12.09.2014

Read Tuesday 2014!

At our book-signing in Madison.
This is me and my co-author Dan. We both read - a LOT. We love books, and words, and well, that's probably why we wrote a book together :)

This year we decided to participate in a great event called Read Tuesday, which is like Black Friday for books. During most Black Friday events, books are NOT discounted by retailers. Especially those offered by indie publishers like us. That's why we've joined ranks with other authors to offer our awesome book at a discount! We want to help other lovers of words get as many great books as possible (for themselves, and as gifts this holiday season!).

Starting today, and going through the rest of the month, we are running two deals on our book, Armageddon: Pick Your Plot:

1) Kindle Matchbook - Buy a hardcopy of Armageddon here on Amazon, and you will receive a FREE Kindle copy! This is a great option for gifting - one copy to wrap, one to keep for yourself!

2) CreateSpace - Use discount code 9T62RFQ3 to get 30% off your copy of Armageddon at CreateSpace. This is a good option if you're not interested in receiving the Kindle book at Amazon.

Thank you for your support of us, or any of the other authors participating this year. Happy Read Tuesday!
(Check out the list of Authors, or deals separated by Createspace, Matchbook, Smashwords, or Kindle countdown!)

12.08.2014

Read Tuesday- tomorrow!

Dear blogging friends,
I encourage you, no implore you as fellow lovers of words, to check out Read Tuesday tomorrow! It's like Black Friday for books, and there are some fantastic authors participating (yours truly included, though I'm not claiming to label myself fantastic. Well, ok maybe I am a little ;) ).

If you're really dedicated you can search for my deals on their website, or you can check back here tomorrow for my info!
Thanks and happy book-buying!

12.03.2014

IWSG - December!

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a bloghop dedicated to writers supporting one another through this crazy thing called 'being a writer'. 

I'm sure a lot of us IWSG folks are posting today about National Novel Writing Month, as a lot of us are the nutty types who would dedicate a whole month to high word counts and (perhaps more importantly) cheering one another along while we accomplish that novel writing thing. I have, happily, won NaNo for my second year. This year I worked on two projects and had intended to spend my time on them about equally, but got swept up in one so the division ended up being more like 70/30. Regardless, I finished! Hooray. See? I have a lovely badge to prove it!

It's been kind-of a rough semester (since August things have been.. intense.. around here) so it was nice to set my mind to something and actually achieve it. I guess my IWSG this month is not so much that I'm feeling insecure, but more that I'm feeling more secure and happy in my writing than I have in a while. Is that allowed? (sorry Alex if I'm breaking the rules! ha)

This morning on my drive to work I thought of a new project and I'm a bit in love with it. I need to finish my NaNo novel first (I'd feel awful leaving it to gather dust!) so I'll take some notes and wait a bit to get into the new idea. But I'm happy that my brain has decided to continue with the writing trend!

What do you do when your writing ego needs a boost? Tell stories to kids who will just tell you they're great? Daydream about who would play your MC in the movie version? Something crazy like NaNoWriMo?

11.28.2014

Happy Thanksgiving weekend!

AKA NaNoWriMo cram time! I've not had an easy time of keeping up with my NaNo words this year, so the weekend is pretty much dedicated to writing and eating leftovers. Not a bad life, really. My plan today is to alternate hours of writing with hours of chores. I'm hoping that this way I can get lots of both done and can end my day feeling good about the general state of things.
My NaNo word goal for the day is 5,000. Totally do'able!

A snippet from this morning's writing, then back to it for me: "David lived in the suburbs on a street lined by homes with big front porches and small back yards." My MC is investigating people and this guy is boorrrrrrinnnnnng.. 

Oh I guess it's Black Friday or something, too. Overwhelming day. I'll stay here with my words, thanks!

How are you spending your weekend?

11.14.2014

RIP RA Montgomery

I was sad to learn today of the passing of RA Montgomery, of Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) fame. He was the original publisher of the series - then titled The Adventures of You - and went on to write tons of CYOA books. The bio that is posted on his obituary at the CYOA website shows that he was an extremely cool guy. Not only did he publish and write loads of books, he also worked extensively with the Peace Corps and believed strongly in the value of games as teaching tools.

Montgomery also believed in the power of his books to encourage readers and improve literacy, and I think that he was right. So many people have told me, when I tell them about Armageddon being a Pick Your Plot book, that they read TONS of the CYOA books as kids. There is a heavy nostalgia there, and for good reason - the CYOA books drew thousands of young readers into reading. That is part of the reason that we are participating in Read Tuesday this year - to throw our names into the hat as people who support literacy, and also to get our name out there to folks who are looking for great books to help teach young people to love reading the same way that Dan & I do.

RIP RA Montgomery. Thank you for the work and love you put into everything you did, for inspiring thousands of people to love reading, and for developing a genre of fiction that I love writing.

11.12.2014

Stuffz happening, y'all!

Some updates! 
  • National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is going well! I'm a little behind but passed 15,000 words yesterday so am still feeling good about finishing my 50k by the end of November. The typical second week tiredness is starting to set in, as exemplified by this accidentally punny typo from yesterday, "The lifting mechanism ground to a hault." Yup. Winning.
  • We are super excited to be participating in Read Tuesday events on December 9th! This is a one day 'Black Friday' type of event, just for books! The goal of the event is to support literacy as well as independent authors by encouraging folks to purchase books, at a temporarily discounted price. Books make great gifts and I'm looking forward to participating with Armageddon :)
  • And, tomorrow we're doing the big 2015 April A-Z Team reveal over at the blog! Come check it out to find out who my partners in crime will be for this year's Challenge!
Other than that, life is mostly about staying warm. It's a balmy 2 degrees here today, so I've been trying to stay indoors as much as possible and drinking buckets of tea.

How are y'all doing?

11.05.2014

IWSG - November

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a bloghop dedicated to writers supporting one another through this crazy thing called 'being a writer'. 

Ohhh National Novel Writing Month.. What a frenzy of excitement, activity, insecurity and support! I'm going rogue, so working on two different projects, both of which were already started. One is heavily outlined and I've been so excited to get finished and moving forward to the editing stage, the other I've just dabbled at through the last two years or so. I have no real idea where that story is going. So my projects are a combination of planning and pantsing, which so far has worked alright. If I'm feeling focused I'll work on the former, and if I just need to be creative I'll work on the latter. 

But I'm starting behind due to being gone at a wedding last weekend and there is a LOT going on this month. So the freaking out side of me is somewhat in 'omg I'll never make it through NaNo!' mode. I guess the best thing to do is just keep typing, eh? And probably make sure that if I'm doing blog posts I'm not writing anything too long hah

Any other IWSG folks also doing NaNo? How's it going?

10.28.2014

Good morning, mountains!

This is my favorite time of year to drive to work. Just after sunrise the mountains glow pink or red and the snow on the divide becomes almost fluorescent in its excitement to greet the sun. In a time when the world slows and nature goes dormant, it is as though the mountains are promising that there is still life within them.
Good morning, mountains. I am happy to see you, too.

10.01.2014

IWSG - October

It is another IWSG day, and I have only posted once since last month. So here it is: I have an extremely hard time posting on my blog about anything when I have a lot of 'real life' stuff happening. I know people say that having regular posts, dependability, fresh content, is important to build audience as a writer.. 'Blogging is important!' they say. 'Make sure to interact with your readers, and your blogging buddies!' they say. Even if it is just to say hi to remind them you exist. Otherwise we are sure to lose our audiences and never sell a book and omg fall into that hole with all the other failed authors, never to see the light of glorious ritzy authorial success.

But I, like many of my friends with writing tendencies, am an introvert. And when I have stuff happening (life drama, too much work, travel..) I dont want to post on my blog. Not that I dont love my blogging buddies, but this site is outward facing. It is intended for other people. And when I have so much going on, I go into self - preservation mode and can't bring myself to share what little energy I have with other people,  even if I really like them (truly - just ask my husband and local friends).

There are days that I am terrified this means I will never be successful and known as an author, and there are days that I just want to say forget it and quit the whole thing. I guess until I can make writing my whole life,  it has to be just a part of life like anything else, and that means it gets prioritized out sometimes. It is nice to have things like IWSG to force me out of my shell once in a while, if only to show that I am still alive and kickin' over here.

So there you go. Alive, yes. Functioning, mostly. Writing? Not so much. See you all soon, hopefully! (next IWSG? ha)

9.08.2014

Remembering Tina Downey

I've already said a lot about the loss of Tina, so am not going to post many more words today.








These sunflowers grow all over the place in Colorado. They've been in full bloom for the last several weeks. Tina loved to hike and camp in the mountains, so I made sure to get those too.


Did you post sunflowers today? You can add yourself to the Linky List here:

9.03.2014

IWSG - September

It is IWSG day, and I totally forgot. Sorry, guys! I have an excuse - we're in Spain.

Here is my 'dog ate my homework' picture:
At the Arc de Triomph in Barcelona
We leave for the mountains tomorrow, where my schedule will pretty much be: eat breakfast, hike, siesta, write, eat dinner. For six days. Wonderful :)

9.01.2014

Tina's Sunflowers

In memory of Tina Downey, the A to Z Team is hosting a sunflower tribute on September 8, 2014 – Remembering Tina Downey.

 Prior to that date, purchase or plant a sunflower in her honor. (If you have to resort to plastic, that’s cool.) Take a photo of your sunflower and post it in her memory on Monday, September 8.

 Tina loved her sunflowers, and we want to splash the blogging world with sunflowers that day and honor a truly amazing woman who was friend and family to so many. You can sign up now or add your link when you post your sunflower. Please help us spread the word!

Let’s brighten the Internet with sunflowers the way Tina brightened the lives of so many.

We will also be helping her family pay for her sons' college with donations to the Downey Education Fund. If you are able to help, just click that link and you can make a donation to them through Paypal. 

I am on vacation for the next couple weeks so posts will be sporadic (and might be limited to my sunflower post next Monday) but I do hope you all will help us remember Tina on the 8th!

8.25.2014

In loving memory

Words are generally something that come easily to me. But since yesterday afternoon I have been rather short on them. I've been choked up, and so very sad.

My dear friend and fellow A-Z co-host Tina passed on from this world on Saturday.

Tina was one of those rare people who could ask blunt questions that might be too forward coming from anyone else. She had uncanny timing, almost like a sixth sense, for when people needed her, or needed to talk. She was funny, genuine, and most of all loving. Our friendship really started when she sent me an email with some of those blunt questions, at just the right time, before the Challenge in 2013. I needed support, and it turned out that she was just the right person to provide it. From there and through the craziness of the Challenge, our friendship grew. We discovered that we lived only about 30 minutes apart, and vowed to meet at some point. I am so sad now that we only succeeded at hanging out once, but so grateful that we managed that.

Tina has been sick for a while, but has maintained the most incredible positivity through it all. She even managed to continue wrangling the co-hosts while not feeling well. She often spoke of the transformational work she did, writing articles about folks who had come through hardship, working with her church, and of course maintaining her blog for all of us to read. She was an incredible woman and I'm sure that her loss will be felt in her community just as it will be in our blogging world.

We often joked about me smuggling her some red wine at the hospital. I imagine her sitting up in heaven (which of course is fields of sunflowers) looking down at us all, with a glass of wine in her hand and endlessly quotable movies for her viewing pleasure. She's probably talking god's ear off. She's closer now, so he won't have much of a choice but to listen :)

My dear Tina -
Life is Good, and yours was a good life, my friend.
All my love,
~AJ

We will be posting soon at A-Z about what the blogging community can do to help remember Tina.

8.20.2014

Life lately, in pictures

So these..


Got made into these..


And we went here (Pawnee Pass near Brainard Lake)

Lake Isabelle on the way to Pawnee Pass


 In preparation for our hiking trip to here (the Spanish Pyrenees!!)

pic courtesy of hikepyrenees.co.uk
The school year has started, the students are back! And, I finally got my CSM Hardhat (it's purple!!)


How are you all? What have you been up to?

8.06.2014

IWSG - August

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a bloghop dedicated to writers supporting one another through this crazy thing called 'being a writer'. 

If you scroll down a little bit, you'll notice that I haven't posted much since April, because, well, life. But! Sunday marked the last day of my super-crazy work season (no 60 hour work weeks until next year!), so right now I pretty much look like this:
gif credit: pandawhale.com
My clients have all left, I'm not on call at night because even the Union is closed... (to borrow a mantra from a good friend) Life is good. That means... I can write again! Hooray!

So my post for IWSG today is not so much about feeling insecure as it is celebrating getting to return to my introverted writerly existence. Ohh laptop, tea and wingback chair at 6am on a Saturday, how I've missed you!

What is making you do a happy dance right now?

7.05.2014

Happy 4th of July!

We're pretty cute for 6:45am
on a holiday!
Busy day yesterday! And a nice calm one today, so finally getting some quality blogging time in. Ahh... Happy to get to visit some of my blogging buddies! Hello :)

Yesterday started with my second time participating in our town's Downhill Mile race, but this year my totally awesome friend Katie (@katieschmalzel) joined me!

Then Katie helped with some yardwork, which I am SO very happy to have finally gotten around to. You know that feeling of having a Thing To Do that irks you every time you think of it? But then you finally get it taken care of and it is the BEST feeling ever?? Yeah. This chore was like that.

The previous owners of our house did all the 'landscaping' in our backyard with piles of rocks that they used as borders around beds. I think they put in landscaping cloth to keep the grass from growing in the beds, but if so it was forever ago and the cloth is non-existent at this point. I tried last year to re-mulch, but it was not sufficient to keep the grass from growing, and I had given up on keeping things dealt with this year so the beds around our trees in back ended up looking like this:
I swear there's a bed under there, somewhere!
After about an hour of work digging the rocks back out of the dirt into which they had sunk, adding topsoil, new landscaping cloth and mulch and re-placing the stones, the beds now look like this:

Ahh... much better..
Strawberry rhubarb
and mint chocolate chip! Yum.
I'm very pleased :)

After all that work, we headed to the town Pancake Breakfast (as many free pancakes as you can eat! and adorable booths from local businesses!). After running and then doing manual labor, we'd definitely earned breakfast and made short work of some nice stacks of cakes. So yummy. :) Then we walked home and showered before heading to Boulder for some delicious cupcakes from Tee and Cakes.

By the time we got home we had about an hour to relax before folks came over for a BBQ, so we played with some SunPrint paper, and sprawled on the living room floor to rest. There might have been a little bit of a sugar crash in this part of the day. Yup.

The rest of the day was slightly more typical for the 4th - BBQ, movie to fill the time a bit, and then fireworks. All in all, pretty epic!

What did you do for the 4th? 

7.02.2014

IWSG - July

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a bloghop dedicated to writers supporting one another through this crazy thing called 'being a writer'. 

So... Haven't blogged since last month's IWSG.. Yeah.. C'est la vie en ete. 

My little IWSG contribution is a moment of being glad for things like IWSG and Blog Blitz, and WRiTE CLUB (click on newer posts to read the first couple bouts! Good stuff!) because they help me feel like I'm still connected to the writing community even when I don't have the time or energy to be actively working on my current WsIP (is that the correct pluralization of WIP? help me out folks!). 

Most of my writing activity during the last month has been about reading. I read a LOT during the summer and I figure that devouring books is a good way to work on my skillz, right? Right.

How about y'all? How are your summer writing/reading projects going? 

6.04.2014

IWSG - June

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, a bloghop dedicated to writers supporting one another through this crazy thing called 'being a writer'. 

Just a quick IWSG today before I get going on work... This is my busy season at my Day Job so I tend to spend a lot of time just daydreaming about writing rather than actually doing it. Word and creativity output become very difficult when I'm working 60 hour weeks, ya know? (though I'm sure there are those of you who do it and I bow in awe your willpower. My brain is just too fried to do any more). As I'm seeing my WIP 'last update' date disappear from the rearview mirror, I find myself daydreaming of a different way of life. 

For those of you with Day Jobs, do you ever think about what it would be like to just quit and write full-time? Or, write and be a stay at home parent, or write and maybe go back to school? That's kind of part of the dream, right? To be able to live off the writing that we love doing. It's kind-of scary too though. For those of you who have done it, how did you make the leap? Did you wait until you hit a certain income from your writing before quitting your Day Job, or was it a realization that you couldn't achieve a workable writing income while spending 40+ hours per week doing something else? 

Don't get me wrong - I love my Day Job. But during busy season, I really miss being able to write, to blog, to read others' posts. I find myself in a place of 'figuring things out' this summer. There's definitely part of me that wants to make a leap, but I also love what I do here. Is there a way to balance it all? 

5.05.2014

A to Z Reflections!


April 2014.. What a month! What a month...

Y'all, life decided it was not going to be put on hold for April A-Z! Between a cold, travel for work, a 1,500 person event to run, and my whole family descending on us for the last week of April, it's been... a bit nuts. I'll be honest - there were a couple days I wasn't sure I was going to make it through A-Z, even though I was a co-host. But I did! Z was realllly late, but it all got written, all the emails were answered, and I survived.

Some thoughts..
* There is this beautiful thing called CTRL+F or APPLE+F that allows you to find things (hence, F) on a webpage. After a month of answering the A-Z info email, I feel like this advice should be blinking on every co-host's forehead, blog header, post, etc. My amusement with how many times I was asked how to find someone on the list brought my husband to start suggesting A-Z blog post titles: "Awesome! Ctrl+F lets me find myself on the list!" "Boy, oh boy that ctrl+F sure is useful!" "Ctrl +F - your best friend", etc. Lookout folks, it just might happen next year!
* Being a co-host is a BUSY thing to do! But it's also pretty awesome and totally worth it. The co-host team (as you probably know by now) is full of some rockin' people, with cool ideas and great blog content. It's been fun to be a part of the team.
* As a sub-note to the being busy part (and also the life-chaos part), I didn't get to visit as many people as I wanted to this year.  I'm hoping to remedy that a bit with the Road Trip and visiting some Reflections posts this week.
* It's fun to teach people how to use Twitter chats! I had a great time chatting with everyone, especially our regulars. Much cake and caffeine were had by all :)
* My wHooligans were absolutely essential to my survival this month! They were my boots on the ground when life got crazy, so thank you so much to Tamara, Shilpa, Elsie, LuAnn, Kripali, and Helen!

I was pretty impressed with the posts this year. They made me laugh, taught me things, that took me to new worlds, and a few that made me tear up a bit. I think that's the best thing about A-Z: finding folks that make you think in a new way, even if for just one letter. It's an inspirational Hop to be a part of!

How about you all, do you have any feedback for us? Did you write a post with reflections on A-Z? Check out the sign-up page and add your link to the list if you wrote a Reflection post! We love your feedback :)

Thanks for a great month everyone!

4.30.2014

A to Z Challenge: Zzzzzz....

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

Zzzzz..... Getting enough sleep is SO important! And between A-Z and everything else this April has (most helpfully) thrown my way, I haven't been doing much sleeping. Eek. But now we're finished! May starts tomorrow, and I'm off work for the rest of the week as my family is visiting. A lovely reward for surviving April :)

For those of you who finished with me, make sure to visit the A-Z Blogging homepage to get your sweet survivor badge!



And on that note, I bid this year's April A-Z adieu! Thanks for playing everyone :) I'm so glad to have met so many of you. It's been an awesome ride as a co-host but you can hear more about that during May 5th's Reflections post!

Goodnight! ZZZzzzzzzz......

4.29.2014

A to Z Challenge: Yogurt!

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

It's been a couple days since a food post!

Yogurt is one of the best creations in the world. And, cultures (haha, ha) from all over the world have their own kinds of yogurt, which makes it not only wonderful, but also universal. I believe that everyone should find some kind of yogurt that they enjoy. It's great for your gut and tasty in many contexts - plain with pb and raisins, in cucumber dressing, baked into muffins... Mmm...

Is there a food you believe everyone should eat?

4.28.2014

A to Z Challenge: X-mas

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

A mini-rant for you, because it's the end of A-Z, and I'm kind of tired, and this is something that really bothers me.


X-mas is a perfectly ok abbreviation for Christmas.
When I use it, it's not in an effort to take Christ out of Christmas, or to impose some atheist/secular beliefs on others (you have to have them to impose them on others), or to participate in the "War on Christmas." It's mostly because I'm lazy. But also, this qualifies in my 'things I know' category because actually, Xmas started as an abbreviation used BY Christians. The X represents the Greek letter chi, which is the first part of Christ's name when written in Greek. So, ha. In the game of semantics, I win.

I could say that that's why I use it, but really, really people, it's because I'm lazy. And I think that's why most people do it. So please let's stop arguing about it! The effort to explain this negates the energy I saved by being lazy and not typing out the whole beginning of the word in the first place. 

So there's my mini-rant. I'll come up with something nicer for Y tomorrow :)

What are you feeling rant'y about?

4.26.2014

A to Z Challenge: William's Wedding!

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

I was so excited when I saw that W fell on today! Today my big brother's best friend, William, is getting married! Billy is one of those awesome guys to have as a big bro's best friend. He always actually treated me like a real person/sister and even (very kindly, and almost certainly at the behest of our parents) took me to Homecoming my sophomore year of high school.
Me: geekily excited. Billy: very proper.
Tim and Tracy just look nice hah

I am a firm believer in that there should be a little bit of embarrassment on your wedding day, so here is a picture of us (the couple on the left) and my big bro and his date on that Homecoming so many years ago.

Congratulations, Billy! And all our love and best wishes on your special day!

4.25.2014

A to Z Challenge: Visitors

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

The purpose of having visitors is to get the house clean.
This is what mom used to tell us about having friends come to stay. We'd whine about the cleaning necessary to prepare the house for their arrival, and she'd say, "My mom always told us that the purpose of having visitors is to get the house clean!" And we'd whine and whine, but we'd do it. I think we were afraid that if we didn't get it clean enough we wouldn't get to have the visitors. 

Now, as a home owner (and an adult?) I have come to pretty thoroughly appreciate this sentiment. Having the house clean is soothing to me, and when we make sure to clean top to bottom before having people over the cleanliness of the house is one less thing to worry about. It lets me enjoy our visitors without fretting about the house. 

My whole family is coming to visit next week, so guess what we're doing this weekend? Yuuup... Cleaning ALL the things!

What are y'all doing this weekend?

4.24.2014

A to Z Challenge: Underwear

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

Underwear should be sturdy.
I am an active lady. Even when I'm not actually working out or playing outside, I'm moving around. Heck, even when I'm sitting in a meeting, I'm usually squirming a bit! So. Underwear should be something that I can put on in the morning and not think about for the rest of the day. Underwear should not go into cracks (either intentionally or not), slip down, shift, bunch, pinch, pull or sag. It should go on and stay where I put it. And to do that it needs to be a bit sturdy. If I should, for example, decide to go for a walk over lunch, I shouldn't have to think, "oh but I don't want my cheeks to rub on my pants in an uncomfortable manner." No. I want to think, "it's a beautiful day. Let's go!" It doesn't need to be granny undies, or boy shorts (though those tend to bunch, anyway. I've got curves, yo). Just something that is going to do its job. This is not to say that frilly, lacy things don't have their place. They do. I just don't need them in my everyday life.

And, please don't call them panties. :)

There you go, a bit of TMI for your Thursday.

4.23.2014

A to Z Challenge: TED Talks

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

TED Talks are a great place to encounter new ideas, but shouldn't always be taken completely as fact. I love me a good TED Talk! Often these talks are sent around as, 'look at this awesome thing that must be totally true because it was spoken about by a really smart person!' but the thing is that one of the goals of TED Talks is also to be persuasive. And so, even though there might be some amazing information contained in the Talk, you still need to use your critical thinking skills to push away some of the persuasion.

That said, here are a couple of my favorite Talks:


BUGS! And Ann-Marie Slaughter, who wrote a great article about whether it is possible to "Have it all" as a woman. (hint: we can't)


Who are your favorite speakers?

4.22.2014

A to Z Challenge: Sugar

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

Sugar is not my friend (neither is caffeine).
I'm not going to get on some high horse and tell everyone they should give up sugar, I'm just going to tell you my experience. Sugar makes me feel bad. About five years ago I had a series of infections for almost four months. The doctor would treat me for one, and I'd get another. Another treatment, back to the first infection, first treatment, back to the second infection. Round and round.. After three months of that I got frustrated and started to look for other treatments - there HAD to be something out there that would help me feel better without just giving me yet another infection. The answer - quitting sugar. I went cold turkey and after about 10 days, no more infections! Hooray! I remained sugar free for about 5 months, and then started allowing it back in (it was the chocolate chips. I MISSED them). 

Now I still don't eat very much sugar, and have been able to remain free of infections for the last five years. I can feel it when I eat too much. My body doesn't like it, and it's pretty clear when I've crossed a line. As for caffeine? Well, that just makes me jittery and it's not fun, so why drink it?

What about you? Are you a sugar-fiend? Or a paleo-person? Or halfway in between?

4.21.2014

A to Z Challenge: Running

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

Running (or any exercise, really) can be wonderfully meditative.
I started running the summer I lived in South Korea. I'd had a pretty rough year my first year of grad school (due to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, a friend going missing, and other calamities) and by the time I finished the year was determined to spend some time getting more fit and allowing my mind and emotions to recuperate.  My older brother has always been a runner, so he spent some time coaching me and by the end of the summer I was able to run a couple of miles in good time. That summer was the first time that I was intentional about minding my mental and physical health, and I learned so much about the movements that serve me the best. 
Before last year's
Downhill Mile race on the 4th
of July

Now I try to get out to run at least once a week, and exercise in some way at least three times per week. It's important to my mental and physical health, especially during stressful times.

What movements do you find soothing? Any fellow runners out there?

4.19.2014

A to Z Challenge & Six Word Saturday: Quick Oats

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger. This post is also part of the Six Word Saturday blog hop! A chance to be a little less verbose, and use your weekend for other things. Lovely :)

Quick oatmeal - totally legit for lunch.

4.18.2014

A to Z Challenge: Planners vs. Pantsers

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

A fun debate that comes up from time to time in the writing/blogging/NaNo world is whether it is better to be a Planner or a Pantser

A Planner is a writer who lays everything out, knows just where the story and characters are going, has done all the research in advance before they even start to write. For those of you Meyers-Briggs fans, Planners are J's. A Pantser is someone who 'flies by the seat of their pants' while writing. They maybe have a first line, or a basic plot they're thinking of, but in the end they're just going wherever the story takes them. Pantsers are P's on the MBTI. There was a great blog article over at NaNoWriMo a couple years ago that had 280 comments of people debating and sharing their preference. Good stuff.

So after yesterday's post on being organized, you're all probably thinking I'm a total Planner. Nope! While I am organized in every other part of my life and am a total J on the MBTI, I actually write better when I go wherever the story takes me. When I plan too hard the writing starts to feel like homework. And remember back in school when you'd do anything to not do homework? Yeah, me too. For me the writing is better when it's a process of discovery, and I just don't get the same rush when I'm outlining and planning ahead. This was a very good thing to discover, and why it falls into my theme of "things I know" - I've killed a couple good stories by overplanning them. Lost my steam, the thrill of discovery. I know that I write better when letting the story write itself.

I'm about halfway through Steven King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (which I highly recommend, btw), and it turns out he feels similarly. He starts with an idea for a situation and then just sticks a couple people into it and sees what happens.

How about y'all? Are you Pantsers, or Planners?

4.17.2014

A to Z Challenge: Organization

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

Sometimes, being organized just isn't enough.

Sometimes the chaos wins and there's nothing you can do but go with it. I am a pretty organized person. Not "the clothes in the closet hang in rainbow order" organized, but "the clothes in the closet at least have to hang grouped by sleeve length" organized. Not "the cereal boxes are alphabetized" organized, but "the pantry has sections based on food groups" organized.

I've always made the best attempts at staying on top of my schedule (and that of my siblings, at times! My brother gave me a gift for Secretary's Day once...) and on top of the tasks I need to complete. And usually, it goes swimmingly - everything happens on time, I get the work done in a 40 hour week, I am able to write books in my spare time. But once in a while *ahem* this month *ahem* things just go nutty and there's not a damn thing to do about it. Well there is - throw out the organizational plans and roll with the punches. Get everything done that you can, try not to stress about it, get organized again later when you can actually breathe.

Organization - love it when ya got it, try not to stress when ya lose it.

Any other organized folks out there? Anybody got any hints for when things go nutty? :)

4.16.2014

A to Z Challenge: Neutron Pea

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.

neu·tron pea
/ˈn(y)o͞oträn pē/
noun
1. That one pea in the TV dinner that is still frozen even after the rest of the dinner has been microwaved beyond all recognition.
"Aw man, I just broke a tooth on the dang neutron pea in my soup!"

Another made up word for you, to help with the mid-alphabet slump!

How's it going? Anybody found someone cool through A-Z?

4.15.2014

A to Z Challenge: Marshmallows

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.


Marshmallows taste best au flambe :)
(or at least... very recently flambe!)

Image from kitteh-pawz on Deviantart:
http://goo.gl/qGgax2

How do you like your marshmallows?

4.14.2014

A-Z Challenge: Listen

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger.


Listening can be the greatest gift we give someone.

This was a hard one for me to learn as a kid! I was a talker. A classic extrovert, who wanted everyone's attention to be on me ALL the time. I still struggle with it at times, especially if I'm in an intense mood and need someone to listen to me. 

But I've found that so often, sitting and listening to someone's stories or their thoughts can be more rewarding than doing the talking myself. I know what the litany in my own head sounds like. On a personal level, hearing someone else's thoughts can not only be reassuring ("oh good! I'm not the only one losing her mind right now!"), but also a great source of stories to draw from for writing. But then in the larger scheme of things listening can be doing something good for someone else - giving them the knowledge that someone has truly paid attention to them for a while. Haven't we all thought, 'I wish someone would just listen to me!' How great to give that gift to someone else!

Here is a great quote about listening that I pulled from a quote list on Goodreads:

“Friends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer.” 
― Ed Cunningham

Love it :)

Who have you listened to today? Is there anyone you'd like to reach out to as an interested listener?

4.12.2014

A to Z Challenge & Six Word Saturday: Kale!

This post is part of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year my theme is simply, "things I know." Some posts will be informational, some about life lessons, some about things I've learned as an author/blogger. This post is also part of the Six Word Saturday blog hop! A chance to be a little less verbose, and use your weekend for other things. Lovely :)


Kale - a versatile vegetable super food.

I know there are people who think there's a cult of kale, but really.. It's so versatile and yummy! If there's a cult I'm happy to be in it. I love to replace other greens with it in soup recipes, and to make kale chips.

Any other kale fans out there?