Monday, April 29, 2013

Give Me a Few Weeks

I mentioned earlier that things would be quiet around my blog for awhile. I have picked up speed on my novel, and I have so many other things that stop my momentum. I need to put the ones I have control over on temporary hiatus.

I have hesitated to do so, because I have a fear of abandonment. Everyone is going to leave me if I stop blogging!

I know this isn't true (at least I hope it isn't). So, I am going to go ahead and do what I need to do. I look forward to seeing you all on the flip side with hopefully a spanking new manuscript, a pretty new blog, and a whole lot of enthusiasm to cram both of them down everyone's throats. Muhahaha! *cough*

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Very Inspiring Blogger Award - Take 2 - 27 April 2013

I am just tickled! I have been nominated by the enviable and wonderful Rhiann Wynn-Nolet for the best blogger award ever. When it comes to blogging, who could ask for anything more than being an inspiring blogger? The best part is that she nominated me because (and I quote) "because she has a hedgehog, and also whenever I see her name I must say it at least six times. With a British accent." It's probably one of the nicest things a person could say about me. (See 7 things below to find out why.)

Since this is my second nomination (my first one was back here), I'll try to be more interesting with my 7 things. I feel like I can display the badge now that I've gotten 2 nominations. Made my day. I am so honored! The hard part will be coming up with only 15 nominees out of my vast list of blogs I am trying to follow.

Here are 7 more things about me - (Check out my previous post for a bonus 7)

1) I have been a diehard Anglophile since 7th grade when I belatedly discovered England, Unicorns, The Victorian Age and Castles, not necessarily in that order. All things UK and Celtic soon followed. So, I love Ireland, adore Scotland, and dream about going to Wales. London, Cornwall and the Lake District were my absolute favorite parts of England when I was there my first time. It is more like all the puzzle pieces of Beatrix Potter, Tasha Tudor and other enchanting things of my childhood falling together at that particular time in my life. It was a giant light bulb that went on and has never gone out.

2) I once dressed up as Ms. Frizzle from The Magic Schoolbus and read to kids at Borders Bookshop.

3) I made friends with all the squirrels in Kensington Gardens, London, UK because I didn't have any money to do anything else. I can't wait to go back and visit their great grandchildren in a couple of weeks.

4) I took my driver's test when I was 33 years old, and my test instructor was a one armed Albus Dumbledore look-alike. I passed. Finally. I think that means I'm a wizard.

5) In 2007/2008 I planned a 2 week trip to Scotland for a family of 10 simply on the grounds that I had been to London once before. (See previous post for my bit about London)

6) I went back to school for Archaeology/Egyptology when I was 33 years old (part of the reason I wanted that driver's license), and was led back to writing. I did not complete the coveted degree. I still *love* everything having to do with Archaeology, mythology, history and folklore. I just have to do my research on my own, instead of having someone lecture me.

7) I do, in fact, own a hedgehog, and I have plans to make him his own garden this summer. His name is Hotchiwitchi after Deanna Raybourn's gypsy hedgehogs in her Lady Julia mysteries.

Award Rules:
  1. Display the logo in your blog to show you’ve been nominated.
  2. Link back to your nominator.
  3. Share 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
  5. Notify your nominees.
If I nominate you and you don’t want to play, no worries. If you do decide to play, please let me know so I can learn 7 interesting things about you!

My Nominees in no particular order: (I know some of these are not blogs about writing, but I feel they are all worth a visit and all of them are very inspirational to me.)

Viklit - because she keeps reminding me to be grateful for the small things and to keep writing no matter what.

Kristina Perez - this is just a beautiful website and blog. Much worth a visit.

Beth at By Hook By Hand -  This gal has kept me striving to perfect my crochet and cheered me up with the beauty of her talent.

Snowcatcher - even if you don't like winter, this woman will keep you inspired with her gorgeous crocheted snowflakes, her stories of activism and adventure, and her amazing photography.

Jessika Fleck - her quote line alone inspired me on her blog. Reading about her writing journey has continued to be inspiring.

Chris Allen-Riley - I love reading her blog. You will too. I like almost anyone who can hug cats, but this blogger is special.

Selina Fenech - I have loved her art for about 10 years now (when I discovered her) and I hope she never stops creating.

Fizzygrrl - Be prepared to literally roll on the floor laughing and mark out your place in the loony bin. Your loved ones will want to lock you up after they see you laughing so hard.

The Feather and the Rose - These girls are who I wanted to be when I was in college. I still want to be them. ;)

Scott D. Southard - I've kind of lost touch with this blogger, but I love his blog and it definitely deserves this award.

Julie and Kristen - I am stalking these two because they inspire me to believe I can do my writing on my own, even while being a part of a writing duo. They will keep you on your toes.

The Office of Letters and Light - The folks responsible for National Novel Writing Month and my launch into solo authorship. Definitely worth checking out. This blog is in my writing toolkit, permanently.

Crafty is Cool - Crochet keeps me sane, what can I say? Other people's projects definitely inspire me.

Casablanca Authors - This site turned me into a social media ahem...well, I won't say...but I got so intrigued when I found my idol author's publisher, I stalked all their sites everywhere I could...except facebook. Not going there. This site is for the romantics.

Pen & Muse - This site's inspiration is right up front. It's blogged literally by muses with awesome words to keep you writing.

Wow, I did it. I came up with 15... I hope you will be able to find a few nuggets in some or all of these sites. Thanks again, Rhiann for nominating me, and for the record, I think your name is beautiful!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - Paper Scrolls

The thing I am grateful for today is really pretty small. I am grateful for paper scrolls. While at the writers' conference, author Tanya Chernov ran a session on how to plot your plot. One of the tools she used was paper rolls to make continuous timelines for her plots. I thought it was brilliant. I think my husband had suggested it to me once, but I needed to see it in person, I guess. Now, I am implementing it into my writer's toolkit along with a heaping ton of awesome markers, pens, highlighters and a good load of mechanical pencils.

I am pretty excited about this...even if I seem understated about it. You can find paper rolls at any craft store, but they are kind of expensive. I suggest maybe scrounging around print shops to see if they have scrap rolls, online, or restaurant or party supply stores. You need them kind of big so you can cut them down to the size you need or leave them big. Examples below.
bring out your inner child and get artsy

Hosted by Viklit! Come celebrate with us!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thursday's Children - Inspired by Ireland

Okie dokie...just a warning...I am going through major "social interaction let-down" after cramming intense duel weekends of maximum social interaction. I am wavering between going back into my hedgehog hermitage, and trying to get all the online social interaction I can possibly glean to make up for missing absolutely everyone.

I am going to keep this post short, since I am multitasking today with birthday doings to plan and a 3 year old to wrangle.

I am inspired by Ireland lately. I met a lovely, lovely lady who is from Ireland. Her voice is like a lullaby, and she can tell stories, as well as write them. I am also Irish (Finnish, German, and Serbian) so I felt like I was being drawn in by everything she was saying, regardless of whether or not she was talking about Ireland.

I dream of going there someday. My friend dreams of going back. It's an enchanting place. For now, I will make due with honoring my Irish heritage, going to Irish Fest here in Milwaukee, and hopefully getting my Ireland/Celtic inspired story up and running. Not to mention keeping in touch with my friend.
Ann, this post is for you. ;)

To help feed the inspiration, here are some links that share wonderful Irish things.

Irish Names - one of the best sites I have seen for Irish names...

Irish Mythology - Mythology never fails to inspire me, and Irish mythology is some of the best.

Ireland - in all it's glory.

More Ireland 

And one more Ireland Link...

This is a blog hop hosted by Rhiann Whynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez.

Please visit other Thursday's Children to discover what other inspirations lead us writers to do what we do!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Changes, They are a Comin'

Hi gang...
I am going to be MIA for awhile. I've got a lot to chew on, and I want to do some changes to my blog appearance, as well as some of this and some of that in a bunch of other things. Maybe I am more like a squirrel than I think.
I've got about 18 days before I head out on a whirlwind trip to London (very short, very fast, but very sweet trip) and so, for at least those 18 days, I am going to be doing some other things. Writing for one thing.
 I've also got an online critique board to build. More on that later.

So, my online social circles are going to be gathering dust for awhile, but I want everyone to know that I will not forget you, and I will be back.

I will also try to keep up with Thursday's Children and Celebrate the Small Things, two blog hops, I find invaluable to online connections and friendships. Hoping to join one more for Saturdays too, having to do with old words that should be preserved.

Enjoy this wet spring weather if you're having it.
(I am starting to feel like an amphibian.)
And if you're having dry, warm weather, or cool, crisp weather, I hope you're enjoying yourselves too!

I'll be back soon!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things

This weekend I'm traveling again. I'm feeling grumpy, bumpy and lumpy. I don't really want to go anywhere, but I was enlivened by new friends last weekend, and this weekend I need to be with my old peeps.
I'm grateful for my old peeps. They are my extended family of friends who I've bonded with so much that we are family. No argument about friends are my family. They are the true friends who stick with me even when I am grumpy, bumpy and lumpy. (Those are 2 new dwarf names I think should be added to the canon of Snow White, don't you? Lumpy and Bumpy.) 

It's an incredible experience.

I hope everyone out there has friends who make you feel loved. I hope you feel you are that kind of friend who will love your peeps despite their lumps, bumps and grumps.

If my readers can read my blog through my brain fog induced ramblings, and still love me, I extend my warm fuzzies and swelling heartfelt thanks out to all of you!


Celebrate the Small Things is a blog hop hosted by Viklit. Please visit other peeps on the hop!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thursday's Children ~ Inspired by Other Writers

There's the age old advice that you can't write unless you read. All writers need to read, but all readers don't need to write...or something like that. Anyway, I am definitely inspired by other writers today, but not in the "read all the things" way.

I am inspired by other people energetically going after their dreams and pursuing a craft that none of us can do alone. We need readers, editors, test readers, friends, and we need other writers.

All of us at the University of Wisconsin Writers' Institute had personal stories to tell. We shared, we laughed, we cried, we bonded. We saw old friends and met new ones.

I, personally met all new friends, as I didn't know anyone going into this. That is the value of going to a conference filled to the brim with your peeps.

We all need to do this. Whether we write novels, poetry, non-fiction, or we build furniture, or collect cars....

We need to have a sense of belonging and spend time with our peeps.

Find a conference, a club, a meeting, anything that collects a gathering of your peeps. If you don't have one in your area, make one.

Remember the movie, Field of Dreams? If you build it, they will come? Do it!

A small word of warning; be prepared for the "let down effect". I am already experiencing the frustration which comes from leaving an amazing group of people, and from being surrounded by all that creative energy. If I could come up with a way to bottle that and sell it at cons, I would be a very wealthy woman. For now, I will try to contain and maintain that energy by keeping in touch with the friends I made, and hopefully going to more cons! 

Being around your peeps will totally enliven you for a good long while to keep doing what it is that you love to do.

It will strip away your fear and validate your passion. We are not alone!

Please, keep sharing! This is a blog hop hosted by Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez. Please visit other Thursday's Children to let them know they are not alone!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Meltdown

OMG I am exhausted. Most of you know I went off to my first writers' conference this past weekend. It was absolutely amazing, and one of the best things I have ever done.

I haven't unpacked yet. That's how dedicated I am to giving you a report. This won't be a total report, because I am saving that for my Thursday's Children post, but I will give you some impressions.

First, some background; I have a phobia of driving on freeways. I carefully mapped a route that would let me avoid most of the freeway, and it was a nice scenic drive. Still, it was my first time driving outside of my local city. (Yup, I am a chicken.)

So, then I had to navigate a city that I am familiar with, but hadn't driven much. That was a little freaky, and the shuttle from my hotel was able to save me a lot of added stress.

I can't explain the amount of stress this experience put me under. It's too personal. Now that those barriers are down, not much is going to hold me back on planning more road trips, though.

My Writing Suite

Despite my best intentions, I did not get an iota of writing done. I did get a whole lot of interesting ideas and information on how to improve my craft.

Me & Jen

The take away message is this;  I met some absolutely wonderful people (like Jen Naumann, author of Cheating Death), made promises I hope I can keep, and I hope that I have made friends for life.

All of the stress was worth it, and I am no longer afraid to leave certain comfort zones I had constructed for myself.

To everyone at University of Wisconsin Writers' Institute, I am grateful, and I miss you all already!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Writers' Institute ~ Madison Wisconsin

Hi Rocket Squirrels! Just a real quick note to let everyone know that I made it to the conference and I'm busy absorbing all the writerly vibes and meeting awesome people.

I'd do this as a Celebrate the Small Things post except I'm on my phone, so hit the awesome Celebrate the Small Things badge on the left and join in the hop even though I can't post anything fancy right now.

Writerly hugs to all! Back soon with a full report and some crazy writer hi jinks!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thursday's Children ~ Inspired by Adventure

Today I am embarking on my journey to my first writers' conference. I am so excited, I decided my inspiration today was adventure! I *love* adventure, and I have had quite a few in my life. Nothing spectacular like climbing Mt. Everest or traveling around the globe in a hot air balloon, but I've traveled, and I've been to a number of places I consider adventurous, and all new things are adventures to me.

I am shy and don't take huge risks like swimming in icy cold lakes, or I don't know, eating poisonous fish as delicacies. However, I do try to push myself out of my comfort zone every once in awhile, and a lot of the time there are doors of opportunity opening that I can't ignore.

So, today, my adventure is my first journey to a writer's conference. Both the journey and the conference are going to be adventures, despite the fact that the conference is only 2 hours away from my home.

Even short travels can be adventures, and everything can be seen with new eyes. What are some of your big or small adventures that have inspired you? 

This is a blog hop! Please visit other Thursday's Children! Hosted by the wonderful Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Now I Believe in Ghosts

Well, I do believe in ghosts, but not actually because of what I am about to blog. This experience, however, certainly made me think of the spiritual realm a little bit. After I stopped laughing, anyway.... Here is my account of what happened to me as I emailed it to a friend, just moments after the event.

The Email:
Val Chmerkovskiy
The scariest and most funny thing just happened to me. I went to bed at 1:30 AM which is early for me. (NO, that's not the scary funny thing)...

The scary funny thing is this: I got woken up just now, at 4ishAM...not by my 3yo, but by my cat, Shag. I am blissfully asleep, dreaming of Val (who is my new 3rd place, possibly 2nd place, fave in my list of hotties on DWTS) and all of a sudden I hear Shag growling and hissing.

I sit up in a bolt, because Shag doesn't growl or hiss unless it's *serious* business. And I am all like, what the hell!?

not my cat
I grab my phone and flash it on to shed some light (because the lamp is on the other side of the bed) and I shine some dim light on white feet but nothing else, and am still hearing the growling and hissing at the end of my bed.

So, I am like what the hell is *in* here?! A snake? Another mouse? A dog?! (We don't own a dog. I am deathly allergic.)

I was seriously starting to suspect dog, because in the dim light of my phone, which was threatening to go back to sleep, I could see another shape hunkered across from Shag. I get the phone back to light up mode, and I nearly pee my pants thinking I am seeing a ghost. OMG I can't tell you what it felt like. the end of my bed, facing down my tiny little Shag, was what looked for all the world like her *late* brother Fooston, only much bigger. I figure ghosts probably don't have a size limit.

Fooston (RIP)
 After I coughed my tongue back up, I managed to figure out that it was this ghost doing the growling, and Shag was hissing. With another flash of my phone, I also discovered that the ghost cat was not Fooston, but my neighbor's cat, Huck.

So now I am all like WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE? There shouldn't be any way in hell that Huck is in our house, unless my daughter or someone let him in, or...and this is what really happened...

He had gotten outside of his own house, found our front door and our cat door open, and decided to come out of the rain.

visiting cat
He's now having a spa night on our porch. I had to shuffle Shag into the bathroom, and fortunately Huck (who is HUGE, btw) could fit through our cat door, and went out to the porch. I shut the cat door, gave him some food and water, and now I have to deal with the fact that my 3yo is actually awake and wants me to lay by her.

Epilogue: 6AM the visiting cat woke me up again, after I had just about fallen asleep. Barefoot and bleary-eyed, I led him back to his own house and his own porch, and I went back to bed.

Have you ever had a visitor in the wee hours that made you swallow your tongue? Please share your story in the comments. I always try to reply back.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things ~ Grateful for Teamwork

I've only got one kinda big thing that I am grateful for, today. It's teamwork. I grew up with my mom, and then my sister and my mom. We were/are a family of strong women.

I have the "traditional" family of my own, with my husband and 2 daughters. If I didn't have the teamwork I have with my husband (and sometimes my kids), I am pretty sure I would be in the loony bin.

This hop is hosted by the awesome and incredible VikLit. Please visit other hoppers who are celebrating their "small" things today!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thursday's Children ~ Inspired by Dance

Welcome to my first Thursday's Children post for this lovely blog hop hosted by the inspirational and fun ladies: Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez. I am honored to have been invited. I'll try to keep up every week, but things get crazy sometimes.

My current inspiration is dance.
I might even call it an obsession. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted the common "little girl dream" to be a dancer. I didn't get to be in a dance class until I was 12 or so. All the other girls were younger than me in the class and it was only a 6 week class.
I got to perform in a mini recital as the Wicked Stepmother in our tiny rendition of Cinderella. There were just enough girls in the class to make up the whole cast of mice, stepsisters and stepmother and our instructor got to be Cinderella.

So, that was it for the rest of my junior and high school years for dance, aside from the abhorred square and ballroom dancing in gym class. I was, of course, the only person alive in the class who loved those sections of Phy Ed.

Then came college. I was planning to go for my degree in Marine Biology, then Biology, and then I thought, you know what? This is my only chance I will have to fulfill my dance dream. So, I majored in dance for a year. I don't want to say I failed miserably, but I couldn't keep up. I was devastated. I had to bow out after my second semester. I couldn't keep up with the dancers who had been dancing since they were 3, and my confidence just plummeted.

And, deep down inside I realized I was not a career dancer (or a biologist). I realized my inner core of creativity was writing.

I also realized I may have been pursuing the wrong type of dance. I am obsessed with Ballroom dance. I mentioned in my post yesterday that I would rather be training for Dancing with the Stars™. I love all kinds of dance, but ballroom has become another passion. Right now, only my characters in my WIP could afford to take classes, but I am building up my willpower to hunt down a class that is right for me.

Have you had a dream that fizzled, but you still want to pursue? Do you believe in the mantra of it's never too late?  Please feel welcome to join in on the conversation, or start one up! :D

This is a weekly blog hop. Please visit other Thursday's Children!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Blank Pages

I am getting impatient with myself. I could make 1000 excuses for my writer's block. At least 5% of them would be true.

I feel adrift at sea right now, or still, really. The waves of confidence come and go, and I would really like to find a piece of driftwood to hang on to. A boat would be even better.
Before I entered into the mindset of "I should really be doing something with my writing", I was blissfully writing away almost every day with my writing partner. We have tomes of unfinished, co-written stories. We were doing this for almost 10 years! I can't prove it to you, because half the work is my writing partner's and he doesn't want me to show it off. You'll just have to trust me.

So, I decided I wanted to do something with my writing on my own, since my partner had no interest in going further than our stories. That's when I was tossed overboard, and I am getting impatient to find land.
I know what the land looks like. It looks like discipline, hard work, blood, sweat and tears. If I am not willing to endure those things, then my characters aren't going to talk to me.

However, I have other things in my life that are keeping me adrift and also take discipline, hard work, blood, sweat and tears. Those things are in my job description of being a mom. The sharks out there are my children, adorable sharks, but challenging, none-the-less.

I probably won't ever be sure when my ship is going to come in. I'm just going to have to be a strong swimmer and keep going.

More importantly, I have to pace myself, even if I get impatient. My head knows this, and I have good things ahead with a writer's conference and a trip to London (which is downright stressful, right now.) I haven't been swimming in years.

I feel like I am going through Olympic training. Sometimes I wish I was training for Dancing with the Stars instead of training for the triathlon that is being a writer.

Hey, then I could break my ankles and my wrists (carpo tunnel is a bitch). Seriously though, like an athlete, I was born to write, and the hard work will pay off. I just have to keep telling myself that.

I don't get a lot of comments on my blog yet, but if you want to share your story of being adrift at sea, or just take a swim along side me, please feel welcome!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Gender Bender

I've got a little Easter story for you.

The Easter Bunny was out shopping for my children on Saturday. I have 2 daughters, 3 and 11, which presents a challenge, because even though they are far apart in age, the sibling rivalry is fierce.

Anyway, I scored some awesome stuff for my 3yo. I found Spider-Man head shaped plastic eggs and this gnarly rubber fuzzy Spider-Man...Happily, I take my purchases to the check out. The lady was all, "Oh, somebody likes Spider-Man. How old is he?"

I smile and proceed to say, "*She's* 3."

The lady blinked at me, and said "Oh! Usually it's the boys who like that kind of thing. The girls all like Dora and Barbie® and stuff like that."

I smile again, as I am getting out my money. "She likes those too. She loves Spider-Man®."

I left the lady a bit befuddled.

My 3yo daughter loves Spider-Man®. She also loves Buzz Lightyear and Woody, and she prefers Diego over Dora most of the time.  She's got Spider-Man® shoes and Toy Story® pajamas, all of which I found in the boys' section.

The Toy Story® stuff I found in the girls' section were all Jessy, who my 3yo likes too, but not nearly as much as she likes Buzz.

I did see some Spider *girl* things over Halloween, but they were definitely Spider-Girl. The Little doesn't ever want to be Spider-Girl. She pretends to be Spider-Man or Batman.

Does this mean I am confusing my child with gender? Hells, no! She is fully aware that she's a girl and she's very adamant about telling me she's one, and telling me she's just "The Little" (name withheld to protect the innocent) whenever I tease her about being a monkey, a critter, or even when I ask her if she's Spider-Man®. She's very self aware and confident in her identity.

Why should we limit our children's interests to what's "usually" boy things or girl things? Media is harsh enough with marketing products. If commercials showed boys playing with Barbies® and girls playing with Tonka® trucks, would our world really be turned upside down so much that adults couldn't handle it?
Kids don't care. They choose what they like. It's still a mystery how The Little found Spider-Man® in the first place, because we have never shown her the cartoons or the live action movie or anything. She watches PBS and Qubo, and the kids' movies we've accumulated over her big sister's younger days. No Spider-Man® there. But she loves him and there's nothing wrong with that. (Disclaimer: The lady at the check-out never said there was anything wrong, but she sure was bemused by the fact that my daughter loves Spider-Man®.)

I'd take Spider-Man over Dora any day!