Monday, June 11, 2012

Writing Conference in Greenville!

The Writer’s Plot Writing Conference

The Story Continues...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Furman University

3300 Poinsett Hwy, Greenville, SC 29613

Keynote Speaker: Harold Underdown

Early Bird Special Price: $80 until June 16th

Regular Price (after June 16th): $100

Manuscript Critique: $45 (first 10 pages)

Special Critique with Harold Underdown for rejected manuscript consultation: $45 (first 10 pages)

Deadline for submission: June 16th

Register online:

10% discount for TWP members for all prices

Presenters include:

Harold Underdown – consulting editor, former vice president & editorial director at ipicturebooks, former editorial director at Charlesbridge, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books

Edie Melson – social media marketing expert, author of best-selling ebook, Social Media Marketing for Writers and a devotional, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle

Vonda Skelton – author of Seeing Through the Lies (for women), three Bitsy Burroughs Mysteries (for children), and numerous magazine articles for adults

Patricia Thomas – author of 7 picture books, including “Stand Back,” said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!”

Pam Zollman – award-winning author of 40 children’s books, hundreds of short stories and articles (for adults and children), and former editor at Highlights Magazine.

Alan Gratz – award-winning author of six children’s and YA books, short stories, magazine articles, plays, and several episodes of A&E’s City Confidential

Jessica Alexander – Associate Editor for Peachtree Publishing

Katya Jensen—Editorial and Subrights Coordinator for Peachtree Publishing

Sunday, June 10, 2012

There’s truly no place like home, wherever that is.

I’ve been on the road for the last couple of days moving my youngest daughter, Kaitlyn, from Kansas City, Kansas back to South Carolina. It was a fun road trip as we talked and laughed the entire drive home but it was also exhausting too. Too many hours in a car, one night in a hotel room with weird pillows, roadside food, traffic and did I mention too many hours in a car?

I know the adjustment for Kaitlyn will be hard to go from living on your own to living back home and I also know it is temporary. I’m trying to make the transition as smooth as possible for her by backing waaaay off and letting her find her own way. On the other hand (and there always is another hand!) it is weird for me to have her back in the house again. Hello, sharing a bathroom with another female? Lol.

As I crossed over the border into South Carolina again and I knew I was an hour from home, I was relieved to have nearly finished the journey but I also felt like I had made it home. For most of you, that’s no big deal. You lived in your parent’s home growing up and then moved out for college or living on your own or for marriage. You may have moved a handful of times in your life. You knew exactly where home was.

As a preacher’s daughter in a church that moved pastors on a whim, I had moved 30+ times by the time I was 19 years old and left my parents for good. During my entire childhood I never felt that I had a home. The parsonages didn’t belong to us and the places were temporary and short lived. It isn’t good to not have roots and a sense of belonging. My daughters lived their childhoods in two houses. And though I have only moved 3 times in the last 25 years, I still struggle with feeling at “home.” Finally, I feel the area is my home even if I’m not entirely sure about the house.

And that is a pretty amazing feeling – a home at last.

Lost and Found...

No, not the show...I never did understand that one since I missed the first few shows...just I feel like I've been lost to my blog.  It has been over a year since I posted and not because I didn't have anything to write about but because I had TOO many things to write about.

First, my health (ever the gorilla in the room), I am HEALTHY!  And yes, I am shouting.  Oh sure, I have minor issues...we all do, but I have my illness under control and am off meds and doing just fine, thank you.

Next, I'm busy.  I'm still working full time with occasional travel and I've gone back to school full time as well with no travel.  :) I'm returning for my degree now that the kids are grown and gone and it is my turn for me. I'm studying Organizational and Business Managment and after I complete my degree in July 2013, I plan on going for my Project Management certification.

I'm now on the Board of Directors for the National Docketing Association as the Education Chairperson and again, further proof of healthiness, I have the energy and stamina to keep all the balls up in the air (most days-lol). It has been a long rough road and I've made drastic changes to diet, exercise and spiritual well-being but all the changes have been positive.  I still need to make some more tweaks but I feel that I am on the right path.

Finally, I'm content.  Not giggly joyous, dancing around happy - a bit too manic for my tastes - but I can truly say I am content.  I still have areas to improve and I'm working on those but I've learned contentment without settling.  An interesting place to be.

So now, I'm not lost any longer. I'm found. You could even say I was me.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

This is Who I Am

I’ve read with interest posts lately from all sides of the spectrum online of my friends, family and classmates. They are Christian, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Right Wing, Left Wing, Gay, Straight, homeschool or public school or private school and they all seem to have a message of my way is right and everyone else is wrong. I understand that belief or the lack of belief is a very personal thing and we all become emotionally involved when others don’t go along with what we believe.

So, here I am ready to offend the universe at large but I have to say who I am.

I’m a Christian. To me that doesn’t mean I’m Republican or Democrat. It means I follow the teachings of Christ. Not a church. Not a pastor’s interpretation. Jesus Christ. It is my personal belief that many of the things Jesus taught have been twisted and confused through churches. He taught love. And grace. And mercy. He cried. He went to parties. He made wine. Not cheap wine either; it was the best at the party so I’m pretty sure he drank since Welch’s wouldn’t keep in pre-refrigeration days. He became angry but didn’t sin and wasn’t abusive. He cleared the temple of the money makers who were making a mockery of church. He hung out with undesirables like prostitutes, adulterers and the lowest of the lows – tax collectors :) and he knew rich and powerful people as well. He was ignored by His family and loved by His followers. He knew joy and pain.

He was mocked, scorned and ridiculed. He still granted love and mercy. If you don’t believe in Him, that’s your choice but please don’t mock my choice as some uninformed panacea to the masses. I have the right to be intelligent and have faith. I don’t mock others who don’t believe as I do because Jesus wouldn’t have. He would have loved them no matter what. That was His message. I do believe He can save me but if I’m wrong, I’ve lived in love, mercy and grace. There are worse things I could choose to believe.

I don’t believe that Obama is the anti-christ or gay marriage will destroy the world. I don’t believe voting Republican will necessarily get America “back on track.” I also don’t believe voting Democrat will necessarily get America “back on track” either. I’m tired of hearing that right or left, gay or straight or republican or democrat or any other “way” is the cause of all that is good or the cause of all that is bad. It just is a part of the universe at large and the only thing that really matters is how you react to it. I’m reacting in love. I love you no matter what you do or do not believe. I love you no matter your sexuality or stance on drinking, abortion, or state’s rights.

It’s not that I don’t have an opinion on these issues because I do. But the point is no matter what you do or say, Jesus loves you and I think that is a good thing for me to do as well.

Please my friends, family and cohorts, stop beating each other over the head with your “isms” whatever they may be and learn to show love and compassion with one another. Life is too short to not be kind no matter what you believe.

And that’s just who I am.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Song Lyrics, Writing and My Life

I have a playlist on my iPhone that I listen to when I am writing my book. Some are akin to "comfort" tunes and some are inspirational. The music itself inspires me but sometimes it is the lyrics themselves that move me. As I listen to the music, the words pour out of me onto the page.

I was looking for a "theme song" for my main character and I finally found it. Then I realized it was also a theme song for my life. It harkens back to my days as a preacher's daughter in a church that was more about rules and regulations than love and grace. And it reminds me why I struggle with perfection to this day.

As I listened to the words, it became apparent to me that the songwriter and artist clearly had a similar background. I don't know if she is a recovering Church of God of Prophecy member like me (perhaps we should start a support group -- Hello, my name is Michelle and I'm a recovering CoGoP who was disfellowshipped for wearing a wedding ring and seeing more colors than the black and white rules) or not but it had to be something close. She lists herself as a contemporary christian artist but her music hits more than the christian charts and I for one think that is great.

If you weren't raised this way, I can't explain it to you. I can barely explain it to myself and I was there. But suffice it to say that there were rules for how you dressed, where you went, what you ate and drank, the people you hung around with, the music you listened to and any and all aspects of your life. The people who are still there assure me that things have changed and I hope they have but I can't go back. I'm too busy moving forward.

So here is my theme song, and my character, Jacy's, theme song too. Maybe you can relate to it too.

Good Behavior by Plumb

I was frozen in a fragile world
Of make believe and empty lies
Twisting the rules
Of a virtuous game

And captured by the thought of fear
And lonliness afraid to cry
Suffocating trying to scream

Cause I wanted out
To find myself

Cause perfect only makes you crazy
There is no way that it could save me
I'm sick of feeling like a traitor
Is this the price of good behavior?

Oh my naked skin
Feels the warmth of the sun
My eyes are open
To the brightness of life

I'm driven by a force so free
To live this life not paralyzed
But with reckless abandon
So now I can breathe.

Cause I wanted out
To find myself

Cause perfect only makes you crazy
There is no way that it could save me
I'm sick of feeling like a traitor.
Is this the price of good behavior?

Don't do this
Don't do that
You will be
Out abandoned

Cause perfect only makes you crazy
There is no way that it could save me
I'm sick of feeling like a traitor
Is this the price of good behavior?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Simple Life

I want the simple life. I am burning the candle at both ends and I long to stop before the flames meet in the middle and finding nothing else to burn, extinguish themselves. And so today is the first day of my simple life.

As of today, I am no longer a manager. I hired my replacement and she is in training but the time seemed good for me to step down and allow her to step up. I am now her employee and it feels, well, weird.

A staff member asked my permission for overtime today and I sent her to the new manager. I’ve not done that in a long time and I’m sure it will take more time for me to get used to doing but for my own mental and physical health, I plan on sending all requests to her.

So, I take a deep breath and find I feel confused but relieved. Let someone else worry about the budget while I happily plug along with my workload more than halved. My chest doesn’t feel as tight, the seemingly permanent lines on my forehead relax somewhat and I practice breathing in and out.

Now is the time for me to concentrate on, gasp, me --to heal myself physically, emotionally and spiritually as much as humanly possible. To learn to just be still and relax. I’ve no doubt that this will take some time for me to get off this merry-go-round I have been riding but for my own sanity I must try to simplify.

During this Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for all my blessings. All the blessings that God has graciously granted to me in the past and all that I know He will bless me with in the future. I am thankful for my family and friends, for each day I can get up and go to work, and for each day that I cannot get out of bed and walk. For those days of darkness are still blessings that I am still alive and blessings of learning opportunities – especially learning patience with myself.

I am thankful that I have, although belatedly, finally realized that I can slow down and it is okay. So I’m working towards the simple life and I’ve taken a pretty major step in that direction. I still have a long way to go with organizing the rest of my life in a simplified manner but I believe that I can get there now that some of the weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

I am thankful for the simple life I dream of living.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm Dying (P.S. So Are You...)

I am dying. It isn't a terrible cancer scare or airplane crash as I fly through tumultuous skies. Instead it is the very act of living that is killing me. Each day I am growing older. Each day I am decaying. I fast forward that very process with the great killers of stress, poor nutrition choices and lack of exercise because I am too tired.

I often wonder why I choose a Milky Way over life? Why that 10 minutes of lounging on the couch is worth more to me than 10 minutes on the treadmill? Hasn't the time passed the same? Not moving faster or slower but still the same 10 minutes and yet how much better I could choose to spend my time.

I am indolent by nature and truly prefer the lounging but unfortunately like time and tide my indolence has caught up with me and I'm dying. Death by chocolate bar. Death by indolence. Death by time and stress and disease.

For some of this I have no control, as I cannot stop time for me except for my death. I have no desire to rush that event either. I cannot change some of the diseases I now find myself facing. They are what they are and I am not God with the ability to stop either time or disease. But for other deaths I do have choices. I could choose to watch my weight and exercise and somehow figure out a way to lower stress.

Certainly I know how to fix my diet and my exercise or lack thereof. I don't want my tombstone to read 'death by eating crap food.' But the death by stress confuses me greatly. Work is stress. Family is stress. Writing is stress. Driving is stress. Flying is stress. Marriage is stress. Parenting is stress. Living is stress. Even owning a pet is stress (as anyone who has had to put down an animal as I just did can attest to).

I am a bundle of nerves--some frayed, some severed, some twisted and bent. So I tried yoga and felt some relief until I leave the studio and my stress intensifies for now I find myself berating myself for carving out the time for the class from my busy schedule.

I listen to calming music and try to practice meditation. By my mind plays hopscotch from one subject to another as I try to slow it down. How to combat this killer stress?

I know that I am causing harm as stress intensifies the pain of my Fibromyalgia, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome and Chronic Fatigue. It increases my blood pressure and harms my heart which I'm sure does not help my Peripheral Arterial Disease.

I am dying from a lack of inner and outer calm. What is with me that I cannot contain my inner thoughts, cannot turn off the tape in my head that pushes me to do more, achieve more, work more and attain? This "more" mentality is killing me slowly but surely.

I try to gain some perspective as I look out the window of the airplane I am flying on and see all the tiny houses and cars below me filled with ant like beings scurrying from one place to another. So full of self importance and yet barely showing up from my vantage, and I wonder if this isn't a bit like God. I look down and see the insanity of it all and I shake my head lovingly with a mixture of wonder and confusion. Does it really matter? Why don't we pursue the important things like salvation, charity and hope with the same desperation as we pursue the bigger house, the job promotion or the latest car or electronic toy?

From my vantage point I see that our pursuits are nothing more than a speck in the scheme of things. I am nothing more than a speck and my hive of busyness and stress is nothing, at least, nothing more than I allow it to be. So here I am, looking down, listening to calming music and wondering what I really have to be stressed about that is quite literally taking my life day by day.

I know once I land in this plane I will pick up my stresses as surely as I will pick up my luggage from baggage claim. I will consider my to-do list and no doubt add to it. The tightness in my chest will return but for a minute now I can be still and know the Almighty is God and in control and though my stressors are just little specks to Him, He cares for me and the specks that make up my life.

I am trying very hard to slow down, to allow myself to heal. To break the chains that mind me named "more" and "ambition" and "attainment" and instead learn to live a healthier life.

I know I have an obligation to take care of myself not only for myself but to my family and friends. I am trying to be still and calm, trying to slow down my self destructive march to certain death. I am trying to embrace the fragility of life and nurture and protect that life. I am trying to leave stress behind me as much as possible. But I am struggling with this. Somehow I have to learn to live like I am dying without killing myself in the meantime.

By the way, has anyone seen my luggage? Stressed, party of one at the baggage claim.

(Written August 15, 2010 while flying to Dallas, TX)