wordsprint.

Editing: Not on my WIP, but I am in the final editing phases of a poetry collection and then back to some short story editing and a paranormal piece I've fallen in love with. I can't wait to see that one published!

Social Media: Back to a solid B performance on social media. If I haven't caught up with you, I will.

Reading: Just finishing up one and hope to finish two more this week.

Diet & Exercise: When the sugar train rolls in, it doesn't like to leave. Damn that Hot sign at the Krispy Kreme tonight. I'll give myself a D on Diet and a B on Exercise. Hope to do better this week.

I'm rooting for my fellow ROW80 participants. Rock it to the end! And congratulations to Kait Nolan. Even though Divergent came out on top, Red did amazingly well. So proud of you! (Kait's Red was in the running for DABWAHA - a play on the NCAA tournament: "64 books. 1 champion.")


*****

Like ROW80, #writemotivation supports writers. This is my first time joining K.T. Hanna's challenge. From her site: Please remember: This isn’t a competition – it’s about setting yourself realistic goals and having people who understand where you’re coming from cheer you along. The only competition is with yourself.

My #writemotivation Update

1. Work on my WIP for an hour every day, except Sunday.
I worked on my WIP, planning and editing, but did take off both Saturday and Sunday.

2. Do client editing work an hour a day, except Sunday.
Again, I took off both Saturday and Sunday. I was feeling, well, overcooked. I needed to step away for the weekend. I'm looking forward to getting back to it tomorrow.

3. Read and review a book every 10 days, minimum.
Finished a book today, but need to write the review (due to be posted Thursday, 3/22). I hope to read two more books this week.

I'm looking forward to getting around to some #writemotivation blogs this week.

March 17, 2012

Celebrating St. Patty's by Sharing Some WIP

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I saw the Lucky 7 Meme on the lovely Nadja Notariani's blog, and decided to tag myself and share.

The rules:
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they're written.
4. Tag 7 authors


From our follow-up to Depression Cookies, a scene from the teenager's perspective (Krista). Krista and her friend, Alex, have set up a dinner to manipulate their parents (or in Alex's case, her guardian/grandmother). Mischief is afoot.

Was it knife and spoon on one side or knife and fork? I wanted everything perfect. Just as I laid down a knife-fork pair, the doorbell rang. Utensils went in random spots as I rushed to answer the door.

“Hello, Ms. Cantrell. So glad to see you,” I said as I hugged her. “Hey, Alex.”  She was nervous, so I gave her my best stick-to-the-plan look.

“You know you can call me Nana, sweetie,” Ruby said. She was elegant and fragile, like a china doll high up on display, with a head full of white hair. I wondered what she was like at my age.

It's 7 lines (okay, 8, but I wanted to finish the sentence). Seven paragraphs would probably be a better representation. But I want to share pieces here and there to motivate myself to finish the darn thing!

I hope you enjoyed the glimpse. If you are reading this and interested in sharing from your WIP, consider yourself tagged. Then share the link to your Lucky 7 Meme in the comments so I can check it out.

March 16, 2012

Don't Procrastinate: Everything is Right Today!

Today, and today only, everything you do is right. Yes, you heard me correctly. Today only, March 16, you enjoy the grand privileges of Everything You Do is Right Day. Every. Single. Thing.

I don't want you to waste much more time reading this post, because I want you to embrace all the things you are afraid of doing. No fear today.

"They" (and I've never understood who they are) wouldn't name a day without careful consideration.

If the fear of being wrong was gone, as it is today, what would you do?

MY PLANS

Write, write, write. The worry of writing the next best novel goes out the window today. All will be right when I write. No editing worries. Perfection.

Talk to my teenager. I do this everyday, but I do it cautiously. Even though I'm normally right in this case anyway, knowing I'll be right will make it all the better. As long as she doesn't know that she's right too, we should be okay.

Or, maybe we could just drop the "right" and have a pleasant conversation. Now, there's a concept.

Write my Congressman. Not so much to tell them I'm right, but to ask them to put aside politics and do what is right. Follow their hearts and true opinions versus doing what they think will buy them a future in government or pay back those they owe.

Talk sports. I love sports, always have, but men tend to have an opinion on women who "think" they know sports. Today, I would chat them all up without the fear I'd get one word wrong and prove them right. Speaking of sports, I'm ALL about March Madness. I'm a University of Kentucky graduate. Go CATS!

Cook. I'm not the worst cook ever, but I'd use this day to be a better cook and, more importantly, to get my family to agree on one meal.

Pick an amazing outfit. My style is non-existent. I have my kids' styles down much better than my own. Today, I would walk into a store and buy that perfect outfit. I'm sure there are no budgets on Everything You Do is Right Day!

I'm sure there are more, but I need to put this day to good use!

March 15, 2012

Wondering How to Vote in 2012: I say VOTE RED (Kait Nolan)

2012 is a big year for voting. The speeches have just begun and the fighting will only intensify leading up to November.

So use your power to vote for a worthy individual who gives back so much to the writing and reading community... VOTE RED! Today, March 15th, until 12:00pm CST, you can vote for Kait Nolan's Red. Head over to the DABWAHA site to vote. Say it loud, say it proud.

Don't know Kait Nolan?

You are missing out. Kait is the fearless leader of A Round of Words in 80 Days. Some details about ROW80: We are all different and we all have different demands on our time. Why should we all have the same goal? The simple answer is that we shouldn’t. If you want to be a writer, then you have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to your changing circumstances. If that means changing your goals when your life blows up, so be it. ROW80 is the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life.

Don't know about Red?

From Amazon: Once upon a time, Red Riding Hood fell in love with the wolf. It ended badly...

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she'll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that's cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she's hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs is to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

Good luck #TeamKait!

I have a copy of Red, and I can't wait to sink my teeth into it.

March 14, 2012

Deadlines: ROW80 Check In

"I am one of those people who thrive on deadlines, nothing brings on inspiration more readily than desperation." Harry Shearer

Truer words...

I am a juggler, and the only way I've found to successfully juggle multiple commitments is to watch the ball that's on fire the closest. I get through each day by doing the thing that has to be done first. On good days, I have time for other things, but any day where nothing is late is successful.

Source
The problem (okay, there are many problems with this "putting fires out" approach, but I'm trying to focus here)... I don't have writing deadlines in my calendar. I have general goals and mental deadlines. But I need the my-phone-is-beeping-at-me kind of deadline in place. 

Note: Please tell me I'm not the only person on the planet who has my phone ding me for everything so I can't possibly forget! And not just appointments, things like "Call X" or "No more milk." 

I have started using a separate calendar for my writing, editing, reviewing, blogging... all better known as my writing business calendar. My WIP is going to start having the same deadlines as other projects. Chapter X done by date X. I think it will motivate me, especially if I highlight it in some obscene neon highlighter color (and enter into my phone calendar for some of the beeping love).

Wish me luck!

It's Wednesday, time for my A Round of Words in 80 Days Update (yes, a deadline!):

Writing: Lots of it. Nada on my WIP. *sigh*

Editing: The reason I didn't write on my WIP, editing deadlines. The positive: done and sent. Guess what's on the calendar for tomorrow and Friday? You guessed it, writing! I'm hoping to make up for missing Monday and Tuesday with pressing deadlines.

Social Media: My many apologies. I graded myself a C on Sunday, and I'm now an F. A pure social media failure. Another deadline: fulfill my sponsor duties for Sunday's posts and today's by Friday. It's highlighted in my calendar, so pressure and guilt are in place.

Reading: I've been on a wonderful streak of good books lately. I love when that happens. I just finished Bookended by Beauty Queens (reviewed here).

Diet & Exercise: Pulling back on the collapsed diet plans and continuing my half marathon training.

Only one more week of Round 1! Wishing everyone all the best!

March 13, 2012

Truth is in the Mind of the Beholder

Yesterday's BlogHer NaBloPoMo prompt intrigued me: Would you rather always know the truth or remain blissfully ignorant sometimes?

My thick skin can handle anything, so of course I would prefer to know everything. Please tell me every time I do something you don't like, every time I wear something that makes me unattractive, and every time I write something you think is awful. Oh, and a special request of my three daughters... please, oh please, tell me every single time you are upset because I made you clean your room, brush your teeth, or--God forbid--take a shower.

Life is only worth living if you know every detail about all subjects.

Alright, I'll let you all off the hook. I'm lying.

The problem with the truth... it's in the mind of the beholder. What is truth? I know way too many people who lie and have the ability to convince everyone around them, and even themselves, that it's the truth. That's not the kind of truth I need in my life.

I love my children more than my own life, but I hear way too many of their truths lately!

However, as much as I'd like to embrace the idea of blissful ignorance, it's only blissful if nobody gets hurt. As a mother, it's irresponsible for me to close my eyes and pretend not to see the truths that affect my children.

And here's some advice... if you don't prefer the truth, an honest raw opinion, please don't ask me. Don't put in the position to lie. We are all human, we lie from time to time. But I truly try not to, so please don't make me weigh lying with being kind or understanding. It makes me conflicted and, quite frankly, cranky. If you are questioning how you look in the dress, for example, you probably have your answer. 

One last thought... as a writer, I prefer truth. Being blissfully unaware doesn't do much for my ability to build characters people can relate to.

The tougher question: would you rather always know the truth or always be blissfully unaware?

Actually, that one's easier. If it's always... give me truth!

March 12, 2012

Thoughts on Writing and World Peace

It's a quick post today. Yesterday, I was quite euphoric after completing my 8K run (doing my personal best) and enjoying a beautiful, sunny day watching the St. Patrick's Day parade in Washington, DC. 
My girls at yesterday's
St. Patty's Day parade in DC

So what do I wake up with this morning?

A freaking head cold. Enough about world peace, my wish is to ban sickness from the world. We'd all get along better if we were all healthy and functioning at our best. I know, probably not, but it's a nice thought, isn't it?

Today, I am featured on WriteWriteWrite. I was first introduced to K.S. Brooks through the Maryland Writers' Association. She's an award-winning novelist, photographer, and poet and she still manages to give so much back to the writing community. Check out my interview here.

A brief excerpt:

What is your favorite part of being a writer?
Finding the right words. So many times I know what I want to say, can feel it with every fiber of my being, but I need the words to reflect that intensity. When I find the right ones, it’s a wonderful feeling.

In addition to all of the above, K.S. is also the Co-Administrator for Indies Unlimited, a site "celebrating independent authors." Please take some time to check it out. For my writer friends, specifically check out their Submissions Page.


I hope everyone is having a fabulous Monday!

March 11, 2012

Heading to the Finish: ROW80 (plus #writemotivation)

Pardon my constant writing as a race analogy. Blame my half marathon training, but I see such a connection between the two. Today, I ran an 8K in DC. It was a gorgeous day, and I have been training. But no matter how much I train, there is some point during a race that I want to quit.

Ready to Run... St. Patrick's Day 8K
Today I didn't. I ran the whole way, not allowing any excuse to sideline me. Uphill. You can't stop me. Pain in a part of my body I don't recognize. You can't stop me. It was a wonderful feeling. Now, I need to apply that mental focus to writing (and hope for all the stars to align as they did today).

Before the tempting world of social media and friendly writers was opened up to me, I faced down my writing pains. But now, there are so many good excuses to avoid it when it gets hard. I'm building my author platform, I tell myself. While an author platform is certainly important, it's meant to uplift your writing---not take the place of it.

Julie Glover wrote an excellent post this week: I Know I Should Follow Your Blog But . . . A brief excerpt: "I have learned so much in the past year from writer groups, conferences, craft books, and blogs. I’ve discovered excellent tools and software for plotting and writing. Thankfully, this book won’t have 23 drafts to get it right. I know something about an author’s platform. I have researched publishing options and agents. My knowledge base is better now. All good stuff. But I am writing far fewer hours than when it was lonely me and my laptop.

I agree. Now I just need to apply something else I've learned from running. If you don't run, and run often, you really won't get better. It won't matter how much research you do about running plans, you have to hit the pavement. Same is true for writing.

I've been better about putting writing first. It's a step in the right direction. I just have to continue my writer training and not give up, or let myself be sidelined by other activites.

Now for my A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) update...

Writing: Every single day. Not all of it was on my WIP, but I did work on it every day (except today - today was family day!) for more than an hour. I'm also keeping note cards on my other piece.

Blogging: Every day but Saturday. I like taking a weekend day off. I posted a flash fiction piece on Friday that I'm quite proud of, and I reviewed Jessican Therrien's Oppression on Mom in Love with Fiction.

Editing: In a wonderful groove, and reading some wonderful material. Few things make me as happy as seeing a writer get it right.

Social Media: If I was grading myself, I'd give it a C. I don't like Cs. But something had to give. I owe people some comments, and I have a lot of flash fiction reading to do. Please accept my apologies. I'll get around. Tomorrow is catch up day. (Let's hope the universe didn't just hear me say that!)

Diet & Exercise: Exercise. Check. Diet. Well, let's hope the exercise is making up for it somewhat.

I hope my ROW80 friends are heading into the finish strong! Only 11 more days to go in this round.

Now my #writemotivation update (which is also my "test mile" for ROW80):

1. Work on my WIP for an hour every day, except Sunday. --- DONE+
2. Do client editing work an hour a day, except Sunday. --- DONE + Sunday
3. Read and review a book every 10 days, minimum. --- DONE


I am also behind in checking out my fellow #writemotivation writers. I look forward to catching up! 

March 9, 2012

Breaking Out: The Latest Campaign Challenge

It’s time for another Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign challenge, and Rachael Harrie has issued quite the challenge this week. From her website:

I’ve been asked for a more difficult Challenge this time, while at the same time I know many of you would prefer not to be *too* challenged. So I’ve given you a range of different activities you could do below, all based on the same prompts, and it’s up to you whether you do one or some or all of them. I’ve determined the judging criteria in advance too, so it will enable the judge to assess all your entries equally no matter what you decide to do. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Second Campaigner Challenge (of Fourth Campaign)

Prompt 3:

From Rach Writes
Do one or more of the following… I’ve only included the one I did.
* Write a poem/flash fiction piece (in less than 200 words) about the water pear *without* using the words “pear”, “spoon”, or “droplet”.  --- CHECK!

For added difficulty/challenge:
* Write in a genre that is not your own --- CHECK!

 

*****

Breaking Out

Years of practice were about to pay off. She trembled with anticipation as she focused her energy. To Hell with what her parents thought, she knew she could do it. What was the point of countless hours of studying spells if she never used magic?

Yesterday was her eighteenth birthday. She received many gifts, but not the one thing she wanted most—independence. She was sick of living in her parents’ shadows, confined by their rules. They may have saved Melpomene before, but the Elders were going to have to trust the next generation sooner or later.

She’d show them. Nobody had dared bring forth a new dragon in a hundred years; the last attempt had been disastrous.

Centering herself, she felt power course through her body. She was ready. Using her grandmother’s antique wand and the ripened fruit from the counter, she began to spin the dragon’s egg.

From nature’s sweet
A dragon we’ll complete

Heat spread through her and sweat dripped down her spine. So close, she kept pushing. Spinning, spinning, spinning. As the darkness took over, she saw a green arm pop out. A smile spread across her face as she slipped away.

*****

I am not too proud to admit it… that was hard! And I only did one of the options. I’m looking forward to visiting the other entries (I never look until I’ve written my own, because I don’t want to be influenced) and hope you will, too.

If you like my piece, consider voting for me (#106) here. I’d also appreciate feedback in the comments. Thanks.

March 8, 2012

Oppression Blog Tour: An Interview with Jessica Therrien and a Review of Oppression

I’m thrilled to be interviewing Jessica Therrien today as part of her Oppression Blog Tour. I met Jessica during the Third Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign and was immediately drawn to her clear love of writing and enthusiasm. Her first novel, Oppression, debuted February 28, 2012 from ZOVA Books.

Stay tuned after our interview for my review of Oppression.  

Welcome, Jessica, and congratulations on your first book!

Thanks Tia! I’m really excited. J

Tell us about Oppression.

You’d think summarizing my own book into a paragraph would be easy, right? Honestly, I’m horrible at that, so I’m going to cheat and give you the back cover blurb. ;)

Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than the average person, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Among so many of her kind, she should not be very remarkable--except for the prophecy. Some believe she will put an end to traditions, safeguarded by violence, which have oppressed her people for centuries. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning--and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.

Oppression is Book One in the Children of the Gods series. What is the current status of the series?

Book two is in the works. The manuscript is about 80% complete. I’m just tying the chapters together at this point. ZOVA Books will be publishing it sometime next year.

Book three is in my head. I have a simple outline (one I probably won’t stick to, because I never do).

I’ve always envisioned the series as a trilogy, so book four hasn’t been thought through, but you never know where the story will take you.

What was the hardest scene you ever had to write? Why?

The hardest scenes for me are those where big things happen. I want them to be amazing, so I’m really hard on myself. Even as I’m writing book two, I’ve left the most pivotal chapter for last. I still haven’t completely finished it.

In your bio, I read that you studied Chinese and lived in Taiwan. How did this experience affect your writing and passion for language?

I’ve always loved language, and I do have a special love for Chinese. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to communicate in a different language, but learning Chinese did make me appreciate English. I wrote a lot of poetry in Taiwan, and realized that I could only truly express myself creatively in my mother tongue. That’s probably true for most people. Take poetry by Pablo Neruda for example. His poems were originally written in Spanish, and though they are beautiful in English, they don’t have the same emotional significance as they do in Spanish.

Do you plan out your story in advance or prefer to let your characters and ideas take you on a journey?

My characters always walk their own paths. I try to control them, plan out their futures, but they never listen. My creative brain likes to go where it wants.

What was the last book you read that surprised you?

Blood Red Road was a wonderful surprise. I don’t know what I was expecting when I opened the book, but it wasn’t the honest, raw, and strangely beautiful voice I found. Saba is one of the best characters I’ve ever encountered.

Finally, for fun, what’s your favorite way to get the creative juices flowing when the words aren’t coming?

It depends on my mood. If I’m lazy, I’ll opt for a good episode of The Vampire Diaries. There are twists and turns around every corner, and it reminds me to write the unexpected. If I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll turn on some music. If I’m desperate, I turn to good books. They always inspire me to write the very best I can.

Thanks for a wonderful interview, Tia!

Thank you, Jessica.

*****
Review

Elyse is a wonderful character that embodies the wisdom of old age with the innocence of youth. She’s known deep loss and deep friendship, but she’s never been kissed. Or, at least not until she meets the alluring William.

William explains to Elyse that she’s not alone, that there are others like her, and she’s an important component in how their kind will survive. Her parents had kept her hidden to keep her safe, but it’s time for her to learn more about her kind and her abilities. There are others who want her dead, to make sure the prophecy doesn’t come to pass. Who can she trust?

So much of the novel is about fate and choice. Elyse struggles with the idea of her future being set in stone, beyond her control. She’s determined to make her own way, but will it change anything?

I love a story that takes off on page one and doesn’t let you go, not even at the end. There’s something for everyone… romance, action, intrigue, fantasy, emotions, and a long list of compelling and interesting characters. Beyond Elyse and William, I found myself most drawn to Sam, a descendant of Dionysus who can cause people to have various amounts of alcohol in their blood, and Kara, a girl forced to do unimaginable things. But is she bad?

The ending leaves you wanting, no needing, the next book in the series. Who survives? What does the prophecy really mean? Plus, the romantic in me wants more William and Elyse.

Jessica Therrien has crafted an intriguing tale full of characters to care about and questions to ponder.

Rating: 5 stars

Hard to believe this book is available for 99 cents, but only for a limited time!

For more information on Oppression:

For more information on Jessica:

*****
From Jessica’s Blog Tour page: Over the next 15 days I'll be collecting comments from all of the blog tour stops. At the end, I'll pull one lucky winner out of a hat. They'll win an Oppression poster, an Oppression notebook, and a signed copy of Oppression. Thanks in advance to everyone who checks out the blog tour posts, and thanks to all of the bloggers who were nice enough to invite me over to their blogs.