Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

I celebrate today!

It's more than the end
Of another year through
More than a party
Ringing in new

On this special day
Some years ago
Inspiration was born
In a time filled with woe

The world has been blessed
By this humble spirit
Strong and creative
Perfection or near it

My mother has made it
Through many hard trials
And no matter what
She brings me her smiles

So here's to my mom
Enjoy your birthday!
You deserve happiness!
Do it your way!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Are you satisfied? 2

I forgot to ask about your gifts! Did you get what you wanted? Did your kids show proper appreciation?

The kids were good and happy for most part, aside from a little jealousy from one. And we are going through what they have this weekend to donate. As for me, I mentioned my books yesterday. Excited to start reading them! Other highlights: I got a surprise gift, a lovely necklace from my mother in law. And my parents got me an awesome study bible that I will use for my bible class - chock full of historic info and definitions, very interesting! But my best gift was my "date in a box" - my Hub got creative! He put pics & GCs for dinner at a restaurant I like, movie theater & Sherlock Holmes ad (can't wait to see!) and cash for a sitter. I was so impressed!

As we round out this holiday season,
May your travels be safe and your returns few!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Are you satisfied?

I don't do resolutions. And way back in January of this year, I was still just starting out with my blog and learning the ins and outs of writing. As I found more friends, I saw many great year long challenges - thanks for something every day, 52 weeks of lists, a number of books to read, etc. My friend Marcy read 29 books - that's a lot! And I know others that read a book or two a week! I am a picky reader. I have started twice as many books as I have finished. I can tell within the first 50 pages if I can finish a book or not. And some I get far into and almost give up, but finish eventually because I've already invested so much time in.

So anyway, I put together a list of the books I read in 2011. It's a nice walk down memory lane for me, as I remember what I was doing at the time too =)

  1. NUMB by Sean Ferrell
  2. HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
  3. DUMA KEY by Stephen King
  4. CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins
  5. MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins
  6. DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth
  7. A NIGHT OF BLACKER DARKNESS by Dan Wells
  8. THREE DAVES by Nicki Elson
  9. FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King
  10. VARIANT by Robison Wells
That is impressive for this slow reader. But an awesome book I will gobble up in a week. It's finding the awesome books that's the challenge!

I have high hopes for 2012. For Christmas I got NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern, THE PERICLES COMMISSION by Gary Corby, and UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King (it's MAMMOTH!!!) and I can't wait to read them! Plus my mom leant me THE WOODS by Harlan Coben - a great thriller that is helping me with editing my book! That's the problem with ebooks - you can't lend them to a friend!

I'm excited to read more books in 2012. How about 20 - I'm actually putting a number on it... but I won't stress if it doesn't happen.

Did you set goals for 2011? Did you meet them?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And we're back!

Hope you had a lovely holiday! We sure did =) Games were played, kids were spoiled and complained, too much food and sweets were consumed - a great time was had by all!

And to ease back into it, here is my Review for Sensational Haiku Wednesday

Looking Back

Twenty eleven
Just like every other year
A rollercoaster

Day to day journey
From humbling mistakes and lows
To unexpected joys

Blessings in disguise
Solutions from challenges
Many lessons learned

One of my favorite memories for 2011 was seeing my sons have winning football seasons, after watching so many losses for YEARS! Their happiness is mine.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

12th day of Christmas Quotes!

On the twelth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me - a wonderful family (sing it!)

"Cherish time spent with family,
skype can't replace a hug."

my lights - it may not seem like much,
but there are more in the back and just as many inside =)
How many relatives can you squeeze into a house? My friend just had 17 guests sleep over. Sounds like fun to me! But I know some people need their space. Seeing family after a while reminds me how we all change over the years. I remember being young and only seeing cousins once or twice a year, but we had a ball! After the first awkward meeting, we were instant friends for life. And I see my own kids enjoying the same wonderful bond, making miles and months disappear. Oh how I wish we lived closer to family.

And since I will be shutting down for the holidays, I wanted to give you my review of VARIANT by Robison Wells.

One word: Inescapable!

Remember Katniss? Her life is beautiful compared to this. She had a family and 2 boys who all loved her!

17 yo Branson has no one. And now he has to find a way to escape from a place he thought would be a haven which no one has ever left alive.

This was a record read, 4 days!

I hate awesome books like this because they're over too quick! Give me more, Robison!

Highly recommend it! =D

Now go enjoy the holidays! Be with the ones you love! And spread some charity!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

11th Quotes of Christmas and a haiku

Only one more day of quotes - then I'll be signing off for the holiday. I'm also posting my review of VARIANT tomorrow. It was sooooo good! And I'm hearing of some other books to add to my list, thanks to you guys =)

"Commercialism isn't all bad."

(xmas 2005)
Today my train of thought starts with fireplaces. Do you have one? Is it gas or wood burning? (wish ours was wood, love that smell!) Does everyone get a stocking to hang on it? When my family was smaller we all got one, now we just have them for the kids and this year the dog, at the kids' request. I love stocking stuffers - they are the easiest junk to get. They're cheap, cute and usually yummy! And opening the stocking is exciting with so much stuff in one package. They bring back memories of our family stockings when I was a kid. And my favorite part of the holiday season was the Christmas specials, especially Charlie Brown!. My parents would get us out of bed to watch them! Hence, the quote. Now there are so many, they have marathons. I don't think I can claim this quote, but it fits...

"There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!"

And here is a haiku with Spirit for Sensational Haiku Wednesday!

Into the Spirit

Spirit makes me cheer
Look at the lights! Hear the songs!
Smell snow in the air!

Spirits bring us fear.
Be aware of your actions
Or you'll get haunted.

Spirits douse the stress.
Have a party drink with friends
Just don't drink and drive!

Only 4 days til Xmas! Hope yours is happy! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

10th Quotes of Christmas

Been to any good Christmas parties this year? Any memorable moments? I like to dress up fancy for most parties. I love all the themed parties, like decorate the tree/bring an ornament, cookie decorating, cookie exchange, and my favorite - the white elephant. We went to one this year and one gift was a live fish in a bowl! Hilarious! And people stole it! Some friends posted pictures of an ugly Christmas sweater party! Anyone been to an office party lately? Many places did away with those to cut back on expense. Bummer! I love gatherings =) And Christmas parties are particularly nice!

"Parties are delicious concoctions of flavorful personalities."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kick start Monday - What do you want for Christmas?

I have the worst memory! I found this great contest and can't remember who sent me to it. But thank you!

Anyway! Susanna Hill is sponsoring a  contest to write a holiday poem in the form of the classic "Twas the Night Before Christmas." I did it and it took it's own direction... Happy Holidays! and tell Auntie Tara, What do you want for Christmas?! (Everything I want I have to work for, except books =)

Tis the Season of Christmas

Tis the season of Christmas
And joy fills the air.
This year I've been better
Than last and to spare.

I'll get lots of presents
There's never a lack.
And at youth group tonight
We'll be giving back.

We sing as we journey
Some carols of cheer
To a shelter down town
We trek once a year

Donations aplenty
Coats, blankets, and food,
Unwanted toys, clothes, and
Toiletries too

As we hand out our presents
I notice their faces
Downcast, depressed, and no smiles,
They're sad cases.

Then finally I realize
I put on their shoes
No one wants a handout
A job's what they'd choose

So on the way home, we
Joined in a prayer
Dear God, Please be with them
Show them that You care.

This story's not over
It never will be
God gives others mercy
Through you and through me.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Deja Vu

it's a bc blogfest!Welcome! This is a blogfest to draw attention to posts we feel didn't got their due. I call them BC posts (before comments) or Retro posts =)


So here are highlights from past posts, my Retro post #4 (from way back in 2010!)


The complete posts for these are here:
Hope eveyone enjoys the last week before Santa comes! And I'll be visiting as many as I can this retro weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

9th Quotes of Christmas

"Winter is the warmest time of the year - with crackling fires, fuzzy sweaters, and cozy companions."

Don't you love sweater weather? I like dressing in layers. And I have been wearing more scarves - cute & cozy trend =) But one fad I won't do - Snuggie! I'll stick to slippers and sweatshirts and comfy blankets.

What's your favorite warming accessory?

And here is a fun wintery poem...

Itchy!

Winter morning warm in bed
Hopeful for a day of snow
Looks like Jack Frost stopped by here!
Time to bundle, head to toe.

Pull on long johns, cotton soft,
Thick wool socks protect my toes,
Fuzzy sweater with a deer
And a pom pom for its nose

Now for snow pants, coat and gloves,
Hat that grandma made from scratch.
Scratch is right, it makes me itch!
Round my neck a scarf to match,

"Where are you off to, young man?"
Mother asks suspiciously.
"The roads are clear, you have school."
Brother laughs obnoxiously.

Building forts, sledding glory,
Plans for snowballs have to wait.
Shoulders slump, I trudge to eat
Little bro has sealed his fate.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

8th Quotes of Christmas

Lest we forget all the people that make our life run smoother...

"Smiles to strangers bring the world closer to harmony."

Tis the season to thank.
My family Christmas shopping is just about done. Now I have the "oh, yeah"s. Mustn't forget the teachers, bus driver, postal worker, garbage guys, and the paper person who conveniently sends me a card so I know who he is. I appreciate these people and a "tip" at Christmas time is a nice way to let them know. Sometimes a small gift card or sometimes some candy, depends on when I remember...If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Hope you all are having a nice December so far =)

And here is a haiku on preparation, for Sensational Haiku Wednesday.

Lists

Call me Queen of Lists
Can't remember ev'rything
Keep paper handy

Decorations hung
Christmas presents left to wrap
Cards put in the mail

Plan the meals they like
Tidy house and then I can
Enjoy company

PS - I just finished VARIANT by Robison Wells - LOVED IT!!! Review next week.
PPS - I interviewed S.R. Johannes about marketing and her new book, UNTRACEABLE at Unicorn Bell today =)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

7th Quotes of Christmas

Got snow?
So far we've gotten snow showers mostly - more rain than flakes. But we will get a good snow before long. It's the kids who long for a snow day (and us adults). The funny thing is, our school board sometimes likes to call a snow day if the weatherman thinks we are going to get a few inches. Then it turns out to be nothing much and at the end of the season we get dumped on and are scrambling to keep the kids in school with no snow days left! I do like how our town covers the streets with salt when a big storm is supposed to come. We are prepared! Unlike our southern friends who have to shut everything down when they get a surprise dumping. Either way, snow days are splendid!

Anticipation is watching a fluffy, gray sky for the first snowflake to fall.

These are a few of my favorite snow things:
  • seeing a coating of snow on everything - so pretty!
  • watching big snowflakes fall, I could look at it out my window all day
  • (2009)
  • snowmen, snowforts, watching my boys have snowball fights and sledding
  • real icicles
"Icicles - they'll poke your eye out!"

How do you feel about snow?

Monday, December 12, 2011

6th Quotes of Christmas



"Happiness is watching your kids get along."

One of our holiday traditions that the kids still look forward to is trimming the tree. They joke and tease but are happy together. There is actual joy! And I don't have to do it all by myself. We play "John Denver & the Muppets" Christmas songs and rock around the tree =) Poor youngest guy still doesn't have the "hang" of it and broke a couple more ornaments this year, but it's part of the experience. No tears, it's replaceable. These moments aren't. That's why...

"A Christmas tree lights up my heart."

And I want to do a quick tree survey.
  1. How many xmas trees do you have in your house? (I have lots, but I would say 3 that need to be assembled)
  2. real or fake? (fake, and pre-lit! woot!)
  3. star or angel? or other topper? (star)
  4. white lights or multi-colored? (white, pre-lit, someday we will try a real one again)
  5. garland? (sometimes...)
  6. icicles? (remember tinsel? we don't use, too messy!)
  7. do you have a favorite/special ornament? (my favorites are a set of clear balls with red glitter polka dots - no reason, just simple and cute)
And one last thing, since it is kick start monday, here's this week's happenings. I've seen more fests popping up all over, but I can't handle any more!
tis the season!


 
  • And this is my week at Unicorn Bell where I talk about Scene Setting.

Only 12 shopping days to go =) Get those reindeer in gear!

Friday, December 9, 2011

5th Quotes of Christmas

Are you done with your shopping? I'm getting closer. Don't you want to just take a day off and get it all done? But that never happens. There's always something you can't find. Special orders have to be made on line - which is fine if you can get free shipping and even then, it's never all on one site! Smart people start early. Unfortunately, just like buying costumes too early for Halloween, my kids change their minds on what they want, frequently. I'm thankful that we adult siblings have given up trying to buy for each other - we were basically trading gift cards.
So here are my quotes about Christmas gifts and shopping.

"The people you know the best are the worst people to shop for."

This happens because you know what they wouldn't like. You can't find the perfect gift because it doesn't seem to exist. I wish that came in a different color. Of course they don't have the right size. I think I got that last year.

"The best gift is something you didn't know you wanted."

A gift cards says, "I have no idea what you want."
 
"Christmas morning is like looking in a hospital nursery window. So many possibilities!"

That last one was tres lame, I know.

And don't forget to wrap everything up all nice and pretty! I love wrapping! One of my favorite crafty things to do, that I got from my mom, is to cut up all the cute Christmas cards and use them for present tags (the next year, of course!). Do you have any shopping or wrapping tips?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

4th Quotes of Christmas

Here are some cleaning quotes to perk you up when you're cleaning for holiday visitors!

"I clean up after others, for others."

"Dirt doesn't bother me, I just avoid it."
"If you can't do the work, don't bring the dirt."

"The best part of cleaning is the five minutes after when you get to enjoy it."

Having company over, especially relatives who live far away, is one of my favorite things about Christmas. But it's also stressful. I want to put up extra decorations and have the house sparkly. Unfortunately the only way guests will see the house at its cleanest is to clean the whole thing right before they arrive. It's hard work, but worth the relaxation when I'm done. I can enjoy their visit without worrying about cleaning for a while. Ahh.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

IWSG & an accidental haiku

Dear Blog Friends,
I'm going to tell you a story that you may be familiar with...

Once upon a time I finished a novel. Then I researched, why not get it published? How hard can it be? I found out that in our new techie age I needed to start a blog and advertise myself in addition to the query process. So I did. When I was rejected several times I realized my book was called "chick lit" that no one wanted, besides being terribly written. I worked on it, realized it needed too much work, then picked up writing a new novel. I am now revising and think this one has a much better shot. In the mean time, the blogging really picked up - I made many friends and followers and learned so much! For that I am so grateful!

But I'm having trouble keeping up with so many blogs. Picking and choosing which articles to comment on is getting harder. And I want to write and edit more so I've stopped blogging on the weekends and will cut back more in January. I'm sure it will be fine as I've seen others cut back and absence really does make the heart grow fonder. My question this month is this: Many of you follow hundreds of blogs. How do you balance writing and still comment?

Sincerely,
Back Log Betty
humble member of the Insecure Writers Support Group

And now for SENSATIONAL HAIKU WEDNESDAY, malice, plus DRABBLE prompt accident.

Happy Holidays

We need thicker skin
Oversensitive people
Ban "Merry Christmas"

Sore spot touched upon
With careless comment spoken
No intent to hurt

Words' meaning twisted
Accidental malice heard
Always think ere spew

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The 3rd Quote of Christmas

Insecurity is cutting others down to make yourself feel better.

I had a strange train of thought for this quote. It all started with Christmas Cards! I love getting them and hanging them up and seeing how my friends' kids have grown. At the store it's hard to pick from all the pretty, sparkly, crafty cards plus the funny, silly cards. Thinking of cards reminded me of looking for a good birthday card. They come up with some funny ones and the sound ones are good too, but some are lame or gross. And that reminded me of shopping for t-shirts for my boys and all the sayings and pictures on them. I was amazed at how many "I'm smart & you're lame" type sayings I saw. Blasted with so many wasn't funny after a while. It was like the shirts were having a dissing contest! There are enough bad attitudes without bored t shirt makers trying to come up with more inventive ways to be rude. Maybe I'm being over sensitive... (pic source)

Why is being good not cool? Society could use a shot of kindness!

But to end on a positive note, I have a book review!

During my travels, I finished Stephen King's latest collection of short stories, FULL DARK, NO STARS. A huge book that was a quick read. How is he so good? (pic source)

One word: Gripping!

Here is my take on each of the tales. Overall a fabulous read, par for Stephen King, but not as horrific and gory to my pleasant surprise.
 
1922 - good old, reliable ghost story. the moral is, if you kill someone, it will make you crazy so even if you don't get caught, you pay for it. =)
 
Big Driver - hard to read because it was so close to possible. graphic and scary! but a positive ending. =/
 
Fair Extension - reminded me of the twilight zone! good story, but not a just ending for me. =(
 
A Good Marriage - great, great story! shock, suspense, justification, hope! =D
 
Under the Weather (a bonus story) - creepy classic, made me shake my head and smile. Loved it! =D

Like my faces rating system? BTW, I'm struggling with my latest reads, looking for something GOOD! I have NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern & VARIANT by Robison Wells on my Xmas list, but I want something now! Not YA or romance... a good thriller? Any suggestions?

Monday, December 5, 2011

KSM - The Second Quote of Christmas

Why is complaining so much easier than complimenting?

Christmas lists sparked this second quote. My kids get what they want and need throughout the year. Then they get spoiled more on their birthdays & at Christmas. We have a hard time making lists of what people can get them because they HAVE everything!

I think kids have heightened expectations of what might be under the tree. What fabulous gift will I be surprised with? And when they open the gifts, they are happy, but many times disappointed. That wasn't on my list, why didn't I get that other thing? I like his better. Wah wah wah.

I really need to take my kids to see where our donations go. They need to see exactly how fortunate they are. They need a good kick in the pants of appreciation.

One of my favorite gifts is homemade coupons. All I want for Christmas from my kids is a book of "No complaining" coupons. (PS - Dear Santa, put an agent in my stocking?) Ah, well.

And so, I leave you with a couple of bonus quotes.

Slather on the compliments and sprinkle sparingly complaints.

See the complaint department - through the exit door.

Meets 1st Wed of MonthAnd don't forget, coming up this Wednesday (12/7) is the Insecure Writer's Support Group sponsored by our distinguished host, Alex.

There is also a grand 12 days of Christmas giveaway blog hop - an incredible conglomeration of bloggers donating their services and prizes coordinated by Sara. Enter as many as you want by 12/13.

I love Secret Santa! I'm so glad Laura came up with this! You can join until 12/12 =)

And I wanted to thank Nicki again for guest posting yesterday - I also met some new folks and appreciate all the comments and will be getting around to visit today. Thanks!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Three Cheers for Three Daves!

I recently finished THREE DAVES by my lovely friend and author, Nicki Elson! Before I let her take over with a revealing guest post, here is my short review!

One Word: TOTALLY!

THREE DAVES is the tale of a spunky 80s college girl who blossoms into a wise 80s woman. It's funny, unpredictable (except the end, I knew it!) and full of real emotions. Jen (not Jenny) gets herself into embarrassing, exciting, and enticing situations with surprising twists, 80s memories and a satisfying wrap up.

Nicki does an excellent job making us feel for Jen. We grow to understand the true meaning of love right along with her! I totally recommend THREE DAVES!

Now for a glimpse into how THREE DAVES came about, here's NICKI!

When you write realistic fiction, particularly realistic fiction that mirrors your own life in any way, the inevitable question is---how much of this is true? I had more than one college roomie nervous to turn the pages of my 80s era collegiate story. But as I've assured everyone I know many, many times, Three Daves is fiction...with bits of truth mixed in.

I think pieces of us find their way into everything we write, don't you? And since Tara asked so nicely, I'll let you in on some of the ways I worked truth into my fiction.

Places:  The fictional Central Illinois University is heavily influenced by my real life alma mater, Eastern Illinois University. Everything's been renamed, but anyone who went to EIU will be able to pick out the dorms, the campus buildings, the bars.  As a matter of fact, the bars frequented in Three Daves were even a trivia question in the EIU alumni newsletter last fall!     

Paraphernalia: In my acknowledgements, I thank my friend Ed for driving the silver Sapporo---missing passenger sidedoor and all---that David eventually drives in the story. Crappy cars were such a staple of college existence that I couldn't resist. My real life roomate's ginormous Oldsmobile also makes a showing. Of course bomber jackets, oversized sweatshirts, assymetric "do"s, and Ansel Adams black & whites were all present in my real 80's life.  And let us not forget the poor, dead ficus tree we dressed up in Christmas lights.

Plot: The overall plot is the product of my imagination, but I mixed in nuggets of reality. For example, there may have been a balcony arrest during spring break in Daytona Beach following a wet T-shirt contest (yes, I was the good girl standing in the middle), and I did see Wang Chung at the Clarendon.  A shoe went flying from a balcony one night at E. L. Krackers (a/k/a The Ritz), but it wasn't mine.  And I once participated in the invention of a game called Dial-a-Drink.

People: Except for one character---Aunt Lou, based on my real life Godmother---no one is wholly patterned after anyone I know.  I'm sure there's an element of every guy I ever knew melded into the Daves, and there were about a thousand guys named Dave on campus in the 80s, but I never actually dated one.  If I ever write a book about my real dating experiences, it'll be called something more like:

Two Ricks, a Couple Marks, One Len, a Craig, a Sean, a Steve, at Least One Brian, and a Darren...I'm Pretty Sure His Name was Darren. 

Not nearly as catchy as Three Daves, is it?  Now it's your turn---what bits of reality have made it into your fiction?

Thanks for having me over, Tara!

You are more than welcome =) Thanks for all that inside info! Those were the days.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The First Quote of Christmas

Stupidity is thirsty work.
 
Happy December! (it feels weird not to have a poem topic today) And to jump on the 12 days band wagon, I am giving you all "The 12 Quotes of Christmas!" - finding reason in the season.
 
Does anyone else love to see neighborhoods compete to have the brightest, most outrageous lights & decor? It gets crazier every year! Well, I have been fighting with my Christmas lights for several days. I like to conserve extension cords so I try to link as many lights as possible. Here are my deck the house in twinkle lights woes:
  • this isn't going to reach, redo
  • this plug doesn't fit into this one, redo
  • repeat first problem
  • new lights dead out of the box! replace teeny tiny fuses (it worked!)
  • didn't test lights, 1/2 the set is out - test more, 1/2 the set is out on 3 sets!
  • hands frozen, get gloves
  • toss some, keep some, note to self for next year, test lights before going outside...
So my stupidity of not planning ahead and not checking the lights created extra work which, combined with the drying heat inside, made me thirsty. Tis the season for cocoa and coffee. Yum! At least I don't have to deal with tangled wires =) And the satisfaction when the timer turns the lights on is well worth all the silly struggles - until it rains and shorts them out...but I fixed that too. Don't you love the holidays!