Thursday, January 12, 2012

Changing My Blog Address

I've decided to change my blog address. If any of you really follow my blog and enjoy what I have to say, please visit my new blog at and follow me there.

Thank you for your support and I look forward to seeing you at my new place. :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

An Epiphany Shared for #WriteMotivation

I learned a long time ago to surround myself with positive people. If you are negative, full of anger, mean or just downright pessimistic, I don’t need you in my life!
My epiphany happened between April and July of 1999. During that time, my husband was deployed to Albania. It was definitely not his first deployment. But it sure was his first deployment to a near combat zone. And it was a deployment while we were stationed on foreign soil, away from my comfortable surroundings of America and my family. I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call my mom & dad. Cost of international calls at that time were very high. I couldn’t even email them. They didn’t have a computer. My only support came from the wives of the soldiers deployed with him.
We were on a very tiny installation. It only housed one unit, and the whole unit deployed. They were an MLRS unit, called GRIDSMASHERS. They had track vehicles and could level anything with their rockets in an entire “grid square” (1,000 square meters). My husband, well, he was a wheeled mechanic. He was an outcast in this group. But, they needed a wrecker operator to pull broken track vehicles, and he was it. When their unit deployed to Albania, the whole installation went. Very few stayed behind for the Read Detachment. But, all the wives of the deployed had a support group. Or so they liked to tell themselves.
The FRG (Family Readiness Group), as it was called, was nothing more than a clique. Most wore their husband’s rank, especially the officer’s wives. Granted, they usually got more information about the deployment than the enlisted families did, and it was their responsibility to disseminate that information to all the families involved. But when the meeting morphs from information dissemination to hens cackling in their little groups, it just really isn’t anything more than high school all over again. I didn’t need it. I surely didn’t have the time for it. In high school, then, or now.
My husband and I hung out with a couple of other families before the deployment. When the guys deployed, one went home, one worked as much as I did, and the other, well, I hung out with her every so often until I realized that she never had anything positive to say. It was always “My husband’s a generator mechanic. They don’t need him.” “This deployment is stupid.” “I hate the Army.” Eventually, all I heard was “blah blah blah.” She was bringing me down with her. I was always depressed. I never had a smile on my face. And I cried…a lot!.
Luckily, it wasn’t long into the deployment when I decided to cut myself off from her and focus my attention on the few of the girlfriends who really needed my help through the deployment. My husband was a platoon leader and in charge of several single soldiers who had girl friends. They were locals, not US citizens, but they still cared about their men (at least for that moment). However, the FRG refused to keep them informed since they were not legally married. I took it upon myself to keep the ladies informed. I brought them to the meetings and kept in contact as best I could with them. I became their rock when they worried. I became their shoulder to cry on. I became their rationalization when their fears took over. It eventually dwindled down to one lady who really clicked with me. And we became fast friends. And she was the only one who married her boyfriend when the guys returned.
It was great to be surrounded by positive energy, rather than that constant negativity I got from my previous friend. Before, I found myself scowling, fearing, crying, angry all the time. That was so much easier to do it seemed. But when I cut myself off from her, and became the pillar of positive to the girlfriends who needed it, it was so much harder to put on a smile every day. Despite my own fears and resignations on this deployment, I had to remain strong for them. If I faltered, who would take care of them? So, I put on a smile every day, and didn’t let it bother me. That was the hardest thing to do.
There was a time, a month before he returned home, when I found out the whole unit was coming home at the end of June…except a chosen few. Those few would be the first to enter Kosovo. And my husband was so lucky. I found out on a Friday, after work, at an FRG meeting. After my friend left that night, I couldn’t sleep. I did not leave my house all weekend. I did not answer my phone. I pretty much locked myself in the bathroom and cried. My fears all came rushing back, 100 times stronger. He was a mechanic. He had no formal security patrol training. There were land mines to watch out for. There were still battles going on in Kosovo. And I couldn’t talk to anyone. I was the one who was supposed to be strong for everyone else. I was the one who never crumbled. But I did.
No one was there to be my pillar.
It took me all weekend to get it all out of my system. I vowed from that point on to be positive, think positive, and always keep a smile on my face–no matter what. The girls needed me. Other spouses needed to see positive, regardless if we were friends or not. And, it helped me through the day, taking one day at a time. His return home was uncertain, and I just counted it as one day closer to his homecoming.   Although that was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, I feel I grew to be so much those four months.
I hope you’ve made it this far. Why did I tell you all this? A good back story is appropriate every now and again.
Writers have a tendency to be self-mutilating. We are always our own worst critic. At least the good ones. We get enough negativity in our writing life just by being around ourselves. Negativity breeds negativity. Misery loves company. And if we don’t get out of that funk, we are bound to listen one day and just give up. It’s really that easy.
Writers are introverted by nature. At least the Internet has opened our doors and we can mingle with other writers from time to time. We can see each other’s struggles, share in the joys and the sorrows, and the most important…know we are not alone. We all need encouragement, support, and positive energy to combat our own fears. We need people to help pick us up when we are down, encourage us when we want to give up, and help make us a better writer. This is why I believe in KT Hanna’s #WriteMotivation campaign so much. It’s hard to be positive. It’s easy to give up. But the support we get from this group really does help to keep the positive in our sights.
Here’s hoping that we can continue the #WriteMotivation campaign for all time to come. Spread the love. Pay it forward!
Love you KT!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year and #WriteMotivation

First of all, Happy New Year. May this 2012 be everything you thought it would be, and more! May it bless you with kindness, love, and peace. I'm hoping for better!

I have had a rough time while on my vacation. I've had two weeks off and I've been sick the whole time. There has been no writing, no reading, no chores, no cooking. Nothing has been done. I'm missing a lot while I'm down. But I am getting better. Hopefully, I will have more energy tomorrow when I go back to work. And, I can't wait to have more energy to get back to my writing and reading. I've got some #WriteMotivation to give and receive! :D (Need to know what I'm talking about? Check out KT Hanna's post about it.)

For Christmas, we pretty much made out like bandits! :) We bought our son his own microscope. Not those janky kind made out of plastic, but a real microscope. It's the Celestron 44340 LCD Digital LDM Biological Microscope.  And we all can look at the cool microscopic images at the same time and take pictures to share with the world. He also got pre-made slides, a slide making kit, and a grow your own bacteria kit. Pretty cool, right? We think so, but we are geeks. :)

In November, I won a 320Gig HDD for an xBox 360. Only problem was, it was for the new slims.  So, with the Gamestop Power Up Platinum card and a trade in for the new 4Gig Kinect, we got the family an unexpected Christmas present, along with the new "hot" Skylanders game. Now we are on a quest to find all the Skylanders! hehe

We also got ourselves a Sleep Number bed. Our current matress was 17 years old and we knew it was time when the side wires started poking out of the matress and the sagginess just hurt our backs so bad. It didn't take long for it to come in. We had it by the 23rd and it took a couple of days to get the sleep number just right, at least for me. Hubs is still trying to find his number. What works for him on his back is completely different from when he sleeps on his belly. So he's been waking up with a sore back every morning. But, he says it quickly goes away-unlike the old matress.

We knew we wanted to get one of these for a couple of years. When our son was still in his crib/daybed we purchased a 4" memory foam topper and quickly got rid of that. It was way too hot to sleep on! It did make a nice padding at the foot of our son's bed when we took off the side rails and he fell out occassionally :) so it didn't go to complete waste! When he outgrew his crib/daybed we bought him a sleep number bed. Heck, it was cheaper than a regular matress! So we have our new bed. :)

My dad loves gemstones and jewelry. I mean, he literally watches the gem channel like people watch the NFL network. :) But seriously, he does buy a lot of nice stuff for him, mom and me and my husband.

Check these out:
For my Birthday 2011, dad had this ring made. 2 light blue Tanzanites next to a pink something or another.
I tried wearing it, but it was just too tall. 
So my dad bought me this for Christmas 2011.
Did you know about BLUE diamonds? I'm in love now!
2 different color Tanzanite earrings
The studs were from Christmas 2010
The dangles are from Christmas 2011
African Opal studded earrings

For my hubs, he's always been interested in uncut, raw gems. So this is what he got:

Rough, uncut, champaign diamonds

Rough, uncut Opal

Rough, uncut Tanzanite
So, yeah, we made out, eh? :) 

Here's hoping we all have a blessed New Year, filled with good news. Unfortunately, my 2011 ended on a sad note: My December KazkaPress Challenge did not get picked. My streak has ended. Here's hoping for good news this month. :) 

Check out my friend's accepted stories on "Who the hell is Santa Claus?" 

Maybe I will post mine for you to read? I think it was just too traditional for Kazka Press. What say you? Free on my blog? Or should I find a new publishing home for it?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Everyone needs a little #WriteMotivation

If you follow me on Twitter, you may occasionally see requests for some #writemotivation or me cheering on some other writer who needs a boost. We all have our downs sometimes. We get in a funk. We just don't want to do it anymore. Or we find ourselves second guessing our ability or determination or whatever.

Writing is a very solitary activity. We all know this. Granted, you may have your local critique groups, or write-in sessions at Panera Bread or Starbucks, but you can't call on them 24/7, because we all know we have these negative moments when we are alone, at home, by ourselves, at all hours of the day or night. Our real-life friends, our writing buddies, are not there for our every whim, to respond to our every beck and call, any time we need them.

However, with the dawn of the internet and social media, writers can connect with other writers whenever the need arises. My Twitter feed is always streaming. And, generally, when I call for help, someone will answer it. It may not be right away, but I can always count on a few good Tweeps to come through for me.

With that said, my friend, @KTHanna, decided to put together a blog and Twitter fest for the month of January. This is where we set achievable goals and cheer each other on throughout the month. We are to write a blog post every Monday to update our progress on those goals, and solicit some #writemotivation. Whenever and where ever we some encouragement, our participants will be there to cheer us on. I'm hoping this will continue on throughout the year, but we'll start small at first and see where it goes. If you want to join, please visit KT's site and sign up there. I'm sure you will find it well worth the efforts.

Here's my January goals:

1) By Jan, 20th I need to complete and submit the 713 Challenge entry @ KazkaPress
2) work a bit more on my novel. No particular goal really as I just need to write some more, and work out more of the plot. (How’s that for ambiguous?)
3) By the end of January I’d like to have completed the beta read for a certain someone.
4) complete the blog posts for this challenge. I suck at blogging :)

So, how’s that for goals. Realistic? Let’s hope so! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What do you get your parents for Christmas?

Ok, so it's only ten days left until Christmas and I still have no idea what to get my parents. It's the same thing every year when I ask:

I don't know. Get whatever. Your father likes golf.

So, yeah, that's helpful. But seriously, what do you get your parents? They've been married 45 years so they have everything.. They aren't rich but they have everything they need. They want for nothing.

They aren't geeky (I don't know where I get that from).
They don't read. (again, I don't know where I get that from)
They don't have any special interests, hobbies or anything!

My mom sells Mary Kay. My dad is retired. Mom loves to clean. Dad loves to golf. Mom loves to exercise at her exercise place. Dad loves the Steelers.
That's about it.

Boring, aren't they?!

Each year gets harder and harder to buy for them. And their answer is always the same.

I don't know. Get whatever. Your father likes golf.

Most all my money has been tied up getting my son his presents. I have about $100 to spend on my parents. It's not about the money. It's about the love put behind it, I know. But daggum it, why can't I think of something original?

Anyone have any suggestions?




Monday, December 12, 2011

Your Teacher Said What?!: Defending Our Kids from the Liberal Assault on Capitalism -- Book Review

Your Teacher Said What?!: Defending Our Kids from the Liberal Assault on CapitalismYour Teacher Said What?!: Defending Our Kids from the Liberal Assault on Capitalism by Joe Kernen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a parent with a child in the public school system, I found this a book a wonderful read. I've pretty much got a handle on the topics here but Joe Kernen breaks it down in a very easy to understand manner for any level. Blake's questions and ideas are very thought provoking and it really does show you just how a child's brain works. As adults, we are trapped within our own mind and seldom think on a lower level. We take for granted our knowledge and sometimes expect our children to understand without question. This book really does open your eyes as to how the school system is teaching our children.

If you are unfamiliar with the topics, this book explains it on a level anyone can understand. If you are familiar with the topics, it is a great recap of them. The book is not condescending, nor is it "just another text book". Joe makes it real by throwing in his own conversations with his daughter. Parents can certainly empathize when reading.

I highly recommend this read to anyone who is sending their children to school--pre-k to college, it matters not. These questions will eventually come up sometime in your conversations with your children. It's better to be prepared with the proper answers, not something you just guess at. Education is the key to success. It's never too late to learn. Arm yourself with knowledge and make the world a better place.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Skeleton Lake, by Angela Kulig -- Review

Skeleton Lake (Skeleton Lake, #1)Skeleton Lake by Angela Kulig
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

All the reviews I read made me want to read this book. I was so excited when I received my copy and couldn't wait to read it.

From the first chapter, I was completely lost. I had no clue what was being said. Maybe this was deliberate since Marlow was "drowning". So, I kept reading. The story began to work itself out over the next few chapters and I could see it more clearly.

The characters were not very deep. Even though the story was told through the eyes of Marlow, I just couldn't get into her, deep into her, to really feel any emotion towards her. Each character presented only provided more complication to the reader's ability to keep them straight. There was nothing discerning about the characters, nothing that made them want to be loved (or hated) by you. There were hints, don't get me wrong. But there was nothing that went deeper. I felt as I was reading this, it was just being "told" to me.

The story has a great premise, overall. Although the book is an easy read and the chapters are short, I just couldn't finish reading. I wanted to finish. I tried. But with the amount of grammatical errors, typos, cliches, and "telling, not showing", I just couldn't manage to finish. I got to Chapter 42. Maybe I will, one day, plow through the rest just so I know what happens.

Even though it's a self-pubbed book, with a little work and a couple more revisions it could have been a great read! I just feel it wasn't ready.

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