He Did WHAT? How To Hurt Your Author Mommy

I’m learning that the end of the school year marks some behavior issues. I remember my own experiences in Kindergarten, but I don’t remember the last few weeks of it or how it felt if I understood that I was going to spend the summer without going to school every morning.

I honestly would have been pleased as punch to continue attending Kindergarten.

Can someone please pass me the purple glitter?

Maybe it’s in the air. Maybe it’s because he’s a boy. But William seems to realize that he’s got the full summer ahead and he’s already acting out on it like a high school kid – except with a Kindergarten brain.

Wait. There’s a difference?

William usually is a pretty well-behaved kid. He is generally in the “green light” most of the time, though sometimes he nudges his way into the “yellow light.” But we all have off days now and then. Imagine my horror, when I picked William up from school and he said, “I had a bad day.”

“What happened?” Did I really want to know?

“I was in the ‘red light.’”

Disappointment washed over me. So much for Little Hands play café tonight. “Why?”

“I ripped up my teacher’s book.”

I instantly remembered a little girl I used to play with when I was about William’s age. For fun, she would pull all the books from her bookshelves and roughly toss them on the floor. I remember being horrified even at the age of five. (I also, in reference to William’s statement, had a fleeting thought of “The Breakfast Club” when a Moliere work was destroyed and telling myself, “It’s just a prop. It’s just a prop.”)

In William’s defense, he is a very sensitive kid. We have a book of watered down Grimm fairy tales that are “too scary” for him. About a week before this incident with his teacher, he had ripped the blank paper from the front of the Grimm book, because he needed something to write on. When I confronted him about it, he said, “But I don’t like that book anyway. It’s too scary.” We spent the next several minutes discussing why you don’t destroy books simply because you don’t like them.

Maybe there was something about his teacher’s book that he just didn’t like.

But that’s no excuse to destroy it.

I would hate to think someone would want to literally destroy a book I wrote simply because they didn’t like it. I was so disappointed in him.

And I told him so.

I told him that I still loved him very much, but that I couldn’t be proud of him because of what he did. And it seriously made me sad. He cried – and I almost cried right along with him.

Instead of going to Little Hands, which is a great treat for the boys once or twice a week, we went to the bookstore to replace his teacher’s book. We couldn’t find the one that he had destroyed, so we looked for something that addressed the behavior. There were several nice books on being responsible and respectful, but most were for older readers. Then we found this little gem.

William is quick to find an excuse for his behavior. So it was nice that “It Wasn’t My Fault” addressed this issue and showed that even if it isn’t really your fault, you can help to fix this situation and turn it into something nice. Though, in this case, he understood that it really was his fault but he was giving his teacher a nice new book to fix the problem.

And he understands that the money spent on the book will not be spent for his upcoming birthday. 😉

In the end, he really enjoyed the book we bought, and I think we’ll be seeing fewer books destroyed from here on out. At least from William anyway.

*sigh* Here’s to more “green lights” and reasons to be proud of him in the future.

In other news, for those who haven’t yet followed my Facebook page, I got the COVER ART for The Stone of Kings! 😀 They did a fantastic job! I can hardly wait to show it off! 😀

Have your children done something to disappoint you? Do they sometimes seem to work completely against what you work for? How do you handle it?



How to Heal a Black Eye

What Biblical Christianity truly looks like. Image via the Huffington Post.

I’ve been waffling for months about writing this sort of post. Kristen Lamb once said that unless it’s their brand, authors shouldn’t blog about politics or religion. My brand is essentially “Be nice to people.” It’s what I write about. It’s what I hope encompasses all faiths and beliefs. But I feel strongly about this particular topic and I’m afraid I have to get Biblical. Please keep an open mind.

I’m a Christian. Not Catholic, not Baptist, not Methodist, etc. Just Christian. I attend a Church of Christ (a group that is autonomous from other groups), study the Bible, and try to live my life as best I can according to the teachings in the New Testament and learn from the examples in the Old Testament.

I’ll be honest. The actions of the Westboro Baptist Church over the last several years have really irritated me. It smears the name of Christian. They spread their message of hate in the name of God, and they have no Biblical authority for behaving in such a manner.

*Deep breath* Please don’t let the WBC influence how you perceive my following words. I believe the Bible teaches that engaging in homosexuality is a sin. But I will never tell someone that they will burn in hell for it. I’m not their judge. God alone is this kind of judge. The one Bible passage that I think the WBC really needs to consider (because their actions would suggest that they never have) is from 1 Corinthians chapter 5 (I’ve highlighted key phrases):

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

Sin is sin. Whether you engage in homosexuality, or are a drunkard, or even someone who simply forsakes the assembly, there is no sin that is “bigger” than any other. And if you make the choice to sin, that’s YOUR choice. Just as it’s my choice to stick to my faith. As long as there’s no oppression going on between people, I really don’t see why we can’t be friends.

Because you know what? I sin too!!! And so do the people of WBC. Everyone sins (1 John 1:8). So who are we to throw other’s sins into their faces? Jesus never cast a stone against the adultress though he was the only person there without sin. But you know what he DID tell her? “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:2-11)

Did she obey? Maybe. Maybe not. But he didn’t treat her as less than human because she had sinned. And I’d be inclined to think that she would be more likely to obey because Jesus didn’t lay into her for her behavior.

Do the WBC people really think they are changing lives by their message of hate? I’d like to ask them in the words of Dr. Phil, how’s that workin’ for ya? What it does instead, is give a black eye to the face of Christianity. But you know how the black eye can heal? By the actions of more people like the counter-protesters who offered condolences on the death of Fred Phelps Sr. THAT is an example of Biblical Christianity in action. (Colossians 3:12-15) In the face of hatred and malice, these people showed compassion.

What I want most is for people not to assume that I hate those who are openly homosexual just because I believe that the way they live their lives is sinful. Plenty of other people live sinful lives and I don’t hate them either. I’m not going to cram my faith down anyone’s throat because I wouldn’t want others to cram their beliefs down my throat if I didn’t agree with them. We can find other things in common. However, I’m also not going to be shamed into not sharing what I believe because others have misrepresented it. And seriously, if you don’t want to talk about religion, we don’t have to. But I’m here if you do.

Let’s focus on what unites us.

Please share what you think! Do you feel the counter-protesters have the right idea? Do you disagree? If so, why?

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#28 Do You Plan To Do NaNoWriMo in 2014?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Absolutely! One of the things I recognize in myself as a writer is my utter inability to turn off my inner editor. I need to gag her, bind her and stuff her in a closet along with the cotton that fills my head whenever I accidentally eat gluten. I’m counting on NaNoWriMo to help me with that.

NaNo will be the drill sergeant I never got to have. Because if I really want to be a professional writer, well I’ve got to be my own boss. A physical boss imposes deadlines, doesn’t care if I’m sick for a month because of gluten, and doesn’t tolerate playing computer games on the job.

NaNo will be the Boot Camp I need to get me fit for writing as a professional. “I don’t care if you’re cramping and nauseous! You’re not vomiting, so you can drop and give me 2000 words right now!”

“Yes, drill sergeant!”

I love the way Kristen Lamb uses the analogy of the inner editor in NaNo Boot Camp. If we edit while writing, it’s like cleaning dirt and vomit off our boots while climbing a hill.

“What do you think you’re doing Private Ford? I don’t care what Private Editor told you! Leave the passive voice and head hopping on your boots! Move it! Move it!”

I’d like to think that I’ll keep the Nano momentum for the rest of my life, but I know life will get in the way. So yes, I’ll be looking forward to next year’s contest where I’ll be held accountable for my word count for the month. I’d like to write more than one book every two to three years. Besides, I’ve got ideas in my head that are ready start smashing windows in order to get out. So to avoid the broken glass, I’d like to get them out as quickly and effectively as possible.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 25,289. Happy Thanksgiving! Okay so, yeah, while it looks like Boot Camp has failed me, I’m here to say it has NOT! 😀 External circumstances have kept me from writing as often as I had thought I could. It was like getting a severely sprain ankle on the second day of Boot Camp. Days ago, I set two new goals: get to 25,000 before the end of the month (DONE!), get to 50,000 or finish the book by the end of the year (ON TRACK!). I’m actually pretty stoked since my last two books took a year or more to complete a piece. 😀

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#26 What “Being An Author” Means To You

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Being an author had meant that I’d hang out in coffee shops or bookstores signing my books and maybe reading an excerpt or two. Then, I’d write another book and trust that everyone would respect my need for solitude. When I’d finish the next book, I’d send it immediately to an editor, who would only have to catch my typos because everything I write is golden…

Okay, who was holding the glue under my nose? C’mon, ‘fess up.

A little research, a little Kristen Lamb kicking my rear like Jillian Michaels, and I’ve learned that the way of an author – a successful author – is a lot of hard work. But honestly, how can anyone truly be successful at anything without having worked hard?

So now…

Being an author means writing – everyday. It means reading – any spare moment, fiction and craft books. It means getting the voices in my head down on paper and trying to come up with new ways to connect them to my readers. It means blogging, tweeting (gotta work harder on that), and facebooking. It means breaking out of my comfort zone and trying new things, NaNoWriMo for instance.

But it’s also dreaming.

I dream that I can write the kind of fiction that can touch lives the way other books have touched mine. I dream that if I’m ever a best-selling, popular author, that I won’t ever lose sight of why I started writing books in the first place. I also dream of being a voice of reason to young people. I am by no means a wise sage, but I’ve learned some things from my youth – things that I wish I had learned earlier. As an author, I’m writing to my younger self in hopes that others, young or old can learn what I have. I hope it helps them in some way.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 24,067

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#10 Favorite Blogging Buddy Shout-Out

If you’ll be my milkshake buddy, can I be your blogging buddy? Image attributed to Clintus from Surprise, AZ, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Hmm. Okay. I didn’t realize that one could have a blogging buddy. When I think of blogging buddies, I think of Four Foxes One Hound where there are five bloggers for one blog and each person writes a post for a specified topic that week.

I’m over here by my witty bitty self, just trying to come up with something really interesting to say every Monday. Guests handle Wednesdays and my kids usually handle Friday (when they’re not crawling up my legs instead).

I have a lot of writer friends from Astraea Press who blog (Four Foxes One Hound in particular), and I follow several other writer’s blogs. But I’m not sure I have a buddy per se. I’m not really a loner…more of an outsider. I’ll observe you, your group, laugh at your jokes, even tell a few of my own, but I’ll never really have a…connection. The only person I’ve really ever had a connection with (outside of blood family) is my hubby who, well, doesn’t blog.

So, how to write this post?

I guess maybe talk about my all-time favorite blogger? Well, hands down, that’s Kristen Lamb. You don’t even have to be remotely interested in writing to enjoy her blog. Anyone who can make me laugh out loud about her father’s ashes and her mother’s plans for taxidermy is well worth the read.

And if you do want to be a successful author? Well, look no further. Kristen Lamb is the Jillian Michaels of writing coaches. On the rare occasions when she goes on a blogcation or on the weekends when I need a good swift kick in the writing pants, I’ll go back through her archives and look for something inspiring. I’m never disappointed. And it helps to ease the pain of the Kristen Lamb withdrawals. 😉 I would love to say that she would be my buddy, and if she ever offered, it would be more like me hanging on her every humourous word and being too start struck to offer my own.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 8,031. Yeah. While everyone else was a-thoning, I was simply too semi-unexpectedly busy. But starting Monday, schedule’s wiiiide open. 😀

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#7 Self Publishing Or Publishing Contract?

Image attributed to InfoGibraltar via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the things that I love about Kristen Lamb, is that for as much as she supports a self published writer, she doesn’t knock those who prefer to go the more traditional route.

I think I’ve used up my trust-me tokens on financial investments. “Trust me, spending my last semester at Cambridge, England will make me a better teacher.” Well, that part was actually true until my (then unknown) gluten allergy caused my anxiety and depression to “flare” so badly that I had to resign. But England was a big investment.

And so would it be to self publish.

I hate red tape and “dry thinking.” I’d rather just be creative and write the book. But for the purposes of this post I decided to look into it. It’s probably good for me anyway.

I found this article on Bloomberg about the real cost of self-publishing. And already I’m not liking this. So, let’s pretend that I’ve decided to self publish The Stone of Kings (instead of what I really did, and send it to my publisher.) The first thing the Bloomberg article says that I need is an editor and I’ll go with the $3.50 charge per page. I’m assuming that the pages must be double spaced, since that what I had to do when I submitted it to Astraea Press. Okay, 296 pages at $3.50 per page comes to $1,036.

Can you see that conversation with your hardworking spouse on a single family income? Yeah, I can’t either.

Well, that just made this post easier to write. After editing, I still need cover art, printing, software purchase, and ISBN number. I’m not sure I would do the rest of what is suggested. I’ve got the WANA Way for that 😀

I’m happy with Astraea Press. So long as they like what I’ve got, I don’t have to pay anything. I get full say in the cover art and editing process. I’d rather give them part of the sales later than do all the dry stuff myself first.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 6620

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#5 How Did You Get Started Writing

Image via Wikimedia Commons
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Hee hee. I remember being six years old and sitting at my grandmother’s kitchen table when I composed the following:

Oh, Miss Dog, please marry me,

For I have not seen a flea.

I beg you on one knee,

Please will you marry me?

Soon after I started a short story called The Blabbacca about an animal made of all sorts of other animal parts. And no, I hadn’t even heard of Frankenstein at that time.

Guess I had a thing for animals.

I later went on to write more short stories and poetry through high school. I was part of a creative writing pilot program at Pinellas County Center for the Arts. But a book? Pfff! How could I ever draw my ideas out for that long?

Then, I started working for Verizon. While it was a great job, it was so dismally dry for me creatively, that my brain finally started screaming, “Write something! Please!”

“Okay! Okay!” So pulled out my trusty journal before my brain got out the big wooden spoon. I was mostly through writing Harp Lessons, when I came up with the idea for The Stone of Kings.

The book ideas multiplied like rabbits after that.

But seriously, that first draft of Harp Lessons (though I was super proud of myself for having written something that long) was so rough, you could have sliced an artery on it. The only writing craft book that I’d read at that point was Steven King’s On Writing. While a great book, my skills needed (and still need) a lot more polishing.

But I got lucky.

Astraea Press took pity a chance with me and helped me tighten my story a little more and in the meantime, they introduced me to wonderful bloggers like Kristen Lamb and voice-of-reason editors like Kay Springsteen. I’ve been reading craft books with as much relish as if they were episodes of Law & Order: SVU.

So yeah, I’m still “getting started.” 😉

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 3,806 Gah!

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#1 What Does Blogging Mean To You?

Image via Wikimedia with special thanks to the United States Marine Corps

I’ve subscribed to Kristen Lamb’s “WANA way” on blogging. And as a bonus, doing it this way forces me to try to channel some of her humor. For example, when I started writing on this topic, I had a dry list of why I blog.

Pathetic. *Highlight, delete*

Blogging pushes me like a boxing coach. Blogging is the nagging thoughts in the back of my mind everyday, “What are you going to write about this week? Huh? It’s gonna be dull, isn’t it. Just scribble away at your novels. Go on, be mediocre!”

To be honest, I don’t really care much for blogging. You know why? Cause it’s hard for me. Face it- no characters, no story, just topics. Who on earth cares what I have to say on topics?

But you know what? It my job as a writer to learn how to make them care. If I can start to grab a reader’s attention in a blog, I’ll be able to crank out the page turners. I know that if I want to be successful I gotta do the hard stuff. Will I get it every time? No. But I’ll keep trying till I do. Then I’ll keep trying some more.

“Get to work you lazy deadbeat! Come on, you’ve got a deadline!”

“Yeah, coach, I’m just finishing up this round of Candy Crush-”

“Candy what? That blog’s not gonna write itself. Now, get on it!”

“Yes, coach.”

Writing is a lonely business. Just you and your pen and paper. But it’s too easy to slip into thinking about your story and forgetting to actually write it down. I’m always looking for “down time” which is an excuse not to write. Down time is great, but as a writer, I find that blogging helps me to realize that I don’t need as much down time as I thought I did. I write because I enjoy it, after all!

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

No word count for NaNo just yet due to lack of sleep. 🙂

NaNoWriMo · Writing

In Preparation…

This is how fast I WANT to write. I hope it picks up in November anyway. Image attributed to Yann (talk) via Wikimedia Commons.

I missed Friday Fun. But there are times in life when we have to forgo the things that are fun for the things that we need. My Friday Facebook status should sum things up:

“That moment when you’ve had such a needed nap, that you wake up wondering where your watch is. Then you spend 5 minutes stumbling around the house looking for it only to realize that you haven’t worn a watch for over 7 years. — feeling sleepy.”

Despite the fact that I missed Friday, I’ve been busy blogging away. I’m halfway through all my posts for The Write Shadow’s NaNoWriMo pre-game blogging contest. While it’s much easier writing for an assigned topic, the challenge is still in making my words to that topic fun and interesting. Especially when I feel like one of my kid’s toys when the battery has run down.

“Pat-ty. Cake. Pat-ty. Cake. Bak-er’s. Man.”

I’ll get to your cake when I get to it. I don’t care how fast you need it.

Ooooh, I hope I survive November. I figured out that I have to write about three hours a day to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. Obviously, I’ll have to double up because there are going to be days where I can’t write at all, namely Thanksgiving. But I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

What I’m struggling to decide now is whether to make my story a political conspiracy or a ghost story. I might be able to blend the two together. I never thought of doing a ghost story before, but Kevin Lucia had a convincing series of posts as a guest on Kristen Lamb’s blog. He wrote about the horror genre and what made good horror and how it’s not always just blood and guts.

Being a pantser, I still have no idea what I’m going to decide. But I suppose that’s the purpose of NaNoWriMo. To write so fast that your subconscious takes over and makes the decision for you. At least, I hope it works that way.

Are you getting ready for a busy event? How do you prepare?


Why “Talent” Doesn’t Equal “Ticket”

“Do” is the operative word.

When I started teaching, I had one of my 10th graders drop out of school within the first 2 weeks. His classmates told me that he had planned to drop out anyway. The day he left, he happened to leave halfway through my class because that was when his ride showed up. I’ll never forget the glory of ‘freedom’ in his eyes as he walked backward out of the door. He waved to the class with an expression that said, “Look at me! I’m onto bigger and better things!”


If he had any kind of talent for anything, except interrupting my class, I never got to see it. I hope he had some talent. But I fear that kid simply became a statistic that day. The thing is, talent isn’t always the ticket to success.

One of the comments that Kristen Lamb, author of Rise of the Machines-Human Authors in a Digital World, frequently makes on her blog is when she started writing, she “mistakenly believed that making As in English naturally qualified [her] to be a best-selling author.” I learned my lesson earlier than that.

I’ve always been a ‘book girl.’ I already knew how to read before I was in preschool, and created my own stories in the first grade. When I got to high school, my freshman English teacher was worthless. The saddest part about that was she taught the honors classes. You could write a paper for her, give it a good opening and closing, but fill the middle with gibberish and still get an A. Seriously. Someone did that. As a result, I became a lazy English student that year.

Boy, was I in for a rude awakening. My sophomore English teacher was very militant. At first I wasn’t worried because English was my talent. It was my ticket to an easy A. I wasn’t supposed to work so hard at it. Ha. It took me earning a D to finally get my butt in gear.

Even if something comes naturally doesn’t mean you don’t have to work. I very much hope my drop out student managed to get his butt in gear. But I fear that too many young people see the flawless performances of singers like Kelly Clarkson or actors like Will Smith and think that they don’t have to work at what they do. Even superstar talent needs to put in a lot of effort. An NFL quarterback doesn’t just play one game a week and spend the rest of his time on the couch. If that’s all it took, anyone with talent to throw a football would play.

I’m still working on honing my skills as an author. Just because I have a published book doesn’t mean I’m above reading a craft book (or two, or three, or more) to get better. I’m working hard to make The Stone of Kings better than Harp Lessons. I’ll continue working to make my next book better than The Stone of Kings. If I don’t grow, I won’t succeed.

How do you work your talent? Are you growing? Did you start failing at one point and realize that you had to put in more effort?