Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Break



First off, some good news: I was one of ten winners of Elana Johnson's Query Letter Giveaway last week - I won a query letter critique by the fabulous Elana Johnson!

Secondly, I'll be taking a blogging break and attempting to stay off the computer (ha!) to spend the holidays with my family and enjoy my kids' winter break from school.

Merry Christmas to you all! See you in January!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

BooKrushed 2011 Reading Challenge Results

At the beginning of 2011, I decided to participate in the BooKrushed 2011 Reading Challenge by reading 11 books published in 2011. I know a lot of you read way more than I do, but I did finish the challenge so I thought I'd give myself a pat on the back. :)

Here are the 11 books I read:
1.  Across the Universe by Beth Revis
2.  Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
3.  Delirium by Lauren Oliver
4.  The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
5.  The Hating Game by Talli Roland (paperback release in 2011)
6.  Possession by Elana Johnson
7.  With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo
8.  The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
9.  Bestest.Ramadan.Ever by Medeia Sharif
10. Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
11. The Death Cure by James Dashner

There were some amazing books published this past year! Have you read any of these? Or any other books published in 2011 not mentioned here? What books are you looking forward to in 2012?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Spirit



Now that Thanksgiving's come and gone, it's time for the burning question: Have you started your Christmas shopping? Other than a few small things here and there, I haven't. I haven't put up a single decoration, taken the Christmas card photo, or listened to a carol. I'm sure my holiday spirit will get here eventually, but it's a little slow coming this year.

How about you? Are you in the holiday spirit? Or how about the winter spirit? Winter is my least favorite season, but my son loves it. He watches the weather constantly, looking for snow in the forecast (none yet, thank goodness!) Have you had any snow where you live? If not, are you looking forward to it?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Switching Gears

If you've been reading my weekly progress reports, you know I've been trying to finish the rough draft of my YA mystery, the Cottage, by the end of November. Usually I like to get started on a rough draft and just plow through till it's finished, but over the weekend I decided to switch gears. I'm going to apply for a local writers retreat, and I'd like to use The Cottage for the retreat. So I'm now working on editing the first twenty pages before I've finished the rough draft. This is the first time I've ever edited a draft that wasn't finished.

Of all the stages of writing a novel - outlining, writing the rough draft, editing, querying - editing is my favorite. I love writing the rough draft, too, but I don't edit at all as I go, so when I'm done I'm left with a big, ugly mess. It's a necessary step in my process, but a little discouraging, too. I seriously start to wonder why I think I can write in the first place. Then I start editing, and slowly but surely everything falls into place (usually!)

So I guess I won't be finishing my rough draft in November, but hopefully I'll return to it with renewed enthusiasm and inspiration in December.

Do you edit as you go along, or keep the rough drafting and the editing completely separate? And have you ever attended a writers retreat?

Friday, November 11, 2011

String Bridge Chart Rush

Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrackMelody Hill: On the Other Sidewritten and performed by the author herself, for free!

All you have to do is purchase the book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and then email the receipt to:

jessica.carmen.bell(at)gmail(dot)com

She will then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

To purchase the paperback:

To purchase the eBook:

To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.




If you are
not familiar with String Bridge,
check out the book trailer:



Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my
veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.
~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel … String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion
Thrust
and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult
scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds
barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop
character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel.
I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.” ~ Karen Jones
Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Please TWEET and/or FACEBOOK this post using #StringBridge!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weekly Progress Report and Award



I received The Versatile Blogger award from the fabulous C. Lee McKenzie. Thanks C. Lee! And I'm supposed to share seven things about myself. I'll see if I can combine this with my weekly progress report (how's that for efficient?)

1. This past week I wrote almost 12,000 words, so I met my goal of 1667 words/day which I need to finish my rough draft this month.
2. Even better, I got to attend my local SCBWI conference with my good friend Sharon Mayhew from Random Thoughts. I learned some new things, got inspired, and had a terrific time!
3. I'm not doing Nano, but I have been posting my progress with the Facebook group Writers Support 4 U. I'm amazed at how this has helped my motivation to achieve my daily word count.
4. Right now I'm reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin and I'm loving it!
5. My kids and I are reading The Death Cure by James Dashner together. Every night they beg me to keep reading just one more chapter and usually I agree because I don't want to put it down either.
6. Judging from the comments on my post on outlining, I'm kind of an extreme outliner. I'm planning to give pantsing a try with my next wip. I figure I'll never know if it works for me if I never give it a try.
7. I should never be left alone in the house with leftover Halloween candy - a very dangerous combination!

I'm supposed to pass this award on to fifteen bloggers. Since I can't choose, I'd like to pass this on to anyone out there who would like to accept it. Thank you all so much for reading my blog and sharing my writing journey with me!

How's your writing coming this week? Do you have a problem with leftover Halloween candy like I do?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriWs4U


I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this month, but I am participating in NaNoWriWs4U as part of the Writers Support 4 U Facebook group. Today I announce my goal for this month, and I'll check in with the WS4U group daily on Facebook and here on my blog once a week to let you know my progress. If you'd like to join in the fun, it's not too late! And if you're not a member of WS4U yet, hop on Facebook and join us!

My Project: The Cottage (working title)
Genre: Mystery
Category: YA
Goal: 80,000 words
Current Word Count: 30,000
Words Left to Go: 50,000

This is a total guesstimate, since my ultimate goal is a 90,000-word draft, but I know my rough drafts are always short so I'm guessing it will end up at more like 80,000 words. So my real goal is just to finish the rough draft, whether I've achieved that word count or not.
How about you? Are you doing Nano? Do you have a writing goal for this month?

Check out some other great progress this week:
http://www.writersally.blogspot.com/
http://jc-martin.com/fighterwriter/
http://waibelworld.blogspot.com/
http://nicolezoltack.blogspot.com/
http://susanfieldswriter.blogspot.com/
http://skmayhew.blogspot.com/p/tuesday-wip-status.html
http://margoberendsen.blogspot.com/
http://www.sherryauger.blogspot.com/
http://www.susanoloier.blogspot.com--in/
http://carrieannebrownian.wordpress.com/
http://lynneawest.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weekly Progress Report - 10.25.11 - Outlining


Since I'm now posting on Tuesdays only, I plan to use my weekly post to give my progress report and talk about the various stages of writing a new book as I go through them. As I said last week, I've finished the outline of my new wip and have moved on to writing the rough draft, which I am very, very happy about! But this week I'm going to take a step back and talk about outlining.

I start an outline by figuring out my main storyline, as well as all my subplots and layers. I figure out the plot structure for each of these storylines and then write a step-by-step progression for each of them. Then comes merging it all together so it makes some sort of sense. The way I do that is by getting as many different colors of markers as I can find and a ginormous piece of paper and writing it all down. Above is a picture of my outline for my new wip. Yes, it's a mess, but the color coding helps me see each storyline at a glance and also the story as a whole.

If you're an outliner, how do you outline? Do you use a chart like mine? Any tips to share?

If you're not an outliner, do you have some method of keeping track of the storylines as you go through your rough draft? Or do you make an outline after the rough draft is complete to use for future drafts?


Check out some more great progress this week by other Writer Support 4U members:
http://www.writersally.blogspot.com/
http://jc-martin.com/fighterwriter/
http://waibelworld.blogspot.com/
http://nicolezoltack.blogspot.com/
http://susanfieldswriter.blogspot.com/
http://skmayhew.blogspot.com/p/tuesday-wip-status.html
http://margoberendsen.blogspot.com/
http://www.sherryauger.blogspot.com/
http://www.susanoloier.blogspot.com--in/
http://carrieannebrownian.wordpress.com/
http://lynneawest.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Winner!


I have a winner to announce today! Thanks to everyone who commented on my previous post spotlighting With a Name like Love, the debut novel of author Tess Hilmo. And the winner of her very own copy of With a Name like Love is Anne Kenny! Congratulations, Anne!

And once again I am changing my blogging schedule. The good news is that I'm finally done outlining my newest wip! (((throws confetti))) I've started working on the rough draft and it feels soooo good to be writing again! But my goal is a scene a day, and that's taking up most of my free time. So from now on, aside from the occasional blogfest or special blogging event, I'll be posting only on Tuesdays to make more time for rough-drafting. Don't you just hate when writing gets in the way of blogging? :)

So, how's your writing coming? What are you working on right now?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kick A** 2011 Debut Author Spotlight - Tess Hilmo: With A Name Like Love


Today I'm joining several other bloggers in spotlighting a 2011 debut author. To see the others, click here.

I've chosen to spotlight Tess Hilmo. Tess's debut novel, With a Name like Love, launched just a couple of weeks ago. Tess's writing is beautiful and her characters are amazingly vivid. There are five daughters in the Love family, and I am certain I could identify any one of them just by a line of dialogue. The language is rich and descriptive; the plot is full of mystery and tension. I don't normally read MG or historical, but I loved every minute of this incredible book.

To celebrate the release, I've asked Tess to join us today for a short interview.
When did you first get the idea for With a Name Like Love?
1. With a Name Like Love came from an original song I had written titled Lead Me On. It is patterned after the classic Southern spritiuals, written in a pentatonic scale. I adore those old classic songs! Anyway, my mom heard the song and said, "You should write a story to go with that song." This novel is that story. The song is even featured in it and is the background music in my trailer!
How long did the process take from idea to publication?
2. Five months from idea to first draft. Another year of revisions. Two months of submissions to agents. One month of edits with agent. Four months of submissions to publishers. Twenty two months from contract with publisher to pub date. So, let's do the math: 5+12+2+1+4+22 = 41 months or just about 3 1/2 years! (But I've been trying at this whole process for a total of 9 years)
What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?
3. Believe! Endeavor! Endure!
If you were stranded on a desert island with only one book, what book would it be?
4. Easy peasy. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. That novel started my love affair with historical fiction.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Tess! And because a book like this is too good not to share, I'm giving away a copy of With a Name like Love! To enter, just leave a comment and include your email address so I can notify you if you win.

Have you read any debut 2011 authors? Which one(s)?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Today I'm participating in Teaser Tuesday. This weekly meme is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.


The rules:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser today is from page 13 of With a Name like Love by Tess Hilmo:
"As she passed by, the shop woman muttered, 'If'n you're asking me, I'd say you were looking for a mess of trouble invitin' that Koppel boy to your celebration. He'll bring bad luck upon you and your whole clan - plus shoo us good people away."

I'm going to be taking a short blog break while my kids are on fall break from school. Next week I'll post on Monday and Thursday instead of my usual Tuesday/Thursday schedule. Have a great week, everyone! And if you have a teaser to share, I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Congratulations!


Today I want to say a huge "congratulations!" to my wonderful friend, Tess Hilmo. Tess's debut MG novel,With a Name like Love, launched this week. I met Tess and some other amazing woman writers several years ago at a week-long Highlights Writer's Workshop, and they've been awesome friends and writerly support for me ever since. Be sure to stay tuned for my interview with Tess and review of With a Name like Love - coming soon!
In the meantime, if you don't know Tess, click here to say hello and tell her congrats!

And thanks so much to everyone who told me your thoughts on outlining in my previous post. It seems there are as many different ways to outline as there are writers. I found it fascinating to read everyone's different methods!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Today I'm participating in Teaser Tuesday. This weekly meme is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.
The rules:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 
My teaser is from page 14 of Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass.
 
"How do you build a larger-than-life character in your current manuscript? What does your protagonist say, do, and think that he, or we, would never, ever venture?"

Just for the record, I think the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook is one of the all-time most useful books for writers. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it.
 
Have you read the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook? What are you reading right now? Care to share a teaser?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Outlining


I'm plotting a new book. I'm a diehard outliner, so this phase of writing takes me a looong time. I love writing from an outline, I love knowing where I'm going and exactly how each scene is going to play out (not that it always goes like I planned it, but I like at least having an idea of how I want it to go).

But the outlining phase takes so long (at least for me), and I'm just itching to dive in and start writing words and to hear what my main character wants to say. I'm so tempted to jump ahead and start writing, but I know if I do I'll write myself into a corner and make a huge mess. I wish I could just wing it, but that's not how I work. So here I sit, outlining away and imagining scenes in my head and wishing I was putting words on paper.

How about you? Do you outline or do you wing it? If you outline, do you enjoy that part of the process?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Today I'm participating in Teaser Tuesday. This weekly meme is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.
The rules:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
 
My teaser is from page 83 of Where Are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark.
 
"Hunching his shoulders inside his coat, the chief stamped his feet as the sleet melted into his shoes. He wondered if this was the spot from which Nancy Eldredge had dragged her kids into the water."
 
What are you reading right now? Care to share a teaser?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Watching Willow Watts Web Splash

Today I'm participating in Talli Roland's "Watching Willow Watts" Web Splash. To help celebrate Talli's latest release, Watching Willow Watts, I'm posting about the person I'd most like to be. I've chosen Randy Grimm, the founder of Stray Rescue of St. Louis.


I have a huge heart for animals, which is why Randy Grimm is so important to me. He's dedicated his life to helping the stray animals in the St. Louis area. His shelter doesn't just accept the animals brought to their door - they go out into the city and bring these starving, injured, sick, forgotten animals in. They rehabilitate them - give them love and care and time - and then they find loving homes for them.
photo credit: Stray Rescue website, http://strayrescue.org/node/37

I've chosen Randy Grimm because he isn't someone who just talks about what he believes in, he lives it. He makes a difference in the world. He is the kind of person I want to be. Thank you for all you do, Randy!

Here's information on Watching Willow Watts:
For Willow Watts, life has settled into a predictably dull routine: days behind the counter at her father's antique shop and nights watching TV, as the pension-aged residents of Britain's Ugliest Village bed down for yet another early night. But everything changes when a YouTube video of Willow's epically embarrassing Marilyn Monroe impersonation gets millions of hits after a viewer spots Marilyn's ghostly image in a frame.
Instantly, Willow's town is overrun with fans flocking to see the 'new Marilyn'. Egged on by the villagers -- whose shops and businesses are cashing in -- Willow embraces her new identity, dying her hair platinum and ramming herself full of cakes to achieve Marilyn's legendary curves.
But when a former flame returns seeking the old Willow, Willow must decide: can she risk her stardom and her village's newfound fortune on love, or is being Marilyn her ticket to happiness?

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/nIygHP

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/riMpmH

And here is a link to the other participants:
http://talliroland.blogspot.com/p/watching-willow-watts-launch-sept-14.html

If you could be anyone in the world, who would it be?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go hug my dog. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't Miss...

Don't miss all the contests going on out there in the blogosphere right now!

Nisa at Wordplay, Swordplay is celebrating 200 followers. She's giving away a color Nook, Christine Fonseca's Emotional Intensity complete with book swag, and a subscription to Danyelle Leafty's serial novel, The Fairy Godmother Dilemma. Hurry over to Nisa's blog and enter before the 15th!

Theresa Milstein at Theresa's Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts (formerly known as Substitute Teacher's Saga) is celebrating her blogiversary and her new job, among other things. She's giving away 4 books. Enter Theresa's contest before September 27!

Also, Talli Roland is celebrating her upcoming release, Watching Willow Watts, with an online "If I could be anyone, I'd be..." party. You can join in the fun by signing up on Talli's blog, then posting about the person you'd most like to be. But hurry, the party is tomorrow, September 14!

Whew, there's a lot going on. And now, just because my good buddy Lenny over at Lenny's World asked, I'll share a few more photos of our California trip. Thanks to everyone who visited and commented - we had such a fantastic time, and I'm so jealous of all the people who said they've lived in that area. Someday... (((deep sigh))).



The top photo is the view of San Francisco from the ferry to Alcatatraz, the second is Alcatatraz, the third is a photo of the sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco, and I think the fourth is just a view of the countryside on our drive from San Francisco to Napa.

So, in the spirit of Talli's Willow Watts party, I'll ask you this: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I'm Back!

Hi Everyone!

Well, that break went on much longer than I'd planned. I went on vacation last week, so I decided to wait until after vacation to return. It's so good to be back! I can't wait to come around and visit all your blogs and see what I've been missing!

I'll leave you with a few pictures from our vacation to California.


We visited San Francisco, Napa, and Lake Tahoe. The first two photos are from Lake Tahoe, the third is a view of Alcatraz in San Francisco.

So what have you all been up? Did anyone else take a vacation this summer? Where did you go?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Break

Image: hinnamsaisuy / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Update 8/21/11 - My break's going to be a little longer than I thought. Due to some unexpected commitments, I'll come back September 8. I can't wait to catch up with everyone then!



I'm going to be taking a few weeks off to spend time with extended family while my kids are off school for the summer. I plan to return in early August. Okay, so I'm not actually going to the beach, but I can dream, can't I?

I'll miss you all - have a great July everyone!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Guest Post: J.C. Martin


I'm so excited to be hosting J.C. Martin today as she begins her blog tour to promote Stories for Sendai. Stories for Sendai is a collection of 20 uplifting and inspirational short stories and poems about the strength of the human spirit. All proceeds from sales will be donated to charity in aid of victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Today J.C. will be discussing a subject I know absolutely nothing about: compiling an anotholgy. Take it away, J.C...

Thank you, Susan, for hosting us! :)

When I first decided to put together this anthology for charity, I knew there would be a lot of work involved--what I hadn't realised was just how much that was! Luckily for me, the wonderful
Michelle Davidson Argyle graciously stepped in as co-editor, and with her wealth of experience and expertise, we managed to get the project off the ground much sooner than I would have fumbling about on my own!

In the course of compiling the anthology, I’ve learned a lot about the process of publishing a collection of written work from contributing authors. Hopefully the information will be helpful to anyone considering doing the same.

Step 1: Decide on a Theme

This one was easy. I intended to compile the charity anthology in aid of victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, so I’m looking for uplifting stories of hope and survival, of the strength of the human spirit, stories that will offer a silver lining in the dark clouds.

At the same time, I also decided on the charity the anthology would benefit. I settled on
Global Giving because the charity disburses funds to relief efforts at ground zero that need it most, including International Medical Corps and Save the Children.

Step 2: Call for Submissions, Deciding on a Time Frame

Our next step is to get the word out to as many writers as possible that we’re open to submissions. For this purpose, I set up a website for the anthology at
http://storiesforsendai.blogspot.com/, and Michelle and I directed everyone we knew to the site via our own blogs, Twitter and Facebook. The website contains information about the project, as well as our submission guidelines, which includes details like word limit, font, layout, etc. I also set up a listing on Duotrope Digest, which is free to do. I know we received at least one submission from the site, so it was worth doing it!

We also needed to impose a submissions deadline. As we wanted to release the anthology as soon as possible, before the plight of Japan got overshadowed by other news, we decided on a short turnaround time: a two-month period for submissions, from mid-March to May 15th, with the anthology being published on June 30th.

Step 3: Publicise, Publicise, Publicise!

We continued to publicise our call for submissions through different online channels. I was in a mild state of panic in the first few weeks, as we got few submissions for the anthology, but Michelle assured me that people will tend to submit closer to the deadline, and sure enough, she was right! Panic over!

Step 4: The Selection Process

This was my chance to feel like an agent/editor for a few days! After the deadline, it was time to read through all the entries we received and to pick our favourites to be included in the anthology. One small problem: the standard of entries were so high, we were forced to be mega-picky! In a nutshell, we looked for stories that reflected our chosen theme, were well written, and that touched our heart in some way.

I felt bad having to decline some really good submissions—I wonder if real agents feel that way when they reject a manuscript?

Once we announced the final list of accepted entries, the real work truly began!

Part 2 of compiling an anthology will deal with the publication process, and will be hosted tomorrow by Charity Bradford @
My Writing Journey! See ya there! And do follow the rest of the Blog Tour de Force: check out the schedule here!

Oh, and don’t forget to buy your copy of Stories for Sendai when it releases on June 30th! If everybody buys a copy on the same day, it’ll help boost the book’s rankings on the Amazon charts, and further increase our exposure! Apart from the obvious fact that the more copies we sell, the more we can help Japan, we’re also running a prize draw! Visit the
Stories for Sendai site for more details!

Thanks so much for visiting today, J.C.! And I hope you'll all check out J.C.'s blog and Stories for Sendai!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Poem From My Dad On Father's Day

In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to share with you a poem my dad wrote for me when I turned 16. I still have the yellowed, wrinkled paper in a frame in my bedroom. It was typed on a good old-fashioned typewriter, and his signature is almost too faded to see. My mom told me I'm the only person he's ever written a poem for besides her. This is something I'll treasure all my life.

SUE IS SIXTEEN

It only happens once,

Sue is sixteen.

From diapers and Mom's concern
To journalism and the track's many turns,
From the Covell Kid to the Sailor's Port,
She's come a long way through Speech and
Spanish, baby sitting and sport.
It only happens once,
Sue is sixteen.

She is the child who came along later,
The one who is the little sister.
But her delay simply made the love greater,
And when she's absent we all know we miss her.
It only happens once,
Sue is sixteen.

How can we say it?
What muse can inspire?
She invokes headaches and affection, praise and ire.
It only happens once.
Sue is sixteen.

Our feelings for her words may not always reflect.
But - she is special.

It only happens once,
Sue is 16.

To Sue with love,
Dad

Thanks, Dad - I love you! And a happy Father's Day week to you all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I'm Irresistibly Sweet!







I received the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award from Iris Blobel, Deniz Bevan, and Amy. Thanks, Iris, Deniz, and Amy!


To accept this award, I need to list seven random facts about myself:

1. My favorite TV shows are Big Bang Theory and House.

2. I watch movies while I run on the treadmill. Right now I'm watching Life as a House, one of my all-time favorite movies.

3. My favorite books are the Hunger Games books.

4. My favorite food is coconut cream pie (yum!)

5. I love horror movies, especially in the summer. No idea why I enjoy them more in the summer, but I do.

6. I live with my husband, three kids, a dog, a cat, a fish, and two frogs.

7. I have a BS degree in electrical engineering, but I haven't worked outside the home in fifteen years. Sometimes I'll do something not-so-brilliant, and my husband will say, "Michigan State called, they want their degree back. " Yep, he's a charmer all right.


And I'm supposed to pass the award on to 10 other awesome blog buddies:


1. Tracy @ My Thoughtful Spot

2. Trisha @ WORD + STUFF




6. Stephanie Haefner @ The Writer's Cocoon

7. Cindy Borgne @ Dreamer's Perch


9. Beth @ Of Muses and Meringues



How about you? What's your favorite movie/tv show/book/food? Do you like horror movies?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Guest Blogger: Raquel Byrnes

I have a special treat for you today. Raquel Byrnes is stopping by on her blog tour to discuss why you should enter a writing contest. Raquel is celebrating the June 3rd release of her book, Purple Knot.



Why You Should Enter a Writing Contest
If you aren’t an active part of a critique group or have some Beta readers giving you feedback on your manuscript, assessing how you’re growing as a writer can be difficult. One of the best ways to do this is by entering a writing contest. Now, it may seem intimidating, but here are three reasons why you should go ahead and fill out that entry form.
• It will help you learn to follow directions. This may seem like a little thing, but it is surprising how many people burn an opportunity with an agent or editor simply because they didn’t check the submission requirements. Check them. Follow them to the letter. To. The. Letter. A contest, much like submitting a query, is a winnowing process and you don’t want to end up on the threshing floor before they even read your story.

• You learn to work with a deadline. All contests have a date at which submissions are no longer accepted. Writing to deadline is something that you will eventually have to do and learning how you deal with this during a contest is a lot better than freaking out when an agent gives you one. Do you need to get more organized? Do you need specific writing times to be productive? A contest deadline will reveal how you work under pressure.

• You learn how to take critique. Even if you blow them out of the water and final on your first try, you will get back suggestions for improvement. Taking criticism graciously is an essential part of being a writer. Learn how you handle it from a contest and you can be sure you won’t break down later on when dealing with a publishing editor. Do you argue? Do you get hurt? Do you throw up your hands and walk away or buckle down and improve? Contests can help you see how you deal with this.

There are a lot of inexpensive contests out there with wonderful professionals willing to look over your first 50 pages and give you honest feedback. The types of contests available span the genres, from romance to flash fiction, there’s something out there for your style and story.
Many writers’ guilds offer contests as well as their local chapters. Romance Writers of America and Writer’s Digest Magazine both have excellent opportunities to get your work in front of professionals. Take care to enter contests that only charge a nominal fee. Around thirty-five dollars is the norm. Anything that charges a hefty entrants price may not be reputable.
Contests can be exciting and helpful if you enter them with the right attitude. Who knows, you might take the trophy.

Thanks, Raquel! I'm not one to enter contests usually, but Raquel's certainly given me some good reasons to start! Do you enter writing contests? Why or why not?

And be sure to stop by Raquel's blog and tell her congratulations on Purple Knot's release!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's All Fun & Games Blogfest

Today I'm participating in Alex J. Cavanaugh's It's All Fun & Games Blogfest. So here are my top three favorite games (not in any particular order) and why:



#1 - Ticket to Ride is one of my newest favorites. It reminds me somewhat of Settlers of Catan (another one of my favorites), but it's a little simpler and easier for kids to play. Try to complete as many "trips" as possible by filling in the tracks with your train cars. This is a great family game.


#2 - Loaded Questions is a great game to play with a group of people you know well. Try to match up the answers with the people who gave them. How well do you really know your family and friends?





#3 - I've posted about Balderdash before because it's one of my all-time favorite games and a great game for us creative types. You get to make up and try to fool others with your own word definitions, bizarre laws, movie plots and more.

Those are my top three. To read the rest of the It's All Fun & Games blogfest entries, click here.


What's your favorite game?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Lenny-Lee Fest


Today I'm joining several bloggers around the blogosphere in spreading some Lenny Lee sunshine! I wrote this poem for my favorite young blogger who likes raccoons, Matchbox cars, mangoes, hugs, and smiley suns: Lenny Lee!

*******************************
Lenny Lee and his pet raccoon
Got in a rocket and flew to the moon.
He ate swiss cheese
And said, “More please!”
And then it was time to go home.

Lenny Lee and his Matchbox cars
Got in a rocket and flew to Mars.
He met men who were green
And a little bit mean
And then it was time to go home.

Lenny Lee and his mango gum
Got in a rocket and flew to the sun.
He stayed for a while
And made the sun smile
And then it was time to go home.

Lenny Lee knew love’s true worth
So he got in a rocket and flew to Earth.
He hugged his family and friends
And the love never ends
Because Lenny’s so glad to be home.

*******************************

If you haven't met Lenny yet, you really should! He's a wonderful little boy with a huge heart! Please click here to pay him a visit and say "hi!"

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tagged!

Medeia and Trisha tagged me. Here are my answers:
Do you think you're hot?
Nope, mostly I just feel old.


Upload a picture or wallpaper you are using at the moment.

This is a picture from our October 2010 family trip to Florida.



When was the last time you ate chicken meat?
Last Thursday I had homemade cashew chicken.


The song(s) you listened to most recently?
Teenage Dream by Katy Perry - not by choice, but because I was riding in the car with my teenaged daughter.


What were you thinking as you were doing this?
My spring allergies have officially kicked in for this year (as I sneeze yet again!)


Do you have nicknames?
My husband calls me Suzy. My mother and some of my aunts used to call me Sue Ellen. When I was a kid, my siblings and I had matching nicknames - Mary was Mud, Carrie was Cud, Judy was Jud, I was Sud, and Ed was Ud. We still use those sometimes.


Tag 8 blogger friends (you are it!)
1. Kelly Polark
8. Hema


Who's listed as number 1?
Kelly Polark. Kelly's Dear Diary posts, real entries from her childhood diary, are among my all-time favorite blog posts.

Say something about number 5.
Old Kitty's comments on my blog ALWAYS make me smile. :)

How did you get to know number 3?
Jackee was my first follower that I didn't know before I began my blog. A few months later, when I wanted to link my blog to my Facebook page, I emailed Jackee and she explained it to me. We've since become crit partners and great friends!


How about number 4?
I met Brian through Sharon (#2) She said she knew a cat with his own blog. I had to check that out, and now I love my visits to Brian's blog!

Leave a message for number 6.
Congratulations again on finding your agent - yay!


Leave a lovey dovey message for number 2.
Sharon, you're one of the nicest people I've ever met - thanks for being such an amazing friend!


Do number 7 and number 8 have any similarities?
I met both Dawn and Hema when we participated in a Skype seminar with agent Mark McVeigh.

This was fun! How about you? Do you have any nicknames?


Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I Can Comment!

NOTE: If you're looking for my Power of Tension blogfest entry, please click here.

At least, I think I can (comment, that is). I've left three comments so far this morning and Blogger seems to be working for me, so I hope I can keep going! I seem to have lost my Follower gadget, but I'm hoping that will return in time as well. :)

I apologize to everyone who commented on my Power of Tension Blogfest entry and has not yet received a return visit from me. I haven't been able to comment since Monday, but it seems to be working now so I promise to get around to all your blogs at some point this weekend. Thanks for your patience!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, everyone! I've got a pretty quiet weekend planned, just dinner with some friends and a bbq at my sister's house on Monday. How about you?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Power of Tension Blogfest





This week, Cally Jackson and Rachel Morgan are hosting The Power of Tension Blogfest. We are to post an excerpt (300 words or less) that drips with tension and leaves the reader wanting to know more. My entry is from my epic fantasy, In the Seventeenth Year. Enjoy!

******************************************

“They’re coming up the walk,” the limping man said.

Keenan ignored the excited murmurs buzzing through the room. None of the others knew the reason for the meeting. Moira dismissed their questions, saying only that she would explain everything when Ellis and Garrick arrived. They gave Keenan curious stares, but Moira did not introduce him, and his sullen manner successfully discouraged any attempts at conversation.

Keenan steeled himself as he watched the door. After contemplating Moira’s story all afternoon, he still he did not know what to make of it. He would never have believed it, save for one fact: Father did not deny her claim. On the contrary, he knew exactly what she was talking about.

What interested Keenan most was that his supposed “mother” had kept his brother. If she could keep one son, why not both? Why did she leave him to face Father and his dagger night after night, while she and her other son lived a peaceful life just one hour away? If Moira was telling the truth, and he could only conclude that she was, then his mother possessed the coldest heart in all of Fairfax.

The door handle jiggled. Keenan felt a twinge of excitement, despite himself. What were these people, his “family,” like? Would his brother look like him? He had not thought to ask if they were identical twins.

“Here they come,” Moira whispered in his ear.

The door swung open.

****************************************

That's it! Thanks for reading, and please click here for links to the rest of the entries.

Have a great Monday, everyone! Did you do anything fun over the weekend? I finished painting the basement (whew!) and spent Sunday at Six Flags.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Spring Colors



I'm no photographer (though I wish I were!), but I was making dinner the other night and I looked down and thought the colors were just so pretty I had to take a picture. One of my favorite things about spring is visiting the fruit stand. After a long winter, it's so nice to have a plentiful supply of fresh fruits and vegetables!


What is your favorite thing about spring?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Musings

1. Gardening done, and I got it finished on Friday evening before the rain came! Which was great, because it then proceeded to rain the entire weekend and watered my new plantings. It's funny how much more I appreciate rain after I've been gardening.

2. I took my kids to see Soul Surfer yesterday. I could tell from the previews I would like it, and it ended up being even better that I'd hoped. I guess it's the mom in me, but it made me very emotional. My favorite part was when they showed photos of the real Bethany Hamilton and her family at the end. My kids all gave it a thumbs-up as well.

3. We ordered the flooring for our basement on Saturday, and today I start painting the walls. We're turning it into a rec room for the teenagers in the house. This should be a good opportunity to let those creative plotting juices flow. :)

4. I just won over at Deniz Bevan's The Girdle of Melian blog for her 500 Posts Contest. Thanks so much, Deniz!

Did you do anything fun this weekend? Any big plans for the week ahead?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Plotting and My Garden


Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



I'm a plotter through and through. Some people don't need a road map to get through their novel, but I do. I know this about myself, so I'm willing to take the time to work out a detailed outline of my plot. And for the most part, I enjoy this part of the process.

But...it's not the actual writing. And I miss the writing. When I'm writing, I can sit down and lose myself in the story for hours. I don't get easily distracted. But when I'm plotting, it seems I'll look for any excuse to get out of the chair. Just yesterday I cleaned the inside of the refrigerator, did the laundry, baked two batches of banana bread, and did the grocery shopping. This weekend I may even (gasp) do the gardening my yard is so desperately in need of. All while I'm supposed to be plotting this new novel.

I think it's probably that plotting doesn't feel concrete. I'm not increasing my word count. I'm not editing my way through a list of chapters. I'm just playing around with ideas, and even though I'm making progress, I can't really see it. As someone who thrives on daily to-do lists, this makes me antsy.

What about you? If you're a plotter, do you enjoy the time you spend plotting? How long do you spend plotting a new novel? If you're a pantser, how much time do you spend thinking about a new novel before actually starting to write?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vallar Winners!

The winners of five free e-copies of Cindy Borgne's sci fi novel Vallar are...

1. Hema Penmetsa
2. Lydia Kang
3. Robyn Campbell
4. Anita Miller
5. Medeia Sharif

Thanks for entering everyone! Winners, watch your email - your coupon codes for your free copies will be arriving soon! And thanks to everyone who entered!

I hope all you all had a wonderful Mother's Day! I spent mine playing board games with my mom. We're both board game fanatics, but no one else in the family shares our addiction - they can't stop us on Mother's Day, though! My younger daughter made pancakes for breakfast and my older daughter made tacos for dinner. Whether you're a mother or not, did you do anything special for Mother's Day?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shopping Spree!





Woo hoo! Look at all those beautiful books! I took my eleven-year-old daughter on a shopping spree to Barnes & Noble yesterday, and we both came away with full shopping bags. Some of these were suggestions you guys gave me a few posts ago, so thanks again for the wonderful recommendations! I'm excited to get started, but right now I'm beta reading a fantastic MG novel written by one of my uber awesome critique partners, so these beauties will have to wait a little while longer. :)

If you missed my interview with author Cindy Borgne, click here for your chance to win a copy of her sci fi novel, Vallar.

And click here to read Carolina Valdez Miller's review of Possession by Elana Johnson and enter her giveaway for a signed ARC.

So, have you taken any shopping sprees lately? What did you buy?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Meet Cindy Borgne, Author of Vallar, and a Giveaway!



Today I'd like to welcome Cindy Borgne to my blog. Cindy's currently conducting a blog tour, so I invited her to stop in and chat today. Here's some information on Cindy's new book, Vallar:

Sixteen-year-old Ian Connors works for Marscorp, using his psychic ability to give the organization an advantage over other groups angling for control of the embattled planet. The people of Earth have abandoned the colonies of Mars due to a dwindling of their own resources. The leaders of Marscorp believe that by pooling the planets assets, they will be able to gain enough power to force their way back to Earth.

Ian's job is to use his visions to locate smaller organizations in order to plunder their valuables and incorporate their masses. But a disturbing vision and a horrible loss cause Ian to doubt his loyalties to a corrupt, dictatorial admiral.

Unwilling to be a pawn in the Admiral's dangerous game, Ian must find a way to escape and protect a girl he sees himself with in the future. His only hope may lie with a new organization known as Vallar - an alliance of rebel organizations willing to fight for their survival. (380 Pages)


So, Cindy, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m from Macomb, Michigan. I’ve been writing since I’ve been about fourteen. Then on and off for many years in between raising two children. It’s been within the last seven years that I’ve become determined to stick with it. I write mostly science fiction and fantasy. I’ve been a stay at home mom for several years, but I’ve had a few day jobs such as web-designer, freelance editor, computer instructor, and I was once a payroll clerk for a school district.


What inspired you to write Vallar?

It was a combination of two things. In the story, the main character Ian, has the ability to foresee the future. So I put him in him a situation where he uses his ability for the wrong reasons, but he doesn’t realize it at first because he’s being manipulated. When he doesn’t realize it, he has to get away from the people using him for their own greed. The second reason is in the beginning of the story Ian sees himself with a girl he’s never met. I enjoyed experimenting with his desire to be with her based on a vision. It’s also is a forbidden type of love, and I had fun writing it.


Can you tell us about your writing process?

I always flesh out the plot and characterization first, so my first drafts are light on description. Once I know the plot is solid, I go back in and add all the details. Then I edit it several times. I put it up for critique, and I continue to edit it. I even listen to it on my Kindle to catch errors. I pretty much pound the thing before I publish it.


Do you have any interesting writing methods or quirks?

I always start out with an outline because they help get me going, but I never have been able to stick to them. Some things on my outlines work, but other things don't or I come up with better ideas.


Are you working on any new projects?

I want to finish a sequel to Vallar. Plus I would like to write a fantasy/historical novel set in the mid 1700’s.


And where can we find Vallar?

It's at Amazon, Nook and Smashwords. It's easiest to go to my website to find all the links: http://www.cindyborgne.com/ (click here).



And it gets even better - Cindy's giving away five free e-copies of Vallar! Just leave a comment on this post by Sunday, May 8 to be entered in the drawing (please include your email address). Five lucky winners will receive a coupon for a free download of Vallar from Smashwords. Winners will be announced on Monday, May 9.

Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting today, Cindy! And you can visit Cindy's blog by clicking here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Twitter

Yikes! I've decided to take the plunge and get serious about Twitter. I have to admit, I'm so dang confused right now. My username is susanefields. You can get to my profile page here.



Anyway, I'm not sure how to find all you lovely people on Twitter. If you have a Twitter account, could you either tell me how I can find you to follow you, or follow me so I can follow you back? It's kind of lonely here in Twitterland by myself. :(



Anyone have any words of Twitter wisdom to share? Or a quick explanation of Tweetdeck? I've heard of it, but I don't know what it is. I'd sure appreciate any help I can get!




Monday, April 25, 2011

Thanks and a Recommendation



Wow, you guys had some awesome suggestions for me and my kids to read. I wrote them all down and now I have a huge list to arm myself with at the library/bookstore. This should keep us busy for a long time! If anyone's interested in some great book ideas for their kids, please see the comments on my previous post.


Also, I finished Talli Roland's The Hating Game the other day, and I had to let you all know how much I loved it. As I've said before, I'm a fantasy girl through and through, so this book was my first ever venture into chick lit. I didn't know what to expect, but I really loved it! The characters are so real, I felt like I knew them. I was rooting the entire time for Mattie to get the guy (and to not let the bad guy get her!) It was a super fun read - I just love a book that makes me laugh out loud. Now I can't wait for Watching Willow Watts in November! Great job, Talli! And a special thanks to Laura Howard, who donated my copy of The Hating Game which I won on Talli's blog.


So, I'm working my way through my Bookrusher's 11 from 11 during 11 reading list (taking a short break right now to read Hex Hall so I can read its sequel, Demonglass - which is a 2011 release - next). Have you read any books published in 2011 so far this year? Which ones?


I hope you're all having a wonderful week!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Suggestions?

As I've mentioned before, I like to read to my three kids before they go to bed. I'm surprised they still allow me to do this, but I plan to keep it going as long as I have a willing audience! The problem is finding a book that all three of them will enjoy.

My fifteen-year-old daughter's criteria is that a book must have a "hot fifteen-year-old guy" (she's a romantic, just like her mother).

My thirteen-year-old son doesn't want anything too girlie - no romance or chick lit, please. A little bit of romance is okay, though. He survived reading Hunger Games with us.

My eleven-year-old daughter is too young for most YA, though she did read Hunger Games and loved those books probably as much as I did - which is saying a lot!

Books we've enjoyed in the past are the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson, the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, Dogsled Dreams by Terry Lynn Johnson, and The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall.



So, any suggestions?



I wish you all a happy and blessed Easter!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Second Ever Interview!

J.C. Martin, Fighter Writer, is hosting my second ever interview today! I hope you'll go check it out here!

So, it's Tuesday. I'm going to watch my daughter's very rainy track meet (if they don't call it off for thunderstorms). Thanks for everyone's well wishes for her track season. She had a great meet last week, so all your positive thoughts are working! What are your Tuesday plans?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Love Triangles


(Caution: Twilight and Hunger Games spoilers ahead!)

Okay, I admit it, I'm a huge fan of love triangles. I know not everybody is, but nothing keeps me turning pages faster than wondering which guy a female mc will choose. I stayed up half the night reading Mockingjay because I absolutely had to know whether Katniss would end up with Peeta or Gale or neither. And I think I might have hunted down Stephenie Meyer and given her a piece of my mind if Bella had chosen Jacob over Edward.

The hard part of a love triangle is that eventually the mc will have to choose just one. And if she truly does love both of them, that's a difficult if not impossible decision to make. As writers, our job is to make that decision believable, which is nearly as impossible. Collins certainly made me believe Katniss could never choose Gale after Prim was killed. And sorry, Jacob, but I always believed Bella loved Edward more.

I'm working out my own mc's resolution to her love triangle right now, and I'm fascinated by how other authors have handled this tricky situation. What do you think of love triangles? And can you think of other examples of love triangles and how the protagonist made his/her decision?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting to Know Michelle Merrill


Today I'm pleased to introduce you to another participant in Rachael Harrie's Second Platform-Building Crusade: Michelle Merrill. Hello Michelle, thanks for stopping by! I can't wait to learn more about you, so let's get started:


How long have you been writing?

I’d like to say that I’ve dreamt of being a writer my whole life…but that would be a lie. I started writing on January 3, 2010.


What made you want to write?

I blame it entirely on the character’s that took over my mind. The only way to make them stop was to write out what they had to say. More than once my mind was occupied by the ‘fake’ conversation going on in my head while spacing out on the real life one in front of my face. Oh, my poor family and friends.

Do you have any pet peeves while writing?

My pet peeves change but my biggest one right now is if someone touches me. My kids like to sit next me and lean on my arms. It just doesn’t work.


What are your favorite genres to write?

My all time favorite is fantasy. Paranormal takes a close second, though, with contemporary thriller’s just behind.


Quick, you only have five minutes to check one or two writing blogs, which ones would you go to?

Life, the Universe, and Writing by Shallee McArthur.

My Writing Bug by Chantele Sedgwick.



If you could pick the setting of one book to live in, which would it be?


The Copper Isles from Trickster’s Choice.


What's your favorite:

Book-Pride and Prejudice.

Author-Tamora Pierce.

Character- Enna from Enna Burning.

Thing about writing- The ability to create.

Time of the day- When the kids are all asleep in their beds.

And last, but not least, do you prefer fruity candy or chocolate?

Fruity. Sour fruity is even better!


Thanks for hanging out with us today, Michelle! And if you haven't met Michelle yet, be sure to stop by her blog and say hello!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Follow-Up

Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wow, I'm just blown away by all the great healthy eating tips you guys gave me on my last post. I know a lot of people didn't get a chance to read the tips given in the comments, so I decided to do a follow-up post. I really wish I could share them all here, but I'll try to keep this short by only passing on the highlights.


* Instead of ice cream, try fruit smoothies made with yogurt, milk, and fruit. (yummy!)


* Freeze low-fat yogurt in popsicle molds for yogurt pops. (This will be especially helpful for me this summer since my kids are popsicle fiends!)


* simplehealthytasty.com and skinnyrecipes.com offer yummy, healthy recipes.


* Make your own fresh-squeezed juice. Use honey to sweeten it instead of sugar.


* Make green tea with honey and lemon.


* To cut down on sodium, make your own salsa.

* Hummus on pita chips or baby carrots is a tasty snack.

* Make banana whips by whipping frozen bananas in the food processer.


* Instead of refined sugar, use raw agave nectar or stevia for sweetener.

* Put the fruits and/or vegetables out first at mealtime, so kids will eat more of the healthy stuff.


Thanks for all the awesome tips! My daughter has a track meet this weekend. Hopefully our new healthy eating habits will start paying off! I'll have to miss her meet because I'll be with my younger daughter at her Destination Imagination state tournament in Joplin, Missouri, but my husband will be at the track meet to cheer her on.

What have you got going on this weekend?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Small Changes

Image: Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is my daughter's first year running high school track, and with the track season just getting started, I'm trying to have healthier foods around the house. I talked to a friend who's also a runner and quite knowledgeable about nutrition. Here are some tips she gave me for eating healthy without necessarily dieting:

I wondered what healthy snacks I could have around in addition to fruits and vegetables. She suggested chips and salsa. Go easy on the chips, of course, but salsa is full of healthy vegetables. Another friend suggested carrots and celery with salsa.

I want to get the cookies and ice cream out of the house, but my kids are used to something sweet after dinner. She suggested trail mix with chocolate chips or M&Ms. They still get a taste of something sweet, but they're also getting healthy nuts and seeds. Of course, there's also a lot of fat, so don't overdo. I'm not sure how this one's going to go over with the kids, but I'm hoping the promise of a weekly family visit to the frozen yogurt place will encourage them.

We like to drink juice, but I was concerned about the high sugar. She suggested buying 100% juice and putting it in pitchers with water mixed in to cut down on the sugar.

After a workout, your body needs carbs and protein. She said chocolate milk is a great way to get both.

I'm hoping with these small changes, the whole family can eat healthier without it being all that different from what the kids are used to. Do you have any tips to add?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Interview and an Award

Please go read my first ever interview over at Michelle Merrill's blog! Thanks so much, Michelle!
Michelle also gave me the One Lovely Blog Award. Thanks again!


I'd like to pass this award on to some of my newer blogging friends:

#1 - Kari Marie @ Writing By Heart




#5 - Tracy @ My Thoughtful Spot

Happy Friday, Everyone! I'm going to be watching my kids play soccer most of the weekend. What are your weekend plans?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dogsled Dreams Review


A captivating and exciting debut novel. - Superior Outdoors Magazine

I'll say! This book is unlike anything my kids and I have ever read before. I read it out loud to them, and I was a little nervous my fantasy-loving offspring would have a hard time getting into a book about dogsledding. Not to worry! This book grabbed us right away and kept us turning pages straight to the end.

From the back cover:

Twelve-year-old Rebecca dreams of becoming a famous dog sled racer. She's an inventive but self-doubting musher who tackles blinding blizzards, wild animal attacks, puppy training, and flying poo missiles. All of her challenges, though, seem easier than living up to the dogs' trust in her abilities.

The writing is so vivid and the descriptions so clear, I felt like I was right there with Rebecca, caring for her dogs, dreaming of becoming a famous musher, and running her first dogsledding race. Details like the sound of the Northern Lights and the smell of Juicy Fruit gum on the breath of the boy she likes put me right in the moment. With a perfect balance of Rebecca's personal life and dogsledding adventures, plus plenty of obstacles to keep me in suspense, Dogled Dreams is a joy to read.

Added bonus #1 - My kids and I learned a lot about a topic we previously knew nothing about, and we had fun doing it. I love a book that educates as well as entertains, especially one I can share with my kids. It even includes a glossary of terms at the end of the book.

Added bonus #2 - By reading Terry Lynn's blog, we continue to learn even more about dogsledding. I especially loved when she posted a photo of the real life Apollo, one of the dogs in the book. If you haven't checked out Terry Lynn's blog, I highly recommend it. And if you haven't read Dogsled Dreams, I highly recommend that as well. :)

How about you? Have you recently tried a book outside your usual genre that you really liked? Have a great Tuesday, everyone!