Monthly Archives: August 2011

Falling In Love With What You Do

All of us do things every day we don't enjoy. I like some things about living in the country. There are also days when I covet a high-rise in San Francisco with not a spot of yard or chickens to lock up at night. No pens to clean out (which is definitely my least favorite job).

It's like that with writing, too. Editing seems to get me down sometimes, until I turn the corner, and then fall in love with my story again, after I've eviscerated it. I don't want this lovely piece to become Frankenfiction, after all. But my second and third drafts can look kinda like that. Until I buff out the seams. Hopefully.

So the key for me is the falling in love part. And, as a romance novelist, why wouldn't it be? It came to me in a blinding flash of the obvious last night as I listened to my friend. When we are passionate about our work, we excel. When we trudge through it, not so inspired.

So maybe I need to clean up my relationship with editing. Make my amends, and decide to fall in love with it. I know lots of sane writers who do. They love it even more than getting down the new words. Diana Gabaldon says it's “polishing, finding all the jewels in the story.” She says she gets excited when she edits.

In my sales career, there were parts of the business I wouldn't trade for anything. There were also some pretty dark times. What gave me great success and serious fortune was that I loved solving problems, putting people's minds at ease. “Always be the calming one in the transaction,” a good friend taught me.

It even worked with raising kids and getting along with my husband.

So back to my edits. Another trainer of mine said, “people need you, and if you don't do your job, they have to suffer with using someone else.”

There are millions of great writers out there. I will never get to meet or read them all. But even if there are a handful of people who want to read my books, by George, I'm going to make sure I do my part.
I'm going to write the best book, edit the best book I can.

And that means falling in love with the process of writing, as much as the words. What about you?

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

The sun'll come out tomorrow,
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow,
There'll be sun.
Just thinkin' about tomorrow,
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow,
‘Til there's none.

I love happy endings. One of my favorite musicals is Annie. I've seen it live in New York. I've seen it done locally by a kids theater group. I sang it at our church talent show with all 4 of my kids some twenty years ago, and we were pretty much on key. We had fun together on stage, scared to death, but giving people some serious entertainment. My youngest barely poked his head around my skirts. In his red bow tie and green jacket, I think he stole the show.

The song Tomorrow resonates with me, especially now. We've been emailing our daughter in China, getting long letters in return. She has gotten very homesick, but begins her teaching job today. I know once the school year kicks in, she'll be fine. And I remind her that there are happy family times ahead. She's far away right now, but is only a day away, like in the song.

Annie” (1982) – Tomorrow – YouTube

She took a walk in a park today and found a Sam's Club. I think she felt an inkling of something familiar, something that reminded her of home, like little Annie. She's hoping to have her first day without tears. It it isn't tomorrow, it will be soon.

What a wonderful thing to have your child realize how much she misses her family. She's not the only one who has been crying lately. But if this little bit of pain reminds us that we miss being around each other, I'm grateful for the experience. After all, tomorrow there'll be sun.


Welcome Author Danielle Ravencraft

I am thrilled to introduce you to one of my best writing buds, Danielle Ravencraft. We have been exchanging emails and posts now for well over a year, through multiple blogs, crisscrossing on our way to fame and fortune! She got the call in January, and hasn't looked back since. I know you will enjoy getting to know her, and reading her work.

Welcome to my world, Danielle. What genres do you write and why? Anything interesting about how you got started?

I write erotic romance with a healthy dose of drama. I got my start in this genre because of a dream I had about two lovers, Ophelia and Trace, and the quarrel between them. Before that dream, I had never written anything erotic. I'm usually one for urban fantasy and YA romance. But that dream kept bugging and eventually I caved and wrote it. My beta readers loved it and encouraged me to get it published, so I perused it. It turned out to be my fist acceptance. J

No wonder. I want one of those dreams. Do you like writing in series, or single?

Every story I write ends up being a series, haha. As a reader, I've always loved series and chronicles. I'd get so addicted to them. Writing a series is a different matter. I love it, but it presents many more challenges than a stand-alone novel does. There's a lot more to plan and you have to be on top of your game to make sure your characters and your world stays consistent through each book. It can be down-right hard at times.

Very smart indeed. Series is where it's at. Tell us about what you did to get “the call.”

By “the call”, I assume you mean the acceptance letter. J  I didn't do anything special other than write something outside my normal genre at the time. I'm very glad I did. I think it's the smartest move I've made since I started writing. Otherwise I might still be struggling with my urban fantasy. Instead, the same publisher who took my erotic romance also loved my urban fantasy manuscript!

Very smart indeed. You wrote something that was of your heart. Your editor got it. Who is your favorite character you've created? Why?

Gosh, I really love all my characters. We're all best friends. And they are all so different in their strengths and weaknesses. Trace and Ophelia are at the front of my thoughts right now since I've been working on continuing their story for the past few weeks. They really are a cute couple.

Oh good. We get more! Do you find it easier to write the bad boys or the good boys? I'm assuming both are heroic, but which ones are more fun to write?

Definitely the bad boys are more fun. Sometimes I stop mid-sentence and laugh at something they just said or did – or gasp. They make writing more fun. But the good boys can be fun too, just in a more secretive way. *wink* 

I'm with you. Bad boys are so fun to write. Love finding out how good they are under that shell. What about the heroines? Do you find it easiest to write the bad girls or the good girls?

The good girls are easier for me to write because I am a (mostly) good girl so it's harder to get into the mindset of a bad girl character. I really like strong, witty or quirky female leads with a touch of sarcasm that makes you laugh. Yeah, I might have just described myself as well…

I'd have to agree with you there, Danielle. We'd get into some trouble if we lived any closer. If you could have a date with one of your characters, which one would it be and why? Where would you go?

Trace would take me to the field museum in Chicago followed by a few drinks and dinner at some really expensive restaurant in the city.  

And then? tee hee. If you could go to a desert island with two companions, who would you bring? What would you do there? What would you bring if you could bring anything?

I would bring my beta readers, Charlene and Anastasia. I'd bring an endless supply of margaritas for me and Charlene and a truck-load of Pepsi for Anastasia, and we'd call it a vacation.

LOL. Here I thought you might put Jimmy Thomas in your suitcase too, but I can see you guys would have tons of fun. Pretend you have just sold your 100,000th copy of one of your books. What will you do to celebrate?

Well, that depends on fast they sell. LOL. Probably dinner with my friends and family or something to that extent.

Tell us something about you that most people wouldn't know or guess about you?

I'm a closet nerd. I like gaming and anime and wearing Victorian costumes, but I'm in denial about it. LOL.

Your secret is safe with me. Who are your favorite authors/books?

I love Anne Rice and Orson Scott Card, but I read a ton and my “current obsession” is always changing. The best recent book I've read was “First Grave on the Right” by Darynda Jones. I'm really looking forward to the sequel, “Second Grave on the Left”.

Ohh. Two of my favorites too. Darynda is so funny. Her style does remind me of your writing, IMHO. What are you working on now?

I recently finished writing the sequel to “A Trace of Love”. The sequel is called “A Trace of Passion”. I'm plotting the third installment, titled “A Trace of Hope”. I'm also plotting a new novella that is a paranormal erotic romance called “Orion”. 

Can't wait to read them all. So now for the fun stuff. Please give us a tease, an excerpt:

Excerpt for “A Trace of Love”

Ophelia sat in her favorite spot in the entire world; the little bar in the very back of The House of Blues. Usually The House of Blues featured local bands; everything from Soul to Bluegrass. She couldn't say why she loved it there. It wasn't the music or the booze or the way reality seemed to evaporate in the dim lighting. But it was, nonetheless, her heaven. 

Today was one of those rare occasions when the venue starred an international band, which meant The House of Blues was packed to the brim. The concert ended and the throngs of fans made their way to the exit. The bartender winked and handed her another beer. He knew Ophelia by name and always let her linger until they locked up. 

Ophelia blinked as the lights brightened. Plastic cups, spilled beverages, straws, napkins, glow sticks, promotional fliers and the occasional bra littered the floor. A smile inched across her lips. Molten Silk put on a good show. 

Other than the bartender, bouncer, stage crew and broom boy, The House of Blues was empty and eerily silent. The guys worked quickly, ignoring Ophelia as she nursed the last sip of her drink. The worst part of the day approached; the part where she would have to go home to an empty apartment. 

Laughter broke the silence as five men walked out on stage, holding bottles of something alcoholic.

“Oi! Is the bar still open?” one of them shouted. The bartender nodded. “Bring us a round over here, mate!”

Ophelia ducked her head, watching the men from the corner of her eye. They were Molten Silk, the band. They looked different in normal lighting, like regular people in ridiculous Goth costumes, but she was positive it was really them. Heat rushed to her face and she looked away. 

“I'm goin' for a smoke,” said an unmistakable voice. Ophelia didn't want to turn around
and stare, but she couldn't help peeking over her shoulder. Trace Curtis, the lead singer, headed for the door with a cigarette bobbing between his lips, lighter ready in his hand. She held her breath as he passed by, just inches behind her. She knew him back when he was Mathew Curtis, the heart-throb teen that played guitar for the lunch ladies. She didn't know why Mathew changed his name after his debut album went platinum. 

Trace paused at the door. He turned around and glanced at Ophelia. She looked away, hoping he didn't notice her staring. It's not like it matters, she thought. He's just going to keep right on walking out the door. 

“Do I know you?” 

Ophelia jumped. She turned and came face to face with Trace Curtis. A small bout of panic took her mind. Should she tell him they went to high school together? She doubted it would help. They were just as much strangers in high school as they were in adulthood and it would be best to keep it that way. She shook her head. 

He leaned against the bar counter. “Are you sure?” 

Ophelia smiled. “I think I would remember if we met before.” 

Trace wet his lips. “Have a drink with me?” 

She looked at her empty beer bottle. What harm could another beer do? “Sure.” 

Grinning, Trace snapped his fingers and ordered two more beers. He took a seat and looked Ophelia over, letting his eyes linger just long enough to make her blush. “I could swear I've seen you before.” 

She shrugged. “Maybe you have. I come here every weekend.” But Trace didn't look convinced. 

“Oi, Trace! We're going bar hopping, mate! Come on.” 

Well, that's the end of that, thought Ophelia. 

But Trace didn't move, except to wave his band mates away. “You guys go ahead; I'll meet you back at the hotel later.” 

The guys made cat-calls aimed at Ophelia, her cheeks burned scarlet. 

“Sorry about them,” Trace mumbled, scowling at his friends as they left. He reached for his beer at the same time Ophelia reached for hers. A tiny shock of static passed between their fingers. Ophelia jumped and glanced at Trace. He scoffed and then moved his fingers so they glided over hers. His skin was warm and callused from years of playing guitar. His pale blue eyes studied her face. 

Ophelia bit her lip, suppressing a laugh. Oh, Mathew, you're still just as smooth as ever; touching my hand, but keeping your gaze above my neckline. As if she didn't know what he was after. 

Trace removed his hand and cleared his throat. “So, are you from around here?” 

She shrugged, trying not to burst into giggles. “Close enough.” 

He glanced away, looking first at the stage and then at the door. Ophelia winced. He was probably getting bored and wished he'd joined his friends. She shouldn't have felt hurt. She shouldn't have cared if he left. He was just one guy. But at the same time, he wasn't. He was Mathew, her old high school crush. And she expected him to be the same cocky dick. But he wasn't. He was standing next to her shuffling his feet and blushing at the awkward silence like an average Joe. 

At the same time, Trace and Ophelia mumbled what they both thought. “You want to get out of here?” 

They blinked at each other and Trace chuckled, his voice as lovely and carefree as a child's. Ophelia laughed and felt herself relax, instantly at ease in Trace's company.

Danielle Ravencraft / Erotic Romance Author

Website ~ Blog ~ Ravencraft Romance ~ Ravencraft Realm ~ Urban Stars ~ The Wicked Writers

THANK YOU, Danielle. It has been a pleasure having you today. I hope everyone goes out and gets this amazing book from a new author who is one to watch. I'm so proud to consider you my friend.


What It Takes To Be The Best

You could learn a lot from a little guy. I'm a writer in training. I don't belong to anybody, although my mom and dad think I do. Even my grandparents do.

Here's what I see as I float in my boat:
Grownups being stressed and running around, worrying, whispering (I listen to the neighbors) and trying to control everything. I may not look like it, but I have a Mainline to God and he told me a few things he wants you to know.
1. Keep your hands open. You cannot receive the miracles of the universe if you are clutching onto things, either possessions or resentments. The need to control, run the whole world is something we little people leave to those at a higher pay grade.
2. As hard as big people try to control the world, the world still goes on in spite of them. Personally, I think you should spend more time controlling yourself, your emotions, your beliefs. Ask lots of questions. And don't act like you know it all. God told me you don't, so don't pretend, okay? You're not fooling anyone with that big act.
3. Everyone does the best they can. There is more out there that supports you than fights you. I'm learning a ton every day. I'm naturally curious, and I think right now, that serves me well. Now, I may not have as much experience as you, but like I said, I'm mainlining the Big Guy now and he has never done me wrong. Besides, watching you big people out there is absolutely funny as heck. That's why I'm smiling all the time. You notice I don't have a rudder on my boat?
4. Be decent and tell each other what makes you sing. What floats your boat. None of us get out of this gig alive, anyway. Why not share the good times with others. The bad times come all by themselves.
5. Ask questions. Explore. Be curious as a way of life, rather than when you're on vacation. We all can't afford to be on vacation every day, anyway. I'm happy. I don't spend money, work in an office, worry about my clothes or what kind of car my carseat is in. I don't really care what the other little guys are thinking about me, as long as they don't bite. I think dogs and cats are just fine, even when I get hair all over me. That's the way they are. They don't seem to mind that I like to drool on them, either. Sort of works.
I might stop by from time to time to dish out my own personal brand of advice, because I think you grownups need it.
Have a great day.

Welcome Author Jim Lindsey

Today I am pleased to interview author Jim Lindsey. ‘A Flaw in the Fabric, Book 1 of A Travellers Guide for Lost Souls’ Historical fantasy, romance, time travel, a monk, a demon and ghosts (lost souls.)1. You first came out with an ebook, and now a traditional publisher will publish your works in print? Which publisher is it & what works of yours will they publish? Arcadia House Press of Halifax, Nova Scotia will be publishing my novel The Flaw in the Fabric (Book 1 of A Travellers Guide for Lost Souls), and Rowga (The Yoga of Rowing), a book of advice for meditators who don’t want to sit in stuffy little incense-filled rooms but would rather venture out on the ocean, which is like the great expanse of mind. 2. When will your books in print be available? Later this year. The publisher has not set a firm date yet. 3. Tell us all how this came about? I know our readers would like to hear your success so that they can be encouraged about publishing their ebooks. I’ll take that question, Sharon (Leigh Anne speaking.) When Jim finished his manuscript in January, he asked if I could help him find a literary agent since I’d been going to writers’ events where I was meeting agents and learning about establishing a writers’ platform. First, I pitched an agent that is interested in my futuristic thriller. She took a look at the first 10 pages, but she turned his work down. After attending the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, where I was able to meet dozens of agents, I was very discouraged that it was the same old same old: line up line cattle to pitch an agent who then swats you down like a pesky pest. It made us both discouraged that this old-school method of publishing might be the only route for us, particularly when ebooks were making great strides. Despite our concerns about jumping off into the abyss, we decided it was best to publish Lost Souls as an ebook. Within the first month of publishing his ebook, a traditional publisher picked his book up to bring out in print later this year! ( Arcadia House Publishing of Halifax 4. Where would you recommend authors to submit their ebooks? (such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing? Smashwords? Google? Barnes and Noble? Apple’s ebookstore) I recommend going the Smashwords and Kindle route first. Both Amazon and Smashwords have excellent author support. Amazon is the biggest currently as a seller of ebooks and Smashwords is the up and coming new heavyweight. 5. What’s your advice or tips you can share to aspiring writers to help them finish their work & get published? Have confidence and get feedback. Don’t bet the bank on your book just because you would like to be an author, but because there are indications you have what it takes. Get your friends to review, enter competitions, do readings. If you really are good, it will become evident. Don’t depend totally on what you hear, but don’t bull your way ahead either if you haven’t really got what it takes. As to how to finish, you’ve got to love your book, and you’ve got to trust the process. I never worried while beginning my Lost Souls series whether I would have anything to say in the morning. I just woke up, picked up my notebook or my laptop, and waited for my characters to get something going. And they never let me down. 6. What made you go the ebook route? It’s a whole new era of publishing, ebooks and indie epublishing (as opposed to self-publishing where you absorb the costs to bring the book out in print.) Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, Sony, Google and others now rule the publishing industry. It’s the ability to read books on virtually any platform that removes the blockade to reading for millions worldwide. It’s a tsunami, a ‘sea storm’ this world of epublishing, crashing down on the heads of traditional publishing. The people, not some arbitrary agent or person within a publishing house, decide what they want to read. That’s why I chose that name for my business, SeaStorm Press.

7. A Travellers Guide came out in March and now you have another ebook just released this month called ‘Snapshots from the In Between, a Companion Volume of verse to A Travellers Guide for Lost Souls.’ Tell us more about that book, what your pricing is and where people can buy it. The fictional series looks into what it is like to be stuck between lives. Snapshots are poems about the same thing. Little cameos, sometimes by actual characters from Lost Souls, sometimes not, but always with that haunting quality of no longer being either here or there. Perhaps you have experienced this yourself, even though you are alive at this point and seemingly know exactly where you are. $1.99 to 2.99 seems to be a good price range for a new author like Jim who has been published in other categories, like non-fiction and poetry. He’s won awards. He’s worked at a few newspapers. This is not his first stab at being published. Some well-known authors price their books at $5.99 & $9.99. We didn’t want to start out that high as Jim is relatively unknown, nor did we want to have it as low as $1.99, or 99 cents – or even free as some suggest a first ebook be. Mark Coker (founder of Smashwords) suggested at a recent meeting of the Redwood Writers (the largest branch of the California Writers Club) trying different levels of pricing, offering coupons and giveaways if the ebook isn’t selling well. That’s what we’re starting to do now, offer coupons that Smashwords helps you generate. I’m now looking into special programs that Amazon offers. Available this month is the companion volume of verse, Snapshots of the In-Between which we will bring out at 99 cents or free to help generate more interest in Lost Souls. 8. Tell us more about your blog “Rowga – The Yoga of Rowing.” Sitting meditation came into being at a time in the world when people were mostly always physically busy. To actually sit down and do nothing but be with one’s mind made a contrast that brought realization. These days we are mostly always sitting already, involved in endless thinking and getting no exercise at all. The body is the temple that bears the crystal ball of the mind. If we let it fall apart, the ball falls into the dust. We have to take care of our bodies. Rowing on the ocean gives us meditation, exercise and (yes, I’m not afraid to say it) fun at the same time, and is affordable because rowing vessels are inexpensive, and good for the earth because no engines or exhaust fumes are involved. The blogs, which will become the book, lay out the actual method for accomplishing this. 9. How long have you been writing? I published my first short story in my elementary school’s literary magazine. I believe I was in the sixth grade. That works out to something in the way of decades, or a long time. 10. What have you been writing over the years? Almost everything. Fiction, poetry, journalism, technical writing, and now a book about a spiritual path. 11. Do you have a favorite type of writing? Some favorite types, perhaps. I certainly prefer fiction, poetry, and rowga to journalism and technical writing. 12. What’s your writing education and experience? I have an M. A. in Creative Writing from Boston University, was once runner-up for the United States Poetry Award, have been a reporter for three newspapers, have had four books of poetry published (counting Snapshots), as well as several short stories, and have been a fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Centre. 13. I understand you have finished your first episode (also called a podiobook), for broadcast on Smashword’s partner website. What did it take to create that? First and foremost, a love of reading aloud and a talent for rendering character voices. Then some attention to elocution and a few years on the stage. Then a good microphone and a whole lot of hours learning how to use it and Audacity (the recording software). Then the patience to thoroughly edit the recordings and find the right music for the intro, outro and background. 14. Tell us more about Podiobooks & what they do for authors. Smashwords’ partner offers to broadcast podiobooks, episodes, on a weekly basis. Listeners can choose to receive episodes via an RSS feed or by directly downloading episodes. As Podiobooks’ website say, “Some listeners keep the audio files on their computers, some transfer the book to CD, but most transfer the file on to their MP3 player so they can listen no matter where they are.” Why are these free? Many authors do this to get exposure for their work, others do it in the hopes you'll buy a physical copy of their current or perhaps next work in development. There is an option for listeners to donate money to the author of your choice. Authors receive 75% of all the proceeds from the donations from listeners. The smaller portion goes to the maintenance and upkeep of 15. Will there be other venues where you will distribute that reading and your other podcasts? Which ones? We’re looking into Audible, iTunes and the like. 16. What can you tell us about your epublisher, SeaStorm Press? (Leigh Anne) SeaStorm Press is a North San Francisco Bay indie epublisher and emarketer of fantasy & sci-fi ebooks. Later this year, on SeaCast Radio I’ll be interviewing speculative fiction authors about their craft. 17. Why Nova Scotia? I wanted a place to settle down where I could afford to live by the sea, and because it was said to be a good idea by Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan teacher who came to America. 18. I understand you are a Buddhist. How long have you been one? And what is it you have taught/teach? As an actual Buddhist who has taken refuge, 26 years. I teach openness, spaciousness, and relaxation. I teach that everything you need you already have. 19. What can you say to those who wish to learn how to meditate? Try it before you buy it. 20. What’s one Buddhist teaching that you can share? You will never change your mind simply by thinking about it. You have to actually take the time to make friends. Mind is not just thoughts. You have to go beyond concept, beyond self, and there you will discover freedom from delusion and compassion for your fellow beings. 21. There are Japanese and Tibetan Buddhists and a variety of areas of teaching within each. Which one are you involved in? My root guru is Tibetan. However, he said we live in a time when it is better to unify than divide. He took us straight back to the teachings of the Budda, beyond sectarianism. 22. Tell us again where people can buy your books and any last comments you have. Thank you. My publisher, SeaStorm Press, will tell you where you can buy my books. My last comment is to take the time now to know your mind. Otherwise when it comes time to die, you will be terrified. (Leigh Anne) Please go to Amazon, Smashwords, Scribd, Barnes & Noble, Google Books and type in Jim Lindsey or Lost Souls. Soon, via Smashwords’ Premium Catalogue, it will be available from Apple’s ebookstore, Sony’s and other international resellers. SeaStorm is publishing a Daily News digest on the writing and publishing industry. Send me an email to subscribe to this free, informative daily paper. You can find Saturday’s edition here:

Jim Lindsey is a writer, actor, sailor, photographer, blues singer, Buddhist and Texan living in Nova Scotia with family in California, Colorado, Texas, and Germany. His first book, In Lieu of Mecca, published by University of Pittsburgh Press, was runner-up for the United States Poetry Award. His second, The Difficult Days, translations of poems by Roberto Sosa of Honduras, came out with Princeton University Press. His short short story Message from the Thirteenth Floor took first place in Grain Magazine of Saskatchewan’s annual literary competition.

He has an M. A. in Creative Writing from Boston University and was a fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Workshop on Cape Cod.

While living aboard a small sailboat in San Francisco Bay, Lindsey worked as a technical writer and undertook a decade of Buddhist practice and study, at the end of which he moved to Nova Scotia in search of a better lifestyle. Now a dual citizen of the U. S. and Canada, he has lived for sixteen years in Prospect, a seaside village near Halifax.

You can listed to an audio podcast at:

Sharon – thank you for having us. We certainly appreciate the quality of your site and interviews.


Just Another Writers Day at Starbucks

Okay, I couldn't resist. I'm sitting at the corner table I love, typing away on my WIP and I see a group of young people getting ready to enter Starbucks. I thought perhaps they were some sort of singing group, hired to wish someone a Happy Birthday or ask for someone's hand in marriage. Well, I am a romance writer, after all. I was thinking of all sorts of storylines.

Whatever they were there for, I had to have my picture taken with them. They were game. We got a barista to do the honors and, voila!
There are lots of things I like about living in California. Lately, there are lots of things I don't like about living in California.
So, on a day when I was working hard at my craft, God gave me this little dose of levity to take me away from missing my daughter, wondering when my contract will come, and hoping either Amazon or B&N will bring me some great news (like 3000 books have sold today).
Today, just for today, I was happy to be living in California.
The kids? They were on their way to a costume party they attend every year in Occidental. Who said you couldn't dress up in August? Oh the rules! Don't get me started about the rules.
I hope they had a wonderful time. I know I did.

Letting Go Some More

I took my daughter to the airport yesterday (blood-shot early) and got a text this morning she has arrived safe in China. She's taken a teaching job there, having been laid off after her first glorious year here in the States. Nice to see a young teacher with the fire and passion for her job. I'm sure she'll inspire her students.

She worked very hard to get her degree, and then her Masters. Studying didn't come easy to her. After getting focused on the goal, she went for it. She has a love of writing and teaching humanities. It will be interesting as she shares about our culture and way of life. She'll tell them about our election process in 2012. China has their own elections taking place next year as well. I can just see her playing guitar and teaching slang-I'd love to be a fly on the wall. It would be like a moment in Good Morning Vietnam.

It's still hard to let her go to a foreign place I have never visited. I haven't carved out her safe places, not that she ever needed this. But a mother does what a mother does. It's the stuff we tell ourselves as our children grow up, leave the comfort of everything familiar, and treks on a journey they've made themselves. Oh, to be twenty-something again, and have your life out in front of you.
They are lucky to have her.
Okay, time to wipe my eyes and go let the chickens out. The roosters have been hollering at me for over an hour now. They start in the wee hours of the morning within seconds of my reading light going on, or the glow from my laptop. As everything changes, goes into and out of season, some things stay the same.

Entrenched in the Middle.

Sometimes in our writing journey we feel we are all alone. No one else shares our frustrations, insecurities. We hear virtual whoo hoos and happy dancing things and, yes, are truly happy for other people as they score in the game of writing. But the second thought can be, but when will it be me?

I love this: Don't compare your insides with someone else's outsides. I have a number of friends who almost gave up several times. More than not, the journey was very long – way longer than they thought it would be. I'm guilty of that thought. Every writer should love their work. Think their work is special. I keep telling myself it will come. And I know it will.
But a friend told me on Monday that she keeps to the middle of the pack. What she means is she doesn't hang out on the fringe, where all the animals are that drag you down. She went on to explain that she keeps engaging, participating, showing up. The rest (the sales/career results) will follow.
It is either the fearless writer in me that wants to go to a secluded getaway and write with focused abandon, or the insecure writer part of me that wants to hide out. I have obligations and reasons I can't do that right now.
But perhaps that kind of forced hibernation is what my friend was talking about. We have to face the reality of things the way they are. Sucks sometimes. Doing honesty works better for me. God knows, I can make up stories. Been doing it my whole life. But making up stories about one's own life isn't healthy. They send you to hospitals for that sort of behavior. Doing fiction about the reality of life is like jumping out of an airplane without a chute.
Now is one of those times I have to look into the mirror and tell the truth. Write when it's hard. Write to develop the writing muscle. It isn't all inspiration and soft music. Sometimes it's gritty. Even when the words are fluff and you have to start all over.
I love the idea of being EASY TO START AND HARD TO STOP. On a morning like today, I know it will get hot and my plants will wilt if I don't water them early enough. Watering them in the cool hours of the early morning means they will thrive in the heat and give me flowers. Just like writing the words now that will later be polished, where the sparkle and magic will be added.
For today, I'll stay in the middle of the pack, stay on the blogs and loops, and celebrate with everyone else. I'll suspend my doubts and lack of confidence. And wait my turn, while doing the best I can do to write the best story I can write.
Because writing on a day like today is way more important than writing when I feel like it.

Oh! The Places You Will Go

I'm lucky. I get to see things like this every day in the area I live: Sonoma County, California. I was once commenting on a friend's blog that I was envious of families who pack up and move to places for the summer. First of all, it's hard, even in these times, to be able to afford that in California, but my friend nicely reminded me, “Sharon, but don't you live in a place people go to on vacation?” And my comment was, “But if you're there every day, it doesn't seem like a vacation.” She was right. And so was I.

I subscribe to a number of travel blogs and am tempted by the photos of places I won't likely see in my lifetime. Exotic places. Colorful places. For the few seconds I read about them, and lusciously scan the photos, I am there, knowing that's as far as it gets.
I look out at my garden, and my chickens and see work, even though the beautiful grape-laden hills are all around me. There is the sawdust to move, the chicken feed to empty into the feeding cans, the weeding and dead-heading in the garden. And darn those zucchinis – how come they seem to blow up overnight and go from gourmet table fare to chicken food? You don't pick them? The plant thinks it's done and goes home to the vegetable Heaven somewhere. I stew over my tomato plants that just decide to die. Hello? Can't you give me a clue why you are turning brown? Too cold? Too much water? Your buddy over here has been producing for weeks, and you decide to go home. Not nice.
Not every wonderful place on my list has blue water, umbrellas and lounges. Or spas. But most of them do have something to do with water. At the Kenwood Inn, for instance, there is this huge waterwheel that goes around and around, and I love falling to sleep to it on the few times I have stayed. I wrote a story taking place there so I had a good enough excuse to indulge myself when my finance allow. Some day. When I've sold a bajillion copies of all my books.
These have been very challenging and stressful days for me. I find taking a mental time out and going some place for a 5-minute vacation a necessary evil. Is there some dark lurking prince behind one of those palm trees? Who knows. Afterall, it isn't me that's traveling to those places, but my heroines. Looking for love in all the right places.
Where do you go when you like to escape the world?

The Power of Being No. 2

I recently ran into another mother I used to share a lawn chair with many times at sports tournaments while our children were growing up. We drove those kids cross country, up and down the state, as they racked up the trophies. While my son played often and quite well, her son sat on the bench. He was a back up player.

I remember hearing about a national tournament where the team was sent from California to the east coast. Out of the entire weekend of play and something like six or seven games, her son played a total of five minutes, and only when the first string player needed a water break.
Her son listened as the first string player talked about not liking to play, whined about getting up on time. He was also the coach's son. Her son was usually the first on and one of the last off the field, often carrying equipment, chairs or water for parents and other team members.
I asked her what had become of her son, and if she knew what had become of the other boy. And she told me. Her son joined the Marines and became involved in special forces. He had tasted combat, and the bitterness of losing good friends in a field not many choose. He loves what he is doing.
The other boy? Got recruited and played for a D1 college, but flunked out. Tried to play professionally but washed out. Coaches when he feels like it. Works as a barista sometimes. And hates his life.
I wonder who got the better training? We all want to be No. 1. Nobody ever strives for No. 2 status. But there's power in it.