Tag Archives: family

When Life Gives You Lemons, It’s Okay To Cry

Moving Dear Daughter into college last week was difficult at best. Watching parents hug their kids goodbye and climb into their vehicles with tears in their eyes was too common to count. It was the rare student who did a fist pump as his family rounded the corner and drove away. Mostly, it was a day filled with hastily wiped cheeks, glassy eyes and runny noses. Neither DD nor I were immune to the blues. Heck, we’d had coffee together every morning and shared lunch nearly every afternoon for her last two years of high school.

I know the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but I firmly believe it’s okay to cry about those lemons first. Denying our emotions is just as bad as, if not worse than, ignoring everything that happens after someone hands you a bushel of lemons. Validating our pain and fear and frustration is helpful. It allows us to move on. It’s only when we suppress those feelings that we end up with a sour life in the long run.

Bad things happen. Sad things happen. That’s okay. In fact, those experiences are what give us a refreshing perspective on the rest of our lives. They allow us to appreciate the lemonade.

Dear writer friends, please remember this post when you pen the life journey of your MCs. Know that we must put them through a little pain and discomfort. Let them hurt. Let them cry. Then give them the strength to carry on and overcome.

Same to you, parents. We can’t protect our children from everything, and we shouldn’t even try. They must learn to live despite falling down.

What life lemons have been sent your way? How do you validate someone’s feelings when you would rather tell them to suck it up?

Curious minds want to know.

National Novel Writing Month Begins

If you see my children panhandling on the street, please feed them and send them home. If they appear dirty and disoriented it’s because I’m ignoring them. Why? Because once again, I have challenged myself to write 50,000 plus words during the next thirty days.

Funny, since I’m not even sure what I’ll be writing about and NaNoWriMo started nearly twelve hours ago. As (if) my muse moves me, I’ll keep you posted.

Have you ever done anything so ridiculously challenging? How’d it turn out? Any tips for succeeding in the face of the near impossible?

Curious minds want to know.

That Moment When…

  • You walk out of the store and realize your sock is stuck to the Velcro on your pants pocket,
  • You thought you had your hand on the back of the couch, not your neighbor’s chest,
  • You count your toes each and every time you see your feet–in case a digit has somehow been lost since the last time you checked,
  • You realize you are entirely more human than you want to be and just can’t change the past no matter how often you replay it in your head.

This weekend, my family came to visit from states far and wide. Together, we reminisced. Hilarious childhood memories abounded, long-dormant quirks were revealed and new moments were forever burned into our collective soul.

I won’t tell you which of the above I am guilty of. Just know that I am capable of stirring up a commotion wherever I go. And so should our characters.

As a reader, my new favorite character is Dante Walker by Victoria Scott. He’s a bad boy who feels so real that I literally LOL when he talks. Miss Scott has nailed his personality–full of elevated self-worth, harsh judgments and acid wit. If I weren’t happily married with four kids and three dogs, I just might be tempted to call him up for a date.

Dante, as portrayed by his creator, is unabashedly himself. He’s not wishy-washy. Rather, he’s fully engaged in who he is, what he does and why he does it. He takes human foibles to a whole new level and reeks of a charisma so potent I can’t stop the pitter-pattering of my heart.

I fell in love all over again with my three wonderful siblings this weekend as we sat on the bed at 11:30 at night and tried on each other’s glasses to see who was more blind. They/we are goofy, fun-loving, serious, smart, quirky, strange, hilarious and utterly teasable.

As a writer, I can only hope to fill up my novels with such depth and character as was shared in a few short hours. Because truly, being human is downright amazing on so many levels. Capturing that magic and bringing it to our readers is an art.

Dear Readers: who is your favorite character now-a-days and why?

Dear Writers: how do you capture the essence of a character and write him in such a way he comes alive?

Curious minds want to know.

East Coast Hugs

I wrote a short story for the end of the world, you know, that imminent 2012 thing that’s on some people’s minds? Anyway, in it, technology is worthless. No internet, no electricity, no running water, no gas pumps, no refrigerators or cell phones…

I sent it to my big sister to read through. Not one week later, she was caught in the storm that cut a swath across the Plains and ravaged the coast.

Sorry…

Big Sis was without power for 33 hours. I know many more people had it far worse. I also have some writer friends in the storm’s path and wanted to send warm wishes East, as well as to my writer friends in Colorado who are battling uncontrolled fires.

May you all stay safe.

Pick Your Friends, Your Nose & Your Agent/Editor

This past weekend, we had the pleasure to attend our God Daughter’s confirmation.  Close family friends since the summer Dear Hubby and I got married, we adults have been through the births, baptisms and first birthdays of a total of seven kids.  Their oldest graduated three years ago.  Ours does in three weeks.

We’ve been blessed to have had such a wonderful and unfaltering friendship between our two families.  In fact, our collective kids consider each other cousins.  In this respect, we’ve proven the old adage wrong–you can pick your family.

Another myth I’d like to dispel is that writer’s can’t pick their agents, editors or publishers.  I believe we writers can become so starved to see our writing validated that we send queries or submission packages out to any and every breathing professional in the publishing industry.  We don’t consider the long-term impact of accepting offers from less than stellar representatives in the writing arena.

Due diligence, my friends.

Our quasi family has the same morals and values as we have.  They value family and faith.  They respect their children and have strong relationships with them.  They are kind and compassionate, honest and filled with integrity.  They’re fun-loving and generous.  They are the kind of people I’d choose for family.

Similarly, this kind of compatibility is possible within the publishing industry if we choose to do the work.  We must research our options, talk with agents and editors before signing with them and discuss future goals to make sure we’re all on the same page.

CAT’S GUIDE TO PICKING YOUR PUBLISHING PROFESSIONAL

  • KNOW YOUR NEEDS: Create a list of what you want and need from your professional.  Promotion, editing, submitting, validation, publishing, Best Seller sales…the list is endless, and specific to each writer.  Know what YOU need and want and why.  It may be vastly different than the writer in the next computer over.  And that’s a good thing.
  • RESEARCH: Sales, clients, policies.  Dig deep to find out what peeps are really saying.  And what they aren’t saying.  Go beyond Google and don’t be afraid of what you might find.  If you find yourself reluctant to read the dirt, then you’re not ready to pick your professional.  You need to KNOW what you need to know.
  • MATCH YOUR NEEDS TO YOUR RESEARCH: It is completely irrelevant what everyone else is doing and who they’re doing it with.  What’s important is how your professional fits with your needs and desires.  These things should fit together like puzzle pieces.

Once you figure out who you want and why, you can begin courting your professional.  Make your contacts meaningful.  Be a professional yourself.  Work harder and smarter to build a relationship with your chosen few.

What’s important to you in a publishing professional?  How do you research your prospective professionals?  How do you court them, and have you been successful in your endeavors to pick your professional?

Curious minds want to know.

Guest-imate Lists for Book Sales and Graduation Celebrations

Eldest graduates in two months.  I’ve been making lots o’ lists recently–the biggest and most important being the guest list.  This is followed by the food list, which will be followed by the grocery list, which is directly impacted by the guest list guest-imation.

What is the Guest-imation?

That estimation of which guests will and will not attend the celebration.  For example, graduation occurs on Memorial Weekend.  The First weekend of summer in our  neck of the words.  The First opportunity to hit the lake.  The First holiday in many moons.  I don’t expect all of our camping-loving guests to show up.

Likewise, my big sis (and her family) is counted with the Will Nots.  We will send her an invite/announcement, yet we know full well she will not be trekking 21 hours NorthWest on the very day her own Eldest graduates.

Guest List 4.

Food List 0.

When creating lists for book signings, release day parties and general estimations in sales (particularly for self-pubbed authors) we must keep in mind the Guest-imates.

Aunt Edna may love us, but will she really buy our violently steamy Paranormal Romance Horror novel?  Eh, unless your Aunt Edna is cooler than mine, her name is firmly etched at the top of the Will Not list.

Yet, we often fail to wrap our brains around this.  We find ourselves carried away by sheer numbers.  I have 2,170 Facebook friends and 185,000 twitter followers, 164 this, 4,001 that, 12 + 907 + plus plus….*

Guestimate what?  These peeps will not all buy my novel.  Period.  They will not all attend my Release Day Party–cyber or otherwise.  Neither will they all care.  I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true.  Just because we know someone doesn’t mean s/he will financially support our endeavors, provide a toast for first-born novel or eat from my dessert bar for Eldest’s graduation.

And that’s okay.  Perfectly, happily okay.  But, we need to accept this as fact.  We need to prepare ourselves for the reality that a guest list or friend list or twitter list or blog list does not automatically translate to sales numbers.

We also need to keep our cool when Aunt Edna–holding the number one slot on the Will list–actually does not.  Just because she passes on divine chocolate cheesecake or that fabulous historical novel written in the time period when she herself was a child, doesn’t give us a free pass to skip her 108th birthday celebration and snicker behind our hands when she’s not looking.

Bitterness and hurt feelings have no place at graduation parties or in the writing realm.  Life is not tit for tat.  It is not a tally of favors owed and favors received.  It is not a book purchased simply as insurance for a future sale of our own.

So be smart.  Create a Guest-imate list based on real life and not one on feelings.  Hopefully that will get my grocery list to a manageable level and your sales expectations more in line with reality.

How do you create your guest lists?  Have you ever grossly under or over estimated them?  How has this impacted you in the writing world or in real life?  What tips do you have for creating future lists or guest-imating the Wills and the Will Nots?

Curious minds want to know.

*I don’t really have this many friends–real or imagined.

New Year. New Word.

I have a wonderful cyber friend who doesn’t write New Year’s Resolutions.  Instead, she picks a word that speaks to her and will motivate her throughout the upcoming twelve months and into the years beyond.

My word for 2012: Challenge.

As in the verb, because life holds enough challenge in the noun form.  It is a challenge to find time to write.  It is a challenge to stay in shape.  It is a challenge to be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend and neighbor.  Doing life well is a definite challenge.

Which is exactly why I challenge myself to do better and be better in 2012.

I challenge myself to take my health seriously.  My genetic package is less than stellar, and so far I’ve cheated extra pant sizes by sheer luck alone.  Yet, thin and healthy are not synonymous.  High blood pressure, bad cholesterol levels and a history of heart disease loom in my future, as do obesity and diabetes.

I challenge myself to be a better writer.  Always a little on the ADD side of normal, I get lost in my own head on a regular basis.  I am a whimsical writer in the sense that I work on whichever project strikes my fancy.  So far it’s panned out, as I always have multiple projects in multiple stages that I can work on when the mood moves me.  However, I’m at a point where I shouldn’t take a year to spit-shine one manuscript.

This year, I challenge myself to be a better communicator.  Sometimes I leave things unsaid or say things I shouldn’t.  Conflict gives me the hives, so I confront it as little as possible.  Likewise, I’m a wishy-washy decision maker at best, which can frustrate even the most patient of souls.  The upside is that people think I’m sweet, if a little flighty.  The downside is…well, it’s unspeakable, and henceforth my need to communicate better becomes the utmost challenge.

I challenge myself to be a better wife and mother.  DH’s promotion comes with a change in time away from home and a different level of stress.  The end of the school year brings our first graduation and a new driver into the family.  It also burdens our calendar with more events as the little boys sample sports and develop their passions.  Long story short, getting lost in my own head for an entire day is no longer viable while raising a family of six.

Life is a challenge.  One I challenge myself to face with grace, dignity and determination.

Anyone else up for a challenge?  What one word describes your upcoming year?  What goals do you hope to accomplish?  What steps must you take to get there?

Curious minds want to know.

Happy Mother’s Day!

I hope your day was as relaxing and wonderful as mine.

I received a Hershey Kiss and decorated bar of soap from Middle Son and a beautifully, hand-crafted heart from Youngest. 

DH grilled shrimp, chicken kabobs and baby back ribs for dinner.

We all hung out together, shooting baskets, pulling weeds and just sharing the gorgeous day.

Life’s blessings are so small as to be overlooked, yet when they are added up, our days are nothing short of magical.

Hugs and best wishes to all the moms out there!

A Note To Parents

Hug your babies each and every day.  No matter how old they get, no matter how much milk they spill or how many toys they forget to pick up, children are the single most precious gifts we have been given.

Never let your last words be angry or hurtful.

Never forget to praise their accomplishments.

Never let a day go by that you don’t show them just how much you care.

And never take them for granted, because one day, when you least expect it, they might be gone.

If you’re the kind to pray, please do so now for this unfortunate family.

My your day be filled with blessings.

Crit Buddies: the Happy Meal of Writing

This past week/end was a blast.  DH had been scheduled for his yearly golf tourney up in Brainerd, but injured his neck and stayed behind.  Unlike his normal, workaholic self, he actually remained home on his already scheduled days off.  It was great to have him around and we got some odds and ends done.  Lots of relaxing too.

Middle son’s relay team placed 5th (out of 5) at the state track meet on Saturday.  He was so excited to stand on the podium to receive his award.  Eldest marched for band, while our Dear Daughter and Youngest walked the parade.  DD turned 14 and celebrated in style, while DH and I apparently adopted three teenaged children. 

All our kids are highly social, which means a lot of hosting.  Our food count for the weekend looked something like this:

  • 16 hamburgers
  • 36 cans of various drinks
  • 24 water bottles
  • 8 hotdogs
  • 2 brats
  • 3 large pizzas
  • 4 boxes of cereal
  • 1 butter braid
  • 1 angel food birthday cake
  • bags and bags of chips
  • bags and bags of veggies
  • cantelope, pasta salad & other filler foods too numerous to count

Oh, yeah.  And one Mc Donald’s run for Youngest.

“Dad, please take me to Mc Donalds.  I want a cheeseburger with only ketchup.”

“I’ll make you one.”

Youngest is stubborn and knows how to hold his ground.  After much finagling, the truth comes out. 

“Dad, your hamburgers are just a teensy, weensy bit…not as good,” Youngest says and holds his fingers together so they almost touch.  He smiles real big, trying for damage control.  “Everybody likes your hamburgers.  Grant and Davis.  Connor does and Lexi and Tyson.  Mom…”

Youngest ticks off names, his little eyes looking directly into DH’s.  He loves his Daddy and doesn’t want to hurt his feelings.  “To them, your hamburgers are good.  To me…not so much.”

This refreshing honesty is exactly what I look for in a critique partner.  I love the truth.  It’s the only thing that helps me grow as a writer. 

Thankfully, I have a group of critters that gives me what I need.  Two are outstanding Beta Readers.  Another is my Comma Queen.  She makes last minute polishing a dream.  And just recently, I hooked up with another Minnesota writer who has proven to be an outstanding critiquer.  He’s young (by my ancient standards) and has a fresh perspecive.  He’s also not afraid to tell it like it is.

“Everything sounded really good up to here.  This part just doesn’t work for me.  Flesh it out.  Give more detail.  This sounds off.”

I love it.  My critters are the best Happy Meal around.

Is it important to have a well-rounded critique group, or is that akin to too many cooks at the fry basket?  Which type of reader is the hardest to find?  Which ones are the most valuable to you, and why?   

Now let’s go get a hamburger!