April 30, 2012

Zero Zig-Zagging to Zenith = Z: Blogging from A to Z

Zenith (noun)
1. the point on the celestial sphere vertically above a given position or observer. 2. a highest point or state; culmination

The A to Z journey is like most of my writing journeys. You start at zero, and hope through creative inspiration you can reach something close to a zenith. What started with A, has now reached Z.

Writing is a journey with many ebbs and flows, or zigs and zags. On any given day, I believe I've reached a high point only to want to accomplish more or to be sidelined by an obstacle. The best parts are really the zig-zagging, the moments of learning and growing.

I think one of the reasons people quit is because they're afraid they won't be able to get better and better; that they have to come to a zenith of some kind. Conrad Hall

I'll strive for the zenith, but focus on the journey.

Speaking of journeys, it's hard to pick my favorite posts from this month, because each one taught me something. Here are the top five according to page views and comments:

C = Corner of Crazy & Creative
G = Grammar
I = Isn't it Ironic?
K = Kick It or Kiss It
M = Mauling Malapropism

I've so enjoyed the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. A special thanks to the hosts:
Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out,
Alex J. Cavanaugh,
Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs,
Jenny Pearson at Pearson Report,
Matthew McNish at The QQQE,
Tina Downey at Life is Good,
Jeremy Hawkins at Retro-Zombie,
DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude,
Shannon Lawrence at The Warrior Muse,
Elizabeth Mueller,
Damyanti Biswas at Amlokiblogs,
Karen Gowen at Coming Down the Mountain,
Konstanz Silverbow at No Thought 2 Small

I'll definitely be joining again next year! Will you?

April 29, 2012

Mirror Mirror: ROW80 Update

Tonight I took my baby girl to see Mirror Mirror. I am quite the fan of fairy tales, and love to see them retold. My daughters and I watch Once Upon a Time together, so I was really looking forward to another Snow White saga.

Seeing age old fairy tales revisited and different spins on classic tales gives me hope as a writer. I'm always worried that my ideas aren't original enough, and I don't want to do what's already been done.

What I have to remember is that no two people, much less authors, see life through the same lenses. Even if we came up with the same story, we bring to it our own experiences and emotions. Snow White is a basic tale, but look what it has spawned. In addition to the television show and Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman is slated to hit theaters on June 1, 2012.

I say bring on the fairy tales. I'm looking forward to all the interpretations, and I love the reminder that we all have a tale to tell.

FYI: I love Once Upon a Time, but I was only mildly entertained by Mirror Mirror.

My ROW80 Update

A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Participants set goals and check in on Sundays and Wednesdays for support and encouragement.

Writing: Thanks to another #teamsprinty #ROW80 wordsprint (Monday-Friday, 2:00-3:00pm EST), I logged 1,128 words since Wednesday's check in. Not stellar, but I'll take it!!

Editing: Sent off my first beta read comments. I haven't heard back yet, so I hope I didn't scare her away.

Blogging: A to Z ends tomorrow, and it's been a blast. In case you missed these... Writing Wanderlust = W, Xanthippe & Xenophon = X, and Yakety Yak = Y.

Social Media: Still in catch-up mode.

Reading: My head has been hitting the pillow hard the last few days, so I've slowed down.

Exercise:  Running going well, but food is not. I'm visiting my mother this weekend... need I explain further?

Hoping all my ROW80 friends, and anyone else trying to meet goals, are doing well!

April 28, 2012

Yakety Yak = Y: Blogging from A to Z

I am a woman surrounded by women. As the oldest of three girls and now mom to three daughters, my life is destined to be full of yakety yak. I'm not complaining, conversation is character study for a writer.

Still, I have to admit the lyrics of The Coaster's song, Yakety Yak, often come to mind these days. My oldest daughter is 12 (the other two are 10 & 7), so I've only just begun the journey through teenagerdom. The next time I'm asking for something and getting a lot of lip service, I think I might just break out into song.

Yakety Yak

Take out the papers and the trash
Or you don't get no spendin' cash
If you don't scrub that kitchen floor
You ain't gonna rock and roll no more
Yakety yak (don't talk back)

Just finish cleanin' up your room
Let's see that dust fly with that broom
Get all that garbage out of sight
Or you don't go out Friday night
Yakety yak (don't talk back)

You just put on your coat and hat
And walk yourself to the laundromat
And when you finish doin' that
Bring in the dog and put out the cat
Yakety yak (don't talk back)

Don't you give me no dirty looks
Your father's hip; he knows what cooks
Just tell your hoodlum friend outside
You ain't got time to take a ride
Yakety yak (don't talk back)

And two extra verses from me for fun:

You are too young for some snot-nosed fool
to be making you squeal and drool
So get back to putting your clothes away
And please don't let your thoughts stray
Yakety yak (don't talk back)

I'm doing this for your own good
so stop hiding 'neath that hood
Don't be thinking you invented yak
'Cause your Mama mastered talking back.
Yakety Yak (cut me some slack)

If you enjoyed the extra lyrics, give me some comment love.


Tune in Monday, April 30th for the last A to Z post, and don't forget to check out other alphabetizing bloggers here.

April 27, 2012

Xanthippe & Xenophon = X: Blogging from A to Z

Ah, X. Game on. I can't take credit for thinking of Xanthippe (nod to Mom, thanks!) or for knowing anything about Socrates' wife (or that he had one). Too often in history those who support and uplift are relegated to the dark background. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me the name of Noah's wife. You can't tell me she wasn't doing her fair share on that Ark, so it seems her name should at least be mentioned.

But back to Xanthippe.

Xanthippe [zænˈθɪpɪ], n
1. (Biographies / Xanthippe F, Greek, MISC: wife of Socrates) the wife of Socrates, proverbial as a scolding and quarrelsome woman
2. any nagging, peevish, or irritable woman

Wow, that's quite the legacy. Now, I'm sure Socrates must have been one tough man to live with for her to have earned such a reputation. One particular story has Xanthippe dumping a chamber pot on Socrates' head. According to various online sources, she was almost 40 years his junior and they had three sons close in age.

Can you imagine being married to a man "known for confusing, stinging and stunning his conversation partners into the unpleasant experience of realizing their own ignorance, a state sometimes superseded by genuine intellectual curiosity"? (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) And also one known for this quote: "As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will, he will be sure to repent."

I'm thinking some repenting caused the chamber pot incident. Just a theory, so Socrates would be proud.

Did you know Socrates didn't write philosophical texts? Most of his legacy is told through his star pupil, Plato. Scholars aren't sure how much of Plato's version is strictly fact or fictionalized character. Another pupil, Xenophon, is credited with sullying Xanthippe's good name.

From Wikipedia: It is only in Xenophon's Symposium where we have Socrates agree that she is (in Antisthenes' words) "the hardest to get along with of all the women there are." Nevertheless, Socrates adds that he chose her precisely because of her argumentative spirit.

Sounds like Xanthippe should get some credit for pushing Socrates to greater heights. Of all of Socrates' famous quotes, I'm hoping he utilized this one most at home: "As for me, all I know is that I know nothing."

If your name could live on, what definition would you like it to represent?

As for me, I'm happy that Tia stands for Truth in Advertising. I want to be known for representing myself truthfully and openly.


Only two to go. I bet you can hardly hide your excitement! Please check back for Y & Z. I'd give you a preview, but I'm still mulling over my options.

Check out some other X posts, and great blogs, here.

April 26, 2012

Writing Wanderlust = W: Blogging from A to Z

I have a strong desire to explore the world through writing and reading. The writing fire is a constant burn within me. Whether I'm working on my latest novel or writing a blog post, I can't imagine a day where words don't bring me happiness. It's my way of figuring out why we are here. Or trying to anyway.

Sometimes this wanderlust is a curse, because writing a novel takes patience and focus. My mind wants to jump around to different topics and tackle new writing challenges. Once I have an idea, I have to force myself to stay with it until the end. To truly savor the journey, I can't be wanting to take another one.

The person susceptible to wanderlust is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation.
Pico Iyer

Writing allows me to give characters troubles I might be facing or contemplating. Through their journey, I can have my own. Blog posts and journal entries also give me tools to answering life's toughest questions.

Do you have wanderlust?

Only 3 days left for A to Z. I can't wait to see what others come up with for X, Y, Z. Check out some amazing bloggers here.

And a special shout-out to my baby girl, Madeleine Elizabeth. She is seven today. I am grateful to call myself her mom and help her on this journey we call life.

That was then
This is now

April 25, 2012

When Will I Learn? = ROW80 Check In

What is it about knowing what will work that causes me to do the opposite? I know eating too much sugar makes me bloated and yucky, yet I crave it. I know I have to write to accumulate words, yet I let anything and everything distract me from it. Yes, let. As much as I'd like to pretend otherwise, it's a choice. A choice I make way too much these days.

It's so much easier to blame distractions (phone rings; email, FB, and Twitter announcements flash on my phone; stomach growls; kids come home; and on and on) than to focus.

Today, I forced myself to do a #ROW80 #teamsprinty word sprint. Yes, I must use the word forced. I tried a thousand times during the day to talk myself out of it, although I wasn't totally conscious of doing so. "I have so much to do," kept taking over my thoughts.

In the first thirty minutes of the sprint, I had 208 words. They came out slowly and painfully. I was set to give up, but I couldn't go out with a 208 thirty-minute check in. I may be pig-headed, but I'm no quitter. The second half whizzed by, and I had 822 more words to show for it. And, guess what? I kept writing for thirty minutes and added 671 words. An hour and a half of focus resulted in 1,701 words.

I've learned this lesson before, so back to my title... when will I learn? Why do I fight what I know to be true? I do this with more things than writing, and it's starting to tick me off. I'm going to be 40 in August, and it's high time I learn a lesson and log it permanently into my brain. Learning a lesson the first time is hard enough!

Wish me luck!

My ROW80 Update

Writing: See above. Now to make 2-3pm part of my magic writing time at least 3x a week. That's now part of my goals.

Blogging: A to Z is still cruising along (although it's also been one of my excuses not to work on the WIP). Since Sunday: Tripping over Transitions = T, Undone and Unsettled = U (thanks, Mom!), and Veracity = V.

Editing: I have signed on to be a beta reader for the first time. I'll include that here, because I don't know that I can differentiate between beta reading and editing. Can someone enlighten me? I can't help but to correct and offer suggestions. But, as a beta reader versus a hired editor, should I only give generalized impressions?

Social Media: I'm catching up, but refusing to let it be my excuse for not getting other things done.

Reading: Still going strong. I finished another book Monday, and reviewed it. Finally wrote my Ape House review for tomorrow (on Mom in Love with Fiction).

Exercise: Running is becoming a way of life for me, thanks to some wonderful running partners. I never thought I'd say that. Ever. I'm quite proud of myself. Sugar, however, loves to present itself as a reward. Still working on conquering that.

Check out some other A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) participants here.

Veracity = V: Blogging from A to Z

Not only did Mom and I co-author Depression Cookies, but she's a frequent guest here. She's the reason I love writing and reading, and I credit her with so much of who I am.

But, I wanted to use V to talk about Dad. Both my parents are super-honest people, but Dad was the one who really drove the importance of veracity ("devotion to the truth") home. We are all human, and we all lie on occasion. Yet, I try with every fiber of my being to be honest and truthful with people.

However, that doesn't mean I am compelled to go spouting my truth to anyone who will listen. As Dad often said, "I try not to ever lie, but that doesn't mean I go blabbing the truth."

Plus, there's an important element to truth that we should all consider: my truth may not be yours. I may strongly believe in something, hold it as truth in my heart, but that does not mean someone else believes the same. Truth is in the mind of the beholder, and it's easy to manipulate or evade. Not to mention, if you lie to yourself long enough, doesn't it become your truth?

Growing up, my dad often said:

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

Few things insult me more than someone telling me I'm lying, particularly my children. I tell them they can always expect the truth from me. Then my daughter pointed out the "Santa lie" as proof that I don't. I really had to ponder that one.

So, now I'm even more honest with my children. I tell them I will always do what I think is in their best interest, and will always give them direct and honest answers to their questions. Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter bunny fall into the "don't go blabbing the truth" idea.

To further complicate veracity, I think little white lies that protect people's feelings are justified. ("No, you don't look fat in that dress.")

So after all this talk about being devoted to the truth, I sure seem to have come up with many exceptions to the rule.

What does veracity mean to you?

April 24, 2012

Undone & Unsettled = U: Blogging from A to Z

One of my biggest blessings is my relationship with my mother. I hope my daughters feel the same way about me someday.

Today, please welcome Mom. She's guest posting for U day in Blogging from A to Z, and please come back to finish the journey V through Z. Only five more days of A to Z fun!

But, for now, please enjoy Mom's call to action.


Undone and Unsettled
I like these words. For years I fought both, never wanting to seem vulnerable or weak. Today, I find them freeing and revolutionary. I want to be undone and unsettled. I want to feel undone and unsettled. Not in the case of a health crisis, a bounced check, or relationship problems. I want to be undone and unsettled from the ordinary, mundane day-to-day experiences.

Maybe I won’t get Flynn Ryder coming through my bedroom window, but maybe, just maybe, I will push the limits and strive to see today in a way I’ve never seen it before. To experience something so intentionally that it becomes a cherished memory.

What does this mean? Undone? Unsettled? It is a new mantra to empower us, move us to initiate newness and boldness in our lives. A lot of people start every New Year off with a list of resolutions to pump-up and prepare themselves for more . . . move more, eat less, live a healthier lifestyle . . . yadda, yadda, yadda. How long did it last for you this year? It is April, you know.

So why not forget all that foolishness. Get undone and unsettled. Now I didn’t say overdone and overdue, I said undone and unsettled. It’s bold, and it’s courageous. Every day for a month push yourself to do something outrageously female. Eat a dish of creamy, decadent pasta and follow it with spumoni. Indulge in a second glass of wine. Take a friend or a lover with you and laugh out loud and unabashed. Savor each mouthful as if it was pure gold and you are worth every dime of it.
It’s so much more tantalizing to be uninhibited. Make eye contact with the person at the table next to you and smile like you’re Sophia Loren, shove those breasts up high and round. Forget the belly. Only wimpy women care what’s below the table’s edge.

That could be day one.
For day two through thirty, dream up idiotic, fun, exploratory things. You don’t have to sign it, kiss it, or live with it. It’s just for the day! And for fun, share one brazen, hussy thing to tantalize us with. I can’t wait to hear from you!

April 23, 2012

Tripping over Transitions = T: Blogging from A to Z

As a mother, I know a lot about transitions. But knowing and mastering are two completely different things. Most kids don't like transition and they really don't like quick, unexpected changes. You can't move too quickly from play to work or homework to activities. Rushing them only makes the situation more volatile. But it's hard to space things out in a way that everyone flows gracefully from one thing to another.

I feel the same way when I'm reading. I don't like an abrupt and unexplained change in story, focus, or voice without any explanation.  

A good book should be an interesting journey down a scenic, winding path--not a straight drop off a cliff. Some tense and surprising story changes can add to drama, but it has to be expertly done to not be jarring. I don't mind a maze, as long as I'm never left so frustrated that giving up seems easier than finishing.

Abrupt story changes leave the reader scratching his/her head. An author should give the reader as few excuses as possible to pull away from the story. If a reader's mind starts to wander, they disengage. Almost every 5-star review talks about not being able to put a book down. These types of books have seamless transitions.

Flashbacks and changing narrators make for tricky transitions. When it's done well, the story threads weave together into a beautiful tapestry. When it's not, it's a first time knitter's three-armed sweater.

How much stumbling can you take before you put a book down? What story elements do you feel are the trickiest transitions?

April 22, 2012

Damn Ants: ROW80 Check In

I know what you're thinking... what could ants possibly have to do with my A Round of Words in 80 Days check in post? Well, since you asked...

Yesterday, I went to put away our Costco haul into the pantry. As I was moving things around, I found a colony of ants. I freaked, bugs tend to do that to me. I started pulling everything out... not just the stuff on the floor level where the ants were. Everything.

My husband sees my panic attack and tries to help. He's a good man, but hanging with me in a small space while I freak out is a bit beyond the call of duty. (The children ran and hid. I thought my panic scared them off, but it was their own fear. Turns out the ant attraction was an opened box of cookies left on the pantry floor.)

I never saw an ant above the floor level, but I was a woman on a mission. Then I decided that the connected washroom could be hiding some critters, so I started scrubbing and rearranging in there too. Once I had the vacuum out, it made sense to vacuum the whole main level. And so on.

The ant-writing connection: my original goal was to put things away and move on. But the ants completely sidetracked me, and I lost focus. The Costco stuff was sitting in the kitchen in piles while I freaked out. A simple task snowballed into two hours of insanity.

Daily, it is my goal to sit down and write. I usually start by reading the previous chapter to spark the story in my brain. Too often I find ants running around. I start editing or think of a post I want to do. Two hours later, I haven't added one single word to my WIP.

Granted, some situations require immediate attention, but most of my ant-distracting moments are social media, editing, shiny objects. I need to just clean the ant-infested area, instead of letting distractions domino and take over.

Okay, enough about bugs...

Writing: The ants took over. I read a chapter and then went back and worked on some inconsistencies (and let many other distractions take me away as well). I need to move forward and stop going back. The problem: the more time between writing sessions, the more I need to read the previous chapter to get in the zone.

Do you reread the last few pages before you start writing again, or do you go with it and plan to go back later and fix any issues?

I feel like re-reading is distracting me lately. My goal is to put writing first and not even look at anything else. I might have to take my laptop and go somewhere without distractions (or wi-fi). My home is not that place.

Also, I need to take a couple of days and do some outlining. I'm a write-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of lady, but it might be time to embrace planning.

Blogging: Oh the places you'll go, when A to Z you must row. Okay, Dr. Seuss I'm not, but I'm really enjoying the brain firing that's going on for this challenge. Since Wednesday, I posted: Questioning Quantity & Quality, 'Riting & Receiving Reviews, and Story Strengths. And I reviewed a book, ReVamped (4.5 stars), on Mom in Love with Fiction.

Editing: The nonfiction book I've been working on needed one more look before going to the printer. I found quite a few formatting errors. I love editing, but I feel such pressure to make sure nothing gets by me. I honestly feel like I could edit from now until the end of time and find SOMETHING!

Reading: Still reading at least a book a week. I'm finding the time to read, but now I need to find some time to sleep. I'd rather read than sleep, but my body doesn't always agree.

Social Media: I seem to be perpetually behind, but I'm not giving up! If I haven't been to see you in awhile, leave me a comment and challenge me to get by your blog. I'm all about a good challenge. ;-)

Exercise: Friday morning I got up at 5am to do a 5-mile run. I'm working on adding more protein (thanks, Eloise!) and avoiding sugar.

If I haven't been by to encourage you yet this ROW80 round, I apologize. I'm pulling for you, and I plan to make a stop by your blog soon to make sure you know it.

Want to know more about A Round of Words in 80 Days or its participants, please visit here.

April 21, 2012

Story Strengths = S: Blogging from A to Z

I love stories, whether in book form or oral, and find myself attracted to storytellers. Some of my dearest friends know the art of spinning a tale; it could be about their husband, their children, childhood memories, something that happened to them, and so on. Not only do I find sharing stories entertaining, I find it a way for us to bond and relate to each other.

My Favorite "S" Story Elements

Ah, I adore the wit and humor needed to pull off sarcasm. I've always been a fan. However, a warning to anyone who loves sarcasm and is considering becoming a parent... the two don't mix. Children do not have the capacity to understand sarcasm for many years. Case in point: my middle daughter is quite verbal, and I quite sarcastic. When she was about five, she was having a meltdown (about what, I can't remember... God grants Mommies the gift of amnesia so our children survive). The crying was so fake, I could barely stand it. Then she said she was going to keep crying until she got what she wanted. Distracted and bored with the drama, I offhandedly said, "Like that's going to work." She looked at me, slightly confused, and asked the obvious question, "It is?"

Nothing's better than an endearing story, especially about children or loved ones. Sweetness, at least for me, can wear a bit thin if it gets gooey or downright over the top. But it's a nice element when mixed in with others. (Note: sweet should never be confused with sweat. Ask my husband who once started a card to me with, Dear Sweaty.)

We all want a little sexiness in our lives. Look at the success of Fifty Shades of Gray by E L James. It's tantalizing and tempting, or so I've been told. As far as sharing stories with friends, the sexy element is in the delivery. Sexiness doesn't always have to be about sex; it's something alluring and that piques our interest. (Note: Another argument for e-readers... books like Fifty Shades of Gray. Nobody on an airplane or in the doctor's office will ever know what you are reading!)

Without this, you have little. I don't mind a tall tale every now and again, but what I really want is to know someone means every word they say. Readers and listeners are savvy, and they'll know when you aren't being genuine.

We all love a juicy secret. Gossip has survived for generations due to our desire to be privy to knowledge. It's not just the secret, it's the feeling of knowing someone wants to confide in you. In novels, the reader gets to be privy to the secret and see the repercussions.

The best source for these stories: children. I love listening to a child, particularly my own, go on and on and developing their own sense of storytelling. A bit of silliness from adults and characters in books is usually a welcome breath of fresh of air, too.

Life is a grand mix of happy and sad. Happiness means more when it comes out of or after moments of sadness. Without one, the other is cheapened. Sadness helps us relate and realize we all have our struggles. I believe sharing sad stories can bring us all together quicker than the happy ones.

It's all about balance and moderation. Too much of any of these hurts a story.

What do you think is the best S element of storytelling?


We so appreciate everyone who is stopping by to enjoy our A to Z journey. Please join us for T to Z. Check out some of the other participants here.

April 20, 2012

'Riting & Receiving Reviews = R: Blogging from A to Z

Reviews are important to authors and readers alike. Readers can find reviewers they trust and base their to-be-read pile on their recommendations. Authors can get valuable feedback and word-of-mouth advertising, hands down the best way to get other people to read your book is to have unbiased readers touting it.

There are some wonderful review bloggers out there, in addition to the reviewers in magazines in newspapers. Although I must admit, I see very few of those nowadays. If you have any interest in book reviews on lesser-known novels or independently-published ones, you need to find book bloggers.
create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!
I have a review blog, Mom in Love with Fiction, that is primarily dedicated to lesser-known and independently-published books. Since I read anything and everything, I also write reviews of popular titles. I started it simply because I love reading and wanted to share.

As an author, I have great respect for writers who put their books out there for public consumption and review. Before I published, I was a harsher critic. Now, I try to find the good in any given piece while also being honest about my opinions.

What I find the hardest, summarizing why I think someone should read a book. One thing I know for sure from being a longtime book club member, a roomful of people RARELY agree on a book.

Should I summarize the highlights of the book as I see it and give a quick commentary, or mainly write commentary and let them read the back cover for a summary?

As far as receiving reviews, I understand and respect that people have different opinions. But, there are some reviews on Amazon that seem mean-spirited and hateful. You can politely say a book is not for you without calling it awful, stupid, worthless, etc. Just as bad, a one-star review on GoodReads without one word as to why.

I read an article recently that there are "spammers" that go around putting one-star reviews on tons of books to bring the averages down. That's a shame.

What do you look for in a book review to make you want to read a book? Do you ever leave reviews on Amazon or GoodReads?

Thanks for visiting during R of my A to Z Blogging journey. Please visit other participants here.

Also, a fun giveaway on my review blog. Click HERE for details on how to win a Kindle copy of ReVamped by Ada Adams (4.5 stars). The contest deadline is TODAY, 4/20/12, at 1:00pm EST.

April 19, 2012

Questioning Quantity & Quality = Q: Blogging from A to Z

I am constantly questioning. Rarely does a day go by where I don't analyze and try to process a myriad of issues. As a writer, I love questioning... diving deep into my own thoughts and trying to figure out the thoughts of others adds to my character database.

Today, I thought I'd question my readers on some things I've been pondering lately.

First, questioning quantity.

I love blogging, it's exercise for my writing muscles, but I'm always unsure how many posts a week people want. Challenges like A to Z and May's Blogathon inspire me to post daily, but can most readers keep up with that? Do they want to?

Please help me out by answering this poll.

Second, questioning quality.

I love to read, and nothing distracts me more than errors throughout a story. I'm a firm believer in not giving a reader any excuse to disengage from your work. Poor grammar, bad punctuation, awkward sentences... it all distracts me from the story.

But what's acceptable?

I have to admit I'm more critical of traditionally published novels. Those novels get the benefit of an experienced and focused editing department. A few errors in one of those novels comes across as sloppy. However, I understand more errors in independently published books. I'm still picky and those authors aren't off the hook, but it's hard to find a trustworthy professional editor who knows what they are doing.

Are you more lenient about errors in independently published books? Will you put a book down for having too many errors, or can an amazing story hold your attention?


Thanks for helping me today! I hope you'll be back for more fun, R to Z.

Check out some other amazing bloggers here.

April 18, 2012

Splitting: ROW80 Check In

Yesterday I attended a middle school parent meeting focusing on anxiety in adolescents. I sat directly across from the professional leading the discussion.

She began by identifying a growing problem in young kids, something she called splitting. These children are perfectionists, so they only see things as perfect or failure. Either they get a 100% on a test, or they've failed. Fear of this failure can start to rule their everyday lives.

I sat there, trying to take it all in. But what I was really doing... desperately trying to calm my mind on several levels. One, I constantly struggle with what my kids need from me as parent. Two, I struggle with what I need from myself to feel worthwhile and successful.

I'm quite the perfectionist. Loads of encouraging comments register, but one negative or scathing input will take over my mind. I need to work on that and not just for my children, but for my writing. Self-doubt is one thing, it happens to us all in varying degrees. (If it doesn't happen to you, please leave you name and number in the comment section, so I can call and pick your brain.)

Perfection can never be achieved, and who would want it? If we were all perfect, where would all the interesting stories we write about come from? They are called character flaws for a reason.

I must say, I'm constantly amazed how much I learn about myself while I'm trying to raise my children.

My ROW80 Update

Writing: All kinds of writing for A to Z, none for me. I need to get my head in the game and focus. Yes, life has been throwing me curve balls, but I just need to focus and swing at them. Can't win the game if you don't swing.

Editing: Took a step back for a few days after finishing my huge project. I have some beta reading and other editing work to do and will get back to it tomorrow.

Blogging: Still loving A to Z. This week: Networking = N, Onomatopoeia = O, and Picking and Piddling = P (thanks for that one, Mom). Plus, I posted a review on Mom in Love with Fiction.

Social Media: Doing my best to get around and comment.

Reading: I've read 20 books toward my 52-book goal!

Exercise: Running is going so well. It's finally clicking. I just wish it didn't make me so freaking hungry (and I wish my husband didn't make the best darned chocolate chip cookies around!).

Hope everyone is doing well. Check out fellow ROW80 participants here.

Piddling & Picking = P: Blogging from A to Z

Mom's back, and her P post is inspired by my dad (known to my kids as Papa). A P post by a parent about another parent. Perfect, if I do say so myself.

I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did. But maybe I have a distorted sense of humor brought about by the author and subject of the post below.


Piddling and Picking

Don’t laugh. Both piddling and picking are an acquired art, according to my husband. From a child, he was called a piddler. If you don’t know what a piddler is, you haven’t met one. Once you have, the definition is clear. It’s a state of being where you aren’t rushing around like a mad fool and not stagnant like a worn out tire. You go about life’s business at a pace that allows you to fondle things on your work bench or examine how sharp the blade is on your edger. It isn’t loafing. It isn’t fixing things either. But it is all about lingering and studying. And considering the manic pace of life today, I might agree piddling is an art form.

But picking? I’m not so sure if the act of picking is art, but the end product if picked well might be somewhat profitable. The TV show American Pickers is my husband’s favorite. In it, Mike and Frank go from town to town and through a lot of people’s barns, houses, stables, and garages to find the perfect pick to bargain on, buy, and resale. Picking is what I call a garage sale except you get dirty, touch rodents, and plow through spider webs. Need I say more?

My husband debates from his recliner, loudly advising Mike and Frank how to be coy or bargain hard. But I’ve been watching him, and I do believe he has a crush on Danielle. She runs Mike’s shop, Antique Archaeology. She’s the gothic, tattoo babe that greets the “boys” when they check in. Personally, I think someone who looked like Vicki Lawrence’s character, Mama, would make a bigger hit. At least she would add some humor to the show. Unfortunately the hubby says attractive women raise viewership. He points out Fox News. Need I say more?

So if you have time on your hands, look on piddling and picking with disdain or as a waste of time, you might want to experiment with it in order to make a clearer judgment. I did. Need I say more?


At our core, aren't writers and all artists piddlers?

We go around observing, taking in details. Granted, I tend to do this at an all-out pace. Maybe I should embrace slowing down and piddling. Heck, I'm all for some picking, too.

The journey from A to Z continues, and tomorrow is Q. Q! Can't wait to see the other participants tackling Q.

April 17, 2012

Onomatopoeia = O: Blogging from A to Z

I am a word nerd; I say it loud and proud. Words have the amazing ability, when strung together properly, to inspire and ignite. The fact that we've made up new words throughout the years to represent sounds and feelings is inspiring (unless that new word is irregardless, but that's another subject!).

Onomatopoeia: [on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh, ‐mah-tuh]  1. the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent. 2. a word so formed. 3. the use of imitative and naturally suggestive words for rhetorical, dramatic, or poetic effect.

There's the obvious buzz, wham, tick tock and then there's the pure joy I get from even saying the word. Onomatopoeia rolls off the tongue like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and simply makes me happy. Someone really should honor the word with a song (don't worry, it won't be me) and the melody it inspires.

It already brings to life so many of our favorite nursery rhymes like Baa Baa Black Sheep and Old MacDonald. What Mom has not spent countless hours perfecting her perfect woof, moo, meow, and quack? And to honor O, there's ouch, ow, and oink.

Now that my children are getting older and approaching the teenage years at a rate I cannot control or slow, I have new appreciation for onomatopoeia. Words like mumble, huff, huh, hiss, growl, chatter, screech, sniff, ugh, whisper, and so on.

What's your favorite example of onomatopoeia?


O down, eleven more to go P to Z.
Thanks for joining me!

Find some other great O bloggers here.

April 16, 2012

Networking = N: Blogging from A to Z

Prior to publishing my first novel, Depression Cookies, in October 2010, I was a closet writer. Very few of my friends knew I was writing a novel, and I had no idea I should be creating a platform; blogging; creating a presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+; joining a writing community; and the list goes on.

Networking has added so much to my writing experience. I've found fellow writers who encourage me and share their knowledge, most notably through Kait Nolan's A Round of Words in 80 Days and Rachael Harrie's Writers' Platform-Building Campaigns. And now I'm loving the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

But what got me started... last May I happened upon Michelle Rafter's WordCount Blogathon, a challenge to post every day in the month of May. Not only did I met an amazing group of writers/bloggers, but I learned so much about posts and blogging. Last year I signed up for Twitter, and learned so much about it, for this challenge. This year there is a Pinterest component; I have avoided Pinterest, but I'll be jumping in now.

If you are looking to expand your blog and gain knowledge, please join us in May for the Blogathon. Visit this post for more information and to sign up. I know I can't wait.

Networking has helped me realize I'm not alone. I have so many resources now, and they continue to grow. No matter if you are nervous, normal, new, nerdy (me!), nude (they can't see you!), naive (me last year)... everyone can benefit from building their network.

Have you had success with networking online? If so, please share groups or challenges you've found the most rewarding.


Thanks for joining me for N. I hope I'll see you back here for O through Z.

April 15, 2012

Free as a Bird: ROW80 Check In

Okay, a bit of creativity run amuck with that title, but today I wanted to share a link to 21 free eBooks AND talk about Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird.

First the link to 21 free eBooks, free TODAY ONLY (Sunday, 4/15) and sponsored by the Melissa Foster spearheaded World Literary Cafe. Please check them out here. (You have to be a member to view the free eBooks, but it's fast and easy to register.)

Now on to inspiration... so many of you recommended Bird by Bird to me. Thank you!

While Stephen King inspired me to read King (since I never had before On Writing), Anne Lamott inspired me to read anything and everything. A complete review of Bird by Bird can be found here, but here's an excerpt:

Every page looked like this

My oldest daughter owes Anne Lamott big time! Thanks to her Operating Instructions: A Journal of my Son’s First Year, I survived my first year as a mother. Another new mom recommended the book to me. I clearly had been living under a rock, because I never heard of Lamott prior to this.

Fast forward ten years (and yes, I’m still surviving motherhood. I even added two more daughters to the mix). Many fellow writers were touting Lamott’s craft book, Bird by Bird. I knew I had to read it. If she could make me laugh and give me strength during the most sleep-exhausted and difficult (although insanely rewarding) early parenting years, I had no doubt she could inspire my writing.

Again, she did not disappoint.

Similar to Stephen King’s On Writing, I felt like I was sitting in the room with the author while she told me stories and offered advice. Her candor lulled me in like a comforting lullaby.

Not one to sugarcoat things, something I find quite endearing, Lamott emphasizes the idea that publication is not the end-all be-all for writers. It, like most things we romanticize, is not all it’s cracked up to be. Writing because you love it should be enough.

My favorite part: shitty first drafts. I knew I had them, but to know an author I respect has them, too... priceless. Since I bang out words with cramped hands, only to go back and find it needs quite a bit of work, it felt good to know I wasn't the only one. I feel the same about running. I look at all the other runners, and they seem to be gliding on air while I'm pounding the pavement. Literally, I feel like the pavement is moving underneath me.

I have to remind myself, as Lamott reminded me, that those runners have been running for years and in the beginning they were shitty, too. Same with writing. Very few of us, if any, write an inspired masterpiece in one sitting.

Does it help you to know other authors bang out shitty first drafts, too?

On to my A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update:

Writing: I spent a minimum of two hours a day writing, but mostly on A to Z and review posts. Still, the juices were flowing. I need to polish a chapter on the Depression Cookies follow up today and write the next one.

Editing: I'm two-thirds of the way done with a huge project. I would have finished last night, but my vision started blurring. I figured it's never good to edit at 1am when you keep shaking your head to clear the fog. Know what I mean?

Blogging: Still loving A to Z. Since Wednesday, I talked about Kick it of Kiss it and Mauling Malapropism, plus Mom guest posted about Letting Loose. Plus, I posted my Bird by Bird review on Mom in Love with Fiction.

Social Media: I'm doing much better and catching up. Is it me, or are there fewer people this Round of ROW80?

Reading: Just finished another book last night, so I need to write two reviews.

Exercise: Rocking it. Doing better about sugar, too. Actually, I'm doing a sugar sweep tomorrow and getting rid of all temptations. Not just for me, but for my 10-year-old who just got diagnosed with high cholesterol. It's familial, but I'm not taking any chances or putting her on meds. Wish me luck!

Wishing you all a great writing week! Please check out the other ROW80 bloggers here.

April 14, 2012

Mauling Malapropism = M: Blogging from A to Z

Malapropism: Absurd or humorous misuse of a word, especially by confusion with one of similar sound.

I'll admit, I was familiar with this concept but not with this term until I was searching for interesting quotes one day. Yogi Berra, an accomplished baseball player and manager, is known for his humongous misuse of words. (okay, humorous)

Yogi Berra (from Wikipedia)
According to Wikipedia: Berra, who quit school after the eighth grade, has a tendency toward malapropism and fracturing the English language.

An example: "He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious." (ambidextrous)

Before you write off malapropism as people simply destroying the English language, consider its contribution to humor.

"Well I try to look at the bright side. I guess you could say I'm an internal optometrist." (Steve Carell as Barry in Dinner for Schmucks, 2010)

Growing up, my sister used to always run around the house looking for her homework or school needs, often asking, "Have you seen my constipation notebook?" (composition) What started as misuse continued as a way to make her sisters and parents laugh.

The more I looked into malapropism, the more intrigued I became. I think I'll be visiting this topic again in the future. Since A to Z is about keeping it short, I thought I'd share a few more examples.

"It is beyond my apprehension." Danny Ozark, baseball team manager

"Listen to the blabbing brook." Norm Crosby

An a few quotes from the All in the Family Archie Bunker character, quite the master of malapropism.

"A woman doctor is only good for women's problems...like your groinocology."

"Patience is a virgin."

"I ain't a man of carnival instinctuals like you."

What's your favorite example of malapropism?

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the title of this post, I was playing around with the concept and mulling malapropism.


I hope you enjoyed M! Please join us for N through Z, and check out other A to Z participants here.

April 13, 2012

Letting Loose = L: Blogging from A to Z

Today, I welcome Mom, Angela Silverthorne, back to the blog. Mom and I co-wrote Depression Cookies and work together as much as we can.


Letting Loose

When I first began writing, I dreamed of writing for children. I wrote short stories and poems about little ones who were always getting into trouble. It helped that my protagonist lived right under my roof, my little brother. He was forever up to no good, to the point I thought my poor mother would go bald from running her hands through her hair.
But writing about little brothers gets tiring. I wanted to let loose and do something no one else had ever done. My initiation into letting loose began on my 16th birthday. At that point in my life, my favorite author was Victoria Holt. Since there were no knights in shining armor or damsels in distress in my neighborhood, I decided to write about the characters around me. 
Mom and Dad back in the day
A character study is similar to stalking. At sixteen, stalking is not easy. The whole time I tried to be covert, I was stumbling over my own two feet or giving myself away by blushing. Instead of being reckless and daring, I was careless and timid. But I was determined.

At the top of our street there was a General Store. It was the perfect place to stalk. Customers strolled inside and took their time. Men chatted in groups of two and three. Women lingered longest at the meat and cheese counter. I found the perfect corner to lean into and just watch. When Ms. Patty, the owner, glared at me, I’d pick up a package and pretend to be reading the contents. After 30 minutes, I realized the task at hand was a lot more difficult than I had imagined. It was hard to hear what my subjects were saying and most of the time they kept turning their backs to me.

Sighing, I decided to leave and think up another strategy to get writing material. As I turned to leave, a man twice my age with half my teeth grabbed me, pulled me through the throng of customers and pushed me past the screen door. He didn’t let loose of me until we were several feet from the building. I was terrified. He was huge! 
“You best go home now, you hear?” he yelled at me, still clutching my arm. “I ain’t lettin’ you go until you promise to quit trying to steal my aunt’s merchandise.”

I stopped flat still, looking up at him in total disbelief. “Steal? I’m not trying to steal anything.” Incredulous thoughts whirled around my brain until I realized how guilty I must have looked. “Oh, you’ve got this all wrong. I’m a writer. I’m trying to do a character study.”

“Character study?” he repeated, spitting out a wad of tobacco, “You’d best be trying to study school and not be a dumb ass like me. Now git!”
I ran all the way home. It took me two days to write the whole event down . . . embellishing and letting loose on the best character study ever. Now when I even hint at writers' block, I remember being sixteen and pushing the limits. That’s the key to being a good writer. Letting loose.
How do you let loose?

Thanks for hanging out with us for L day. Please come back to see our takes on M through Z, and visit other A to Z bloggers here.