Friday, December 16, 2011

Fun Friday Feature- Kentucky Blues by Cat Shaffer

What happens when your first love, the one who broke your heart almost 17 years ago, moves in with your mother and the town gossips make sure you catch wind of it? You head home to put a kink in his hose and make sure your Mom isn't having a mid-life crisis affair with the one man who's ever had your heart.

As chummy as Sam and her mother are together, Elise soon finds out that perhaps things aren't always what they seem, especially when everyone's keeping secrets, old and new. In a tale about old flames, secrets and the lengths you will go to protect those you love, this is a heartwarming story that WON'T give you the "Kentucky Blues." ;)

Kentucky Blues

Author: Cat Shaffer
www.catshaffer.com

Published by Turquoise Morning Press
www.turquoisemorningpress.com

Blurb:

Elise Drummond never forgot her first love—and never expected to learn via the grapevine that he was back in Brookville and living with her mother. Sam McCade had broken her heart, and she wasn’t about to let him destroy her mother’s as well. A quick trip back to Kentucky to lay down the law and she could head back to the safe life she’d built for herself in Kansas City.

When Sam McCade went “on the run” in the middle of the night to save his sister from her abusive husband, there was only one person he could trust to help them, Hannah Drummond. He expected the local gossips to have a field day with his return to Brookville, but he never dreamed Elise would roll into town to check out the situation for herself.

And he certainly never imagined that in order to save his sister, Elise would be willing to sacrifice herself as the pawn in a dangerous game of catch the monster when his brother-in-law decides to take back what he wants—no matter who stands in his way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I can honestly say this story held my attention from the first moment I pulled it up on my Kindle for PC- I started it one night and finished it the next morning. It's a quick but wonderful read and Cat has an amazing way with description that sucks you right into the story. I'm proud to be able to call her my Chapter mate in KYRW and a fellow TMP-pubbed author. She'd definitely good writing company!

I will say this- It was as if I were there in the backyard when Sam's tilling the flowerbed for Elise's mother and Cat set the scenes perfectly. As someone who lived near Lexington the majority of my life and know that gorgeous rolling countryside of Central Kentucky and love it with all my heart and soul, I have to say she hooked me from the beginning. I still live in Kentucky, but further south and she had me homesick for the small town atmosphere, the sense of love and togetherness of being close to my family and friends and my roots, she had me missing those trips to Joseph Beth Booksellers and the aromas of books and paper and fresh brewed coffee that surround you as you browse the shelves for the perfect read. I was living in the moment with Elise and Sam, laughing and tearing up at the moments and sensations that are so familiar, it was as if they were pulled from the pages of my own youth.

Definitely a great read! Click the cover image above to purchase it today on Amazon, in print or for Kindle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Lucky #13


Today is my baby girl's 9th birthday. Born on Friday the 13th and she is my luckiest #13.

My due date was December 24th, but I had a feeling my child would be born earlier, simply because of the Friday the 13th in that same month. For me, there is significance in the where, when, and why my daughter was born that day.

I remember this morning, those 9 years ago. We didn't know how my appointment was going to go, though I had an appointment at 11:45 with my doctor and I just knew something was going to happen that day. I'd been dilated 3 centimeters since November 26th. I had already visited my doctor twice since December started, appointments just days apart because my doctor thought for sure I would go into labor around the 6th, but I didn't, so 3rd time had to be a charm.

The appointment revealed I was at 5 centimeters, so the doc sent me on over to L&D to get prepped. By 1, my water was broken, by 2 I headed into active labor.

By 3:21 PM, after about only an hour and a half of active labor, I had my daughter. I remember laughing and smiling down into her red, squalling face and telling my husband that she looked just like her older brother, my stepson, who had just turned 4 two days before.

My daughter's entrance into the world has set the stage for her personality. She was in a hurry, came into the world on a countdown (3:21= 3, 2, 1 Blast off!) and she hasn't slowed down yet. She runs headlong at anything she wants to do and she has a strong stubborn streak, but she's smart as a tack, too and I'm so proud of her for recently being admitted into the gifted pool at school.

She's my blessing and has given Friday the 13th even more meaning in my life. There's no way it could be unlucky- not for me.

My grandfather was released from the Army, Friday December 13th, 1946, after World War II. He always said it was his lucky day. Sadly, my grandfather never got to see his great-granddaughter, but she has a connection to him, as far as I'm concerned and it will always be MY lucky day, too.

It's not on a Friday this year, but it still feels lucky to me.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fun Friday Feature- R├Žliksen by Renee Vincent

Good Friday morning!

Isn't this a gorgeous cover? Doesn't it make you want to escape to the Emerald Isle and lose yourself in a story from long ago. Imagine- an Irish Princess and a Viking chieftain—will their love survive their differences?

I'm reading this on my Kindle for PC- you can read it, too- in print or on your Kindle. Click the image above to go check it out on Amazon. If you've read and enjoyed this book, don't forget to give it a nice little clicky "Like" on Amazon, as well.

And don't forget the rest of the Trilogy- Book Two- Mac Liam and Book Three- The Fall of Rain- all available now from Turquoise Morning Press.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yesterday is History...

Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present. Why does December always seem to just fly by?

But, speaking of present(s)- a glance at the calendar this morning is a cheery reminder that in less than week we'll have a teenage boy on our hands. I've been in his life since he was 2 1/2 and I love him as my own, but I don't love the eye-rolling that's been going on now for more than year, though he's not 13- at least not yet. I'm wondering already if the attitude will worsen, or is his at its peak?

Add to the mix a soon to be 9-year-old, who seems older than she is sometimes, and is now in the gifted program at school, as well, further proving she's smart as a tack and unfortunately, she's WELL aware of it. LOL I believe her new nickname should be the Little Professor, for she also thinks she's knows all and sees all! She and her older brother make quite the pair!

Today I need to get their presents wrapped and probably tuck them under the Christmas tree- birthday wrappings and all- just to taunt them that they still have a few days before they can open them.

In the mean time, I'm doing well, enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family and realized that its been nearly a month since I posted my last blog, so I thought it time to get current and up-to-date. Mailed my Christmas cards and the "family newsletter," which was different this year with the addition of info about signing my contract for Castaway Hearts and how life as a writer has altered somewhat.

We got the Christmas shopping done and now we just have cookies and treats to make for a few family and friends. My gums are healing great and I feel a LOT better than I have in months.

In my writing corner, things are settled down and edits are done, so now it's galley time for me and the editor, soon as we hear back from the powers that be. We're moving right along.

Now---if we can just "make it through December"- everything's gonna be all right and I'll hopefully find my rhythm again and get back in the groove.

Have a great Wednesday and swing back by here Friday if you get the chance to check out a new thing I'm hoping to remember to do every week- Fun Feature Friday where I'll be sharing a book recommendation and introducing you to some of my fellow TMP authors. It will be great and wonderful fun, so stay tuned.

Ya'll come back now, ya hear?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Come Sail Away With Me

Edits for Castaway Hearts are nearly done. Editor and I did an editing chat yesterday to tie up a few minor details and agreed that we'll now set it aside for a 2-week breathing period and not look at it at all in that time. Then we'll do another read through, fix any smudges and then, fingers crossed, it is off to become a galley! After that, the release won't be long behind. I know I should be looking forward to Christmas, New Year's, my birthday in February, etc, but I'm already looking forward to Spring and the release!

I'm getting eager to see and share my cover art with you. I will as soon as I receive it and have the go ahead to share. Hehehe! I also need to prep a small "dedication" for the book, too. That is proving harder than I imagined! LOL I'm not going to list everyone I have ever known, but I want to make sure I include who and what I feel are the most pertinent for me on a very personal level.


Right now, I have time on my hands, but that time will not go unused. This coming Monday, I have an appointment for tooth extractions. Not looking forward to it, but I'd rather have them out than have to continue with the pain, headaches and misery I've dealt with for the past 7 months or so.

In that downtime while my gums heal, I plan to take it easy. I'm going to imagine the tropical view above and pretend I'm there, the roar of the surf at the edge of the sand, the warm sunlight coaxing me into a nap in the shade of an umbrella while seagulls caw off in the distance of that clear blue sky, a book in one hand and a Mojito in the other.

Meanwhile, back in reality, I'll just settle in on the couch and use my time to read a few books and maybe tackle filling out my Christmas cards and envelopes and look forward to being able to EAT at Thanksgiving! LOL Once I feel like being on the computer, I'll probably dig into other manuscript edits or work on the WIP. Have a great one!
Have a wonderful Hump Day!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Rage Against the Dying of the Light


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
~Dylan Thomas

Fall is still having it out with Summer, vying for whose turn it is to shine. We've had some mornings where it's freezing when I put my children on the bus, but by afternoon, they've shed jackets for temperatures in the 70s and 80s and come running into the house squawking about how "hot" it is.

I crank up the heaters when I roll out of bed and by midday, I'm sweating bullets and turning them all down, if not off. By next morning, I'm cold all over again and adding socks to my wardrobe, even if I'm planning to be in the house all day.

There's a blanket of golden orange and russet on my lawn. The trees stand proud in their state of undress and until Wednesday, these roses (pictured above) were weathering the temperature spikes with the stubbornness of a mule- determined to show off their pretty dressings just one more time before Fall and Winter put them to sleep for months. Not even the frost deterred them or killed their will to survive. Nope...

Dressed in satiny soft petals, they shivered on those freezing mornings, raging against the dying of the light, indeed! I finally decided if they were that determined, I would rescue them. Safe in a vase, nestled together, their skirts are blossoming and they will finish their dance, at least for this story.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's been a while, I know. Since the last blog post I've been busy. I received my first round of edits, and there were quite a few things to work on. The great thing about writing- I'm constantly learning about myself as a writer, about my strengths and weaknesses and learning how to build and mold them to my advantage. It takes perseverance and determination in this business, much like my roses striving to bloom amidst bitterly cold temperatures. I'm dressed in MY strong will and thick skin, baring my soul in the written word rather than the freezing cold, but just the same, I'll do so with stubborn determination to get my dance in. Others must examine and pick the bones, help remove what doesn't work and sometimes you have to build new foundations and add support beams to help smooth it into a work of art that can stand on its own. So far, so good. I have a wonderful editor who is helping make it the best it can be.

So, I spent my time taking care of that through the end of October and got it back to my editor. I still keep thinking about NaNo, but instead of worrying about it, I'm giving myself permission to be okay with the fact that I'm not participating this year so I can concentrate on more important things. Yesterday I decided that in the "between time" of edits, I'm going to pull the unfinished WIP forward and work on it to get it closer to being done.

Then, perhaps I'll give myself a month, my own personal NaNo, sometime after the beginning of 2012 to write the 4th and final in that series. I'm not sure what the next project will be after that, though I know I'll have a lot of work ahead of me when it is time to start promoting Castaway Hearts next spring.

Looks like it's going to be busy from here on in, as this tends to be the busiest part of the year anyway, what with decorating and cooking and family gatherings for the holidays. I can't wait. I have so much to look forward to, I've got the tingles.

Happy Friday!
Write On!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NaNoWriMo, For me, that's a NaNoWri-No....


At least, not this year....

This year, November is coming up on us quickly. As most anyone who's been reading my blog for a while knows, I usually devote November to NaNoWriMo. I've worked on something every year since 2006, buckling down and pushing through. I'm a 5 time "winner" but this year, I'm not sure I will be participating. I'd like to, but with my newly contracted novel, I am currently devoting my time to edits, which come first.

Edits for Castaway Hearts have to be completed and ready by year's end for release in the spring, so this year, work will take front burner.

This saddens me a smidgen, because NaNo is something I've been consistent about doing every year since that first time. It was really and truly where I began...the catalyst that set wheels in motion for me and helped me realize writing a novel does not have to take me a decade. It's also what pushed me to write as much as I did in those couple of years that followed, but...and here's the big but---

I still haven't finished writing the novel I started during last year's NaNo. I hit 50,000 and the burnout set in. I counted it as a "win" but I don't really count it until that novel is complete. Currently I'm still a good 25-30K off from The End and since it IS part of the 2nd series I am working on and the novel I wanted to write during NaNo this year is the next one, I cannot imagine starting the 4th and final book before I've completed the 3rd one. As I said before, I'm a pantser and the end of #3 is bound to have some setup for #4.

I've never been good at jumping around in a manuscript. Usually the story comes forward in chronological order when I'm writing. I feel I'd be doing an injustice to the last book if I jump ahead of it's predecessor and by that same token, it would be unfair not to "put a finish on it" (#3) before I proceed.

In an attempt to not feel guilty over it, I'm not logging into NaNo's site/forums unless I do finish writing said book 3 and that I'm 100% certain I'm going to tackle it.

In the meantime- I have work to do, so I need to get back to the writing cave and dig my claws into the manuscript. (and some Hot Fries and Reese's Cups....I must keep up my strength) ;)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

...of mice and men...or woman, as is the case today.
My "Fall Break" didn't turn out at all how I envisioned. I couldn't get my travel plans tacked down to something I could handle, mentally and emotionally, and that frustrated me to no end. I've just never been one who could make plans that are simply "tentative."

I like to KNOW what I'm doing, WHEN and HOW that affects the rest of my plans and the idea of things just dangling in the air with a foreboding sense of uncertainty fills me with anxiety and trepidation. A touch of the fear of my plans falling to pieces probably plays a role. That and the idea of having no control over your situation at all, but instead feeling like a marionette at the end of someone's strings. So many times in the past, my plans have hinged on other people's schedules or what was convenient for them.

One of the worst feelings in the world is that you play second fiddle to another person's plans or that you are a burden upon family and friends because you need them for transportation. I have a growing dislike for these feelings of "dependency" upon others and it's eating me alive. Playing it by ear inadvertently caused strife and discord between myself and my closest loved ones this trip. Mind you, I did make it up to visit, and most of my visit with my family went well, but there were still undercurrents of irritation and unfinished business that left me feeling icky by the time I returned home.

But I digress...

This morning, I was thinking about the opposite side of my personality.
I find it truly ironic that I'm a Pantser—that I write by the seat of my pants....

I'm not sure HOW that worked out, but in the case of travel or important plans, I need a serious game plan.

When writing—not so much.

I mean, a general idea, an inkling of a plot, the hero and heroine's names and careers, and a sense of their backgrounds and what I think is going to happen and I'm good to roll. I don't HAVE to know what's going to happen, when I'm going to leave my starting point, or what time I might arrive at my destination....I just go with it.

It reminds me of this quote-

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
~E.L. Doctorow~



I would love to be able to apply that same carefree mantra to other parts of my life, the travel and planning part in particular.

I could do with a little more spontaneity and a lot less fear that everything will spin out of control without a strict plan to abide by. I don't know when it happened, but there are times when the very idea of putting myself, my plans, my trust in other people's hands leaves me with feelings of inadequacy, that make me feel like the unforeseen is always in my blind spot and the internal chaos wreaks havoc on my inner control freak.

Having a place for things and things in their place is not a hard and fast rule for me. My house is proof enough that I can live with disorder, though I'm slowly working on minimizing that and I know Life is messy and sometimes things don't go as you'd planned.

So how did I come to this? My mom told me she thinks I'm a touch OCD suddenly and maybe I am.

And maybe she was just trying to be nice. ;) LOL

Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall Break, Family Ties & Friendship

How did we get from August to October(tomorrow!) so quickly?

I need to be editing today, but instead I find myself concentrating on what I need to pack for me and my daughter for our annual "Fall Break" visit to my hometown to spend the week with my parents, sister and friends. I've balanced the checkbook, paid a couple of bills, checked the weather report for my hometown.

Truth is, I eagerly anticipate this week, usually as soon as I get back from our annual summer visit up there. ;)

These days though, I can take my work with me when I go, so I can squeeze in editing and things like that while I'm there, especially since my parents computer is a dinosaur and there's no way I could work on my novels on their computer (it's slow, has dial up and no Word program.)

Of course, a week is never enough for me to touch base with my roots. I miss my family and enjoy the time I do get to spend with them when I go. Which gives me pause to wonder if that's why I build such important family links in my novels. Even characters whose parents have died have someone—an aunt, uncle, grandparent, best friend or substitute "loved one" who is their rock, looks out for their best interests and is always there for them when they're in need.

Family & friendships are cornerstones for me. They are the shoulders we need when our world falls apart, the cheering section when we're racing toward our goals, the ones to hold our hands when we lose things that are important to us and they are the ones who will celebrate loudest when we succeed. In some respects, we wouldn't be who we are without them. They instill courage and bravery and strength when we are lacking those qualities and they prop us up after a dark night of storms to see that the sun will rise again.

I'm looking forward to spending time with those people closest to me, the ones who buoy me up when I'm sinking down in the murk, who lend a helping hand when I've fallen to my knees and need a boost to get back up. Even when things are going well, it's a blessing to reconnect with those who's roots are entwined with your own. It helps balance and ground you and gives you clarity once again.

Happy Friday!
Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

What's Lurking in that Dark Corner of the Writing Cave?


Adverbs.

What is it with me and adverbs? Sure, they are "lovely" the way they roll off the tongue in their frilly, prissy sort of way, but in recent days I feel like I'm the Queen of Adverbial. Her Royal Highness of LY.

Yes, that's an apt title for my entry into proper society. There I stand at the head of the stairs in my long blue satin dress with the sequin sash and a very small, but adequate tiara tucked into my coiffed auburn hair, waving to the crowd with a gloved, cupped hand as I'm introduced with pomp and grandeur.

Eh, hem....anyway... (me in a dress is LAUGHABLE at best.)

And with a certain-certain social network that we all know and love/hate making huge user UNfriendly changes to what is my daily routine, I've gotten a lot of work done on those adverbs. This is great, part due to the fact that I don't feel as "obligated" to check up on what's going on there so often because my "news feeds" don't feed in real time or if they are, they're only based on what's supposedly "top news" to me.

Yeah. Well, as I had mentioned last week about shedding the time consuming games from my daily routines, I guess I can give a big shout out of THANKS to that certain-certain social network (we shall henceforth call CCSN)for also clearing time for me to do other more worthwhile things like work on those edits that I MUST get done.

It would seem, that at least for me, that CCSN made me want to use it LESS often rather than what the changes they made were intended for. I'm sure they think that this new format will draw more people in so they can track and keep tabs on the entire world.

The other day I commented that CCSN was like that kid on the playground, the one you ALWAYS want to play with, but now, he just smells a bit like poo and needs to wipe his nose. I'd rather avoid him altogether until he's had a bath.

It's a confusing and baffling emotion and even now, I think I'd rather go hang out with my other playground bully- my nemesis, the Adverb. I'd rather contend with the bully than deal with Pigpen right now.

In other news- I hope to get my "Autumn" decorating done tomorrow in the living room. Time to give it a good dusting anyway as I have neglected it for a while.

Once upon a cool rainy morning in September, Autumn was born....
Happy 1st day of Fall!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Sprinkling of Fairy Dust


Yep, I got dusted as I was falling asleep the night before last. It had been a LONG time coming since I'd seen the sparkle of inspiration and I figured I'd lose it before I got up in the morning because I was simply too exhausted to get up and find a notepad and pen. But then I awoke with not just one idea, but possibly three ideas, for new series' or stories to write in the future. I was up before 4 A.M. jotting down these fragments for later use, but I realized then, how good it was to be up that time of the morning, already thinking about writerly things and for a moment I just breathed and thought, "I've missed this."

And why is this significant? Because of my distraction. Because of my lack of concentration and procrastination. Because I have taken steps to walk away from an addiction. Yes. See, this all began a few years ago when I was first introduced to Facebook, which also coincided with my writing burn out.

At first it was nothing. Harmless little apps to "send roses" or "send a heart" or "answer a question about a friend." "Have a virtual pillow fight." "Pass a Drink." And this was great for someone looking for a little escapism from writing almost nonstop for about 3 years and producing 8 manuscripts in that time. I needed a break. My brain needed a break and I felt as though the inspiration well had run dry.

Now, those are seemingly harmless and sweet, but after a while it gets old and you end up removing them of your own free will because they just don't "fit" anymore when no one else is using them either.

They're novelty, but then came the requests.

"Come be my neighbor" or "Could you send me a bucket of mud" or "The zebra ate monkey poo and needs a vaccine" from any number of games that end in Ville or World. Most are products of a company that I shall simply call Z because ya'll KNOW what I'm talking about.

At first I thought, oh, this is easy, it's fun and I'd feel "guilty" if I don't help my friends out. I love my friends, so it's the least I can do.

I can send a couch to Jessie cause her living room is bare, or Zeke needs some pet food for Little Squeaker so he doesn't run away again. I have to grow veggies and fruit and that means in two hours, I have to come back or the crops will wither. These crops need to be shipped to that funny little eatery in the middle of nowhere, so I can cook a billion cheeseburgers or lobster with marble chocolate glaze and pears for some wedding mission that never seems to end. I can't make preserves without strawberries and Heaven help me if my homestead in the old west gets overrun with snakes, Dodo birds and other despicable varmints and brambles and tumbleweeds made of barbed wire. I don't care anymore if BillyBob Jimbo and Ethel Marmalade EVER get married.

Sadly, it's taken me at least 2 years to figure out that THIS is the source of my writing woes. I have an addiction. Since I started playing those time-(management)thieving games, my productivity has dropped, I haven't had any ideas in ages, etc. If anyone is to blame, it's....

Facebook.

No, it's me. I apparently have an easily addictive personality. But I am learning to break the habit, and overcome the worry of guilt. I still love my friends, but if I hope to produce more stories in the future and have this career in writing, it must be done. I must cut the cord. I have been weaning myself from the games recently because I'm tired of them. I probably hadn't actually played in a week, though I still accepted and sent gifts and fulfilled requests- up until 2 or 3 days ago.

And that's when I removed them. Well, I removed the ones I consider the biggest offenders. They've been sent into exile. There are a few small time criminals I'll hang onto, some for just those times when I do need a moment or two to stare off mindlessly into the oblivion and zone out a little, but as for the time-sucking vampires, they are gone. And I'm glad. I feel it when I wake up that I don't have those monkeys on my back anymore, or throwing poo at me to get my attention. My thoughts are clearer, my brain feels like it's revving up and getting back into the right gear....

And what did I get for clearing my head of the worry and constant concern over these games? For breaking away from my addiction?

Fairy Dust. (and inspiration)

Have a WONDERFUL, INSPIRING Thursday. The weekend is on the horizon!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Short & Sweet- It's Friday!

Had a rather uneventful Labor Day weekend. Spent it at home, because hubby had to work, then the cool snap we had was an early remind of how close we are to fall. Haven't had the air conditioners on for several days and the bus stop mornings are chilly to the bone.

Made a lot of headway this week on the underline-to-italics edits and have moved on from one 4 book series to the other one. Hubby's days off threw a monkey wrench into progress when he was off the past two days and we spent a little time on my driving- I drove from home all the way to town and to both the grocery stores we shop at and back home, so I count that as a very good day. Yesterday though we spent the better part of it watching movies.

One of my favorites- Madea's Big Happy Family, which serves to remind me what a wonderful storyteller Tyler Perry is. He never fails to put "heart" into what he writes for these plays and movies. He's a great talent.

Also watched You Again, Just Go With It, and Narnia: Voyage of the Dawntreader. All pretty decent movies.

The school week is dwindling off and I'm glad for a couple of days rest from the routine. Today I do need to call my mom and check on her. She fell last week and dislocated her elbow in two places and they had to "put it back." Haven't talked to her in a few days, so I don't know how she's feeling.

Hubby put in to have tomorrow off, so he'll be off again for two more days, so I figure I better make the most of the quiet time I have today, but I wanted to make sure I did get this posted.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! It's supposed to start warming back up here in Southern Kentucky, so make the most of the warm weather after we've had this little cool spell. I have a feeling it will start to stay cool more often pretty soon!

Happy Friday! Write On!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Long Week Ending, or Long Weekend?

Where is the time going?

The fact that it's already Friday again and I promised myself I'd post more often begged the question first. Then though a glance at the calendar also brought forth questions like "Where did August go? Is it already September? Really? Where did this YEAR go?"

This has been a long week that's coming to an end, but I'm also grateful that it's a "long weekend" we're heading into because, Wowee, wow, wow- it's already Labor Day weekend!

School is fully underway for the kids and they're really starting to get back into the groove of things. Hubby's bid to a different shift worked out so before too long he'll be working Wed-Sun, still on a 10-hour shift, but working 4 days in a row and having 3 consecutive days off in a row which I know makes him happier and will add a little normalcy back to our weekly routine. I know he's excited.

Last Friday after I posted I heard from my newly assigned editor, so I'm tickled over that. Then this week was made chipper by the discovery that my Author's Bio page is up on Turquoise Morning Press. This makes publication seem more real yet again. I find myself hit with small bursts of "Squee!" from time to time. Very surreal.

I have also still been working on the whole underline/italics thing in my manuscripts. My love affair must end though. Underlining words of emphasis is rather antiquated so I'm having to correct that through my manuscripts by changing them to italics. From there, I will head into deep self-editing mode again and then more writing. Perhaps I'll put myself on a strict self-inflicted deadline so I can finish writing one of my manuscripts *the one I began and won NaNoWriMo with last November*. I need to get it finished before November so I can use this year's NaNo to my advantage to write and finish the last book in my brothers' series.

And in other news- for those who aren't aware of this- I only have a permit- I've never had a huge need to drive, ever, but last year I was going to remedy that because I need to be more self-reliant, not just in the cases of emergency, but also because I want to be able to go visit my family when I get a notion, so I can run to the store if we need something, or if the kids get sick at school, I can go pick them up or take them to the doctor. I'm tired of feeling "stuck" and knowing I could easily solve this issue if I could just drive.

Well, needless to say, there were a lot of "universal" saboteurs that have stood in my way over the past year or so- bad timing or just no convenient time to go out and practice driving, automotive failures, irrational fears. Yesterday I took a step toward shaking off the irrational fears as well as moving forward with my original intent. I think I did pretty good and even my husband said I did really well considering I hadn't been behind the wheel in over a year.

I'm hoping this is the beginning of a means to an end for me. I'll have some freedom to travel when or if the need arises. I will be able to take care of things when my husband isn't able to and best of all, I might be able to FINALLY start squeezing into KYRW meetings from time to time! :D It would be great to finally meet all the wonderful authors in my chapter and it's yet another awesome reason I'm determined to accomplish this little feat.

So, on that thought, I'm off and gone. Need some lunch and then back to vanquishing the underline from my life, dirty little bugger!

Hope you have a wonderful long RELAXING weekend and you enjoy the company of family and friends, with good food and good times! Careful in your travels!

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hit the Keys


This will be short, but in an attempt to get back to writing a blog more often, to awaken the writer in me, I will post today and hopefully start finding things to write about more than once a week. I just find my brain goes muddled and I can't quite think of things to talk about, but that's because I have a lot going on behind the scenes at the moment, mostly editing manuscripts and trying to keep myself afloat in a sea of distractions.

I hit a sluggish row around 2009, just burnout I guess, but I'm digging and clawing my way out of this rut. I HAVE to, not just because living in a rut is awful, but because my writing is suffering for it. I misplaced my fire- that writing fire that was lit beneath me? It got moved and misplaced in the chaos of simply living.

If I seem to procrastinate it has a lot to do with not "feeling" the fire burning in my belly....I lost the hunger and the need to write. I used to write as though I might never get to have my entire say in the conversation of life. I feel like I'm on the outskirts of that fire, and I need to jump back in, let the flames brand me, to sear my skin with the markings of untold tales and fill my heart with a renewed desire to lift the stories up out of me and onto the page/screen.

It's slowly rekindling, I just wish I hadn't lost it to begin with- but life is sometimes too overwhelming and you must take each step and each moment as it comes, even when it isn't convenient for us. I've stayed quiet a lot these past few years because I've been ashamed of myself for losing the momentum. I wonder, what kind of writer does that make me? I'm starting to think it's all about pacing- pacing the stories and the writing and the editing, and myself.

The writer in me won't stop nagging me to fix this. I'll get there. I have to.

Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Follow Your Heart's Desire

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Chasing dreams is generally encouraged by most everyone. When you're little, your parents and loved ones tell you that you can be anything you want to be. They boost your confidence and remind you that there are no limits to what you can do in your life. If you want something badly enough, you can work for it, fight for it and accomplish it. Fall down the rabbit hole, Alice.

What we're not always prepared for are those people who seem to know which buttons to push to make us doubt ourselves, to pack away our dreams in a cardboard box and store it in the back of the closet and make us feel unworthy of finding the greatness within us.

Your heart's desire might not ever bring you fame and fortune. You might pursue something for which you have no real talent, but if it brings you a brief moment of happiness or joy or inspiration, then it has accomplished something because it gives you the opportunity to taste the richness of LIVING your life doing something you enjoy.

As a writer, I've waffled back and forth over the years with so many detrimental emotions in this regard.

There are some who just don't understand WHY you want to do what you do and they never will. They tend to ask WHY a lot and then still blow you off when your answer doesn't satisfy them. There are those who act like they're supportive, but say harsh and hurtful things. I don't know if they do that purposely or on a subconscious level, where they don't realize how much pain they inflict in the heart of us. I imagine some disregard dreams simply because they've failed in their own. Perhaps they're jealous to see another person pursuing their dream while they don't because they're fearful of even TRYING. Some are just so critical, they want you to fail, or they want you to be the way THEY want you to be. If your interests or dreams veer off the path of what they think is "right" then it just doesn't belong. You're a square peg in a round hole. Sadly, this generally means they don't love you for who you are and aren't willing to accept you, faults and all. That's a truly sad state of affairs there when they are people you admire, respect and love.

Some of the people who do this are inconsequential, but then there are those you have to contend with- parents, siblings, other relatives, friends, neighbors, authority and even yourself. Those closest can generally hurt you the most because they don't realize they're attacking a part of you when they find fault with what's in your heart.

I've had some people stand behind me 100% about chasing my writing career and others who pshawed me as if the dream were too big and I were too small to accomplish it. It hurts when others beat it into your head that its not worth all the time you're "wasting" on a dream you can't achieve. It breaks your heart because you end up adding their doubts to the mix and stir it into your own doubts and fears. What's left? A very thick Doubt Soup- a recipe for feelings of utter hopelessness and it can happen to the best of us.

I spent a great deal of time in previous years NOT writing because no one seemed to believe in me and those who did, couldn't get me to see it because I'd convinced myself it wasn't worth it. If no one else believed in me, why should I believe in myself? I thought being a wife and mother was all I had to give. I was just someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's wife, someone's mother.

But a writer? Who was I kidding?

The only problem was that I got up daily, thinking about how much I wanted to write. I went to bed thinking about how much I missed it. I felt dead on the inside, intent on just living the life I had in my empty little shell, even if it meant I didn't write. But my heart wouldn't let me. The embers of my desire to write crackled deep below the surface, kindled and started burning me from the inside out, filling my days with an ache to write so badly, I finally had to give in to it and let it take over. And I'm glad I did. Somehow that desire broke through the barriers of sadness, despondency and hopelessness until it filled me up with a renewed belief in myself, more confidence and ideas and inspiration.

I recently told a friend that I'd just as soon die as to stop writing. There was laughter, but I know it was the laughter of understanding. I think sometimes we neglect our biggest responsibilities- to ourselves-We spend so much of our time bending to other people's demands, other people's views of us, their "will" for us, that we forget we have just as much responsibility to be true to ourselves and grasp hold of our own free will to be who we're meant to be- no matter what that might be.

If we don't "take care" of us, take care of OUR heart's desire, we die a little inside. Sometimes, in fact, we die a LOT inside before we realize we can't please everyone all the time and we shouldn't even attempt to. There comes a point when you have to decide if the sacrifice of your heart, your dreams and your own feelings are worth it when it makes you feel like you have no reason to exist, as though what you are doesn't matter. We forget to "matter" to ourselves while we're so busy worried about what everyone else thinks.

It's one of the most deplorable things in the world when someone else thinks they can dictate your heart's desire or make you feel like what you love or enjoy is meaningless or unworthy. I will never be one to say you "can't" follow that dream. I believe it was my 4th grade teacher who said "Can't never could do anything."

Follow your heart's desire, enjoy life and be true to YOU.

To thine own self be true.
~Shakespeare~

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
~Dr. S~

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter
and those who matter don't mind.”

~Dr. S~

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
~Eleanor Roosevelt~

Friday, August 12, 2011

And So It Begins

The school year has gotten off to a great start for both my kids. My daughter is loving 3rd grade and my stepson is amazed that 7th grade is "not as bad as I thought it would be."

It's been a busy week for the kids and us and me. Got some things done that I've been working on behind the scenes. Walked on the treadmill once this week. Really need to tackle that again today if I hope to get back in the habit and perhaps also have a reason to contribute to my exercise/weight loss blog (Taryn Has a Meltdown) from time to time.

Today I'm going to enjoy my Friday, but I'm also going to start laying out editing plans for some of my other manuscripts- run the "numbers" on adverbs, overused words, grammatical errors, etc. It's time to start tightening the belt around my writing waist and hopefully have edits done soon so I can get back to the WIP I haven't finished yet and start the next, and last in the series, of my brothers.

Then to see where things go from there.

Have a lovely Friday people.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Countdown has Begun...

School starts Tuesday for my kids. I love them with all my heart, but I honestly need to stop here and say

"Yippee!"

This has been a short and yet very long and draining summer vacation. The heat has been nearly unbearable and the kids- I know they try, but it's like two small cyclones tearing through my house, bumping into each other (and me) and bickering and stirring up a ruckus that has me fit to be tied sometimes. And they're not the small cyclones they used to be. No, they are growing and with that growth, they're more irritable and grouchy and grumble and fuss just a little louder, because what's the point of a fight with your big brother or little sister if Mom doesn't HEAR it the first time? LOL

They "need" more education...Yes, that's it. It's an absolute must~ because I NEED the quiet time to return to my normally abnormal days.

Autumn isn't here yet, but I feel it~sense it~ this settling current that's rippling just beneath the staggering heat that's crisped the grass, the riotous buzz of the cicadas, the crunchy dead leaves that have fallen at the feet of the trees. The trees aren't ready to strip down for their chilled dance through fall into winter, but this weather just hasn't given them much choice. It's so hot they have begun to bare their limbs, and they're growing more naked as the days and weeks move along.

This summer, even with the suffocating heat, has found me suffering the aches and pains of a sinus infection. I knew that's what it was a month or so ago, but I'm stubborn and refused to go to the doctor just because I was thinking of our finances and what's necessary. My mom reminded me that if it were one of the kids or my husband, I'd insist they go, but I don't do them any good if I'M sick either and I need to make myself a priority in getting well. So, I'm on Amoxicillin and starting to feel better just a couple of days in.

It's put me in a haze, having a sinus infection. I did get my first round of edits into my editor and now I'm working on another project that I'm not going to talk about today, but hoping that it's something I WILL be able to talk about before too long, if all goes well and maybe then I can talk about it till I'm blue in the face.

We'll see.

We've had 7th grade orientation for the oldest and tonight we must endure the Open House for the 3rd grader. Oh, what fun! Will be glad when this is over because I know I don't have to cook tonight, but will get to enjoy some awesome catfish from a little out of the way place here that Guy Fieri should visit on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

Enjoy your Friday people, keep cool and let the countdown begin...Momma can't wait!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Love is a Very Tangled Thing

Okay, so I finally watched Tangled for the first time. According to my 8-year-old, it's one of THE best cartoon movies she's ever seen.

I liked it. It had a new twist on an old tale (though I don't recall Rapunzel being a Princess, but the daughter of poor folk who lived next door to a witch, later found in the tower by the Prince. Perhaps that was part of the charm- that they reversed the roles for Rapunzel and Flynn Rider.)

This set wheels in motion in my head, but nothing's struck me as "the right" thing to blog about....

Until this morning— The fact that LOVE is a very tangled thing sometimes.

There is a multitude of reasons for relationships to fall apart, in reality as well as in novels, but the one thing that remains true is LOVE. Love is the singular thing that can bring two people together, despite all obstacles and differences that set them apart from one another. Though they'll be pitted against each other throughout the story, our hero & heroine will work THROUGH the differences because LOVE rules that scenario. As a writer of those kinds of stories, I have to make sure they do or it wouldn't be much of a love story, now would it?

Major differences of opinion, beliefs, social standing & any number of other issues, can be the sword that runs deep into the heart of a relationship & kills it. Not everyone is meant to be together, even when they "believe" they love each other with all their hearts. And self-love is just as important as the love received or given by another. Extenuating circumstances do not bode well for certain relationships. Sometimes there are issues of trust. Sometimes that which divides us is more powerful then the love we feel. Sometimes what we feel is just not the strong abiding kind of love that can rescue the relationship if it's doomed to failure anyway.

Personal experience reminds me that sometimes love is just not enough. So here is where things get "tangled."

I once thought I'd found a Prince—a man who'd stand beside me & bolster me up & believe in my dreams because he loved me. He pursued me & won my heart. He encouraged my dreams- my poetry & writing. He swore his unconditional love to me. He said he knew I was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, but over the few years together, our relationship grew & changed & I did, too.

I'd grown unhappy in this "love." I wasn't working at anything, not even my writing, I'd gained weight, hated myself & felt lost because I'd lost my self-love and I knew I was the only one who could get that back. So I broke off the relationship. He kept coming back, pursuing me because he "loved" me so much and eventually we got back together.

Between the time we broke up & got back together I'd found a job, lost weight & felt like "me" again. AND I was thinking about my writing. But the job ended when the business went belly up & I decided to pursue a writing workshop to "hone" my skills if I really wanted to become a published author. He was all for it...at least it seemed that way at first. We were talking plans for our future together, talking to realtors about houses, but sometimes it's when you're the closest to making a mistake, that's when true colors emerge & true selves can't help being who they are. A switch flipped and it was the beginning of the end. (Especially since his family were always doggedly reminding me that it takes two working people to survive and were always throwing the want ads in my face.)

"My parents don't think we can make it, but don't worry, NOTHING they say can change how I feel about you."
Followed shortly by----
"I can't LOVE you if you don't have a job."

HUH?!?!?!?

Yeah, it happens that fast. I tried to get a job, now that love had new conditions, but I got the job for the wrong reasons (which didn't last long), thinking it would help me "keep" his love. That's not supposed to be how love works, is it? And as for supporting & encouraging my dream of becoming a writer? Yeah, that got chalked up to a pipe dream, too, because it might never amount to anything. The man who loved me, no longer believed—not in my dream, not in our love & not in ME. It seemed to me that "nothing" was a lot stronger than I ever imagined, for that "nothing" changed everything.

So what happened? When the relationship finally met it's bitter demise, I tucked away my writing, my dream, quite like Rapunzel in her tower because I didn't love myself enough to remember that they were MY dreams, not his. And it took me nearly ten years to seek out that tower again, hidden behind overgrowth & bramble & vine to rescue my dreams from their captivity. And rescue it I did. Look how far I've come.

My publication is still a few months off for my debut release of my historical romance entitled Castaway Hearts, but it's coming. Love is a tangled thing sometimes, but now I remember that my self-love is just as important. And I don't foresee locking my dreams in that tower ever again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And Away We Go, Lil Monster!

June is almost over and the manuscript is (finally) in my editor's hands now. Totally love my characters, but kind of glad to get a break from them and hoping *fingers crossed* she loves them, too.

I think I got brain-fried on these edits. I'm not the first author to admit I'm my own worst critic and given the opportunity, I can rip myself to pieces. In that process, I end up worrying that I've done more harm than good and end up second guessing myself a lot.

If only I could learn to control the fear-mongering self-doubt monster who haunts my every moment. That little goblin(we will call him Munchie) had his hands around my neck while I was submerged in self-edits and reformatting. He nearly made me cry a few times when his grip grew tight enough to leave bruises or his claws sank in a little too deep when I got frustrated or confused or just downright baffled as to whether I was headed in the right direction.

I somehow survived, though there was much gnashing of snaggled gruesome teeth against my shoulder and vicious growling as I fought him off. (This would not hold up in a police report, as his marks cannot be seen with the naked eye)

He'll be back, I'm sure. I don't think he ever quite goes away since he's a small part of me, ugly as he is. I just have to keep him in check. Perhaps I need to chain him up in the basement for a while. Find a way to "tame" that wild little beast so that he can be my companion rather than my enemy. Perhaps he could sleep at my feet under the desk while I write....

There IS something to be said for having the ability to look at your work and see all it's good and bad qualities and in learning to harness that knowledge. It's the best of both worlds when you can LOVE your manuscript and still use that critical eye to see and repair the flaws while keeping true to the story you wish to tell.

So, what's my plan now that said manuscript is with editor?

A mini-vacay and reformatting and prepping other finished manuscripts. Tightening and polishing until they shine like a sparkly bauble. I'm hoping to find homes for my other babies, too, so I must continue on...

I think Munchie is already snapping at my ankles to get back to work.

Happy Tuesday!
Write On!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Reading Through

Reading through my manuscript aloud should be simple. I re-read through letters I've written to my grandmother to make sure I've included all pertinent news of what's going on in our lives or to check for grammar errors. (She was a librarian for many years at Asbury College.)

I reread letters to teachers when we've had concerns in regard to our kids and I sometimes have trouble reading through favorite authors without seeing mistakes that made it through edits and into print, so you would think reading through my own writing- my own story, I would be just as apt to notice the same issues.

Not so. I've gone through my manuscript at least 5 times over the past several weeks and it wasn't until last night as I started the actual read-through that I noticed one glaring issue that jumped right off the page.

The original sentence I started out with was—

"This man's hair, silky raven in color, slicked back away from his smooth tanned forehead.
"

At some point the word THIS got changed into HIS (perhaps a bad backspace on my part at some point in the editing process) but I ended up with the following—

"His man's hair, silky raven in color...."

You get where I'm going, don't you?

His MAN'S HAIR? I started reading this sentence to my husband and he immediately stopped me mid-sentence and went to a bad place.

I tried to derail his train of thought- NO, it was not THAT hair! (LOL)

In the end I went with "His hair, silky raven in color, slicked back away from his smooth tanned forehead."

But needless to say, it gave my husband and I a good laugh before bedtime.

Not unlike the crazy dreams I had about Micky D's fish filets and tartar sauce last night.

Now, if only they delivered....

Back to the grindstone.

Have a fantabulous start to the week!
Write on!