Friday, December 30, 2011

New Years Milestones

Tomorrow is the eve of a new year and course that means it's time for new resolutions! Thanks to Life List Club we get to do this party style. There will be giveaways on each members blog and I'm giving out two copies of the TOTALLY CLICHE e-book which features my story THE PROMISE OF WAR but before we get to that we have to talk about goals becasue that is what the Life list club is about.

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Writing Goals -

1.  Submit 1st chapter of EXISTENCE to LDS Storymakers contest before February 1st.

2. Edit full MS of EXISTENCE and have beta readers / professional editor finish reading it before May 1.


3. Write query and send to at least ten agents by June 1.

4. Being work on SPIN (re-write and contemporary twist on novel previously entitled EARTH SONG)

5. Continue submitting/working on EXISTENCE throughout 2012

I know these goals are kind of fast as far as editing and submitting goals but I don't want to over edit like I did with EARTH SONG. I want to to be the best that it can be, but I also want it to be the story that I intend for it to be, not what other people think it should be. If no agents bite by the end of 2012 I'm going to look into self-publishing.

Personal Goals -

1. Get my kids out of the house daily to play.

2. Move more and sit at the computer less.

3. Read at least one book a week.

I'm not going to be too hard on myself with these becasue I come pretty close to achieving them anyway. Plus, I want a book more than I want to be thinner. But the other two goals are still pretty high up there.

So here's how the giveaway's going to work. tell me one of your goals in the comments and I'll put your name in the hat. Simple, right?

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Oh yeah, and don't forget to check out these other awesome giveaways as well -

Jess Witkins - An iTunes gift card and the opportunity to guest post or be interviewed on Jess' blog
 
Marcia Richards - To 1 subscriber, new or exisitng, an Amazon gift card and the opportunity to guest post or be interviewed on Marcia's blog
 
Sonia Medeiros - To 1 commenter, a $15 Amazon gift card
 
Pam Hawley - To 1 subscriber and 1 commenter,  Choice of one prize: guest post @ Hawleyville, be interviewed @ Hawleyville, OR Pam will guest post at winner's blog and promote @ Hawleyville
 
Jenny Hanson - To 1 commenter and 1 subscriber, choice of 1 prize: be interviewed @ More Cowbell or Jenny will guest post at winner's blog.
 
David Walker - 1 interview and 1 guest post trade
 
Gary Gauthier - 1 ebook to a new follower
 
Everyone have a fantastic 2012!










Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Young Blood

Every once in a great while I find a song that really speaks to me. It might have something to do with things I'm going through, or it just bonds with whatever it is I'm writing. This song is the latter. The feeling of it, that swirling movement just feels like it needs to be part of EXISTENCE. So here it is, Young Blood by The Naked and Famous.




What song fit's your current MS?

***
P.S. I started editing and I am loving it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Giveaway!

I hope you all had a great Christmas! I know many of you are still on a blogging break, but I wanted to let you know that on Friday (the 30th) the Life List club is doing another mass blog giveaway! I am giving away two copies of the TOTALLY CLICHE anthology which features my Short story, THE PROMISE OF WAR. Here's a little synopsis if you haven't heard about it yet -

Beth isn't your average Princess -- she's never been dressed up or fed with a silver spoon, but that's what happens when your country is ravaged by war. In an attempt to save her father and her kingdom she is marrying Prince Clayton, the only man with an army big enough to stop their enemies.One thing keeps her from the wedding that will bring peace, the wish of true love.

See you Friday!



Monday, December 19, 2011

'Wrap it up' Blogfest, Winners!

Good Morning, lovely readers! The 'wrap it up' blogfest has come to an end, The Linky list is closed, the entries are in, and the winners have been selected. David Powers King, Leigh Covington, and I read all of the entries, and knocked heads for bit to decide the winners, and let me tell you the competition was tough! I have gained a new appreciation for people who have to judge writing all the time - there is so much good out there! Anyway, you guys are all awesome, so without further ado...


*     *     *

1st: Sara Bulla - Lost and Found

2nd: Jenna Quentin - Everything for Christmas

3rd: Melanie Fowler - Christmas Battle

4th: Kelly Lynn - Remember When

5th: Phyllis Sweetwater - The Christmas Cactus

*     *     *

Congratulations! We will contact you shortly with information related to your prizes. And thank you all for participating! We enjoyed reading your entries as much as I'm sure your recipient will enjoy receiving it.

BUT WAIT! ... We have a special surprise!

If only, right?

All three of us have agreed to offer Query Critiques to anyone who wants one for the next three days. That's right. Anyone. Meaning you did not have to participate in this blogfest to collect on this offer. Send it to one of us, or send one query to all three of us. Send queries in an email, as you would to an agent. NO ATTACHMENTS. We won't open them. We'll provide honest opinion and offer suggestions for improvement, if needed.

Contact one (or all) of us:

dpowersking[at]gmail[dot]com

author[dot]jabennett[at]gmail[dot]com

covington[dot]leigh[at]gmail[dot]com

The offer stands until Wednesday,  21st, 11:59 PM

Merry Christmas Everyone! I'll be taking a break this week, but we'll see you around! :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Writing Gifts by Pam Hawley

Today is the final day of the 'Wrap it up' Blogfest and it also a life list Friday. So I asked the lovely Pam Hawley to write something to go along with the blogfest theme and she didn't disappoint! 


In case your wondering where I am, I'll be talking about some of my favortie Christmas books at Jess Witkin's blog. Take it away Pam!


Last fall, my Grandmom was approaching her 80th birthday.I wanted to give her something unique and special, but I was truly stumped. Shesolved my problem one evening when I showed up at her house with carryout fromher favorite local restaurant.

Forget about subtle hints. Once you hit 80, you’ve lost allreservations about telling people exactly what you want them to do. So as weenjoyed our pasta and salad, Grandmom solved my birthday dilemma.

“I want you to write me a story about the Junebug,” she said.

A bit of background - when I was a kid, I spent a lot of myweekends traveling from Baltimore to West Virginia with mygrandparents. They had parents and siblings there, and would often make thetrek for a weekend of family time and camping. To pass the time on our roadtrips, Grandmom would tell me stories about her childhood. Her childhood livingin a farmhouse with no indoor plumbing and five siblings was vastly differentfrom my own city-girl, one-sister childhood, so I was fascinated. The storiesnever got old, no matter how many road trips they got us through.

When I was 8 or 9, I bought a notebook and wrote all thosestories down in scribbling childish scrawl. For each story, I added a stickfigure drawing. Then I wrapped up the notebook and put it under our tree asGrandmom’s Christmas gift.

That was the first time I ever saw someone cry happy tearsover a present. We always joked that when I grew up, I’d really write hermemoirs. That hasn’t quite happened yet. But when her birthday rolled aroundshe wanted me to tackle at least one special memory.

“The Junebug” wasn’t one of her childhood stories – it isactually a tale about a gift my grandfather gave her when they were newlyweds. Iwent home full of purpose, sat at my computer and pulled up a blank page. Istared at it.

It stared back. We stayed like that for a long time.  

I didn’t have writer’s block. I could write about anythingand everything, it seemed, except for “The Junebug.” This went on for days, andas Grandmom’s birthday crept closer I began to panic. Finally, two days beforethe big day, the path I needed to take with the piece came to me. I wrote allday and into the night. Since my grandmother doesn’t use a computer, I had mypartner Lee help me design a print cover using a photo of her and my Granddadin their newlywed days. 



For the second time in our lives, I presented my Grandmomwith a gift that brought her to happy tears. If you’re interested in the endresult, you can read it here:

For a writer, there is no greater joy than moving someonewith your words. Maybe you want to pull their heartstrings, or scare themsilly, or make them howl with laughter. Whatever the desired reaction is,witnessing their face when you hit the mark is priceless.

So, what does this have to do with our Life List goals?Well, we all dream of getting our work out there into the world. As we chase ourlarger dreams of publication, it is easy to forget about the joy we can bringto our loved ones and ourselves right now.

As a writer, you have the ability to give the gift ofprecious memories, laughter, or pure entertainment. Consider sharing one of thebest parts of you – your writing – with your loved ones this holiday season.Here are a few ideas:


  1. Buy a calendar. Select one with room to write notes on particular days or weeks. Make observations or comments about days that hold significance for both you and the recipient of the calendar. Don’t just stick with birthdays or anniversaries. Think about humorous or sentimental moments you’ve shared and bring them to life in a line or two.

  1. Participate in Jennie’s “Wrap it up Blogfest!”. Jennie has offered up a great way to motivate yourself to write some flash fiction while giving a meaningful gift to the person who inspires your story. 

  1. Organize a family member’s favorite photos into an album. Write funny blurbs to go with each picture, or go all-out and add short stories or make-believe “news articles” to go with groups of pictures.

  1. Choose a new-to-the-scene blogger you have enjoyed reading. Write a review of their blog on your own to help them gain readership.

  1. Tackle the rewarding project of writing an older family member’s memoirs. You probably can’t get this one done in time for a holiday gift this year. But start now, and next year you’ll have a unique and personal gift your entire family will enjoy.

  1. Pick a memory that your family or circle of friends always chuckles over during the holidays, and write it up as if you were creating a sitcom episode script. This will be even more fun if you make family members act it out when you give it to them!

  1. Feature a story about the recent accomplishments of a friend or family member on your blog. Or just write a tribute that you share with them alone.

  1. For the cook on your gift list, compile his or her favorite recipes. After each recipe, include a few notes on your favorite memories associated with that particular tasty treat.

  1.  Do you have children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, godchildren or the children of close friends or neighbors who have expressed an interest in creative writing? If so, give the gift of mentorship. Give them a journal where you have written suggestions based on some of your own favorite writing prompts. Help them start a blog. Learn more about their writing interests and share appropriate ideas, web links and books.

  1.  Write a blog post, essay or feature article about a charitable organization that has significant meaning to a friend or family member, and share it with them as a holiday gift. Then try to get it out there to help promote and support your friend’s cause!

Have you ever given a loved onethe gift of your writing? What was the experience like for you? If not, wouldyou try any of these ideas, or perhaps another “gift of writing” project thathas been brewing in your mind?

Happy Holidays, Life Listers andfriends! Please join us on December 30th when we have our nextMilestone Party, including fun prizes and giveaways!

In addition to short fiction, Pam Hawley writes humorpieces and is working on her first novel, which blends the creepy and the funnyby bringing a brutally murdered “player” back to life as a naked ghost. Hershort story “A Wingding and A Prayer” appeared in the July issue of eFiction Magazine.  Her short horrorfiction, “Peanut Butter and Jelly,” will appear in The Spirit of Poe Anthologyavailable at LiteraryLandmark Press. When not working, writing or in the gym, Pam can mostlikely be found curled up on her couch reading, hanging out at her family pubHawley’s in Baltimore, or cheering the Pittsburgh Steelers. She blogs regularlyat http://hawleyville.wordpress.com.
Pam on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Pamela_Hawley
Pam on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=584898973


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love Songs

It's day four of the 'Wrap it up' Blogfest and today I wanted to give something to my husband. I've written him a letter here before (and I plan on doing something more personal for him for Christmas) so I thought I would post a song that described our relationship. Only, I can't pick just one. So here are three love songs for your enjoyment. Each one holds a piece of something that I LOVE about my husband. Hope you like it ^_^











What's your favorite love song?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Gift for You

It's day Three of the 'Wrap it up' blogfest Hosted by Leigh Covington, David Powers King, and myself.

If you want to know the rules, just click the picture
Today I have a very special gift, a flash fiction piece I wrote just for you! Yes you! It is meant to inspire and lift your day. Enjoy!


I crack open the book and run my hand down the page. Thecontrast of the black words on the ivory colored background fill me with asense of excitement and longing. I bring the book to my face and close my eyestaking a deep whiff.

Someday, I tellmyself, someday I will be holding my ownbook in my hands. I read a few pages and ponder on the wonder of the waywords can be strung together to create masterpieces. I close the book and holdit close to my chest for a few moments.

How many have gone before me? Millions at least. There aredays when I think about the numbers, when I get overwhelmed at the thought ofeverything I have to go through to get my book into my hands. I am determinedthat today will not be of those days.

I set the book down and walk over to my desk. Jiggling the mouse, I stare at the blank page before me. Theblinking cursor taunts,  begging me to spill my thoughts and feelings on thepage. I tap at the keys, but few words come. I sigh and lean back in my chair. Maybe you're not meant to write. That littlenagging voice says in my ear.

I catch sight of the book I just read in the corner of myeye. Somehow that author did it. They worked hard enough and they havesomething to show for it.  I bat awaythat nagging voice and rest my hands on the keyboard once more. I'll stay hereall night if I have to, as long as it takes for me to get over my insecuritiesand write.

Because whether I'm meant to or not, that's what authors do.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A True Christmas



Hello and welcome to day two of the 'Wrap it up Blogfest'! If you didn't see the post yesterday, here are the rules -

Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) for someone you know (real or imaginary).
 Post it on your blog anytime between now and when the linky closes,then give it to that someone before the new year.

Give it in the form of anemail, printed on fancy stationary, or laser-etched onto a solid gold plate.Your choice. And it can be any genre.

Every eligible entry will qualify for achance to win a special gift. The Linky will close at 12:00 AM, Friday the16th. David, Leigh, and I will then read, debate, and decide on five winners forthe following:

1st: An Amazon Gift Card for $15
2nd: "Champaginer Challenges 2011" and "TotallyClichéd" E-books
3rd: A 5-page critique from David Powers King
4th: A 5-page critique from J. A. Bennett
5th: A 5-page critique from Leigh Covington

There is no point system, no popularity votes, and you do not have to followour blogs to participate.
 
Got it? Good. This one is for my son -

A True Christmas

As a child, Christmas was all wonder. Sparkling lights and brightly wrapped gifts.That knot of anticipation on Christmas Eve. Waking up at 5 am and being in awe of the Christmas Tree. Bouncing up and down at the sight of a full stocking. Hot Chocolate. Warm cinnamon buns. Candlelit dinners surrounded by family.

Somewhere along the line, all of those feelings disappeared. Left in it's place was the question of why I put myself through the hassle every year. My siblings and parents didn't really need the crap I bought for them and I didn't need them to feel obligated to get me the same kind of junk.

Then I had my son. He was nine months old at his first Christmas, and even though he had no idea what was going on, he brought the Christmas magic back into my life. That was the first year that I truly understood that Christmas wasn't about presents. It was about capturing the spirit of caring for others and spreading the joy. That was my first true Christmas.


What do you like most about the Holiday Season?



Monday, December 12, 2011

'Wrap it up' blogfest

The best gifts are the ones you make yourself. That's why David Powers King, Leigh Covington, and I wish to invite you togive the gift of your writing. And we've got prizes!



Here's the deal:

Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) for someone you know (real or imaginary).
 Post it on your blog anytime between now and when the linky closes,then give it to that someone before the new year.

Give it in the form of anemail, printed on fancy stationary, or laser-etched onto a solid gold plate.Your choice. And it can be any genre.

Every eligible entry will qualify for achance to win a special gift. The Linky will close at 12:00 AM, Friday the16th. David, Leigh, and I will then read, debate, and decide on five winners forthe following:

1st: An Amazon Gift Card for $15
2nd: "Champaginer Challenges 2011" and "TotallyClichéd" E-books
3rd: A 5-page critique from David Powers King
4th: A 5-page critique from J. A. Bennett
5th: A 5-page critique from Leigh Covington

There is no point system, no popularity votes, and you do not have to followour blogs to participate.

We're givers. What can we say?

Sound good? Awesome! Sign up in the Linky below and get busy writing. Spreadthe word and feel free to post the linky on your blogs. We look forward to reading your holiday magic!
 



Friday, December 9, 2011

Making Marketing Connections

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The majority of writers start a blog for a reason, to make connections and get contacts to build a publish-worthy platform. It may seem like a simple thing to blog (and to me it's just plain fun) but those connections really do payoff.

I have been a stay-at-home mom for almost four years, and though I love my children dearly, there is a point as mother when you start to wonder if you are ever going to have anything that is just for you. It's true that not all mothers feel this way, but I certainly did.

Then, eight short months ago, I started blogging. Never did I imagine how it would change my life and what doors it would open for me. The intent of this blog was, and still is, to talk about the process of creating a literary work.

If I where to go through my posts and read them like I would a fiction novel I think I would find it similar to a hero's epic journey. There have been challenges, lows, and times when I feel like everything is working against me. But there have also been those sweet moments when you find out that all the grief was worth it.

Every time I think about my journey thus far, I find I have been blessed again and again. And yesterday I got one more glimpse of why it is worth it to put myself and my writing out there.
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I have a friend who owns several successful websites and yesterday he asked me to blog for them. I'm not going to share the websites, because what I write there will be more incognito. (What I'm doing for them is about helping their business, not building my platform.)

That being said, I have another dream coming true becasue of my blogging. I am getting paid to write. Sure, I'm not getting a bestseller out there (Which would be the ultimate fiction writing goal) but I am getting a little side cash doing something I love, and honestly I couldn't be happier.

How has blogging / social media influenced your life?


***

P. S. Make sure you're here Monday for a super secret blogging togetherness suprise!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bits of Awesome #1

Yes, I totally stole this idea from Leigh Covington. She is just awesome like that. (Don't worry, I asked her first) If you don't follow Leigh's blog, whats wrong with you? I kid, I kid. If you don't know, Bits of Awesome are --- well, I guess the title is self explanatory.


Awesome #1 - Last weekend I got to go to the amazingly talented Ali Cross's book launch. Yeah, she had it in a Karate Studio. BEST. BOOK LAUNCH. EVER. We got to see some kick-butt fighting and learn a few self-defense moves. And I did I mention the food? Can someone say pretzels covered in caramel and chocolate? Seriously awesome day. And to top it off I got to meet some cool blogging buddies.

Melanie Fowler, Ali Cross, and me


Not to mention Kate Coursey, Carolyn V., and L.T. Elliot. I love being a blogger becasue the people are the best!

Awesome #2 - I haven't been super into Christmas Music this year, but I'm a total sucker for this song, no matter the time. (not to mention it's the only Christmas movie I've watched this season)




Awesome #3 - Last, but not least, I have a super fun secretsauce project coming up on Monday that I can't tell you about. I'll only give you one hint -


Happy Thursday!

What bits of awesome have you had lately?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

That Deep Dark Hole in My Chest

Confession time. Time to spill it all out on paper and let you know how insecure I really am. That's right, it's a new month and time for The Insecure Writers Support Group.



Last month I was feeling pretty confident, confident enough to conquer NaNoWriMo. But this month, I have my doubts. The word on the grapevine is that it's totally normal to feel a low after you just worked your butt off for 30 days.

I don't know if low is the right word, but I haven't written anything. Which is okay, becasue I think I can take a break and let my WIP sit and cool awhile so I can come back to it fresh. No, I have a bigger fear. It's something that has held me back to this point.

I'm afraid to Query, and I'm afraid to Publish.

I still think putting EARTH SONG aside and working on EXISTENCE was the right choice, but the truth is, I am so afraid of getting rejected (and not obtaining the perfection I long for) that I gave up on EARTH SONG.

I know rejection is part of being a writer. Every writer has been rejected at one time or another, it is something we must experience to grow. Yet, I don't really know that I'm capable of polishing something to the point that I'm ready to give it to the world.

You see that anthology sitting in the top right corner? Those lovely ladies offered to publish me and you know what I told them? I told them I wasn't interested becasue I didn't think the story was ready.

After they needled me and encouraged me for a bit, I worked on it and let them have it. Now there it is, available on e-book. And I still want to take it back. Why? Because it's not perfect.

The truth is, I wasn't given half the talent some of you have. The truth is, I feel like I'm going to work my whole life and never get there. The truth is, I'm afraid I won't succeed so I don't even want to try.


If only you knew how many times my mouse has hoovered over the delete blog button, how many times I have written posts telling all of you that I'm done being a writer. But here I am, still soldiering on.

I don't know why I'm telling you all of this. It's been burning a hole in me for quite sometime. I don't know that it can be cured. It's something I've just been working around, but I don't think it will ever go away. I guess it's more of a heads up. I'm just letting you know, don't expect to ever see a book from me, becasue I'm a chicken who won't even write a query letter.

But don't worry, I never intend to stop writing -- even if I never publish.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

To Be Read

December is now in full swing. My Christmas decor is up, I have a large amount of baked goods in my pantry, and NaNo is over. I only had the chance to get through one book in November - Come Back to Me, by Melissa Foster.

To say the least, my TBR pile has been growing. Here a few books I hope to down this month (and maybe even review.)

Currently Reading - Servant of a Dark God, by John Brown:


The Blurb:

Young Talen lives in a world where the days of a person's life can be harvested, bought, and stolen. Only the great Divines who rule every land and the human soul-eaters, dark ones who steal from man and beast, know the secrets of this power. In Talen's land the Divine has gone missing, and soul-eaters are loose among the people. But this time it's not just a handful of humans using outlawed magics.

A being of awesome power has arisen, one whose diet consists of the days of men. Her Mothers once ranched human subjects like cattle. She has emerged to take back what is rightfully hers, including Talen. Trapped in a web of lies and ancient secrets, Talen must struggle to identify his true enemy before the Mother transforms him into the very lord of the human harvest.




On My list:

Variant, By Robinson Wells
The Blurb:
Thanks Jenny!

Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.
Where breaking the rules equals death.
But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.






Become, by Ali Cross

Thanks Nisa! (The book launch for this was AWESOME, BTW)
The Blurb:
Sixteen-year old Desolation Black wants nothing more than to stay in Hell where it’s cold and lonely and totally predictable. Instead, she’s sent back to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she always feared.

When Desi is forced to embrace her inner demon, she assumes her choice has been made—that she has no hope of being anything other than what her father, Lucifer, has created her to be. What she doesn’t count on, is finding a reason to change—something she’s never had before—a friend.











Paranormalcy and Supernaturally by Kristen White

The Blurbs:


Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is a mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal.

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. 



 

Thanks Ali!




Evie finally has the normal life she’s always longed for. But she’s shocked to discover that being ordinary can be . . . kind of boring. Just when Evie starts to long for her days at the International Paranormal Containment Agency, she’s given a chance to work for them again. Desperate for a break from all the normalcy, she agrees.
But as one disastrous mission leads to another, Evie starts to wonder if she made the right choice. And when Evie’s faerie ex-boyfriend Reth appears with devastating revelations about her past, she discovers that there’s a battle brewing between the faerie courts that could throw the whole supernatural world into chaos. The prize in question? Evie herself.
So much for normal.



So there you have it! I have even more books, but I don't think I can read more than this in December. What are you reading?

Monday, December 5, 2011

What was that again?

Ah, words. There are so many different ways that we can use them. They can evoke every emotion known to man (and then some) today I have chosen to evoke one of those emotions to get your day started. Which emotion? Why, the happy one, of course!




I need one of these for my editing











Hope that makes your Monday a little brighter!

*all photos where taken from my Facebook page or pinned on Pintrest

Friday, December 2, 2011

Have You Discovered Your “Life’s Work?” By Jenny Hansen


I LOVE being part of the Life List Club. There are some seriously awesome people involved and I always feel uplifted after I read everyone's posts! Today I have the lovely Jenny Hansen from More Cowbell once again talking about Autism and achieving goals. Take it away Jenny!  

Thanks for hanging out with mehere at Jennie’s place today! She’s over at Gary Gauthier’s blog today,kicking up her sassy heels.

The inspiration for today’s postcame from my little brother, Dallas. He’s my youngest sibling and is twenty-fouryears old, going on eight. You see, Dallas is a high-functioning autisticindividual who lives in a group home in New York. And even though Dallas willbe forever a child, and is not yet able to hold down a job, he’s a blast forhis family to hang around with because he is a man of serious interests.

Most autistic people have a topicthat lights them on fire and, if you’ve ever interacted with someone who’sautistic, you’ve seen that they will find a way to steer the conversation backto their topic. It’s impressive towatch.

If they’re lucky enough to have agood “elevator” topic like weather or sports, this is usually a very positivething for them – people really enjoytalking to them. If they’re more into a niche topic like space research orfriendly insects…not so much.

Dallas’ topic has typically beenvarious animated characters and he’s most fascinated by villains. He’s beenthrough a Darkwing Duckphase, a mythicalRoman creatures stage and, currently, he’s in a Mighty Morphin PowerRangers phase with an emphasis on the Ten Terrors.

 
We had a conversation the otherday that went something like this:

“SisterJennifer, this is your brother Dallas.”
“Hi Dallas, how are you?”
“I am fine. I am calling you today to let you know that I have discovered mylife’s work.”
“Really??”
“Yes.”
“What is it?”
“Do you know who the Ten Terrors are?”
“No.”
The Ten Terrorsare villains in the Power Rangers Mystic Force. Mylife’s work is to discover everything about the Ten Terrors.”
“Huh. That’s pretty cool.”
“Can you look them up for me? And spell their names?”

So I followed his (very precise)directions until I found the Ten Terrors. Hewanted me to spell each Terrors’ name letter by letter. It took us about forty-fiveminutes to get all ten spelled perfectly on his paper and all his questionsanswered.

I immediately called our sister,Cory, with some questions of my own:

“Whatis the deal with Dallas calling me about his life’s work?”
“Oh, he called you with that? How sweet. Usually he calls me or mom.”
“How serious is this ‘life’s work’ thing? I want to be supportive.”
“Well, about every 3-4 weeks he discovers a new life’s work. You’ll learn a lotbeing on the list for this. I warn you though, he get’s unlimited phone time.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that he can talk on the phone as much as he wants but he only getsone hour of computer time a day and he has to earn it.”
“Seriously?”
“Oh, he’s VERY serious about it. He calls us to have us look stuff up for himso that he’s ready when he gets his hour. He doesn’t have to waste any of itbrowsing for what he wants, he can just go right there and print it all. Thenhe takes it to his room and organizes it.”
“What a smart little guy! But what do you mean, he ‘organizes’ it?”
“Well, he keeps two milk crates in his room with folders. He prints stuff up,reads it, and writes new episodes for some of the shows. Periodically mom orsomeone else will go through his folders with him and clean them out, but someof his stuff is like ten years old and he keeps it pretty organized. Those are‘his files.’”
“Holy cow! When he said, he needed the information for his files, I wanted tolaugh. He was really serious though, so I restrained myself.”
“He IS serious. His life work consumes his every waking moment.”
“I love that!!”

And I do. What would it be liketo have that kind of focus about our goals and interests?

I’ve thought about myconversation with Dallas quite a bit in the last few weeks. Although there aremany, many things that I can do that Dallas can’t, I’m kind of envious that hehas the time and perseverance to pour all his energy into his life’s work,whatever it may be that week.

He’s a lesson and inspiration tome that it doesn’t matter how big or important your life’s work is, as long asit is big and important to YOU.

Do you have a “life’s work?” Howdo you organize it? How much time do you give it? How would you like to beremembered by others in terms of your “life’s work?”


About Jenny Hansen

Jenny fills her nights with humor:writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing afterthe newly walking Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social mediamarketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a corporate softwaretrainer, she’s digging this sit down and write thing.

When she’s not at her blog, More Cowbell,Jenny can be found on Twitter at jhansenwrites and at her group blog, Writers In TheStorm. Every Saturday, she writes the RiskyBaby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, newparents and high-risk pregnancy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo, Winner?



As I write this it is close to midnight on the Nov. 30th. I contemplated doing NaNo for a long time, but I wasn't sure I could. The best I had ever done (in a day) before the month of November was 2,000 words. Since I don't write on weekends I needed to write 2,300 words a day, not to mention somehow make up for the six days I would spend in Colorado.

I really doubted myself in the beginning, but I thought I would try it for a few days and see how it went. I was so inspired by everyone's enthusiasm and drive that I couldn't not give it a shot. Well it turns out that I'm capable of a lot more than I thought I was becasue as of now, I am a NaNoWriMo winner!!


Yup, I got my certificate and can call myself a finisher. There where more than a few days when I wanted to bang my head against the keyboard, especially when I got to the climax of my story. I don't know why I have such a hard time writing that part of a book, but I do. Still, I managed to pull out four or five thousand words on some days, which was a huge stepping stone for me :)

So did I finish my Novel? Not completely, I probably have anywhere from 2,000- 3,000 words left which will put my word count at 77-78,000. Not. Too. Shabby.

Anyway, cheers to everyone who won! I think I'm going to take December off :)



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A treat for the Holiday's

My good blogger friend Angela V. Cook is doing a little blog hop today that doubles as a holiday treat recipe exchange. A while back I told you all what the BEST cake in the world is, but I didn't give you a recipe. Well, no time like the present!



This is my favorite cake because it is so moist and chocolaty with the perfect blend of spices. It is seriously heaven on a plate, and I don't even like Zucchini!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 Cups grated Zucchini
1/2 Cup soft butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs 1 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
4 Tbs. Cocoa
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Cloves
6 oz Chocolate Chips

Cream together the sugar, butter, eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir in the remaining ingredients excluding the the zucchini and chocolate chips. Fold in zucchini and pour into a ungreased 9 X 13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and bake for 40-45 minutes.

There you have it, eat and enjoy my friends, eat and enjoy.

What's your favorite Holiday Treat?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review - Come Back to Me

Some of you may remember the guest post from Melissa Foster last week; well today I'm reviewing her book, Come Back to Me.

The Blurb on Goodreads:

Tess Johnson has it all: her handsome photographer husband Beau, a thriving business, and a newly discovered pregnancy. When Beau accepts an overseas photography assignment, Tess decides to wait to reveal her secret—only she’s never given the chance. Beau’s helicopter crashes in the desert.

Tess struggles with the news of Beau’s death and tries to put her life back together. Alone and dealing with a pregnancy that only reminds her of what she has lost, Tess is adrift in a world of failed plans and fallen expectations. When a new client appears offering more than just a new project, Tess must confront the circumstances of her life head on.

Meanwhile, two Iraqi women who are fleeing honor killings find Beau barely alive in the middle of the desert, his body ravaged by the crash. Suha, a doctor, and Samira, a widow and mother of three young children, nurse him back to health in a makeshift tent. Beau bonds with the women and children, and together, with the help of an underground organization, they continue their dangerous escape.

What happens next is a test of loyalties, strength, and love



What I Liked: The writing was Excellent. I never once got distracted with typos or repetition or even adverbs. The story was strong and the characters knew who they where and they weren't backing down from being themselves.

What I Didn't Like:  My only complaint was that I wanted more resolution in the ending. I just wanted to know that the characters could pick up the pieces of their lives and survive and I didn't get that. I guess I can hope that Melissa is writing a squeal, but I didn't get that vibe either. In reality, that's such a small thing when you have a great story.

Overview: Come Back To Me is a heart-wrenching tale of love and loss. If you're looking for a book that is real and doesn't paint a rose colored view of the world, then you'll want to pick this one up. Melissa is wonderful story teller that makes you feel for her characters and at the same time feel gratitude for loved ones in your life. 4 out 5 stars!

Since Melissa is such a generous and kind person she has agreed to give out THREE PDF copies of Come Back to Me. All you have to do is leave a comment with your e-mail address below! I'll be picking the winners on Friday :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Crunch Time!

Only three days left in the month of November and that means it's almost the end of NaNoWriMo. I'm currently at 42,000 words. Eight thousand more and I'll be a winner (plus I will have finished EXISTENCE *fingers crossed*) so please excuse me while I dive into my hovel and write, write, write.

Are you doing NaNo? What are you looking forward to in December?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

See-ya on the Flip Side

Today I'm headed off with the fam to my in-laws house to my private cabin in the foothills of Colorado's Pikes Peak. I plan on eating lots of Turkey and maybe watching a football game, maybe. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

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And yes, my mother-in-laws turkeys really do look this good :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In a Man’s World, by Melissa Foster


 Today I have a super special surprise, Melissa Foster is going to be posting here today for her third book launch - Come Back to Me. I'll be reviewing her book next week so I don't want to give too much away, but I will say this, the outlook is positive ;)

Click on the picture to go to the Amazon Page



Take it away Melissa -

Who doesn’t love a macho, handsomecharacter? Add a little emotion and you’ve got a winner—you hope.

Creating believable men issomething that I truly enjoy. Having grown up with six brothers in atestosterone-driven world, all I had to do was pull from memories. Wrap thosememories into my daily life with five sons, and the macho, emotional characteris born.

Here’s a gross generality for you,and feel free to slam me, as I’m a blatantly honest person and I write what Ifeel. Males are visceral and females are emotionally driven (author dodgestomatoes as their thrown in her direction). I’ve learned from growing up (andold) with males, that when they’re upset, they let you know why, in veryclear—and not always tactful—ways.  

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I’mhungry. I’m bored. You pissed me off. I’ve overwhelmed. I hate that blue dress,it makes your butt look huge. Women, on the other hand, tend to be covetousof the driving force behind their discord—this lessens, I think, with age, butit’s still there. [Dialogue taking placein the woman’s head] I hope he notices that I’m ignoring him. Doesn’t he seeanger written all over my face? I’m mad, but you should know why I’m mad—Ishouldn’t have to tell you.

Growing up in a male-drivenhousehold helped me to understand the differences between male and females. Ialso think that perhaps I am wired more like a male—as I’m very straightforwardand don’t enjoy drama—cutting to the chase will always get you further in mylittle world then hoping I notice something is awry.

There seems to be a downside todeveloping strong male characters—one that I didn’t see coming. I have noissues with bad language when used at appropriate times. Bad words happen—in myhouse, they’re even commonplace among the males (like how I talk about maleslike they’re a different species?). For some unknown reason, curse words have alife of their own. They convey wrath and despair, hatred and can even be usedas qualifiers for happy events. 

I’ve discovered recently, though, that not allreaders have the same take as I do on bad language. Some expect bad language tobe left out of emotional scenes all together, while others see the visceralside of those scenes and feel they’re completely appropriate. This is thedownside for me—I have to write what my characters feel, and oftentimes, theyfeel something that only a curse word will convey.  I apologize to my readers, because I do carewhat you think and what you enjoy reading, but ultimately I have to be true tomy characters, and saying, “That darn guy,” simply doesn’t cut it when a guy isangry.

Tell me readers, what’s your takeon curse words in books? 

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Melissa Foster is a Bestselling Kindle Author and mother to 6. You can find her  Website, Facebook, Twitter, and FB Fanpage by clicking the links. Come Chat at The Women's Nest parat of the  WoMen's Literary Cafe, Where readers and authors unite! (for men & women) 



Visit Melissa's Events Page for details on the next stop on her blog tour.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How Can Life Get Any Better?

Sometimes you find a song that just makes you smile. Other people might not get it. The lyrics are weird or they don't like the beat, but for some reason you just can't help but like it.

That's my experience with Nik Day's How Can Life Get Any Better? He's a local artist who I happened to stumble across when a friend mentioned him on Facebook. I don't think the song is the best there ever was (although he has other songs that I really enjoy), but it still makes me smile.



What are you smiling about today?