May 31, 2012

On Blogathon: Thank You, Michelle Rafter

Thank you, Michelle Rafter, for another lovely post-a-day-in-May challenge through Blogathon. For several days, I've been considering how to best wrap up the experience.

Then it hit me, the ABCs of Blogathon. Well, of course. Granted, I just came off the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April, so I might be a bit A to Z crazy.

ABCs of Blogathon

Achievement. It feels good to commit to daily blogging and have the support necessary to achieve it.

Note: I had several posts I'm particularly proud of, one that was also featured at BlogHer: Reviewing Without Prejudice. Plus, I saw increased page views and comments.

Blogs, blogs, everywhere. I love the diversity of subject matter. Everything from animal narrators to mommy stories and writing adventures to adventures on a bike and planning dinner parties.

Community. If you have ever felt alone out there, wondering if anyone reads your posts, you need to find a blogging community. Blogathon is one of my favorites.

Decorative. With so many blogs for inspiration, it's nice a way to see what you do and don't like in blog design and then consider your own blog decor.

Engaging. Michelle is active in the Yahoo group and reading blogs. She cares and encourages participants to share their success stories at the end.

Fun! Who doesn't enjoy a good Wordle (or in my case, Tagxedo) post?

Generous. I'm always amazed how much time people will give to helping others. When questions are posted, people jump in.

Haiku. What would Blogathon be without Haiku Day? It's just another way Michelle pushes us to try new things and believe in ourselves.

Interesting. Both in what you'll learn and the blogs you will read.

Jan Udlock. Michelle's right-hand woman this year. I met Jan last year, and she's as gracious and supportive as they come. Thanks, Jan! (a shout-out to Jennifer Willis and Jackie Dishner, too, since we are talking Js).

Kaleidoscopic. I can only imagine that all the blogs viewed at once would create a beautiful pattern of words and colors.

Lessons Learned. Several of the bloggers have posted lessons learned both here at the end and during the theme day, If I started blogging today, I would...

My related posts
If I Knew Then What I Know Now
Community and Knowledge Go Hand in Hand

Michelle Rafter. Without you it would never happen. Many thanks.

New to...

Old. No matter how long you've been blogging, you will learn something along the way in May.

Photography. I'm not a good photographer, so I especially appreciate all the wonderful photo posts.

Questions. Several come up every year, and Michelle and her cohorts are quick to help or point bloggers in the right direction.

Rest... is for June 1! ;-)

Social. With Twitter pre- and post-parties and interaction on Yahoo groups, Blogathon is a very social and engaging community. A few bloggers in the Portland area even organized an in-person meet up.

Thirty-one Days of Blogging Fun.

Uplifting. You will believe by the end that you can do it.

Variety. I mentioned it above, but there's no shortage of subject matter. If you have an interest, Blogathon has the blog.

Welcoming. Michelle, and her team, make sure each blogger feels the love.

X marks the spot! (Come on, X is hard!) 

Yahoo Groups. Some don't like it, but I find it so much more personal than Facebook. Plus, last year's kept going long after Blogathon!

Zany. You can't help but catch the creative bug when you see how interesting other people's perspectives are.

I admit that I'm still finding my way through the participating blogs. My goal over the next two weeks is to visit every single participant on Michelle's Blogroll. Wish me luck!

Congratulations to everyone who found out something about themselves, whether you managed 31 posts or not.

What was your favorite part of Blogathon?

May 30, 2012

Twist Ties & Writing: ROW80 Update

The perfect toy. A huge smile on my child's face.

"Mommy, mommy, can I please have it. Please!"

Patience and childhood don't often mix. (Heck, patience and being an adult don't love each other either. At least for me.)

I tear open the box. Yank and pull to get the plastic out. Finally, success. Oh, but wait. Each piece is twist-tied into the plastic in some wickedly intricate maze. Dare I get scissors? Grand idea, but some of the twist-ties are so tightly bound that cutting could ruin the piece.

My children watch, anticipation mixed with frustration.

Fifteen minutes later, if I'm lucky, the small hairbrush and barrette finally break free. I dry the tears, both mine and my daughter's. My salivating child takes her bounty and runs. I'm left with clear rubber bands, twist-ties, plastic, box pieces, a strong desire for a stiff drink and... not one toy to play with.

And God help you if it's a birthday party or Christmas morning. This scenario gets played and replayed until I swear I'm going to write each and every toy company and ask what they have against the human race.

What does this have to do with my A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update? Or about the progress of my writing?

SO. Much.

I clear the time to write. Focus on the prize of continuing story. I sit down, open up the document, read through the last chapter or so, crack my knuckles, and get ready to write. The story is in my head, but trying to wrangle it from there unto the piece of paper is so much like twisting each of those ties round and round. You turn it one way to realize it's getting too tight, then you go the other direction and free it, only to find there are four more twist-ties holding it in place.

Characters fight with me. Words fail me, or sometimes come at me so fast I can't capture them. Scenes unfold in my head, so clear. But I have to translate them into words so a reader can see the same replay. More twist-ties.

And, yes, I do see writing in most any day-to-day activity (and being a mom, especially).

Do you ever catch your stories creeping into the oddest, or most mundane, moments of day-to-day life?

ROW80 Update

Writing: Monday we spent eight hours in the car. But I used my Tuesday. 2,123 words, split between a couple of projects. Now I need to focus on unwrapping one story at a time, and not getting so excited by ideas that I flutter from project to project. Phone rings... ah, let's write on the YA. Laundry signal beeps. Ooh, back to women's fiction.

Editing: Had an unexpected, and interesting, project come up. Finished. Now back to my backlog. Slowly making progress. Tomorrow is editing day.

Blogging: Daily here. Blogathon wraps up tomorrow, but then I'm onto the Author Blog Challenge. Mom in Love with Fiction has suffered this week, but those words needed to go to the WIP.

Social Media: Overwhelmed. Challenges are wonderful, inspiring me in so many ways. But they also bring many wonderful bloggers into my life. Now if only I had more hours in a day.

Reading: Finished a book and started another. Reviews to come.

Exercise: I'm proud to say I will take this goal off the next Round. I've been so dedicated to exercise that it's become like eating. I can't imagine not doing it. If it starts to wane, I can always add the goal back in. Success.

May 29, 2012

Pacing: A Guest Post by author, MK Graff

I'm so excited to have M. K. Graff, affectionately known as Marni, visiting today to talk about pacing. Marni is a friend and writing cohort of my mother's, and she's fast become a friend to me. I love her spirit, style, and writing. 

I found this post quite informative, and I hope you do as well.



“Variety of pace without loss of impetus is characteristic
of every good novel I can think of.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

Heavy words for a writer to live up to, and this quote from Le Guin shows writers how important pacing is to your work. Pacing is like a dam that forges and slows the speed at which a novel moves. Learning how to operate that dam is one of the most important tasks an author has to learn to keep his readers turning pages. Without mastering this, we end up writing stories that lack momentum, might feel uneven, become anticlimactic, or even seem melodramatic.

Here are five tips for understanding and developing this important plot skill.
1. Length matters: Length controls your story’s momentum. Short scenes and chapters, coupled with terse sentences and snappy dialogue will all contribute to a feeling of intensity and speed. In the reverse, long scenes and leisurely sentences or extended dialogue passages tend to ground the story with a sense of place and time. This is perhaps the simplest way to control your pacing. As your story nears the tense scenes, learn to condense everything. Limit the length of your scenes to 500-800 words. Stop your scenes at important moments.  Change back and forth between POV. See how it works?

2. Vary pacing. As important as the high-tension action scenes are, it’s even more important to vary your pacing with slow, introspective scenes. You need those slow scenes to give both your characters and your readers the chance to catch their breaths. The most exciting of scenes lose intensity if not balanced with moments of deliberate quiet. Think calm before and after the storm.

3. Paying attention to details builds all-important momentum. Slow motion is often used in film to denote that something tremendously dramatic is happening. To mirror this technique in your own writing, slow it way down by piling on the smaller details. There’s a shooting in your scene. To get the full impact of this event, take your time and describe every step in detail: the look on the gunman’s face as he fires, the recoil of the gun, the flash of the barrel, the horror the sees on the victim’s face, and finally the impact of the bullet and the spreading red stain across the victim’s shirt.

4. Control your tell vs. show ratio. Now do the reverse and don’t linger on a scene, but shock your readers by announcing it and then plunge them into the action after that gun is fired. Instead of taking the time to show the details, you can thrust the gunshot upon the reader simply by telling him it happened and go on from there.

5. Manipulate sentence structure. Controlling the ebb and flow of your sentence structure with the use of clauses, longer versus shorter sentences, and brief versus involved paragraphs contribute to the pacing. This is a subtle but effective technique and also  applies to the length of the words you choose: long=slow, short=fast. For those intense scenes, cut back on the beautiful, long-winded passages and slap your reader upside the head with staccato structure. Short sentences and snappy nouns and verbs convey urgency, whereas long, measured sentences offer moments of introspection and build-up.

It all sounds easy; the trick is to get the balance right.

About M. K. Graff

Marni Graff is the author of the Nora Tierney mystery series, set in the UK. The Blue Virgin is set in Oxford and introduces Nora, an American writer living in England. She becomes involved in a murder investigation to clear her best friend as a suspect, to the chagrin of DI Declan Barnes. The Green Remains follows Nora’s move to Cumbria where she’s awaiting the publication of her first children’s book and the birth of her first child. When Nora stumbles across the corpse at the edge of Lake Windermere, she realizes she recognizes the dead man. Then her friend and illustrator, Simon Ramsey, is implicated in the murder of the heir to Clarendon Hall, and Nora swings into sleuth mode.

Graff is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. She writes a weekly mystery book review at Auntie M Writes. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven and founded the group Coastal Carolina Mystery Writers. She has also published poetry, last seen in Amelia Earhart: A Tribute; her creative nonfiction has most recently appeared in Southern Women’s Review. Her books can be bought at Amazon or at Bridal Path Press.


Thanks, Marni! And it was such a pleasure seeing you at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. One of the highlights!

You can check out my review of Marni's The Blue Virgin here (4 stars).

Do you have a trick to keep pacing balanced in your writing?

May 28, 2012

A Picture of Words: Blogathon Theme Day

Another Blogathon theme day...

Our fearless leader, Michelle Rafter, suggested everyone post a Wordle graphic today. I've cheated a bit, because I find Tagxedo a much easier to use.


I used my blog address to load words into the graphic. Clearly, I talk a lot about writing, books, my Mom, depression (but only in relation to my novel, Depression Cookies, so don't worry), blogging, ROW (as in A Round of Words in 80 Days), and words.

And how perfect that "Blogathon" ended up front and center.

Hope all my Blogathon buddies are doing well, and enjoying the holiday weekend.

I want to take a minute to acknowledge everyone in the military and a special thank you to all the ones who gave their lives so that we here in the United States could know freedom and opportunity.

Another graphic...

What words were highlighted in your graphic?

May 27, 2012

Quotable Week: ROW80 & #writemotivation Updates

I found some quotes this week to illustrate my writing progress.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. 
Ray Bradbury

I've been a bit drunk on life this week. Earlier in the week, I had to have a spot of basal cell carcinoma taken off my arm. The stitches were really bothering me, and long sessions of typing weren't going well. I outlined some chapters and took some notes. But it's not so easy to calculate that into wordcount.

This weekend we are having some family fun in Charlotte, North Carolina with my husband's brother and family. I've brought out the laptop to do this post, but then it's going away again. I promised the kids. (Okay, I admit it... it's a holiday weekend, and I want to have some fun, too.)

I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all. 
Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

As I was taking notes, more thoughts would come. Thankfully the stitches were in my left arm, so I could write all I wanted. Kicking it old school. It's just hard to hurl words onto paper, because I couldn't keep up. I have a lot of chicken scratch to decipher. And the stitches don't come out for another week.

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. 
Vladimir Nabakov

The pages on my WIP haven't seen any new words, but I'm feeling the story. I don't want it to escape, so I'll sit down on Tuesday and type until my arm falls off.

The rest of the A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) update:

Reading: Finished a book on the drive down to Charlotte. My first Sarah Dessen book. Loved it! Reminded me so much of the Judy Blume books I read as a teenager. Now, I'm reading Michael J. Fox's book, Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist. Already I can tell I need to focus much more on the positive in my day to day life.

Blogging: Daily here and 3x on Mom in Love with Fiction. In case you missed it, I talked about a real-life lesson on self-published authors versus traditional ones this week. Check it out. My experience made me feel so fortunate to be a writer.

Editing: Did some on the car ride down. The sore arm didn't help with editing, since I do it all on the computer.

Exercise: Still running a minimum of 3x a week. Just making sure I have lots of sunscreen on. A bit of a slide on the sugar intake. Something about long car trips makes avoiding Snickers bars near to impossible.

#writemotivation Update

1. Write a minimum of five days a week for a total of 2,500 words on my works in progress.
Hours of writing. Didn't attempt to count the words (see saga above).

2. Get current novel, Depression Cookies, up on Smashwords by month's end.Ran into some formatting difficulties. So bummed. Still hoping to have it up soon. It's looking like June. What started as sadness, turned to irritation, and now it's slowly boiling to angry. I don't like to be angry. *insert calming breaths here*

3. Read a book every 10 days, plus at least one craft book in the month of May.Finished a book in one car trip, and one-third done with another. Ahead of goal.

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend!

May 26, 2012

Community and Knowledge Go Hand in Hand: ReRun Saturday

Last year's Blogathon was a huge kickstart for this blog. Prior to it, I had blogged very little and had no clue what I was doing or wanted to do.

The following post originally ran 5/29/11 as the first Blogathon was winding down. Just after, I share some things I learned this year.

originally posted 5/29/11

When I committed to WordCount Blogathon’s challenge to write a post-a-day-in-May, my goal was to focus on our blog and my writing. After two years of heavy writing for Depression Cookies and a cross-country move, I lost my energy. Now I feel renewed. Initially I was going to set a 500-word-a-day goal for writing starting in June, but now I know I can do much more.
But this knowledge was only the tip of the iceberg. This is my feeble attempt to quantify what I’ve learned:
How to better define what I want our blog to be: our blog started as a way to promote and discuss our novel, Depression Cookies. Now, thanks to seeing so many wonderfully diverse blogs, I realize Mom and I have so much more to say. We are a mother-daughter team who wrote a mother-daughter book . . . there's a wealth of topics for us to cover.

Respecting Copyrighted material: Don't get me wrong, I would never steal another's thoughts or hard work for my own use. Still, I didn't get the nuances of using images or "selected pieces" of blog posts. Now I do. When I wanted to pass along some great information from a discussion I attended, I contacted the speaker and asked if I could paraphrase what I learned. She was thrilled and I've formed a bond with her. I wouldn't have thought to contact her before.

Simply Ask: I never thought to do guest post exchanges and contact other people for help! I've found it only improves my blog to have others' thoughts and opinions featured, and I've been astounded by how many people are willing to do this if you simply ask.

Twitter: Before Blogathon, I had only dipped my toe into the pool of Twitter. Basically, I signed up kicking and screaming. I'm still a Twitter-newbie, but I'm starting to appreciate what it has to offer.

Links: It never dawned on me to put links within my posts. Such a rookie mistake.

Community: I am a better blogger when surrounded by a community of bloggers. You get what you give. I’m updating my Blogs We Love sidebar come June 1 to reflect this new and growing community. I became a better mother when I surrounded myself with mothers, the same has been true of blogging.

Then there’s the invaluable advice I’ve received on Feedburner, Google alerts, blog stats, freelance writing, writing techniques and inspirations, and the list goes on and on.

Thank you Blogathon bloggers and our ring-leader, Michelle Rafter. Although it's been a crash course, I now have reliable sources to use as I continue to learn.


This year, I've also learned...

Time Management
There are only so many hours in the day. No matter how many new blogs I'd love to read, I simply can't. I tried to sample several Blogathon blogs and visit old favorites from last year. I hope to visit even more in June.

And, unlike last year, I wrote most of my posts ahead of time. I didn't even know how to schedule a post last year.

Importance of a Genuine Challenge Host
I've learned, from doing other challenges in the past year, to appreciate Michelle Rafter even more (and her lovely helpers. You rock, Jan Udlock. Thanks to Jackie Dishner and Jennifer Willis, too). She's not out to sell you anything, instead choosing to help us all find our way along the blogging path.

Challenging Myself
Whether it's Haiku or looking at my blog objectively (If I started blogging today, I would...), I learn by challenging myself and trying new things. 

Again, thank you to Michelle and all the wonderful Blogathon bloggers.

What did you learn this Blogathon?

(Now if I could just learn more HTML code. And someone PLEASE tell me why I get the occasional paragraph with different line spacing! UGH! See 2nd paragraph of this post.)

May 25, 2012

New Neighbors: Self-Published and Traditionally Published Authors

Yesterday I highlighted some wonderful moments of my Gaithersburg Book Festival weekend. Today I wanted to use my experience to highlight traditional versus self-publishing.

Years ago, there was a definite, and too often deserved, bias against self-published books. Traditional books had the benefit of professional editing, designer book covers, distribution, and marketing.

Fast forward to today. Marketing dollars are only spent on proven authors, and more specifically, the Stephen Kings of the book world. All authors can be on Amazon and other online retailers and professional editing and designer book covers are available to both.

Case in point on marketing... my booth was right next to Kathryn Johnson's, award-winning author of over 40 novels, and traditionally published. I met Kathryn Johnson when she came to my Damascus, Maryland book club to discuss The Gentleman Poet (which I gave 4.5 stars here).

A lovely lady, but there she was right next to me, a self-published author. We sold a similar amount of books, and she had several showcased compared to my one. She was delightful and very neighborly.

Then, I turned around. Right behind me was... my book, Depression Cookies! I almost fainted. A local bookseller, Novel Places, agreed to carry my book and they chose to bring it to the book festival to highlight a local author. Imagine my delight and surprise.

I was standing talking to the owner, and thanking him for bringing my book (he even sold one!), when Eleanor Brown walked up to thank him for carrying her book, Weird Sisters, a traditionally published New York Times Bestseller.

I've been eyeing this book for months (she had me at the title!), so I bought it. She signed it and took this picture with me. She even asked for my business card after we talked about books for awhile.

Not for one moment did I feel less of an author with either of these lovely women. Or at the fair. People asked about my book and my journey, but not who my publisher was.

An absolutely amazing experience. I'm honored to be an author, and a self-published one at that.

Do you think the divide between self-published and traditionally published authors is narrowing?

May 24, 2012

Out of the Closet and Giddy as a School Girl

This past Saturday, I had a booth at the Gaithersburg Book Festival for the second year in a row. Unlike last year, I split a booth with a local chapter of the Maryland Writers' Association. What a difference. It freed me up to visit some of the speakers and other booths.

First up, Melissa Foster.

Pardon me while I embrace the squealing inner teenager for a moment. I honestly felt giddy and nervous about finally meeting Melissa Foster in person. I've known her in the online universe for almost a year, and she's an amazing author and person. She does so much for the writing and reading community through World Literary Cafe and The Women's Nest.

I attended Melissa's presentation and book reading. She read from Come Back to Me, her latest novel and one I absolutely loved: my review, Come Back to Me, Melissa Foster (5 stars). After, she made a point to come over and talk to me, and fellow blogger and book lover, Kristin, from Kritter's Ramblings.

My online writing community has become so important to me. I don't know what I'd do without their support, encouragement, and inspiration. To meet Melissa in person... priceless. Kristen, too!

Now to find a way to meet my Blogathon, ROW80, Writers' Platform-Building Campaign and other blogger/writer buddies!

And the good day just kept on going. Next up, I was able to hear M.K. Graff, otherwise known as Marni, speak about her new book, The Green Remains. Marni is a friend of my family, and it was great to see her again. I really enjoyed her first book, The Blue Virgin: The Blue Virgin, MK Graff (4 stars).

I also wrangled her into writing a guest post. Catch her great post about Pacing here on Tuesday, May 29. I hope to have a review up of The Green Remains soon, too.

One of the best things I ever did was come out of the closet, being an isolated writer was never for me.

In case I haven't said it lately...

Thank you to everyone who stops by this blog and encourages me to keep on keeping on. It means the world to me.

For fun, if you could meet ANY author in person (living or dead), who would it be? Me: I'd want to meet Pearl S. Buck and Judy Blume.


Check back here tomorrow for more insight from the book festival. Hint: I found it very interesting who I was sitting right next to in the booth area.

May 23, 2012

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: ROW80 Update

I would manage my expectations.

This is true in all aspects of my life. I am an over-achiever and set expectations high. Although I am hardest on myself, I tend to put high expectations on others as well. This isn't fair to them or me.

I believe I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. Same for my kids. I might even believe it more for them. But I forget to factor in life and all the things outside my control.

Today is a WordCount Blogathon theme day: If I started blogging today, I would...

Follow a 3-4 Posts a Week Schedule
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and the occasional weekend day (like ROW80 check in Sundays). Since I booted my blog with last year's Blogathon, I set the expectation of blogging daily. It's tough, and depletes a lot of my creative juices. I'm writing more than I ever have (bonus), but I want to focus on the two novels I'm working on.

Choose Blogs to Follow More Carefully
I know that doesn't sound nice, but... in the beginning, I followed every blog in a challenge and every blog of people who commented on my posts. It seemed the friendly thing to do. Unfortunately, I ended up with way too many blogs to read and another too-high expectation. There are a LOT of wonderful blogs out there, but I can't possibly read them all.

Write Posts Ahead
I've started to get better at this. I find fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants blogging stressful. My goal is to take a few hours twice a week to write the bulk of my posts.

Keep Posts Short and Sweet
I tend to pontificate (I even love that word!). My writing isn't necessarily wordy, but I have a lot to say. As a blog reader, I don't have time to read long posts... even if they are amazing. I'm learning now to break posts into multiple parts. Plus, it's a great way to post more often.

On that note, I think I'll listen to my own advice and wrap it up here. Short and sweet.

I'm looking forward to reading other Blogathon blogs today and picking up some tips.

If you started blogging today, what would you do differently? Or the same?


Time for my Wednesday A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) update:

I had an encouraging writing day on Monday with 956 words. It was a pivotal scene, so I was glad to get it done. Tuesday was my daughter's all-day first grade field trip, so no writing then.

Set aside two solid hours today for editing. I wanted this post done first, so I could focus.

Every day and twice on Mom in Love with Fiction.

Social Media
Drowning a bit (see my tip above on blogs to follow). I'm drowning in great posts, so there are worse things! I've decided I can't possibly catch up overall, so I'm going to do better going forward (and catch up on a few favorites).

Just started a lighter read for some fun, Sarah Dessen's The Truth about Forever. I'm hoping for a Judy Blume-vibe. Speaking of Judy Blume, I was so honored to see a friend had pinned my book (on their Books Worth Reading in Pinterest), Depression Cookies, right next to Judy Blume's Are You There God It's Me Margaret. I am not worthy. *squeals*

Kicking it. Doing much better on sugar consumption, too.

My goal is to visit 15 ROW80 blogs today! Here we go...

May 22, 2012

The ABCs of Me

I've seen this post on several blogs lately, and I wanted to give it a whirl.

(Okay, I was getting desperate at 10:27pm and needed a post for today, so bear with me.)

The ABCs of Me

Adaptable - Thanks to moving on average every 3 years my whole life, I'm nothing if not adaptable.

Bach - Tia Bach seems so short to me (see S below as to why), but I've been a Bach for 17 years and counting, so I'm growing quite fond of it.

Crazy Creative - I was just going to put creative, but the two are often tied together for me. I'm always crazed and it brings out the creative in me. I wouldn't know what to do with calm.

Depression Cookies - my first book and one I'm blessed to have co-written with my mother. (Notice the optimism in saying "first" here.)

Edward "Ed" - my hubby. I met him my third day of college and never looked back. Best decision I ever made.

Family - My family means the world to me. Not all the people I consider family are blood related (you know who you are, and the majority of you live in Colorado!). Friends are an important F to me, too.

Grateful - I am a very blessed woman. I know it, and try to pay it forward as much as possible.

Hungry - Pretty much always. I love food. And not the good-for-you kind of food, sadly. I'm all about comfort food.

Impatient - It's true. I'd rather be in motion than in limbo, so I tend to want to rush forward and act. And nothing strains my patience like a computer (or any electronics).

Jacqueline "Jackie" - my first born daughter. She paves the way and teaches me something new every day. She just turned 12, and I can't believe how fast it's gone.

Kind - I try to always be considerate of people's feelings. I constantly say to my kids, "If you can't say something kind, don't say anything." This has been shortened to, "Kind or nothing." When need be, I handle adversity the classic Southern gal way: Kill 'em with Kindness.

Loves to Laugh - And more than willing to laugh at myself. A day without laughter is a sad day indeed.

Madeleine "Maddie" - my baby girl. She's spirited and endearing. And even though I swore I'd never baby her, I do. She's just too darn cute. I named her Maddie after Maddie Hayes on Moonlighting, one of my favorite shows as a teen. (I so had a crush on Bruce Willis.)

Naughty - Get your mind out of the gutter. I just like to be a bit rotten with my children  (dancing around the house when they beg me not to, eating a pile of chocolate chips and telling them they can't, etc.).

Optimistic - Not about everything, but I try to believe the best in people. It takes quite a lot for a person to convince me not to believe in them. I like to say I'm optimistic, but practical. Some people will never change.

Passionate - When it comes to writing and family, I'm devoted. When I find something I love, I devote as much of myself as I can to it. My kids find it annoying now, but I hope they'll feel differently some day.

Questioning - To my husband's chagrin, I constantly question people's motives. Why people do what they do fascinates me. It's why I love creating characters.

Reagan - My middle daughter. I named her after the President as a tribute to my father (so her middle name is my dad's, Dallas). She looks like me and acts like her father. If you ever need to laugh, she's your girl (and she kicks butt as a Lacrosse goalie).

Silverthorne - My maiden name is Tia Cher (yes, Cher, like Sonny and...) Silverthorne.

Truthful - To a fault sometimes. I'd rather go down with honesty than in a web of lies. The only time I feel comfortable making up stories is when I'm writing fiction. I love that my name, TIA, stands for Truth in Advertising.

Unicorns - I collected them when I was young. Unfortunately, I ended up with a collection of three-legged unicorns and horses after too many poorly packed moving boxes.

Violet - One of my favorite colors. (V is hard, and I do love purples.)

Wishes - I wish throughout my day: at all the same number times (e.g., 1:11, 2:22, etc.) and on eyelashes. Eyelashes? Yes. If you have one of your eyelashes, you place it on the tip of your finger, close your eyes, make a wish, and blow. When you open your eyes, you will get your wish if the eyelash is gone.

Xi - I love Scrabble and have beaten many a foe with this must-know two letter word. Another great one is Qi. (I'm quite addicted to Words with Friends.)

Young at Heart - I turn 40 in August, but I still feel so young. I've decided age is a frame of mind and not just the counting of days on a calendar.

Zonked - Lately, I need more sleep. Glad I'm at Z, so I can Zzzzzzz. (And it's 11:25pm, so still in time for posting today!)

Now you know my ABCs
Next time won't you play with me!

Tell me something about yourself with a letter (any letter).

May 21, 2012

In Which I do Haiku

It's Haiku Day for the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon. I admire poets, but I don't consider myself one.

Last year, I chickened out and had my mom write the haiku. Not only do I got to her for most of life's challenges, but she is a published poet.

Haiku 2011 (by Mom)

Motherhood begins
No lessons or a manual
Just sheer off the cuff

Continuing with the sheer off the cuff theme, I thought I'd tackle some haiku today.

On Writing

Try to calm my soul
to touch the emotions there
and create story

My sweet muses

On Parenting

Every night I swear
I will be a better Mom
the very next day

On Being a Woman

Tears, fear, joy and pain
are only some of the things
I tackle each day

On Blogathon

Discover new blogs
cherish blogs from last year's fun
grow as a writer

That's it. That's all my brain can handle.

Now I'm off to see
what my fellow bloggers did
with the haiku day

May 20, 2012

The Smallest Things: ROW80 & #writemotivation Udpates

Sometimes the smallest things make me happy. Yesterday it was a magazine cover (if you missed it, please check out the men from Magic Mike here) and a book fair (more details on that this week).

Today, it was running across a friend's email with this picture...

Did you hear about this story?

Tim Tebow was quite the phenomenon during the Denver Broncos run in the playoffs this past winter. My friend's neighbor made this ice sculpture in Tim Tebow's honor and made Fox News: Tebow immortalized in snow sculpture. This was just a mile from where I used to live in Superior, Colorado.

Do you notice the small brown book on Tebow's arm?

Here's a closer look...

It's my book, Depression Cookies. What fun! Thanks, Shannon.

What was your last important small thing?

Now for Updates...

A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80)

Writing: I wrote 1,027 words on Friday on my YA book. Too bad it's the only day I wrote, but at least I added words. Saturday was spent at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. More to come on that later in the week. So. Much. Fun.

Editing: Two of my clients just received their galley copies. I'm so proud, and I'm excited for them! Now back to the short story collection (or so I'm trying to convince her!) and the YA paranormal (one I expect great things from).

Blogging: Daily. My post this week, Reviewing Without Prejudice, Can Honesty Turn on You?, was featured on BlogHer.

Reading: Just finished one book and about to finish another. Need to write two reviews. Still lagging on reading a craft book.

Social Media: I'm finding it increasingly difficult to visit new blogs. I already have so many I love, and there are only so many hours in the day. What to do. What to do.

Exercise: I should make this a separate goal from eating/sugar, because I am so proud of my exercise achievements but lagging on cutting out sugar. I'm especially proud that got up Saturday morning at 5:45am to run five miles before the book fair.


1. Write a minimum of five days a week for a total of 2,500 words on my works in progress.
Wrote five days, thanks to blog posts, but only added in some capacity or another and added 1,027 to my YA novel. Mom just sent back chapters for me to answer on our Depression Cookies follow-up, so I'm hoping for busy writing days this week.

2. Get current novel, Depression Cookies, up on Smashwords by month's end.
No progress. Still hoping.

3. Read a book every 10 days, plus at least one craft book in the month of May.
Finished one book and almost done with another. Ahead of goal.

May 19, 2012

Finding Happiness: Mail and a Fair

I quite often find happiness in a mailbox. Since I was a kid, I've always loved receiving letters and cards. Now, with the digital age, I enjoy anything that's not a bill.

Yesterday, receiving the newest Entertainment Weekly magazine made me very happy. This picture alone had me sending in my renewal check.

Although not usually a salivate-over-actors type, I just don't see anything to complain about with this cover. Wait, three of the men do have shirts on, but I think I'll survive.

I'm especially loving Matthew McConaughey. Matthew, you had me at a Time to Kill, and I'm thrilled that you continue to smolder. Take that Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, and the one that truly saddens me... Val Kilmer.

A special thanks to Entertainment Weekly. Unlike TIME, you know how to market a magazine in a way that doesn't offend or belittle anyone. (Which might be why you left some of the guys' shirts on.) Check out my post, You ARE Mom Enough, for more of my feelings on TIME.

In other exciting news, I will be spending TODAY at the Gaithersburg Book Festival for the second year in a row. I'll be at the Carroll County Maryland Writers' Association booth (10:00am to 6:00pm EST, in case you are in town and considering coming!) selling copies of Depression Cookies and supporting my fellow-MWAers.

But what I'm most excited about...

Meeting Melissa Foster!

I have met some amazing authors online, but rarely do I get the opportunity to meet them face to face. Melissa is an international best-selling author, and a wonderful supporter of writers and readers. She spearheads World Literary Cafe, "where readers and authors unite." This in addition to The Women's Nest, "a community of women helping women."

Related post: Come Back to Me, Melissa Foster (5 stars)

I'll also get to see another wonderful author, and friend of our family, M.K. Graff. She has a new book out, so I'm looking forward to getting my hands on that, too. Marni also sent me a wonderful post about Pacing that I'll feature next week.

Relate post: The Blue Virgin, MK Graff (4 stars)

Please visit next week for my update. Be forewarned... I might be gushing.

What brought some excitement to your life this week?

May 18, 2012

No Dirty Dishes Day Sparks Wishes for More Special Days

Yes, another wonderful special holiday. I've said it time and time again, I would like to be on the committee to choose these special holidays.

No Dirty Dishes Day is a great idea! Clearly this means my family must go out to eat for dinner. For breakfast, it's a Pop Tart and juice box (can't mess up any dishes), lunch will be at school, and finally dinner out. And Mama's choice, of course. I'm pretty sure I read that in the rules.

I hereby put the following dates out there for consideration:

Command the Muses Day
This day would be November 1 to correspond with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). All writers could command the muse to stay front and center for the month. This day would be dedicated to wine, to summon the Muse. Other arts could make their own Command the Muses Day consistent with big art shows, etc.

No Whine Day
This is the Mom side of me taking over. I think I need this daily, but that wouldn't qualify. So I'm thinking the first of every month. This would give me a day to recuperate from the previous month's whining. No need to be a parent to participate, I'm sure everybody knows a person who whines.

"Yes, Mom/Dad" Day
The perfect accompaniment to No Whine Day, but let's spread the love and have this be December 14. Just close enough to the holiday gift giving season to give the kids a REAL reason to follow along.

Politicians Must Get Along Day
Any day. If we could get the idea to stick, who knows what wonderful strides we could make in this country. This is probably asking for too much, so I will settle for My Kids Get Along Day.

Finally, my husband offerred...

No Talking Day
This was after a particularly long story from our seven-year-old daughter, but I have a feeling he thinks men with no children will benefit as well. My guess is that he'd pick Feburary 13, so that the men were in a better mood for Valentine's Day the next day.

What day would you add to the calendar? Sky's the limit!

May 17, 2012

Reviewing Without Prejudice: Can Honesty Turn on You?

Homosexuality. It’s my generation’s civil rights movement, and it affected my life recently in an interesting way.

I review books for World Literary Café as part of their WLC Review Team. Every month, I choose four books from their selections and receive two to review. Since I pride myself on reading all genres and styles, I choose books based only on the covers. Could I go look up summaries? Sure. But I wanted to experiment with picking books solely based on my reaction to cover art.

Last month, I received a complimentary copy of Sunset, Pact Arcanum: Book 1 to review (you can see my review at Mom in Love with Fiction). I did not know it was a homoerotic book until I started reading. The whole book I was nervous about writing the review. I’ve never felt that way before.

I wanted to treat this book like any other, but the truth… I read it in fear. There was no way to write an honest review without mention of the homosexual theme. What if I didn’t like the book? Would I just be labeled homophobic?

In the end, the book was a good, but not great, read. I have never hesitated so much in pushing the Publish button on a post. An excerpt:

Let me also address the white elephant in the room. Prior to this book, I had never read a novel with detailed homosexual love scenes. While a bit uncomfortable for me, and I would say this about overly detailed heterosexual love scenes, they provided a much-needed look into the character of Nick Jameson. His male relationships, and gradual maturation process from sleeping around to finding love, is crucial to the story.

Although I admired the story (and world) the author creates, the constant jumping around in time and the details about the vampire/Sentinel society became overwhelming. I felt bogged down reading it. About halfway through, with my brain packed to capacity, the book started really moving. From that point on, it was a great read full of twists and turns and anxious excitement.

I am proud to be a Christian, and in no way attempt to hide it. In the battle over homosexual rights, being a Christian labels you as intolerant and unkind. Two things I am most definitely not. I believe my faith teaches me to love everyone. We are all sinners, and I will not be the one that judges which sins are more offensive than others or who gets to go to Heaven. It’s simply not my call to make.

However, it's a shame that I can’t be honest about a book without fear that I will be labeled. This country is built on opinions, and the right to express them. Reviewing a homoerotic book should be like any other review. If I love it, I love it. If I don’t, I shouldn’t have to tip toe around it for fear I’ll be labeled homophobic. The same can be said for reading a book by an African American author. If I don’t like it, I shouldn’t fear being called a racist.

I’ve said time and time again that I prefer women characters and women authors for the most part. I’m never afraid of being called sexist, because I’m female. So can only the minority disagree with the majority without fear of judgment?

I do not in any way choose unkindness in my life. The thought that my actions or words would ever hurt someone is upsetting. But, I also shouldn’t fear honesty, another character trait I place a lot of value on.

Am I making too much of this?