Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Hotel-style

Forget that the picture is super small. Forget that I'm in a hotel when I should be trick-or-treating with my kiddos in another state (not happening there b/c of fallen power lines). Forget that my husband and one daughter got smacked by a truck today (they are both okay) and I had to witness the whole nasty collision from a few cars back. Forget that we've been without power for days and I'm feeling like I have no more marbles to lose...I'm alive. I'm here. And I finally got this post in.

Happy Birthday to me! I'll see you when I see you (no idea when power is expected to come back...could be days). Days...ha! (And yes, I will be having wine with my dinner tonight.)

And we will be roaming the halls in our Star Wars costumes. Yes, yes we will! Halloween hotel-style. This is how I roll on my b-day when I've gone w/out power for days.

*photo by flickr

Friday, October 28, 2011

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

I confess, I like the fact my name is in a song. I sing to it (loudly) whenever it comes on the radio. Now who wouldn’t be flattered by lyrics from "The Boss" like these: “Wendy let me in. I wanna be your friend. I want to guard your dreams and visions…Together Wendy we’ll live with the sadness. I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul. Someday girl, I don’t know when, we’re gonna get to that place where we really want to go and we’ll walk in the sun. But ‘til then, tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”

Is your name in a song? Or have you ever been serenaded?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pick a Number…Any Number

ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up (a handful to a now certain one)

math scores (pick any number between 50-100)

high school fundraiser “popularity gauge” candy canes (one year, one, another year, twenty)

invites to attend Homecoming in high school (one year, nine, one year, none)

people I could call close friends (a roomful of rockin’ moms from a church mom’s group I led in Ohio, one old neighbor lady in Georgia)

digits on a scale (in my adulthood, a 30lb spread)

social networking stats on any given site on any given day (changing every day)

moments I’ve trusted in God’s love above what any number could reveal (hoping for an exponential increase on this one)

Numbers are concrete. I’m a novelist. I create imaginary worlds and make believe characters.

Numbers are concrete. More often than not they scare me because they don’t speak to me. They aren’t words. I adore words. Words fill the playground in my brain. I tend to kick numbers to the curb.

However, I’m aware numbers can be valuable at times. In publishing, for example, I’ll want to keep close tabs on how my books are selling. If I notice a lull, I’ll work harder to sell more books. I’ll pay attention to the numbers. I’m not blind to them. I pay attention now, too (sometimes more than I’d like). But numbers also tend mess with me. (Scale anyone?)

There are days I’ll see a number on one of my social networking sites and I’ll feel the lure to compare, but then I remember how much more gratifying it is to compete against myself (and my own current numbers). I remember how passionate I am about uplifting other women, even if that means their numbers get elevated and mine do not. I recall my deep desire to move forward in this industry with integrity, establishing genuine relationships based on something more than a notch on a computer screen. I remember why I’m here and the One whose opinion I care about most.

There will always be someone out there with more significant numbers, whether it’s more candy canes stacked on their desk or more pounds stacked on their hips. Someone with more friends or better scores. We are all created and gifted uniquely. I get so tired of all that weird competitive stuff that goes on between women. So what will I do, the rebel I am…I plan to celebrate the gifts I notice in other women, as I grow in confidence and strength whilst doing my own thang.

Who’s with me on this (because sometimes there really is power in numbers)?

*photo by flickr

Monday, October 24, 2011

Caught in the Undertow

Lately I’ve been caught in the undertow of some disorienting thoughts. I wasn’t exactly sure how to describe them (and some I still haven’t found a way to pinpoint) but when I read the following paragraph in THE GIRLS by Lori Lansens (a book I’m currently devouring) something resonated. In this book the main character, Rose fleshes out one of thoughts crashing against me.

“I’m filled with confidence when I begin, but by the end of a writing night I’m left to wonder if other writers feel the way I do—that with each letter, word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, I’m digging a toe-hold, gripping a rock, a fool on a mountainside, alone and ill-equipped, a disastrous fall more likely than a gloried ascent. Why did I start climbing? Where am I now? Who gives a sh** if I reach the summit?”

So there you have it. The writing life (and life in general) ain’t all sunshine and synonyms. Sometimes we climb despite our doubt. Sometimes we dig our toes so far in the sand the raging current, in all its fury, cannot move us.

Right now I’m magically doing both.

*Thankfully, the tides have turned some since I wrote this post. I debated not posting it, but as a writer I’m called to tell the truth and the truth isn’t always pretty.
Check out who I get to uplift on my FB All “I”s on __________! (Mid-morning.)
***photo by flickr

Friday, October 21, 2011

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Solve the mystery or let the mystery solve you?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

8 Dinosaur Thoughts Better Off Extinct

I don’t have a boy so I’ve missed the joy of watching a toddler guy crash two monster dinosaurs into each other and the awe caught up in a wee one’s stare when he stops in his tracks at a museum and gazes at Allosaurus (yep, looked that up) fossils for the first time.

Because I don’t deal much with dinosaurs on a daily basis, I thought I’d invite them here. But here they’re not so awe-inspiring. Today I’m giving you eight dinosaur thoughts that are better off extinct.

I can’t improve
Who says? Sure you can. This one is a lie. Put it to bed.

I’ve never been hurt that badly in my whole life
Pain is an oddity. Physical pain is fleeting, but certain emotional pains might as well have attached to us like an outer layer of skin or scales (for the sake of the running metaphor). It’s worth it to slough off the power of those painful memories. Learn from it. Grow from it. But don’t let emotional pain from the past keep you from living.

This dinosaur thought is classic Velociraptor victim mentality—a way to self validate. A way to tell yourself you really did feel that bad.

I’ll never be that happy again
Again, who says? What are you, Pawpawsaurus (love the name) prophetic? Escort this thought out the doors marked Extinct Exit. Can you tell I’m a fan of the famous “life is what you make it” train of thought?

I’m not supposed to be here
This one makes no sense and it’s futile (a word that always reminds me of reptile…reptile…dinosaur, eh? Eh?) . To quote a line from Horton Hears a Who, “We are here. We are here. We are here.” What we do and say matters.

She’s better at me at everything
This is a Garudimimus (looked that up too) generalization. Sure, she’s better at some things. But we all have our areas of giftedness. Kill this one. It’s dangerous and it breeds little carnivorous babies.

I hate them
One of the most predatory thoughts listed here, this one damages from the inside out. It’s a parasite.

If I just ignore it, it’ll go away
I see this one as belonging to the family of hate’s opposite. The Alectrosaurus apathetic approach has to go. Here’s a truth, most ignored things find a way to surface when you least expect it.

I have no choice, I’m stuck
If you’ve visited ~ thoughts that move ~ say, more than once, you know I’m a mover. I’ve certainly had seasons when I’ve felt stuck, but I also now trust in the reality that I’m never stuck. (I have a living God motivating me to move.) I have choices. These frozen fossils of thought need to dethaw and die.

Can you think of any other T-Rex mind traps?

*photo by flickr

Monday, October 17, 2011

Practice Makes Practiced

It’s one thing to have an idea. And another to take that idea and make a book out of it. And quite another to put in the time editing that book. And entirely another to do this numerous times.

We don’t expect rock stars to rise to fame in the aftermath of a single concert or Olympic athletes to garner worldwide attention from one game or one great day of stellar sportsmanship. No, instead we can easily surmise their songs or their sport demanded countless hours of concentrated dedication.

Same goes for writers.

This isn’t anything new. I’m not proposing a wild and crazy new strand of advice here. It’s an essential—a core truth for any and all writers to not just know, but adhere to if we aim to be published. Practice makes practiced and practiced is the kind of writer agents and editors want. It’s the kind of writer bound to develop sharpened skills while honing the craft.

And if we’ve gone the distance and cranked out more than one or two novels, there is a snazzy piece of advice I’d love to point you toward. Check out what Marcus Brotherton recently guest posted about on my agent’s blog regarding killing completed unpublished manuscripts.

Sometimes it seems like Kenny Rogers held the key to so many of life’s great mysteries. “The secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.”

I’ll say good-bye now and pretend not to hear you singing the rest of the lyrics to “The Gambler”.

Finish this: Practice makes ______________.

*photo by flickr
**I’m having a blast now on Mondays with my “I”s on ___________ (a new FB face every Monday), celebrating and uplifting those I appreciate.
Come see (mid-morning) who All “I”s are on this week!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Life in the fast lane or Stop and smell the roses?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Value of Learning to Lead & Follow Well

We all want to be strong leaders, whether we are designed for leadership or not. It’s in our nature, part of our attention-seeking wiring. We want to influence others and have our ideas catch on.

This can be an entirely noble pursuit, but we are amiss to pursue leadership with vigor if we pay no mind to what it takes to be a strong follower as well. Some of the greatest people to work with (and let’s face it, to be around and befriend) have a keen understanding of how to lead and also how to respect when they’re not in the lead—how to follow with dignity.

I’m fleshing out eight valuable results of learning to lead and follow well:

We Demonstrate Humility
We don’t always have to be the one talking, guiding, instructing, or bossing. We’re all given numerous opportunities to follow someone. Currently, I lead and follow as an assistant soccer coach. I follow the lead of the head coach (and am blessed to do so because she’s shaping a mighty team with a lot of emphasis on sportsmanship).

We Show Respect
When we effectively lead and follow, we exude the understanding we don’t always need to be in control. We allow others to make imperative decisions and abide by them.

It Becomes Clear We Know How to Listen
Following well is an outward sign we take heed to what others think, to the direction and vision they are hoping to move.

We Prove We Don’t Lead with a Dictator Mentality
No one likes a bossypants. Everyone appreciates when they feel heard. No matter what kind of leadership role we find ourselves in, it serves us well to give all parties a voice. Heck, we might learn a boatload in the process.

We Practice What We Preach
A real do as I do example. If we are following well, we are modeling the very behavior we hope to see from those we lead.

We Express the Understanding There’s a Time for Everything
I’ve led over sixty women in a rockin’ mom’s group before. I’ve also taken a step back and have served with a more sidelines effort. From both of these roles, I gleaned a finer grasp on how there’s a time for everything. I had to assess my priorities before I slid into each role and they both suited my goals at the time. Not always having to be in the lead speaks volumes about our character and our ability to trust others when their time comes.

We Grow In Both Roles by Witnessing Examples of What to Do and What Not to Do If ever there’s a prime time to learn, it’s when we are on the sidelines. We teach our kids this in soccer. Half of them are content to weave daisy chains and gobble up the Smartfood popcorn, but we encourage the players to be watching when they’re not on the field. In our time of following we are bombarded with excellent examples of best practices and moves that flop. We are prudent to take notes, to observe with a heart for learning, because we might miss something vital that could change how we lead.

We Gain Experience and Wisdom
In both a leader and fo
llower roles we are building our empathy meter. We are gauging what it feels like to be subordinate to someone. At the same time, we are offered a rare gift of being able to navigate and steer as a leader. A sound leader is aware of the temptation of pride and control. A sound follower is in tune with the temptation to become bitter and lazy. Wise are the leaders and followers who fight said temptations and grow in their current callings. (That sounded a little Yoda-ish…yeah Yoda!)

Any examples of when or how you grew in a leader or follower role?

*photos by flickr

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cliqueless in Connecticut

I’m not a fan of cliques. I like groups. I love groups actually and I’ve been a member of dozens of influential core groups. But a group becomes a clique when the doors shut. When there’s either a spoken or an unspoken underlying sense that all positions within have been filled. No need to apply. No come back later. Door is locked.

I’m a fan of open doors. The whole open door, anyone’s welcome mentality—that’s what I gravitate toward. Maybe because I always felt a crushing empathy for the underdog in school or because I’ve been thrown to the curb a time or two and I know how excruciating it feels. For whatever reason, I simply don’t like cliques.

Does any of this surprise you about me? I hope not.

My thoughts about cliques were triggered when my daughter reminded me of the lovely dynamics that begin to bud at her age (fourth grade). Man, oh man, I could write her a book about what I’ve witnessed when it comes to females and their treatment of one another. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll continue to remind her to be kind to everyone, to make conscious decisions about including others, and to branch out when it comes to establishing friendships.

I get why people hunker into tight knit groups. It makes perfect sense to me. There are even things about that kind of loyalty (and perhaps boundary setting) I can appreciate, but all too often I see the inadvertent ostracizing that those groups partake in. I see the weakness in shutting others out.

But this is me. And perhaps I’ll grow to feel differently. I’m open to that.

I’m open.

My door remains open. And I have no plans on closing it anytime soon.

So welcome. And while you’re at it, welcome a friend as you step on in and process these thoughts.

What say you on the matter?

*photos by flickr

Friday, October 7, 2011

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Dream so big you are a speck inside the dream or dream small enough you are a giant inside the dream?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

8 Interaction Influencers

Recently I experienced something akin to an interview. I pitched my books to several editors at a writer’s conference. And believe you me I was hypersensitive to the words I chose, the way I walked in the room, down to whether or not the soup served at lunch (imbued with a good helping of curry) was still lingering on my breath.

The thing is…I cared. I care about my interactions and the impression I leave. You know what, I could tell the editors I met with cared too.

Here’s how I could tell:

Firm Handshake
As soon as we were within reach, the editors offered me a strong handshake. Let me tell you, the manner in which you shake matters. I’m so not a fan of the wilting flower. On the flip side, I get a little weirded out by the jackhammer. But shake my hand with confidence and you have my attention.

Eye Contact (at appropriate times)
See what I added in the parenthesis above? It’s key. During a crucial interaction it pays to pay attention. One of the best ways to physically demonstrate you are engaged is to provide eye contact (not stare or admire my stylish top). I felt heard when the editors gave strong eye contact.

Waiting your turn like toddlers in a sandbox doesn’t change much. The setting changes, but the waiting bit...that’s a lifetime thing. There’s a time to talk and a time to listen. Interrupting is a surefire way to express that your point is more important. Didn’t have this happen. Whew.

Ask Questions
I love this one. Jesus was a pro at it. You show me you are interested when you ask me a question. I felt the curiosity. I’m also an odd bird, in that I love it when you stump me—when you make me think.

Smile & Mirror
Invaluable. Smiles are obviously inviting. Mirroring expressions also demonstrates honed communication skills. Check and check.

Okay, this was cool. I know the editors were inundated with appointments all weekend, which makes evidence of all the above that much more meaningful for me. But the editors also took notes. Sure, to keep track. Sure, so their eyes would stay open. But it caused me to feel important. I loved the note taking.

Validating and Repeating
Several times the editors would clarify by repeating what one of my stories was about or they’d repeat a name of a character. This helped center me and remind me they aimed to understand. Excellent listening technique.

Body Language
And I am 100% grateful I didn’t see any watch checks, eye rolls, or hippo yawns. I got a lean forward and a hula dance (kidding on that one…just seeing if you’re still with me). But the lean forward felt good. I’m just hoping the editor didn’t lean so far as to detect my curry breath.

Can you think of any additional interaction influencers you’ve encountered?

*photo by flickr

Monday, October 3, 2011


Stretch marks that resemble angry clouds before a storm
Prickles of dread before stepping on a scale
A heart pressurized and pulsing at the prospect of genuine love
A heart smashed like tenderized meat at a friend’s betrayal
Tears sliding down our faces as our stomach muscles convulse in raucous laughter
Our faces instinctively stretching into goo goo expressions at the sight of an infant
Strength wallowing in the gut, like a rodeo prize winner, waiting to buck and be exercised
Irritation at chipped nails, kneecap hair (hello Twitter friends), and folks who refuse to hold the door
Obsession with comfy sweats, while also endeared to shimmery evening wear
Altruism harvested from all that’s been lost, empathy birthed in pain
Chocolate cravings that could slay a ravenous three-headed beast
Fury swollen and prompting action at the words female mutilation, starvation, and ugly
Echoes of jealousy corroding the soul into more than a green-eyed monster
Appreciation for clean sheets, having our hair washed, and time to breathe
Sensitivity toward a wounded scrape, a howling animal, or a lost sheep

Here we are. A quick glimpse of us. Why I love us. Why I’ve chosen to write…us.
Women. I have three older sisters, a mother, a mother-in-law, two sister-in-laws, a gaggle of female cousins, aunts, grandmas, and nieces. I have three daughters and a brain harboring dozens of female characters. Of all the genres I’ve dabbled in, I’ve felt most at home exploring the stories of women.

Women’s fiction…it’s my gig.

What’s your gig?

*photos by flickr

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...