December 31, 2012

2013 To Be Read (TBR) Pile Challenge


This 2013 To Be Read Pile Challenge comes from Adam at Roof Beam Reader

I tried this challenge last year, and just let myself get way too far behind. So it's time to take it on and complete it (you can still sign up through the end of today, 12/31/12)!

I will be writing reviews for this challenge on my Mom in Love with Fiction blog, but I wanted to share it with my readers here, too. When I finish a book, I'll link here on this blog as well as on Mom in Love with Fiction


Here are the basic rules: 

1. Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list for AT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2012 or later (any book published in the year 2011 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile – I WILL be checking publication dates). Caveat: Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile. 


2.  To be eligible, you must sign-up with Mr. Linky at Adam's website (done!) – link to your list and add updated links to each book’s review.  Every listed book must be completed and must be reviewed (doesn’t have to be too fancy) in order to count as completed.
3.  The link you post in the Mr. Linky below must be to your “master list” (see mine below).  This is where you will keep track of your books completed, crossing them out and/or dating them as you go along, and updating the list with the links to each review (so there’s one easy, convenient way to find your list and all your reviews for the challenge).  See THIS LINK for an idea of what I mean.  Your list must be completed by December 31st, 2012.
4. Leave comments on this post as you go along, to update us on your status. Come back here if/when you complete this challenge and leave a comment indicating that you CONQUERED YOUR 2013 TBR LIST!  Every person who successfully reads his/her 12 books and/or alternates (and who provides a working link to their list, which has links to the review locations) will be entered to win a $50 gift card from Amazon.com or The Book Depository!
5. Crossovers from other challenges are totally acceptable, as long as you have never read the book before and it was published pre-2012!
Here’s my list:
(I've included a few I never got around to last year)
  1. This Year it Will be Different by Maeve Binchy
  2. Little Bee by Chris Cleave
  3. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
  4. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  5. The Passage by Justin Cronin
  6. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Caro
  7. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  8. The Host by Stephanie Meyer
  9. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  10. State of Wonder by Anne Patchett
  11. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  12. Made in the USA by Billie Letts
Alternates:
  1. Dead Man’s Walk by Larry McMurtry
  2. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
When I review each of the above books, I'll link them to my post.

A couple of notes about my picks...

  1. I've always wanted to read Binchy (she was a favorite of my book club gal, Dot Kellner, in Colorado).
  2. A book I didn't get around to in last year's TBR challenge, and one that I missed reading with my Colorado book club. 
  3. Can't believe I haven't read this one yet. I'll wait to rent the movie until after I read it.
  4. Leftover from last year's TBR, and one I've been wanting to read (and really digest) for years.
  5. Recommended by my brother-in-law, and then I went home and realized I have had it for at least a year. I understand book 2 is out, so good timing.
  6. A great author friend, Shauna Kelley, recommended this to me. It's one of her favorites and one she re-reads every year.
  7. Picked this up purely on the reviews. Hope it's good. It's been gathering dust, so I'm hoping this challenge will finally put it into my read pile.
  8. Leftover from last year. I'm hesitant, but I want to read it before the movie.
  9. Supposedly one of the best historical fiction books on the Civil War, and a leftover from last year's challenge.
  10. I had a different Anne Patchett book on last year's list, but I wanted to read this one more.
  11. From last year's list.
  12. From last year's list, and I love Billie Letts. Shocked I didn't get around to it.

My alternates are the same as last year.

Wishing everyone a 2013 filled 
with great reads!

December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas - See you in 2013

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

I am taking a blogging break to be with family. I'll be back 1/1/13.

Thanks to everyone who has held my hand, even if only for a few minutes, along this writing journey.


See you all in 2013.

December 21, 2012

Finding Esta Christmas Launch Giveaway

Welcome to the Finding Esta Christmas Launch Giveaway!

I am honored to feature Shah Wharton both here and at Mom in Love with Fiction today. I first met Shah through A Round of Words in 80 Days, and I'm so excited to read her debut novel.

Wishing you all the best, Shah!


Yes - it's finally here. After three years of writing, re-writing, beta readers, editors, cover designing, book trailers, yet more edits and many agonising hours of formatting, the first instalment of The Supes Series if ready on finally up on Amazon. There are five e-copies (you choice of file: ePub/Mobi or PDF) up for grabs, so please have a go and get Finding Esta FREE for Christmas. It's $2.99 on Amazon, and will be for sale on Smashwords and Kobo in by February.

Between December 21 and December 25 (2012), enter for a chance
to win one of five e-Copies of Finding Esta.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And now for the gorgeous cover...


BRIEF Blurb: A young journalist sets off to find Esta, but is unprepared for all she finds, and soon realises it's a journey from which she may never return. This is a new adult, urban fantasy about one woman's struggle to retain her identity while everything she knows crumbles around her. Finding Esta is the first book of The Supes Series.
 
Now take a moment to enjoy the book trailer... 
 


More about Finding Esta

An unusual young woman and fledgling journalist, Luna has various restrictive oddities, all of which prevent any kind of physical intimacy. Abusive parents take pleasure in Luna’s misery and isolation, yet Luna strives to make them proud, to finally earn their elusive love – something she craves almost as much as the painless touch of a lover.

When she learns of a tragic story involving the kidnap of baby Esta, she jumps at the chance to investigate, dragging her Shadows along for the ride within the murky depths of her mind.

Meanwhile, a dark stranger visits Luna’s dreams and stalks her reality. In lieu of the real thing, their intimate moments excite rather than terrify. Nestled within his presence, she begins to sense an urgent message of danger - a message she struggles to interpret, until they finally meet....

Her investigations lead Luna to a vibrant seaside town, hiding copycat aliens and an underworld of Supernaturals. Here, she comes face-to-face with her own, terrifying identity. Confronted with life-changing decisions and the harshest of truths, Luna questions her sanity, searching for logic, feeling deceived by both.

Is Luna trapped in a newfound supernatural world, or within her own delusions? And will anyone care enough to save her?
 
About the Author
 
 
Shah met many authors and bookworms galore when she began blogging in 2010, after she moved to Dubai with her husband. She’s since learned a lot about blogging and writing, mostly from the awesome advice of her online peer-group.
 
She uses her imagination to write short horror stories as well as poetry, but stumbled into writing her first novel after falling in love with Luna, a character in a short story she wrote back in 2010. That story grew into Finding Esta, the beginning of Luna’s journey to self-discovery.

Finding Esta is her d├ębut novel and the first of The Supes Series.

Her passions include blogging, writing, reading, movies, photography, music, theatre, travel, and fine dining. Her qualifications include BSc (Hons) psychology, counselling, and mentoring and she's worked in retail, counselling, and social care. Her favourite genres include anything dark with fangs and/or that will make her squirm or jump or scream out an expletive. She is an avid Kindle abuser and adores the indie writing community and being part of the e-publishing revolution.
She also has one short story published 'The Dead Party' & two poems published in anthologies.

Get Social With Shah

BLOG - Amazon - Goodreads - Email - Facebook - Google+ - Linkedin - Pinterest - RSS - StumbleUpon - Twitter

Acknowledgements from the Author

Praise to Derek Murphy at Creative IndieCovers
who developed the incredible book cover
 
who did a wonderful job of the final edit.

And huge thanks to all the beta readers, patient and enduring online friendships,
and to the mass of wonderful writer resources, all of which took me from thinking,
"Could I do that?" to "Hell yeah!"

Happy Holidays to everyone and good luck on the giveaway!

December 20, 2012

Beyond the Dust: ROW80 Round 4 Wrap-Up

Today's One Word Thursday writing prompt at The Write Prompts: Dusty.

Looking around my sad overlooked house, the layer of dust mocked me. "Dust me. Clean Me." The words repeated over and over in my brain. 2012 will not go down as the year of the guest-ready home. Dust became synonymous with Busy. In a sad way, I wear the dust as a badge of honor.

Let me explain. I was raised by clean freaks, loving and supportive clean freaks, but clean freaks none the less. The best story to prove my point... when I was a teenager, a major hurricane was threatening our town. Mom and Dad decided we should drive inland a couple of hours for safety. But we had to clean the house BEFORE we left. Clearly, the thought of a hurricane destroying a messy house was only adding insult to injury.

I rebelled during my college years... my dorm room should have been condemned. But, pride in owning my own home, brought out the cleaner in me. Then children came. Children, at least mine, seem most comfortable when surrounded by mess. Who knew?!

But back to dust being my badge of honor. Quite frankly, 2012 has been a year where other things were more important than keeping a pristine home. With the constant hurricane of life on the horizon, I decided the dust proved I was focusing on what really mattered. Right? But, don't worry, the cleaning panic hits every time family or friends come to visit. With the holidays quickly approaching, dust beware. I am onto you. I am proud to have ignored you, but it's time to pull on the yellow rubber gloves and get to business.

A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) has become the dust-acceptance cornerstone of my life. Thanks to the amazing participants and our leader, Kait Nolan, I am slowly beginning to accept that I am only human. Life (or Dust) always has its own plans, but goals and a support system have helped me with a flexible focus.

Instead of lamenting the things I didn't get done, something I do too often, I want to look at the things I accomplished this year.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge
I participated for the first time this year and survived. I loved it so much and will start planning for my next one in January. Writing ahead is the key, and something I didn't do enough of last year.

WordCount Blogathon
This was my second year, and just as sweet. Michelle Rafter is an amazing host. I have met some amazing bloggers and gained a lot of knowledge through this month-long challenge. (Even if it does require another month of daily blogging right after A to Z).

Author Blog Challenge
Loved the first year of this challenge. A lot of great information for authors and great prompts. I met some amazing new authors during June. (But yes, that was THREE months in a row of daily blogging). I hope Laura Orsini will bring it back in 2013.

Insecure Writer's Support Group
I joined this amazing group, led by the awesome Alex J Cavanaugh, in July. Although I grow every day as a writer, I still hit bumps along the road. This group offers the support I need when that happens.

A Round of Words in 80 Days
I completed all four rounds this year, and was a sponsor for two of them. I hope to sponsor again next year, but I will definitely be participating. ROW80 rocks! See you January 7th.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
I participated, and completed!, my first NaNo. 50,000 words in one month was quite the challenge for me, but I needed it. The idea for Chasing Memories came to me late last year, but I just never seemed to get around to it (especially since I was already writing the follow-up to Depression Cookies). NaNo stopped the excuses. I look forward to starting to edit it in January.

I am quite proud of the badge to the right.

(My goal for 2013 is to write Book 2 of this 3-part series during June's CampNaNo.)

Other Accomplishments

- Mom and I attended the Readers Favorite Awards Ceremony in Miami, Florida in November to accept our Silver Medal for Realistic Fiction for Depression Cookies. Our novel was also a Finalist in Chick Lit.

- More than halfway on the Depression Cookies follow-up. Finishing it will be the major focus of Round 1 ROW80 2013.

- On a personal note, I finished my first Half Marathon in September in Virginia Beach. 13.1, baby!

My biggest disappointment in 2012 was not publishing. I plan to remedy that in 2013.

And something I have yet to share, my husband lost his job (thanks to yet another corporate merger) recently. He is looking, and we are blessed with a severance package (especially since it covers our medical insurance for 18 months), but this usually means another move. But, with our economy, I will be grateful for my husband to find a job, wherever it may be. I know I can get my girls, and myself, through another upheaval should we need to.

This year I'm grateful...

- That we finally found some answers for my daughter after years of medical tests and various doctors. It's meant a lot of changes for my family, but it's progress.

- My dear Uncle Theo survived a heart attack and is on the mend.

- For my family. Without them, I would be lost.


- My sisters (and their families) and parents have all gone through their own issues this year. I am grateful for the bonds we share... how we are always there for each other.

- For all my blogging/writing friends, so many of the accomplishments above would not have happened without your encouragement and support. I hee-hawed myself out of NaNo last year. Thanks to everyone who convinced me I could do it. I wish I could name you all here, but I hope I've told you enough that you know who you are.

- For my friends, both near and far. I may not pick up the phone as often I would like, but you are always on my mind and in my heart.

- For all the writers who bring such wonderful stories into my life. According to my handy GoodReads calculator, I have read 77 books so far this year. I'm hoping to reach 100 in 2013.

- And for all the things, both big and small, that I haven't mentioned here.

NOTE: Something I really missed in 2012 was Rach Writes Fall Writers Platform-Building Campaign. I hope it's back in 2013.

Wishing everyone the happiest of the
holiday season and many blessings in 2013.
 
As a small way of paying it forward...
I am giving away a signed paperback copy of Depression Cookies
 to the first two readers to comment below
(please say, "I want one" just so I know).
Open to US residents only

December 18, 2012

I Disagree with What Confucius Say

I love the BlogHer network. Today, I saw an interesting prompt there.

Discuss this quote by Confucius: "Choose a job you love,
and you will never have to work a day in your life."

Source
Sorry, Confucius, I beg to differ.

I am blessed to do several jobs that I love, but I'll use my favorite two as examples.

I Am A Mother
Twelve, almost thirteen, years ago, I chose to stay at home to raise my beautiful daughter, Jackie. My husband and I made the necessary sacrifices when I left a good job to do so. I have never regretted my choice, but I have also never worked so hard. I now have three daughters, and some days the only time I stop moving is to sit to write or to finally lower myself into bed way too late.

No matter how much I love my girls and my husband, it is constant work. It's better than doing work I would hate, but I used to get paid to do a lot less.

I Am A Writer
I never thought I'd get to truly own those words, and I know how blessed I am to have time to devote to something I love. Still, I work hard at it. And if there were more hours in the day, I'd work even harder.

It is a dream come true to have a book out there with my name on it. In 2013, I plan to publish two more books. Crazy! But it is only possible with a lot of long hours and dedicated time.

I know what Confucius meant when he said, "you will never have to work a day in your life." But, I think it diminishes the work you put into something you love to suggest it is not work.

Do you do something you love? If so, is it work?

December 16, 2012

Tears & Fears: ROW80 Update

As I sit down to write my Sunday ROW80 update, I'm finding it hard to focus on anything except what happened in Connecticut. I can't shake the horror of what that evil man (yes, evil) did, much less the horrible sadness that each of the families affected is going through. It's senseless. The fact that it happened during the holiday season, a time when we are all focused on family and giving, makes it that much harder to digest.


At the end of the day, trying to understand the mind of a mad man is a lesson in futility. People will start debating various ways to stop situations like these. Although I hope there is an easy answer, I truly believe there isn't one. Nothing terrifies me more than a person determined to cause harm to others. They will always find a way. It's a helpless feeling. One that has brought many tears.

What can we do?

We can show love to everyone we care about, even to strangers. Let's all make a real effort to put as much goodness as we can out there, to both honor those who died and to try and tilt the balance back to good as much as possible. And we can pray. In whatever way you choose to, we need to keep the families in our thoughts and hearts.

It's a time to perform as many random acts of kindness as you can. I'm going to try, and I plan to share them here. If you would like to join me, please share them as well.

I'll be back to goals and writing tomorrow--I did make some progress, but I'll catch everyone up on Wednesday--but today I wanted to focus on what matters most to all of us... life and the people we love.
 
My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families affected by the events in Connecticut.

December 14, 2012

Deja Vu Blogfest: Words, Otherwise Beautiful, Can Be So Harmful

Today I'm participating in the Deja Vu Blogfest (thanks DL Hammons!).
 
The object is to re-post my favorite blog offering from 2012. Words, Otherwise Beautiful, Can Be So Harmful was a very personal piece that seemed to resonate with people, so I wanted to take this opportunity to re-post it (from 6/28/12).
 
 
“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”
Jodi Picoult, Salem Falls

Words have power. They can inspire and destroy.

Last week, the lovely Callie Leuck wrote an amazing post, Some People Can't Mind Their Ps and Qs. She shares customers' comments while she performed in a living history museum, and also discusses how hateful people can be with negative book reviews.

It struck a chord with me.

Be Mindful of What You Say
My oldest daughter was given several gifts from her paternal Mexican great-grandfather. Like him, she has beautiful olive skin, black hair, and dark brown eyes. So many times as a teen I prayed for a tan. My skin knows two colors: red or white. I am quite fair with blue eyes and dark red/brown hair. My husband has the black hair and dark eyes, but fair skin (although he tans when he has time to soak up sun).

Twenty months after our first daughter, we welcomed another. She takes after me with insanely fair skin, green eyes, and golden brown hair (okay that's after my mother).

The comments have never stopped.

When I was obviously pregnant with baby #2, I can't tell you how many times women came up to me and said:

"Congratulations, you can get pregnant!"

I looked at the beautiful little girl in my arms and didn't try to mask my confusion. They would continue:

"You hear it all the time. You adopt a baby and then immediately get pregnant. So glad it worked for you."

Or, you don't want to know how often I've heard this question:

"Where did you get her?"

At first I didn't know how to respond. Now I say, "The doctor handed her to me after I pushed her out."

Now that my oldest is twelve, she fields a lot of these "what are you" questions. People have asked her if she's my foster child, people pull her sister aside and ask if she's adopted or from a different father. People assume she isn't mine. I'm astounded in this day and age that people are so perplexed by the color of her skin and details of her features.

Curiosity is Not an Excuse for Insensitivity
I understand curiosity. I do. But I don't understand how a moment of curiosity in the brain travels out from the mouth without any consideration. My daughter has cried about not fitting in. I tell her everyday how beautiful she is.

We cannot control our thoughts or even judgmental moments of weakness. But we can, and should, control the things that come out of our mouths. Or worse yet, get written in emails, texts, Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. I tell my preteen daughter... what you write in a moment of anger, hurt, sadness, meanness can and will live on in perpetuity.

Just last night at a swim meet, a woman said to me (quite loudly with my daughter standing right next to me), "Man she has dark skin." I could see the pain on my daughter's face. Kids her age were standing around. She doesn't want to feel different right now, but I hope she grows to love her beauty and individuality.

Beyond My Experience
I calm myself by blaming people's insensitivity on curiosity and poor manners. What I cannot understand is why some people get so heated when they review places and items online.

Specifically for book reviews, not everyone likes the same thing. There's a huge difference between pointing out what you didn't like about a book or offering constructive criticism and attacking an author personally. Maybe it's because I understand the blood, sweat, and tears most authors put into their books. Regardless, there's a person behind every book, restaurant, product, retail shop, and service reviewed online. The words left behind can be damaging to people's careers, livelihoods, and self-worth.

Remember that what you say or write travels quickly past a person's mind to their heart. Before you commit your thoughts to words and actions, take a few seconds to consider how you would feel if someone said that about you or someone you loved.

Last November, I wrote a post about bullying and the power of words: The Power of Words: Adult Bullying. A man my sister worked with was chastised for his weight all his life. He considered, on several occasions, committing suicide. It's a powerful reminder of the weight of our words.

Do you think "attacking" reviews should be removed from online sites?

December 12, 2012

A Release Day & Progress: ROW80 Update

First, I'd like to mention my fellow ROW80 writer, Juliana Haygert... today is the Release Day Blitz for her new NA Contemporary Romance, Her Heart's Secret Wish. For more information, please visit my book review blog here (there's also a giveaway).

But I at least wanted to share the cover and summary here...


Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Release Date: 12/12/12
Genre: NA contemporary romance
Length: 13,000 words

Her Heart's Secret Wish Summary

With a renowned reputation as a player, she had everything figured out...

Twenty-year-old college student, Natasha is the life of every party and the reason behind many celebrations. The easiest girl on campus has all guys at her feet and more than a few in her bed.

... until he came into the game...

Having entered the academic world by chance, Professor Jason Stone is surprised to find one of his young students a huge temptation. The infamous Natasha has caught his attention. But is there more to her than meets the eye?

…and changed the rules.

As their unexpected friendship grows, so does their attraction to each other. When Jason’s Christmas plans are canceled and he ends up at the same party as Natasha, sparks flare, destroying the safe zone around them. Will they figure out how to break through their self-imposed barriers to be together, or lose one another forever?

Congratulations, Juliana! **throws confetti**

As for my A Round of Words in 80 Days update...

---> Depression Cookies follow up chapter
Made progress. I had a sick daughter home yesterday, and I found out my uncle had a heart attack (he's okay after a couple of stints). My brain was occupied, especially since my uncle was my first crush and he holds a very special place in my heart.

---> Editing
Progress. Still behind where I'd like to be, so my goal is to be back on schedule by Sunday.

---> Blogging
I posted here on Monday, To That or Not to That, and on Mom in Love with Fiction each day this week so far. I'm getting back in the groove.

I'm looking forward to the start of 2013 and reevaluating my goals and priorities, especially since I hope to publish TWO books in 2013.

Please stop by my post about Juliana's big release and leave her some comment love (or in the comments here). Happy 12/12/12!

December 10, 2012

To That or Not to That

Made at wigflip.com
No, wait, that is the problem.

When we had Depression Cookies professionally edited, our editor hated that and told us to get rid of it as much as possible (he felt the same way about just). So, I started noticing thats everywhere. They started annoying me.

Then, I had a lovely lady write a guest post for me last year who loved that. She asked me to please edit her piece. Her post was that-heavy, so I got rid of most of them. When I sent the piece back to her for review, she requested I put all the thats back in. She said her English Professor in her Masters program reprimanded her for taking out all the thats.

So, which is it?!

Example A: She is glad she kept her distance.
Example B: She is glad that she kept her distance.

I prefer A. Without the that, it seems stronger to me. But am I missing something?

Please share your that theories.

Recovering from NaNo Nausea: ROW80 Update

Funny, the theme of my last blog post continues to block my muse. On Wednesday, I wrote a post for ROW80 and the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) about my lackluster blogging lately. Check out Enough to Say? for details.

Long story short, I'm really struggling to find my blogging groove. The last few days have been no exception. But, to be fair, I was very sick for several days and then family came in to celebrate an early Christmas with our family.

Source
When I was in college, I would put myself through the ringer for finals. A steady diet of Snickers, Nodoz (do they even make that stuff anymore?), and Mello Yello kept me jazzed. But, inevitably, I would go home after and be sick for several days. Mom told me it as the Finals Flu.

This time it was the NaNo Nausea. The pace I put myself through in November was not one that my body appreciated. It rebelled. I guess it's only fair, so I shall not overly complain. And, no, I didn't resort to the diet described above.

I'm hoping that I can refocus now!

Please tell me I'm not alone in the Finals Flu scenario.

My A Round of Words in 80 Days Update

Reflecting on Wednesday's new goals...

--> Write a chapter by Sunday on my Depression Cookies follow up. Mom, if you are reading this, it's coming. It's coming. - Sorry, Mom. Monday's the day, though. No excuses.

--> Catch up on blog reading and commenting. -- Some progress, but I'm hoping to make a bigger dent in it this week. My head hurt too much of last week to read on the computer for long.

--> Apologize to my editing clients again for disappearing in November, and spend at least two hours a day catching up on editing projects. -- Done. This week I hope to finish up one of three projects.

--> Catch up on my reading TBR pile. -- This feels like an impossible task. I think I'm destined to always have books stacked up in the corner of my bedroom, watiting for me to read them. There are just too many!

December 5, 2012

Enough to Say?: IWSG & ROW80 Updates

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for my Insecure Writer's Support Group post. A huge thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for putting together this group. I appreciate the opportunity to share my insecurities on the #IWSG therapy couch.

First, a confession. I have been quite absent on social media... both as a blogger and a commenter. November kicked my ass, I won't lie. I started to say it kicked my butt, but quite frankly butt didn't do the sentence justice.

During November, I participated in my first NaNoWriMo, a wonderful yet exhausting experience, and helped my daughter through some medical issues (which resulted in severe diet and medical changes). I did win NaNo, *throws confetti*, and my family is adjusting to my middle daughter's new needs. But my blog suffered, getting very little of my time and attention.

Maybe it's because I haven't blogged consistently for a couple of months, but now I'm left wondering... do I have enough interesting or pertinent things to say to keep these pages going?

I love the writing community and connecting with readers, but I don't want to get repetitive or share too much. My writing methods don't seem all that original or awe inspiring, so I often hesitate to share them. I have plenty of kid stories, but this isn't a parenting blog. And, I'm a grammar nerd, but I don't want people running away because I remind them of their picky seventh grade English teacher.

What to do?

I'm a little stuck right now, I must admit.

My gut tells me to have a mixture of all the things I like here, even some of the random things that come into my head. I always do better with focused blog challenges like the Blogging from A to Z challenge (coming in April, YEAH!). I find staring at a blank blog post page quite frustrating.

But, if I make this page a mixture of my interests, will readers come and go instead of sticking with me? Should a blog have a singular focus?

I set up this blog to build an author platform, so I went to the Internet to define author platform. I found a great blog post by Jane Friedman: A Definition of Author Platform. She shares the definition according to most editors and agents, "They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience."

Visibility --- Check
Or at least normally. I need to get back to a more frequent blogging schedule and stick to it, so that people know I'll be around.

Authority --- Insecurity Issues (see above)
Yes, I'm published, but I made a ton of mistakes in the process and managed somehow to succeed anyway. I'm always happy to share, but an authority... not feeling it. Then again, I have three kids ages 12, 10, and 7 and I'm convinced I'll never feel like an authority on parenting, either. So admittedly, my expectations may be way too high on defining authority.

Proven Reach to Target Audience --- Complete Confusion 
I reach out to readers by building my writing community. However, I'm not sure womens fiction readers (and soon I'll need to also reach out to Young Adult readers) would follow my blog. I'm so confused!

If any of you have figured out the magic key to an effective author platform, one that attracts both writers and readers, please share.

And now it's ROW80 update time.

Like I mentioned before, NaNo really threw me off, but it's time to get back to goals. I'm a bit at a loss, because I've been so focused on word counts with total disregard to most other things.

New goals for the remainder of Round 4:
(When does it end, anyway?)

--> Write a chapter by Sunday on my Depression Cookies follow up. Mom, if you are reading this, it's coming. It's coming.
--> Catch up on blog reading and commenting.
--> Apologize to my editing clients again for disappearing in November, and spend at least two hours a day catching up on editing projects.
--> Catch up on my reading TBR pile.

I am taking at least a two-week break from Chasing Memories (NaNo piece). I love the story, but I need to let it soak, so to speak.

I look forward to catching up with all my ROW80 and IWSG friends. I hope the muse grants each of you a lot of quality time throughout the remainder of 2012.