Friday, February 28, 2014

Unicorn Bell Inspiring Stories Contest

By now you realize that I've been talking about Real Imprints all week. I'm sure you've already visited this amazing website and found your own favorite inspiring story.

Well, I have an announcement to make....
                                                     **** Drum Roll please****

The writing blog I co-host, Unicorn Bell, is teaming up with Real Imprints for an Inspiring Stories Contest and YOU are the first to know about it! Yep, you get a sneak peek before I post all the information on the UB website tomorrow. So you basically have 24 more hours to write and perfect your own inspiring story! :)

What is this Inspiring Stories Contest you ask?

Send your own Inspiring Story to before March 24th.
Enter the contest for a chance to have YOUR story chosen to be the featured story on the Real Imprints website! Also, the winner of the contest will receive a $10 Amazon gift card!!

Things to know:

*Please submit real life stories, an experience that has happened to you or someone you know.
*Stories should inspire, uplift, or encourage, and can be as simple as an act of kindness or as life-changing as an unexpected tragedy or triumph.
*All stories will be posted on the UB website with your name unless otherwise specified.
*Stories should be as concise as possible while still giving enough background information and detail. I'd rather not post a word limit, but I would think 1,000 words (give or take) would be sufficient.
*The Real Imprints team will comment and choose a story to be featured on their website with a link to your blog (if you have one). The writer of the chosen story will receive a $10 Amazon gift card.
*After the contest ALL stories will be submitted to Real Imprints with the possibility of being posted on their website in the future.

Any questions?

If not, then you better get writing! Can't wait to hear YOUR story!!

And don't forget to check out my own Imprints story featured on their website today and through the weekend. Click HERE!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

With Every Step Leave An Imprint

I have Tasha here today to tell us a little more about Real Imprints (the amazing website I highlighted in Monday's post).

Take it away Tasha!

Every story has a beginning. Mine started 10 years ago in a small Idaho town. I was newly married and going to college. It is here in a “home turned duplex” that I met Lindsey and her husband Aaron. We became fast friends. Our friendship became sweeter as the years ticked on! I came to know that if we were both willing to travel to see each other over great distances, those miles wouldn’t affect our friendship. Never would I have believed that many years later I would be asked to be a part of Real Imprints. (Read Tasha’s story here)

The idea of Real Imprints came through Lindsey. She has always been inspired by the stories of others. Their trials, their triumphs, and their spirit, were motivating for her and she finally decided to put those stories out there for others to see.

She came to me with this great idea and I pretty much jumped right in! We each carry a role that adds to what you see on Real Imprints. It has been amazing to witness the miracles that have brought this website to light, and we continue to witness how it blesses other people’s lives.

Each of us come from different circumstances gleaning from our own personal experiences. These experiences make us who we are and they are important, they are the “Real” part of us. These stories need to be shared…the good and the bad…or life would be pretty plain. We often tend to think that our own lives might not have anything inspiring about them, but our message is to show that that isn’t true. We each are inspiring. Our unique stories shared leave imprints in the hearts of others.

There is a story on our site that I love. It celebrates the life of a band teacher who tragically passed away. The writer was a young high school student that knew her. She has been impacted by this woman’s life and now through her story, can impact others. This lady, although gone, continues to leave an imprint. That in itself is the best celebration of life. (Read that story here)

My new favorite quote I find myself often repeating is “WITH EVERY STEP LEAVE AN IMPRINT.” I am daily affected by the lives of others and it motivates me to be something more. That is the power of this idea. The stories, the books, the videos, the music, the quotes, and the service we share all come from that same source. We all can inspire and be inspired!

                                                                                            --Tasha (Real Imprints)

Thank you Tasha for joining us today! Those of you who want to rush over and check out this Awe-spiring website (there's that word again--I may have started something...) can click on the image below OR click on the story links above.

Also, don't forget to join me Friday for the Inspiring Stories Contest reveal!! You will get all the details here BEFORE it's posted on Unicorn Bell (now don't you feel special!).

Let me know in the comments what YOU think of Real Imprints. Do YOU have an Inspiring Story to share?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Real Imprints--Real Inspiring

Have you heard of Real Imprints yet? If you haven't, you will after this post. Real Imprints is an AWESOME website designed to inspire and uplift. It has the most AMAZING stories of triumph, failure, love, loss, hope, friendship, and all around goodness.

Tear-jerking and beautifully written, these stories highlight children, cancer survivors, Olympic winners, families, and anyone who has a story to share.

I first heard of Real Imprints through my friend Tasha who is a part of the Real Imprints team. This is what she had to say about her experience as part of this amazing team of visionaries.

"I love being a part of Real Imprints! I am so privileged to read and share the stories of so many courageous and inspiring people. It is through these stories that we share our purpose to uplift and inspire. The world could use a little more HOPE and our website is dedicated to spreading that HOPE into the hearts of many!" 

The creator of Real Imprints had a vision and this is how it started...

"This all started with a simple thought of how amazing the “real” part of people is. Sometimes we feel the need to appear perfect and amazing, but more times than not, the thing that makes people amazing is the journey they’ve been on and what they’ve done along the way. We have all been given a different path and our perspectives often depend on what we’ve experienced. Real Imprints provides the opportunity to share your journey, to bless others with the things you’ve learned, the perspectives you gleaned, and the blessings you’ve received as you’ve trudged along YOUR path. As we share our stories, aspirations, dreams, realities, struggles, and triumphs, we can connect our paths and learn from the “real” amazing parts of us. We can let go of the need to be perfect right now, celebrate our progress, embrace our lives and circumstances, knowing that we each have a purpose and can make a difference. We believe that as we share the “real” parts of our lives, it will inspire and give hope to so many, leaving imprints in lives and hearts."

                                                                                                               --Real Imprints

One of my favorite stories on the website is a video of a dying young father leaving a message of hope for his baby daughter. Check out his story HERE, but CAUTION--you are entering a "Tissues Highly Recommended Zone". Another one of my favorites is a story written by a grieving father who lost his infant son after he was born with Down Syndrome and a hole in his heart. Very touching. You can read his story HERE. 

But the story that hit me the hardest was the story of little Emilie Parker, one of the shooting victims in the Sandy Hook tragedy. Watch the video to see what her mother has learned from this experience.


Now on to a lighter note...I have an exciting week planned!! 

On Wednesday, my friend Tasha will be here to tell us more about how Real Imprints came to be. 

On Friday, be sure to visit and get all the details of an upcoming Inspiring Stories Contest. Unicorn Bell and Real Imprints are teaming up for an Awe-spiring (awesome and inspiring!) contest. 
And there will be PRIZES! Yep, and a chance to have your story featured on Real Imprints. Yippee!! You don't want to miss this!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Don't Miss Out!

Today as I was getting my manuscript ready to send via mail, everything that could possibly go wrong, did. Our printer is broken (strike one), then when I tried to send the document to my husband at work for him to print, the formatting completely changed. What was once 50 pages became 47 pages because I sent a document from a Mac to a non-Mac. (strike two) Then when I tried to download software onto my computer so I could fix the formatting issue, the computer refused to allow it. Something about not enough memory space? Whatever. (strike three)

If this was a baseball game, I'd have been "out" long ago. But as it was, I took a deep breath, left the room and decided that no matter how hard I tried, those fifty pages were NOT being sent to an agent today. Sometimes there are circumstances far beyond our control. It's frustrating, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow.

Enough of my sob story! Now on to some information about upcoming blogfests and contests! Who doesn't love a good blogfest?

March 3rd-5th, author Sheri Larsen is hosting a Gratitude Blogfest. All you have to do is watch the video and share how watching it affected your attitude of gratitude. Tell us how you've changed and what you're grateful for. Feel free to post any of those three days. You can watch the video and sign up HERE. 

 How happy do you feel on a daily basis? How often do you consciously think about it?


Unicorn Bell is hosting an AWESOME contest March 10th-14th. It is the Fountain of Drabble Contest. If you've never done a drabble before (like me), get ready to let your creative juices flow, but not TOO much because you can only use 100 words. Sounds impossible? You can do it! Here are the details:

Write a complete story in 100 words using these words:

fountain of youth

Winner gets to pick between a query critique or first chapter critique!

You can send your drabbles in at any time to with the subject as "Drabble Contest".


As part of Sheri Larsen's Writer's Creed for 2014, I am committing to the following creed and will post once a month.

Here's what Sheri had to say about the Creed:

There are two optional commitments you can make:
  1. Copy the CREED Badge and paste it on your site, encouraging others to join us. I've included a smaller size for your convenience. Or you can copy and paste the larger image and size to you're liking.
  2. Write one post a month somehow related to your journey in following the CREED. Choose a day and time to your liking. Just include the badge in your post, linking back to this post so others can join in. Share your post via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or however!


I'm still trying to create a button for another contest Unicorn Bell will be co-hosting with the website Real Imprints, so more details to come on that. All I'll say right now is be thinking about an inspirational story you'd like to share. We all have them! You might have to pull one from the recesses of your mind, but I know it's there. :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Partial Request!

I missed posting yesterday. You might have noticed that I now try to post three times a week--Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, although sometimes that schedule may alter. 

Unfortunately, I don't have an amazing post to share with you today either. I am a little preoccupied with something else...

Remember how I said I was taking you with me into the query trenches? Well, here's an update:

On Tuesday I sent a query to an agent and received a request for a partial shortly after. I've been busy going through my first fifty pages with a fine toothed comb, searching out those mistakes I might have missed the other two hundred times I've read through/revised it.

I read an interesting quote the other day, but I can't remember where I read it. Basically it said, you know your manuscript is ready to send when you've gone through it and changed things so many times that you're sick of it.

I totally feel that way. If I have to read one more scene between Declan and Giselle, I think I'm going to throw my computer against the wall.

I love the story, but I've read it so many times the words are starting to blur together. *sigh*

So, even though I don't have any scintillating stories or information to share today, I hope you'll stay tuned to upcoming posts. There are some FABULOUS blogfests coming up as well as a Unicorn Bell inspirational stories contest. More info to come....

Have an AMAZING day!!! Here's an awesome smiley face just for you!!

Courtesy of Hedfones via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, February 17, 2014

Query Trenches

Alright folks, I'm headed back into the Query Trenches. This time, I'm taking you with me. Some of you may be thinking, what the heck is a query trench? And you're about to find out, probably more than you want to.

A query is a writer's project pitch for their completed manuscript. It is THE most important letter you will write during your writing career. Therefore it has to be PERFECT (or nearly).

The ideal in this world of writing is to land a literary agent who would like to offer representation. This is where the query comes in. A writer can spend hours upon hours polishing their query, which should be no more than a page, and more specifically, the blurb about your story no more than 250 words. Have you ever tried to write a 99,000 word novel and then condense the most important parts to 250 words? It's not easy.

There are many other considerations when writing a query. It should reflect your writing style, your voice, and have absolutely no grammatical mistakes or spelling errors. (Remember this is your only shot at getting an agent to notice your book. Do you want to give them a bad impression of your writing? Typically if agents see mistakes in a query, they assume they will see the same types of mistakes in your writing.) It should be interesting, show character development and the major conflict, and most importantly, it needs to pique the agent's interest. All in less than a page.

So, why do writers do this? Why search out for a literary agent when there are other publishing options available nowadays? I think every writer dreams of "making it big". We spend months or years writing a novel and just as long revising it. Our hope is to find an agent who believes in our story as much as we do. One who will offer representation, pitch the project to one of THE BIG SIX publishing houses, and Voila! A million dollar contract! (Okay, so maybe that's dreaming a little big....)  :)

But the point is, the THE BIG SIX are put on a pedestal, idolized by writers, engraved in gold. And as I'm about to enter these "query trenches" again, I wonder if it's worth it?  I'm about to "stalk" agents--I'll research their likes and dislikes in a query and their preferred query format. I'll find out the types of books they represent and books they like to read. I'll read their bios and search out their blog, twitter, or Facebook pages. It's a process, and one that has proven unfruitful thus far.

I took a few months off from writing queries. I needed a break. And now, I'm ready to do it again. I have a manuscript ready and waiting, screaming at me for not doing anything with it other than the occasional hacking at the story, removing characters, and rewriting scenes. The longer this manuscript is in my possession, the more changes I make. Pretty soon it will be a shell of the original. (Which is probably a good thing!)

So, wish me luck! I'm heading into those trenches and praying I come out unscathed.

All of you writers out there, I want to hear from you...Did you brave the query trenches? In the end, what did you decide--try for an agent, send to small publisher, or self-publish? I'd love to hear from you!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine's Celebration

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Hopefully you have fun plans for a romantic night with your significant other. If you don't have a significant other, no worries, you can have fun on Valentine's too. Chick flick, anyone?

We were bombarded with snow this week and I wasn't able to get out to the store and pick up a few items for the kids to help celebrate V-day. I usually like to decorate the table and leave a little wrapped gift with some candy at each child's place setting. So, last night around 11:30 I had to improvise. Here's what I came up with...

It was super easy and of course I got the idea off of Pinterest. To recreate the centerpiece, just find a large tree branch in your yard and set it in a glass vase with marbles, rocks, or fun hearts. Punch holes in paper hearts and hang them with ribbon. Voila! You have an inexpensive centerpiece that packs a big punch. I love how it turned out! Don't you?

I honor of Valentine's Day, I'd love to share a clip from one of my favorite romantic movies..."You've Got Mail" (an oldie but goodie!). 



Do you have any fun Valentine's Day traditions? What is your favorite romantic movie? Please share!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder...

A big THANK YOU to all those who stopped by for the Moonless Blogfest on Monday. It was so much fun and I wish Crystal much success! So exciting!

For those of you who missed it, you can scroll down and check out Monday's post along with the linky link to all the other blogs who participated. :)

On to the Wednesday post!

I know you've heard the phrase "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." So true, right?

When my husband and I were dating in college, we were forced to test the waters of the long distance relationship. The semester had just ended and Adam was returning home to Florida to work for the rest of the summer, and I planned to stay in Utah for Spring semester and then return home to Virginia for a few weeks. These were plans we'd made BEFORE we started dating, but once we realized how much we liked each other, the four months we'd be apart loomed in front of us like a giant obstacle course.

We said a tearful good-bye at the airport (well, I'm sure I was the one shedding tears, probably not him). Then it was sayonara 'til I see you again.

We talked on the phone daily, racking up phone bills and sleepless nights. I learned things about him that I probably never would have had we been in the same state. Likewise I was willing to share things about myself that I probably wouldn't have had he been right beside me.

One night I think we talked until the wee hours of the morning, and instead of hanging up, we fell asleep with the phone still cradled to our ear. When I woke, I whispered into the phone, "Are you still there?" And sure enough, he was.

Absence did make the heart grow fonder in our case. Like a crazed schoolgirl, I made a paper chain to count down the days until I would see him again (in my defense, I think it was my roommates idea...) Silly, I know, but totally true.

Amazingly enough, something must have happened during those marathon telephone calls throughout the summer, because two days after we returned to Utah for Fall semester and were finally reunited, Adam proposed as we sat on the side of the mountain watching the sunset.

Since that day, the most time we've spent apart from each other is an agonizing three weeks several years ago when I went to Vegas to visit my sister. We both decided that three weeks is way too long to be apart. Never again.

So what is it about not seeing the person you love that makes the heart grow fonder? Is it the lack of physical contact? The desire to feel the warmth of his hand encircling yours and his protective embrace? I know those were things I missed when we were apart, but it was more than that. When you're away from the person you love because of distance, you remember the good things about them. You memorialize their best attributes and give credence to what makes them special.

And if you truly want to get to know someone, put a little distance between you and you'll be amazed by what you learn.

Does anyone else have a story of absence/distance making the heart grow fonder that you'd like to share? Come on, you know you want to!! :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Moonless Book Release Blogfest

Today I am participating in another Blogfest--this one put on by author Crystal Collier. Check out her debut novel, Moonless. It has a "killer" plot!!

In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night. 

Her nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless. BUY IT HERE
In honor of Crystal's book release, she issued a Blogfest challenge--If you lived in a society where arranged marriages were a la mode, who would you beg your parents to set you up with? Why?

Okay, this was a hard one. I'm already married to the perfect guy for me, so it's extremely difficult to choose someone else I'd want to be "set up" with, but I decided to give it a shot.

My dream pick would be.....Drum roll please....SUPERMAN!!

Honestly, who doesn't love Superman? And I'm not thinking the Christopher Reeves Superman, but more like the Henry Cavill Superman. The reason? Because he's super I need another reason? Plus, he shoots lasers from his eyes, bends metal with his bare hands, flies, and is totally in tune to the needs of others. Sounds like a dream guy to me!

So, who would you ask your parents to set you up with? Leave your answer in the comments and check out all the others in this awesome Blogfest!

Oh, I almost forgot! Crystal's publisher is offering a $2.00 off coupon good until February 14th. Just follow the link below to redeem your code! Trust me, you don't want to miss this AWESOMENESS!!

Book link: 
Coupon code: LQJM3F84 

And while you're at it, enter to win one of these great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, February 7, 2014

Unicorn Bell

I recently became a contributor to an awesome blog geared towards helping writers "survive the crucible of fire". I am so excited to be a part of this amazing group of writers and authors.

                                                            Photo courtesy of Unicorn Bell

Unicorn Bell held a special place in my heart even before I became a co-host. It was through UB that I entered my first ever QueryCon (query contest) last fall and received a request from an agent for my full manuscript. Be sure to check out the next QueryCon in the fall. I'm sure we will have several agents/editors you will want to impress with your awesome query!

My first post on UB will be in March and I have been seriously contemplating what I can do to add to what is already being done. We already have many talented authors and writers posting useful information and helping with the writing side of things. If you need a query critiqued, we have a query master who can help you. If you'd like your first page reviewed, we have someone who will provide insight to help make it better. If you have a 1500 word scene you're not sure about, we have a long crit genius. If you love blogfests, author interviews, and guest posts, we have that too!

If you like this kind of stuff or need help hammering out that dreaded query, Unicorn Bell is the place for you!! Seriously, you need to check it out.

No, really, you should check it out....

Are you still here reading this? I meant, GO NOW and check it out!! : )

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Terrible Twos

I believe my youngest son is going through what is often referred to as "The Terrible Twos."

Two days ago I found my little munchkin in my bedroom (my sanctuary) with a permanent marker. He was laughing and rolling around on my bed as he admired his artwork on my cream coverlet. You may remember an earlier post where I mentioned that it took years for us to finally decorate our master bedroom. Here is the final effect.

As you can see, this is MY SANCTUARY. This is a kid free zone! Well, it's supposed to be, but I guess when you have a toddler, everything is fair game, including my carefully chosen coverlet. Oh well. 

 In the past week, he has broken a piece off my Pottery Barn media console, colored my laundry room (including everything in it--washing machine, dryer, tile floor, cream cabinets) with a blue magic marker (thankfully, it was washable), has done pencil artwork on the walls of my bedroom, and other mischievous acts.

My husband says to me, "You have to keep the markers, pens, and pencils hidden. He's going through a writing phase." Obviously. BUT why is it that when I think I have all of them out of reach, I keep finding Little Man with some type of writing utensil. Hmm? Could it be because I have four other children who have to do their homework and then leave stuff lying around? Or maybe I have a baby ninja who catapults his way on top of the counters to reach the cabinets where all the "interesting stuff" is kept. Who knows. All I do know is that I hope this writing/destructive phase ends quickly.

In the meantime, I can't get angry at him. Who could possibly be mad at this face?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Grandparents are the Best

My parents visited over the weekend, a short visit as they were traveling home from Florida after spending the past week on a Bahamas cruise. Their first cruise and first time leaving the country (other than Canada, I think). They've been married fifty years, so it was time. Time for them to do something for themselves.

We always enjoy when the grandparents visit. The kids get excited to see their grandparents and it's a nice break from it just being mom and dad all the time. One son shows off his piano skills and the other two brag about their perfect report card, anything to elicit praise. My two-year-old can't get enough of his grandfather's hugs while my four-year-old cries because he can't make the perfect card for his grandmother. Good times.

In honor of my parents being such great parents and grandparents, I'd like to pay them a little tribute for today's post. As I mentioned before, my parents have been married 50 years and raised five children. They now have 22 beautiful grandchildren. They have a lot to be proud of and thankful for.

So what does it take to be married to the same person for 50 years? I'd say a lot of patience!! Have they had a perfect marriage? No. Has it been easy? Of course not.

But they stuck with it. Even during the hard times.

I think that is such a valuable lesson, especially in today's society. It is so easy to just throw in the towel and say, "I can't stand him/her. I don't love him/her anymore. We couldn't make it work." And maybe that is the right thing for some people, but sometimes we have to stick it out through the hard times in order to make it to greener pastures.

It isn't going to be easy. Ever. But it will be worth it.

I love that my mom knows when my dad is tired and needs to go to bed, and my dad knows that my mom won't rest until she's done every last load of laundry. I love that after all these years, the best day of my father's life was marrying my mother. I love that they are able to put aside their differences-- because heaven knows they don't agree on everything--and they still love each other in their own quiet way. They may not kiss or hold hands or show tokens of affection in public, but they don't need to. They have a love that endures the test of time. A love that will last forever.