Social Media – Oh My!

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To Friend.  Or Not To Friend.  thinkWhat a question!

Do you Tweet?  Am I your FB friend?  Are we LinkedIn?

Have you pinned to Pinterest? Did you snapped a photo to Instagram?

There are so many ways to connect and be seen. How do you choose?

And – even with smartphone technology, who really has the time for all this?

Besides that quefoodstion, I ask myself whether I really want to know what everyone else is having for dinner tonight?

Or, I wonder if “Sally” really meant to broadcast that snarky argument with her sister “Sue” to the entire UNIVERSE?

When is too much, just TOO MUCH?

Or when is ENOUGH, enough?

No offense, but I don’t want to see a photo of someone’s food, unless there’s a recipe attached to it.

Also, I really don’t want to know how much someone hates a particular political candidate.  Really?  We all got the hint 15 posts before the word “scumbag” was used.

But, what about the meaningful posts? You know, those updates to friends and family showing them you finally got up enough nerve to go parasailing on vacation.

Or gradgraduateuated with honors.

Or got married. bride

Then, there’s the inevitable business element -

Are you “friends” with your boss?  Have you ever gossiped about a work-related issues on social media?

Oh, and just how many of your wild party pix will potential employers see when they Google your name?

party

Yikes!

What if you are trying to start or grow a business?  The experts recommend that all of your social media consistently bear your “brand.”

Brand isn’t just a product line name anymore. It’s the whole marketing package of the people who make the product or deliver the service.charlie And it shows in every tiny byte of cyberspace you touch.

What’s your brand?  It’s hard to pin down, isn’t it!  I think I know what mine is or at least what it’s starting to look like.

Now the hard question – which social media tools (besides this blog, of course) am I really ready to embrace?  Which is your preferred social media tool?

Raising your Book

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stork
So my last blog was on birthing a book. This blog is on the trials of raising your book. First, just let me say congratulations on getting that baby kicking and screaming out onto the paper. I know the labor pains of writing that book from beginning to end, was full of sweat and tears. But at last you have succeeded where so many others have failed. So now what?

Now you put everything you have left into raising your baby up to be the best possible book it can be, one you can be proud to send off into the world. Editing and revising your book is similar to raising your child well. Pay attention to every emotion, every action, and every reaction on the page. Make sure the words on the page are acting appropriately for the situation they find themselves in. It is exhausting and trying at times corralling your little one into behaving properly. There will be days when you throw your hands up in the air and say “I just can’t do this! Why won’t my characters do what it is supposed to do?” Take a deep breath and walk away if you have to. Trying to force the words or characters on the page at that point will do little more than lead to more difficulties down the road. Take that hot bubble bath, go for a walk, or take a drive. I don’t know if it is true for everyone, but I am always amazed at the ideas that crop up while driving. Similar to taking a drive with your child, it is always amazing the information that comes to light.

1066769-Cartoon-Bee-Pointing-Up-Poster-Art-Print    The various stages of childhood can be compared to the scenes and chapters in your book. Is the reader learning everything they need to about your characters and their background at the proper point in the book? It is possible to give to much information to soon or too late to make the lasting impact you are hoping for. Remember you would not have a talk about the birds and the bees with a four year old, but neither would you wait to talk contraception until your child is almost grown either. Choose your moments wisely and be sure to recheck and make sure it had the impression you were aiming for. If not have another go at it.

Treat your book as you would your child. As you would check to make sure your child is suitably dressed and clean before going out in public, do the same with your book. Have you layered in the setting? Have you cleaned up all the typos and spelling errors? All these things are imperative in sending you baby out into the world without you and making the best impression possible.

We all know there is more to raising a child then can be put on a single page. There is also more to raising your book to the point where it will stand out and make you proud and as with every parent, every writer has different ideas in how to reach that stage. But one of the best speakers I have heard on editing is Margie Lawson –   http://www.margielawson.com/

Please share your ideas or sites you have visited on the best way to raise your book to adulthood without losing your mind!

Character Inspirations

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About a month or so ago, right in the middle of some revisions from hell, I got stuck. I think what drove me crazy was the fact that I knew exactly what I needed to fix. I just didn’t know how to do it. Or anything I’d write sounded awful as I read it back, over and over, until I scrapped most of my new words and started again.

Then, while “researching” online as we all do, I came across Polyvore. That’s when I felt it. A flutter of excitement starting in my chest, spreading out until I couldn’t scroll through the options fast enough. The reason I became stuck in the first place was because I couldn’t figure out my heroine’s next step. On this website, I took a minute to revisit Alyssa. I guess it was kind of like filling out those character questionnaires before starting your story.

First Date - Alyssa and Max

Only this time, I woke up with my character in the morning. Decided how she might dress. How would she style her hair. What colours would she choose?

I know this all seems really superficial, but it’s not. For example, here’s a character sketch I created for Alyssa and Max’s first real date. Every choice I made helped me piece together Alyssa bit by bit.

Her blouse and camisole are sheer and sexy but at the same time relatively modest. No plunging necklines or skintight top for my heroine, she’s still a little unsure about letting him back into her life and she’s not too sure how this night will play out. Not to mention the cardigan in case she gets cold. Wouldn’t want to ask Max for his jacket in case she got cold.

So then I thought, “Hm. I can do this with all my characters, even the secondary ones.”

Next came Emma.Time to Make the Chocolates! - Emma Goes to WorkAnd then Elaine.

Missing You - Elaine

It’s surprising where inspiration hides from you sometimes. I hope you can always find yours.

Life is Short….

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Life is Short.  Make it Sweet!

My scheduled blog post for today was delayed due to endless interruptions and chronic over scheduling. Ironically, the topic I planned was about “fitting it all in.”  I was nearly ready to hit the publish button around lunch time, but thought I’d take one more look at my post after work today.

News of today’s tragedy in Boston hit moments after the explosions mid afternoon. As a fellow runner and wanna-be Boston qualifier, this hit me hard. I think of all the races I’ve run and the family members cheering me on as I cross the Finish Line.  It made me think of all those injured and killed today.  My heart aches for them and their loved ones.

A tongue-in-cheek post on juggling all that we choose to cram into daily life will rest for now.  Some things are more important. Today let’s all remember that life is short. Hug your loved ones. Pray for those who’ve lost.

And, don’t be afraid to go after your dreams, no matter what they are – whether it is running a marathon or writing a novel – or both.  This is what life is all about.

boston

Birthing a Book

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royalty-free-pregnancy-clipart-illustration-39042This is the first excerpt in a 3 blog series from the birth of your book to seeing it raised.

If you have ever thought that writing a book is a little like birthing a baby: well you’d be right.

A story starts as the germ of an idea in your head, just like the idea of having a baby. It’s exciting and scary and all you can think about. Then comes the big decision, you are going to do it. You are going to write that book. And just like when you’re pregnant you go out and buy every book on parenting you can get your hands on. ‘How to write a compelling story’, ‘The plot whisperer’, and ‘First draft in 30 days’. (Yeah like that last one’s gonna happen!)

Before long you are writing like a crazy person. Every bit of your energy gets sucked into producing a strong, healthy, bouncing, book: One that you have tremendous hopes and dreams for.

The first trimester flows without a hitch, and before you know it you have reached the midpoint and you’re thinking, ‘Hey I am golden. I can do this. No problem.’ But then you hit the third trimester, you should be in the home stretch right? Wrong. The growing pains start and doubts assail you. Soon you are having nightmares, day mares, and everything in between. What were you thinking? What on earth made you think for a moment you could give birth to a book that an editor would want?

The thing is when you’re actually pregnant, that baby is going to come regardless of how you worry and fret over being a good parent. But when you’re giving birth to a book these fears can stop you dead in your tracks. Don’t let the doubting vultures circling overhead take away your dream of having a beautiful book all your own. Sure it won’t be perfect and you’ll make mistakes, but don’t let that deprive you of giving birth to your baby. Because isn’t that how we all view our stories, as our babies?growing pains

No, yours won’t be exactly like anyone else’s, and that is what will make it special. It is a part of you after all. Treat writing your book like pregnancy. There will be good days when the words flow out and onto the paper with little or no effort at all. And there will be days you can’t seem to write a good sentence to save your life. Treat those days like you would when are pregnant and you wake up and have to roll your way out of bed and can no longer paint your toe nails. Push through it. Call a friend or a critique partner to help you get past this bump in the road.

Most of all, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Learn to love every stage of the process. After all, this is only the beginning. And this is the only time in your life you will ever write this particular book.dep_2147805-Cartoon-books-in-various-positions

Soon you will be hearing cheers and ‘Congratulations it’s a book!’ Who knows how many you could give birth to once you get through that first pregnancy.

Feel free to share your aches and pains of birthing your book. I am all ears.

 

The Blogging A to Z Challenge

So, as usual, I’ve missed the boat. I wanted to sign up for the 2013 edition of the Blogging A to Z Challenge. My friend and critique partner Claudia Cane emailed me about joining in and my first instinct was Of coarse! Sounds fun. Too bad the challenge started on April first and I dragged my butt so long that they’re now closed to new participants.

But I figured what the hell, I’m going to do it anyway. What are they going to do send the blogging police after me? Lol. (Seriously though, no cops, k?) Bear with me though, because I’ll have to do two posts a day to catch up to where everyone else will be by Monday.

A to Z: 2013 Challenge [Letter Schedule]A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9

Week One:
April 01, Monday – Letter “A”
April 02, Tuesday – Letter “B”
April 03, Wednesday – Letter “C”
April 04, Thursday – Letter “D”
April 05, Friday – Letter “E”
April 06, Saturday – Letter “F”

Week Two:
April 07, Sunday – BREAK

Click on this link for my blog…The letters A through F are coming up next!

Gotcha!

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april foolI don’t participate in pranks very often.  The reason is that I don’t like to get got, so I try not to start stuff.  I once offered my resignation on April Fool’s Day.  I thought my boss was going to faint before I said, “April Fool!”  He was so pissed he nearly accepted my resignation just to get back at me.  Not a good thing for a young twenty-something dependent on her meager paycheck for food and rent.

For me, the best April Fool’s joke was one that wasn’t even my prank.  A few years ago my co-worker’s sibling, who owned a small business, wanted to play a prank on the assistant.  The assistant was all but a partner in this business –  she knew all there was to know.  She took care of EVERYTHING … and she pretty much ran the show.  The business owner wanted to one-up her.  Just once.

So around 9:45 on the morning of April Fool’s, knowing that the business owner would be unavailable, I placed the call.  Using my most professional and official sounding legal voice I called and asked for the business owner.  Of course the assistant wanted to know who I was and why I was calling, as was her standard protocol. After all, she knew more about the day-to-day operation than the owner did which was something that she regularly pointed out – even to me then and there on that call.

I made up some scary sounding law firm name and said that I was calling to see if the owner had signed contracts for the business merger and whether I could stop by and pick them up.  This very confident, assertive, take charge, assistant stuttered. She stammered.  She became tongue tied, yet asked me just when was this merger supposed to take place because no one had told her about it.  I faked surprise, told her I thought she knew all about it and begged her not to say anything so I wouldn’t lose my job.

The business owner arrived to the office about 20 minutes later.  The office had been turned upside down and inside out.  Neat and tidy piles were now unkempt slush piles scattered all over the desks, ledges and tables.  Visibly upset, the assistant only mumbled something about not feeling well and excused herself to the bathroom.

Anxious silence permeated the office for about a half hour while the owner checked email and pretended to read the mail.  Then FINALLY this poor assistant was put out of her misery.   An official-looking folder was handed to her by the owner. She opened it to find a sole piece of paper, where the owner had scrawled, “APRIL FOOL — GOTCHA!!”

I wonder if the assistant ever got the boss back for that one.  And, thank HEAVEN it wasn’t me. :-)

Have you ever gotten got?  And did you get ‘em back?

Inspiration for Writing

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20090211134127_beethoven Every writer finds inspiration for writing in their own way. I find mine in a handful of ways, but mostly through music. Every word, every note, and every tone has the ability to bring forth powerful emotions.

How do you feel when you hear ‘I don’t want this night to end’ by Luke Bryan? Well, I know how it makes me feel! Okay, so that might have a little something to do with Luke Bryan himself. But you know what I mean.

The first book I wrote was a reunion story and the heroine had a dark secret to share and was inspired by the song ‘Love Don’t Run’ by Steve Holy. It really worked to bring up all those feelings I needed for that particular story. The second one I wrote was about a cowboy from Wyoming, inspired by the country song ‘Cowboys and Angels’ by Dustin Lynch. Hard to get more romantic than that.

But, my current WIP came about a bit differently. It was not inspired by a song, but a person. So when it came time to buckle down and start writing, I knew I needed at least one song, probably more considering this was going to be longer book with a much wider range. Picture hot sultry nights on the Louisiana bayou. Throw in a heroine with psychic ability and a serial killer and I can tell you, there was a need for more than one song on this one. I already had ‘Black Velvet’ by Alannah Myles. A little sexy, a little dark. Perfect! But I needed more. What to do? Call on my critique partner Lori of course. She came through for me as usual and gave me some great songs to work with. ‘Black Magic’ by Santana and ‘Born on the Bayou’ by CCR.

So, whether you use music as your inspiration, a balm to your soul, or to brighten your day. Whether you sing love songs to that special someone, lullaby’s to your children, or find yourself shimmy and shakin’ while you clean your house, you have to admit it is a driving force and a memory maker for most, if not all of us.

I would love to add some new songs to my list for inspiration. What songs inspire you?

Bucket-O-Dreams

I recently read an article where someone implied we should get rid of the term “Bucket List”. Apparently it’s overused and no longer trendy.

I don’t get that. How can a list of goals and dreams to achieve before you die go out of style? Who decides this stuff?

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Not only do I have a list but I had to break mine down into categories…and I’m proud of that!

I have places I want to visit. Beautiful, peaceful, exciting, breathtaking and exotic locations that I’ve only dreamt about. I want to sleep in a bungalow on the water in Bora Bora, and roll the dice in Las Vegas – to be honest, I would have loved to elope in Vegas but I’m about eight years too late on that one! A pub crawl in Dublin, Ireland, visit castles in Scotland. Can’t forget to hike up a volcano in Hawaii (this is seriously the only reason I’d attempt hiking of any kind). What about seeing Alaska’s Northern Lights, or eating a croissant and a macaroon at Pierre Herme Patisserie (Bakery) in Paris, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and although I’m not exciting enough to do these two justice, maybe one day Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

I want to experience silly and fun things with my kids. The first is a biggie for me. One day, when they’re old enough to remember it, I’m going to take them to Walt Disney World. Sure, I’ll tell them it’s all for them, but I’m pretty sure my husband and I will find a way to enjoy ourselves too because we’ve never been either. But I want to do other things that I think will hold just as much magic. I want to catch fireflies with them. I want to bring them horseback riding.

I’d love to take a dip in a natural hot spring with my husband, drive through a redwood (you can actually do this!) and ride a streetcar in San Francisco.

I want to try street food trucks all over the USA. Pulled pork and tacos and desserts, the list is endless. Some goals are not as fancy but still fun! I’ve never eaten at Carl’s Junior, Jack in the Box, White Castle or In-and-Out!

Finish compiling my notebook with all of my favorite family’s recipes (photos included) and then share them with the rest of our family so we don’t lose all the wonderful and special traditions they brought back from Italy.

Lastly, if I work hard enough, I hope to be a published author one day. This one is just as farfetched as the rest, but no less impossible. I think all dreams start off on equal footing. It’s our job to find a way to make them happen. It all depends how bad you want them to come true.

I’d love for you to add to my list. You can never have too many dreams.

Nutty Gratitude

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How many New Year’s Resolutions included a Gratitude Jar? ImageMaybe you were gifted with one over the Holidays.  But, what the heck goes in it?

We all know to be grateful for good health, safe environments for our children, cash enough to pay the rent, etc.  But, let’s be honest — who else says “thank-you” out loud when the slow moving vehicle we’re stuck behind turns off,  or the ever elusive car keys are visibly in reach, or my personal favorite — the puppy does her business OUTSIDE in the pouring rain.

What else earns a ticket in my jar?

  • Perma-press garments – I mean, who really irons anymore?
  • A strong wi-fi connection
  • Bathroom tissue – think about it!
  • Skinny Girl cocktails, or cocktails in general
  • The “hide” command on Facebook [I really like that one!]
  • Heated seats in my new car
  • Pandora or Whisperings Solo Piano Radio
  • My manicurist

Today, the object of my gratitude is Nutella.  Nutella is that sweet and simple nut butter spread from Europe that soothes my snutellaoul, like little else can.

I had a hard time sleeping through the night last night.  A little after midnight I snuck downstairs to the quiet dark kitchen and Nutella’ed up some toast with a big glass of milk.  That smooth, sweet, ooey, gooey goodness was my ticket back to dreamland.

Little did I know how versatile Nutella is.  I Googled it today and found tons of recipes for ice cream, S’mores, cakes, cookies and other delectable treats.

Mmmm.  I just wrote a note for my gratitude jar.  It’s smeared with an itty bitty bit of Nutella – from my dinner tonight, in case you were wondering.

What sinful pleasure is in your gratitude jar?

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