Monday, May 30, 2011

If I had my Life to Live Over

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daises – Nadine Stair

That's just it...there are no do-overs. Are you doing what you want with your life right now (well, not right the moment you are reading this...but...)?

I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend if you're reading from the U.S. Make it a great week, everybody!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Disaster Hits Very Close to Home

Last night, an EF 4 tornado ripped through Joplin, MO.  Thomas and I lived in Joplin for a year and a half before landing in KCMO last year. 

It has been a mixed blessing to sit in my living room in Kansas City and watched the news coverage of the situation.  Even more heartbreaking, and soothing at the same, is reading all the Facebook posts.  It's heartbreaking to hear about the devastation and loss.  It's soothing to hear that friends and previous co-workers are safe.

Yesterday, I posted one brief question, "Are living a life that bears witness to all that is good and grand in this world?" This morning, that message continues to resonate with me as hundreds of friends start to rebuild their lives and I sit safe in my living room typing this post.

My partner, Thomas, has set up disaster relief fund for our friends in Joplin.  If you're local, we'll take the pennies in your penny jar, pocket change, etc.  We'll get those donations directly to our old church in Joplin.

If you're not local, The Heart of Missouri United Way has set up a donation link from their home page, specifically for the Joplin area.

I chose the picture above because it reminds me of the beauty that was Joplin before the tornado hit.  Thank you so much for your support.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bearing Witness

My only question for myself and the readers today:  Are you living a life that bears witness to what is good and grand in the world?

I hope you have a great week!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Here's to the classic movies we never grow tired of - The Awe-Manac by Jill Badonsky

Even if you claim that you only watch movies one time, I think everyone has at least one movie they can watch over and over again.  If you're like me and have lots of favorite movies that you watch over and over again, it's hard to define "classic.". Do you remember the first time you were possibly "forced" to watch some of those movies?  Only to discover later the art and beauty of said movies?

The routines we follow to achieve our dreams are much like some of those movies.  I remember reading about writing, and blogging every day.  The writing on the novel part excited me very much, blogging, not so much.  I didn't understand Twitter and the importance of presence there.

Now my day isn't complete without working on the novel, writing a blog post, and keeping up with Twitter.  These routines, recommended by other successful authors, are now a part of my day and I don't feel complete without working on them.  It's just like watching The Sound of Music Thanksgiving weekend or The Wizard of Oz in the spring around Easter.

What favorite routines do you look forward to on your success journey? Or, what are some of your favorite movies?  I'd love to hear about both, have a great day!

Friday, May 20, 2011

As One Gets Older, One Sees Many More Paths That Could be Taken

As one gets older, one sees many more paths that could be taken. Artists sense within their own work that kind of swelling of possibilities, which may seem a freedom or a confusion – Jasper Johns

The best advice about writing, or pursuing any goal, has been to do it and do it everyday. I work hard everyday to complete at least 250 words on A Place to Call Their Own and a blog post of 250-300 words.

Some days, the creativity just flows. Last Saturday was one of those days. I was able to get through five hundred words in the novel and had four blog posts ready to go, In addition to four blog posts being complete, I had the subjects/inspiration ready to go for ten more posts. That's enough to be able to post once a day for two weeks.

Work on A Place to Call Their Own is moving forward again. It's moving along quite well, considering I've been a bit reserved about how to proceed. I've been off work the last two nights, so waking up at 4:00 AM has turned into some extremely productive time for me.

What I've learned about he last two weeks, is just go with it. Force yourself to write, or work towards your goal, and you will see progress. I'd also let you know to take advantage of the times when the words, or whatever you produce, flow freely.

How about you, what do you do to keep yourself going? I'd love to hear your comments...have great day, everyone!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review - Crossfire

Crossfire by Dick Francis and Felix Francis is the story of Thomas Forsyth who is wounded in the Afghan War and goes home to heal for six months. He's not excited about returning to his childhood home, and his mother and stepfather aren't too excited about him being there either. While he's home, he finds out life for his well-known hire trainer other hasn't been the winner's circles she's used to. This was a great story wrapped around the British racing industry, the British tax system, and the effect of the Afghan War on British citizens. This was Dick Francis' last novel before he passed away in 2010.

As a writer what I liked about the way the story was the way the story unfolded. It wasn't easy to put all the pieces together to figure out who did it, but after it was revealed, there was still a lot of story left in the mystery.

Another plot device that makes this mystery different from many I've read lately is the catharsis that both the main character and his mother go through during the story. In the end, Thomas gets past his demons being second to the horses while growing up. His mother also goes through a change that is refreshing by the end of the story.

If you're a writer friend reading this post, my question for you is, do you find reading novels outside genre helpful or a hindrance to your writing?

If you're on another goal journey reading this post, my question for you is, do you routinely read outside of your favorite genre, or do you stick with what the same thing most of the time?

I'd love to hear your comments, have a great day!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Understand Life's Mysteries as Mysteries to be Lived

Understand life's mysteries as mysteries to be lived - Robert Zemeckis

What a wonderful quote from Robert Zemeckis. He's the award winning director, producer, and writer of such great films as Romancing the Stone, Forest Gump, Cast Away, and A Christmas Carol.

I think life's mysteries speaks to anyone on a journey into the unknown. In 2005, a co-worker mentioned to me that she wanted to write a novel someday. That brief sharing opened up a desire in me to pursues that goal as well. When I met Thomas in 2007, he encouraged and inspired me to get started. Here I am today, blogging regularly, probably 40% done with my first novel, and ideas for future projects in the works, some with as many as 2000 words done.

Another mystery that is exciting for me in the publishing industry is the traditional versus self publishing model, print versus electronic revolution. A very good friend asked me recently what I'm going to do, self publish or try to get a traditional publishing deal. I answered I didn't know. Part of me is up for the challenge to find an agent to represent me and then pursue a traditional publishing contract. I could also go the self published route and be more in control of promotion, which I'll have to do anyway with a traditional contract.

So whatever mystery you're living right now, no pun intended for my mystery reading and writing friends, I hope you're pursuing it with all your heart and soul. For the first time in a long time, I can honestly answer yes, both personally, and professionally,

What mystery are you figuring out right now?  I'd love your comments!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Guest Post - Why I Write by Janell Loveland

I am so excited to present my first guest post today!  Janell and I were co-workers.  I didn't know she was a fellow writer until I saw posts on Facebook.  Take it away, Janell...

Have you ever felt like you had something to say yet for some reason, fail to get it out? That's how I have always felt, and to an extent, how I still feel. My brain-to-mouth communication is less than acceptable, add that to already being shy and its a recipe for poor conversation. Now, give me a pen and paper and I can talk your head off any day. Sure, I still try my hand at talking, sometimes, but I find I stammer and lose my words. It's frustrating to say the least.

I think that's why I started writing. I got tired of boring people or coming off as a terrible person and instead started writing notes, or letters, or stories with a happy ending. You can ask any of my grade school teachers about me and they will tell you of a girl with a short attention span and an annoying habit of passing notes in class.

As I've gotten older and begun to understand myself, I know I was blessed with this gift for a reason. People deal with situations differently and oddly enough, I think I deal with the curve balls in life pretty well. Instead of keeping it all bottled inside or laying it on someone else's shoulders, I seek the comfort of a piece of paper. It listens to me as if I'm the only person that matters, is never judgmental and I always walk away feeling better. So, I put my emotions and hopes and dreams in words. I bare my soul on paper and am a better person for it.

I honestly don't know why I decided to take the route I have with my writing, or even why I decided to publish some of my stories. I just know that above all, writing makes me happy. I hope that even one person that reads my writing can be stronger for it, or smile because of it. 

Thanks, Janell!

You can find Janell's novellette's on Smashwords at:

She also uses the pen name Evangeline Love:
Here's a link to her blog:

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter:

We'd both love your comments, have a great day!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Don't be Silly, Toto, Scarecrows Don't Talk

Don't be silly, Toto, scarecrows don't talk - The Wizard of Oz

So it’s not one of the most quoted lines from The Wizard of Oz, but even if I didn’t tell you where that was from, I think most would figure it out. It’s the anniversary of L. Frank Baum’s birthday today, so I thought it would be fitting to use this quote to inspire my blog post today.

When Dorothy speaks these words to Toto in the movie that we all know and love, she is about to meet the scarecrow for the first time. In Dorothy’s world, scarecrows didn’t talk; they were simply devices used to keep away the crows in Kansas where she was from. What Dorothy has to do is free herself of the constraints she’s used to dealing with to get along in the land of Oz. Once she gets beyond a talking scarecrow, nothing surprises her: a man made of tin, a talking lion, flying monkeys, and a old man behind a curtain pretending to be a great and powerful wizard.

In our success journeys, we also have to deal with boundaries, real and imagined, in realizing our goals and dreams. Some very real boundaries are time constraints when you already work a forty-hour plus job a week, children’s activities, resource constraints (issues with your internet provider, computer issues). In addition to the real boundaries, there are the boundaries that we put in front of ourselves. We make excuses for ourselves that we can’t make the time to follow our dreams. We make excuses for our selves if our computers conk out, when we might be able to go the public library to use a computer to get the work done we need to realize our dreams and goals.

To be successful and become the person I am today, I've had to think outside the box and beyond what I've ever told about following my dreams. Thankfully, I have very supportive family and friends. And I'm far from perfect; I went five days without a blog post this week. All I can do is pick myself up, remind myself, like Dorothy, that I’m not in Kansas anymore (because I live in Missouri), and move forward with dream and goal of finishing my first novel this year.

I’d love to hear how you've had to remove some barriers in your thinking to move forward with your goals and dreams…have a great day everyone!.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Faithful Gardeners of the Spirit

Help us to become faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers. - May Sarton

What purpose does your writing serve?

I have to admit, when I first started I just wanted to tell a story. I wanted to combine my love of history and my love of reading to write a story I wanted to read. Of course, I wanted to share the story with others. Along the way, I have found my vision:  to educate and inpsire readers through my writing.

How about you? What's your vision for your writing career or other journey you are on? I'd love to hear your comment!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fitting it All In...It's not Hard to Do...

I just wanted to share that I feel like I've had a productive weekend. It's the first one in many weeks.

I did have to work on Friday afternoon, and when I got home, we had a great dinner. My sleep pattern was messed up, so I ended up wide awake at one in the morning. Instead of lamenting in my insomnia (on the weekends I don't think it's insomnia, I'm just used to being up at those hours), I pounded out 718 words on my novel.

I was able to go back to sleep, and when I got up it was time for church practice. After church, we went for a walk which helped inspire yesterday and today's blog post. I watched three movies and took a nap and made dinner. I accomplished all of that and oI still feel rested and ready to start another work week in about sixteen hours.

I have been up since 3:30 am, but I have caught up on my Glee episodes I've missed and this blog post. My plan is to continue working on future blog posts until it's light enough to do some work on the patio outside.

Today's blog post is about making choices to fit in all the things you want to do. If I can do it, so can you...go for it!

What do you consider a productive weekend?  I'd love your comments!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Here's to an Abundance of Art One Finds in Nature

Here's to an abundance of art one finds in nature. - The Awe-Manac by Jill Badonsky

What a wonderful toast and how appropriate. I'm tired of being frustrated with my bouts of insomnia, either at night or during the day, so I've been claiming those times for productivity. This morning, I pounded out 718 words from 2:00 am to 3:00 am. I have to tell you it felt pretty good.

This toast of the day grabbed my attention because I wrote about a particularly pastoral scene and thought about the beauty of the scene and the survival aspect. Yes, the whole humankind against nature theme. Then, I was able to write great paragraph where one of the main characters reflects the events as they've happened thus far and build some foreshadowing of events to come. I pick up a great example this while reading Motion to Kill by Joel Goldman. I love taking devices that work well in crime and mystery and using them to make my historical fiction piece even better.

Earlier today we went for a walk and found a beautiful memorial garden in the heart of our city. We've only lived in Kansas City for a little over the year so we're still discovering what our new city has to offer. Just taking a few minutes away from the house and getting outside has energized me enough to want to get home and get some productive writing done this afternoon. I would like to get some future blog posts started and I need to return to A Place to Call Their Own this weekend as well. 

What about you? If you're a fellow writer, how has nature inspired you? For my other followers, how has nature inspired you on your success journey?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Here's to Getting a Hairstyle You Really Like!

Here’s to getting a hairstyle you really like and here’s to good hair days! - The Awe-Manac by Jill Badonsky

I love getting my hair cut, approximately once a month. After a haircut, at least for a few days, I look a little different: most of the time (I hope) that’s fresh and renewed. And isn’t it nice when someone notices that change about you?

Over the weekend, I took a fresh look at my manuscript. I was back on track writing and in the middle of writing a great new action scene, I had remembered something about the setting in which I was writing. It was like setting down a book and then picking it back up again. Sometimes, I have to go back re-read sections to remember character’s names, relationships, settings, etc. That happened to me while writing on Friday morning: I suddenly remembered something to make the story so much more interesting at the time and it was burst of creativity that I was able to pour into that section of writing.

Now there are thousands of coaches out there that can teach you how to get your manuscript written in shorter amounts of time. I’m going on three years with A Place to Call Their Own and not even half way through it. There have been some pretty sizable breaks in my writing process, so it’s not been consistent. I’ll be the first to admit that. But I do tend to think, I had I not taken this time to savor this writing process, I don’t know if I would found the creativity to write some of the plot lines and characters into the story.

I do take breaks if I get a burst of creative energy for another project. Whenever that burst comes, I take the time to outline or even write out the scene that pops into my head. This has helped me return to my original novel, usually with fresh eyes and a fresh direction to continue.

It really is my goal to make A Place to Call Their Own my debut novel. In addition to this, I have two other WIP’s that are outlined and have about two thousands words each written.

What about you? Do you think that taking too long to accomplish your dream/goal helps you or do you think that it hinders the process? I’d love to hear your comments!