Monday, December 30, 2013

Falling Short of My Goal . . . . Wasn't it Great!

Ah, the end of another year approaches.  I could talk about New Year's Resolutions, but I'm not big on those.  Instead, what I try to do is to set a couple of goals throughout the year, which I know may sound like making resolutions, but I don't view it the exact same way.

So, this past year my goal was to complete my novel.  Well, I fell short, because it's not done.  But I don't view this as an entire loss.  In fact, given my cross-country move, the new job and all of life's other ups and downs, the fact that I reached 61,345 words (88% of my goal), is pretty awesome.  Could I have gotten to 70,000 and finished if I had focused more?  Absolutely.  But instead of beating myself up, I'm choosing to look at this as a positive learning process.  After all, I achieved some pretty great things this year.  I attended a couple of online writing seminars giving me additional knowledge, insight and tools to help me with my craft.  I also managed to publish six new flash fiction pieces, one poem, and have three more pieces slated for 2014.  Not bad.

But now, what to do about that novel . . . . . well, guess what this year's goal is?  Yep, finish that book!  Once again, I will gladly accept all the encouragement I can get to help propel me towards this goal and keep me accountable during this undertaking.  I'm actually quite excited to climb back on that horse in 2014 and explore the new paths this adventure is going to travel upon.  Will one of my characters surprise me by going in a different direction, fall short of my expectations and make me rewrite several scenes, or develop into a fuller, richer character and steal the show?  I can't wait to find out!

So what goals will you be setting this year or what great things did you learn from your mistakes and procrastination this year?  Try looking at it in a positive way to see those little achievements.  After all, life is one big learning experience, and when you gain knowledge from those experiences, you gain invaluable success!

Cheers everyone!  Wishing you all the very best in 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Vehicle" went live!

Good morning friends,

Please take a moment to check out my poem, "Vehicle" on Leaves of Ink.  This poem was written several years ago at a time when I noticed person after person, celebrity and otherwise going down the wrong path in life.

Have a great week and as always, feedback is welcomed!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

New Story to be Published -- Danger Zone


I'm happy to announce that a new story is to be published entitled, "Danger Zone".  For this one, I took a trip back to the darker side of human nature.  Look for it on The Story Shack on March 13th, or through my story links section on the upper right side of my blog,

Also, a reminder that my poem, "Vehicle" will go live on December 23rd on Leaves of Ink.

Have a great week!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Quote of the Day

“Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.”

― L.M. Montgomery

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Quote of the Day

“Whatever may be the tensions and the stresses of a particular day, there is always lurking close at hand the trailing beauty of forgotten joy or unremembered peace.” 

― Howard ThurmanMeditations of the Heart

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Illustration Received for "The Angel Watches"

Just a quick note to mention that I received the illustration today for my upcoming poem, "The Angel Watches" (publish date January 6, 2014).  I think Terri Kelleher did a beautiful job.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Illustrator Link-up for "The Angel Watches"

I received the link-up today for my poem, "The Angel Watches" (publish date January 6, 2014), and I'm excited to be paired with the very talented Terri Kelleher.  Can't wait to see what she has in store on this corroboration!

New Poem to be Published! "She Continues Onward"

Great news, I'm excited to announce that another poem has just been accepted by Leaves of Ink!  This one, She Continues Onward will be published on February 4, 2014.

Remember, you can find all of my upcoming publishing dates on the upper right-hand side of my blog.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Quote of the Day

“A ship is always safe at the shore - but that is NOT what it is built for.” 

― Albert Einstein

Monday, November 18, 2013

Quote of the Day

“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” 

― Rita Mae Brown

Monday, November 11, 2013

What's in a Name?

Well, frankly a lot.  Especially when you're trying to figure out what to title your book.  No, no, hang on, I'm not finished it yet (actually, disappointingly far behind my projection of a 2013 completion), but as with most books, the title is worked into the story and therefore holds a special significance.   So, here I sit trying to come up with the perfect variation of my working title.  Ugh.  You see, my first thought was a title that is already in use.  It also is two words that by themselves are, well, admittedly kind of lackluster.  So, wanting to keep those two words in my title because of their significance to the story, I am trying to come up with a more intriguing variation.  Yes, I admit, I'm spending a lot of time on a just handful of words.  But as you know, marketing is an important piece of the puzzle.  Think of all the commercials you laugh at, the jingles you sing to yourself and the book titles that either grab you or make you feel something special.  So, instead of the 20,000 more words that I need to write, this morning I'm focusing on five very significant words that are about to steer me toward a bottle of aspirin.  Calgon take me away!  (See, some of you instantly knew what those four words meant, and smiled . . . . . )

Friday, November 8, 2013

Quote of the Day

Or perhaps I should say "quotes".  I couldn't decide, so here are two:

“A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” 
― Hunter S. ThompsonThe Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967

“You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. 
What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” 

― Bill Watterson

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Jack" Going Live Today!

Hi Everyone,

My next story "Jack" is going live today on The Story Shack.  There will be two stories posted today, so if don't see it in the morning, then it will be on in the afternoon.  Be sure to check it out if you have a moment. And thank you again to Alankrita Jain for the wonderful illustration!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review Time - The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

I thoroughly enjoy Jeannette Walls' books and this one was no exception.  The Silver Star is a work of fiction unlike her memoir, The Glass Castle (an excellent read).  Walls' book Halfbroke Horses is also listed as fiction although it is based on the life of her grandmother (another very good read).  

With this story, Walls takes you on a journey with two young sisters who are put in the position to make some scary grownup decisions. Some of these decisions lead them in a positive direction while other decisions have dire consequences.  

I loved the characters in this book and their quirks, and continuously felt compelled to turn the pages to find out what was going to happen next with these two girls.   This is a story of survival, perseverance, growth and change.  It is a quick enjoyable read.

Gave this 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, and a big thumbs up.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Illustration for Jack

Adorable little illustration from Alankrita Jain for my story, "Jack" coming out on October 31st.  There will be two stories posted that day on The Story Shack, so be sure to take a moment to check it out.

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Quote of the Day

“The Lorax: Which way does a tree fall? 
The Once-ler: Uh, down? 
The Lorax: A tree falls the way it leans. Be careful which way you lean.” 

― Dr. SeussThe Lorax

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Another Poem to be Published! "The Angel Watches"

Hi everyone!

Well, I'm very excited to announce that another poem has been accepted for publication.  This one, "The Angel Watches", has been accepted by The Story Shack with a release date of January 6th.  I am excited to find out my illustrator pairing and will update the site accordingly.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Quote of the Day

"You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So . . . get on your way!"

-- Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Quote of the Day

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” 

― Ernest Hemingway

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Poem to be Published! "Vehicle"


I am excited to tell you that my poem, "Vehicle" has just been accepted by an online magazine, Leaves of Ink.  The publication date is December 23, 2013.  I know that with the holidays this will be a busy time for everyone, but if you can spare a second or two to check it out, please do.  It will be on the front page that day.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

The following is another article I wrote for my employer's newsletter, which is appearing today:

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

The other evening my husband and I ordered some Chinese takeout, and at the end of the meal we cracked into the highly anticipated fortune cookies to see what our futures would hold.  The message on my tiny strip of paper was this: “A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor.”  As I read these words I chuckled at the irony and immediately nodded my head in agreement with this statement.  I chose to take this message as a reconfirmation of the strength and lessons I have gained from past experiences instead of a foreshadowing of any future events.  I also chose not to toss this little message, but instead decided to hold onto it as a gentle reminder for use in all personal and professional areas of my life.

So what does this message really mean?  “A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor.”  I tilled those words around in my head, and to me it means this: 

Sure we all think we would love to sail through life on calm waters, myself included, but it is only when we sit back and review the tumultuous waters that we have sailed upon that we realize it is only by those trials in life that we learn.  In other words, it might only be as a result of that big career mishap that you learned a lesson such as due diligence.  Or perhaps you learned from a potentially embarrassing situation with a client the lesson of quick thinking.  Maybe you hit a quandary with a particular job task that has given you the skill of problem solving, or a conflict with a colleague that has taught you the art of diplomacy.  I bet there are many other useful skills that you have learned throughout your career that even you do not realize.  And where did you learn these skills?  I would wager that it wasn't from calm waters. 

I believe we all need to learn to look at these challenges as opportunities to learn and grow as individuals, both personally and in our careers or vocations.  So the next time you feel as though a Tsunami is going to hit you, stay calm, take a deep breath, pull out your compass and dig deep into your bag of finely tuned skills to navigate through your next crisis.  And by all means, don’t forget to enter your new skill in your sailor’s logbook!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quote of the Day

“It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it.” 
― Lou Holtz

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Update on "Jack"

I just received the illustrator link-up for my story "Jack", which will go live on October 31st.  The illustrator I will be working with is the talented Alankrita.  I look forward to this latest corroboration!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

New Story "Jack" Coming Soon

This October look for my next story "Jack" on the new and improved "The Story Shack".

Look for more info coming soon!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Author Page on The Story Shack!

The Story Shack has revamped its website, and with this cool new format, comes my very own author page!  Now when you read one of my stories, if you click on my name it will take you to my new page where you can view all of my previously posted stories.  The editor, Martin, has taken much care and consideration with this new format allowing him to advance The Story Shack in great directions.  I look forward to his continual advancements.  Here's the direct link to my page which I will also post to my blog's sidebar:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Book Review Time - The Inheritor's Powder: A Tale of Arsenic, Murder and the New Forensic Science

Categorized as science, this book to me has the flavor of Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City".  Like Larson, Hempel rotates back and forth between a true crime story and the facts, telling us about the science and history of arsenic.

I found this book informative and full of interesting tidbits about a time period I was unfamiliar with, and although it is quite heavy with scientific and historical facts, it is also entertaining.  All in all it was a good read (no pun intended).

History buffs, those interested in medicine and true crime fans may enjoy this tale.  Strict fiction readers might take issue with all of the science and find it hard to get through.

I won this ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) from a Goodreads giveaway, and gave it 3 out of 5 stars.  Thanks Goodreads!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

When Characters Write Themselves

Yesterday I reread the last scene I had recently written, which is a practice I always do before moving the story on, and then I previewed my notes for an upcoming scene.  My character Samuel was just sitting there feeling lost and sorry for himself due to a couple of pretty significant events.  I didn't know exactly what to do with him, but then he did something wonderful -- he got up, walked over to the end table, pulled open the drawer, and  . . . . . wrote his own scene!  Perhaps this will sound a bit odd to some of you, but I just love when a character writes his own scene.  You see, sometimes you have an idea where you want the story to go and write exactly what you had planned, but then sometimes your character just does it for you.  Love this!  It's unexpected and truly a mystery to me where they are going until they do it.  Will that scene make the final cut?  Don't know, but I think Samuel came up with something pretty good.  Thanks Samuel!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Defining My Genre

So what do I write?  This question is asked of me whenever someone hears that I'm writing a book.  I've dabbled in several different areas with my flash fiction, but in answer to my book?  Well, when someone asks me what I write, of course I say fiction.  After all, just about everyone knows that there is fiction and there is non-fiction.  However, what type of fiction do I write?  Ah, now that has been a little bit of a challenge until recently.  I think.  I'll explain.

First off, I need to know my genre.  This is extremely important when I finally wrap up this thing and start pitching it to agents.  I must know what genre my book falls under.  I have to put this in my agent query letter. So when I started trying to define this some time ago my head started to spin like a scene out of the Exorcist.  Why?  Well, you think there are two main types of fiction, commercial (larger audience) and literary (smaller audience).  But then you hear terms such as mainstream fiction (broad audience appealing to many), upmarket fiction (a combination of commercial and literary), genre fiction (western, romance, historical, horror, thriller, mystery, science-fiction, etc.).  Oh, but it doesn't stop there.  Take for example Romance.  Simple enough, right?  Nope.  Under romance you have sub-genres such as paranormal romance, historical romance, erotic romance, adventure romance, regency romance, fantasy romance, Gothic romance, contemporary romance . . . enough?  Okay you get my point.   So after screwing my head back on I calmly pulled out the laptop and started doing some serious research.  And what did I finally come up with?  Upmarket Fiction.  Yep, that's it.  And perhaps to take it one step further, Upmarket Woman's Fiction.  Think, for example, Water for Elephants, Memoirs of a Geisha, and authors such as Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, Sue Monk Kidd and other book club type authors.  It's actually quite a wide variety.   So since I am writing this book with multiple POVs (points of view) in the style of such authors as Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve, and since I think my style of writing is a combination of commercial and literary, that is how I came to this conclusion.

So there you have it, my genre defined.  Uh, maybe.  You see, things change by the minute in the literary world.  In additional to YA (young adult) I recently just found out we now have NA (new adult).  But I'm going with Upmarket Woman's Fiction.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  (At least until an agent tells me I have it all wrong.)


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Quote of the Day

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” 
― Edgar Degas

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"The Collector" Just Went Live

Check out my newest flash fiction piece, "The Collector", which just went live on The Story Shack today. The illustration was done by the talented James Brown.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Did anyone else catch this on 60 Minutes last night?  This story is so outrageous.  How can these people sleep at night knowing that their practices are killing people?  Shameful and disgusting.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day!

So you were wondering what to do with all of your zucchini?  Well, you're in luck.  Today, August 8th, is National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day!  Yep, now is your opportunity to ditch some of those green squashes that have been taking up space on your kitchen counter onto an unsuspecting neighbor.  A word of warning, however, don't be surprised if some of those emerald gourds end up back your front porch too.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Quote of the Day

“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.” 

― G.K. Chesterton

Friday, August 2, 2013

Update: Illustration Received for "The Collector"

Hi everyone,

I received the illustration today for my next piece on The Story Shack, "The Collector", and once again James Brown did a wonderful job.  You might remember that he also provided the illustration for my story "Saving Sylvia" earlier this year.  Look for "The Collector" on August 21st.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How Long Should A Novel Really Be?

Now that I'm in the full thralls to my book, I've recently been doing a lot of research on how long a novel should be, and am finding that word count appears to be a very confusing yet highly important topic.

There a numerous guidelines out there on this subject.  One source will tell you that anything over 40,000 words is considered a novel, yet others advise that you to have 50,000, 80,000, 100,000 and more.   No wonder new writers are perplexed!  And you can't simply ignore this issue either.  National Novel Writing Month requires that a novel be at least 50,000 words.  Yet some agents/publishers won't even read your work if it's not a certain word length (70,000-80,000 for example).  I actually can understand the theory behind this, knowing that once you are lucky enough to start going through the editing phase with a publisher, a huge chunk of your work is going to end up on the cutting room floor.  So where on earth do you begin, and more importantly where do you end?

Well, I found many examples that both support and contradict the above word count statements.  According to Indefeasible, a blogger who has done quite extensive research on the the topic, some of the greats tally in on the low end such as:  Fahrenheit 451 (46,118 words), Slaughterhouse-Five (49,459 words), The Color Purple (66,556 words), and The Sun Also Rises (67,707 words).  Then, on the opposite end of the spectrum you have Lonesome Dove (365,712 words), Atlas Shrugged (561,996), and of course I'd be remiss not to mention War and Peace (587,287 words).

So in looking at all of these mind-blowing figures I have come to the final conclusion that I will just write my book and see where it ends up.  Having just recently surpassed the 55,000 word mark, and knowing that I still have a little more story in me to go, I'm pretty confident that I'll end up with at least the minimum amount of words.  Then, once I am finished, I will go back and polish until I am satisfied that it is indeed "done".  I'm going to go with the theory that too much is better than too little.  While I'm not going to add a bunch of fluff just for the sake of word count, if there is something I feel I can add that might enhance the story, then I will add it.  It can always be cut later.

So off I go again, pounding out those words and ideas in the early morning hours before work and in the evening hours if I have anything left in me.  If at anytime you'd like to track my progress, I have added a word count progress bar on the right side of my blog with a loosely estimated "target" of 70,000 words.

Happy writing fellow authors and thank you for your support future readers!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Things That Make You Go Hmmm -- The Barber Pole

Okay, I learned something very interesting the other day.  "What might that be?" you ask.  Well, I've been reading this book entitled "The Inheritor's Powder:  A Tale of Arsenic, Murder and the New Forensic Science", and although I'm only 50 pages into it, I'm already finding out some interesting tidbits, so I wanted to share some information that surprised me.  Anyway, you know how a barber pole is red and white (sometimes red, white and blue too), well do you know what those red and white colors stand for?  Ready?  Blood and bandages.  "What?" you say.  Well, it's not from getting a nick from a shave.  You see, a long, long time ago, back in the 15th century, apparently surgeons and barbers had a fabulous idea to come together and form a company.  With this new pairing, they did everything from give you a haircut to minor surgical procedures such as bloodletting.  (Bloodletting by the way, is when they drained your blood to rid you of disease.)  I know, hard to believe.  Can you imagine -- "Uh, yes, I'd like to schedule a surgical procedure next week and while you're at it, can you give me a trim?"  Aah!  And we think people now days are crazy?  Just look at some of our ancestors.  Fortunately at some point in time, this coupling of professions split and went their separate ways.  Whew.

Now, I wonder what little treasures I'll find out next. . . .

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Writing Update - Hit 51,000 Words!

In an attempt to keep myself accountable and propelling forward, I am happy to post that I hit 51,000 words on my book this weekend.  Hope to keep up this momentum.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Review Time - Can't Buy Me Love

I received this book free through a Goodreads giveaway and regret to give it only 2.5 stars.  It's a quick read coming in at 267 pages and while it did have some nice aspects about it, I unfortunately just didn't love this book.  It's a unique idea to use the Freegan lifestyle as part of the story, and has enlightened me on the subject.  But to give some constructive criticism, I thought for this size book there were far too many characters.  I had a hard time remembering who was who.  What added to this frustration for me was the use of similar names.  For example, Perla and Percy, who were in the same woman's group.  Their names being so similar I would have to pause to remember who each one was.  Likewise, Ma and Mom (the one character's two mothers).  I thought it would have helped if she used distinctive nicknames for them.  Another thing that I personally struggled with was the numerous foreign words and phrases.  Not knowing the language, I unfortunately felt as though I was missing parts of the story and thereby disrupting its flow.  The book also felt overly busy mentioning so many underlying topics and viewpoints that I believe it took away from the truly charming part of the story.  I felt that it was almost there, but fell slightly short.

I hope that the author takes this review in the spirit it has been given, because I commend and congratulate her for being published and acknowledge the time and effort she put forth in telling this story.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Quote of the Day

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 

― Albert Einstein

Friday, July 5, 2013

Publishing Date - "The Collector"

I'm happy to announce that August 21st will be the publishing date of my next story, "The Collector".  I am honored to once again be paired with the talented James Brown who illustrated my story, "Saving Sylvia" earlier this year.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Finally, A New Scene!

So, for the first time since we moved this winter, I was finally able to pound out a new scene for my book, and I can't begin to tell you how good this feels!  I'm elated.  It has given me a new energy that I desperately needed.  Did I have a case of writer's block you ask?  Well, I wouldn't necessarily call it that, because I was able to continue writing flash fiction pieces, but what I think happened instead, is that I just got out of my groove.  Like any habit, good or bad, it can be broken.  With all of the selling and moving across the country, it was very hard for me to focus on the big project, so I elected to keep my imagination fresh with the smaller projects.  Make sense?   Anyway, I really, really, really want to finish my book this year, and I am posting this to try to make myself accountable.  So now I just need to redevelop my good writing habits and forge ahead!  Wish me luck . . . .

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Here Fishy Fishy

So I was watching the news this morning, the announcer proclaimed that yesterday was "Fish are Friends Not Food Day".  Ironically, today is "National Catfish Day", so a reprieve for the fishy yesterday, but today . . . . well, how do you like your catfish, blackened, deep fried, broiled?

P.S. In checking the Internet, it appears that this entire week is "Fish are Friends Not Food Week".  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Super Moon 2013 - A Little Trivia

In honor of tonight's Super Moon, I thought I'd repost my loony moon trivia post from January 2012:

Today's Mindless Trivia - Nature's Nightlight

Last night my husband and I were sitting in the living room watching TV, when we noticed a stunning sliver of light coming in from the sliding door and casting a gentle glow on the tile floor – nature’s nightlight was in full bloom.  I got up and walked over to the door and looked out.  The full moon was large and rising over the eastern mountain range.  It would soon appear to get smaller as it rose, so we both took a moment to marvel at its beauty and awesomeness.  I know there are some people who find a full moon eerie, but on the contrary I find it and the glow it casts gorgeous and even comforting.  Occurring once a month, nature’s nightlight always amazes me.  Something I once never gave much thought to, I now welcome, like an old friend.
Now there are negative stories of the moon’s effect on people and animals, and likewise there are positive stories as well.  You might even hear a bit of folklore including everything from migratory patterns of animals, to lunacy and birthing rates.  There is also folklore regarding a crescent moon: seen over the right shoulder it is lucky, but the opposite is true if seen over the left shoulder.
Following are some fun facts about the moon that you can save for your next Jeopardy appearance. (I’m just going to give you some of the English names for each of these moons.  The Native Americans had other names for some and there are other variations for all.) 
January – Old Moon
February – Wolf Moon (when wolf packs howled because they were hungry)
March – Lenten Moon
April – Egg Moon
May – Milk Moon
June – Flower Moon (because in most areas flowers are abundant now)
July – Hay Moon
August – Grain Moon
September – Fruit Moon (time to harvest the fruit)
October – Harvest Moon
November – Hunter’s Moon
December – Oak Moon

What about the Blue Moon you ask?  Well there is quite a bit of misinformation about a blue moon, but the version that appears correct states that a blue moon occurs an average of every 2.7 years.  We usually have 12 full moons per year, but every once in a while there is an extra moon, which we call the Blue Moon.  This occurs because the solar calendar differs from our own. 

And now that you have all of this loony information (yes, pun intended), go ahead and dazzle your trivia buff friends at your next party!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Quote of the Day

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” 

― Maya Angelou

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Embracing Criticism

The following is an unedited version of an article I wrote that will be appearing in my employer's newsletter this month:

Embracing Criticism 

A few years ago I excitedly attended an evening college course on fiction writing.  Having not stepped foot on a worn checkered tiled school floor in more years than I’d like to reveal to you, I admit to being a bit nervous, yet gleefully happy.  I passed corridors of youngsters that day until I finally came upon my destination.  Once inside, I soon became a little more at ease when I saw a diverse group of individuals, of varying ages, filtering into the classroom.  I can tell you that I learned quite a bit from this course, but one of the most unexpected lessons I learned during that four-week writing class was how to embrace criticism. 
Constructive criticism is something that should never be ignored.  Now this may sound like a stale request, but I urge you to look at constructive criticism with an open mind.  It should not be feared or shrugged off.  Nor should this type of criticism be viewed as a negative personal attack, but instead remember that you are being given this criticism to help you grow as an individual.  How thoughtful is it that someone cares enough to point out areas where we can improve?  Trust me, hearing that parts of my story were weak or not coming across to my audience as intended was horribly disheartening at first.  But then as I stepped away from the class and refocused my misguided energy and slighted ego on the goal – to write well – I gained new insight into this personal endeavor and chose to apply it to my paying career as well.

Is criticism easy to take?  No, not at all.  Why?  Well, it forces us to look at ourselves and our business practices in another light, from the viewpoint of an observer, imperfections and all.  If, for example, someone suggests to you that perhaps you are handling an issue with a colleague or client the wrong way, instead of getting mad and dismissing their comment, try looking at your situation with a new set of eyes.  Ask your friend why they feel you are handling this situation poorly?  How would they suggest that you handle this incident differently?  Now, that well-meaning friend may or may not be correct with their advice, but what I learned from my writing course was to look at these varying opinions and offerings of advice, and ask myself what can I do to make this piece better, stronger and convey what it is that I am really intending my story to convey.  If we can examine these criticisms more closely and find areas to improve upon, then that criticism can be golden.

So how do we go about embracing criticism and applying it to our daily business practices?  I would suggest the following:

·      First and foremost, keep an open mind and try not to immediately go on the defense.  It probably isn't easy for the person giving you the advice to point out a deficiency, but your supervisors and colleagues are there to help you improve.  Listen carefully to what they are telling you.  This feedback might provide you with a stepping stone towards more positive client relationships, or more successful collection results, for example.

·      To use a proverb, put yourself in the other person’s shoes to examine your imperfections.  Pretend you are looking into a mirror.  What is your reflection revealing?  What are others seeing from your actions?  Are you not fully communicating to a client your company’s services?  Are you coming across too brusque?  Is your work area unorganized causing you to make needless mistakes?

·      Use criticism as a launching point for self improvement by seeking suggestions from others.  If you’re a reader, read and do research.  If you like lectures, attend one.  If you have a mentor or person you admire, query them.

In our careers and life in general we all fall into a comfort zone of doing things a certain way.  “If it ain't broke, don’t fix it”, right?  Well, yes and no.  It doesn't hurt to take the advice of that colleague and mull it around a bit.  Perhaps, just maybe, there is a thread of information there that you could use to improve yourself, your career and your overall well-being.  Embrace criticism I say!  You may not like it very much, but in time you can learn to use it to your benefit and to grow as an individual.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

New Story to be Published in August

Just a quick word to mention that a new story, "The Collector", is slated for August publication with The Story Shack.  As always, stay tuned!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review Time - The Next Time You See Me

Okay, I'm struggling with how to rate this.  First, let me tell you that I received this book free through Goodreads' First Reads program and their scale is between 1-5 stars.  I'm giving it 4 for the captivating writing style even though the story fell a little short for me at the end, which might more accurately entitle this to 3.5 stars.  Let me explain.

I was very excited to immerse myself into this book's pages, and once I started reading it, I had a hard time putting it down.  The characters were rich and complex, and Jones's writing style keep me turning pages.  I'd say all in all it was a very good read . . . except for the ending.  You see, the suspect in the murder was presented to you fairly quickly, and I kept expecting the "twist" to come up until the very end, but it didn't.    Now this is not necessarily the author's fault.  I think we've become so used to complex murder mysteries that we expect a twist, a whodunit, when the beauty in this read is the straight-forwardness in which the murderer is presented to you and the gradual unveiling of its cause and effect to these colorful characters from a small town.  You learn throughout the story about these characters and their flaws, and I noted that many reviewers stated that this book is more of a character study than a murder mystery, and I'd agree.  So if you're expecting a really good murder mystery, you'll probably be disappointed.  If you like character studies, you'll be rewarded.

Given all that, my problem came with the ending.  I felt that there were just a few too many unanswered questions.  A little too many loose strings.  This is not to say that we can't be left questioning and wondering.  I don't think that things need to be explained in minute detail, however, I do believe a little more needed to be resolved to bring this book to a successful conclusion.  I won't spoil this review with the specifics, but would be interested to see if you feel the same way I do after reading this book.  It left me just a little let down.  For a first novel though, I thought it was a great start and an interesting read.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reminder - "Under" Shackcast on Wednesday

In March I told you about the new monthly podcast that The Story Shack has started, and I wanted to give you a quick reminder that my story "Under" will be ready for download on Wednesday.  With the narration by Jeff Mash (actor from the movie Zero Dark 30) and soundscapes by the talented Yero Pharah, I'm very excited to hear the outcome.  This podcast will be available free through iTunes, YouTube, Soundcloud, and of course The Story Shack!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Consumer Alert Concerning Vectra 3D!

I'll throw a quick disclaimer out there first.  This is only my experience and although many people have had similar reactions with this product and their pets, many have not.  That being said, our 14 year old cocker has had a severe reaction to Vectra 3D.  We applied it to both dogs on Sunday.  This product is applied differently than other flea and tick meds as you apply it from the tail up to collar.  We were surprised by the amount of liquid that was in each tube, but followed the directions.  By Monday night, our older dog was pacing, drinking excessive amount of water and itching uncontrollably.  He was agitated and unable to calm down.  Suspecting it was the medication, I quickly did an Internet search and found that other pet owners had had the same problem, some with very serious results (chemical burns, seizures, etc.).  We immediately washed him, shampooing twice with a special sensitive skin shampoo we have for our younger sensitive dog.  Many people suggest using Dawn dishwashing liquid but we didn't have any on hand.  Then we gave him a Benadryl which our vet has prescribed for allergies in the past. Our poor boy was up the entire night pacing, itching and fidgeting.  The Benadryl didn't really work.  My husband and I both took turns trying to calm him down, but it wasn't until approximately 4:00 am that he finally got a little sleep.  (Don't know whether or not this was just from exhaustion.)  This morning he is still having issues albeit a little less severe.  From what I've read, it seems like this may take a little time to wear off.  We will be washing our 10 yr. old today to prevent him from having a similar reaction.

Much of the information I found was on a WebMD forum:

Our well-meaning vet had recommended this product to us because many people are finding that Frontline isn't working for them anymore.  Apparently the pests are becoming immune to Frontline.  We will be calling our vet and the manufacturer today to report the incident and obviously will be discontinuing use of this product.

By the way, you should know that this product is deadly to cats and should not come in contact with them.

What a nightmare this has been.  I only hope that our boy feels better quickly and that the other one doesn't have the same reaction, and just maybe this information can help someone else.

UPDATE:  We had to get a prescription for Prednisone for our 14 yr. old because he wasn't getting any better.  After several days on the Prednisone it finally brought him relief.  Our vet refunded us for the unused portion of the Vectra and after two attempts at contacting the manufacturer we did speak with someone and they promptly issued an additional refund through our vet for the balance.  In order to be refunded for the Prednisone we would have had to submit a year's worth of vet records to them.  For $9.00, we decided to skip the hassle of  it and chose to move on.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review Time - The Weird Sisters

Okay, so the cover design and the jacket description looked and sounded interesting, which is why I chose to read this book.  However, I didn't really care for this one very much and this is why.

First of all, the voice/narration is written in a seldom used style that few people like, first person plural.  That is, one voice from all three sisters.  This was very confusing at first because you never understood who was talking.  It took me about 40-50 pages to get comfortable with this style.

The second issue I had was the constant Shakespearean quotes and references throughout the entire novel.  I know this was done to make a point and is part of the family story, which I get, but unfortunately I found this to be annoying.  If you're a Shakespeare fan, then you may enjoy this.

And third, the characters tended to be unlikable.  While I totally enjoy and appreciate multi-layered colorful characters that you both love and hate, these characters lacked endearing qualities which would have made you want to cheer for them.  Because this was missing, I wasn't as vested in these characters as I should have been.

I really, really wanted to like this book more than and I did.  But unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me.  The beginning was slow, it picked up, but then only plateaued.  I am glad that I am finished and can now move on to another, hopefully better, read.

My grade:  Regretfully, thumbs down.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quote of the Day

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” 

― Neil GaimanCoraline

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Soapbox Moment -- Think Before You Tweet!

So perhaps you have heard the recent news story were a certain professional athlete spontaneously Tweeted his thoughts about another professional athlete not once but twice, and then deleted said Tweets and re-Tweeted a different edited comment to correct what he meant to say.  My thoughts on this?  Well, I don’t want to discuss on the actual content of this Tweet specifically, because the actual comment is not my point, but what I have is a more general observation . . . .  People, think before you Tweet!  Some thoughts should be kept to yourself.  Words are powerful and can hurt.  We now live in a society that uses social media as a voice.  The problem with this huge voice that we have all been given is that instead of a comment that you casually say to a friend or group of friends, you are now commenting to an entire world of listeners (same goes here for posting photos).  With this privilege comes responsibility.  (And yes, I do believe it is a privilege.  Take a hard look at how some other countries live and then tell me that it is not.)  You have certainly heard the saying “Think before you act”, well I implore you to please think before you act, Tweet, Facebook, Blog, email, Pin, or whatever other public avenue you use to get your point across.  You might just say something you really didn't mean to.  Who here hasn't said something they instantly regretted because it did not come out right and represent what they really meant to say? 

To quote the immortal Poo Bear, “Think, Think, Think!”

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Constellations" Went Live

Here it is!  "Constellations" went live on The Story Shack this morning.

"Constellations" Goes Live Today!


My next story, "Constellations" goes live today on The Story Shack.  As soon as it appears, I will put a direct link on my blog so that everyone may access it.

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Review Time - "Light on Snow" by Anita Shreve

Anita's writing is simple and easy to read.  Yet when these simple, clear sentences are woven together, you are presented with surprisingly poetic paragraphs and a story that grabs you and pulls you into its web.  

With this book, Anita Shreve presents you with a interesting moral dilemma resulting from a shocking discovery.  She allows you to taste and savor the story's events and subsequent emotions while never letting your attention go.  The story takes place over a time span of only a couple days and because of this, I won't reveal to you what the story is about.  What I will say is that I have read three Anita Shreve books now (Body Surfing, Testimony and Light on Snow), and I think this one was perhaps my favorite.  

Well done.  I give this one a thumbs up.   

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Illustration Completed for "Constellations"

I am happy to report that the illustrator, Sue Pownall, has completed her drawing for my next piece, "Constellations".  This story will go live on The Story Shack on April 26th.  I hope you tune in to see the completed project!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Quote of the Day

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” 

― John Lennon

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Book Review Time - "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini

So, I'm having trouble trying to put into words my feelings about this book.  Therefore, here is a rambling of my thoughts.

Yes, it was good.  However, I have a "but" lingering in the background and I'm not sure why.  Here's what I can tell you.  The jacket comments are accurate, such as, "Powerful", "Unforgettable", "Haunting", "Moving".  It is by no means a light read, and as one critic said, it is a story that stays with you.  Then I read a full pendulum of reviews from readers both hailing it as the best book ever written and others not liking it at all.  While the majority opinion falls on the positive side, I am somewhere closer to the middle.

So what is it about?  Well, I personally can't describe this as a feelgood story, although redemption does come toward the very end.  It is a story about two boys who grew up in Afghanistan and follows the life of one boy in particular through his immigration to the United States.  It describes the difficulty, hardships and challenges in their lives from the 1970's to post-9/11, and there are many sad occurrences throughout this story that may leave you with a heavy heart.  I did greatly appreciate the insight into Afghan life, and found it is a good reminder to everyone that you cannot define the people of a country solely upon the acts of their leader(s).  However I did find this book a bit depressing and don't think that it would be for everyone.

Therefore, to sum it up I'll say this:  Yes, it was good.  Yes, I'm glad that I read it.  And yes, I'm ready to move on to something else now.  Oh, and no, I won't forget it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Publishing Date for "Constellations" - April 26th

A publishing date of April 26th has been set for my next piece, "Constellations".  On this collaboration I have been paired with a very talented illustrator originally from the UK, but currently based in Oman, Sue Pownall.  Check out her site to see examples of her beautiful work, and stay tuned to see the results of our pairing.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

New Story Went Live - "Meandering in Silence"

The new story is out!  A huge thank you to Grace Gao for the beautiful illustration.  Check out The Story Shack to read "Meandering in Silence".

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Update on Current Projects

Good Morning!

I'm happy to report that the narration for "Under" has been completed and has been forwarded to the sound designer.  It is scheduled to be released in early June.  I am excited to see/hear the outcome.

Meanwhile, "Meandering in Silence" is still on target to be published in a few days (April 3rd).  I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

And, on another note, a new story, "Constellations" has just been accepted.  I will update this blog with that publishing date once I have it.

As always, I welcome any comments you may have, and remember, I now have quick links to all of my stories on the top right corner of this blog.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review Time - "Salem Falls"

Ah, another successful attention grabber from Jodi Picoult.   The recipe for this page turner is as follows:

In a large witches' cauldron combine:

One teenage girl with a preacher father;
One attractive likable teacher and soccer coach;
A decades old diner;
Four teenage girls practicing Wicca;
One woman who talks to her deceased child; and
A clan of well-meaning but judgmental townsfolk;.

Now heat and stir and sprinkle in a good helping of twists and turns.

When ready, serve with a side nightlight, because as with all Jodi Picoult books, you'll be reading far into the night.

Result:  Thumbs up.

Friday, March 8, 2013

New Direct Links to My Stories

Hi Everyone,

I've now made it easier to locate my stories.  I have put direct links on the upper right hand corner of my blog, so all you have to do now is point and click!

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

New Story to be Published: "Meandering in Silence"

I'm happy to report that another story has been slated for publishing on The Story Shack.  On my new piece, "Meandering in Silence", I have been paired with the very talented, Xiaonan "Grace" Gao, who has had several pieces showcased on The Story Shack.  The publishing date for this story will be April 3rd.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Scoop on The New Project!

Okay, so here's the scoop on my "Something's Brewing" post from last week.  The Story Shack is involved in a new monthly podcast project called Shackcast which will feature a previously published story narrated by the American actor, Jeff Mash, who recently appeared in Oscar-nominated "Zero Dark 30".  His narrative will be accompanied by soundscapes from talented musician, Yero Pharah.  These podcasts will also be appearing on Youtube.  I have been asked if I would like to have my story "Under" featured as the second Shackcast, and of course I said . . . ."Yes!".  So, I'm excited to tell you that Jeff and Yero will be working on making my story come to life over the next couple of months and it will be featured as the second Shackcast in May or June.  Needless to say I am thrilled and honored to be a part of this exciting new project.  The Story Shack has been doing some wonderful things bringing the artistic community together in exciting ways, and I do hope you will check this out when it has been completed.

I will update my blog when the project has been completed and a firm date has been set.

Have a good week everyone!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Quote of the Day

“If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” 

― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review Time - "The Search" by Nora Roberts

So this is my first Nora Roberts read.  Yes, yes I know, everyone's read Nora.  Well, better late than never I say.  Anyway, a friend loaned this book to me, and I'm glad she did.  

First off, if you like dogs, you'll enjoy this one.  There's plenty of fur flying in between these pages.  The setting is a remote island off of the State of Washington, and the story involves a dog training protagonist who escaped a serial killer years previous.  But recently, the killings have resumed.  How can this be?  He's in jail.  Is it a copycat?  Well, you'll just have to read to find out.

The characters are likable and in true Nora Roberts style, a little romance blossoms from an unlikely cast.  But that makes it all the more palatable as you find yourself routing for these two opposites to connect.

My rating . . . . thumbs up!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Something's Brewing . . .

Last night I received word about an exciting new project that will launch later this spring/summer.  If all goes well, it just might involve one of my stories.  That's all I'll say about it for now until things are ironed out, but new information will be posted when everything falls into place.


Friday, February 8, 2013

"Saving Sylvia" Going Live Today!

Hi Folks,

My new story, "Saving Sylvia", is going live today on The Story Shack.  If you have a few moments, I do hope that you check it out.  As always, feel free to comment.

Thanks to reading!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Illustration for "Saving Sylvia"

Well, the illustrator had a snowy day today and finished the piece already.  He did a really nice job of capturing the key elements to my story.  I can't wait for you all to see it.   See, snowy days are really a great opportunity.  Carpe Diem!

Publishing Date for "Saving Sylvia"

Good Morning!  A schedule date has been set for my newest piece, "Saving Sylvia".  It will be published by The Story Shack on Friday, February 8th.  On this collaboration I have been paired with the very talented James Brown out of the U.K., and I'm excited to see his illustration and the final result of our pairing.  

Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Story to be Published "Saving Sylvia"

Hi everyone.  I just received word this morning that another story of mine, "Saving Sylvia", will be published in the upcoming months by The Story Shack.  I'm excited to see this one published and will inform you of the date when I receive same.  I have to say that I think The Story Shack has been doing such a wonderful job of linking up writers and illustrators from all over the globe.  Martin, the editor, has been so great to work with, and I am proud to be a participant in their new format.  Anyway, do look for updates in the future.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Join Me February 1 on National Wear Red Day!


As many of you know, I wholeheartedly support The American Heart Association's National Wear Red Day.  This year the 10th annual National Wear Red Day takes place on Friday, February 1st.  Won't you please join me that day in helping to bring awareness to this silent and deadly killer?  Heart disease does not discriminate as it effects women and men of all ages.  This is a fact that was once again drilled home for my husband and I when we lost a  friend to heart disease just weeks ago.  Some may not realize this, but heart disease is the number one killer of women over all other cancers and diseases, more than even breast cancer.

For more information, please go to:, where you can find out the silent warning signs of heart disease, get great heart healthy recipes, and much more.  You may save a life.  It could even be your own.

Thank you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Quote of the Day

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will then know peace."

-- Jimi Hendrix

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Quote of the Day

"Follow an old path and you find the expected.  Blaze a new trail and you have an adventure."

-- Evelyn Loeb

Friday, January 4, 2013

"The Early Bird" Just Went Live

Hey Everyone,

"The Early Bird" just went live on The Story Shack (  I welcome you to check it out when you have a couple of minutes.  Also, The Story Shack previously published my stories "Under" (may not be appropriate for children) and "A Homecoming Revelation".  If you haven't read these yet, feel free to do so.  All of my stories on The Story Shack are searchable in the upper right corner of their site.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Today's Mindless Trivia: Three Dog Night?

So as the nighttime temperatures dipped down into the teens the other evening we had what some would refer to as a Three Dog Night.  Of course in our case this winds up being a Two Dog One Cat Night, but who's counting?  Anyway, getting the general gist of what it means to have a Three Dog Night, I pondered its origin.  Of course its not from the '70s American rock band who's hits included "Mama Told Me Not to Come" and popularized "An Old Fashioned Love Song" by Paul Williams.  And obviously the phase meant that it was so cold outside that you needed to share your bed with three large furry dogs, but as to who came up with the phase?  Well, some say it was the cowboys and some say it was the Eskimos or those living in Siberia who used their husky dogs to keep warm, and others yet claim it was from the aboriginal Australians in the bush.  But no matter who is right they all agree on one thing:  It's a temperature scale.  One dog means it's cold, two dogs colder, and three dogs, well brrrr the heck with the blankets, pile them on!

Update - Story Going Live TOMORROW - The Early Bird

Hey everyone,

Apparently there was a little mix-up and my story "The Early Bird" will be published tomorrow instead of today.  So be sure to check out The Story Shack at tomorrow.  


Story Going Live - "The Early Bird"

Hi Everyone.  Today my flash fiction piece entitled "The Early Bird" is going live on The Story Shack.  Be sure to check it out.  Comments are always welcomed.

Also, just a reminder that you can do a search for all of my stories on The Story Shack by entering my name in the search box in the upper right corner of their website.

Thanks for reading!