Thursday, December 29, 2011

Changes For The New Year

New Year 2012

"Goals are dreams with deadlines." ~Diana Scharf Hunt, Author (The Tao of Time)

As I said last year around this time, resolutions are not my forte, but GOALS are a horse of a different color. I read somewhere that writing down your goals can help them become reality. So, instead of resolutions, I've decided to write my goals for 2012.

If we are to believe the Mayans and their calendar, we don't have much time left. Hopefully, I will accomplish my goals before December 21st.

I will cut my debt in half.
I will save enough money to cover our household expenses for 2 months. (I'll work up to saving 6 months.)

I will be smoke-free, for good.
I will lower my weight by at least 10%

We will increase productivity and sales.
We will raise our customer base.

I will complete YA novel
I will complete one children's fiction piece, one children's non-fiction piece, and one adult piece per month.
I will stick to a realistic writing schedule.
I will have at least twelve new works published by the end of the year.

Notice how my career list is twice as large as the other lists? That's because I've raised the bar for myself. Hey, I'm not getting any younger.
"Part of the issue of achievement is to be able to set realistic goals, but that's one of the hardest things to do because you don't always know exactly where you're going, and you shouldn't." ~George Lucas

In 2011, I worked hard. The scrambling and juggling I did to accomplish tasks always made the end-result feel less than fulfilling. True, our home was in constant upheaval most of the year and I spent as much time as possible with our fresh-out-of-the-military daughter, but those are excuses and excuses are never productive. In 2012, I will work smarter.

2012 will also bring a new blog schedule. I've noticed people are downsizing in the number of blogs they follow and the amount of time spent online. My twice weekly blog entries took time to research. Time I could not spend on my novel and short stories. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed blogging immensely, but to stay productive, I've decided to cut my posts down to a more manageable once a week. I hope to make the posts engaging, informative, and fun with publishing news, markets, fun facts, book thoughts, and taking the leap into doing author interviews!

"Action and reaction, ebb and flow, trial and error, change - this is the rhythm of living. Out of our over-confidence, fear; out of our fear, clearer vision, fresh hope. And out of hope, progress."
~Bruce Barton (1886-1967--Author of The Man Nobody Knows.)
Progress. My #1 goal for 2012. I didn't write nearly as much as I wanted. I have this thing where I feel the need to tidy the house, wash the dishes, write bills, put in a load of laundry, or whatever before I settle in to write. I don't know why. Considering I hate doing all those other things. I feel as though writing is my reward for getting my chores done, but in 2012, I'm going to be naughty and enjoy my reward first. Kind of like eating ice cream for dinner. Who's going to yell at me?

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”--Oprah Winfrey

Attitude is everything. Having the right attitude can help someone heal, develop self-confidence, accomplish a difficult task, or bring one closer to publication. 2012 is the Year of The Dragon, and I can already feel the fire under my butt!

"It is never too late to be who you might have been." ~George Eliot
I came across George Eliot's quote about four years ago, soon after I applied to the Institute of Children's Literature. I wrote it down on a piece of paper and tucked it into my wallet. I am excited about the coming year. In June, I will turn 50 years old (YIKES!) and the quote has never felt more appropriate for me.

"Try not. Do or do not. There is no try." ~ Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Yesterday was Christmas Day.

Today, I am still basking in the glow of family, love, and the magic of the holiday. I hope you are too!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

The house is decorated.

Stockings are hung.

Daughter is home.

I have everything I need.

Hope you also have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Spreading The News--Hey Publisher

I've been using Duotrope for a few years now. For those of you who have never heard of it, Duotrope is a site that lists over 3600 markets for fiction and poetry. It's free to sign up. The submission tracker allows you to enter the name, genre, and word count of your manuscript and helps you stay on top of your submissions by tracking days in the slushpile, your rejections, and acceptances.

I really like their monthly newsletter which lists publishers, their calls for submissions-including the themes, and the deadlines.

BUT...I recently learned of a fairly new website that also connects writers to publishers. At Hey Publisher, you can sign up for a free writer account and set up a profile. You can upload your work, browse publishers, and submit. Hey Publisher uses Amazon-provided servers and have a 100% guarantee your work will never be lost.

Sounds interesting and since I'll be putting my nose to the grindstone come January, I'll be signing up for Hey Publisher the first day of the new year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Virtues of A Writer Part V

This is the fifth and final post on Virtues.

The Morality of Deed:

Trust--Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing.

"Without trust, words become the hollow sound of a wooden gong. With trust, words become life itself."--John Harold.
We must trust other writers with our work and ideas, trust people who handle our submissions, trust our agents to do what's best for us and our work, trust editors to be honest and fair, but most of all, we must trust our own abilities.

Morality of Mind:

Perseverance--Continued steady belief and persistence, withstanding discouragement or difficulty.

Big Load

"The miracle, or the power, that elevates the few is to be found in their industry, application, and perseverance under the prompting of a brave, determined spirit."--Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Oh, Mr. Twain, how right you are.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Coming to a Theatre Near You...

You may remember me mentioning that one of my favorite book series is Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books.

One For The Money, published in 1994, is the first book of the hilarious series. The feisy Jersey girl needs a job, and when sleazy cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman, gives her a shot as a bounty hunter, the zany adventures begin.

Stephanie is accident prone, and whenever she's around, cars and buildings have a habit of blowing up. Stephanie is torn between her very hot, on again/off again boyfriend, Joe Morelli, and fellow bounty hunter, Ranger, a mysterious sexy latin who likes to wear black.

Grandma Mazur, Stephanie's gun-toting, rebel grandmother, and Lula, Stephanie's plus-sized, spandex-wearing, ex-prostitute co-worker are two of my favorite characters. (Besides Ranger, of course.)

All the titles are numbered and Ms. Evanovich just released Explosive Eighteen this past November. Can you imagine having such a long-running series of your own? Well, believe me, the fans never get tired of them. Ms. Evanovich runs contests for the book naming and the winner gets to be a minor character in the book! How cool is that?

To top it all off, the long awaited release of One For The Money: The Movie is set for January 27, 2012. Katherine Heigl makes a great Stephanie. BUT, aside from Ana Reeder, as Connie and
Sherri Shepherd, as Lula, I'm not feeling the other choices for characters. Don't get me wrong, I love Debbie Reynolds, but she's not who I pictured as Grandma. The love interests of Joe Morelli (Jason O'Mara) and Ranger (Daniel Sunjata) are very good looking men, just not the men I pictured in my head when I read the books. Oh, well. I'm still excited about going to see it.

If you want to laugh out loud, pick up the book, One For The Money. I guarantee you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Virtues of A Writer Part IV

The Morality of Deed:

Righteousness--Morally upright, without guilt.
Which Way?
"The man who in view of gain thinks of righteousness...such a man may be reckoned a complete man."--Confuscius (551 BC-470 BC)
I could never consciously plagiarize or steal another's work in any way. There is so much to learn about the fast-changing publishing trends, but we also need to make ourselves and other writers aware of permissions and licensing. I would never knowingly do anything illegal for the sake of publishing and I don't know any other writers who would.

The Morality of Mind:

Will--Diligent purposefulness. The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses a course of action.

Old Typewriter
"It is not the the will to win that matters...everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters."--Paul 'Bear' Bryant.

"The will to do, the soul to dare."--Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
As writers, we made a choice to write. For some of us, the choice was made at a young age. For others, at a much later time in life. Writers must have the will to write. The will to sit down every single morning, afternoon, night, or weekend and create a manuscript. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fun Facts about December

Happy Birthday to all you Sagittarians and Capricorns!
  • Today, December 5th is Walt Disney's birthday and he would have been 110 years old!
  • Sinterklaas, the winter holiday figure just like our Santa Claus, rides the rooftops of Belgium and the Netherlands tonight on his gray horse, Sleipner.
  • Decem means 'ten' in Latin.
  • December was the tenth month in the Roman Calendar, but was changed to the twelfth and last month in the Julian and Gregorian calendars.
  • Everyone knows that December has 31 days, but did you know every year, both December and September start on the same day?
  • December has the shortest daylight hours of the year in the Northern hemisphere.
  • December 7th is Pearl Harbor Day, which commemorates the 1941 surprise military strike on the US by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Wow! That was 70 years ago.
  • Nobel Prizes will be awarded on December 10th in the fields of Chemistry, Physics, Medicine, Peace, and Literature.
  • The Honolulu Marathon, one of the world's largest, will take place on December 11th.
  • December 21st starts Hanukkah this year, Christmas is December 25th, and Kwanzaa begins on December 26th.
  • Fans of Seinfeld, who are frustrated with the commercialism and pressure of other December holidays will celebrate Festivus on December 23rd.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Virtues of A Writer Part III

Today is December 1st and NaNoWriMo is officially over!
First of all, congratulations to all the participants. Even if you didn't reach the 50k word goal, I commend you for your commitment and determination. You are well on your way to a completed novel, and I can't wait to hear all about it.

Now, onto this week's post...

Morality of Deed:

Respect--To show consideration or appreciation. To feel or show deferential regard for.

"Respect yourself and others will respect you." --Confuscius (551BC-479BC)
Writers respect writers. Even though we may not like a particular work or genre, we know how much goes into creating a poem, picture book, article, short story, or novel. We respect their dedication and hard work.
We try hard to respect other writers' feelings when critiquing their work, and always respect the creative abilities of others.
When all is said and done, we all hope to gain the respect of our peers.

Morality of Mind:

(Shout-out to Doug Savage and his Savage Chickens)

Patience--The capacity for calmly enduring trying situations.

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them-every day begin the task anew."--St Francis de Sales (1567-1622)
Can you tell that St. Francis was a writer? His quote should be the 'Writer's Creed.'
I want results NOW and patience was the first thing I learned as a writer. I still struggle with it.
Writers must have patience in themselves to learn the craft and to create a great manuscript. We must be patient and revise it until it is complete. We must be patient with others during the submission process, and if rejected, we must dig deeper for the patience to start again.

Monday, November 28, 2011



Writing contests are a good way to hone your craft.

I've entered a few poetry and fictioncontests, back when I had a second job that gave my bank account some breathing room. I only entered the less expensive ones, with $5 to $10 entry fees, and I especially liked the ones that included feedback. Did I ever win? No. One of my fiction pieces made it to the second round of finalists, though. I was pretty happy I had made it that far.

There are tons of contests out there. Most charge a modest entry/reading fee, but there are still some free ones around. The free contests usually offer a critique or publishing, in lieu of a monetary prize. But hey! That's still a great prize!

I've gathered a few contests for you all to try your luck. Click on the links for guidelines.


Toasted Cheese 11th Annual Dead of Winter Contest
Theme-Skull and Bones
Word Limit-2000-3000 words
Horror Genre
First Prize-$35.00 Amazon gift card
Deadline-December 21, 2011


Winning Writers Wergle Flomp Humor Contest
Humor Poetry
Any Length
First Prize-$1500.00 plus publication on
Deadline-April 1, 2012


There Is Hope Magazine Writing Contest
Articles on how everyday people overcome obstacles, achieving personal victories in their lives.
Word limit-200-750 words
First prize-$500.00, a photo shoot, and 5 free copies of the magazine.
Deadline-March 1, 2012

Transitions Abroad Narrative Travel Writing Contest
Articles about travel
Various Themes
First Prize-$500.00 plus the article will appear on their website and Web Magazine.

Children's Fiction:

Pockets Annual Fiction Contest
No set theme
Word limit-750-1000 words
First Prize-$500.00 plus publication in the magazine.
Starts- March 1
Deadline-August 15

These contests are free to enter, so why not enter one or even all of them? Hey, you never know...but just remember:
"The real contest is always between what you've done and what you're capable of doing. You measure yourself against yourself and nobody else."--Geoffrey Gaberino
Good Luck!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Stuffed Turkey

The third Thursday of November is set aside for all Americans to give thanks. It's a holiday when we teach our children about the Pilgrims who settled here over 500 years ago, and who jointed with Native Americans for a huge feast and gave thanks.

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends and remember just how much we have to be thankful for. AND spend a whole day preparing food, watching football, consuming said food, and then taking naps. Lol. But all of that IS something to be thankful for.

Our family no longer celebrates this holiday together in a big way. We are all scattered around the eastern seaboard, and I haven't spent a Thanksgiving with my daughter since 2007, but we are all very thankful for the joys and blessings in our lives. Our accomplishments, our homes, our jobs, our material possessions, and most of all , the love we share with family and friends.

I hope you and yours have a moment to experience that wonderfully warm feeling of gratitude at some point today. I know I will. I'm thankful for so much, including all of you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"The Outlander Series" by Diana Gabaldon (Book Thoughts)

I'm a fan of series books, but they need to hold my attention. Sandra Brown's Alphabet series, and James Patterson's Alex Cross series are a few of my favorites. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series is my all-time favorite. They are laugh-out-loud funny and there's always a chance Stephanie and Joe will have a fight and end up with Ranger.

Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series is my new favorite. A customer recommended it to me when she heard about my YA novel, which is partly set in Scotland.

Outlander cover 2001 paperback edition.jpg

I honestly didn't have high hopes for the book because I know books are such a personal preference. What one person loves could be another person's idea of fire kindling. No. I'm just kidding. I would NEVER use a book as kindling! Even so, I always consider a recommendation because, hey, you never know.

Well, I'm on the fourth book, Drums of Autumn, and I love this series!  I would be farther in the series had I not intermingled other books in between. Doing so, keeps me from series-burnout. BUT if I were stranded on a desert island, I would bring the whole series with me because I could see myself reading these over and over.

Anyway, Outlander starts post WWII. While Claire, a British nurse during the war, and her husband, Frank, a historian, are on their long overdue honeymoon in Scotland, she discovers a stone circle. The circle transports her back to 18th century Scotland. Cool, huh?

While there, her life is filled with action, adventure, intrigue, and yes, romance. Not the sappy, love at first sight, kind of thing. No, no, no. Claire is torn between already being married to Frank in the future and marrying Jamie, (a very large, very young fugitive) in order to save her life.

Diana Gabaldon's series is full of history. The kind that makes you want to learn more about. The romance between Claire and Jamie is the kind that makes tears spurt from your eyes, as you wonder if your significant other feels that way about you. Sigh.

But anyway, I am definitely recommending this book to all of you. Pick up the first book, "Outlander," give it a shot. By the way, she is also featured on the cover of this month's Writer's Digest.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Virtues of A Writer Part II

The next virtue in the Chinese Morality of Deed is:

Fleur De Lis
Loyalty--The act of binding yourself (intellectually or emotionally) to a course of action.
"No more important duty can be urged upon those who are entering the great theater of life than simple loyalty to their best convictions."Edwin Hubbel Chapin
Writers are both intellectually and emotionally bound to their work. A novel's first draft could take from 30 days and up, to complete. Then, comes the rewriting, revising, and editing. After that is market researching, submitting, and sometimes, more rewriting, before the novel ever goes to print. there is also networking, promoting, and all the while, we must keep writing more.

That's a whole bunch of 'ings' and that takes a whole bunch of loyalty to that course of action--writing.

Which leads us to the next Morality of Mind:

AYA Adinkra Symbol Large Framed Print
Endurance--The act, quality, or power of withstanding hardship or stress.
If there is one thing all writers must have, it's endurance. Writers need to make money, run households, raise children, care for pets, do laundry, pamper significant others, prepare food, pay bills, clean the house, heck! Writers have lives! But still, we want and need to write, rewrite, revise, edit, research, submit, network, promote, and continue writing.

Without endurance, writers would never become authors.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo Recipe

Blueberry Dumplings

In a large bowl, mix:

30 days of determination
4 weeks of creativity
1/2 c. outline
1/4 c. plot
a pinch of selfishness

In a separate bowl, mix:

1/4 c. laughter, romance, intrigue, horror, or mystery.

  • With a big hook, mix ingredients until a stiff dough forms. Sprinkle generously with desired number of characters, and roll out onto a 12-font, double-spaced board.
  • Knead for 1,667 words daily, allowing dough to rise a little each day.
  • Place in a large pan, well-coated with positivity.
  • Bake at room temperature until dough reaches 50,000 words, or when done.
  • Enjoy with a warm beverage of satisfaction and accomplishment.
You're halfway there!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Virtues of A Writer Part I

A virtue is a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally excellent. Virtues are valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Almost every culture has their own set of virtues. For example, the Romans had a list of nineteen and the Chinese have ten, divided into two categories, Deed, and Mind.
For the next few weeks, I'd like to talk about the Chinese Martial Morality. I will take one virtue from each category and talk about how it pertains to the writing community that I know and love.

The Morality of Deed

The Shy Maiden

Humility--The quality or condition of being humble.

Most writers I am acquainted with are quite humble. I'm sure, there are some braggarts in the writing community who like to act superior as soon as their name and work are published, but the writers I know are grateful and gracious upon publication. Sure, we all like to celebrate our accomplishments, and want to shout them from the rooftops, but for most of us, the entire process is usually humbling. I also find that most writers are so humble, they have a tough time with marketing and writing bios.

The Morality of Mind

Memorial Wall Text

Courage--The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

Writing is personal. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, or memoir, writers put a little piece of themselves on paper. Sometimes it's our innermost thoughts, worlds we create, or strange subjects that intrigue us. Whether trusting a critique group to read our work, submitting to a publisher, and especially re-submitting after rejection, writer's are a very brave group.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spreading The News--Scintilla Press & Publishing Syndicate

This week, I have two great markets for you to check out. The first one up, is:

The word, scintilla, means, "spark of inspiration," and the first issue of this liteary magazine is quite inspiring. See it here: Report from the End of the Twentieth Century

Scintilla Press is an independent publisher, and as of this time, they are a non-paying market. Their magazine will be digitally published twice a year, in the summer and winter, with a bound volume printed yearly. They are hoping to expand into books.

They are currently accepting fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and visual work.

Check out their guidelines under Submissions and be sure to follow them on Twitter and on Facebook

The second market I have for you this week, is:

Publishing Syndicate needs non-fiction stories for their two newest anthology series, "Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Woman," and "Not Your Mother's Book...on Girls' Night Out." They also have 26 more titles waiting for stories, and that's only for the "Not Your Mother's Book..." series. And guess what else? They offer royalties for accepted stories!

"My Story is Out" and "OMG! My Reality!" are two other series currently looking for stories.

Publishing Syndicate also offers a free WoW Principles e-newsletter that offers tips, markets, and more to help us become better writers.

You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo Helpful Hints

Today is November 3rd, and National Novel Writing Month is in full swing. Thousands of people sat down at their computers Monday at midnight and began their novels.

Never heard of it? Every year in November, hosts this spectacular event. Thousands upon thousands of people from all over the world, sit down and write. Not for one night, or even a week. We're talking about 30 days of literary abandon. The goal? 50,000 words, or the equivalent of a short novel, before midnight on November 30th.

Not only is this a personal feat, groups of people (which you can sign up to join) from towns, states, writing groups, etc. compete for total word counts. There are forums where you can socialize online, but be careful, they are a distraction. There are even get-togethers at local libraries and coffee shops, kick-off parties and wrap-up parties for those who desire human contact while they write.

What do you win if you manage to reach the 50k word goal in 30 days? Well, you get a big congratulations from the site, along with a badge to display on your facebook page, your website, or blog. Createspace also offers to have your manuscript printed and bound in rough draft. You'll get an amazing sense of accomplishment, AND a really sloppy, totally unorganized first draft of a novel. Don't worry, you can revise later.

There are over 100 Published NaNo Novels listed on their website!

In 2009, I completed the first draft to a novel. (still unrevised and untitled) In 2010, I participated, but couldn't quite finish. For a split second, I thought about doing it this year, but since I'm already deeply involved with my YA novel, I couldn't fathom starting another until this one is completed. Not to mention, I have a gazillion other projects, that have nothing to do with writing, going on in my life.

Since my next 30 days and nights are a little less stressed than those of you actually participating, I thought I would pass along a few tips that I've learned. If you aren't participating this year, but are thinking of trying it in 2012, you'll be prepared.

  • To reach 50,000 words in 30 days, a writer must write at least 1,667 words a day. Broken down like that, it doesn't seem so bad, right? But you must be diligent. Even if you go over the daily goal, don't take a day off from writing. You'll be sorry at the end when you're trying to catch up. Keep writing. Every day.
  • Before starting, it may be helpful to make a rough outline of your novel. The idea is to type by the seat of your pants and write whatever comes to mind, but it's helpful to have some idea of where your novel is going. 
  • Do not revise while typing. Nobody else, but you, will see this draft. Tape a thumb tack with the pointed side up, to your 'backspace' key. Do not let the editor inside you waste time by backing up and fixing anything. The thumb tack will help drive the 'point' home. Haha! Get it?
  • Turn off 'spell-checker' on whatever program you're using to write your manuscript. Those ugly red and green squiggles under your words will taunt you to play editor.
  • Stay away from the Internet until you type your daily goal of 1667 words. If you need to research something on Google, you can do it during revision.
  • If you like music while you write, make up a play list of your favorite creativity music.
  • Find other friends or family members to write with you. It's motivating and you can keep each other inspired.
  • Most importantly, have fun!
So, if you aren't participating this year, why not think about trying it next year? And if you are one of the thousands of people knee-deep in  the festivities-- What are you doing here? Get back to work! Lol.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Halloween Theme

At this time of year, the internet is inundated with Halloween trivia, tips for safe trick or treating, costume ideas, and spooky stories. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Yup, I like it even better than Christmas.

There are no presents to buy, no holiday dinner to stress over, and no to-do lists. Sure, you HAVE to buy candy for the trick or treaters, but I don't consider it a chore. In fact, I look forward to buying huge bags of my favorites, anticipating a large amount left over. :)

Halloween Candy

For me, Halloween is all about FUN! It's caramel apples and costume parties and crunchy leaves and lots of orange and creepy decorations. Halloween is the one holiday that 'too much' is never too much.

Halloween Autumn Theme

And the costumes! I love the costumes. I can be a butterfly and skip around, fluttering my pretty wings.

I can be a witch with green skin and a large ugly wart on my nose, cackling at the moon (and scaring the crap out of my cat.)

Deluxe Wicked Witch - Adult Costume

I can be a fortune teller in a long skirt and a peasant blouse, and gaze into my crystal ball while I tell your future in broken English, read your palm and consult my  tarot cards.
Divination Cards

 I can even be a pirate wench and imagine sailing the open seas with Captain Jack Sparrow aboard the Black Pearl in thigh-high boots and fishnet stockings.

Oh, wait...I do that all year.

Anyway, Halloween is MAGIC! What other time of year can you use your imagination and be whatever you want to be? (without people looking at you like you're crazy.)

What or who will you be today?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This Is Me Thursday--Looking Way Back

This is the 12th week of "This Is Me Thursday." This is also the last week. Not only have I gotten tired of talking about myself, I also don't want to bore all of you anymore. Don't worry, I'll think of something else to do a weekly post about.

The year is almost over. I know I'm rushing it a bit, but it's already the end of October and there are only 9 more weeks of 2011. I started thinking about how the older I get, the quicker time flies. I mean, just yesterday I graduated from high school! OK, maybe not yesterday. It's been more like 31 years since I left the hallowed halls of Bayonne High School.

(Big school, huh?)

I think back on how even though I didn't know what I wanted to be, I felt so ready to take on the world. Boy, was I naive. After three decades of scrambling around, I finally found my passion. Better late than never, I say, but I can't help thinking that I wish I knew a little bit of what I know now, back then.

Do I want to go back in time? Absolutely NOT! I was shy and lazy and so unsure of myself. Plus, I couldn't possibly live through Earth Science one more time. But if it should happen that I somehow got caught in a swirling vortex that took me back to high school, there are a few things I would have done differently.

I would have...

1. been a much better student.

2. gotten involved. In something. Anything other than just hanging out with my friends.

3. not started smoking.

4. not wasted two years with that guy who swayed me from what I had wanted to do. Long story. Sad ending.

5. made a conscious effort to keep in touch with friends after graduation.

6. put more serious thought into my teacher's suggestion of going for an Art Degree.

7. taken a mechanical drawing class.

8. been more outgoing.

9. read those books I didn't think I would like, instead of getting the Cliff Notes.

10. written down all those poems and stories that rattled around in my brain.

What about you? Would you go back and do it all over again?

Monday, October 24, 2011


(I took this picture on my way to work one morning.)

I've never suffered from writer's block. I have a box full of story ideas, character profiles, scenes, and picture prompts. Not to mention the ideas still rattling around in my head.

My problem is--after a long day of work, I come home to dirty laundry, dust, a full litterbox, and a stack of mail. Besides all that, three of my favorite TV shows, House, Survivor,and Fringe, are recorded and beckon me to watch them. Thank God, Hell's Kitchen ended last month!

Carving out some writing time is a daily struggle. I wake up with the best intentions and plan my evening to allow for two hours of writing, but things come up, or a household task proves to be more involved, taking up more time than the hour I've alotted for it.

I find that unless I write every day, whether it's a blog post, a poem, a chapter in my WIP, or even a story idea, I lose my momentum. One night or one morning without writing can send me into a tailspin of inactivity. One day turns into two days, and so on. Although story ideas continue to pop into my head, I've gone weeks without writing anything down on paper. I cringe when I think of all the ideas I've forgotten because I was too busy to write them down.

So, how do I get back on track? What do I do to drag myself away from the Facebook ticker and the Twitter timeline?

I read writer's blogs. Not the, "How-to" type of blogs where there is heaps of info about how to make your characters stand out or how to fine-tune your plot. Those sites come in handy when I need help with my projects, but when I'm not working on anything, it all sounds like, 'blah, blah, blah.'

I'm talking about the writer's blogs with posts about their own struggles to fit writing time into their schedules along with hobbies, day jobs, families, illnesses, and other crises. Reading blogs such as:


Courtney's Blog  (Just to name a few...)

usually does wonders to push me out of that "writing funk" I so easily slip into. These are real people with real lives and struggles and still they manage to find time to write and (the ultimate writer's goal) get published. Reading about their accomplishments through all the hardships of daily life is like a swift kick in the butt, for me. A shot of motivation to get to work on my own dreams and goals.

With all the talk about blog fatigue and how bloggers and readers are losing interest, I can only hope that my favorite bloggers continue to post about their lives and their accomplishments. Not only do I find their posts interesting, I also find them inspiring.

What inspires you?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

This Is Me Thursday--I Wish

  • There were two more hours in the evening and just one more day in the weekend that I could devote to writing. But then, the weeks would drag.
  • My washer and dryer were upstairs. I wouldn't have to intrude on my son and his girlfriend when I want to do laundry. But then, I'd have nothing to bitch about.
  • We had sold our home before the real estate market plummeted. We could have been semi-retired and living down South, with money in the bank. But then, I'd miss the rest of my family.
  • I had gone to college when I was younger. But back then, I didn't know what I wanted to be.
  • I wasn't so tired all the time. No 'buts' about it.
  • I could win multi-millions in the lottery. But then, I'd have bigger worries and numerous false friends.
  • All my wishes could come true. But then, I'd have nothing to dream about.
Never mind...

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Island of Lost Girls" by Jennifer McMahon (Book Thoughts)

When Rhonda Farr watched six-year-old Ernestine Florucci climb out of her mother's car and follow the six-foot rabbit into the gold VW Beetle, she didn't realize a crime was being committed.

Feeling guilt over her inaction, Rhonda helps in the search for little Ernie's kidnapper. Like Alice in Wonderland, she follows the rabbit down the hole and brings back memories of a rabbit from her own childhood.

Every step brings Rhonda closer to the truth about disappearance of her best friend, Lizzy, years before, and along with some dirty secrets, she learns that people aren't always who they appear to be.

Although the subject matter is grim, Jennifer McMahon's writing is colorful, compelling, and sometimes very funny. The following excerpt is six-year-old Suzy's point-of-view of a mouse family she finds in a rusty old car, she believes to be a submarine.

...This was not just any mouse. This was the secret-underwater-periscope up-first officer-mama mouse who was friends with the octopus, who told her how to outwit the sharks, who had pushed seven wormy babies out from inside her...
"Island of Lost Girls" is a fast-paced and suspenseful mystery, switching back and forth between Rhonda's childhood and the present. The story twists and turns and keeps you on the edge of your seat. I read it in two evenings and honestly, I can't wait to pick up her debut novel, "Promise Not to Tell." She also has 3 other novels. Maybe you'd enjoy one of her novels, also.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This Is Me Thursday--I Love


  • To laugh. That stomach-tightening, nose snorting, tear-streaming kind of laughter.

  • The smell of babies. So fresh and new and powdered.
  • The sound of wind chimes. I especially like the wooden ones.

  • My family. Every crazy, dysfunctional one of them. Even the ones I refuse to speak to anymore.

  • Shoes. Funky flats, sexy stilettos, strappy sandals, boots, sneakers, flip flops, I love them all! Except crocs. Ewww.
  • The feeling of sand on my bare feet. I like to sit on the beach and burrow my feet as if digging to China. I know. I'm weird.
  • Magazines. I like Entertainment Weekly, Time, Real Simple, and Cosmopolitan. But I LOVE O Magazine and Good Housekeeping. I like how there's a little bit of everything in those two magazines and they're nice and thick, so I feel like I'm getting my money's worth.
  • Finding a new author to love. Diana Gabaldon is my latest favorite. I just want to lose myself in her books.
  • Coffee. I drink it night and day. Not too strong, not too weak. No flavors necessary, unless I'm drinking one as a dessert, and then I want whipped cream and caramel on top. Usually, it's just with creamer or 1/2 and 1/2. Mmmm.

  • My semi-new kitchen. No, I'm still not done with the finishing touches but you just can't always find the perfect wall clock. Don't worry, the pictures are coming soon.
  • The color RED. It's bold. It's hot. It's flashy. It's the way I feel inside but opposite of the 'me' you see.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fun Facts--A Century of Books

Did you know The oldest known writings were Sumerian and were written around 2600 B.C? Did you know The Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed using moveable metal type in 1455? Did you know that in 2010, there were 288,355 books published in the United States? Can you even imagine the number of books printed during those 555 years? That's a whole lotta books!

So, I decided to do some light research and look back through the last 1000 years at some of the most popular authors and books of each century. Some were obvious, but others I've never even heard of before so I would like to share my newfound knowledge with all of you.

12 Century:
Chretien de Troyes, a French poet, was termed as "the inventor of the modern novel." He was the first writer to mention Queen Guinevere and Lancelot.

13th Century:
Bonaventure, an Italian theologian and philosopher, wrote "The Life of St. Francis of Assisi." "The Travels of Marco Polo," A travelogue of stories told by Marco Polo and written by Rustichello da Pisa, was also popular.

14th Century:
Dante Alighieri wrote "The Divine Comedy" between 1308 and 1321. The epic poem is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature.

15th Century:
Sir Thomas Malory wrote eight romances about King Arthur under the title, "Le Morte d'Arthur." There were at least six Thomas Malorys alive when it was published in 1485. The true identity of the writer is not known.

16th Century:
In the mid 1590s, William Shakespeare wrote "Love's Labour's Lost"--the first of many plays.

17th Century:
Aphra Behn was the first woman to make a living with her writing. Her works were considered highly improper and in bad taste. Before writing numerous plays, poems, and novels, she was a spy for Charles II! I'd like to read more about this lady.

18th Century:
Beloved Jane Austen finished the first draft of "Pride and Prejudice" in 1797 and went on to complete six novels.

19th Century:
Queen Victoria ruled Britain and the Industrial Revolution spawned social reform. Victor Hugo, ("The Hunchback of Notre Dame") Mark Twain, ("The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn") and Charles Dickens (A Tale of Two Cities) are the most popular authors of this time.

20th Century:
Ernest Hemingway was one of the greatest novelists of this century. He wrote "The Sun Also Rises" in 1926.

21st Century:
We're all familiar with some of the most popular authors of the past eleven years. JK Rowling, Jonathan Franzen, and Philip Roth are just a few of many authors that come to mind but the bestselling author, so far, started his career in 1976 and in 2000 began revealing several titles every year. He also happens to be one of my many favorites. James Patterson.

Well, there you have it. Did you learn something new? I know I did.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

This Is Me Thursday--I Miss

I Miss...

  • The big family holidays we had when I was young. After death, misunderstandings, and relocations, our family has gotten so small.
  • Looney Tunes. Bugs Bunny was my Saturday morning mentor for classical music, and how to be a smart-ass.
  • Hearing my daughter play her instruments. She played flute, fife, tenor saxophone, trumpet, euphonium, and marching trombone. She's been so busy with the military and college, she doesn't play any of them.
  • Doing crafts. What started as a hobby turned into a part-time business with my husband's niece. Eventually, life got in the way and we stopped.
  • Being a stay-at-home wife and mother. I just don't have the time to keep the house clean, make home-cooked meals, breads, and desserts like I used to.

  • Getting a weekly paycheck. Having your own business means doing without sometimes.

  • Family vacations down the shore (before Snooki and her friends got their manicured claws into it) and up at the lake. I always thought the process was stressful but the week of relaxation was worth it.

  • When my daughter was a little girl and seeing the wonders of life through her eyes.