Monthly Archives: October 2014

Things that make you go…ummmm

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Thanks to C+C Music Factory for the title (just a little artistic license on my part). I was thinking about a game one of the local radio shows used to play during my morning commute. It was called The Um Game. The concept is deceptively simple. The host would give callers a topic and all they had to do was talk about it for 3 minutes…without saying um…and you’d win a prize. Most people didn’t make it past the first minute. Heck, some people didn’t make it past their first word.

DJ: Hi Rhonda, thanks for playing the UM Game. Tell us about your love of rutabaga for three minutes without saying Um. Ready?

Rhonda: Yes

DJ: OK, the clock starts…now.

Rhonda: Um

I would howl with laughter as one by one the contestants fell victim to the dreaded um. I’d tell myself that if I had the chance, I could do so much better than those poor saps. Then my company went through the first of many reorganizations and co-workers started getting laid-off. I kept hearing from them about the need for networking and developing your elevator pitch. Should be easy-right? Who knows what you do better than you do? I have struggled with the elevator pitch through each and every permutation of my job and it hasn’t gotten any easier. I should be able to disseminate the mysteries of my job in five minutes or less and without the hated um. I’ll let you know when I get it straight.

Okay, so I can’t discuss my day job, something I’ve been doing for the past eight years. Talking about my writing should be easier…not. I’m prepping now for a writing conference I’m attending in Boulder. To get me out of my comfort zone and to genuinely prepare me for pitching my YA novel, I’ve signed up for a ten-minute pitch session with an agent. A while back, I wrote about the query letter boot camp I took from Writer’s Digest. That was to get me ready for the live, in-person session in a couple of weeks. Hoo-boy, I am so not ready. I received good feedback from the WD boot camp agent I was assigned to and this session in Boulder is preceded by a critique of my written query. So far so good. I just need to fix what the WD agent said needed fixing and send it off for the critique and then I should be in good shape for the live, up close and personal pitch session…gulp.

Um, I’m going to need some more practice!


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Sleepless in North Carolina…or too tired to write.


Are you getting enough sleep? Do you have trouble sleeping through the night? Do you find that you’ve just settled into your best sleep right before the alarm clock goes off? Do you have difficulty getting out of bed each morning? Do you find those happy morning people extremely irritating?

You’re not alone. The National Institute of Health states that at any given time, 30% of the population states they are sleep-deprived. Frighteningly, ten percent of these people suffer from noticeable daytime functional impairment. I’ve heard it said that driving sleep-deprived is the same as driving drunk.

Do you have insomnia?

People with insomnia either have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or both. Symptoms of poor sleep are:

  • Fatigue/low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating at school or at work
  • Mood swings/Irritability
  • Depression
  • Behavioral problems
  • Relationship Issues

There are two types of insomnia, acute and chronic. Acute insomnia refers to those transitory times when we just can’t fall asleep. These are times like Christmas Eve, the night before a new job or the first day of school. Acute insomnia doesn’t persist. It may last for a week or so, but eventually without any effort on your part, you go back to your normal sleep cycle. Chronic insomnia is different.

What is Chronic Insomnia?

Insomnia is considered chronic when you experience poor sleep at least three times a week for a minimum of three months.  Studies show that people who experience chronic insomnia are more prone to traffic accidents, state decreased job satisfaction, take more frequent sick days and are easily irritated.

What Can You Do About Chronic Insomnia?

Assess your diet. Caffeinated drinks such as sodas and coffee can impact your ability to fall asleep. I find that I can’t have caffeine after lunchtime. Each time this past month that I’ve had a caffeinated drink in the late afternoon, I’ve experienced difficulty falling asleep. And by difficulty, I mean I can’t fall asleep.

Alcohol use can also negatively affect your sleep. Although alcohol is a known sedative, it interferes with your body’s ability to achieve a deep and restful sleep. Limit yourself to one glass of wine or beer each evening.

Review your life. Have any major life events happened recently? Have you moved, lost or gained a job, or gotten a divorce? Major life changes, good or bad, can throw us for a loop. These changes can wreak havoc on your internal clock and negatively affect your natural sleep rhythms.  Be kind to yourself and consider therapy. Recent research has shown that the only treatment that works to remove the CAUSE of insomnia is talk therapy. Medication can help in the short-term, but unless you want to take medicine forever, therapy is your friend. Look for therapists who specialize in insomnia.

And last, but certainly not least, talk to your doctor about your insomnia; there may be an underlying medical cause for your inability to fall asleep. When’s the last time you had a complete physical? Keep a sleep and diet log to track your dietary habits against your sleep cycles. By tracking my caffeine use, I was able to see the correlation between drinking tea late in the day and my lack of sleep that evening. You don’t have to live in the foggy state of the perpetually sleep-deprived. Work to get the rest you desire so you can live the full life you deserve.

Take care of yourself. Don’t let poor sleep keep you from achieving your goals!  I made an appointment with my doctor for next week.

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My Journey as a Writer-Reinvention

This week is the Women’s Fiction Work Shop at WFWA (Women’s Fiction Writers Association). Yesterday the forum topic was on platform and reader relationship as explained by the amazing Claire Cook. Yes, she discussed the need for a welcoming place that readers and other like-minded travelers want to visit…and your responsibility as the owner to not turn your welcoming spot into a marketing blitz. That was part of her post, but mostly, and the part that resonated the deepest within me was her theme of reinvention.

In my life I’ve reinvented myself many times. From shy daughter to fierce mama-bear to my own shy daughters. From a high-school educated girl to a woman who pursued a PhD in Immunology all the while tending to school-age children. From corporate worker who believed our dreams are no longer attainable once we hit middle-age to a middle-aged rebel who still works in corporate America, but uses the rest of her time pursing her dreams. Dreams are important, they are the light at the end of the tunnel that keeps us moving forward.

I’ve just started Claire Cook’s book, Never too Late: Your Road Map to Reinvention and already I feel inspired to work harder to reach my dream goals.  I believe in synchronicity and I also believe that when you open yourself up to change, the universe responds and provides you with opportunities.

Here’s to all the re-inventors in this world. May you dare to dream, have strength in your convictions and the wisdom to grab the opportunities that present themselves to you.


photo credit: <a href=””>Paulo Brandão</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a&gt; <a href=””>cc</a&gt;

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