Summer’s End

Halloween is almost upon us. In our house, we’re attempting to avoid the temptation of those itsy-bites of delicious Halloween chocolate bars. Instead our time is filled work and family…but what else is new? :)

Fall arrived, and with it, Mom came home from the hospital. Her arrival home coincided with a visit from our European cousins who spent the first two weeks of their Canadian vacation cruising through the mountains, and arrived at our house for the September long weekend. After they left, it snowed, and they got caught in Calgary in about six inches of snow.

Obviously they didn’t believe me when I told them that our late August, early September weather could be rather unpredictable. Here’s a picture from the kitchen of our youngest son’s house.

Surprise snowfall

Fortunately for us, the snow melted, the temperatures climbed, and we’ve been alternating between summer-like weather and the coolness of fall. Our trees have dropped most of their leaves by now, with only a few stubborn ones hanging to the branches.

Here’s a gorgeous picture of the mountain ash tree in our front yard.

Sheila's mountain ash


And a picture of the boy’s yard and the piles of leaves we’ve gathered there.

Raking leaves

My mom is recovering beautifully from her knee operation. We’ve finally figured out where the boy inherited his ramjet personality from. She’s determined to do almost everything herself, but with her knee still healing, at least she’s resisted the urge to climb the tree in her backyard.

I hope you’ve all had as an amazing fall in your part of the world. I also hope our fall weather continues well into the winter months.

An early happy Halloween to you all!

Life is a Blessing

I read the following blog post last Thursday, written by Chris Norton, the young man whose story I have the privilege of turning into a book. This post exemplifies the best of human nature. His life changed four years ago without any warning or any time to prepare. Instead of wallowing in grief and dismay, he considers every day a blessing and teaches others how to do the same.life

If this post resonates with you, do yourself a favor and read his blog and follow his journey. You won’t be sorry!

Today, marks the four year anniversary of my spinal cord injury and I think it is a good time to reflect on everything. However, I do not need a date or anniversary to remind me of the event that took place four years ago as I am reminded every morning when I wake up in need of assistance to get out of bed.

At times it all seems insurmountable, but I constantly remind myself of where I have come from. I went from the most prime shape of my 18 years of life to having no mobility, no independence; I had hit rock bottom, but to see where I am now feels like so much more than what I had as that 18 year old athlete. I have acquired a greater appreciation for the little things that I could have never gained until my injury. Simple things like feeding yourself or brushing your own teeth.

I have found my purpose in life. Helping others with disabilities and motivational speaking. I’m in a better place in life now than I have ever been before.

October 16, 2010, seems like an eternity ago. In all honesty, I feel reborn like I am living a second life, one lifetime pre-injury and another post-injury. I do not reflect on this day in mourning but in appreciation and happiness like one would view a birthday. It is a day that started something special in my life. In fact, I couldn’t be more happy than where I am now. I have a loving supportive family, the kindest girlfriend, and the most loyal friends. I have my mind, my strength, and my will. With these things with me I feel that anything is possible. And for that I am forever grateful.

My message to everyone: appreciate the little things in life and do not take anything for granted. Do not wait until something is taken from you to appreciate it. Life is a blessing, do not waste your time stressing over it!
Chris Norton
CBS 2011 Courage in Sports Award Recipient
Motivational Speaker
Founder SCI CAN Foundation
scicanfoundation.com

Navy Blue Stripes via photopin cc

Get Ready for NaNoWriMo!

keyboard and coffeeNovember is National Novel Writing Month, better known as  NaNoWriMo. The goal is to quick draft 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days, which comes out to about 1,667 words a day. That’s roughly two hours of writing per day, if you don’t stop and edit your work. NaNoWriMo is about unleashing your muse, hammering out a manuscript, and giving your internal editor a month’s vacation.

To maximize writing time during NaNoWriMo, it’s best to do some prep work. The organization’s website has got some great tools for planning your novel. Other sites offer tips for establishing good writing habits and increasing your productivity.

This year, since I’m currently writing novellas, my goal is to complete two 25,000-word novellas in November. Will I make it? Time will tell.

Whether you’re already writing fiction or have always wanted to, NaNoWriMo is a good way to set a challenging but achievable goal, and create a first draft that you can mold from raw clay into a masterpiece. Why not give it a try?

What are your plans for NaNoWriMo?

Happy Columbus Day!

In the spirit of Columbus and discovering new places, my family and I went to visit the Jupiter Inlet lighthouse, a 108-foot tower officially lit on July 10, 1860. Rich in history, the climb to the top offered some incredible views and played a crucial role throughout several wars.

photo

During the Civil War, the inlet was used as a thorough fare for the Confederates to ship in supplies. When the North found out, they used the lighthouse to “shine the light” on the Confederates and take them out as they passed through. Didn’t take the South long to figure this one out, and they ensued with battle, reclaiming the lighthouse and their supply route.

During World War II, merchant ships carried war supplies and fuel to our troupes in Europe. They left the port of New Orleans, traveled near the Jupiter coast, where German submarines sat right outside the inlet, armed with torpedoes to sink them.

photo jupiter view

US Military used the lighthouse to create Station J—a secret operation designed to intercept U-boat radio messages and tip-off U.S. forces to attack enemy vessels. Tuning into the frequencies used by the U-boats, Station J was able to pinpoint the locations of the submarines, which would surface every night to charge their batteries and send their locations and weather reports back to Germany. As a result, the US aircraft was able to seemingly come out of nowhere and attack the subs, ending the German dominance of the Atlantic.

Speaking of discovering new things, as we climbed the narrow passageway up to the top of the lighthouse, I learned that my daughter doesn’t like high places. Her white-knuckled grip as she hugged the tower behind her gave it away. Who knew?

photo jupiter beach

I guess it’s not every day you find yourself a 108 feet in the air… While she won’t be heading back up any time soon, we had fun and the views were incredible. If you’re ever in South Florida, make a point to stop and visit Jupiter. From the blue-water beaches to the brick-red lighthouse views, it makes for a memorable trip.

 

Lessons learned from a book launch

My debut, The Last Breath, has been out in the world for almost two weeks now. Anyone who has ever written a book will tell you, it’s a long, hard road with lots of bumps and twists. (Did I mention long? Did I mention the bumps and twists?)

But then after forever and all of a sudden, that day is here, your baby has finally made it onto bookstore shelves, that moment you’ve been dreaming about and working for and planning is really happening, and it’s everything you thought it would be and at the same time, completely not.

Here’s a few lessons I learned…

1. The world doesn’t stop. The dogs still need to be walked, the kids still complain there’s nothing to eat in the house, the laundry doesn’t get up and do itself. It’s your special day, but unless you put on a princess dress and tiara, nobody’s really going to notice or care.

2. Except on social media. Your twitter feed will blow up. Your Facebook notifications will ding at you all day. Here’s where you get to pull on that princess dress and tiara, only it’s virtual.

3. Amazon rankings are updated every hour, and they exist to make you crazy. Do not obsess about them. Do not compare yourself to other authors in your genre and wonder why theirs are higher, when your book is so clearly better. Whatever you do, do not refresh that page!

4. Nine out of ten readers are awesome. They are kind and thoughtful and careful with their words. They will gush and say all the right things about the baby you spent so many months crafting. But there will also be trolls. Do not engage with them! In fact, scroll right past their mean ol’ review, because just like the Amazon rankings, they exist to make you crazy.

5. Throw a party. Invite all those friends who’ve let you rant in their ears and cry on their shoulders, and feed them snacks and wine. They will come out for you in droves, and they will buy five copies of your book and tell all their friends to do the same. The bookstore will sell out and have to order (gasp!) more. But on your special night, your friends will bring you flowers and champagne and shower you with compliments, and you will feel like a real, live princess. With a tiara!

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