The Story Teller

20170919_230223573_iOSSometimes as I read back over my words, I am amazed that they came from the depths of my mind.  Did I really write that?  I muse.  I try to think back to my former self that had those particular thoughts on that particular day and remember. What was I feeling? What else happened? What circumstances led me to write those exact words? If I’d written them at another time on a another day would they have been different?  As I look at an old blog post, or journal entry or some odd story I wrote, I am reminded of how human I am and how far I’ve come.  My journey has taken many twists and turns, yet my words still remain true to me.  The same themes thread their way through my life connecting them together and giving me the voice that the shy, little girl within me would have a hard time speaking aloud. I have changed and grown, but I am still the same. I am me, uncompromised.

I watch my daughters as they are becoming young women. I am filled with pride and hope and love. They are finding their own voices each in their unique ways. A smile comes to my lips when I find the little stories and essays they have written. The letters and notes I find. They too have a love of expressing themselves in words and creating a story from their imaginations. Of all the quirks and neuroses I have passes on to these two, this is the one that I am grateful to have inspired in them.

20170919_225524589_iOSA few months ago my fifth-grade daughter and I were down in the dredges of our basement, trying to organize our “craft” room. She came upon a tote in the back corner labeled “writing and stuff” and pried off the lid. (Yes, we were supposed to be putting stuff away.)  Here eyes got wide and she became so excited as she found a pile of old and I mean OLD stories that I had penned back in the day. She took them upstairs and made me read them all to her.  I laughed as she did she as we landed upon her favorite, “Pedro the Great.”  Ahhh good old Pedro the Great was inspired by my childhood dog – a chihuahua named, of course, Pedro. In my little tale, Pedro is a disco-dancing super hero. I illustrated it myself (as you can see in the picture above.)  I explained to her that I was the exact same age that she is now when I wrote that story – fifth grade. I told her we didn’t have computers (way back then in the old days) and had to use a typewriter (what’s that?”) and I used markers to draw the pics. She was even more impressed when I told her that my teacher read it to our class. I have no recollection of how that came to happen – I think I must have asked her to read it and she humored me. I was proud of my story though and she encouraged me to write.

20170919_222745525_iOSI hadn’t given much thought to Pedro since that evening, until I came home from work a couple of days ago — tired and ready to veg. Usually when I come home the girls are watching TV or doing homework or playing outside, but on this particular day, she ran into the garage to meet me. In her hands was her very own story, “Maggie the Magnificent.”  MTM is also a super-hero dog named after our Jack Russell mix, who I’m not sure I would describe as magnficent (based on the growing pile of chewed up bras, undies, pens, shoes and Barbies in her wake or the number of times a week she wakes me up a 3 AM to pee), none-the-less, my daugher’s version of MTM is larger than life. My daugher was so proud of her story and I could see my ten-year old self in her. I loved her story.  She wants to get it published now and I encourage her to follow her dream. Her fifth grade ambitions are much higher than mine.  She’s working on the sequel now as she doesn’t want our other dog, Ollie, to feel left out. I agreed, he should get his story too. And, I can’t wait to read it.

 

 

 

 

 

If You’re “Zappy” and You Know It…

2013-01-29 09.07.38No, that isn’t a typo in the headline. And, I am definitely a little zappy today this last day of the A to Z April blog challenge. I’ve zig-zagged through the alphabet and made it all the way to Z! Yeah me! For those still wondering, according to my good friend dictionary.com, zappy is a slang word that means “energetic, lively, or fast-moving; zippy.”

While I typically would describe myself more as “zapped” than “zappy,” I am excited that I made it to the end of this 26-day, 26-letter writing challenge. I set a goal and accomplished it. That in and of itself, feels pretty damn good! On the flip side, I’m sad to see the challenge come to end. I’ve found some pretty interesting blogs and fellow bloggers along the way that I’ll continue to follow. I like having a focus or theme to help guide my writing. Without this challenge I never would have written 26 posts in one month. While I know I can’t keep up this pace and market my new book and write my third book, I hope I can find time to write two or three posts a week. Writing is my outlet, whether anyone reads my words or not, I’m still going to spew them.

Zippity-Doo-Dah…

If anyone knows of any other blogging challenges I’d love to hear about them!

Why? Why? Why?

2013-01-29 09.06.45Wonder what I’ll write about tonight? Me too. We’re winding up the A to Z blogging challenge and this first day of the weekend landed on “W.”  Lot’s of great “W” words come to mind: women, worry, weariness, winsome, wobegone, wanton, whacky and wasted. All great W topics, but alas none inspired me tonight. In fact I’m feeling rather uninspired and really don’t know what my fingers will write tonight.

Pondering on the letter “W” again I’m reminded that “W” in and of itself is kind of a weird letter. Think about it a second. As my “why” daughters pointed out to me the day, the letter “W” sounds like double “U”, but looks like double “V.”  Why is that? they ask. Why indeed? Good question, but I have no idea why. My girls ask my oddball “why” questions like that all the time. Yesterday we were in the Subway drive thru waiting for our food. My oldest starts wondering about the building.

Her: “Do you think the floor of the building is up higher than our van?”

Me: “What?”

Her: “Do you think they built the floor up higher than the road?”

Me: “Huh? I don’t know. Why would I know the answer to that?”

Her: ” I don’t know.”

I am glad my girls are curious and encourage them to ask questions. I  want them to know more about the “wonderful world” around them, but some days they really exasperate me with their never-ending interrogations. Lucky for them, when I don’t know, they don’t have to thumb through an encyclopedia to find the answers. They don’t even have to go to the library, flip through a card catalog and then use the dewey decimal system to find a book that might have the answer. They have the miracles called “Google” and “Bing.”  Two seconds, a couple of clicks and presto they have hundreds of answers to choose from. That’s pretty incredible if you think about it. The Internet makes my life as a writer a lot easier too. I can research without even leaving my bed. That’s powerful. That’s knowledge waiting to be grasped. Wow!

Today. Not Tomorrow.

2013-01-29 09.06.00Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock. The sound of an old-fashioned, wind-up clock ticking off the seconds grounds me in the moment. Yet, no matter how you slice it, a day only contains 24 hours or 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds. No more and no less. Why then do some days pass quickly while other drag painfully on and on? 

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Never put off tomorrow what you can do today.”  While on the surface I agree with that sentiment, it seems the myriad of tasks that need my attention today often spill into tomorrow and the next tomorrow and the next. The question is not so much putting off those things that could be done today until tomorrow, but more on prioritizing those tasks appropriately. Which tasks if I complete today will bring me closer to my goals tomorrow? Which tasks if I put off until tomorrow will cause me to get an overdue charge or lose out on an important opportunity? Which tasks can I put off forever because they no longer matter? If only I had more time to figure it all out!

I work full-time as a technical writer. I’m a wife and the mother of two young daughters. In my spare time, I write contemporary romance novels, blog and try to promote my books. I want to be the best employee, wife, mother and author I can. When I focus on one the other areas in my life suffer. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity yet can’t imagine giving any of these roles up. How could I? They all define me and make me who I am. But because of them, I often find myself overwhelmed, irritable and struggling. I struggle with not being good enough, with being satisfied with where I am today and not worrying too much about what tomorrow might bring. I struggle with letting complacency keep me from longing for the perfect tomorrow. And, I struggle to keep that longing from preventing me from happiness today.

 

QWERTY Queen

a-to-z-letters-qAccording to Wikipedia, Christopher Latham Sholes, a newspaper editor and printer, invented my beloved QWERTY keyboard. His basic 1878 design still graces the majority of keyboards and touch-pads today. That’s pretty amazing if you think about it! He sequenced the letters on the keys so the typist must alternate hands when typing words. This  speeds up the typist as well as prevents jams in the original typewriters when two letters next to each were pressed too quickly.
2013-04-19 20.12.42 (2)I can remember play “typing” on my dad’s old type writer and jamming the metal arms when I rapidly pressed the keys as I pretended to be a writer. In high school I took a typing class and actually learned how to type without causing a pile-up on the type writer. Not to age myself too much, but I learned on an “electronic” type writer that actually had correction fluid built-in. I have to say for all practical purposes and real life uses, this was one of the best classes I ever took. I use my typing skills everyday of my life. I did a quick typing test and came out at 46 words per minute. Not too shabby.

I didn’t move to a computer until my first year in college. Computers and word processing programs made my life as a budding typist and writer even better as now I didn’t have to start over because I wasn’t paying attention and typed off the edge of the page or made a mistake. Cut and Paste and the Backspace key are my heroes.

I  now do all my writing on a little netbook. The keyboard fits my hands and fingers perfectly. While I do use my smart phone for quick emails, I’m nowhere near as fast touch-typing. I’m awed watching kids quickly type out texts and Facebook statuses with their thumbs or index fingers. I’ve heard some schools have even stopped teaching keyboard. That makes me so sad. I’ve thought about moving to a tablet, but I know I couldn’t live without my QWERTY keyboard.

What about you? Do “hunt and peck” or do your fingers know where to find the letters on the keyboard seemingly on auto-pilot?

Boots, Diet Coke and Other Stuff that Make Me Smile

As I lay in bed last night, wide awake, listening to that January northwest Ohio wind do its thing outside, I realized that today is the last day of January and I had yet to blog this month. Not that anyone noticed or even really cared (except maybe my twin nephews. Love you guys!), but I do like to write and blather on. And once upon a time, I made a goal or a resolution or something or other to at least blog once or twice a month and pending this post I would have failed. And I so hate failure, especially mine. Although I know that you must sometimes fail to succeed, I still don’t have to like it.

So I mentally went over the past month, pondering what topic I should wax upon today without seeming whiny or bitchy or depressing. The whole point is to make someone smile as they read along. If I get one smile, it’s all good. I don’t do January resolutions as my birthday is in February, so in my book, the new year doesn’t actually start for me until then. I don’t have a rock star life style, so nothing extra-exciting on that end either. Religion? No. Politics? Definitely No. What then?  I went back to the smile. What makes me smile? I like it. So here it goes, this last day in January, the five things that make me smile the most (at least today anyway).

2013-01-31 07.33.09Cute Cards from My Kids
My daughters make me smile on a daily basis. My girls also make me want to pull my hair out on a daily basis. My kindergarten daughter has proved to be challenging. One day I’ll hear words like “Do you have the biggest butt at your work, Mommy???” as she barges into the bathroom while I’m squeezing into my jeans or “Your hair looks ugly” as the stylist finishes a new hair cut or “You look like a witch” after I finish applying eye makeup, pour out of her mouth. I can hardly wait to hear what she comes up with as a teenager. She’s quick to repent though and when the “what did you say?” comes out of my mouth, she’ll tell me “I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings” (you didn’t, sniff, sniff) or “you’re pretty Mom” (too little, too late). She can also be very kind and loving when she wants to be. Last Friday I had surgery to remove my gall bladder. She’s been very caring and concerned. She’s brought me cards home from school every day this week telling me how much she loves me and how I’m the best mom in the world. These little notes and the ones from my other daughter from days past hang on my cubicle walls and on the mirror in my bedroom. They always put a smile on my face.

2013-01-31 08.28.22Cappuccino and Diet Coke
Yes I am predictable and have certain rituals. One of those being that every morning I walk down to the corner Shell station and get two 20 ounce Diet Cokes and in the winter a yummy Cappuccino (today’s blend is chocolate-covered strawberry). I know both these addictions will not help the cause of my yet-to-be-set resolution to lose weight, but oh well. I can’t seem to give them up. And sure I could save money by getting a twelve pack or a two liter or whatever, but I like taking my walk and talking to the girls that work there. I always have a smile on my face when I leave.

2013-01-23 20.10.08

Boots, Sandals and Handbags
Shoes, shoe, shoes. Yes! I love my shoes. In the winter, it’s the boots. In the summer, it’s the sandals. And purses? You can’t have enough of those. A dear friend of mine always gets a new purse at the beginning of each season. An awesome idea, that I have joined her in. A new bag on a dreary day, makes my days. Pulling on a pair of black, knee-high boots paired with some skinny jeans and long sweater almost always makes me feel happy. It’s like hey me — You look good? Trendy? Fashionable? Passable? At least not like a frumpy mom?  Who am I kidding? (Well obviously, I’m trying to kid myself! Duh!) Anyway I like wearing them, so who cares what everyone else thinks! (Me? Shut up you irritating, little, downer voice in my mind).

reviewsA Great Review
If you don’t know, I write romance novels. Well, I wrote two anyway and am working on the third. The first, Take a Deep Breath is published and the second, Take Your Time, will be out there soon. Getting lost reading or writing a good romance is a sure way to make me smile. Romances always have a happy ending. Count on it. As an indie (that’s the new cool word for self-published) author, I always have misgivings and doubts about my talents as a writer. So whenever, I get an email or someone posts a review on Good Reads or Amazon and gives my book a great review, I can count on a smile to be pasted across my face for a good ten minutes or so (until I scroll down and find a review where someone hated my book). So the review thing is definitely a double-edge sword. On my writing loops, most authors advise not to even bother reading them. Somehow, I can’t help myself. I’m drawn to see what others think. I confess that I am a needy writer seeking approval. Yes, I said it (wrote) it. I’m an approval junkie. Sigh. Maybe that should be my number one would-be resolution for this year.

A Perfectly Clean Room
For me walking into my home to find a perfectly neat, orderly room is the ultimate happiness. With everything in its rightful place, the counters wiped, sinks shining, carpet vacuumed and every surface dusted. Chaos and clutter gone. I can ease back on my couch with a good book, a glass of wine, some soft music and no guilt over something else needing to be done. Now that is pure bliss. And a regretfully, it is only a dream. As you can see, I don’t have a picture for this smile. This state of home-happiness happens once in a blue moon and lasts about as long as a lunar eclipse. The chance to snap that photo has alluded me as of yet. But someday when the members of my household (myself included) finally get on that “let’s clean this place up” bandwagon at the same time, I’ll be sure to capture that moment with my iPhone.

What about you? Tell me… What makes you smile?

The End

Winner-180x180The End. No, as you already know by now, it’s not the end of the world (as you know it). Today is December 23 and  I feel fine (yes, I know you are humming along to that catchy R.E.M. song). It’s not the end of this blog either as some of may have thought do to my blogging absence the past month and half (then again maybe nobody missed me). Life is full of beginnings and endings. 2012 is coming to an end and 2013 is beginning. Tonight’s ending though is in relation to my next novel. I finally, typed in those words that make any author smile, “The End.”

And so now, you know why the words of my blog have been missing these past months. As a working mother, I only have so much time in the day to dedicate to my writing. This past November I focuses and dedicated those hours to my book as I participated in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I spent thirty days writing the rough draft of said novel and came away with 50,000 + words. And, today at around 63,000 words, I finished the draft and now will start revisions. For me revisions are my favorite part of the writing process and hardest part is behind me! Yes. Yeah me!

Anyway, I am participating in a “blog hop” with a group of authors that also participated in NaNoWriMos. The rest of this blog gives you a sneak peak at my WIP (work in progress) that hopefully will see the light of day in the Kindle book store in late February or early March.

I’ve been tagged by Shirley Wine, author of Seven For A Secret (http://amzn.com/B009XJAKLS) and  Lovers’ Lies (http://amzn.com/B009GQGUWQ) who recently shared with readers about her current WIP at www.shirleywine.com.

Thanks Shirley Wine for this opportunity to talk about my current WIP!

What is the title of your next book? Take Your Time

Where did the idea come from for the book? I got the idea for this book as I was finish writing my last book. Take A Deep Breath was about a woman named Liv, who has four sisters. The sisters don’t play a part in the first book, but I thought it would be fun to write about each one. The second book centers around the youngest sister Maddy, who we find out from Liv’s daughter Sara is a photographer.

What genre does your book fall under? Contemporary Romance

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Late-bloomer, Maddy takes her time finding love, but wonders if she waited too long.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Or are you with a publishing house? I will self-publish this book as an ebook and a paperback via Amazon, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo and Barnes and Noble. I love the creative control self-publishing gives me. I hate waiting, especially if  I’m going to be rejected and haven’t sought an agency or publishing house. After researching indie-publishing it seemed like the perfect avenue for me. The royalties are higher as well. The hardest part has been finding readers, but I have slowly built a small following with my first book and hope it will grow with this one and the next… I have thought about shopping my books around, but for now I’m enjoying success as an indie author.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? It took me a little over 45 days to finish the first draft of this manuscript. I wrote mainly at night from 10:00 PM to midnight.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I think my writing style and stories are most comparable to Robyn Carr, Susan Wiggs, Barbara Freethy and Debbie Macomber.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? I wanted to write another book in this series ever since I published my first book, but finding time without having a real deadline was the hardest part. The NaNoWriMo website helped motivate me to get the draft finished. Emails from readers of my first book inspired me to write the next one.

If you get a chance stop by my fellow writers’ blogs and read about the books that they wrote during the NaNoWriMo challenge and find out what prompted them to write their books.

By the way, Take a Deep Breath will be free in the Amazon Kindle store from Dec. 26-30!