Dog to Come

The kids have been asking for a dog for three years. Sweetie (12 y), Honey (11.5 y), Spicy (10 y), and Buddy (9.5 Y) are my adorable, wonderful, perfect grandchildren What should grandma do when her poor little ones come crying to her and begging to ‘have a word with their mean parents”?

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The girl who wants to be a vet.

“Every time we ask Mommy and Daddy for a dog, they seem to have a hearing problem.”

“Did you ask nicely?”

“Very, very nicely?”

“Maybe ask a second time.”

“We asked ten times, for birthdays, for Christmas, for Easter, to reward good grades, to celebrate winning athletic competitions.”

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Can you punish them for being mean to us? Or have a word with them? They are your kids. They have to obey you. We want a dog or a cat or a pet.”

My daughter is allergic to animal hair. She bought a couple of fish and a beautiful tank for Sweetie and Spicy. Unfortunately, the fish died after a year and the whining started all over.

My son brought his kids a cat. He said he’s not ready to walk a dog when it’s snowing and freezing, and he’s too tired after work. But the new kitten, Rey, made his household ecstatic. A first visit to the vet revealed that Rey was a he, not a she, and was renamed ElRey.

IMG_0077The news that their cousins have a cat caused a renew of anger and protests from Sweetie and Spicy. “Spicy and Mommy are taking allergy shots regularly, and we are going to get a hypo-allergenic dog.”

Sweetie opened the Internet and showed her sister the type of dogs they could get. Grandma protested she was ready to babysit and drive kids–not pets.

Sweetie had an answer. “Spicy and I will walk the dog. All you have to do is supervise us when we walk him, because we are forbidden to walk alone.”

With their birthdays coming in April and May, the demands for a dog are getting louder. And Mommy and Daddy’s hearing is worsening.

What do you do when your kid wants a pet and you are allergic?

Publication for Twitter 2

From NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Mona Risk,

TWO LOVES FOR CHRISTMAS

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B017L6Y9PM

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/two-loves-for-christmas

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1052930047

Google:  https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Mona_Risk_Two_Loves_for_Christmas?id=PJbNCgAAQBAJ

 

 

 

 

It’s Name That Deputy Time!

Do you love contests? Yes? So do I. Last month I held a contest to name the deputy in my upcoming book, A Smoky Mountain Christmas Wedding.

The response was tremendous! Selecting the right name for the deputy proved fun but challenging, since there were so many excellent names to choose from.

The winner of deputy sheriff’s name is Dorothy Therese Jorden for her name – Carter.

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The name Carter is from Old English origin, and its meaning is – one who transports goods. People aren’t goods, but since Carter transports offenders, I considered how well the name fit the story. He’s an unmarried, quiet young man, and as honest as the day is long. When things get busy around the jail, he gets a bit rattled. Think Barney Fyfe personality.

Dorothy Therese Jorden, I will contact you for your gift.

Thanks to everyone for playing along. I appreciate your time and effort!

Here’s a short excerpt from on A Smoky Mountain Christmas Wedding.

Chapter 10

“You don’t trust me.” Hank grimaced. “Okay. It means…look, Tina. I love you. Only you.”

“I realize that, Hank. But we need to clear up issues floating inside my head. Help me out here, okay?”

“I’d rather not discuss Lisa, but since you’ve brought up the subject I see no way around it. It’s necessary.” Hank pulled into the well-lit parking lot at a favorite restaurant on Piedmont Avenue in Atlanta. He switched off the motor, then twisted around to face her. “Okay. Shoot. Let me have it with both barrels. I want this thing out in the open and over with.”

“Two questions.” Tina’s stomach flipped as she turned and faced Hank. An answer is what you wanted, right? “The look that passed between you two, when Lisa entered the room today was obvious. I’m curious how you feel about her, and what part she may play, if any, in our future.”

Hank drew in a deep breath. “Lisa and I were kind of thrown together while we worked on our college newspaper…long before I married. She became confused and too serious. Later, I learned she had labeled it a relationship, I called it socializing with the rest of the group. I had no idea she daydreamed we were a couple.”

“How could she not know?”

Hank turned the key and rolled down the window. “Our group was a close one. We were like family. Since Lisa was dating Greg, and I rarely saw her outside the group, I never gave her a second thought. Everyone else was aware I hadn’t the same idea about our being together, in, or outside the group. Recognizing her intentions were more than friendship, it took me a while to come to grips with the realization.”

“What did you do?” Tina asked.

“Once I realized her intent, I stopped any get-togethers with her, which were nothing more than coffee or a late dinner after class, when Greg couldn’t attend. But, there wasn’t anything to break off, except in her mind. Lisa never meant more to me than a class friend. Especially since I was aware that Greg was crazy about her. Greg and I attended grade school to college together. He knows me better than anyone else and was aware of how I felt about Lisa…as a friend. Only a friend. I never encouraged her…I wouldn’t do that to Greg even if I’d had feelings for her.”

“That must have been awkward for you. I’m sorry I brought it up.”

“How would you know? The look exchanged between us was nothing more than a memory. A bad one for me. Greg and I had a few words because he thought I’d treated her badly. I didn’t tell him anything, especially that Lisa continued to leave messages on my answering machine wanting to get together.”

“Did you happen to save the messages?” Tina asked.

“I’m afraid not. You know how it is. When you delete messages it’s usually with the push of the button, without thoughts of what’s recorded. Besides, there was no need to stir the pot.”

Beneath the parking lot’s bright lights and the chatter coming from several customers from the restaurant, Hank rolled up the window. “It was tough, but I finally got my point across.”

“She never bothered you again?”

“No. Thank God. She made me nervous. I’m happy she tired of chasing me, and became more interested in building a relationship with Greg.”

“Didn’t you feel an obligation to Greg? To let him know what was going on…how Lisa pursued you?”

“Yes, I did. More than once. I despised the deceit between us.”

“Then, why didn’t you?”

“Greg was so in love with Lisa, I hadn’t the heart to be the one to break them up. Anyway Lisa seemed to change, to make Greg her one priority. So, if Greg’s happy, I’m happy.”

“Sometimes that depends on how she really feels. I hope for you, and for Greg’s sake, Lisa has truly changed.” Tina had a gut feeling Lisa would cause problems in the future, but it wasn’t up to her to pursue the issue. She wasn’t one to borrow trouble.

Hank sat staring out the window. “I hope so. I really hope so. I hope I haven’t made a terrible mistake withholding Lisa’s conduct from Greg.”

“We’ll see,” Tina said. Evidently the dust had settled, and the likelihood Lisa would kick up trouble again was hopefully slim. Still, it could happen.

Hank leaned in and pressed a kiss on her forehead. “In the meantime, let’s anticipate the best.”

Have  a Safe and Happy Easter!

Links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords, can be found here: http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

Autism Awareness by Susan R. Hughes

Autism awareness day designWith Word Autism Awareness Day coming up on April 2, I thought I’d share my personal story.

Most of us are aware of autism, but like many people, I didn’t know a lot about the disorder before my daughter was diagnosed at the age of 4. At first I didn’t believe the diagnosis. My child was nothing like the autistic characters I’d seen on TV and in films like Rain Man. I thought kids with autism fit a particular profile: fixated with routine, bothered by loud noises, resistant to physical contact, and unable to connect emotionally with people.

But I’ve since learned that autism affects people in many different ways and to different degrees, which is why it’s referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). My daughter adapts well to changes in her routine and loud noises don’t faze her. She’s highly social, loves parties and enjoys hugs. She’s happy being with people and talking to them, but since she has trouble grasping the rules of social interaction and controlling her emotions, it’s difficult for her to form friendships.

Now 11 years old, she still has tantrums when things don’t go her way. She can be rude and demanding, and sometimes aggressive. Her behaviour can lead to puzzled looks, awkwardness and judgment from those who don’t know or understand her diagnosis. As she gets older, people will be less forgiving.

It’s important to realize that people with ASD do have feelings, and they form strong emotional attachments. They may not be able to express their emotions, but those feelings are just as strong as anyone else’s. Though they struggle with social interaction, they have the same desire for relationships. Imagine the frustration and loneliness when you want to connect with people but can’t figure out all the subtleties the rest of us find intuitive.

Since children with ASD learn differently, keeping up in a regular school can be difficult. My daughter attends a private school for kids with learning disabilities. It took her longer to learn to read and write, but she’s a gifted writer and artist with a vivid imagination. I hope that when she’s old enough to enter the workforce, she’ll be given a chance. Employers are beginning to realize that people with ASD can be highly focused and diligent workers. Even with the challenges they face, they can contribute to society and have full lives. What more could a parent want for their child?

Renovating a house is like editing a book.

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Dining room before

I’m in the middle of renovations in my house. The air smells like paint night after night but it is coming along. Tonight the dolls are out of the cabinet and sitting on the catchall. The china is out of the china cupboard and stacked on the kitchen island, but the last room downstairs is now painted.

 

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Living room after (now Peach Glow)

Renovating is like editing. You hope you start with something good (good foundation and bones on a house–good bones and the start of a story in a book), and make it great. Layers of dust I didn’t know I had are now gone. The carpets and furniture are steam-cleaned and the house smells great (other than paint fumes). Layers of characterization and GMC and not a sagging middle are found in my current story. Bit by bit the house is coming along and bit by bit my third zombie book is taking shape.

Fingers crossed that the house is done and the book is up for preorders about the same time! (Beginning of April)

I’ll have more pictures once the kitchen is all done in Flaming Torch!! And after 15 years in this house, I will have knobs on the kitchen cabinets!! WooHoo!!


Jill James, romance author and Do-it-yourselfer

Scotland!

2015-08-19 06.40.19I love just about everything about Scotland, which will come as no surprise to those of you who know me. My son and I spent a month in Scotland this past summer, traveling around the mainland and many of the isles, in preparation for a new series I’m creating about a secret society of scholars, warriors, and everyday people who love Celtic and Viking lore and wish to preserve it. The name of the society is: The Damselfly Society. Their castle stronghold is on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, although the membership of the society is worldwide.

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I am currently involved in a very real and not-so-secret society called, The Saint Andrew’s Society of the City of Milwaukee. The Saint Andrew’s Society was founded to, among other things, “relieve the distressed”. It is the oldest charitable organization in the state of Wisconsin. It’s Scottish, and was founded in 1859 to preserve Scottish heritage, culture and art as well as to help Scotland’s daughters and sons who need assistance. It’s a wonderful society and I’m proud to be a member. It also has a political underbelly that I find fascinating.

Some of the political machinations found their way into the first book in which the Damselfly Society is mentioned: Defending Destiny. The politics in that book and in the book: The Magician’s Chalice, which will be published this summer, are pure fiction ramped up to the highest level I thought believable. The formality and rules, though, are based in real life experience.

Magician's Chalice

Every society—secret or not—has a girth of rules. Sometimes those rules strengthen it, and sometimes threaten to strangle it.

I take complete advantage of the latter in The Damselfly books.

So….on to Scotland! I’ve included some photos of this most recent trip. The summer of 2015—when my son and I went—was the coldest, wettest summer on record in the last forty years. We still had a wonderful time. I will post more about this trip, since there was so much to see. My daughter also spent the summer on a Neolithic dig in Orkney on the Ness of Brodgar. That is a whole separate post! I learned a lot about hands-on archeology in general and Neolithic Scotland in particular, and loved every rain-drenched second of it.

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I’m roughing up the plot for a Viking era historical set in Scotland that will be in the works later this year. I don’t think anyone needs to travel to write about a particular setting, but it sure helps me. The sounds, scents, and feel of a place makes it more real. It also helps get the details right. Although the landscape in Scotland has changed over the last thousand years, many aspects, including the birds, trees, water flow…..remain the same. For me, immersion into all of that fills my heart and my psyche. The words don’t necessarily flow effortlessly from that, but the nuances do.

Wherever you travel, whatever organizations you belong to, whatever life throws your way, may you immerse yourself in it and find your story.

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If you have an aspect of your life that has found its way into your writing or in what you enjoy reading, I’d love to hear about it!

Happy and safe travels whether you journey near or far.

Leigh

Mustering the Muse–Finding Inspiration

A few days ago, a writer friend was experiencing some self-doubt (as we all do, whether we’re writers, painters, carpenters, accountants, etc.). To cheer her, I sent her a couple of quotes I find motivating.She replied, “I could use one of those quotes daily.”

And it got me thinking. We all need daily affirmations, so why not create a space for that to happen? I probably won’t be able to do it everyday, because LIFE (and I have a big one.) But I write most days, I read everyday, and I could certainly use a positive thought or two or a zillion everyday. So, for the last few days, I’ve been publishing what I call Mustering the Muse on my personal blog: kristystories.blogspot.com

Here’s one of my favorite John Green quotes:

Don’t make stuff because you want to make money — it will never make you enough money. And don’t make stuff because you want to get famous — because you will never feel famous enough. Make gifts for people — and work hard on making those gifts in the hope that those people will notice and like the gifts.
Maybe they will notice how hard you worked, and maybe they won’t — and if they don’t notice, I know it’s frustrating. But, ultimately, that doesn’t change anything — because your responsibility is not to the people you’re making the gift for, but to the gift itself.

 

And a similar thought from Andy Warhol

making art
In addition to the positive thought, I though I would offer a space where friends can share either a link to their work or a favorite sentence. I’ll admit my goal with this is selfish. I try to write fast. They call this “being in the flow.” (You can read about that here) But sometimes, as I’m writing fast, I forget those sentences–the ones that sound and feel just right (writely.) And so, I think if, at the end of my writing day, I’m looking for that writerly sentence, maybe I’ll create a few more. Here’s my sentence (s) for today:

Grace leaned closer and lowered her voice, even though she knew her grandparents were miles away. “Do you think Mom entered into some sort of bargain with them?” she asked, thinking of her advanced English class in general and Faust and his pact with the devil in particular. Who would Grace rather strike a bargain with—Satan or her grandfather? Given the choice, it would be a hard decision.

ANYONE WANT TO SHARE A SENTENCE (or two) OR A THOUGHT? IF SO, LEAVE IT IN THE COMMENT BOX, ALONG WITH A BUY LINK AND I’LL POST IT IN OUR AUTHORS OF MAIN STREET NEWSLETTER.

 

The Semi-Empty Nesters

In the last six months, my son started college about a five hours’ drive away and my daughter moved in with her boyfriend. My husband and I are now semi-empty nesters. Not permanent empty nesters–just…semi.

Every time we get into a groove that works for the two of us being alone, my son will come home for a week or two or my daughter and her guy will stop by to do laundry and have dinner with us. Then the hubby and I scramble to make sure there’s enough food in the pantry, that we’ll be home on time to see them, and we always wind up going to bed while they’re still up, watching television or hanging out with friends in the kitchen.

There are perks, though, to this new phase in our lives. I no longer have to sit through television shows or movies I have no interest in watching to appease my children (I don’t think I’ll ever get the SpongeBob SquarePants theme out of my head). Creating meals for two adults, who usually aren’t picky about a quick soup and sandwich at eight pm, is a lot easier. No racing through a meal to make a practice or racing to get home so one of the kids can take my car to work. I sleep better since I don’t have to listen for them to come home by curfew. I only have to fight my guy for bathroom rights in the morning. My preset radio stations and the volume, as well as the position of my driver’s seat, hasn’t changed overnight.

Yet, much as I love that my kids have grown up and begun to live semi-independently (there’s that semi word again), there’s an odd sadness to it as well. I’m still not used to coming home from work to be greeted by only the dog. I feel guilty when I make plans to meet my husband somewhere after work without going home first–until I remind myself the kids aren’t there. This was the first year my son had a birthday where I didn’t bake him the special cake he requested. The house is too quiet. And too clean.

It’s our new normal, and what scares me is knowing that once I get used to this normal, the next stage will occur and I’ll be adjusting all over again. I guess that’s life. Right?

 

My Long Journey Started in the Kitchen Garden

Everyone knows about Stephanie Queen’s Myron. Sometimes I wish I had such a male in my life…well, maybe not Myron. I’d wind up killing him or at least firing him. (And if he reads this, I’ll be in so much trouble.) But he has one of those life-right & glued positions. So Stephanie and Myron are stuck with each other forever! If you have a drop of royal blood in your veins, you totally understand.

My life is far from glamorous. I opted for my dream and I continue to stand on my head to catch that elusive butterfly. But what I’ve discovered along the way is that my life really has never changed. When my girls were little, I gardened. I grew vegetables. I searched for fruit and knew every neighbor with a fruit tree or bush in their yard.

When I discovered my one neighbor had what they called a Damsel tree, I asked if I could have the fruit. To them, it was just a pretty flowering tree, but too messy with that fruit dropping. No problem, I relieved them of a ton of fruit. I later discovered it was actually a damson plum tree. But a plum is a plum, and it made delicious jelly and preserves. Another neighbor had crab apples and when mixed with mint, it was another great jelly. I started scouting. Homemade jams and jellies sound delicious, right? They were, but it was also hard work. So many times I was on my feet into the wee morning hours, processing fruit and knowing I had to get my husband off for work in a few more hours.

Yet I did it. I did it because I could, and it stretched the family budget, providing healthy food for them. Want to debate jelly as being healthy? It was about as healthy as a chocolate chip cookie. But I’m assuming that no one is feeding the family cookies instead of meal. A smear of jelly on a peanut butter sandwich is delicious. Fruit tucked into a bar cookie is even better! Mixed with a homemade granola, it makes the perfect afternoon snack. And these little treats kept the meals from becoming ho-hum. But they had one more thing, no pesticides.

When it came to my garden, there were years when I had too many beans, not enough peas, the tomato crop failed, and there more blueberries than we could eat in twenty years. Somehow life balances out. I got through it, and I learned as I went.

Turkey is my least favorite meat, but it tends to be cheap. So when those birds went on sale, I bought several for my freezer! I took advantage of any sale I could.

But one day my hubby came home and told me the guys with whom he worked were going fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. They were chartering a boat, and he wanted to do it. The cost back then was $20 for him. He might as well have asked for $2000. He never asked for anything frivolous, and he wasn’t the kind of guy to run off with his pals. I pulled out my budget and checked it carefully. Okay. The entire time I’m thinking do you know how much fish I could buy with $20? I thought you got seasick?

Oh fairy dust, fairy dust, sprinkle it my way! He came home from that outing with almost the entire catch. He had six of the largest coolers I ever saw, and they had to be returned on Monday morning. A few guys grabbed a couple of big fish but left behind 99% of the catch. I don’t clean fish! GAG! My hubby spent the next day cleaning fish. He filleted and I packed for freezing until the freezer was filled with fish. We still had one cooler left with at least another 50 pounds of fish. I called a friend and her hubby was at our doorstep that night. Happy to relieve us of that last cooler of fish. My hubby never asked to go again, maybe he never wanted to clean that many fish again. Or maybe he was more seasick then he wanted anyone to know.

And then there was the time that a friend called and asked if I wanted what the movers wouldn’t take. She told me to bring some brown paper bags. They packed her for overseas and no food item was allowed, no aerosol, no cleaning products, etc. Lady Luck had sprinkled her dust! Pickles, olives, you name it, and she had it. She had boxes of individually packaged treats. Bags of potato chips, a huge box of frozen hamburgers, several packages of hot dogs along with bags of rolls, and a dozen other items often seen at a picnic including the paper products. She had two un-opened half gallons of ice cream in her freezer! A few days before, she had thrown a big party for her children and their friends. It’s actually amazing when you see what other people eat or maybe don’t eat. There was shampoo, hairspray, hand lotion, laundry detergent, bleach, and bathroom, kitchen, and window cleaning products. That stuff is expensive! Not to mention all the paper products such as paper towels and toilet paper, and dozens of items from the medicine cabinet that every family can use. There was stuff in there that I had never used, and several products that were a different brand from what I used, but free made them precious freebies. I thanked her profusely and found several new brands that I liked. It took me three trips to bring it all home. And her fancy wooden box that held her potatoes and onions – she gave me the box and the contents.

A few years ago, another friend moved and this time she only had some cleaning products. I think I still have a few of her things. But there’s no point in wasting things, and stretching the family budget in those days took serious dedication and hard work. It’s not much different from what I do today.

Today I work to create successful books. Back then I worked to create a healthy wonderful meals for my family. The difference? There’s not many because both are done from scratch, both require learning from books, and from trial and error. Rodale became my friend just as Betty Crocker had. There was no Internet, so my garden books matched my cookbooks in numbers. Experience is a great teacher! Just as I learned not to pick okra and then jump in the car and drive for 40 minutes without washing in the heat of summer, I learned not to leave proofing yeast on the counter overnight. “Mommy what’s that ugly slimy stuff on the counters and floor?” You don’t what to know how far yeast can go! Or what it’s like to remove it from the dinning room rug. Yeast is a living organism. It must be killed first!

Just as the women who lived 100 or more years ago, they wanted their food to be the best. They had nothing else worth the strife. And in some ways being a stay at home mom put me in that category. I was home because I didn’t have the ability to earn enough money to pay for babysitting, my gas, etc. For the few pennies I’d bring in, I was worth more at home. My job was to stretch the money that my husband made. And stretch it I did!

I learned skills out of necessity and out of curiosity. I took my children to the library and also brought home books on things that interested me, such as recipes of the women in wagon trains. Read few of those recipes. I promise, I wouldn’t make some of that for my family. Little did I know that I was training to one day write about those times and period in history.

I opted to stay at home and write. Today I strive to stretch my meager budget while producing the finest quality books. That’s no different than what I did to produce the finest possible meals for my family.

I’ve spent the last few weeks on a reading binge and I’ve been surprised at the lack of quality in books that outsell me. It has shocked and saddened me. I could have bought cheap white bread when my girls were little, but I didn’t. I made delicious homemade breads for my family using the finest ingredients I could manage to find. To me, it was a matter of pride. And so it is with my books.

I’m proud of what I did back then, and I’m proud of my books. Maybe every book I produce will never be a million dollar seller, but as long as I can look at them with a sense of dignity, then I have accomplished something important.

 

Ebb & Flow

The perks of owning your own business are plentiful; like making your own schedule and generally liking your boss! 😀  People don’t always understand or see being a writer as a business. Granted, some of my work is sold through a publisher, but even with a publisher there is a business side that is all mine. Either way, it all begins and ends w/ me! This is both a blessing and a curse.  

 2015 was a rough year for the industry. Small publishers began closing their doors; including Samhain, which will close this year. And sales that were once soaring have tapered or plummeted, for some. The lucky ones have seen a slow enough decline to react in one way or another – like a “day job”. Which I have returned to, sadly! 

It’s funny how you forget office politics when you’re used to working alone. Or how co-workers can be quirky, for lack of a nicer term! I’ve started consulting for a tech firm, in the Sales &Marketing department. The Tech part is new to me, but I built a nice life and career in Sales & Marketing – before writing.

  
So while book sales ebb, I’m taking an opportunity for new character development via the workforce. I’ve already met several interesting people who I’m certain will find their way into personalities or full blown characters in a novel coming soon! It’s also giving me a chance to learn about a new industry. 

I will take this ebb in stride, create some new opportunities and develop a new portfolio of interesting characteristics. Hey, maybe I’ll be the first writer to make an engineer sexy! 😍 Either way as long as the ideas and words flow, a little ebb can be dealt with. Lord, let it be a quick ebb! Here’s to new adventures! 

Wishing you well, in fiction and real life! 

Kindly,

💖 Kelly Rae ❤️

  
🌟www.kellyraebooks.com 📚

Visit my website for information, buy links, or to purchase signed copies of any of my books! Thanks in advance❣
Here is the reality of being a writer: 

   
I’ve seen numbers floating around about the top 10% are making it, or only those in KU (which is VERY restrictive for authors) are making it, to basically unless you’re Stephen King or Jodi Picoult, no one is making it! 😀 What you can do is support your favorite small business & writer with reviews and word of mouth advertising. Every little bit helps! 😘
 

 

The I-Can and I-Will Path

Path in Woods toward LightMona’s excellent post “Competitiveness” got me thinking about the crucial question she asks at the end. “Is it impossible to be successful AND happy?” I commented on that question at some length. Sorry. I natter on sometimes especially on the topic of Success, what it is and how we measure it in our own lives. I’m going to natter some more now.

In preparation for writing this post I looked at some of the motivational talks I used to give. I loved doing that back then. Words would fly out of my mouth with a laugh line thrown in every now and then because I have a well-developed hambone gene. But as I revisited my seminar and workshop notes I wasn’t in search of laugh lines.

I was listening for words I’d heard myself say before and needed to hear again. This is what I found on the subject of Success. “The strongest strategy for success in pretty much anything is to get yourself on an I-Can and I-Will Path. And the first thing you must do on that path is fight back fear.”

I certainly said a mouthful there and of course it was a talk for a group of writers, specifically romance writers. Here’s the irony about that. Our romance stories are mostly about women who behave heroically. Not because they aren’t afraid, but because they do what has to be done despite their fear.

There’s no getting away from the scary things in life. They’re always going to be with us. Just like they’re always going to be in our stories or our stories won’t be very interesting. Who wants to read about characters whose lives run smooth as glass all the time? Readers want to see that glass shatter and hear it too.

We want our stories to be littered with sharp shards at every turn because sharp shards make a page-turner read. But we don’t want that in our real lives. We pray the shattered edges we encounter will be dull and we’ll slip past them unscathed. But this isn’t how life generally goes, including the writer’s life for sure.

We have to struggle against fear of the sharp shattering places as relentlessly as our story heroines struggle against the obstacles in their paths. We do that in order to survive, the writing life and life in general, and then go on to thrive.

One way to fight back fear is to change our thinking in terms of the goals we set for ourselves and what achieving those goals really is. We need to stop thinking of our goals as far away. We need to stop thinking of our progress toward those goals as painfully slow. By the way when I say “we” I really mean “I” because I really need this advice.

I know from my own experience that thinking of success as far away and painfully slow to reach is discouraging. It drains us. We lose what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the Power of Enthusiasm. He said we must never relinquish our Powerful Enthusiasm. It’s the energy we need to fuel us through testing times.

I’m in testing times right now so I’m going to talk to myself for a bit. I need to see my goal as right here right now, and to see me as progressing toward that goal today. If I manage even a small step or two, this is a successful day. I need to know what I want to accomplish and make sure I’m being realistic, not defeating myself before I start by filling my plate impossibly full.

Back to all of us. At the end of each day, if you don’t think you achieved your goal, look again. What did you actually achieve? How are you not in the same place you were yesterday? To measure that, ask this question. “Have I done what I undertook today as well as I could do it?” Be sure to factor in the obstacles you had to overcome.

If you can say, “Yes, I’ve done what I could as well as I could do it,” then you’ve succeeded that day. Think of each of these successful days as a jewel on the thread of your life, a jewel on the thread of your career. Never underestimate its worth or forget to admire its beauty.

That smells like sweet success to me. It feels like happiness too. Now all I have to do is remember to take my own advice. I wish I didn’t have so much trouble with that sometimes. I guess I must be human.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/.