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.