Hitting A Rough Patch

hearts&books* * *

I spend a lot of time writing. I spend a lot of time reading.

Does this sound like you?

It sure as hell sounds like me. Maybe it sounds like you and me and a lot of other people.

So, because we, collectively, spend a lot of time reading and a lot of time writing (me, for my profession, as well as scribing a book or two or three–what’s your excuse?), coming up with an enticing blog post can get a bit, shall we say, tricky.

Fried brain on toast, if you know what I mean.

Sometimes I just sit here, looking at the screen and saying to myself, “What the heck am I going to write about today?” I used to blog three days a week, now I’m down to one day a week. I’ve hit a rough patch. I’m honestly just so darn busy that this poor little blog of mine has had to take a back seat to my career…my kids…my hubby…and readying the porch for winter.

Seriously. I just finished “closing up the porch” for the season. I wasn’t ready to shut it down, but I didn’t want our brand new cushions on our brand new furniture to become moldy, so I vacuumed them, cleaned them, stored them in bags, and brought them inside. I vacuumed the porch floors and dusted all the furniture before I wrapped it all up and covered it for the season. I suppose I could write about that.

Or perhaps I can liken closing up the porch for winter to my own mind closing up a little with regard to this blog. There are things I know I could write about, but I always wonder whether someone would be interested in what I have to say. It’s a coin toss, and I’m not willing to call it in the air.

CartoonMy husband loves to tell me that my blog is not “streamlined enough.” He says I write about too many subjects, and that if I focused on just one topic, I might find a niche for my blog.

I’ve never much liked niches. It’s like being pigeonholed, and I don’t much care for that idea either.

I tell him I would be bored.

I can’t imagine only writing about one subject (such as writing). I write all day long and I read all day long and I teach writing. Why would I want to write about writing when I already do that?

Nah, I say. I just want to write about subjects I want to write about, and I want to vary my topics. That could involve writing about books, television, movies, fashion, life lessons, childhood stories…who knows?  You never know what I’ll pull out of my twisted little hat on any given day.

No one says a blog has to be one set way.

The power of the imagination is incredibly intoxicating. All you have to do is let your imagination go to places you never thought were possible…be daring…write in a way that is a little scary, dearie…write stories you haven’t told…tell stories you’ve always wanted to tell…

Can’t you feel the creative juices flowing? Can’t you envision the spark that just caught me and lit my fire?

Ugh.

Just focus.

It’ll come to you.

I tell myself that.

A lot.

 

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Happy 3-Year Anniversary!

Anniversary3I just popped on to check my stats for the day, something we bloggers who take this seriously often do. (I’m nearing the 100,000 mark—a significant milestone to only one person—me). Anyway, when I logged on I had a little message from WordPress, my content management site, and it said, “Happy three-year anniversary!”

I’ve been doing this for three years. I can’t believe it.

I must have a big mouth, because I always have something to say. I may get writer’s block here and there, but then it always comes back to me. I enjoy “talking” about things on the blog, and even if people don’t actually comment here, they chat with me about it when I see them or on Facebook or Twitter. It’s been fun connecting with other writers and bloggers and readers.

I’ve enjoyed my three years of blogging, and I intend to keep it up.

That is, until I run out of things to say.

Thanks for supporting this blog for three years, readers!

Reflections & Reasons for Writing

GoDogGoMy first recollection of reading and enjoying reading came in the form of Dr. Seuss and the book entitled “Go, Dog. Go!” I loved all the colorful dogs, the male and female dogs who were interspersed talking about hats, and the idea of a big party in a tree. I’m a big fan of parties and socializing, and I think the idea of being a party planner was instilled in me from reading the pages of that book. (Therefore it is no surprise that this year, my friends Jen, Kelly, and I are the social directors for our neighborhood pool and all its events.)PartyintheTree

During my early years growing up, I was a busy kid and didn’t have a lot of time to sit and absorb a book. In my tween years, I read the “Little House on the Prairie” series and dabbled in the Nancy Drew mysteries. I also sunk my teeth into “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” and “Deenie” by Judy Blume. However, my true love of reading came in my late teens when I got sucked into books like Jackie Collins’s tales of “Chances” and “Lovers and Gamblers.” From there I moved into novels with more guts like Rosamunde Pilcher’s “The Shell Seekers” and “Coming Home.”

I can recall sunbathing at my family’s beach condo in Ocean City by the pool and not wanting to go in for dinner because I was making my way through the last pages of a novel. I hated letting go of the characters, especially the ones I met in college in a book by Susan Richards Shreve called “Daughters of the New World.” I didn’t want to put that away, and when it was over, I mourned the end of those characters and their stories.

Daughters of New WorldPeople always ask me if I prefer reading fiction or non-fiction. I actually enjoy both, though my book preference would be fiction. (I teach a magazine writing class where we read lots of longer non-fiction pieces, all of which I enjoy). I believe that in every fiction story there are elements of truth: of someone’s life that has been transformed into fiction, otherwise, how could an author really sink his or her teeth into it? Whether we’ve been to the moon or fought a deadly dragon, at some point in our lives, we’ve faced something that might have been seen as insurmountable, and we draw from that and put it in our work.

I wouldn’t be writing about a girl who worked in baseball if I hadn’t had that type of experience. I worked in baseball for a while, so I can paint the picture of the setting and the people and the game itself, even if the character isn’t me. Who is she, then? She is a conglomeration of many of my friends and colleagues.

Over the last several years, I’ve realized how much writing is a part of me. Whether I write for my blog or write fiction or short stories, there’s an innate desire to do it. If someone told me I wasn’t allowed to do it any longer, I’d probably shrivel up and die.

I certainly don’t do it for the money or the possibility of fame. Those things are low down on my rationale. I actually write for me, because I enjoy it, and because I like to push myself to see what I can create. Much like a painter paints, a writer writes to create as well.

My love of it is so strong, I find myself pushing my students to work harder to write from their own voice, to see where it takes them, and to concentrate on sentence structure and grammar. You can’t move someone if you can’t tell the story properly; you’ve got to have a handle on the mechanics in order to let the creativity fly.

I’m going to finish my novel soon, and I’m going to continue to write pieces for my blog.

Why?

One word: Passion.WritingToSay

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To see a list of some of my favorite and most memorable books, check out the RECOMMENDED READS area on my blog by clicking here or to read some of my short fiction (I’m writing one piece of flash fiction a week based on a reader’s photograph called Fictography…click here to go to that section.)

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This post is part of the WordPress Weekly Challenge…this challenge was entitled “Writerly Reflections.”

Pomp and Publicity

Blog of the Year Award 1 star jpegLots of Happy News to Share Today…

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I wanted to thank Deborah over at The Container Chronicles for nominating me for Blog of the Year 2013. It’s such an honor when a fellow blogger likes, recognizes, and nominates your work, especially when you have a great deal of appreciation for her work as well.

As a nominee, it is my job to nominate someone in order to spread the love…

I’ve decided to nominate a fellow blogger, writer, and friend, Jack Flacco.

Jack’s blog has become more streamlined and focused, and it’s something I’ve toyed with over the past year. He is a great example of taking a blog and making it reflect who he is as both a writer and a person, and I love it.

Coincidentally, Jack’s novel, RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, continues to place extremely well on Amazon’s hot list.

So, here’s to you, Jack. Congrats!

What's Up Eastern ShorePUBLICITY

Thank you so much to the magazine What’s Up Eastern Shore for the publicity I received for BENEATH THE MIMOSA TREE in its November-December issue. I loved that the publication put me next to Tom Clancy and beside other great local writers…what an honor.

There is so much to be thankful for this holiday season.

Inside the Actor’s Studio

On the show “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” the host, James Lipton, asks his guests the same 10 questions as he ends the show. Today’s daily prompt asks us bloggers to answer Lipton’s questions. This was one blog prompt I couldn’t resist. This will be fun, she thought.

I am not an actor by trade, however, my friend, colleague, and fellow blogger, Chris Reed, roped me into playing his wife, Lucy, on Stevenson University’s student-created sitcom entitled “The University.” How could I say no? I got to have a television husband named Hank Howard (neurotic and self-indulged as he was), but it was fun nonetheless. Additionally, it was enlightening to give acting a try and work with the students and Chris.

Moreover, the taste I got of acting made me realize this about myself: I should stick to writing and teaching.

Here are Lipton’s questions answered honestly by Yours Truly.

  1. What is your favorite word? Shenanigans
  2. What is your least favorite word? Vomit
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? That moment when creativity attacks you…when you’ve been banging your head against the wall and nothing’s coming, and then all of a sudden it comes to you in a flash. I love that.
  4. What turns you off? People who are supposed to be your friends but don’t have your back.
  5. What is your favorite curse word? This is a G-rated blog, but the word begins with “F.”
  6. What sound or noise do you love? The sound of my kids laughing, especially when they really get going.
  7. What sound or noise do you hate? Dogs that bark incessantly.
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? TV chef, like Giada.
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Nursing-I faint at the sight of blood.
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Well, you had good intentions…

Everyone Deserves A Best Moment

first-best-moment-award-winner11I would like to thank Deborah at The Container Chronicals (http://myriad234.wordpress.com/) for bestowing this lovely blogger award upon Steph’s Scribe! I am very happy to accept. And now, as these awards go, I must disclose seven things about myself, and then pass along nominations. It’s a “Pay-It-Forward” kind of thing, and it allows us to share with our readers bloggers that we enjoy reading and following. Thanks again, Deborah.

 

Seven Random Things About Myself

  1. I have a cameo appearance in the film “Major League II.” The movie was filmed at Camden Yards in Baltimore when I worked for the Orioles. My father has a cameo in James Bond’s “Goldfinger” – it was filmed in Fort Knox, Kentucky, when he was in the army.
  2. One of my dreams would be to speak Italian fluently, but they say to speak it fluently, you have to live there. I recently had my palm read and was told I will spend time overseas. Let’s hope it’s in that Villa in Tuscany I’ve been dreaming about for years…
  3. I have a very serious boot addiction that I must get under control.
  4. I’ve been writing poetry since I was about 12 or 13 years old. I still have some copies of those early poems. I want to vomit when I read them.
  5. My children are my loves. I love them more than words can say.
  6. I’m thankful for our immediate families. Though we are small in number, we are mighty. Never underestimate the power of a good hug, from either side of our loving family.
  7. It took me a long time to stand up for myself with regard to supposed friendships. I’m a solid, loving, and inclusive friend, yet if I don’t receive the same treatment in return, the likelihood of us remaining friends is nil. And although it’s given me brilliant material to write about, in real life, I’m just too old for that kind of garbage now.

And now I nominate the following blogs:

http://jackflacco.com/

http://thematticuskingdom.wordpress.com/

http://angloswiss-chronicles.com/

http://laekanzeakemp.wordpress.com/

http://mandyevebarnett.com/

 

Curves

Photo taken by Yours Truly.
Photo taken by Yours Truly.

Two summers ago, thanks to my friend Ron, a group of us went to see The Black Eyed Peas. We were in the second row. Fergie was right in front of me.

When I saw the word “curves” was the WordPress weekly challenge word, the first thing that came to mind was Fergie and her fantastic figure. It’s really quite sickening.

I’m about as tall as she is, and I wish I had time to work out to get CURVES like she has.

Photo again by Yours Truly.
Photo again by Yours Truly.

 

This Week’s Weekly Photo Challenge Word: ESCAPE

Escape

This week’s weekly photo challenge word from WordPress is ESCAPE. I typically think of escaping to a beach or relaxing somewhere near the water, but this photo is one of my recent favorites. I took it as we were heading back from Miami in November after I attended the Readers Favorite Awards Ceremony where I accepted a Bronze Medal in Contemporary Romance for my first novel, “Beneath the Mimosa Tree.” I was literally on Cloud 9, and this photo, the clouds, and the sky’s glorious colors offer that sense of wonderment. I was in awe that I won an award, my husband and biggest supporter was by my side, and we shared some togetherness time that will always be special to me in Florida.

You almost can’t believe things can be as beautiful as they are.

Accepting A Blog Award

wordpress-family-awardI am very happy to accept the WordPress Family Blog award from the lovely Mandy Eve Barnett (thank you so very much for nominating me). Be sure to visit Mandy’s blog at http://mandyevebarnett.com.  

As a blogger for over two years with WordPress, I gladly accept and can honestly say I love this little setup I have–to be able to communicate in this forum is delightful!

As I accept this award, I must now do the honors of selecting 10 other WordPress blogs I follow and would urge you to do the same. I must follow these rules, as blog awards are wonderful to receive, but it is also about spreading the love and word of blogging.

Now to the rules :

1. Display the award logo on your blog.  Check
2. Link back to the person who nominated you. 
Check
3. Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.    
Check
4. Let your 10 Family members know you have awarded them. 
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5. That is it. Just please pick 10 people who have taken you as a friend, and spread the love.

My nominees are :

http://thematticuskingdom.wordpress.com

http://angloswiss.wordpress.com/

http://breakroomstories.com

http://bensbitterblog.wordpress.com

http://thelivingnotebook.com/

http://turnstwo.wordpress.com/

http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/

http://julieschicklit.com/

http://lindseygendke.wordpress.com/

http://cauldronsandcupcakes.com/

And there you have it! Thanks, Mandy Eve!

I’ve Had A Lot On My Mind

keep-calm-and-wrap-it-upLately, writing has been way, way down on the TO DO LIST. I’ve been far too busy and absorbed in other things to make time to write a blog post. While it may seem to many that writing a blog post takes as much effort as flushing a toilet, on the contrary, it takes thought, patience, and the ability to carve out the time for it.

The truth is, I’ve had a lot on my mind, and it hasn’t been “when will I write my next blog post?” My family and I are moving, and our house has been on the market since Friday morning. There’s been a lot of buzz, so we’ll see. Additionally, I took four students from our public relations club to Pittsburgh for the annual Eastern Communication Association conference along with my colleagues Leeanne and Chip, where the three of us presented our academic papers. It was great fun; stimulating ideas were shared, we bonded with the students, and we learned what we can do for next year’s conference. My son hasn’t been feeling well, we have crazy baseball and softball schedules, and sometimes I actually prepare a meal for the family. Add to that bundle the fact that I’ve had oodles of grading as we are in final exams week, and you can see, there’s little time for anything else.

Let alone trying to be creative with a blog post.

In a few days, the semester will be over. I will have time to pack and get organized to move. I will have coffee with friends. I will sit outside in the sun and feel the warmth of it on my face. I will shoot hoops with my kids. I will take my husband out on a date. I will watch the Orioles play ball.

And alas, I may actually write a solid blog post again.