July 30, 2012

Southern Grammar from a Southern Gal

I am a stickler for grammar, but I'm also a proud Southern gal. Some grammar rules are geography specific, and certainly no Southern character can be written without a good y'all here and there.

Thanks to my friend, Mindy, for sharing this with me
Southerners like to end sentences in prepositions, example "Where you going to?", and we love a good Honey or Ma'am sprinkled into a conversation.

But like my Mama always says, we kill 'em with kindness... don't assume all that honey is as gooey as it sounds. We are tough women. Don't let the y'alls fool ya'.

Our usual "Bless your Heart" can mean anything from poor thing to hang in there.

And a joke I heard once about Southerners. If you ever hear one say "How nice" constantly while you are telling a braggin' story, it means Screw You (although a bit harsher than Screw).

Oh, and did I mention we drop the ends of words?

If you are goin' swimmin' for (okay we drop beginnings of words too... this should = before) a weddin', you'd best be spectin' someone to holler at ya'.

My husband gets on me all the time for saying I'm going to put my clothes on a rack (he says hangers go on a rack).

When I write Southern characters (which I tend to do), I hear them speaking in my head and the sounds are so clear.

Do you hear characters in your head as you are reading/writing?

July 29, 2012

Writer Rejuvenated: ROW80 Update

I sat and listened, my worry increasing with each word read. I clutched my paper tighter, wondering if I should back out. I was a guest after all, nobody really expected me to read. The two stories before me were different, but each was beautiful and built the pressure.

This is how I felt attending my mom's writing group as a guest. I've never been a part of a close writing group, but Mom has for years. We had yet to read any part of our Depression Cookies follow-up to anyone. I was so nervous.

Mom read first, because her character starts each chapter.

My unease grew. I write a seventeen-year-old character, Krista. She's not supposed to be espousing poetic narration. But all three pieces before my reading were poetic (one was poetry). The hand holding my paper began to shake. Did I mention I suck at public speaking?

But then I read. I know my character so well it's like I'm speaking. I settled in. I noticed some things I wanted to change, I edit best by reading aloud, but overall was happy. Then came critique time...

I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone in the group got it and gave us wonderful input. They saw the emotion of seeing the same event through a mother eyes and then her daughter's.

I left with a renewed determination to finish this book. A fire in the belly, if you will.

What I loved best was how this group could see each piece separate from another. It's not my job to write like someone else, but to represent my characters and story in the best way I can.

Thanks to the Pamlico Writers' Group for treating a guest like a member and for rejuvenating my writing spirit.

What's the last thing that rejuvenated your love of reading or writing?


My A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

Writing: Made the changes suggested by the critique group and those Mom and I discussed prior to and after the reading. Back to my 30 minutes a day writing goal tomorrow.

Editing: Back in full swing tomorrow. I will feature two of the books I edited on this blog in the coming weeks: Trinidad Express by Jim Keen and Gifts from a Muse by Lane Schroeder.

Blogging: Oops. Had a Fun Facts Friday about Olympians, but my scheduler didn't work. I didn't realize it until Saturday late afternoon thanks to travel, and it seemed silly to publish a Fun Facts Friday post then. So it'll be up this Friday.

Social Media: Failure. Traveling is hard on blog reading. I hate to read blogs on my phone. I turn 40 on Saturday, and I refuse to strain my eyes reading blogs knowing that reading glasses are probably not too far in the future as it is. But catch up I will (that sounded very Yoda).

Reading: Loving it. But I have a tale to tell about a recent review experience. Will have a blog forthcoming about it.

July 26, 2012

Really? You are Going to Publish That?!: ROW80 Update

My summer journey continues. I just left my middle daughter at Mom's, a special bonding time for them, and headed to my baby sister's house, Dana "don't call me baby sister" Newbrough. She has two beautiful daughters, Samantha and Sydney. Here, I get the relish the role of Aunt.

Last night, my sister and I were watching Dancing with the Stars. Two dancers performed a heart-wrenching piece to Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. I felt that familiar lump in my throat as I watched.

At first I thought I was choked up by the dancing, although I don't usually cry watching dancers, but then I realized... it was the haunting sound of Whitney Houston's voice. Earlier that evening, I saw the previews for Whitney's last movie, Sparkle. The combination got to me.

We lost her too soon. I wish I only had memories of her from my teenage years. She was so beautiful with a voice to match. Unfortunately, we saw her struggles play out through addiction, both to drugs and bad influences like Bobby Brown.

Not too long ago, I heard an ugly rumor. One I hope will prove false... Whitney's mother was writing a tell-all. It's bad enough that Bobby is performing on morning talk shows. As a mother, I don't want Whitney's daughter, Bobbi, to have to relive any of the darkness of her mother. I want us to focus on the talent and beauty that the world is missing.

Then there's the author side of me... publishing houses turn down quality book every single day. I get it, there's only room for so many in their list. But when a book by Whitney's mom or some sad, barely-ever-famous celebrity (Snooki comes to mind) gets rushed out, it's a slap in the face to good books (and authors) everywhere.

Wait, another one just popped to mind... the tell-all book from Rielle Hunter, the mistress of Senator John Edwards. First of all, who cares? Second, let's show some respect for Elizabeth Edwards. Finally, what don't we already know?

Okay, I'll step down off my soap box.

What was the last book that left you wondering why it ever got published?


A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

A day late. But I'm doing what I set out to do this round, find better balance.

Writing: I have been working on my book. First, Mom and I read a chapter to her writers' group on Tuesday night. Such a lovely experience and one I will detail in Sunday's check in. Second, I visited the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky to take pictures and notes. The follow-up to Depression Cookies is set there for a good portion of the book.

Reading: Knocking down the books. It is teaching me so much about the writer I want to be.

Blogging: Well... something had to give. I've tried to keep up. This post is a day late, but I did post Monday and will post a Fun Facts Friday tomorrow. I also posted two book reviews on Mom in Love with Fiction this week. If you missed my review of The Book Thief, please check it out here. One of the best books I've ever read. It should be featured in every writing class.

Editing: Put on hold until after vacation. It deserves more of my attention than I can give it right now.

I'll be catching up with my fellow ROW80ers the next couple of days. Hope everyone is rocking Round 3!

July 23, 2012

Appreciating Loveliness

A huge thank you to Jo Michaels for the One Lovely Blog Award (which I am sadly quite late accepting). But more importantly, I want to thank Jo for always stopping by and commenting on my blog. I've come to look forward to and appreciate her support.

The rules of the nomination are thus:
I have to tell you seven things about myself and nominate six to ten other bloggers to receive the award.

1. I am a rule-follower, almost to a fault. But oddly enough I bristle at people telling me what to do. I respect and follow things like grammar rules, traffic laws (laws in general), policies, etc. Yet, I will eat vanilla just because someone insists I must have chocolate. If you can figure this out, let me know.

2. I will read any genre, and I often find myself "overdone" if I read too much of one genre in a row. I have read some amazing books lately, but the last few have been WWII-focused, and I might need to put a few years in between those and my next WWII book (or any war-based book).

3. I've lived in many places. My top three...
  • Superior, Colorado (near Boulder)
  • San Diego, California
  • Lexington, Kentucky
4. I love chocolate chips and will add them to many recipes from pancakes to banana bread. If it's sweet, it can benefit from chocolate chips (my favorite: mini milk chocolate ones).

5. I am a partner-runner. I run twice as fast and twice as long when I run with a partner. By myself, I find excuses and figure nobody is watching. Wait, I have an idea... I need a writing partner to sit next to me in Starbucks and write. Someone I know will give me grief if I blow it off!

6. I will be 40 in 12 days. Not that I'm counting. 40 doesn't make me feel old, but having a teenager does.

7. I am the oldest of three girls. Between us we have eight daughters. We are female power. :-) Maybe that's why I prefer writing and reading female characters.

So I am not going to follow the "rule" of nominating 6 to 10 other bloggers, because I love to many blogs and don't want anyone to feel obligated. That being said, please feel free to consider yourself tagged if you are in need of a blog post or a need to feel loved.

Or, better yet... check out my last few posts and visit one of the commenters. They are all lovely bloggers. 

July 21, 2012

Facts Are Scarier than Fiction

Normally, I feature a Fun Facts Friday post on Fridays.

But today, I want to send my thoughts and prayers to all the families affected by the Aurora, Colorado movie shooting. My family lived in Colorado from 2006-2010, and we still consider it a home away from home. We were extremely saddened to hear of the tragedy there.

Few of us will ever forget April 20, 1999... Columbine. 13 people were killed and 21 injured by two gunman at a Littleton, Colorado high school. More tragic events followed: September 11, 2001; the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings; and the 2009 attack at Ford Hood, Texas. Just to name the ones that popped in my head.


12 people were killed and 59 wounded when a young man opened fire on a midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado.

So many times people try to blame the movie industry, particularly violent ones, for giving criminals ideas.

I offer a different view... most books and movies try to figure out the atrocities that happen in real life instead of insight them. They try to show the senselessness of violence and the amazing heroes who often step forward during such times. The great books try to figure it out--the factors and characters that lead up to horrific events.

Sadly, most real events are far worse than anything I've read in a book or seen on television or at the movies. Even the make believe worlds filled with vampires, aliens, and so forth can't match the horrible things regular human beings do.

I just read two amazing books: Winter Garden by Kristen Hannah and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Both are set during WWII, one from the German perspective and one from the Russian. Both were bone chilling. Nothing is as shocking as history.

Maybe there's nothing to learn from today. Maybe, sadly, some people are messed up. Bad things often happen without good reason. People lose loved ones without explanation. There's little we can do to understand the mind of a mad men. And I for one like to think those responsible for the events listed above are freaks of nature. Anomalies we simply can't explain.

But let's not blame movies and books. Whatever motivates these types of people, they will find it where they need it. No matter what we do.

Please join me in sending thoughts and prayers to those in Colorado.

July 18, 2012

Admitting I'm Not a Good Multitasker: ROW80 Update

Focusing on my novel writing has not done wonders for my blog writing.

I used to brag about being a good multitasker. But guess what I've discovered? I can do multiple things at once, but I can't do them well.

Blog writing helps with my creativity, but it also drains my creativity and time. Cutting back was the right thing to do, but I miss it.

Still, this graphic helped keep me on track.

More specifically, for me it's about 10 Steps to Becoming a Better Novel Writer.

Are you a good multitasker? Or, do you find yourself simply running around overwhelmed by a multitude of tasks?

A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

Progress On Current Goals

Writing: I have kept to my 30-minutes-a-day commitment with ease. Yes, that probably means I should increase the time, but see my altered goals for this next week below. After that, maybe. Today, I rocked almost two hours of WIP work time. Not all writing, but all progress.

Editing: Two hours today to finish up a project. I wanted to do it justice. I hope I did. The pieces are wonderful, and I want to add value.

Reading: Knocked out another great book. Reviews are being posted like mad to Mom in Love with Fiction. My top recommendation: The Book Thief (review will publish Friday, 7/20).

Blogging: Struggling. I have the focus where it belongs, but I miss blog writing.

Social Media: Creeping through the backlog. To my favorite bloggers, don't worry. I'll be back around.

Alterations for the Next Week

Although I hate to mess with my groove, I need to make adjustments this week. The girls and I are heading out on an adventure. My baby is spending four days with my sister. She's never been away from Mom and Dad for that long. My mom and I are taking the three oldest grandchildren (two are mine) to Breyer Fest in Lexington, KY.

For once, I'm preparing for Life by being realistic about my goals and what I can accomplish. Part of why I've found my groove is because I'm learning to adjust and be realistic, and I'm also learning to balance and enjoy my family.

Writing: I will be doing tons of research on our Depression Cookies follow up, since part of it is set at the University of Kentucky (where I went to college). I'm going to take tons of pictures and notes for scenery and to reboot my memory. Don't know how much writing will get done, but I will be making progress. Let's call it a research field trip.

Blogging: I will skip Sunday's ROW80 check in, as I probably won't have much to check in about. Not sure how vacation pictures play into a writing update. I'll still have a Fun Facts Friday this week and a post on Monday. One prewritten, one not.

Social Media: Hoping I can sit in the hotel room at night and enjoy some blog reading. Cheers to free Wi-Fi.

Reading: Books and Kindle packed. I hope my streak continues.

Looking forward to getting around to blogger friends, old and new, this week!

July 16, 2012

Summer Hodgepodge: ROW80 Update

Again I missed my A Round of Words in 80 Days Sunday check in post. But I have a great reason. I'm finding balance. Finally.

It's summer, and it will be over before I know it. I'm managing writing time, but it's planned around family and friends.


My daughters had three swim meets in the last week. I am so proud of how they always give it their all. This summer was the first swim season for my 7-year-old, and she was quite proud of herself after winning her heat in the 25 Free.


Then Saturday I hosted a dear friend, someone I now consider a member of my family... Elise Fallson. Elise is a wonderful writer, blogger, mom, and all-around great gal. I met her through my mother, and we bonded right away. She stayed with me Saturday night, along with her two adorable children and lovely mother, before she headed back home to France after a three-week US tour of family and friends.

Elise and I only met about a year and a half ago, and we met online. She read my novel, I'm reading the drafts of hers (SO excited to see it come out!), and I coaxed her into the wonderful online writing community. Check out her blog, Elise Fallson.

We stayed up way too late Saturday night talking about writing and the storylines we are working on. I was in heaven. Missing you already, Elise! Guess it's my turn to come see you.

I think I should start a new group: Women's Writing Slumber Parties. We could gather in a central location for the most fun. Otherwise, we start a twitter party at 10pm and all chat about our characters, stories, frustrations, victories, love of words, and so on until the wee hours of the morning.


Are You a Mom Who Writes?

The lovely Annette Gendler features guest posts for a Moms Who Write series. I met Annette during last year's WordCount Blogathon and felt a connection to her and her blog right away.

Today, she features my guest post about writing and balance. Please check it out: Have Laptop Will Travel.


A day late...

A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) Update

Where I've found balance... in prioritizing. My family comes first, but right after comes working on my WIP. Then it trickles to editing, blog, etc.

Writing: I spent at least 30 minutes, my test mile, working on my WIP Wednesday through Saturday, with Sunday off. I spent 45 minutes on Friday writing up notes and character details for Sherry's Tale (so a working title).

Editing: I'm determined to finish up on four lovely short stories. Another blogger and friend I look forward to talking about... Eloise Currie. Her works are destined for a short story collection. I might be able to convince her to write a novel one of these days, too!

Blogging: I missed Sunday, but I'm keeping steady with blogging Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.

Social Media: Behind. Weekends are fast becoming family time. I like this new system. I'm thinking I should treat writing like a work week. Monday through Friday, with weekends off. Hmmm. But I can't help squeezing in some blog reading!

Reading: I've been on a roll with good books, and I'm blogging about it. Reviews are coming fast and furious at Mom in Love with Fiction. Check it out when you get a chance.

One last bit of fun

My girls after a trip to the American Girl Store,
enjoying a Lego Woody (during a trip to Chicago).

July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th: Fun Facts Friday

This morning my daughter asked me what day it was. When I told her it was Friday the 13th, she freaked out and said something bad was going to happen. Friday the 13th has never bothered me, but I wanted to ease her worries. Off to the Internet...

Why Is Friday the 13th Considered Unlucky

One theory: 13 is an unlucky number and Friday an unlucky day (considered so since The Canterbury Tales, unlucky to start a journey on a Friday).

Note: Crazy to think of Friday as an unlucky day. I love Fridays! End of a school/work week, prepping for weekend, etc.

Another theory: 12 is considered the number of completeness (months, Zodiac, apostles), and therefore 13 is irregular. I found mention of a Norse Myth that 13 seated at a table would result in death... consider the Last Supper - the 13th guest, Judas, betrayed Jesus and was killed on a Friday. Christ's crucification day is also considered to be a Friday by many historians.

Interesting Facts About Friday the 13th

* The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom "Friday" is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen). (From Wikipedia)

* In 2012, three unlucky Fridays are 13 weeks apart: January 13, April 13, July 13. Eek! (hasn't happened since 1984)

* Hotels and hospitals often skip floor 13, and some airports don't have a gate 13.

* President Franklin D. Roosevelt is said to have avoided travel on the 13th day of any month, and would never host 13 guests at a meal. (Source

* Fidel Castro was born on Friday, August 13, 1926.

* Friday the 13th superstitions cost businesses between $800 and $900 billion. People choose not to buy houses, fly, or buy stocks (to name a few things) on this day. (Source)

I found several sites that listed unfortunate events that occurred on Friday the 13ths throughout history. This seemed particularly silly to me... take any day, and you could easily find bad things that happened. Research all Tuesday the 18ths, for example.

Are you wary of Friday the 13th?

July 11, 2012

Picking Readers' Brains: ROW80 Update

Tonight my book club discussed Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. I will be reviewing it soon on Mom in Love with Fiction, but I can tell you it's amazing read, intricate in both emotions and characters. However, it's sad and depressing. Sometimes the best books are the hardest to read.

As much as I need to surround myself with writers, it is just as important to surround myself with readers. We all have a love of books and words in common. My love of writing comes first from a love of reading. If I don't nourish that part of myself, I think the writer in me suffers.

Hearing how each woman was affected by this book differently reinforced several things.

1. A writer can't reach every reader in one work.

There's no way to write a book that all readers will like and want to read. It's a success to write a book that people choose to read and a good majority of them enjoy. I've rarely been to a book club where everyone agreed on a book. And even more rare where everyone loved a book.

2. A reader may love a book and still not recommend it.

I asked my book club if they would recommend this book, one that many of us agreed was expertly written and memorable. Several said No. Mainly because they know some friends who don't like overly depressing books. But everyone agreed it was an excellent book club book, plenty of juicy material to talk about. Easy, fun reads rarely make for good book club discussions.

3. Readers trust their reading community.

I never leave book club without a list of books to add to my to be read pile. As we were talking about this book, people would talk about other books with similar themes. I recommended The Book Thief, because amazingly I read that and Winter Garden back to back and both were WWII based and another woman mentioned a mother-daughter drama. Yet another said she'd read several Kristin Hannah books and Firefly Lane was her favorite. I never question a book recommended by a fellow book lover.

That being said, I trust a book recommendation verbally from a friend much more than I trust book reviews. I like to see that a book has consistent 4 to 5 stars, but I prefer to know a reader I respect loves a book. Not just some random Amazon reader.

4. Readers miss bookstores.

My group brings their Kindles and other eReaders, but it never fails that someone laments browsing in a bookstore. They say they are even more reliant on friends' recommendations now that they are buying eBooks, since they find browsing online overwhelming. 

Do you surround yourself with people who love to read? How often do you find yourself talking about books with your friends?


A Round of Words in 80 Days Update

It's Wednesday, time for another ROW80 update.

Writing: 30 minutes a day is really working well for me. I reported my Sunday check in on Monday, but I did 30 minutes of writing on Tuesday and tried a character writing exercise for 30 minutes today. It keeps my head in the game even on days when I'm not putting up impressive wordcount numbers.

Reading: Just started a new book, and I'm not far enough in to form an opinion. I'm excited to post some reviews on Mom in Love with Fiction. A couple of 5-star reads lately.

Blogging: Monday and today, so I'm on schedule.

Social Media: The last two days I've stayed above goal by reading 15 posts and commenting on at least 10. Still, I'd like to do more.

Editing: Fail, especially the last two days. We spent a good portion of yesterday in Fairfax, Virginia (an hour each way minimum, and hour and a half coming home in traffic) seeing a specialist for my daughter. I appreciate any good thoughts you care willing to send her/my way.

July 9, 2012

Overcoming Zombies: ROW80 Update

I missed a ROW check in... already.

But I have quite the tale to tell.

My family and I set out last weekend for vacation. A driving trip. The fun began last Friday when power went out. We were planning to leave Saturday. Neighbors were watching our dog, so the poor thing didn't have to spend a week in the dreaded kennel. When we left Saturday afternoon, still no power. Neighbors were standing by to take our dog somewhere cool if need by. We kissed the food in our refrigerator and freezer goodbye (and several kisses to doggie) and headed out.

It never dawned on us that the drive to Northern Kentucky to stay with my dear friend would be through what seemed like post-Apocalyptic West Virginia and Ohio. Realizing we needed gas soon, we searched for exits with gas and food. Our first two tries were met with blacked out stores and gas stations signs with big bold letters glaring. No Gas.

With our "miles until empty" reading at 15 miles, we finally found gas. We waited an hour with all the other desperate cars. I've never seen The Walking Dead, but each time we passed a blacked out McDonalds or Kroger, I was freaked out that a band of zombies were around the corner. We finally made it to my friend's house just after midnight with nary a zombie in sight.

The trip was wonderful, but it made me realize just how dependent I am on Internet service and, shocker, power! Luckily I had some posts in the bank. But I was hoping to get ahead over the week of vacation.

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your future plans " ~ Woody Allen.

Writing without a laptop is difficult. I love my IPhone, but I don't want to write all my thoughts in notes. It's painful and slow. Half the words get lost. Plus, I hate answering emails that require more than a simple OK on my IPhone. And thanks to losing power before we left, I had drained my battery.

Finally, we were a friend's house later in the week. I was going to download some editing projects and do some writing. Can you imagine how shocked I was to find out he did not have Internet service? I ended up going to a Starbucks for two hours.

Oh, and just for fun... on our way home Sunday, we got a flat tire which caused a four-hour delay in our travel plans. Another lost day. A rarely missed ROW80 Update.

What has all this taught me?

Where there's a will, there's a way. I was determined to stick to my A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) commitments, come no power or flat tires! And maybe I should start watching The Walking Dead to hone my survival skills.

My ROW80 Update (a day late thanks to that flat tire!)

Writing: Even on vacation, I managed at least 30 minutes a day writing. I spent one hour writing on Friday. I did take off Saturday and Sunday, instead of just the one day in my goals. Two days may be more realistic, but I'm going to keep with my six-days-a-week goal for now. (When without my laptop, I dared write on paper. Crazy, I know.)

Blogging: My goal is to post Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I missed Sunday. It happens. I have to shake it off and move forward. That's my new motto! Otherwise I get so caught up in what I don't do I fail to see what I do do. Ever had this problem?

Reading: I knocked down four books over vacation: The Book Thief, Markus Zusak ; The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood; Winter Garden, Kristin Hannah; and The Soldier's Wife, Joanne Trollope. The Soldier's Wife review will be up tomorrow at Mom in Love with Fiction. The other reviews will be scattered over the next two weeks. I'm so inspired after reading these. They were all amazing in their own right.

Social Media: One thing I did manage on my phone was blog reading. I didn't always comment (again too much typing on a wee-bitty keyboard), but I feel more caught up.

Editing: Behind, thanks to the power and Internet fiascoes. But I'm catching up.

Hope my ROW80 friends are having a productive Round 3 so far!

July 6, 2012

Independence Day: Fun Facts Friday

This past Wednesday, July 4, we celebrated Independence Day in the United States. Since July 4, 1776 we have celebrated this day as our country's birthday, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed making us our own country separate from England.

First, I want to thank our founding fathers and all who continue to fight for this country. I feel blessed to live here.

My kids were asking me a lot of questions as we sat and watched fireworks Wednesday evening, so off to the Internet we went. What did parents do before the Internet? I love being able to answer my kids' questions quickly and correctly without pulling down an encyclopedia that might or might not be updated.

But back to what we found...

July 4th Interesting Facts

* The Declaration of Independence was approved July 2, 1776 in a closed session of Congress. Historians disagree as to whether it was signed on July 4 (some argue it was as late as August 2), but the document is dated July 4, 1776.

* The first fireworks celebrating July 4th were set off on July 8, 1776 and thereafter every year. The Chinese culture was known for fireworks, they believed loud sounds and bright colors warded off evil spirits, and Marco Polo brought them to Europe in the 1200s. Europe mainly used them to celebrate the birthday of the King or Queen. Some say we used them to mock England. Others say we used them to represent the sounds of cannons and muskets heard during our war for our independence. On July 4, 1777, we celebrated the first anniversary with fireworks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the then capital.

* Congress made July 4th an unpaid holiday in 1870. It did not become an official federal paid holiday until 1941.

* The first recorded use of the term "Independence Day" was in 1791.

* The estimated number of people living in the US on 7/4/76: 2.5 million. The estimated number of people living in the US on 7/4/12: 313.9 million. (Source)

* In 2011, the US imported $3.6 million in US Flags. The majority ($3.3 million) came from China. (Source)

* The largest July 4th fireworks displays are listed here (2011). The Top 4: New York, New York; Atlantic City, NJ; Addison, TX; and Boston, MA.

What's your favorite part of July 4th? If you are outside the US, what celebration in your country is similar?

July 5, 2012

Time on the Couch: #IWSG and ROW80

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for my first Insecure Writer's Support Group post. A huge thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for putting together this group. I'll consider this post my official time on the #IWSG therapy couch.

I am so thankful for my writing community. Whenever I feel alone and afraid, I share it here. Without fail, one of my writer friends manages to find my post that day and give me the encouragement I need to move forward. A few suggested joining Alex's group. I finally did it!

My insecurity is always lurking; it rears its ugly head when I least expect or want it. But it's always there. In the past month, I wrote a post about it: My Monster Rises. In it, I talked about my joy, and tad bit of jealousy, when my writer friends get agents, publishing deals, etc.

One of the commenters made an excellent point... we tend to compare ourselves to the most successful authors. It's like deciding to run your first 10K race and comparing yourself to the winner, instead of looking at another same-age, first-time racer to see how you did. Even then, are they taller? More muscular? There are so many variables, and comparing yourself to others is a path full of potential pitfalls.

Lately, I am easily distracted. I seem to have ideas popping in and out of my head. Too many to capture. When I sit down to work on my WIP, I end up writing a bit of a short story or a blog post instead. I feel less insecure with short pieces. The longer a project takes, the more opportunity there is for my insecurity monster to creep in.

It brings me comfort to know I can post to this group monthly with my fears and trepidations. Thanks in advance for the support!

And now for a quick A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80), another one of my wonderful writing support groups.

ROW80 Update

Round 3 is off to a great start, although we are only two days in. I simplified my goals for this round (check them out here), and so far it's working.

Writing: I spent 30 minutes Monday and Tuesday working on my WIPs. One day was rewriting a scene and one was researching. It felt like progress.

Editing: I'm working on a piece that I hope to finish this week.

Blogging: I'm now on my new schedule, so I posted Monday (ROW80 goals) and today. I'll post a Fun Facts Friday to round out the week. Then it's Sunday ROW80 check in and repeat.

Social Media: Doing better. My goal is to hit 5-10 IWSG blogs tonight and 5-10 ROW80.

Reading: I finished Book Thief finally. Best. Book. This. Year. I highly recommend it. I hope to have a review on Mom in Love with Fiction by Friday.

I'm looking forward to visiting my ROW80 friends and making some new IWSG friends.

July 2, 2012

Focusing on Simple: ROW 80 Round 3 Goals

It's summertime. My kids are home, and they are aging so much faster than should be allowed. So for July and August, I'm going to try something new. Simplify.

I started 2012 with a bang, determined to take on challenge after challenge. I found myself drowning. One thing I've learned about multitasking. I can do it, but I don't do it well. I feel like I've spent much of 2012 in a very frazzled state. The next two months I'm going to enjoy my children and find a new writing groove.

So it's a perfect time to start Round 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) and reassess my goals.

My Round 3 Goals

Writing: Monday through Saturday, I will spend a minimum of thirty minutes a day working on one of my two works in progress. Sundays are off. I hope to spend more time writing, but thirty minutes is my test mile.

Editing: Since the time commitment changes for this, I will figure it out week to week. Writing comes first, then editing. Right now, I have several short stories I'm editing. My goal is to spend some dedicated time on each, sending a completed one every few days to the client.  

Blogging: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday here. A minimum of twice a week on Mom in Love with Fiction. I will not commit to any daily blogging challenges in July or August.

Social Media: I'm going to try something different and see if it sticks. I will comment on 5 ROW80 posts every check in, minimum. I will then visit and comment on 10 other posts from my reader. Again, my test mile.

Reading: I will read a minimum of one book a week, and one craft book in July and August.

Good luck to my fellow ROW80 friends.

Check out some great writers here.