Friday, December 14, 2007

Seven Months Pregnant

Well, here I am seven months pregnant. I cannot tell a lie though, these were taken three weeks ago! The Christmas decorations have been taken down, and I have done some growing since then - which is easy to do even when you are not pregnant during the holidays! I laugh though, I'm not worried about pounds gained right now. I am more concerned with growing a healthy baby.

Some creative avenues I have been involved in (other than making a baby) are baking, sewing, cross stitch, and knitting. More leisurely activities have been reading, watching movies with my girls, and even playing out in the snow with them. In fact, we even built a snowman today (an activity I haven't participated in since childhood). What fun! We were downright silly, and had so much fun - I literally laughed until I cried! Making memories is a blast!

I have truly been enjoying the nesting phase of my pregnancy, but even to my own surprise, I haven't entirely given up my writing. I am still doing occasional press release projects, editing, and writing for some clients. They have been so good to me and I just can't seem to completely give up this element of my life.

My New Year's writing goals are to do some more creative writing and work on projects that would bring me more personal satisfaction. How about you? What are you working on now, and in what ways would your writing bring you the most joy in the coming year?

I miss you all, and will post again soon!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Confessions of a Write at Home Mom

Ok, I have some confessions to make:

(1) I am having a hard time focusing on my writing blog. (As if you hadn't noticed!) I get on these kicks where I'm real inspired for a time, possibly because I feel as though I better get writing. After all, it won't be long before baby is here and I will either be too elated about our new baby, or too exhausted from sleepless nights to focus on writing.

(2) I hate letting my blogging friends down. Every day I literally feel guilty because I am not blogging. I see many of you continue to come to my blog to see if I have posted anything lately and I have not.

(3) I am way too preoccupied with being six months pregnant, and anticipating the arrival of my baby. The only "research" I want to do right now is what changes are occurring with my little baby. Can he open his eyes yet, is she at the point yet where she can hear voices outside the womb? What is this baby anyway, a boy or a girl? Will she look like my husband, as little Chloe does, or will she carry any of my traits? Those are the questions I want to know about right now.

(4) I want to do other things. I want to bake breads and cookies to give away to neighbors, to put smiles on the faces of loved ones. Believe it or not, I even want to clean. I want to scrapbook, and write out Christmas cards. I want to paint and express myself in different exciting and creative ways for a little while.

(5) Most importantly, I want to spend precious moments with my husband and daughters before this baby comes. I want to soak in every second because our lives will change when baby arrives. The change will be wonderful and amazing, but it's change none the less, and I feel this need to spend as much time with them as I can - enjoying them, preparing them.

There seems to be a theme here and it starts with "I." I am feeling selfish, but this is my last pregnancy. I do not wish to have more children so being pregnant is particularly special this time. Never again will I feel the miracle of a child growing inside of me. This is the last time I will experience those precious kicks - even the ones that hurt - or the rhythmic sensation of my baby having the hiccups.

Of course, after baby arrives it will be the "last" first smile, first step, first word. This will be the last time I ever nurse a baby. All these moments are precious and they are fleeting. Selfishly, I want to enjoy them all, every single solitary moment. If I don't, I know I will regret it. After all, I am blessed to be able to stay home with my children. There is no excuse for me to not savor it all.

Final confession: I am releasing myself from blogging. I am not abandoning my blog totally right now, but I may not write about writing. Maybe instead I will bore you with how my pregnancy is going, or how much scrap booking I have gotten done. I don't know.

Anyway, I do not know you, but I love you all. Every single one of you has encouraged me in some wonderful and amazing way and you have all helped me to know that some day, when the time is right in my life, writing will be more than a dream. It will be an achievable reality. You are all proof of that. I thank you for that, and hope you won't be too disappointed as I change course in my life for a little while.

I will see you at your blogs, and hopefully here once in a while too! Take care!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

As a child, one of my fondest memories was of waking up at the crack of dawn only to smell the delightful scent of turkey raosting in the oven! My brother and I rarely ate breakfast. Instead of filling our minds with thoughts of all the wonderful food we would stuff our bellies with at noon - mashed potatoes, corn, homemeade rolls and all the traditional foods that we looked forward to - we distracted our thoughts of hunger by watching the Macy's Day Parade, and sneaking little tidbits of food from the counters.

This year, I get to have Thanksgiving at my house. My husband's family will come and there will be a house full of cheerful laughter and conversation, and not to forget the satisfied grunts and lip smacking that go along with a hearty meal! I will carry on my tradition of making my "famous homemade rolls" and a whole bunch of other very yummy goodies. It will be fun - busy, but fun!

I hope you all get to spend your Thanksgiving carrying on the traditions that make you the happiest, and most of all, I hope that you have as much to be thankful for as I do!

Have a very Blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Part I: Uncovering Your Niche in Research

Research - it's one of the most important elements involved in writing, but not one discussed very often. Perhaps because for some, research is an uncomfortable topic - often involving doing things that might take you out of your comfort zone. But it's important, and unless we are authorities on all the topics we write about - which is highly unlikely - it is most always necessary.

I am going to do a series of posts about this very subject because really, there is so much to say about it. My series will explore the different sources of research there are out there, and will delve more in depth into how to to maximize your results from each source I cover.

If you think, "Well, I am writing a...this does not apply to me," then think again. Business writing, article writing, magazine writing, book writing, almost every kind of writing I can think of requires at least some element of research. Even essay writing can be enhanced by it.

Research is involved in business writing because it is necessary to know about the business before you can write about it - demographic info, relevant statistics, or even research into what your writing client wants you do do for him.

Article and magazine writing both require research. If you have a rich understanding (which, unless you have first-hand experience, can only be obtained by doing thorough research) your writing will reap the rewards. You need to understand a topic before you can write about it. Trips to the library, surfing the internet and interviews will provide all the information you need.

Book writing is the same, just more involved. You cannot possibly write a great novel set in the Civil War era, without battling through the important dates, political happenings, and battles and victories of that time.

Even if you are only thinking about writing - maybe submitting to a particular magazine - you still need to research your market. Seasoned writers know how important this is. You cannot submit to a magazine - or even website - you've never read. What sorts of things they publish (essays, poetry, fiction, features), the length, topics are all important. If a magazine doesn't publish poetry, they won't publish yours. You, in turn, are going to suffer unnecessary rejection.

Good, thorough research makes successful writing.
Here are a few reasons why:

(1) It helps us get our facts straight
(2) We glean important statistical information
(3) It adds substance
(4) It gives us that all important writer credibility
(5) It adds interest
(6) It creates believability

There are lots of reasons to research! And if you haven't already done it yourself, don't let it intimidate you. It is fun, educational, and moves you out of your comfort zone - which means growth for you and your writing.

I hope to see you back for my next post on research. It will include the different sources of research you can lean upon to give your writing that extra-special something!

Until then, have a wonderful day!

News Release Distribution

I found this review on news release distributors - both paid and free. I thought it may be useful to anyone looking to learn about distribution options.

Review of Online News Release Distributors

Friday, November 09, 2007

I have PageRank!

Oh! I have PageRank! I can hardly believe it! I know it sounds silly, but I have been watching my blog for the last six months and for some reason, my PageRank has been nothing but a filled in bar of grayness!

I researched this matter by myself a few times but came up with no answers. I even consulted Matt Keegan of The Article Writer who is a wealth of information when it comes to stuff like this. I tried his suggestions and kept coming to dead ends. In fact, I thought maybe my blog was under a ban for some unknown reason. I gave up, dejected with the idea that my blog would be banned forever. Now I have a PageRank of 3/10.

So forgive me for my maybe overly enthusiastic excitement, but I am thrilled that I no longer have to look at other people's blogs, see their pagerank and feel sorry for myself (LOL). Yippee! Thank you Google! Most importantly, thank you to those of you who have in any way contributed to my newfound status!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Just be Yourself!

Anyone who writes as part of their job or even for work knows that it is a creative process. It took me a long time to figure this out. I always thought that in order for you to be a "creative" writer, you had to write poetry, or short stories, or books.

I have always longed to write something "creative" like that, but for some reason, have never been able to. Oh, I have submitted short stories to contests, but I always seem to go back to my safe spot in writing - researched articles, press releases, more business related writing. I truly admire those who write in the way I wish I could.

What I have learned is that even business writing is "creative." You still have to craft words together in a way that makes them both flow, make sense, and most importantly encourages your readers to keep on reading - or hiring you for the next project. And even though there are unique sets of rules to abide by, like in writing press releases, for example, you still have the ability to use your own voice to make it uniquely yours.

I have always been told that my writing is inspirational, but yet calming. I am so flattered by that because I have also been told that I have a calming personality - I am soothing in my parenting, my relationships, as well as in all situations I find myself in. I guess I am a peacemaker. I don't argue or fight with my husband or children. We might have disagreements, but I always remain calm and never get worked up. I just state the facts from my point of view!

Being told my writing is calming, inspirational, or encouraging makes me feel wonderful because that is who I am and I know my true voice is coming out on the keyboard. Does "calm" translate into boring? Hmm...maybe it does, but I can work on that, and I will! And as for those short stories, the day will come when I tackle more too.

In the meantime, what makes your writing uniquely you?

Do you love a scary movie, and therefore enjoy writing thriller fiction? Do you long for the nostalgic, and write moving poetry? Perhaps, like me, there is a quality in your personality that comes out in your writing. Feel free to share what defines your writing most!

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Updates and Apologies

To begin with, let me offer my apologies to you. I know I have been gone for a while - too long, I am afraid - and to be honest with you, I have no excuse at all. Sometimes, when I'm faced with the question, "Do I take an afternoon nap, or do I blog," the napping part just wins me over. So sorry about that, it goes with the pregnancy territory. Making a baby is as taxing as climbing a mountain, so I've read.

I am now 19 weeks into my pregnancy. That means I am almost half way there already! I can't believe how quickly time is passing. I have felt great, and even my hunger isn't as bad as it was earlier on - good thing because otherwise I would be as big as a house by the end of nine months. As it is, I have only gained about nine pounds, and am right on target with weight gain.

I began feeling baby move about two weeks ago. Movement is still sporadic - some days baby moves a lot, and other days I don't feel any movement at all. I just want a good kick here and there to let me know everything is ok.

The best part - the day (other than the arrival of the baby itself) I have been waiting for since finding out I was pregnant - is that today I had my ultrasound. The sonographer was wonderful. She really took her time with us. She showed us all the parts (except the special part that keeps it a surprise!). She took extra time to just let us watch that little baby. We watched baby opening and closing his mouth, swallowing, waving, kicking, and doing all sorts of precious things. We brought home several pictures, but the best part - the very best part - is that our baby is healthy. After my last pregnancy, I was so scared there would be something wrong. But, no. God is good. So far everything is great, and our little baby, who is about ten inches long, and as many ounces, is completely healthy. I am so happy!

So that's my most important update for now. As for my writing, it is not as my blog has been. I have been writing plenty. Not only have I been busy with various articles, but I have also been writing lots of press releases. It's been wonderful! Yet another blessing in my life!

I hope and pray all is going well with you! For now, I am going to pay a visit to all of my favorite blogs, and I will try to be back soon!

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Modern Day Press Release

It took me four years of higher education to obtain my degree in English writing--not so long when considering the bigger life picture. During that time, I expect I was taught a good deal of the latest trends in writing and journalism. I graduated something like four years ago, and have to say that it never fails to amaze me how much has changed since I received that degree. Four years just doesn't seem that long ago for so much change.

When it comes to writing, the press release is no exception to all this change. What makes the modern day press release look so different? The answer is simple: the internet. Today's small businesses have the opportunity to gain the kind of exposure that larger corporations could only attain before the "world wide web" came about. It's this kind of exposure that makes the online press release different than the traditional.

Some things still remain the same between the two. For example, all the points I bring up in the Elements of a Good Press Release remain the same. It's not advertising, it should be adequately proofread, and a journalistic style of writing should be implemented.

So what's so different? Well, the main difference can be summed up with two words in particular: keyword optimization. An online press release is meant to increase rankings and drive traffic to your site. As with any SEO article, you need to consider which words people would most likely use to find your web site, always making sure that they appropriately describe the service, or product you are offering on your site. For example, if your press release claims you write press releases as a service, but all you actually do is edit, then don't use "write press release" as a key phrase. I guess I speak the obvious here, but nobody wants to find exactly the service they are looking for only to learn they have been tricked.

Another great difference is the inclusion of live links. You can include links in a traditional press release, but the link's worthless unless you go to your computer turn it on and manually insert it in your search engine - not a big deal or major amount of trouble, but many people would rather not be bothered. Here you can effortlessly click your way to the site of interest to learn more about the topic at hand. How convenient is that!

The most recent change in press releases which I'm sure will become even more popular in the near future is the use of podcasts with your press release. This is simply a short audio segment that highlights the most important part of the release. If done informatively, promptly, and professionally enough this new tool is sure to help you make the most of your press release.

The traditional press release is surely not extinct with the dinosaurs, nor will it ever be an endangered species as long as we have traditional forms of media, but the online press release is definitely a creature of its own. Thus it should be treated as such. Be sure to do your homework and know the differences.

This concludes my series on the press release. I hope you enjoyed it, and most of all took something useful with you. Until next time, have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Elements of a Good Press Release

Merely writing a press release does not guarantee that an editor will distribute it. As you go about crafting your press release, there are some important stylistic points to keep in mind if you don't want your press release to be rejected.

(1) I mentioned this the other day, but it bares repeating again: It is not an advertisement. Do not tell your readers what to do: "You should buy this product because..." or "You must go visit the new..." It is meant to convey important information relevant to the business, organization, or person it represents. Ask yourself if your topic is new, interesting, unusual, relevant, and important in some way.

(2) If you want someone to follow up on your press release after it has been distributed be sure to cover your bases. List a reliable contact person, their phone number, and email address. What good will a contact person be if he (a) is unfamiliar with the subject, or (b) is not around to be called?

(3) Be considerate and send the release on time. Give editors the time they need to distribute it - preferably at least a day prior to when you would like it released. Include the release date on the press release itself. Remember that these people are busy so respect them by not waiting until the last minute.

(4) Understand clearly the media's definition of news. Answer the who, what, where, why, when, and how within the body. Be clear, concise, and factual with your information. Sentence length should be about 20 words, avoid the passive, and write short paragraphs.

(5) Include a short headline to summarize the contents of the release.

(6) Avoid puffery like, "World renowned artist comes..." If an artist is world renowned it doesn't need to be stated. Your reader will know. Words like famous, prominent, wonderful etc should not be used.

(7) Proofread, proofread, proofread. This cannot be stressed enough. Nobody will take you seriously if you don't take the time to make sure it is error free.

There's a lot to remember when crafting your news release, but these are a few important points. Hope they help get yours distributed!

Have a great day!

What is a Press Release?

Journalism 101

Because I have suddenly become rather busy writing press releases, I thought it might be fun to focus my blog on that subject for a few days. There seems to be no better place to begin than with the simple question, "What is a press release?"

A press release, or news release, is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media to announce something newsworthy. It can be mailed, faxed, or sent via internet communications to newspaper editors, magazines, radio and television stations/networks, or even distributed online.

Despite what some may think, a press release is not advertising. It may have the secondary benefit of drawing more business to a company or increasing sales of a product or service, but it is meant only to announce something with true news value, and perhaps increase exposure for the company.

Once the release is received by the chosen form of media, the editor decides whether or not it is newsworthy enough to run and if they have the space to run it in. If they feel it is, there is often a specified date on which the company would like it distributed. For example, time sensitive information, such as an announcement of a conference with related times and dates, might have "For Immediate Release" written to indicate it needs to be announced right away. Conversely, it may be written days, weeks, or even months ahead of the event and distributed on a very specific date.

It absolutely should not be boring. It should be a nicely crafted article that informs the reader of something. And as with any piece of writing, it should always have a headline that grabs your attention - something with a flare that makes the reader keep reading, an important task with all the written competition available these days. You want your reader to take some valuable information away with him.

So there you have it, a brief introduction to what a press release is. My next entry will focus on the stylistic elements of a good press release. Hope to see you back!

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Brand New Season

It's hard to believe that I am almost through my first trimester of pregnancy! These last several weeks have been filled with very little nausea, plenty of fatigue, and an absolutely voracious appetite! Now as I get ready to move into the next phase of my pregnancy, I am happy to say the nausea is nearly non-existent, the fatigue is lessoning, and the hunger (I guess I can't have it all) is ever present and growing! Just like baby! What more could I ask for?

Danielle is back to school and adjusting well to seventh grade, and Chloe has begun her fall line up, including a gym class for tots, dance, and tumbling. We are preparing for fall weather and have even had a small taste of it the last few days. I love fall. I love to watch the changes. Brilliant leaves appear as God's very own color palette here on earth. The sight is amazing, the smell is nostalgic, and the crunch under my feet is nothing less than fun! On cold days, I love to savor the scent of a spicy candle and enjoy the warm glow in the absence of the sun.

Life is good, isn't it? We obediently ride along with the cycles of life. We learn to love the predictable way that things occur-- even to look forward to the changes. I guess we really have no choice, but life is still good, and the coming of the new season makes me want to write even more.

Good thing, because I have all the sudden become inundated with lots of writing work. I have two articles to write, five press releases, and one newsletter to write for, edit, and assemble, all within the next week. So I will be busy. But I must say that in between moments of writing, and raising my family, I will not forget to take the time to savor the the fall season and all the beautiful things changing in my life! I hope you will do the same in yours!

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Footloose and Fancy Free

When you think of the old cliche "footloose and fancy free," what thoughts come to your mind? I think of childhood, a time in life that is carefree and not overburdened with responsibility, or matured from the experience of simply living life. Even being young and in college seems to fit well into that category, doesn't it? When, for many, it meant your biggest concern was whether or not you still had a can of spaghetti o's left in the cupboard for your dinner, and how you were going to cram a semester's worth of notes into your brain for the the final coming up in two days. I'm now almost thirty two years old and I really think there's something to be said for that old cliche.

I've lived life. It hasn't been filled with tragedy, nor has it been terrible. I am thankful, in fact, for every experience I've been through-good or bad. That's why I enjoy a style of writing that I like to think of as "footloose and fancy free." Many of you know of it as free writing.

The thing that's so neat about free writing is that there are absolutely no hard and fast rules. This is a time that you do not pay attention to spelling, grammar, or even punctuation. That would detract from the exercise. The idea is to get down as much on paper as you possibly can, and if you are monkeying around with details, it distracts you from your thoughts, and it's your very thoughts that make this such a useful exercise.

Sit down down with your keyboard or pen and paper and simply begin to write. It's an opportunity for you to sit down and write about anything and everything that happens to pop into your head. If it makes sense, that's great! If it doesn't, that's great too, but it's a excellent activity to begin your daily writing habits with, or if you are suffering from a bout of writer's block.

This is also a very useful exercise if you are writing on something specific. If you free write everything you can possibly think about pertaining to that topic you will find that it will help you narrow down what your thoughts and opinions are on that subject and may even help you to put a better focus on your paper.

Of course, you do not have to write about a specific topic. Remember, there are no rules. If you haven't any ideas, just write whatever is popping into your head. We are never void of thoughts. Something will come to you, I guarantee it!

Try it! You may be amazed of how many ideas may come to mind for your next big article when you are footloose and fancy free writing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

God's Gifts

Hello! I have missed you all so much, but am now officially back. I will get back to my "writing blogs" very soon, but first I thought you might like an update of what's been going on in my life during the last month.

We had a lovely and relaxing camping trip. I didn't think I would really be able to relax with thoughts of cleaning, packing, unpacking, and lifting heavy objects looming over my head. Amazingly enough I was still able to. I used the time away as an opportunity to push all my trivial responsibilities out of my mind. I say trivial responsibilities because the important ones never leave. I am always a wife and mother and I wouldn't change that for the world. Sure we all need breaks or solitary time once in a while, but being with my family in a relaxing setting was very enjoyable. Family is one of my favorite God given gifts!

This year's camping trip was very healing for me because last year's trip was filled with pain and anxiety. Right before we went camping we learned that the baby I was carrying no longer had a heartbeat. The doctors insisted I wait ten days to repeat the sonogram just to be sure there was no mistake. It was the hardest ten days of my life, hopeful that maybe everything was going to be ok, but knowing in my heart the reality of the situation. Camping was a good distraction, but a heavy cloud hung over my head the entire time.

When we got back from that trip the inevitable happened. I had a D&C and my period of recovery and healing began. I spent this last year learning more about myself and what's really important in life, and strengthening my relationship with God. He taught me a lesson about patience. He taught me that things happen for a reason, and they also occur in His time because His timing is truly perfect--even when we don't understand why. Life lessons are also gifts from God. We grow from them and can use them to help others through similar experiences. A good friend of mind also experienced a miscarriage this year and I was able to help her through my experience.

We came back from this year's vacation and immediately delved into the hard work of moving our little family and home. It's been stressful but fun and exciting at the same time. We set up our new household and were very satisfied with it all. Nick and I, as well as Chloe would take a bedroom upstairs, while Danielle chose the basement. In the next few months Nick plans to finish off a room down there for her, while I finally got to have an office with the remaining bedroom upstairs. The office room is a small room actually, but I didn't care. It would be a separate place for me to do my writing and other projects that needed completed.

Well, as for that office, God had other plans. It will become the new nursery. Very conveniently located next to Mama and Dada's bedroom! Yes, we are having a baby! I hope and pray for a happy ending this time, but I certainly don't plan to spend the next nine months worrying about it. I am going to enjoy every single moment--the fatigue, hunger, sickness, aches and pains and all! The neat thing is that last year while I was camping I grieved the loss of a little life I would never meet. This year while camping, I unknowingly had a new life growing within me! Yet another gift from God. He sure does work in wonderful and mysterious ways, doesn't he?

Thank you for coming back to visit me! I look forward to catching up on all of your blogs! It's been a long time and I can't wait to see what I've missed!

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Time Off

I apologize to all of you, my dear friends in the blogosphere, for my recent absence. For the last month life has just been crazy, but I am happy to say it has been a good crazy.

Most of you know that I began the month of June with a rather large writing project. My new client wanted me to write a fifty page book on parenting in two weeks! Of course, that was only the rough draft, and then I had another week to tighten it up, and fix what needed to be fixed. It was a wonderful project and I am truly blessed to say my client was fantastic! He liked my writing, was very reasonable, and has asked me to work on future projects with him, as well. Mission accomplished there.

Last Friday, Nick and I bought our first home. Of course, anyone who has ever moved knows what work it is and how time consuming it also is. We bought a lovely little ranch home in a nice neighborhood within the community we already live in. We really like the fact that it's right outside of town, but close enough to still be able to run our children to school events or run to the store to grab a gallon of milk without having to drive for miles (yes there are many homes out in the boonies where I live here in PA).

This weekend, we leave for vacation. Because we just bought a home, we are trying to keep expenses down so we are camping for a week (as opposed to the trip to Disney that we had planned earlier this spring). Honestly, I think I would rather camp. Florida is going to be sweltering hot and the lines at Disney are very long. Camping will be more of a leisurely experience with a lot fo relaxing and lots and lots of reading (YES!). We will need the relaxation because when we get back it's more packing, cleaning, and cleaning and unpacking!

So for now, my dear friends, I am leaving you. I plan to only be gone for about three weeks. Long enough to go on vacation, and get settled in our new home. I hope you will not give up on me, and come back in a few weeks. I will keep you posted and let you know when I am back for good again.

Until then, take care and I hope you all have a fantastic July!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What do Your Dreams Look Like?

Blogging is wonderful for so many reasons and one of my favorites is that you get to meet amazing people! Mihaela Lica (Mig) is one of those people to me. She is every bit as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside - her dream to protect children and the steps she and her partner have taken to do so is a prime example of her beauty.

Mig is a very talented writer. She uses those talents in her business, but she also uses her gift with words to fight for what's right and to build people up. She has built me up with her encouraging words!

What you might not know about Mig is that she is also an artist. On June 6, she began "Unleashing dreams" on her blog. She takes your pictures and enhances them so that you may see your heart as she does.

Mig, you have truly unleashed my dreams through your vision of my heart! Thank you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Help Keep Our Children Safe!

A few weeks ago, Mihaela Lica at eWritings - Online Public Relations participated in a meme in which she was to republish one of her favorite posts from the past. It was the same meme that I participated in last week, but my repost was not so valuable. The subject Mig republished was so important that I decided to dedicate a post to it myself. It was not a post about writing, or marketing, or online public relations. It was about something far more significant. It was about her dream of protecting our children, and all the children of the world from internet pornography.

In her repost she talks about an amazing project--Blogger Power: Safeguard the Web for Our Children. The project was begun by Mihaela Lica and Jon Harmon at Force for Good. In their own words, "this is a common sense request to all the “adult site” webmasters: password-protected login on porn sites for all the explicit materials, no more “free clips”, “free tours”, “free pics” without login!"

Here's Blogger Power's "common sense request" to safeguard our children:

Please require a password-protected login before allowing even free access to explicit adult content. We understand that selling porn is your business and we respect your right to make a legal living. But understand our legitimate concerns and work with us. You already have the “warning adult content” on your websites. Yet kids, who are not legal customers of your product, ignore the warning. So to prevent them from having direct access to explicit images, texts and sounds, the simplest way is to have a password-protected login. No more “free tours” before a visitor supplies basic information.

To truly understand the seriousness of this issue, take a few minutes to read "An Open Letter to Bloggers Around the World: Help Make the Web Safer for Children."

I love children. I love their innocence and I truly care about their safety. I am proudly supporting this cause. It only took a few minutes of my time. I encourage you to do the same--for the sake of all our children.

God Bless and good night!

A Fun Meme

I have been tagged for a meme by Sylvia over at Sylvia's Insight. In this meme, I am to list seven random facts about myself, and then, of course, tag others. So here goes:

(1) Strawberry shortcake is my absolute favorite dessert - but it must be topped with cool whip (preferably homemade)!

(2) I enjoy scrap booking, even though I don't do it as much as I would like to.

(3) I love music!

(4) I love to sing - I'm always singing with the radio!

(5) As a child, I walked on stilts that stood ten feet in the air.

(6) I love babies, children and animals!

(7) I love God!

There you have it, seven random facts about me! Now I'd like to tag Kathy, Laura, and Lillie because they are three beautiful women that I would like to know more about!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What's so Great About Essays?

I love blogging! It's such a treat to sit down and write whatever I feel like without having to adhere to specific writing rules. I can write about one thing in one style today, and write about something completely different in a totally unique style the next. There is a freedom in it that is much like writing an essay--another form of writing that I've always enjoyed.

For me, writing essays has always been more fun than work. In fact, in high school and college, while many people were griping about essay tests, I was giddy inside with excitement. I knew I had a much better chance at scoring more points with an essay than I could by testing other ways. It almost always meant an A. Send that essay test my way!

Besides the opportunity to excel academically as a student, I enjoy essay writing for other reasons. For me, essays are a fun way to express my own opinion. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not always outwardly opinionated and I don't get all worked up if someone has a different opinion than me, but sometimes it's just nice to express what I think. Nobody thinks exactly as I do and that's a beautiful thing. Essays are an expression of individuality.

I also really love how much I learn when I write an essay. I learn about the world around me, but I also learn more about who I am, what I love, and how I think and feel about important things. Sometimes it's learning about specific topics, and sometimes it's about things like love, equality, and being the best person I can be, but always it's about learning.

Another thing that's really neat about essays is how you can take any topic and make it interesting--I think that's the human element in this sort of writing. Take foot fungus for instance. It isn't exactly a topic of great interest to most people, but once it's connected to another human being in an interesting way, then it's fun to read. "How my high school friend started a foot fungus epidemic," might be pretty funny! You can easily incorporate foot fungus facts into a story like that, and keep your reader's attention.

Whether it's personal experience or human emotion that makes an essay interesting, it's about feeling connected. I like feeling connected with people, and I like the idea that someone is feeling connected to me because of something that I've written. So if you haven't already, try getting connected and write an essay to share with the world!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Recycling Meme - Be a Better Writer: Avoid These Common Mistakes

Mihaeal Lica of eWritings - Online Public Relations tagged me with this fun Meme in which I get to recycle an older post, and then tag others to do the same. It was hard to choose which to repost. I love the older posts that were written before I redesigned this blog specifically for writers. They are so personal and are a great enjoyment for me to read, but since most of you are writers, I thought I would repost something that might be useful to you. So here you go. Enjoy!

Be a Better Writer: Avoid These Common Mistakes

In my last blog I discussed the difference between proofreading and editing—both very important elements of writing. Understanding the difference is great, but what can you look for that goes beyond the basics of punctuation?

Incorrect word usage is something that often grabs my attention when I am reading an article. When words are used improperly, the writer automatically loses credibility. You must be vigilant about choosing the correct words and using them in the correct context.

As a writer, you must thoughtfully choose the words you use—whether it’s for a short story, poetry, or writing a cover letter. The following examples are some of the most common mistakes that I see, but should be avoided at all costs.

(1) Anxious vs. eager - I see this mistake all the time. Anyone who has ever had anxiety knows that there is an extreme difference between being anxious and eager. If you are looking forward to meeting your favorite author, you would not say, "I am anxious to meet Stephen King." Instead you would be eager to meet him--unless you are afraid he might act out a gruesome scene from one of his books. Then you might be anxious.

(2) Center on vs. revolve around – Often writers will combine the two and instead write “center around.” Well, you can’t be in the center and around at the same time. I might say that I want you to center your attention on my blog right now.

(3) Concerted effort - one person cannot make a concert but he can make a concentrated effort.

(4) Accept vs. except – accept means to take, and except means to leave out. Try to remember that the “x” in except means to exclude. Please accept my advice on word usage--except when I make mistakes!

(5) Criterion vs. criteria - Some words with Latin or Greek roots have plural forms that end in “a.” These words are commonly mistaken for singular words. Remember you have one criterion and many criteria.

(6) A lot vs. alot – ok, so this one is very basic and not really about meaning, but I see it misused so often, I think it’s worth mentioning. Remember that “a lot” is always two words—not one. But you can allot a job to a friend.

I hope these suggestions will help you when working on your writing project—whatever it may be. Choose your words carefully, and remember it’s the simple things that add up to make you an expert in the writing world.

I am tagging Sylvia, Harmony, and Betsy. Have fun ladies!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sometimes Life Takes Over

I apologize for my recent absence and lack of new posts. I'm just not accustomed to writing 50 page books in two weeks. My writing is usually much more relaxed with deadlines not usually quite so tight - although I realize that many of you are probably writing at least close to that amount in one or two weeks - if not more. Hmm...well, I'll find the balance.

My writing, on the other hand, usually consists of visiting all my favorite blogs (two or three times a day), leaving comments on the ones that particularly move me - whether it's to tears, laughter, or otherwise. I check my email. I move on to a writing project, but I'd be willing to bet that most of you know how much time the whole blogging thing and email can consume. So then I write for a while and it isn't long before I get distracted by something else. The internet is productivity's best friend or worst enemy.

I am almost done with my book now. It's been a fun project for me and I've learned a lot from it. Perhaps the most important lesson is that when it comes right down to it, I really can balance my family with writing quite successfully. In fact, with more to do, I've even found that I've managed to keep up on my household chores much more successfully than when I'm not as busy. I've just switched things up a bit. For example, instead of doing my laundry at the end of the day, I do it first thing in the morning. Then it's done and it's one less thing I have to do before getting my kiddos to bed at night.

Anyway, I will try and give you all a couple worth while posts this week, as well as in the weeks to come. Bear with me, though because we are possibly going to be buying a new home in the next few weeks. Then life will be really hectic again. For tonight though, in anticipation of the craziness that may soon be coming, I'm going to go enjoy a good book!

Enjoy your evening!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You Know You're a Writer When...

This past weekend I came to the realization that either I am a crazy person or I am just a normal writer. Here is a list that might determine if you are a writer.

You know you're a writer when:

(1) You go to bed and you dream about your writing projects or all the potential articles you can write.

(2) You are constantly thinking about your next article, journal entry, or blog post.

(3) You frequently find yourself scrounging for any piece of paper, napkin, or envelope to write your ideas down before you forget them.

(4) You find those scraps of paper, napkins, or envelopes everywhere - in your glove box, your purse, on your desk, in your junk get the point!

(5) When every little thing your children, spouse, or dog does is a potential story or article being developed in your mind.

(6) When you go to deliver the water bill and find notes written on the envelope. You quickly scribble the notes on another scrap, shrug your shoulders, and deliver the bill!

Based on my very own set of standards, perhaps I am a writer after all. What are some of your "You know you're a writer when..." standards?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

When it Rains it Pours!

It's been a very busy week for me - mostly good busy though. I just landed a job writing a 50 page eBook on parenting for a new client. I am so hopped up about this assignment because parenting is a topic I enjoy writing about. The only catch is that he wants the first draft done in two weeks. I can do this, right? Sure I can. I mean really, how many ten page papers did I procrastinate writing in college until the last minute - like the day before? Don't worry, I'm not procrastinating now. I'm almost twenty pages into it and the writing is coming along quite smoothly.

Of course, the very morning I clinched this assignment, I got another one writing an article for a client I've had since December. She's absolutely great so of course there's no question that I'll do it for her.

But why is it when these wonderful things happen, little obstacles seem to try and get in our way? All this writing and suddenly my computer decides to start misbehaving. Is she afraid that I am going to store too much on her hard drive, or that I'm just going to be running her way too much in this 80 degree weather we've been having? No. The adapter cord has some broken wires in it and needs replaced. If I don't hold it just so, the computer shuts right down with barely any notice - because, of course, the battery won't hold a charge either. LOL. Well, I got clever and rigged the cord up in the back so that I don't have to type one-handed. It would be pretty hard to write a fifty page book with one hand, you know. The new cord and battery should be arriving in the mail any day now!

Did I mention that when it rains it pours? I've been experiencing some very annoying technical problems with my internet service provider. It seems to work fine in the evening, but during the day it disconnects me off and on all day long. That's frustrating when I am trying to get some research done. I prefer to do my writing in the earlier hours of the day, when my mind is fresh and alert. Who knows what I might write while half asleep.

Oh well, it all goes with the territory, doesn't it? I'm not complaining, just mildly annoyed and very thankful to have gotten such a great writing job!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Meme Catch Up

I've been a bit behind on my memes. I've been tagged by Mihaela Lica of eWriting - Online Public Relations (I know, it's been a while, hasn't it, Mig?), and Laura Spencer of Writing Thoughts, only a week behind here, that's not too bad, is it?

Mihaela Lica's tag is about my goals, dreams, and ideals. This is relatively simple.

My goals are as follows:

(1) Publish two articles in a national magazine by January 2008.
(2) To become successful enough with my writing to be able stay home with my children until they are grown.
(3) Build up a steady clientèle for my freelance writing business.
(4) Write a novel.
(5) Submit more of my work to writing contests - you gotta play to win, you know!
(6) Find the perfect balance between writing and parenting.

Dreams and ideals are great. They motivate us to keep on doing what we do and they give us hope, but to be honest with you my professional dreams and ideals really fall in together with my goals. They mingle together as one. I really struggle to separate them.

As for my personal life, I am a simple person with simple wants and desires. I dream of having one more baby, and of growing old with my best friend - my husband. I want nothing more than to be able to watch my girls grow up and dance, and play sports, or do whatever they want with their lives. I want to be there cheering them on. I want to enjoy grandchildren and all the beautiful gifts God has given us in life.

Laura Spencer asked me about productivity and why I blog.

I left a comment in Laura's blog some time ago about why I blog. I'm just going to cheat a little bit and reproduce that comment. For me, my blog is an opportunity to share whatever I feel like sharing at a particular moment with a community of fellow bloggers. It is a place to help others, as well as find support and feedback from people who care and have opinions of their own.

My blog is a very intimate and creative expression of who I am. I want to share it with all my family and loved ones who care to know who I really am. I express myself on a much more candid level than I ever do in real life. My blog is about what I am most passionate about in life. For more on why I blog see my post Am I Talking to You?

Three Productivity Tips

(1) Get good at multitasking. Work on dinner and laundry at the same time. Clean your bathroom while your little ones bathe. Find little things that you can combine to save time and make more room for your writing.
(2) Put your laptop at the table when your older children are doing their homework. This way, you can both work on writing projects while being right there to help your children if they have questions.
(3) Pamper yourself. You deserve it! We are writers, mothers, wives, friends, daughters - we are many things to many people, and we work hard at all those roles. Don't get so bogged down in your writing goals that you aren't taking time to do the little things you enjoy in your life. It will truly make writing that much more enjoyable for you.

Gotta Love Our Readers

Laura Spencer of Writing Thoughts featured Getting it Write for You in her "Of Note" section on her blog this weekend. She had nothing but wonderful things to say about my series on reading as well as my post about avoiding repetition in writing. I was honored to have such a lovely write up by a writer I respect so much. Thank you, Laura.

I would also like to thank everyone else who has linked me up to their blog recently. I really appreciate the "link love" (as Matt Keegan so affectionately puts it), but most importantly, I am happy that others are finding this blog useful and encouraging in some way.

It's been great having more visitors, and reading insightful comments from all of you.

My next post will be a catch up on the memes I'm so far behind on.

Thank you all again! Have a wonderful Monday - hopefully yours is a sunny as mine!

Friday, May 18, 2007

One More Post on Reading

Thank you to everyone who contributed more reasons to read! It's exciting to see how many people have such a deep love for words on a page! Your comments were great fun to receive! I am including your reasons, as well as a few extras in another list.

Reasons one through four on this post were contributed by Mihaela Lica from eWritings - Online Public Relations.

Lady Macleod at Braveheart-does-the-Maghreb contributed number five on the list.

Julia Temlyn of Temlyn Writing and Lillie Ammann of A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye both seem to agree that getting lost in books is one of the most pleasurable experiences in the world.

Eight More Good Reasons to Read:

(1) It gives you better understanding of the world.

(2) It shows you new worlds too.

(3) You see how the impossible becomes possible...

(4) You make new friends (the writers and their heroes)

(5) Reading makes you laugh, cry, feel inspired, mad, or want to visit the locale. Evoking emotion is great because it has the potential to bring about change in undesirable situations. If you read about something that makes you angry, like child abuse, for example, then perhaps you might just get angry enough, or sad enough, or inspired enough to do something about it. That's awesome!

(6) Reading keeps our memories sharp.

(7) It helps us to retain information easier.

(8) It boosts general knowledge and decreases the chances of retaining

Looking for more on reading? Visit Sylvia C.'s Soaring With Sylvia. It's a fun site where you will find her children's poetry, book reviews and fun information about reading.

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

15 Great Reasons to Read More!

Why Read?

(1) It sets a great example for your children.

(2) Reading is a free education.

(3) You can learn how to operate "things" (advanced technology has made this very important.

(4) It's a great escape.

(5) It makes you a better writer.

(6) You will recognize poor writing easier.

(7) It improves your vocabulary.

(8) You can learn a lot about yourself.

(9) You can learn a lot about others.

(10) It improves your reading skills.

(11) It improves language and communication skills.

(12) Reading makes you more successful.

(13) It's interesting!

(14) It's adventurous!

(15) Because it is fun!

What are some reasons you read?

Click here to check out my last post on reading.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Technorati Favorites Train

Thanks to Harmony from Writer in the Making for tagging me for this meme. Here are the instructions:

Technorati Train Meme Participants

***Start Copying Here:***

Here are the rules:

1) Write a short introduction paragraph about what how you found the list and include a link to the blog that referred you to the list.
2) COPY the Rules and ENTIRE List below and post it to your blog. To avoid duplicate content and increase the amount of keywords your site can accessible for, go ahead and change the titles of the blog. Just don’t change the links of the blog.
3) Take “My New Faves” and move them into the “The Original Faves” list.
4) Add 3 Blogs that you’ve just added to your Technorati Favorites to the “My New Faves” section. Remember to also add the “Fave Me” link next to your new blogs (i.e.
5) Add Everyone on this list to your Technorati Favorites List by clicking on “Fave the Site.” Those who want good kharma will fave you back. If not, you will for sure get the benefits of faves from the bloggers who continue this list after you.

My New Faves
Sylvia's Insight - Fave the Site
eWritings - Online Public Relations - Fave the Site
A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye - Fave the Site

The Original List
April Aragam _ Fave the Site
JM Writing and Editing Services - Fave the Site
Getting it Right for You - Fave the Site
Life in the Fast Lane - Fave the site
Mike’s Money Making Rants & Raves - Fave the Site
Casual Keystrokes - Fave the Site
Freelance Writing Journey - Fave the Site
Writer in the Making - Fave the Site
Grow Your Writing Business - Fave the Site
Quartz Mountain - Fave the Site
Prime Advertising Blog - Fave the Site
Dawud Miracle - Fave the Site
Gary Lee - Fave the Site *
Dosh Dosh - Fave the Site
Nate Whitehill - Fave the Site
Jeff Kee - Fave the Site
Scribble on the Wall - Fave the Site
Jimi Morrisons Head - Fave the Site
Jon Lee - Fave the Site
Samanathon - Fave the Site
Eat Drink & Be Merry - Fave the Site
The Man of Silver - Fave the Site
Hannes Johnson - Fave the Site
My Dandelion Patch - Fave the Site
Nathan Drach - Fave the Site
SiteLogic - Fave the Site
Julies Journal - Fave the Site
Tea & Slippers - Fave the Site
The Thinking Blog - Fave the Site
Pencil Thin - Fave the Site
Essential Keystrokes
- Fave the Site
Mom Gadget - Fave the Site
Engaging the Disquiet - Fave the Site
Monk at Work - Fave the Site
Converstations - Fave the Site
The Kiss Business Too - Fave the Site
HomeMom3 - Fave the Site

**End Copying Here**

Monday, May 14, 2007

Read to Your Sons and Daughters

The more that you read,
the more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
the more places you'll go.
~Dr. Seuss

I grew up in the country. We lived several miles out of town and my family was very introverted. They did not go to church and they socialized very little with others. You could pretty much count on getting groceries on Saturday mornings and that was the "big" weekly outing. Strange, I know, but something great came out of that isolation for me: the love of reading.

My mother never read to me, but always encouraged me to go read when I was bored on long hot summer days. As a child, I set up house with the Boxcar Children, played with the Bobsy Twins, and had great adventures on a deserted island with The Swiss Family Robinson. I could go anywhere I wanted and it was unbelievable. Once I learned about the wondrous places I could go, I was reading without prompting.

As an adult, I get to enjoy those same books, and many others, with my children. There is truly not a more important activity that you can share with them. I began reading to my eleven-year-old daughter when she was a baby. She learned so much so fast. By the time she was two she was speaking clearly and in full sentences. People would stop me and comment about her great vocabulary and how much she knew for such a young child. Reading to your children develops language.

Children are filled with the wonder of life. They are naturally inquisitive, and everything they see is fresh and new and amazing. Reading to your children allows a very natural way for you to teach your children about the world around them. Danielle knew about bugs and reptiles, flowers and farm animals, herbivores and carnivores. She knew so much and I was the lucky lady that got to teach her all of that. Wow! There isn't a better feeling.

For Danielle and me, reading was also a very special time we got to share together every single night before bedtime. It was the part of her nighttime ritual that calmed her for bed. It was special, and we both looked forward to it - good thing because I know I would never have been able to wiggle out of it. It really made us closer, which I am sure will benefit us in the tumultuous years of adolescence. As she got older and learned how to read on her own, she read to me, or we would take turns. It still isn't unusual for her to grab one of her favorite fairy tales for me to read to her.

We now have bookshelves packed full of books. When I look at them I see our past. I see mother-daughter bonding, laughing, and learning together. I see a piece of her childhood that I wouldn't trade for anything else in the world, and for all the things I've done wrong as a mother I know in my heart that reading is the one thing I got right for sure. Now I get to share the same thing with my little Chloe. Thank God for reading!

Have a fantastic day!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I just finished my short story for the 76th Annual Writer's Digest competition! I am excited and even relieved just to have accomplished another writing goal. I don't enjoy things hanging over my head. I wish I could share it with all of you!

Now to give it the final edit, print it out, and send it off. But that will be tomorrow!

Have a wonderful night!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Three Tips to Avoid Repetition in Your Writing

It's true that we all have different styles of writing and editing. I have never been able to sit down and write something start to finish. Whether that's good or not, I do not know, but it's what works for me. I write the first paragraph, stop, reread, edit, then go back to writing.

Last week I spent many hours working on my short story for the 76th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition, and as I edited, I was reminded of the importance of avoiding repetition in writing. Of course, there are always cases where it is used in order to help your writing flow and make sense, or to emphasize a point. In those cases it's important to come up with new and unique ways of saying what you want to say. That's part of the creative element of writing.

Avoiding repetition is important primarily for the fluidity of your piece. When you continually repeat, your writing becomes choppy and hard to follow. But most importantly, nobody is going to want to read what you've written. Who really has time to read the same thing over and over? And who really wants to? If you can get creative with your words and phrases, your article will be more interesting for your reader.

Three tips to avoid repetition:

(1) Did you ever read a story or article where the main character's name is used way too much? It breaks down the readability of your piece. When you are using a person's name, try replacing it with pronouns whenever possible. Obviously, you must introduce the character you are talking about, and there are still times it is necessary to use the actual name, but when appropriate use him, her, or he, she etc.

(2) Reread your article out loud, or listen to someone read it to you. Hearing as opposed to reading it inside your head, is helpful for catching those words and phrases that are repetitive. I can't tell you how many times I have read something I wrote to a friend and caught words that repeat.

(3) Your thesaurus is your friend. Don't be afraid or ashamed to pull it out of your bookshelf, or from your Microsoft Word program. Sometimes you may even find a more appropriate word than you were originally going to use. Plus this blessed little book also has the added bonus of widening your vocabulary.

Repetition is a part of writing. We all do it. It's something that we don't think about a whole lot because we are paying attention to proper grammar and sentence structure. But it's there in your rough drafts, and that is where it needs to end! So be on the lookout.

Until next time take care!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Mother and a Writer

I have had a busy week as a parent and a writing mama. We had the bomb scare, and yes it really was a bomb. Fortunately, it wasn't actually a threat - just a foolish act on the part of a very foolish person. Some guy (low in the intellect department, sorry but it's true) found a pipe bomb, put it in his truck, and brought it with him to ask school officials what it was. I am thankful that it wasn't a crime of hate, but rather stupidity. Somehow that makes me feel better.

Last night, Chloe fell down the basement steps. I spent the most helpless moments of my parenting career watching her tumble down all but two of them. Yuck. Fortunately, all that came of it was a big scare, three hours in the emergency room, and three little stitches on her forehead. It could have been much worse.

These experiences have taught me that there are some things we cannot protect our children from. A hard pill to swallow if you ask me. But as I have said over and over, it's a reminder to cherish today and the time we have with our loved ones. Believe me, if I wasn't before I am now.

As writers what can we get out of circumstances such as these?

To begin with, they are great opportunities to write. They are undeveloped story ideas that have the potential to grow into published works. I already have my query letter in mind from this week's experiences. Not only are they opportunities to come up with stories, but also to grow in our thinking to make our stories so much more flavorful. When Nick was a boy, he knew an old man who lived in his neighborhood. Every time he would see this guy, he would say in his feeble old man voice, "Reach into my bag and grab yourself a gum ball." These little life experiences are the gum balls that make our stories sweeter.

I have also been busy as a writing mama. Other than last night I have been working hard on a short story to enter in the 76th Annual Writer's Digest Writing competition. I am very excited because it is a new step in my writing career. I have never entered any contests other than the essay contest I entered in college. The deadline for this one is May 15 and I am determined to finish it and submit it. I will keep you updated on how that is going.

My copy of Writer Mama How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz came in the mail a couple days ago. I have read snippets of it in between all the other stuff in my life this week. So far, it's great and I think I am going to learn a lot from it. I plan to write a review when I am done.

I apologize for blogging about so many issues other than writing lately. These events have been monumental and a huge focus in my life. Hopefully, now things will settle down! Regardless, I will be back next week to blog about writing and to give you something useful to apply to your own writing careers.

Until next time enjoy all life has to offer you!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bomb Threat

My husband and I were bringing Chloe home from dance when we got the call. Danielle, whose little voice cracked with fear, called our cell phone and gave us the news, "Where are you? Please hurry home. I'm at Grandpa's." Today my daughter's school was dismissed early. I would love to say it was a planned dismissal for parent conferences, or because snow covered roads had school officials concerned. But it wasn't. "There was a bomb threat at the school," Danielle finished.

I knew she was home safe which was an instant relief to me, but still I was scared. What was going on? What is coming of this world? A world where we can't even send our children to school and feel safe. I couldn't even imagine the terror that Danielle felt as she awaited dismissal.

I was right about that. She was petrified - although the teachers did not tell the children what was going on. They were simply shuffled from place to place, with ominous announcements coming from the loud speakers. She recounted the whole story to me, but only wept at one point. She got up extra early this morning to go for a run with her father before school. She and her dad just started doing this recently and it's special to her because he works second shift and she rarely gets one-on-one time with him. Through her tears and squeaky voice she said, "All I could think was 'Would this morning be the last time I ever run with my dad?'" Such finality. So wrong for a girl almost 12 to be thinking. Again, what is this world coming to?

We live right across the street from the school. Through trees and a couple houses lined up in front of ours, we could see the police cars, ambulances and fire trucks. We could hear sirens and barking bomb sniffing dogs alerting others of impending danger. As I walked my children back to our house from my in laws (they live right next door) we heard what sounded like an explosion. Maybe it wasn't just a threat - some kids thoughtless idea to get out of school for the day. Maybe it was real. A real bomb in my daughter's school. This is real. And it's really scary.

I thought of the victims of Virginia Tech. I thought of the fear they must have experienced; the terror. I imagined what the parents and loved ones of the students who go there were thinking, feeling. Worry. Terror. Impatient to get a phone call. Not that I hadn't thought of that before, but today intensified everything for me.

I also thought of all the news stories, "____________ school was dismissed early today because of a bomb threat." How many times had I heard that before, and somewhere in the back of my mind thought, We are safe here. Nothing will ever happen at our school.

I still do not know if the noise I heard was a bomb being detonated. It doesn't matter. The children in this town are safe right now and I've been enlightened. I'm so glad we have today. I'm thankful for my two beautiful girls and a husband who is my rock and strong place. Today, as I try to push back the fear of the unknown, I am counting my blessings. For today, my daughter is safe.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Spring Slideshow

Just imagine our lives without lovely green grass...

What would it be like if God hadn't given us delicate spring flowers?

...or the ones we planted...

What would the hardworking bumble bee do?

Where would he go?

Just imagine...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Thinking Blogger Award - I'm honored

Lillie Ammann at A Writer's Words, An Editor's Eye has awarded Getting it Write for You with the Thinking Blogger Award.

Back in February of this year, Iker Yoldas at The Thinking Blog created this award - or actually meme - as a result of her pondering the meaning of the "meme" in the world of blogging, and what they mean to her. In her thinking, she determined that as far as blogs go, what appeals to her most are those that really make her think. She reminds us that the purpose of linking to blogs is to lead others to quality content. So she created the Thinking Blogger Award and the rules that go with it. She lists five blogs that make her think, and those that receive it pass it along to five that make them think.

Lillie Ammann had this to say about my blog, "Her posts are encouraging, inspiring, and thought-provoking - about writing and about life." I am so honored at your encouraging words and nomination for such a fun award! Thank you so much, Lillie!

I'm tagging:

Betsy Henning at Betsy Henning's Blog because her posts make me think about both the serious issues in life that I might not otherwise think about, as well as the importance of recognizing the simple pleasures in life.

Sylvia at Sylvia's Insight because her positive outlook on life, and huge amounts of "gumption" are nothing less than contagious. Watching her rise to success and all of her life's victories has been a true pleasure.

Harmony Cornwell at Writer in the Making. Her posts are fun, packed full of useful information, and her monthly goals and achievements are an inspiration to me.

Kathy Kherli at Screw You! whose posts always make me long for success! She writes about the issues that impact freelance writers - things you might not give much thought to without some amount of experience.

Carson Brackney at Content Done Better on a whim that maybe he will take a few minutes to answer this one. I tag him because he truly stretches my mind and makes me want to be a deeper thinker and better writer. The title of his blog says it all.

I admire all of you, but the truth is everyone who is on my list of "blogs that I love" is there because, well...I love them. I enjoy reading them every day and as far as I am concerned, you all deserve this award!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Am I an Imposter?

“Believe in the quality of your work and the value of your message and at the same time, recognize surprises always happen in publishing.”

If you scroll down on the left of the screen, you will see that this is today’s writing quote. Well, I don’t know about the publishing part, but it’s still a timely quote because yesterday over at The Writer Mama, she discussed a topic similar to believing in yourself as a writer. It’s hard to fathom, but even the most accomplished writers do not believe in their abilities.

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”

These are the words of Maya Angelou. Can you believe it? Maya Angelou whose powerful and influential words have impacted people all over the world. She is beyond great—a truly amazing woman and writer! Who would ever think she doubts her skills?

Oh believe me, I can relate. I often wonder how much longer I can keep pulling this writing thing off. But I am not Maya Angelou. I have not achieved her level of success.

Thanks to Christina Katz, I now know there is a name for this phenomenon. It is called the Impostor Syndrome and is basically the feeling that you are not as good at something as others perceive you to be—despite major successes and accomplishments. Instead you attribute your achievements to an ability to “fake it,” luck, or you simply minimize your accomplishments as not that great.

Many famous writers, as well as other occupation holders, question their skills and abilities. In light of that fact, Christina Katz suggests we list words that describe ourselves. In celebration of who I am—and the fact that I might have just a tinge of this Impostor Syndrome—I will list a few words that I think describe who I am.

Gifted (I truly believe we are all)

We all have the same emotions, and similar insecurities. It’s a part of what connects us, and of what makes us who we are as human beings. Allow yourself to rejoice in who you are--as human beings and writers. I’d love to see some of you come up with your own list. Perhaps it may give you a fresh sense of confidence, allowing you to tackle your writing with abandon and renewed gusto.

Until next time, take care!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Four Reasons not to Procrastinate in Writing

Procrastinate vb to put off usually habitually doing something that should be done syn. Dawdle, delay
- as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

For some reason, this week I have been an expert at this most unfortunate condition called procrastination. At this very moment, as I sit here and write a post for my blog, I should be completing a writing assignment that is due today. I am dawdling and delaying until the very last moment. And it’s no good!

Fortunately, most of the time I am not one to procrastinate and that’s a good thing because when you wait until the last minute it usually shows in your writing. Here are four reasons not to do as I am doing right now.

(1) Rushed writing is not good writing. When you are in a hurry it makes it much more difficult to catch the little errors (spelling and punctuation) that can ruin your credibility as a writer.

(2) As a writer it is always good to let your writing “rest” for at least a day or two to enable you to read your paper with fresh eyes. Your mind is not set on reading it just the way you wrote it, allowing critical changes to be made that could make your article much better. When you put it off until the last moment, it’s much harder to do this.

(3) You risk disappointing your client. If you are waiting until the very last moment and your article is not the quality expected of you, your client is not going to be 100% satisfied with your work. You could even lose him as a client.

(4) You risk disappointing yourself. You feel anxious and apprehensive with deadlines looming over your head and you feel badly knowing that had you not put it off you could have done a much better job.

Wow! Four convincing reasons for me to end this post right now and go finish my article. What am I still doing here?

Take care and may you have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Victims of Virginia Tech - Silence for You

Yesterday tragedy struck our country. A young man by the name of Cho Seung-Hui took the lives of 33 people, including himself. This is by far the worst shooting of this nature in American history. Nothing can change the outcome. It is done, and the grieving process must now begin, for family, friends, and for a country left in shock and disbelief. What could have been done to prevent this?

Sad things have been happening since the beginning of time. On March 13, 1964 a young woman from NYC, named Kitty Genovese, was coming home from work in the wee hours of the morning. She was followed home and brutally attacked. Her screams were heard by many, but nobody called the police. Nobody helped. Perhaps they were afraid to get involved, thinking it was a domestic dispute. Perhaps some did not care. She died. But her life could have been saved if someone had gotten involved.

I have spent my day wondering what caused Cho Seung-Hui to do such a thing, and what could have been done differently to prevent it. I can't answer that question, but perhaps simple acts of kindness can make a huge difference. Our involvement doesn't always have to be so dramatic. Just smiling or saying hello to someone who appears to be lonely or upset might change someone's day--their entire life. Or it doesn't have to be a person visibly upset. You don't know what turmoil is going on within another being's mind.

Yes, we can make a difference. I believe, compassion is at the heart of change. That ability to put yourself in another’s shoes is all it takes to care. I’m not saying that what these men did was ok. It’s not. It was wrong. People died. But can't we learn from it? Can't we be compassionate people? We can teach our children to be compassionate and caring individuals. We must do this by example. Stop and show you care. Perhaps if we all do, another situation like this can be avoided.

"As you draw closer to your families in the coming days, I ask you to reach out to those who ache for sons and daughters who are never coming home," said President Bush today at a memorial service for the victims. I think of them and my heart aches. I can only think I understand their pain. In light of this, I am doing as many fellow bloggers will be doing. On Monday, April 30, 2007 I will not be blogging or responding to anyone else's blogs for that entire day.

The silence will not change what's happened, but is meant only to honor those who are gone and is an act of respect for the families who will bear permanent scars from the damage that's been done. My thoughts and prayers will be with them.

My inspiration for this blog comes from Mihaela Lica of eWritings - Online Public Relations. Her words have touched many today-including me.

For more information about the day of blogging silence visit Steli Efti's post "One Day Blog Silence in Honor of the Victims of Virginia Tech."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Simply Amazing!

I sit in my car, waiting for my husband to come out of the store. My eyes are closed-- seatbelt still strapped across my waist. My hand feels the silky smoothness of the strap. I recognize what it is. My youngest daughter's breath slows down, becomes louder, more methodical. She sleeps peacefully. My eldest shuffles the pages of her book. She reads quietly. My mind quickly identifies all it senses and I marvel at the complexity of the human body. I am amazed at how easy the mind and senses come together to identify all that surrounds us.

Wouldn't it be nice if writing were as easy as living and breathing? Not to say it never is, but the words do not always come flowing from the fingertips like the blood that circulates our bodies. Things get in our way and impede the writing process. What are our distractions?

At times, merely living gets in our way. We are busy people. Many have jobs to go to and families to raise. My job is at home maintaining a household and raising children. I love it. There is nothing in my life I enjoy more, but it definitely makes carving out time for writing difficult.

Juggling household chores and the demands of parenting are hard enough in themselves, but adding writing to the mix really steps things up a bit. I admit that I have not yet mastered time management, but there is one thing that consistently works for me. I write when my three-year-old naps. I never do anything else during this time and it allows me at least two good hours in the afternoon to work on my writing projects. It is a productive time for me.

Another big distraction in my life is--you are never going to believe this one--the internet. It is not unusual for me to turn my laptop on with the intent of working on an article, but first I think, "Well, I will just check my email real quick." I check my email, find a neat link to an interesting website, check it out, and that one leads me to another. Then I figure I may as well see if any posts were made to my favorite blogs, and before you know it an hour has gone by. An hour I could have spent writing!

A couple of things have helped me in this area. I only allow myself so much time a day to do all that fun stuff. I take a look at my schedule and determine when I should read those blogs, and then stick to it. Ok, so I get a little ADHD sometimes and I don't always stick to it, but I try. I find that when I do, my writing time becomes more productive.

Another thing I do--especially when I have a project looming--is turn the internet off. I make sure my research is done so I don't need it anymore, and then apply myself. I get into the project and before I know it I am nearly done.

Many things get in our way, but many things can be done to overcome the obstacles. And it's true that some days will be more productive than others, but we must keep at it. Keep those fingers typing. Eventually they've got to work with your mind in the same way that your senses do; working in coalition to write a masterpiece. Right?