March 31, 2017

Finding Myself



The past few weeks, I've been doing a lot of introspective contemplation. (That's fancy writer talk for figuring out who I am and what I believe.) It's an ongoing process, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. And a lot of staring off into the distance.

I've withdrawn from the world in general during this process, including posting to my own blog. I think that's more to keep anything from influencing me in any direction. 

BUT I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I've got a pretty good handle on who I am, what I want, where I'm going, and how I'm doing it all. All I've got left to do is put together a solid plan.

It's a good thing I LOVE to plan.

No, seriously. I really do.

I'm not ready to divulge all the details just yet. There's still a lot I've got to get sorted. I can, however, reassure you that my future plans still include a whole bunch of writing and writing-related stuff. That has never changed. Something deep inside is driving me forward in that pursuit with a passion. Almost as if it's my destiny or something.

Whatever it is, it feels right. More right than almost anything else. (And I was punny and didn't realize it until just now - ha!) Yes, it feels right. And I'm excited to put my plans in action.

*grins involuntarily and begins to tear up a bit*

Yeah...this is going to be good.

March 20, 2017

Book Launch Day!

It's finally here!

Today is the day I can finally say I am a published author.

Introducing the Mind Games Anthology by LDS Beta Readers. (My short story, "The Muse", is in there!)

You can buy an autographed paperback copy using the link to the right ($2 shipping).
Or purchase an ebook on Amazon.

HOW FREAKIN' COOL IS THAT?!!!

*blushes, ducks head, and clears throat*

I mean...uh...I'm pretty excited.

With everything that's happened in the past year, this is a day to be treasured, celebrated, and rejoiced.

SO...

Here's the deal.

The last time I checked, I had a whopping ONE person on my email list to receive the monthly newsletter I haven't written yet. (I'll admit I haven't done much to promote anything since I've been trying to ease my way back into being a fully-functional adult. That's going to change now that I'm finally getting a handle on it all again.)

I'm willing to send a FREE ebook copy of Mind Games to the next three subscribers. (And my lovely and wonderful current subscriber to reward them for already being so amazing.) That will go out this Friday.  You can sign up to the right ---->

Yeah. Over there somewhere. Towards the bottom.

Not only that, but I'm going to start a monthly drawing from my list of subscribers to receive free goodies from me. Prizes may include free ebooks, signed copies of any books I'm in, a free critique of the first ten pages of your current work-in-progress, and more. Since I'm fairly crafty and love to indulge in other creative endeavors, there may even be jewelry or other fun things thrown in as well. It'll all depend on my mood and what's going on that month.

That said, come join me on Facebook for the Mind Games Book Launch! It starts today - Monday, March 20, 2017 - at 6:00 pm and goes way past my bedtime (meaning it goes until 10:30 pm). The link to the event is here on my Facebook page. Just scroll until you find it.

If you can't stay for the entire book launch, come for my featured time slot at 7:50 pm. I'll be available to answer any questions and to chat about all things writerly. Or you can just crank the tunes and celebrate with me. We can dance together.

Separately.

In our own homes.

Cuz we're cool like that.

(I may even be brave and try doing a live Facebook video feed. I've never done it and I'll have to actually put on some makeup and do my hair today despite it being a total slouch day. BUT I just might indulge for this extremely special occasion.)

It's a day to celebrate! Here's to chasing dreams and slaying dragons!

HOORAY!!!

(P.S. The revision on Between Shadow and Light is done and it's currently out with beta readers. I'm right on track to start submitting to agents and publishers in June. Yay!)

March 3, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened...

Yes, I do think I'm being quite clever with my post title today. You know, in case you were wondering. It has a double meaning and I do adore a good double meaning.

The Single Meaning -

 Last night, on the advice of a friend, I went to "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" at Weber State University. It's a musical I've wanted to see for years and never had the opportunity until now.

Since Handyman Husband doesn't like musicals and wasn't feeling well anyway, I took my fifteen-year-old son.

Those of you who are familiar with the show are now shaking your heads in shame, I'm sure.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, let me assure you that "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" is NOT appropriate for a fifteen-year-old boy to see with his mother. Not in the least.

And yet, it was incredibly funny. I feel a strange sense of pride giving my son an evening we'll never forget.

That doesn't change the fact that I felt an almost overwhelming need to cover his eyes for part of it.

I did refrain. But I really, really, really wanted to.

The Double Meaning - 

I talked about LTUE last week and how it inspired and motivated me. I'm still riding the high from it.

The crazy thing is that something inside of me shifted and changed. I don't feel like the same person. I feel like someone who is on the verge of something spectacular. Something life-changing.

Do you remember the post I did about my grandma? Where I mentioned the magic she possesses? 

I feel it.

Really truly feel it.

Like anything and everything is possible. Where my biggest dreams are within reach, I just have to stretch a bit more and great things will happen.

It's awing, humbling, and exciting all at once. 

The funny thing is, I wasn't looking for it. I simply wanted to feel better again. I wanted motivation. I wanted to get out of my rut.

I got so much more.

So, with that said, I'd like to officially announce that my dreams of becoming published are coming true. My short story, "The Muse", will be included in the Mind Games anthology coming out on Monday, March 20th. It will be available for purchase as both an ebook and hardcopy. 

Isn't the cover spectacular?! I'm so excited!!!


Excuse me while I crank the tunes and indulge in a happy dance.

I'll get you more details and a link to be able to purchase the book as they come available. 

One step closer, people! And it makes this dream-chasing dragon slayer very happy indeed.

February 24, 2017

LTUE - The Best Medicine

This last weekend, I attended LTUE - an annual sci-fi/fantasy symposium in Provo, Utah. I went last year, too, but wasn't terribly impressed. In fact, I was considering skipping LTUE altogether this year.

Instead, my 15yo geek child and I woke up insanely early to make the 90-minute drive down. He was going for the gaming, I was going for everything else. (Side note: my learning-permitted child drove. On the freeway. I'm still unraveling the knots in my shoulders.) I didn't expect to get much out of our single day foray.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Magic happened this weekend, folks. Pure magic.

I can't detail everything that happened since I'm still trying to process it myself. But I can tell you the results.

#1 - I came away inspired.

I've been struggling lately. Really, truly struggling. Nothing motivated me, nothing inspired me. I was at at standstill and wasn't sure how to move forward. And because of that, the funk I had been in just wasn't lifting.

The first panel I attended on Saturday stripped all that away. It was about writing part time vs. full time. Besides the fact that two of my absolute favorite people were there, it was simply amazing. I walked away with a new reward system (STICKERS!!!) and a drive to treat my writing as a career - including sticking to a writing schedule.

I implemented a few changes the very next day and every day since. I'm happy to say that I've written over 10,000 words this week -  completed my rewrite, completed a short story, and wrote two versions of this blog post. Plus I had time to spare!

Goodbye, funk. Hello, FABULOUS!


#2 - Crazy amounts of quality time with my son.

I don't see my son too much during the week. He's busy with school and homework and everything else. Lately, I've been dreading the time when he turns eighteen and is able to leave the house. He's my baby, after all!

I've also felt guilty for not taking the time he deserves to really be there with him. So many things just keep getting in the way.

This weekend, I got to see my kid beam with joy, which filled me more than I ever believed possible. He had so much fun and even though we spent our time doing our own things, the time we did spend together was amazing. We did lunch and dinner together, played with swords, hung out a bit, and had plenty of uninterrupted quality conversation. We connected in a way we haven't been able to in far too long.

Even if I hadn't gotten anything else from this weekend, that right there was worth the whole thing.


#3 - I got to see my 'adopted' family.

I've raved about my tribe of crazies before. To me, they're family. Plain and simple.

My big "sister" whom I completely and totally look up to and adore.
I wanna be just like her when I grow up. Isn't she gorgeous?
Most definitely family.

One of my younger "brothers" who plays to my fiercely competitive side
(and usually beats me, dang boy!)

As one of my good friends (who actually is a distant cousin of mine) said on Saturday, "There's the family you're born with and the family you choose."

My birthday twin who brings out the little sister in me (a role I've always wanted!)
I have wholeheartedly chosen these people to be family.

One of my absolute favorite selfie partners.
Over the past couple of years, I've essentially adopted a hoard of crazy cousins (both close and distant), the odd uncle or two, sweet aunts, and a handful of adopted siblings who couldn't be more dear to me if we were actually blood related.

Some beautiful and amazing people.

Of course, I selfied with all my "family" I could find. It's a must, you know.

More beautiful and amazing people!
And yes, that is a smolder happening in the bottom corner.
I need to work on mine so next time we can double smolder you.
That and the big hugs. Oh, how I needed those!


And so...

In short, this weekend was exactly what I needed to get me back on track in every way. I'm writing again. I'm smiling again.

I feel like me again.

And yes, I do plan on going back next year. With results as amazing as this, how can I stay away?


February 10, 2017

How to Have a Fantastic Day

I am exhausted.

But for a very good reason.

Yesterday, I woke up determined to look good. I wanted to feel good and looking good tends to help. So I showered, got dressed, and actually made an effort. I even used hairspray and mascara, people. 

Yeah. It was that serious.

After all that effort, the craziest thing happened. I didn't just feel good, I had a FANTASTIC day.

It showed, too. I got a ton of compliments and the smile on my face got bigger and bigger. I had more energy. I laughed and bounced around and had enthusiasm.

Things got done. I made plans for doing cosplay at my kids' school for Star Wars Day. I cleaned out my disaster of a car and did some housework while rocking out to 50's music (some of the best songs EVER) on Pandora. I went grocery shopping and ate a healthy lunch (yay, me!).

I also selfied.


I even played Mario Cart Wii with my family (and came in first a couple of races, thank you very much).

Overall, it was a wonderful day.

All because I made an effort.

Crazy how that happens.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I rocked a bit too hard yesterday. My whole body aches. But, in my defense, how can you sit still when songs like "Great Balls of Fire", "My Girl", and all things Elvis are playing?

It's just not possible.

Nope. Not at all.

February 6, 2017

The Weekly Word



I'm feeling somewhat better. I think. This cold is holding on to me tighter than a pair of too-small jeans. The only thing getting me through each day and night is Nyquil. But I am getting some things done, so we'll count that as a victory.

Getting Healthy


Last week's goal: Start doing yoga again. I never felt good enough to start up again. Soooo....

This week's goal: Start doing yoga again. There's a possibility I'll go do a gentle yoga routine after finishing this post. And after a cup of herbal tea clears out my throat. Again.

Bonus goal: Healthy...er foods. As it always happens when I'm out for the count, our eating habits lean toward junk food and convenience foods. We were doing so well for a while there. I'd like to get back to that. At least I haven't jumped back into the caffeinated soda habit again. I'll call that a success. :)

Getting Organized


Last week's goal: Use my planner every day. Despite being sick last week, I actually did pretty good at this. While I didn't use every part of my weekly spread, I did use it almost every day. Gold star for me! 

New goal: Use my planner every day. Doing it again. This goal is the foundation for the rest of my organizing goals, so I want to make sure it's a solid habit before I tackle anything new.


Getting Published


Last week's goal: Write every day. I did it! Mostly. But I sat down to write at 9 am every weekday last week AND I did it again at 12:30 Monday through Wednesday. Most days I only worked for 15-30 minutes, but that's better than nothing!  Not only that, but I knocked out 800+ words on a short story I'm contributing to an anthology. (Only a month late on that one...dang germs!)

New goal: Write every day. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard every day at 9 am (except Wednesdays). And again at 12:30 pm (except Fridays). This week is going to be interesting. It's parent-teacher conferences at my younger boys' school which means their schedule is going to be all over the place. Full days today and tomorrow, early release for both younger boys on Wednesday, early release for my 7yo and no school for my 5yo on Thursday, and no school on Friday for either of them. Meanwhile, my 15yo has regular school schedule all week. I'm exhausted just typing that.

I'm still going to do my best to sit down at my keyboard twice a day to get stuff done. This habit isn't going to develop itself, after all!


My Challenge for You


Celebrate your victories this week, no matter how small. Success helps to breed more success. You can do it! I believe in you!

February 3, 2017

Refining the Dream



Dreams are amazing things. They can motivate you and give you something to reach for. They inspire and direct. They give you hope and permission to fly.

The problem is when life gets in the way of your dreams. Whether due to sickness or financial situation, something you did or something that was done to you, it all boils down to the life you picture versus the life you have or can achieve.

For instance - my dream is to become published. It's a dream I've had for a while. I've set goals, created time tables, established deadlines, and attempted to set up accountability for myself to push forward.

However, for the past year, I've been hit with one physical ailment after another. It feels like I've barely gotten a chance to catch my breath before the next one hits.

My deadlines have come and gone as I've struggled to simply survive each day. It's a fight that seems to have no end in sight.

Instead of giving up and hanging my head in defeat, I have chosen to refine my dream. Rather than trying to write 2-3 chapters a day, I'm thrilled when I can sit down at 9:00 am and put my hands to my keyboard for 10-15 minutes. I may not get much done, but at least I'm inching forward. And someday, when my health has improved, simply being in that habit will propel me forward. Ten minutes will stretch out into an hour or even two. Chapters and revisions will pour out in droves. I'll be chasing down my dreams, not with a tiny little butterfly net, but with a digitally enhanced dream-sucking machine.

I don't see this slower pace as "making do" due to my circumstances. Rather, it's refining my dream to fit my reality. As my reality changes, my dream will, too.

All I have to do is believe.








January 30, 2017

Weekly Word


Surprise, surprise...I'm sick again.

I keep thinking I'm on the tail end of it, but this cold keeps coming back for more. The poor air quality caused by the inversion here probably isn't helping matters. Needless to say, most of my goals were set aside to allow myself time to recover. I'm probably not going to make much progress this week, either, but I'm sure going to try.

Getting Healthy


Last week's goal: Exercise at least five days this week WITHOUT overdoing it. Didn't happen. Mere laughing or talking sets me off coughing right now and downward dog and child's pose stuff me up to the point where I can't breathe.

This week's goal: Start doing yoga again. I'm keeping it even simpler this week. Just focusing on yoga. And getting over this stupid cold. I think I'm doing something right, though. Everyone else seems to have gotten this cold worse than I have. Even though it's knocked me for a loop, I think I'm recovering more quickly than my boys. Maybe my immune system is finally recovering from the massive beating it's had the past few months? Maybe?

Getting Organized


Last week's goal: Use my planner every day. I used it once. The rest of the week, I tried to rely on my sketchy germ-impaired brain power to keep things straight. Meaning I locked myself out of the car again, missed at least two appointments/events, forgot to do blog posts and make meals, and I'm sure I'm still forgetting a commitment I made. A semi-important one. For the life of me, I can't remember what it is, though.

New goal: Use my planner every day. Yep. Let's try this one again. And again. Until it sticks. I did it this morning. Yay me!


Getting Published


Last week's and New goal: Write every day. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard every day at 9 am (except Wednesdays). And again at 12:30 pm (except Fridays). Another goal I'm going to stick with until it sticks. I succeeded today. At least the 9 am one. Hooray!


My Challenge for You


Honestly, my only challenge for you this week is to not get sick. Just don't do it. Being sick is dumb. Quarantine yourself, run away to the beach, wear a mask and slather on the hand sanitizer... Just don't get sick. The end.

January 23, 2017

Weekly Word



We've had a lot of snow lately and I find myself staring out the window just watching it fall instead of doing more productive things like write and do laundry. I'm also getting both stir crazy and lazy at the same time like I can't sit still, but I can't motivate myself to actually get something done. It's a disconcerting feeling.

However, I did make progress on my goals, so that's something, right?


Getting Healthy

Last week's goal: Exercise at least five days a week. Success!!! I did exercise for at least five days and it felt so, so good. Until I overdid it and spent most of Saturday lying in bed with sore back muscles and cursing myself. 

New goal: Exercise at least five days this week WITHOUT overdoing it. Yoga every day and the elliptical three days. Although the Couch to 5k program is too intense for me (and part of the reason I was forced to relax on Saturday). So I'll be playing around with simply maintaining a constant speed for a certain period of time and then gradually increasing that speed/difficulty.

Last week's goal: Drink more water. I think I did better. Maybe? I didn't end up tracking it like I thought I would. This goal may be shelved for a bit while I focus on others.


Getting Organized


Last week's goal: Use my planner every day. Yep.  Or actually...nope. I did okay until Friday when I locked myself out of my car in the Walmart parking lot. That kinda put me in a funk that I'm just now emerging from. 

New goal: Try, try again. One of these days, it's going to sink in and I will use my planner every single day. It will happen.

Last week's goal: Set up a system for paperwork. Ummm...next question?


Getting Published


Last week's and New goal: Write every day. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard every day at 9 am (except Wednesdays). And again at 12:30 pm (except Fridays). I didn't do so well last week, but this is a new week and I can try again!

My Challenge for You


Just keep moving forward. That's it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a sick little boy I need to snuggle. I do have things to do, but my kiddo comes first. :)

January 20, 2017

Cheers

There's a place I go where they smile when I walk through the door and know my favorite drink and cookie without me having to say a thing. They listen to my ramblings and encourage me in my dreams. I always feel welcome and wanted.

I love how quiet the lobby is in the mornings.

It's a soda shop called Fiiz. And it's a small piece of heaven here in my small town.

Today, I wasn't planning on going. I've been trying to be good and limit my soda intake and stay on budget and all sorts of things. Instead, I was going to Walmart to buy socks for my 15yo who wears holes in his socks big enough to turn them into leg warmers.

Dirty, ratty leg warmers.

Ew.

Anyway, I must have been distracted when I got out of the car because as I closed my car door, I realized I didn't have my keys in hand. Nor were they in my purse. Or my coat pocket.

Surely, I thought, I didn't lock them in my car. No. I haven't done that in close to fifteen years.

I so did.

As I stared through the car windows in disbelief, trying each door again and again, I was at a complete loss as to what to do. Fortunately, Handyman Husband was able to come to my rescue (he's absolutely my hero...*twitterpated sigh*). But since he was at work, it would take a while.

My plans for the morning were completely shot (which is why my blog post is late going up today). So, package of brand new men's socks in hand and still in shock, I trudged across the parking lot to my haven. My retreat.

Fiiz.

One of my friends there, who always has a smile for me, greeted me. Before I could get out my order, the tears started. I didn't even know they were there. It's like they snuck up on me and smacked me in the face. My friend grabbed a box of tissues and patiently waited for me to compose myself.

My dear sweet friends at Fiiz took very good care of me this morning. Once I dried my eyes and paid for my drink, they somehow got me to smile. Then laugh. By the time I left, my day was brighter and I felt, once again, that I could take on the world.

It's funny how something like locking my keys in my car can turn out to be a blessing. I think, deep down, I truly needed that pause in my routine. I needed that time with no real obligations or places to be where I could simply be. And I needed a small reminder that I matter.

Despite all that, you know I'm going to quadruple check that I've got my keys in hand from now on.

After all, I've got dreams to chase and dragons to slay and I don't need to throw additional obstacles in my way.

January 18, 2017

Flash Fiction - He kept absolutely still as the footsteps got louder


Prompt: He kept absolutely still as the footsteps got louder.

Daniel kept absolutely still as the footsteps got louder. He squeezed his eyes shut, resisting the urge to squirm or cry out. Rustling and muttering told him the search was still on.

The footsteps passed and he let out a satisfied grunt. Discovery meant defeat and he would not go down without a fight.

The world shifted and light pierced his hiding spot. He blinked at the sudden onslaught.

“Come on, sweetheart, it’s time for your bath.” Mom sighed as she plucked a pair of dirty underwear off his head. “You know the hamper is not a fort.”


Foiled again!




*Flash Fiction is fiction under a thousand words. I participate in a weekly prompt that's limited to a mere one hundred words. That's crazy short. You can check out the other participants' stories via their links on the WonHundred Word Wednesdays Facebook page here.*

January 17, 2017

Weekly Word - Jan 17, 2017


Yes, I know it's Tuesday. There was no school or work for anyone in our house yesterday, so I took the day off as well.

And did housework.

I'm such a party animal, I know.

Getting Healthy

  • Last week's goal: Start exercising. This gets a huge checkmark! While I didn't do yoga in the evenings and I missed a couple of days this weekend (because I was sleeping in...), I did do yoga every weekday and got my three days of elliptical in. The best part is I'm feeling healthier than I have in a very long time. More energy, more clarity of mind, more peace. *happy dance* 
  • New goal: Exercise at least five days a week. I'll probably keep this as my goal for the next couple of weeks until it becomes a habit, but I'll tweak it as I go. 
    • love doing yoga first thing in the morning. I even set an alarm for 5:30 am to ensure I fit it in. However, some of the yoga routines take more than the thirty minutes I allotted. So I've set my alarm for ten minutes earlier, starting tomorrow. I'm sure Handyman Husband is going to be thrilled. *cue exasperated groan*
    • Three more days of elliptical work this week. I'm working my way up to five minutes of walking speed, five minutes jogging speed (up from the three minutes I did on Saturday), five minutes walking speed. I can do this!
    • I've started learning the basics of Tai Chi. Two different doctors have recommended it for my back, so I'm finally getting into it. This week - the warmup. I may move forward to learning the first couple of moves, but for now, the warmup is kicking my butt. In the best way possible, of course.
  • New goal: Drink more water. I discovered infused water last week. It was quite by accident. Handyman Husband and I went out for dinner to Zupas and they had an Orangeberry infused water that I simply died over. I rarely get drink refills at restaurants, but gosh darn it, my cup was filled to the brim as I walked out the door. There are now two pitchers of infused water in my fridge - one with berries and oranges; the other with orange, lemon, and lime. The next time I go to the store, I'll be picking up some fresh herbs to spice up future infusions. I have a feeling this goal is going to be an easy one to achieve. Mmmmmm....

Getting Organized

  • Last week's goal: Use my planner every day.  Kids and husband home = I slack off. However, I did use my planner Monday thru Thursday last week and this morning. Yay me! I also finished getting it set up and ready to go. 
  • New goal: Repeat of last week. They say it takes anywhere from 21-28 days to develop a habit. So far, I'm really loving dropping off my kids, then going home and sitting at my desk with a mug of hot goodness while I plan my day. Ideally, I'll do it on the weekends as well, but let's not get too crazy.
  • New goal: Set up a system for paperwork. Once upon a time, I had a system. And it was beautiful and wonderful. But it died. I need to revive it and put it back to work. With baskets and labels and all sorts of organizational loveliness. Come back to me, paperwork system! I need you!

Getting Published

  • Last week's goal: 5-7 chapters in my WIP. Ummmm....oops. I didn't write a single word. However, I did save what I do have as a PDF and sent it to my Kindle to reread. Which I didn't do, either. In my defense, it's really hard to get back in the writing habit when you've let it slide.
  • New goal: Write every day. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard every day at 9 am (except Wednesdays). And again at 12:30 pm (except Fridays).
    • WIP: This week I'll reread and take notes on what I have so far which accomplishes two things - it reacquaints me with my story and characters and such and I can take notes for the revision. I already know there's some worldbuilding I have to fix. This just gives me a jumpstart on it. Once I get back in the story, I'll be itching to write and it will just happen. Hooray!
    • Blog: The usual. On time. 

My Challenge for You

Don't give up. Whatever goals you've set for yourself, don't let a bad day (or week) discourage you. Developing new habits is hard. You're not going to be immediately successful. There will be days when you absolutely want to quit. That's completely normal.

The secret is to learn from those days. Allow yourself to fail. Figure out what went wrong and recommit or readjust. Then pick yourself off the floor and get back to work.

You can do it. I believe in you!

January 13, 2017

Sitting the Fence


It seems that every time I turn around, I'm sitting another fence. On one side resides the way things are - my comfort zone - while the other side holds what could be.

I peer at that fence from the safety of my side and wonder what lies just beyond its border. Then I tentatively reach out and touch it, taking in its texture and strength. It separates me from what is and what might be and that possibility of something amazing beckons me.

So I peek over the fence at the other side. The green grass nearest the stately barrier isn't much different than my own. There are no monsters, no dragons...nothing threatening my safe bubble I've grown accustomed to hiding in. 

I take a chance - just a little one - and lift myself up to straddle the fence, keeping my feet firmly on my side, of course. Nothing too crazy. Not until I know what I'm getting myself into.

The higher elevation provides a clearer view of both sides. I look back to where I was and relish in the comfort knowing exactly what it entails provides. There, I know who I am and how things work. There, I have explored and reached and grown.

As I recall the good things, I feel myself slipping back toward the ground. Perhaps the unease and discomfort I feel, much like clothing that's too tight, isn't as bad as I think. Maybe I can learn to live with settling for who and what I am. It doesn't scare me, doesn't push me like it once did and maybe that's not as bad as it seems. 

Before my toes touch the soft grass, a siren song calls from the other side and I turn my gaze to seek it out. In the distance, I spy others who have dared to cross. Who have left the security of what was known to follow their dreams toward what they want most. Their laughter dances upon the gentle breeze and tickles my ears. The scars they bear from their battles only add to their beauty and grace. I see them and my soul cries out to join them. 

In a moment of bravery or sheer insanity, I swing my legs over the top of the fence and drop to the ground. On the other side. The unfamiliar side. My heart pounds in my chest, my breath quickens.

Part of me wants to dash toward the figures in the distance, to partake in their joy and work alongside them to create something beautiful and amazing. I picture myself by their side, stretching and evolving into something new and spectacular.

Yet my feet remain still. My hand grasps the fence like it's my only lifeline and, irrationally, I am halfway convinced that if I let go, there is no turning back.

And I'm frightened.

What new obstacles will stand in my way? What dragons must I slay? What demons must I overcome? How will I overcome? Will the rewards be worth the effort?

I glace back to the side I know.

Do I really want to go back?

Can I go back now that I've seen what could be?

No. 

I can't.

My ironclad grip on the thing that once held me in loosens and I dare to let go.

Nothing happens.

I'm still safe.

With shaky legs and tremulous gaze, I take a step forward. Away from all I've known and toward that which both terrifies and calls to me. 

One step. 

Followed by another.

And another.

And suddenly...I know.

I know what I'm doing is right. 

I know I have the strength, the endurance, the drive to do what needs to be done.

Peace sweeps over me. 

I'm where I'm supposed to be. 

With a victorious whoop, I take off running through the grass into the tall trees with a sword in one hand and butterfly net in the other. 

Fear has no hold on me now.

I have dreams to chase and dragons to slay and nothing - absolutely nothing - will stand in my way.


January 11, 2017

Flash Fiction - I'm sorry if it upsets you, but I'm marrying her.


Prompt: I'm sorry if it upsets you, but I'm marrying her.

I looked into the eyes of the woman I had married so many years ago, watching for the pain that would appear when I told her my intention.

“I’m sorry if it upsets you, but I’m marrying her,” I said softly, gesturing to the object of my desire.

Her nose scrunched like it always does when she’s confused, but as she looked to where I directed, enlightenment crossed her expression. It quickly shifted into disgust.  She threw one of the dishrags she had been folding at my head.


“Whatever, dork. Do what you want. It’s just a stupid video game.”



*Flash Fiction is fiction under a thousand words. I participate in a weekly prompt that's limited to a mere one hundred words. That's crazy short. You can check out the other participants' stories via their links on the WonHundred Word Wednesdays Facebook page here.*

January 9, 2017

The Weekly Word


I bet you thought I was back last week, right? I teased you with that flash fiction prompt, then disappeared again.

How horrible of me.

If you don't happen to follow me on Facebook or Twitter and missed seeing the fact that I was once again sick (flu followed by bronchitis), I was once again sick.

Should I say it again?

I WAS SICK. Not just sick, but stay-in-bed, keep-the-lights-off, whine-because-I-can-get-away-with-it-and-I-really-do-feel-like-crap, don't-even-want-to-read, binge-watch-Netflix kind of sick where absolutely nothing got done. I didn't even want to get up to open presents.

Okay, maybe I did. But I didn't feel like baking at all over the Christmas break and that's saying something.

While I was out and feeling like crap, I had a lot of time to reevaluate my goals and think about what I wanted for this year. Some of my goals I came up with while I was feverish have already been scrapped.

Yes. They were that bad. Feverish me is just as loopy as super tired me. Possibly even worse.

The goals that are left have been pared down to something doable and maintainable - get healthy, get organized, and get published. And as I'm typing this, I have just decided that I will choose at least one goal from each category to focus on each week and share it with you.

Three goals per week.

I like where this is going...

Getting Healthy

  • Start exercising. Yoga every morning and evening to loosen and strengthen (maybe even a quick midday routine, too) and the elliptical three days this week. Handyman Husband and I are doing a Couch to 5K thing for the next 10 weeks. Me on the elliptical (back surgeon says I can't run until April, but the elliptical is fine), him on the treadmill. Bathing suit season is coming people, and I'm determined to be ready for it!

Getting Organized

  • Use my planner every day.  My lovely planner I shared with you a couple of posts ago still needs some (a lot) of tweaking. I'm filling in my goals and breaking them down into manageable steps, adding necessary pages for the eating healthy part of things, and just getting used to actually using it daily.
  • Finish setting up my planner/schedule. Okay, this is an extra goal, but one that's going to drive me nuts until it's done. I'll be focusing on this one today.

Getting Published

  • 5-7 chapters in my WIP.  I can't remember just how many chapters I have left until the end of this rewrite, so I'm hoping I get so close to finishing that I can't focus on anything else until it's done and I knock out the last of the book this week! I mean...that would be cool. 
I've got a bunch of smaller goals this week, too. Things like doing a load of laundry start to finish every day, making my bed each morning, taking my vitamins, not eating out, sticking to a cash budget, etc. But I've been working on those for the past couple of weeks (or months) already and I think I've got them figured out for the most part.

My Challenge for You

Take your overly ambitious New Year's resolutions and break them down into more achievable goals. What small thing can you do this week to chase those dreams? It doesn't have to be big. Maybe just doing research on the best method to move forward? Or cleaning out a space to allow you to work/exercise/relax.

Start small. Celebrate when you accomplish it. Even the longest journey begins with a single step. So take that step. You can do it.

I believe in you.

January 4, 2017

Flash Fiction - The letter made it easier to ascribe blame to him


Prompt: The letter made it easier to ascribe blame to him.

Amy reread the vague apology. The letter had been meant for someone else, but wasn’t addressed. Without specifics and a well-placed suggestion…

She firmed her shoulders and approached the man at the front of the room.

“Mr. Cuthburt?” Amy shoved the letter at him, hurrying her words as he scanned its contents. “My dad accidentally spilled water on my project and ruined it. Can I get an extension?”

Mr. Cuthburt nodded curtly. “You’ve got two days before I dock points.”

Amy thanked him and slipped the letter into her pocket, silently rejoicing.


After all, her English essay was late, too.




*Flash Fiction is fiction under a thousand words. I participate in a weekly prompt that's limited to a mere one hundred words. That's crazy short. You can check out the other participants' stories via their links on the WonHundred Word Wednesdays Facebook page here.*

December 21, 2016

Flash Fiction - There was something strange about the window


Prompt: There was something strange about the window.

The window pane shimmered and danced as I walked toward it, my reflection wavering and writhing. Outside, fluffy falling snowflakes punctuated the darkness, making the warm firelight feel even cozier and welcoming.

Despite the alluring scents of cocoa and cookies, something drew me to the window. Something ominous and foreboding.

I pressed my hand against the frigid glass and shivered as the cold seeped into my palm. The window was firm. Unmoving. Yet my reflection continued to wobble.

Strange.

I looked down at my hand and gasped.

There was nothing wrong with the window.


There was something wrong with me.


*Flash Fiction is fiction under a thousand words. I participate in a weekly prompt that's limited to a mere one hundred words. That's crazy short. You can check out the other participants' stories via their links on the WonHundred Word Wednesdays Facebook page here.*

December 19, 2016

The Weekly Word


Progress

That darn battle scene...

Okay. So I've been stuck on it for over a week now. I finally went back and revisited my worldbuilding. Turns out my biggest problem was not being able to fully visualize the scene. That has been resolved. The whole thing has been storyboarded and all I have to do is write it.

I'm hoping that will happen this week.

Although it's Christmas break and I struggle to write when my kids are home full time.

Lessons Learned

  1. I am incredibly visual. I need to be able to "see" my scenes in order to write them. If I can't picture them in my head, I get stuck. So, after a day of searching out floorplans and street maps and such, I'm finally where I need to be. Woohoo!
  2. My boots leak. I wore them on Friday and came home with a soggy right foot. They're still wet today. Bad boots!

This Week's Dream Chasing

- The battle scene. It's going to happen! And that's it. One goal. I can do this!

My Challenge for You

What have you been putting off? Dreading? Struggling with? Take a few minutes to close your eyes and visualize solving the problem, completing the task, and/or getting it done. It's amazing how simply picturing something being finished can motivate you to complete it. 

Good luck! I believe in you!

December 16, 2016

Celebrating the Season...and the last day of school

I love this time of year.

Yes, the holiday spirit and giving and love is great. Caroling, chocolate, Santa, Jesus' birth.

It's all good stuff.

But I'll let you in on a secret...

My favorite part is Christmas break. When my kids have no school and we don't have to get out the door before the sun is even up and mornings can be lazy and we can wear pj's all day and bake cookies and have NO OBLIGATIONS for two weeks.

Oh, yeah...stress levels go WAY down and mean mom rarely makes an appearance. I'm usually done with Christmas shopping well before the kids' last school day of the calendar year, so I can focus on enjoying time with my boys.

Today is my younger boys' last day and by the time this posts, both of them will be out of school. I love how well their school celebrates the holiday season. This morning, my 7yo participated in a program about Christmas around the world. There was singing, dancing, losing of hats, tripping of children, and cute costumes.

And Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Our principal decided to join in on the fun.
"It's not every day you get to photobomb Santa," he said.
What a stinker. :)

Santa and Mrs. Claus told me they especially love crossing guards.
See. They do love me more. (Just kidding. I'm a good girl. Honest!)
We've also got ornaments made from construction paper, glitter, and pompom balls, candy and treats, new books, and other gifts and crafts. One lovely lady even made cinnamon rolls for the teachers and parking lot volunteers. Yum!

It's a good day. A very good day.

And I can't wait for it to be done so I can snuggle up in a soft warm blanket and sip hot cocoa watching Christmas shows on Netflix while my kids run amok and most likely destroy my house while "watching" with me.

That's the kind of holiday I'm looking forward to most of all.

December 14, 2016

Flash Fiction - He was unconscious when I found him.


Deep in the hallow, a still form lay. The distinctive markings and musky odor told me I was dealing with my arch enemy – that pesky skunk who kept stealing my prize-winning tomatoes.

It was time he paid for his thieving ways.

I crept forward, shovel in hand and mask firmly in place. The black garbage bags covering my clothes rustled with each movement, but I was a man on a mission.

Until he moved.

And a tiny striped head popped out.

He…was a she.

And a mother.

I slunk home, shovel unbloodied. Defeated.

Who needed a stupid blue ribbon anyway?



*Flash Fiction is fiction under a thousand words. I participate in a weekly prompt that's limited to a mere one hundred words. That's crazy short. You can check out the other participants' stories via their links on the WonHundred Word Wednesdays Facebook page here.*

December 12, 2016

The Weekly Word


With the holiday season in full force, schedules need to be flexible to accommodate things like Christmas parties, shopping, and baking.

Mmmmm...baking. Especially biscotti. And sugar cookies.

My weekend included all three activities and almost no writing. Which means my big battle scene I was going to finish is still in the works. I don't think I'm going to finish by Wednesday like I hoped. But 'tis the season for miracles as well, so maybe the fates will have mercy on me?

Progress

Other than holiday distractions, I've done fairly well on my WIP. Six chapters down, just eleven more to go. Possibly fewer than that. These past few chapters have been shorter and faster paced. Almost like this story wants to race to the end. 

I am noticing things I need to go back and fix before I send it to beta readers. The end is so close, though!

As for the healing part, I have good days and I have bad days. Lots of in-between days as well. While my shingles rash is pretty much gone, I'm still achy and sore most days. I also get worn out faster than I'd like. But that's what naps are for, right? Well...that and diet Pepsi.

Lessons Learned

  1. I love talking to sixth graders about writing. They ask fantastic questions and they have so much potential! (Thank you, Mrs. Summerhays sixth grade class. You guys were great this morning!)
  2. Biscotti is a delicious distraction. And bribe. Not that I would ever bribe anyone. Noooo...not me.
  3. Killing off characters is more fun than I originally believed. I used to be scared to torture my poor creations. I now delight in coming up with new and unique ways to make it happen. (Don't read too much into that. I'm a writer. It's what I do.)
  4. Kids enjoy waking up their parents at the worst times - while their poor mother is wrapped up like a burrito on the couch trying to take a much needed nap or at 5:08 am with loud yelling, banging on walls, and jumping on their beds. Not that I know from personal experience the past couple of days. My children are complete angels who would never do that. *yawn*

This Week's Dream Chasing

- Still keeping it realistic. I'll write as much as I can and try to finish by this Friday. Then I can start on the revision next week. I may not get it to my beta readers until after New Years, but I'll sure try. 
- I'm also going to listen to my body and try not to overdo it. Back problems, surgery, and shingles all in one year are quite enough, thank you very much. I'd really like to get back to feeling normal again!

My Challenge for You

Make a plan. Those step-by-step goals I talked about last week won't do you any good if you don't set deadlines. Deadlines should be achievable yet encourage you to stretch.

My deadline for my rewrite and subsequent revision has been Christmas. It's now New Years (unless I really get cracking!). That's just three weeks away. One week for finishing up the rewrite and two more for the revision. Ambitious, but not overly so. 

Once I've sent it out to my betas, I'll give them about 2-4 weeks to read it over and send me their feedback. 

And so on and so on. My ultimate deadline to submit is June, just in time for my birthday. Happy birthday to me!

December 9, 2016

It's Biscotti-Baking Battle-Writing Day!!!

My younger boys have no school today.

And it snowed yesterday.

So today has been deemed BISCOTTI BAKING DAY!!!

It's also FINISH THE BATTLE SCENE DAY!!!

Because that's happening right now in Between Shadow and Light. Chaos, mayhem, swords flying, claws swiping, curses cursed (silently). And at least one person dies.

Okay, maybe two.

Heh, heh, heh...

And I get to do all this while my biscotti bakes, cools, and bakes again. Then some more while I wait for the melted chocolate I'm going to drizzle on top to set. Not only that, but baking days heat up my kitchen to the point where even I am ditching my cardigan and basking in the delicious warmth.

That's saying something.

Since I also have a blog post scheduled for today, I'm dragging you along for the ride. (This is where you're supposed to cheer wildly.)


We'll start with what greeted me in the kitchen this morning. Overall, not too shabby considering we went grocery shopping last night and I was too tired to take care of more than just the groceries. My boys were kind to me. I've seen worse. Much worse.


I unearthed the special ingredients we bought specifically for biscotti baking. And yes, the diet Pepsi is a must. The 2-liter is my best friend today. The rest have been stowed away for another day.


Counters cleared and wiped down, ready to go. And I had a photo bomber.

At least he's cute.

Don't mind the rolled-out-of-bed-and-threw-my-hair-into-a-messy-bun-and-called-it-good look. I'm also wearing yoga pants. This is my real, unfiltered life.

Okay, so I was lazy and didn't want to get all dolled up today. It happens.


Access to recipes is a good thing. You know, since I don't have them memorized or anything. I did write two of them down, but I like being able to consult the original source.


Both ovens preheating and my mixers at the ready. It just got real, folks.


Since I was mixing two recipes at the same time, I needed a way to keep track of what went into which bowl. See! I can be super smart when I need to be.


Chocolate toffee biscotti formed and ready to go in. The chocolate peppermint already went in. My kitchen smells heavenly, by the way.


Baking break! Hey, look! That's you on my screen. Or rather, the beginning of this blog post. Woohoo!


Holy biscotti, Batman! The chocolate peppermint one spread more than I expected. Is this where I'm supposed to yell, "Plot twist!" and move on?

As I stared at my overload of yumminess trying to formulate a solution that would appease both my "I gotta eat it now!" side and my "But it's not going to be perfectly biscotti shaped!" side, I got a notification that a package had arrived from UPS.


Don't get too excited. It's parts for my car. Handyman Husband is going to fix something on it that he's needed to fix for months, but it wasn't urgent, so he put it off. It's been creeping toward the urgent side this week, so he's finally going to fix my baby.

Can I tell you how much I love having a handy fellow around the house? It's kinda nice. :)

Yes, I am wearing a cardigan here. I went back and forth between being toasty warm and slightly chilled all morning. I'm sure the whole cardigan + apron ensemble is tres chic right now. I'm such a trendsetter, you know.


 I thought this was funny at the time. Me and my mini me.

Maybe I was just hopped up on biscotti sampling. And diet Pepsi. Everything seems funny with that potent combination.


Look at those lovely loaves! Mmmmmmm....

They're cooling and waiting for me to slice them. My solution for the chocolate ones that seemed to spread across the entire baking sheet was to cut each "loaf" in half both lengthwise and widthwise. They came off the baking sheet with minimal casualties and now I have a bazillion little chocolate biscotti slices. All the better for sharing!


I want you to get a good look at this photo. If you ever walk into my house and see this, make any excuse possible to stay because happiness is happening.

"Hey, so I see your floors need a good mopping."

"Can I wash your windows or something?"

"Mmmm...something smells good...."

Odds are, if you're here when food comes out of the oven, you'll go home with a loaf of bread or plate of cookies or something. Because doesn't baking equal love?

Of course it does.


The Snickers biscotti loaves leaked all their caramel goodness out. I should have recognized this as the bad omen it was.


A plate for the rejects. These are the pieces that don't pass muster and are fair game for anyone walking past. Or for begging children who really, really, REALLY want a cookie.

Or for "sampling."

Because I'm not snacking. Honest.

Did you notice my laptop was updating? Again. I swear that thing updates twice a week, if not more. It likes to do it just as I'm sitting down to write. It's like the update knows I'm in the groove and it's sole purpose in life is to prevent that from happening. But today, I fooled it! I had to take care of biscotti while it updated! Muahahaha!


Ready for round two of baking!


I cut the chocolate toffee loaf along a crack that dared to shoot across the loaf when I moved it from the baking pan to the cooling rack. When I pulled the knife away, I gasped in awe. That right there is perfection in all its glory.


The Snickers loaf, however, was anything but perfect. Total bust. As I mentioned before, the caramel bits melted out. Not only that, but the loaves crumbled as I cut them. Not a single salvageable piece. Darn it! That's what I get for trying to be all fancy and stuff. At least I have the other two flavors. 


This is where I am now. Sitting at the kitchen table with my aching feet propped up. The ibuprofen I took this morning has worn off and I'm in desperate need of a nap. The only writing I've accomplished so far is this blog post. I'm not complaining. Biscotti is worth it.

Once my body stops complaining so hard and the next round of ibuprofen kicks in, I'll tackle the toppings. Toffee bits, melted chocolate, chocolate chips, crushed candy canes, and chopped peanuts. Oh, yeah....

Until then, I'm going to grab my laptop and lap desk, get all comfortable on my bed and...

...probably fall asleep.

*shrugs* At least, that's how it went down yesterday. I sure hope my writing bag doesn't have any drool marks where I was leaning against it when I took my unintentional nap.

But people, I have biscotti.

And queso.

So today is a win in my book.