February 29, 2012

Busting My Rut: ROW80 & #writemotivation

I'm training for a half marathon in September to celebrate turning 40. It's something I've always wanted to do. Training, along with writing, has been sidelined by all the sickness and craziness in my life (see Monday's Cat and Mouse post).

But I'm sick, no pun intended, of excuses--no matter how valid they may be. Lately, I've been scouring fitness magazines for tips on running, healthier eating, etc. Earlier today, I ran across an article in my March 2012 Fitness Magazine: Ready for a Change? by Kimberly Goad.

Her advice was to:
Seize the Situation: "How would I feel in five years if I didn't have this in my life?"
Make a Plan
Prepare for Speed Bumps

In the sidebar, she included:

Three Ways to Bust Your Rut
1. Stop Dwelling on the Negative.
2. Don't Make Too Many Changes at Once.
3. Give it Enough Time.

I needed this, and I realized this is why I join writing challenges. So, today I'm seizing the situation, making a plan, and preparing for speed bumps.

First, I joined #writemotivation, spearheaded by the lovely K.T. Hanna at Scribble Muse. It's similar to A Round of Words in 80 Days in that you set realistic goals and report on them. These challenges will work together to keep me on track.

I'm also going to simplify my goals (as part of my plan to prepare for speed bumps). Through rounds of goal-setting exercises, I've realized something about myself--I like to succeed and hit targets. I'd rather set realistic goals and accomplish them than aim for the moon and only get two-thirds of the way there.

My #writemotivation goals (and "test mile" ROW80 goals going forward):
1. Work on my WIP for an hour every day, except Sunday.
2. Do client editing work an hour a day, except Sunday.
3. Read and review a book every 10 days, minimum.

Going forward, I'm going to focus on what I do accomplish (versus what I'm not getting done) and try not to make too many changes without giving it some time.

The only problem with #writemotivation: it suggests Monday check in posts, but I already do Sunday and Wednesday check ins for ROW80. I don't want to do three check in posts per week. Any suggestions?

My ROW80 update

Writing: I joined a #ROW80 wordsprint and wrote 1,085 words in an hour. It just shows what an hour of focus will do (and why I put that as my goal and new "test mile"). Now if I can only make sprints daily!

Blogging: I missed posting last weekend and survived. My goal is to post 4-5 times per week. I also posted a new review on Mom in Love with Fiction.

Editing: Almost done with one project (ready to send to the publisher) and really making headway on the others. Big yeah!

Social Media: And therein lies the rub... I truly appreciate reading writers' blogs, participating in forums, hanging out in Twitterland, but it sucks away my writing time. It can be such a benefit, but quickly lead me astray. I haven't found the answer to this.

Diet & Exercise: Slowly reining it back in. I ran 3 miles today and walked 2 yesterday.


Happy Leap Year Day everyone!

I am "leaping" for joy to have a new outlook today. PLUS, I realized I got an extra day of being 39. Not a bad year to get an extra day. Take that 40!

February 28, 2012

It's a Party: Oppression by Jessica Therrien

I am so excited for fellow campaigner Jessica Therrien. Today, February 28, her first novel, Oppression, officially launches. *insert the sound of fireworks here*

To help her celebrate, several bloggers are joining her Virtual Launch party and talking about fate/destiny. Why? Because, in Oppression (Children of the Gods, Book #1), "Elyse discovers that her destiny is deeply intertwined with the fate of the future."

My thoughts on destiny…

n., pl., -nies.
1. The inevitable or necessary fate to which a particular person or thing is destined; one's lot.
2. A predetermined course of events considered as something beyond human power or control.

I don’t like to think that our lives are predetermined, beyond our control. It might be true, but I'd rather believe that I make mistakes, learn from them, and pave my own way. Is "my own way" preset, and I’m just supposed to figure out how to get there? Maybe, but that still leaves things ultimately in my hands.

One thing I know for sure… as an author, I completely embrace the idea of destiny. When I write, I am Fate for my characters. Everything is predestined, although occasionally a character speaks up and suggests alternate ideas or endings. A strong character has the power to thwart my best intentions or plans.

Could I have hit on something? Maybe there is a predetermined path, but only for those who yield to it. People who don’t speak up and fight for a different way. For others, the ultimate destination is limited only by what they can achieve and what they are willing to fight for.

What are your thoughts on Fate?


Did I forget to mention there are party prizes?!?! Please visit here for details and to find out even more about Oppression!

Summary (from Jessica’s blog): Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than the average person, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal.

For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability.

Or so she thinks.

Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her.

Among so many of her kind, she should not be very remarkable--except for the prophecy. Some believe she will put an end to centuries of traditions, safeguarded by violence, which have oppressed her people for centuries. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning--and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.

Buying options: 

$0.99 E-Book
Amazon Kindle Edition (US)
Barnes & Noble NOOK Edition (US)

Amazon Kindle Edition (UK, France, Germany)

$12.99 Paperback
Amazon (US)
Barnes & Noble (US) - on sale for $7.79

Amazon (Canada)
Amazon (UK, France, Germany, Japan)

Stay tuned for my review and Jessica's interview here on Thursday, March 8 and check out the other stops on the Oppression Blog Tour here.

February 27, 2012

Cat and Mouse: ROW80 Late Check In

The world's still spinning... good to know. I didn't post this weekend, the first time I missed a post since 9/17/11. And my A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) update is late as well.

For the last two months, life has been the cat and I have been the wind up mouse toy. Toward the end of last week I was kicking my own sickness and my daughter seemed to be on the mend. The end was in sight, or so I thought.

Weeks of sickness led to a juggling act. So many balls were in the air, and I was skimming by. Every morning I woke up and prioritized what HAD to be done. I managed to stay afloat. In a weird way, this felt like quite the accomplishment considering.

With less balls in the air, I decided Friday morning to do something crazy... put my WIP writing first. Friday afternoon and Saturday morning were designated for writing.

Then came...

Taxes - Mid-Friday, I was ready to send my final accounting to my tax guy. As I was about to hit send, I discovered our publisher used the wrong Tax ID number for our W2 reportings. An hour of discussion later, they promised to get back to me Friday. Shocker... they didn't.

I braced myself for a frustrating Monday morning, but my writing would still happen. Then came...

Blog comments - I've heard a consistent request across the Blog Universe lately: please get rid of the pain-in-the-butt word verification. I've been feeling the same way. Thanks to fellow blogger and campaigner, Melissa Maygrove, I finally figured out how to do this. I thought it was a problem solved, UNTIL...

Spam - I received no less than twenty-five spam comments in 24 hours. I deleted them all and now have comment moderation in place. Eek!

Finally, I was ready to write. But then came...

Daughter #2 - Poor girl. She's had three rounds of Strep this winter, two horrible ear infections (one requiring two rounds of antibiotics), an eye infection, and Bronchial pneumonia. She came to me with a rash. Long story short, we had a scary night and discovered she's allergic to Penicillin. She's now on Prednisone and a new antibiotic (for the Strep).

(Note: This is not the daughter recently diagnosed with Lyme's disease.)

I feel honored to have reached a point in my life where writing is my official business, but with that comes the pains of business: tax reporting, office management, record keeping, business calls (thanks to clients *yeah for clients*), project management, and so on. I'm adjusting, but I miss the days when it was just a passion.

Add to that my number one job as a mother, and well... you get the post above.

My ROW80 Update

Writing: See Blogging.

Blogging: W/T/F here and two book reviews posted on Mom in Love with Fiction. One of the posts here was a flash fiction piece I'm quite proud of (and my only writing since Wednesday): Pulling Him In.

Reading: Yes. I was up most of last night making sure my daughter didn't have breathing troubles, so I read. Reviews will be forthcoming.

Editing: No. I knew my mind was elsewhere. That's not fair to me or the client.

Diet & Exercise: *insert maniacal laughter here*

I'm down, but not out. Today, other than hovering over my daughter to make sure her swelling and hives were calming down, I made a plan to get caught up. The rest of today is a wash, so I focused on business issues and this blog post.

Tomorrow, I'm writing come Hell or high water. So unless you hearing about burning flames or a flood taking over Damascus, Maryland...

February 24, 2012

Tagged Again: Sharing My Answers

The lovely Rebekah Loper tagged me last Friday with some questions. I was finally catching up on some blog visiting today and saw it. Seemed like a fun Friday post, so I'll answer (but don't worry fellow bloggers, I'm not tagging anyone else).

1. What is your current writing project?

Mom and I are working on the follow up to Depression Cookies, our coming of age story. This time Krista is heading off to college and her mom, Abby, is facing a looming empty nest. I have a young adult novel brewing, too.

2. Why are you writing it?

Our first novel was well received, and Mom and I loved the idea of writing a teenager spreading her wings into womanhood while her mom is redefining what being a mom means. Plus, I love writing with my mom. She's the reason I am a writer, and a big part of who I am.

3. Do you have any pets?

A lovely American boxer named Jazzy (kids named her Jasmine after Aladdin, but it was too long). As you can see from the picture, she loves our children and will let them do anything to her.

4. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?

I'm so protective of books, because I pride myself in finding value in everything I read. Sometimes the value is knowing what I don't like. I'm sure this will be an unpopular choice, but my least favorite book in the last ten years was, hands down, Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I loved the play, and even enjoyed his Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. But Wicked left a lot to be desired.

5. Favorite TV show and/or movie?

My favorite movie, Shawshank Redemption. My favorite TV show... I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, never missed an episode. More recently, I'm enjoying Once Upon a Time and Person of Interest. But my favorite TV watching experience is the Food Network. Any show. To get a glimpse into my Food Network obsession, visit my Food Network Style Challenge: Exposing my Food Obsession post.

6. What can you always count on to get you inspired?

My children and the books I read. Both foster my imagination and creativity in different ways.

7. What book did you read that inspired you to truly WRITE?
Anything Judy Blume when I was younger. She made stories out of everyday life, stories I wanted to read. Don't get me wrong, I also devoured the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But I'm always impressed with the stories that examine life and human relationships. I also love Fannie Flagg and Billie Letts. One of my favorite books is Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg.

8. Favorite food?
Ah, food. I love food. It's a problem. I blame my mother who answered all downer moods with something hot and sugary. Sweets are my downfall. To name a favorite wouldn't do justice to my obsession.

9. Worst thing you ever wrote?

My first novel was written in a composition notebook about two teenagers falling in love. I didn't know anything about love or sex at that time (I was a preteen myself), so it was pitiful. That being said, I hope it's the same sort of story my preteen would write. Idealistic and naive.

10. Best thing you ever wrote?

Depression Cookies. I'm proud of it and feel blessed to have written it with my mom.

11. Place you’ve visited that inspired you the most?

Anywhere that has family.


Now a question for anyone who made it this far... Who do trust most to read your material and give you an honest opinion?

February 23, 2012

Pulling Him In: Campaign Flash Fiction Challenge

Time for the First Campaign challenge!

The rules from Rachael Harrie’s Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign blog:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these (I did all three, yeah me!):
·         end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)
·         include the word "orange" in the story
·         write in the same genre you normally write (women’s fiction for me!)
·         make your story 200 words exactly!

Pulling Him In

Shadows crept across the wall, projections of an uninvited visitor. She knew he was there, inching closer to his desired place. Every day, she fought to keep this one corner of her world private and make sure she didn’t get lost in all his needs. But she understood the desire for comfort and security.

“You shouldn’t be here. We’ve talked about this.” 

No answer and no retreat.

Every woman in her life offered advice, convinced they knew the best way to make him a better man. Should she listen to them or trust her heart? Too often it had led her astray. The man before abandoned her. He was always seeking something else, someone else, and was never the man she needed him to be.

The visitor waited, patient and determined. He looked at her. With no words, he said all she needed to hear. The boy standing there couldn’t be blamed for the men who came before. She owed him that much.

Her heart won. She pulled back the covers, and her sweet son cuddled close. The smell of his orange-scented shampoo and the sweet sounds of his snoring lulled her into a much needed sleep, and everything faded.


If you enjoyed my story, please vote for me (#169) here. And take some time to read some other wonderful flash fiction pieces.

February 22, 2012

Gathering My Weapons: ROW80 Check In

The enemy creeps around my house, knowing we are ripe for the taking. I know better than to invite it in, and I've gathered all the weapons I can find. Garlic, crosses, and Holy water are for a different evil. One that is more easily defeated.

The evil I fight has no mercy and enjoys revisiting former victims. I've prayed for it to not return and visited specialists to get rid of it... yet Strep strikes again.

I knew I was feeling under the weather, but we'd been through our sicknesses. The whole family had Strep mere weeks ago. Antibiotics have flowed freely, toothbrushes were thrown away, things were disinfected... all to no avail.

I planned to be strong, push through--take some pill-based bravery. Then the phone call from school and subsequent doctor visit. Daughter #2 couldn't fiight it any longer. One down, Mama struggling, three more to go?

Yesterday was spent on taxes and organizing the business side of writing. I rocked it, although I wasn't smart enough to list it as a ROW80 goal. Finishing it cleared the way for writing today. I had some editing to finish first this morning, and again I rocked it.

Strep must have been laughing the whole time. By noon, I was staring into space feeling completely rundown. Then the call. Two and a half hours later (doctor plus CVS), we were back home.

Strep 1.5, Writing 0

Okay, not zero. I rewrote the same 300 words four times today trying to get it just right. I wanted it to sing, because it's a pivotal part of my WIP. It was whimpering along. Does rewriting 300 words four times count as 1,200 words? If so, I rocked writing, too!

I'm heading off to bed with what I hope will be a good book, so maybe all is not lost.

February 21, 2012

I Know This Much is True

I met with my Tax Accountant today, and I've been wading through receipts, bank statements, and Excel spreadsheets ever since. I'm almost done and may even get to go to bed sometime before tomorrow.

Brain numb, I hopped over to BlogHer to check out the February prompts. Today's prompt: Tell us something that you believe with all your heart is true.

I am a woman of faith. I do not deny or shy away from that fact. But there are so many other people, Kate from Teaching What is Good and my mother come to mind, who can put faith into words so much better than I can.

What I do believe with every ounce of my being is that you reap what you sow. Being a good person does not always have immediate rewards, but it's the right thing to do. The world tempts us to be unfair and unkind, to be selfish, because we often get what we want faster that way. But what's worth having is worth having with a clear conscience.

I might be a bit biased today. After meeting with my Tax Accountant, I was chiding myself for being too honest. The IRS makes you want to lie. No bones about it. Lying is easier thanks to the overly complicated tax code. I want to be honest about any income I receive from writing, editing, etc, but it complicates everything.

I admit I'm a worrier. That helps keep me honest, maybe it's a tool given to me before my choices began. I often joke that I could get so much more accomplished if I simply barreled through life without any thought or consideration to others or doing what was right.

But I hold my head high. As a parent, I know my kids will do what they see me do, not what I tell them to do. Knowing they watch my every move gives me another reason to stay true to myself, to do what is right.

What do you believe with all your heart is true?

February 20, 2012


I am featured on Kait Nolan's A Round of Words in 80 Days today. My post, I.N.S.P.I.R.E.D., spells out the following reasons why the writing community inspires me:


For more details about each of these categories, please visit my post at the link above.

If I had to write the same acronym for why my children (three girls who are 11, 10 and 6) inspire me, it would be because they are:

Imaginative - Nothing fosters the imagination quite like having a child around.

Needy - They have needs, but they are quick to define them and ask for specifics. Just the kind of women I want to raise. They don't know subtle yet, so they ask for what they want when they want it. Plus, what they need from me inspires me to be a better person.

Stubborn - It's not always bad. When you feel strongly about something, you should be stubborn. My kids demonstrate this ability consistently.

Playful - Life is an endless joyride in a kid's eyes. As adults, we too often forget to enjoy life. To. Just. Play.

Important - I never question my priorities when something involves my child. It's an easy way to figure out what matters in life.

Resourceful - Tell them they have twenty minutes, and it's amazing what they can find to do.

Exciting - To see life through a child's eyes is a gift. They get excited about things I've forgotten to see the beauty in anymore. Through them I can.

Daring - Rarely does fear rule the day with children. It's something we can all learn from.

What inspires you, and why?

February 19, 2012

Just Make Art: ROW80 Check In

Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad. Whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make more art. Andy Warhol

By Jack Mitchell (on Wikipedia)
I read this quote yesterday on Facebook, and it really hit me. Art is subjective, there will always be haters. I can't let fear rule the day. A little fear can be good, keep you on your toes. But letting fear take over is the death knell to art.

The trick, at least for me, is to put out my best effort. I can control the quality of the work, but I can't control others' opinions. If I had that power, I'd use it first on my children anyway. After that, the power would probably be completely exhausted.

Even the best writers have a book panned every now and again. But the dedicated ones don't let it stop them. I want to be that writer.

ROW80 Update

I didn't realize we were just past halfway for Round 1 2012 until I read Kait Nolan's post today. I need to kick some writing butt from here on out.

Writing: Sad. Although I wrote three reviews and daily posts, I only wrote 843 words on my WIP. Yesterday I was going to catch up, but my youngest daughter and I had a mommy-daughter day (my oldest girls went snow tubing with Dad). Her first request: no computer. We had a wonderful day!

I can't do wordsprints Monday or Tuesday this week, so I'm planning to get up early both days and write, write, write.

Blogging: Daily here. On Mom in Love with Fiction, I finally posted a review on Thursday for my first horror read, a collection of short stories by Carrie Green. I have two 5-star reviews coming on Tuesday and Thursday this week.

Reading: Catching up. Yesterday, I posted a list of the books on my nightstand. I've had some great responses and am adding more books to my to be read pile.

Social Media: Still way behind on getting around to my fellow campaigners. The groups are really big this year, and I'm trying to pop over and read a few posts on each person's site. I'm not even halfway.

Diet & Exercise: I know I've overpacked my days when I eat like crap. No time equals bad food choices for me. I need to restructure my days and stick to a schedule. Same with exercise. I've been 50-50 on that, and it's because of poor time management.

Check out ROW80 and some great writers here.

My biggest obstacle to productivity lately is time management. What's yours? If you rocked your goals this week, please share your secret.

February 18, 2012

What's On Your Nightstand: Campaign Fun!

Jessica Therrien, a fellow campaigner, started a fun campaign game: What's On Your Nightstand? I seem to always be chasing my tail lately, so I'm late responding. Better late than never, right?

The following books are next to my bed:

1. 11/22/63, Stephen King

2. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

3. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

4. Elephant Milk, Diane Sherry Case
2011 Next Generation Indie Award Winner - Chick Lit
(Depression Cookies was a Finalist in this category, and I was curious to read the winner.)

And, since my Kindle and IPad are next to my bed, I thought I'd list three eBooks on there that I'm excited to read.

1. Oppression, Jessica Therrien -- I'm participating in the launch party on February 28. On March 8, I'll post my interview with Jessica and my review. *squeal*

2. Listening In and Other Stories, Shauna Kelley -- I loved her first novel, Max and Menna.

3. Red, Kait Nolan -- from A Round of Words in 80 Days' fearless leader.

And many, many more. Now I just need to start going to bed earlier so I can have more reading time!

What books are next to your bed (or wherever you pile books)?

February 17, 2012

11 Questions: Campaign Fun!

I was tagged to answer eleven questions by Jennifer Fischetto, a fellow participant in Rachael Harrie's Writers' Platform-Building Campaign. Thanks, Jennifer!

I am supposed to answer the questions below and then create eleven of my own to pass on to other campaigners. However, I've noticed most everyone has been tagged, so I'm doing something a bit different. More details after my questions.

Without further ado...

1. What is the one thing you wish you knew how to do but don't?
I'm sure my answer is skewed thanks to fighting with my blog today, but I wish I knew more HTML code!

2. If you could instantly know a foreign language (one you don't already know), which would it be?
French. There's something lyrical about it.

3. What is your first birthday memory?
It's a blur of moving boxes. We moved every 2-3 years, and almost always in the summers (my birthday is August 4). I remember some friends throwing me a going-away/birthday party in middle school.

4. If you could go back to age 21 (assuming you're legal, lol), knowing what you know now, would you?
No. If I went back to 21, which does sound alluring some days, I'd want to still live with the spirit and idealism I had back then. No reason to know what you know until you know it.

5. If you went to your prom, was it everything you hoped? And if you didn't, do you regret it?
I moved to a new city the summer before my senior year of high school. I had little to no expectations, so prom was a non-event. I went, checked if off the must-do teenage events, and had a good time with girlfriends. To me, it was the last thing standing in my way before college.

6. Would you rather: perfect health, complete wealth, or never aging?
Above all, I would want happiness, but I don't want to not answer the question. Blame the fact that I'll be 40 in August, but today I'd take never aging. Ask me tomorrow, and who knows.

7. What is your favorite TV show from childhood?
Moonlighting. I had such a crush on Bruce Willis (pretty much still do) and even named my daughter, Maddie (I loved Cybil Shepherd as Maddie Hayes).

8. Which is the best book you've read in the past year?
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I was never a nonfiction reader before, and this book opened me up to it. Also, Hunger Games, because my daughter and I enjoyed it together.

9. Which is your favorite book of all time?
Tough one. Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River. I also loved I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb.

10. Which kitchen appliance could you not live without (not including the basics, fridge, stove, and sink)?
My crock pot. I love to come home to the smell of dinner almost done.

11. If you had to choose, would you rather use an outhouse or have no electricity, forever?
My kids love the "would you rather" game. I'll have to ask them this one. I'd say use the outhouse and keep my electricity. But I'm paying someone else to clean the outhouse, that's for sure.


I have one question for people visiting my blog to keep the fun going.

I love to read a good book, but more than anything, I like a book that surprises me in some way. What's the last book that surprised you?

February 16, 2012

Creative Writing Classes: What's Holding Me Back

Writing Forward is one of my go-to blogs for tips on creative writing. It's a well of information, so please check it out. Today, I popped over to read Five Things I Learned in Creative Writing Class. You know you're inspired by a post when you leave such a long comment you might as well have written your own post.

Which brings me back here. My gut reaction after reading the post was to scour the Internet in search of a creative writing class. I've been feeling a bit uninspired lately. What better way to spark inspiration than a class, right?

Then I remembered why I've hesitated to take a creative writing class or pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. Subjectivity.

I've taken a few writing classes and many English courses in college. For the most part, teachers were impressed and encouraging. It's a big boost to your self-confidence to have a teacher who believes in you, nurtures your work. I've also had experience with critical teachers, but even then most of them thought I had potential and pushed me.

Enjoying a writing piece is very subjective. I review books for several sites and on my own review blog, Mom in Love with Fiction. I completely understand, and often note, that a lot of things play into how I rate a book. It could be my mood, my taste, or even the week I'm having. Reviews are opinions, and I don't pretend to have some exclusive formula for never being wrong.

My mother decided to pursue a college degree when my baby sister started school. Thanks to multiple moves and constantly losing credits, she ended up graduating a semester after I did. Toward the end, she had a teacher who hated her writing. No bones about it, he just didn't like her style. She was discouraged and asked for my help.

Mom and I have very different writing styles. It's one of the reasons we wrote a book together... we knew our voices were distinct. Mom asked me to write her next assignment. We both read the book and discussed themes, but I was going to write it. My style. I wrote the paper, Mom got an A.

As an aside, can I just tell you how rewarding it was to write a paper for my mom and get her an A? It was payback for all the times she helped me with science projects.

We are all going to come across someone who doesn't like our work. I'm okay with that. Actually, I believe you learn more from negative reviews than positive ones. I want to grow as a writer, so I want honesty.

But I don't want to take a class and have someone just hate my work. I'd like to think I could figure out the teacher's wants and comply, but is that helping me as a writer or preparing me for a career in psychology?

I do believe the advantages to taking a writing class outweigh the potential disadvantage of a teacher blinded by his/her own opinion. But it does make me hesitate.

Have you come across a teacher/mentor who didn't like your work? Did it discourage you from your desired goal?

February 15, 2012

In My Boot: ROW80 Check In

The other day I was volunteering at my daughter's school. I wanted to surprise her, so I came early to sit with her at lunch. As I was walking up to her table, I saw her tucking the heart-shaped note I had put in her lunchbox earlier that morning into her boot.

I gave her a hug and asked if she saw my note.

"Yes, it's in my boot."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because that's where I put special things so they stay close to me."

Guess what? I now put notes in her lunchbox every day. I know they mean something to her.

The same is true for people who leave comments here. On Sunday, I wrote a post about fear. It was very hard for me to write, to admit. It meant the world to me that people left encouraging and supportive comments. They are all close to me, in my boot so to speak. Thank you.

Plus, I've received several letters during A Month of Letters Challenge. I'm looking forward to going to my mailbox again.

Do you keep special notes/cards or just log them in your heart?

My ROW80 Update

Writing: I'm frustrated because I haven't made one #teamsprinty wordsprint this week. But I did get some writing done, finishing a chapter on my WIP. I need to finish one more chapter before Sunday to be on pace. I think I can do it.

Blogging: Every day here and once on Mom in Love with Fiction. Still behind on posting reviews. Thankfully I took good notes while I was reading.

Editing: Rocking it. I have edited approximately 40 pages since Sunday. I'm in the groove.

Social Media: Barely keeping up. ☑ ROW80 sponsor comments ☑Origins blog posts (5-6 a day) but I need to visit more campaigners!

Reading: I've been too tired at night, but I'm taking my Kindle with me to my daughter's two hour swim practice tonight!

Diet and Exercise: Did a weigh in today. Thrilled that the chocolate fondue only set me back half a pound. I'm back off the sugar and I've walked/run 8 miles in the last two days.

Hope everyone is having a great week. Check out some rocking writers here.

February 14, 2012

♥♥ Happy Valentine's Day ♥♥

Happy Valentine's Day! Since it's a day filled with love, I shared some favorite love stories on my Mom in Love with Fiction blog. Check it out here.

I hope everyone is surrounded by loved ones today, basking in the warm glow of affection. For my writer friends, I hope the Muse graces you. And for all those who love words, my wish is for you to find the perfect ones.

Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.  Henry Van Dyke

February 13, 2012

Just Under the Wire: My Writing Origins

I kept noticing this badge on writers' blogs. Go check it out, I kept telling myself. And I meant to do it before today, truly I did. But at least I finally did since today is the day.

This Blogfest is being hosted by none other than DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude 2.0, Alex J. Cavanuagh, Katie Mills at Creepy Query Girl, and Mathew MacNish at QQQE. It's all about the story of your writing origins. 
My story begins with a lonely teenage girl and a notebook. Growing up, I was always new to an area (I moved 10 times by the time I was eighteen) and lacking in friends. I had a great family but craved peers, so I created them. If I didn't have my nose stuck in a book, I was writing my own stories in a notebook. Most of them were about teen angst... a subject I felt I knew well.
When I headed off to college, my father talked me into a practical degree. I listened, but waltzed into my college newspaper looking for a job. I got one and wrote for them all four years. My junior and senior years I wrote the corporate newsletter for a wholly owned subsidiary of IBM in the area. I was quite proud of myself. I had combined the practical with something I loved doing. As the daughter of a poet and an engineer, it seemed the best of both worlds.
After college, I landed jobs in the financial industry. Once a company realized I liked writing/editing, they figured they had a two-for-one deal. I was asked to work on manuals, newsletters, marketing materials... you name it. I was so thrilled to be writing and getting paid.
But I craved creative writing. I took a Short Story class at my local community college, and the desire to write intensified. In 2000, I gave birth to my first daughter and my creative writing career. Not wanting to lose myself in the role of being a mom, I approached my own mom about writing a novel together. The rest, as they say, is history.
I hope you enjoyed my "birth" story... the origins of my writing career. If you'd like to hear others' stories, please visit here.

What Makes a Good Blog Post: 6 Things I've Learned

My mission with each post is to write something people want to read. Otherwise, what's the point? Why have a blog? I could go back to pontificating to my husband and children without the added difficulty of rewrites and spell checkers.

I recently reviewed Stephen King's memoir, On Writing: On Stephen King. I could make dozens of posts out of his practical and motivating advice, but this sentence really stuck with me:

"Fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much about what they do—not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad.”

I would love to give the magic formula for writing a great post, or better yet a great novel. But, to be frank, I often don't understand it myself. There are times when I write a piece I'm so proud of and it gets very few page views. Other times, I write something off the cuff and people respond.

I can't tell you what works, but I can share some of what I have learned specifically about writing blog posts...

Be Honest. There are many blogs to choose from, make sure readers know that you will always be honest and not just say what you think they want to hear.

Be Timely. Keep up to date on your industry's news and post about it. Be sure to link to any relevant articles or other blog posts.

Give Tips. If you've learned something, chances are others have not and would like to. Plus, I've noticed people love a number in the title. If you have 5 tips, say you have 5. If you have a lot of advice, split it into a series of posts.

Ask for feedback. People might read and enjoy your posts, but not feel compelled to comment. Ask a question or request feedback to get the reader involved.

Highlight. Time is precious and most of us have many social media demands. I love reading blogs, but if the post is too long I end up skimming it. Make my job easier by highlighting important parts (bullets, short paragraphs, bold faced theme words) or breaking it into multiple posts.

Offer Value. Make your blog a valuable resource, not just a constant commercial for a product or service. People will be more apt to buy your product if they trust you.

What have you learned about writing a good blog post? Just as importantly, what is a major turn off?

Now I need to start gathering ideas for a post on writing a good novel. Wish me luck.


Since I started posting to BlogHer daily back in November, five of my posts have been featured. I thought it would be interesting to list them here.

* On Stephen King
* The Art of No
* Eyes on the Prize (retitled for BlogHer: 5 Tips for Focusing on Resolutions)
* Left and Right Distractions
* 6 Ways to Best Use Time

February 12, 2012

A Confession: ROW80 Check In

I need to put some real energy into tackling my manuscript. I'm excited about writing it, but I can't seem to find that energy. It's a weak excuse, I'm fully aware. Yet the problem remains. I sit down to write and can't focus.

This was part of my original blog post, and it went on and on about why I couldn't focus lately or find time to devote to writing. I've erased it all, because the truth is I have a confession. I'm afraid.

I knew those words were true the minute I typed them. Tears started forming, my throat felt three times too big, and my hands were trembling. I wanted to retract those two words, pretend they didn't come out. But I can't. It's the truth.

My father had a favorite saying, one he repeated to me often growing up.

You have the audacity
to doubt my veracity
to insinuate
that I might prevaricate.

Thanks to my father, and for a lot more reasons than this saying, I don't look kindly on liars--it's the easy way out. There's nothing about easy that I want to be. And I'd never want something that took dishonesty to achieve.

But back to fear. I'm afraid of failing. I love to do something for the first time, because it's new. Nobody expects you to knock it out of the ballpark on your first try. There's little to lose. When I first met my husband, I told him I'd try anything once. Then I immediately asked him to remove the smirk off his face.

Thanks to moving to new places all my life, I was conditioned to do firsts well. What I don't do well, what I have no practice doing, is repeating successes. I even married my first love, the man I met at eighteen. No complaining here, it worked out really well. Maybe I'm just lucky. Or is it beginner's luck?

The crazy thing... I had no fear about putting my first novel out there. Seems silly now. I really should have been more afraid. Now, after a few awards and good reviews for Depression Cookies, I am absolutely terrified to write something else. The fear is keeping me from it. Am I a one-trick pony? Did all the writing in me come out in one piece?

I'm my own worst critic, and I'm afraid to put out a sophomore effort that doesn't live up to my first novel. What if I found the one four-leaf clover in a massive field?

I guess it's good that I've never been the give up sort of gal. I just need to figure out how to let my love of writing push down the fear that keeps rearing its ugly head.

Any other suggestions for conquering fear would be greatly appreciated.

My ROW80 Update

Writing: Fear sidelined me. I need to beat it back. Wordsprints really help me, I get lost in the energy and focus of them and forget to be afraid.

Blogging: Daily here, and I posted a new review on Mom in Love with Fiction on Friday. I have two more in the works, both quite overdue from when I intended to post them. Sometimes it's so much easier to gear up to write a post than to sit down with my manuscript. I know that's wrong, but there's something so rewarding about blog posts and flash fiction. They are complete. Anyone else feel that way?

Social Media: Thanks to Kait Nolan, I'm now exploring Triberr. Jenny Hansen, a true ROW80 cheerleader over at Cowbell, wrote a great post about it. I'm still wading my way through the learning curve! I just wish there were more hours in the day, because it's so easy to get sucked into social media outlets. Especially now, because I just rejoined Rachael Harrie's Writers' Platform-Building Campaign. There's still time if you want to join! The Linky closes February 15.

Reading: I started and finished a book yesterday. I haven't done that in a long time, so I'm really looking forward to posting about it! It was a nice reminder why I write... because I love a good book. But sometimes the really good ones are also a fear enhancer. There are some amazing writers out there. Several of which I've now had the opportunity to get to know through the writing community. I feel honored and a bit of a fish out of water at times.

Diet and Exercise: As far as exercise, I did well. Unfortunately, I had a week of horrific eating. I think this picture from my daughter's 10th birthday slumber party says it all.

I don't know what I'd do without the writers I've met since publishing. Writing in seclusion may have been a bit less daunting, but it was never as rewarding.

February 11, 2012

Letter Writing Continues

This month, I'm participating in A Month of Letters Challenge. I've written a letter each postal day in February, and I'm loving it. To be completely fair, I write a few letters a month normally and send thank you notes for even the smallest gestures.

Maybe it's because I move so much and am always separated from friends and loved ones. It's easy for me to think of someone I want to write to. I even mailed my daughter her birthday card instead of just handing it to her this year. She was impressed, no small feat with two tweens in the house.

My plan is to continue through March, probably because when I sat down and wrote my list of letter recipients, I had way too many for just February.

Now I just need to find some fun stationery. I was disappointed when I went to Target looking for some. Totally weak selection. I guess letter writing really is dying. I just hope I don't show up to Target one day to find the book section sized down or, gasp, gone.

It's not too late to join in. You don't even have to officially sign up. Just start writing letters. I bet you'll be surprised by the number of people you want to send a letter to and how much they will appreciate it.

This challenge got me thinking... who I would love to get a letter from? Although I would love to receive letters from many people, it was loved ones who are no longer with me that came to mind. I sure wish I could hear from my grandmother (Maezelle) and Great Aunt Mary (my first daughter is named after her). I'd like them to tell me how I'm doing and what they would have done differently.

If you could receive a letter from anyone, who would it be?


Tonight is my middle daughter's 10 year old slumber party, so I had to share a picture of her (and the cupcakes we spent much of last night making).

Her birthday thank you notes are already bought. She can sit down with me and write letters tomorrow.

February 10, 2012

Family Bonding, Hunger Games style

I'm so excited for March 23, 2012 and the Hunger Games movie. Usually I go into movies based on books with a great sense of trepidation. Rarely do they live up to the movie playing in my head when I'm reading the book. I still haven't gone to see The Help, because I really loved the book (even though I've heard the movie is wonderful).

Movies are only a problem if I loved the book. If my feelings were so-so, the movie usually works out fine. I loved Hunger Games, but I must admit the previews are giving me hope that the book will be well represented.

Here's the latest trailer:

And I'm lucky because my tween daughter is as excited as I am to see it (she's read all three books, I've only read the first two). As a mom, it is my privilege responsibility to see the movie first and then her (so I get to see it twice!). She didn't get to see Breaking Dawn.

I'm so glad my daughter and I share a love of reading, because I know it's a bond that will last a lifetime.

Do you get excited about books turned into movies? What was the last one you saw that was done well?