Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Giveaway Blog Hop

I am participating in the Summer Giveaway Blog Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and BookHounds. This hop is scheduled to run August 1st through August 7th. To enter, all you have to do is follow my blog (click HERE) and leave a comment at the end of this post, letting me know you are a follower and sharing your favorite summertime read. It might be a book you enjoyed as a child or the one you had tucked in your bag at the beach during your vacation this year. I am looking forward to a great list! For additional entries, you can follow me on Twitter (click HERE) and "like" my Facebook fan page (click HERE). Leave an additional comment for each additional entry. At the end of the week, one lucky winner will be chosen by a random number generator to receive a $10 Amazon gift card. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment so that I will know how to contact you should your name be selected. Click HERE for the links to 300 or so other blogs that are also doing book-related giveaways. All contests begin at midnight Eastern time tonight; any entries received prior to that time will not be included in the drawing.

Good luck, and happy blog hopping!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Embracing Chaos

Today I learned just how uncomfortable I am with chaos. It all started with a little pile of beads.

Wasabi Green Seed Bead Mix
I bought them with the intention of turning them into ankle bracelets by randomly placing the beads on wire. Alas, that was much harder than I thought it would be. My inclination was to create a pattern that was orderly and symmetrical.

It took me a long time to find a compromise between the two extremes. But I ended up with an anklet design that I absolutely love (top). Then I used two other seed bead mixes to create two more ankle bracelets.

I still need to add clasps to the designs before they will be ready to put in my shop. In the meantime, I have learned a very important lesson.

I'm not afraid of chaos and I'm happy talking to strangers. I really love not knowing where I'm going. ~Fiona Shaw

It's not like I don't have a plan. I have a bustling piano studio. I am building my jewelry business. I am dedicated to improving my writing craft and working on it every day.

But the truth is I don't know exactly where it is all going to end up. Sometimes that frightens me. Sure, I have a picture in my mind of what it might look like. But I have a wonderful feeling that where I end up is going to be better than anything I can possibly imagine. 

Yes, the my life is often messy and chaotic. But I have decided I'm going to stop fighting it. Instead, I'm going to embrace it. Control is an illusion. Maybe the secret is finding opportunities in the unexpected.

As for talking to strangers, I rarely meet one.

What is your chaos comfort level?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Macrame Madness

I took another macrame bracelet class at a local bead shop last week, and all I want to do is tie knots. These and many more will eventually be listed for sale in my Etsy store (click HERE).

As much as I love doing it all - and as important as all my creative pursuits are to me - sometimes I have a hard time squeezing everything in. I wish I could just immerse myself in one activity at a time, but real life interferes with that. Piano teaching forces me to adhere to a schedule; special orders from my jewelry customers take precedence over exploration; the demands of running a household are never ending. The only thing I don't HAVE to do is write, but I hope that won't always be the situation, so I write anyway. The best solution I have been able to come up with is to put myself on a flexible daily schedule, in which I teach my students as required, make one or two new pieces of jewelry, and write a specific number of words.

On the heels of my trip to Birmingham, and in the middle of this obsession with macrame, I am a bit behind on my revision schedule. However, I am trying not to beat myself up for that, because I have been writing every day - just 500-1000 words as opposed to a couple thousand. And I am remain committed to get finishing my story before my birthday August 15th. 2000 or so words a day will get me there.

Writers, do you have other creative interests that distract you from your WIP's? How do you deal with that?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Margie Lawson's Empowering Characters' Emotions Workshop

Margie and Me
I am still processing all the information I received yesterday in Margie Lawson's Empowering Characters' Emotions workshop, hosted by Southern Magic Romance Writers

As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, this workshop was exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. Margie shared her EDITS system, showing us how to analyze each scene of our works in progress so that we can clearly see what is there and - more important - what is missing.  Next, she gave us guidelines for assessing the complexity of emotional passages and suggestions for how to pump them up when called for. Last, she offered tips for writing dialogue cues to add psychological power to our work.

She shared countless examples of good writing and held our hands as we worked with the printed chapters of our own projects we had brought with us. It soon became clear to me that I am really not at the revision stage yet; I am still writing my first draft. But when it is finished - and I am holding myself to my August 15th deadline, requiring me to write about 2000 words per day - I feel I have the tools I need to start taking this manuscript to the next level. And I am really, really looking forward to it.

Margie recommended several resources, which I intend to add to my library - and read! - asap.
  • Dwight Swain: Techniques of the Selling Writer
  • James Scott Bell: Plot & Structure; Revision & Self-Editing
  • Donald Maass how-to books
She also offers online courses and lecture packets on her website. This was my first Margie workshop, but it definitely won't be my last.

* * * * *

My brain was too fried by the time I made the drive home from Birmingham to do any writing last night. But I went into the garage and dug through a big plastic bin filled with the journals and notebooks I have kept over the past ten years and pulled out those containing lists of books read and favorite quotes. Then I put on my jammies, poured myself a cup of tea and dug in, looking for passages that resonated with me long before I decided to take the plunge into novel writing myself. Here is one of my favorites.

Left to its own devices, her mind is a fat hummingbird flitting through leafy trees of anxiety, apology, sorrow, excuses, and dreams of grandeur, dreams of humiliation. Sometimes she watches it run off, and it makes her laugh and shake her head. It's like a video game. Bright fast blips of worry and anger come at her, and after fending them off, she's attacked by the huge lumbering Czechoslovakian blogs of tiredness and broken-spiritedness which breaks into small, faster missiles of regret when she fires at them. "What a half-baked species we are," she thinks, and does what she can to make her insides more habitable.
~ From Joe Jones by Anne Lamott

That paragraph still brings tears to my eyes. Because that's the kind of writer I so desperately want to be.

Fellow writers, who are your literary role models? Are there any craft books that you have found to be particularly helpful? Fellow readers, who are your favorite authors and why?


Today I had the privilege of attending Margie Lawson's Empowering Characters' Emotions, hosted by the Birmingham chapter of Romance Writers of America.

I was delighted to see some of my blog sisters from Petit Fours and Hot Tamales at the workshop.

l-r: Deb Kaufman, Christine Glover, Sandy Elzie, Pam Asberry
I also made a new friend, Marilyn Puett of The Writing Playground. Instant connection. I hope you will visit her blog.

l-r: Pam Asberry, Marilyn Puett

I am not exaggerating when I say this workshop was life changing. The way I read a novel, the way I write a first draft, the way I approach revision - none of that will ever be the same as it was.

New York Times Bestseller List, here I come. Yep, it was that powerful.

Stay tuned for details. Right now, I need a good night's sleep.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Baby Bro

Eric and Me

Meet my brother Eric. He knows how to do magical things.

For example, today he waved his magic wand and now, to find my Etsy store, all you have to do is type or or and poof! There you are.

And you probably know this already, but to find my blog all you have to do is type and you will be redirected here to my blogger page.

He also maintains my website And all he gets in return is an occasional chocolate pecan pie.

Thank you, Eric. 

I don't say that nearly often enough.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Great Closet Purge

I spent most of today in the closet.

Here are the before pictures.

I am the luckiest girl in the world, right? I have so many clothes!

It's an illusion. I mean, yes, I have a lot of clothes. But, sadly, most of them don't fit.

This is what my closet looks like now.

I really did it. I got rid of everything that doesn't fit and make me feel great. I have four large bags of clothes in my car ready to go to Goodwill and about the same quantity of items hanging in an empty closet downstairs. I am giving myself six months. At the end of that time period, whatever is in the downstairs closet that STILL doesn't fit and make me feel great is also out the door. And then I will start rebuilding my wardrobe.

My fifteen year old said today was like watching an episode of What Not To Wear, except I didn't get a $5000 VISA gift card to spend on new clothes when I was finished.

True dat. 

This was one of the most depressing things I have done in a long while. And I haven't even sorted through the drawers in those plastic bins you see, nor those in my chest of drawers. There is only so much pain a person can take in one day. 

Yes. I cried real tears.

My weight has fluctuated wildly through the years; at my heaviest, in my junior year of high school, I tipped the scales at nearly 160 pounds. Since then, the number has gone up and down for various reasons, including pregnancy, but post-divorce it stabilized at 105, which I really felt was an ideal weight for me. I wore a size 0 for several years and felt really great about my body.

But then menopause hit and my body betrayed me. I am 5'2"; five pounds is a dress size. Which explains why so little in my closet fits me any more. 

Not even close.

The irony is that my weight is within the "normal" range on the BMI charts. No one would look at me and accuse me of being overweight. I have an under active thyroid but I take medication to treat it; my doctor says that my weight is fine from a medical standpoint, and he doesn't recommend that I exercise more than I already do (35-45 minutes a day on the elliptical). 

Which means that, to a large extent, this problem is in my head. Or is it in somebody else's head? Like the guy who rejected me when I weighed 105 pounds and decided I wasn't as "slim and slender" as he originally thought? Because even when I got down to 95 pounds in an effort to please him - rendering me clinically underweight - I still had curves. Yet at that point in our relationship he still felt compelled to tell me about the woman he had dated before me who had the kind of body he really craved. 

One with thin thighs.

It kind of makes me sick to think about it. 

Honestly? The self-assured, grown-up part of me wants to accept this healthy, middle aged body as it is, scrape together some money, and buy clothes that fit. 

But the overweight teenager that still lives deep inside me is determined to get back into those cute little Victoria's Secret jeans and elegant Talbots dresses hanging in the closet downstairs.

Toward that end,  I have downloaded an app for my iPhone called Lose It! (also available online - click HERE) which requires me to track every bite of food I eat and every calorie I burn up through exercise. Provided I am able to stay with the program, I will reach my weight loss goal on November 3, 2011. And it it's not going to be easy; 1151 calories a day isn't very many. But right this minute I am feeling pretty motivated. So wish me luck.

I am looking forward to trying Denise's coffee drink (click HERE) tomorrow. I bought the necessary ingredients this evening. Karma thinks it all looks pretty good, too.

Do you struggle with body issues? Do you have any tips/recipes to share?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Updates and a recipe

As predicted, I haven't been able to spend much time working on my novel revision, although I have been writing every day. But I finished my book review as well as my chapter of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales group novel; I also made some new friends and did some much-needed refilling of my creative well. So it's not all bad.

Still, it is obvious that I am not going to finish the revision by the end of the month. And maybe that's just as well; Angela James's Before You Hit Send Workshop as well as Margie Lawson's Empowering Characters' Emotions all-day workshop in Birmingham on Saturday will no doubt improve the quality of my work, although they are taking time away from it. I need 18 days writing 2080 words per day in order to finish the current draft of my WIP once and for all; my new deadline is my birthday August 15th.

I can't think of a better way to begin a new year of my life than starting a new book.

Besides that, I am a little bit panicked by how quickly my summer "vacation" is going by and how few things I have checked off my summer to-do list. I am trying not to beat myself up for this; my daily to-do list is pretty ambitious, and it isn't unusual for me to work 12 to 15 hour at a stretch. So it looks like the only solution is to let some of the routine things slide here and there in order to tackle some of those other items. It's a safe bet that everything isn't going to get done. It's also a safe bet that what doesn't get done isn't going anywhere.

And this isn't even on my list, but tomorrow I am going to clean out my bedroom closet, heeding the advice of my wonderful Jane Austen Book Club pals and boxing up everything that doesn't fit or flatter, because it makes me miserable to walk into my closet and see nothing but garments that I haven't been able to squeeze into for two years or more. There may not be much left after I get finished, but the pieces that survive will be things I can actually wear. Then I am going to give myself six months to lose this ten or fifteen pounds that stands between me and perfection. If I succeed, great - I will pull out the boxes and replace some of the items. If I don't, the boxes go to Goodwill, and I will slowly begin to rebuild my wardrobe.

My friends seems to think that, once those clothes are out of my closet, the weight will disappear with minimal effort. I hope they're right.

Maybe Denise's low-cal iced coffee drink will help. Here is her recipe.

1 cup leftover coffee
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (preferably chocolate)
Sugar free syrup to taste (she uses coconut - available at Cost Plus)
Blend all with crushed ice.
Makes about 4 cups.

How is your writing coming along? Are there any projects you hope to accomplish before summer's end?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, I Miss You

Every July 19th, I celebrate the lives of my paternal grandmother, Maude, and my little brother, Greg. They are no longer with us on this earth but the world is a better place because they lived in it.

Happy Birthday, Grandmother and Greg. I miss you every day.

# # #

I am also blogging at Writers Li.P.P. today on the topic of rejection. I hope you will stop by and share your experiences.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Saturday Adventures

A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints.
~Wilfred Peterson

The Georgia Romance Writers do not convene during the month of July, but we were encouraged to spend our regular meeting time doing extra writing; some of us chose to meet in small groups to do this. So yesterday morning I drove to the beautiful  Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee House at Walton on the Chattahoochee, hunkered down with friends old and new, and worked on my chapter for the group novel I am writing with some of my blog sisters at the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales.

GRW Pals

Then I headed over to Roswell for the American Bead and Jewelry Show where Melody MacDuffee was working a booth on behalf of Soul of Somanya. We got acquainted while I admired her wares - beautiful recycled glass beads and handcrafted jewelry from the Krobo district of Ghana - and when the show was over we went out for dinner. Three hours seemed like thirty minutes.

Mel & Me

Mel has started a blog about her experiences in Ghana. Click HERE to find out ways you can help with this very worthy cause.

Remember today, for it is the beginning of always. Today marks the start of a brave new future filled with all your dreams can hold. Think truly to the future and make those dreams come true.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Book Review: Follow An Angel

by Marilyn Baron

Marilyn Baron has done it again with her latest supernatural romance, Follow An Angel. With its sympathetic characters, mesmerizing plot, and highly satisfying ending, this book is a real page-turner.

Thirty years old, always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride Eden Eastman is resigned to being single. Jaded from years of online dating and on the heels of being stood up by one man too many, she considers checking herself into Belleview or jumping off a bridge. But since she’s actually neither crazy nor suicidal, she decides instead to flee New York City and retreat to her parents’ beachfront property in an attempt to heal her broken heart.

All bets are off when hunky, winged Gabriel appears hovering over the balcony of the fifth floor condo, explaining that he is a celestial being on a mission. Like Clarence from It’s A Wonderful Life, Gabe is an angel in training; unlike Clarence, he is no old fogey – after all, he has a Facebook page! And using his social media savvy, he devises a plan to help Eden meet her soul mate, but they have just until sunset to carry it out.

At first, Eden is completely consumed by the quest for true love, but as she develops genuine affection for Gabe, she begins to care even more about helping him succeed in his mission. Do they make their deadline? Does Eden meet the man of her dreams? You’ll have to read the book to find out. But I will tell you that the beautiful twist at the end will bring joy to your heart and a tear to your eye.

As a single woman often disillusioned with the dating scene myself, I could relate to Eden on so many levels. Ms. Baron’s portrayal of her heroine’s thoughts, feelings and actions was spot-on. You can even follow Eden on Twitter; her user name is @EdenGardenof. Five stars! Highly recommended!

Available from TWB Press, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ordinary Things

I am participating in #Trust30, an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. 

Today's prompt:
Ordinary Things 

Every artist was first an amateur.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

To be an artist, one has to find beauty in ordinary things. Find ten things of great beauty in the landscape that surrounds you. For example, crumpled sheets on your bed in the morning, the small of coffee making its way around a busy office.
Author: Ana Guardia

This holly bush is a volunteer.

My love for dandelions gone to seed is legendary.

Decorative work on the china cabinet that my grandmother passed down to me when she died.

My wine bottle rack. I love the curves and shadows.

Fringe on a fleece blanket a piano student made and gave to me for Christmas a few years back. 

Beads that almost look like buttons.

Hand-dyed ribbons.

Czech glass beads in jellybean colors.

Sparkling pink crystals with an aurora borealis finish.

A beautiful beetle. I hope he's okay.

I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge; I saw things I wouldn't have noticed otherwise, and I am so thankful I didn't miss them. Give it a try; you won't be sorry!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

ROW80 Update

The good news is I am right on track with my daily word count goals. Monday I knocked off 2143; yesterday I managed 2079. Today isn't over yet, but I should make it to 2070, no sweat.

The bad news is that the manuscript that started out at over 70,000 words has been revised down to just under 50,000 - meaning that, moving forward I have to write more than 35,000 words from scratch. By the end of July, according to plan.

Overall, I am pleased with the work I have done so far. The writing gets better with every pass. But I have characters to develop, holes to fill. Yep - what remains is more than a little daunting.

Unfortunately, I am going to have to put the revision on hold - at least for the most part - until I finish writing my chapter of a group novel project I am writing with the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales. Linsey, if you're reading this, I promise you'll have my pages by Sunday night.

There. I said it.

How are the rest of you doing? I would love to hear about your progress, whether you're participating in ROW80 or not. Leave a comment and let us cheer you on!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Writing and Cooking in Positano

You've read Eat, Pray, Love and know about Elizabeth Gilbert eating her way across Italy, right? And you've seen Under the Tuscan Sun and watched Dianne Ladd remodel her Italian villa and Letters From Juliet in which Lynn Redgrave renews a decades-old love affair?

Then you can certainly understand why I want to spend a week Writing and Cooking in Positano (click HERE). But it's not just about a trip to Italy and fabulous cuisine; I also want to meet one of my all-time favorite authors, Elizabeth Berg. Just look at my Amazing Life List; yep, it sure would be great to check off #64.

So, who would like to sponsor me?

Oh, dear; I don't see any hands going up.

Obviously, what I need to do, then, is conduct my life in such a way that the next time such an opportunity presents itself I will be ready. Financially and otherwise.

Gotta keep teaching those piano lessons. Gotta make a success of my jewelry business. Gotta finish that book.

In the meantime, I am going to keep knocking what items I can off my list. Since creating it on March 15, 2010, I have accomplished 16, 27, 37, 40, 50, 51, 56 and 61. As for #36, I had an article published in the state music teacher's association newsletter - almost there - and I have only one more book to read to complete #30. And I am plugging away at #32 and #70.

To be honest, there are a couple of things on the list that are no longer as important to me as they once were, and a few others that I might put in their place. At some point, I will probably rewrite it altogether. For now, it is useful simply to move it back to the front burner. That's why the act of creating such lists is so important. It helps you figure out what matters most and focus your consciousness on it.

Tomorrow, I plan to begin brainstorming a list of potential writing projects so that after The Wishing Box is finished in an attempt to figure out exactly who I am as a writer. It has been suggested that I explore potential markets in nonfiction; it has also been suggested that I tap into my experience working with children and consider writing for the young adult market. These are all good ideas.

But for now, I remain committed to finishing this book of my heart - the one that I have been slaving over for more than two years - by the end of July. It surely isn't the best book I will ever write; God willing, it won't be my last.

I am thinking about how much fun it would be to write a memoir about a week spent writing and cooking in Positano with Elizabeth Berg...

Good News Comes In Threes

My three sons, Summer 2003
You've probably heard the old saying "bad news comes in threes." Well, I'm here to tell you that GOOD news comes in threes sometimes. At least it did for me today.

First, through a serendipitous series of events, I have been corresponding with Melody McDuffee, founder of Soul of Somanya, one of the charitable organizations I mentioned in my blog post last weekend, and plan to have dinner with her and a friend on Saturday night.

(doing the happy dance)

Second, I received an email from a publicist about reviewing a nationally recognized memoir and doing a Q&A session with the author on this blog. The book sounds terrific; I am very excited about reading it and reviewing it and getting to know the brave, inspiring woman who wrote it.

(clicking my heels together in the air)

Third, I discovered that I won one of four spots Shannon Stacey gave away in a drawing for Harlequin editor Angela James's Before You Hit Send Workshop. The workshop actually began today and runs for three weeks, perfectly coinciding with my self-imposed revision deadline for The Wishing Box. Thank you, Shannon and Angela!


And there's more good news in threes; if you haven't had enough of me already, I am also blogging on Tuesday at Writers Li.P.P.  about the laying the groundwork for a lifetime of health and at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales with a few of my favorite timesaving tips. I'll be checking in all three places throughout the day, answering your comments. See you around the World Wide Web!

*butt in chair, hands on keyboard

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Before and After

After nearly three months of beading in my new studio space - and being careless about cleaning up after finished projects and putting away newly purchased supplies - my work table was looking like something had vomited beads all over it.

Excited about many new projects but left with literally no space left to work, I decided it was time to rectify the situation. Nearly four hours later, my beading area looked like this.

Peace and tranquility reign once again. Ah. It will be a joy to get back to work in there tomorrow.

And I meant to share this with you yesterday. It's a note that Natalie's daughter passed under the door while I was beading in their home Friday night.

That really made me smile.

* * *

I am participating in another round of ROW80. Sidetracked by beading, blogging and a book review, I missed a couple of days of writing last week, but if I can manage 2070 words a day - and I CAN - I will still be able to finish my revision by July 31st. You can keep track of my efforts on the Progress Bar to the right of this blog. Once The Wishing Box is finished, I will reassess my goals as I prepare to begin work on my next project. 

Yep, writing 2070 words a day is the big, fat, ugly frog I have to eat before I do ANYTHING else every day. Beading will be my reward.

Beading Frenzy

I made two sparkly crisscross bracelets at Natalie's house last night.

And this afternoon I sat in on a class at my favorite local bead shop, On the Rocks, and made an intricate chain mail bracelet.

It's really true: I can't decide what I want to be when I grow up.

I love teaching piano. I love writing. And I love beading.

Thank goodness I don't HAVE to decide. I really CAN do it all.

Just not all at once.

But where my beading is concerned, I have been trying to figure out some ways I can give back. I want to donate a portion of the profits from my Etsy store to a charitable organization, preferably something related to beading that empowers women and/or helps children. I became quite excited when I learned about Soul of Somanya, an organization which endeavors to develop sustainable employment opportunities in the field of bead work for disadvantaged youth with limited job prospects. I intend to find out more about this group, and who knows? Maybe I will travel to Africa on their behalf one day.

And then I found out about Beading to Beat Autism. You must watch this video; it will bring tears to your eyes.

I signed up for the 30-day challenge on the spot; when my kit gets here, I am going to need a lot of help assembling and selling 300 bracelets. So if any of you want to help in any way, whether it's beading or buying - I am thinking party here, who's in? - please comment and let me know.

Michala reminded me how each and every one of us - whether big or small - can me a huge difference in this world. We just have to find our calling. Every day I believe I get a little bit closer to finding mine. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Letting Go

The Freedom Giveaway Blog Hop is over, and what a wild ride it was! Thanks to all my new followers and friends. The winners of my $10 Amazon gift cards are latishajean and Jean M. Congratulations to both of you! Your gift certificates are on their way!


On a happy day with him, December 2010.
The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.
~Maureen Dowd

As usual, it was complicated; he lives three hours away and has deep roots. But in light of my situation - single mom with three kids, self-employed, job dependent on my geographic location - he said he was willing to relocate; soon after I met him - last August - he even talked about "wintering over" with me. Then push came to shove; winter came and went. Not only that, he was never available when it really mattered: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, Easter, Fourth of July. At first, I put my life on hold to be available when it was convenient for him. But enough is enough.

It takes a couple of seconds to say hello, but forever to say goodbye.

I hadn't seen him since April, but I agreed to meet him for lunch last week while he was in town, dropping off friends at the Atlanta airport. I want you back in my life, he said. What can I do to make that happen? he wanted to know.

He suggested a weekend away. There's never a problem when we're together, he pointed out. We discussed options for several days. Gatlinburg? Savannah? Tybee Island? We finally agreed on Myrtle Beach. I have never been there before. And I was just about ready to start packing.

But then he didn't want to make a room reservation. You can get a better deal if you just walk in than you can if you book online, he explained. We'll find a cheap room with a kitchenette. And then he asked me if I had a beach umbrella. I don't, I apologized. But you can rent beach umbrellas, right? 

And it struck me like a bolt of lightning: if I really wanted somebody back in my life, and I hadn't spent time with him in three or four months, I would be willing to spring for the online reservation and the beach umbrella. I would book a room in a fabulous place, find the best seafood restaurants, research the local attractions.

I would make MAGIC.

And please don't misunderstand me. Because this isn't about money. It's about ATTITUDE.

I. Deserve. Magic.

He wanted to drive down Thursday night or Friday morning; Wednesday night, the decision weighed heavily on me, and I was wide awake. I called him about 4:30 Thursday morning, in tears - because I could not sleep, and because I was afraid if I went to the beach with him, it would just give him the opportunity to break my heart all over again.

Get some rest, he said. I will call you at 10 tomorrow morning for your answer.

If he had called me at 10 - had just made good on that one promise - I would have said yes. But I didn't hear from him until 11:30, and by then, my work day had started. He tried once more, a couple of hours later, and I didn't hear from him again until 2:00 this afternoon. Are you ready to go, he asked? 

By then, I was over it. I spent the day engaged in all my routine activities, the evening with my friend Natalie; she scrapbooked and I beaded. Now it's time to take a deep breath and get on with the rest of my life.


Sometimes I wonder if I am going to be single forever.

What I know for sure is I have blog posts to write, books to review, a novel to finish, jewelry to make, piano students to nurture. So I'm going to focus on all that. I will admit that I would love it if Mr. Right would come and sweep me off my feet. But I'm not gonna hold my breath.

When I'm trusting and being myself as fully as possible, everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously.

I sure hope so.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In this case, art imitates life

Monday, as you might recall, was the fourth of July. Nathan was with his dad and Casey was with friends, so it was just my dog Karma and me here at home. To keep my mind off my solitude, I threw myself into my normal routine - morning pages, gym, writing, beading, Etsy, blogging - and tried to pretend that it was just another day. I might have actually pulled it off, too, except it just so happened that the scene of my novel in line for revision was Christmas Eve, which my heroine spends alone and bereft.

It was absolutely heartbreaking.

I considered skipping ahead to New Year's Eve - which turns out to be a much better day for my cherished character - but I decided instead to slog my way through the misery, make an effort to get in touch with the feelings I was experiencing and use them in my work. In the end, I think that was the right thing to do; it was cathartic to really feel my feelings - as opposed to burying them, like I usually do - and there is no doubt that my writing is richer as a result.

Writers, to what extent do you funnel your real-life feelings and experiences into  your work?


It's Friday Show-and-Tell at Writers Li.P.P. (click HERE). I hope you'll stop by and see what we have to share with you today. Remember to comment for a chance to win the hottest t-shirt in town!

Happy Blogoversary to ME!!!

It's hard to believe, but it was three years ago today that I wrote my inaugural post for this blog.

I'm not sure when I first became aware of blogging, but I distinctly remember when I became fascinated by it. I was sitting up late one January evening, sipping a glass of wine and perusing knitting books at Amazon when I stumbled upon Laurie Perry's Drunk Divorced and Covered in Cat Hair (subtitled The True Life Adventures of a 30-Something Who Learned to Knit After He Split). How could I resist a title like that? I ordered the book that night and devoured it as soon as it arrived.

At the end of the book, I learned that Laurie wrote a blog, and as smitten with her as I was, I promptly checked that out, too. Turned out Laurie had been blogging since January, 2005 so it took me a while to catch up, but eventually I did and I haven't missed a post since. Her blog is honest and compelling and warm and wise and hilarious and heartbreaking all at the same time. If you have never visited her site, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, the whole idea of blogging really resonated with me, but it took me several months to actually take the plunge. But on July 6, 2008 I did. If you want to read that first post, click HERE. When I first started, I honestly thought my blog would be a lot like Laurie's, except not as funny. (I wish!) But I think I have remained true to my original vision:

In this blog I will share many, many adventures. I am a single mom, a daughter and a sister; a music maker and piano teacher; a writer; a lover and a friend; a dog owner; a maker of things, including but not limited to collage art, knitting, crocheting, quilting, and beading. I cook and bake and clean and do laundry and all the other several hundred things it takes to keep a household running. To tell you the truth, I often have a hard time keeping up with everything and maintaining order and balance in my life...I am hoping that writing about it will help.

And it HAS helped - not just the writing about it, but the support and encouragement you provide me through your comments - here, on Facebook, and sometimes even in person. My life has taken some funny turns during these three years. I have lost a brother, ended a four-year relationship, dabbled in online dating, gotten engaged to a guy I met on a cruise, dabbled in step-parenting, broken the engagement, dated some more, dealt with some difficult situations with my kids, turned my beading into a business.

And now I am blogging regularly on THREE websites, occasionally on a few others - and I have started a journey as a novelist that I hope will result in publication. Last night, as I struggled with yet another difficult scene in my revision, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Why are you writing a book when you could be having FUN?" So I posed the question on Facebook and Twitter and got some positive feedback and then I felt better. And it beat the heck out of punching a hole in my laptop screen.

I took a deep breath, and I got back to work.

Thank you for joining me in my celebration. Thank you for reading this blog, and following this blog, and sharing your love and wisdom in your comments. I appreciate it more than you can possibly imagine.

And here's to the future!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I am blogging at Writers Li.P.P. today about reinvention. Click HERE to walk down memory lane with me. Illustrated!

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The Freedom Giveaway Blog Hop continues! To participate, click HERE and follow the directions.

Monday, July 4, 2011

It's that time again...

Independence Day. And that start of a new #ROW80.

For the record, I am officially overwhelmed. I am 37,215 words into my novel revision, meaning I have almost 50,000 words left to go. That's 1,706 words a day to finish by the end of July - my official #ROW80 goal for the month. I will set a goal for the remainder of the round on July 31st.

But that's not the only writing I have going on. I am blogging here every day, blogging at Writers Li.P.P. once a week, blogging on Petit Fours and Hot Tamales once a month, and guest blogging at #amwriting and Under the Tiki Hut during the next few weeks. In addition, I committed to write a chapter of a group novel and that needs to be finished by mid-July, at the latest. And I promised to write a review for a friend and post it several places on September 1st, the day her book is scheduled for release.

And that's just the writing.

Stephen King says, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that."

Right now I have 61 books patiently waiting for me on my Kindle.

I am also beading - with the goal of adding at least a new item or two every day to my Etsy store - and teaching piano lessons on Wednesdays and Thursdays in July.

And I have summer project list that's ten miles long. Give or take.

So this afternoon, I sat down and made a checklist in Excel for my daily, weekly, biweekly and monthly goals. I have actually been doing a good job of keeping up with all that, which means items on the summer project list are the frogs I need to eat, one per day. I'll let you know how it goes.

I guess it's a good thing I'm single right now. Clearly, I don't have time for a relationship. I barely have time to go to the bathroom.

But I love what I'm doing and I'm optimistic about the future. So I'm going to keep up this pace as well as I can and hope for the best.

"Some succeed because they are destined; others succeed because they are DETERMINED."

I'm counting on it.

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The Freedom Giveaway Blog Hop continues! To participate, click HERE and follow the directions. Thanks to all of you for your support! And have a wonderful 4th of July!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A little of this and a little of that

Last week my GRW friend Pamela Mason blogged about writers creating special places for themselves to work, even on a limited budget. As you might recall, I write in my bedroom, and have been very pleased with my new situation. But I have really enjoyed my purple piano/design studio - I feel happy all over again every time I walk in there, which is several times a day - so one of the projects on my summer to-do list is to add some color to the walls of my bedroom. I was leaning towards a pale pink, but when I mentioned that to my 15-year old and he asked me, "Are you twelve years old, Mom?" I decided to rethink that decision. Now I am leaning towards more of a conch shell pink.
What do you think?
Then while I was catching up on some blogs in Google Reader (I am always over 1000 blog posts behind; what about you?) I discovered this on E. Kelly's blog. You absolutely MUST click the link! Now you understand why I am inspired to choose one of my favorite writing quotes to paint on the wall over my desk - there are so many! But that will be the perfect finishing touch.

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I had to take a break from my list-driven existence yesterday and do some housekeeping. I hadn't done my own laundry since returning from my trip to the beach  - as a matter of fact, my suitcase was still on my bedroom floor, unpacked except for the toiletries - and there were piles everywhere: dirty dishes in the kitchen and living room, mail on the dining room table, clutter from the garage spilling into the downstairs. Although things are still far from perfect, all my clothes and the dishes are clean and the piles have been sorted and dealt with. 

Meanwhile, I have admitted that it is going to take me until the end of July to finish my revision of The Wishing Box - two weeks longer than I originally planned, with a word count goal of 1800-2000 words a day - and I am still chugging away in my Etsy store, making new pieces/adding new stock to my shop almost daily. If you want to splurge on something pretty for yourself or simply need a unique gift for someone special, I hope you will visit.

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The Freedom Giveaway Blog Hop continues! To participate, click HERE and follow the directions. Thanks to all of you for your support! 

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What are your plans for the rest of the 4th of July holiday weekend? Casey has to work; Nathan is at his dad's - so it's looking like it's going to be Karma and me hiding out in my bedroom avoiding the inevitable loud noises outside.  

Or maybe I'll go bowling. Did you know about this?

However you celebrate, have fun and be safe!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Little Night Music

I promised you some time ago that I would post a video of Christina and me playing our piano duet. Here it is. 

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I am participating in the Freedom Giveaway Blog Hop! Over 200 bloggers are each hosting a giveaway and we are all linked together so you can easily hop from one blog to the next; click HERE for the complete list.

I am giving away two $10 Amazon gift cards. In order to qualify, you must first FOLLOW THIS BLOG. For additional entries, you can:

1. Friend me on Facebook (click HERE).
2. Follow my fan page on Facebook (click HERE).
3. Follow me on Twitter (click HERE).
4. Friend me on Goodreads (click HERE).
5. Follow my group blog Writers Li.P.P. (click HERE).

If you don't have time for all that clicking today, come back anytime between now and midnight, July 7th, when I will select the winners using a random number generator. Be sure to leave a comment for each entry and INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS - otherwise I won't know where to send your Amazon gift certificate should your name be chosen. If you are already following this blog and qualify for any of the extra entries, leave a comment to that effect and you will also be included in the drawing.

Good luck, and happy blog hopping!