Tag Archives: writing

Settling Your Palate

As parents, it is our jobs to worry. My oldest child hated to read. Every word that made it from paper to his brain was a fight. Oh, he’d listen to me read all day long, but getting him to pick up a book on his own was akin to torture. One exception was C.S. Lewis and other classics like White Fang. Tough books for a little boy with dyslexia.

But this wasn’t the first time I’d had to worry extensively about him or my other kids. Like any good mom, my kids’ eating habits were of utmost concern.

When Eldest was about a year and a half old, all he ate were strawberry Poptarts and bananas. And I do mean this literally. My lovely doctor assured me it was just a phase and that Poptarts were heavily fortified enough to see him through to the next love. My Dear Daughter, on the other hand, was a yogurt fanatic. She loved all things dairy to the point of refusing infant formula. She went straight from mama’s milk to moo milk at six months old–and Lord, did that cause a stir. Seven years later Youngest devoured oatmeal by the gobs. He had a bowl every morning and one every night before bed, often times supplementing his daily menu with a snack or two in between. If I had a penny for every time someone told me he would get fat from all the carbs, my Dear Hubby could retire

The only one who didn’t have a phase was our Middle son. At about eight months old, Middle had gotten so sick that he nearly didn’t make it through the severe dehydration caused by his multiple-infection diagnosis. For the next few years, he subsisted off of McDonalds’ shakes just to keep his calorie intake up and help close the growth gap created by the side-effects of his illness. Doctor’s orders. As you can imagine, he was a seriously picky eater. (Right, Dave Homann?) Not to mention, we were seriously concerned parents. All despite having other children with quirky eating habits not only survive, but thrive.

I have no idea if Eldest eats Poptarts or bananas, though I suspect many of the former and few of the latter. He is a college kid, after all. DD can’t stand the texture of yogurt, and Youngest still uses oatmeal as a bedtime snack more often than not. Middle likes anything not from McDonalds–with lemon peppered asparagus & brussel sprouts as a current fave.

Tastes change. Or not. And that’s okay. But what we don’t’ have to do is stress over the evolution. Change can be good. The journey even better.

We are blessed with a lifetime to try new flavors and textures. Opportunities abound to stretch our experiences and fall in love with new foods. So, too, are readers capable of changing literary loves.

As a voracious reader of mysteries in my childhood, I still appreciate a good thriller with a tangled web of deceit and a healthy dose of red herrings. I’ve also grown to love nonfiction. But only medical or history based nonfiction. Give me a 1,000 page tome on the history of rabies and I’m like a kid with the whole candy store at my disposal…or should I say consumption?!

Crime novels were once my Poptarts and bananas. While most romance novels are akin to the goopy texture of Greek yogurt.

My bookshelves are filled with a  vast palate of literature ranging from the classics to YA to pulp fiction. And that’s better than okay. Diversity is good, even if we have to go through picky phases to get there.

So, don’t be too harsh on your children for not eating their peas or not loving to read. Tastes change. It is our job to support the journey and expose ourselves and our  kids to unique and continuous opportunity, be it music, food, athletics or literature.

Once upon a time, Eldest struggled to read. Now, he is rarely without a book.

How has your palate changed? What are your current faves (of anything) and why? If you are a writer, how has this affected your writing journey?

Curious minds want to know.

Is Facebook Dead? & other Techy Stuff for Parents and Writers

It’s evident that most kids have emigrated from Facebook to cyber sites less-frequented-by-adults. This mass exodus has caused the extinction of previous social network sites, and I can’t help but wonder if Facebook is the next dinosaur of the cyber world.

For parents, this constant migration away from adult eyes means chasing down vines, instagrams and snap chats–an exhausting endeavor at best.

Yet for writers, it means one more way to date our writing. And that is never a good thing unless we pen historical fiction.

The bunchy phone cords of my childhood were replaced by cordless phones, then bag phones then cell phones that now know exactly where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with on any given day. It’s terrifying and could have been a sci-fi novel a handful of years back.

So what does the future hold for the written word in regards to technology?

Do we follow the trend of the day and pray that by the time our novels are published the tech hasn’t left our words behind?

Or, do we create our own, similar technology and use it as stand ins for the real thing?

And what is this social media thing all about anyways, and how will it continue to evolve? Is Candy Crush the future? Will we be wified from birth so that every thought, every memory, every sight we see will be instantly networked to curious onlookers? Will fiction become fact sooner than we think? How do you handle this and other techy conundrums in your life and your writing?

Curious  minds want to know!

It’s almost that time of year again…

Taking on the world, one novel at a time!

Crazy, I know, but super fun and dream-worthy, none-the-less!

In fact, just this morning, I ran across my high school graduation invitation. Our class motto is far more meaningful to me now than it was two and a half decades ago…

I didn’t always dream of writing, but once the bug bit me, I’ve never been able to shake it. NaNo, while crazy and intense, is an amazing annual event that inspires and motivates me. It’s like a runner’s high. Only better because my thighs don’t burn and I don’t have snot running down my face.

Since I started participating in NaNo, I’ve had nearly a dozen short stories, several articles and a novel (with a second one coming out next year) published, as well as edited a short story anthology and served on the acquisitions board for five others. I am firmly wrapped up in the beauty of my dreams.

And the hard work…

Once November hits, I’ll batten down the hatches and come up for coffee, kids and Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what my writing project will be, but I’m actually thinking of something a little lighter this year.

If anyone wants to join me in writing (or attempting to write) 50,000 words in 30 days, I make a great cheerleader. I also make a mean pumpkin cheesecake that I plan to bake for a local write-in. What could be better than good company, beautiful dreams and divine desserts?

Go ahead, click on the National Novel Writing Month icon above and sign up for a unique adventure. If you do, drop a line and let me know what your user name is, so we can get through the month together. If you live close enough, I might even throw in a margarita and homemade guacamole for incentive!

Share your dreams. What motivates you to reach them? Do you ever feel as if your dreams are so wild and crazy they are not worth pursuing? If so, how do you push on despite the devil on your shoulder?

Curious minds want to know.

Cleaning Bathrooms Is Exactly Like Editing

I have three boys, which means lots of resident testosterone. Add in friends, and the testosterone count increases exponentially. Throw in one daughter with finger nail polish, make up and ponytail holders to spice things up. Now you’ve got a glimpse into my house. As you can imagine, bathrooms quickly become a place I detest while maintaining a firm spot at the top of my TLC list. I can clean and clean and clean again, and yet every time I walk into a bathroom, I could clean it once again. Toothpaste on the mirror (how the heck does it get there?), soap scum in the sink, empty shampoo bottles, emptier toilet paper rolls and overflowing wastebaskets. Not to mention the toilet. I walk out, and someone else walks in. Scrub, restock, repeat.

Same with editing. No matter how many times I revise, rework and edit, my manuscript is never perfect. It just looks that way until the next time I pick it up.

Tiring: yes. Frustrating: even more so. Worth it? Heck yeah.

I just scrubbed my middle grade manuscript this weekend. It required a little picking up, not a major cleansing. Now to send it off to my editor, which is a bit like inviting the proverbial mother-in-law into the bathroom with a white glove…

What do you love about editing? What do you hate about it?

Curious minds want to know!

Survival of the Fittest: what’s your writing adaptability

This morning Dear Hubby packed for yet another work trip. After several years of packing and unpacking and forgetting and remembering certain items, you’d think he’d have it down pat. But alas, he says to me just before heading out, “I almost forgot my running shoes again.”

DH is a workout fanatic. He likes to work out hard, pushing himself to the next level and then the next. Because of this, Shawn T is a big name around our house. We have a love/hate relationship with him. I hate him, and DH loves him. Insane, yes, I know. But despite DH’s go-get-em attitude, he has one teeny, tiny flaw. He has plantar fasciitis so bad he can barely walk from the bedroom to the bathroom without his inserts in. Shoe wearing is a must nearly every minute of the day.

Me, however, I have perfect arches. I’ve tackled Shawn T in my bare feet. I stairmaster shoeless and have even been known to attempt to run on the treadmill sans footwear.

Needless to say, these differences led to a conversation about how DH would have never survived in ancient times. We giggled over the outcome of what this would have looked like back in the day. In particular, because we always joke that if a bear was chasing us, DH would only have to outrun me to save himself–an easy endeavor on any given day, as I don’t run. Period. That said, I wouldn’t need to run fast or far if we were in a barefoot race, because my buff hubby and his plantar fasciitis would take the finish line last every time.

This, ironically, is a conversation I’ve had with my big sister in times past. She’s legally blind and can’t even see herself in the mirror to put her contacts in, while I have 20/20 vision. “If we lived in the wild,” she’s been known to say, “our parents would have eaten me so they’d have more energy to save you.”

Guess what, writers? There’s survival of the fittest in the literary world, too. As writers, we all have fatal flaws that can kill us off before we ever get started. Triumphing in the publishing wilderness takes savvy, perseverance, talent, time, patience, motivation, huge pots of coffee, refusal to succumb to a little pain and learning to flourish despite it. We must be flexible and able to adapt to the changing market, to our own down falls and to the obstacles that get put in our way.

Survival of the fittest is a brutal process that we face each day in writing and in life.

But, as my Dear Hubby so eloquently says, “I only need to outrun you.”

In reality, sometimes the only person we need to outrun is ourselves.

Do you have what it takes to survive? What are your fatal flaws and how have you overcome them?

Curious minds want to know.

Lessons from a Ten Pound Ruler

Stella HuntingMy mornings used to be kid-centric. Get up. Get ready. Go to school. Simple, as long as Middle would brush his teeth the first time around, Youngest wouldn’t throw a fit about wearing jackets in forty degree weather and Dear Daughter had her morning coffee. Thankfully Eldest is self-sufficient in college…though now that he’s no longer under my direct care, I often wonder if he’s brushing his teeth, wearing his jacket and eating right at all.

Then along came Stella.

Ten pounds of fluff has changed our morning household. I could describe all the cute things Stella does, but it would be worse than describing how wonderful my kids were when they were the cutest babies in the world. All four of them.

You see, we do that, parents and grandparents. We dote on the little things that only we find adorable while everyone else looks on with glazed eyes and gives us bobble-head affirmations.

But this little dog has a trait I admire. Every morning she rides along when I drop the kids off at school.

Big deal, you might say. And, normally I would agree. However, Stella does this despite hating car rides. She despises them so much she shakes the minute we step into the garage. It is clearly painful for her, yet she is compelled to see her kids off each and every day.

I don’t force her to come. I don’t even ask. I simply get my shoes on when it’s time to go, and she stands by my feet until I pick her up and carry her to the car. She refuses to let us leave without her.

She’s dedicated. She’s determined. She’s courageous. I don’t know where she gets the gumption to put herself through this trauma, but I admire it.

As a writer, as a mom, as a human being, I wouldn’t mind ten pounds of dedication, determination and courage to jumpstart my days.

How about you? What would you like in abundance every day to help you accomplish the things you need to get done?

Curious minds want to know.

Spell Check Cracks Me Up

I love how clean my phone’s auto correct keeps me. In a particularly heated text I wrote how I had ducked up despite working my ads off.

Yeah, I’m not proud of writing those things in the first place, but it got me thinking about how easy it is to misinterpret things in oral conversation.

As a speech coach, I stress articulation, enunciation and pronunciation. Even how we say a word evokes different feelings from our listeners. Throw in a smirk on your face and your hands crossed over you chest and the words “You’re absolutely right” take on a whole new meaning. The spoken language can be tricky in all its nuances.

But so can writing. At least verbally, we can gauge a speaker’s true meaning by body language, facial expressions and vocal inflections. All of these are absent on paper. Which means that writers need to be hyper vigilant about how they present their information.

So, do me a favor, work your ads off and don’t duck up a great story with poor writing. Pay attention to whether your true message comes across to your readers the way you want it to, or whether you need a bit more clarification to make things rock!

Happy writing~