August 31, 2011

Excited and Confused: ROW80 Check In

Late to post, but good news to share. Depression Cookies was just honored with a Silver Award for Realistic Fiction in the 2011 Readers Favorite book awards. In addition, we were named a Finalist in the Chick Lit category.

After a week of questioning myself and my character, this was a nice reboot. But the pressure is on... Depression Cookies was also a Finalist in the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. I don't want to sully the story by not putting out a quality sequel.

As a reader, do you have much higher expectations for the sequel? I've often commented about sequel-syndrome, how sequels often disappoint (especially the second book in a trilogy).

This leads me to the worries I've been having about writing my character again. I am so attached to her, yet I understand the need to age her slightly and allow her to grow up. An early reader I really trust warned me that her voice, thoughts, reactions need to age. But I hestitate to age her too much. I'm nearing 40, and I still have 15 year old thoughts running through my head. Granted they are balanced with older, more mature thoughts. I want her to age, but I think her inner musings won't change drastically.

If you are attached to a character, how much to do want to see him/her grow? If the character changes too drastically is something lost?

Brief progress update:

- Sequel is moving along, but had to rework the first two chapters due to an inconsistency between our chapters. The joys of co-writing. I worked on the sequel two hours today alone. No major word count tallies, but I felt good about the progress.

- Making great progress toward my editing goal. Still hope to be done by Friday.

- Homework. Check. Sign up for SITS 31DBBB challenge. Check. (although I'm finding the forum aspects confusing) Leave encouraging comments for fellow ROW80 participants. Check. Book Reviews, so close.

Overall, I feel great about the week.

Goals for the upcoming week:

- Finish Sequel

- Two book reviews

- Finish editing and request more chapters

- Read my book club book by Wednesday, September 7th.

Hope my fellow A Round of Words in 80 Days particpants feel good about their weeks, too. Let me know! If you stop by, I'd love some thoughts on my questions above.

August 30, 2011

Back to School: Tub-Full Tuesday

Tub-full Tuesday posts celebrate things that fill our tubs, make us grateful. First and foremost, I am thankful to say goodbye to Irene. She could have been worse, but I know people have suffered damages and loss. Those people will remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Yesterday my kids went back to school. And, no, seeing them go is not what filled my tub this week. (insert snicker here) The summer went by way too quickly, and I miss them already. Yes, there were moments of constant bickering this summer that threatened to send me to the looney bin, but I truly feel blessed to spend summers with them and be home when they get home during the school year.

Seeing them becoming strong, confident young women fills my tub. I don't want to rush time, but I can't wait to know the women they will be. I feel honored to be their mom.

My girls... entering 6th, 4th and 1st grades.

August 29, 2011

My Writing Journey

Writing is a journey, one where I often experience unexpected paths and people. The month of May brought much needed blog knowledge into my life through Wordcount's Blogathon; with it also came new friends. One of those was Liz Sheffield.

She recently guest posted here about her experience starting a Women Write Night, something I'm still hoping to organize. I've enjoyed her Motherlogue blog and getting to know her, she's open and encouraging.

Today, she featured a Q&A with me on Motherlogue. Please stop by. I share details about my writing journey as well as co-authoring with my mother.

For fun, I created a Tagxedo using the interview. Enjoy.

August 28, 2011

Ready to Refocus: ROW 80 Check In

What a crazy weekend. Irene had her way with much of the East coast, but it could have been so much worse. We lost power for a bit this morning, but my sister and parents in Eastern North Carolina have been without power since yesterday morning. Best guess for restoration: Thursday night. Check out yesterday's post for more Irene musings.

After a weekend of worry, I'm happy to focus on my A Round of Words in 80 Days update.

Progress this week:

- Finished my sequel chapter. Will send to Mom once she has power for her response chapter.

- Edited 5 pages plus per day, some on sequel.

- Posted daily. So far this month I have posted 24 times. Not bad for a non-challenge month. I'm finally getting into the blog swing.

- Finished one book and almost finished another. No reviews written. :-(

Goals for upcoming week:

- Outline chapter and story ideas while await Mom's response chapter.

- Finish editing project by Friday.

- Finish second book and post two reviews. Start Kathryn Johnson's The Gentleman Poet, my book club book (due Wednesday, 9/7). I am so excited to read this. Kathryn is a local writer, and she's coming to our book club discussion.

- Sign up for SITS Girls 31 Days to Blog Better challenge.

- Complete homework for my online course, due Thursday.

My girls start school tomorrow. I will miss them but am looking forward to having more time to focus on my writing. My goal is to bust it out from 8:30-2:30 (non-kid hours) so I can focus on their needs once they are home. Wish me luck. I'm wary to assume Time will be my friend.

I hope my fellow-ROW80 pals had a great week, especially those in Irene's path. Leave a comment and let me know.

Check out ROW 80 participants here:

August 27, 2011

Mother Nature, Mother Teresa & my Mother

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those in Irene's path. She's proving to be quite angry. Mother Nature has been on a roll lately. My parents and middle sister live in Chocowinity, NC on the Pamlico Sound. It's getting spanked. 

Mom described their backyard today, "It looks like we are right on the ocean. I've never seen anything like it." Mom is videoing a lot of it, so I hope to share some of that later this week. I'm sure she'll have a post as well. Please keep them in your prayers.

Yesterday was Mother Teresa's birthday. She was an amazing gift to this world, full of grace and dedication. In the wake of Irene and Mother Nature, I wanted to share some Mother Teresa:
"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it."

"What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight; build it anyway."

"There's nothing more calming in difficult moments that knowing there's some one fighting with you."

My parent's backyard yesterday afternoon, just before Irene
Mom is taking pictures, and I'll post some later. I'm worried sick. My family turns to humor when we are worried or upset, so I have to share a story. I've only evacuated once with my parents. We were living in Wilmington, North Carolina and I was in high school.

It was scary. We were taping windows and glass doors and vacuuming. Yes, vacuuming. Mom decided we weren't leaving the house unless it was clean. My sisters and I were frantically cleaning and hysterically laughing. We knew we'd be on the news: "Wilmington family rescued after storm hits during their hours of cleaning." We thought they were insane.

Mom and Dad chose not to evacuate this time. I asked Mom if she was paying me back for all the teenage years by making me worry! When I checked on them this morning, Mom was cooking. "20 pounds of barbeque for pulled pork," she bragged. She has a gastop stove. She was anticipating all the people who will need to be fed when Irene finally leaves town. That's my mother in a nutshell.

She admitted the cooking was also calming her nerves. Maybe the vacuuming was intended to do the same. Guess my nerves react differently!

Again, please say prayers! Let me know if you have any loved ones in the path, and I'll send good thoughts and prayers their way as well.

August 26, 2011

Money Magazine's Best Places to Live: Friday Feature

On Fridays we discuss the best thing we read this week and why. This week's best left me with mixed emotions.

Yesterday I received Money Magazine's September issue. The front cover tauted the 100 Best Places to Live in America. Inside, #1 was Louisville, Colorado and #20 Superior, Colorado.
My youngest and my parents with me in Boulder, just 15 minutes from Superior/Louisville, Colorado
My initial response was sadness. In November we left Superior, Colorado (Louisville is literally next door, and both towns share the same zip code). It was, and in so many ways still is, home. A piece of my heart will always be there.

Just today, my nine year old was talking about how much she still misses Colorado. I said it was probably time we moved on and embraced our new town. I was trying to convince both of us. "But what if my heart stays there?" she asked. I hugged her, in part needing a hug myself.

I wouldn't give up my time in Colorado, and the wonderful friends I made there, for anything. It was a blessing. I'm a huge believer in all things happening for a reason. The reason isn't clear to me right now, but I trust it.

Don't get me wrong... I'll visit as much as possible. And, yes, my heart is still there and broke a little when we left. Hearts mend, it just takes time. Another thing I know about hearts, they grow and have immeasurable capacity. Just being Mom to three kids has taught me that.

Congratulations to all my Colorado friends. I miss you!

Where are pieces of your heart?

August 25, 2011

Peepie Pansy's in Danger: Irene's AComin'

An earthquake this week and Irene on her way, we are all reflecting on Mother Nature these days. Today, Mom visits with a post about protecting a sweet friend in Irene's path. Enjoy!

A lone pansy emerged in my yard in February. My rescue nature rushed to its aid, repotting it and lovingly watching it for the last six months. My baby, fondly named Peepie, has flourished in the summer heat and reached its long neck to embrace feedings and watering, loving delivered from my hands. It has grown up and produced babies. Just like any proud Mama, I’m puffed up all over.

This morning, I awoke fearful for Peepie. She’s still so young. She’s never had to brave extreme elements, having been under my keen inspection. But Irene’s acomin’. 

I think I’m unnerved. Yesterday Virginia experienced a 5.9 category earthquake, the strongest in over a hundred years. Tia felt it in Damascus, Maryland, and I felt it in Chocowinity, North Carolina. It’s absolutely mind boggling to be on the phone hundreds of miles apart, feeling the same thing. It’s incredible and unnerving. Of course, I checked on Peepie. In the fall I will release her to Mother Earth, and she will have to fend for herself. The last thing I need is a fearful pansy on my hands.

This morning our local Doppler radar shows we will have a calm before Irene visits. The islands are expecting her shortly. I’ve been there many times. They brace with rum, the very best rum you’ve ever had. My mind is wondering how much rum I have on hand. Maybe a few guests over, grilling out, a watermelon... How can I be so insensitive? Peepie’s life is on the line.

I rushed into the bedroom in full-out angst, waking my husband with my concerns, “Honey, Irene’s coming. I’m concerned about Peepie. She’s still so small. Do you think I can set her up in our room? That woman might cause some havoc!”

Well, let me tell you, that man was insulting. Truthfully, I know not to wake up a man at 5:30AM that’s hooked up to a CPAP machine and still snoring, but I couldn’t help myself. Peepie’s life is in danger!!!

After being asked to get a life and leave, I left, but not without a plan. Tracking Irene is a guesstimation. No one knows when she will show up. Women are like that, illusive and naughty, always keeping everyone wondering. In the last hour, she’s been upgraded to a category 3 hurricane. Everyone is watching, speculating, tracking and preparing. That woman’s got everyone on the run!
So what’s my plan? Peepie and I’ve decided to stick it out, plan for the worse and pray for the best. Peepie is in the guest bathroom. No need to upset Hubby. For company, I brought in Toby and Lynus, the ferns. And the guest list is completed. On my way shopping, I’ll deliver the invitations. When Irene arrives, I want everything perfect. You never know what that woman will do.


When's the last time you an awesome display by Mother Nature?

August 24, 2011

Wanted More, Satisfied with Less: ROW 80 Check In

I find myself in an unfamiliar state. I wanted more progress this week, but quite frankly am satisfied with less. It's the last week of summer, kids start back to school Monday. I set realistic writing and reading goals Sunday knowing this, but I assumed I'd far exceed them. I didn't, but I did enjoy the last week of summer!

I can get so caught up in work, I forget to play. Taking the time to enjoy life will only make me a better writer, and I can't create more time. I ran across two quotes this week, both by Eleanor Roosevelt (one smart lady!):

"You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give."

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience."



- Wrote 1/2 a chapter on our sequel. Not a full chapter like a wanted, but a solid half chapter. Quality over quantity. I can handle that.

- Edited 5 pages two of the three days.

- Missed Monday posting. Wasn't inspired, and I didn't want to force it for forcing sake. This is something I'm learning. Normally I'd put up a post for the simple pleasure of marking a check next to yet another to-do. Look, Mom. No hands.

- On target to get two books read and reviewed by Sunday. Wait, I said Friday. Must have been a typo. Sunday it is.

Goals for the rest of the week:

- Finish chapter for sequel and get in edits. Send off to Mom for response chapter.

- Reviews by Sunday!

- Post daily. Focus on entertaining and inspired posts.

- Show the love to this wonderful ROW 80 community as well as other bloggers.

When is the last time you wanted more, but were simply satisfied with less?

August 23, 2011

Appreciation is Rewarding: Tub-full Tuesday

It's Tub-full Tuesday. I must give kudos again to my husband for retrieving all my computer files (take that computer, you messed with the wrong family!), a definite tub-filler this week.

But I'm also grateful to accept The Versatile Blogger award given to Depression Cookies by Lisa at insignificant at best. I'm especially honored because Lisa's blog is so beautiful in design and content. Many thanks, Lisa. I look forward to continuing to follow you. Please stop by her blog and show some love.

The Rules of accepting the Versatile Blogger Award are:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs (contact them to let them know).

Sharing for a writer should be like breathing, right? Wrong. I can create characters and even infuse them with pieces of myself, but I find it so difficult to openly discuss Tia. I'll take on the challenge, if for no other reason than I look forward to reading what all the other bloggers below write about themselves.

1. I hate onions. Hate them. I use onion powder all the time, but one bite into an onion bigger than a grain of sand, and I will throw up. Truly. I tell waiters/waitresses that I'm allergic to make sure onions are never in a dish. It makes Mexican food difficult, sadly.

2. I'm a people-watcher, insanely curious as to why people do what they do. I love open and honest people who own who they are and detail what they do. This is especially true of my fellow mothers. Nobody has the perfect child, so let's love them anyway and be honest about it.

3. I read in the bathtub. This poses a real problem for my Kindle, so paper books will always have a special place in my house. And, yes, I have dropped them in before. They dry and look all the more loved on my shelf.

4. I love to laugh. The quickest way to my heart is a joke or funny story. If you follow it with a brownie, you are golden. Which leads me to #5.

5. I'm a sugar addict. I need to work on this, and I blame my mother. She's an amazing cook and always had baked goods on hand when I was a teenager trying to survive. Nothing says I love you like a warm cookie or brownie.

6. I suck at running, yet I run several times a week. I refuse to let running beat me, but I envy runners who glide past me with grace, dignity and speed. Every foot drop causes a ripple effect when I run. I swear I make more noise on a treadmill than anyone. But I crank up the IPod music and keep going. (confession 6.5: I like to run to good beats, anything from Black Eyed Peas to Salt N Peppa)

7. My favorite sandwich grosses people out. Ready for it... peanut butter, sliced bananas and mayo. Try it before you judge!

Okay, I survived (and anyone reading hopefully survived as well) the list. Now to the best part... recommending other bloggers. My 15, in no particular order, because I love them all:

1. Teaching What is Good
2. Putting Words to Paper
3. Punk Rock Psychic
4. WAHM Solution
5. Imp3rfect Mom
6. The Billiegram
7. Motherlogue
8. Inspired Life
9. ItsAFullNest
10. Kristen Lamb's Blog
11. BooksYALove
12. 100 Smile Challenge
13. Memoir, Writing & Life
14. Intralingo
15. Someday, When I'm Famous

I hope you'll take the time to visit these awesome, and often inspiring, blogs!

Thanks again to Lisa, her appreciation and generosity filled my tub this week.

What filled your tub this week?

August 21, 2011

Lemonade: ROW 80 Check In

I came across a lovely blog recently, Jodi Rosenberg's 100 Smile Challenge Blog. It's uplifting and asks the reader to reevaluate setbacks and focus on achievements and positive thinking. Mondays are Mindset Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are General Smile Generators, Fridays are Fabulous... just to give you an idea.

Last week I seemed to hit wall after wall, starting with the crash of my computer Tuesday. With each day, the stress was building and my shoulders were inching up closer to my ears. I kept forcing them back down, but soon would feel them rise again. Rosenberg's post yesterday about National Lemonade Day turned my week around. Her directive: Today's Simple Smile Igniter is to make lemonade.

During my six hour drive back to Maryland today, and blessed with children happy to watch movies, I kept thinking about making lemonade. Life handed me a basket full of lemons last week, and the sourness ate away at my creativity. I posted on Wednesday that I wasn't going to let it, but I did. Lesson learned, say what you mean and mean what you say!

I accomplished very little, and even had a rousing pity party about it. Actually, two. Mom guided me through the first one and my husband through the second. But today, lemonade. My husband managed to save ALL my files!! Didn't lose a thing.

No updates today. I wouldn't have much to say, although I did keep up with my blog most days. I learned a lot from my setback, so it wasn't a complete wash. And I do have all my files, so I'm ready to go.

Goals this week:
* Review the five chapters of WIP, revise as needed to fit in Mom's chapters, and write chapter six. Figure out how to integrate the three other chapters I wrote ahead (and thought I lost!).

* Blog daily.

* Finish two books by Friday and write two reviews for Mom in Love with Fiction.

* Start Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer. Many thanks to Tara at Two Hands and a Roadmap for recommending (and I won the book on her blog giveaway).

* Edit five pages a day.

Thanks for sticking with me through my pity party. Hope everyone else is making lemonade this week!

How do you make lemonade?

Please take a minute to check out my fellow ROW80 participants here:

August 20, 2011

Why I Blog

During the Ultimate Blog Challenge, Michelle Shaeffer shared many blog post ideas with participants. Since then, she's even started a Daily Blogging Ideas site. Some days it's nice to scroll down a list of topics and see which one grabs you and won't let go.

One of her ideas in July was "Why I Blog". It made me think. That's always a good thing.

My reasons for blogging:

* Exercise: Writing is a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets. Since I began blogging on a more frequent basis, my writing has improved and the ideas flow more regularly. I wrote about this idea in a July post, Writing Fitness: Flexing your Writing Muscles.

* Community: The writing community constantly amazes me. They share and support. Plus the people who read this blog and comment help me feel part of something.

* Service: I have learned a lot and want to pass it along to readers, fellow writers, mothers, and business people. If others didn't pass along their knowledge on these topics, I'd be drowning in a sea of questions on so many fronts.

* Enjoyment: Writing a post can change my whole day. There's nothing better than writing a heartwarming story or going for a good laugh, especially when others appreciate it.  

Why do you blog or follow blogs?

August 18, 2011

Celebrating Bad Poetry Day

Who knew there was a special day for poets like me. Yes, August 18th is Bad Poetry Day. Mom passed on many wonderful things to me, a love of reading and writing ranking high among them. But the poetry gene missed its mark. Mom is a beautiful poet as is my cousin, Marty Silverthorne. I hope to coerce him into sharing some of his poetry here at a later date.

I attempt poetry in humor or under duress. But in honor of bad poetry, I figured I should let my poetry shine.

Patty the cat rode a train
Heading nowhere with the lame
All on a trip to find a fish
And maybe even a lovely dish.
Finding none she felt alone.
And ended up with nothing but a bone.

With much effort, and as good as it gets:

I wish I was poetically inclined
Gifted with words so intertwined
Readers couldn't help but engage
As images leapt off the page.

Wait, I'm thinking the first try is a children's book, the second a song.
Maybe my bad poetry is coming along.

A quick question... in my search for grammar accuracy, I constantly run across words or phrases with two camps of correctness. Is it leapt or leaped?

August 17, 2011

Setbacks: ROW 80 Check In

I have a love-hate relationship with technology. It can make my life so much easier until it doesn't. I write directly on a computer and save to Word. Beautiful, until something goes wrong. That something occurred yesterday. My computer is dead. I'm at the beach, so I won't know until Sunday if all my data is lost.

Good luck: Mom and I just printed off the first 5 chapters of our sequel to edit and discuss (Mom's a printer, I don't usually).

Bad luck: The rest is saved on my computer along with the fifty pages of editing I've done for a YA novel. Not to mention other started works. Normally I edit on paper but my printer was broken, so I edited directly on the computer. Go figure.

Please wish me luck for data retrieval. I will kiss the Best Buy guy if he can hand me a flash drive with everything!

My progress was completely stalled by yesterday's computer failure. Until then, I was grooving on the sequel. Still not tallying words, but working on plot, characters, and revisions. I posted daily until yesterday, including a review on Mom in Love with Fiction. I am fortunate to be writing this post from my mother's computer (and I thought my computer was slow!).

I'm determined not to lose anymore time to a machine, so this week I will write out my words on paper. GASP! But I will write. Editing will have to wait until I can retrieve the document. Worst case I'll have to start all over.

So this week my goal is to read, read, read in addition to 500 written words a day. I'll be posting using Mom's antiquated computer or my IPad. I have the same luck with technology that I have with plants, so let's hope I don't manage to kill any other electronics before the week is up.

A major thank you to A Round of Words in 80 Days. Without my commitment to this challenge and all the support from its participants, I would take this defeat and do nothing. I'd sit on my duff and blame Life for handing me a lemon. But not now.

Do you back up your writing immediately to a flash drive? I think I might start backing up at least once a week to avoid this fiasco in the future. Or at least for a few months until I get complacent again (hey, nothing but honesty here!). Hope all my ROW80 cohorts are doing well!

August 15, 2011

Wearing my Reader Hat

Mom and I took a walk this morning in the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina. We talked about books in our to-read piles and why they are there. It's especially important to us now as authors. How do people choose books?

The vast majority (80-85%) of my book picks come from friend recommendations, including my book club cohorts. Prior to publishing my own novel, I didn't follow authors. If I loved a book, I would look into more books by that author, but I didn't look for them on Facebook or try to catch them on a morning talk show. Authors seemed as inaccessible as actors and actresses. I was wrong. The writing community is incredibly open and generous. I hope other readers realize that.

I do believe word-of-mouth marketing is best, but how do you access it? Book clubs, an invaluable resource, tend to pick bestsellers or other proven entities like classics. I get it. I want to support small press and independent publishers, but you have to weed through the muck for the gem. Some readers won't take the chance.

My sister is with us on vacation, so I asked how she chose books. Her answer, magazines. I admit I notice author interviews in magazines now, but I rarely picked a book that way before. Rarely, however, do you see smaller books in articles.

When you are an avid book clubber like I am, a book a month is chosen for you. Then my mom or other friends would recommend books. My book pile remained stacked with little work on my part. Occasionally I'd scour Amazon or other online retailers and play around until a cover and description beckoned. 

We'd love to know... how do you choose a book? Do you read reviews, author interviews, watch morning talk shows? How willing are you to try small press or independently published books?

All this being said, I am featured on Highlighted Author this week, so stop by and check it out. Each week Charlene Wilson features a new author.

August 14, 2011

Finding Inspiration: ROW 80 Check In

What inspires you?

I think about this often. I am not a lazy person. I'd even call myself self-motivated for the most part. But there are just some days I need inspiration.

My great example is exercise. I fight myself. I've slept in exercise clothes, worn them all through the next day, and still not exercised. My secret desire is the effort to wear the clothes will inspire me to action. The flip side is the awful feeling of wearing spandex all day and accomplishing nothing toward my health goals. Then I beat myself up. Sadly, I know exercise makes me feel better, so why is it so hard to motivate myself to do it sometimes?

"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere." Anonymous

Writing calls to me, but sometimes I sit down and find myself uninspired. The words don't flow and no amount of time commitment can force it. I can wear my writer's hat all day and not write a single word. It never fails, though, that a thousand words come to me while driving my child to swim practice or volunteering in school.

"Motivation will almost always beat mere talent." Norman R. Augustine

I've learned to embrace inspiration whenever it hits, but also to put myself in situations where it's easy to act. I keep notebooks in the car for jotting down ideas and even a small notebook in my purse. I use the Notes app on my IPhone. Anything I can do to not miss the moments.

For motivation, I join challenges like A Round of Words in 80 Days for the accountability and support. I know I exercise more when a friend is waiting on me at the gym, so I knew a writing community would be a great inspiration for my writing. ROW 80 has been just that. My inspiration.

On to my check in:

Our sequel is humming along. Sleep is suffering, but we are one-third of the way done with the first draft. Not bad! The story and characters are getting along beautifully. This week I am changing my goal back to achieving word count, but I'm going to ease back in and hope for 500 words a day.

I've surpassed my 5 page a day edit challenge and posted on this blog daily. Goals met! I hesitated to add these goals to writing, but I've found both make me a better writer. I look forward to reading everyone's progress this week and checking in on some great blogs. Talk about inspiration! Find some of my fellow ROW 80ers listed below.

And finally I finished and reviewed a book for Rebecca's Reads. The review link will be up on my Mom in Love with Fiction blog in the next day or so along with an additional review later in the week. My hope anyway! I love to read, but time to do so has suffered lately.

Now back to my original question, what inspires you?

August 13, 2011

Living in the Moment to Live on Forever

My family and I are in Duck, North Carolina. We come every year and always create special memories. I hated to leave the blog empty today, but only have a quick quote I ran across.

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
Thomas Campbell, Hallowed Ground

I hope my children's hearts are filled to overflowing.

As a writer, I create characters and stories hoping to affect readers; another way to leave a piece of me behind.

Thanks to all of you who fill my heart (and brain thanks to all your wonderful advice).

August 12, 2011

Middle Child Day: Friday Feature

Somewhere this week, and I say somewhere because I read so much both online and elsewhere I have no idea where I find things anymore, I saw that August 12th is Middle Child Day. I'm the first born of three girls, but today happens to be my middle sister's birthday. Happy Birthday, Tara! I'm also married to a middle child. For today's Friday Feature, the best thing I read this week and why, I wanted to talk about the middle.

My husband and I both come from families of three (and same-sex families of three at that). The nice thing about three... it is well-defined with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The bad thing... it is well-defined. Many scholars have studied birth order and its effect on the family and the individual. What I find interesting is how often you hear the term "middle child syndrome" versus talking about first or last borns. My husband and sister would agree they felt lost in the shuffle.

Then I realized I could tie this into reading. Actually I've found I can tie just about anything back to reading or writing, but I digress. I enjoy series, but almost always note the second book syndrome in a trilogy. This happened for me in the Twilight (okay, second book of four), Hunger Games and City of Bones series. So maybe there's some validity to lost in the shuffle. The first book lands the author the series commitment, so it needs to be stellar and attention-grabbing. The second book usually fills in story to prepare the reader for the thrilling conclusion of the third book. It's sad, because the second book can keep me from continuing the series. I devoured Hunger Games, but Catching Fire lacked the spark to propel me to the third which is collecting dust in my to-read pile.

A lesson can be learned by both parents and writers: give special love to your second baby and make sure they don't feel lost or neglected. I know I strive to do this with my beautiful second daughter, Reagan. Of course, it helps to have both my sister and husband constantly reminding me.

A special shout-out to all who find themselves in the middle. It can truly be a special place, especially if you make sure people see you.

Here I am with my sister, Tara

My middle daughter, Reagan

My two middles, husband Ed & Reagan
Are you stuck in the middle? What's your story?

August 11, 2011

Guilty Summer Pleasures

School is just around the corner. My kids are still sleeping late, going to bed late, and squeezing every last bit of fun out of summer. I feel blessed to have these moments with them. I know I'll never regret it, especially the day I see them driving away to college.

Summer is all about having fun and indulging, so I thought I'd share my eight guilty pleasures (eight in honor of August, also my birth month).

1. Sleeping In
I don't like wasting the day away, but there's something so sinful about waking up refreshed and close to lunchtime. It's best when hubby joins me and even a couple of kids.

2. Easy Reading
Kids are happily splashing around in the pool, so I sneak to a shady spot and crack open a good book. I like guilty reads this time of year... nothing too deep or taxing, just a great story with engaging characters. There's a reason books are labeled summer reads. My favorite go-to light read, anything Nora Roberts. I'm trying to expand, though. I recently bought Susan Mallery's Only Mine after several recommendations.

3. Caramel Popcorn
I don't want anyone telling me the number of calories in my favorite caramel popcorn. Life's too short not to occasionally indulge. I like it best hot with melted caramel oozing over the top. Even better, and more of a guilty pleasure, if I have it instead of dinner.

4. Mindless TV shows
I watch very little television. I like my books deep (except for some summer loving, see #2) and my television shows shallow. Some of my faves: Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (or anything on Food Network), So You Think You Can Dance, and Pawn Stars.

5. Entertainment Magazines
I flip through and look at the pictures the first time, then I read a few articles. I'm not learning life lessons here, unless wearing a see-through top to an event with cameras is a life lesson.

6. Electronic Games
Since I'm a writer, I guess it only makes sense that I love Scrabble or any word game. Or is it because I'm a word nerd?

7. Coloring/Drawing
Sometimes the girls and I sit around and color, everything from coloring books to drawing on a blank sheet of paper. I can't draw a stick figure well, but I can make a lot of circles and color them in with different colors. The funniest thing is when I look up and I'm still coloring, but all the kids have left.

8. Kid movies
I love Tangled, Enchanted, and so many more. Thanks to my kids and summertime, I can watch all the Disney and other animated movies I want and simply blame the children.

What's your guilty pleasure?

August 10, 2011

Too Much Information is Distracting: ROW 80 Check In

Good Morning! I am up early thanks to a 6:00am online registration start for my daughter's year-round swim team. I think the organizers knew I'd get up and work after the five minute registration process. How kind of them to motivate me.

A slight rant: the internet is killing me. When Mom and I run into a word or punctuation question, we hit the internet. Can I just say there is rarely a definitive answer? If you search long enough, you can find support for any conclusion. This makes me crazy! I want someone to say yes or no to things like the serial comma (I like it, but will probably not use it in our manuscript because it looks messy). Oh, and which is it, internet or Internet? I'm ashamed to admit I own one dictionary, and it's not a good one. Maybe I should go back to the days of having a nice Webster's dictionary sitting on my bookshelf, often used and nicely worn.

Yesterday we were discussing a common Southern expression we wanted to use for our character. It's in dialogue, so we wanted it to look like he would say it. We know how it sounds, but weren't sure how to write it. We typed it into our search engine. Lo and behold there were two camps and both equally represented. Then, of course, we disagreed about which to use. So much time wasted. For those interested, the term was Fair to Midland or Fair to Middling. I'm interested, which would you use?

On to my check in... Visiting Mom this week has been an excellent motivator to work on the sequel to Depression Cookies. We have outlined plot and characters in addition to writing and editing. I've spent a minimum of an hour a day on this, but I have to admit I'm ready to get back to some serious writing. I like seeing the word count tallies growing. I know what we are doing is important, but I'm eager to post word totals. For one more week, I'm going to continue to work a minimum of an hour a day but am hoping to go back to my 750-a-day word challenge Sunday.

I am doing so much better about visiting blogs, but need to do a bit of catch up to meet my 15 blog visits goal. Will do that today. I easily visited and commented on ten other blogs. This goal will also remain in effect until Sunday.

I'm so excited about the YA book I'm editing. It's an excellent story and I give all the credit to the lovely writer, but I feel I'm making an impact. Editing is the sugar in my life. Writing provides me the nutrition and necessity, but there's nothing like a good edit to finish it off.

Glory be, I finally finished my book and will review it today. The next book is calling to me, and I have until Friday to finish and review it to achieve my goal. Stay tuned...

I'd love some help with my earlier rant. In addition to the question posed above, I'd love to know what guidebook or source you use most often to answer grammar questions? How about word usage?

August 9, 2011

Tub-Full Tuesdays: Letting Go

We love Tub-full Tuesdays. Today, Mom stops by to share a story about what fills her tub. Enjoy!
Tia and I often talk about the beauty and medicinal effects of laughter. Even in stressful, tension filled situations, sometimes laughter is what breaks the threads, allowing them to come unraveled so we can see the injustice and nonsense of the ordeal.
When my girls were teens, we had what I called standoffs. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? Well, here’s one scenario:
Mother to daughter, “I found your report card in the wash.”
Daughter to mother, “So?”
Mother to daughter, “Don’t give me that attitude, young lady!”
No response.
Mother to daughter, “Are you listening to me?”
No response.
Mother to daughter, “You have five seconds to explain yourself. The timer starts now!”
No response. Eyes lock. The stand-off begins.
Am I the only one this has happened to? Well, it happened to me too many times, but on one occasion a huge lesson was learned–one I’ll never forget and hope my daughter hasn’t either. It’s the beauty of laughter at its height.
Same scenario…
No response. Eyes lock. The standoff begins.
Tension shifts to body parts, eyes shift right and left, arms held at waist level soften downward, and the tapping foot slows to a halt.
Uncomfortableness shifts in . . .
Then you get an itch in your nose, you refuse to obey it, knowing if you do you’ll lose the lockdown . . .
At the same time, you notice the twitch in your daughter’s eye. You hope it’s something behind her contact and you hope the pain is unbearable, at least for the moment. You sigh in triumph, thinking fate is on your side.
Within seconds, it’s all you can do not to twitch . . . you suck in air and hold it, hoping it will abate the instinct.
You concentrate, studying the lone tear bubbling at the corner of her eye and watch in glee as she finally squints to release it. Yes, you’re winning. She doesn’t have what it takes!
More tears follow, but it’s getting harder for you to concentrate on them. The twitch is gaining control. You are turning blue, your mouth pinches so tight it draws down to your chin. You can no longer contain it . . .
With tears streaming and one eye batting furiously,
Toes digging deeper into the carpet, snorts resounding more intently,
Both, simultaneously reach, eyes still intent, toward a swelling eye and an extended nostril.
Then it happens, the laughter erupting in a concert of heaves and ho’s. One swiping tears, the other vigorously scratching her nose as they tumble to the floor, laughing more.
Later, after the evening meal, the daughter stops by her mother’s bedroom, leans against the doorframe and announces, “Guess I was wrong about the report card.” She shifts her weight and begins again, “My grades weren’t what I expected. I was disappointed. It wasn’t about deceiving you or Daddy. It was about me being mad at me.”
“Thank you for sharing with me,” the mother adds, proud of the young woman standing in front of her.
She turned to leave and halted, facing her mom once more. “That was the best ever!”
“You and me, laughing.”
Today when I look at her, I remember, and for a moment my nose twitches, not from anger but wanting to laugh all over again!


Please share a time when sadness or anger turned to humor, and how it's good for the soul.

August 8, 2011

Imagination Station

Mom and I are taking the girls to a children's science museum nearby today, Imagination Station. According to the brochure, there are several interactive and educational displays to teach the kids about the world around them. It got me thinking... what would an imagination station for adults be like?
Tree or Face?

I'm sure your mind is racing with possibilities, but I specifically imagined a place for writers. Room after room of inspiration. Have you ever had a picture in your head you wanted to capture with words? There would be a room where you typed in your thoughts and a screen would display the scene. Not quite what you imagined, tweak a word here and there and hit enter again. Once the scene is exactly what you wanted, print your words and move along.

Of course there would be a female and male character building room. Different pieces of body parts and various facial features could be assembled to create characters. Once complete, you could print a picture to represent the character in your mind. I might be longer in the male room, creating obscenely perfect hunks. I don't write romance. It's just for experiment sake. I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to create the perfect male specimen in case I need him in a story someday.

A whole room would be dedicated to the senses. Things you could feel, smell, see, and manipulate. No matter how great the story in my head, it's trapped there if I can't present it to readers in such detail they can see it themselves.

Near the end, when my mojo was sparked and flowing, a room called Plot Place. Did you ever read the Follow Your Own Adventure books as a kid? You'd get to the end of the page and pick an option, this would send you to another page and so on. You were in control. Whenever my decision messed up the story, I'd go back a few pages and try again. This is what Plot Place would be but for my story. Set the story in motion and see what choices do to it.

What would your Imagination Station have in it?

August 7, 2011

ROW 80 Check In: Coconut Custard and French Silk, Why Choose?

"Mom, I want something sweet." I said, sitting at the kitchen bar.

"What do you want? How about a pie?" she asked. Now you know one of the reasons, and there are many, I love my mom so much.

She mentioned several. I couldn't decide. She made two, so I ended up with a piece of homemade French Silk and Coconut custard within 45 minutes. I kid you not. It's summer, I wasn't choosing between these two flavors. Ah, the joys of being at Mama's.

Stuffed and happy, it suddenly dawned on me it was Sunday. ROW 80 check in time. The beauty of summer is the melting of days into each other until there's no distinction.

But I'm so excited about my progress, I must share. Although I didn't add much to my word count, Mom and I fleshed out some characters and planned plot. We even edited to where we are. I will announce the new word count on Wednesday. I easily worked an hour a day on the manuscript, so I'll keep the time goal for the coming week. And I edited my 5 pages per day.

I also met my goals of visiting 15 ROW 80 blogs and 10 others. I will continue this goal this week. I really enjoy reading all the wonderful posts, so it's not a chore (just time consuming).

I blogged every day but one. On Friday, I was traveling and just couldn't. I plan to post every day this week.

My biggest disappointment: I didn't finish reading my book! I want to, but I've lost momentum with it. Not sure what that says about the book yet. I blame my crazy schedule, for now. I will have this book plus one more read by Wednesday and two reviews done and posted by Friday. Crazy schedule be damned!

In life, it's all about choices. Today, I chose both the coconut and chocolate pies. Sometimes choosing is not all it's cracked up to be. If only I could work on my WIP and read at the same time.

How did your choices pan out this week?

August 6, 2011

Reflections on a Missed Day and Alfred Lord Tennyson

As I reflect on a missed blog post day
I come upon the fact that it's Tennyson's birthday
I don't usually start with rhyme
Not because I don't have the time
But as you quickly have figured out
Poetry is a subject in which I have no clout


I appreciate poetry, but really am not good at it. So on with my post...

I missed posting yesterday. Did the world stop spinning? No. My day started with a six-hour car drive to North Carolina. Every year since my kids were born, I spend two weeks with my parents in the summer. One week at their home and one week in the Outer Banks. I love this time. But after a long car drive and a belated birthday celebration (yeah!), the blog sat empty.

I was surprised how many times yesterday I thought of the blog and wondered if I should just throw something up, a quote or a quick apology for a day off. I again thank Michelle Rafter's Blogathon for lighting the blog fire.

This blog is a little piece of me
Made available for the world to see.

Sorry. Don't know why the rhyming bug has bitten today. I promise to leave the poetry to Mom in the future.

Now to Alfred Lord Tennyson. He was born on August 6, 1809 and was Poet Laureate of the UK during much of Queen Victoria's reign. As much as I'd like to report my lifelong love of Tennyson, I can't. But I do appreciate some of his most famous lines.

1869 Carbon print from Wikipedia
"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

"Knowledge comes but wisdom lingers."

"Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die."

"I am a part of all that I have met."

"Men at most differ as Heaven and Earth, but women, worst and best, as Heaven and Hell."

"Sin is too stupid to see beyond itself."

Any one of these quotes could be the jumping off point for a story. But the one that most inspired me... thinking I'm part of all that I have met. I may say it over and over in front of the mirror. We all touch people whether we know it or not. I post from desire with the hope it touches someone out there from time to time.

Which one of these quotes speaks to you, and why?

August 4, 2011

You Say It's Your Birthday, It's My Birthday Too

I love birthdays. In my house, it's a birthday week not just a single day. A friend of mine recently told me a little kid came up and said it was his "birthday season"... he's my kind of fellow.

This year my husband is traveling, one of my girls is visiting my mother, and I have a doctor's appointment. So I made a very important decision, I've put off my birthday week until we are all home together. Granted I'll still turn a year older today, but my main celebration will wait.

My idea of the perfect birthday week:

From last year's birthday celebration
 * No cooking but plenty of baking (did I mention calories don't count during the birthday week?). I'd like one of those Jetsons computers where you punch in the dinner you want. Then the mess would magically disappear.

* Three daughters who exude love and affection for each other. In other words, no bickering and a house filled with random acts of kindness.

* At least one date night with my husband. I'd love dinner out, a nice dessert, and a great movie. Specifically, I'd be rather happy to see Crazy, Stupid, Love.

* Fast fingers to type all the words that will magically flow.

* Blog posts that are insightful, funny, engaging, and magically appear.

* Time to read. This includes books, blogs, tweets, magazines, etc.

* Oh, and Time, I'd like the skin, hair, body, stamina, and metabolism I had twenty years ago. If that's too greedy, I'll take what I had ten years ago.

* An abundance of wit and humor.

* Depression Cookies sales through the roof, best-seller has a nice ring to it.

These wishes are just for my birthday week. The wish-granting birthday genie doesn't tackle the big stuff like world peace, curing disease, or solving the debt problem. I asked. Feel free to help my cause by forwarding this post to my husband.

A special thank you to my mom who should be celebrating today as well. Without her, there would be no birth day to celebrate.

What would your birthday week include?

August 3, 2011

ROW 80 Check In: A Means to an End

Mom and I wrote our first novel, Depression Cookies, over ten years; not ten years of writing, but ten years from idea to reality. A Round of Words in 80 Days is the first time I've ever written 11,000 words in a month (outside a few crazy semesters in college, and love letters don't count, right?). Keeping the big picture in mind, I'm thrilled with my progress so far.

I am learning so much from my fellow participants about writing and setting goals. Visiting and commenting on these blogs will be a focus for the remainder of this week. I fell so far behind on my blog visiting these past few days, but this week I will show some love.

My goal the rest of the week: visit and comment on at least 15 ROW 80 blogs plus 10 other influential blogs.

This week was crazy, but aren't they all? Monday we found out Depression Cookies was a finalist in two categories of the 2011 Readers Favorite Book Awards, and I survived my first ever live radio interview. Yeah!

I added 658 words total since my last check in, but I worked for hours on my manuscript. I wrote a pivotal scene and spruced up several more. New total: 11,721. Extra credit this week: I wrote 1,022 words for my highlighted author interview which will appear on Monday, August 15. More details soon.

My goal the rest of the week: spend an hour a day minimum working on the sequel, whether it's outlining, character charts, editing, etc versus focusing so much on my word count tally.

I edited 10 pages total these last few days, but my goal this week is to do 5 pages a day. Finally, I will finish two books by Sunday. Wish me luck!

For inspiration:

“Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it’s who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that you give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment.” Anthony Robbins

If you make goals, do you feel compelled to meet them or do they only serve to clarify what you really need?

August 2, 2011

Tub-Full Tuesdays: Appreciation

We all need a little love every now and then. Nothing fills my tub more than my husband saying my hair looks nice or my kids telling me dinner is yummy. A compliment is the gift that keeps on giving.

It's gratifying every time we sell a book, but Mom and I feel a special sense of appreciation when a reader loves it. Thanks to everyone who has already contacted us. If you loved the book and haven't already let us know, please take a minute and post on our Facebook page. It will make our day.

We both felt especially appreciated yesterday when Depression Cookies was named a Finalist in the Chick Lit category of the 2011 Reader's Favorite Awards contest. Winners will be announced on September 1. Wish us luck!

What makes you feel special and appreciated?

August 1, 2011

Featured on Today's The Mom Advocate Radio Show

Tune in to the The Mom Advocate Radio Show today to hear my interview: Host AnnMarie features all things mom on her Denver-based radio show.

This is my first live interview of any kind, so I have to say I'm nervous. I've listened to several of AnnMarie's previous interviews on her website. She is interesting and engaging, and I am confident she will lead me through a worthwhile piece. I will also be featured on her Real Mom TV Network on September 29th. 

A blurb from her website: " is the hub of all things MOM….whether you are concerned about your child’s eating habits, social interactions, physical fitness or your own concerns about staying connected to friends, keeping your body and mind healthy, or in need of a new wardrobe and fashion/styling advice, The Real Mom TV Network is the place to go; the mom destination where sharing stories and asking questions gives each and every mother a sense of community; where judgment and criticism is not okay but where real moms connect with other real moms who voice their opinions and receive invaluable information on all areas of motherhood and raising a healthy, happy family."

Tune in today and let me know what you think.