Tag Archives: Inspiration

Friday Fun! Surviving Summer via Miracles and the YMCA

Cool CharlieYeah, I missed Wednesday again. *Sigh.* With the exception of popping Tylenol for this weird constant headache, I think I’m on the mend. 🙂 At least I’m not glutened.

Wednesday was the first day of Summer break. I remember last autumn, watching William’s small body walking himself out of the car line to his Kindergarten class for the first time. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe he’s going to be gone for most of the day till the summer!”

Now I’m thinking, “I can’t believe he’s going to be home all summer! How am I going to keep him busy?!”

We got a new above ground pool because Charlie popped a hole in the inflatable ring of the last one when he kept letting the water drain from the side to make mud puddles. But will they swim in it?

Funny question.

Apparently, neither of the boys know the meaning of “refreshing.” They complain that the water is too cold even after it’s been heated by the Florida sun all day. O_0

So Wednesday, I spent most of my day inside in the A/C while the boys fought over a toy of some kind. Did I mention that my head was about to explode at any moment? Yeah. This didn’t bode well for surviving my least favorite season of the year.

Maybe it was inspired by Charlie wearing water wings on his ankles because he wanted to walk on water – when it was warm enough. But we got a miracle in the mailbox Wednesday afternoon.

We’ve been trying to save money for moving to Georgia by the end of the summer, so we let our membership at the YMCA expire last January. It was fine when it was just Charlie and me all day.

Wednesday, I was seriously toying with the notion of summer camp for William, thereby spending any money we’d saved. But then the Y sent us a letter telling us how much they missed us. AND they were going to waive the join fee if we came back!

Cue the burst of breeze, bright light, and choir singing, “Ahhhh!”

Yes, I know it was an ad. But I missed going to the Y so much, just for a place to take the boys and have an occasional break when I needed it. The folks at the Y totally spoke to me when they sent that letter.

So we’re back at the Y. It’s cheaper than summer camp, and not something we’re obligated to bring William to. It gives me a nice break when I need it, and the relief is like a cool swim after working in the sun all day.

Hmm, I wonder if I can insist they make the boys play outside so they’ll swim when we get home?

Do your kids throw you curveballs? Are they weirdly picky? Do they walk on water? Please share!

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under Friday Fun

5 Quick Tips About Irish Faeries

That hat is red. Trust me.

I’ve been so busy learning about screenplays this past week, that I almost forgot to write today’s post!

With all due respect to the movie The Labyrinth, which I grew up watching over and over… and over, I’ve learned that faeries command more respect than from a fear of being bitten by them as if they were nothing more than beautiful bugs. 😉 My Grandma Caroline didn’t talk about the faeries often. But when she did, she spoke about them as if they were real. She gave me W. B. Yeats book on Irish Myth, Legend, and Folklore, and on page one I saw why she might have been so silent on them – “Beings so quickly offended that you must not speak much about them at all,…”

Huh, but we lived in America at the time. I guess old habits die hard.

But silence on the subject puts a damper in my story, so I did take a few liberties. I hope The Good People can forgive me. Which leads me to my first tip (many of these come from Yeats, some come from The Stone of Kings):

  1. “…never call them anything but the “gentry,” or else daoine maithe, which in English means good people,…” I’d much rather refer to them as Good People than Bad People anyway. 😉
  2. They are “…so easily pleased, they will do their best to keep misfortune away from you,…” I think I’d want these guys on my side…
  3. Don’t mess with the rath! – A rath is the faery’s fort. This can be a simple mound of earth. My mom says that the Irish even build some of their roads in such a way to avoid destroying a rath. And yet – we come to a bit of inspiration for my book – Yeats says, “Carolan,…slept on a rath, and ever after the fairy tunes ran in his head and made him the great man he was.” This leads us to…
  4. They love good music! My account of how O’ Carolan acquired his abilities is not completely accurate (you’ll just have to wait for my book to come out 😉 ). But I believe that it encompasses the ideas of how the faeries are easily offended yet appreciate a good tune. For more on this, read the story of Lusmore and the Fairies.
  5. If you want them to visit your garden, plant red foxglove. I believe this is something I borrowed from the story of The Priest’s Supper, found in Yeats’ book. When the priest comes along, “…away every one of the fairies scampered off as hard as they could, concealing themselves under the green leaves of the lusmore, where, if their little red caps should happen to peep out, they would only look like its crimson bells;…” In my book, anyone associated with fairies has red foxglove (lusmore) in their garden so the faeries have a place to hide. 😀

What are some tips you’ve picked up Irish faeries? Have you ever had a run in with them? Share your story! 😀

2 Comments

Filed under Books I Love, The Stone of Kings, Writing

Friday Fun: How To Effectively Delay Bedtime

"I had a hard day at the office..."

“I had a hard day at the office…”

William likes to read a young children’s version of Spiderman stories to help him go to sleep. I like them too because we’ve read them over and over so he tends to zone out and fall asleep faster. This week he wanted to read a particular story which had Dr. Connors in it and explained all about how he turned into The Lizard while trying to regrow his missing arm. A missing arm…there’s a way for a 5-year-old to go off on a tangent and delay sleep.

“Why is he missing his arm?” William asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe he was born without it. Maybe he lost it in a car accident. Maybe he was a soldier and lost it during a battle with a bad guy.”

“Like the soldiers at the hospital!”

“Yeah,” I said, remembering that Daddy had recently taken him to the opening of the new wing of the VA hospital. “Those soldiers were very brave, weren’t they?”

“Yes. Some of them were missing their legs too.”

I didn’t want him to think that joining the military meant that you were doomed to lose a limb, so I said, “You know, Daddy was a soldier too. He was in the Army.”

“Did he shoot the bad guy?”

“No, his unit never went to battle when he was there. But he was ready in case they needed him.”

William sat up and gave me a big smile with wide eyes. “Here’s the story of what I think Daddy did: I think Daddy captured the bad guy and the bad guy saw that he was wrong. So he put on a better uniform and fought with Daddy and became a good guy!”

With all due respect to Stan Lee, the Spiderman story seemed to pale after William’s heroic and imaginative tale of what his Daddy did while in the Army. 🙂 It was also one of the few times that I didn’t get annoyed that William found a way to delay sleep. ❤

 What are some of the ways your kids put off going to sleep?

2 Comments

Filed under Friday Fun

Wednesday Welcomes: Zanna Mackenzie!

Please welcome a lovely author from across the pond, Zanna Mackenzie! Her new book, The Love Programme is set in Scotland, the idyllic land of my ancestors. I would love go back there one day! It was gorgeous and inspiring, and I can’t wait to read Zanna’s book so that I can relive it in my imagination. 😀

****

The Love Programme

A contemporary romance set in the wilds of Scotland

 

What do you do when your childhood sweetheart and now ex-boyfriend won’t accept it’s over?

Lucy’s life is a mess. With her ex pursuing her across the country, she flees to Scotland and finds herself part of a reality TV show about love… will she find some answers or end up even more confused in matters of the heart?

***

Marcus won’t give up on trying to rekindle his relationship with Lucy, not even on the day he should be marrying somebody else!

Lucy decides she needs a place to escape to for a while and fate seems to agree when she’s given the chance to star in a reality TV show called The Love Programme whilst enjoying two weeks of luxury living on a grand country estate in Scotland.

When Lucy meets Paul, the owner of the estate, she thinks he might be The One but who is the mysterious Hannah and what part does she play in his life?

With Marcus planning to win her back Lucy has some serious soul searching to do.

It seems The Love Programme has its work cut out if it’s going to help Lucy sort out her life…

 

Amazon USA ebook link:

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Programme-Zanna-MacKenzie-ebook/dp/B00BCL6C8U/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1397140934&sr=1-4&keywords=zanna+mackenzie

 

 

There’s a sneak peak at the book below and The Love Programme can be downloaded now on Amazon

 

Extract From The Love Programme

“Just sit on this suitcase, will you, Fi? I can’t get the stupid thing shut!”

Fiona, obligingly perching her bottom on the bulging case so Lucy could tug the zipper to close it up, said, “I can’t believe you’ve agreed to do this. You’re going to be on a TV show about love! Won’t you be embarrassed having everyone know all your business?”

Her face red from doing battle with the suitcase and, thankfully, managing to win, Lucy shook her head. “No. Where else could I get a few extra weeks off work and live the life of luxury whilst a man tries to impress me with extravagant dates? Plus, I’ll be getting relationship coaching from a top expert.”

Lucy checked around the room to make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything. “Do you think I’ve packed the right clothes?”

Fiona lay back on the bed, stretching and spreading her arms out around her as though she was making the duvet version of a snow angel. “How should I know?”

“Mel said the programme is being recorded at the home of some Scottish laird. It’s a real mansion with a spa and acres and acres of land.”

Fiona pushed herself into an upright position, suddenly all attentive. “A laird, eh? Sounds interesting. What else do you know about him?”

“He’s not going to be one of the dates so don’t get all excited. He’s just rented his home out to the TV production company. Apparently he’ll be away on business most of the time we’re there, so we probably won’t even get to meet him.”

Fiona shook her head. “Shame, how exciting would it have been? Meeting a real life laird would be amazing.”

“He’s probably about sixty, balding, as round as he is tall and arrogant to boot.”

Fiona slapped Lucy on the arm. “Don’t spoil it for me. I was just picturing him as about our age, the classic tall, dark and handsome type. Big brown eyes…” She sighed happily. “Is it just me or do you find all those green wellies and Barbour jackets the country gents wear incredibly sexy?”

“No, it’s definitely just you!” Lucy shook her head despairingly.

As Fiona stared into space, no doubt continuing her little country gent fantasy, Lucy flopped down onto the bed. “Do you think I’m doing the right thing?”

“Of course you are. This could be a life-changing opportunity.”

“I’d like to be able to go on dates without feeling guilty about Marcus all the time.” Sighing, Lucy added, “I want to be free to have relationships like everyone else does.”

“I know you do. So, how can you doubt if you’re doing the right thing? You have to go to Scotland. You know you do.”

“I suppose so but will you be okay? I hate leaving you with your wedding just weeks away. There’s still some preparations to do and I am chief bridesmaid. Maybe I shouldn’t go. This is all crazy, I won’t go. I must be mad even contemplating it.”

“You’re going! End of story! The wedding is being perfectly managed by my mum and by Luke’s mum, so no worries there.” Fiona hauled Lucy to her feet. “What time’s your train?”

“I’m getting the overnight sleeper up to Inverness and then Craig, the TV guy, is going to meet me at the station and drive me to the country estate.”

“I’m so envious.” Fiona sulked, folding and unfolding the corner of the duvet around her fingers.

“I thought you were happy with your Mr-Not-So-Perfect?”

“I am.” Fiona sighed. “But a girl can dream, can’t she?”

 

****

Author bio:

Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!

Zanna has written three novels, The Love Programme, How Do You Spell Love? and If You Only Knew.

Find out more about Zanna at:

www.zannamackenzie.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @ZannaMacKenzie

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/zanna.mackenzie

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10703273-zanna-mackenzie

1 Comment

Filed under Guest Posts

What’s In a Name?

You may think we're William and Charlie, or even Peter or Spiderman. But really, we're George.

You may think we’re William and Charlie, or even Peter or Spiderman. But really, we’re George.

If you have a sibling, especially one of the same gender, you were probably called by the wrong name from time to time. Growing up, my parents would occasionally call me by my sister’s name. I never understood why. After all, I had perfect recall of my classmate’s names. Why couldn’t my parents get two simple names right?

Then I became a mom of two boys. 😉 Enough said.

Charlie is the twentieth grandchild on my hubby’s side of the family. My mother-in-law just calls all her grandkids George.

Sometimes I want to do that with my characters. Every so often, choosing a name comes naturally, other times it takes research. I try to pick character names that have meaning for their role in the story. For example, I chose Ardan for the main character of The Stone of Kings because it means “high aspiration.”  An average reader probably wouldn’t pick up on it. But for those like me who revel in detail and happen to know the meaning, we realize from the start that there might be more to this clumsy little orphan boy.

Other name selections are more personal, like Sarah McKenna from Harp Lessons. She’s a fictionalized version of myself at that age, so of course her initials had to also be SM. Grandma Maggie is my Grandma Caroline and the story of letting strangers wander into her house for tea in case they were thirsty came from Grandma Caroline about her friend Maggie. 🙂

*giggles* And then there’s George. I couldn’t think of a name when I created the character in Harp Lessons, and I didn’t have time to research something at the time, so I borrowed the trick from my mother-in-law, and simply called him George. In The Stone of Kings, Hannah’s little brother (and Ardan’s alias) is also George. And in my NaNoWriMo book (tentatively titled The Secrets of the Kennel Plantation), George is the family name for the Kennel descendants.

The benefit of naming characters in a story, is that we, as authors, happen to know the character’s story and can name them accordingly. As parents, we have no idea what our children will grow up to do. My boys are William and Charlie, named for Shakespeare and Dickens. Will either of them ever grow to be great writers? I have no idea. But hubby agreed to their names because he was thinking of William Wallace and Charles Ingalls. I’ll be proud of them no matter what they choose to do with their lives as long as they live honorably. Personally, my mom happened to be watching Family Feud just before I was born and thought that the contestant named Shea had a pretty name. 😉

Do you look for meanings in names? Were you named for someone famous? Were you named for family? Have you ever looked up the meaning of your name and found that it totally described you? Does it not describe you at all? If you’re an author, do you have a particular method for choosing your character names?

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

How to Deal with a Bully – A Lesson From Uncle Henry

All bullies truly have green skin. But it only shows when they’re in Oz. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Charlie has recently become enamored with The Wizard of Oz. It had been a while since I’d sat down and actually watched it, but I still felt familiar with it mostly because of all the different comparisons people draw from it. The one I usually read about, being a writer, is why a reader doesn’t always need to see the man behind the curtain. In other words, don’t explain everything in your story. Keep the magic.

But then I saw again this funny little scene (I couldn’t find the scene I wanted by itself, so you get the “twista” one too):

In spite of the fact that none of this happened in the book, I just love it! I love the fact that Uncle Henry is face to face with this horrible woman and finds a way to make her look completely silly without even directly insulting her. Letting the gate smack her on the rear just puts the period on the whole thing.

Maybe this scene is not so much about writing, but it ties in with my personal theme as a writer; less irrational hatred and more acceptance.

In a world where people are more likely to shoot you because you were texting during movie previews, I think it would be nice for us all to be reminded to chill out and find a less aggressive way of addressing our beef with others.

Although, I seriously wouldn’t recommend making fun of your bully out-loud. 😉 But thinking of the way that they make themselves ridiculous (because most bullies are in some way), can help to keep you from lashing back until the situation can be diffused properly.

Uncle Henry heard his niece’s earlier complaints even though he was busy counting chicks. He knew exactly why Miss Gulch was there. I’m inclined to think that most people today would start yelling and even pull out a gun to chase her off their property. Even Dorothy tells Miss Gulch to go away or she would bite her herself.

I get it. We all get mad at people for one thing or another. But rather go on a tirade, we (emphasis on we here 😉 ) should try to find some other way to deal with the problem. Some things you just aren’t going to solve no matter how angry you get. Miss Gulch got Toto anyway despite Dorothy’s threat because she had “the law” on her side. But Uncle Henry had the benefit of displaying Miss Gulch’s ridiculous bulling by making her look like the fool she truly was.

I liked Uncle Henry’s style better than Dorothy’s and I hope I can find a way to be more like him. 😀

Would you respond to Miss Gulch the way Uncle Henry did? Or would you be more like Dorothy? Which one do you prefer?

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

Finding Positives From the Worst November

I’m ready for next year! 😀

This is not the worst November because it was my first NaNoWriMo and I didn’t “win.” On the contrary, NaNo pumped me as a writer. I’m looking forward to finishing my third book in much less than half the time of my previous two.

This has been the worst November because it was parenthesized by the deaths of two beloved grandmothers.

So, positives:

1. My grandmothers were both ready to pass. They died in relative comfort. I’m grateful that neither one is in pain anymore.

2. I’ve proved to myself that it doesn’t have to take a year to write a book. Even one that requires a bunch of research.

3. I had fun posting my blog contest entries and engaging in the comments that were made.

4. I won the blogging contest! And Jessica has been gracious enough to allow me another month to finish my book. I’m looking forward to her critique. 🙂

5. I didn’t get glutened.

6. I got a new computer. 😉

Despite, and in some cases because of, the positives, I’m exhausted. So I’ve decided to take a two-week blogcation. I’d like to focus on family and finishing my book. In that order. 🙂 I hope everyone has fun with their pre-Christmas festivities. See you in two weeks. 😀

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging Contest, NaNoWriMo, Writing