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 drawer...you 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. http://technorati.com/faves?sub=addfavbtn&add=http://www.yourfavesdomain.com)
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.