Saturday, June 30, 2012

Few Things in Life More Heartwarming

There are few things in life more heartwarming than to be welcomed by a cat ~ Tay Hohoff

How funny!  It's my dad's birthday, he hates cats, and today's quote is about cats. 

My cat, Bandit, nearly always is right in the office while I work on my writing.  It's almost become so normal that if he isn't there I get worried.  Most of the time he's a good kitty and just sleeps on the desk while I write.  Everyone once in a while he does crazy things, like the morning he dumped my coffee cup onto the laptop.  Bad Kitty!!

The other exciting news I have to share is that I entered both manuscripts in a contest sponsored by the Maryland Writer's Association.  It's their Great Beginnings Contest.  They are looking for the first 7000 words of an unpublished manuscript and each entry receives feedback, whether it places or not.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Although it's too late to enter the contest this year, bookmark the web site for next year.  You don't have to be a resident of the state of Maryland or a member to enter.

Other than that, I'll be staying indoors the next few days with the heat in Kansas City over 100 degrees each day.  That's OK, I'm getting plenty of writing done.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

If You're Quiet, You're not Living

If you're quiet, you're not living.  You've got to be noisy and colorful and lively ~ Mel Brooks

As soon as I quit smoking, I announced it to the world.  When I went back to school, I announced it to the world.  When I graduated, I threw a big party.  The other two major accomplishments in my life I did with fanfare and nerve.  And writing my first novel has not been any different.

Mel Brooks has it correct - if you're being quiet you're not living.  Life is meant to be noisy and colorful and lively, no matter what your pursuing.  Have you taken that step and announced to the world what you're trying to accomplish?

If you do that, doesn't that mean that you'll be accountable to anyone you tell?  Absolutely.  But that's the fun of it.  Making yourself accountable to others always helps.  When I was struggling with writing and a Twitter follower would ask me how my writing was coming along, that always prompted me to get started again.  Now when they ask, it prompts me to get over my hatred of editing and get the manuscript edited. 

So be noisy, be colorful, be lively and let the world know what you're trying to accomplish!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Less I Call it Work

The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work ~ Richard Bach

One of the weekly tasks I've always hated is the household chores.  The one chore that I love to do, though, is the laundry.  I love getting my clothes clean and put away and ready to wear again, especially my favorite clothes.

The point is, when there are chores and tasks to be done, it's easier to do the ones that we like to do and sometimes it's torture to accomplish the things that we don't.  Take blogging for example.  I started this blog because everything I read about emerging, independent writers said I needed a blog to help develop a platform.  But posting on my blog consistently has always been a source of frustration and stress for me.  Until recently.

Back in February I figured out that I just couldn't blog everyday.  No matter how careful I tried to plan everything out, a daily blog post for me was out of the question.  What I did figure out that would work for me is a blog post four days a week, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  If you look at my blog history, I've been able to meet this "schedule" consistently since the end of February (I missed a Thursday post a few weeks ago when I was going to talk about an America's Got Talent contestant but then found out about the controversy surrounding his story and subsequent eligibility on AGT).  I've almost had more blog posts in the last four months as I had all last year.  I've finally been able to turn this "important to my writing career" chore into something which I actually look forward to accomplishing each day.

Another chore that I've learned to love this year is the actual writing itself.  I finally learned how to outline and make notes about my novels which has helped make the actual writing of the scenes much easier.  I just read a post from a publisher over the weekend recommending that if a writer wrote just one page a day, they would have a novel in a year.  I attempted to do that without notes.  After finished outlining the end of my first novel, A Place to Call Their Own, the words just poured out of my fingers and onto the screen.  I wrote 5000 words one week and I was so happy with myself that I did it again the next week.  Now 5000 words a week has become my "norm" and anything less is substandard performance, at least in my mind.

Part of the point, is to also realize that only I could figure this stuff out for me.  I had read over and over again about blogging daily.  I had read about outlining.  But no one could help me figure these things out until I tried them myself.  And if you're struggling with a part of your dream journey, only you can figure out a way to make it fun for you, so that it no longer becomes a chore.

What's something on your dream journey that is so much of a chore that you hate to do it?  Anyone have any stories about overcoming these types of barriers to your success?  I'd love to hear!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gratitude is the Fairest Blossom

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Make a list of 15 mentors, friends, and people you admire, both in and out of your field, that you get daily bits of info from.  Ready...go...

How did you do?  Did you totally fail at that exercise like I did?  Earlier this week I was honored with the One Lovely Blog Award.  Part of the award is recognizing fifteen other blogs that you admire, follow, etc.  And I failed miserably at coming up with the top fifteen blogs which I wanted to pass the award.  It took me all week.

If you could name fifteen mentors, friends, people you admire in your field, on your same dream journey, how long would it take you?  Would you struggle with making it to the fifteen mark?  Or would you be like me and have so many people you want to thank, it's hard to whittle the list down to just fifteen?  Hopefully it's the latter.

Gratitude is so easy to give (just 'thank you' usually suffices), but often overlooked.  When given, it can be a very powerful force in meeting your dream goal. 

Who deserves a "thank you" from you today?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award


I'm honored to have been given this award by Hemmie Martin, author of The Divine Pumpkin.
As the recipient of this award, I have three responsibilities:  

1) Share the link of the person who gave me with this award - thank you, Hemmie
2) Nominate 15 more lovely blogs for this same honor (see below).
3) Share 7 things about myself  (again see below, below).

My award nominees, in no particular order, are: 

Eric B. Thomasma

CC Jackson

Stuart Haddon

Liz Jessop

Jason Jack Miller

DiAnne Ebejer

Sharon Jones

Sean Sweeney

Rick R. Reed

Austin James

Sheila Roberts

Susie Bertie

Joseph Eastwood

Gabe Berman

 Reggie Ridgeway

Now Seven Things about myself:

1.  I have finished my first manuscript, A Place to Call Their Own, and am trying to get it self-edited and ready for presentation to publishers, agents, self publishing, etc.

2.  I am two-thirds of the way through a second novel, Disappear With Me.

3.  I live in Kansas City, MO.

4.  My formula for creating success and following your dreams is Create a Vision, Set Goals, Develop Routines, Set Boundaries, and Find Friends.

5.  My daily mantra is #WWRR:  workout, write, read, relax.  This has helped me focus on the important things that need to be accomplished each and every day.

6.  I watch True Blood, Dancing with the Stars, America's Got Talent, Glee, The Glee Project, Game of Thrones just to name a few of my favorite TV shows.

7.  I love to cook quick and easy recipes.

Thanks to Hemmie for giving me the award and congrats to my nominees.  Thanks you to everybody for your continued support!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Sure Sign of Summer

It's a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do ~ Walter Winchell

How's everyone's summer going?  As a student, Summer always started when school was out.  Now that I'm supposed to be an adult, summer starts Memorial Day Weekend.  The actual beginning of Summer was yesterday (June 20th).

The weather has not been any indication of the month this entire year.  It's only June and it feels like the hot, dry winds have been blowing all week in Missouri.  It's already hot and sticky, even at 9:00 AM each morning when I go outside and read and tan before going to work each day.  And for the last week, each time I get up, you guessed it, the chair sticks to me when I get up.

I can't tell you the last time I've had such an enjoyable summer.  Most of the time, I yearn to be out and free like the teachers (I wanted to be a teacher once upon a time).  I really should have gone back to school and gone into teaching at the college level six years ago to get that schedule.  But this year hasn't been bad at all. 

I get up everyone morning and follow my WWRR routine (workout, write, read, relax, not always in that order).  Part of that relaxing and reading has been sitting outside on my patio relaxing, reading, and getting a nice tan this year.  It's feels like a small victory in my larger dream of one day being able to support myself on my novels alone and live at the total whim of my own schedule.

How's your summer progressing?  Are you getting to do any of the things you've dreamed about?  I'd love to hear!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Are You Really Sure a Floor Can't Also be a Ceiling?

Are you really sure a floor can't also be a ceiling ~ MC Escher

The cool thing about setting out on a dream journey is that you can do it however you want.  The really cool thing about being an author is that I get to allow characters to say, see, or do things most people don't get to in real life.

I recently read a couple of books on the art of fiction writing by Donald Maass.  I think the biggest lesson I've learned from both of them is making ordinary people do extraordinary things in extraordinary circumstances.  That's why I chose today's quote as my topic for this post.

Not only is doing the extraordinary part of my continuing writer's education this week, but also the same lesson we can use for those of you following me on your own personal dream journeys.  Sometimes we have to look at things differently to make sure we reach those dreams and goals.  When I was finishing my degree, I had to take more than the suggested number of classes just to get finished.  It was tough, but I made it through.  And when I quit smoking, I didn't use the nicotine patch for the entire recommended time.

If turning floors into ceilings means making your dream come true, allow it, and you'll be happier in the long run. 

What have you done differently lately in pursuit of your dreams?  I'd love to hear!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

True Courage is Like a Kite

True courage is like a kite; a contrary wind raises it higher ~ John Petit-Senn

Happy Father's Day everyone!  Do you remember how much courage you thought your father had when you were growing up??

I think if you're reading and following my blog or looking for any of my tags, you're displaying some courage in making your dreams come true.

The most worthy dreams are usually the hardest to achieve.  Two other lifetime achievements that I feel are up there with becoming a published author have been quitting smoking and finishing my bachelor's degree.  Both of them took planning and determination to achieve, the same as writing my novels, A Place to Call Their Own and Disappear with Me. 

Find the courage within yourself to go against the grain of whatever life you're living and chase your dreams.  It will all be worth it in the end.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

True Love Comes Quietly

True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights.  If you hear bells, get your ears checked ~ Erich Segal

Although I agree that love sometimes comes quietly, I believe that when you are presented with your dream journey, your goal, or your destiny (as they would say in the movies), sometimes it's loud and clear.

I hope your dream goal is loud and clear for you.  I hope that you're progressing on it this year in the manner which you have planned.  Things are moving forward for me, almost at a speed which I can't hardly believe.

We're almost half way through the year.  If you've been following mean since January, I've been reminding everyone, including myself, that New Year's Resolutions are for the whole year.  Most people make New Year's Resolutions, run into stumbling blocks early on, and then back down from them.  My challenge this year has been to keep up with them and keep going.

I would love to hear from anyone still chasing a 2012 New Year's Resolution!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

WWRR, Baybee!!!

Most people are much more unusual and complicated and eccentric and playful and creative than they have time to express ~ Oliver Herring

My new mantra for my dream journey is WWRR...that is Workout, Write, Read, Relax.  It's kind of a play on the Jersey Shore's GTL (which stands for gym, tan, laundry for those of you not in the know).  And it's been works sooo well for me and my goals this year.

I don't always follow the same order, although working out is always the first thing I do.  If my workout for the day includes riding my stationary bike, then I read at the same time.  Writing is always the second thing I do.  My daily word count goal is 800, except for Fridays when I just do a quick 250.  After I'm done writing for the day, I go sit out in the sun and get my tan on and read some more. Finally, I relax mostly by catching up on television shows I missed the night before while I was at work.

You have to figure out what works for you.  When I was in direct sales (Tupperware, SimplyFun Games, The Body Shop at Home, Avon) we were always coached to choose specific days of the week and specific task to accomplish everything that needed to be done to grow large direct sales organizations.  I've basically used that same principle and applied it to my writing career. 

Figure out what works for you and follow those routines.  Set boundaries around those routines and you'll be excited when it comes time to get to work on your dream journey tasks.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Eye of Ignorance

It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block ~ Paul Gauguin

When your dream journey gets revealed to you, at first you are excited and you dive into the work.  If you get immediate success that usually drives your momentum to keep going.  It has been when I have lost momentum that sometimes my "eye of ignorance" takes over and I run into the walls.

One of those stumbling blocks I've dealt with recently was my work-job work schedule.  After years of working a traditional 8 - 5 job (or something similar), I was offered a super opportunity to work 1 PM to 9 PM.  At first I hesitated and even asked during the interview if there would ever be an opportunity to work earlier.  But I accepted the position and the schedule.  And I don't remember being happier with a schedule for quite some time!

I love my schedule so much that when it gets changed and they ask me to come in earlier, it really puts a kink in my WWRR schedule in the mornings.  WWRR is my mantra, very similar The Situation's Jersey Shore mantra GTL (gym, tan, laundry).  WWRR stands for Workout, Write, Read, Relax.  It's my daily morning routine I follow before I go to work at 1 PM.

My partner will tell you that he would prefer it if I were home in the evenings, but I have gotten so much more done on my writing since I've had this schedule.

What have you changed recently, out of the ordinary, to help accomplish your dream goal?  I'd love to hear!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ruby Slippers

Here's to the ruby slippers in whatever form they appear to you ~ Jill Badonsky

I made a wonderful, in-person connection with another author yesterday.  I went to Smithville, MO to meet Sherry Foley, author of Switched in Death.  She was hosting a book signing at a swap meet!!  It was a beautiful late Spring day, and we made it outside before the heat reached its high yesterday.

It was so wonderful to actually meet and get to talk to a published author about the business.  Sherry shared with me her background and mutual struggles with writing and her story of how Switched in Death came to be published by Winter Goose Publishing.

And she asked about my plans and routines. After I told her about my daily routine of exercise and writing, and my weekly writing goal, she described me as "disciplined." I will be the first to admit that this discipline has been a personal struggle for four years, but now that I have it down, it's wonderful.  It felt so good for Sherry to use that word to describe my routines.

Another routine that Sherry shared, and confirmed it's success, was thinking outside of the box for places to go for book signings.  I mean we were in a town square just north of the Kansas City area at a swap meet!  She also told me that she's done book signings in candy shops and other places as well. In today's world of book stores closing, this just opens up the possibilities for me to discover places to get out there once I get A Place to Call Their Own published.

I was in seventh heaven yesterday meeting and talking with Sherry about writing.  My ruby slippers couldn't have taken me to a better place. 

Here's a link to Sherry's web site:

Here's a link to Winter Goose Publishing:

Where would you like your ruby slippers to take you on your dream journey?  I'd love to hear!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Send Light into the Darkness

Nothing right can be accomplished in art without enthusiasm.  To send light into the darkness of men's hearts, such is the duty of the artist ~ Robert Schumann

I was once again surprised by America's Got Talent on Tuesday night.  I think one of the reason's I love the show so much is because of the inspiration it provides me. 

Once again, a humble artist took the stage and surprised not only the judges and the local audience, but now the world after seeing him perform.  Nineteen-year-old Andrew De Leon walked out on the stage in Austin, TX and sang for the first time ever in front of an audience, and he sang opera.  Now that takes guts! 

I am only surmising here, but I think what propels this young artist to take such risks is that he knows he is shedding on his art and craft.  Once again, new viewers to the show will get introduced to the opera songs that he brings to the show.  I'm sure he will make it through to the live shows.

I hope you are enthusiastically pursuing your dream goal as we start the summer, just like the contestants on America's Got Talent.  And I hope your dream goal helps send light into the hearts of the people that you touch.

Here is a clip of the Andrew's performance on America's Got Talent from Tuesday night.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Piercing the Mundane

Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous ~ Bill Moyers

This last weekend, we took a short weekend trip to Branson, MO.  We saw the show, Joseph, at the Sight and Sound Theatre.  It was a musical based on the biblical story of Joseph.  It was truly a beautiful production from the script, the songs, the costumers, and the backdrops.  The dancing was a bit stiff and the choreography a bit corny, but it really was a superb production.

The Sight and Sound production team took a five chapter story from the Bible and created a two hour musical extravaganza, complete with live animals going up and down the aisles as they entered and exited the scenes.  Talk about taking the mundane and making it marvelous, those folks have that down.  Joseph is only one of many productions this company has produced in their 35 year history.

And one of my favorite summertime guilty pleasure, America's Got Talent, is all about making the same old singing, dancing, magic, and other variety acts creatively entertaining. 

Most of our dream journeys concern selling our personal brands to others.  If you want to do that, you have figure out how to make make the mundane marvelous and you'll have people clamoring to get at "you." 

What have you done lately to make the mundane marvelous?  I'd love to hear!

Check out the Sight and Sound Theatrehere:

Sight & Sound Theatre

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Subject is of No Account

The subject itself is of no account; what matters is how it is presented ~ Raoul Duffy

Presentation is everything.  Have you seen the opening to the movie The Phantom of the Opera, the 2004 version?  What starts very slow and calculated eventually gives us a grand opening as the decaying opera house fades from the decay into the grandeur it was during the time of the story.  That is a Hollywood opening worth remembering  that just fuels the suspense of the grand story you're about to experience.

Yes, presentation is everything.  No matter what your dream journey, make the presentation of your final project worth experiencing and you will find success. 

What have you done on your dream journey to make the ordinary seem extraordinary?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Don't Worry About What You're Going to Get

My father used to say to me, "Show 'em what you can do, and don't worry abut what you're gonna get.  Say you'll work for free and make yourself invaluable." ~ Clint Eastwood

I have lived with the principle of making myself invaluable in my career really my entire life.  It really sunk in about fifteen years ago.  That's also when I stopped asking how much new jobs paid, whether they were just different jobs within my same company or they were with a new company. 

If you're pursuing a creative dream, like I am, this is very much the same.  As any writer will tell you, you have to toil away day after day, night after night, working the writing around a full time job and familial obligations.  But just like anything worth doing, it's very worth it to me to do it for free for a bit until I can attempt to parlay that into a full time career.

With the new season of America's Got Talent just starting, this quote also makes me think of most creative pursuits.  If one loves something, you'll keep on doing it, no matter how one fairs in contests or commercially.  If you work hard enough, one day the rewards one is looking for will pay off.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!  Let the summer begin!