Chasing Butterflies

Chasing butterfies imageWow, I have been off the blogging grid for quite some time.  It’s been several months since I have written a blog post, consistently posted on social media, or wrote a newsletter.  I feel as though I have fallen off the face of the planet.

Life in my house has been a whirlwind since May.  The school year came to an end, and summer began, our vacation was cut short by the sudden loss of a family member, and sprinkled in were college visits for my son who will be a High School senior this year.  Some days my head felt like it might explode.  My emotions were up and down like a rollercoaster.  Add to that the now exhausting early mornings of the kids’ football, field hockey, and golf summer conditioning practices my husband and I have been tag teaming.

Whatever happened to the lazy, sleep in late days of summer?

But that’s life for all of us.  Sometimes it’s a struggle to fit in everything we want to do in a day.  Like, for me, writing.  But my problem isn’t finding the time to write; it’s finding the focus I seem to have lost.  Despite my full days, I have managed to continue writing.  In fact, I’ve written a lot, but I’ve been so distracted, that my ideas have somehow been sucked into the disarray of my head.  I’ve started dozens of stories, threw a few false starts away, kept a few, and wrote some more.  I’ve started, stopped, jumped back and forth between stories, (and genres), and never managed to finish anything.

I have book plots scribbled on scraps of paper scattered across the end of my kitchen table where I sit, and more random thoughts collected on my computer.  My creativity is not lacking, but my follow through is atrocious.  I can’t seem to focus.  I want to finish something, but it feels impossible to get it done.

It’s like chasing butterflies.

I sat down one morning with my cup of coffee and wondered what was keeping me from reaching ‘The End.’  If I completed all of the ideas I’ve started since April, I’d have a dozen books or more.  Somewhere though, in the chaos of being Mom, wife, and housekeeper, I lost my “why.”  I’ve forgotten why I’m writing, why I started, and where I want to go.

We all need a direction and focus for our pursuits and passions.

I admit that I am an avid fan of the Hallmark Movies and Mystery channel.  I love all their sappy romances and mystery series.  My goal has always been to write a love story or cozy mystery novel that would make it onto Hallmark’s big screen.  As if divine intervention read my mind, I recently came across a link on Facebook that Hallmark is looking for book submissions.  Just the inspiration I need!  It’s the focus that will hopefully get me back on my path to finishing all those started ideas, and maybe submit them for consideration.  The thought is motivating!

It’s time to stop chasing butterflies.  I am going to buckle down and push through until I can type…

The End!

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Posted in authors, blogging, books, Dreams, Family, goals, hope, inspiration, planning, time, Writing | Leave a comment

Hello Spring!

When the doldrums of winter are in full swing, we look forward to flipping the pages of the calendar. We jump from January to February, and then, just as March makes us feel as if it will never end, we tear away another page, and April appears.

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The days begin to get a touch warmer and the evenings a bit longer.  The birds begin to serenade us, and the air smells fresh, with the promise of spending more time outdoors.

The arrival of spring, for me, conjures up days as a kid when I lounged on the front porch of my childhood home curled up with a book, or a dozen, while I rocked away the hours so glad to be out of the confining walls of the house. The days were carefree and thrilling after months of parent-imposed winter coats and snow boots.

Over the years, my intolerance for the cold and snow has slowly grown.  I start out excited for “sweater” weather in October, and the first snowfall in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But after that, the gray days are frigid, the snow seems endless, and somewhere around the end of January I become downright cranky.  I dislike the cold and struggling to walk through the ice-crusted tundra.  I miss the luxury of green grass.

The sight of April on our calendar page means Spring is knocking on our doorstep.  Cherry blossoms are making an appearance and birds are beginning to return.  Color is invading the stores in an explosion of pastel clothing, plastic eggs and baskets of flowers.  Fun is blooming in aisle after aisle, filled with gardening items, picnic supplies, bathing suits, yard games, and even pool toys.

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So, with much excitement, I say goodbye to the long, cold winter and hello to the warm weather ahead. To celebrate, like I did as a kid, I will ditch my coat, take my book out to the front porch, and for a little while, let the world pass me by.

Happy Spring everyone!

Posted in books, hope, readers, reading, snow, spring, time, winter | Leave a comment

True Love Is In The Little Things

Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, complete with chocolate, dinner, flowers, jewelry, and *ahem*, lingerie.  But true love can and should be, celebrated with the little things.  The small, unintentional gestures that say I love you with more meaning than the usually planned gifts.

Romance is sometimes as simple as knowing what your sweetheart needs.

I always write, sitting at the end of my kitchen table.  It’s been my spot for the last four years.  But on the occasions when I have to move, I have another writing area in the basement.  A cute corner “office.”

My husband works from home and also has his office downstairs.  Our basement is comfortable.  It’s cozy to work in on cold winter days, and it’s fun when I sit down there, and my husband cracks jokes, making me laugh all day when I should be writing.

Unfortunately, that space also contains the kid’s video gaming area.  (Cue the impending “doom” music…)

I love my kids.  They are awesome.  Truly.  But they can be hard on things.  My son leaned back a little too hard while playing a random war game and, that was that, he snapped the back right off my chair.

Without an office chair, I couldn’t sit at my desk and share my space with my co-office mate.

I think my husband missed me.

A few nights ago, he offered to run out to the store for some odds and ends for dinner.  When he came home dragging in the grocery bags, he told me he had a surprise.  This little beauty sat on the kitchen table.

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I know, I know, it’s ONLY a chair.  But it’s not about the simple object, which I do love by the way!  It’s about my husband going out of his way to do something sweet.  He thought of me, and that means everything.

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My husband missed my company!

Now we can sit together and goof off, again.  That’s true love.

Take a moment out of your day to enjoy the little things your significant other does for you.  Remember love is in the everyday details.

Talk to you soon.

Keep reading!

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Opposites Attract

It’s true that opposites attract.  At least in the case of my husband and me.  He likes loud music when he works or writes; I like it quiet.  He likes rock; I like soft contemporary or as the kids call it, “old people music.”  My husband loves politically incorrect humor in his movies and stories, with hardcore language, and violence, and I watch the Hallmark Channel.  He’s social, and I’m an introvert.

Despite all our differences, we get along fabulously.  It is rare that we argue and we finish each other’s thoughts often.  And we should.  We started dating when we were 15.  We turn 45 this year.  I am cringing as I write this because of my realization, not only of our age but that we’ve been together for 30 years!  As crazy as it seems I wouldn’t change a moment of those three decades or the decades to come.

I think in the case of all great love stories, you need some opposition between you and your significant other.  It makes life interesting.

Thinking about one of my husband’s favorite movies, Rocky,  the great fighter says about his love Adrian, (I’m paraphrasing, but should be close considering how many times he watched this movie!) …“We fill gaps.  She’s got gaps; I got gaps.  We fill each other’s gaps.”

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Here’s to celebrating the gaps our opposite fills and the love they bring to our lives.

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!

Talk to you soon, and keep reading!

Photo credit: KWDesigns via Visualhunt / CC BY-ND

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Pretty or Practical: The “Real” Woman Dilemma

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Lately, I’ve seen a surge in commercials for the online lingerie company Adore Me.  From petite to plus you can get lingerie sets for $50 a month, sent right to your door.  The one thing I noticed immediately about these commercials — the women advertising the intimate apparel all appear to be in their twenties.

The perfect age for worrying about lacy, frilly undergarments, because you can.

I had a great conversation with my husband, of all people, about this topic.

Of course, women love to feel feminine and pampered, but most of us are moms who work long hours, have a home to take care of, and a budget that puts kid’s needs first.  We don’t, unfortunately, have much time to worry about what is under our clothes, or have a lot of free cash to spend on something frivolous.

The discussion turned into a debate about pretty vs. practical, and what “real” women require; comfortable and affordable.

That same afternoon, funny enough, in the New York Time’s style section was an ad for the company Thirdlove, with the caption, “We design beautiful and comfortable bras and underwear – because real women wake up in the morning and put on a bra, not lingerie.”  How apropos.

Somehow, for most of us, when our twenty-something years are in the rearview mirror and family becomes a reality, we temporarily trade that “feminine” part of ourselves for the mandatory practical and productive role of being a “real” woman.

But what does that mean?

While it is important and necessary for us to juggle our roles as a mom, wife, co-worker, and domestic diva, it’s also equally important to every once in a while, be ourselves; to be a “real,” real woman.  One who takes some time out to reconnect with the parts of our self that we sacrifice.

As strong, intelligent, multi-tasking beings constantly caring for everyone around us, we seem to forget that we, too, need attention. Sometimes we want to face the demands of life feeling beautiful.  If that means, on occasion, splurging and indulging in something that makes us feel special, why not?

We deserve it.

So, if you tend to be practical, you should treat yourself.  Put on some lace and enjoy the best, beautiful version of you.  And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, maybe you can trade in the mundane tasks of daily life for just a bit, and surprise your loved one with a little romance, too.

Photo via Visualhunt.com

 

Posted in feminine, love, responsibility, romance | 2 Comments

Saturday Detention and Totally Rad Slang

Sometimes a single word can prompt an entire story, create a conversation, or inspire a blog post. These words often arise from the most unexpected situations. This blog post is a perfect example.

The other day, I used the word gnarly.

Gnarly? Does anyone use that word anymore? I laughed at my real 1980’s “Valley Girl” moment.

Then came my “ah, the 80’s. Good times,” moment.

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If you are old enough to remember the 1980’s, you probably love all the iconic movies (Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Sixteen Candles) and still appreciate the “totally rad” vocabulary.

According to the site Coolest Words, these are the top 15 slang terms from that decade.

How many of these do you remember?
1. Gnarly
2. Dude/Dudette
3. Like totally
4. Tubular
5. What’s your damage?
6. Choice
7. Burn/Burned
8. Grody
9. Rad
10. Bogus
11. Gag me with a spoon
12. Wiggin’/Wiggin’ out
13. To the max
14. Eat my shorts
15. Fresh

#11 brings back a lot of memories for me.

For those of you who appreciate the 80’s, what was your favorite catch phrase?

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Winter Blues

 

Winter in any part of the northern states has its ups and downs.  It ranges from cold, snowy and icy to sometimes mild for short stretches of time.  Either way, whatever Mother Nature gives us, winter can be fun if you look at with the right perspective.

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For the outdoor lovers, brave enough to embrace the cold, there is skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, tubing, snowmobiling, and even winter campfires.

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For those more inclined to stay inside, (I raise my hand for this one), winter is ideal for snuggling up with your loved one by the fireside, soft blankets, reading, lots of coffee, writing (for us authors), and movies.

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Winter provides a vast amount of choices for us to enjoy.  Except one.  Sunshine.

In the dead of January and February when the gloomy gray and white seems endless, it feels as though we will never see the sun again.  When we begin to miss the lack of warm, yellowy light, the dreaded winter blues creep in.  The early dark nights, while fun for a movie, or a board game with the kids, begin to wear thin and leaves us wishing for those long, late evening sunsets complete with crickets and fireflies.

As I sit here and watch the plow outside my window, repeatedly passing back and forth pushing away the night’s snow and ice, I remind myself that the kids will go out and enjoy it, even if the sun isn’t shining.  But after being socked in with thick fog and dark gloom for more than a week, wouldn’t it be nice to see good ole’ Mr. Sun, again?

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Whether it’s dismal or bright wherever you are, make the most of Winter, and try not to get weighed down with the winter blues.  Remember, summer will be here before we know it.

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What Do I Do With My Blog?

I am a creature of habit, and I HATE change.  But change is a necessary evil.  It leads to progress, and progress leads to success.  And success is what we all strive to achieve.

One morning, as I sat in my usual and now permanent writing spot at the end of my kitchen table, I was complaining to my husband that I had no idea what to do with my blog.

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I toyed with the idea of nixing it all together, to eliminate the tug on my already overstretched time, but I didn’t want to make a decision without information.  After some research and a plethora of internet opinions, “the experts” all seem to be in agreement that authors NEED a blog to ensure successful audience growth.

Great!

I asked my husband for some of his advice in the middle of my whine fest, he follows several bloggers, and he told me the key to growing an audience is frequent posting.  Get my name out there, with my content, as often as possible.

Super great!

What do I write?  How am I going to draw new readers to my blog?

So, of course, I returned to the internet, this time hoping to find some answers or even better, inspiration.  Google so kindly supplied me with more information than I could ever want or use, minus the inspiration and helpfulness.  With the disappointing realization that no one was going to hand me a magic formula saying, “Hey, write this…” or “blog this way…,” without paying an arm and a leg, I had to solve the problem on my own.

I drew in a deep breath, pulled up my bootstraps, and decided to make the complicated, simple, and go old school.  All the way back to my elementary reading classes when we were taught to think, ‘who, what, why?’

Who is my target audience?

What do I want to say, or share?

Why am I writing it?

The answer to the first question is easy and obvious.  I’m either writing for other authors or readers.  No brainer, there.  Readers, it is.

I have my audience, now what do I want to share with you?  Do I go personal with my entertaining family stories, or do I try the “authorial” approach and stick strictly to writing process and techniques?

That’s where I get stuck.  I have no idea which approach is best.  Is personal better than professional, or vice versa?

What, dear reader, interests you?  What would make you want to return to my blog again, and again?  The point of this whole exercise is to churn out something you want to hear.

As always, my husband came to my rescue.

“What if you write about things that happen to you in a day that leads you to think about writing?  Something that pops into your head and snowballs into a story idea.  Your ‘writerly moments.’  It will make you stop and think about what inspires you and your thoughts.  Readers love to know where writer’s get their inspiration.”

Isn’t he so awesome?  Part professional and part personal.  The perfect resolution.  And his advice has a point.  Not just for my blog, but my writing in general.  I need to be more aware.

His answer reminded me of an interview I did with a local newspaper.  When the obvious, cliché question came up, “Where do you get your ideas from?”  I shrugged and smiled, which didn’t matter because it was a phone interview.  But anyway, I gave an answer something along the lines of, “Well, the ideas just sort of pop into my head.”

I still cringe when I think about the lameness of that response, although, lucky for me, the reporter made it sound so much more articulate in the article.  But, hey, I was honest.  I never gave my inspiration much thought.

Artists, writers, musicians, and creatives alike, refer to their “muse” when they talk about inspiration.  I have a “muse,” and when it speaks, I write it down.

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Ironically, mere hours after I had the conversation with my husband about recording my “writerly moments,” I had such said moment while shopping for his birthday presents.

I was standing in Dick’s Sporting Goods, perusing fishing lures.  I hate fish, fishing, and anything to do with any animals covered in scales, but being the good wife that I am, I put that aside.  As I stood there, the only female surrounded by aisles full of serious outdoorsmen, I tried to pretend I knew what I was looking at and what I should be buying. It led me to think about what would happen if someone approached me and asked if I needed help.  I would have most definitely said no.  I might even have made up something to make myself seem like I had it all under control.

This thought strayed into a story idea.

A woman is shopping for fishing lures for her father, or maybe a brother, and has no idea what she is looking for, but would rather run a marathon in heels before embarrassing herself by asking for help.  Yet, the sight of the guy working the store’s department makes her think he might be worth sacrificing her pride.

I imagined her to be a woman who bumbles her way through a lot of situations with as much grace as she can muster, and makes falling in love with the sporting goods guy a lot of fun.

Now, whether that turns into a story someday, I can’t say, but it’s a nugget of possibility.  I am apparently always gathering ideas, and I’ve never actually been conscious of it until now.

So, let’s recap my blog list:

  • Who? Readers
  • What? “Writerly moments.”
  • Why? Entertainment.  We all need that now and again when this world pummels us with chaos and bad news.  Escapism is a requirement to keep our sanity in check.

I hope my blog posts provide a source of entertainment during your busy day.

Check back often, both here and on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

Talk to you soon.  Keep reading!

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BELIEVE in the New Year

Are you ready for a New Year?

It’s that time again when we prepare to say goodbye to the old and look forward to ringing in the new.  Armed with our laundry list of resolutions and promises to ourselves to do the things we’ve either neglected or dreamed of trying, we run towards the New Year full of hope.

Every year when January rolls around, I get excited about organizing. I can’t wait to get my life, my home, and my family in some semblance of order. I pull out the date books, fill family calendars with notes in multi-colored markers, and set up all sorts of bins to make the house more functional and life easier.

But this year I have a different goal. I’m going to make 2017 not about the things around me, but the things within me.

As we all know, attempting personal change isn’t always easy; most times it doesn’t last. Often, we end the year no further along in accomplishing our hopes and dreams than when we began. If you visit your local gym the second week of January, then head back in April, you’ll have a very different experience.

Personal change is even harder when it’s a part of our core personality we somehow wish to alter.

For example, I am an introvert. A trait which presents me challenges. In today’s over-saturated book market, it’s a requirement for well-known authors to be socially savvy and have a knack for not only marketing books but themselves, also.

My thoughts flow when I’m in my secluded writing world, but when I’m in a large group, those words evaporate. My comfort zone is family and a few good friends. But to become the writer I’ve always wanted to be, I have to step out of that safe circle.

We all have something we fear, or struggle with, or wish we could master. The New Year is about embracing change, right?

The internet is teeming with offers, options, and solutions for quick fixes meant to help with whatever it is we want to overcome. Personally, I prefer to learn from others like me, rather than paying some self-proclaimed “expert.” As I’ve read posts and followed blogs, I’ve seen a technique other authors and friends use when struggling, or searching for inspiration. They choose a word to describe what they want, or picture for themselves, to use as their guide or mantra. I decided to try it, too.

When choosing a word to best encompass my New Year goals and what I want to accomplish, and being that it is Christmas, I turned to one of my many all-time favorite books, made holiday movie, The Polar Express. A story that contains the magic and power of believing. If you haven’t read, or seen it, learning to believe makes all the difference to the little boy who seems to be unsure about everything around him.

So, I chose Believe as my word for 2017. I think it’s a word we can all use from time to time to help us out.

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This year I am going to Believe…

  • Believe in myself, and the power of my writing as a way to connect, inspire, and entertain.
  • Believe in success, in whatever form it takes.
  • Believe in what’s meant to be, and that I’m on the right path.

AND

  • Believe in the power of dreams.

Whatever you have planned for 2017, I hope you believe in your ability to accomplish your goals.

Tell us what word would best describe you in your New Year?

Photo credit: Rdoke via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Posted in Aspiring authors, Dreams, goals, Holiday, inspiration, organization, planning, Tradition, Writing | Leave a comment

Making Time “To Do” It All

Are your to-do lists out of control? Do you struggle to accomplish all that you want in a day? You’re not alone. We all want to be more organized and productive. That’s where a little multi-tasking and purposeful planning go a long way.

I recently listened to a podcast for indie authors promoting the crucial steps of what it takes to grow an audience and create a successful book launch. What I learned is that I have direly neglected the “business” side of my writing because there never seems to be enough hours in the day.

But success is about managing details.

We romanticize the idea of writing as a simple process of authors magically pouring words out onto pages. While part of the writing process is indeed magical, it is more complicated than it appears, and takes an enormous amount of time; months or even a year or more, to write the gem you read. And during the hundreds of hours spent crafting that novel, there are an infinite amount of other details demanding attention. A lot of constant juggling goes on behind the scenes.

For writers, there are large chunks of time spent on tasks such as:
• Editing/Revisions
• Cover creation
• Blog writing
• Newsletters
• Social media maintenance
• Platform building
• E-book formatting
• SEO keywords
• Marketing
• And on and on and on

Those tasks are just the tip of the iceberg at which I have been chipping away. It’s the not so glamorous side of the job I never knew or thought about, and it’s mind boggling.

Time management, making boundaries, and being effective are difficult concepts to stick to when the distractions of life are bombarding you at every turn. Working twenty-four hours a day is not an option, and long days are stressful for everyone, especially those raising a family.

To keep me on my writing path, and reduce some of my stress, I am creating a long-term “content calendar” to organize my goals, boost my productivity in all the right areas, and help me make a conscious effort to prioritize my daily tasks. content-calendar-image-for-blog-post

As I fill my calendar with months’ worth of scheduled details and deadlines, I am holding myself accountable, forcing myself to be more efficient.

Pre-planning is the current trend right now, and for a good reason, it works.  From all the hundreds of websites and Facebook pages promoting life hacks, weight loss, and even freezer meals, they all have one premise — being organized makes life simple. It saves time, gives direction, and helps limit chaos from day to day.

For me, it’s all about streamlining the numerous demands on my attention so I can carve out the necessary time to foster a connection with readers often and get my stories out on time. I must create, and take advantage of, every opportunity I can give myself to become a more recognized name in the author world. After all, I am competing with thousands of other voices vying for your attention.

Thanks to my bullet-listed, ink covered calendar, I will be able to provide more consistent blog posts, a monthly newsletter with exclusive insider content for subscribers, more sharing of information I’ve learned about the craft and other authors, fun extras, and so much more, all while actually meeting my book deadlines!

• What goals do you have for yourself and your detailed “to-do” lists?
• How can you do more in a day?

If you have an organizational time tip we can all benefit from, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Here’s hoping we can all gracefully juggle our full plates and manage to keep them in the air.

P.S. To get my monthly newsletter (mentioned above), chock full of exclusive insider information, you can subscribe here.

Posted in author platform, authors, blogging, Book covers, goals, organization, planning, time, time management, to-do lists, Writing, Writing Process | Leave a comment