Monday, December 20, 2010

At the Heart of It....

This year has felt different to me. I'm just not in the spirit of things. There's a melancholy dwelling in my heart and I can't find my Joy.

I've decorated, wrapped presents (all but what I wrap Christmas Eve night), sent out Christmas cards and today and the rest of this week I'll be tackling treats for family and friends.

I feel like I'm running behind (though I feel like that all the time anymore), but Christmas will be upon us in five days. Count 'em- 5 days!

I'm still not in the mood for it and in all honesty, will be glad when it's over. How sad is that? Normally I enjoy the holiday, but this year, I'm far from filled with Whoville jubilation...no...I'm feeling a little Grinchy- like before his heart grew three sizes that day...

Last night, as I lay down to sleep, I started thinking about what this time of year means to me, especially since I'm feeling down and wanted to give myself things to renew my hope and happiness. I thought about this year's lack of joy in my heart, but also all the years past...

And my conclusion is LOVE.

At the heart of December is Love.

Love for our families, our friends, and sometimes even strangers.

December, for the most part, can be summed up to that.

It's at the heart of the matter, regardless of what holiday you celebrate in this last month of the year.

It's about all the things that mean love to us. For me, it's my family, my friends, my cat.

It's the bite of cold in the air that sinks into your bones as the snow falls and the warmth of hearth and home, a welcoming escape from the blustery winds. It's the hush that falls over the world when snow blankets the ground and coats the trees. It's hot cocoa and sugar cookies. It's the glow and twinkle of the tree and ornaments and sparkly garland. It's the light in your kids' eyes when they see the tree fully decorated the first time, or when they sight a house decked out like Snoopy's doghouse with lights.

It's doing things to bring a smile to another person's face, to fill their hearts with some gladness. It's good food and treats, it's time spent with those we care about. It's missing those who can't be with us, but remembering them just the same.

And that made me wonder why December is the only time of year when we show this kind of love for our fellow man, woman, child, etc. Why do we only extend a helping hand or a kind word NOW?

I suspect that we do this because the year is coming to a close and all the rest of the year has been consumed with worrying about the things that go on in our own little circles.

This year has been rather shoddy for my family- we've had car troubles and had to fix the one car we had and ended up buying another one, too. My husband has had health issues that we're still dealing with, including his recent knee surgery a little over a week ago. I've not been myself this year (turning 35 did something to me psychologically LOL) and so I've been struggling with personal emotional issues that aren't resolved- just buried at the moment. I'm still having a hard time getting my head back into my writing, which only leaves me feeling void, unable to fill the emptiness with something that brings me joy.

But that brings me back to why December seems to be the time to show compassion and love and care for those outside the boundaries of our routine lifestyles.

Why does December seem to be the ONLY month where we give ourselves permission to slow down, to visit with others, to care about them? Why is it the time of year we shrug off that cloak we use to isolate ourselves? But more importantly, why is this kindness and consideration only dragged out with the decorations, as though we pack it in after the holidays and save it up for next December?

The icy fingers of winter creep in and in their own way, they force warmth into us- encourage us to warm toward others in a way no other time of the year does. I guess that's why. As cold as December can be, it fills us with a warmth that emanates outward in our behavior and our lives. It works as a magnet, drawing us all together. It draws us together in love, and that's truly at the heart of it...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reflections...

This time of year is always a time of reflection. We cannot help ourselves but to think about the year behind us because we can't possibly know what's up the road ahead. A lot of times it isn't simply the year we've just been through, but other years, as well, because I think we all need to look back from time to time to see the chapters of our lives thus far—so we can appreciate who we were, who we are and where our journey might take us from here.

It's just natural to revisit our history in our memories at this time of year when it seems family and friends are nearest as the year draws to its close. The winter season and the holidays fill us with the warmth of all the times we've had before with loved ones who are with us and those who've gone before us. I think that's also why this time of year is sometimes the HARDEST time to get through for those who've lost so many loved ones in their lives or have little that makes them truly happy to be alive. It makes it hard to be cheerful when you feel alone in this world, when times are hard, when things just aren't going smoothly, etc.

I guess when we are forced indoors by cold weather, we're also made more aware of ourselves and our thoughts turn inward as well, to times long gone, people who've come into our lives and those who have departed, either by their own choosing or by death.

Today has been spent in quiet contemplation about that very thing- the past, that is and mostly on one person in particular. Much as I've been hurt in past relationships, I've always believed it would be my folly to ever take pleasure or laugh over their troubles or mistakes.

I never ended any of my relationships- unfortunately I was always the dumped, not the dumper & I got my heart broken enough times that I stopped keeping track because it just hurt too much, but I would never wish them harm or heartache or sadness. I like to believe I'm a more compassionate person than that. At least, I like to hope so.

But then today I got a text. Random coincidence or what have you- an ex of mine talked to someone who knows someone close to me and told that person he should have stayed with me and he cried over losing me. He showed remorse.

And I laughed out loud.

I LAUGHED- just long enough for a twinge of guilt to shoot through me and make me clamp my lips tightly over my teeth to bite back another round of laughter. I felt so awful- so downright vile and EVIL, that it has gnawed at me all day.

There was no reason for me to laugh at his sadness or tears. I cried plenty over him because I loved him with all my heart, whether anyone else understood my reasons or not, even him. Most thought I was a fool and maybe I was, but I loved him and he knew it. I had a small inkling of how he felt toward me, but he never said it back.

So....Maybe he really does realize, after nearly 10 years, what a mistake it was to let me go, but even before I met the man who is my husband now, it had been over between me and this other man for over a year. Before I left I even told him I was sorry when he tried to convince me to stay and be with him. It was too little too late and I told him so- I had loved him for 7 years and dated him off and on during that time, but I had felt like I had NEVER been enough for him and I finally reasoned I never would be, so I made a decision and moved on with my life.

He tried very hard to prove he had changed and knew he wanted to be with me- he even had some of his friends try to plead with me on his behalf that things were different— that he was different. And I was moved by the effort, but not enough to run back into his arms, not after all the times he had hurt me and broken my heart. He was significant in my life and I loved him, still do- but not that way.

I've worried about him these past years. I worried that he would end up alone and unhappy and I'm afraid that IS what's become of his life, but I used to tell him that he'd regret it someday- treating me like I meant so little, acting like I'd always be around for him to come back "home" to when he had the notion, when he was run out everywhere else.

His parting words to me when I got ready to move here, to make my new life, the life I'm living now, were "You'll be back in 3 months and I'll get what I want."

It didn't happen that way and now he finds himself, nearly 10 years later, crying on the shoulder of a stranger about me.

I didn't mean to laugh, really I didn't. I really AM more compassionate than that, and I believe that it's better for me not to carry the anger, hatred and hurt from the past around like an ugly badge of survival as though I'm some victim. Sure I got involved and I got my heart broken, but everyone has or will at some point in their lives.

Relationships happen and most have a beginning, a middle and an end, we just don't know the time frame when we start the relationship. Some feel like they're doomed from start, but last for decades while others feel like they'll last forever and then they end so abruptly you can't breath because the loss feels like a fatal gunshot wound through the heart.

This was a relationship doomed from the start, but I get it now that I'm older....

And yet, for a brief moment it was as if I got some sort of justification, some sort of clarity that I wasn't SO wrong after all about how he felt about me. Perhaps I wasn't some young blubbering idiot when I believed he DID love me in his own way and that he just didn't know how to say it OR show it. Or maybe he didn't know it back then...

No matter the case, I look back, I see the reflection, the ripple he was on the pond of my youth, and I'm thankful that he was there. Even though we went our separate ways, even though he's figured it out much too late.

I can't change the heartache he caused me all those years ago, no more than I can change the heartache he feels now. I feel bad that he has regrets in regard to me and I feel awful that I laughed to know he cried, but all I can do now is pray for him to find peace in his heart, for things that cannot be changed. Our feet cannot travel those roads anymore, we cannot retrace our steps except in our mind's eye and even then, it's not always wise to journey backward, for it gets us nowhere.

After all, they are only just reflections....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Short, Sweet and To the Point

I won my 5th NaNo- just a little while ago- hit 50,000 words and I'm done---- For now.

As with all the ones before, the story still needs to be finished, (about 25-30K more to go) but I've been sick for nearly 4 days and I need some down time to get better.

Right now it's like I've got a drainage reservoir in my head that could turn into Niagara Falls given the right circumstances. Hot tea and honey has done little to reduce the congestion. Neither has my NetiPot and my ears are still clogged up, though my throat is not as sore as it was the first day or so. Now it's mostly just the furnace between my ears and an achy body to go with it, but so far as I know, no fever.

Think I deserve a little down time though. A hot shower might help do the trick, though a soft serve from Dairy Queen might make me feel even better...any takers on whether I could talk my hubby into driving 15 minutes to town and back again to get me one? LOL It'd be melted into sweet foamy milk by the time he got back.

Anyway....off to shower and then rest..maybe fill out the rest of my Christmas cards and hopefully I'll feel up to my own personal reward for accomplishing NaNo this year-

FINALLY getting to read Yasmine Galenorn's Harvest Hunting.

I got the book just before NaNo and normally I devour them in a couple of days, but I promised myself I would accomplish NaNo first.

Besides, I need to get it done before the ARC of Blood Wyne arrives (the next book after HH) that I won from one of her blog contests. So excited to get to read it before it's even out on shelves! Thanks Yasmine!

Off to pamper myself back to good health! Have a good one!

Friday, November 19, 2010

My Hero is the Sexiest Man Alive

No, seriously...Ben, the hero of the novel I'm writing for NaNo, is--- see-

THE Sexiest Man Alive 2010

Yes, I modeled Ben Pryce and his twin brother Nick (whose story was the previous one I wrote) after Ryan Reynolds.

See, I just knew that there was a reason Ryan had to be cast as my twins...I figured out a way to hang onto that image through two manuscripts.

I'm no dummy! Hehe!

He's not just sexy, but he's funny and sweet and well...just yummy to think about. ;o)

I've been *casting* actors & actresses for my characters for a while now and this was the first time I had twins to write. Ryan fit what I needed for each character.

One brother is a softhearted romantic artist, the other a loud playboy chef. Can you guess which one I'm writing now?

Yeah...Ben hasn't exactly been reformed yet, but he's on his way already.

I just hope he doesn't lose his sex appeal, because he's naughty, but that's what makes him so good. He just needs a little heart to go with it and Sunni is the missing ingredient. She's earthy and open, but also has never been in love and swears she's not ready for it. Actually, she has sworn it off because she doesn't see herself as the marrying kind to be tied down to any man.

Too bad that's where this road is taking them! LOL They'll thank me for it later.

And you can thank me for the Friday eye candy....He IS yummy, isn't he? ;o)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Off To a Slow Start

I love my characters, don't get me wrong...

And I know they have a great story to tell me...

But I just find myself dawdling all during the day when I have like, ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD TO MYSELF....and then find myself making a mad dash to pump out the minimum words before I go to bed after the rush of homework, supper, baths, etc. I've been staying up three hours past my regular bedtime to write. For some reason, that seems to be working for me rather than trying to concentrate on it during the daytime- like right now.

I'm tempted to turn my days around, at least for the month of November- of course, I'd still get up and get the kids off to school at their regular time, but it crossed my mind last night that I seem to write better in the evenings on this one. Perhaps I might be better off to go back to bed after the kids are gone for school and sleep until hubby gets home mid-afternoon.

Then I could still get my rest, be up with him and the kids until they go to bed, and still be able to stay up a bit longer to write once they're all in bed and the house settles down around me.

But, I have a routine and I hate to break it, even though I am breaking it bit by bit as this week wears on.

Perhaps a bite for lunch and then solid concentration would help along with a little soundtrack to help me along.

Write on!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 1 Down

I spent most of the day fleshing the hero and heroine out so I knew more about them, but all said and done- I'm going to bed almost a couple hundred ahead of the minimum daily word count to make 50K by month's end- 1,840 (min= 1,667)

Feels good. Tired being that I'm not used to being up at 11PM. Will have kids home tomorrow, so we'll see how THAT goes...LOL

See you on the other side of sleep my friends!

Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010

It is officially the first day of NaNoWriMo. Woohoo!

This year I'm revved about doing NaNo, though I haven't yet started writing. Instead, I tackled the dreaded dishes so I don't have fool with them later and put up laundry.

I'm also thrilled to say that I stayed up a little past my bedtime last night and FINISHED the WIP I'd been procrastinating over. Yay!

Right now, I'm the process of fleshing out my characters a little better and plan to get started soon.

Yeah, it's going to be a GREAT day!

Put those fingers to the keys and join me!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Scurrying Away Like Leaves On The Breeze

October is getting away from us quickly. I know this because I can see NaNoWriMo from here...

Hehe!

I've been participating since 2006. Wow...that only adds up to 4 years, but I have to count every year, so this will actually be my 5th year- participating and hopefully winning, as I have each previous attempt.

This month is just hurrying by though and doing NaNo has been weighing on my mind because I haven't yet finished writing LAST YEAR'S NaNovel. I've been trying to break through that wall that was keeping me from finishing it all year.

Yesterday was a huge turning point when I finally added over 3,000 NEW words to the story and brought me that much closer to "the end." I've got less than 50 pages to write and believe I can get it done before November 1st.

All the better that I get it done, since the story I will be writing for NaNo is the next in line after the one I'm working on. For me, its imperative that I finish one before I start another.

Today is going to be busy...getting the kids' Halloween costumes and grocery shopping, so I'd best "scurry" myself...

Once all that's done, I'm seriously intending to zone out the hubby and kids this evening to get some more work done. Have a GREAT Hump Day!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SPEAK LOUD AND CLEAR

Last week, in honor of Banned Books Week, I ordered SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson because of the ruckus I'd been reading about this one man's attempt to get it banned from his local school system, (albeit a school system his children do not attend and that he is not affiliated with) for being "soft pornography"—no less because of rape scenes in the story.

This infuriated me for so many reasons, as I mentioned in my previous blog post.

I got the book last Friday and started reading it then, but as goes most of my weekends, I had things to do that kept me from what I most wanted to do.

Monday I got wrapped up in some revisions of one of my own manuscripts, but yesterday I got back to reading SPEAK. So deep in the story, I read through it in just a couple of hours, through laughter and tears. I had to step away from the computer yesterday and try to compose myself and my thoughts. I'm still having a hard time really putting into words what I'm feeling. I honestly wish I had known of this book's existence before now.

It is apparent that Mr. Scroggins did not read the book he's so adamant to get rid of—or if he did, he failed miserably to understand and recognize irony in the sarcastic "thoughts" of Melinda, the 13-year-old heroine of the story.

The greatest injustice here is a massive lack of objectivity-

You have to read a story and get to know the character and his/her situation. You can't do that by going into it emotionally blocked and with the only intention of finding EVERYTHING you think is wrong, immoral and filthy.

He basically judged a book by it's cover and the few lines that "jumped out" at him. His inadequate knowledge and single minded determination to rid his "world" of all things he deems sinful, wrong and immoral for children to be "subjected" to only further bolsters his self-righteous indignation.

For a man who so strongly supports educating and teaching the "truth" he needs to remember that sometimes the truth is ugly, that life is NOT always fair and that you cannot tuck your children away from the world and shield them from everything.

If he doesn't like the way the school system handles these things, then he doesn't have to send his kids to those schools. It's a simple solution. To my understanding, only one of his children attends the public school.

Being he's never been a girl, or a teenage one at that, I'm willing to bet he was that special adolescent who never did anything wrong. I'm sure he was the perfect son who never rebelled against the wishes of his parents or authorities. I guess he never felt like the adults around him were foolish, stupid and oblivious to the perils of being a hormonal teenager and he never misbehaved or did ANY of the things he finds so morally reprehensible in these books he wants banned.

I'm also willing to bet that he's never been raped and has NO understanding of how HARD it is to talk about what happened, let alone believe you aren't the only one suffering the pain and agony and fear. You feel like the ONLY person who's ever been attacked, ever been violated in such a personal way and that no one else could possibly understand.

The selections he skimmed from the story for his examples were taken GREATLY out of context and he clearly misrepresented the book to the best of his ability to make it appear he knew what he was talking about. He armed himself with all the "lines" that seemed to most significantly get his fanatical point across.

He defined the book and scenes in the book as "soft pornography" in his opinion piece, but amusingly, he has since tried to retract that definition when his use of it was called into question. In fact, he claims he didn't call it that at all, though it's clear that he did.

SPEAK is a far cry from the "definition" Mr. Scroggins labeled it. The rape scenes are in NO way gratuitous or graphic. They do not inspire sexual arousal, but more a sense of anger and desire to see justice- not just for Melinda, but for anyone who has ever gone through such a thing.

My children are still too young yet to read SPEAK, but only because neither of them have had sex education in school- YET. Once they have been educated about their changing bodies, hormones and sex, I think SPEAK will be a great learning tool to share with them and discuss. There are a lot of good points to learn from in the book- girls aren't objects, we are not alone in this world in times of trouble, and most importantly- never be afraid to SPEAK.

I will encourage my kids to read this and other banned/contested books, even if it isn't required in our school system. I, for one, would rather arm my children with knowledge and understanding and love than send them out into this big world wearing rose-colored glasses that tint their views with ignorance, misgivings and close-mindedness.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banned Books Week

In honor of Banned Books Week (September 25 through October 2) I'm going to step outside my comfort zone just a little bit.

Thanks in part to one of my favorite writers, Yasmine Galenorn, I became aware of Laurie Halse Anderson's recent blog in regard to one man's call to ban Laurie's book SPEAK because it should be considered "soft pornography."

Why?

Because of two rape scenes in the story.

Mind you, I have not read this book, being its a young adult novel and I haven't read much in the way of those kinds of books in quite some time, but a couple of days ago after reading Laurie's blog I decided I AM going to. I ordered it and expect to get it sometime next week from Amazon and I'm going to read it during Banned Books Week.

When issues reach the heart of me, it weighs heavily and the idea of a book being banned for such a ludicrous reason blew my mind. And made me toss and turn all night.

My issue with the man's reasons for banning the book bothered me to my core because in NO WAY would I EVER categorize rape as pornography.

Merriam-Webster.com defines pornography as-

1: the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement

INTENDED TO CAUSE SEXUAL EXCITEMENT.

I'm sorry, but I don't think writers ever set out to write a rape scene to arouse the reader.....Being raped is NOT sexually exciting or arousing for anyone but the rapist.

The idea that anyone with a good heart and moral fiber would ever consider it pornography is beyond my comprehension and it disgusts me to think they could ever come to that conclusion in regard to it.

I will not get too deep into the details of my past, but I've been there and I am a survivor of such a violation of my physical being. It also violated my mental and emotional being and I know how mortifying it can be when the shock wears off and you are faced with the reality of what has happened and whether it changes the core of who you are.

I didn't "speak" about what happened to me and held the fear and anxiety inside for a long time, blaming myself, feeling as though I somehow "asked" for it, that I had fallen victim to being a statistic because it was someone I knew. Someone I considered a friend.

Time has helped heal it, but it still infuriates me when I see people who don't understand that rape is not a consensual pleasureable activity between two people. It's an invasion on so many levels and in so many ways.

As for someone who speaks now from experience, I have to wonder HOW this man came to the conclusion that he could define rape in the same context as pornography and it begs the question- If you can't tell the difference between the two, who are you to judge?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

That Only Happens in Romance Novels....

Do men ever apologize for things? Surely you jest!

It's been my general experience that men don't apologize very often because they usually feel entitled or believe they are right the majority of the time. At least that's usually the case with my husband! LOL

I mean, after all, why should they apologize for being right about things they don't feel they've done wrong?

Well, today, one of my best friends proved to me that men can say they're sorry when they feel badly enough about something. And I thought that only happened in romance novels! Ha!

In fact, in this case, my friend apologized for being mad at me for the past week because he thought I'd given him a little too much hell over a situation he's been dealing with in his personal life. He thought I came down on him too hard. So he'd been mad...

At ME....
For a WEEK...

I told him I hadn't meant to make him mad. In fact, I had only hoped to spare him the hurt of obsessing over something he couldn't control at the time. I didn't want to see him make himself sick, worrying over something that would just have to pan out on its own....After all, I'll admit, I tend to do the same thing— far too often in my own life. I thought I was telling him not to "sweat the small stuff" but he thought I was just being b!tchy. LOL

I will tell you right now, though I'm STILL smiling about it. Not because I hurt his feelings and made him angry with me, which I rarely do, by the way...but that I never even knew he was mad, yet I received a heartfelt apology this morning out of nowhere.

Just when I was feeling the lowest I have in quite some time.

Plagued by heartbreaking dreams last night, I awoke melancholy and unsettled (as I stated on my Facebook status this morning). I had already shed a few tears Niagra Falls, making my chest hurt and my eyes red and puffy.

I tend to dream vividly. Always have and probably always will...sometimes to the point of being intuitive. I can't count the instances of deja vu I've experienced in my lifetime, those moments of "I've done this/been here before."

I also tend to dream in color, with most of my senses in tact and all the fibers of my being making the majority of my dreams feel as though it's reality. And well, the dreams I had last night left me full of sadness and heartache over circumstances in my life that have no rhyme or reason. Things I have no control over---ironic, isn't it?

But then my friend's called this morning, and his apology for the week-long grudge against me, took me by TOTAL surprise.

I didn't know whether to feel bad that I hurt his feelings~ which I do because I love him and wouldn't ever do anything to hurt him intentionally~ OR laugh my butt off because I rarely, if EVER, get apologies for ANYTHING and this one was so random and out of the blue and hilarious that I nearly fell out of my chair. I've never been apologized to for something I didn't even know about! LOL

He could have simply kept his mouth shut and never told me. I would have been none the wiser. But it makes me smile, even now to think he cares about me enough as his friend that he couldn't stay mad and even felt that HE needed to apology for something I might never have known about except for his admittance.

That speaks volumes about friendship. And about good men in general and I'm thankful to have him for one of my best friends. If only ALL men saw it that way!

But that only happens in romance novels, right?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Boo Mercury...

Yep, we've hit another retrograde. The 3rd this year, with one more to go in December- rare to have more than 3 a year, or so I've read.

And so it begins...a time of backwardness, forgetfulness. Being clumsy, having issues with technology and communication.

Redo, reuse, rework, readjust- anything that means doing something over- Not all of that is a bad thing I guess- "redecorate" is a really good thing usually. ;o) And I've been thinking a lot about getting paint to do the living room or the kitchen, or my daughter's bedroom.

I've been watching for signs of it since the beginning of this month because usually the effects begin a few weeks before the retrograde actually begins and can last a few weeks past until things get back on a normal path. There have been plenty of things I've noticed around me in regard to the retro.

I broke a chair, set the spare bedroom back up for my friends to visit. My daughter ran her knee into the corner of the coffee table last night. We had a brakelight go out. A lady in front of us at Wal-mart nearly walked out without one of her bags and the cashier had to chase her down to give it to her. A register over, a woman almost walked out with her deposit bag for whatever business she runs.

I've had a "crick" in my neck off and on for a week now and the cashier we had even said she'd had a pinch and could barely turn her head from side to side. I've recently misplaced an old yearbook. I JUST had it but now it's nowhere to be found. I've revisited the same spots and places I "feel" like I've left it or placed it and it's just *poof*- disappeared.

I haven't started any new projects or I'd find myself redoing them, too, so it's a good thing I was planning to work on REvisions. ;o)

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh, The Tangled Webs We Weave...

Recently I got the chance to read Tangled Memories by a fellow Kentucky Romance Writer Jan Scarbrough.

I had been eager to read this story for quite some time and found myself devouring it in the span of 2 days. I started it on Monday and finished it last night just before I went to bed- with tears in my eyes.

I'm not usually one to read books in electronic format, but I toted my laptop back and forth from the living room to the kitchen while I fixed supper and help my daughter with homework. In fact, at one point my 7 year-old looks up at me because she'd heard a sniffle from my direction and she jumped up to hug me, asking why I was crying. Not exactly something you can explain to a 7 year-old, but I was enjoying the story so much I sort of lost track of where I was.

Now, I don't normally do reviews, so much as recommendations, but this story was definitely worth the wait and I wanted to share. Set in modern time, it's a marriage of convenience tale, but with a twist.

Fate. Karma. Kismet. Call it what you want, but in the end, it's about two souls combined...that's why they are soul mates.

Tangled Memories find Mary Adams reluctantly wed to Dr. Alexander Dominican under the pretense of killing two birds with one stone. The tragic death of Mary's husband has left her deeply in debt thanks to his gambling addiction. Alex needs a mother for his infant daughter, who's own mother died shortly after childbirth from cancer.

Alex's proposal of marriage, nothing more than a business deal, seems the perfect answer to both their problems. Alex is content in the knowledge he's given his child a mother, and in some respects, the mother he never had, all the while Mary has been given a second chance at being a mother herself, after having a miscarriage in her youth that prevented her from having children of her own. It's a void she has felt in the years since.

Nothing could have prepared Mary for the firestorm of vivid dreams and visions she would be subjected to upon marrying Alex. The sudden uncharacteristic attraction to him leaves her weak-kneed, yet lonely for a husband who truly loves and desires her. Her fears and anxiety bubble to the surface in her new home, a gothic medieval museum to the past, made to seem even more so with the looming suits of armor, the dark rich tapestries, the hateful housekeeper, the mute servant Rufus and an invalid father tucked away in the shadows. It couldn't get anymore gothic than that.

Each time the overwhelming hallucinations propel her back in time, she becomes an invisible observer of another woman's life. A young girl who's life seems to parallel Mary's in ways that even she can't begin to fathom and awakens a desire to have a true, real marriage rather than the farce she and Alex have committed themselves to.

As the visions grow in intensity, so does the malicious attacks on her sanity. Someone is destroying her belongings, threatening her to leave, and even putting Alex's young daughter's life in danger. When Alex brushes off her concerns, her suspicions of his trusted servants, Mary has no where to turn.

A bond keeps drawing her and Alex back to each other, keeping her there when everything else tells her she should go. Could he grow to love her? There were moments when she thought so, moments when she pondered that they were the couple in the past, the ones in her dreams.

How could that be? It was crazy and she wouldn't dare breathe a word of it to Alex or he'd have her tucked away in a padded cell somewhere. Or doped up on pills to keep her crazies at bay.

But just suppose for a moment that Love IS eternal...that it transcends time and lasts forever....that two souls, who've loved once and deeply, will continue to journey through the fabric of time to find each other...to love each other again and again, because I'd like to believe that...I'd like to believe that "love never dies."

And if that's so— wouldn't you do anything you could to make certain you found it, held onto it and cherished for as long as this lifetime would allow you?

Okay...that's enough from me. I hope I've given this book a just appraisal and I have a feeling I'll be reading it again before I know it. It's definitely a keeper for me. If you follow the link at the top, you will find your way to Jan's website page for the book, though, at the moment it is out of print, but it will be reissued the summer of 2011. If you click on Jan's name above, it links you to her Facebook author page.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Misguided Advice Of Loved Ones...

First off, let me shout out a big ol' thanks in Shiloh Walker's direction for her blog last week on the matter of BAD WRITING ADVICE. It was a much needed and welcome reminder that writing is as individual as the person who writes it.

Are we bound by absolute indisputable rules?

No, not as some would have you believe. Not all techniques work the same or the best for everyone- not everyone writes the same stories or about the same things or in the same genres.

Thank Heaven for small favors because otherwise there wouldn't be books worth reading if we all wrote exactly the same. Where's the fun in that? There would be no such thing as a "fresh voice." What would agents and publishers do? The discovery of fresh new voices is what keeps the business alive and thriving. It's what creates best-selling authors and gives us big names to follow because they are unique in their storytelling ablility.

And guess what? I bet they didn't follow all the hard and fast rules of writing to get where they are.

I'm sure you're wondering if this is leading anywhere...Do I have some brilliant thought or idea to toss your direction today? I suppose I do, but I won't know for sure until I get there myself...hahaha!

No, seriously— I do have something I'm pondering over today and that is a little something I call MISGUIDED ADVICE.

Family and friends are always good at giving you advice, cheering you on or offering words of wisdom or common sense to help us through in life and well, all the aspects of it. Sometimes I think they step off the crazy train because they don't THINK before they speak- or write.

It wasn't that long ago that I was emailing with a friend (who's name shall not be known)- and was telling her how hard it was for me to get back into my writing, that I just wasn't in the "right" place to write the stories I love the most. Mind you, this friend is old enough to be my mother— is in fact the mother of a very dear friend of mine— but she can be very critical and opinionated about just about any subject matter you talk with her about. I love her dearly, but the conversation she and had back and forth in this email was hurtful and stirred up my defenses in regard to the genre I write.
I write romance. I'm fairly sure you're aware of that the same as I am if you've been following me for very long. I have, from a very early age, considered myself a romance novelist. I feel no shame in that, though there are days where I don't feel very romantic or feel that I have any romance in my own life. There are days when real life puts the honkers on it and makes me wonder why I put so much value in love and romance and writing about it when my own life is NOT one big neverending fairytale. I'm sure we've all been there and felt that way...as if we know NOTHING about real love, real happiness, real joy.

There are days when I'm so tired or busy with all the other things that I HAVE to do, that I don't even want to think about it, even though I hope that it does exist. I want to believe, but there are days that I'd just as soon toss all that silly fluff out the window and be done with it because I'm just so mentally and emotionally drained from all the things in everyday life.

I thought I expressed this eloquently and in a way that my friend would understand. That writing romance is hard when you don't feel like you have a grasp on the subject matter. Instead I got miguided advice from someone who thinks she's an expert on the matter because she has college degrees in library science and business and worked for years as a librarian. I got remarks like—

"Have you ever thought about writing something besides love stories? I'm not trying to be negative, BUT....I was a librarian and we classified books in different categories and those definitely had a category. They always say to write what you know and if romance is not something you know, then it has to be hard to write about it." (OUCH! Thanks a LOT!)

"Maybe you should start calling your books under a different genre, it could make a world of difference. Maybe you should stick with the label of fiction rather than love stories. If it's just called a love story or romance, it's automatically tossed aside as airport trade; fluff reading or trash or nothing with quality. It would never be read closely enough to be called a classic. If a book is just labeled as romance it deserves a bad rap. Call them fiction and focus on the life stories but never call them romance or love stories."
Wow....just WOW.....

She also implied the only women who read romance novels are unhappily married women like she was in her youth...then she closed off by saying that she felt like she "discouraged" me though it wasn't her intention and that she guessed it would all depend on the mood I was in when I read it, but that it really was meant in a positive way..... Pretty amazing when you add to it that this friend of mine believes in soul mates. Hmmmm....Sounds bitter to me...

It's taken me MONTHS to compute this in my brain, and my HEART, that someone I consider a good friend would say such a thing...Honestly...the fact that she has college degrees and was a librarian doesn't weigh that heavily on my opinion. She's like so many others who see romance novels as trashy, bodice rippers. She devalued every romance author I know and love as though what they write is dirt and though I'm not published, that lumps me in there too and it really makes me mad because I KNOW for a fact there are a LOT of talented, wonderful writers in my genre and her "professional" opinion leaves me begging the question—
Is the misguided advice of loved ones always worth it? No- its like bad writing advice...sometimes its well-meaning, but its not always valuable in a productive, positive way. We just need to remember to weed out the bad parts so it doesn't choke and stifle our inspiration and creativity. Bless their tactless, thoughtless hearts...they don't always know what they're talking about.

It also begs the question of how much longer the romance genre will be treated like the black sheep of the writing industry family. What did we do to deserve that honor? And why does it seem more like a punishment?

Have a great start to the week Peeps!
Write On!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Has It Been THAT Long?

Wow, nearly a month has gone by since my last blog. Sadly, the reason that's the case is because I haven't had much to say.

Things have been hectic since the 4th of July, though I didn't mention it in the previous post. We had car trouble coming back from my parents' on the 4th and have been dealing with the bank, the insurance company, the mechanic, etc ever since.

Seems our Corolla's engine had taken all it could take and the o-rings gave out- as my husband called it. Of course, the car had almost 170,000 miles on it and it had done good to make it as long as it did. The quickest solution was to buy another car after refinancing our loan through the bank, but we ran into many a hiccup, not because our credit was bad or anything. No, that was great, but the bank just wanted to willy-nilly the process because we "didn't ask for enough" on our refinance- so, not to get into the long technicals, but we did eventually get a loan of sorts that actually paid off our home equity loan, allowed us to buy another vehicle and get our Corolla fixed.

As for the *new* vehicle- it's a 2002 Kia Spectra, white, with only 54,000 miles on it. The only hitch in the plan to buy it was that it had had a front end wreck and the guy had to fix it, so that took a bit of time and in the meanwhile we borrowed hubby's dad's truck for a couple of weeks.

Of course, on top of that, the guy had a couple of Toyota engines, one already out of the car body, with only about 67,000 miles on it that he said he could drop in our Corolla, so now that we have the Kia, we're just waiting on the Corolla to be done as well and we'll have two vehicles~ fingers crossed that once I FINALLY get back to practicing driving and get my license, the Kia will be mine. In fact, I've already named him- yes- HIM, since I'm female and well, if men can name their cars after women, I'm naming mine after a male- a favorite "hero" of a favorite book.

Here's my reasoning- it's called a "spectra" which puts me in the mind of a spectre, so I decided that the name Jasper suits it- from a ghost character in one of my favorite YA novels called Strut by Bruce and Carole Hart. He was a rockstar from the 60's who died too young and believes his "unfinished business" is to help redheaded 17 y/o Holly Hannah become a rockstar in a battle of the bands competition.

I LOVE that story for so many reasons, on so many levels, even at 35 and so- I'm dragging the ghost of Jasper Rollins from the book and breathing him to life- in a way, as my Kia Spectra. Call me crazy- I don't care. LOL

Mix into all this a trip to Beech Bend Amusement Park, back to school shopping for ALL those supplies & new clothes to replace what the kids have outgrown, washing all the new clothes and typical preparation- meeting the teacher at Open House, filling out forms, etc and I'd have to say I was honestly GLAD to see July go. It was too busy with not a chance to sit and take a breather.

It was also too much of a distraction to be able to work on my revisions. My determination and concentration melted in the heat or was stifled by an absolute lack of time alone to work quietly.

Yes...I can honestly say that until Sunday evening for maybe 45 minutes to an hour while hubby and the kids were gone to the grandparents' so Little Man could get his hair cut before school started, I hadn't had a moment of quiet, much cherished and sought after alone time just for me ALL summer. I was so thrilled that I threw myself in the tub for a long overdue extended hot shower that I could actually enjoy because I didn't have someone pecking at the door saying "I need to use the potty," or "What are you doing?"

It was almost like getting spa treatment! Haha!

Today was my official first day to myself though, as I'm sure you can tell.

They gotta go back, back, back to school again...whoa whoa, they gotta go- back to school.....again! LOL

So, my day has been nice- quiet... I put them on the bus, did 2 miles on the Gazelle, which I also haven't done in MONTHS, showered, started laundry, and have just been taking me time to breath time..... Going to eat lunch and then fall into one of my manuscript files and start getting my head back in the game.

Have a wonderful Tuesday, but most definitely take it easy with these scorching temperatures we're supposed to have the next few days! Drink plenty of fluids and don't be out in it if you don't have to!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leaping Back Through Time

That's what I've decided to do.

No, I haven't built a time machine or a quantum leap accelerator- but I have decided I need to put my priorities in order and well, I know I'm in the middle of writing one story that I've left unfinished in my lackadaisical haze- set in modern times, but I'm contemplating submitting my historical romance with paranormal elements, so I need to get it in the best shape I possibly can.

And that's why I have given myself over to another time and place in recent days- rereading my manuscript and making necessary adjustments in late 1790's Virginia.

I'm wandering the sandy coastline, knowing the mist hides an apparition brought on by guilt, or perhaps a soul at unrest... I can't be sure. Chilled breezes sweep in, sand and surf enveloping me in this other world- a world that rose up within me and came to life the moment I set it in words with each clickity-clack of the keyboard. I've been away for a while, having forgotten myself as a writer, forgetting how this story haunted me until it was finished.

This one stuck to me like glue for months, even before I started writing it, all the while I researched the time period, it hovered around me during the day and then followed me to bed at night- not just the story, but the characters, the setting.

I guess it needed me... Needed me to tell it, to write it, to release it, just as all the stories I write do. For me it's such a personal process and though I joke that it's like having multiple personalities, sometimes it really IS like that.

A few years ago they wouldn't shut up, but for a while now the characters- the voices in my head- have hushed- absolutely clammed up. They've lain dormant for well over a year- since the infamous Misplacement of my Mojo and the Hibernation of my Butterfly.

I'm starting to think they knew I needed a mental break from them. You can only hear so many voices telling you this, that and the other before it makes you a little batty. Mwhahaha!

But, perhaps that's what I needed all along.

And perhaps now is the time for me to travel backward for a bit- into a time I can't possibly know, but that seems to know me, call to me, embrace me.

Perhaps the things I feel have gone missing will wash up on the shores of the past and I can pull them back into my present once I'm done.

Off to wander the misty haunted shores....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Where DOES the Mojo Go?

When it doesn't feel like you have "it" anymore, where does it go?

Does it disappear? Do we "lose" it?

Or does it simply vacation on us from time to time, hiding when Life overshadows it?

Mojo is different for everyone, but we all have something that drives us—something that, just like anything worth having, is worth searching for. Especially during those times when we feel the most lost- it's then we should seek it and draw from it or we might never understand our full potential or what we're truly capable of.

In the past year or so, I've not followed that advice—at all—I honestly hadn't been thinking about it that way.
So many times, Life sets our Mojo on the back burner or up on a shelf- one of those items that when we get so caught up in our lives, we sometimes forget where we placed it, even though it's essential to who we are to a great extent.

Well, my Mojo has been on vacation for a long time (too long) and I'm trying hard to find it again. This year I declared it felt like my year for change and so far, I've done nothing to prove to myself that it is. I swing back and forth between courage and fear—swing like a pendulum do—

And it's not just my Mojo who's gone missing. My inner butterfly has wrapped herself up in her wings and forgotten how to fly. Strong, brave and beautiful enough to soar toward her dreams, she is also fragile enough to fall and doubt herself more times than I care to count.

But there's a light at the end of this tunnel. I look for signs in all things around me and last week, during a yard sale we had while I was up visiting my family, there it was~ a sign—
Never in my life have I been able to photograph a butterfly SO close up, but this one seemed drawn to me and kept lighting on the quince bush near where I was sitting on the swing with my sister. I don't know what kind it is- the outer wings that you can see were a brown/gray with orange spots, but I was unable to get it to sit still long enough to capture the backside when it's wings were spread wide- the upper wings were still dark brown/gray, but the lower set had metallic blue. I've researched online this morning and the closest I've come to identifying it is as a pipevine swallowtail, though this one doesn't have the extra "tips" on its tails and it has a lot more orange spots than most I've found images of.

Either which way, it's a butterfly with metallic blue on it's wings (which is personally significant to me) and well, it kept coming back around and when I got too close it would fly toward me and then flutter away, as though it were playing a game of chase with me when I tried to take more pictures of it. Needless to say, it meant something. I'm not sure WHAT yet, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

Here's to finding my Mojo and to drawing my butterfly out of her hiding place, too. Happy Thursday!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Forever After

We took the kids to see Shrek Forever After yesterday and even though I haven't been feeling very sentimental in recent days...hadn't been feeling much of anything if I'm honest with myself, I found myself tearing up as soon as the movie started.

I've had a deep and abiding love of the Shrek plot since the first movie when I realized halfway through it she was meant to be an ogre princess, not a human one. The idea hadn't been done before, that I was aware of, and it endeared Shrek and Fiona in my heart forevermore.

And it's probably the reason I'm such a sentimental old fool that I can't sit through a single Shrek movie without blubbering like an idiot, crying my eyes out. And it isn't just their story- but the secondary characters who can bring me to tears as well- I love Donkey and Puss in Boots. His big eyes makes my heart ache he's just so adorable! LOL

I won't give things away for anyone who hasn't seen the new Shrek Forever After, but I will say that I loved it, but that's just me and I was feeling extremely sentimental when we went to see it. It's an obvious twist on It's a Wonderful Life- albeit an ogre's life. LOL

By the time the credits rolled I was red-eyed and puffy and felt like a buffoon. There are so many times I find myself wondering why I believe in fairy tales anymore, why I write romance, why I believe true love wins out in the end and that there's someone out there meant for each of us. I still grapple with doubts and concerns about finding and losing love- especially losing "the one."

I believe there is someone out there who is bound to me in a way no one else is- regardless of time, distance or the circumstances that separate us. Sometimes it feels like it gets us no where to believe in the sentimental fluff of fairy tales because it's just romanticized fiction~ it burns away when the light of reality shines on it...

And yet, I still believe, even if it's only the tiniest grain of hope buried deep in my heart. I do believe I'm connected to someone else in this world in a way that's almost magical. It's a cosmic bond, surreal and unfathomable, but as real as anything else that can be seen with the naked eye or touched with the hand. It's geniune, unending love in its purest form.

That gets me to thinking of this book I have read repeatedly and an idea about love that truly speaks to me. It's a YA novel by Bruce and Carole Hart called "Strut" that I have loved since I was so much younger than I am now (partly because of the main character- Holly Hanna is 17, redheaded and she wanted to be a rockstar.) All the women in her family have had paranormal experiences and well, her dream is helped along by the sudden appearance of the ghost of a rockstar named Jasper Rollins, who died in the 60's. He and Holly determine he has "unfinished" business on this earth and he's certain his unfinished business is to help Holly become a rockstar because his career was cut short by his untimely death.

The thing that got me was what her aunt tells her about the women in their family and ghosts with unfinished business and the belief that every soul has a destiny- to love and be loved, to know the sorrow of a love that isn't meant to be and the joy of a love that's returned in kind.

That "theory" has stuck with me for years and it helps to think of it when the idea of real, honest happiness and love seems to slip through the fabric of my understanding.

Thank you Shrek and Fiona- for reminding me yesterday of the thing I so often forget....when it all boils down to it, it's always about love- love of the forever after kind.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Round-Up for the Weeds of Doubt

Indeed it seems my posts are getting fewer and farther between these days. I can't concentrate and I don't really have anything to say in regard to my writing or the craft of writing. I guess that's why I don't post much- don't want to bore anyone to tears with my whining and complaints like some little old lady complaining about all my aches and pains. LOL

In the past few weeks I've lost it...my mojo...my drive...my desire to work on writing, edits, critiques and its spilling over into driving and other areas of my life, etc. I'm not feeling like my normally chipper self...but instead feel lackadaisical and lost- it's nearly the end of the school year for my kids so distractions abound and hubby's new job schedule has altered our routines here at home, too. Just seems there have been a lot of changes so far this year and the only purpose it serves is to throw me completely off-kilter.

So where's the motivation? Where's my muse and my inspiration to accomplish whatever I put my mind to?

I guess some of it goes back to a realization I need to do an overhaul on one of my novels and I also turned my attention to another one for a different purpose. Add to that, I honestly can't remember the last time I went driving. Grown woman that I am, I will sadly admit that it's been so long (at least 2-3 weeks) I'm a bit nervous about getting behind the wheel again. Same old fears have started niggling in the back of my mind and have me choking at the idea of getting in the driver's seat.

I also find I'm mentally cutting "me" down a lot recently.. It's not intentional, but I find myself wondering why I bother, why I do what I do. Probably why I have a lack of motivation...I doubt myself and those seeds~ once planted~ have sprouted into nasty weeds that are twisted and mangled around all hope and belief in myself, strangling out all that's good and right around me and attempting a hostile takeover.

I know it's a downward spiral and I need to shake it off rather than wallow in it, so its time to pull out the weedeater and nip it in the bud...That, or find some Round-Up to kill the weeds of doubt at their roots because I'm tired of feeling this way.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When It Rains...

It pours...
It really does.. this was a puddle that accumulated on our front sidewalk within minutes of me putting the kids on the bus yesterday morning. My front yard was waterlogged and there was a small river running down the slope on the other side of our driveway where the drainage pipe runs under the road from the neighbor's yard across the road so the road doesn't turn into a lake right there.(Not that it helps because if it rains enough, the water stands there.)

It was pouring down rain, while I was taking photos and I had no sooner stepped inside than it quit, just as quickly as it came.

This past week wasn't very eventful or spectacular. I spent the first part of the week working on critiques for a couple of other ladies and on my own work. Midweek I succumbed to one of my dreaded migraine headaches. The following day I took a break from critiquing to rest my eyes because I was still suffering a migraine hangover and the threat of a new one. That was also the only day I could have gone driving, but I just felt too foggy/groggy-headed to be behind the wheel of a car.

Today I'm just taking it easy. Hubby's at work and might possibly have to work a 12 hour shift, so it's just me and Girly Girl, watching Phineas and Ferb and hanging out. Grass is too wet to mow right now and in all honestly, I've slacked off my exercise the past week or two. I guess since the week my uncle passed and I need to get back at it, so I'm hoping my husband skips mowing on Sunday so I can mow on Monday and get some exercise by doing the work.

He uses the riding mower for the majority of our large yard and I know a lot of people think I'm insane to use the gas push mower when I do it, but I need to the leg work, the exertion and it gives me time to think behind the roar of the mower with my music cranked. I jam out, but it also gives me time to think.

Here's hoping Monday gets me back to the exercise because I also intend to get back on the Gazelle starting next week.

Nearly lunch time and I'm off and gone- grab a little something to eat and then I'm going to work on revisions.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wow! Has It Been That Long?

It's been what, about 3 weeks since I last posted a blog on here?

Life had been hectic and filled with personal issues, computer problems, a death, my husband's sleep study for sleep apnea and my determination to get back to writing in a more serious way.

I'm still dealing with finding focus in my life and that covers everything in the grand scope of things—inner struggles I have to quietly work on for myself.

I have been out practicing my driving though and our computer issues were all because of two drivers that had gone bad and the fact that we were getting blue screen errors because of updates for a program on the computer that we only had the trial of. Removed that program and the blue screen stopped popping up and everything else seems good, though I don't want to speak too soon. (Mercury is still retro till the 11th and even though it won't be direct until around the 27th, I believe.)

My uncle lost his battle with cancer and passed the last of April. We made the trip up for the memorial and though we had known he was terminal for a while, it still hits me every once in a while that I need to not take anything for granted in my life. My uncle wasn't even 60 years old yet and it reminds me that life really is short and you just never know when your time will come.

My husband's sleep study this past Tuesday hasn't been fully diagnosed but the lady told him he does have bad apnea. They had to put a C-PAP on him only an hour after he'd gone to sleep. In fact, he was surprised because he didn't know he'd even fallen asleep, but she said he was snoring really bad and then he stopped breathing. He breathed better through the rest of the night and didn't' stop breathing anymore, but she told him they could tell he never dreamed in the night. She said that's not good because it's when you hit the deep REMs and dream that your body finally shuts down and can heal from illness as well as just the simple day to day wear and tear on our bodies from work, life, etc.

He will still have to go back to the doctor so they can set him up with a machine I guess. Not exactly sure what treatment they'll give him just yet. Still kind of scary though to think how close to death he is every time he goes to sleep and stops breathing. The doctor told him during the consultation that he believed it was severe apnea and that without treatment he would die. Here's hoping he listens to a doctor for once and does what he's told, the stubborn thing. LOL

In the mean time, I've finally been able to start working with my critique group and finding that these ladies all have brilliant minds and wonderful stories to tell. I find I'm in exceptional company and am so looking forward to working with them more and more because they inspire me. When I'm not working on theirs or mine, I'm trying to beautify my yard with new annuals in the flower boxes out front and perennials in the yard. Perhaps the next time I post I will include some floral visuals as well.

Back to work now, even on the weekend! Write on and have a wonderful weekend...and...

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful women out there! May your Mother's Day be filled with time to slow down, enjoy your families and just breathe....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The View is Different from the Driver's Seat

I'm embarking on a new journey in my life and I find that the view is different from the driver's seat.

And nerve-wracking!

I finally got my nerve up after about a month of having my permit and doing nothing with it and got behind the wheel yesterday.

And I drove around, hubby in tow, for about an hour and a half. Drove all over the outskirts of our small town to get me comfortable and I even left the county and drove down to Barren River Lake.

I can't say I wasn't scared—I was. And I'm scared of the next time I go out driving. Most would probably think I'm too old to be scared like this, but as I said in my blog post On The Road Again this year is a year of living bravely and I hate to admit that since I got my permit and then got sick the middle of last month, I haven't been very brave at all since then. I'm sure that the fear wears off after a bit of practice, but....

After we went through a month where each of us in the house were sick, my defenses are down and for me, being sick did nothing more than leave me feeling weak and tired and unmotivated in nearly EVERYTHING. My mini-vacation for Spring Break just left me wishing I had more time to simply relax and visit in my hometown, but responsibilities called me back. Kids have school to finish up and I have a household to take care of.

I had a nice time while I was up visiting my family and friends. I always do because it's where I'm the most "ME"- where I feel the most freedom and happiness- It's the place where I can breathe and feel brave and grounded again, which is something I haven't in a long while. Leaving from there always hurts just a little too much because my roots are there.

But I digress...

I need to find my bravery again and that also hearkens back to my lack of focus recently. Driving yesterday gave me about an hour and a half of time to direct my concentration- to do something that forced me to live bravely and focus—on the road ahead. I'm not sure if I mean that literally or figuratively, but I suspect it's a little of both.

I had a week away and I've had a week to try to get back into the routine, so I think starting today, this coming week— it's time to start focusing on the road ahead of me...not just when I go out to practice driving, but in everything. It's time to "force" myself to live bravely again and find focus in all things in my life. As my mom told me a while back, I need to make a plan and work that plan. If I want to make changes or see changes in my life to make me happy and get me where I want to go, I have to actually do something about it.

Hopefully I'll find that the view from the driver's seat becomes less scary—awkward—foreign and more like second nature—something common place and normal for me.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Writing Life Out of Focus

Springtime, warmer days, pretty flowers, Life- are all knocking me out of focus.

I can't seem to concentrate or get my head back into what I should be doing now that Spring Break has come and gone. The break away didn't do anything to help redirect my train of thought or help settle the rumblings of change in my soul as far as writing/critiquing goes.

Instead I'm thinking about how I need to declutter the house, keep an eye on my spring flowers in the yard that are starting to come up, anticipating the imminent arrival of the hummingbirds and looking back over March, which was such a sick month for everyone in our household and it doesn't seem to be getting any better where health issues are concerned.

I'm okay- typical stuff- allergies/sinuses. Hubby though is still fighting off illness. First of the year he got debris in his eye at his previous job and had to deal with the infection that arose from it. Last month he had a bacterial infection in his lungs but they also decided to check everything else—diabetes and thyroid tests came back fine, but they were concerned about his constant fatigue lowering his immune system, his excessively high resting heart rate and well, he's had pneumonia a few times in the past 5 years, so the doctors are always concerned about the scarring on his lungs and the fact that he's had it too often for his lungs to heal properly. Of course, the exhaustion led them to ask questions about his sleep habits and whether he snores, wakes up a lot and how big his neck is.

After measurements, chest x-rays and a consultation with a sleep doctor, he was told his esophagus is too small and his tongue is too big and the reason he wakes up off and on all night, it's because his brain is waking him up because he's suffocating on his tongue. His heart rate is high because it's working overtime for him and we found an answer to why Ambien never worked for him years ago-

When he had pneumonia in 2006, the doctors gave him that to help him sleep and instead it was the absolute reverse, it kept him wide awake. The sleep doctor told him it was because that pill, and most like it, is a muscle relaxer and your tongue is a muscle, so when he took the pills, his brain refused to let him sleep because of the possible consequences. He will have to go to a sleep study sometime soon, but the doctor seems certain he has sleep apnea and when he asked what would happen if he chose to go without treatment, the doctor told him he will die.

Of course, just when we thought things were settling down, he got a staph infection in his nose and we've been dealing with it this week. It wasn't getting better after the first round of antibiotic treatments over 3 days time—if his nose was still swollen, red and irritated they told him to come back to the doctor so he went yesterday. They were concerned because it had spread onto his face and up into his sinuses and they were worried about it moving into his brain and killing him, so they sent him to an ear/nose/throat doctor who changed the antibiotics and ointments up to something stronger.

This morning he said he's been able to drain the infection out some and his nose isn't nearly as red and swollen as it was, so we're hoping this helps and gets him on the road to recovery.

As with most things, you can't plan ahead too far- we live Life unwritten and out of focus most of the time as it is, so perhaps my writing is out of focus at the moment, but I've had to turn my attention elsewhere because that IS Life and we sometimes have to write Life out of focus anyway.

Have a great Friday and wonderful weekend everyone- Write On- whether in OR out of focus!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Voices...

It's happening again...

The voices.

No, I'm not paranoid or schizophrenic...It's just the voices of characters crawling out of the woodwork and milling around in my head...

I kid you not.

This isn't the first time and probably won't be the last. The biggest difference is that I'm hearing male characters introducing themselves instead of my heroines.

The other night I heard a couple of names, but now they are only mist- I can't capture them, but I got the distinct impression they are part of new stories my psyche is attempting to introduce me to. As if I don't already have a dozen or more ideas buzzing around my head that I've yet to write...now I have new fellas trying to get my attention...

Flattering, don't ya think? LOL

I even had a villain introduce himself to me yesterday. I know he's a hard ass and he isn't a great guy, but that's all he gave me at the moment. Just a name and a general idea of who he is, but not where he is, or what he does for a living...I did a "bing" search of the name and found no one with that name specifically, but I did find a man with that first name working for a construction company with the last name and wonder if perhaps construction should be his line of business.

I know bits and pieces about construction workers...my father is one and I could ask him questions about the business if this character "grows" into something massive...but then, I couldn't have him be the business mogul over a construction company by that name...so I guess I'll have to wait it out and see...

As of right now, he's just a dusty little particle floating in the ether around me, waiting for me to figure out where he belongs. And the same could be said for the mystery men who introduced themselves the other night as I was just about to doze off. Wish I could remember what their names were and what glimpses I got from them of ideas. It's still there in the back of my mind I'm sure, just a matter of finding the right net to catch those fleeting butterflies.

I do believe the inspiration that has been hibernating within me is awakening again. My dreams in recent weeks have been far more vivid than usual and far more absurd. I dreamed of Ewan McGregor playing in a movie where he was a plain man in prison for a crime he didn't commit, but he was in there with infamous criminals and villains like Adolph Hitler and Al Capone.

I know what you're thinking— This chick's CRAZY!— but I never said it made sense! LOL

Last night the most significant thing I remember from my dream was that I was pregnant and telling someone that I couldn't lose my weight until after I had the baby in December. {scrunched eyebrows}

Now- I'm not pregnant and I don't plan to be, but in dreams, pregnancy doesn't always mean it in the literal sense.

Sometimes it means you are "pregnant" or heavy with new ideas that are about to be "born" or are growing within you.

Now that actually makes sense to me with how vivid my dreams have been lately and all the voices that are emerging and wanting to talk to me. The month I'm not sure about, but I do feel like I've got a lot of "unknowns" swirling within me- roiling and bubbling there- things I haven't yet gotten a grasp on, but I will...perhaps by the end of the year...

Now that's a thought...

Hey voices! Keep talking!

Hope everyone has a great start to their week...March has nearly marched itself right on out of here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Walking, Talking Contradiction

I feel like an enigma to myself sometimes.

I try not to be skeptical in regard to love and romance. I mean, really...if I didn't believe in it, I wouldn't write it, but there are times when I wonder how much of it is a great lost art and find myself scoffing at the cheesiness of movies and stories that I would normally love and need a box of tissues for. It makes me question why I'm straddling the fence between being a hopeless romantic and a cold-hearted cynic.

It's then I start to wonder when I lost my touch. I used to have it...I would swear to it! I used to know how to flirt and get a response. It was second nature- not that I was some sort of seductress or anything...but I had my fair share of men who were attracted to me in my youth.

So what happened???

It bewilders me how I can describe the perfect kiss, the pulse pounding first flirtation, the soul binding connection of a love scene, but when I try to flirt with my husband, it falls flat and isn't taken seriously.

Of course, that could be because I am confusing fantasy and reality—Youthful ignorant bliss with the sober naked truth about relationships between men and women. I'm feeling a bit jaded today.

I'd like to strip away the delusions and find the purity and beauty of love again, for I fear I've lost it somewhere beneath the layers of motherhood, of being a "spouse" more than a lover, and the simple complexities of living life day to day without giving any real thought or meditation to really LIVING and FEELING.

I live in this void- caught somewhere between this paradox of ambiguity....Accepting that I feel nothing most of the time but a sense of responsibility to everyone around me but myself.

When life slows down momentarily and I find pause to really contemplate where I am, who I am, and what I'm doing with my life, I find myself wishing I could feel the way I have before- in the past.

I wish to feel the freedom and wild abandon I once did when I loved without reservation- when I loved with all my heart without question. When a flirty touch of the hand or a quirky smile could set my pulse racing and looking into the eyes of the man I loved could nearly pound my heart right out of my chest because we belonged to each other and we both KNEW it without a shadow of a doubt. It was destiny- fate....

The soft pressure of his lips on mine could send a quake through me—a quickening—and when his hand rested over my left breast at the very same moment he looked deep into my eyes, I knew he could feel my heart beating in time with his, forever beautiful, forever bound to one another. It was hard to separate where one of us ended and the other began, but I lost that somewhere.

I believe in love- I really do- I believe in the happily-ever-after kind and I believe in soul-mates, but I also know that losing your soul-mate destroys a part of you and it screws up your ability to believe in those happily-ever-afters. Maybe that's why I find myself mocking true love and romance so often. Maybe that's why I sometimes struggle so hard when I'm writing because I'm not sure I believe it anymore and I don't understand why I bother to write about it because it feels like ancient mythology to me. Maybe that's why I lost my mojo- my touch.

So now—when my husband doesn't take me serious when I flirt with him, I feel like the brunt of a really bad joke. I want to feel needed—wanted—accepted and desired. I want to feel that ethereal glow and the beauty of a deep abiding connection again, but instead I get teased.

Nothing hurts an already damaged heart more than being scoffed and poked at. Or worse yet- disregarded as silly foolishness...especially by the one who is supposed to guard and protect that heart forevermore, who's supposed to understand that human touch and interaction is a necessity for the heart to carry on. Maybe it's neediness—desperation—but it matters.

It really does...even to a walking, talking contradiction....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Shades of Blue, Shades of Me....

I tend to paint my nails blue— A lot.

I'm not a major girly-girl even though I love to read and write romance. I love sappy chick flicks, but I hate dresses and don't normally wear them or high heels unless I absolutely have to. I honestly can't remember the last time I wore a dress unless it was part of a costume and the closest I come to anything girly on my feet are strappy leather sandals in the summer.

I do wear make-up, but I'm not a huge jewelry buff. I wear earrings and my wedding ring set, but otherwise, I'm really a plain Jane-T-shirt & jeans kinda gal, though I have been known to wear a bead bracelet from time to time or mini metallic butterfly clips in my hair when I'm feeling free-spirited and bohemian.

So that's where nail polish comes into play. It's my one girly outlet when it comes to health and beauty.

I LOVE nail polish—in all shades~ pinks, reds, silvers, purples, greens, but most of all in shades of blue. I generally stick the most with dark metallic or iridescent blues that most would describe as "midnight" or as the case may be with the shade I'm wearing today- it's an "All Night Long" blue (quite similar to the shade pictured)

I didn't realize just what a big part blue plays in my life and my stories until I was swiping my nails down with the polish this morning. Several of my heroines have blue eyes...I'm sure that partly comes from the fact that I have blue eyes and because once upon a time, I was told I had the most amazing baby blues by the love of my life. But I digress....

Blue is most definitely a comfort for me but I can't seem to pinpoint why that is exactly. I love pale blue skies in the spring, blue butterflies, flowers, blue lights at Christmas. There's something serene about the color blue, the clarity, the intuitive spiritual nature of it.

And then it dawned on me. My heroine in my current WIP is earthy and artsy and she wears a thin blue braid in her red hair. There's significance in that, but to mention it would be to give away too much of the story, too much of her character. But there's a reason for it and it's something she draws comfort from.

I guess what they say is true of writers...we tend to weave bits of ourselves into our characters- sometimes not even realizing we do it until much later, if at all. When I write I weave shades of blue into the fibers of each story and in doing so, I weave in shades of me.....

Monday, March 22, 2010

What a Character!

Bless her heart, my heroine tried to fill me in on what is supposed to happen next in her story—just as I was dozing off last night.

She pointed out a few directions things could go, but all I could do was nod in agreement and tell her I'll take care of it as soon as I'm able. She wanted to chat me up though, offering suggestions and ideas and made it hard for me to go to sleep.

I really do want to get back to writing. Since I've been sick, I feel like I'm completely out of it. I hate being sick with a passion because when you get sick like this, it feels like you're NEVER going to get over it.

My husband's health is also in question at the moment, as well. He left work Friday to go to the doctor because he was coughing his head off and while there, they started asking him questions in regard to his sleep, whether he snores or stops breathing in his sleep, whether he stays tired. They measured his neck and said they were concerned about sleep apnea, which could kill him if it gets worse. They gave him a shot and medicine for a bacterial infection and then sent off blood work to be tested because they're concerned also about his thyroid and the possibility of diabetes. I'm waiting on a call today from their office for the results of that.

Boy, when it rains it pours, doesn't it? Both our kids have been sick recently as well and my mother and I joked yesterday that perhaps we're getting all the illness out of the way at the beginning of the year so we'll be great the rest of 2010! LOL I can only hope that is the case! :D

I have finished up my antibiotics for the sinus infection, but I still feel a lot of pressure in my sinuses so I'm not sure it really helped clear it up. I have discovered that switching back to the over-the-counter medicine I was using for my sinuses works better than what the doctor gave me. I still have 3 more doses of the Prednisone and I'm still using the inhaler. I'm noticing a slow clearing of the congestion in my chest and throat area, but I still sound rough when I speak. I told my husband that if I could get back to sounding like "me" I'd know I'm starting to get better.

I'm working on getting laundry caught up and am thinking I might just slink off into my writing den since I haven't been there in a while, and open the current WIP and find out what my heroine was jabbering about after all.

Have a wonderful start to your week- it might not feel like it or look like it, but Spring is here!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Let Me Pull Myself Together

It's been over a week now since I first got sick.

I went to the doctor yesterday and found out that I had red irritated sinuses—infection—as well as bronchitis. It's no wonder I've been dead on my feet.

The doc gave me a 5 day treatment of antibiotics to clear up my sinus infection along with some day and night sinus pills to take instead of the OTC stuff I'd been taking. Also prescribed a 9 day Prednisone treatment for my bronchitis and an Albuterol inhaler to help open me up and help me breath because the congestion in my lungs was so bad. Just glad I went before I ended up hospitalized with pneumonia or something.

I'm in a medicated haze right now and not loving the inhaler at all. Makes me extremely jittery and edgy. I did sleep better last night than I have in about a week, even though I had to get up off and on to sip water to sooth my throat and tame the coughing. The congestion is breaking up, finally. Still feel like a mouth-breather though. Haha!

To add to the dopey haze I'm in, my characters from the current story are coming to the forefront now and wanting to be chatty. I haven't written anything in the week I've been sick and I feel bad about that cause I was at a really great place- had reached one of the climatic scenes that could make or break the relationship and then, boom- I got sick.

Suddenly my characters are not being very patient about waiting for me to get back to them. All the time I haven't been able to get them to talk to me or tell me their story in more detail when I could have and should have been writing and then I get sick and they don't want to shut up. It's almost comical, it's very ironic and ultimately annoying because I can't think straight enough to pull it together until I can pull me together.

Time to go rest before I mix up dough for dumplings to go with the chicken for supper. Here's hoping I'll be pulled together more in a few days and can get back to what I need to be doing.

Here's to good health all around for everyone as Spring begins!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tip Me Over and Pour Me Out...

Yeah...cause I'm a little teapot...at least I feel that way right now. Drip, Drip, Drip...

I've been suffering with my sinuses for nearly a week now. Got my permit renewed and haven't even been able to go out for any practice because I've been sick. Trust me- even if it weren't for all the different kinds of medication I've been taking to try to shake this, I'm still not capable of handling large machinery in this fuzzy state of mind.

I haven't even been able to write—honestly haven't cared if I do or not at the moment, because I can't get around the fog in my head to put much together. I've gone through an entire big box of tissues by myself and I'm working on box #2 as we speak. I'm finding it highly impossible to believe ONE person's head could have so much drainage- and yet just when I think I'm dried out- here I sit feeling like Niagara Falls. And Niagara Falls has run down my throat into my chest too, so there's a lot of congestion going on between head and lungs and I'm miserable!

Over the weekend I took the advice of couple of friends who recommended a neti-pot. Mind you, I'd seen Olivia try one on Attack of the Show and it didn't look good. Basically you pour saline solution from one nostril, through your sinus cavities and it comes out the other side. I don't like squirting nasal spray up my nose, but I decided anything was better than doing nothing, especially since this isn't squirting, but allowing gravity to work for me so it would be less invasive. So I bought one at Wally World.

It's nothing fancy- just a small blue plastic teapot looking thing. It came with pre-mixed packets of a PH-balanced saline solution that you mix with 8 oz of water. Okay. That's great. Next comes the fun part- pouring it through your nose!

Tip me over and pour me out- it's not just the neti-pot that has to be tipped. Tilting my head to the side but not so far that I'm tilting my head back and then holding my mouth open, breathing and cawing like a blackbird has to be the most NON-GLAMOROUS thing I've ever had to do. And yes,...I said cawing like a blackbird. The instructions say that you should make a KHA sound while you're doing this. That sure sounds like CAW to me! LOL

My 7 year old daughter came to the bathroom doorway the first time I was doing it and said, "You look SO weird doing that!" Yeah....ya think?

Mind you, for all the poking fun at the method, it does work and you can do this twice a day. Unfortunately for me, as mentioned above, the drainage doesn't seem to have an end, so just when I think I've cleared my head, it starts all over again.

To top that off, I think mine has already started to escalate into a sinus infection, so I'm not sure I should continue to do it too often till I see a doctor, cause I don't know if all the neti-pot action in the world can clear the infection without some antibiotics for backup and I'd hate to make it worse.

So, I say- Here's to the neti-pot for giving me a few moments of clarity here and there and here's to getting better very soon! Have a great rest of the week everyone!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Me!

It has officially been 1 year since I quit smoking.

Living smoke free hasn't been terribly hard. No- not nearly has hard as I first imagined it would be before I decided to give up smoking.

I guess, for me, it was made easier by the fact that I was ready. I was sick of smoking. I didn't enjoy it anymore the way I did when I was younger. I couldn't see wasting money on it anymore and I knew it would be healthier for all of us in the house in the long run.

Mind you, the weight gain has been a massive blow to my self-confidence, but I'm working on that and today I'm not feeling so great because I've been sick with my sinuses the past 5 days. Used a neti-pot to clean my sinuses out, but I've got some chest congestion and coughing that just won't quit. LOL

It's the strangest thing I will point out here- I don't remember my sinuses being THIS bad when I was a smoker. Perhaps it was because my nasal cavity was always "clogged" up with nicotine/smoke. Maybe smoking sort of "deadened" my senses. My nasal passages are definitely more sensitive to odors and scents now and I guess that's why sinus issues seem more difficult to get through. I think I'm slowly feeling better, but after I get the kids on the bus, I think I'm going to go back to bed for a bit and get the rest I just haven't been getting lately.

Have a wonderful Monday!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On The Road Again

I'm a slacker I guess you could say. A lot of people have given me those bizarre looks over the years because I don't have my driver's license. Truth is, I just never felt it was a necessity for me because when I lived in my hometown, I walked EVERYWHERE I needed to go and if I couldn't, I had family and friends who could get me where I needed to go.

I've thought about it- numerous times, but fear has always gotten me in this regard. I've always felt like something bad would happen if I get behind the wheel of a car. No joke...it hits my gut like a ton of brick.

In 2001 when I moved away I had my permit, but I still felt I didn't have to be in a big hurry because I lived out in the country and if I needed to go somewhere, my hubby could take me since I wasn't going to work outside the home.

When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I let my permit expire about a month later. I was scared to drive while pregnant, so I just let it go and didn't think about it. My daughter is now 7 years old. I've had friends and family attempt to encourage me to get my permit renewed and get my license so that I would have more freedom and independence, that I would be able to be more mobile if needed for emergencies or traveling or whatever, etc.

I was so scared though. I love my family and my friends, and I know they all have good intentions, but fear strangled me and made me put it off SO many times over they years.

Then two days ago, my daughter came home from school and said she had dreamed the other night that I drove her to school and came back to pick her up. She said- "It was so weird Mommy because you don't have your driver's license."

I couldn't SLEEP that night for thinking about it. It actually kept me awake. When I got up yesterday morning, I hunted up the driver's manual I had from a few years ago when I had contemplated getting my permit once before. I checked online with the Department of Transportation to make sure it was current and then I spent ALL day refreshing my memory of the rules of the road, etc.

It didn't take much. I finished reading it just a little after lunch time and I still know most of it because a lot of it is common sense. Years ago I passed the written without missing any of the questions, so I felt confident I could do this and so- today I did.

I now have a learner's permit again. I haven't driven yet since we left the courthouse, but I now have the right to and I need to get my behind in gear and get in as much practice as I can. I can go for the driving test in a month, but I'm a bit rusty, so I might need a little bit longer, but we'll see.

This all ties back into the idea I mentioned at the end of the other blog I wrote earlier about 2010 being my year for living bravely. I have let fear scare me out of doing a LOT of things over these past several years. Some for reasons I can explain and some I can't, either because I don't know, or because it's just too personal to me.

I was thinking about it earlier today though and realized that I actually used to be somewhat brave—or braver than I am now—I used to take chances, I didn't settle for what was there but reached for a little bit more. I've settled into what's "safe" and that is NOT a comfortable place to be when you want to live your life to the fullest.

Already I feel like I'm making massive changes I wouldn't have before....getting my permit again is just one of them...just like quitting smoking was almost a year ago. For today, the permit was the biggest change I've made. That was a huge step—in and of itself. Tomorrow...we'll see what happens next.

I've got to cast off the fear that's shrouded me all these years. I want to live and breath and find my joy and happiness...if it takes me stepping COMPLETELY out of my protective shell, then I'm going to do it. I can't spread my wings if I stay in the cocoon and I think I've been hiding in it for far too long.

That's why it's time...It's simply TIME...