Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Beary Merry New Year!

Wishing you a wonderfully delicious and super safe New Year’s Eve!

Brought to you from the MAD (mother and daughter) kitchen!

hugs~

2011 Recap from the Woods

This past year has been a bit of a challenge in terms of life choices.  I made some big ones, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

After meeting my amazing agent at a conference, I struggled with three major priorities: full-time mom, full-time preschool owner and full-time writer.  Throwing in my part-time freelance work as a writer and court advocate meant the day was about  twelve hours too short.  Not to mention that my efficiency level suffered in every area–including sleep.  Something had to give, so I sold my preschool.  Which, by the way, I miss more than words can say.

Despite the tough decisions, 2011 had many successes, some personal and some writerly.

  • My kids are much happier with me back at home and able to attend all their events/needs–or is it the taxi service they like so much?
  • DH enjoys eating again before midnight.  Okay, that’s only slightly exaggerated, but a healthy rebalance to say the least.
  • Two of my dear writer friends e-pubbed some amazing novels.  If you haven’t checked out Diary of a Small Fish by Pete Morin or Viridis (and its steamy sequel) by Calista Taylor, I’d recommend these for your newly unwrapped e-reader.
  • Another wonderful writer friend, Sophie Perinot, is awaiting the 2012 spring release of her historical novel The Sister Queens.  I’ve already preordered my copy, and  you can too.  Not to mention a fellow crit partner, and extremely poetic writer, also reeled in a contract for her historical fiction.  I wish Icould tell all, but I can’t spill the beans until she does.
  • Aaaand, in case you missed the buzz, Mindy McGinnis received a huge, two book contract for her YA, Not a Drop to Drink.  I’ve critiqued a few pieces by Mindy (aka BBC) and have to admit I’m thirsty for her debut.  I promise–promise–it will be a splash hit when it reaches the shelves.  This deal came shortly after Jessica Khoury’s news about selling her debut novel–another much-anticipated YA read for me.
  • I read–and conversed with–Sarah Darer Littman.  I must say the author of Want to Go Private? is as sweet as they come.  Her novel is a must read for every human walking this technologically unsafe Earth.  Seriously, if you love a kid, you have one last day to get your name in a drawing for a free copy of this amazing YAContest details found here.
  • In my personal writing news, I’m a site moderator over at AgentQuery Connect–the absolutely BEST writing community on the net–and a contributing member of From The Write Angle, a writing blog by writers of all levels for writers of all levels.  I also wrote my way to another NaNoWriMo victory and partook in the Epic Paranormal Romance Blogvel: The Skeleton Key.
  • Christmas came too fast.  With no snow on the ground and only a few flakes to our fall/winter season, it doesn’t quite feel like the end of the year.  In fact, Eldest golfed yesterday.  Not that I want a repeat of last year and the 27 snow days we had, but come on?  Where’s the white?
  • Oh yeah, and I have a short story coming out in an e-book anthology this spring (details to be announced later), so it’s just one more reason for you to buy a Kindle and enjoy the e-revolution.

All in all, 2011 has been good to me.

How about you?  What wonderful news do you have to share–writing or otherwise–that made 2011 worth every hour? 

P.S. In case you were wondering (and I know you were), Sock Dog came back from training as a full-fledged hunting dog.  She no longer runs the other way from birds and her nose is amazing.  So much so, that the trainer offered to buy her.  If she keeps chowing socks, I just might give him a call!

Up the Conflict Meter: Assume

You know what the say about assumptions.  They can get you into a lot of trouble.

This past weekend, DH and I attended Middle Son’s basketball games.  Friends of ours needed to finish a bit of last-minute shopping for a vacation, so we took their boys after the game.  In tow, we had four boys and one girl (5, 7, 9, 10 and 15), all blonde.

We took our crew out to eat on the way home.  When we finished our meal, the waitress–bless her poor heart–asked, “Will this be one or two checks?”

I suppose we looked very much like a family in the process of blending.  Masses of kids, close in age.  I’m sure it didn’t help that DH had his hand on my knee throughout lunch, or that neither of us wore wedding bands (his lost, mine getting fixed after knocking two diamonds loose).  Throw in the fact that the boys called us by first name a time or two and I’m quite certain the waitress felt confident in her assumption.

In life, these assumptions can be embarrassing.  In writing, they can be a gold mine of novel fodder.

What if I had been a jealous wife who thought my Hubby was cheating on me?  Imagine the scene this could have caused if I would have confonted him right there.

While in public, I try very hard to keep my what ifs to myself.  Yet, this doesn’t stop me from letting my imagination run wild on the page.  By letting my characters make assumptions based on limited facts, I often infuse my stories with unexpected conflict.

What off-track assumptions have you made in life?  Have you written any into your novels?

Curious minds want to know!

 

 

Where Art Thou, Humor?

My Dear Hubby texted me: Going to Dick’s Sports, was there anything to get yet?

My response after trying on a dress this past weekend: a new a$$ for me.

Him: I’ll check in the rear of the store.

I love that man!

 

Tales from My Christmas List

I hate buying gifts just to buy them.

I like when gifts have a meaning and a purpose.  I like when they fit the personality of the receiver.  I love when their potential impact is so much more than a casual glance on Christmas morning during the rush of wrapping paper ripping.

Dear Hubby and I braved the mall on Saturday and found some good deals on clothes for the kids on our list.  But my real shopping success came on Sunday when I found the neatest site EVER online.

gifts.com

I officially swear by it for finding unique gifts.  It’s like having your own personal shopper pointing you in all the right directions.  And much to my delight, many of the shops practice green giving with tons of recycled and handmade gifts that are as beautiful as they are functional.

So what did I get?

My Top 2011 Picks

  • Through Heifer International, my kids will learn that not all gifts are created equally.  If you have expendable cash–even a teeny bit–or your annual gift giving has hit a wall and you find yourself buying simply to buy, please consider this fabulous organization which strives to educate, not just donate.  The money we would typically spend on my extended family will go toward the purchase of animals.  Thanks, Mom, for this great idea.
  • National Geographic Magazine.  Whether you are an itty bitty or a moldy oldy, you can appreciate the beautiful pictures and the enlightening stories found within the covers of a variety of National Geographic choices.  And it’s cheap.  Seriously.  A year subscription to one of the most gorgeous and educational magazines out there is $15.   And you can order online. 
  • Step Into Reading books for beginners.  These amazing books cater to any literary taste and reading ability.  Nonfic is hugely popular with boys (sharks, bugs, whales, dinos) while the classic Biscuit books and Amelia Bedelia are great choices for girls.  And the best thing?  When you shop at Barnes and Noble, you can quickly add a Step Into Reading book to your purchase which then gets donated to local children in need.  How cool is that?  During the buying frenzy, you won’t even notice the missing $3.00, yet the child receiving a brand new book of their own will be eternally thankful for your generosity.
  • Teen Pics are a bit trickier, but I’ll share my purchases with you.  Both my big kids are rounding out trilogies this season or starting new ones based on beloved authors.  Dear Daughter: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, as well as Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick.  Eldest: The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima.  Next up for him, the first novel in the Seven Realms series, also by Chima.
  • And if I haven’t mentioned it enough, Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman is the must have book for teens this season.  If you’ve never heard of it, check out my #WTGV tab for reviews and your chance to win a free copy.  Think it’s only for girls?  Think again.  I’ve had several boy readers tell me this was a great book and that everyone should read it.  “Everyone,” was the recommendation from a non-reader who just got snookered into it because I bug him so much about reading.  He finished it in three days.
  • Discovery Channel dot com is AWESOME for educational toys that challenge little brains while keeping them so busy they don’t realize they are learning.  Lots o’ great gifts were found there for the nieces and nephews.   Additionally, puzzles are known for their role in honing fine motor manipulation and practicing preliteracy skills.  Melissa and Doug (brand of nicely crafted wooden toys) make fabulous puzzles for tiny fingers while places like Discovery Channel and National Geographic have amazing educational puzzles for expanding minds.
  • Lastly, JC Penney’s online turned out to be a rockin’ place for finding unheard of deals.  For the little Rembrandt in the family, we found a fully loaded art desk for a fraction of the price.

Another online site I found, I liked, but didn’t buy from was Build A Dream Playhouse.  This ground floor business (started by a daddy and his posse of tiny testers) provides unique cardboard creations for hours of imaginative play.  Castles, snack shops, vehicles and more are all a click away.

All in all, I’m much more satisfied this year with our Christmas purchases than I usually am.

How goes your Christmas battle?  Are you finished or just getting started with your shopping?    Please share any fun, unique sites with the rest of us, as well as any gift buying tips you may have for those less jolly about commercialized Christmas giving.