November 30, 2011

Reflections on Daily Blogging: Last Day of November's NaBloPoMo & ROW80 Check In

I have a confession to make. I joined BlogHer's National Blog Posting Month to ease my guilt about shying away from National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) this year. Blogging daily seemed the least I could do to stand united with my fellow writers busting out 50,000 words in November. Even combining my total wordcount from blogging and works in progress, I didn't touch 50,000. My hats off to all NaNo winners. Actually everyone who participated and gave it their all is a winner!

Guilt may have started my NaBloPoMo journey, but I ended up really enjoying it. I didn't always use the prompts, but they were a nice crutch on days I was feeling less than creative. With today's post, I managed 34 posts in November. Please ignore me for a moment as I dance around my desk.

I'm back, and a bit winded from my dancing display. As I was saying... the prompts allowed me to bring a new flavor to this blog, answer more personal questions and show my readers a different side of me. The pièce de résistance, my 6 Ways to Best Use Time post was named the featured NaBloPoMo post on Monday, November 28. Please excuse one more round of dancing.

I'm a firm believer that writing begets writing. The more you write, the better you write. Writing is a muscle, it needs to be exercised and fed creative juices. If you wait for the muse, she may leave you hanging. There are days I write 1000 words and ax 800 of them, but it stimulates creativity which is never a bad thing. I've written whole posts only to keep a sentence or two. Sometimes, I'll write a post and feel insecure about it and let it sit. The post I mentioned above sat for almost a month before I used it. Sometimes a post will generate three posts. It's a crap shoot, but you'll never know what might happen unless you play.

NaBloPoMo 2011All this being said, I ponied up and signed up to do December's NaBloPoMo. My plan, swing for the fence. I entered 2011 and the blogging world with a whisper, I'm going out with a bang. From Thanksgiving to Christmas is such a blur, I figured if I could blog daily in December, I could do it anytime. Wish me luck!

Now to my A Round of Words in 80 Days update:

First of all, a huge congrats to my ROW80 NaNo buddies. You guys have rocked it and inspired me to do my first NaNo in 2012. Knowing I'll have the support of my writing community and ROW80 team is exactly what I need to try my hand at such a challenge.

Quick question: Is the Camp NaNoWriMo the same challenge just in the summer?

Writing: The reason I like to write something daily on my manuscript... it keeps the juices flowing. Taking off for Thanksgiving, and not writing a single word from Thursday through Sunday last week, did nothing for my rhythm. I only wrote 500 words since Sunday on my young adult novel. 500 words. Sad.

Will the #ROW80 wordsprints continue after NaNo? They were such a good force-my-butt-in-the-chair-and-write motivator.

Blogging: Thanks to NaBloPoMo, I blogged daily here with no problem. Mom in Love with Fiction even saw posts the last two days. At least it's some writing.

Miscellaneous: I've been a bad, bad social media girl lately. I hope you all know I'm rooting for you even when I don't comment. I need to catch up on a lot of blog reading. I read and reviewed two books in the last two weeks and am finally making some headway on Stephen King's On Writing. I've never read King before, but this book has convinced me to change that. I love his ballsy, no bs writing style and the raw way he presents his thoughts, at least in this format.

Exercise: So far, so good. I am getting in 45 minute workouts at least 4 to 5 times a week and still avoiding sugar. I've actually lost 8 pounds in just over three weeks. *woot*

Raising my water, wishing it was wine, to all the NaNo participants. *clink*

November 29, 2011

Once Upon a Time

There are two before bed moments in my house. Before the kids go to bed and before I go to bed. Both are mad dashes. Back in the day, before children, I would take a relaxing bath, read a book, watch a television show with hubby. Bedtime was exciting... minds out of the gutter people, this is a family program.

Lately, I fall into bed exhausted. It's become a necessary part of my day, but not one I look forward to. Same goes for showering. I'm not sure when taking a shower became a chore, but it has.

When my kids finally give into sleep, I run around like a madwoman, trying to accomplish all the tasks that eluded me the rest of the day. Sometimes it's writing, sometimes it's housework... but rarely is it picking up a good book, watching a favorite television show, or catching up with my husband. All former bedtime routines have been shattered.

Once upon a time, bedtime was me time. Time to reflect on the day, slowly drift off to sleep. I'd often cuddle in bed with a good book. Lately, I cuddle with a notebook. Every moment spent scribbling down to-dos so I don't forget commitments. I give into sleep when the power to keep my eyes open diminishes.

I can't tell you how many times I start drifting toward dreamland to be jolted awake by a remembered obligation for the next day. I keep a notebook next to the bed for such moments, and it has saved me many a time. It is sad how often I fall asleep with my glasses on and pen and paper in hand.

As a child, you fight sleep because life offers so much fun and excitement. Who wants to sleep when you can be playing, exploring, living? As an adult, sleep is the necessary part of a responsibility filled day. Sad.

Since I don't make New Year's resolutions per se, I am going to commit in December to taking the hour before bedtime for something enjoyable. I don't want to put off bedtime because of all my obligations every day. I want to occasionally put it off because life is just too darned enjoyable.

What is your bedtime ritual?

November 28, 2011

6 Ways to Best Use Time

How do you make time for writing or blogging when life gets in the way? Time is not friendly, but it's fair. You get 24 hours a day whether you need them or not. Problem is, most of us need those hours plus more. Like it or not, we do have to fit in some food and sleep along the way... and some time and attention for kids, husbands, families, housework, jobs, etc.

I love organization and finished projects, but sometimes the best I can do is plan. It's called time management for a reason. You get a set amount of time, all you can do is manage it. You can't create more.

Ways to Best Use Time:

1. Set a Timer
Set a goal and a time limit. For example, I'm going to spend the next twenty minutes cleaning the house. Set the timer and stay focused. When it buzzes, walk away. Move to the next task.

2. Prioritize
For me, writing comes first as a daily goal. I focus on the writing projects in order of importance, paid versus unpaid, and deadlines.

3. Plan Ahead
I often cringe looking at my calendar. Some days are simply crazier than others. Plan accordingly. One day, when the creative juices are flowing, stock up a couple of posts. Use them as needed.

4. Ask for Help
When you get in a pinch, ask friends and family for help and reciprocate when needed. We've all got friends waiting to help, but they don't know how. Reach out. For blogs, guest posts can be a wonderful addition and fun for your readers.

5. Support
Find a network. I'm a better parent when I surround myself with parent friends. Same is true of writing. Find writers online or in your community. Support each other.

6. Combine 1-5
Some of my writing friends get together online for sprints. Set a time, check in on Twitter, and write for a solid hour. Report word counts at the end and cheer each other on. In one hour, you've combined all the steps above.

Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.” Harvey MacKay

At least for me, the worst thing I can do is not have a plan. My desk is a mess of piles and things to accomplish. If I sit down and stare at it, that's all I'll do for way too long. I'm easily distracted when not following a schedule.

Don't forget to make time for fun. Life is all about balance.

But, as the quote suggests, once you've lost time you can never get it back. Use it wisely. It's one thing you can count on, limited but trustworthy.

What's your best tip for time management?

November 27, 2011

Interesting Detours: ROW 80 Check In

"Establishing goals is all right if you don't let them deprive you of interesting detours."
Doug Larson

Life is full of interesting detours, paths we choose that momentarily lead us away from our stated goals. This last week, I enjoyed those detours. I let them take my hand and lead me away from responsibilities. 

I enjoyed a lovely family-filled Thanksgiving with aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, parents, children, brothers-in-law (a silly term, they are my brothers), and friends. After stuffing ourselves with wonderful food, we settled down with our memories. I haven't laughed that much in ages. Nothing makes me feel more connected than shared emotions.

Mom, my sister, and I tackled Black Friday shopping the next day. Although the sales were short of spectacular and the crowds a sign of a still suffering economy, we had fun finishing off lists and continuing our walk down memory lane. We remembered the time we stood out in the cold for a chance at a beanie baby. Really, a beanie baby?

I even squeezed in a fun Turkey Trot with my other sister Thursday morning. I got lost and my sister had to run around looking for me, but it'll just be another memory to laugh about in years to come. I managed to turn a 5K into a 3.4 mile run. That's okay. More turkey, oh let's just be honest, more pie for me that day!

Even more special than reliving memories is seeing our children build their own. Our family has seven granddaughters and one more on the way. They are close. With each passing year, we see them becoming friends and strengthening the ties that bind.

I am thankful for life's detours, they make me a better person. My to do list may have grown over the last few days, but so has my heart.

"In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed." Sid Caesar

Writing: What's that? Seriously, I didn't write a darn thing. I did get a lot of editing done on my two car rides. Both are freelance projects that needed my attention, and they did get it. The next few days will be dedicated to catching up on my WIPs.

Blogging: I wrote ahead last week and posted every day here. Mom in Love with Fiction suffered a bit, no post since Tuesday, but it'll be full steam ahead this week.

Miscellaneous: I was hoping to read more, but I was going to bed late and waking up early. I'm hoping for some quiet evenings this week to read. Hoping, but not expecting. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is crazy at best.

Exercise: See my note about the Turkey Trot above. I've managed pretty well, but need to get back in a regular pattern. I'm better with schedules than trying to "fit in" exercise. Except for Thanksgiving day, when all sugar rules went out the window, I've been sticking to my no sugar policy.

An extra goal this week: I'm going to get all my Christmas cards out by the first of next week. I send almost 150, so I try to tackle it in batches. Wish me luck.

A quick poll: do you prefer a card with a quick update or a full-blown Christmas letter? If it's a Christmas letter: do you prefer cute and inventive or details from the year?

Hope all my ROW80 friends enjoyed time last week with friends and family. For those doing NaNo, I'm still cheering. Three more days to go... you can do it

November 26, 2011

Writing is a Highway: Rerun Saturday

Thanks to a social media break to visit relatives for Thanksgiving, I am doing a Rerun Saturday by rerunning a past blog post. Since I know I'll be fighting DC traffic (update: a normal five and a half hour drive took just over seven thanks to it today), this blog post seemed appropriate.

Hope everyone enjoyed family and blessings this Thanksgiving.

originally posted 7/28/11

I hate traffic, unless it's blog traffic. Unfortunately, I live near the nation's Capitol. Traffic abounds. Every time I get stuck in it I go tense and joke about losing minutes off my life. Nothing about aggression, congestion, and speed goes with driving vehicles in my book.

Don't worry. This isn't a post ranting about traffic. Instead, while I was stuck in it today, I realized how much like writing it is. Sometimes there's flow and all the structure put into place keeps things moving. Other times no matter how well-prepared a writer is, you just sit. Nothing happens.

Traffic equals chaos to me, and I prefer order (and manners!). Same for my writing. I like the words to follow the plan. I am learning to appreciate some organized chaos. If the words are flowing too fast, I type faster. But if chaos outpaces order for long, I lose focus and productivity.

Patience, perseverance, and problem-solving are required in traffic and writing. Writer's block is my writing traffic. I don't have patience with it. I've learned the best medicine is writing, even if it's a blog post, and reading. The more I persevere, the better it flows. Characters block me out sometimes; they throw me problems I wasn't expecting in my story. Usually the character wins.

Today I was impatient to be home and complete my blog post. Blame D.C.-area traffic for this long analogy. All I could think about was frustration. I felt the same way last night staring at a blank screen. I made time to write, wanted to write, but the writing wasn't working. I was at a standstill.

I sat and waited. Nothing. I realized I couldn't force it, those cars weren't moving. I picked up a book and read. Fifty pages in, an idea sparked. I put the book down, opened the laptop. The words came slowly at first, but the scene started developing. It wasn't the way I wanted to get to my destination, but I did get there.

How do you deal with roadblocks?

November 25, 2011

Campaign Novel Hits the Presses

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. If you don't celebrate Thanksgiving where you live, I hope you had a day full of blessings and gratitude.

This fall, I participated in Rachael Harrie's Writer's Platform-Building Campaign. From her website: "My Writers' Platform-Building Campaigns are a way to link writers, aspiring authors, beginner bloggers, industry people, and published authors together with the aim of helping to build our online platforms.

The Campaigners are all people in a similar position, who genuinely want to pay it forward, make connections and friends within the writing community, and help build each others' online platforms while at the same time building theirs."

Such an amazing experience. I learned so much from all the writers, but especially my genre groups: young adult fiction and women's fiction. The writing community has become a lifeline much the same way the parenting community has. We need each other, and we learn more by spreading knowledge than we could ever learn by keeping it to ourselves.

During the campaign, Rachael challenged the group with three writing prompts. At the end, fellow campaigner, Katharina Gerlach, offered to gather our answers (everything from flash fiction to poetry to essays) into an eBook. The result, Campaigner Challenges 2011, is available at Amazon and Smashwords. All proceeds go to charity. For more information, please visit the Amazon or Smashwords links.

I have three pieces included, but I wanted to reprint my favorite here. This was a show-don't-tell exercise with prompts. To see the exact rules, visit the original posting.

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.

November 24, 2011

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby, and I’m so Thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving. Today, please welcome, once again, my lovely mother and co-conspirator.


Tia challenged me to write a blog post for Thanksgiving. I stalled. Why? This year has been monumental for me, my husband and family. How can writing a labor of love be so hard? Why aren’t the words just pouring forth?

This morning, God delivered the perfect venue, music. I picked two favorite songs, one by Marvin Gaye and the other by Kelly Clarkson to give structure to my tangle of words, emotions and gratefulness.

Sometimes it is the musical lyrics and words in songs that stir us to remembrance and joy, to a time and place where everything is real, everything is just and everything is powerfully embedded in a simple phrase, “I’m so thankful!”

Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby!
Thankful for the lessons I’ve learned by God’s side,
Thankful for the love He keeps bringing my way,
Thankful He knows everything in my heart,
Thankful He knows my thoughts before I speak,
Thankful for the blessings, for precious moments,
Thankful for joy and the troubles I’ve known,
Thankful for the truth that keeps guiding my soul,
Thankful I knew through it all, I was never alone,
Thankful, so thankful!

Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby!
Thankful for a soul mate of forty-one years,
Thankful for memories to cherish and share,
Thankful in trouble your hand stayed in mine,
Thankful when we took the “I” out of pride,
Thankful for faith, love and family devotion,
Thankful for your courage and protectiveness,
Thankful for your strength when mine waned,
Thankful for humor when we needed it most,
Thankful, so thankful!

Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby!
Thankful for watching three daughters grow up,
Thankful they’re mothers with girls of their own,
Thankful their husband’s are men of conviction,
Thankful their children are loving and mindful,
Thankful each daughter has blossomed uniquely,
Thankful their faith draws a bead on the Father,
Thankful for their imprint on the needs of others,
Thankful for their concern, love and dedication,
Thankful, so thankful.

Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby!
Thankful God gave me a heart to help others,
Thankful God sent me children who needed a hug,
Thankful God gave me broad shoulders to loan,
Thankful for acquaintances who touched my soul,
Thankful for friends I cherish and call family,
Thankful for a special once-in-a-lifetime friend,
Thankful, so thankful for all my blessings!
There ain’t nothing like the real life, baby!
Thankful, so thankful!

What are you thankful for on this day of thanks?

November 23, 2011

Thankful for the Big and Small Things: ROW 80 Check In

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am focusing on gratitude. Today, I packed my three kids in a car at 4am to avoid DC traffic. If you've read this blog before, that's enough said on the topic. Just in case you haven't, please check out my post: Death, DC Traffic, and Public Speaking.

We are heading to my mother's house for Thanksgiving, but all my friends and family will be in my thoughts.

I am grateful for many things. First the big things, and then a fun list of the small things.

The Big Things
* My three beautiful daughters.
* A wonderful marriage to a great husband.
* My friends and family, both far and near.
* The freedom we enjoy in America, and to those who put their lives on the line to protect it.
* Health. I'd be especially grateful for more of it since my family is in a two-week spree of at least one person being sick.
* My writing community. Your unselfishness is inspiring.
* All the places I've lived. Beyond the people who have touched my life, I also have experiences I would never trade.
* My faith, and my ability to use it for good.
* People who choose to put good vibes out into the world. Negativity is easy.

The Small Things
* DVD players and all electronic entertainers (I am, after all, packing three kids in a car for six hours).
* Mechanical pencils. I hate a dull pencil, and these have saved me hours of sharpening.
* Food, in so many shapes and sizes, but especially baked goods.
* Books. They've brought both entertainment and knowledge into my life.
* Hair Dryer/curling iron combination. Again, I'm all about efficiency.
* Computers, although it can be a love/hate relationship. I can't imagine life without them.
* Red ink pens. Editing just wouldn't be the same without them.
* Elastic and cotton. So much of my wardrobe would be obsolete without these materials.
* Fake flowers. Unfortunately, I kill the real ones.
* Vacuum cleaners. Not only do they suck up filth, but they teach those little toy pieces a lesson every now and again (and my kids for leaving them defenseless).
* Slip-on shoes. Have I mentioned efficiency yet?
* Diet Coke. I don't drink coffee, so consider it my cup of joe.

I'm sure I've missed many, but the list has put me in the right mindset to hang my head on Thanksgiving day and truly say thanks.


I am also thankful for my ROW80 writer friends and for our fearless leader, Kait Nolan.

Quick ROW80 Update

Writing/Blogging: I wrote five posts in advance so I could enjoy the holidays. A lot of writing, but little went to my WIPs. I hope to get some writing done this weekend and maybe even some writing during the two six-hour car trips.

Miscellaneous: I'm taking books and hope to get some catch up reading in.

Exercise: I am running a 5K Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning so I can eat, eat, eat. All my no sugar rules go out the window for one day. I am visiting my mother after all.

Hope all my ROW80 friends have great updates and a lovely Thanksgiving. A special cheer and well wishes to those doing NaNo. The finish line's in sight.

November 22, 2011

Confessions of a Paperphiliac

With great anxiety, I sat down to type in my symptoms. I waited for the computer to digest them and spit out my ailment. Seconds later, all was revealed. I suffer from paperphilia. I think this makes me a paperphiliac.

Paperphilia, according to Word Spy, is "a deep appreciation for the aesthetic qualities of paper; a preference for reading items printed on paper rather than displayed on a screen." I love the convenience of my Kindle, but my paper books keep calling to me. Day in, day out. Read me, touch me, turn my pages down, write notes in me. It never stops.

I seek help. I head to Starbucks or any local coffee place to surround myself with electronics and people obsessed with them. My oldest daughter, an avid reader, reads on her tiny ITouch. I have the Kindle app for my IPad and my actual Kindle, yet I squint and fidget.

I read two books on the Kindle in a row recently. Wonderful, intriguing novels. I have more waiting for me, but I had to grab a paperback next. Get my hands on paper again. Slide into the bathtub, my favorite reading place, without fear. I grabbed my pencil and bookmark and felt a sense of calm, turning down several pages just for the sensation.

The two Kindle books I loved... I now fight the urge to buy the paperback versions. I might want to read them again, mark them up, show my appreciation. Wait, I think I stumbled on something. When I love a story, the book is the emotional reminder sitting on my shelf. It's tattered, worn cover and dog-eared pages reflect my love. All my notes are like love letters to a boyfriend, forever captured on the page.

I have a long way to go, but the first steps are identifying and admitting the problem. Now to set goals and pace myself. Maybe I'll read two eBooks and then a paper book to ease the nerves of withdrawal. Up the eBooks as I'm ready. Slowly. When I slide, letting my Kindle gather dust in a corner, I'll take five heavy books on my next flight to teach me a lesson.

I am a Paperphiliac. I know the steps I need to take, and I'm surrounding myself with online support. But, just in case I need it, does anybody know of a treatment center in the Washington, DC area?

November 21, 2011

From Heartbeat to Heartbreak: Passion Projects

For those of you who aren't familiar, The Business of Being Born is a 2008 documentary executive produced by Ricki Lake. It details the contemporary experience of childbirth in the United States: "Focusing on New York City, the film reveals that there is much to distrust behind hospital doors and follows several couples who decide to give birth on their own terms."

Passion is an interesting idea. It should be unwavering, full or powerful emotion. It's common to get passionate about children, from giving birth to every milestone in their lives. From the moment we see the heartbeat on the screen, we love them and they become our world. I can think of few things I'm as passionate about as my children.

My passion project... writing a book with my mother. I'm passionate about family and relationships. Throughout the years, I was amazed to find families who drifted apart and went their separate ways. Few things make me sadder. I truly believe this is the only path for some. Still, for others, it's the easy path. Relationships are hard work. The more you love someone and open yourself up to them, the more they can hurt you.

That's why our dear children break our hearts constantly. It's our job as parents to love them anyway. I feel the same about my own parents. They aren't perfect, but nobody is. I do believe they did everything in our best interests, whether I liked it or not. Did they make mistakes? Absolutely! Am I making mistakes with my children? Absolutely! I hope they'll love me anyway. I know I'll love them through their mistakes.

The more I saw pain in people's relationships, particularly moms and daughters, the more I wanted to write a book with my mom. One that showcased how different you can think and feel and still end up coming together in the end. I have three daughters, and I want to have a relationship with them forever. Not just for the 18 years they are forced to live with me.

Ten years, through all kinds of obstacles, Mom and I worked on this novel, Depression Cookies. We never gave up. We both felt passionately that we had stumbled on something unique, something people could embrace and care about. When agents said they loved it, but didn't know how to sell it in this tough market, we just heard they loved it.

Mom and I couldn't be prouder of our little book that could, but maybe the years we poured our hearts into it has a little something to do with it.

If you haven't, take a moment to visit our Depression Cookies website.

What's your passion project?

November 20, 2011

Chaos and Creative Delight: ROW 80 Check In

The maker of a sentence launches out into the infinite and builds a road into Chaos and old Night, and is followed by those who hear him with something of wild, creative delight.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love everything about manipulating words. I enjoy crafting a story, but I also love taking words and reworking them until they sing. Or at least hum a nice tune.

I greatly appreciate words and their meanings. I've always found it odd that people say they love a hamburger and love a person. Shouldn't there be a different word for each? Shouldn't the love for food be expressed differently than the love you feel for your husband, children, or family?

The Emerson poem above caught my eye, and I was intrigued by the use of chaos and old night. Off I went in search of answers. Thanks to John Meade's Chaos and Old Night blog, I found this:

"The phrase 'Chaos and old Night' originated with John Milton in his epic poem Paradise Lost.
Sonorous mettal blowing Martial sounds:
At which the universal Host upsent
A shout that tore Hells Concave, and beyond
Frighted the Reign of Chaos and old Night (Book I; line 540-544).
Milton uses the phrase, to refer to the 'stuff' out of which God ordered and created the world."

Wow, I knew I liked this Emerson quote for good reason. Writers do take simple things and create works that can touch people or inspire.

I hope my fellow NaNoers are building something they will be proud of down the road.

My A Round of Words in 80 Days Update

Writing: Thanks to my first #ROW80 #wordsprint and the 1,065 words I wrote in that hour, I totaled 2,456 words since Wednesday's check in. Imagine if I could have fit in a couple of word sprints. Want to join? Hit Twitter Monday through Friday at 2:00pm EST and check in at #ROW80. Halfway through people update wordcounts and again at the end of the hour.

Blogging: Every day here and three times at Mom in Love with Fiction.

Miscellaneous: I need to catch up on my blog reading and NaNo ROW80 cheerleading. Hoping I can do that this week.

Exercise: I'm eating well and exercising knowing the feast is coming on Thursday! ;-)

I'm going to try to hit the writing hard this week so I can relax and have fun Thursday through Saturday for Thanksgiving. Hope all my NaNoers get far enough ahead to enjoy time with friends and family on Thanksgiving.

November 19, 2011

What's in a Name? The Meaning of Tia

I’ve always appreciated having a unique name. It’s one of the reasons I named one of my daughters, Reagan, although it’s since grown in popularity.

My daughter was goofing off at the computer and decided to search meanings of Tia. The results were interesting.

TIA = Transient Ischemic Attack
A TIA is caused by a clot; the only difference between a stroke and TIA is that with TIA the blockage is transient (temporary). TIA symptoms occur rapidly and last a relatively short time. Unlike a stroke, when a TIA is over, there’s no permanent injury to the brain.

TIA = Truth in Advertising
Requirement by the Federal Trade Commission as well as various state and local government agencies, that advertisements not make misleading, false, or deceptive claims.

TIA = Thanks in Advance
An Internet/texting term

TIA = Aunt in Spanish

TIA = This is Africa
TIA was used this way in the movie, Blood Diamond.

TIA = Princess in Greek

Except for the mini-stroke and Africa references, Tia suits me quite well. I believe I present myself honestly (Truth in Advertising) and show gratitude (Thanks in Advance). I’m sure my husband would agree I can be a princess from time to time, and I am Aunt to four nieces (number five is due in January) and three nephews.

To make my name more unique, Mom put Cher as my middle name. Why, you might ask. It's simple... she was watching The Sonny & Cher Show when she went into labor. Hey, it could be worse. I was born in 1972, and the seventies were known for some, shall we say, interesting names. *smiles*

What does you name mean? Does it suit you?

November 18, 2011

The Power of Words: Adult Bullying

So often we hear about bullying in our schools. As parents, we stand up strong and search for ways to stop it. Growing up, I always heard the children's rhyme: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.

I beg to differ. Words can do so much more damage than a simple punch in the face. If you've ever been told you were fat, ugly, stupid, or any other myriad of words, you understand. All the words translate into a feeling of worthlessness. Sadly, we don't talk about it as much, but it doesn't stop when we become adults.
My sister, Tara, shared a really powerful story about adult bullying with me today. A man who lives near her has suffered for years at the hands of people who throw around the word fat like it doesn't hurt as much as a punch. It does. When Jerry said he considered ending his life, I broke into tears. Tara, who appears briefly in the video, works at the fitness center that has given Jerry a new lease on life. A place he can belong.
Please take a moment to read the article and watch the video: Washington Man Bullied As A Teen, Bullied As An Adult. It'll break your heart, but more importantly, I hope it will make you think. Words are as powerful as punches, and the long lasting effects are much more damaging.
I am a writer, I live day to day in a sea of words. I know their impact.
Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Remember to use your words nicely. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Sure, it's what we tell our children, but we need to walk the walk. If our kids hear us saying mean things, all the preaching in the world won't stop them from being mean adults.

Let's stand up for the Jerrys of the world, regardless of age.

November 17, 2011

What Makes Me Swoon: From Husband to Vampires to Volleyball Players

Other than my daddy, my heart has only belonged to one man... my husband. I met him at eighteen, third day of college. Wasn't looking, but what a special find. He's handsome, because let's just be honest, you aren't initially attracted to a person's soul, but there's so much more. He's kind, considerate, smart, funny, charming, laid-back... I could go on and on. He leaves his clothes on the floor and opened chip bags laying around, but perfection is boring.

Seeing him being a dad to our three girls has only strengthened my adoration. I was fortunate to have a loving dad, and I'm glad I was able to gift my girls with the same. It takes a special man to raise girls, and he's spoiling them. They are going to be very picky about future husbands, and for that I'm also grateful.

I had a crush here and there through the teenage years, but I can't remember names or even faces. Moving around a lot will do that to you. But I do remember the following crushes vividly:

Kevin Bacon, Footloose. Never have a pair of faded denim jeans so perfectly shaped to a man's behind. I mean, man was he a good dancer.

Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing. I never considered dancing on the floor before that. Sad that he left us so soon. When he beckoned to Jennifer Grey by simply calling her over with his finger, I swooned.

Jason Patric, Lost Boys. The only time I've ever wanted to be Jami Gertz. Something so attractive and endearing about him. I might have dreamed about him, except I couldn't sleep for weeks after seeing that movie as a teen.

The actors in the volleyball scene of Top Gun. Although the only single time I've ever been attracted to Tom Cruise was in this movie, the volleyball scene was the best. The faces blurred, but the bodies... come to think of it, this was the only time I've been attracted to any of these actors. What happened to Val Kilmer anyway?

Tom Wopat, Dukes of Hazzard. John Schneider never did a thing for me, but I had a poster of Tom Wopat. Don't judge.

Lee Majors, Six Million Dollar Man. Handsome as he is, it was all in the eyes. He was my James Bond.

Pierce Bronson, Remington Steele. Speaking of James Bond... I feel in love over and over again with Pierce in this television series.

Bruce Willis, Moonlighting and Die Hard. I have a soft spot for funny men, and there was something very endearing about him. Then Die Hard made him sexy.

This all makes me wonder who my daughters will list someday. Just please tell me the height of their crushes will not be one of the Jonas brothers.

Who was your teenage celebrity crush?

November 16, 2011

May Be Up All Night: ROW 80 Check In

I'm posting late tonight, because today I was honored to host a giveaway and special guest post and it has kept me quite busy. A special thank you to Carrie Green for her post about Stephen King's influence on her writing and giving away copies of Roses are Red, her horror short story collection. Don't you love the cover?

I pride myself on reading all genres, but I rarely read pure horror. When I mentioned this to Carrie, she said something that's really stuck with me. She said she wrote horror from the "female perspective, it's the person sitting across from you at the dining room table that can wreck your life--not some movie monster."

I think of horror as Cujo, Carrie, Christine... all Stephen King. After reading the many comments, I realized Stephen King is also Shawshank Redemption (one of my all-time favorite movies) and The Green Mile. Not to mention the fact that I'm currently reading Stephen King's On Writing after hearing several glowing recommendations.

I may be up all night with the images conjured up by all this Stephen King talk, but I feel inspired to try a couple new books in the genre. Any recommendations? Not too gory or scary, horror light if there is such a thing. *wink*

My ROW80 update

Writing: Going well, 2000 words in the last two days. But I'm bummed I still haven't managed to join a ROW80 sprint. What is about 2pm EST that sends me running in eighteen different directions? I want to do a sprint, insert childlike whining here.

Blogging: Spending too much time on it, but enjoying it. NaBloPoMo is both encouraging and challenging. The prompts force me to write on the fly, but sometimes it's a struggle to type past the first thought. Posted another review on Mom in Love with Fiction. Overall, happy but drained.

Miscellaneous: Didn't have much time for miscellanous. It's 10:15, and I'm writing my ROW80 post, so I don't hold out much hope for hours of reading tonight. ;-( And I'm behind on blog commenting.

Sending more cheers out to my NaNo buddies. 16 days down. Wow, you guys are over the hump. You're in the home stretch now. Although I bet the 16th day of a 30 day writing month doesn't feel much like a home stretch.

Exercise: I'm squeezing it in and staying away from sugar. Not bad in a hectic week filled with sick children (today was the first day in a week all three kids managed to stay at school the whole day).

Hope everyone found words lying around waiting to be forced onto the paper!

Thank You, Stephen King: Gratitude Guest Post by Carrie Green, Author of Roses are Red

The WoMen's Literary Cafe is very thankful for all the support from readers, bloggers and reviewers during their recent 'Come Back To Me' Book Launch and #99centBookEvent. As a thank you, they organized this Gratitude Blog Hop.

I'm thrilled to be participating and welcome author, Carrie Green. She's written a wonderful post about her draw to the horror genre. We hope you enjoy it. Thanks, Carrie, for stopping by.

Thank You, Stephen King!

As a writer, there are many people that I'd like to thank—readers, of course, are first and foremost.  Thank you for buying my books and for taking the time to post reviews.  Next, like any good acceptance speech, I'd acknowledge family, friends, teachers, and lastly, a shout out to the super supportive community of authors & bloggers that I have discovered online. 

My deepest debt of gratitude, however, actually goes to the horror maestro, Stephen King. 

King was the author, beyond all others, who showcased the versatility of the horror genre to me, which forever shaped my path as a writer.  At an early stage in every writer's career, it becomes necessary to select a genre.  This is the decision which will define you, as an author, and your books, as a product, from that point forward, as you strive to build an audience.

Throughout my childhood, starting around third grade, I was a voracious reader and I devoured my books, en masse by genre.  I went through periods where I read every book that I could find in a specific genre and nothing else, until I grew bored with repetitive themes, characters and plots.  I would then switch to a new genre. 

In this fashion, I went from reading westerns to spy adventures, mysteries, celebrity bios, science fiction, detective, romance and horror novels.  I'd bravely walk past the main librarian's desk, so that I could enter the Adult section (there was one dour old librarian who'd bark that I should stay in the children's area, if she saw me), passionate on my crusade to explore all the different genres.

There were certainly some great books that I encountered—the hard-boiled detective novels of the 1940's were one particular stand-out, but when I finally embraced the Stephen King collection, it was like a shining beacon went on.  I had avoided King, due to reading Carrie at the tender age of eight (since it kept coming up during recess).  That novel was the bane of my adolescence. 

Whenever a prom or school dance was scheduled, some smart mouth would ask if I was intending to run for prom queen and wouldn't it be funny to toss pig's blood at me.  Ha. Ha.  I recall while reading that book my dismay at finding out that Carrie was such a total social outcast.  She had no redeeming traits—no charm, no good looks, no intellect and she hurt the very people who tried to help her. 

I couldn't appreciate, at the time, the tragedy and horror that was being depicted in this tale of bullies, victims, and the not-so-innocent bystanders who allowed this cycle of abuse to continue.  My main take-away was that it would be fool-hardy for me to ever run for prom queen.  I knew that it would be too tempting for my peers.  After reading Carrie, I hated Stephen King.

Only when I was in college, during a writing workshop where other people kept comparing my writing to King's, did I become curious enough to try his books, again.  It was a revelation.  Once I was no longer reading about characters named Carrie, I found him vastly entertaining! 

King showcased for me the endless possibilities, flexibility, and originality of the horror genre.  A villain can be a serial killer (Firestarter), a loving father and husband (The Shining and Pet Sematary), a classic car (Christine) or a clown (It).  Heroes can be just as unexpected—children, an average joe, or even a prisoner on death row as in The Green Mile series. 

One of my favorites from his more recent works has to be the untrustworthy narrator of Blaze, a petty criminal who kidnaps a baby, who is both the hero and the villain in the novel.  It's an elegant exercise on the duality of human nature.  I also adore Misery.  It is both a great horror novel and a wonderful stand-alone romance (in the chapters that resurrect the character of Misery).  I could not imagine a more unlikely genre coupling, but King appeared to pull it off with ease.

I must sincerely thank King for teaching me, through his published works, that the horror genre, above all others, can be any genre.  It offers the greatest flexibility, since horror can be found in any situation and seen through the eyes of any character.  It offers infinite freedom.  I am only limited by my own imagination!

For more information about Carrie and her books, please visit her Amazon Author page.

Today, Wednesday, November 16th only, leave a comment below and receive a FREE copy of Carrie's collection of horror short stories, 'Roses are Red.' Please provide your email address in order to be sent a PDF link as well as a Smashwords code to download your FREE book.  Thanks!

Please visit these other stops on the Gratitude Blog Hop so that you can win additional FREE books:

November 15, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

Today’s NaBloPoMo prompt: describe a favorite place. Focus on how that place affects your sense of taste, touch, sight, sound, or smell.

Hands down, my favorite place is Colorado. The first location I ever wanted to call home. The community I lived in, near Boulder, was amazing. Great people, convenient, focused on family fun and sports, little to no traffic… great for families. We loved it. Outside the crazy weather patterns from time to time, I dare say it’s almost perfect.

I never thought snow was beautiful until I saw it topping the Rockies. Never one for the outdoors, Colorado quickly changed my mind. The scenery is breathtaking, aided by sun shining 300 days a year.

Most of the sounds and smells are from people gathering. Neighborhood picnics, sporting events, walking along Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, hearing kids play. Rarely were we inside. Even something as simple as a stroll to school took on new meaning, and every day there I gained appreciation for nature and beauty.

Colorado will now be our home away from home, but a home just the same.

Is there a place that beckons your senses, calls you home?

Please stop by tomorrow, November 16th, to participate in the Gratitude Blog Hop. The WoMen’s Literary Cafe wants to thank all the bloggers, reviewers, and readers for their support during theCome Back To Me’ book launch and 99 cent event. Tomorrow, for one day only, several authors will be offering FREE eBooks.

I am honored to host Carrie Green tomorrow with a wonderful guest post: Thank you, Stephen King! Carrie writes horror stories from the "female perspective, it's the person sitting across from you at the dining room table that can wreck your life--not some movie monster."

For more information, please visit The WoMen’s Literary Cafe website.

November 14, 2011

Death, DC Traffic, and Public Speaking

Dancing on national television definitely describes my definition of fear. In addition to not being gifted with dancing feet, I am terrified to speak in public, much less perform. Not the greatest fear to have as a published author.

Speaking in small groups, twenty or less, I can do. It feels personal. It's a whole different matter if I have to stand up front. To combat my shaking hands, I'm a walker. I'll pace back and forth while I speak. But this does nothing to squelch nervous energy. God forbid there's a podium, and I'm expected to deliver a speech. Off the cuff is fine, delivering a speech feels like performing. My hands shake so bad, each time I turn a page of my speech the page does its own kind of dance.

Yet, I don't give into this fear. I've spoken to larger and larger groups since Depression Cookies came out. I'd love to say it gets easier. I can't. Nausea still rises and the hands still shake. But I have gained confidence that I won't die. It's progress.

My biggest fear... losing people I care about. I'm very fortunate so far, because my parents are both living (and youngsters in their early 60's). I loved my grandparents, but we only saw them once a year my whole life. I was sad when they passed, but more for my parent's loss than my own. I can't imagine the day I lose one of my parents, sisters, husband, or the unthinkable... one of my children. Sadly, this fear is one I will have to face and overcome some day. But in no way do I look forward to it.

I'm also terrified of DC traffic. I grew up in small towns. Rush hour occurred only during major town events or high school football games. I do not drive on the beltway if I can help it. I would need to take an aggressive driving course to have a fighting chance. It amazes me. Do people not get it? Frustrated drivers weaving in and out, going over the speed limit, are responsible for an object that can kill people. A frustrated, impatient person waving a gun would be arrested. Drivers, rarely. I face this fear only when there's no other way. I carry precious cargo in my car, and I can't drive safely enough to counteract the insanity.

Someday, if I'm ever so fortunate, I'll have a career-changing speech in Washington, DC requiring me to drive the beltway in rush hour. I'll do it, but I'll need a friendly doctor to take pity and prescribe Valium. Lots of it.

What are you afraid of? How do you overcome it?

November 13, 2011

Feeding My Soul Feeds My Writing: ROW80 Check In

I wrote this post twenty minutes ago only to lose it to some young hands playing on my computer. I had a small heart attack, tried to recover it... but it was gone. Completely wiped away. This will teach me to type directly into blogger. I wanted to cry, but I decided to pick myself up and try again. Here it is, rewritten to the best of my panicked ability.


Yesterday was a cleaning-writing marathon. I made a deal with my family. Work on Saturday, play on Sunday. At first, they were uninspired. But I told them I would alternate between cleaning and writing, get it done and focus on them. It worked. Everybody chipped in, divided up chores, and the house is pretty darn clean. And I wrote quite a bit to boot.

Today, I ran a 5K with my 9-year-old daughter. I love one-on-one time and proving to her she can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. After, we joined the rest of the family for a well-deserved lunch followed by a trip to a bead festival. Each girl spent $9 and walked away with a one of a kind piece of jewelry. They were thrilled. It was a lovely day. Worth every second of our manic Saturday. Feeding my soul, spending time with those I love, truly feeds my writing.

Plus, the day came with a precious story. My 6-year-old daughter was modeling her new necklace when a nice salesperson asked if she'd like to see herself. She bounced over to collect the 5x7 mirror.

Me: Please be careful, you don't want to break the mirror.
Daughter: Why?
Me: Because you'll get seven years of bad luck.
Daughter: Who said that?
Me: It's a superstition, something people just believe.
Daughter, after thinking for a second: Well, I don't believe it. You want me to try it and find out?

The nice lady behind the desk gently took the mirror away. I love my daughter's spunk, but it can sometimes be a bit embarrassing.


A brief ROW80 update

Writing: Inspired. Wrote quite a bit just on Saturday. I need to polish up some edges, but in a good place. I didn't keep track of words, but I'm proud of the progress.

Blogging: Thanks to NaBloPoMo, I've blogged here daily. Yesterday, I posted a fun piece about superstitions with some help from Mom and finally posted my Henrietta Lacks review on Mom in Love with Fiction. I look forward to adding another 5 star review, Melissa Luznicky Garrett's wonderful Turning Point, on Tuesday.

Commenting on blogs: Keeping up pretty well, but I want to get around to more of my NaNo friends and do some cheerleading. Rah, Rah! Hope everyone is doing well.

Miscellaneous: Still reading, but having to put it aside for some editing projects. I love what I'm working on, so it's like reading. I'm a few pages into Stephen King's On Writing and hope to make some progress this week.

Exercise: Still no sugar. Although I must admit I wanted a lot of it when my post went missing. I resisted. Exercise is going well, including the 5K today.

All in all, a nice week. I even wrote this post twice, so that's got to say something!

Check out some great writers, and fellow A Round of Words in 80 Days participants, here.