October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Goo and Editing: Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Last night, my neighborhood had a Halloween parade and get-together. After, it was pumpkin carving time. Dad did most of the carving, but the girls cleaned out the pumpkins. Grimaces and shrieks followed, with icky pumpkin goo clinging to their fingers.

With trepidation, each girl plunged a hand into a pumpkin. The more innards they pulled out, the less they cared about any grossness. They were having fun.

The finished products:

You know you love writing when everything relates back to it. All I kept thinking as I saw them pull out stringy, orange goo... editing. The joy on their faces when all the editing gross stuff was done... priceless. In the end, the finished work was all the mattered.

I enjoy editing, but it's a lengthy, arduous process. Still, without it, a good book isn't possible. Mom and I spent over a year editing Depression Cookies, pulling out handfuls of goo. In the end, we proudly hold up our book and smile.

One more picture. My girls as Athena (goddess of wisdom and war), a vampire princess, and a dark angel:

What's your favorite part of Halloween?

October 30, 2011

The Results Are In: ROW 80 Check In

I posted my first poll this past Friday. I asked people to tell me what they wanted from author blogs, and the choices were: giveaways, excerpts/sample chapters, writing challenges and rewards, information on the author's future books, and intimate reflections from the author.

I had almost 20 responders (including my Facebook numbers). The results:

Note: Giveaways were 0%, so not included on the graph
I found the 0% for giveaways particularly surprising. As a reader, I love giveaways. I read so much, and buying book after book gets expensive. Intimate reflections from the author won by a landslide (84.6%). This made me happy, because that's the focus of our blog.

I should have been clearer about "writing challenges and rewards." I meant the challenges writers face and the rewards of a completed project. I'm wondering now if people thought I meant challenges and rewards for writers. I've loved the writing challenges posed by Rachael Harrie's Platform-Building Campaign, so I can see how people might have read it that way. Just goes to prove... poll results are only as good as the question and answers.

What's your theory as to why giveaways scored 0%? I'm scratching my head over it!


My A Round of Words in 80 Days update:

First of all, is it check in day again really? Why does time always seem to speed up as the year-end approaches?

Writing with my mom does not lend itself to NaNoWriMo, so I'm sitting out this round. I'm so excited for those who are participating.

In that spirit, my new writing goal will be 750 words a day (I may raise this depending on how I'm doing) on one of my works in progress. Plus, I plan to be a NaNo cheerleader. Wishing all of you luck.

Depression Cookies & Mom in Love with Fiction blogs
Both progressing smoothly. I celebrated 200 posts this week on the DC blog. *woot*

I'm adding a new goal here as well... exercise. I've seen so many people incorporating this into their goals. I like accountability, so here goes... a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times per week.

Now, I'm off to check on my fellow ROW80ers. You can check out some great writers here.

October 29, 2011

Rerun Saturday: Books I Quit and Why

I enjoyed a wonderful day with my family. My initial thought was to leave the blog blank today. But a thought came to me... why not use Saturdays to rerun old posts? The thought: rerun favorites or simply ones people seemed to miss the first time around.

Today I'm rerunning Books I Quit and Why, originally posted July 18, 2011.


I love to read, and I pride myself on finding redeeming value in most books. After all, it does take courage to put your work out there. Recently I ran across an article by Steve Leveen, Giving Up on Books. In it he quotes information regarding the average number of pages before a professional reader gives up on a book:

"To help them know when to give up, many professional readers apply the 50-page rule. If the book hasn’t grabbed them by then, they give it the heave-ho. Nancy Pearl, the librarian and author of Book Lust, reports that some people take this rule further and subtract a page for every year of age over 50. This way a 75-year old would give a book only 25 pages to prove itself. As readers mature they become quicker and surer judges of what they like."
Wow. I guess 50 pages isn't as bad as the 5 pages most agents ask to see. I can't decide on what to eat in five minutes, much less decide on a book in 5 pages. It seems a ridiculous standard. I judge a book by the last 50 pages much more than I do the first. But I've also been known to skip to the last chapter if a book is slow. If the last chapter grabs me, I'll go back and read the whole thing (but I admit to skimming here and there).
When I came across my first book in school that I hated but had to finish, my dad gave advice I use to this day: read the first and last sentence of every paragraph and all dialogue. I would never do this with a great book, but it's gotten me through some less than stellar ones.
In my life, I have put down three books. I was not compelled to go further. Only three times.
The Three:
1. A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle: Halfway through felt like an eternity. This book managed to bore me to tears with food and scenery. Not an easy task. I didn't give up on Eat, Love, Pray even when I swore I couldn't handle one more page. The food and scenery saved that book.
2. Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas: To be fair, I think this book suffered from all the ones I could not put down during my academic years. I didn't get past page 25. I was expecting an action book, and those I don't wait around for as easily. If action can't grab me, what can? I must admit I have considered trying this one again. It's a classic.
3. Wicked, Gregory Maguire: I get a lot of heat on this one. Let me start by saying I enjoyed Maguire's Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. I wanted to like Wicked, and I love the play. But the book failed to make me care about Elphaba and completely tarnished Glinda. When it entered the absurd (some might say fantasy-land), I was done.
I wish I knew the exact ingredients for a great read. I've described my Five Elements of a Good Read, but it's so subjective. Even my moods can affect how I connect with a book. And notice I said a great read, not a bestseller. Publishing companies predetermine most bestsellers. A bestseller does not in and of itself equate to a great read.
For the flip side, Mom and I listed our favorite reads in the last ten years in an earlier post. Be sure to check it out.
Have you ever quit a book? Why?


Addendum: I think my opinion of a book is all about mindset. I originally read Diana Gabaldon's Outlander after the birth of my third child. I got through it, thought it was okay, and moved on. A few years later, everyone seemed to be talking about it. I picked up book two and devoured it and then book three and four (I stalled again at that point).

One of these days, I'm going to attempt to reread all three of the books above. Who knows? I may find something I missed the first time around.

October 28, 2011

My First Poll: Help with this Blog's Focus

I learn from gathering information. I've never been shy about asking for directions or clarification. I remember a high school teacher who had this quote clipped to her bulletin board:

"There is no stupid question! Except, possibly, a question not asked." Christer Romson

This teacher didn't know the monster she created. I'm a curious person by nature, especially what people are thinking and what drives them to do things. I make my husband crazy with this need-to-know mentality. He's the opposite: the less he knows, the better. Not about all things. He gathers plenty of information at work. But figuring out why our daughter refuses to clean her room, not intrigued at all.

Motivated by curiosity and the desire to focus this blog's purpose, I created my very first poll using Vizu. I'm a bit computer-challenged, so it took me much longer to create than it should, but it's here and I did it.

Looking forward to hearing what people have to say. Please add additional comments or ideas below. Have a wonderful weekend!

October 27, 2011

Where I'm From, Part One: Angela Beach Silverthorne (aka Mom)

If you haven’t visited our Websites We Love, listed on the left side bar, please do. There’s something for everyone!

One of them, Teaching What is Good, I discovered during May’s Blogathon. I love the blog and the lady behind it. Kate never ceases to amaze me with her dedication, spirit, and love for God and her family.
This summer, Kate featured a lovely post, My I AM FROM Poem. I knew I wanted Mom and I to craft our own version of the poem, but the idea got shuffled around and under stacks of paper until today.

Mom’s going first. Please check back next Thursday for mine, although please keep in mind Mom’s the poet.
Where I'm From

I am from Georgia and North Carolina from Arcadian, French and English descent.
I am from many homes of many different colors each offering their own special flair and uniqueness—hiding places under the stairway, deep pantries spiced with aromas of canned goods, and hanging garlic and yards with delightful tree swings.

I am from the tap root of a Georgia pine, growing deep into the soil, stretching downward, always searching for the key ingredients of a good life.
I am from the era of Rock-n-Roll, drive-in movies, racial unrest, Vietnam, Barbie dolls, bouffant hairdos, and Woodstock from Elvis to Chubby Checker and doing the Watusi to the Monkey.

Antho Greer LeMaire
I am from solid stock and conservative ideology and from women who stood against the wind, going from cotton mill workers to entrepreneurs.
I am from a womb that chose realism over religion, but my faith was gifted and retained.
I am from the family of Maezelle LeMaire Beach and Antho Greer LeMaire, from Curried Shrimp to Depression Cookies, from women who chose strength and versatility before housework and sewing. I’m also from dark edges that crept into the family structure, bending it to a slight off-cue without breaking its structure.

I am from those moments when life turned on itself, but strength of character persevered; character handed down from strong women who held up half the sky half of the time and the whole heavens the rest.  

Where are you from?

October 26, 2011

Focusing Creative Juices: ROW 80 Check In

I've been in a creative groove this week. We hit our 200th post! Since we've only been blogging actively since May, I'm thrilled with our progress. I posted a flash fiction piece, Drifting Away, on Monday as part of Rachael Harrie's Platform Building Campaign. It was our third and last writing challenge. Yesterday, I found out this piece moved on to the next round of judging. Woo hoo!

So this should be a great check in, right? Well... I'm thrilled with how my creative juices are flowing, but I need to learn to direct them to my works in progress and not get so caught up in other endeavors. I like to finish things, and this makes short projects alluring... a check off my list. But I hear my novel characters yelling for me, and I need to listen to them and focus.

Lately, I feel like a kid in a candy store. Writing is my passion, but the last year I've really made it a priority for the first time. Thanks to the wonderful writing community, there are so many enticing learning experiences and chances to participate. I'm happy, but sometimes I don't know which way to turn.

How do you reign in your creativity and focus?

A quick A Round of Words in 80 Days update:

* I'm blogging and loving it. I do worry two blogs are a creative distraction from my novel. After October's Ultimate Blog Challenge commitment, I think I'll go back to four times a week posting on my main blog and two to three times a week on my book blog.

* I read some advice on organizing novel thoughts... use note cards to jot down scenes, pieces of dialogue, character traits, and other story elements. Then read through them as needed for inspiration. I'm going to start a note card file for each of my two works in progress. I'll carry them in my purse and add thoughts when I'm waiting on kids, etc. I don't always have blocks of time to write, and this will keep ideas circulating.

* I've been reading more, and love it. Reading inspires me to be a better writer.

Hope my ROW80 buds are doing well and finding their focus better than I have this past week.

October 25, 2011

Filling Your Emotional Bucket: Tub-Full Tuesday

I'd be lost without the community of mothers who share all they know about parenting, and just as importantly admit to what they don't know so I feel better. Today, a fellow author and fellow mother, Melissa Foster, shared an article on Calming Your Chaos, featured in Calgary's Child Magazine. Lord knows we moms know a thing or two about chaos.

Melissa begins the article stating, "We start our days with one virtual bucket filled with emotional energy. Once we’ve expended that energy, we have nothing left to give." Sound familiar? She then offers three tips to refill your emotional bucket. Most importantly, she suggests making time for yourself and appreciating the time you manage to find. For more wonderful tips, please link to the article above.

In addition to raising six kids, Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of Megan's Way, Chasing Amanda, and Come Back to Me. She is also the founder of The Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and WoMen's Literary Cafe. She is always giving back, sharing what she knows, whether it's to women, writers, mothers, or all three.

Both Megan's Way and Chasing Amanda are on my Kindle, and I can't wait to read them! I recently finished reading an advanced copy of Melissa's new book, Come Back to Me. Tomorrow, I will post my review on GoodReads. For those, like me, who need to know now... lean in, I'll give you a quick overview... it's wonderful and I highly recommend it!

Thanks to Melissa, and all the other wonderful people who make it a mission to fill people's tubs (or buckets as Melissa would say).

How do you refill your emotional bucket?

For more on Melissa Foster and her wonderful books and upcoming Come Back to Me Launch Party, please visit her website.

October 24, 2011

What Makes a Blog Attractive? Part Three on How to Set Up a Blog

Welcome to Part Three in our series on How to Set Up a Blog written by Dana Newbrough, our Web/Blogmaster (and my sister). We hope you've enjoyed this series. If you missed Part One or Part Two, please check them out.


What makes a blog attractive?

It is not specific. Everyone has their own viewpoints on what is or is not attractive, but trust me–put some work into your blog or website! The saying “you cannot judge a book by its cover” is idealistic, but unrealistic. People all the time pick up books based on their cover, a dress based on how it looks on the rack, and will make assessments of people based on how they present themselves. So, assume they will do the same for your site. 

Make it pretty, make it dark, make it modern or artistic… but whatever it is, it should clearly represent what you are talking about, what you are selling, or your viewpoint on a particular issue. 

A generic default template may be easy and your information/product may be great, but we live in a very visual fast paced society. You might think your “product” is truly special, but there are a lot of blogs/websites out there. Make your blog or website visually stimulating and informative.
According to the PC Informant and The Royal Pingdom there were 255 million websites posted as of December 2010, that is a lot of competition! You want to grab your viewers quick and keep them before they move on!
If you make these goals for your website, then you will have a website/blog that people will check regularly, bookmark, and share with friends.  Remember, have fun and never lose sight of yourself and your product. Your authenticity will shine and your readers will appreciate it and come back again and again.


Thanks, Dana!

We'd love to know... what turns you off a blog, especially visually?

Drifting Away: Third Campaigner Challenge

Rachael Harrie’s Third Campaigner Challenge as part of the Author Platform Building Campaign:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:
·         that it’s morning,
·         that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
·         that the MC (main character) is bored
·         that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
·         that something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).
Drifting Away
The sun began to creep from its hiding place, warming the sand beneath her toes. She spread her fingers through the grains, moving past her bare legs to begin shifting sand over one foot and then another. Creamy vanilla and caramel colors swirled with the teals, greens, and blues of the waves moving just ahead of her.
Such synbatec beauty couldn’t stop the yawn from escaping her dry lips. Full shopping bags awaited her in the room, the credit card he gave her maxed out. She reached for her water, the cool liquid easing down her throat. A deep sigh followed.
Paul motioned for the waiter just before the cell phone went off again. “It’s Miss Raphine. I have to take this,” he whispered and walked away.
Why had she come? He said they’d get away, focus on each other. With each tacise lie, pieces of the relationship broke away.
She closed her eyes and melted into the cocoon of the expensive towel. A wave of nausea rose as the scent of bacon and wastopaneer drifted toward her. He knew she hated both, they argued about it last week before boarding the airplane.
Her head fell to the side, her eyes drifting open. She saw children she’d never have running down the beach, a man and woman trying to keep up. An old couple sat in chairs under an umbrella watching the fun.
The shutdown began, like the spin cycle of a washing machine… slowing, slowing. The orange bottle was empty beside her. The small pills once inside it were working their magic, easing her load. Her breathing began to slow, and peace came.
I found this challenge extremely difficult, but a wonderful exercise to practice show-don’t-tell. If you enjoyed my piece, please stop by Rach Writes… and vote for me, #118. Please take a few minutes to read some of the other wonderful pieces and vote for your favorites.

October 23, 2011

Footloose, A Lesson in Voice: ROW 80 Check In

I've been looking forward to the Footloose remake ever since it was announced, back when Zac Effron from High School Musical was attached to the project. Footloose was one of my favorite movies as a teenager. So much so, it's featured as one of Krista's favorite movies in Depression Cookies.

As I sat there with my middle school daughter, memories swirled and I missed my youth. Okay, I felt old. Plus, it was surreal to be watching the same movie I saw as a teenager with my preteen. Did I say I felt old?

In a post earlier this week, I asked readers to help me with voice. Specifically, "Do you think your voice has changed much since your teenage/young adult years? How so?" Most commenters agreed the voice doesn't drastically change, but the focus does.

I remember Footloose being a fun, teenagers-teach-adults-something movie full of dancing and great music. The remake struck me differently. I'm a mom now, and I found myself focusing more on the parents and their grief, the unbearable loss of their own child, than the kids and their dancing. Again, surreal. I still enjoyed the dancing and music, although I think the original had better music, but I got teary-eyed several times. Never felt like crying watching Kevin Bacon strut his stuff in the original.

So there you go, embracing life taught me something about writing. The priceless extra... I spent a fun afternoon with my preteen daughter.

Quick update on my A Round of Words in 80 Days progress:

Results: I'm working on it, and Mom just sent me another chapter to respond to, so I'm hoping for an excellent writing week.
Reaction: This week has been more research than novel writing, but I've written a new book review and blog posts, so all is not lost on the writing front. Still exercising those writing muscles.

Depression Cookies blog
Results: Posted daily and twice one day.
Reaction: Feeling good. I'm really proud of how far this blog has come in the six months I've really been focusing on it.

Mom in Love with Fiction blog
Results: Posted three times this week.
Reaction: Best week ever for this blog! More exciting reviews and book musings to come.

Results: A few pages into Becoming a Writer. I'm enjoying getting around to ROW80 blogs, but would love to visit more. So exciting to see how many people are participating and checking in!
Reaction: Need to focus on the craft book, and would love to read and comment on 20 blogs between now and Wednesday. Wish me luck.

Hope all my fellow ROW80 participants are having a stellar writing week!

For a bit of fun: What favorite movie from your teen years would you like to see remade?

October 22, 2011

Bagpipes at a Funeral: Men and Directions

Mom's back, and interesting and humorous as ever. Enjoy her post!

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.                                                                   Francis Bacon

Bagpipes at a Funeral (author unknown)
As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be a pauper’s cemetery in the Kentucky back county.

As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch.

I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down. The vault was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play.
The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played my heart and soul out for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man.
And as I played Amazing Grace, the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished, I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. My head hung low, my heart was full as I walked away.

Opening the door to my car, I overheard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothin’ like that before, and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for 20 years.”

Apparently I’m still lost… it’s a man thing!

After I read this and laughed my head off, I thought of all the times my husband and I were on trips, got lost and drove in circles because he refused to ask for directions. At this point, I knew I had two options: I could keep my mouth shut and let him figure it out or speak up and see his ire flame.  Either way, I would probably lose, but maybe if he had had a “bagpiper” experience, his future reactions might have been different. Probably not. In fact today he would probably say it never happened, but these events are indelibly imprinted on my mind.

Please tell me I’m not the only woman who seethes over this one.

October 21, 2011

The Meaning of Words: Friday Feature

Welcome to our Friday Feature: The Best Thing We Read this Week and Why. I'm a day behind (and a dollar short, but that's another story) on this one, but yesterday was the National Day on Writing. From the National Council of Teachers of English:

Why a National Day on Writing?In light of the significance of writing in our national life, to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and to help writers from all walks of life recognize how important writing is to their lives, NCTE established October 20 as The National Day on Writing. The National Day on Writing:
  • points to the importance of writing instruction and practice at every grade level, for every student and in every subject area from preschool through university (see The Genteel Unteaching of America’s Poor),
  • emphasizes the lifelong process of learning to write and composing for different audiences, purposes, and occasions, and
  • encourages Americans to write and enjoy and learn from the writing of others.
Prior to yesterday, I never heard of this day but am so glad teachers are still emphasising writing. There's so much we can learn from great writers, from people who take the time to process life and record those thoughts.

Plus, this past Sunday, October 16, was Dictionary Day in honor of Noah Webster's birth on this date in 1758. Where would writers be without dictionaries? My dad had a nifty trick for teaching us vocabulary when we were kids. When we asked him what a word meant, he sent us to the dictionary to look it up and suggested we also look at the word above and below it. I learned some amazing new words that way.

Online dictionaries just aren't the same, although I appreciate the speed at which my kids can look up a word. I guess I'm just a bound book kind of gal in all things. I'm slowly embracing books married to technology, but nostalgic about the way things once were.

What do you miss most about traditional books and dictionaries?

October 20, 2011

A Small Ripple in One Heck of an Ocean

In Depression Cookies, Krista is a teenager navigating the perils of teenage life and circumstances out of her control. I started writing this book as a new mom and found it difficult at times to make sure Krista's voice was free of mother thoughts.

An excerpt (during a particularly rough teenage moment):

"I was surviving, nothing more and nothing less. This in itself was a small victory. There were many times I felt like nothing special. Have you ever realized it was not the same old robin or mourning dove that caught your eye while you were staring out the window? Usually, it took the brilliance of a blue jay or the sound of a red-headed woodpecker to draw your attention. The other birds flew in and out of our lives with no effect, not even a conscious awareness of their existence. I was starting to view my life this way . . . a small ripple in one heck of an ocean. If nobody remembers you when you’re gone, did you ever really exist?"
Funny how I still struggle with these thoughts and how often I feel like I'm surviving day to day. I say to myself, "If I can get through Tuesday, I'll do something fun." But the commitments and responsibilities just keep on coming. The closer I get to my 40th birthday, 288 days (not that I'm counting), the more frantic I feel about defining myself and embracing life's moments. I thought I'd have it all figured out by now. I don't.

I worry sometimes about letting my more adult thoughts creep into Krista's voice. Mom and I are now writing the follow-up to Depression Cookies which has Krista heading off to college. Krista's voice needs to mature, but to what end? Other than language and a slightly increased ability to reason, and the second increases in very small increments with age, I've come to the realization that our fears and worries don't change a lot as we get older. Actually, the more knowledge and experience we gain, the scarier and more confusing things become.

Please tell me I'm not the only person who feels this way. Do you think your voice has changed much since your teenage/young adult years? How so?

Thanks in advance for comments. We'll call it research for the new novel, but I'm looking forward to the answers on a personal level, too. As hard as it is to question, I don't want to ever think I have all the answers.

October 19, 2011

Crazy is My New Normal: ROW 80 Check In

"I wish things would just get back to normal," I'll hear myself say to my husband as we pass each other and split up the kids to make all the events. I need to accept crazy as our new normal and be done with it. Even my writing comes in crazy spurts, rarely under my control.

I posted earlier today about my experience with a Web television interview, one of the highlights in a crazy couple of days. I'm so glad cameras don't follow me around on a regular basis. I don't know how reality stars handle it, even for fame. Fortune, maybe?
I'm taking a brief moment in the eye of the storm to post about my A Round of Words in 80 Days progress:

Results: Did I mention my new normal? I wrote, everything from blog posts to book reviews, but my WIP suffered. I'm having a hard time mentally jumping from the Depression Cookies follow-up to my YA novel.
Reaction: Ugh!

Any advice on switching between projects? I don't want my teenage character in my young adult novel to start sounding like the teenage character in my follow-up.

Depression Cookies blog
Results: Daily blogging.
Reaction: Cruising.

Mom in Love with Fiction blog
Results: Two posts already this week, planning one more.
Reaction: This blog is finally get the attention it deserves, and I'm enjoying it. Finished another Rebeccas Reads book, but decided to wait and start posting those once I can link directly to the review online (there's always a lag).

Results: I cracked open Becoming a Writer.
Reaction: But only cracked open. A few pages in, but it's a start.
Note: Really enjoying visiting and commenting on various ROW 80 updates. An amazing group this round!

Hope everyone is doing well and writing with ease.

Reality Television, Am I Sitting Too Close?

I admit to a fascination with some reality shows. I'm addicted to Food Network and thanks to my preteen daughter, shows like So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol. I'll occasionally turn into the train wrecks of more personal reality television shows like Keeping up with the Kardashians.

After wincing and squirming my way through personal revelations for the sake of entertainment, I usually turn it off. Same is true when I turn on Supernanny, but that's because I live moments of that show everyday. Too much reality!

Recently, I attended career day at my daughter's middle school and talked about writing and editing in today's marketplace. I discussed the difficulty of getting a traditional publishing contract, unless a famour person like Sookie. Well, I guess she's called Snookie. Who knew? I'd rather watch True Blood anyway, so you can understand my faux pas.

The thought of someone coming in and taping my day-to-day life is terrifying. We'd be a mix of Supernanny-style theatrics, Food network challenges (and not in a good way), and me sitting at a computer. Worse than that... seeing myself on camera constantly. I always feel so sorry for the famous people on the front of magazines with their faces blacked out and a title, "Who's This at the Beach." Poor things, even a mid-day pooch starts rumors of pregnancy. I'd be pregnant all the time!

Yesterday, I got a taste of reality television when the lovely Ann Marie featured me on her Mom Advocate Web TV show. Please click here or on the right sidebar to watch. She's lovely and so enthusiastic about moms and following your passions. But, I've never felt so awkward. Web cameras suck, to be frank. Do you sit back and seem small, or sit too close and come across as a huge head? Do you look at the person interviewing you or that small camera at the top of your computer? Calgon, take me away...

Note to others considering web television interviews: there is no amount of makeup to make you look like you are wearing makeup through a web camera. Just so you know. I went heavier than I feel comfortable with, and I look like a ghost. A big ghost face!

Still, I'm happy with what we talked about, and that's the point, right? Plus, now when people meet me in person (you know at all my swanky events!), I can hear the standard, "You look so much better in person." Who wouldn't!?! Actually, I'll be hurt if they don't tell me that.

Also, in case you missed Ann Marie interviewing me on her Mom Advocate radio show back in August, please click here to listen. Radio is so much kinder, my voice I can handle.

Thanks so much to the lovely, Ann Marie, for featuring me on her shows. I hope you take a minute to stop by and listen/watch.

What do you think of Reality television? What would your show be like?

October 18, 2011

A Family Steeped in Creative Arts: Tub-Full Tuesday

I am blessed to come from a family of storytellers, writers, and readers. My maternal grandmother lined an entire room with books. My mom told bedtime stories to us as children from her imagination. They both taught us the love of reading and writing. But creative energy comes from Dad's side, too. My dad's oldest nephew, Marty Silverthorne, is a multi-published poet.

When my husband and I got married, I asked Marty to read an original poem made for us. No pressure! I promise to share that piece at a later date. I've been married sixteen years and moved many times, so I have to dig out the dust-covered wedding memories box!

I asked Marty how he started writing poetry. His response, "I fell in love with the music of poetry. I have always loved music. When I discovered poetry, it was a music I could write. It was a way to let memories shine. I love the old stories and come from a long line of storytellers, good and bad."

I am so thankful for generations of creativity... it truly fills my tub. I'm sharing one of Marty's poems today. Enjoy!


He extends his arm, bent at the elbow,
fingers drawn, like he is reaching
for or giving away something.
He is speaking with his hands
like his father before him.

Everything I got, I got with these hands.
I quit the ninth grade and went

to work at Ed Moore’s Pure Oil.
He was a nasty bastard and I quit

working for him before I  killed him.
I drove my two-tone Ford home,
crying all the way to your mama
stretched out on the bed by the box fan
bloated with you, Boy.
She helped me bring myself together;
I went out and got a job before sunset.
That’s the longest I’ve ever been unemployed.
These hands have scraped to make a living;
all I’ve got I built with these hands.

Times ain’t always been this good but it
looks like they’re going backwards again.
With your mama’s help and the Lord above,
I’ll pull this plow as long as there’s land to bust.

His empty hands brim with sunshine,
outstretched arms appear weary now,
palms full of sunlight and waiting.

©2010 by Marty Silverthorne

Marty Silverthorne holds degrees from St. Andrews Presbyterian College and East Carolina University. He has published four chapbooks “Dry Skin Messiah,” “Pot Liquor Promises,” "No Welfare, No Pension Plan,” and “Rewinding at 40.”  Marty’s poetry has been published in many literary journals including Tar River Poetry, North Carolina Literary Review, St. Andrews Review, and Pembroke to name a few. Marty currently works as a Clinical Addiction Specialist in Greenville, North Carolina.


I, too, love music, and I love the idea of poetry as music. Is poetry music to you?

October 17, 2011

How to Make Your Blog a Success: Part Two

Welcome to part two of Dana Newbrough's three part series on creating a successful blog. Dana is my baby sister and Web/Blogmaster. Part One can be found here.


What do I mean by effective?  Well, that depends on your goals.  In my opinion to truly make your blog a “SUCCESS” you must do the following…

S :  Searches: Put your website in multiple search engines, forums, google reader, etc. People can get there without needing to type in your exact address (more on this to come).

U:  “Unknown” viewers: Get traffic from people outside your “circle” of family, friends and neighbors and out to anyone on the Web.

C:  Consistency: WRITE REGULARLY! You should post at least 2-3 times a week. If you are not actively posting, people will not actively view your site–it's that simple!

C:  Clear Communication:  If you want people to know where to order your book, how to contact you, etc. then you must make that information clear and easy to find. This also goes back to “searches” and putting your RSS feed everywhere! A neat website that is easy to maneuver is the most accessible to everyone.

E:  Enjoyable: Fun and interesting to read and interactive! This begins with the design of your blog/website all the way to the headlines of each post. Don’t bore your readers! Let your voice shine and give it a true personality!

S:  Synced in:  Hook up with Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and Follow by Email–as many ways as possible to share your posts/products quickly and to keep luring people back to the site!

S:  Social: Allow readers to chat, comment, and be involved.


Please check back next Monday, October 24 for Part Three: What Makes an Attractive Blog. Until then, we wish you Blog S.U.C.C.E.S.S.!

What points would you add for blog success?

October 16, 2011

Pace, Don't Race: ROW 80 Check In

Wow, Sunday already. Time for A Round of Words in 80 Days check in. ROW 80 is the writing challenge that acknowledges you have a life, and life gets in the way of writing from time to time.

My dear husband took my three girls on a Daddy-Daughter pumpkin picking, hayride evening on Saturday night. Do you know what I did? I positioned myself in front of the computer and didn't get up for four hours. I forgot to eat dinner, drink, feed the dog, anything but write. My eyes started blurring near the end. I only stopped when hubby called to say they were almost home. It was 8:00pm, dinner was cereal.

I'm a co-coach for a girls running program at our elementary school. The advice we constantly give the girls... Pace, don't Race! It's good advice for everyone, including writers. I tend to clutter my brain with to-do lists and hectic schedules and race around. I try to squeeze writing into my life in much the same way. I need to find a pace, instead of always bolting out of the gate and running out of steam.

This might be a good time to share a glimpse into my kitchen table/temporary work space:

I'm a bit embarrassed to share this proof of my insanity, but thought you might all appreciate a peek into the abyss.

Today, I'm focusing and rocking a happy dance. My picture was chosen as a finalist in the Rock the Row picture challenge. Please stop by Jenny Hansen's Cowbell blog to vote! Many thanks to Jenny and Nicole Basaraba for their work organizing the Rock the Row Twitter party. So much fun!

My picture:

I must thank my daughters. I rummaged through their dress-up stuff and borrowed my oldest daughter's guitar for the photo.

This week's progress:

Note: I realized this should be coming first since it's my priority. It only took two weeks for this realization to set in!
Results: Outlined first seven chapters of our Depression Cookies follow-up in detail and completed a chapter. Will email to Mom tomorrow. My goal is to write a chapter or two on my YA book while waiting for her response.
Reaction: Score! *insert jamming guitar solo here*

Depression Cookies blog
Results: Still blogging daily. Seeing increased traffic!
Reaction: More jamming guitar.

Mom in Love with Fiction blog
Results: Posted twice. Finished Valhalla review and will publish Tuesday.
Reaction: Still jamming.

Results: Finished Valhalla and almost done with my Rebeccas Reads book, Parallel Lives. Reviews coming soon. Still haven't started a book on the writing craft, but daughters and I sat down and did some journal writing together. Priceless.
Reaction: Music fading, but still rocking.

I hope my ROW 80 friends had a stellar week. Same hopes for my non-writing friends and whatever goals they may have to finish out 2011.

Please check out these amazing ROW 80 writers:

October 15, 2011

We Can Learn a Lot from Crayons

A dear friend from my college days (and we were pregnant twice together. Our first children are one week apart and our second children are two months apart!) sent this to me. It's great. Thanks, Beth!



A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience; with a raised glass of water, and everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?' She fooled them all, "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile.

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

She continued, "And that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden—holding stress longer and better each time practiced.

So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night, pick them up tomorrow.

Whatever burdens you're carrying now, put them down for a moment. Relax, pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy it and the now 'supposed' stress that you've conquered!"

1. Accept the fact that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue!
2. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
3. Always read stuff that makes you feel good..
4. Drive carefully... It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker..
5. If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague
6. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it..
7. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
8. Never buy a car you can't push.
9. Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
10. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance..
11. Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late..
12. The second mouse gets the cheese.
13. When everything's coming your way,  you're in the wrong lane.
14. Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
15. You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
16. Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.
17. We could learn a lot from crayons.

Some are sharp, some are pretty and
some are dull. Some have weird
names and all are different colors,
but they all have to live in the same box.
18. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.


Stress advice? Witty or helpful, either will make my day. Happy Saturday!