Friday, December 30, 2011

Be A Healthy Writer in 2012

I've been working really hard to lose weight I'd gained as a result of a Thyroid malfunction. It hasn't been easy and many of my readers have watched me slowly lose the weight over the course of 6 months. In addition to losing 19 pounds with 11 pounds to shed, I've also increased my fitness levels. I have worked out hard and the results are showing in a firmer and more toned body.

As a writer I am very sedentary because it requires sitting in front of a computer screen, whimpering on occasion, and writing in a fixed position. Sometimes I don't want to leave my fictional world to go to the gym because I'm so involved in the story I'm crafting. Sometimes I am unable to leave my writing to take a full hour or more to workout because I have a deadline to meet. Sometimes I don't want to workout just because I'm feeling lazy. But I do. The greatest challenge for me is when I have a deadline.

No. I am not published yet, but I have deadlines. I enter contests to put myself into that position. I hold myself accountable and treat myself as a published writer because once I am published I will have to meet deadlines all the time. There is no time like the present to hone the skill of meeting a professional deadline.

But I must take care of myself. Here are my strategies for protecting myself from a widening derriere and writer's bloat in 2012 particularly when I am in deadline mode.

*Go to the gym and vary my workouts. I attend Zumba and Pilates classes as well as use the weight machines.
*When in Deadline Mode, force myself to get up every hour and move for 15 minutes. This can be stretching, dancing in front of the TV to a music channel, or doing Max Capacity. You can access Max Capacity here.
*Walk. I've discussed this with a writing buddy. We plan on alternating houses every week and writing together. We'll set the timer for 60 minutes, then when it beeps we will walk for fifteen. We'll talk while we walk.
*Get the Fitbit. You can learn more about the Fitbit here. I plan to walk 10,000 steps a day. This will hold me accountable to remaining fit and strong.
*Pay myself a quarter for every workout. A healthy writer is a strong writer. This all contributes to my writing fund which pays for writing activities.
*Look for unique ways to ramp up my fitness levels by doing Wii Dance Programs and attending different classes which challenge my strength and flexibility.
*Feed my body healthy foods so I can increase my health and brain power.

What are your plans for staying strong and healthy in 2012? Do you have any tips for me? I'd love to learn all about it!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Facebook and Current Status

I'm working a bit today. I have been working for about an hour a day except for Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Boxing Day. I'm not writing a lot as I am in revise mode, but a little every day will prepare me to write faster and smarter when the new year begins.

I'm excited about the new year. 2012 has tons of possibilities. I've got a lot to catch up on from 2011, a new goal list to make and a brand new critique partner to add to my cadre of critique people. It's small, but I am excited about the level of their writing, the commitment they've made to writing, and the way their work will help me achieve my goals, too.

I've got a few "housekeeping" details to take care of as well.

Here is one. I have a Facebook Fan page and I'm trying to drive up the numbers of "likes" I have on it. If you click here, you can check it out and "like" me.

I also have to go back on my dreaded diet. No more Twinkie Tiramasu for me. I'm working out, but the food intake is not balanced by the exercise. A bit of a weight gain. Nothing substantial, but I can't go backwards. Stay tuned and stay with me in 2012 when I start posting my healthy recipes and diet/exercise adventures. I've got roughly 10-12 pounds left to lose and then the maintenance. I'm on Weight Watchers Online and will ramp up my use of the tools in 2012.

There are a lot of loose ends to tie in the personal department. Teen is checking out colleges, I've got an overflowing in-box. And the house needs some handyman touchups. The good news is I have a wonderful clean floor thanks to my new MINT floor sweeper and mopper. This tiny robot really does do a good job. It's worth every penny. If it could vacuum it would be perfect.

I hope you're all having a wonderful holiday with your friends and family. On Friday I will check in and share my goals with you for 2012 as well as review my 2011 goals. And if you haven't got a Top Five Priority list, I will walk you through the steps.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Boxing Day and Gift Review

Well I had a fantastic Christmas Day. I was thrilled with all my presents. I got everything I asked for and more. I don't ask for a lot, but they came through in spades this year. The Physicist and the Teen gave me a MINT floor cleaner which I have wanted ever since I saw my friend's MINT to it's cleaning tasks. I can't wait to use it today to see how it cleans. Then I got Sirius Radio for my car and I am super happy with that, too. I am getting it installed this week. I also got tons of Bath & Body Works lotions, shower gels, body butters and fragrance spray in my current favorite scent, White Citrus. They gave me cool gloves which allow you to text while wearing them! Santa brought me fun mints, hand cream, thisis and thatises. All fun.

I'm also really thrilled with the surprise the Physicist and the Teen concocted for me. I got a headshot session to set up in 2012. This makes me happy on all kinds of levels. I wanted to set one up for the new year just in case, maybe, one day, in the near future I actually need a decent back cover shot. And that they believe in my dream enough to give this gift means the world and more to me. I'm super super super happy and excited about this gift.

The best gift I received was time spent with my family. We chilled out, we went to see a fantastic movie, we cooked a lovely meal, we watched a fun television show series on DVD. Simple things. Simple pleasure. Simple life. But a life I cherish.

I hope your day was equally as bright and merry!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Health and Happiness through the Holidays

Holidays can be more stressful than any other time of the year. Expectations rise. Disappointments occur. Illusions flop. And with all the added stress, some people turn to food to fill the empty hole in their hearts. Even if one isn't sad or stress throughout the holiday season, there are a lot of temptations out there calling our names. Fattening meals, sugary treats, succulent and savory treats.

Over-indulgence is almost expected. Cheered on. Dieting? Through the holidays? Not so much. So what is a person to do if she is on a diet and trying to lose weight for health reasons? Give up? Cave in? Gain a bit?

Maybe. But this girl isn't giving up or caving in. She's seeing results so she's not willing to see that scale go up. That would stress this girl out.

My solution to the holiday temptations? Balance.

I'm not denying myself a slice or two of my favorite cheeses nor am I eating a frozen low cal meal for Christmas dinner. I've got two heavy meals planned for this week. One is a Disney Themed meal which will have some pretty high calorie dishes including Twinkie Tiramasu. I can't wait to make it and to taste it. I've also got my favorite pot roast planned for this evening along with a dreamy chocolate lava cake for dessert. I've decided to make Oreo Truffles with my daughter as well as our favorite Chocolate Sambucca cookies. They're tradition.

I don't want to lose weight right now. But maintaining the number is important. First weapon against gaining is working out. I've been to the gym every day or out walking for at least half an hour. I'm adding additional time to the gym next week to offset the calories. I'm also weighing every day to make sure that the scale remains in balance. Frankly, I've worked too hard to lose this weight. I don't want to lose it again and again and again. I also am eating very healthy and low cal foods during my other meals. Same low cal breakfast and lunch and dinners with large salads.

And best of all, my family is on board with this plan. It helps. A lot!!

I'm doing my best to remain on track during the holiday season. What are you doing to keep on track?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Clean Shave -- What's in Your Shower Stall?

On Saturday I gouged my poor leg with a new razor blade. I've used this brand for a lot of years and I loved it, but now they have all these extra skin smoothers built into their shaver which increase the likelihood of my getting nicked and cut. Since I got the new "embrace" shaver I have had 1 major gouge and 5 or more minor nicks. Those nicks BLEED a lot! And they are a pain to deal with when I'm trying to get ready for the day. Any rate, someone suggested I go back to using the original cartridges by my brand's company. I thought GREAT I will. But when I went to the store to buy them, they were not there. The company no longer makes them. Then I thought, well I'll just get another brand's shaver. No luck. They all have this ridiculous goop built into them and I am not using them again. I ended up coming home with 3 disposable shavers. But I'm determined to find one that doesn't have the goop on it and to get a  more permanent shaver in the shower.

Why did they change their shaver methodology? Why? I am on a mission to find a new razor blade which I can use in my shower. One without the stupid goop on it. I like my skin just the way it is. Anyone have a suggestion for me? What's in your shower stall?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ah, Statistics & Triumphs

I've been on a diet program to lose weight since the end of July. The weight gain wasn't really my fault--thyroid went wonko on me--but I sure did want to lose it once we adjusted the medication dosages. I can tell you it is mighty frustrating to have to lose the same 20 pounds 3 times in 3 years due to thyroid issues, but I am determined to beat this once and for all. I talked to my doctor and said I was declaring war on the thyroid. As soon as the scale stops cooperating and going up, we are testing my levels ASAP. No more "waiting" or "blaming myself" then "hiding from the scale because it is so darned frustrating!"

Nope. Nada. Nix.

I have worked very hard to lose this weight. I go to the gym 3-5 times a week, I walk and do other exercises when I can't make it to the gym, and I have actively followed the Weight Watcher's Points Plus program. The weight hasn't slid off my bones quickly, but it is coming off. I have a way to go before I will be satisfied, but for now I am thrilled with the results.

Yes. Yup. Uh Huh. I am going to brag about the losses and share my stats.

Since the end of July I have lost the following amounts:

19 pounds!!
5.5 inches off my waist
3.5 inches off my hips
1 inch off my thighs (they were already tiny and as small as they were when I weighed 20 pounds LESS than my current weight)
0 off my arm (I work out regularly. Arm is normal sized)
7 inches off my navel circumference
3 inches off the bust line

I am so happy! I can fit into all my old jeans comfortably and my energy levels are much higher. Now when I work out I don't see the "fat person" in the mirror. I see my old self. A reasonably fit and healthy woman who takes care of herself. I feel like taking on the world and I am so happy my doctor is on board with my battle plan.

I am sharing this with you because if you are over 40, female, and noticing changes in your ability to fight the weight, I know you might not be to blame. Your thyroid might be the cause.

In my case, I have Hashimoto Disease. Hashimoto Disease, the most common autoimmune thyroid problem, is not something you can fight by yourself. So if you feel you are battling these symptoms, then run to your doctor and establish a battle plan for yourself. If you are over 40, your TSH levels should NOT go above 2 or 3. Trust me!! If your doctor is the old school doctor who thinks you should just eat one less cookie and you'll lose weight when that number is over a 3 and you're over 40 years old, then run to another doctor who will listen and work with you.

Other things to consider when trying to stave off the weight and keep the thyroid function good are to avoid white carbs and exercise regularly. Even if you only walk for 30 minutes a day, you'll notice a change in your energy levels.

This isn't about being high school skinny or a size 0 (which is very unhealthy for women going through the change -- a little fat is good). This is about being in good shape and feeling good about yourself as you age.

I'm determined to live well into my old age as a strong, fit, vibrant woman. Are you?

Friday, December 16, 2011

What Happens Next? Why does it Matter? Lessons to Think About

I live in a fictional world where the main question is often "What happens next?" What are the characters doing, where are they doing it, and why are they doing it and does what they are doing matter to them and to the story?

What happens next? Sometimes I don't know. Sometimes I think I know. Sometimes I fool myself about knowing which leads to many revisions. I believe this is because I haven't sat down with my characters and discussed why they are doing what they are doing next. What drives the characters drives the story forward.

More than anything in the past year I have learned that if I play Goddess of My Manuscript, my characters rebel. This means slowing down, looking at what I've written and asking is this really what they are doing next? How do I know for sure? Well, I don't. I just have to write it out, mull it, look at it again, and play with the story until the manuscript gels.

And even then I know that someone will come along a poke holes into what I believe has been the solution all along. First it will be critique partners. Second it will be contest judges. Third it will be editors and agents. And I know I will have to write again. And again. And again.

BUT I do know one thing--I must first write the story as I see it unfold from beginning to end before I make monumental changes to it. I must first revise it at least once before I start sending it out to my critique partners. I need to discover my story before I let other people tell me what the story should be about and mess up my relationship with my characters.

Oh, I can brainstorm. I can call up a CP and tell them I have an idea about a scene in the current WIP and what do you think? They might agree or disagree, but it's called bouncing ideas off someone to see if the ideas can work. There's not point in writing something if it won't work.

I have to be in my characters' heads. I have to think with their thoughts. I have to react as they would react. And I have to do all of this on blank pages by filling them with words. Words I have written to the best of my ability.

So here are my basic rules for writing:

1. Write the first draft for YOU and the CHARACTERS. Don't let anyone TOUCH your story or CRITIQUE IT without knowing it well enough.

2. Brainstorming is a good thing. Bounce ideas off people to see if they will gel with the story regardless of where you are in the process. They'll either be affirmed or not. BUT ultimately, it is YOUR STORY so you must decide how to fix it in the end.

3. Be prepared to MAKE CHANGES after you have completed your manuscript.

4. Even when you think you're finished--even if it you are published and have an editor--be prepared to make MORE CHANGES.

5. In romances CHARACTERS TRUMP EVERYTHING. Write them well, make them jump off the page and YOU WILL GET INTEREST. And then guess what?

6. Be prepared to make changes to YOUR CHARACTERS based on editorial and agent input.

7. Stay with your story and think about it every day so you can be open to the revelations your characters send you when you are in the shower, in the bath, driving long distances, sitting through boring meetings, putting on makeup, cleaning floors. Trust me. If you stay with your story every day, you will find ideas popping into your head at odd times.

8. Judges comments are to be taken with a grain of salt. They are NOT THE FINAL WORD. They CAN BE WRONG. They CAN BE RIGHT. But ultimately, the reason you enter a contest is to get to the FINAL JUDGE--an editor or an agent. I personally have incorporated GOOD COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS into my writing, but NEVER UNTIL I GIVE IT THOUGHT AND TIME.

9. Editors and agents send revise and resubmit letters. It is up to you to decide if they are right about their suggestions. If you decide to Revise and Resubmit, YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING THEY SAY EITHER. They are giving you suggestions based on their instinct and knowledge. BUT ULTIMATELY IT IS UP TO YOUR CHARACTERS TO MOLD THE STORY.


So this is what I have learned. I hope it helps. Happy Writing!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Counting in Life

We're counting all kinds of things in the Glover Household. 

Tonks is counting sleeps till she has her Cone of Shame removed and her stitches taken out. Total left for Tonks before she is liberated is 5 Sleeps. Darling Teen is counting sleeps till school lets out. Total sleeps till she is liberated is 6 Sleeps. I am counting sleeps till the Physicist returns from Germany. Total sleeps till she's hugging her hubby is 6 sleeps. We're all counting sleeps till Santa shows up. Total sleeps till we unwrap the day is 11. 

I'm counting calories and watching the scale numbers. I've lost 19 pounds and hope to lose 1 more pound before the Physicist returns from Germany. Darling Teen is counting calories as well. She's losing weight, too. 

There are a lot of things to do on my lists before Christmas arrives. Lots of counting and checking off the accomplishments. Personal tasks left to accomplish before Christmas are cleaning house, shopping for the holidays, wrapping presents, sending Christmas cards, making our family calendar, making a photo book for a family member, meeting with friends to exchange gifts and spend time together. On the work front I am counting contest entries, writing blogs, story boarding a current WIP, and making decisions about my future as a writer. 

There's a lot of counting. But the most important thing I've learned is that when I am down and out and feeling overwhelmed because the Physicist has been out of the country for 15 days and counting that I count on my friends to pull me up and out of the doldrums.

Who do you count on? 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Survival Guide

I've been a single parent during most of the Christmas season due to darling Physicist being away for massive work in Germany. The teen is fairly self-sufficient, but there are problems that rise up and must be dealt with on an regular basis. It's tough to be a girl in this world and she's not always happy with herself or her looks despite all that I've done to encourage her to be focused on her brains, her talents, her compassionate heart. But of all times for the Physicist to be gone, this one is the hardest. I feel for the military families out there who have loved ones deployed and in dangerous zones. They have it far worse. But pain is, as they say, relative. So how have I survived these past few weeks when I have no family here and I am new to the area--fairly new as I've been here 3 years but it's hard to find new friends.

Here's what I've done to survive a Christmas season without hubby by my side:

*arranged for lots of fun day things to do with my few friends. I've been to Historic Decatur and Historic Albany for a tour and a lovely lunch with a writing friend.
*My weekends are planned for me. I had a great time in Florence on the 2nd as I watched my daughter perform in her theater department's one act play competition. Her cast won Best in Show and is going to Chattanooga, TN in the new year to participate in the Southeast Regional Theater/Trumbauer Competition. Best of all, I got to share this happiness with a new friend and her daughter.
*Another weekend was planned via my writing chapter's Christmas party on the 10th. It was during the day and it was nice to see the people I have missed spending time with due to so many obligations and commitments. The food was nice, too.
*I ordered almost all the Christmas presents from Easy peasy lemon squeasy. I'm wrapping as they arrive. Darling Daughter helped order her dad's presents one night. We sat in the Master Bedroom with Tonks (who is confined to the MBR suite area due to her spaying surgery) and had fun ordering presents.
*I have been working out regularly and taking care of my body. With the Physicist out of town for three weeks, I haven't had to cook much so we're living on Weight Watcher's frozen meals, rotisserie chicken and bananas. I've lost 2.5 pounds since he left on the 30th. I'm happy to announce I've lost a total of 18 pounds!! I am almost at my first major goal -- 10% of the way to my final number. I have 12 more pounds to go to reach my happy number.
*I had my cat spayed during the time he was away. It's easier to stay in the MBR Suite without having to worry about keeping the Physicist company.
*I've scaled back my usual Christmas running around and baking agenda. I made the cards on iPhoto and ordered them with only a four sentence letter inside. I haven't worried about the building of our usual Calendar which we give away and I'm not worrying about the photo book I will make for my mother. I haven't baked or made homemade goodies for the neighborhood, either. This is my year to relax and not do it all.
*I haven't cleaned the house. I just keep up with day to day maintenance.
*I am enjoying my writing and my reading time.

So that's how I am surviving the holiday season without my hubby. How do you survive?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Yesterday's News

Tonks got spayed on Monday. We have to use special kitty litter until she is healed--for two weeks. Yesterday's News is recycled newspaper shaped into pellets. Tonks doesn't care for this new litter at all, but she has used it. However, before she figured out that it was a place for her toilet habits, she thought it was either food or a toy. Either way, it wasn't fun seeing it flung about the crate I tried to keep her "quiet and still" in and the bathroom where it all got moved to minus the crate.

The crate didn't help. Sigh.

Ever try to keep a 4 month old curious kitten "still and quiet?" Yah, oxymoron for sure.

So Yesterday's News is working, I've got my baby girl kitty back in the house. All is not "still and quiet" like a Christmas noel, but spaying one's kitten or puppy is the right thing to do if you are a responsible pet owner.

So what's your Yesterday's News?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Airing Dirty Laundry

I've been BICHOK for several days to get ready for the Golden Heart contest run by the Romance Writers of America. I have no idea how any of my entries will do--that's luck of the draw with judging. Not every entry finals but that doesn't mean the entry wasn't excellent. The entries that do final deserve to be there, but this contest is as much a golden lottery to me as a real lottery. So many elements have to be in place. I almost finaled last year, but the statistics weighed against me. This year I stacked the deck with 4 and I hope one might make it through the golden gauntlet. I'll write more about that later--in my letter to all the judges--but I'm happy to say that I am pleased with my growth as a writer and the entries. They're solid contenders and have done well in the past.

Moving on--I took a mini break from ALL writing for a few days. I hung out with a friend and went to the Huntsville Museum of Art. It was lovely. I had a great lunch, viewed some amazing exhibits, and deepened my relationship with a new friend. I also went to the state theater competition to watch my daughter's school drama team perform their one act play--so funny-- and they placed BEST IN SHOW and are going to the regional competition in March 2012 in Chattanooga. I'm looking forward to that trip.

So now I'm sort of back in the chair. I have a few stories to polish, one to really polish, and more to do during the month of December. I am not going to push as hard and work as many hours as I usually do, but I am going to work. At least 100 words a day on the weekends and 2-3 hours of writing during the week.

Meanwhile, I promised to air some dirty laundry on today's blog. Here we go:

1. I am nice to everyone I meet, but I don't like everyone I'm nice to. I've just learned to be nice and keep my opinion private and my attitude in public squeaky clean.

2. Sometimes I want to throw in the towel *cliche alert* and just be a mom, a wife, a friend, a sister. I hate that I am working for quarters and I hate that I am always waiting for someone to determine my fate. It's tough. Really tough. But I don't give up because my stubborn side is stronger than my impatient side. So I'm stubborn.

3. The difference between me and a published author is one phone call or email. I put in the same amount of time and the same effort. I think I am a decent writer and if I had an editor to back me, I'd become a better writer overnight. I respond well to direction. I know plenty of published authors who remember being on my side of the fence and who don't think they're better than me as a person because one day the phone rang and they got a contract. I know of a few, a minority, who do think they can treat me differently because they're published and I'm not. And they are not nice about it at all. Of course, I'm nice to everyone I meet. Even them. *evil grin* Any rate, I am a career writer, not a hobbyist. I take this writing gig very seriously. Ask my friends who want to see me or talk to me when I am in full writing mode. They miss me.

4. I am sad that my husband is out of town for 3 weeks during the holiday season. However, I am not sad that I don't have to cook meals for him. I am living on weight watchers frozen meals for lunch and dinner unless I go out with a friend. I am on a diet. This is good. I lost a pound and a half since he's been gone. Yay!

5. I like my wine. I don't limit myself to one chaste glass or two if I'm feeling wild. I drink however much I please whenever I like after a certain time and if I am in a nice restaurant for lunch I'll *gasp* order a glass of wine to go with my meal. I believe it is the only vice I have left to dump and I'm not dumping it.

6. Being alone has its benefits.

7. I know a lot of people but I don't have many close friends. The friends I have are all super high quality people.

8. I don't like to waste my time with idle chit chat unless I'm with people I don't really know very well. Then I am the Queen of Idle Chit Chat.

9. I am very loyal but if someone betrays me I will sever the relationship. I don't hold grudges, but I won't let anyone stomp all over me or use my vulnerability against me.

10. I am a strong person who has had to fight hard for every thing she's gotten in life, but I don't believe I deserve what I have received. I believe I got lucky and that my God is very good to me. And deep down I am just as scared and vulnerable as the person sitting next to me.

So that's my dirty laundry. What's yours?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week Break

It's Thanksgiving week and I have much to be grateful for--my health, my family, my ongoing pursuit of my goals.

I'm taking this week off to finish writing my fourth Golden Heart entry, prepare for Thanksgiving feasting, and decorate for the Christmas holiday.

I'm planning lots of adventures during the month of December. Travel to fun places, another trip to a Tennessee winery, pampering myself after a hard two months of writing, writing and MORE writing. I'm so excited to start posting about these adventures next week.

The last Golden Heart entry must go out by the 30th--overnight mail. I'm not sure how good it will be, but it ups my chances for two of my other entries which I think are strong. I enter the Golden Heart because it is a great way to push out a new story and a great way to force myself to write a synopsis. Finaling is a bonus that I would love to happen -- who wouldn't want to be in that golden circle? But to be honest, I'm more interested in generating stories that will sell one day.

Everyone who finals deserves to be there. Everyone who doesn't final should not believe that they didn't deserve to be there. I've read a lot of wonderful entries as a judge and many did not final. So there you have it--one entry must have many kind judges who read the story without prejudice and malice and are receptive to the story.

This is subjective.

But I digress. I'm back in my writing dungeon and I'm working hard. See you all in December!!

Happy Thanksiving :-)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Retro Blog--Happy Birthday to My Dad

Yesterday was my dad's birthday. He passed away in 2002 after a battle against cholesterol disease which stripped his body of good veins and weakened his heart. He had a joie de vivre that I believe he passed on to my brother and me. I remember his attitude about life. Enjoy it!

Here is the blog I wrote about my dad on his birthday a year ago.

I hope you enjoy reading it again.

Cheers Dad!  May your glass always be full and may your paintings inspire the angels.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BICHOK & Body Moving--I'm Just Not that Interesting

I've been in contest prep land for over a month. I entered two different contests with four different manuscripts in each contest. I am not sure if I'll final, but I always like to enter contests because they give me deadlines. And if I do final, I have a positive affirmation about my writing. If I final in the Golden Heart then I have a fun networking time to look forward to, but I'm not going to count on the Golden Heart. I am putting together kick a$$ partials and querying them long before those results are in. I want a contract. I want to draw attention to my name and prove to my favorite publishing house that while I am waiting to hear from them about my revise and resubmit, I have been busy writing new books for them.

So once the Golden Heart entries are out, I am putting together submission packages and query packages. I have lots and lots to do. This is my life. I know I'm supposed to be interesting in this blog and write about stuff that will draw in readers for my future publications, but the truth is my life is not so interesting right now. I'm BICHOK all the time and even my new kitten thinks I'm boring. She'll get used to it. I do take breaks and play with her.

But a writer can't be BICHOK all the time. BICHOK stands for BUTT IN CHAIR HANDS ON KEYS. This is usually the case. I'm a motivated and dedicated writer. I put in 3-4 hours or more per day  to this career that is currently rewarding me with my own quarters. For every hour I write, I get a quarter. I also get a quarter for every deadline met and for every contest entry sent out. I am busy busy busy. Made over $30 last week!! Woot.

But if I'm not BICHOK I am taking care of myself. I made a decision to take care of my body and lose weight despite the fact that my thyroid is acting up all the time. (I have lost the same poundage 3 times now and I had hormonal help gaining it--not fun but that's the way my cookie crumbles). I tried the 4 Hour Body diet. Fail. Epic fail. I had thyroid checked. It was wonko so went on better medication and tried another diet. Weight Watchers. Doing well on it. I have stopped counting points every day, but I have slowly lost 14 pounds since mid-July. I wish I could lose it without trying but that's not possible. In addition to dieting I have been going to the gym. A lot. I have worked out hard. I attend Zumba classes, I do a weight workout, and I do cardio machines. I also go for long walks. I even worked out with my friend when I went to DC. I ate what I wanted to eat, but I didn't gain any significant weight. What I did gain was lost as soon as I got home.

Right now I've hit another plateau, but I am determined to drop at least another 10 pounds. Wish me luck. It's Thanksgiving and cold weather season. A season where I'd rather eat and stay home and warm and cosy by my computer but I will prevail. I'm just like a lot of women who run households and empires. This is my life. Writing, working out, dieting, worrying, cooking, being a mom, being a kitty mom, being a wife.

I'm not that interesting. I just have a dream and a goal and hope that one day I will be published. Ask my kitten, Catadora Tonks. I'm just that lady who sits all day except when she takes a break to play with her kitty or go to the gym or buy groceries or cook a meal.

I'm an ordinary woman with a normal everyday life and my concerns are the same as other women in my age group. I have to diet and exercise. I have to go to the doctor and get all kinds of stupid tests that are not fun or pleasant because of my age, I have a graduating teen and she's great, but a lot of pressure is cooking. I'm an unpublished writer who wants to be published and believes one day it will happen about as often as she believes it won't happen. There are no guarantees.

I just write. That's what I love to do. I hope one day my books will be published and that they will interest my readers. In the meantime, I hope to stay relatively healthy and normal sized so I don't look weird at the book signings.

What's your life like?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Think You've Got No Time? Think Again.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say "I'd write a book if only I had the time."

Hmmm. No time? Let me tell you something. If you have thirty minutes a day then you have time. What? You don't have thirty minutes? You're super busy? Hmmmmmmmmmm.... I bet you have a half an hour of time that is just wasted.

Think about it. Do you really use every minute of your day productively? Write down every meaningless task you do and how often you do it and for how long. Dillydallying on the computer? Internet Squirrels to chase? Answering emails first? Volunteering your time versus using your time to write? Answering the phone even if it isn't an emergency?

Okay, here's my story. A lot of people ask me how I do it all and keep it straight. My first answer is "I don't do it all." Check my bathrooms out as well as my floors. House is not spotless and it never will be spotless. I also don't work in what we writers call a Dreaded Day Job. Lots of published authors work DDJs or DNJ's and they have deadlines to meet. So not using my time during the day wisely is just wrong.

Oh, I could use it differently. I could have an immaculate house. I could have tons of social activities during the day to attend. I could volunteer ALL my hours away. I could shop and decorate on a dime. I could have other hobbies. I... well... I don't do it all. If I want to be a career writer, then I have to prioritize. So a perfect house which is perfectly decorated and pursuing all sorts of hobbies just aren't on my agenda.

Housework? I ask for help and if I don't get it, then the house goes to Defcom 102 and we all have to pitch in to clean because no one in my house likes it to get too dirty. Social life? Here I have virtually none--which is a problem because I am very social, BUT I digress. Here's the deal. I like to spend time with people who don't write, too. So I make sure that my evenings are clear. I don't write as much on the weekends, but then I don't have a pesky DDJ/DDN so I am lucky.

And here's another secret. I am scandalously unmoved by the ringing phone. Yes, it's true. I DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE. This is my biggest defense against time sucks. DON'T ANSWER THE PHONE UNLESS IT IS THE SCHOOL, THE HOSPITAL, THE DOCTOR--NOT FOR ANYONE DURING YOUR ALLOTTED WRITING TIME. That includes calls from neighbors who are wondering where you are or friends who want to gab and gab and gab. This doesn't mean that I never talk on the phone, I just plan my phone time around my writing schedule.

I don't answer the phone during my writing time unless it is my daughter's school calling, her, or my hubby. They are the important people. Well, hubby is often sent to voice mail and then I check it during my break (yup--MY BREAK) and see if it is important. Same goes for friends--unless it is a friend in another country--I will answer because of the time difference. But usually I just let the answering machine pick it up--in my case it's voice mail AND I have a phone voice announce out loud  WHO IS CALLING so I know when to let it go to voice mail. I don't even have to get out of my chair to check the caller ID.

Cool right?

I do volunteer, but very sporadically. I help with my daughter's theater group and do some things with my local writing chapters. But I have even backed off the writing volunteer stuff because my daughter is graduating in 2012 and I want to have time with her. Plus senior year is just insane and there are a lot of holes to plug before the big graduation day.

Time is precious. And I spend time with people who are precious to me. So here's another secret: I don't let things like other people's expectations or the phone or the Internet own me. I am in charge of those things. I own my response. I own my time. I own my writing time.


Okay. Want one more secret? Use "downtime" productively. For instance, today I had to color my hair (I don't go to the salon unless I'm getting a cut or highlights or both. And that's rare these days). Roots were rearing and I needed to get my blonde going on before I forced my minions AKA my daughter and husband to help me clean this behemoth of a house. No point in sparkling up the bathroom if I throw dye down the sink.

So what's a girl to do while she waits for her blonde to set? Thirty minutes is a long time. Here's what I did while my hair cooked to it's "natural" blonde again.

*tidied up the living room
*cleaned the guest bathroom (company coming tonight for dinner)
*cleaned the kitty litter (must talk to the minions about this--not my turn but it smelled bad)
*loaded the dishwasher
*checked my voicemail
*called my husband to ask for info for the school
*called the school and gave the person info asked for in the voicemail
*emptied the garbage
*played with Tonks
*wiped out my sink so Tonks wouldn't lick errant hair dye particles

That's what I accomplished during the time my hair was becoming blonde again. Thirty minutes is a lot of time. You can write half a page in thirty minutes. You can work on getting the synopsis for your Golden Heart ready for thirty minutes.

Or you can write a blog about time and prep it for the following week so you have time to keep moving forward on your Golden Heart entry--which is exactly what I just did.

How do you spend your free time? Do you own your time? Or does time own you?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veteran's Day

We are able to write and blog and tweet and be because of those who serve. In honor of them I am posting these pictures taken during my visit to Washington, DC.

Washington Monument

Korean Memorial--real people's pictures.

Ghost like sculptures with a wreath from the Koreans.

Lincoln Memorial.

Petra at the Lincoln Memorial.

Vietnam Memorial. Very moving. The only one where there were too many names to hand carve.

WWII Memorial.

Gorgeous fountain and war eagles and states in the background.

Women who serve in the field and home side.

Many sacrifices made and losses incurred.

The White House.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Day in the Life of "Women"

I'm a woman. But there comes with the term "woman" certain expectations, health issues, life issues. As they do for men, but men are more "compartmentalized." And women are well... we're quilts of this and that of life.

I'm writing this like patchwork quilt pieces because that is how my life is and how many of my female friends' lives are as we move about our daily lives. We are mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, workers, writers, movers, shakers, widows, orphans, caregivers, volunteers. We are bold, brave, beautiful, beyond intelligent, beyond courageous, beyond stressed, beyond all that is sent to us.

I am one woman. One girl. One daughter. One sister. One mother. One wife. One experience.

I am one woman.

Today as one woman I had a mammogram. Today as one woman I heard my daughter freak about a test score that ultimately won't matter. Today as one woman I was one mother. Today as one woman I talked to another mother who made me feel good about my motherhood. Just words. Just reassurances. Just a "we're not alone" talk. Today as one woman I learned I was not alone.

I read about other mothers. Other sisters. Other girls. Other wives. Other experiences. You can read about them, too.

Mary Lenaburg  has a wonderful memoir about her life as a mom, wife, sister, friend. She's publishing her memoir about her life with her beautiful daughter in her blog Passionate Perseverance. It's real. It's honest. It's gritty. Read it. You'll be moved. Krista Phillips writes about One Woman's Dream. Her story will move you because she is also real, honest, gritty. Neither Mary nor Krista sugarcoat the truth with Pollyanna-isms. Read about these women. Read about their lives. Read about how they are "Women."

You, if you are a woman, are not alone. You don't have to pretend a strength all the time. You don't have to pretend a peace of all knowledge all the time. You don't have to be perfect and "on" all the time. You just have to be real.  Be honest. Be truthful. Be a woman.

Today I lived my life as a woman. I woke up my teen. I made lunch. I fed the kitties. I wrote. I drove to the Wellness Center. I saw pictures painted about Pink Ribbon runs. I had a mammogram. I bared my body to another woman. I drove around afterward and completed meaningless, yet vital, woman errands. You know the kind of errands I'm talking about if you're a woman.

Today I lived my life as a woman. I saw clouds float across the Alabama clear blue skies. I saw traffic slow to a crawl. I made dinner. I ate with my family. I was a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister, a woman.

I was a woman who knows how much and how little so much means dependent upon where I am as a woman.

Where were you today?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Break Out the Bubbly & Dark Chocolate--Celebrating Anne Gallagher's Debut Novel THE LADY'S FATE

I'm delighted to introduce you to a dear cyber world friend and debut author Anne Gallagher. I met her through her fantastic blog called THE PIEDMONT WRITER. She's a Regency and Women's Fiction writer.  I am thrilled to announce that she's taken her work and independently published her story. This is fast becoming a new way to achieve one's dreams and goals. I asked Anne to share her experiences as a writer and as an indie author with us today. I hope you enjoy meeting her and learning about her writing life and publishing experiences. *Pop* Heres' to Anne!

Welcome Anne, I'm so glad you could come visit the Veranda today. How did you end up becoming a writer?  
Truthfully, I’ve always written, since I was a teenager.  But it was always sporadic.  I’d find some time, scribble a few thousand words, and let it go again.  I was in the restaurant industry all my life, but after my daughter turned three and we moved down to North Carolina, the economy collapsed and I couldn’t find a job to save my soul.  I had to “do” something, so a serious writing career was born.
I remember dabbling in writing when I was a teenager. Funny how life brings us back to our dreams! What is your favorite genre to write?  
I love historicals, Regency in particular, but I also like dabbling in women’s fiction.  It lets my mind unwind after doing so much research.
I love reading historical and Regency novels, but writing them does take a lot of research. When you write are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?  
I outline in my pants, as it were.  I let the muse take me where he wants to go until around page 100.  Then I find I really need to detail chapters so I can find the end.
After all that hard work of plotting and meandering through the pages, how do you relax after a writing day?  
I don’t actually relax August through May – during the school months.  My daughter takes up a lot of time, naturally. My serious relaxation occurs over the summer.  I tend not to write as much, I read a lot more, I lay around the pool. 
I remember the lazy pool days with my daughter. Enjoy and treasure them. When you are reading, what are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?  
Tough questions.  I’ll basically read anything as long as it’s not scary or gory.  Favorite authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Anita Shreve, Dan Brown, Lisa Kleypas, Jo Beverly, Peter Mayle, Dominic Dunne.  Oh yeah, and Jane Austen.
Classic authors and fabulous writers. What is your current project?  
I'm finishing up THE DUKE’S DIVORCE and THE LADY’S MASQUERADE.  I always have to work on two at the same time.
I admire you for working two at a time. I can revise and fix other books when I am writing, but writing two new books? Not capable. Do you have any new releases? 
I’m hoping to get the aforementioned out before Christmas.  At least one of them anyway.  And REMEMBERING YOU (contemporary women’s fiction) should be released within the next few weeks.
Yay! I'll be looking for them. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?  
The historical series started with a chat in an English garden and morphed from there.  My women’s fiction always comes from somewhere in my real life.
Yes, nothing is sacred in real life for me either. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?  
I would have to say revisions after my critique partners have had a go through the manuscript.  I tend to balk at their suggestions, but I usually realize after a time, they’re right.
Ah, revisions. They can be tough because they mean cutting our "little darlings." How long were you trying to get published before you decided to self-publish?  
Two and a half years.  Three books, lots of rejections, but quite a few requests as well.
Wow, that's tough. What were your greatest challenges in preparing the book for publication?
Formatting for sure, was the hardest.  I’m not computer literate and had no clue Word could do so much.  Up until about 3 years ago, I was still writing on a typewriter.  You can imagine what that was like.  And not wanting to “break” my computer, I just opened the document and typed.  I had no idea I could set my own margins, paragraph indents, line spacing, and so forth.  Talk about a Luddite.
Oh, the formatting would be tough for me, too. What advice would you give writers considering independent publishing? 
Think about the marketing.  I know most of us writers are introverts and shy away from publicity, but it needs to be done.  Even if you end up with a traditional publisher, there will always be marketing that you will need to do on your own.  Get a firm grip on that before you even upload.  It will make your life a lot easier to have a plan in place before you go “live”.
That's a wonderful tip for all writers and future published authors. Are you still querying agents and publishing houses?  
Not now.  I do have another women’s fiction that I will query when it’s finished.  Having an agent has always been a goal of mine, it’s just been set to the side for the nonce.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?  
Keep on writing.  Find partners, readers, exchange work.  Read writing manuals, write some more.  Learn how to take criticism, learn how to revise, learn how to edit.  Write some more.  Bad writing can only get better with practice.  You don’t write a bestseller right out of the gate.  It takes lots and lots of practice.
"Bad writing can only get better with practice" is a very good bit of advice. What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection? 
Don’t take it to heart.  This business is very subjective.  Agents, editors, and publishers know what they like, just like readers.  Just because they reject you, doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer.  It could mean one of a thousand other things that have nothing to do with your book.  And keep on writing.  Keep on trying. 

What encouragement can you give writers who wish to self-publish? 
Make sure the book is the absolute best it can possibly be.  Take advantage of your critique partners and beta readers.  Find others who don’t write in your genre to give it a look as well.  Copy edit, line edit, make sure it’s perfect before even attempting to publish independently You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Excellent advice. What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you began marketing your book?  
That people do really want you to succeed.  I’ve been so humbled in the last couple of weeks by all the warm well wishes.  It brings tears to my eyes.
Thank you Anne for sharing your story. I'm very excited about your future publications. Here is a blurb from THE LADY'S FATE which is available on Smashwords and Amazon
Gorgeous Cover!!

Lady Violet Flowers has only one Season to find a husband.  Raised in the Queen’s household, Violet is elevated in rank, yet overlooked by society for having no dowry.  Violet is petrified she’ll bring disgrace to her mother’s name in not making a good match, if any.

The widowed Marquess of Haverlane needs to find the perfect nanny for his beloved daughter, Jane.  Fortunate for Haverlane, when the very plump, but very pretty Lady Violet rescues Jane from almost drowning, the solution to his problem stands before him.  Ensconced at his country estate, Haverlane and Violet’s only means of communication is through correspondence, which leads to an amiable affection.

Also available by Anne Gallagher
Unwilling to think of Violet as more than a nanny, a surprising Christmas kiss compels Haverlane to look at her in a whole new light, and she at him.  However, Parliamentary demands made upon his time keep them both a safe distance from temptation.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Catadora Tonks and Her Purrfect Day

Cat in a Box 
Well, I wasn't going to get another fur baby, but famous last words. As many of my followers know, along with my friends, after two months of mourning the DFC,  I caved to the lure of a sweet baby who was bound for the pound. I couldn't say no to this kitten. And honestly? I am so glad I said yes. Catadora Tonks has brought life and laughter and love into our home.

She is a light, creamy orange kitten with no white. She is completely buff and and has perfect markings. She is tiny. Super tiny. The vet said she has a baby personality. She is "sweet & adorable all the time." That pretty much sums up Tonks. She is MY baby, but she plays with and purrs with and cuddles with anyone who wants to hold her and be with her.

She is beyond cute. And beyond funny. Here are some highlights of Catadora Tonks during her perfect day:

Tonks with her favorite toy.
*cat mommy wakes up. Tonks is ready to play. Tonks bounces all over the bed, like Tigger, bop bop bop from mound to moving hand under the blankets. Oh, what a fun and amazing toy is this bed with humans in it.

*time to eat. bop bop bop to the kitty litter and food bowls in the humans' master bedroom bathroom. Oh joy!!

*bounce to the kitchen, investigate the spigots, get some water sprayed on her fur to get off counter, bounce to another place, play with orange mouse-like toy

*cat mommy is boring. She is in front of the computer in her office, typing. Tonks must investigate. She chews the corner of the laptop, bounces to the cords. Shoot more water to dissuade. She plays under special cat toy, she bounces to the printer area and hides in the paper. Chews more cords. Gets squirted. She jumps on chair and sleeps.

*Whew, what a tough morning. Time to watch cat mommy exercise. Oh, nibbling her nose and chin and hair while cat mommy tries to do push ups is fun. Oh, reverse squats mean legs to chase. More FUN!

*eat, watch cat mommy take a shower, lick cat mommy's feet when she steps out of the shower (just in case she missed a spot), then try to jump on the bathroom counter to check out what cat mommy is doing while she gets ready for her day. Mommy helps. Check spigot. Lick the sink. Yuck. Jump into cat bed, groom self and watch cat mommy blow dry her hair and put on makeup. We are getting ready together.


*chase Mischief and ask her to play. Get hissed at. Run and hide. Try again.

*cat mommy boring again. More computer stuff. Lay on mommy's lap. Sleep and purr (really loud). Snuggle. Bring toy to play with during mommy's break. Ask for water. Ask for food. Sleep again.

*everyone's home. Chase Mischief again. Get hissed at. Run away. Do it all again. Act naughty. Get sprayed. Go lay with Cat Daddy on his recliner. Take a nap with him.

*chase Mischief, eat, play around, be silly. Meowyawn. Time for bed. Lay next to cat mommy. Sleep till  hungry. Start purring really loud. Nibble on mommy's nose. Mommy carries Tonks to the food and water. Eat. Drink. Go back to bed. Sleep. Nibble mommy's nose two more times. Mommy puts hands in front of her face. Alarm! Time to get up!! Time to get playing all over again.

Wouldn't you think you hit the jackpot if you were Tonks?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Endings Mirror Beginnings--The Dowager Feline Clancy's Last Lesson

I am finally able to write about my beloved Dowager Feline Clancy. I didn't think I could share how much she meant to me, but I can now that I have time and perspective. One thing I have learned about writing is that my books always have endings that mirror the beginnings. They end happily and they reflect the growth of the main characters.

As hard as it was to say goodbye to my DFC, I feel our goodbye did reflect the growth of our own characters over the past 19 years. She did grow up with me. She watched me become a mother, a writer, a fully actualized woman. I watched her become a loyal, sweet, feisty fighter who gave the best of herself to our family despite the many changes in our lives. Our ending mirrored our beginning. We started with love and we ended with love. And I believe in my heart that we will see each other again just across the Rainbow Bridge.

First of all, Clancy was a kitten. Sweet, loud, small, a bit of a pee pee cat, but always sweet. She was a true Tourtie and had a bit of a squeamish personality, but we all loved her. We got her when she was 7 weeks old. She was loud and she was feisty. My husband heard her first. So she was eager to be picked. And we did. After we picked her, she became quiet.

Oh, she was quietly naughty. She pee'd  in inappropriate places, she was silly, and she was inordinately jealous of my daughter after she was born. Eventually, DFC made her peace with my daughter and all her friends. She was also inordinately good at adjusting. Dowager Feline Clancy was my faithful companion. She was my comfort through 3 miscarriages--a constant purring reminder that life does go on despite my immense grief. She was my happy hour buddy--she got me every day at 5P and sat on my lap, and she was so much my writer cat. Every day Clancy would come to me and sit quietly while I worked. She'd watch my words cross the screen, her paws on the laptop and her eyes moving left to right with each new line being laid down. My sweet muse.

And she was silent. Never meowed unless hurt or hungry or thirsty. She just purred. A lot. This cat was very happy and content with us.

We moved 3 times with Clancy. She put up with TN, VA and AL. She tolerated my daughter. She grew to have a grudging respect for my daughter's cat Mischief. She played with Mischief even in her old age. Every night she'd come to bed and sleep on the pillow above my head. She was a shadow, a feline sister, a gentle spirit.

I loved her. And when she first came down with illness I was in denial. She was strong. Stalwart. And still quiet. But renal failure had hit her. Soon she was very noisy. First for me, second for food, third for water. Eventually her life ebbed away. Still, we hung on. Clancy was my baby. I wanted her to show me when she was ready, but I wanted to hold on to her for as long as possible. I couldn't bear the idea of her dying. And I think I cried myself through every other loss I'd had through the years again and again. I shed so many tears that my soul became a parched wasteland. Then she dropped to such a low weight and she was so sad and she had no desire to be with us because she hurt. But still she had her feisty self: she'd fool me into believing she had more time with the jump to the chair in the sun on the veranda, the purr in my arms, the sweet nature that made her mine.

And oh it was so hard.

Finally, she was unable to be herself. She was unable to be a cat with us. She was unable to be a part of our family. And I had to make the hard decision. The decision that still brings tears to my eyes. After years of silence, I had to hear her cry. Had to hear her beg. Had to hear her ask me to let her go. And my god it was the hardest plea to hear. I didn't want to hear it. I wanted to bring my Clancy back. My sweet DFC. But I couldn't.

So we three, The Physicist and the Teen and I went to the vet. We had to say our goodbye. I don't know how I could say it without my family with me. I don't know how I could have survived this goodbye without them by my side. My darling DFC, her paws on my shoulders and my head to her forehead. My words to her. For her faithful companionship. For her love. For her gift of being with me through the greatest years of my life. We had our sweet goodbye. A sad and yet proper goodbye for she was my good and faithful companion.

My darling DFC taught me how to love. She taught me how to live. She taught me how to say goodbye. She taught me how to love again.

For Clancy. My kitten, my cat, my DFC. May we meet again at the Rainbow Bridge. May you watch my words cross the screen again. And may your capacity to love help me in all my endeavors.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Memories from Tot to Teen

This is the last year my darling Teen will be home for Halloween. Oh, the memories we've made through the years. The costumes, the school parties, the candy, the parade of tots becoming children and walking into teen shoes. Now those teens are becoming young adults and walking away to university or to college or to wars.

But we all celebrate Halloween in our own ways as adults, too. First by attending parties and acting ridiculous and then by becoming parents and reliving our youth. Plus there's always the ready excuse to eat the candy that doesn't get given away. I'm trying to remember the costumes over the years--and the events.

Here are some highlights:

*First Halloween-a month a bit old. I think I dressed her up in a ladybug costume.
*2nd Halloween-13 months old and she was Nala with whiskers and ears. I got her pajamas that we used as a costume. She slept in them for a long time.
*A parade of Disney princesses for the next few years. Her first, and her daddy's first, pumpkin carving experience at 3 years old. Oh, I still have the photos of them carving the faces while outside on the driveway. So adorable. Such love in Daddy's eyes and such patience, too.
*Most funny princess was when she was Belle in her gold ball gown. I drew eyebrows on her face because she had such blonde hair you couldn't see her brows. Looked hilarious.
*butterfly wings and a painted face in 2nd grade
*Hershey's Kiss-twice
*A bride to a short groom with her 10th grade friend. Found her dress at the thrift store and paid $20 for it.
*Parties-Girl Scout parties, school parties, home parties, friend parties
*walking around the block with her daddy while I gave away the candy at home
*More carving pumpkins, elaborate detailed pumpkins which we lit up every year
*Jeremy-her tiny pumpkin that she refused to throw away long after Halloween ended.
*Jeremy becomes a tradition
*Halloween movies, mazes, haunted houses
*She giving away candy to the little ones and getting gooey about how cute they are
*Me getting all gooey about how much my darling Teen has grown up.


What are your favorite Halloween Memories?

Friday, October 28, 2011

DC Memorials

I have had a great time with my friend Petra during my trip to DC. We've eaten at amazing restaurants, gone on winery tours, visited the Shenandoah Mountains, and toured the Memorials in DC. All of my adventures would not be happening had it not been for the brave men and women who serve my country and who served my country in the past. It is beyond moving to see people at the Korean, Vietnam, WWII Memorials taking rubbings, leaving letters, posing with their loved ones as a memorial to their own families. Martin Luther King's Memorial also moved me in that it displayed how we also have had to fight within our own borders to give all people their rights. Are we there yet? No. But we have definitely come a very long way. Imagine seeing the Martin Luther King Memorial juxtaposed next to the Lincoln Memorial and next to the Roosevelt Memorial.

As I read the quotes on the memorials I realized that those words ring true today. I realized that what made my nation strong once still rings true today.  I realized that after each and every war, whether on foreign soil or here at home, our nations leaders abhorred war, wanted peace, and wanted no more conflict.

Though conflicts still exist, though our nation faces so many trials, though we have no idea what tomorrow will bring, I cling to Roosevelt's words, Martin Luther King's words, the words of those who thanked us, the words our children will say tomorrow.

Freedom isn't free... 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why I Love Northern Virginia--A Picture Blog

Me and Petra at Hillsboro Vineyard in Northern VA. 
I'm back in DC visiting my dear friend and celebrating her milestone birthday. I lived in the Northern Virginia area for over 9 years. I love the vineyards, the museums, the variety, the restaurants, the zany political atmosphere, the monuments... I believe this is the best place I've ever lived and I've lived in a few pretty amazing places. I came here to do all things my friend and I used to do over the course of a year IN A WEEK.

First day? We visited a local wine store and had a FREE wine tasting. We walked in gorgeous Vienna, VA and had a lovely dinner at a fun restaurant called DOGFISH. Seriously great food at great prices. Mucho thanks and XXOOs to my friend's hubby who treated me. Second day? Well, pictures tell it all. Wineries, food, chilling. Can't beat this area for fun stuff to do for young and old alike.

Here is my slide show of all my fun in Hillsboro, VA and the surrounding countryside.