Friday, December 30, 2011

Book Review: Cold River by Liz Adair


Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district--until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country. She's determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.
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As if sleeping on a couch, having no cell phone service and having someone trying to murder you isn't enough to make Mandy's move to Limestone, Washington difficult, she finds herself falling in love with the man whose job she stole. Not that she meant to steal it. In fact, if she had known that her running away would land her in the middle of a family feud...and a river...perhaps she wouldn't have left Albuquerque.

While Liz was busy burning down houses and firing up stills, I lost sleep worrying about "what happens next!" and "who'd done what!" :) I burnt the midnight oil on this fantastic tale of acceptance and love, unable to put down the book until the very end. And what an end...

From page one I admired Mandy's quiet confidence that had almost the entire town eating out of her cream-filled-loving hand. That is, once they stopped hating her for taking over hunky Grange Timberlain's job as superintendent. Not an easy task considering Grange is one of their own--just one of the many Timberlains who "run" the town.

Mandy's credentials did not prepare her for the rich history of Limestone and the ties that bind the town together. Mandy only wants what's best for the kids, but in order to do that she must first become the student. Out of all her "teachers" I love Mo the best. Despite his quiet demeanor he reveals so much plot! His hidden talents and charisma continue to jump off the page, lending both intrigue and authenticity to the Northwest "character." The rest of the towns people are no different, with each character so delightfully mysterious, that it hurts for the reader to consider any one of them as Mandy's would-be killer.

I was so into the story that I found myself wanting more detail in certain scenes, lingering just a little bit longer on some of the more pivotal moments. Especially the ending, but perhaps that's because I didn't want the story to end. :)

The setting and mood were so beautifully illustrated, that such detail could only be accomplished by one who has lived and experienced such a place. Liz clearly expresses the love she has of both the people and area she details here, exposing the rich culture and heritage that is tucked away for others' discovery.

If you're ready and eager to explore Limestone for yourself you can purchase Cold River here. You can also learn more about Liz and her other numerous works here at her blog, perhaps investigating her Spider Latham series next if you need some more mysterious fun!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

NaNoWriMo... for Teens


November is nearing a close which also means the same for NaNoWriMo. What's NaNoWriMo, you ask? Glad you did.

National Novel Writing Month was created about 11 years ago by a fellow named Chris Baty in an effort to put aside all inhibitions towards writing a novel and just go for it.

And they gave themselves 30 days. That's it. 30 days: 50,000 words. That's a lot of words per day folks. About 1,667. Including Thanksgiving. How do I know? I've done it. Multiple times. And yes, some of the stuff I wrote was actually worth keeping.

This year I took a bye due to another writing project I'm working on, but I've been watching two of my children take on the challenge. They're participating in the Young Writer's program which allows them to set their own goal. Use their imagination. And stop being afraid to express themselves (though mine were never afraid of that). And they have their own NaNo page that is totally awesome. Seriously. I have to say that I like visiting the Young Writer's page more than the adult page. But I guess that's why I write YA fiction.

So far the combined total of all these kiddos' around the world is 169,987,950 words. That's a lot of creative genius folks. That's a lot of missed video game and tv watching. And my kids are happy.

It's exciting to see my childrens' bright eyes light up when a new idea hits them, and to hear their little fingers typing madly at the keys trying to get the words down fast enough. Today one child was typing while simultaneously trying to get on a shoe and mumbling at the bus they could hear rolling up to the curb. Talk about determination!!!!

My children have seen me participate for years now, so it's been nice to take a turn at cheering them on. Their friends are begging them to share their stories and I can't blame them one bit. It's good stuff. Seriously. Makes me ask the question, why aren't teens the ones writing books for teens?!?! :)

Well? Get on it guys. Yes, you! And you. November is waiting...but only for another two weeks. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Bittersweet Day

It's with saddened heart that I write this post, letting you know that my beloved friend has finally passed. She's resting peacefully though and finally free from the cancer.

Today we're gathering to celebrate her life and the joy she brought to every soul she came in contact with. That was her gift. A precious one that keeps on giving, encouraging others to be find joy in life. Hope.

Today we'll honor her as we say goodbye. To celebrate the life she led. She had asked my daughter to play the harp at her service, as she did so many times for my friend while she was sick.

Along with my daughter I'm bringing a box of tissues...and immense gratitude for the love my friend shared with me and the wonderful years we had together. Wish we could have had more, but then I guess that's life. :) And boy did she make the most of it!

Love you, B.J. See you on the other side.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dare to Dream: New meaning to the word Fight Club


I'll be honest, I've never even seen fight club; though I have a pretty good idea what it's all about. But it came to mind as I thought of a whole other beast. A fight worth fighting, even if you're fully aware that the battle is lost.

I have a friend. A very dear friend. Five years ago she was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. That's bad enough, but her prognosis was worse. There was no cure for the kind she had. I know...there's no "cure" for breast cancer in general, but there was no hope that hers would ever go away. Not even into remission. It wouldn't have even mattered if it was caught at stage 2 or stage one. She has one of the rarest forms that grows in sheets.

All the doctors could do was buy her some time. And she took it. A lot of it. A lot more than they expected. Because she fought. Fought for as much time as possible to spend with her children. Her husband. Her friends.

We prayed for her, loved her and learned to serve, rejoicing in the small miracles that broke even the doctor's expectations. Her treatment was hard, invasive, and yet she never gave up. Even now as it has finally won she won't give up. I visited her the other day, wondering if it would be my last, and was touched that she kept telling her daughter to make sure I had cake.

There had been a small celebration that day, before I got there. Her son had recently become engaged and they had a small party with the in-laws to be. Multiple times my friend asked me if I had had some cake, to which I said yes and graciously thanked her. Several more times she asked her daughter if I had had some cake and we smiled each time and simply said yes.

In her darkest moments she is still trying to live and love. Living each moment without a thought for it being her last. She's still living each day as though she expects there to be a tomorrow. Because if she doesn't then that means that mentally she's finally given up.

Which she will never do.

I take heart in her example of courage and strength and tell myself I want to be more like her. She's not just simply trying to make it to the next day, but enjoying each day for the gift that it is.

Love you BJ!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Facebook: Page vs Profile


I love Facebook. I really do. I love the opportunity it gives me to interact with others. In our house we use it to keep up with family, coordinate babysitting jobs, get homework assignments from friends, chat with people who live across the world or in the very next room. Yes, I have been known to chat with my daughters while we're each doing homework. Uh...supposed to be doing homework. :) There are some really cool animals you can make on chat btw. But I digress...

So I've seen one question come up a lot this month and the great debate over pages versus profiles for writers. Despite my love of social media I found that there is only so much time, and deciding where and when to use it is important to know.

So let's break it down.

The Profile:

Pros
  • Full interaction with pages, people, profiles, and applications.
  • I can catch up with people at a click of a mouse and post content for others at any time of day.
  • It's easy to like or comment on someone's post. Instant validation!
  • The new upgrades also mimic GooglePlus and the ability to post to only specific people. Or leave some out of the loop completely. Sorry people, but Cakewrecks.org would have a field day with my attempts at birthday cakes.
  • Speaking of which, I got wished Happy Birthday by no less than 90 people, including their personal thoughts of what I mean to them. That's a lot of "birthday cards" folks. I felt like a queen on Facebook, if just for one day. :)
  • Can post to and from Twitter.

Cons:
  • Limit on number of friends you can have. You can't have more than 5,000 friends and believe me I know people who are pushing that number. They've considered starting a page [hence today's discussion].
  • Mixing of personal and professional life (if you also use this to communicate with family). Which also means less privacy when interacting with friends or making comments on others' walls.
  • The occasional security breach.
  • Not everyone is a "friend" per se. Maybe this isn't a pro or a con. But often one's profile has a mix of acquaintances, fans, or fans who want to be friends. This can be GREAT of course, but only now that Facebook has implemented ways to be able to share some things with just family (which is what I was using it for before).

The Page:

Pros:
  • Unlimited number of friends/fans
  • Wall postings, picture sharing.
  • Purpose for page is defined by its existence. You're here to chat with me or see updates. We may or may not know each other, but that doesn't matter.
  • Private. Administrator does not have to be divulged. Great for bands, businesses, or those with pen names.
  • Can post to and from Twitter.
Cons:
  • Can't post to others' profiles from your page, only other pages.
  • Double the work in maintaining when you have a profile and a page.
  • Friends of both profile and page may get double posting updates.
  • Can't add flair application to my page. Drat! I have some hilarious ones I'd like to share, but can't unless I put them in a picture file...hey, that's a PRO! :)
So how do you use YOUR Facebook page/profile? Are you friends with people you've never met? Are you listed amongst an author's friends? How does it make you feel to be a friend versus a fan?

All comments are welcome! You can leave a thought here or on my page. :)

Have a great day!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Day to Remember

I've thought about this day a lot over the years. In fact, before it was 9/11 it was September 11th. My husband's birthday. Still is in fact, only it's a bittersweet celebration now. It's hard to be so happy on a day where I know others are suffering. Only, it's also a reminder that life does go on and that those who've lost loved ones can have a renewed sense of hope. My own tragic loss last year tells me it is possible.

Love you Mom. Miss you.

10 years ago today I was still in the mode of watching the morning news and was woken up to the startling reality that became a part of the world's history. Only the first plane had struck when I turned on the news. I called my husband first, who quickly found a tv at work. I called my parents next, because that's what I do. Family is so critical in my life.

Then the second plane. Then the collapse. Then I knew my husband's birthday would be forever changed. While I had looked forward to celebrating his entrance into the world, others were suddenly mourning their loved ones leaving it. I was stunned. I cried. I called my sister in Washington DC to see if she was all right. I don't even remember if I got through or not. In the end she was all right. That much I remember.

I was glued to the tv the entire day and was grateful I chose to leave my children safely tucked away at school while I thought of what I would say to them later. Because I would have to say something, in attempts to explain what had happened. Why someone would do this?

I got a call mid-day from one of my brothers, telling me that he and his fellow Air Force buddy had been stranded at the airport. Could we come get them and let them stay with us until the airport reopened?

Heck, yeah! My nationalism surged ten fold in that moment as I proudly took in two honorable service men and prayed for the others who were defending our great nation. And would continue to do so in the coming years. My husband came home via the airport while I went shopping for food and a birthday cake, thinking how ridiculous it was to do something so normal. This day was anything BUT.

We transformed the birthday cake into an American flag. We would celebrate the unity of our great nation and the strength of people and families who cared.

We had hope. And prayer. And a loving family. We would gather around each other that night and for the days to come, determined to stay happy in these troubling times. Because not all the world was cruel. We knew that. The outpouring of love from those who worked to rescue so many could only be matched by the outpouring of love that followed for those who didn't survive. Where there is humanity there is hope. Where there is hope, there is love.

Never stop loving. Never forget. Here's to hope.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What do English Degrees and Teaching Have in Common?


It's the same conversation over and over and over again...

Friend: So how is it with all the kids in school now? Enjoying your free time?
Me: *Maniacal laughter* I'm a Senior in college.
Friend: Ooooo how wonderful. What are you studying?
Me: English and Creative Writing.
Friend: So are you going to be a teacher?
Me: O.o

Next day. Different friend. Same. Exact. Conversation.

Can someone please explain to me why people always come to this conclusion? When I ask my teacher friends what they majored in, they didn't say English. And certainly not creative writing (except my Creative Writing professors). :)

They majored in Education. Or Early childhood education. Yes, there's an actual college for those studying to become teachers. Yes, I know a few English majors that plan on becoming certified to teach. My dear beloved sister is one of them. But she didn't always plan on being a teacher. She loves to write. Now she just wants to teach kids how to do the same thing. And my own husband got his PhD in Chemical Engineering so he could do research and one day teach.

I have so much love and respect for teachers. In fact, I've taught many a Sunday School class over the last 20+ years, and appreciate the heavy responsibility for a classroom of students. But I haven't taken on the beautiful task of molding and shaping them each and everyday, taking very little pay for so much work.

Unless you count motherhood. In which case, I have the best teaching job in the world!

So what I'm wondering I guess, is what do I say? Do I say, "Thank you so much for the compliment, but I'm not strong enough to do what you do"? Or do I continue to laugh politely as I have done and say, "No, I'm studying Creative Writing," in which I get the O.o response back.

"So you want to...write? As in..."
"Books," I answer.
"Oh. How exciting!"

Only some don't sound very excited. More like they're still trying to reason out the long toiling hours for even less pay! :) But yeah, I kind of thought it was exciting, too. That's why I'm majoring in English and Creative Writing. Maybe I'll just say the Creative Writing part from now on. Though someone is likely to misunderstand me again and ask me what kind of creative riding I do. Motorcycle? Horses?

*sigh*

What about you? What response do you get from others when they hear that you're a writer?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: All That Was Promised by Vickie Hall


All That Was Promised does that and more! From the beginning pages I was intrigued by the story, having read many accounts of the early pioneers. But all previous ones were focused on the saints in America. This delightful tale featured the saints in Wales and drew me in even more because of the change in venue. Having had ancestors hailing from this very place, I felt an immediate connection to the trials they faced. As well as their joys. I loved the balance of fear and hope, and the inclusion of more than one romantic thread.

The back cover reads:

An encounter with a Mormon missionary and his unusual message of a “restored gospel” leaves Richard Kenyon, a young Methodist minister, questioning his life’s work when he cannot deny a growing testimony of this peculiar American religion. But Richard soon finds himself struggling to recognize the promised blessings of the gospel when violent persecution shakes the fledgling Church in Wales.

The early members of the LDS church faced unthinkable hatred, spurred by those who feared what they did not understand. I loved Richard’s reactions to all of the hatred he faced and watching his wife deal with her unbelief. I was inspired by how the saints chose to stand and fight, by loving their enemies and facing their fears. The individual accounts of each person’s trials were so familiar to those we might still face today; like loss of family, freedom, and financial woes. Such themes cross nations and religions alike, allowing the reader to easily sympathize with such plights.

The style and pacing made it an easy read, while the plotline kept me engaged until well into the night. It found its way to the beach with me, which turned out to enhance my experience even more. I feel stronger for having read this book and have no doubt that when my lot begins to feel hard, this inspirational story will find its way into my reading pile again.

I received a free copy to do this review, but look forward to purchasing more in the future from this wonderful author! You can order your own copy of All That Was Promised here and visit Vickie's website here or blog here to learn more about her.

5 Stars to Vickie Hall for this great new chapter about the early saints!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Writing Groups


Don't have one? Get one. Seriously. You won't regret it. How do I know?

I have one.

I believe that writing groups are essential for a writer's career, but also for helping the writer themselves. They are your friends, your confidants, the people you trust to look into your soul. You know, the bared one. The naked one that we protect so well. (Yes, I just used the word naked.) At least until it's time to critique. And because they're your friends they'll do it gently.

I cannot tell you how invaluable my group has been. We're called Moonwriters for the time of day that we write, though for myself I do best when the moon's on its last leg. We're also part of a larger group, a wonderful organization called American Night Writers Association. ANWA was organized over 20 years ago and includes beautiful ladies from around the globe. All these ladies have three things in common and all are essential for the writing I do.

  1. They're all women. (sorry guys, but it's easier to do the naked thing in front of other women. You understand.)
  2. They're all LDS. Each member of ANWA belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And though I have MANY friends who are not of my faith, this group helps to service some of my particular needs.
  3. They're all writers.
Trying to balance my life as wife, mother and writer is a constant struggle, but it's a little easier having a support group like this. And you want to know the best part? They can be there for you, too! How? you ask. So glad you did. :)

I know several of these ladies personally who go out of their way to blog for writers and give helpful hints towards bettering their craft. I'm jealous of their skill and time, and the way they can help more than just our group. Perhaps my blogging about them may count for something. :)

In my sidebar you'll find a list of these wonderful writers whom I hope to include on my future acknowledgements page. Some day. When I get published. Not if...when. Because with friends like them, how can I fail?

So what are you waiting for? Go get a group!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Review: Sleight of Hand--by Deanne Blackhurst

Daniel Cabrerro has seen his last con. Or so he thinks.
When Daniel is forced to face the consequences for his life’s poor choices, he wants nothing more than to die. Again. Because anything is better than facing all the pain and feeling the guilt for the mistakes he has made. And no wonder for all the things he has done. All the people’s he’s hurt. But face them he must if he wants to find rest. That is, unless he can find a way to con heaven itself.
I loved the message of redemption and love, and how even in death people still have a choice. Of course it was equally painful reading about Daniel’s mistakes and wondering how I might fair in his same shoes. With my own mistakes, of course, but still… How do our decisions truly affect others? How could one make amends, despite the fact that they’re dead? Can they?
Deanne answers these questions and more in this beautifully crafted tale that kept me reading until late in the night. The characters were beautifully written and well fleshed out, though Daniel used far too many clich├ęs, in my opinion. I loved Jonah, Daniel’s guide in the afterlife, and the struggle he faced in helping Daniel move on. Having two people with something at stake kept the story well balanced and free from too heavy a hand. The pacing was perfect, with an equal measure of reflection and action. Watching Daniel atone for his mistakes sent a powerful message, and the horror he felt as they were brought back to his remembrance.
I can easily recommend this book for its beautiful message and delightful twists and look forward to reading more from Deanne in the future.
You can purchase your own copy of Sleight of Hand by visiting here, and until August 31st you can download it for only $1.99 and begin reading it right away. Happy reading!
___________________________

Deanne is the author of Turning Hearts and Sleight of Hand. You can learn more about Deanne at her website here and keep updated on her available works. She also blogs regularly at The Book of Dreams that “features short, humorous excerpts into the life of a writer/mom.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Winner!

I love winners! Almost as much as I love giving out prizes. And the winner of the crocheted tote and cell phone case is…
Sheila Martinez
Congratulations Sheila! She was picked from those who correctly guessed the answer to the question, “Who called me the queen of Sugar Land recently on my blog posting The 20 Minute Sprint?” The answer is Shannon Hale (writer and person extraordinaire) whom I adore so much that I considered it a HUGE honor that she would visit my blog to pay me such a compliment.
Thanks to all who came here to find out more about me. I hope you’ll come back often. Maybe you’ll have another chance to win one of my homemade totes. You know…like this one that is going to Sheila.

Remember there are two days left to win other great prizes, so hurry on over to the last two blogs and enter to win!!!! Good Luck!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Summer Treasure Hunt Contest Update

First of all…WELCOME!

Second…glad you’re here. You’re just in time. If you haven’t checked out the Summer Treasure Hunt yet there is still plenty of time and plenty of prizes to be won. Today it’s my turn to hand one out. Just click on the tab above and read the instructions. There’s a week left of fantastic prizes including a book tote from yours truly!

So go! Read! Enter! And good luck. MIDNIGHT TONIGHT is the deadline to enter to win a homemade tote and matching cell phone case.

The winners of the previous prizes have been updated on the tab as well, so you can get the answers and see who has won.

Good luck to everyone and come back to visit again soon!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Fight--Just say No

Not to drugs. Not to whiny children, although both are things that are important to do. But today is about my own struggle with weight and my inner voice who has given up. Given up whispering that is.
Today it is screaming at me.
“Just. Say. No.”
No to hot chocolate (and not just because it’s a stinkin’ 100 degrees outside).
No to food after 7 (even though I sleep so much better after a mightnight snack–actually I don’t. I just think I do.)
No to sitting on my butt for hours on end instead of hitting the treadmill for a mere 20 minutes a day.
Why? Because my legs hurt. My clothes don’t fit. And I write better when I feel better, so….
listen to me whisper, “JUST SAY NO!”
Yeah…my inner voice has taken over. Thank goodness.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Review: Ammon by H.B. Moore

Ever wonder what someone’s life might be like, in between the moments that defined the history we know? Well, H.B. Moore answers those questions and more in regards to the life of a young Nephite missionary named Ammon and the people he served. Including his enemies, the Lamanites—a people once counted amongst his own, but separated by the gospel that he has grown to love.

AMMON is a marvelous tale of love and strength, and how one can find hope by serving the Lord. Ammon, along with his brothers, has no greater desire than to teach the gospel to others, even when his mission threatens his life and the ones he loves. Especially Elena, the young Nephite woman he finds living amongst the Lamanites. His love for her grows amongst his service amongst the Lamanites, until they threaten her life and force him to choose.

The tension was perfect and the moments felt real, sucking me into the action and story until late into the night. I was delighted to see a romantic thread here, not often seen in scriptural accounts. As well, I was excited to realize that though I knew how it would end, I found myself riveted to see what would happen next.

This retelling is a five star rating, for its beautiful voice, action, and attention to historical detail.

Marvelous!

*I received a free copy for my review, but in no way did this influence my opinion. :)

___________

Heather is a graduate of Brigham Young University with a major in Fashion Merchandising and minor in Business Management. She is an award-winning author of several historical novels, set in Ancient Arabia and Mesoamerica and manages the editing company: www.precisioneditinggroup.com for other aspiring writers.

To find out more about Heather and her other fantastic novels and adventures, please visit her website here. Happy reading!!!

1 Comment

Thanks so much for the review, Karen. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book :-)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Black hole. Abductor. And other names I've called my desk.

Space... The final frontier. These are the voyages of one harried YA writer. Her continuing mission, to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone--

Wait! Don't go! Sorry. Sorry. I’m not writing about some sci-fi episode of new world travel and space exploration, unless we’re talking about some very important papers that have recently been abducted from my writing desk. And that folks, is what today's fun post is about!

Space. WORKSPACE! It's what astronauts and writers totally have in common. It’s either too vast or too small, too clean or far too messy. And don't get me started on how hard it is to compose a story, let alone find an environment that’s conducive to creating one. I'm also a Mom, which means sharing the house with lots of other bodies and their own creative space.

Knowing others faced the same dilemma, I polled them about their work spaces. Guess what I found? Yup. Every writer has faced the same sort of challenge.  With varying degrees of success...and failure. Me included.  First, let's hear from my fellow dreamers.
From Anna Arnett:  
"My son-in-law custom built a desk and installed it, like kitchen cabinets, in a corner of my 'den-turned-bedroom"  Book shelves above one side are ceiling high, and my desk wraps around, with three large drawers on either end and two shallower ones above the leg spaces.  File cabinets (one short, one tall) fill the space between the end of the desk that extends beneath the window and my closet full of shelves that hold office supplies and yarn. Everything I need is right there, so I get very little exercise when I'm writing.

At the other end of the room, tall, free-standing bookcases, 46 inches wide with five adjustable shelves, cram themselves against the walls facing either side of my daybed where I sleep. Unless I'm sleeping with my head on my desk....[which would now] show the constant clutter of papers, un-tossed mail, and whatever else I had in hand and put down instead of away. The space between the door and closet has a free-standing cabinet-bookshelf I can hardly get to because of the boxes of papers to sort, or needlework projects to complete, stacked in front of it.  I keep whittling away at the clutter but, let's face it, for every ten items I clear and put away, ten or twelve more take their places.  If I could afford it, I'd hire a secretary, or at least a file clerk."
Same here, Anna.  Same here. 

But then there are others who face the problem of having no space in which to pile papers on in the first place.

From Donna Gonzales:  "My ideal writing workspace: A corner desk with ample space on both sides for papers. A 2 drawer filing cabinet under the desk within reach. Enough floor space so I can also lay out notes and such. A chair at the perfect height with good back support. Just a glance out the window and I can ponder while looking at our oak trees and whatever else is out the window of our future office.

"Alas, that's not the case right now. Our future office is currently a bedroom for our two-year-old granddaughter, and soon her six-week-old brother will join her. DD & SIL are in the other spare bedroom.

"What I have right now is a bar height counter, sort of in the kitchen, but not really with the computer, printer, and no space left. I can't even get to my paper copies of character interviews, calendars, and other stuff. Those are in a box in the garage, and I'm too lazy to go back and forth. I'm learning how to work strictly from the computer. At least I can see the oak trees from my perch on a barstool."

What's funny (no I'm not actually laughing) is that I always wanted a space like this.  I was always so jealous of everyone with a built in desk; especially in a place where I seem to work the rest of the time. :)  Alas, it would seem that even my ideal workspace might not have worked out so well.

Any suggestions for Donna to help her situation? 


Then there's those like Jennifer Wolf, author of the upcoming novel BREAKING BEAUTIFUL, who have taken their creative workspace to a whole new level. Or a new venue anyway.  And her response seems to solve the problem that Anna and I both face with regards to not getting enough exercise.

"I have a few writerly spaces. My favorite is on the couch next to a roaring fire, especially on cold damp Washington days. Because I have four busy kids, I write everywhere I can, like in my car while I wait for piano lessons, soccer practice, or play practice to get over. I wrote a good portion of BREAKING BEAUTIFUL on the way up to the ski hill, because we had season passes to a resort almost 3 hours away. I once spent a whole day doing revisions in my car while my son was at an indoor skate park. I even did copy edits between games at a volleyball tournament.

My new writing space is on a treadmill at my local LA Fitness to combat writer's butt. For all the fabulous details see her blog post HERE!!!  

LOVE IT!!!!  So many good ideas! So much camaraderie! So let me do my part and share with you all my various attempts over the years. Ready?

Are you sure? Because some were...uh...rather creative, so no laughing. Please. Or I will be forced to have you abducted. Seriously. All those stories about people who have been taken over the years? Yeah...never tick off a writer. You've been warned. :)

2006:  I rather liked this space to be honest with you. It was like having my own little office at the front of the house.  I could see when the kids got home, watch my little one in the other room, and have everything within arm's reach. Including my children.  Didn't help that I had to give the room back to accommodate a dining room table.

We had outgrown the breakfast area table and decided to buy one big enough to actually require a room. With the breakfast area free we turned it into a computer station to keep a better eye on everyone's activities and time.  The result was great for the kids, not so great for me.



2007:  Yeah...it's as awful as it looks.  Remember the beautiful workspace I had up above?  See where my laptop is there? Yeah, This spot only lasted for about two weeks.  I moved my laptop to the kitchen counter for another two before my husband took pity on me and let me move into the bedroom.
Now this was heaven!!!!  For a few months anyway.  My bedroom quickly became a flood of children who would come looking for Mom. My room was no longer a refuge for either my husband nor I. And I couldn't set aside regular hours to work because with varying ages they all needed me at different times.

Still...I fought going back out into the thick of things. Especially since there was no place to put such a large desk.


Still fighting.  But with my husband's old desk and a file cabinet to hide behind. Right. You see how well that worked out.


I think this is when I realized that aliens had abducted my brain.

But at least I had a desk that would fit into more places. So back out into the thick I went, only this time we rearranged some furniture so I would have some space to call my own (while playing Mom).  It's worked out so well that I'm still here.  Only now...

Yes.  Last year my husband got a look at my writing AND my habits and realized I was in this for the long haul.  And loved it!!!!  So he bought me a new laptop. And a new desk.  Aren't they pretty?

I still have to haul my laptop into my bedroom from time to time so the teenagers aren't tempted to talk to me until all hours of the night (I could have worse troubles, I know), but there's lots of light here and space to work.  Then I added a small file cabinet to the right and moved that little bookshelf to the left to increase my workspace, but occasionally still found things piling up on my desk. I needed another shelf that matched.

Here's my newest acquisition. :) 

So perhaps the trick isn’t to find a corner of the universe that will solve the mysteries of life, the universe, and who killed John Doe, but to do what writers do best.   

Create one.

So tell me...where do you work and how is it, well, working for you?  :) 

UPDATE: See Jennifer's post here for more on how you can be a writer. No matter how busy your life may be. :)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

3rd Annual Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win!

Welcome to our 3rd Annual “Summer Treasure Hunt: Dig for Clues and Win Contest!”

This is becoming an exciting tradition, both for our sponsors and hopefully for all of you! 29 writer friends and I have banded together to present a month-long contest where we will give away a prize a day for the entire month of June. That’s right! 30 awesome prizes, running the gamut from books books books! (romances, fantasies, mystery/thrillers, inspirationals, children’s books, and various non-fiction), as well as Amazon gift cards, a Mary Kay gift set, a vinyl lettering gift certificate, a hand-sewn weekly planner with ribbon bookmark, a crocheted book tote with matching cell phone case, and again for you aspiring authors, TWO free edit/critiques of a partial manuscript. Many of the giveaways are open to International entries, though always check to be sure before you enter for a particular prize. And how exactly do you enter for these amazing prizes? By following these rules:
SUMMER TREASURE HUNT RULES:
You can send in one entry for each day’s prize, or only for those prizes that strike your fancy. The rules are simple:
(1) Go to the website or blog indicated for each day, find the answer to the question for that day, then email the answer with your name and AND MAILING ADDRESS to jdipastena@yahoo.com. I promise you will not wind up on any mailing lists. This is only to facilitate the receipt of your prize. All entries will be deleted at the end of the contest.
(2) Please send a separate entry for each day and type the day you are entering in the subject line. (Such as: Summer Treasure Hunt, June 1; Summer Treasure Hunt, June 2, etc).
(3) Deadline for each day: Midnight PST
(4) The winner will be contacted and announced on the day following the deadline.
All winners will be draw by www.random.org.
You do not have to wait until the designated day to enter. You can start sending in your entries right now, or begin entering at any point along the way. And check back here each day between June 2nd – July 1st to read the names of the winners.
If you have any questions, please email Joyce DiPastena at jdipastena@yahoo.com.
And now…let the treasure hunt begin!
June 1
SPONSOR: Canda Mortensen
PRIZE: A $25 Amazon gift certificate
QUESTION: What is the title and artist of the Princess song on Newbie’s playlist? (HINT: Scroll to the bottom of the blog and read “Newbie Teaser”. Match the number of “Princess” with the same number on the Playlist box (you may have to scroll down the playlist to find this, too). It will give you the title and artist.)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http:candamortensen.blogspot.com
OPEN TO USA ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 2
SPONSOR: Jennifer Griffith
PRIZE: Delicious Conversation (LDS romance, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, set in a chocolate shop in Salt Lake City), by Jennifer Griffith
QUESTION: Name at least 5 kinds of candy I ate at the last writers’ conference I attended AND share YOUR favorite candy. (HINT: Read the April 20, 2011 post. Click on April under the Blog Archive in the right hand sidebar.)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://cottoncandy4thesoul.blogspot.com/
OPEN TO USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 3
SPONSOR: Peggy Urry
PRIZE: Choice of book: Villette by Charlotte Bronte (romance, paperback); Airframe by Michael Crichton (thriller, paperback); The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell (contemporary crime, paperback); OR The Mist of Quarry Harbor by Liz Adair (LDS romantic fiction, paperback); AND choice of Jelly Belly Gel Case for iPhone 3G/3GS or Jelly Belly Strawberry Cheesecake Gel Case for iPod Touch.
QUESTION: What is the name of my Work In Progress (WIP)? (Hint: It’s the title of my March 12, 2011 post. Click on “March” under Blog Archive in the right hand sidebar.)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://peggyurry.blogspot.com/
OPEN TO USA/CANADA ONLY
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 4
SPONSOR: Danielle Thorne
PRIZE: Josette (sweet Regency romance, E-book) AND Southern Girl, Yankee Roots (poetry), both by Danielle Thorne
QUESTION: Danielle supports what wildlife conservancy organization? (HINT: See right hand column of website)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.daniellethorne.com
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 5
SPONSOR: Bonnie Harris
PRIZE: Mary Kay Microdermabrasion Set
QUESTION: What are the names of my two WIPs? (HINT: Scroll to the bottom of the blog and click on “Work in Progress” under Labels)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http:// www.bonnieharris.blogspot.com
OPEN TO USA/CANADA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 6
SPONSOR: Susan Kaye Quinn PRIZE: Autographed copy of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit (YA love story), by Susan Kaye Quinn
QUESTION: How many days do David and Eliza have on the cruise together, before they’re forced to go their separate ways? (HINT: Click on the “About Me and My Books” tab and read the blurb for Life, Liberty, and Pursuit)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://ink-spells.blogspot.com
OPEN TO USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 7:
SPONSOR: Anne Bradshaw
PRIZE: True Miracles with Genealogy: Help from Beyond the Veil (non-fiction), by Anne Bradshaw – 1 print and 1 eBook – Print copy can be autographed. (Yes, there will be TWO winners drawn for this prize)
QUESTION: Which TV station interviewed Anne? (HINT: Answer is a short way down the middle column.)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://truemiracleswithgenealogy.com
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES; PLEASE NOTE YOUR PREFERENCE FOR PRINT OR EBOOK, ALTHOUGH I CAN’T GUARANTEE YOU WILL WIN YOUR PREFERENCE.
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 8
SPONSOR:
Cheri Schmidit
PRIZE: Autographed copy of Fateful (YA paranormal romance), by Cheri Schmidt
QUESTION: Who is the prince of darkness? (HINT: Click on “April” under Blog Archive in the left hand sidebar and read the April 12, 2011 post)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://cherischmidt.blogspot.com/
OPEN TO USA ONLY
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 9
SPONSOR: Mary Fremont Schoenecker
PRIZE: Moonglade (a sweet cozy mystery, Book Two in the Maine Shore Chronicles series), by Mary Fremont Schoenecker The prize is an autographed First Edition hard cover print book.
QUESTION: What special skill does character Tante Margaret use that puts her in danger during Remi’s murder investigation? (HINT: Click on the “About Her Books” tab and read the Publisher’s Weekly Review.
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.maryschoenecker.com
OPEN TO USA/CANADA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 10
SPONSOR: Shaunna Gonzales
PRIZE: FREE edit and/or critique of first 50 pages
QUESTION: What do his lips taste like? (Hint: click on “Sizzling Kiss” under Post Subjects in the left hand sidebar)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.shaunnagonzales.blogspot.com
OPEN TO USA/CANADA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 11
SPONSOR: Donna Hatch
PRIZE: The Stranger She Married (Regency romance), by Donna Hatch QUESTION: What poses the greatest danger to Alicia’s heart? (HINT: Scroll down underneath the book cover of The Stranger She Married, and read the paragraph directly below.
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.donnahatch.net/bookshelf.htm
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES FOR E-BOOK VERSION; US/CANADA FOR PRINT BOOK OR PAPERBACK VERSION
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 12
SPONSOR: Cindy R. Williams & Planet Play Productions, LLC.
PRIZE: Award winning glossy cover children’s snuggle, giggle picture book, Chase McKay Didn’t Get Up Today, signed by the author and the real Chase McKay.
QUESTION: What is the name of the dragon in the upcoming fantasy, Thundertail’s Tale: The Legend? (HINT: click on the Blog tab)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.cindyRwilliams.com
OPEN TO USA/CANADA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 13
SPONSOR: Larry Hammersley
PRIZE: Motorcycle Woman (sweet contemporary romance, E-book), by Larry Hammersley
QUESTION: What kind of motorcycle does Tess, the motorcycle woman, ride? (HINT: Read the blog post “Motorcycle Woman from Red Rose Publishing”, May 5, 2011)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://larryhammersley.blogspot.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 14
SPONSOR: Cheryl Cory
PRIZE: Autographed copy of Must’ve Done Something Good (romantic comedy), by Cheryl Cory
QUESTION: What is Sylvie’s all-time favorite movie? (HINT: Click on the “Info” link in the left-hand column)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.facebook.com/MustveDoneSomethingGood
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 15
SPONSOR: Valerie Ipson
PRIZE: $15 Gift Certificate for Vinyl Lettering (http://vinylsignsanddesigns.blogspot.com)
QUESTION: What is Valerie’s writing goal for 2011? (HINT: Look in the right hand sidebar)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http:// valerieipson.blogspot.com
OPEN TO USA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 16
SPONSOR: Rachel Rager
PRIZE: Wednesday Romances – romance (obviously), ebook, by Rachel Rager. This is a compaliation of three different love stories, A Season for Love, The Tiger Unleashed, and The Feather Kiss. (All sweet romances)
QUESTION: Every week I have post a new chapter of a book on my blog. What are these posts called? (Hint: These posts are featured every Wednesday.)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://rachelrager.blogspot.com
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 17
SPONSOR: Danyelle Ferguson
PRIZE: Autograhed copy of (dis)Abilities and the Gospel: How to Bring People with Special Needs Closer to Christ (non-fiction/self-help) by Danyelle Ferguson & Lynn Parsons, M.S.)non-fiction/self-help, autographed book QUESTION: What is the name of the non-profit Danyelle co-founded? (HINT: Check out Danyelle’s author bio)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.danyelleferguson.com/
OPEN TO USA ENTRIES ONLY
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 18
SPONSOR: Teresa Thomas Bohannon
PRIZE: A Very Merry Chase (Regency Romance novel), by Teresa Thomas Bohannon AND a $5 Amazon gift certificate. Winner’s Choice: PDF with personalized dedication, or Ebook format for Kindle or Epub format for Nook. (HINT: Read “A Very Merry Chase Excerpt” under “A Very Merry Chase” in the right hand sidebar)
QUESTION: What did Lady Bethany do and why?
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.ladysilk.net
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 19
SPONSOR: Diane Daniels
PRIZE: Autographed copy of Over the Moon (YA fantasy romance, print copy), by Diane Daniels
QUESTION: Who is Andrew’s evil x-girlfriend, Sonya, named after? (HINT: Read the May 14, 2011 blog entry)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.overthemoonseries.com/
OPEN TO USA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 20
SPONSOR: Margaret Larsen Turley
PRIZE: critique for up to 5000 words
QUESTION: Margaret Larsen Turley is administrator for ______________________________ group. They hold fund-raising events for Cancer Research. (HINT: You’ll find the answer in one of her website tabs) WEBSITE/BLOG: http://margaretlarsen.com/
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES/ENGLISH LANGUAGE ONLY
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 21
SPONSOR: Anna Arnett
PRIZE: Autographed copy of Lolly’s Yarn: a memoir (older YA to adult), by Anna Arnett, with a hand-crocheted bookmark
QUESTION: What was the verdict regarding Anna’s radar photo speeding ticket? (HINT: Click on the Blogs tab and read “I Fought the Law and Guess Who Won?”
WEBSITE/BLOG: htt:www.annaarnett.com
OPEN TO USA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 22
SPONSOR: Joyce DiPastena
PRIZE: Autographed copy of Loyalty’s Web (sweet medieval romance), by Joyce DiPastena
QUESTION: How do people win Joyce’s “Light Bulb Award”? (HINT: Answer is found in the right hand column of the blog)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://jdp-news.blogspot.com
OPEN TO USA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 23
SPONSOR: C. Michelle Jefferies
PRIZE: 52 page hand-sewn weekly planner, with ribbon bookmark.
QUESTION: What rank is Michelle in martial arts? (HINT: Look in right hand sidebar under “MY TANG SOO DO PROGRESS”)
WEBSITE/BLOG: HTTP://cmichellejefferies.blogspot.com
OPEN TO USA/CANADA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 24
SPONSOR: Valerie J. Steimle
PRIZE: Choice of two books: Home Is Where The Learning Is (homeschool how-to book, non-fiction; autographed print copy) OR Dogs, Blogs and Hobbits: Writings from a Widows Perspective-(non-fiction articles about everything from being single and single moms to inspirational stories; autographed print copy), both by Valerie J. Steimle
QUESTION: How many children does Valerie have? (HINT: Look in the right hand column in “About Me”)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://valeriesteimle.blogspot.com/
OPEN TO USA/CANADA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 25
SPONSOR: Karen Adair
PRIZE: Crocheted Book Tote with matching cell phone case.
QUESTION: What commenter recently called me (Karen) “The Queen of Sugar Land?” (HINT: Select “January 2011” under Archives and read the COMMENTS on Karen’s January 6, 2011 post on “The 20 Minute Sprint”)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://www.kbadair.com
OPEN TO USA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 26
SPONSOR: Jaimey Grant (www.jaimeygrant.com) and/or TreasureLine Books & Publishing (www.treasurelinebooks.com)
PRIZE: Winner’s choice of 1 of 5 Regency romance eBooks by Jaimey Grant (Honor, Betrayal, Deception, Spellbound, or Redemption. Please note: Honor contains some marital “heat”.)
QUESTION: Which of Jaimey’s previously self-published titles has recently been picked up by a publisher? (HINT: Click the “Purchasing Options” tab)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http:// www.jaimeygrant.com
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 27
SPONSOR: Heidi Murphy
PRIZE: Autographed copy of Small Deceptions (sweet Regency/Georgian romance), by H. Linn Murphy
QUESTION: In what country is the bridge found over which ‘we’ were fighting? (HINT: Find “Blog Archive” in the right hand sidebar, click on April and read the post titled: “The Far Bridge”)
WEBSITE/BLOG: www.murph4slaw.blogspot.com
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 28
SPONSOR: Kenneth Rosenberg
PRIZE: One e-book copy of my new romantic comedy, Sweet Ophelia and the Tinseltown Blues, any format
QUESTION: What instrument does the character Warren August play? (HINT: Click on the cover image for Sweet Ophelia and the Tinseltown Blues. Read the first few paragraphs of the excerpt.)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http:// www.kennethrosenberg.com
OPEN TO INTERNATIONAL ENTRIES
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 29
SPONSOR: Michael Young PRIZE: Autographed copy of The Last Archangel (YA Urban Fantasy, print copy – Release date July 14th)
QUESTION: What is the name of the fallen angel who is the main character in “The Last Archangel”? (HINT: Click on the Reviews tab. Frank Cole thinks this character “rocks!”
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://thelastarchangel.weebly.com
OPEN TO USA/CANADA
WINNER:
ANSWER:
June 30
SPONSOR: Joan Sowards
PRIZE: The Star Prophecy: a Book of Mormon Adventure (LDS novel), by Joan Sowards
QUESTION: Why do Enoch and his friends sail to Jerusalem? (HINT: Read the blurb under The Star Prophecy book cover in the right hand column of the blog)
WEBSITE/BLOG: http://joansowards.blogspot.com
OPEN TO USA
WINNER:
ANSWER:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Was Tagged!


That's twice in one week!  Once by Elana Johnson in conjunction with her book Possession and now my blog friend Lisa, at Diary of a Square Toothed Girl. :) I'm so excited to share a few things about myself, however, be on the look out. At the end of this, someone else is gonna get tagged too!!



If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?



The night my husband proposed. Totally.

If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

The moment I said, "I do."  What? *sigh*    Yeah, I mean it's a special occasion and all, but I would soooooooooo love to have another chance to spit the words out nice and loud so that everyone doesn't have to read my lips. :)
   
What movie/tv character do you most resemble in personality?
 

My kids would say Jennifer Garner from Alias. Not only did I look like her in my younger, longer haired days but I'm kind of kick butt like that, too.  (My kid's words, not mine. Of course.)

If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it who would it be?

Does pushing people off the cliff in books, count? Because I did that. And yeah, I totally got away with it.  Not the person who really did it, mind you, but yeah....

Name one habit you want to change in yourself.

Eat healthier. Or maybe just fewer chocolate covered raisins for breakfast.

Describe yourself in one word.

Daring. 

Describe the person who named you in this meme in one word.

Inspired! No, not because she tagged me and it totally got me blogging again (Thanks Lisa!!). Her photos are so inspirational and her smile is contagious! She's an inspiration through and through.

Why do you blog?  Answer in one sentence.

Because I am and will forever be a homebody, and blogging is one way for me to share things with others without ever leaving my house.

Name at least 3 people to send this meme to and inform them.


You ready? I tag:


Shelli at......A*Musings
Debbie at......Cranberry Fries
Kristin at.....Fairies and Pirates, etc.


Can't wait to read your responses ladies!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

XYZ and the end of the road

I'm feeling the end for so many reasons this week.  Part of me is relieved and the other is sad.

Relieved because there's nothing like coming to the end of something and saying, "YES! Take that!!!"  The other emotion is, "Great. What's next?"

I've been in school for the last...*mumbles incoherently* years and I'm finally seeing the end of the light. Yet during that time I've also written half a dozen books, raised seven children, put my husband through his own schooling, kept my house in order (mostly) and served in my community. How did I do it?

Balance, baby.

Yet all good things must come to an end. We must have goals. We must have dreams. We must have closure. Like the alphabet game. Ever go on a road trip before tv's and dvd players? Then you most likely played the alphabet game.  "A!" someone yells and points to a sign, while a chorus of A's shout round about you.  The next goal was finding a B, then a C and so on. The hardest was always the X, Y, Z and right there at the end when you were all tuckered out.  You wanted to be done. You wanted to win. You wanted to go to the bathroom, but Dad wasn't pulling over for the umpteenth time!

The key was always Las Vegas. Really? Uh, yeah actually. As kids it meant we were near Zzyzx Road. Yes, like in the movie. Although I'd never heard of it until looking for today's image. Looks creepy (the movie, not the image), and nothing like the welcome sign that it always was to us; signaling the end of a very long game. It meant the chance to move on to something new. Something exciting. A bathroom! Awwww, come on Dad.

Kind of like publishing a book.  Or writing a month's worth of blogs while going to school. Finishing school! (almost there...almost there) You're happy to have finished the game, but you're ready to begin the adventure anew. Like the writer's conference I'm attending at the end of the month. :)

So next week I'll be back with more, because my brain is full of all sorts of things.  Mostly good. Muwah ah ah. I've enjoyed the ride, playing the alphabet game, and hope you'll come along for the next one I take. Because, baby...

You ain't seen nothing yet.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

V is for Vlog and W is for Why

So yeah, why have a vlog? And what on earth is it?  I'm still learning all the finer points myself, but I do know that it's something I look forward to doing in the near future.  Why? Because they're cool! I mean, how much fun is it to watch someone talk to you as though you're sitting in your own private seminar. Um...duh.

I even considered trying my hand at one to post this week, but you know...call me camera shy. Well, not really, in fact I'm kind of a ham. So yeah, I can totally see myself diggin' this v-log thing.  Once I figure it out.

I've watched a couple so far and totally loved them.  How fun to see and hear people in person! (So to speak.) Because sometimes words just aren't enough.  I mean they paint a great picture and all, but how about one that moves and talks and teaches you about themselves and a topic all at the same time?

Great, right???!!!!!  I know!  So there's the what and the why. Now I just have to tackle the when.  :) And the how.

How about you? What vlogs have you seen, enjoyed the most, or could recommend to an aspiring ham...I mean vlogger like me? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

S-T-U-pendous Websites

These next three letters are brought to you courtesy of one very grateful writer. :)

Enjoy this fabulous list of sites I visit and discover for yourselves why they deserve to be loved!!!

Agent Kristin--Pub Rants Because she knows everything about publishing. Seriously.  Someday I want her to know who I am. :)
Aprilynne Pike--Apparently!  Young Adult Author and fabulous contest provider. :)
Dear Teen Me-- Because, like them, there are things I wish I knew when I was a teen.
Debbie--Cranberry fries  Cause I...um...LOVE fries. Yes, I love Debbie, too. :)
Dierdra Eden Coppel--A Storybook World  Gorgeous Artist and Fantasy Phenom!
Elena Johnson-- Young Adult Author and Master of the Query! *bows in awe*
Jody Hedlund-- Amazing author and speaker with words of wisdom MWF! And on facebook...and twitter...and email... So much encouragement! I can't get enough!
Kiersten Writes--  YA rocks and so does she. Just sayin'.
Kristin Baker Przybyla--Fairies and Pirates, etc.  Because how can you just not love everything about that name!!!
Laura Pauling--Exercising the Right to Ramble  The name says it all! So do her invaluable email updates!
Rachelle Gardner--Rants and Ramblings  Because agent info is soooo crucial...and fun!
Roni Loren--Fiction Groupie --Romance Writer and facilitator of my first Editor's critque!!

Sarah M. Eden--Historical Romance Author  INFF Guru!!
Shelli Proffitt Howells--A*Musings  Fiction Friday, Crit Group, and owner of the Toolbox extraordinaire! I could fill a blog post on Shelli alone.
Tana Adams--White Platonic Dreams   Just trust me. :)
WriteOnCon  If I have to explain this one...


And the list goes on!!

What others would you add to my list? Who do you follow that makes a difference for you?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Redo

Redo's are awesome.


When I quizzed my daughters about things they'd like a second chance at, they came up with:
  1. Personality/image
  2. Things they've said to people
  3. Friends they've chosen
  4. Tests
  5. Classes
  6. Bad decisions
Yeah... there's a lot of things we'd like to redo in life.  And sometimes we get a second chance.  Like a paper I just wrote. The teacher recognized it was less than my usual and asked me if I would consider redoing it.  I've never had a teacher offer that before. I was touched.

And of course I said yes.  Because sometimes lessons learned are good and we wouldn't trade them, but how cool if we could get the lesson AND get a do-over.  :)

Rejection is a bit like a re-do.  "Getting" the chance to re-evaluate our work and see if there is any room for improvement. And of course there is. There always is.  I've not heard of an author yet who didn't have some sort of regret for some part of their book.  Maybe it's just them being humble.  Maybe it's the truth.  But no matter what, I believe there is always a place for improvement.

And redo's.  :)

What do you think? What would you redo if you were given the chance?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Query

Wait...what happened to P?

Oh. That. Well, P is for Perfect...which I'm not.  :)  Yesterday was insane and I didn't get to do a lot of what I wanted to do. Including blogging. But it's okay. I got done the things that were utterly crucial and that's the important thing. So yeah, yesterday was perfect in that regard. :)


But today we're talking about the letter Q!!!!  Q is for queries.  Hurrah!  And the total I've sent so far comes to a whopping...

one

That's right folks. I've sent out one query letter to date. "Wait, why not more?" Better to ask why I even sent the one.  I knew it wasn't ready. I wasn't ready. I knew I wouldn't buy the book if I received the one I got. But what I also know is that I have a wonderful and loving husband who wanted me to try.

He saw an opportunity and my trepidation and didn't like seeing me so scared.  

"But I'll get rejected, hon."
"But it can't hurt to try. And knowing it's not ready means a rejection won't hurt as bad."
"True."

Wrong.

It still hurt. Terribly.  But a day later he was right.  I had just racked up my first rejection (yes, I got rejected within 24 hours) and had successfully gotten over that initial fear.  There's still plenty more to come (fear and attempts) and I learned a lot in the process. I mean, hey, I did honestly try and write a good query. I really do want to be published.  But...I also know where I stand with my query and I'm not going to waste an agent's time when even I know it's not ready.

So how do you know when you're ready?  Seriously, I'm asking.  Because there are blogs and helpful sites up the wazoo, conferences and sessions just for this topic, and so how on earth do you know that it's good enough to send.

You send it.  :)  Okay, first you ask other writers. Other readers. Friends, family, critique groups, blog contests designed just for querying (actually did that once myself)... And tons of other help out there to get you prepared.  In fact, Elana Johnson is probably the foremost authority in the writing world when it comes to queries.  She talks about queries here, she played a valuable role in the establishment of query tracker, and even released her ebook From the Query to the Call for free here.  :) 

Love you Elana!!!!

Aren't writers wonderful?!  No where else have I seen others work so hard to help others succeed.  Maybe it's because we know we're not in competition with each other. There are plenty of readers to go around, and always hungry for another story. :) And they're just waiting for that moment when a new title appears. When you succeed in getting it published.  But first, you need to garner some interest. By writing a query. :)

So, how will you know that you're ready? Ideas? Suggestions? Successes you'd like to share?  :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Octopus

Mom. Wife. Student. Friend. Teacher. Warden. Cook. Chauffeur. Therapist. Nurse. Surgeon. Seamstress. Hairstylist. Sanitation Worker. Gardener. Writer?

Ever feel like you need more hands?  Yeah, me too.  I'm seriously considering life as an Octopus.

But until I make that impossibility happen, I do this little thing called balancing my time. Otherwise known as...

Organization

So why didn't you put that word at the top? Because Octopus is a much cooler word, and a whole lot easier to wish for than say...being organized!!!

It's a beautiful word, but sometimes a little tricky to carry out.  It requires thinking (gasp!) and planning (what's that?) and sometimes a little help from various little octopi (you know who you are).

My best method for getting organized is in making lists. At the start of each day I make a list of things I want to accomplish by the end of it. Small things, big things, things that I want to get done and things that I NEED to get done.  And they don't necessarily have to be in order.  Just put down in front of me so I can be actively thinking about them and working on them.  Sometimes that act alone is enough to get me moving and keep me focused.

And it is worth it, because you see I do enjoy doing things like writing and watching 3-D movies on our new TV.  But I can't justify doing those things until some other things get done. Like laundry. (I swear the washing machine ATE your socks, kids!!)

What do you do to get/stay organized?  Any tips or secrets for budgeting your time? Do you have a specific writing time, or do you have to squeeze it in like a typical octopus? :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for No

Two small letters. So much pain.

"No, you can't have another cookie." "No, you can't stick the fork into the plug just because it fits. I'm so proud that you're brilliant enough to deduce the connection, but don't actually MAKE the connection please."

And the dreaded...."No, I'm sorry we're not interested in your book."

I've only gotten one of those so far, and I'm pretty sure I deserved it.  I queried before I was ready, and yet my husband wanted me to overcome my fear and just try.  Because you see, not all "No's" come because something is forbidden.  Sometimes they are there simply to protect us. From embarassment. From harm. Or because the person you're asking simply is not the right one to help you.

JK Rowling collected a huge stack of rejections as did Shannon Hale. As did every author who went down the same road. The road to publishing.  It's a tricky one to be sure, and a painful journey mixed in with all the bliss.  We love writing. We want to be published. But, "what do you mean you don't like my book?" The nerve.

It's like the, "Will you dance with me?" followed by that awful two letter word.  Forget about the four letter ones.  This one's more painful. Probably because we want it so bad. We want that dance. We want the reward for putting ourselves on the line and asking that difficult question. Maybe someday I'll get a yes, just like my husband did when he asked me to dance. Then asked me to marry him. Those were magical nights, but only after a ton of risk. Putting yourself on the line and asking the question.


Just like with an agent. I hope to make that magical connection some day. Where I'll ask, "Do you want to dance? Because I've worked really hard to make this book everything it can be and I'm ready to share it with someone." And soon. So...anyone want to dance? Because me? I'm not even close to being done asking.  I've only just begun. And I won't take no for an answer.

What do you do when you get a "No?"  Do you give up? Press on and stick that stupid fork in the socket anyway? Or ask another parent and see if you get a different answer?  :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Memoirs

Don't do it!

At least the part about trying to publish them in the mass market. Because the reflections upon one's life and the choices they've made are best suited for family and friends, not the masses.

At least that's what I hear. The exception are famous people who have experiences that somehow include the general public...and thus make them marketable.

Now that's not to say that you can't write your memoirs.  Heck, I've already started writing mine. But I call it a personal history.  An accounting of my life, with various details that perhaps my children and my someday grandchildren might want to know about me. I wrote them at the request of my mother.(Have you gathered how influential my mother was to me?) She saw the value in keeping a record. Not only for ourselves but for our posterity.  Because who we are is important to know. Important to our family and friends and perhaps a few others.

Not for the masses.

Of course your life may be such that you need it in print, because hey! you actually saw who killed JFK. Or your life has touched so many people that they are the mass you're trying to reach. Aside of that though, not many of us will have lives that will interest the public. At least not enough that people would pay to read about them.

I wish it were different.  I wish that everyone could appreciate the value of our individual lives, and perhaps reward us for the time we've spent. Because yes, I too believe that so much experience just shouldn't go to waste. But I guess that's what blogs are for.  So embrace them. Share them. Write about those things that you want the world to see. Because by golly, if you can't put them in a blog because they're too personal to share, then you shouldn't be publishing them for the mass market either.  Just sayin'.

Do you have a personal memory that you think would benefit the world? Would you be willing to share, even if you wouldn't get paid?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Letters

Yes. Letters. Although after yesterday's post you were probably expecting something more like lips. Of course I could mention both.  You know, like how we used to write those innocent love notes, lick and seal them in the envelope and then put the big lipstick covered kiss on the back.

You never did that?  Well I did. It was fun. It was intimate.  Unlike some of the more modern day exchanges. I mean I love emails. I do. And Facebook rocks! I mean think of all those people I've lost touch with over the years. Found you!  But somehow posting on my husband's wall just doesn't feel the same. Or my sister's. Or my children's.

In fact, I remember the days when I used to put I love you notes into my children's lunch boxes on the first day of school. Or when they were having a difficult week.  Now I send them a hug on Facebook. Or text them a "How are you?"  Granted we still have this fun thing where they write to me in a journal (just for us) and tell me all sorts of things they're worried or thinking about; then I write back.  With so many kids it gives us a chance to talk to one another without being interrupted.

But now I realize that it's also preserving a lost art of hand-written notes and personal messages.

My mom and Grandma were big on notes. And letters. Their individual handwriting was unique to them. Almost as unique as the things they would say and share.  It was an art form in and of itself. A dying art that I never prescribed to by the way. My handwriting stunk, so I wrote very few letters.  That and I could never find a stupid stamp.

The internet has made it so much faster and convenient for me to stay in touch with people. And with proper care I think it can be just as personal. Still...nothing gets my heart beating like a hand written note. Especially from those I love. There's just something so warm and friendly about it all. The time they took to write it out, spell check it while they did so, and then find a stamp to actually send it to me. Precious.

Of course I'll take a letter in any form...but nothing will ever beat the smell of paper, perfume and love that transcends the distance using a hand written letter.

What about you? What memories do you have of hand written letters? Do you still enjoy getting them or prefer the modern conveniences just as much?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K is for Kiss

Ahhhh.

I love kisses. The real ones (okay the chocolate as well, but we already covered candy yesterday). They're my favorite part of a book. The romance. The tension. The unrequited love that finds its way into the pages of just about every book I pick up.  Especially those geared towards teens.

Do you remember your first kiss? Or are you trying to forget it? :) Mine was magical. And, okay, a little awkward. I mean, it's the moment girls dream about forever (all the ones I know anyway) and that alone has the potential to make or break it. Forever remembered. Forever haunting.

As in my current WIP.  It started with a kiss scene. Well, it doesn't "start" with a kiss scene, but it was the catalyst to a lot of the angst my protagonist is going through. And boy howdy, what a kiss.  I mean, it changes lives.  Seriously.  None of my other ideas hang so importantly on a kiss. But this one does. Oh the things I share.  :)  Well, you'll just have to read for yourself when it comes out. Not if...when. Because the world needs to experience this kiss. Seriously.

How about you? Any of you have a momentous kiss that changed your life? How about your characters? Do you ever find yourself rewriting your first kiss in your stories?