Thursday, September 29, 2011

Not So Different

I am writing from the Holiday Inn Decatur Conference Center, where I will be staying through Sunday attending the 2011 Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight and Magnolias Conference. I jump-started the weekend this afternoon at The Chocolate Bar in Decatur, where I attended a "chocolate-filled chat" with best-selling authors Karen White and Eloisa James.

Karen White and Eloisa James
The event started with casual conversation, delicious food - bottomless mimosas, cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, and a chocolate fountain - and then the two women shared a little bit about their work: past, present and future. Karen White lives just across town from me and is a past president of Georgia Romance Writers. One of my favorite authors, it turns out she has known Shakespearean professor Eloisa James for many years. I was fascinated to hear the story of their friendship and their writing journeys. 

What struck me most was their revelation that, even after publishing 15 and 18 books, respectively, they still feel insecure about their ability as storytellers. Writers pour their hearts into their books; as I know all too well, this makes us very vulnerable to the opinions of others. But I was surprised to learn that even Karen White and Eloisa James don't necessarily believe that their work is good until someone else confirms that. Even after all this time. Even after all their successes. Maybe there is hope for me, after all. 

I was also very excited to hear about their upcoming releases. I hope you will click on their names above to find out what's new.

Finally, I treated myself to two new books, got them autographed, and had my picture taken with each of these amazing woman.

Karen White and Pam Asberry
Eloisa James and Pam Asberry
What a great way to kick off this year's M&M conference. I am looking forward to more wonderful adventures tomorrow. See you then!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fangirl, Circa 1972

Karma is guarding all my precious treasures.
As I mentioned in my blog post on Sunday, I have been sorting through boxes of photos and memorabilia dating back to when I was a wee, small lass. I cannot BELIEVE some of the stuff I have uncovered. My childhood postcard collection. My dad's patent application. Letters from a Japanese pen pal. School photos from first grade friends.

And writing. A poetry book my mother and I wrote. A collection of short stories written and illustrated by a high school friend. Articles I wrote that appeared in local newsletters and newspapers. And the following, written in longhand on notebook paper after I saw teenage heart throb David Cassidy in concert at the DuQuoin State Fair in 1972.

l-r: Debbie, Pam, Julee, Melinda
Thanks, Julee,  for permission to use the photo!

August 28, 1972

Saturday, August 26, 1972, I went to see David Cassidy in person and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my whole lifetime.

I went with my girlfriend, Julee, who had bought my ticket, and her cousin Melinda and our friend Debbie. Julee's mother and father took us to the DuQuoin State Fair in DuQuoin, Illinois, where David was making a personal appearance that day.

The concert was scheduled to start at 2:00. It started at 2:00 with David's band and background singers. They performed for about 40 minutes, and then a 15 minute intermission was called for buying field glasses, drinks, etc.

At about 2:55 a taxi drove up and everyone knew who was in it. Everyone cheered, and for about 5 minutes the crowd was chanting, "We want David!" Then at precisely 3:00 the band came out again, seated themselves, and OUT CAME DAVID!

The crowd went wild as he jumped into his first number. He's so super groovy!

After he'd finished his first song, he said he'd just flown in from Honolulu. (Unimportant, but he said it!) A couple of kids held up a poster. He said he liked it. I wished I would have made one.

He went on to sing many more songs. He sang my favorite one (Cherish) and I cried during it and Ricky's Tune.

A couple of girls tried to get to him but the security guards pulled them away. It's a shame when a group is so wild a performer has to be protected to save his life.

The concert was over all too soon. After a brief thank you he ran off the stage, hopped into a car, and was gone. "Oh, David, come back," I thought. But he didn't. So sadly I left, saying over and over, "David, come back," til my friends thought I was nuts.

Someday I hope to see him again. But until then I want to thank him for making one of the happiest days of my life.

Once a writer, always a writer. There's lots more where this came from!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blogging, blogging, everywhere

Conversation cut and pasted from my oldest son's Facebook wall:

* * * * *
Josh Geyer

My mom sure has a lot of blogs....

 ·  · September 14 at 6:31am · Privacy:

* * * * * 

I guess it's true. Anyway, today I am blogging at #amwriting about filling the creative well and at Writers Li.P.P. with a countdown to Georgia Romance Writers Moonlight & Magnolias Conference. And if you missed my post here yesterday, I hope you will check it out and comment. The sand is shifting under my feet. It's a great feeling.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

This one goes out to the one I loved.

A dark cloud has been following me for weeks and yesterday the rain fell in torrents. I woke up with a headache - allergies, I guess; I couldn't face my to-do list, so I spent the day alternately napping and sorting through boxes and boxes of memorabilia and old photos. Probably not the best choice, I realize now, to confront the past in such an intimate way on a day when I felt sick and tired; better to tackle a chore like that from a position of health and strength.  Anyway, saturated after only a couple of hours, I picked up my knitting, turned on my TiVo, and selected my favorite junk food movie, The Holiday.

I seldom watch a film more than once, but I have seen this one literally dozens of times. It's definitely a chick flick, but guys will sit through it with me - once - on account of Cameron Diaz, although I identify more closely with her co-star, Kate Winslet. The story of two women - one English and one American - who exchange homes for Christmas, it always satisfies - at least temporarily - my unfulfilled longing for a deep and satisfying romantic relationship. Yes, it's corny. But like Kate Winslet's character, Iris says in the movie, "I'm looking for corny in my life."

Yesterday, as I watched Iris's pivotal scene, I had an epiphany. Here is the scene.
You don't have to watch the entire clip. Start at 6:25 and go to the end.

In case you skipped the video, I will repeat her words. She is speaking to an ex-lover she can't quite seem to get over, who just claimed he wants to keep her in his life even though he is engaged to marry someone else. 

"You have never treated me right, ever. You broke my heart and you acted like somehow it was my fault, my misunderstanding. I was too in love with you to ever be mad at you so I just punished myself, for years...It's over. THIS TWISTED, TOXIC THING BETWEEN US IS FINALLY FINISHED. I'M MIRACULOUSLY DONE BEING IN LOVE WITH YOU. I HAVE A LIFE TO START LIVING. AND YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE IN IT."

Those words hit me right between the eyes. Maybe we can't choose whom we fall in love with, but we CAN choose whether or not to continue loving that person. Similarly, we can't choose who loves us in return; if a heart is unwilling, it cannot be forced open. These are laws, like gravity. To resist is useless. One might as well jump out of a plane without a parachute.

Finally, I am ready to cut my losses. It happened just that fast. I let go. I'm free falling. Trusting my chute to open. So I can get back to the business of living my life. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sometimes the only way forward is backward.

I enjoyed a leisurely morning. That's the official version. It sounds much better than the truth, which is that I wasted the best part of the day. At least, it appears that way at first glance.

I was out late last night; I slept until almost nine, spent a couple of hours online, took my dog out to do his business, made a pot of French press, buttered a piece of raisin toast for breakfast. Then I decide join in an Noble Knits online knitting party which started today and runs through Sunday (click HERE) - the perfect opportunity to finish the slouchy hipster hat I started several days ago. This is what it looked like at noon.

Just beginning the decrease to create the crown of the cap.
This is what it looked like less than two hours later.

A ball of yarn and some knitting needles.
No, the pictures aren't reversed. Shortly after I made the switch from the circular needles to the double pointed needles, I goofed up and dropped several stitches and couldn't get them back on properly. Frustrated, I finally gave up and ripped the whole thing apart. 

It seems like I have spent a lot of hours that way the past couple of years, especially since I started writing fiction: attempting to create something beautiful, and having nothing to show for my time in the end. At least, that's one way of looking at it. The fact is that I have profited in intangible ways. Each failed attempt is a stepping stone on the path to eventual success. Someday, I will wear a colorful sweater I have knitted myself; someday, I will sign my name on the title page of my newly-published novel. But someday is not a pipe dream; it is a reality I can see, the consummation of many ordinary days like today.

Live. Learn. Fail. Succeed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Everyday Sounds

A bird chirping outside the window of my piano studio. Gunfire from a video game. The cheerful hum of the dishwasher. The booming of my children's voices - deep like men now - and the chatter of their visiting friends. Laughter. Much laughter. The dog barking every time the front door opens and closes.

The clicking of my laptop keyboard. The teakettle whistling. The microwave whirring. The twang of the mandolin. The tinkling of the piano keys. My phone alarm. The rattle of the air conditioner. The roar of the mail carrier's engine.

A crazy cacophony, dissonance and consonance, melodies and harmonies that soar and converge to create a symphony unlike any other. An improvisation that can never be repeated or improved upon. The soundtrack to a day in our lives.

* * *

This post was composed according to the guidelines for Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments, "letting the thoughts and ideas flow as they wished." Thank you, Heather, for the inspiration!

Georgia Romance Writers: Jade Lee

Jade Lee & Pam Asberry
The featured speaker at Saturday's Georgia Romance Writers meeting was Jade Lee; she gave a wonderful lecture entitled The Core of Romance. Afterwards, I bought two of her books, Wicked Surrender and Wicked Seduction. I haven't read a lot of period romance but I am looking forward to getting lost in these. 

Haywood Smith & Pam Asberry
And - finally! - I got my picture taken with one of my favorite authors of all time, Haywood Smith. She is a member of GRW and and came to the meeting this month to sign her latest release, Wife-In-Law. I was delighted to pay full retail price for this book in order to get an autographed copy, and Haywood wrote the sweetest inscription inside mine. I will treasure it always.

GRW meetings have become the highlight of each month for me. Not only do I get to rub shoulders with famous authors - and the ones I have met have been completely down-to-earth, humble, kind and generous - but I get to hang out with all my local writer friends, who are in various stages of the publication process, and equally down-to-earth, humble, kind and generous. Case in point: fellow Petit Fours and Hot Tamales blogger Susan Carlisle, who recently sold her first fiction title to a major publisher, took time out of her busy schedule to photocopy and make notes on several rejection letters she received on the road to publication to encourage me to keep writing despite my recent disappointing contest results. Knowing the kind of writer she is and seeing her judges' comments helped tremendously. Thank you, Susan. If karma has anything to do with it, you will be on the New York Times Bestseller list in no time.

I intend to get back into a daily practice of writing after the M&M Conference the first weekend in October. In the meantime, I am reading, reading, reading - fiction in different genres as well as books on the craft of writing - and sorting through old photos and memorabilia, contemplating a couple of nonfiction projects. I'll keep you posted. I am also blogging in several places this week; Monday and Tuesday you can find me at Writers Li.P.P. and Wednesday and Thursday I will be Under the Tiki Hut. I hope you will stop by and say hello!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Secret

You might consider this a follow-up post to Letting Go (click HERE). 

I have felt so off-kilter ever since school started. It has been wonderful seeing my piano students and having a steady income again (click HERE), but my jewelry business (click HERE)  has suffered and writing has come to a standstill. Meanwhile, I have started a new blog (click HERE) and am excited about all the new experiences I have been having. Especially, I am falling more and more in love with my mandolin every day.

Then I opened The Secret. You read it years ago, right? After all, the book was first published in 2006. You have implemented its principles and your life has fallen into place, hasn't it? You're living in your dream home, driving a European sports car, wearing designer duds, investing your millions in the stock market and earning triple digit returns?


Me, neither.

I first heard about this book on Oprah when author Rhonda Byrne made her first appearance on the show; I purchased it immediately and added it to my stash, but then it sat on my shelf for months before I got around to actually reading it.

In case you have been living in a cave, this is the premise of the book. 

The Great Secret of Life is the law of attraction. The law of attraction says like attracts like, so when you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you. Your current thoughts are creating your future life. What you think about the most or focus on the most will appear as your life. Your thoughts become things.

Sounds good, right? Except if this is true, it seems to me that I should have everything my heart desires. I made a vision board, for goodness’ sake. I’m not just sitting around waiting for my wishes to come true. I have been putting the pedal to the metal.  Day in and day out.

Maybe that’s part of the problem.

Here’s a little more from The Secret:

Your thoughts determine your frequency, and your feelings tell you immediately what frequency you are on. When you feel bad, you are on the frequency of drawing more bad things. When you feel good, you are powerfully attracting more good things to you.

I like to think about myself as a cheerful, positive, optimistic person. But the more I read, the more I realized how much of the time I feel stressed and anxious—about there being too few hours in a day, about my monthly financial shortfall, about my credit card debt, about my children’s future.

I am grateful for everything I have – truly, deeply grateful. But I am ashamed to admit that it seems I am placing my focus on the things I lack – which, according to The Secret, creates more lack.

And what does The Secret have to say about relationships?

Treat yourself with love and respect, and you will attract people who show you love and respect.

I wake up every morning with a daily to-do list that is humanly impossible to achieve, then berate myself for not getting around to it all. I step on the bathroom scales and berate myself for STILL carrying that extra ten pounds. I could go on and on with the thousand and one times I call myself a failure every single day.  Is it any wonder I haven't met anyone who values me enough to make spending time with me a priority, to put my needs first, to accept me as I am?

I am still trying to wrap my brain around this new way of thinking. What I know for sure is that I want to get beyond mere survival.  My immediate stragegy? To resume keeping a gratitude journal (click HERE). To bring the future I want – down to every last detail – into clear focus. To catch myself every time I drift into self-defeating thoughts and feelings. And, as much as possible, to spend my days engaged in pursuits that bring me joy.

Danielle LaPorte blogged about this just today; click HERE to read the entire post. In the meantime, here is a small bite to whet your appetite.

Time management systems are tricky beasts. They may help us be more productive, but not necessarily less stressed, or more fulfilled, or more in touch with our true nature. We may look freer with our priorities all tidy, but too often, time remains the master and we get “given” time for obeying the system.

Old habits die hard; I am going to take this one day at a time, and be patient with myself, trusting in a positive outcome. I like Jack Canfield's analogy, as quoted in The Secret.

Think of a car driving through the night. The headlights only go a hundred to two hundred feet forward, and you can make it all the way from California to New York driving through the dark, because all you have to see is the next two hundred feet. And that’s how life tends to unfold before us. If we just trust that the next two hundred feet will unfold after that, your life will keep unfolding. And it will eventually get you to the destination of whatever it is you truly want, because you want it.

As I was finishing this blog post, an old Dan Fogelberg song, Netherlands, popped into my head. I found a link to it on YouTube and was astonished at the way it resonated with me after all these years - more so today than ever. I will share it with here. Whether you have never heard the song before or you remember it from back in the day, I hope you will listen to every word.

What do you think about The Secret?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Winners Announced!

I am happy to announce that Pixel Berry Pie is the winner of the $10 Amazon Gift Card in my Back To The Books Giveaway Blog Hop and Laura H. is the winner of the free download in the My Memories 2 Suite Free Software Giveaway. Both winners have been contacted and your prizes will be on their way shortly. Congratulations to both of you!

Remember, if you want to purchase the My Memories 2 Suite software, please use the coupon code STMMMS12846 at checkout to receive a $10 discount off your purchase price AND a $10 off coupon for the My Memories store - that's a $10 value! To take advantage of this opportunity, simply click HERE and enter the coupon code at checkout.

* * * * *

I had a restorative weekend; click HERE to find out about my magical day in the mountains. Also, I am blogging on Monday at Writers Li.P.P.; click HERE to read my thoughts on objective perspective. And come back tomorrow for my review of The Secret. You might be surprised.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Letting Go

I love Avril Lavigne.
My amazing friend Denise wrote an beautiful blog post on Wednesday about getting back in touch with her 13-year old self. It really got me thinking.

She also shared a video.

I am not ashamed to admit that I was sobbing by the end of Oprah's message. It was these words that got to me.

When you've worked as hard and done as much and strived and tried and given and pled and bargained and hoped, surrender. When you have done all that you can do and there's nothing left for you to do, give it up. Give it up to that thing that is greater than yourself and let it then become part of the flow.

I wept because that's precisely where I'm at. I've worked as hard as I can work, I've done everything I know to do, yet my life is still a jumbled mess. I am not making enough money to pay my bills; my biggest dreams remain unfulfilled; every relationship I enter into ends in pain; I'm exhausted and depressed.

Something has got to give. I am goal-driven by nature, but my way isn't working, and I'm thinking it's time to surrender, to let go of the outcome, to get up every day and joyfully go about my business and let God have his way with my life. I'm not even sure how to do that any more - I think I have serious trust issues where God is concerned - but I have reached the point where I feel I have no choice but to try.

Please bear with me as I work toward a new philosophy of life.

I've developed a new philosophy...I only dread one day at a time.
~Charles Schultz

No, wait; that's not it. How about this?

Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

The sunshine peeked through the clouds both literally and figuratively today; I feel my spirits lifting, and I thank all of you for your encouragement and support.

Today I am participating in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, a blog hop hosted by From This Side of the Pond. Click HERE to see the responses of other participants. I love this stuff!

1. What is one piece of advice you would give a "just-turning" 21 year old adult?

Don't be in such a hurry to be a grown-up. Live. Love. Laugh. Play. Travel the world. Pursue your dreams.

2. Besides cooler weather (or warmer weather, depending on your hemisphere) what is one thing you are looking forward to this fall?

I am going on a cruise the week of Thanksgiving. Anticipation of being on board that big boat does worlds for getting me through a really bad day.

3. What sound lulls you to sleep?

The sound of silence. And I don't mean the song by Simon & Garfunkel. I mean pure, unadulterated silence. The rhythm of the ocean is also very soothing. I never sleep better than in an interior cabin on a cruise ship.

4. September is National Preparedness Month. Does your family have an emergency "kit" and/or disaster plan in place?

No. My cup is half full.

5. How has your blog changed since you started blogging? Or has it?

The premise of my blog hasn't changed, but I am definitely blogging more frequently than I did in the beginning (I posted only four times in the second half of 2008, and have posted more than that already during the month of September) and I have been told I am a better writer. I like to think so.

6. What's something you've recently learned to do on the computer?

I added scrapbooking software and learned how to use it - just the tip of the iceberg, really, but it was a lot of fun.

7. Is a picture worth a thousand words? Elaborate.

Probably. But this is very frustrating to a wordsmith. I know I should learn how to use those manual settings on my camera. In the meantime, though, I guess I'll keep writing.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Today is tomorrow's yesterday.

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Here, There and Everywhere

Woman's Best Friend

I have been getting about five hours of sleep, on average, for the past ten nights or so. This is beginning to catch up with me; everything seems worse than it is, and I am having a hard time finding perspective. I am missing lost loved ones, struggling financially, wishing I could make life easier for my children, questioning my ability as a writer, wondering if I will ever meet Mr. Right. (Actually, I think I HAVE met Mr. Right, but he is too stupid to realize it. Sigh.) Suddenly, the weather has turned cool and dreary, down about 30 degrees since the weekend; today I shivered in jeans and a sweater, and I wonder how I will be able to survive the winter ahead..

Since I apparently have nothing nice to say here tonight, I am going to direct you elsewhere. 

Click HERE to find my (almost) famous whole wheat bread recipe.

Click HERE to read about how I attempt to fill my creative well.

Click HERE to see my year-long project.

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.
~ Irish proverb

Monday, September 5, 2011

Strawberry Cake

Today is my middle son Casey's 20th birthday; in honor of the occasion, I made him a tofu stir-fry for dinner and his favorite strawberry cake for dessert. Here is the recipe.


1 box white cake mix
1 box strawberry gelatin
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and crushed

Combine al ingredients. Mix for four minutes with electric mixer. Bake in two eight-inch layer pans, following baking time on cake mix box.


1 box powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and crushed

Mix sugar and butter; gradually add strawberries until mixture is of spreading consistency.

Happy Birthday, Casey! May all your wishes come true, today and always!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Grandma

Grandma Kuntz, Christmas 1981
This is my Grandma Kuntz. I always think of her around Labor Day; since her birthday was September 8th, I would need to be putting a card in the mail to her. Since I can't send her a card, I am going to pay tribute to her here instead.

If I remember the story correctly, in the late 1950's, she and my grandpa left their small farm "in the country" and bought a small apartment house in St. Louis. My dad met my mom there while he was a student at Washington University and the rest, as they say, is history. 

My earliest memories of living in the area are from Berkeley, a suburb of St. Louis, where my parents purchased their first home in the early 60's. Every Sunday, though, we would drive to St. Louis and pick my grandma up and take her to church, returning afterwards to her house for Sunday dinner. I can still taste her fried chicken and mashed potatoes, pot roast and gravy, fried apples and biscuits. Then the grown-ups would chat while my brothers and I spent the afternoon watching reruns on television (and fighting, no doubt). Those were the good old days.

My grandma also bought me my first piano, for my seventh birthday; I think she dreamed of me being a church pianist someday. But I ended up taking lessons from a classically trained teacher and instead learned to read and play "serious" music. It wasn't until after Grandma was gone that I finally became skillful enough following a lead sheet to even attempt to play the style of music that she loved. And I will never be as good as the young man who played for our small Baptist church - strictly by ear, tearing up the keyboard with extra chords and embellishments.

But Grandma was always happy when I did a "special," a southern gospel song that she would pick out for me, as part of the worship service, playing straight from the sheet music and accompanying myself as I sang. I never have been much of a vocalist but I always did my best and appreciated the chorus of "Amens" at the conclusion of each performance. I wish I could remember the names of some of the solos I did; maybe my parents will be able to help me out. I have no doubt that those early experiences contributed to my later development as a musician.

My boys don't remember their great-grandma; she died when Josh was just a baby. But I love her and I miss her and I appreciate everything she did to get me started on what turned out to be a career in music and a lifetime love affair with the piano. And I hope she is proud of me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fill-In-The-Blank Friday

Photo courtesy of Free Images
Thanks to Lauren at The Little Things We Do for the inspiration for today's post. The italicized words are the prompts. The rest is mine.

* * * * *

1. One thing that is completely superfluous, but that I could never give up is writing. Of course, I am hoping that it won't always be superfluous. Maybe someday I will be able to make a living at it, working from my house on a sunny beach somewhere - preferably near a cruise port.

2. Two people arguing in front of me makes me feel awkward. Seriously. I have never been interested in other people's dirty laundry. Nor do I like being asked to take sides. It occurs to me I might be able to capture this feeling in a scene of my novel.

3. I can't without books. History, how-to, fiction - it's all good. And I fantasize about what my name will look like on the spine of a glistening hardcover at the library.

4. Nonni biscotti - the cioccolati flavor - is my favorite snack. With a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine alongside, it is the perfect reward for a daily writing goal met.

5. Lately I've been missing writing. A lot.

6. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Duh. Like if you submit a manuscript to a contest and the judge rips it to shreds, you've just gotta sort out the constructive criticism from the nasty stuff, maybe take some time off, then get back to work.

7. Fall is a welcome respite from the heat of summer. I love watching the leaves change colors, the crispy crunch of them under my feet, going to the orchards in Ellijay and bringing home new varieties of apples and using them to make apple crisp and apple pie and applesauce. I also love National Novel Writing Month and already have a GREAT idea for this year's project.

* * * * *

The instructions were to fill in the blanks and I ended up writing an epistle. And a theme seems to have emerged.

I'm really not going to be able to hold out until October, am I?

Thursday, September 1, 2011


The boys and I are wrapping up Week 4 of the new school year and looking forward to the holiday weekend ahead. I wish I had some fabulous travel or party plans to share with you but I don't; for the most part, I will be hanging around at home, cleaning and laundering and tackling some of the de-cluttering I never managed to get around to over the summer.

In my sick, twisted way, I am actually excited about it. Nathan will be camping with his dad, but Casey will be around. Maybe he can help me with some of the housework; just this afternoon he demonstrated his flair for home decorating.

Lamp #1
Lamp #2
For another example of his artistic prowess, visit Friday Show & Tell at Writers LiPP. Yep, those boys of mine are full of surprises.

I am also hoping to spend some time catching up on some of the wonderful blogs I follow. Since school started, I have gotten woefully behind; I miss my online friends. In the meantime, I want to share a few of this week's favorites with you.

On Tuesday, blog goddess Laurie Perry wrote a hilarious post about her recent experiences with online dating. Been there, done that; simply don't have the heart for it right now. But Laurie's article gave me hope for the future. And a belly laugh or two.

And here's a present for us all, from the gifted and generous Blisschick. I am going to blow it up and print it out and hang it in a prominent place in my home.

Thanks, Eydie, for sharing this on your blog tonight. If you've never visited Eydie's blog before, I suggest that you start HERE, with her post about clouds. I might just have to head outside with my camera tomorrow and see what I can come up with. Also, her pictures brought back happy memories of an episode of The New Adventures Of Winnie the Pooh that I watched with my kids when they were small. If you don't have time for the whole thing, start at 8:12.

Finally, today Nathan Bransford posted a great article on his blog, On the Internet There Is No Such Thing as a Brand, There Is Only You. As a writer hoping to build a following who will be eager to snap up my first novel when it is finally published, I have read plenty of articles emphasizing the importance of building a personal brand, but something about them doesn't quite ring true with me. But Nathan's article really resonated. His conclusion?

My advice for people who are trying to carve out their own space in social media is not to think about what your blog or your twitter presence should be, but rather to embrace who you really are. Be yourself. Let your own voice shine through. Lots of people have ideas about what you should be, but you can only be who you are. The only brand you've got is you.

Isn't that what Popeye has been saying all along? Here's wishing you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend!