stories have personalities too

Every author has their own cadence with the written word, and sometimes, their pacing or word choice just doesn’t jive with us from the onset. That doesn’t necessarily mean the book isn’t good. For example: I found the first chapter of Hunger Games jarring and confusing when I read it the first time. Weird, right? So many people told me this particular novel grabbed them from page one. But my distracted mind kept wondering if the “I” in the story was a boy or a girl—a fact that wasn’t confirmed until chapter two or three. Although, once I grasped the feel for the author’s writing, my mind stopping seeing sentence structures and the story took over.

I’ve experience this struggle with enough novels that it no longer surprises me. I always give every book I open up at least three chapters before deciding if it floats my boat or not. Really, it’s a courtesy to the author. Every book written took somebody’s blood sweat and tears to create. A little patience on our part isn’t too much to ask in my opinion. But the “immediate satisfaction” world we live in might have some tossing aside good reads before really giving them a chance. What a shame. We can and should do better than that.

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It’s no big deal?

Over the weekend, after months of prepping, my ten-year-old son accompanied a large group of children on the piano for the first time. Mr. Bigshot has rolled his eyes at me for weeks as I talked about this milestone in piano playing.

“I got this. It’s no big deal,” he said over and over again.

He may have successfully practice the song several times with the children, but performance-time is a whole different beast. Nothing I said seemed to make a dent, so I gave up trying to help him understand how the I-got-this attitude might change once every eye in the room was on him. I left him with the best words of advice I’d been given the first time I tried to accompany anyone. “If you mess up, just keep going. You can’t go back and fix the mistake, the singers will have already moved on.”

Even with that advice my first time accompanying anyone was a complete disaster. The further into the song I went the more my fingers shook. It wasn’t that I hadn’t practiced—I hadn’t realized how nervous I would be. Unable to control the emotion, my fingers no longer worked like they should. It was such a horrible experience it took me years before I dared accompany anyone again, which is why I bugged my son to death on the subject. I figured my words would somehow help him deal with those mistakes he might make better than I did.

The day of the performance he sat down next to me at the piano, his eyes as big as saucers. “I’m not sure I can do this.”

Finally, he understood what I’d been trying to say, but now was not the time for I told you so. I wrapped my arm around his shoulder. “Yes you can. Just remember, no matter what happens, forge ahead.” And he did, doing a much better job at his first time accompanying than I did. I’m grateful too. Disastrous first experiences really kill the confidence.

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Pivotal Moments

I’m sure we can all think back and find pivotal moments in our lives—ones that greatly influenced the direction we chose. A silly little karaoke machine my younger sister was given as a gift opened up a world of imagination for me. Using my voice I made up characters and songs, acting out the part of radio DJ and celebrities. Even after all these years those recordings are still super embarrassing to me—and forever will be since my mother kept that tape from being destroyed—but I have to admit making that tape was part of the reason my mom helped me get involved with community theater.

Fast forward several decades later and here I am struggling in the writing world. Though acting and writing are both creative outlets that lean heavily on the imagination, at twenty years old, I never would have thought I’d leave the stage behind. Yet, a young man came into my life who somehow managed to squeeze himself past my initial priorities of acting forever. Some might see this as sad, because staying with him meant the end of those acting dreams, but throughout the years he’s given me so much more. He’s the direct catalyst behind my reason for writing. He challenges me every day to discover something more about myself. I’ll be forever grateful for his pivotal appearance in my life.

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A miracle times three

My oldest son is probably going to strangle me, but I just have to tell the world. This weekend he took not one, but three girls to the Homecoming dance. I couldn’t be prouder—not because he scored three dates instead of one, and not even because he went to something extracurricular and I didn’t have to make him. No, this teenager gets the golden star for emulating one of the many conversations I’ve had with him about the importance of being a good person.

I don’t think there’s anything more important in life. In my opinion, having perfect grades or even being a star athlete mean very little if you can’t treat others with kindness and compassion. So, I continually tell my children to “look about themselves,” which basically means be aware of those around you no matter what you’re doing.

Now enter a returning cross-country bus ride and those three girls. As my son sat in his seat listening to those girls lament their disappointment at not being asked to Homecoming, he decided to speak up and offer himself as a date for all of them.

When he regaled me the tale I was shocked beyond belief. My introvert son doesn’t like conversing much at all, especially with girls.

My dropped jaw had him putting his hands on his hips. “What, Mom? It was the right thing to do.”

“Yep,” was all I could say. And if he keeps this up, he’ll be quite a man someday.

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Stuffed Souls update

My next novel, Stuffed Souls, has been given an official date for release—March 1st 2018. For my loyal fans who might be wondering why it won’t be coming out sooner, trust me, this is not a bad thing. Collecting reviews, building buzz for a novel takes time. And I want this novel to be the very best it can be. I promise it will be worth the wait.

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The mind may be willing but the body isn’t…

You probably know the saying “The mind may be willing but the body isn’t.” There are just some things we cannot do. For example, I can’t high jump. My vertical abilities are really quite sad—even when I was young. Okay, so maybe that one is not such a big deal, but I also don’t like the sight of cuts and blood. And when you have a crazy ten-year-old boy like mine, my struggle with the sight of blood now becomes a big problem.

This week he came running into the house screaming in pain. “My hand, my hand,” he wailed, clutching his palm.

I shore up my head with one of those mental you-can-do-this peps talks and pull his fingers away to see the damage. At first all I see is blood, so much of it I can’t figure out where it’s coming from. I’m doing my best to stop my hands from shaking as I wipe a rag across the skin. He’s freaked out enough as it is. Then he pulls back his thumb and exposes a puncher wound in the valley between the thumb and pointer finger. Oh, good grief, it’s deep. I’m sucking air, trying not to pass out as I keep inspecting and wiping to make sure the wound gets clean.

“Bring me the super glue,” I say to my oldest, a sweaty, clamminess coming over me. I have to make my son get down on his knees with me as I glue the cut closed, darkness threatening to take me at any moment.

My husband jumps in to finish bandaging the wound, because I end up on the floor doing all I can not to lose consciousness. Jeez, I hate being such a wimp, but when it comes to blood, my body doesn’t care—a wimp I will be.

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Watch your words

If you want to be happier in life—stop complaining. Not because I don’t believe every single one of us isn’t struggling with something. Telling everyone you meet about how wrong your life is going will seldom, if ever, fix anything. This is probably going to make me sound heartless, but the majority of people don’t care about the problems you’re spouting. The few that do care are more than likely happy you have them. Do you really want to be giving those vultures more ways to hurt you?

Our minds are powerful tools. It’s amazing what a positive thought process can do to your outlook on life. But if only negative things are coming out of your mouth, how positive can your inner thoughts really be? Stop pushing that self-destruct button. I promise, if you seek to put a positive spin on everything you experience, your life will seem a whole lot brighter.

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