Friday, January 31, 2014

So You Want To Write a Novel...

I believe I promised a few days ago that I would provide some information to those of you out there who want to write a novel but don't know where to begin. We all have to begin somewhere, and lots of times it starts with what I like to refer to as "The Idea".

The Idea: Have you ever had a dream that felt incredibly real? Or maybe a dream you wished you'd never wake from? Amazingly enough, a good dream can be a gateway to a great novel. Just ask Stephanie Meyers who dreamed about Twilight--we all know what happened after that (um, can you say bestselling author?)

So maybe you never remember your dreams, but maybe you've had an experience in your life or you've heard a real life story that touched you to the core. Use that experience or story and channel your inner creativity.

If you want more ideas on how to create the perfect idea for your next novel, check out this website which has great tips and brainstorm ideas:  How To Write A Book Now

Choose Your Genre: At some point you need to decide what type of novel you want to write. Are you a hopeless romantic and read everything Harlequin puts out? Or are you an action/adventure reader with a love for the thrill of the chase? Or do you dream of Sci-Fi and Fantasy? Maybe you'd like to write a Young Adult (YA) novel or a Middle Grade novel similar in style to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Choose the genre that appeals to you most and go with it.

Brainstorm: You will be creating an idea, a story that you want others to continue to think about, long after they've read the last page, and you want to write something you won't become bored with as well. How do you do that? First, choose your characters wisely. Who is your protagonist? What is the conflict in your story? What's at stake for the main character? How will the conflict be resolved? If you can brainstorm and figure all this out BEFORE you start writing, you will be better off in the long run.

Just Write: Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. You have to put aside time everyday and just do it. Maybe it's only an hour or two, but you make a plan that you will write everyday for that amount of time and you stick with it. You're probably thinking, "but what if I have writers block?" I don't care if you have writer's block, you still need to write something. It may be crappy, but it's better than a blank page staring back at you.

If you want to feel inspired, every November is NaNoWriMo which stands for National Novel Writing Month. Thousands of people all over the country try to write 50,000 words (basically a novel) in one month. If you sign up (it's free) online, you receive newsletters and pep talks from authors and other writers who are trudging through their word counts. It is somewhat exhilarating to know that you along with hundreds of thousands of other people are all working towards the same goal. You write. And you write a lot. Something to consider for next November.

Attend Conferences: In order to improve your craft and make yourself a better writer, I would highly recommend attending writing conferences. A conference might be able to teach you crucial skills like "telling" versus "showing", how to create natural dialogue, or how to cut your manuscript for pace. Once you've chosen your genre, it also helps to find conferences that are specific to that genre. A quick search on the internet should provide you with that information.

Critique Groups: Once you get well on your way into your novel, I would recommend a critique group (or a critique friend). It helps to have another pair of eyes look over your manuscript. They can point out gaps in your story, places that need tightening, places that the dialogue feels scripted, etc.

Contests: Once your novel is complete (and revised several times), you will want to share it with the world. But before you start knocking down the agent doors with your awesome query (more to come in later posts about queries), you might want to consider entering online contests. Amazon has one every year, and those that make it to the final round have the opportunity to have their manuscript judged by editors. This is great because it gives you a chance to receive valuable feedback from those who are in "the business."

There are other contests that are geared towards the genre of your novel. As a writer of romance, I am keenly interested in any contests that are specifically for unpublished romance writers. I hone in on those and plan to enter, with the hope that my first 25 pages will be good enough to make it through the first round of judges and have an agent see it and make a request for a full manuscript. Okay, so maybe I'm living in a dreamworld, but it happens!

Good luck to those of you attempting to write a novel! Just remember, believe in yourself and you can do great things! Happy Writing!

Any other writers out there have tips for the newbies?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Let It Snow!


So excited for the first snowfall of the year! The weather has been teasing us for weeks with temperatures in the teens on dry as a bone days, and rain pouring from the sky during fair weather 50's.

So, FINALLY, it is here.

Can I tell you how much I love the snow? In small doses, of course.

I love the way it falls gently to the ground and covers the earth in a thick, white blanket. It makes everything appear pure, serene, and beautiful. For those first few minutes before tiny feet run across the white expanse, it is perfect. Untouched. Unspoiled.

Then it becomes hours of endless fun, as long as you can stand the biting cold and frozen fingers.

I love that life seems to slow down--cars don't move as fast, people don't leave their homes as much. It creates opportunities for families to be together in the home or playing outside. It promotes laughter and silliness.

You should see my children right now. Not having many experiences with snow since we live in a milder climate, they are ecstatic. And a little confused why we can't get down the sleds from the top of the garage. I had to patiently explain to them that we have to wait until the snow actually covers the ground before we can go sledding.

Here's hoping and praying tomorrow will be a SNOW DAY!! Did I mention how much I LOVE Snow Days?

Does anyone else have a snow experience you want to share?

Monday, January 27, 2014

How It All Began...

Recently, I've had several people ask me how this journey to writer began, especially with several small children to take care of. And the truth is, this journey began long ago, when I was a small girl and had a notebook of poems, songs, and stories I wrote for fun. In fifth grade when my best friend Joanna moved away, I decided to write her a book about our friendship. It was about two best friends, soul sisters if you will, who in the end have to say good-bye. Every afternoon, I came home from school and sat at the typewriter and typed out this book I had written. I spent hours at that typewriter. I then bound the book myself and gave it to Joanna as a going away present.

Cheesy? Maybe a little. But from that day forward, I knew I would one day write a novel.

Fast forward seventeen years. I'm now married and have at least three, possibly four small children. I start to feel the yearn to write. One night as I crawl into bed I express this desire to my husband. I distinctly remember saying to him, "All it takes is one great idea." As I lay awake that night, the idea came to me, slow at first and then gradually building. I hopped out of bed, ran to the computer (yes, thankfully now I could use a computer instead of a typewriter), and spent the next couple of hours hashing out the first few pages. For the next couple of years, I casually wrote in this book. I did tons of research because much of it takes place in South Africa, but guess what? I never finished it. I came close. But at some point in that novel, I got the idea for another novel and decided to run with it.

I wish I could say that I completed this second novel in a matter of months, but the truth is, it took a couple more years of casual writing to feel that I was about halfway through. It wasn't until last spring when I picked up my friend Charity Bradford's book, The Magic Wakes, and read her words and saw her dream being fulfilled that I realized I could finish my novel. I felt like a fire had been lit inside of me. I dusted off my laptop, found my manuscript hidden in the old archives and got to work. The words seemed to flow out of me. I wrote for hours every day. I stayed up until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning and then woke at 6:30 with my heart pounding, excited to write the next scene. I did this for about four weeks, and then it was finished (well, the easy part was finished anyways).

Once I knew I could finish a novel, a writing demon was unleashed. The ideas for novels knocked around inside my brain begging to be put on paper. I had barely started one novel before I was blasted with a new idea. I found that the words came quicker, the dialogue smoother, the scenes easier. I finished the second one in 3 months and the third one in less than four. As I pile up these manuscripts like unrevised bodies of grammar and narrative, I realize how much work I still have left to do. Revise and rewrite--two terms a writer should become very familiar with. I promised my husband that I will not start another novel until I have revised the last two. Over the next few months, I suppose that should be my focus, as long as I can keep these ideas at bay and my fingers from clicking on a new pages document. (Truthfully, I've already started a couple new ones, but don't tell him that!)

I share this story with you not to say "hey, look at me, look at what I'm doing". I share it simply to inspire others. Maybe you've been contemplating writing a novel or a picture book, and you don't know where to begin. We all have to start somewhere, and hopefully over the next couple of posts I can help you figure out where to begin, and keep you writing long after the ideas stop flowing. In the meantime, keep a notebook handy... you never know when an idea will hit that may just turn into a stellar novel.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Dreaded Parent Letter

Last night I sat down to write what I refer to as "the dreaded parent letter". My son missed school last Friday and I knew I needed to send in an excuse note. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Wrong. As I sat down to write this small message on a piece of personalized stationary, the words failed me. This isn't the first time this has happened either. As a writer, it is somewhat of a hit to my ego when I can't even come up with two sentences about why my son was absent.

I don't know why it's so hard to formulate a letter that may or may not get read. I guess in my mind the powers that be are scrutinizing each letter with a magnifying glass looking for incorrect grammar and lies between the lines. As if they have a little black book with each parent's name where they check off as they receive a note:


And then in my mind, I think of those funny posts where people write a sentence incorrectly and it reads as something different entirely. You know what I'm talking about, right? Those found in church bulletins and letters from parents to the school. Here are some examples I found that had me cracking up:

"Carlos was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part."

"Maryann was absent December 11-16, because she had a fever, sore throat, headache, and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick, fever, and sore throat, her brother had a low grade fever and ached all over. I wasn't the best either, sore throat and fever. There must be something going around, her father even got hot last night."

"Please excuse Roland from P.E. for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of a tree and misplaced his hip."

So you see what I'm saying? All it takes is one misspelled word, one wrong word choice, and you become the laughing stock of the school! Yikes!

In order to avoid these mistakes, maybe I need to organize a critique group to help other parents with these dreadful letters... or maybe I should never let my children miss a day from school again so I can avoid ever writing another letter. Not practical? Well then, I guess I'll have to continue to brave the crucible of the dreaded parent letter and pray for no mistakes.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Excerpt from "Letting Go"

Well, I'm not feeling too hot this week. Looks like I've been hit with a killer cold, so as my head aches, I've decided to post something that doesn't require much effort or brain power. And keeping with Unicorn Bell's theme for this week--Love is in the Air--I've decided to share an excerpt from one of my romance novels. Hope you enjoy it!


        Giselle, the woman in black who Declan knew must be Brennan’s wife, intrigued him. Her strength and composure were not what Declan had expected. She had held her head high and been a beacon of strength to her children and Brennan’s mother, as well as to everyone in the service. He admired her for her outward strength, but couldn’t help but wonder what was going on inside her head. What was she thinking? How was she feeling?

      The mourners climbed out of their cars and walked towards the canopy. Declan inched closer to the group trying to make himself appear invisible. He noticed Giselle and her boys already seated under the canopy on the first row of folding chairs. Giselle now wore sunglasses, and Declan watched as she turned to her youngest son seated next to her and whispered something in his ear. The little boy who couldn’t be more than three sat up straight on his chair and turned towards his daddy’s graveside as the men in suits carried the casket over and laid it carefully on the pulley system that would soon lower it into the ground.

       Declan was too far from the group to hear the words of the Reverend as he stood and said a prayer over the grave. When the Reverend finished praying, Declan saw Giselle nudge her youngest son who looked up at her with pleading eyes. She simply nodded her head as he slowly stood and walked over to the coffin placing a storybook onto the surface of the smooth wood. He ran back to his seat, tripping and falling into his mother’s waiting arms. The next son who looked to be about seven or eight, and judging from the picture of Brennan, was the spitting image of his father, placed a photograph on top of the coffin. He trudged back to his seat with his head lowered not bothering to look at his mother. The last son, the boy named Cohen who had read the poem earlier, walked over to the coffin and placed a baseball mitt on top. He stood there for a moment tears streaming down his face as he whispered one last good-bye to his dad.

       Giselle rose slowly and moved gracefully to the side of her son, pulling him to her and holding him close as he sobbed. When he quieted down she sent him back to his chair as she pulled out an envelope from inside her black suit. She kissed the envelope, placed it against her heart, before setting it on top of the coffin along with the other items from her children.

      As she sat back down, the Reverend thanked everyone for coming, and the crowd of people began to disperse. Declan couldn’t tear his eyes away from Giselle. He watched her greet people who had come to pay their respects. The gentle way she placed a hand on their arm, the way her face lit up when she smiled, the way she reached out for her children when they were more than an arm’s length away as if the further they went, the more strength they drew from her. She was an amazing woman, Declan admitted to himself.

      He was about to turn away and head to his car, when he noticed her approaching the coffin again, but this time with unsteady feet. He glanced around, but no one else seemed to be paying any attention to her. Brennan’s mother and father were engaged in conversation with an elderly gentleman and Brennan’s sister was consoling another young woman. The Reverend was busy talking with the funeral director. No one noticed as Giselle sank to her knees in front of the coffin and wept quietly for her husband. Heart aching, Declan watched her small shoulders shake as she sobbed for the loss of the man she had loved dearly. Her oldest son noticed her and immediately knelt by her side, wrapping his small arms around her. The other two boys followed his lead kneeling on the damp ground and surrounding their mother. The youngest placed his head in her lap while she sobbed.

      His chest constricting, Declan turned and walked slowly back to his car, the image of Giselle and her children mourning the loss of Brennan etched forever in his memory.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Blogfest: Love is in the Air!

In honor of Unicorn Bell's Blogfest: Love is in the Air, today I will post a love story. Over the past few days, I contemplated what I wanted to share with anyone who might read this blog. As a writer of romance, I had dozens of scenes to choose from in one of my books. Over the weekend, I narrowed the list down to five, but this morning as I sat down to post, I realized something. Although I have created a few amazing love stories in the past few years, I decided that the one worth sharing, is my own.

My husband Adam and I met in college in Utah. His good friend Davey was friends with one of my roommates which led to an introduction and immediate friendship. A friendship that took the four of us on a couple roadtrips--Montana and later Las Vegas to visit my sister and her family. In my mind, we were merely friends, having fun together, laughing, doing stupid, crazy stuff that college kids do (college kids who don't drink, that is).

But it was while we were visiting my older sister that my eyes were opened a little. Adam, Davey, Megan, and I were getting ready for a night out on the town. I wanted to take them down to The Strip and show them around a little. As I was getting ready, I realized my shirt needed to be ironed, and as I pulled out the ironing board, guess who came over and offered to iron my shirt for me. That's right. Adam. I was grateful, nothing more.

My sister, however, saw it as a "sign." She pulled me aside and whispered fervently, "Adam is ironing your shirt!" To which I replied, "Yeah, I know. Isn't that nice?"

I'm sure she gave me a look as big sisters do, and then she simply stated what she thought was obvious. "He likes you."

I probably shook my head and disagreed. We were just friends. In fact, I even had a crush on his friend, Davey. I wasn't the least bit interested in Adam.

My sister's final words before she let me finish getting ready, struck a chord deep inside me. "You're gonna marry this guy. Any guy who offers to iron your shirt is a keeper."

I think I laughed at that point. But I'll admit, my eyes were opened, maybe only into tiny slits, but they were open.

For the rest of the weekend, I noticed things I hadn't noticed before. When he wrestled with my two-year-old nephew, I pictured him wrestling with our own kids one day. When he teased my sister, I pictured him sitting around the dining table at Thanksgiving with the rest of my family.

But, I was scared. We were friends, and I liked the security of that friendship. He was always there, to talk to, laugh with, hear my complaints. 

When I came out of my dance class, Adam was there.

When I needed a study partner in the library, Adam was there.

When I was burned by another guy, Adam was there.

When he finally expressed his interest in moving towards something other than friends, I was hesitant. My hesitancy hurt him. He stopped waiting for me outside my dance class. He didn't come to the library to study anymore. And I missed him. Sometimes I think it takes a moment of loss for us to truly realize what we have in front of us.

One night, when I couldn't stand it any longer, I swallowed my pride and drove to his apartment. He was outside with a group of guys and girls, talking and laughing. The moment I saw him, I knew I was making a big mistake. Clearly he didn't miss me as much as I'd missed him. I was about to drive away when he spotted me. He came over to my car, slid inside, and we proceeded to work through our demons (me more so than him).

From that moment on, what was a tiny spark of interest, ignited and spread into a large flame of desire. I fell in love. And hard. Not because of his sculpted chest (non-existent) or endless amounts of money (we were both poor college students), but because I saw in him the type of man I wanted to spend my life with. The type of man who would be a good father and husband, and my best friend.

We were married less than a year later, on a cold December morning, and now have five beautiful children. I'd love to say that we have a perfect marriage, filled with roses and romantic interludes, but I'd be lying if I did. We have a great marriage, but it's hard. Some days are better than others. But even on the bad days, I am thankful for an intuitive sister who opened my eyes with her fortuitous statement. After all, a guy who offers to iron your shirt, expecting nothing in return, is definitely "a keeper".

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The 411 on Design

When my husband and I first moved to the Charlotte area fresh out of law school, we had little money and hardly any furniture. The furniture we did own was either handed down to us from my older sister or inherited from my grandmother, who had passed away only months before.

The anxious side of me wanted to go out and buy everything we needed to furnish our brand new, beautiful home, but the practical side of me decided to decorate one room at a time. We picked a room, and when that room was complete, we moved on to the next. It was a process. By the time we were ready to sell that home seven years later, we had just finished decorating the last room of the house. The master bedroom. Don't know why it took us so long to get to the best room in the house, but creating a sanctuary and haven for myself was a rewarding and much needed treat.

So, it's a process. Don't think you have to go out and buy everything you need all at once. We've been in our new home for a year now, and I still have rooms that aren't complete. I still cringe when I walk into our very haphazard and disorganized playroom. It's okay. I'll get to it...eventually.

I'm not a trained interior designer, but I do enjoy creating a beautiful space. Whether you are decorating a small apartment or an oversized home, I can provide you with a few tips to help you tackle your next decorating challenge. Although I'm not a stickler about rules when it comes to decorating, there are a few things you can do that will help turn your space into a well-thought-out design instead of a haphazard collage of anything you could find on discount.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good discounted piece, in fact, most of the decorations I've bought for my own home have come from my favorite discounted decorating store, Home Goods. If you don't have a Home Goods near you, then I apologize that you haven't had the opportunity to experience the realm of decorating possibilities this store has to offer.

 Here are a few tips for creating a beautiful space:

1) Figure Out Function.  Before you even begin decorating a room, you need to figure out how you want the room to be used. How do you want it to function? Maybe you have a living room that you would love to use as a sitting room/reading room/game room. If that is the case you probably want at least one cozy chair to read in with either a standing lamp or a small table and lamp, a small sofa or conversation chairs for when company comes, and either a large trunk that stores games and doubles as a game table or a small round table in the corner perfect for a quick game of chess. You have to decide how you want to use the space, and from there, figure out which furniture you think you'll need.

2) Always Measure. Before you go out and buy a new sofa or dining room table, I suggest you measure the space it's intended for. There's nothing worse than walking into a room that feels like it is overloaded with furniture that is too big and too bulky. If you're really ambitious, you can draw the space on a piece of graph paper, which will help you visualize the furniture arrangement and placement in the room.

3) Choose Your Paint. I think this is one many people struggle with--how to choose the right paint color for the space they want to decorate. My suggestion? Find a print you love, whether it be on a rug, pillow, drape, swath of fabric, and let that become the color palette for your room. Take it with you to the paint store (or if it's a rug, maybe just a picture) and look for a paint that would complement your starting piece. Buy a sample of the paint you choose. Go home and paint the sample either directly on the wall to be painted or on a small sheet of posterboard and hang the posterboard on that wall. You want to do this to see what the paint color will look like at all times during the day and night. Amazingly enough, your paint color will change depending on the time of day and amount of light shining into the room.

4) Don't Be Afraid to Mix and Match. Times are changing, and it is totally acceptable to mix styles as well as different color woods. It helps give the space character and keeps it from appearing too routine or boring. You might have an antique armoire you love paired with a more contemporary high backed, fabric-covered headboard. And that's okay! You just need to be careful. I wouldn't necessarily put a stylish mirrored dresser in a room with deer heads on the wall. But to each their own. As far as wood colors, an assortment of three woods in a room would probably be my max.

5) Fill Your Cart. In my opinion, accessories are what can make or break your space. You want to add just the right amount of accessories to a room without it feeling cluttered. Too little accessories and your room still feels empty, even if it is overflowing with furniture. Accessories can range from vases, to lamps, to picture frames, to knick knacks, anything that defines your space.

When you are ready to add accessories (my favorite part!), I suggest you take this advice my good friend who is an interior designer gave me--fill your cart. Pick a store (hopefully you have a Home Goods, Hobby Lobby, or Target near you) and go shopping! Sounds simple, right? Basically, you want to fill your cart with whatever catches your eye or fits the color palette you've already established for your space. As you go around the store, you will begin to see a pattern of what you're putting into your cart. You might realize you are drawn to cool and eclectic, or items that are absolutely Asian, or maybe you really like glitz and glam. Whatever that style is, it will come out as you shop for your space, keeping in mind the use for your room. You might not want to use glitz and glam in a space meant for the whole fam, but it would be great in a bedroom, hobby room, or powder room. Just make sure the store you're shopping in has a return policy--if you get it home and hate it, you need to be able to return it.

6) Pillows. I'm not going to say too much here because I want to do an entire post about pillows, but I think pillows are a great way to spruce up a space. Is your room in need of a facelift? Change out the pillows. I'll elaborate more soon!

7) Refurbish Old Furniture. Just because you have a scratched table or scuffed up dresser doesn't mean you have to throw them out. As long as they still work, you can paint them, distress them, or stain them to create an entirely new look. My interior designer friend recently bought an old table from Habitat for Humanity, painted it white, and now this beautiful piece sits in her family room. It takes time and effort, but with a little vision, you can create a piece that is beautiful and unique.

8) Don't Forget the Walls. The walls are the backdrop to your room, so you want what you put on them to echo the feeling of your space. You want to try to pull colors from your color palette, so choose pictures that will either match or complement the colors you've already chosen. If you have a large blank wall, then you want to look for a large picture, painting, mirror, etc. to hang there. Or you can have a grouping of several pictures that will nicely fill the space. You just want to avoid hanging a small picture on an oversized wall, and too large of a picture on a small wall. As far as height, a good rule of thumb is to hang your pictures at eye level, although with me being vertically challenged, I tend to hang things at my husband's eye level.

9) Add A Rug. A rug, whether you need one or not, anchors the room. It defines your space and creates a cozy feel in a large room, and adds color and texture to a small one. The rug you choose can reflect your overall color palette, or it can be a neutral complement that adds texture more than color. All in all, I think a rug is an essential for a room to feel "complete".

10) To Drape or Not to Drape. I love long drapes, ones that puddle on the floor and give the illusion that the ceiling is taller than it really is. So, when it comes time to choose window treatments, you have a tough decision to make. Valances, faux roman shades, swags are all fun alternatives to drapes. You just have to choose what is right for your space and the look you want. Although, if you do go the drape route, may I suggest Pottery Barn drapes, they are fully-lined and great quality. Interested in a discount? I'd check Ebay--many times they have Pottery Barn drapes at a significant price reduction. Here's a tip--If you want your drapes to puddle on the floor, then you want to buy ones that are at least 92". Another tip--The higher you hang them on your wall, the larger your window will appear.

All in all, the best design tip I can give you--if you love it and you think it looks good, in the end that's all that matters. You are the one living with the rug or paint color, or that particular piece of furniture, and if you're happy, does it really matter if you've broken several design rules along the way? Probably not. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Are you gonna try for a girl?

Clearly, when we are out in public as a family, five boys is somewhat of a head turner. So, I often hear from the waitress at the restaurant or the cashier scanning the groceries at the store, "Are they all yours?" Followed by, "All boys?"

Yep, the last time I checked they were all boys. And unless I have a crazy sign attached to my back, why in the world would I voluntarily take other people's children to the grocery store? Doesn't make sense.

But my favorite question—the one I get the most, which is amazing considering how personal it is—"Are you gonna try for a girl?"

Hmm, let me think about that one. 

I'm always very nice in my response because truthfully, for a long time, we were trying for a girl. I just knew I was meant to have a daughter swaddled in pink with a future of tea parties, Barbies, and prom dresses. Not to mention one day having the opportunity to plan an elaborate and detailed wedding reception. But, it was not meant to be.

I thought I was having a girl once. My first child in fact. We were told by the ultrasound tech that she was 99.9% sure (never trust the ultrasound) we were having a girl. So, for the next few months, I lived in a world of frilly dresses and pink ballet slippers, and the birth of our daughter Kylie couldn't come soon enough. 

I'm sure you can imagine my shock after I gave birth to our "daughter", and the doctor proudly declared, "It's a BOY!" And what a beautiful little boy he was, chunky and dimply, and yet, I couldn't shake the nagging thought, "Where's Kylie?"

As I lay in the hospital bed with my husband asleep on the couch across the room and my beautiful boy in a bassinet beside me, I cried for the daughter I'd never have, for the loss of the little girl I had carried inside me for nine months. Those who have never experienced this sudden shock will have no idea what I'm talking about. I'm sure many will think, how could I not be happy for a beautiful, healthy child, no matter the gender? And I was happy. Very happy. But I was also sad that the bond I'd formed with a daughter named Kylie, was nothing more than a memory. She didn't exist. And I had to come to terms with that. Over the next couple days in the hospital, I grew to love the baby boy who had no name. Now, I can't imagine my life without him or the four other little boys we've been blessed with.

So, when people ask me, "Are you gonna try for a girl?" my answer now is invariably the same--"No, we're good." For a brief moment in my mind, I had a daughter. Now, I think I'll settle for a granddaughter swaddled in pink with a future of tea parties, Barbies, and prom dresses. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Writing is my outlet.

As a mother of five extremely loud and incredibly busy boys, I've often wondered how I can keep my own identity and my own femininity in this world of frogs, swords, matchbox cars, and video games. For years I spent my days picking up after my children, changing poopy diapers, cleaning up slop off the floor, and doing the mundane tasks of laundry, vacuuming, and mopping.

Don't get me wrong, I love being a mother and recognize that it is my greatest purpose and most fulfilling reward on this earth.

But as my children are slowly but surely getting older and a little more self-sufficient, I feel a desire deep within to seek after my life-long dream. To become a writer. And with the world of boys only steps away, I am drawn to writing something that will fulfill my needs as a woman.


Who doesn't enjoy a compelling love story? I've always been interested in other people's love stories--how they met, how he proposed, etc. I love the onset of a sweet, tender romance or the battle for an unattainable love. I love that when I write I'm taken to faraway places and new experiences. I get to think and feel as the characters do.

I was recently writing a scene where the main character has a lot of anger and hostility towards her husband. My husband said to me one day, "Why are you always so angry lately?" Then it hit me. I was so invested in this character and the anger and hurt she felt that I was unknowingly taking it out on my own husband! That was an eye-opening experience!

But it is so true.

As a writer, I live and breathe the story I'm working on. I become the character and try to think as he/she would think. When I was writing a novel about a cowboy casanova, I listened for months to country music and had an insane desire to buy a ranch in Montana and learn to ride a horse. When I wrote the book about a woman who loses her husband in a tragic car accident, I listened to Evanescence's "My Immortal" and Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years" on repeat for hours upon hours as I cried my eyes out.

That's what makes me love writing. It's an escape. An outlet. And the keeper of my sanity. My only hope is that as I explore the realm of agents and publishers, someone will recognize my potential. Someone will want to take a chance on me. In the meantime, I'll just keep writing, and hope for the best.