Happy Birthday to Me!

This has been a great week for me. I've gotten alot of writing done, finished my next assignment for the advanced Insititute of Children's Literature course I'm taking, finished a great book written by Courtney Rene titled Shadow's End, and made it through my 56th birthday, yesterday.

Today I'm reminising about how different birthdays are to me then when I was young. As a child, birthdays were all about the presents, the cake, and hopefully the party and a whole day of the attention being all about me!! However as an adult, I haven't had a single birthday party. It seems like everytime I have a special birthday, circumstances don't allow for a party. And never living close to family doesn't help either. So I've had to learn to except birthdays as no big deal.

On my 40th, we had just moved to Vicksburg, MS so I knew absolutely no one. On my 50th, I had just changed jobs two days before so they didn't even know I had a birthday let alone that it was my 50th. However, that year I did have a fantastic surprise. My siblings and a good friend all flew down and surprised me. That meant so much to me!

It's funny how as you age even the smallest things mean alot to you anymore. Yesterday I had no party, I had no family around, but I did have lunch with friends. That meant alot. My husband and I agreed to not give gifts for our birthdays this year because they are so close to xmas, his was the 13th of Jan., so I got no gifts except a beautiful candle from my mom. But I didn't miss it. My gift was all the happy birthday wishes I got from so many friends on facebook! I was overwhelmed.

I'm sure when I age even more, that will go away and I'll just be thrilled to make it TO another birthday!

On another note, I did get some fantastic publishing news on my birthday, however I can't share it yet. So why did I even mention it then?? Cause that person, she knows who she is, made my birthday complete. Can't wait to share more with you'all on that later!

Now I must go to my frig and start pigging out on my birthday cheesecake because starting Monday, I am beginning Shred: The Revolutionary Diet. Any of you hear about that? It's a diet that is made to jump start and trick your metabolism into working. I read the book and it definitely sounds like a doable diet plan. It's a six week plan that has detailed menu options for every day, and every week until finished. If you reach your goal weight in that six weeks, you go onto maintenance. If not, you start the six week cycle again.

Anyway, it's normal foods. You basically eat 4 meals and 3 snacks. Who can't do that!! You learn to portion control and eat every 3-4 hours so you never feel hungry. And you have options of food to eat for each meal and tons of snack options. You also eat lots of smoothies and shakes if you choose to for a meal. I know a few people who have tried this diet and its working great for them.

Unlike weight watchers where I lose sooooooo slowly, this diet is made to lose 18-25 lbs in the 6 weeks if you follow it, and have more than 25 lbs to lose.

So, Monday is kick-off for me. I've decided I will try to update on my blog, my success each week. Not because I think you are really interested, but because it might help me stick to it! I will also post a picture of me before and after to see what kind of difference it makes, if any.

Stay tuned! But even more than that... PRAY, PRAY, PRAY for me!! I need it!

BAD REVIEWS - Do they help or hurt us?

As an author, I find book reviews to be hard. There are so many great books, mediocre books, and bad books out there. I for one do not like to give out five star ratings lightly. But, it's hard to define what books should receive the highest rating.

Especially if you are reviewing a fellow author or friends book.You know if it's one of those, they are expecting a five star rating from you. Afterall, aren't we supposed to support our fellow authors and friends?

But what do you do when you come across a book from a fellow author that you just simply can not give a good rating to? Do you lie? Or do you stay true to yourself and review the book with complete honesty? Which one helps the author more?

I once received a terrible review about a rhyming story I had written. I didn't know the reviewer but he was a respected author in the community. He was not nice in his review and basically told me to give up rhyming. With this being the very first story of mine that he had ever laid eyes on he thought he was that much of an expert that he could judge my writing enough to say I had no clue about meter or rhyme. I was shocked because I thought fellow authors were supposed to give each other encouragement. He gave me none. Yes, tell the truth but do it with encouragement. I don't believe it helps an author to just tell them to give up.

So did it help or deter me from ever writing rhyme again? I don't know. At first I was very angry. Then I decided I would work harder than ever to prove him wrong. But in the end, although I played with the story a little bit, I have done nothing with the story. It has sat in my inventory for almost 2 years now. I have practiced rhyme and meter and do believe I'm much better at it now and understand it, but... everytime I pick up that story my stomach cringes. What if he was right? Should I just continue on with prose and give up rhyming forever?

I once had to review a fellow authors book that was done in rhyme. I have to say it was one of the most difficult because I just couldn't find much at all good about the book. The author broke all the rules I'd learned and the ending just left me completely flat. I just could not give it a good rating or recommend it. Unlike the 'cruel' reviewer I'd had on my own story, I did try to find something nice to say though. I felt horrible that I couldn't give that author a good rating but it would've felt completely wrong to lie to myself and the reader. Needless to say, the author chose not to post my review.

I couldn't blame the author because none of us want to post a bad review. It doesn't help us sell our books. But does that help the reader make the right choice about what books to read? How do you feel?

Rain, Rain, Rain!!

It's raining cats and dogs today down here in cajun country! My dogs are running around with their tails between their legs wondering what all that loud noise is. My cat is well... just hiding. He's big and fat so I have no idea where he has found a hiding spot big enough for his enormous hairy body to hide but he's no where to be found!

We have tornado warnings, watches and flash flood warnings out everywhere within a 60 mile radius. Lots of areas have already flooded as it's been raining for several days here. I've lived through a flooded house once before in my lifetime and it's no fun. I feel for those people who are going through that right now. Luckily, we live in a pretty high area so hopefully we'll be ok.

I'm one of the weird ones though that enjoy stormy days. I hate tornado threats but otherwise a day filled with rain, lightening, and thunderstorms makes me happy! I love the mystery of it. I love how the rain feels on my skin and how refreshing it is. I also remember how fun it was to run outside after a big rainstorm and play in the puddles when I was a child. Strange, huh. I guess it's because I'm amazed at what happens up there in the clouds. How can it one minute be sun shiny and hot and the next, wet rain drops are falling everywhere. Snow fascinates me even more, unfortunately I rarely ever get to see that down here but on those rare occasions when I do... it's really magical. I should have been a weatherman. I can totally get why they love their job. I can only imagine how interesting it must be to them since they study why weather happens and all that good stuff.

I know people who only want the sun to shine and that makes them happy. But I'm just not one of them. Sure I like a sunny day but then the next day needs to be different or I'll start getting depressed! I need change!

I need to make this post short and quick as it's also lightening like crazy here. I could lose electricity at any minute and don't want it to fry my computer! I wanted to add some stormy pictures to this post but blogger is not cooperating. Bummer!

So I'll just end by asking what kind of weather makes you happy? And what's it doing in your neck of the woods right now?



I hope that everyone’s holidays were scrumptious, memorable, filled with family traditions, and enjoyable. But if you’re like me, you are ready to get back into the normal swing of things! I’ve had just about as many Christmas cookie’s as I can stand. Ok, I’m lying… I could eat more!

But now I have the dreaded task of coming up with a way to lose the weight I gained from over eating these last few months!

One way I plan to do it is by keeping busy. Nothing works better than when I’m so busy I forget to eat! However, unfortunately that doesn’t happen often enough. My voice just doesn’t speak to me loud enough and my mind takes over and imagines how good that bag of chips would taste.

So I not only need to control my mind better in 2013, I need to find my voice more often. Voice is so important in the world of writing as well.

I remember the first time someone commented on a story I’d written by saying, “I just love your voice!” At first I had no idea what they meant. But the more I write, the more I understand.

I have come to discover that voice comes from bits and pieces of myself that reveal the emotional truth of the story. My beliefs, my experiences, my dreams, my imagination, my feelings. By finding that emotional truth in myself, that is how I can make my character unique and different that no one else can totally replicate.

A voice can not only be the words your character speaks but also their hidden thoughts, motivations, desires, intentions, doubts, suspicions, expectations.  These things to me are what turn my characters into superstars versus just characters.

Voice to me is indeed tricky because you need to bring out a little bit of yourself in your characters and yet make each character unique. How do you do that? Practice, practice, practice and most of all imagine, imagine, imagine!

For me to accomplish a special voice for each character I first have to envision that character in my mind. That ultimately means I have to outline. Most writers hate to outline but I do believe a little outlining is necessary. It works for me.

How about you? Have you found your special voice yet?