Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Never too old...

Our dinner table is always full of lively conversation, and the other night was no exception. Except for one thing.

Our usual dinnertime "topic" conversation posed the question to the table, "What was your favorite bedtime story as a child?"

Our children's eyes immediately lit up, while our daughter's boyfriend shrugged his shoulders with a polite, "I don't know. I wasn't really read to as a child."

Now before you begin a rant about poor parenting or some such opinionated statement, you would need to know this particular fellow and his devoted parents.  I won't go into it, because that's not really the point of this post. The point is...

You're never too old to enjoy a children's book.

My oldest daughter truly has fond memories of bedtime stories, practically has the books memorized.  So I decided to step up the conversation by grabbing her most favorite and reading it to the entire table. Inside a barn in the country.  She insisted I do the voices as well.

The low chuckles accompanied that of my high-pitched giggling daughters and the mid-range laughter of my 13 year old son. :)  I got a certain thrill at hearing their thorough enjoyment.  I think there was clapping at the end.

We read MY favorite bedtime story next.  Well, Tuesday isn't so much something to be read, as is something to be experienced. There are like six words in the entire book. It's mostly pictures.  And yet there was a story behind the pictures that magically changed from night to night as my husband "read" the books to our children.

It was precious to see the effect the books have had on my children and their continued love of reading.  I also realized that my littlest ones didn't have a favorite one, nor are they read to as much as the older ones were.  A product of a busy household I suppose (and yet hasn't dampened their enthusiasm for reading books themselves).

But I'm not worried about spending more time reading to them, because...yup.  You're never too old...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Just Start

Two little words, yet so hard to do sometimes.

Will I regret my decision? Will I succeed? Will I be able to finish what I start?

I have two words in response: Who cares? You will never know what you can do, if it's worth it, and whether or not you will fail if you don't even start. 

I can't count how many crafts I've never finished, or stories that are waiting their turn to be told. Whether or not I'm afraid of failing should be irrelevant. But it's not. It's real. We don't like committing ourselves to things we're not sure we can finish. Why start if we have little chance of finishing? Nanowrimo anyone? 50,000 words in 30 days. Why? Why I ask you?

Because the joy is in the journey, not the end result.

Why do we feel so accomplished when we achieve a goal we've set? Because we finished what we intended, obviously. What if our goal was to simply have joy along the way? It wouldn't matter if or when we finished because our goal wouldn't be determined by an end result, but rather an ongoing love for what we are doing.

This has been a profound concept for me this year and is at the heart of my Nanowrimo story. It was also the means to my taking on a difficult task both physically and emotionally: my boys' Christmas stockings. Each of my children have one, and so will my boys. They take around 70 hours to complete. Each. So you can imagine how daunting it is to start, not to mention the feelings of making something your boys will never actually use. 

But WE will. We have a special plan for them, and it's pretty wonderful. But that's another post for a later time.  Meanwhile...

I started.

Friday, November 1, 2013



Nanowrimo. Say it with me....naaaaa.....noooo wrimo.  It's not hard to do. Well, yeah, kind of.  I mean, 50,000 words in 30 days? Yeah, it's some of the hardest fun you'll ever have.

Here's how it works:

  • Pick a plot (hopefully you've got an idea or rough outline going into it. Unless you're like me. :) I'm a total pantser. Don't worry though, at this stage I'm the only one who gets to see the embarrassing, ugly polka dot underwear. You get to see my daily word count. :)
  • November 1st start typing like mad. You need about 1667 words a day to make it to the 50,000 by the end of the month.
  • Chat on the forums!
  • Read comics on the main page!
  • Shop at the store and buy cool t-shirts and mugs!
  • Waste time playing Candy Crush!
  • Facebook like crazy!
  • Find Writing Buddies and distract them--I mean help them!
  • Try and get back to writing. *sigh*
  • Discover amazing plot twist and fist pump the room. 
  • Eats lots and lots of energy snacks. Is this why it starts right after Halloween?  Hmmmmm
  • Type and type and type some more.
  • Think about Thanksgiving Day looming and type faster. 
  • Finish! Validate! Claim your prizes. Seriously. Since I started in 2005 the folks at Nanowrimo have really pulled in some awesome prizes for us to claim. Soooo cool.
I've been nano-ing since 2005. There was a couple years in there that I was working on my senior Honors Thesis and trying to graduate from college, so yeah....my word count was wrapped up in term papers and such.

Times and seasons. 

It's a tough month for me to do Nanowrimo. Okay, okay, every month is hard when you're a mom of seven and especially right now as I work to recover from a difficult and painful summer. But being a writer means that NO time will be perfect for writing. You have to carve the time out to do it. Life won't stop for us. And quite frankly, writing is better due to our experiences. It's the stuff that gives us something to write ABOUT.

So what are you waiting for?  Go! Sign up! NANO!!!!  And come be my buddy here. :)

Happy Writing!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Birthdays and Milestones

So excited about my birthday today, but probably not for the reasons you're thinking. I mean sure, it rocked having people throw me an early party yesterday, and then being handed a new iPad mini (on which I'm writing this post). :) 

Today is a big deal because I hit the 23 week mark!!

No, that's not the number of weeks on the Bestseller list. (Someday...someday...) It's the age of my sweet twin boys yet to be born. A month ago I was happily growing bigger and older with few worries beyond the start of the school year and whether we could we sneak in a few more trips to the pool before summer ended. 

Then the unimaginable happened. My water broke. And the miracles began. Instead of going into labor my body held on, refusing to give in. Didn't know that was possible. The not laboring part. I'd like to think of myself as a fighter, after all. :)

And indeed the battle began. We had to make it to 23 weeks before the doctors could do anything more for the babies. So the remainder of my summer consisted of bed rest, machines, and doctors galore. Then the other sac broke. On the first day of school. Last year a school bus ran into our car parked on the street. This year? Yeah...not a big fan of the first day of school these days. :) But older kids got little ones out the door AND managed to take the traditional first day pictures. Have I mentioned how much my children rock? Yup. They're awesome.

We were admitted to the hospital full time for watchful care. And boy do wonderful nurses and doctors make all the difference. A few scary nights were smoothed over because of their vigilance. And looking back, I can honestly say I didn't mind my time here. I was well taken care of, as was my family at home. The amount of people pulling for our family has left me in utter awe. To give you an idea, my husband bought me a box of thank you cards so I could use my hospital stay(and boredom) to thank everyone. One day he said, I think you need another box.

Yup. And here we are. My birthday became something more to look forward to this year. It was a chance at life and birth for our boys. I've never been so excited to turn another year older. It holds a special place in my heart for the miracles it has given me.  Not that we're out of the woods, but this was the first milestone. Now onto the next. A new hospital, special doctors, and a hope for more weeks of rest and writing out thank you cards.

Some have suggested there may be a story in this. Hmmmm...you never know. Life is full of surprises. And miracles.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Penumbras Blog Tour and Giveaway!

PENUMBRAS by Braden Bell

Conner Dell didn't meant to blow up the school bus.
Or the bathrooms.
In fact, he only wanted to go to sleep and possibly dream about Melanie Stephens.
But explosions had a funny way of happening when Conner and his friends were around.


Conner Dell wants to be good--he really does. But he is terrified that he might be turning into a Darkhand, especially when new powers start to surface. What's worse, the Stalker is following Conner, but no one else seems to be able to see him. The Magi think he might be hallucinating, the guilt of what happened in the Shadowbox keeps weighing on him, and his relationship with Melanie Stephens is complicating things. Even for a Magi, Conner knows his life is anything but normal. 

Want a roller coaster ride without all the hassle of an amusement park? The constant action and challenges Conner and his friends face will have you holding on for dear life. Just like poor Conner. I've read through Penumbras multiple times, and let me say each time has only pulled me in more.  The characterization is awesome. I mean, let's take a few kids whose worst initial fear about Middle School was probably fitting in, and give them powers. And relationship problems. And relationship problems enhanced by their powers.  Oi!

But that's not all. The story's message of dark versus light goes far deeper than mere troubles with homework and issues of jealousy. It delves deep into the aspect of what is real. That gray area, that succeeds in confusing the best of us, grabs hold of each Penumbras character and seeks to bring their nightmares to life. Hope becomes ever more illusive as the Light in each of them struggles to win.

And for that, I just love Pilaf. Always the optimist. Always grateful for what he has. He stands to remind others of who they are, what they have, and life's possibilities if they all just keep trying. And I just loved that. "I knew it!" was the common phrase amongst the teen readers in my house, cheering for the characters as they continued their journey into becoming something more than themselves.

The plot was excellent in its ability to bring the reader up to speed from the first book, while building the tension for the ever increasing challenges they faced in this one. And let's be honest...few books have made me laugh out loud.  This was one of them.  There are some great lines that are just SO spot on.

Well done, Braden. Well done.

  • You can find all the magic here, at the Penumbras website, where there are trailers, photos, and sample chapters to read. 
  • Both Penumbras and The Kindling (first one in the series) are also for sale via the website here for a steep discount--$9.99 (plus s/h)!
  • They're also available through Amazon here and Barnes and Noble here!
AND DON'T FORGET THE CONTEST!!!  Hop on over to Braden's blog for a chance to win!!! August 9th is the last day to enter the contest for $50.00 worth of Amazon Gift Cards.  You don't want to miss it!!


Braden Bell grew up in Farmington, Utah and graduated from Davis High School. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theatre from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. in educational theatre from New York University. He and his wife, Meredith live with their five children on a quiet, wooded lot outside of Nashville, Tennessee, where he teaches theatre and music at a private school. An experienced performer, Braden enjoys singing, acting, reading, gardening, and long walks with the dog. 

To learn more about Braden you can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and on his blog.

Monday, April 29, 2013

eXamine Your Zipper and other embarrassing moments

It was in middle school. PE. Gym class.  Uh....let's just end it there shall we?

The point is, we're all human. *pinches arm, takes blood test...yup, definitely human* We all make mistakes. And of course some of them aren't really our fault. The ones that are? Own them and move on.

Life's a learning curve.

As writers we face an ever bigger curve than most. Why? Because we're living so many lives simultaneously. There's this character, and this one, and then oh! this poor misunderstood villain over here!!  With all those lives to figure out, it's bound to happen that we forget who we are. And embarrass ourselves.

Like maybe by sending a query letter addressed to the wrong person. Or attaching the wrong manuscript to a requested full.  Not that I've had these things happen to me. I'm still gearing myself up for querying, remember?  But I've known other writers who have faced these...trials. :)

And because of their honesty I might avoid them myself. A quick check on a name. A double check on the MS.  Writers are so good to each other. We're not in competition with each other for the number of sit ups we can do in PE class. I mean...uh...writers care about helping one another out. We give each other tips, reviews, and blurbs on books. We WANT readers to explore other authors' books.

It's not middle school. We can handle a little competition.

So what is the most embarrassing thing a writer can do? Has anything embarrassing ever happened to you? Any words of wisdom to impart to us?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Underestimating our Value and Worth

We are our worst critics.

You've no doubt heard this phrase before. Along with:

  • There's nothing to fear but fear itself.
  • You've only failed once you've stopped trying.
  • Doubt has killed more dreams than actual rejection.
There are so many out there. Proof that we can be our worst enemies when it comes to fulfilling our dreams. It isn't the agent who rejected us, but the fact that we only sent out 1000 queries. What about the 1001th?!  That could have been the one!

I've already talked about the fear of rejection here this month. Underestimating ourselves goes much deeper though. Not valuing what our story is worth, the lives it can change, or simply the good laugh it can be. Underestimating ourselves will cut us off from our dreams more effectively than any agent, publisher or well-meaning friend.

I let someone scare me into studying something else right out of high school. I didn't think my writing was worth enough to support myself with. Money is such an evil word. As though that's the only reason that people write. As though only things of value have a price tag on them. As if.

Write your story. Share it with others. Don't let anyone tell you that your time is misspent.  Don't believe me? Here's a little motivation. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Think Tank


No, not that kind of tank. A "think" tank. Where all the ideas of many are all pooled together to create mass awesomeness and wonder!!!

And did you know that  the think tank has an actual presence online?  It's true. I swear. I'm part of the Facebook group, Authors' Think Tank. The website is ForeverWriters.com. And recently they started a podcast series.  People!  THE THINK TANK IS REAL!! And they have a theme song, so you know...they pretty much rock.

Facebook: Click here
Website: Click here
Podcasts: Click here

You're welcome. :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Social Media and Sushi

Not long ago my husband took me to a sushi grill.  It's one of the many ways he says, "I love you!" Honestly, any dinner I don't have to cook is an "I love you," but sushi has an exclamation mark attached to it.  Just sayin'.

So this one night we're seated at the grill next to a man and two children. They're busying themselves on their phones and iPads. A standard thing when you're killing time.

And then the chef came out. And the electronics...stayed on. While this fellow flipped and sizzled and entertained all of us, the three to our left were entertaining themselves.  I was a little aghast. Who goes to a sushi grill and ignores the show?  Apparently these three.

What the chef did next had my husband and I laughing the rest of the night. He slapped his spatula down to get their attention and then said, "You like your toys more than my show?" Mortified, the girls turned off their devices. The man resisted a little longer, probably out of spite.

I nudged my husband under the table and we shared a smile, proud of the chef for calling them out.  They were being rude, in our opinion. Sushi grills are for socializing. And these guys were missing out on the very best kind.  Life has so much to offer than just what people tweet or blog. Experiencing things for yourself will IMPACT you differently.

With all the wonderful things we can share with one another, don't live vicariously through someone else. That will leave you little satisfaction in the end. Live...and then live to tweet another day.

Do you have trouble putting your electronics down? What's the number one reason you check social media?

Sunday, April 21, 2013


I'm a day late (and very late at that) in posting because I was at the TeenBookCon yesterday. It was fabulous. I took my daughter. We fan-girled all day. And took pictures. Totally awesome.

We listened to authors tell us their publishing stories; all the times they've failed and succeeded, even after publishing multiple books.  Each one is hard, they said. There's no guarantee, just because you've been published before.

Rejection, or the fear thereof, is one of the hardest things a writer will face. Well, after writing the actual book that is. WHY WON'T THIS THING JUST WRITE ITSELF. :) The fear that someone won't like our work sometimes keeps us from ever sending it out. But you'll never know if someone will like it or not, unless you TRY.

To date I've sent out one query. One. I got a rejection the following day.

I had to laugh. Mostly out of relief because the torture had been quickly. No drawn out agony for weeks and weeks.  One day. One look. Nope, not for her. No problem, I said. In fact, I had only sent it out because my husband asked me to. Practically insisted.  He could see that I was being held back by fear, and he wanted me to get past that hurdle as quickly as possible.  I didn't feel ready. And that the work wasn't ready.  But he knew me well enough to know that that feeling would never change.  I would always fear that it wasn't ready. I wanted it to be perfect before sending it out. As if. Pfst!

I've learned a few things since that first and only query and soon I'll be ready to do battle again. The book is stronger. I'm stronger. And I know that what I want is to find it the right home. I'm not going to worry about whether or not someone doesn't like it or why. I'm willing to find the right person who will love it as much as I do. It deserves nothing less.  I deserve nothing less.

How do you view rejections in the publishing world? What are your worst fears when it comes to publishing?

Friday, April 19, 2013


You know what they are: Art Quirk, American Major League Baseball player. Billy Quirk, American silent film actor. Daniel Quick, American professional wrestler---WAIT, WAIT, WAIT. That's not the kind of Quirks I'm talking about, although I have no doubt they lead interesting lives.

I'm talking about quirks: odd mannerisms, peculiarities, something that makes you, YOU. Quirks let you know who you're dealing with, throwing out clues as to their character and demeanor. Or it may cause you to wonder about them even more. You either Love 'em or hate 'em. The quirks, not the people. Unless the quirk is really annoying and then yeah, Hasta la vista, friend.

For writers, quirks are what make people interesting. It's what separates one character from one another. They give you clues as to the perpetrators. Give bullies a purpose in life. They're...quirks.

What are some of your favorite character quirks? Who writes quirkiness really well?

Thursday, April 18, 2013


According to Dictionary.com:


the quality of being patientas the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, withoutcomplaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to havepatience with a slow learner.
quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience.
Cards chiefly British  ) solitaire  def 1 .
Also called patience dock. a European dock, Rumex patientia,  of the buckwheat family, whose leavesare often used as a vegetable.

I did not know some of these definitions.  A card game? Really? *googles up the game* I guess I've always had a more "life-experience" kind of definition. It goes like this: 

According to Karen; aka, Mom, Wife, Writer:

Patience is: a virtue, HARD, not always quiet (especially when the mama bear claws come out). It's a VERB, it takes works. It's actively controlling your emotions and actions. It is not passive. Yes, it is kindness, friendship, and showing love for others.  But it's watching those friends get published, happily, while you...still try. 

It's repeating yourself for the third time to the child who's not listening, because they're not doing it out of spite--the TV's just too loud.  Patience is turning down the TV without yelling at them.  It's something that we seem to expect of others, but want to be forgiven of for our lack thereof. "What, I lack patience? Come say that to my face."  lol  Sorry...couldn't help myself.

Patience is a part of life's great struggle, the part that says, "Don't just do what's right. Do it with the right attitude. You'll be a much better person for it. And bring others with you."

What do writers seem to be the most impatient about? Are we more impatient with ourselves? Or with others?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Opposing Fans

You want to love them. Honestly you do. They bought your book, movie, or ticket to the baseball game. But they can also be our very worst critics. As though buying stock in our lives gives them a right to berate us. Sure, they may have some valid points to make, but I've sadly seen some be down right rude. It worries me.

Um...authors have feelings, too, you guys. Just because you may not like our work, can you be, um...a little kind? Please?

Poor Kim Kardashian lost a few fan over some automated tweets, mistimed amidst the unfolding tragedy at the Boston Marathon. Yes, we need to be careful about our online presence, but it's true that even our best won't always be enough for some people.

Take this heckler at the ball game for example.  He's got a few opinions that he feels entitled to share.  And so does Tony Gwynn, Jr.  Ohhhhhhh, yes.  :)

Reviews and hecklers are difficult things to experience. They've been known to make or break someone's day. I'm on Facebook, I know what I'm talking about.  Even the toughest skin is still skin. It's going to affect us in some way or another.  Most fans are ecstatic, exuberant, waiting in line all night to be one of the first. :) Some are...not so enthusiastic.

I've seen some really wonderful things lately about writers thanking authors, writing letters of gratitude to those who have made a difference in the reader's life.  It's called #ThankAWriter Project headed up by Nathan Bransford and Maggie Mason. You can find out more about it here and how to join the crusade. :) I'm going to do that this week.  They deserve it.

Our thanks shouldn't be just merely buying their book, watching their movie, yelling at players who are just doing their job. When a waiter gives you good service don't you give him a tip? And not the advice kind of tip. I know, some people seem to be full of that. I'm talking about an extra thank you for a job well done.

Do you ever thank authors for the books they've written?  Which books have changed your life the most?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Nook, Kindle, Kobo...SPOCK

Reading apps sometimes feels like Rock, Paper, Scissors to me.

Thankfully I have a spock--I mean, iPad.  For those who don't subscribe to Apple products I hope you'll indulge me for just a minute. :)

I am sooo grateful for my iPad. Why?  The reasons are too numerous and it actually fought for a position on the letter "I" day, but Ben Wolverton's needs won out.  Sorry, Apple....

But honestly, it makes my head spin a little to see all the different reading options and hear people complain about how they want this book or this book available in this version or this version because their device doesn't support the others. I get it. I do. Nook is Barnes and Noble, Kindle is Amazon, Kobo is....*excuse me while I go look it up.*  Uh....looks like it's an independent looking to make its place in the market.  I have no idea how it's doing, but the fact it's still around says something I guess.  :)
And yes, I'm aware that the computer can handle them all, but people aren't tied to their computers these days. They're on the move. They want their books to-go! I'll take a Jane Austen with a side of Sarah M. Eden if you please. Thanks!

I love my iPad because it handles them all.  It's the Spock of rock, paper, scissors. Yes, it's a little more pricey than a Nook or Kindle but it also handles ALL my various email accounts...in one spot. And I can watch videos. And I can chat with people. And Skype. And, and, and...yeah, the list goes on.

Of course I can see why each major book supplier is going to offer and tout their own reading media, but in doing so they run the risk of excluding others. I hear the complaints so I know the problem exists.  As a reader I'm lucky enough not to have to worry about it...yet. But as an aspiring writer my works will need to conform. The reader will have needs. Will I be able to meet them?

What is your opinion on the different reading devices? Too many options? Not enough? 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Looming Monsters

They’re everywhere: books, deadlines, year-end taxes, poised to make your life miserable. Unless they kill you first.

In writing, there are many monsters you face, holding you back from your goals and killing your dreams. They can have six heads, wings and breathe fire and death. Or they can be small enemies covered in blue: we’ll call them Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. They’re ever present, ever threatening, to steal my your time and make you doubt yourselves. You got an agent and a book deal and movie rights? Excuse me while I go back to bed.

But wait! Monsters aren’t inherently evil, it’s just how people have treated them. It’s not their fault that we forgot our armor, or that someone came along before us and soundly abused them: infusing their walls with mean, nasty thoughts. And yet with the proper strength we can use the monsters for good.  Get them on our side.

Yes, I prefer to take care of my monsters. Nice words, a pat on the back, never overextending my stay, lest they blow fire on me. (I’m sort of flammable.) Sometimes you approach the monster and find other heroes, sharing the same quest and willing to team up. Those are the ones who will have your back, save your life, help you identify the monster and better prepare yourself.

You see, the first few moments that a hero meets the monster isn’t when the attack begins. Nope. You two (or more, if you open multiple browsers like me) are too busy sizing each other up, getting the low-down, and formulating a plan of attack. The outcome? It depends on how strong you are. Can you wish someone well who just fulfilled your dream? I dare you to. Today. J

Because a true hero will formulate their plan before the monster appears. They prepare, have a goal, and then carry it out. It’s a good thing too, because some monsters are well-prepared. They know right where to hit, making or breaking your day dream.

So what are your "favorite" monsters and how do you tackle them? What’s your strategy for teaming up with others?