Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Take A Detour

I wanted to share something with you all today. Take time to journey to Frank Viola's blog.

Interviews I thought you might enjoy

In the giant blogosphere, every now and then I come across someone who makes me want to learn more. Frank Viola is such a person, and his blog Beyond Evangelical is one worthy of following. 

Have an amazing day my friends! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Manuscript Is FINISHED!

There is always something that inspires my writing. Always. With FRIDAY LUNCH I actually met with a small group of my college friends the first Friday of each month for lunch. The story was not about me. It's true.. not me. That's another story for another time.

I've been struggling with the ending of book #2 for some time now. How to end a book is much harder than writing one to me. It's hard to release those characters and say goodbye. Book #2 had an outline long ago, but life got busy with single parenting and with the editing and publishing of FRIDAY LUNCH.

I thought about that unfinished manuscript a great deal and realized this is who I am... who I've dreamed of being my entire life... the who I am when everything else around me doesn't make sense. I couldn't put that part of me on hold. It had to be finished or a part of me would become stagnant. Been there.

I have a story about the inspiration for my second novel. When I graduated high school I had just about the best friend anyone could have. She knew me better than anyone in my life. She also knew I loved my coffee. When it was time to leave for college, I was moving away and she was going to college close to home. She gave me this mug.
It's a bit worn, but my favorite. I took it to college and it saw me through the all night studying. It saw me through those early mornings for work at 5 am. It saw me through graduate school. It saw me through love. It saw me through heartache. It was with me while living in a foreign country, through 11 moves, and back home again. My world traveling, long haul, through the valley and on the mountain top kind of mug. If you come to my house you will not be offered this mug. :)

More blue mugs have made their way into my home. There's the blue mug I like to use when I write.
I have the blue mug I bought in Disney World, and it has become my hot chocolate mug.
The fourth to enter was from a friend. I think everyone needs an M&M mug.
That's the lineup. That first blue mug however was the true inspiration for book #2, Blue Mug Mondays.
Now that I've finished writing it, it's time to go back through and edit a bit. The great thing about editing  Blue Mug Mondays..... I can now work on book #3, and the writing has already begun! 

Platform Building Challenge

Time for the first challenge of the Fourth Platform Builders Campaign Challenge.

This is such a fabulous way to but you in a box and then make you tear off the sides with your own flare. It's a challenge, and I must say, lately my writing takes a strange path when writing short pieces.

These are the guidelines: 
Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. 
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:
  • end the story with the words: "everything faded." (also included in the word count)
  • include the word "orange" in the story
  • write in the same genre you normally write
  • make your story 200 words exactly
and.... our picture to use for inspiration should we so choose. My entry......

They told us it would happen but I never believed. I was the skeptic. I said it could be held. I said those men of power would not give in and believe the lies. I believed we as humans were stronger. I was wrong.

Shadows crept across the wall, and we knew the day would soon be lost. Darkness was coming. Endless darkness. This was it. The battle would begin. The unleashing of evil across the world. We stood ready. Our faith, our shield in this troubled time. I laughed thinking about what God called His armor. He was right about what we needed. I never thought I'd see people turn on each other so quickly. Evil in the air was drifting into hearts.

“It's happening! Come outside!” My brother yelled. We ran down to the beach. The last orange sky we would ever see. He turned to me, shaking, and held out Dad's sword. It had hung on the wall above the shadow box where mom had displayed his Dress Blues. He knew I loved it, and today, sliding it from its sheath, recently sharpened, I knew he would be proud.

“Ooh-rah.” I whispered, and everything faded.


You're welcome to "like" mine for a vote. I'm #81 on the list. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Power of Words.... Pass them on!

I am learning so much about marketing and networking trying to promote FRIDAY LUNCH. It really is all about timing. Posting at the high traffic time. Commenting on just the right blog. Connecting. Tweeting. Making friends. Asking questions. Making lists. Adding circles. Pinning. Social media interfacing can easily take the place of writing, so you have to be careful, but it is an introvert's dream come true. I can be outgoing, funny, witty, clever, compassionate, understanding, and flirtatious. A friend laughed when she said she always goes online and reads my blog, and I told her how difficult it really is for me to do all of that. She also laughed when I told her I was an introvert. My personality type is not the topic here.... I'll move along.

Scheduling when to post where is a must. I'm learning. We all are. Don't get comfortable either, because just when you've got it all organized and figured out just how you like it, big brother changes something in the mix and you get to learn another way to do what was working great. I'll not go into this topic either. 

There are always ways to manipulate social media for marketing. Books are being written about just this very thing. Numerous articles are being published daily, tweeted and retweeted about how to market through social media. 

Well, I have been trying my hand at Pinterest. It's an easy addiction. Take all the cool things you like, all the neat things you find online, all the things you don't want to forget and 'pin' it to your boards. Fantastic idea. I watched for a week or so and saw when to pin things. I have a board called "Worth Remembering" and it contains quotes, funny pictures, motivational sayings.. that sort of thing. I learned to post late on this board. Traffic is high late at night. Evidently there are a lot of people just like me that do not sleep, but are online instead of on the phone. Introverts rule the midnight hour.

My latest post was one that actually brought tears to me when I saw it pass through my facebook news feed. 

I uploaded the pin and linked it back to the page on facebook shared by someone else.. Within 20 minutes, my post was repinned 110 times and liked 22 times. Within 1 hour it was repinned 248 times and liked 40 times. I sat there.. wondering. What kind of emotion passed through those hearts when they read this? What broken spirit was at her keyboard and felt a peace just reading the words? What lonely soul read those words and for a moment didn't feel like the world was crashing around her?
(I just checked before I posted this, and it's been repinned 419 times and liked 72. The power of words is astounding. Pass them on!)

I'll still be using social media to market. I'm trying to make a living as a writer. It can be done. However.... as I pin onto my Worth Remembering board from now on, I will consider what I'm pinning and try to be sure that the things I share have heart, might have words that heal, and truly are worth remembering. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Not Just Another Blog About Love and Chocolate

Love is _________.

That's the question I've been posting all around for the last few days. The answers have been funny, sad, beautiful, and disturbing. These are the answers I received:
-a choice
-putting the one you love above yourself
-A baby in footie pajamas
-Pat Benatar stole my answer. 
-A warm bathroom on a cold morning.
-higher than a mountain, love it thicker than water. (Andy Gibb)
-Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. 
-It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Chor. 13:4-7
-for fools
-Love is! That says it.
-a mystery
-holding your newborn baby and knowing you are touching a little piece of heaven.
-looking into the eyes of the man you love and knowing that no matter what the circumstances he will always be right there by your side...forever!
-Old County Buffet's breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.
-A bowl of Spumoni Ice cream
being the second person in bed, so it's already warm!
-what life's worth living for.
-Love is beautiful affections shared by pleasurable, entwined hearts.
-giving of oneself
-waking up in the morning with a husband, three kids, and the cat... all smooshed into our queen sized bed. :)
-the best feeling you could have for someone but when it's reciprocated it's extraordinary!
-terrifying, heart wrenching
-‎'da bomb!
-Work. But worth it.
-Love is what you make of it.
-Love is God, God is Love.
-having grand children.
-A choice...more than emotion.
-a committed relationship between 3 people: you, your significant other, and God!!!
-Jesus' nail-scarred hands.
-God reaching out to you and me through each other
-A deliberate decision to always do what is in the other person's best interest regardless of how you feel about it yourself.
-what makes life worth living.
-found complete only in Him...
-a smile
-baby feet.
-saying, "Let's eat out."
-a loaded topic.:)
-the most over used word in the human language.
-Intriguingly difficult
-the best kind of poison there is
-for romance writers
-the answer.
-what others feel from you.
-my children
-a four-letter word.
-what we make of it.

-about giving, not taking.
-Just that . . . Love IS :D
-caring about another person without wanting anything in return.
-Patient and kind. Well, the real thing is, anyway.
-your soul speaking to you daily...the poignant feeling you have for that very first love, hearing your baby's first cry, sharing a ----lifetime or in your parents' last touch.
-patient, sometimes very patient.
-A battlefield.
-Sacrificing your want/ needs for someone else...
-Unique! Has not boundaries, supports anything and everything, suffered
-Never ending. If it ends, it was never love to begin with.
-the power that moves the heavens, and the stars
-worth it
-alive and well around Valentine's Day!
-L.O.V.E is..... Live Once Value Everything
-growing, learning, changing...
-Beautiful, imperfect, and wonderful!
-harder than it looks on TV.
-when you wouldn't change a single thing however annoying because it's part of them.
-a beautiful thing that seems prefect 90% of the time
-my daughter
-Granting forgiveness even if seemingly undeserving!
-the ride of a lifetime!
-Within reach!
-(and then my favorite answer)..... If God is love, and then we are forced to redefine many of the emotions, affections, and cares we experience. We have to deal with something much larger and more divine than normally perceived. Alas to say that Love is the reason our universe moves and the earth spins. Love is the creating, giving, and refreshing force that only exists so that Love (God) may in fact be just that; that is Loving. We must struggle to find a way to love God’s way and not our way. It is our true calling and without Grace I see no success. However, it must be that in God’s purpose that we slowly in eternity choose Love over ourselves. This is what God intends that we love others as God loves and Love God for what God is. God is Love.

I've been thinking a great deal about love. That one little word is the reason God breathed life into the human race. That one little word is the reason I have four beautiful children. That one little word is how eternity can come at such a high price. That one little word is what so many long to hear yet forget they are surrounded by it. That one little word holds such meaning, and yet it's the most overused word in our language. I won't jump on THAT soap box... I'm guilty of this misuse, but I do love chocolate.

By the way, THIS is what we settled on for our Valentine's Day chocolate. We have named them Daniel Cookies. We used to have wonderful friends that would come have Friday fun nights at our house because my friend's husband worked on Friday nights. Cooking was a highlight.

Well, then we added all of this.
Who doesn't love giant kisses? 
Of course we had fudge, and we each were given a coupon 
for one batch of fudge to be made just for us. 
Neighbors bringing red velvet are always welcome!
Everyone was given their own pack of some favorites. Thanks, Nan!
Just for me. I am so loved!

Love. Let's define that a bit, shall we? I won't reinvent the wheel, so venture to Wikipedia. for a big definition. I'll just add the first few lines:
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. Love is also a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and "the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another." Love may also be described as actions towards others (or oneself) based on compassion, or as actions towards others based on affection.

I won't go into the various types of love. You can google agape, philia, and eros on your own. You'll do it. It's a googling kind of moment. I won't tell you the details of my story. I'm single, my ex is still my friend, I've loved again and yet I'm still single. The end? Not a chance. Love keeps going. Love endures. Love has given me a blank page. That's a blog for some far off day, and I'll be happy to share it with you all.... whenever. God has a new story to write in my life as well as yours. Isn't it exciting to know our hearts were built to love? 

Love to me is a blank page... new each day. Your blank page is before you. Strive to make your story the best it can be.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest

This is always such a fun topic for me. I know exactly when the dream began. My third grade teacher was fabulous. She gave the best assignments and made us think and not just sit all.. day.. long. I liked her from the beginning because way..... back.... when, I was allowed to go to school with my sister. She was three grades ahead of me, so just before I entered first grade (no kindergarten then) I went to visit her third grade classroom. Mrs. Brown. She spoke with authority, yet with kindness. She expected greatness. That's what I believed anyway. I liked her. I felt like first grade would be a breeze having a friend like her in the school. 

Anyway, by the time I got to third grade I hoped that when the rooms were assigned for the year I would get Mrs. Brown. When the word came, I was ever so happy to get back to school from summer vacation. This was it. My year to enjoy. We cooked in her class. We sang every folk song in those song books she had on her shelves. She taught us to enjoy school like never before. That was when we were given our first creative writing assignment. 

She wrote several starters on the board. I don't remember the way the rest of the class reacted. I just remember sitting there and reading each topic. When I chose mine from the list, it seemed as if a movie began in my mind. I had never experienced that before and I liked it. 

I still have that first creative writing assignment. It's called, The Curve. A bit dark for a nine year old, but fun. I have used it when speaking to kids about the writing process and how they need to believe in the things they want to do in life. 

I don't remember a time after that when I wasn't writing. 

As Alex states.....

The rest is history.

The Pursuit of Chocolate

There's a never ending supply of chocolate this time of year. Shelves of every store overflow with the cheap stuff. I watched a teenage girl frantically trying to decide which box of "manly" chocolates to buy for her sweetie. She had several choices, but as her mother in frustration began walking away, the girl in her panic chose the monkey face box of goodness. That's a win. Who wouldn't want monkey chocolate? Oh, he might not appreciate all the trouble and anxiety she went through simply because he'll be too concerned if she likes the boxed cheapness he presents to her.

I'm not making fun. I promise. I think we just put too much thought on the gift and not the reason for it. How much more fun would it have been if they had just spent time together making chocolate cookies?

I still think the homemade stuff rules far above the rest. My crew is all trying to make something that only they make... the pursuit of something chocolate that they can make for the family. I have one that has perfected brownies.  We all had to beg the other night, and she caved. Brownies and milk... even she was glad she did it.

I have one that has decided fudge would be her creation of choice.

She enjoyed it so much that she wants to experiment now with adding things to her fudge. I can't wait to see what she can come up with.

Today daughter #3 wants to make chocolate muffins. We shall see how these turn out.

It's fun to watch my crew finding the things they like to create. It's not just about how proud I am, no... it really is about the chocolate.

Valentine's Day is tomorrow. Make room for chocolate in your day.

Oh, one last thing. I had a book signing on Saturday and I was able to find Hershey Kisses that match the cover of FRIDAY LUNCH. Nothing beats chocolate to attract people to your table.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Social Media Chocolate... the hunt continues...

As Valentine's Day approaches, my search for chocolate creations continues. I'm finding Pinterest is the unending sea of recipe fun and the best way to make time simply fly by without notice. This is my latest find. 
from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
Go there now for a printable version of this amazing recipe. 

I keep thinking THIS is what I want to make with the fabulous four on Valentine's Day, but then ANOTHER fun recipe will find it's way to my board. I like the original site this "pin" comes from, and if you're not a follower there, it's worth the time to drop by for a visit. You can be a fan on facebook and follower on twitter. Social media stalking at its best... all in the name of chocolate.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sometimes it's all about....

Sometimes it's all about the love. Sometimes it's all about the chocolate. No matter what.. it's all about reality and how the people around you receive the love you give.

My daughter will turn eight tomorrow, and her smile is the source of pure joy. Not many love with such abandon. She and I shared a bag of chocolate chips the other day when everyone else in the house was busy.

Something so simply. Just a handful of chocolate and a little bit of laughing was all she needed to skip out of the kitchen. She's got the biggest heart and the greatest smile, and sometimes when I look into those little sparkling eyes, I see just how beautiful the world can be.

Valentine's Countdown.... Baklava.. are you kidding?

Seriously, this link will take you to a step by step photo process of how to create Baklava. You can go print off the one from Tyler Florence (or just click the link to him, since he's such a cutie). I can say that on my blog since I'll never meet the man, right? 

I have ALWAYS wanted to make this stuff. It is my absolute favorite dessert of all time and I have NEVER made it. 

Can you imagine if someone took the time to make a serious dessert like this for Valentine's Day? You better say thank you and offer to clean up. 

I joke around a lot about the man I'll meet someday. I think I'm going to need him to know how to make fun chocolate favorite things. That will be the way to win me over.... or at least do the dishes when I make this! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Countdown Continues... Go For Homemade

The countdown continues... for Valentine's Day, not the big game... silly.
Sometimes the chocolate you buy is just as much fun as the chocolate you can make. This came through the news feed on facebook today. So me.
 become a fan... of course

Sometimes the Valentines you make are better than anything you can buy. Let's change that..... it's always better to make something for someone special. Anyone can throw money down. So, I'm sharing with you my recipe for.......
 Homemade Hot Chocolate
2 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup non-diary coffee creamer

Combine. Easy enough. Makes 4 1/2 cups mix. 
1/4 mix added to 6 ounces of warmed milk or boiling water. 
Perfect with homemade marshmallows (but that is for another day).

Perhaps the easiest gift you can give someone is love. Sometimes the hardest thing for others to accept is your heart. Love completely, live without regret, and eat chocolate along the way.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Countdown To Valentine's Day

Here it is.... the countdown to Valentine's Day. The day that single minded people seem to freak out a bit and think they are missing out on some amazing day because they don't receive some box of chocolates when most of it will be thrown away (who really eats the strawberry filled ones). Or... they didn't get a dozen roses (dead flowers within a week). So, my take on Valentine's Day isn't the pursuit of Mr. Right or even Mr. Good Enough for Right Now. Would I like some gorgeous man to pull right up to my door and whisk me away on a romantic evening... well, of course. I'm not dead.. But, reality says that's not going to happen. Am I fine with that... absolutely.

I decided long ago that a day where love is celebrated should be just that..... a celebration, not a disappointment of things we don't get or don't have. I am loved. I have four fantastic kids, a wonderful family, and friends that do more than tolerate my craziness... they care. Don't get me wrong... a man in my life would be amazing, but not in a way that would complete who I am. Love from another should be an addition to who you are, not define your identity. I hope my beautiful friends can find that peace in these next two weeks, and believe they are amazing just the way they are. I also want my kids to understand that my life isn't lacking and I'm not missing out on life because I don't have a date for the happy heart day. 

We make our Valentine's Day about chocolate and fun. We plan each year to make some new and wonderful creation that we enjoy all day. So for the next 14 days, I'll be sharing my favorite chocolate and fun with you. This is today's. Enjoy!

Find out how to make this here.

 Homemade Samoas... that's right. 
Oh, this one is more like a need than a want.

My dearest friends, if nothing else in the days to come.... see your lives as beautiful, see your dreams as reachable, and see your plates as in need of chocolate.