You’re in Charge: Rules for Writers

Today I’m over at 4amwriter. The lovely (and disciplined) Kate didn’t make me get up at 4 am, but she did ask me some very interesting questions. Fun stuff like what I’d do if I lived in a world where I made all the rules for writers (and everyone must obey).

The following photos represent some of my answers. Pop on over to Kate’s to see the questions. 🙂

 

Did you know that there are American Crocodiles in the Everglades? I just thought they were all alligators.

Note: I did not ask this guy/gal to clarify. 

 

 

 

Happy Spring! Happy Passover! Happy Easter!

 

My backyard this morning. Doesn’t it look like spring?

 

Have an awesome kind of week.

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Want to be in the know about NYC, bacon, over-sized leprechauns, and life in general? Check out Phil’s blog The Regular Guy NYC.

 

Do You Have Tattoo Envy?

Today I’m hanging out at Jenny Hansen’s blog. The topic? Tattoos!

Hop on over and check it out!

 

 

Have a spectacular weekend!

 

 

 

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How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

road to success lily tomlin quote

 

This weekend I watched the play, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, THREE times.

Three times? Was I studying the play for easy peasy book marketing tips?

No, although I’d do that for a play called How to Clean Your House Without Really Trying. 🙂

I watched because my son played the role of personnel manager, Mr. Bratt,  in his high school’s performance of How to Succeed.

This was his first play. From auditions, to the last night of the play’s run, my son seemed to experience every emotion, from self-doubt to walking on sunshine excitement.

And every minute of it I was so proud (even the moments where I had to break out my “Just Keep Swimming” speech).

How to Succeed in Business without really trying MLWGS

How to Succeed in Business Mr. Bratt MLWGS

His experience reminded me that no matter how difficult the road is, we can’t forget to allow ourselves to experience the joys along the way.

How to Succeed in Business joy of finishing

Savoring the Joy of the Accomplishment

 

Here’s a snippet of his character’s song, A Secretary is Not a Toy.

What joys are you savoring this week?

 

 

Have a great week!

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Choosing Happy: Come Back to Me ~ My New YA Release

 

Big news…my debut YA book, Come Back to Me, is out NOW.

It went live on Amazon last Wednesday, a happy surprise. There I was gearing up for the you’ve-published-a-book-now-what marathon, when suddenly the starter pistol went off.

I think I was tying my shoes or something.

But I got moving. Thanks in BIG part to family, friends, and lots of super cool people like the WANA (we are not alone) writing community.

Although no one mentioned the adrenaline. I could’ve lifted a car.

Anyway, speaking of family, friends, and love…those are big themes in my YA contemporary story. Check it out:

Come Back To Me 200 320_opt

 

 

 Available for purchase at AMAZON or SMASHWORDS 

(paperback and other venues, coming soon)

 

Whitney Denison can’t wait to start over.

She thought she had everything under control, that her future would always include her best friend Katie… Until everything changed.

Now her life in Bloom is one big morning after hangover, filled with regret, grief, and tiny pinpricks of reminders that she was once happy.  A happy she ruined.  A happy she can’t fix.

So, she is counting down the days until she leaves home for Colson University, cramming her summer with busywork she didn’t finish her senior year, and taking on new hobbies that involve glue and glitter, and dodging anyone who reminds her of her old life.

When she runs into the stranger who drove her home on graduation night, after she’d passed out next to a ditch, she feels herself sinking again. The key to surviving the summer in Bloom is unraveling whatever good memories she can from that night.

But in searching for answers, she’ll have to ask for help and that means turning to Evan, the stranger, and Kyle, Katie’s ex-boyfriend. Suddenly, life flips again, and Whitney finds herself on not only the precipice of happy but love, too, causing her to question whether she can trust her feelings, or if she is falling into her old patterns of extremes.

As she uncovers the truth about her memories, Whitney sees that life isn’t all or nothing, and that happy isn’t something to wait for, that instead, happy might just be a choice.

 

So, it’s been an exciting week.

But wait! I’ve got one last, but very special thing to share.  You may have read a post I wrote about signs.  In that post, I mention how I equate ladybugs with hope, and to my brother (who passed away six years ago).

So, ladybugs found a way into Come Back to Me–and into my book’s acknowledgments, where I wrote, To my brother, Dan the Man, Thanks for the ladybugs.

Then, last Wednesday, in the middle of the awesome hullabaloo of seeing my book on Amazon, I ran up the stairs to grab my slippers (because it was a snow day–and cold!).

Halfway up the stairs I saw this:

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 Thanks for the ladybug, Dan.

 

Have an AMAZING, hopeful week!

Be Yourself: Let Life Tap Its Toes to Your Beat

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a dean of admissions from the University of Virginia speak on the dreaded subject of the college essay.

The gist of his speech?  Be the best YOU.

He said, every year he reads countless essays from prospective applicants trying to be who they think UVA wants them to be.

Topics like,

Thomas Jefferson is my role model.

The Louisiana Purchase and me.

Why I Believe the Declaration of Independence Rocks!

And countless other themes that manage to mention the lawn, the academical village, or the rotunda.

 

The lawn at the University of Virginia.

 

These essays are not endearing to the admissions staff.

Because Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, and writing about him is a warning that student X is trying to push his or her unique, but angular self into the UVA circle.

And losing an opportunity to be themselves.

It got me thinking how this applies to so many things. How many times are you filling something out and you see:

Tell us a little something about yourself.

Or what about those bio fields in social media? Or if you’re a writer, what about the author blurb, or About Me page?

Like the college essay, these descriptions could be your one shot to sum up YOU.

Maybe you’re thinking they’ll eventually see who you are, but what if that first impression is your only opportunity to go from person X, to the eXtra special, unique you?

For instance, UVA gets twenty-nine thousand applicants a year.  Pinterest currently has forty million users. Twitter even more. And hundreds of thousands of books are published in the U.S. every year.

There’s bound to be A LOT of circles.  And when you’ve seen one circle, well…they all blur into one massive blob. They become like white noise.

If you’re trying to make an impact, looking for connections, or just trying to be seen, then you don’t want to be the white noise.

If you want to be found, then you kind of have to let your INNER WALDO shine. 

 

Not that it’s easy. I struggle with filling out those short bios.  Here’s the latest author bio I’ve written.

Coleen Patrick grew up in New Jersey, Virginia, Michigan, Louisiana, and Indiana. Always being the new kid, she learned that books and friends are precious—and dessert. She never met a dessert she didn’t like (except for flan). 

When she’s not writing, reading (or avoiding flan), she enjoys TV, arts and crafts, quoting movies, and trying to take cool photos.

She lives in Virginia with her husband and two kids.

 

Now this is short, but it seemed to take me forever. Because I wanted to be me (well me, in a few sentences), but at the same time it was cringing to be real.

It’s not easy to allow a part of yourself to be vulnerable. In this particular case, I was afraid to be a little funny. Except funny is important to me.

So how can you get started telling a little about yourself?

It might help to ask yourself some questions:

 What do I like best about myself?  What are my talents, interests?  What do I believe in? What would my perfect day look like? What would  I do if I had unlimited time or energy?

Find a way to be true to yourself.

Because somewhere out there, whether it’s a university, an employer, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, a bookshelf…someone is looking for YOU.

Why not make it easy for them to see you?

 

Do you have any advice on how to sum up you?  What would you do if you had unlimited energy?

Have a spectacular week!

 

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Stop by and say HI to Patricia Tilton at Children’s Books Heal.  I think book reviews are VERY hard to write, but Patricia does an amazing job!

YA Fantasy: Myndi Shafer & The Darkening ~ Book 2 of the Shrilugh Saga

 

Hi all! I’ve got a special treat for you today…

YA author Myndi Shafer is here to answer a few questions about her brand new book, The Darkening–the much anticipated sequel to Shrilugh. It’s out now!

The Darkening

  As Aydan Fulbert settles into her new life in a new world, she realizes a few things. She’s healing from losing Brig. She’s coming to terms with her new home. And she’s lonely.

  Rein Torvald’s return from his long absence helps alleviate her loneliness, but a darkness comes with him. Unsettling news about her father and the Sovereign has the potential to make her a fugitive all over again – from his world and hers.

  Will Aydan allow her heart to be taken places she’s never been brave enough to go? Or will the threat of danger – of the Sovereign’s rage, and her father’s vengeful grudge, send her running? 

 

Welcome Myndi!

 

What was the inspiration behind The Darkening?

When I first wrote this story, Shrilugh and The Darkening were all one book, told solely from Aydan’s POV.

When I changed the POV, the story really exploded, and needed to be divided into more than one book. Which is why the first book of the Saga ended rather abruptly, and why, if you read these two back-to-back, they’ll feel a bit like one piece of work.

So, really, the inspiration for The Darkening came from the same place as my inspiration for Shrilugh: an old silo on the farm where I was raised. There’s a ladder that extends up past the top of it that looks kind-of like a door, and I’ve always, always wondered where that door would lead.

When I began writing Shrilugh that was my goal – to find out what kind of world was beyond that door.

 

Have you always been interested in being a writer?

Goodness, no! The thought never crossed my mind until about four years ago. I started writing on a whim.

The Hubster and I were driving past the farm where I grew up, and I was staring at that silo with the ladder-door, and said to him, “I think I’m going to write a book.” He looked at me like I was crazy. But I started writing that night, and knew I’d found it – the thing that would be my thing for the rest of my life.

 

What do you like most about writing and being a self-published author?

The fact that I can do a job, from home, that allows me to dig down into my creative self, is THRILLING. Really, this is my dream job. I get to be with my kids, be the stay-at-home mom that I’ve always wanted to be, and still have the satisfaction of a creative outlet. The fact that this creative outlet helps to provide for my family is just a bonus. Really, I can’t even begin to tell you how blessed I feel to be able to do what I do.

Being a self-published author has been a really good fit for me. There are days where I wish I could pass the business-side of writing to someone else – all the marketing and networking and stuff like that…it just doesn’t come easy to me. But overall, it’s been a really fun ride. To see my books in the hands of readers, and to hear their enthusiasm…it’s so totally worth any and all of the effort.

 

What’s one thing about you that will surprise readers most?

I have the most tame, Beaver-Cleaver-type life you could imagine. I’m probably the least surprising person in the world. Well, okay, there’s this – I really enjoy folding laundry. I love seeing the tidy piles build up, and thinking about my kiddos and how they’ve grown, and the smell of clean laundry. It’s soothing.

*heavy sigh* I just re-read that and realized how lame I sound. I wish I could have had something way cooler like, “Oh, I go parachuting,” or “Big game hunting in Zimbabwe is totally my thing”. But nope. I’ve chosen to stun you all with laundry.

 

What is your favorite snack food and beverage of choice?                

Oh my goodness, my favorite thing to snack on are these almonds that have been roasted in cocoa powder. They are AH-MAZ-ING. Crunchy and sweet and perfect.

And if I’m not drinking water, I’m drinking coffee. Very rarely do I stray from either two of those beverages.

 

Where can you find Myndi?

Facebook: Myndi Shafer Stories

Twitter: @MyndiShafer

Website/blog: www.myndishafer.wordpress.com
Pop on over to one of Myndi’s hang outs and say HI! Ask her about the Shrilugh Saga, The Darkening, or coffee. 🙂

latte art san juan_opt

 I’ll be drinking fancy coffee this weekend. I’m off to spend a few days with my sister–a little road trip, and a lot of laughter.

Got a question for Myndi? What’s your beverage of choice?

Happy Weekend!

 

 

 

Surface Chic vs. Soul Deep: The Beauty of a Woman Blogfest

boaw-2013

 

It’s time for August McLaughlin’s second Beauty of a Woman blogfest!

In case you missed it last year, it’s an event designed to celebrate beauty, however you define it.

I like to think of beauty as something sparkly within us, an inner beauty kind of thing.

But we live in a society where the media often portrays beauty as a surface thing, something based on a scientific balance of pleasing eye symmetries, body measurement ratios, color palettes  and potions.  Anything that doesn’t fit into that is ignored, discarded or carefully airbrushed into compliance.

Even if you don’t subscribe to that, it’s hard to argue that appearance doesn’t matter.

I watched a social experiment on TV a couple of weeks ago. Katie Couric sent a woman out on the street to ask for directions. The first time she went out, she was in full makeup and all dressed up.

 

This beauty had no problem getting where she needed to go.

 

She received a lot of attention. One passerby even said, I’m buying whatever you’re selling.

Then, the same woman went out a second time to ask for directions. Only this time, she dressed down in comfy clothes, without makeup.

 

This beauty didn’t get very far.

 

She didn’t get much help. In fact, she was mostly ignored.

So if surface chic gets immediate acceptance and preferential treatment, how do you NOT obsess over looks? How do you reconcile the inner definition of beauty with the outer standard?

I’m not sure. But I do think it’s important to take care of the inner beauty–our attitude, emotions, feelings, and spirituality.  Make time for a little heart and soul primping.

 

inner beauty quotes

 

Because what we focus on grows.

What do you think?

Be sure to check out more BOAW blogfest posts this Friday, February 22nd, at August’s site (and if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out August’s debut thriller, In Her Shadow).

All participants and commenters will be entered into the prize drawing to win win a Kindle Fire or equivalent Amazon gift card. The more blogs you visit, the greater your chances become.

Have a happy weekend!

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How to Have a Golden First Kiss (or Pancake)

 

indie kissing badge

 

The first kiss. So much anticipation, so many possibilities…

Sweet. Romantic. Fun. Flirty.

Awkward. Toothy. Slobbery. Waxy.

 

 Pucker up.

Yes, waxy. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of my first kiss. Not all first kisses are good. In fact, mine was not good it was GOO. As in, Hello, Madame Tussauds.

But on the plus side, that bad kiss was the easiest sign ever that he was not the one for me (good thing, because as Taylor Swift might say, he was trouble when he walked in.)

Anyway, I consider my first kiss like a first pancake.  Sometimes that first pancake doesn’t look like the rest of the batch. For whatever reason, it doesn’t turn out golden.

 

 Not all pancakes turn out the way you want them too.

 

Luckily, there’s always room for a do-over. Same goes for kissing.

But is it possible to prevent a bad kiss in the first place?

Well, I found LOTS of advice on Ye Old Internet on how to avoid a bad kiss the first pancake syndrome.

 

Awesome + Awesome = More Awesome

You need great ingredients. Once you have them, mix them with care. The key to combining ingredients is tenderness over toughness.

 

Hotness

Make sure you have the proper amount of heat.  According to The Pancake Handbook, “If they dance in a sprightly way for a few seconds, you’re good to go.”

Other experts say the heat level should be so hot that it almost smokes.

 

Beware of the drool

Moisture level is crucial. It can make or break your pancake. Moisten but then wipe away the excess before your first pancake. You’re aiming for a golden, “greaseless experience.”

 

Don’t Rush It

Once you’ve got your pancake going, keep the following in mind:

Peek at your own risk.

Resist the impulse to press and flatten.

Moving too much may cause it all to fall apart.

 

Enjoy!

Don’t stress over your first attempt. You get better with practice.

And keep in mind, there are many kinds of pancakes. Lots to choose from. For instance, the French have their own version.

But let’s leave crepes for another day.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

 

What are your thoughts on first kisses? How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What’s your favorite pancake?

For more posts about kissing, be sure to check out the INDIE-KISSING BLOGFEST over at the INDELIBLES!

 

 

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Moderation Gone Wild: Boys, Exclamation Points & Pie

PIE Y0GI BERRA_opt

Moderation.

Not exactly the merriest of words during the month of December.  Especially not if your brain –and Pinterest boards–are crowded with cookie exchange party ideas, holiday menus and pie.

I like pie.

Thanks to Barbara over at Just a Smidgen for planting the idea of pumpkin and meringue in my head.  Yum.  It haunted me excessively.

Some days I think I have moderation under control.  Some.  It’s a work in progress.

Take my very first diary.  I’ve mentioned it a few times here.  I keep this diary in a place of honor in my office because it has oh so many emotions packed into its tiny gold edged pages.  Some of those words–many of which were written with a perfume pen (not kidding)–have the ability to make me laugh and cringe at the same time.

Boys are mentioned excessively.

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Rob Lowe’s crush dedication page.  There are many, many others.

Crush moderation wasn’t something I considered.  Although on one page of my diary I wrote, “I’m tired of bellyaching about it.”

But then I went back to I heart boys.

 

 

Apparently this is also true for exclamation points.  Admittedly, I still have a problem overusing them, but once upon a time, my indication of intense emotion had no boundaries.

Excessive punctuation.

In case you can’t read my handwriting, that diary page says, “Nothing spectacular happened!”

Of course, you know and I know, that exclamation points can be used in better ways . . .

Meringue topped pumpkin pie!

Cookie exchanges!

Holidays!

Love!

moderation in all things emerson_opt

 

What do you think about moderation and the holidays? If you could pick one thing that deserves an exclamation point this holiday season, what would that be?

Have a fantastic day! (FYI that punctuation is from the heart.)