What We Should Have, What We Should Know

It turns out I’m one of those chicks who hangs onto things, like paperwork, for too long for no reason. Statements and receipts and printouts of interest. Stuff you keep because you just might need it, but then you never ever do.

During my family’s recent move this error of mine became all too clear, since I’d had several boxes filled with the stuff that we had to tote along. And so I spent a few evenings having a sorting-slash-shredding party. No better time than now to get rid of what isn’t absolutely necessary for record keeping, I say. (I’ve decided to change my ways from here forward, too.)

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Image courtesy of fotographic1980 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Among the papers I found something I’d run across some years back, made a copy of, and kept, I suppose, for inspiration or guidance. It was neat to reread the list, now that I’m on the downhill side of my third decade.

I give you:

30 Things Every Woman Should Have

and Should Know by the Time She’s 30

By 30, you should have:

  1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
  2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
  3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
  4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
  5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
  6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
  7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age—and some money set aside to help fund it.
  8. An e-mail address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account—all of which nobody has access to but you.
  9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
  10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
  11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.
  12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
  13. The belief that you deserve it.
  14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
  15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.

By 30, you should know:

  1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
  2. How you feel about having kids.
  3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
  4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
  5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
  6. The names of: the secretary of state, your great-grandmother, and the best tailor in town.
  7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
  8. How to take control of your own birthday.
  9. That you can’t change the length of your calves, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.
  10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
  11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
  12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.
  13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
  14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
  15. Why they say life begins at 30.

 

So, how do your accomplishments (as per this list) stack up? There are a few things I still need to do…

Do you think this is a fair list? There are some suggestions that don’t register on the scale of significance for me.

How else should we measure ourselves and our successes?

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See the original content HERE, courtesy Glamour.

More Book Reviews!

Here are more book recommendations for your summer reading enjoyment!

Broken Chords by Carrie Elks:Broken Chords

Lara knows she should feel lucky. Married to the man of her dreams, with a gorgeous new baby, she should be enjoying her happy-ever-after. But she never expected motherhood to be so difficult, or for her life to change so dramatically. Alex has it all: hot, tattooed looks, a beautiful wife, and a band that’s finally getting noticed. A lucrative offer of a US tour should be the icing on the cake. But as he leaves the country, distance isn’t the only thing that starts to pull their relationship apart. With half a world dividing them, Alex and Lara have to battle for a marriage they once took for granted.

While I’ve never been attracted to “band guys,” there are a whole lot of people out there who are (my daughter included). What I enjoyed about this book was the realistic view of marriage and the many ways having a child changes a relationship. Despite the heady topic, this was an entertaining and sexy read. I’ll read more of Carrie Elks for sure.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman:Where She Went

It’s been three years since the devastating accident … three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other. Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I read this sequel to If I Stay after reading the first book so my daughter and I could go see the movie together. Both are enjoyable reads (and, coincidentally, feature another “band guy”), but I hated how the first book ended (and the movie)! So many unanswered questions! This book wraps up all the questions about what happened when (or if) she stayed in a fast paced plot from Adam’s point of view. I love having the man’s take on things, so this book was a winner for me. If you haven’t read If I Stay, read it first for sure, or get both books together to avoid the frustration. You won’t be sorry. 

*Blurbs and Covers from authors’ websites.

The Keeper Shelf

rarmRomance reviewer and blogger Bobbi Dumas asked me to participate in her third annual Read a Romance Month which runs throughout the month of August.  This year’s theme is “The Joy of Romance”.  Ninety-three romance authors will share their thoughts on what brings them joy. Did I mention that there will also be lots of prizes?  You should definitely stop by the site daily.

In preparing my blog, I was going through my extensive “keeper shelf”.  You’d think that with the advent of ereaders, I wouldn’t need an actual keeper shelf.  You’d be wrong.  Part of my “joy of romance” is knowing some of my favorite books are within arms reach.  I was, however, a little surprised at the, ahem, age of some of these books.

summer rainfallOne of the books that started it all for me was this one, published by Harlequin in 1976.  It takes place in the Australian Outback and for years I dreamed of traveling to that remote part of the world and meeting my happily ever after guy.  A wealthy rancher who also happens to be a veterinarian.  Be still my teenage heart.  The pages are yellow, but that hasn’t stopped me reading it this century.  Hard to believe the book is going to be forty years old and it still resonates.

posessionsAlso among my stash is this gripping read by husband and wife novelists Judith Michael.  There’s a story behind this book.  It was my senior year in college and I lived in an on-campus apartment with three other women.  I don’t recall who bought the book (if it wasn’t me, possession is nine-tenth of the law, ladies!) but you can see who ended up with it.  I don’t remember when I read it last, but I do remember the first time.  In fact, three of us were reading it at the same time.  We’d hand it off to one another between classes, comparing notes and trying not to spoil it for the next person.  I went on to read several of the couples’ other books later on, but none of them stuck around on my keeper shelf.  I’m fairly certain that this one holds a place of honor for sentimental reasons.  I think it might be time for a reunion and re-read of the book!

Tell me about your keeper shelf?  Do any of the books have special significance?

Gone Fishin’

Sort of. I don’t know about you, but I never completely walk away from my job as a writer. I’m constantly checking email for updates and news from my readers. I’m working on edits and covers, marketing and all the hubbub that surrounds my business. I don’t mind it, because I enjoy every part of what I do. It’s a part of me. It’s what I choose to do.

fishing in the keys

However, this weekend I took a break and went fishing with the family. It was a treat and totally took me away from everything but the sun, the sea and time with my kids. We chartered a boat and headed for the Gulf stream outside the Florida Keys on the hunt for dolphin. It took several hours of trolling, but I have to say, being on the open water is one of my favorite things to do. I love it. Absolutely love it.

Between us, we managed to catch half a dozen. Not a huge number but the excitement was huge. Just ask my son. Even a can of soda couldn’t keep the little guy’s eyes open.

exhaustion in the keys

Of course the dinner menu called for dolphin. It was delicious!

fresh fish dinner

But then again, how can you go wrong with fresh fish? In my book, it doesn’t get any fresher. Speaking of books, perhaps I see a research fishing trip in my future? Handsome boat captain meets gorgeous fisherwoman?

Works for me!

A lesson in perseverance

My second novel, The Ones We Trust, comes out in less than three weeks. Three weeks! I have a million things to do before the launch, and less than three weeks to do them in. You’d think I’d be better prepared, seeing as I wrote the first draft of this book all the way back in 2009.9780778317869_TS_prd_rev

Yes, you read that right. This little baby hasn’t officially been born yet, and already she’s six years old. If she were human, she’d be walking, going to school, and reading at a third-grade level already. She’d have adult teeth! She was also the first novel I ever actually completed.

Here’s a harsh truth about getting published: hardly any writer ever sells their first book. The first one is generally considered a practice novel, the one where you learn as you go and make lots of mistakes along the way, the biggest thinking anyone would ever want to read it besides your mother. You’re supposed to write it, shove it in a box under your bed, and move on to the next one, one where you actually (kinda sorta) know what you’re doing. I was fully prepared to do that, too, except this story wouldn’t leave me alone. It kept whispering to me from under the bed. Fix me, it said. I have a story to tell.

So I rewrote it, and then I rewrote it again and again (and again). I fixed the tone and the voice, matured my main character, Abigail, deepened her backstory to intensify the conflict. I added a subplot and a whole slew of new characters. I killed my darlings and switched genres, multiple times. I lost a lot of sleep and I shed a lot of tears.

In the end, one plotline never changed—the slain soldier’s story. Though we never actually meet him on the page, The Ones We Trust is built around what, exactly, happened to him on the battlefield. His family needs to know in order to move on, and Abigail is determined to help them by uncovering the truth. This plotline was the crux of every single rewrite, a red thread leading the way.

We writers talk a lot about how some stories need to be told. This was one of them. The little story that could. It took me six years and a million wasted words, but when it hits the shelves in three short weeks, all the work will be worth it.

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