Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Chaos of Christmas

So, it's been crazy busy lately. No surprise there. Christmas is coming, and there are gifts to buy, parties to attend, and decorations to put up.

And I love every second of it.  

Christmas is, after all, my favorite season. This year, though, things are a little different.  Much more frenetic. For the first time in a long while, I'm a working Mom.  So, yeah.  I'm a tad overwhelmed. Ah, right.  Understatement much?  

The balancing act is downright deadly. Especially since I've never done it before.  

Kids. Work. Husband. House.  

It's never ending, and I'm learning on the fly. Which probably isn't the best strategy, but I've been tossed overboard into the ocean. Only one thing left to do. . .swim. Like a madman. Try to avoid the sharks while deploying a plan of attack that needs. . .oh, I don't know. . .maybe 30 hours a day instead of the 24 I've been alloted.  

Bummer, right?  Sure, but there's an upside, too.

My level of efficiency has gone way, way up. No time to mess around. Just go, go, go as I make the most of the time I have. It's time management boot camp. . .on steroids. With my schedule wearing the boot. And while I sometimes get my a** kicked, for the most part I manage to stay one step ahead. Just far enough out in front of the craziness to avoid getting creamed.

Can you relate? Yup, I can hear the Oh, yeahs all the way from here.

The trick, I guess, is to enjoy every second. Regardless. No matter what. Through the madness of every day life. . .all the little failures and big successes. . .the disappointments and triumphs. It's the little things, after all, that bring the most joy. The stolen moments when life slows down just enough for you to see it. For you to enjoy it.

So, take a breathe this holiday season. Spend time with family, friends (heck even the dog will do), but wherever you are--whomever you're with--live in the now. Be present. It's the best gift you can give to another. But, it's an even better one to give to yourself.

FURY OF FIRE: available February 7th, 2012.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Some Great News. . .

All right. I'll admit, I haven't been around for a while. I've been lost outside the Blogosphere, and I have lots of excuses. . .none of which probably interests you <grin!>, so let's move on to more important stuff.

I've been writing like a fiend lately. Nothing new, you say? Well, okay. True. I take Stephan King's advice. . .write a lot, read a lot. . .to heart, which keeps me busy. But, my current book has got me by the horns. Not only am I loving the story, but for the first time EVER I'm working with a publisher.

Whoa. Hold on. . .back up a step there. When did this happen, you ask? Well. . .just this week.

Yes, my friends. I did it. I've signed my first publishing contract--with the help of my agent, the fabulous, forever awesome Christine Whitthohn of the Book Cents Literary Agency--and I'm so flipping excited I can hardly stand myself.

So stayed tuned, the guys in my Nightfury Dragon series are rolling your way. First stop? FURY OF FIRE, the first book in the series (think urban fantasy romance with a kick), launches in February 14th, 2012.  And I can't wait to share the story with you!

And oh, wait. If that wasn't enough? I'll be working with the same publisher writing a paranormal historical series entitled, The Circle of Seven. . .about elite assassins who have deserted from a larger group and are now marked for death because of their quest to save young boys from suffering a similar fate to their own.

So, yeah, talk about excited.  I'm in orbit, circling the planet. Lost in Space.

So come hang out here (or at anytime you like as I ramp up, branch out, and wade into the wonderful world of publishing. There are sure to be lots of adventures along the way.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Baseball. . .Pitch Perfect

I've always liked baseball.  Not for the endless statistics (there are way too many of those in the game), but because it's fun to play.  Like all sports, it takes a lot of hand-eye cordination.  But, that's not the real challenge.  At least, not for me.

It's the thrill of picking up that Louisville slugger, knocking the dirt from my clets and stepping up to the plate.  Possiblity is infinite in the action.  Faith is there too, along for the ride as I wind up, stare down the pitcher, and hope for the perfect pitch.  Feeling the weight of the bat in my hands.  The vibration of the wood in my grip as I connect with the ball.  Sycronized connectivity.  Oh, man. . .there's nothing better.

Now, granted, for each crack of the bat and line drive I propel into the outfield there are times when I hit nothing at all.  A swing and miss.  Sometimes, all you get are ninety mile an hour curve balls and nothing but air.  Those times suck.  Because no matter how good a player you are, it's hard to connect.

But, in the end, that's what keeps me in the game.  The possibility of connection, of cracking one into the stands and hearing the crowd go wild.

Writing is a lot like that, isn't it?  A vortex of pleasure-pain where possibility, faith, and sheer tenacity collide.  And in that moment, if we're lucky the perfect pitch sails our way and. . .wham!  A home run.  But, more often than not, we get a curve ball.  A successful writer accepts each swing and miss.  Picks themselves up out of the dirt, brushes off and gets back in game.  Because maybe. . .just maybe. . .the next fast ball won't have the wrong spin.  Maybe that's the one that gets knocked out of the park.

Possiblity.  It's a beautiful thing.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Early Bird and all that Jazz

It's check-in day for JuNoWriMo.  And I have to say I've had a great week keeping up with the challenge.  I wasn't sure at first, but now that I'm in up to my chin, I'm okay with the deep end--even with all the craziness of life making waves.

So, how did I stay on track?

I got up earlier every day (as in 4:45 a.m. oh-my-God it's early!).  And surprise, surprise. . .it worked.  Why?  Well, I discovered combining the following makes for a pretty good receipe.

One. . .a still, quiet house.
Two. . .no pitter-pattering of little feet.
Three. . .a dog who lies under my desk and keeps my feet warm (even though he gives me a dirty look when the alarm goes off.  Now, if that isn't true love, nothing is).
Four. . .man, there just isn't anything else to do that freakin' early, so might as well stick with the program.
And five?. . .my muse is a morning person.  Who knew, right?

Okay, enough with the blah-blah-blahing.  Let's get down to it.

My goal is 1000 words a day.  Every day.  And I came in at. . .drum roll, please. . .

8047 words.  Hoorah!  Gold star for me (and some celebratory chocolate. . .naturally).

So, how was your week?  Did you get what you wanted accomplished?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Scared Witless

Umm. . .so, I did something yesterday.  Something either really crazy-stupid or mind-spliting awesome.  I can't decide which, because. . .it scares the crap out of me.

I committed to doing Shallee McArthur's JuNoWriMo (a.ka. June Novel Writing Month. . .check it out at Shallee's blog) challenge for the next month.  Okay, what's the big deal, you ask?  After all, it's good to have goals, right?  Right.  Totally on board there.  Because, hey, I always set goals. . .weekly, monthly, and all that good stuff.  So, my problem here?  I NEVER tell anybody what my goals are, because. . .gulp. . .they might actually hold me to them.

Just thinking about it makes me want to run like a total commitment-phobe.  Which is precisely why I did it.  I don't like being scared, so I've got my toes curled around the edge of the dock and I'm ready to dive in. . .head first.  Man, I hope there aren't any rocks beneath the surface.

So, my goal for the month (taking a big breath here. . give me a minute while I crack some chocolate to kill the panic) is:

1000 words a day.  Minimum.  I want my WIP finished before the end of the month when I head for NYC and the RWA's national conference.

All right.  I said it out loud.  Now, I'm stuck with it, because I know my fellow writers and JuNoWriMo pals will come after me with pitch forks (okay, not really. . .but the image serves as a great motivator) if I don't keep up my end of the bargain.  Thanks guys.  Looking forward to cheering you on this month!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thank You Never Gets Old

So, I got thanked today by E.J.--a cool guy with a great blog called The Open Vein that I check out regularly.  Which, of course, got me thinking.

Do I say thank you enough?  

I like to think I'm polite, appreciative person.  After all, I always thank people who help me.  Clerks in grocery stores.  Strangers who hold doors open or the elevator when I'm scrambling to get on board before the darn doors close.  The guy making me a latte behind the coffee counter. . .the chocolate Gods for mixing up the goody-good-goodness of peanut M&Ms.

You know the drill.  But, those aren't the 'thank yous' I'm talking about.

The ones I mean are more heart felt. . .and belong to those we care about and love.  The people who stick with us through thick and thin, never mind the circumstance.  But, those are the people who slip through the cracks, aren't they?  We see or talk to them all the time.  Each day blends into the next, and the what do you know?  We forget how much they mean to us because they're always just THERE.  The constant in our lives that we take for granted.

I mean, really.  How often do I say thank you for that?  For the privilege of having them in my life?

Not very often (here's where I hang my head).

So, in honor of E.J. and his awesome initiative, I'm off on a 'thank you' spree.  And I'm gonna nail all my friends and family to my thank you board.  Let them know how much I value and appreciate them.  How much they make me laugh, cheer me up, keep me even and support me just by being who they are. . .which is just plain fabulous.

Oh, before I forget.  Thank You too. . .for stopping by.

Have a great weekend all.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Get in the Game

About the same time each year, soccer invades my life.  So, last night while I watched my middle daughter play her first game of the season--voice going hoarse from cheering and bum going numb in the stands--I noticed something interesting.  They all wanted the ball.

Okay, so nothing new, right?  Kids are kids, after all.  Running in a clump is what they do when playing sports.  Well that, and stealing the ball from their own teammates.

But, that wasn't the interesting part (entertaining, yes, but not my point).  Which is what, you ask?  No one was playing their position.  And you know what?  That left three quarters of the field wide open.  If just one had broken away, shouted for someone to give them the ball and received a pass?  Boom.  That kid would've been long gone down the field.  So far ahead of the pack, no one would've been able to catch her.  Guaranteed goal.

Life's a little like that, isn't it?

We often run in packs.  Feel safer in the numbers.  Like to blend in.  Spend so much time running in the clump, that we forget about the rest of the field.  About what's out there for us if we'd only just stretch our legs and explore the terrain.  But, breaking away is scary.  And hard.  It takes real effort to step away and go exploring.  To be unafraid to make mistakes.

Hmm, yeah. . .mistakes.  No one wants to make them.  But, hey, mistakes help us learn.  And learning is a part of the game.  There isn't an explorer anywhere--past or present--who hasn't encourntered pitfalls, tumbled into situations beyond their control and had to think fast (become creative) to work their way out.

Sure, it's safer in the group. . .where we rarely make mistakes.  Never have to step outside our comfort zone, try news things or push ourselves up the field into the scary 'unknown'.  But, the same old, same old isn't where the action's at.  Success comes when you play your position.  In other words. . .to your strengths, to the rare uniqueness that is You.  No one can achieve in the same the way you can, because there isn't another person alive like You.

I remind myself of this when a new challenge scares me.  Or when an old one suddenly throws up barriers that make me want to run the other way. . .back to the safey of the group.  When that happens, I pop some M&Ms (comfort food is a necessity in the game called Life), tighen up my clets, take a deep breath and push ahead.  There is a solution for every problem I encounter. . .up, over, around, under. . .whatever.  I simply have to be brave to explore the possiblities and find the one that best suits me.

So, be fearless.  Jump into the game and head down the field.  I think you'll be surprised how fast the goal posts arrive when you settle into the position you were made to play.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nine Rounds and Counting

Okay, so I've been AWOL these last couple of weeks.  Sorry. Sorry. Really sorry, but I have a good excuse. . .honestly.

I got distracted.  Became possessed (in the best possible way, of course).

Yup, that's right.  I've been totally thrown over by my WIP (work in progress in author-speak). The sucker just took over, and is still running my life.  

Hallejuah! I love it when a plan comes together. And my muse shows up with boxing gloves.
Getting beat up by her is a pleasure. Really. Because all kinds of cool things start to happen. Exciting stuff that makes me lace up my gloves too and give equal measure as I go round after round with the story in my head. And yeah, you guess it.  I'm taking the beating. . .happily. Being knocked around the creative ring just feels so damn good. Muscles get stretched. Skills are sharpened. Plot kinks suddenly disappear, are ironed out or twist themselves straight.

And that got me thinking.

What's so different right now? Has my life become less busy? No. In fact, it's crazier than ever. So, where is the get-up-and-go coming from. . .my muse? Does she really run the show, decide when to show up and smack the crap out of me? You know, somehow, I don't think so. She's way to fickle for that.  Puncutality isn't her forte, and no matter how much she loves to lay the boots to me, well. . .let's just say, it's always on her terms. 

So, I asked myself. . .what the heck is going on?  


I'm showing up. Every day. With such mind-blowing regularity that my muse knows exactly where to find me. And when. The more consistent I am, the more reliable--and faithful--she becomes, because I'm feeding her (extra large cafe au laits, along with all kinds of chocolate goodies. All right, don't look surprised. You know I can't resist mentioning my obsession). Each session trains her to come when I call.  Not when she feels like it.

It's magic.

So, excuse me while I lace up and put my mouth guard in.  The bell is ringing.  Time for another round.

Monday, May 2, 2011

English Teacher Harassed For Being Erotica Author

Awesome video, much?  Not only is the guy a fast talker (which I happen to love), he defends someone who's hobby he doesn't necessily agree with. . .and makes some excellent points along the way.

Well worth the watch.  Enjoy everyone!

Happy Monday everyone!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wednesday Wordplay

I find driving cathartic. I do a lot of troubleshooting behind the wheel. Something about the open road and the repetition allows my mind to wander a little, explore territory I either hadn't considered or revisit something that's been bothering me for a while.

Plot twists for a story suddenly appear. Problems are mysteriously solved. The what-nots of a character's personality or a sudden insight into their personal history burst forth with an ah-ha! that leaves me wondering why the heck I didn't realize that earlier. A kind of palm to forehead kind of moment, you know?

And call me crazy, but I have full on conversations with myself while the cruise control is up and running.  Some of the best dialogue in my books comes from those talk-to-myself sessions.

But while driving the ten hours to spend time with my family this past week (there and back with a truck full of little kids. . .any wonder I needed a distraction?), I started a new tradition. . .added a fun twist to my driving repertoire.

It's a game I like to call Wordplay.

So, here's how it works.  Pick a word--any word--then come up with a different word for each letter. . .like this. . .


I - ideas
M - magic
A - artistry
G - gutsy
I - ingenuity
N - novel
A - analyze
T - tenacity
I - integrity
O - originality
N - know-how (okay, I cheated on this one!)

So, now you know how I distracted myself on a ten hour trip.  Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chocolate. . .Need I Say More?

I was told this week I rarely have a post that doesn't include chocolate in it. Okay, I admit name is E.C. and I'm a total chocoholic.

The kick-ass person who noticed this is Tanya Reimer of the Life's Like That blog. So, of course I hopped on over to her place, put my feet up and unwrapped some chocolate only to find that Tanya awarded me the Lovely Blog Award.

So, now I have my chocolate and an award too. How cool is that? Very! Thanks a ton, Tanya.

Now, to pass on the award to a few deserving bloggers I've been following a lot lately.  With the A to Z Challenge going on there are a lot of cool ones out there, and oh, so many who are worthy, but I've got six that I think you'll enjoy too.

Speak Coffee to Me
Queen of Procrastination
All The Worlds Our Page
Adventures That Score
Chris Phillips
Writing By Heart

Hope you enjoy reading these fab bloggers as much as I do.

Now, I'm off to find some chocolate and a good book. As you've probably guessed, both are in ample supply in my house.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Roll with The Beat

I love it when I find something that moves me.  Nothing's better. . .well, except for chocolate ice cream and a pair of really fab shoes, but I'll leave that for another time (maybe for a post entitled Obsessions).

Right now, I'm talking about music. Last month, I rediscovered the band The Script (which I'm still listening to, by the way). This week I tripped into Adele and her new song, Rolling In The Deep.

It's old school.  It's got heart and soul. A real vibe that can't be denied.

Fabulous song, yes?

Man, the beat gets me going. And her jazzy style and wicked cool voice?  Both transport me. . .make me imagine and wonder and dream.

Everyone's journey is a different. What inspires one person doesn't do it for the next.  But then, that's where the magic comes in, right? If we were all inspired in the same ways, we couldn't learn anything from one another.

So, when inspiration pulls into my train station, I like to share it. Sometimes it's an off the rail experience that rolls through in the form of a movie or a really great book. Sometimes it's an every day conversation or a billboard. . .unexciting, but for that one snippet. That special something that sparks my imagination.

As a writer, I live and breathe inspiriation. It's constant discovery. The ah-hah moments that help me unearth a gem. . .the things that move me so I can include them in a story that may, in turn, inspire someone else.

So, I've added music to my list of things to pay attention to. Don't know what took me so long. I've always loved music, but maybe, for the first time I'm actually listening to it on a soul deep level, tapping into the energy to tease out the meaning, which will then allow me to share it with someone else.

In that spirit then, here are a couple of questions for you.  What inspires you? And how do you convey the source in your stories? Does it creep in without you knowing. . .or are you more deliberate than that?

Friday, April 8, 2011

My Very First Interview

Okay, I'm so jazzed about this. . .my very first interview on a neighbor's blog! 

Courtesy of who, you ask? Why, the fabulous Witless Exposition at the Cerebral Lunchbox. Thanks Witless!

So, pop by her blog to see what kind of questions she's asking and all the answers I gave. Fingers crossed, I've passed with flying colors.

Happy Weekend everyone!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time: the Ultimate Commodity

I got up early to vaccum today. Yeah, I know. . .Go me. But, really, neglecting my house in April when I've got a one hundred pound golden retriever shedding like a hound from hell? Not a good idea. Yikes, even the dust bunnies gave me dirty looks this morning.

Okay, I could make all kinds of excuses. Believe me, I want to, but, honestly? What good will that do? Not one of those but-but-buts will land me in a magically clean house or put me on the right road.

I guess, then, it all comes down to time management. Uh-huh, I know. I hate that term too. It's overused and annoying as hell. . .especially if you're not doing it well.

I console myself with the fact that although my house looks like a train wreak (most of the time) at least I'm getting the important stuff right. Things like: quality family and friend time, kick-ass writing time, the recommended amount of shut-eye. . .well, okay, almost every night.

So, despite the dust bunnies, I'm doing all right. Because, hey, I'm only one person and sometimes, the healtiest thing to do is prioritized--find the top three to five things--and let everything else slide.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Good Friends, Great Times

So, I went to lunch yesterday with a couple of girlfriends. I hadn't seen them in a while, not because we are scattered across the state or even across the country. In fact, we all live within a few miles of each other. Draw a circle around us and I could be at any one of their houses in five or ten minutes.

Why, then, had it been nearly a month since we last sat down to chat?

Texting may be the culprit.  Easy to blame, after all, my friends and I text on a regular basis. . .short sentences about whose running where and what our days look like. Great invention, that text messaging. . .no debate here, but as convinient as it is. . .it just isn't the same as hanging out.

At least, not for me.

I like the face to face lunches.  The conversations over drinks or at the gym while on my respective trendmill. There's a closeness--a connection--that is born of seeing another human being's expression. . .of hearing their voice, the inflection of each word, instead of reading them on an iPhone or Blackberry.

We live in a fast paced society, one that likes the expediate. And I think sometimes we forget how vital it is to reach out and connect with others.

I felt the magic yesterday. Enjoyed the laughter and the stories, all the talk of fashion and movies and books. But most of all, I enjoyed my friends for the first time in a long time.

It made me realize something important. Good friends are like vitamins. They keep us healthy and help us grow. And you know what? I feel lighter today for having turned off my iPhone and plugged myself into the friendship outlet.  I will definitely do it more often.

Because, it's all about effort and, in the end, you get out what you put in.

Friday, March 25, 2011

What's in a Title?

Here’s a question for you. How the hell do you come up with a title for your book? I’m talking about good ones. Awesome ones. The kind that draws attention, conveys what your novel is about. . .says it just right.
Quite frankly, I think I suck at it.
I’m always struggling to find a title that fits. One I’m satisfied with. . .one that says ‘YOUWHO, over here! Look at me.’. . .with a lot of hand waving and jumping up and down. Yes, it makes me feel like a first grader, but hey, I’m a closet perfectionist looking for perfection. I want something that shouts, you--yes, YOU. . .the reader--better pick this sucker because it's so damned good once you start reading you won’t be able to put the bastard down.
So, I put my thinking cap on.  Here’s what I came up with. . .
1. KISS: a.k.a kept it simple stupid. Direct and to the point.
2. Use action words. . .something with power and thrust.
3. Keep it short and snappy (put those action words to good use).
4. Dig deep to find the theme of your book and get that in there.
5. Flow is important - make sure all those actions words come together smooth. . .and sound good on the tongue.
But, hey, even with the above list I’m still not convinced.
So, all right, gang. . .I’m all ears. How the hell do you do it? Is there a secret? A system? A magic potion I can drink that works for you? Dish, people. Cuz, really, I need some major help.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Self-publishing. . .The Way to Go?

Like most of us, I've been watching the new trend in publishing. The world of self-publishing. I've been reading all sorts of cool stuff. And I imagine you have too. For me, it's too soon to jump into that pool yet, but I'm testing the water, paying attention to other authors who have already done it. . .and are having amazing success.

Today, I'd like to share a story about just one of them. The fabulous Julianne MacLean. She took a book she wrote (she calls it the Book of Her Heart) that both her publisher and agent didn't think would do well in the traditional market and is doing great things with it.  

The link below is an interview she did with Write to Publish, a blog I just discovered yesterday. Hope you find the information Julianne shared as informative and helpful as I did.

Happy Wednesday all!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Way Cool

Well, I'm all peaches and cream this morning. I popped by Jenna's blog, and guess what? She gave me the Sylish Blogger Award. How cool is that?


So, what does this mean, you ask?

Okay, here's the skinny. To accept the award, I must link back to the awesome blogger that gave me the honor (thank you, Jenna!) and list seven things about myself. After I'm done boring you with that, I'll list some of my favorite blogs. That way, you can check'em out and see how fabulous they are for yourself.

So, here we go. . .seven things about me.

1. I love hockey. Big time. Doesn't matter what format. . .road hockey, ice hockey, pond hockey, indoor gym hockey. Whatever. Give me a stick and a puck and watch out world!
2. I'm a diehard chocoholic who is trying not to eat any right now. Summer is coming, and I'm trying to be good.
3. I hate laundrey. . .in all forms. It's way too much work.
4. I'm a huge fan of supernatural, paranormal, fantasy based fiction.
5. My new favorite band is The Script.
6. My favorite color is Turquoise.
7. I'm not sure about the whole camping thing. My DH loves it, but the jury's still out on the whole tent, sleeping bag, hard ground thing for me.

And (drum roll please), here are some of the blogs I've been following a lot lately. Check'em out. I'll sure you'll enjoy them too.

Cerebral Lunchbox
All the World's Our Page
The Open Vein
Queen of Procrastination
SLC Kismet
Speak Coffe to Me
Forever Endeavor
Stairways and Landings
All About the Writing

And there you have it.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

Music that Moves

I must admit I'm not one of those crazy groupies. I know following a celebrity these days is all the rage, but that's not my bag. Don't get me wrong, I love movies (mostly because I love stories and liked to be entertained) but I'm not one of those people that are interested in what an actor does outside of their chosen medium.

Yeah, you guessed it.  No tabloids for me.

Okay, I'll admit. I have my favorites. Clive Owen is one. Matt Damon another. Meryl Steep and Julia Roberts even make appearances on my list. Not because of who they are particularly, but for their talent. . .their ability to pull me into a story.

Every once in while a song does that for me too, and I find myself leaning into the story it tells.  But, just recently, I've found a whole collection of them. . .all written and played by The Script. An Irish band that is fast becoming my new favorite.

And well, there's no other way to say it. I L-O-V-E their music. And that's because their lyrics move me. I can relate. . .plug myself in and imagine. Make up an entire story while the music is playing. And then, I hit the reverse button and play it over again.

I grabbed the above video for If You Ever Come Back off YouTube (and watched and sang along to it, like, a hundred times already), because, man I love this song! It's one of my new favorites. To hear the others I'm falling in love with check out their new album. . .Science & Faith. You won't be disappointed.

Happy Weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Don't Do. . .What?

Okay, so confession time. Psst, over hear. Come a little closer so I can whisper it in your ear. I. Hate. Rules. 
All right, so I admit, it’s not much of a confession. A little anticlimactic, really, but there you have it. Now, do you want to know why?  
Rules limit a person.
All those “don’ts” paint a box around each of us with thick black lines that say, Do Not Cross. Which my brain automatically translates to mean. . .“Get your butt up, over and into the fabulous world of Way-Interesting-Land. There’s something cool over there.” 

Call me crazy, but I always want to know what’s beyond the barbed wire and armed foot patrols.
Now, I’m being figurative here. There are some rules that aren’t meant to be broken. . .like the laws that govern our society along with the assortment of interpersonal ones that keep us from hurting other people or being hurt in return. But, I prefer to file those under common sense or the equally persuasive. . .the desire not to see in the inside of a prison cell.
What I’m talking about is all the rules we have about writing. All the rules we use to limit ourselves. . .to stay safely behind a fence that never allows us to test our potential. Yes, some rules in writing are necessary. They allow us to organize our thoughts and help others not only enjoy but connect with what we’ve written. Which, is the best of all complements for a writer. We want resonance, for our stories to touch the hearts and minds of our readers. But, how do we achieve that if we never push the envelope? Never step outside our self-imposed boxes and challenge the norm?
The answer? 
We don’t. We surrender to mediocrity. To the idea that rules are more important than potential. . .that the possibility for true greatness is out of reach because we refuse to color outside the lines. So, take another look at that box you’ve drawn around yourself. Grab a bright red marker and. . .if a little rule breaking occurs along the way? Well, good for you.   

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Clearing Out The Cobwebs

Laundry defeats me. Granted with a full house I have a ton to do, but you’d think I’d be used to that by now. No such luck. No matter how prepared I think I am it sneaks up on my anyway. And then, there I am under the avalanche. . .again.
Then the piles begin.
My dining room is not a dining room anymore, but laundry central. And the table? The command center. A very pretty folding station, sure, but still. . .
Thank God for big tables and gorgeous wainscoting. Otherwise, it would feel like exactly what it is. . .a trench. A glorified battle station where I fight the good fight, but never win.
Who here can relate? If you can’t, raise your hand. . .so I can shoot you!
Nah, seriously. My weapon’s holstered, no need to worry because I have a point. . .really I do. And here it is. . .
All that laundry--and the fact it hardly ever gets put away in its proper place--got me thinking about clutter. Not just the kind in our homes, but also the kind that takes over our heads. All that noise, chatter. . .the relentless blah, blah, blah we writers subject ourselves to on a regular basis. For the most part, mine’s relentlessly positive. The cheerleading type of rah, rah, rah that gets me up every morning at 5 a.m. to bang out the words that will eventually come together and form a novel. The ‘Go me, you can do it!’ kind of stuff.
But, every once in a while I find myself slipping and the “blues” role in, like fog on a once crisp landscape. It obscures the view, makes me lose my way and the positive chatter becomes something else entirely. And then the question comes. . .the why the hell do I do this to myself everyday? that a writer hates to hear. When that grabs hold, I’ll admit it takes an all battle stations alert to combat that voice. My little soldiers scramble to repeal the attack, and sometimes it takes them a day or two (maybe even a week) to beat back the invading force.

For me, it all comes down to house cleaning. . .the mental kind. If I can keep the dust bunnies and the cobwebs to a minimum inside my head, the enemy (all that writers angst) can’t accumulated enough ammunition for the Shock and Awe campaign I wage with myself every once in a while. And that means taking inventory. . .understanding who I am and what I need. Knowing when it’s time to push ahead, slow down, indulge in a good book or movie or a day with a friend without guilt. When you give yourself what you need by acknowledging a weakness--and turn to face it head-on--it loses the power to persuade. In other words, it can’t take you by surprise. And that’s what an ambush is all about, isn’t it?
So, here’s a question for you. How do you keep the “uglys” away? Chocolate?  Exercise? Mental sand bags? We all have a method that works for us. Maybe by sharing ours, we can help each other stay focused while running the road in the great, big crazy world we call publishing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Word Power

Words have weight, don’t they? The power to hurt or uplift. It seems crazy that what someone says can have more impact than let’s say, a baseball bat swung by Derek Jeter.
I came across a quote the other day and it struck me with the force of a line drive. So, here I am sharing it with you, because man, sometimes I need reminding. And just maybe, you do to.
“Experience is not what happens to a man.  It is what a man does with what happens to him.”  ~Aldous Huxie
So there it is. . .wrapped up in two tidy little sentences. Outlook is everything.
How I choose to view my world and react to what happens to me in it is as important as the WHAT. Very philosophical, I know. But, it’s true. Good or bad, a situation can be turned on its head simply by changing our view of it, looking at all the angles until we see the positive potential that is innately a part of it. Or should say, a part of each one us?
Because, like it or not, I am the common denominator in every situation I wade into and through. The variables change. The players too. But, I’m always there, picking a path through sometimes rocky terrain, choosing what to say and how to react. And that is an absolute that will never change.

So, how do you deal with all the bumps along the way.  All those naysayers? The rejections and disappointments?
Arm yourselves, my friends. My weapon of choice? Positive attitude fused with unfailing faith. It kills’em every time.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chocolate. . .The Ultimate Emotional Barometer

Weekends are hardest for me. Not because I have a full house. Not because decibel levels goes up or the days move at a frenetic pace. Not because my husband is home and there are a thousand questions about where this goes or that stays.
No. No. No. It’s all because my pantry is full and I’ve committed the cardinal sin.
I went grocery shopping. . .while hungry.
Such a BAD move.  
For some reason, I’m especially vulnerable on Friday evenings. All the bad stuff looks so incredibly good. And what do you know? It all makes a flying leap into my grocery cart. Hmm, yeah. REALLY bad move.
Oh, how I wish I had an automatic reset button that made me reach for carrot sticks instead. Or cucumber wedges. Or, anything remotely healthy. Nuh-uh, I’m a one hundred percent, hand-to-mouth peanut M&M girl. My emotional barometer is directly linked to the amount of little yellow bags I toss into my grocery cart.
Okay, sure, I’m pretty active, but honestly, there’s only so much a body can take.
So, I’m back to asking myself (yet again) the question I can’t seem to answer. Why (for the love of God) do I do this to myself?
Those lovely chocolate coated peanuts might taste great in the moment, but afterward, I’m sick to my stomach and sick of myself. And then, the inevitable beat-up on E.C. begins. I try not to do that--I really do--because what’s done is done. Right? No use crying over spilled milk and all that, but really. . . 
So, here I go again. It’s Saturday morning and I’ve got a cupboard full of peanut M&Ms. Oh, the joy! Oh, the horror! Oh, the inevitability! <grin>
And oh, boy. I see a whole lot of jogging in my future.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The NOW Syndrome

Time. It’s a tricky critter. We’re all either trying to find more it. Or lamenting the fact it’s not passing fast enough.
Hurry up and wait. Who among us hasn’t heard that once or twice. . .or twenty times? It’s one of those sayings that is burned into the back our brains. The constant push-pull of our journey through life. Most days, I’m fine with that. Because, hey, it’s the journey that’s most important. . .where all the learning takes place. . .all the fun too.  
Yeah, right. It is. . .absolutely.  
But, man, sometimes it’s a challenge, isn’t it? All that waiting.
The trick, I guess--where the real magic comes in--is refusing to surrender to the idea that waiting means staying still, remaining static. . .circling the runway in a holding pattern where nothing gets done and frustration skyrockets.
I could be the poster child for that attitude if I chose to be. I’m the NOW girl. The impatient one. . .the “Okay, when, when, when?” monster if I let myself.
But, being that way is a choice. And I choose a different path. One where I keep moving, muscling ahead in the hopes that when the “NOW” really happens (and I just know it will!) I’ll be ready for it. I’ll meet that sucker head on and kick its a**.  
So, yeah. No way I’m standing still. I’ve got my boxing gloves on and the heavy bag to hit. And the more time I have, the stronger my jab, left cross and uppercut’s gonna be when opportunity comes knocking.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Art of Procrastination

So, yesterday. . .I did nothing. Nada. Zippo. Really, I'm not lying. I sat on my comfy couch with my decaf coffee and read. . .ALL DAY. And boy, do I feel guilty about it.
Not because dust bunnies are still hiding in hard to reach places. Not because the dishes didn't get done, the floor swept, the front steps shoveled or the book cases dusted. My guilt hangover comes from the fact that I didn't write. Not one word. And I had the house all to myself.

How crazy is that?

I had six hours of nothing. . .of peace and quiet (no kids running around, no dog howling...yes, mine likes to "sing" in our backyard) and yet, I zoned out. But man--despite the guilt this morning--it felt so freaking good. No pressure to get that word count in, my blog written or tackle anything on my endless to-do list.

So, I started thinking. Is down time (or what we like to call procrastination) always a bad thing? We like to think of it as the evil of all evils. But hang on a minute. . .is it really?

My answer to that question is no. Sometimes I need to take a break, to slow down, to not push so damn hard. I don't do it often or for very long, but I need it. To shut off my brain for just a little while and disappear into the ether. To let someone else's story take me away, out of my own. It has nothing to do with avoiding my work. . .honest, it doesn't. What it is about, however, is giving my battery pack time to recharge. About coming back refreshed and excited.

So, tell me.  Do you let yourself take a break every once in while?  Because, when you think about it. . .procrastination becomes an ART FORM when used to shovel more fuel into your engine, helping you come back stronger.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Not quite two weeks into my blogging life and I've received an award. Wow, I'm loving the blogosphere and all the great bloggers in it.

So, a big shout out to Heather from Pen, Paper, Lots of Coffee for awarding me the Stylish Blogger Award.  Thanks a ton!  

Ah, but what, you ask, did I do to deserve such an honor? Well, not much, really. I just came out to play. Regardless, let me share with you how it works. In order to accept the award, I have to do a couple of things.

1.) Thank and link back to the person who gave the award
2.) State 7 things about myself
3.) Pass the award to 15 recently discovered bloggers

So, here goes. . .7 things about me.

1. I'm a diehard chocoholic.
2. I love museums. I could spend hours wandering around the exhibits. . .art, history, it doesn't matter. I love it all.
3. I was a goaltender on an all guys hockey team right through my University years.
4. I'm a big sports fan.  Any sport will do (yes, even curling. . .pathelic, I know), but I especially love hockey and NFL football.
5. Call me crazy, but winter is my favorite season.  I love skiing, snow shoeing, skating. . .okay, you get the picture.
6. Thunderstorms are one of my favorite things.
7. I still sit down everyday at 4 p.m. and have a cup of tea--a throwback to the times I spent with my Scottish Grandmother.

Now, time to pass the award onto 15 ultra-deserving new bloggers.  And they are. . .drum roll, please.

Tanya Reimer (Life's like that)
Tracy Buscemi (Forever Endeavor)
Michael (In Time ...)
Rachel Morgan (Rachel Morgan Writes)
J.C. Martin (Fighter Writer)
Autumn Shelley (Magick, Alchemy and Love)
Michelle Merrill (Perfecting The Craft)
Liz Fichera (Liz Fichera's Blog)

Congrats to everyone and thanks again, Heather!