Keeping Her in My Memories; Embracing Her as She is Now

I have two main dates with which I’ve learned to cope, the anniversary of my daughter’s passing and her birthday, which falls in September. She’d be turning 29 this year and that is difficult to imagine. She’s frozen in my memory at nineteen.

As I move closer to determining a release date for “Passing Rain,” I thought blogging about her coming birthday might be a good way of better preparing for it. I haven’t always handled the anniversaries, the holidays, all those special days on which I feel her physical absence in the best of ways.

So to get ready for this post I searched online to see how others deal with these occasions. The advice that resonated the most with me came from Abraham Hicks. To connect with her as she is now I have to set aside the grief and be the best me I can be.

Keeping her as she was in my memories is fine, but I’ve already embraced her as she is now. I’ve mentioned many times that I think of her as my little inside connection. She’s no longer that nineteen-year-old Earthbound child I knew. She’s operating at a higher level and if a birthday while she was here focused on celebrating her advancement into a new year, shouldn’t her birthday now be focused on celebrating where she is now, in her most advanced state?

In order for me to connect with her I can’t hold myself down with pain and grief, because that isn’t where she is. I’m not saying I won’t still feel that grief at times, but accepting her more in her current state will help me to better cope with those moments. For her birthday this year I plan to concentrate on being the best me I can be and to honor her for being the magnificent being she is.

I’ve been doing this in my daily life for some time. I’ve thought of my loved ones who have passed and imagined them as the Grand Masters they are, my inside connections to that place from where we originate. I’ve felt their love and felt the connection. I believe in those moments I’m connecting because I’m coming into alignment with the real me. I’ll be keeping her in my memories, but embracing her as she is now.

What better time to nurture that connection than on her birthday?


Read about the dream that inspired me to write Passing RainFrom the Camel’s Mouth

Balance in the Long Run

I run long every Sunday. I know long is a relative term, but for me long is ten miles. I realized during my 36 Days of Awesome Running (and Writing) Streak that though I manage to spend time on my two great loves, I spend it disproportionately. While I was averaging 35 miles of running each week I was lucky to squeak out a dozen pages of writing during the same time.

Was the problem that I value my running more? No. I love writing. I’ve loved it since I wrote my first short story when I was nine. Is running easier than writing? Some days yes, some days no. They each have their challenges. Am I a more seasoned runner than writer? I started seriously pursuing writing in 1995. I’ve been running since 2006. So none of that explains the discrepancy in how I divide my time between my two passions.

Part of the issue is that I’m more of a plotter than a pantser (one who writes by the seat of her pants) and I’m writing a new series without having it all planned the way I’d like. Since it’s a series, I want to first know the big picture for the overall series, the main protagonists’s character arcs throughout the series and then the story lines and characters for the individual books. I didn’t have all of this completed before I started the challenge and so I ended up pantsing part of my way through my pages. I actually found this to be fun, but it did keep my output to 1-2 pages per day.

But why, when I began the first scribbles for this series three years ago, did I not have the plotting done and more pages written prior to the writing streak?

I think the real issue is fear. That blank screen is so much more daunting than an open trail, which beckons by comparison. So, to combat that fear I’m currently in brainstorm mode and working on getting all this plotting out of the way so my blank screen will beckon me the way that open trail does. After all, how scary can it be if I know where I’m going?

The point of this post is to commit myself to finding better balance between my two loves. I want to crank up my page output to match my running miles. It’s possible I may have to cut back my miles a little in order to do this, which I’m willing to do. My plan is to create a writing equivalent to my long Sunday run. I’ll continue to write during lunch breaks and free time, but I’ll also pick one day a week to sit my butt in my chair for an extended period (with proper stretching breaks, of course) and crank out the pages.

Now I’ve put it out there and will hold myself accountable. All I’ve got to do is plan my course for this series and that fear should dissipate. After all, I’m in this for the long run.

First on the agenda for my long writing day will be brainstorming and plotting. Face the fear to get over it. Isn’t that the way to do it?


Read about the dream that inspired me to write Passing RainFrom the Camel’s Mouth

Challenges of the Holidays

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and my house is clean, the refrigerator and pantry are stocked and our new coffee cart is setup, with our old coffee pot, as well as our new espresso machine with milk frother, along with our assortment of coffees and flavored syrups. We’re as ready as we’re going to be to host our feast tomorrow and brunch on Friday. So now I have time to reflect on the rest of my list of things for which I’m thankful.

With all that is going on in the world these days I’m very thankful to be living in a time and a place where as a woman and single parent I have the freedom to hold a job I really like while pursuing my writing on the side. I feel truly privileged. I live in a city where whatever I need or want is readily accessible.  I live in a world where technology eases my existence and opens new and exiting doors daily. I am healthy and well and clear of mind, so I can enjoy all this world of mine has to offer. For all of this I give much thanks.

I’m ready for the challenges of the holidays, the challenges of fighting traffic and crowds to complete the shopping and errands, the challenge of orchestrating the perfect feast and the challenge of missing the loved ones who can’t be here to enjoy the holidays with us. I’m also ready for some new challenges, issued in fun and accepted with a determined spirit on my part. A running buddy has challenged one of my running groups to join in Runner’s World’s 36DaysofAwesome run streak challenge.  I’ve added a twist to this challenge. In addition to running at least a mile a day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s I’ll also be writing at least a page a day.

What a wonderful way to see the old year out and the new year in. I welcome anyone to join me in either/or challenge. Who’s with me?


Read about the dream that inspired me to write Passing RainFrom the Camel’s Mouth

My Support Network

I can’t talk about the things for which I’m grateful without mentioning the rest of my family and friends. I’m not sure how many of them realize I’m an introvert at heart. I need a lot of time to myself and, with the exception of my girls, don’t reach out to them frequently. For the most part I think they understand this and I get in touch when I have the need and when I can. I’m still working on that balance of freeing time to interact more with the people who matter to me. Fortunately, in spite of this, friends and family have lifted me up in my times of need.

Though my siblings are spread across the southeast I keep them all in my thoughts and my prayers and they all have a place in my heart, all six of them. My parents and my oldest daughter, Rain, have passed over, but I’m so very grateful to still feel them around me at times. I think of them as my inside connections, still supporting me from the other side.

As far as my friends, they tend to fall under two categories (though there are exceptions): my writing friends and my running friends. Whether I need advice on where to find a copy editor for my indie book (which I recently received and, yes, Passing Rain is with that editor), or how to cope with the pain in my heel that only shows up after a run, I’ve got plenty of people to ask.

I’ve got a great support network, filled with positive people. What more could I want?

Who are the people who lift you up?


Read about the dream that inspired me to write Passing RainFrom the Camel’s Mouth

Finding Quiet Time

A while ago, my very first best friend in the world, Laure Taylor, nominated me in a Facebook challenge to participate in 10 Days of Gratitude, posting 3 things I was grateful for and nominating 2 friends each day to do the same. I didn’t participate in that challenge, but since we’ve rolled into November and I’ve been reflecting on the things in my life for which I’m grateful I thought this month during my blog I’d list these things.

So, obviously, the first and foremost thing I’m grateful for is my girls. I have my 25yo, whom I’ll refer to as Newt, her childhood nickname, and my 19yo, whom I’ll call my Young One, since she’s my baby. I could go on and on with the reasons I’m grateful for them, but other parents would be jealous and I’d likely embarrass them.

Suffice it to say Newt is in her final semester at Georgia Tech and gives me more reasons to be proud of her every day. I did mention earlier how she recently sold her first major painting, but she also just completed her first 5K (4th in her age group for her first race, thank you very much) and she’s going to work on the cover for Passing Rain!

I’m equally proud of My Young One, who lives with me and will be starting college soon. I watch her with pride as she grows and learns about the world, teaching me a thing or two along the way. She’s also writing and running some, too. She’s decided since she and I live together that it’s her job to be my house nanny, cooking cleaning and shopping, etc. for us. She does this in a way that frees me to spend my time focusing on the things that really matter to me, like my girls, my running and my writing. How spoiled am I?

I am so very grateful and I’m making a point these days to use this time to make space in my life for finding quiet time, where I put the world aside, focus on my breath and, hopefully, align myself with my purpose in life. It’s my goal to do this daily. I’m working to get there, but with the support of my wonderful girls I have no excuses not to do this. I believe finding time to tap into that quiet, to center myself and listen within, will not only help me with my writing, but with living my life the way I should live it.

What are you grateful for today?


Read about the dream that inspired me to write Passing RainFrom the Camel’s Mouth

Keeping on Task

I’m making a list and checking it twice. It’s actually not that kind of list, though I’m doing my best to embrace the cooler temps and the Christmas decorations already adorning the stores. As always, I’m amazed at how quickly time passes. I’m still in my summer state of mind while others are excitedly pulling out their sweaters. I tend to move at my own pace and not worry too much if that pace doesn’t match anyone else’s.

Okay, maybe I’m a little envious of my author friends who write at a pace where they produce multiple books in a year and my running buddies who run at a pace that qualifies them for wave A of the PTRR. Both are paces I’d love to achieve but I accept that my life may not yet allow me to attain these levels. To keep me on track with my own pacing, at least when it comes to writing (running involves a different process, though possibly with an equivalent amount of sweat and tears) I use to do lists.

Which brings me to my update for this week. I have made that list, my Indie Pubbing To Do List, and I’m checking things off. The featured picture for this post is my actual list. I wrote it on my fun little note pad (with its nice summer theme), because I’m determined to make this a fun process. This pad opens like a book and the list continues onto the next couple of pages. I stopped, because my to dos may change before I can get that far.

I think the most important thing, that has happened this week is that I’m actually visualizing “Passing Rain” as a finished product. Previously, it has been more of a vague hope to send it out into the world. Now that I’ve mapped a draft of the path it will take in getting there, it is already becoming more real to me. So, even if I haven’t checked as many items off this list as I might have hoped, actually seeing this as a reality feels like pretty good progress to me.

How is everyone else keeping on task, especially as we’re heading into the holidays?


Read about the dream that inspired me to write Passing RainFrom the Camel’s Mouth

Going Indie

I feel comfortable enough with this decision to announce I’m going Indie! What does this mean, my non-writing friends may ask. It means I’m taking control of my writing destiny by self publishing Passing Rain, and if this goes well (and probably even if it doesn’t) I will likely also self pub the paranormal series I have brewing on a back burner, once I write it, of course. 🙂

I shared this with a running friend last night and his reaction was, “Isn’t that like a last resort?” I dare to say for the savvy author these days it’s a great way to go. Not that traditional publishing isn’t still a perfectly sound option in some cases. For me, though, the indie road makes sense.

Yes, it’s lots of work and no, there are no guarantees, but for many authors the e-book revolution has made this not only an acceptable, but often better way to go. Self publishing has taken on new meaning in this digital age.

So rather than get overwhelmed by the huge learning curve I’ll have, as well as the mounting entries on my to-do list, I’m taking a deep breath and starting with The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing by The Indie Voice: 10 NYT Bestselling Authors. Thanks to Stephanie Bond for the recommendation. So far, this book has given me more new resources than I’ve had a chance to follow up on, and it’s had me chuckling through my lunch break in my cube. I’m sure my coworkers at my day job are wondering what I’m finding so amusing. Can I just say Dorien Kelly’s chapter, Revirgination (When Traditional Authors Go Indie) cracked me up? If learning this new landscape is going to be this much fun, I’m in for a grand time.

I also have to say thanks to Wendy Wax for sending me Jane Friedman‘s Electric Speed newsletter. I immediately subscribed. It’s full of industry information geared toward author entrepreneurs. I kind of like that term.

If you’re an indie author (or are researching them)and have other resources to share I’d love to hear them!

If you’re not an author, but have questions or thoughts about this whole self pubbing thing I’d love to hear those, as well. As a reader, do you know or care who publishes the books you’re reading?

It’s a brave new world and I look forward to navigating it, one step at a time!


Read about the dream that inspired me to write Passing RainFrom the Camel’s Mouth

From the Camel’s Mouth

I stood in a high place, both a church and a courthouse. Dark masonry covered the walls, while light flowed through stained glass windows in splashes of yellow, pink and blue. Respectful quiet permeated the space.

Before me stood three camels. Their size and the muskiness of their scent drove me back a step. A commotion broke out among the handlers of the one to my right. They spoke in rapid dialog in a language I didn’t understand, but their distress was evident none-the-less.

Something was stuck in the camel’s mouth. It knelt before me and its mouth opened like a computer-generated image. I hesitated a moment, then reached in with both my hands.

My fingers closed around an abundance of long, slender objects. They slipped as I gathered them and pulled them from the opening. Light fell across my hands, revealing pencils, pens and paintbrushes, too many to count. Again I reached into the camel’s mouth, withdrawing a second bundle and then a third.

The load was more than I could comfortably hold. I glanced around for a place to lay my burden. A door stood ajar off to one side. I entered to find court in session, the judge in her raised chair at the front. I glanced around quickly, not wanting to disturb the proceedings. No shelf, counter or cabinet presented itself.

The judge caught my eye and gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. With that, I understood the bounty from the camel’s mouth was mine to keep.

This is the dream that directed me to write, “Passing Rain,” my story relating the events in my life from late 2004 through 2006. I interpreted the dream as saying the camels represented those three years. I researched dream meanings for camel and both “long hard journey” and “great sadness” struck a chord in me. I’d pulled creative tools and writing implements from the camel’s mouth (the mouth representing expression/communication). I had my directive. I had to write about those years.

My memoir is complete. Now what? Follow my journey here and discover with me where this project will land. Will it catch the interest of a mainstream publisher? Will I self publish it? I don’t yet know, but I trust it will end up where it is meant to be and if the only purpose in my writing this was for my own cathartic process, then I’ve accomplished that, at least. For my daughter, Jessie’s sake (aka Rain), though, I do hope our story will touch at least one other life and make all she experienced that much more meaningful.

Read an excerpt from “Passing Rain” here.

Writing and Running Gear

Those of you who know me understand that I have two great passions (outside of my kids): writing and running. I’m sure whoever you are, you also have great passions you work into your lives. It may be finding the perfect time and place to curl up with a book, escaping to your favorite theater, painting, or whatever it is you do that’s just for you. These are the things that make the rest of our busy lives worthwhile, whether that time is spent at a challenging day job, caring for family and friends, or doing the sundry chores we all need to accomplish to get through a day. If you’re like me, though, even if you’re passionate about your favorite pastimes, you may have trouble setting aside the time or working up the energy for these activities. At the end of a busy day, how do we manage to work in the things that fill our hearts and lift us up?

I arm myself with the proper writing and running gear–whatever tools or accessories I need to make my transition into these activities as easy as possible and to ensure my success in accomplishing them. Whatever my goal is, whether it’s to run faster or produce more pages, I have everything I need to see me through that goal

When I run, I switch from work mode to running mode as I gear up, from my sweat-wicking attire, to my Garmin to guide my pace and time, to my Nike Frees. I’ve tried different gear over the years and through trial and error have found the combination that works best for me.

As far as my writing, I transition with the lighting of my candles for a serious I’m-on-deadline session and I couldn’t imagine writing without my AlphaSmart, which is like a keyboard with memory. I may upgrade to a Neo one of these days, though my Alphie works just fine and being my father’s daughter I make things last, but that’s another story for another day. For now, I have Alphie, my candles, and my girls to bounce ideas off. These are the things that enable my writing, just like my Nikes enable my running. And in the same way, I’ve learned what worked best for my writing over a period of time, but once I found the right combination, I’ve stuck with it.

So, however busy your life is, I hope you’ve found that special something that makes your heart sing and that you’re making time for the activities you’re passionate about. Arm yourself with whatever it takes for great success in those pursuits. Be happy and enjoy!

Making Espresso in the Morning

Espresso in the MorningNo, this isn’t a recipe for a great cup of coffee or the story about the time I bought the espresso machine as a “family” Christmas gift. True, I wanted it for me, but my kids wanted it just as much. It was a legitimate gift and well appreciated to this day, but this, my very first blog ever (not just on my squeaky new website), is about the making of my December 2012 Superromance release, Espresso in the Morning.

Espresso in the Morning was originally born during my quest to expand my writing muscles by breaking into the women’s fiction market. I once had a friend with PTSD and was so moved by that friend’s struggle I wanted to write a character who battled this disorder. I developed the seed that sprouted this story while talking with my daughters one day. My girls are always fundamental in the growing of all my stories. Their eyes don’t glaze over when I drift into rants on character growth and goal, motivation and conflict. No, they actively participate in occasional brainstorming sessions with me. How lucky am I?

Once I had sprouted the seed of that story I invited some of my writing buddies to brainstorm with me. I was very fortunate to have Sandra Chastain, Nancy Night, Haywood Smith, Berta Platas and Michelle Roper step forward with all their wonderful insights and ideas for this story. I, in turn, got to hear about some of their projects and share my thoughts with them. Nothing can clarify a story better than a roomful of creative minds.

After the brainstorming, I wrote. When I finally had a proposal ready for what I’d hoped to be my first women’s fiction novel, I sent it to my agent, then waited with bated breath. I really liked my story of a single mother’s struggle with PTSD and her fight to keep her son, but my agent didn’t feel it was strong enough to break into the women’s fiction market. Still, I really wanted to write Claire’s story. I had already bonded with her and Grey.

I sent the proposal to my editor at Harlequin and asked if she thought we could turn it into a romance. She was very enthusiastic about the story and so began the revisions, first of the synopsis and then the chapters. Lucas, the coffee shop guy, stepped front and center and we morphed him into Claire’s sexy hero. I developed the romance and walked the delicate balance of staying true to my original vision of a mom and her son, while focusing on the relationship between Claire and Lucas. In my original concept of the story I felt Claire’s need to heal would overshadow any romance, that by the end of the book we’d know she was on the road to recovery and that a romance (possibly with Lucas) was on the horizon. Even though it was my idea to send the proposal to Harlequin as a prospective romance, I wasn’t sure until I was writing it that I could actually transfrom it, that I could make Claire’s recovery believable enough that she’d be ready for a romance during her healing process.

I found this actually created all kinds of great conflict and I think it was Lucas who finally convinced me. It was a daunting task, but Lucas was determined to tell his own story in those pages and in the end I had to leave him and Claire and Grey with their happily-ever-after. For me, it worked and I enjoyed writing their happy ending.

 

Do you have a preference for women’s fiction over romance or vice versa? What makes a good romance?

 

Author of Romantic Fiction and Other Writings

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