Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We Have A Button!

YAY! Jess, with the help of her siblings Alyssa and Ryan (they made creative suggestions),  made a great button for us yesterday!  Thanks to everyone who joined us.  It was fun reading what you came up with.  If you haven't joined yet, there is still time.  You have until tonight to post your piece.  Click here for all the details.  We'd also love it if you grabbed our button from the sidebar.

Have a great day!!

Kathy :)  

Monday, January 30, 2012

Knights of MicroFiction!

Sometimes it can be a chore coming up with ideas to blog about.  But the best part of blogging is to meet knew friends and build a community.  Jess, from Write Skate Dream, and I wanted to be part of that building spirit.

So we came up with a new monthly blog hop called the Knights of MicroFiction (we'll have a button soon).  On the last Monday of the month we'll post a prompt. Post your work of 250 words or less on your blog, then  leave a comment either here or at Jess' with your link in the comment box so we can all check it out.  It's kind of a two day thing so just post it by Tuesday night and then on Wednesday Jess and I will pick 2 winners who will be featured on our blogs.

Today's prompt is:

Write a flash fiction/microfiction piece of 250 words or less about someone who has just done something wrong, but they don't have the guts to apologize. Whether they end up apologizing or not is up to you.     

Here's my version:

"I can't believe you did that!" Max said hurt.
"What?" Sonja said exasperation coloring her voice.   How could things have gone so wrong?  She thought.
Max looked down.  He couldn't fathom her betrayal.  A single tear trickled down his face, but he couldn't bring himself to say anymore.
"That wasn't what was supposed to happen," she said.  Why couldn't she simply say "I'm sorry?" She had not done it maliciously, hadn't even thought it would be an issue.  But she hadn't looked at it from his perspective either.  Now she felt terrible.  It doesn't matter whether I thought it would hurt him, it did. She knew there was only one hope. She had to swallow her pride and say, "I'm sorry."

And there it is! Can't wait to see what you guys come up with!



Saturday, January 28, 2012

A New Project

The other day my daughter Jess, over at Write. Skate. Dream., and I decided to write a novel together.  We had so much fun when I was beta-reading her novel, that we wanted to co-author something.  It's a whole new experience sharing the creative process with her.  I get to see how her mind works.  Yesterday, I got up for a minute to get something and by the time I got back to the computer she had already written like 20 lines of dialogue!  I couldn't believe it.

We sit next to each other with our laptops and it's awesome because we can both be writing lines at the same time by sharing the document on Google.  Sometimes she starts a sentence then pauses and I jump right in and finish it or vice versa.  It's like our brains are communicating through the force or something.  Very cool.

Who knows what will eventually become of this collaborative work.  But I know the journey will be worth every key stroke!

Have you ever co-authored a piece, or worked closely with another writer? and how did it work for you?

If not, what are you up to this weekend?

Kathy :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australian BBQ!

Head Down Under to Lynda R. Young's blog, W.I.P It, for a wonderful bbq weekend to celebrate Australia Day.  Just comment on her blog and become a follower to join the party and don't forget to bring a dish to pass.  It's a great way to meet new friends.  No other writing requirements, simply socialize with one another and check out others' blogs and follow them.

But what is Australia Day you ask?  I didn't know either so I found a cool link that gives an in depth history at  Australia Day.org.  Basically it is a celebration of the day in 1788 when the First Fleet of eleven ships arrived in Sydney Harbor from Britain.  

Hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend! :)


Yay vs. Yeah

I realized something a bit embarrassing yesterday.  I was reading someone's blog and came across the word "Yay".  Of course I've read this expression of joy many times, but for some reason it struck me that when I'm happy I write, "Yeah" instead.  I know that "Yeah" really means "yes", so why on Earth am I using it in sentences like, "Yeah me!"  Yes me?  Really? I have to be more careful to use the correct words.  How else am eye going to get the correct meaning across?  Well by-by mistakes! :)

In other news, I finished two books this week which is unusual for me.  The first one was The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  She spent a year experimenting, reading and finding what worked to make her happier.  She didn't want to drop everything and go to India or Thailand, she wanted to be happier in her own home with her kids and her husband right beside her.  In the end she figures out 12 Personal Commandments which she decides to live by.  It's a great read of her journey toward improvement.  Even though I wouldn't follow everything she proposes, like starting a collection I'm not interested in that one, I love her statement to "act the way I want to feel".  In other words, if I want to be energetic, I need to act energetic, get out of the chair and jump around with my kids. You can check out her happiness blog here.

The second one was The Great Eight: How to Be Happy (Even When You Have Every Reason to be Miserable) by Scott Hamilton.  This was also an inspiring read.  Scott has an incredible life story.  He battled a mystery childhood illness that almost took his life, testicular cancer, and a brain tumor.  He has many reasons to feel sorry for himself, but he doesn't.  Each time he's been knocked down, he jumps back up.  In this book he uses plenty of humor and skating analogies to coach us to our own happiness. My favorite quote from the book is from 1980 Olympic champion Eric Heiden who said, "It's not the events in our life that define our character, but how we deal with them."


I'd love to hear what you've been reading.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My Little Frogman

My son has loved swimming for a long time, but recently he's been enamored with snorkeling.  So yesterday when Ryan received a box in the mail with a brand new snorkel, mask, fins and wetsuit he was ecstatic.  He put them all on and walked, well waddled, around the house.  He didn't want to take them off.

I remember being that age, the age where I did stuff even if other people thought I looked funny or silly.  I used to choreograph my own dance moves to every TV show theme song we watched like Magnum PI and Simon and Simon.  I can't believe my parents, or my brothers for that matter didn't laugh and make fun of me for it.  Of course I also remember my brother dressing up as a ninja and sneaking around the house....

This year I want to get back to that careless attitude.  If I want to write a novel in a genre that everyone says is overdone, I'm going to forge ahead and finish it anyway.
If I want to continue skating, despite the sideways glances I get, (because I'm too old and only the kids should be working on that stuff), I'll skate even harder.  I'm going to do these things because they bring me happiness and fulfillment.  It's ok if people think I'm crazy.

Is there anything you're struggling to do because "conventional wisdom" says you shouldn't?

If you would like to check out our Nicaraguan dinner recipes hop over to Foreign Food Fest

Have a great Wednesday!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Good Things

I had a great weekend!

First, on Friday I was busy making our special Nicaraguan dinner for our Foreign Food Fest, (which by the way turned out very yummy!), when my son came up to me and pleaded with his puppy dog brown eyes to go out and build a snowman.  Normally I love that kind of thing but I was in the middle of cooking, it was getting dark and I didn't feel like going outside.  But I knew it was supposed to rain again soon and I wanted him to make one before the snow was gone.  I relented.  So glad I did!  Sometimes when I least want to do something is when I'm rewarded the most.
 The snow was too powdery to make a good snowman, but that didn't stop us.  We formed a little pile that looked like a tiny volcano, found a big chunk of snow for the head, and stuck two sticks in for arms.  We also chased each other around throwing snow.  We were both laughing hysterically. Ryan thought it especially funny when he threw a snowball and it trickled down my back into my snow pants.  I jumped around like a maniac, but it was hilarious.  He put a hat on the tiny snowman, it was about the size of a chicken, and we went inside.  Perfect timing, the nacatamales (it's like a tamale) were finished steaming and it was time to eat.      

Saturday, I was overjoyed to receive a box of books from Julie Maughon, over at Rosewood Pencil Box, for participating in her blogfest Oh The Early Work.  Thanks Julie the books are awesome!

That brings me to the Origins blogfest Feb 13th- hosted by   DL Hammons (Cruising Altitude), Katie Mills (Creepy Query Girl), Alex Cavanaugh, and Matthew MacNish (Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment).  It's all about when you first knew that you wanted to become a writer.  Check out the full description here.   

Sunday, I had a busy day but it was filled with fun activities like, skating, swimming and going to the gym.  

All around a great weekend!  

I'd love to hear what you were up to this weekend.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Time Challenged

I've never been efficient with my time.  My husband always says I run around a lot but I don't accomplish too much.  OUCH!  But I've finally come to realize that he's right.  (It's hard to admit!)

How many times have I gone to the store three times in one week because I left my list on the fridge and I've forgotten an essential ingredient?  Or how about all the time I spend repeatedly searching for something that I know I left on the counter, instead of just putting it away in the first place.  Or how I make lots of lists in different places and then misplace the list and forget what was on it.  Then I search for the list!

Anyway you get the idea. I'm time challenged.  But it takes precious time to be more organized! I felt I couldn't spare a moment.  But I wasn't getting any closer to attaining my goals.

This year I knew I had to change if I ever wanted to finish my novel and accomplish everything on my 2012 goals list (which I put on the computer, so I can't lose it, hopefully).  So finally today, I enlisted the help of Google Calendar.  I made a list of all the weekly items I wanted to have and some that were simply necessity, like making dinner.  I carved out time for each one, starting with the my most important item.  I couldn't believe that after I put everything in, including an hour each day to do a quick clean up and 1 hr each week to plan, I still had some pockets of time that were free.  In fact on Tuesdays I have 4 hours open!  I don't know how that happened!

I'm not sure this system will really work for me, because I've never found any schedule I can really stick to.  But at least I know that I really do have the time to get everything done.  Now it's up to me to make it happen!

How do you schedule all you need/want to do?  I'd love to hear your tricks!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's Ok to Lose

11 skaters,  2 coaches and 2 minutes of music.
The first beats pulsed through the huge arena.  We held our breath and watched every movement our skaters made. There was no way to help them now, like baby birds learning to fly, they had to skate this without our help.  All their hard work for 5 months was coming down to these 2 minutes.  I could only hope we had prepared them well enough.  Their first few steps were a little shaky with nerves, but they quickly found their footing on the slippery surface.  They thought on their feet and added an extra element when they realized they had skated faster than usual.  They took their final pose and it was over.  We could breath again.

The team I co-coach.  11 great girls!
My friend, (the other coach), and I were so proud of them.  They made only one stumble but recovered quickly.  They had finally come together as a team.  We couldn't have asked for more.

I could see the other teams were much more experienced than we were, so I wasn't surprised when we got the scores back. We had taken 12th out of 12.  But how were we supposed to break it to the girls?  They had given their all.  Would there be tears?  or would they be proud of their effort being a brand new team at a big competition?  We got them all together and my friend asked, "Did you have fun this weekend?  Are you happy with how you skated?"
They all shouted "YES!"
"Can you see the things we need to work on?" We asked.  They knew where it was leading, but they understood that if they wanted to be good enough to win they'd have to put in a lot more time and effort.
If we hadn't come to this competition, they never would have realized how much better they could be.  Even though it's tough to take last, the overall experience of the weekend, staying as a team in the hotel and bonding was far more positive than negative.  Now they are excited to get back on the ice and see how they can improve.  Sometimes it takes losing big to light the fires of ambition.        

Jess and Alyssa's team with their coach

Have big losses or rejections given you the determination to work even harder?


Friday, January 13, 2012

My Antagonist

My antagonist, Robert, is causing problems.  Yes, I know that's what he's supposed to do, but he's giving me trouble.  I can't quite figure out the real reason he's putting Elizabeth, my MC, in this predicament.  What tricks does he have up his sleeve? and Why?

I'm in a quandry.  I have a few ideas, but I haven't really thought them through to the end.  I had written a short backstory for him before I started this project, but I guess I'm going to have to get into more detail.  Jess, my daughter, over at Write Skate Dream suggested I check out Ellie Garratt's post about antagonists.  So after reading it, I've decided to have a talk with Robert and figure out what his real problems are. I hope I can dig deep into his past and uncover what really motivates him.    

This leads me to the Character Blogfest, running Feb 6-10th.  Check it out over at Cassie Mae's blog, Reading Writing and Lovin It!  The idea of this blogfest is to help us flesh out our characters.  Posts for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday have different themes to get us to explore our characters through their own eyes.  And of course their are great prizes offered to the winners!  I can't wait.

On a side note, I'm heading up to the winter wonderland of Michigan for the weekend. The synchronized skating team I co-coach, is in a big competition up there.  The girls are super excited to be competing out of state for the first time.  Wish us luck!!!

Hope you all have a great weekend!  I'd love to hear your tricks for getting your characters to divulge their secrets to you.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Space Age Silliness

      I was sitting at the table writing this morning.  All of a sudden an Instant Message popped up.  It was Jess.  She wanted to know if I was working on my novel.  I was.  I asked what she was working on.  We chatted for about 5 minutes.  It was a fun little conversation with lots of "lol" and :) ;).

It amazes me that as quickly as I can type something, my words can magically appear on someone else's screen almost instantly.  The funny thing is that Jess was sitting only 10 ft. from me at her computer.  So why didn't she just look up and ask me herself instead of typing it?  I don't know and why did I type back instead of verbally answering?  Because it is enchanting to have a wordless conversation.  It's almost like reading each other's minds.  I know it's silly but that is also part of the fun.

What silly/fun things have you been up to lately?  Have you made some good progress on you WIPs since the new year?


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Boys vs. Girls

Gearing up for Laser Tag! 
I'm always eager to try new things. Except river rafting down the Ganges, I was terrified of that ...and jet skiing in the Gulf of Mexico, scary.  I was sure a shark was going to gobble me up. Ok maybe I'm not the bravest of souls, but when we had the opportunity to play laser tag, I was fired up.  I had no idea what to expect but I knew it should be  boys vs. girls.      

We met the other families we'd be playing with and suited up with our lasers and crazy looking head gear that acted as the receiver for the signal.  We split up into our teams, our family was the only one that split up according to gender.

We went into the darkened arena and set up our blockades.  The music started which was our signal to begin.  My son was soo excited he ran across enemy lines and just started firing.  He didn't quite realize how easy a target he was standing out in the open.  I think he was the first one out. I'm not sure what happened to my husband...all I know is that when the first game was over it was the girls who had won.
SCORE: 1-0

The boys quickly came back and won the next game.
SCORE: 1-1

Now it was time to get serious.  Jess, Alyssa and I worked together like a special forces unit to pick off the other team.  We stood back to back behind a barrier and took turns firing on them.  We inched our way up to their blockades by crawling on our hands and knees.  They didn't even know what hit them.
SCORE: 2-1

We kept returning to the arena after each round.  The girls and I felt like Jedis defeating the Empire, only it was much easier.  We never let the boys' team win another round!

 Maybe you could say it was beginner's luck, but I don't think so!  I can't wait for the rematch.

Do you have friendly competition within your family?  Is it boys vs. girls or do you team up in other ways?


Friday, January 6, 2012

A Silent Tear

Dr. Seuss's Go Dogs Go, was the first book my son Ryan, read on his own.  Since that magical day when new worlds opened up for him, he has enjoyed so many wonderful stories.  He's read all the Magic Tree House, Andrew Lost, and Geronimo Stilton books.

But last night as he was transported to the Land of Prydain, in Llyod Alexander's The Black Cauldron, a silent tear ran down his small cheek.  My daughter, who was reading beside him, was the first to notice.
"What's wrong Ryan?" she asked.
Still looking down at his pages he said quietly, "Taran's best friend just died."  He couldn't bring himself to read on.  All he wanted was a hug.  He came into my arms and laid his head on my shoulder.  His tender heart was broken.  He didn't even say anything, he simply wanted to be comforted.  He was not simply reading the story, he was experiencing it.  

How amazing that a book written in 1965 can be found by a 7 year old in 2012 and affect him so. To open up his heart and mind to new experiences and emotions, that's a real magic that authors have the power to wield. I hope I can use it responsibly.

Anne of Green Gables was the first book that brought tears to my eyes.  What about you?  Which book/books  tugged at your heart strings?

On a side note Jess over at Write Skate Dream, has finished her YA novel and is looking for Beta-readers so if your interested, head on over and check out her blog.

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

Time for the first post of this year for the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. 2012 wow!

As a kid I thought we would all be flying in our cars by now!  I guess we haven't figured that out yet, but I never imagined a day when books (I mean paper books) would be old fashioned.  I loved holding a book in my hands and carefully turning the pages.  I had one fairy tale book with golden edges that I thought was a treasure.  I even loved writing on paper, actually I still do.  The way the pen glides across the page embellishing the empty space with its graceful tracings, like a skater making figures on the ice, is magical to me.

But we must change with the times and e-readers are definitely here to stay.   According to the Los Angeles Times blog, Kindles are Amazon's #1 item sold.  I even got one for Christmas!

How does this change what we do as writers?  Does it depend on your genre?

I've been trying to break into the picture book market for a long time.  Are my stories verbal garbage or have I ended up in the slush pile simply because of the old fashioned publishing machine which takes 6 months to get back to you?  Yet until 5 year olds start purchasing their own e-books, I don't see self publishing an e-book picture book as a great alternative.

Teen and adult novels seem like a better e-book market.  3 out of the top 20 best selling e-books in the Kindle Store were self-published and 2 more were from an Amazon imprint.  So when my novel is completed and ready to send out do I skip the waiting game played by traditional houses and go straight to the  Kindle Store?

I always dreamed of holding my own book in my hands someday and seeing it on the shelves at Barnes and Noble.  Is it realistic to want to hold my book?  Maybe I'll have to just order my own POD copy.

How are you dealing with the new face of publishing?  Are you still attempting the traditional route first?  And does the genre matter?  Any ideas?

Head on over to Alex's blog to check out all the other great posts for the group.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Don't Worry Mom

Always trying something new
"Don't worry Mom, I won't break my leg," my 7 year old son casually said to me last night before he attempted his next oddball stunt.  I had been reading and not paying much attention to what he was up to until those words came out of his mouth.  I scanned the room searching for a dangerous setup.  Then he ran full speed at the couch and attempted a flying karate kick at a pillow laying peacefully on the sofa.

He hit with a sort of muted thud, bounced back and fell onto the floor.  He turned and his big brown eyes caught mine. A flash of disappointment and humiliation washed over his face, but he quickly said, "I'm ok."
I know exactly what he expected.  He imagined jumping and flying threw the air, right leg extended and left tucked under him like a Jedi Knight engaged in a fierce battle.

Somehow real life never seems to measure up to our imaginations...but I'm proud he tried (and of course I'm glad he didn't do any real damage to himself).

I hope I can follow his advice this year to "not worry" and charge full steam ahead into new ideas and adventures.

What new adventures do you have planned for the new year?


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Our New Year's Eve Banana Split

We celebrated New Year's Eve by making a big banana split sundae.  We got 5 spoons and dug in while watching episodes from the first season of Lost. (we are watching it for the first time and we're all hooked!)    

Just wishing everyone a Happy New Year!  Hope this year brings many accomplishments and joy to you and your families.

Kathy :)