Tag Archives: #amwriting

WOW, my first author interview

happyLast summer I entered a flash fiction contest hosted by WOW, Women on Writing…and recently found out that I was a runner-up (much jumping and hand waving).

Pretty good as I truly struggled with the length limitation of 750 words. I had first submitted this piece during the winter contest and paid extra for the critique option.  I didn’t place in that contest, but I received valuable feedback on not only how to make that story better in particular, but how to improve and tighten-up any story.

Check out this amazing organization at: http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com, they offer writing classes and have an ezine as well–and while you’re there, read my runner-up entry, The Reunion.

The Winter 2015 contest is closed, but the Spring 2015 one will be opening soon, so try your hand at Flash Fiction!

 

 

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Merry Chrismahanakwanzaa…or just plain old Happy Holidays!

medium_4198408656Happy Holidays to you all, whatever holiday you choose to celebrate. I can’t believe that 2014 is almost over and 2015 is peeking out from under the counter tops. I can just barely see the top of its fuzzy little newborn head, but I know that it’s there, hugging its chubby arms around itself while trying not to giggle and give its hiding space away. To be honest, I’m not quite ready for 2015 yet, with its earnest fresh-starts and gleaming resolutions. I’m not done with 2014–there’s still eleven, count ’em, eleven days to go! Let’s end this year on a high note of reflection. Let’s focus on all the good we’ve done–be it writing projects plotted and completed, showing up for work when we’d rather throw the covers over our head and sleep in or just taking time each day to be grateful for what we have. There’s a lot to be said for stopping to smell the roses no matter how cliche the saying is. So my wish for you all this season is this…no matter how crazy busy the next two weeks are for you, I wish you moments of peace and happiness. Maybe your days will be filled with last minute shopping, the arrival of unexpected guests and lots of holiday baking. Or perhaps this time of the year is difficult for you–maybe illness, loss or unemployment gnaw at you. For you, most of all, I wish you peace and hope. Recognize that while life is dark now, it will get better, if you can open yourself up to it. Allow yourself to see the beauty that unfolds before your eyes each day–the little beauties like trees covered in snow, a small child’s laughter or the simple kindness of someone holding a door open. Go out of your way to see the beauty and beauty will come to you.

I choose to focus these next eleven days on remembering the good things that have happened this year. They’ll be time enough for lists and resolutions come January 1st.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/unicoletti/4198408656/”>unicoletti</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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Count Your Blessings: In Praise of Gratitude

Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I thought the topic of gratitude would be appropriate. I’ve read several books recently that have gently reminded me to be conscious of how grateful I am for everything that is present in my life.  These books, in no particular order are, Never Too Late by Claire Cook, 21 Days to Master Success and Inner Peace by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and lastly, 21 Days to Master Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson. The 21-day series is based on the principle that it takes twenty-one days to create a habit.

Make Gratitude a Habit

The habit I’ve been working on is one of gratitude. Each morning before I get out of bed and each night as I drift off to sleep, I list all the things I’m grateful for. At first, I felt silly doing it, but if I’m going to be honest (and I am), I have never felt happier than now when I’m two months into my attitude of gratitude. I feel more optimistic about the future and am more able to cope with life’s daily ups and downs. My list gets longer each day too. I started off with the usual things such as I’m grateful for my husband, children, friends and colleagues, but as I’ve continued with this twice daily exercise, the list has become more granular. I’m grateful for electricity, my laptop, clean air and fresh running water, the food in my fridge, my house, the heating system that keeps the house warm in the winter. I’m grateful I live in a country that proclaims the freedom to pursue happiness as an inalienable right.

Grateful People are Happier

I did a little research on the subject of gratitude and my personal experiences from these past two months matches the research. Basically people who focus on the positive aspects of their life express a greater sense of well-being and contentment. In the studies by Peabody and McCullough (2003), they were able to show a connection between gratitude and increased happiness, desire to help others and even positive effects on sleep. When you think about it, it makes sense. On those days when you focus on the things that irritate you — you’re a knot of tension, unhappy and tend to only see the bad that’s around you. A positive and grateful focus naturally directs your mind to a more uplifting state. You’re less likely to think the world is out to get you. Which brings us to thanksgiving. Many cultures celebrate a day or days of thanksgiving. They recognize the need to stop and take a breath to realize all they’ve achieved and how grateful they are for the bounty that flows into their lives. The cornucopia dates back at least to the 5th century B.C. It’s the symbol of abundance otherwise known as the horn of plenty. To me, being grateful means not taking anything for granted. I also think it implies taking some sort of action on our part, such as working to achieve your goals and then paying it forward by helping others achieve their goals. If I’m grateful for the food I have, I must do something to help others that don’t have enough food, and so on.

Let Us Give Thanks

Our American celebration of Thanksgiving focuses on the food aspect of gratitude. This coming Thursday, as we pile our platters full of turkey, mashed potatoes, veggies and the best pie ever — pumpkin pie, let us not forget the people that made it all happen. Since most of us don’t grow our own crops or raise turkeys, we need to be grateful to the farmers, food processors, truck drivers and grocery store personnel that work hard every day to bring the food to us. If our foods are imported, then we need to add shipping companies, their crews, the FDA, food inspectors…etc…the list goes on and on. We don’t live in a vacuum, we are all inter-connected. Before you dig into your abundant platters this Thursday, take some time to appreciate all that you have and then make a plan to help others. You’ll feel triply blessed, one for the food on your table, two for the realization of your many bounties and three for helping someone else experience that warm, fuzzy feeling.

Here are some links that may help you pay it forward:

http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/

http://www.goodnet.org/articles/1000 (clean water charities)

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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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