Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Taking on the Fear

Last November I participated in #NANOWRIMO, the month-long challenge to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of November. I came nowhere near that goal as I was not ready. It was something I joined almost last minute. All was not wasted though. I ended with a good start. I had the first few chapters written and had lots of notes together.  As the months passed by, I eyed my notes folder and considered opening my files on my laptop.

Something's been stopping me though. After all this time, I think I'm letting my fear of taking on something new block my writing. I found myself frozen, afraid to take any steps. However, simple words from a great writing friend was enough to encourage me to keep going. The words? "You can do it."

Yes, we say that to anyone trying to accomplish a goal whether it's scoring that first goal or conquering an exercise routine. However, those simple words mean so much more than encouragement. Writers often support each other and demonstrate faith in each other. That is just the thing we need when our self doubt wants to take over. That paralyzing self doubt.

I saw a meme the other day that pointed out many successful people (such as Disney, JK Rowling and Hershey) that have failed and if they stopped the world would be missing Disney stories, Harry  Potter and Hershey's Candies.

After reflecting on these things, I feel ready to take on this new adventure of finishing that novel of mine. The hardest part is those first few minutes when I'm convinced I have nothing to go on, however when I push through it, I'm always glad I did. Sometimes I accomplish chapters at a time. Other times I only accomplish a few notes, blogging and marketing. What I do know is that I feel I'm past that paralyzing fear. I have learned a few things during this time. The most important lesson is that even if I doubt myself, even if what I wrote is terrible, it's important to keep going. There's time for editing later.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

What's in your Bookshelf?

Summer. It's a time to unwind and relax a little - whether you're just out of school for 2 months or are looking forward to a few days away from work. My summer days gave me time to catch up on things that I let slide during the busy year such as reading and writing.

I've been reading many things so far this summer, but for this post I narrowed it down to three: 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia Toney, Emerge, by Heather Sunseri and A Faerie's Secret by Rachel Morgan. Yes, there is quite a variety in themes for these books, but I do that on purpose. I like to mix things up when I read and explore different worlds. 

10 Steps by Cynthia Toney is a coming of age YA novel. While the title makes you wonder if the main character is superficial, you'll soon see that is not the case. This is the second book in the Birdface series where we follow Wendy through achieving her goals, uncovering a conspiracy, and helping others. Her helpfulness may come at a cost to the people already in her life. I recommend
giving this book a try. No worries if you didn't read book one. While 10 Steps continues where book one left off, it certainly can stand alone. 

Emerge, by Heather Sunseri is a compelling mysterious drama mixed with medical conspiracies. When a deadly virus destroys 90% of the country, the airtight city of New Caelum was born to protect the people from the disease. Christina, the only person to contract the virus and survive, flees New Caelum leaving behind West, her first love and best friend. When it becomes clear the virus is returning and West's sister contracts the virus, he sets out to find Christina. What follows is a race against time to defeat a deadly virus
and revive a city destroyed by corruption. If you're looking for something different, give this book a try.

A Faerie's Secret by Rachel Morgan is the fourth book from the Creepy Hollow series. This is the first of  three detailing Calla's story. The Creepy Hollow books are set in a magical fantasy world filled with Faeries and other magical beings. Calla wants nothing more than to become a heroic guardian like her brother Ryn ( who we meet in books 1-3). However, her overprotective mother and her unique magical ability(classified by the makes Calla's goal of becoming a Guardian even more difficult. I enjoyed all the surprises and twists and turns in this book as Calla learns that not everything is as it seems and there is more than one way to be a hero.

So as you see, all three I found intriguing and engaging, yet they all have very different premises. Up next for me are:

Uprising by Heather Sunseri
A Faerie's Curse by Rachel Morgan
Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors by H.L Burke

Now it's your turn. What's in your bookshelf this summer?

Friday, May 6, 2016

Author News

I have some news to share! 

First, my new picture book, Caitie the Caterpillar was just released from Guardian Angel Publishing. This is my fourth picture book with GAP and I can't wait to share it with all of you. 

Here's a little more about the book:

Caitie the Caterpillar
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
ISBN: 9781616337513 1616337516 

Purchase Links: 

Blurb: It is a beautiful day for milkweed, until Caitie the Caterpillar runs into Swift Sparrow. Soon, Caitie and her new friend Alexander Ant, must find a way to escape the hungry bird. As Caitie faces Swift Sparrow and her own fears, she begins the process of a beautiful transformation.

My second piece of news is my recent visit to Ringing Rocks Elementary School. It was a beautiful school with enthusiastic first graders. 

We read Teresa's Shadow and discussed the writing process. I asked the question, "How long do you think it took me to write Teresa's Shadow?" My favorite answer was, "10 minutes!" 

After we read Teresa's Shadow we also talked about how shadows are made and even created some of our own shadows with our hands. 

It was a fun day and everyone was extremely welcoming at the school. As an added treat,I did a book reveal of Caitie the Caterpillar since it was just released. They were so excited to be the first group of children to see the new book. 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for ZERO #AtoZBlogging Challenge

Today I do a happy dance as I focus on the word ZERO for the letter Z. That's right! There are zero posts left in this April blogging challenge! 

To be quite honest, I'm pretty surprised I completed it. There were a few days when I thought I was going to slip and either miss or fall behind. However, I pulled through no matter how difficult it became. I'm excited that this challenge was a success. I think it accomplished the purpose of the event, which was to get everyone blogging and writing more. 

While I feel I developed a better blogging habit, I have several more things I'd like to get back to focusing on. I hope to continue a regular blogging schedule, but it may be reduced to once a week or something similar.

Why do that when I have a good routine going? Well for starters, I have a brand new picture book out that was released April 20, 1026 title Caitie the Caterpillar. So that will need some well deserved attention. In addition, I'm working on a fantasy novel ( a brand new task for me). And, as I've stated earlier this month, one of my goals was to write more and keep up with my projects. Now that I've tackled this goal, it is onward to the next! 

It was fun blogging with all my new A to Z friends. I  discovered many new and interesting blogs which I plan to continue following. 

Zippity-Do-Dah! A to Z Blogging Challenge 2016 is complete and a success. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yippee #AtoZBlogging Challenge

With only two posts left, including this one, I tackle"Yippee" for the letter Y. 

The end is in sight and our blogging goal is almost met. Anyone who has been going through it with me knows the strength and dedication it is taking to complete the challenge.  

When I felt "Weary" like I did a few posts ago, I mustered up the strength to not only carry on with my posting, but I even planned out around my other obligations.  When I wanted to read an extra chapter instead of blogging, I mustered up the strength to put the book down until I met my daily goal.

This all certainly calls for a celebratory "Yippee" from all the bloggers participating in the challenge. I'm not sure if I will throw myself a reading party, bog down with more writing time, or take a mini writing vacation. 
How will you celebrate your victory?  Don't be shy! You earned it!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for eXtremely Difficult #AtoZBlogging Challenge

I tried not to do it. I scoured the Internet and even my printed dictionaries for an X word that had SOMETHING to do with writing. I tried not to include words with "ex", but that was extremely difficult. I would have ended up blogging unsuccessfully about a word that I just learned the meaning of. 

So in keeping with my theme, I will point out that letter X was an extremely difficult letter to tackle. Since I had the blogging energy a few days ago, I seized the opportunity and pre-planned this post. I could not be sure I'd be able to attempt it if I weren't fully up to the "challenge".

So, when tackling a writing project, what do you do when you run into and extremely difficult situation? Our initial response, as it should be, is to tackle it head on and push through. With every problem, there is a solution, correct?

While that is true, there are many difficult problems where the solution is not always obvious. In extreme situations like that, we need to look outside the box. We need to get creative. In my case, I had to search other ways to satisfy the "X" requirement of this challenge. 

Another thing I did was go back to visiting other blogs. What did they come up with for x? Did they choose only "X" words? Some did, while others went for "Ex". What I discovered was that everyone had their own unique way of tacking this post. Which got me to wondering, what did you do to tackle this extremely difficult letter? Did you use "X" or "EX"? Leave me a link to your post in the comments. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Weary # A to Z Blogging Challenge

You knew I'd pick this word, didn't you? After all, we're on the letter W for the A to Z Blogging challenge and the word Weary is just too perfect for my theme.

By now, after blogging for 27 days straight (except Sundays), you can bet this blogger is growing weary. The thing keeping me going is knowing that the finish line to this marathon is now in sight. And while it has certainly helped me gain a better blogging routine, I feel that blogging weekly might be a better fit for my personal and other writing schedule.

I'm pretty sure getting "weary" in the blogging process happens to most of us. I find that a change of scenery helps when the computer screen is just a dull, blank, uninspirational sheet staring back at me. If it's a nice day, I might take a nice walk. It's interesting what ideas and thoughts occur to you as you walk. 

Another thing I do is if I know I'm going to be busy one week, then I plan out my posts. For example this weekend that passed, all three of my children were in a play that had 3 show times throughout the weekend. That was just the show. That didn't include preparing and feeding everyone. So I planned for that. Had I tried to squeeze it in, I'm sure I would have felt overwhelmed. 

One final thought about defeating the blogging weariness, is to find something that energizes you. It could be a break with a good book. It could be mental break of a day out with a friend. Or it could mean a nice cup of caffeine. Whatever it is, recharge. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Voice #AtoZBlogging Challenge

As I ponder the letter V in this A to Z Blogging Challenge, I look to the word Voice. Voice is something writers focus on in blogging or in any of their writing. When I started this challenge, I knew my blog was about writing and I have a certain voice that goes with the blog.  Sometimes, I feel I'm still struggling with it.

Another challenge for me was to see if my blog's theme and voice would work with  my Blogging Challenge Theme. As I decided that my theme should be about the struggles of keeping up with the challenge, I pondered my voice as well.  Do my posts "sound like me" ? While I was pretty sure I was up to the "challenge", I wanted to be sure I didn't stray from my voice.

As I read up on the blogging voice, I kept coming across a united theme: your blog is not for everyone. So relax knowing you do not have to be everything to everyone. 

Another tip I came across for someone trying to find and/or keep their voice is Reading. Just like reading more books makes us better writers, reading more blogs make us better bloggers. 

A third tip I found was to be useful. I'll admit. I may be lagging here on this one. I really am just struggling to stay afloat in the challenge. However, before the challenge I often blogged about writing tips and book reviews. 

How do you find your voice? Have you thought about it at all or is it just something that you see across all of your writing?

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Ultimate #AtoZBlogging Challenge

In this final week of the A to Z Blogging challenge, we continue with the letter U. I have been at a loss for words on this one. Ultimately, I settled on the word ultimate.

As we wind down on this ultimate challenge, I'm experiencing first hand how difficult it is to discuss a theme in 26 different unique (Hey! Another U word) ways. Mix that up with a weekend full of kids' activities and I was struggling to find the time to blog.

However, I am pushing through because I have made it this far will reach the end. It is my ultimate goal to complete the challenge, so that I can tackle some of my other writing goals. And while I feel this post has been a challenging one, I carry on. Yes, this post is quite short, Ultimately, I'm impressed I came up with this much.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Time #AtoZ Blogging Challenge

Today's word of the day for our blogging challenge is TIME.   The hardest part of the challenge in the beginning for me (other than finding content) was finding the time to do this regularly. This weekend especially, is hard. All three of my children are in a high school play this weekend, so it is amazing to me that I've been able to steal away a few minutes. 

I'm also working on a writing project and trying to get My Light Magazine up again. I'm beginning to get a little better at time management when it comes to my writing. It is much easier to put the writing on the back burner when we have work and kids. However,  I feel like the brain is another muscle ( so to speak). The more we exercise our writing, the stronger it becomes.  In fact, I used to journal every night. Time permitting, I may revisit journaling. Writing routinely, no matter what it is I was writing about, helped shape my future writing.

And so, in this busy mom's life, I am grateful that I am still finding the time to keep up with the challenge. I think I just might make it. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Surprise # AtoZ Blogging Challenge

For today's challenge I'm looking at the word SURPRISE for the letter S.  I am truly surprised at myself for my accomplishments in this challenge. This was a last minute decision to join the challenge at the end of March. I was pretty sure that life would somehow get in the way.

One of the things I found helpful the most in this challenge was taking it step by step and trying to have some idea what I would do next. The first week I was trying to find a good routine, but as time went on,  I found my own way. Usually I tried to post one night in advance. I had a goal of doing a few a head of time, but I never found time for that...yet. I love how this has helped me sit down routinely and write.

I'm also surprised how much easier it became to take time out to blog. Once I let my perfectionist in me step aside a little and sat down to just write, it was much easier.  

What are some things that have surprised you about this challenge so far?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Reading #AtoZBlogging Challenge

Today's word for the blogging challenge is READING for the letter R.  One of my favorite ways to unblock a writer's block is to read. Whether my block is for my blog, my novel or  another writing project, reading usually helps in some way.

My favorite reading past time is reading novels. It is a great escape and if my writer's block is caused by over thinking things (which it often is) then reading a novel is just the break I need. The fictional aspects of it still work my brain.

For example, if I'm reading about a character named Sarah who was supposed to meet her dad after school,  I often have a thought like, "What if Sarah's dad doesn't meet her at the store like he said he would?  What would make him miss it? Was it on purpose? Did something happen?" 

Suddenly I have my "what ifs" working in my writer's mind again. Reading a great book is probably one of the best writing prompts we have as writers. 

Of course, that could just be another excuse to read from this reading addict

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Quest # AtoZBlogging Challenge

Welcome to today's word of the day for the A to Z Blogging Challenge: QUEST.   I am keeping up with my quest to successfully complete the A to Z challenge. Ten more posts to go and the finish line is in sight.

One of the comments on a previous post mentioned that this is where the challenge gets harder. I agree. There's a few difficult letters in the future and we start running out of ideas. Even though some parts of the challenge seem a little harder, it's still much easier for me than it was in the beginning.

I have some strategies for the remainder of my QUEST. I'm considering  prepalanning my last  several posts (however, I know all too well what happens when I plan. Sometimes it works, other times my muse takes over.)

So as we are rounding the coner and approaching the finish line in this blogging challenge, I wish you all much success in finishing your QUEST.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Pictures of Me

I have a special treat for you today. I am breaking my theme of Blogging about my challenges and successes of the Blogging Challenge and posting a book review. I promised a book review a little while ago and I recently finished the book. Since it begins with the letter P, I thought, now is the perfect time. 


ISBN#: 978-0819860194
Publisher: Pauline Books and Media

Blurb:  Eleven-year-old Annie must complete a self portrait for the end-of-year project-and present it to the class. Annie's fear of public speaking isn't her only problem. Two of the girls in class seem to enjoy making life miserable for everyone; Taylor, her best friend, is having trouble at home; and Lacey, the new girl, can be nice but Annie can't quite figure her out. With forty-eight days until the end of the school year and the looming project, Annie and friends have to grow and be willing to face who they are-and who they want to be.

Pictures of me is a perfect display of what middle can be like for some children. I think anyone who has ever dealt with a bully or a difficult person could relate to Annie. In the book, Annie and her friends, while coming up with the perfect self portrait for their "Fifth Farewell," learn about themselves and each other in the process. 

I loved how three dimensional the characters were in this book. Each of Annie's friends had a real story to them. They weren't just the supportive friends. They were children struggling with real life issues.   As a writer I couldn't help it. I caught myself wondering, "Oooh, I wonder how Lacey is dealing with that." And, "Taylor really learned something about her family's situation to come to her conclusion."  

An excellent addition is the discussion questions at the end of the book. They are great conversation starters about bullying, friendship and learning about ourselves. These questions could be a great culminating activity in the classroom. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Pictures of Me and recommend it without reservation. In fact, I'd love to hear more from these characters in future books (hint, hint). 

Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for OOPS! #AtoZBlogging Challenge

I knew it would happen at least once during the challenge. I almost missed a post. I usually prepare them the night before and schedule them for the morning. However, this weekend was pretty busy with the family and before I knew it, it was late Sunday night when I remembered. 

I prefer to have the post up in the morning so it has most of the day to be seen. I'm grateful that I didn't completely miss it. And I'm thrilled that I made it more than halfway through without missing a post. 

I do regret that this is a very short post, because I'm already thinking about tomorrow's post (Sneak Peak - I have a book review planned for tomorrow!). So, today's word of the day is a big, round OOOPS! 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is New Content #AtoZBlogging Challenge

I've been thinking a lot about the word NEW today. We're well in to the New Year and we've had some new goals. We've made some new friends in the blogging challenge. We've tried some new writing techniques along the way. 

Today I'll look more specifically at New Content. As we go along this challenge and we follow a theme, we want to be sure we are not just restating the same post in a different way with a different letter. 

So, we rack our brains to find new content. Many times we may be at a loss, especially if we blog every day. Even if we know we are posting new and interesting posts, we may still feel that something is off or that our posts are becoming "dry". 

So what are some ways we can come up with new content?  We can try some frequently suggested tips such as brainstorming and free writing. Do you know how many times I started writing a post and then had to change my title or even the whole thing? It usually happens after about 200 words. I start writing about something and the thought comes to my mind: "Wow, I should have written about..." Then BOOM! I would erase everything and start with my real content. It does work.

Another tried and true option is to carry a notebook with you. You never know when your ideas will "hit" you. I could sit in front of the computer screen for hours trying to come up with something interesting to write about. However, sometimes the content or ideas hit me after I stop thinking about them so much. 

Still not sure you have your new content? Another idea I try is googling an idea. I aim to at least have a concept, idea or even a key word. For example, I knew this post needed the letter N. I thought to myself, "Let's see what happens when I google New Content for a Blog." I read a few posts and found a few suggestions.  

What if you aren't even sure of a topic? I actually googled, "writing words that start with the letter N".  Now, that really yielded nothing, but it got my brain thinking and seeking. Eventually that led to my new content idea. 

I also searched to see what other previous A to Z bloggers did. I didn't take their ideas, but I read what they had to say. I watched how they tied a certain word or phrase to the challenge. Some ideas I liked, other ideas didn't help much. While nothing from my research physically appeared in my blog, it did spark my inspiration.I started thinking, "If I chose that topic, what would I write?"

Honestly, I didn't think my topic of new content would yield much of a post, However, I think it did pretty well. 

How do you come up with your new content ideas? 

Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Midway #AtoZBlogging Challenge

M is for Middle or Midway Point. I am ecstatic that I have made it this far in the challenge. Every day, I pushed myself closer and closer to the goal. The fact that we are halfway there is encouraging. I feel the hardest days are behind me and the second half will be a little easier. I noticed that the first week so far has been the hardest. I didn't quite have a routine down and I wasn't at all prepared this year. While most people were starting out with a bang, I felt I started out with a sizzle.

As I blogged earlier, completing this challenge is one of my immediate goals. If I can keep up the pace, I think I will make it. The amazing thing is that at first I was worried about not having time to blog. As the month has worn on, I not only have the time, but I even have time for more reading (And we writers sure know how reading boost our craft of writing).

So today I offer a "Three Cheers for the Midway Point"!  13 letters down, 13 to go!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for Like #AtoZBlogging Challenge

Okay, you've heard enough from me about how tough it is too keep up with the blogging challenge and to blog daily. And I admit, when the challenge is over, I'll probably blog a lot less (I don't want to write just to write. I want to be saying something that will help others).

Today will be different, though. For the Letter L, I will be looking at the word Like. Despite how it sounds, I truly do like writing. I LOVE it in fact. It is freeing have an idea in your head and work out the perfect arrangement of words to say what you are thinking. I like how when I write, my mind is pulled into an alternate world. Once I stop, I need to get my bearings so that I can function in "the real world".

 I like that when I blog, I connect not just with other authors, but with readers as well. 
I like ( okay, maybe LOVE  this one) when I am writing something for my book and the complete opposite of what I planned pops up on the page. How does that happen? Who's writing this book anyway?

I like when I'm "stuck" in my writing, but I write anyway, and then I am surprised by what I finally did write. I like "catching" readers as they browse through my books, no matter what age they are. 

I like that no matter how stressed I am about my current writing projects, I always feel accomplished when I finish a piece of the project. 

So while most of my posts are about the struggle of the challenge, be assured that I'm mostly giving myself ( and other bloggers) a pep talk to keep writing.

What do you like (or LOVE) about writing? 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Keep Going #AtoZBlogging Challenge

We are approaching the half way mark through the challenge in a few days.  I'm not sure about anyone else, but it certainly has lived up to that last word in the title: challenge. Today I craved a day off. If I had planned better, I probably could have done a few posts ahead of time. However, the more I consider that option, the less I like it. For me, I think the only way I'm succeeding in this challenge is because I "make" myself sit down and take some time out just for my blog. If I did a few posts ahead of time, I'd be less in the routine and probably more tempted to stop. It's not that I don't like writing and blogging ( on the contrary!) However, it is harder this time since I didn't plan well for it. Also, I get hung up on whether or not I have good, solid ,decent, interesting content. While that's a goal all writers have, I often let that get in the way of my planning and brainstorming.

Today I look at the topic "Keep Going" . No matter how bad the temptation is to "put it off and make up for it another day", we should just keep at it. Even as I'm typing, I get tempted to get up and check on the dishwasher follow the cat into the kitchen. I think I even once walked to my pantry, stared at it and walked back to my desk.  The change of scenery did help my thinking process, but if I spent any more time away from the desk, I'd definitely get distracted by something else. I don't usually do that  with my writing, but sometimes I let myself over think things and then I freeze up. So the best think I can do when I get antsy with my writing is to keep going.

Now that we are approaching the half way mark (Letter M), it is even more of a motivation to continue on. We've come this far. If i get tempted to stop  I try not to kook at it as a monumental task, but more as a daily goal. This way, it is more manageable. The pep talk I give myself is "See if you can come up with something to write about today." When I view it that way, it is almost always easier to keep going.

What about you? What does it take for you to keep going?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Juggling #AtoZBlogging Challenge

Today I take a look at Juggling for the letter J. As writers and bloggers, we love our craft. Most of the time we can squeeze time in between all our responsibilities. However,there are times when we would love to write but we have a hundred other necessities calling us.

These are the times we find ourselves "juggling" our commitments. That has been me lately. I have three children, work full time,  and have several writing projects in progress. Lately, my biggest writing project is to get my E-zine off the ground again. I was "juggling" so many things last year, that I had to stop and take a break.

The funny thing about that I did that, I feel much better and energized.  I think when we juggle too much, we eventually burn out and "drop the ball".

Today I found myself "juggling" work with the magazine and fitting time in to blog. However, it felt different this time. This was more of a "good" juggling. When I finished my work, I felt accomplished.

I guess that's the difference with our writing and anything in life. We should take time and listen to ourselves. Are we stressed and not feeling positive about anything we are doing? Or are we working hard, and at the end of the day are satisfied with how we spent our time?

Even when we are doing what we think we should, we should definitely give ourselves a much needed break to "recharge".

What about you? When was the last time you felt like you were juggling? Did you take a break?

Monday, April 11, 2016

I is for Intent #AtoZ Blogging Challenge

Another think I'm learning throughout this blogging journey is that in order to make your blog interesting or readable, there must be a purpose for what you are writing. A blog, after all, is part of our platform. Nobody stands on a platform talking about...nothing.  

Sometimes. when we're stretching for content, we may be tempted to write about anything that pops into our heads first. However, if we're going to get anywhere with our blogs and ultimately our writing, we better have some purpose behind our content. That is why for the letter I in the A to Z Blogging challenge I am taking a look at INTENT. 

What is it that we are trying to say when we publish our posts? Is it for a cause? Are we sharing information? Are we publishing content such as creative writing or informational articles? 

A good place to begin is to look at your overall theme of your blog. For example an author may have a blog about writing, his or her works, or issues related to his or her publications.  Some blogs have a mission statement ( whether it is published or implied) which helps pinpoint the purpose of the blog.

Another thing to do is visit other blogs and see what their intent is in their posts and overall blog. What are they saying? How do they get across their message? As with all our writing, the more we read, the better our craft becomes. There have been many times a writer's block has been lifted after a good dose of reading. 

Finally, the more we post, the more we will see how we get our messages across. Sometimes we really do have to "write it out" to see our voice and our style. And if we follow our theme and chose a relevant topic, our intent is presented before even we, the author, realizes what it is. That is the beauty of the puzzle I call writing. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for Hope #AtoZBlogging Challenge

The more I blog, the easier it becomes. I've had my moments when I had to "force" myself to sit and write, but isn't it like that with our writing projects too sometimes? We're not always going to be bouncing with that creative energy for our writing, especially if we are tired from a stressful day.

However, as I am moving through my posts, I am filled with hope. Hope that I can continue writing this often and achieve some of those goals I'm setting. Hope to finally get my prized project running again (My Light Magazine) and hope to continue that novel I'm working on. I'm learning that the more energy I put into my writing, the more energy returns to it.

I'm also filled with hope that my original goal, finishing the blogging challenge, might actually occur. This post is just about 1/3 through the challenge. If I consistently blogged this first part, surely I can get through the rest.

And an interesting thing is happening. The more hope I feel, the more creative energy I feel withing myself.

What was your H topic today?

Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Goals #AtoZBloggig Challenge

In an attempt to become more organized with my writing and more specifically, my blogging, I recognize that having goals is a critical part of the process. I have, of course, always had goals in mind with my writing. However I never thought about laying them out. That's pretty nerve wracking in general since I've had so much going on with my writing: books, articles, submissions and running my own E-zine. In fact, having a lack of tangible goals may have contributed to my writing lull. 

So what is involved in setting writing goals? A goal should be something that you are aiming for with your writing that you are able to reach. Goals are like the cobblestones on the path to your dreams. You may or may not reach your ultimate dream, however setting goals and achieving them determines your success. This is why it is important to set goals you know you can reach. (For me, pledging to blog everyday was really pushing it as an attainable goal for me. However, I felt I needed this push. And hey, I've made seven letters so far!)

Where should you start with your goals? If you haven't had much of a writing routine, the smaller the start, the better. As you successfully accomplish your goals, then you reach for bigger ones. 

To start with your writing goals might be:
  • Write one paragraph a day
  • Journal daily (or weekly if that is too much)
  • Start an idea book/binder/journal where you record ideas that pop up at any time of the day, (Isn't it always while you're driving somewhere or otherwise preoccupied?)
As your routine picks up again and you find you are reaching your smaller goals with ease, you might be ready to plan bigger goals. Some things to think about are:

How many hours a day can I commit to writing?
How many stories will I write this month?
How many submissions can I prepare this month?
Do I plan on starting any projects?
Am I ready to contribute to a column or other project? 

The beautiful thing about goals is that there can always be more of them. For me, my goals are to finish the blogging challenge, complete 2 reviews I have planned, and to possibly revive my old E-Zine.
 Pretty large goals at first, but I am starting small. Every day I publish a post, I am closer to that first goal. 

What are some writing goals you have? 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Freedom #AtoZBlogingChallenge

Today I'm looking at Freedom for the letter F in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Not just any Freedom, but freedom in writing. The last few days, I felt the "burn" with creating routine blog posts. As the previous post emphasized, E was for "Every Effort" to keep going.  

While the first few days proved to be a difficult time in keeping up with the momentum, these posts are reminding me of all that I've been involved with in the past and I am inspired to get back to where I was with my writing. I really do love it and have missed it more than I realized.  

It is because of this, that I feel like this blogging challenge has given me more freedom for my writing. Having to be accountable for my next posts helps me "justify" to myself when I start writing. I have a planned out daily schedule for my writing, (which I had once before, but stopped for a while) and am igniting a habit that had since dimmed. So F is for Freedom to Write. What about you? What Freedoms have been unleashed during this challenge so far?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

E is for Every Effort #AtoZBlogging Challenge

Okay, so it's only five days in and I am really pushing myself to keep going in this A to Z Challenge. After a long day of handling family and work responsibilities, it is tough to consistently blog every day. This is especially true since I have been out of the blogging loop for a while.

My "Writing Enemy" has been in full swing today. It started with not wanting to get up on this cold morning. With a little effort, I got up and began the day. Instantly, I made the rounds and woke the kids. In what seemed like a flash of time, we had breakfast and were out the door.  As the kids went through their school day and as I went through my work day, I made an effort to consider my blogging topic:
 "Today is E," I pondered. "What interesting topic can I write about? Ugh, is there even ANYTHING interesting about the letter E?"

This internal dialogue suggests I certainly could have benefited from a few extra minutes this morning. However, with a little more effort, I continued to ponder my topic. After all, if I was going to have an easier time with my post this evening, I'd have to be ready.

After work/school was a mad rush of travelling to the doctors for one of the kids, unexpected medical tests, homework, dinner, clean up... and then BAM! An hour before I should be turning in to bed I finally have the time to do the next day's post.

It was extremely tempting to just head to bed and "let it go", but I made a strong effort to sit down in front of the computer and open my blog. I still wasn't sure what my topic would be until I started writing. Many times, that's how it is with my writing. I can plan for a certain type of post or writing, but too often, my writing turns into something else entirely.

Now, exactly two minutes after my preferred bedtime, I'm nearing the end of my post. I've overcome a busy day and many temptations to  get here. I have made every effort to complete day 5 of the challenge. Hopefully, with consistent effort, the challenge will become more like a second nature.

How are you doing on this fifth day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge?

D is for Daily Schedule #AtoZBloggingChallenge

One secret to successful writing that I learned early on (and still struggle to follow) is to write - no matter what. It is essential to find time to write something and exercise that writing muscle in our heads.  I am guilty of letting go and putting my writing last on the list. It is an easy temptation since there are so many demands on our time such as work, family, kids, and everyone's activities.

One way to tackle these time obstacles is to establish a daily schedule. Whether you write full time or work full time and then write, it is essential to set time aside for your writing. We give so much of our time to everyone else in our lives, it is okay for us to take this time for ourselves and our writing. I am learning how to do that for my own writing, and I owe much of that to this blogging challenge I'm doing this month. I hadn't planned on it, but it's working out that my writing schedule is between 8-10 on weeknights and 2-3 hours in the afternoon on weekends.

I recommend writing out a schedule and posting it on your desk. I also have placed  my desk in a central area in my home. With so many commitments and such a busy schedule, it would be too easy for me to get caught up in everything else and neglect my writing. With my desk in a more prominent place, it is a glaring reminder from my muse. It says (or screams), "I'm waiting!"

So, what is your daily writing routine? How to you keep that writing muscle in shape?

Monday, April 4, 2016

C is For Creative Writing #AtoZBlogging Challenge

What makes your writing your own? What makes it shine out above all the other pieces out there? Our own creativity is something that accomplishes both of these things. Ask any avid reader why they like a certain book, blog or author and they'll usually describe something unique that came from the author. The way the author presented their material in the way only they can present it, is what prompts us to have a favorite author.

This umbrella covers all aspects of writing, especially an author's voice and style.  I think about the many YA books I've read recently. If you browse through some of my older posts, you'll see some reviews of books I've done on Brenda Hiatt, Rachel Morgan and Heather Sunseri.  I loved every book I reviewed by these authors, though the stories and the creativity in them were all very different.

As authors, we all have our own resources of creativity. So, how do we tap into them? Where do we find these snippets of inspiration? Below are some suggestions for unleashing that creative monster dwelling within you:

1.  Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm.  I am only beginning my first novel and I've run into several episodes of writer's block. The best thing I did to get those creative juices flowing again was to just write. Write about anything. Pick a word that has something to do with what you are writing and go from there. Whether you free write or put it all down in word maps, you will be writing. Pretty soon something will hit you and you'll think, "That's it! That's what I was looking for!"

2. Be Nosy.  Admit it. A certain tone from the table next to you in a restaurant caught your attention and you are listening intently, hopefully without being noticed. Or you see someone walking down the street with a strange looking outfit on and you start brainstorming what their story is. Use these moments to boost your creativity, even if it will have nothing to do with your current project. However, chances are you may find one or two jewels to use.

3. Read.  Our brains are fully engulfed in the creative world when we are reading. Sometimes we may  read a word or  a situation that reminds you of something in your story. That may be all you need to continue your brainstorming.

What do you do when you need a boost in your creativity?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Books, Books, Books #AtoZBlogging Challenge

As a follow up to yesterday's post, my topic for the letter B is "Books, Books, Books". More specifically, books for children with health issues.  As a teacher and an author,  I firmly believe that reading about something is the best way to start to deal with that specific problem. Children can identify with the characters or learn how that character handled the situation they were given.

Below is a list of books for children with various chronic diseases, along with a small description and a link.

Riley's Heart Machine
By Lori M Jones

Riley  is afraid of what her friends will think if thy find out about her pacemaker. In Riley's Heart Machine, Riley needs to overcome her fear of being different and finally shares her secret with her friends in a "unique" way.

Now Caitlin Can
By: Ramona Wood

This is a story about a little girl, Caitlin, who is in need of a Kidney Transplant. This is told by the point of view of Caitiln's older brother Freddie.

Pennies, Nickels and Dimes
By: Elizabeth Murphy Meals

Ashley and her friend try to raise money for her Transplant  Operation and learn even more about Organ Transplantation in the process.

Going to the Hospital
By: Fred Rogers

A picture book detailing a typical hospital visit and common forms of treatments that occur there.

These are just a few of my favorites I found when I was searching for books for our family. What are some of your favorite specialty books?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Angel Donor and April #AtoZChallenge

A is For Angel Donor and the Month of April

I really didn't want to start the A to Z Blogging challenge talking about one of my own books. I brainstormed writing tips, inspirations, book reviews and even favorite Disney characters. I went as far as typing my first paragraph when it hit me. April, in addition to being the month of the blogging challenge, is also a month that is close to my family's heart. It is also known as Donate Life Month. This is not just any month to me or my family.

Donate Life Month is a month of features and activities to raise awareness of the need for life saving organs and to celebrate those who chose to save a life through organ donation. You can learn more about it here

Why is this month more than just a cause for our family? Unfortunately in 2002 we were introduced to chronic illnesses and organ transplantation with my daughter. As her disease went on, it was clear. She needed a liver. Her childhood was clouded by illnesses, doctors and hospitals. It was during this time that the idea for Angel Donor was born. 

I often wished I could read my daughter a book that she could identify with on the subject. She worried about her doctor visits and hospital stays and at times struggled to really understand what was happening. Thankfully, because of the generosity of a family during one of their most trying times, our daughter received her much needed transplant.

However, this was not going to be our only experience in our family. Our third child was also born with a chronic condition and may need a transplant in the future as well. 

While I haven't been active lately in blogging, I have several posts on my Angel Donor blog, which offers just a glimpse into the transplant community. I urge you to take a look and leave a comment on any of the posts. 

So as I was brainstorming and wondering what I could write about, I chose something that I hope will be meaningful and inspirational to anyone who comes across this post.

Have you had any experiences with organ transplants? What are your challenges? Hopes?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The A to Z Blogging Challenge

In light of my renewed dedication to writing more, I began to blog surf. That was dangerous. I came across something I've also participated in a few years ago: The A to Z Blogging Challenge. At first I was ready to move on to the next blog, but then I thought about it. I'm getting my writing routine back. I also have a goal to blog more. What better way to improve my posting and frequency than to participate in an event like this? After all, 26 days should help me revive my blogging habit.

Then I noticed the new component: a theme reveal. It sounds like another fun component of this challenge, and maybe I will be more up for it next year. For now though, I'll be happy if I successfully complete the challenge. It will take organization and dedication, but I think this challenge is doable this year. 

So, what about you? Who's participating? Who chose a theme? 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Breaking through the Block

"Have you written anything more on your book yet," asked my oldest child. "I really want to know what happens."  I had shared some of my early writings from my first NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month)  novel with my daughter and she wants to know what will happen. 

The truth is, I hit a major writer's block right in the middle of NANO and didn't get past 5,000 words. The novel was going great until I hit a wall. No matter what angle I tried, I could not go any further. Maybe the pressure of hitting so many words a day while working full time had something to do with it. Maybe I was trying too hard. Maybe I didn't plan it out enough. Or maybe it was a combination of everything. The fact remains that I could not get anywhere with my novel for four months. 

However, I kept at it - even if it was just a little character development here and there. And finally it happened. I was ready to give up on the book, when everything began to click. It all started to fit together. FINALLY.  

I'm beginning to see that writing a novel is a bit like solving a puzzle. At first it is just a bunch of jumbled pieces. But if you look at each piece carefully, you will eventually match up the fitting pieces. I'm also beginning to see that my characters don't always share everything with me right away. Maybe they're testing me out as much as I'm testing them out. 

Now that I have broken through the block, I'm ready to tackle the novel head on. Although I'm mostly focusing on the outline and getting to know more about the characters, I'm finally moving forward. It was as if I found the missing key to the entire story. What a feeling to "break through" the block. The adventure only gets better from here. 

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