Joining the (Writer) Club

In years past I’ve hung around forums (I recommend Absolute Write), blogged and networked online, and generally thrown myself toward a web community of awesome creative people, but I’ve never been part of a writers’ group.

A few months ago I decided that, because I needed a kick in the creative pants, I’d start a Facebook group for local-to-me writers. We could rally and connect through the power of the interwebs and then, if things felt right, meet in person and make it official.

ID-10041430

freedigitalphotos.net

Monday night was our first meeting! We converged on our town’s park—gray sky and blustery wind would not deter us—some with writing samples, others with a casual rundown of their journey and expectation. Out of the current nine in our group, five were able to attend. Not too shabby, methinks.

While so far we’re all women, we’re diverse in age, in resume, in personality, in chosen genre and publication goals. Given all this I think we’ll work well together, offering varied insight and constructive criticism, holding each other accountable, and encouraging each other—maybe we’ll even engage in a little friendly competition—to work and improve and make stuff happen.

Though I’ve never spearheaded anything before, and am not sold on being the “leader” of this group, I’m glad I took the initiative to get it going. I have some pretty solid intentions, and I hope the effort ahead proves to be beneficial for us all, in more ways than one.

If you’re a writer, are you part of a “club” or guild? What are its benefits for you?

If you’re not a writer, is there some other kind of group of which you’re a member? Do tell!

Knowledge is Power (and very distracting)

By the time my blog day comes around, I’ve usually gotten worked up about something, or inspired by someone, or wanted to express an opinion, or even ask advice. This week?

Nothing.

Nada.dictionary

Zilch.

I thought I’d cobble something together about a study I’m doing and headed over to the Miriam Webster online dictionary. Suddenly, my ADD-addled brain was distracted by a series of quizzes underneath the search bar.

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary? Well, I’m a writer and I’d really beefed up my vocab skills a few years ago (okay, maybe a decade ago) when I thought I wanted to go to graduate school, so I clicked on the link and did surprisingly well. Yep, my vocabulary isn’t bad.

Next, I couldn’t help clicking on the True or False quiz about stuff worth knowing. Stuff worth knowing? I want to know stuff. Heck, I’m trying to write about stuff, so of course I clicked on the link. Turns out I know some stuff. Not all stuff, but a good amount.

Next came Name that Thing, a visual vocabulary quiz. I’m humble enough to admit I didn’t do so well with this one. Maybe I’m not a visual learner.

But I’m no fool, because I didn’t even click on the Spell It: commonly misspelled words quiz. I know I can’t spell and I thank God daily for spell check and auto correct.

Speaking of auto correct, here’s another complete waste of time that makes me laugh. Every. Single. Time. Autocorrect blunders. Adult humor, folks. No kids allowed.

Now that I’ve managed to distract anyone who happens to read this blog, you’re welcome. Yes, I’m a geek with a sick sense of humor. I promise to do better next time :)

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

Something’s Gotta Give

A few years ago, a friend gave me a sign that read “Stop Me From Volunteering Again”.  Despite the fact it hangs front and center in my kitchen, I have yet to heed it.  I seem to have Volunteer’s Disease.  (It might have something to do with being a Tennessee Volunteer, but that’s a whole different story. :) )

That same disease seems to be spreading to my writing world.  I have hopelessly over committed myself for the remainder of 2014 and early 2015. I have two full length novels due by next March, not to mention a novella.  In addition I have a holiday novella releasing from Tule Publishing next month.

 

Available digitally from Tule Publishing Oct. 20 and in a print anthology in December.

Available digitally from Tule Publishing Oct. 20 and in a print anthology in December.

And the first book in a new series releasing from Berkley early next year.  (You can pre-order it here.)

 

Available January 6, 2015.  Pre-order it now!

Available January 6, 2015. Pre-order it now!

With all that comes copy edits, page proofs and promotion squeezed into a very full writing schedule.  Then there’s the home front:  a husband, two kids, a house to clean, a horse and a new puppy.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

Something’s got to give.  So, with this installment, I’m taking a sabbatical from Women Unplugged for a while.  I’ll still be here commenting and supporting my writing sisters, but I just won’t be blogging on this site for the time being.

Monday Night Romance revisedInstead I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to blog each week on USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog site.  Look for me there this Monday as Kim Lowe of SOS Aloha and I present Monday Night Romance, a fun look at romance books and America’s favorite fall sport:  football!  I hope you’ll stop by.  I’ll see you back here when the dust settles on my writing life in a few months!!

Peace Is the Way

Peace buttonsIn my last post, I mentioned that I had signed up for the 21-day “Expanding Your Happiness” Meditation Experience from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. It’s been an interesting 3 weeks, forcing myself to sit quietly for 20 minutes a day, while getting ready for a book launch.

One of the most memorable meditations was the one on serenity. Chopra quoted the saying, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”

With so much war in the news right now, that saying seems particularly apt. You can’t fight your way to peace. Maybe you can fight your way to domination. But the discontent will continue to stir.

The only way you can truly find peace is to make peace your starting point. To reject the idea of conflict. To live and let live.

And if that’s true, then peace is a choice.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Peace isn’t easy. Not unless everyone around you also chooses peace, which they won’t.

But the decision of whether to engage is yours. When someone disagrees with you, you can argue, or you can stop talking.

It seems I’m constantly relearning this lesson. In the echo chamber that is Facebook, I’ll occasionally try to make a point that differs by maybe five percent from what the other commenters are saying. Utter waste of time. No one cares what you think, unless you’re agreeing with them. There’s a place for discourse, but Facebook isn’t it.

Life is too short to argue with people who aren’t listening. As long as they’re not hurting anyone, let them have their opinions, even if they’re demonstrably wrong. Peace is about choosing serenity inside yourself, and engaging positively with others when you can. And when you can’t, the best use of your time is to walk away.

As the prayer says, accept the things you cannot change.

I’m still working on that one.

What about you? How do you find serenity?

Labor Day in the Garden

What are you doing this Labor Day? I’m hanging out in my garden. From vegetables to flowers, I can’t bear to say goodbye to summer but alas, fall is on its way. Fall foliage is great, and I love the brilliant burst of yellow, gold and red as much as anyone, but color is my middle name—the brighter the better. But with all the pumpkins and scarecrows crowding their way onto my doorstep, what’s a gal to do?

hidden pumpkin treasure

Fight every squash vine and straw bale she can with the power of pinch.

Pinch?

You bet. Pinch, as in pinch back those faded and dying blooms on my summer favorites, like Guinea Impatiens, geraniums, begonias… It will encourage the growth of new blooms and prolong their beauty. Give me another month, please! I’ve only a few left before the first freeze!

begonia

Of course, there is always my vegetable garden to fall back on. The first day of September marks the beginning of my fall gardening season and I am SO ready. My patio is littered with sprouts. I start them on my patio before transplanting because it’s simply too hot for these tender little darlings outside this time of year in Florida. Tomatoes and peppers like it warm, but my broccoli and kale and lettuce do not. So I give them a “cool” start under the screen.

patio sprouts by the pool

And next to the pool where I can take a dip–it is Labor Day after all!

Hope you’re enjoying yours. For my gardening friends, be sure to check out my garden blog: BloominThyme. I’ve just started a new section called “How To Grow” making it super easy to find what you’re looking for when it comes to gardening instructions. While you’re there, take a peek at the recipes! I’m sure you’ll find something to enjoy this holiday…

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