Monthly Archives: March 2014

Spring Has Sprung

With the arrival of March 20th, Spring is here! For us in California, we are finally FINALLY getting the rain that perhaps just might keep us from an upcoming drought. But the weather people say that no matter what, there’s no way (given what’s “normal” for California) we’ll have enough water for the Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Which brings us to conservation. We Californians already know what it’s like to go through a drought, i.e. low flow toilets, only one shower a day, no watering lawns, no washing cars, no brushing teeth and running the water at the same time. Need I go on? We’re aware what we have to do when Mother Nature doesn’t step up to the plate.

In reality, we should always take care not to “waste”, no matter what it is, right? I grew up hearing about the “starving people in Africa” and I’m betting many of you did as well. That old saying, “waste not, want not” is embedded in my brain forever.

So now California not only has a reputation for not having enough clean water to sustain us for long, but we also have those dreaded earthquakes. Everyone who’s NOT from here is scared to death of ever experiencing one. Whereas many of us here think twisters and tornados and floods are anathema to a “normal” life.

Actually I love California. Yes, we have our problems, but it’s a wonderful place to live.

What say you?

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A LITTLE YOGA BREAK

I love yoga. I love the flexibility, the deep breathing, and the peace it brings me. For the hour I practice the poses, my mind is focused on the singular task of performing the routines, which helps enhance my focus when I’m at the computer working.

maya-fiennesA couple of years ago, I discovered Maya Fiennes book, Yoga for Real Life, and her Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVD, and these quickly became part of my exercise program. Maya teaches Kundalini Yoga which “awakens awareness”. It is the oldest form of yoga and uses meditative focus, breath work, and chanting.

Recently I found this DVD available on YouTube, along with a couple of other cool features from this yoga teacher. Turn on your sound and enjoy the background music. It’s written and performed by Maya, who is also a classical pianist and performer. If you’re interested in trying it, this program runs about sixty minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THX9jKPEMGs

However, if you want a quick routine to energize you, Maya also offers something different, a free style five minute routine that will totally get you moving and make you smile. If you don’t have time to check out the other links, make sure you check out this one because it’s super cool and fun!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI0q1nG7BN4

Or if you just want to lie back and relax, here is one of her songs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V05RKa1ohf4

Visit Maya’s website where you can learn more about Kundalini yoga.

Have you ever considered doing yoga or meditation? What about the practices appeals or doesn’t appeal to you?

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program…

Last week was a whirlwind for the Hayes family. The oldest left Saturday for a mission trip (his first) in Guatemala and the youngest left Sunday for a mission trip (her first) in Tennessee. While the kids were off forging memories and helping to change lives, the hubs and I scooted away to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a late anniversary celebration.

Honeymoon Beach

Honeymoon Beach

The whole week prior as I struggled to pack both kids for very different locations, I kept thinking, “What are we doing? We should just stay home. We could get so much stuff done around the house we’ve put off. And the kids…” Thankfully, it was too late to cancel the reservations because St. John is a beautiful, mountainous island with white sand beaches, friendly people, and near perfect weather. We spent a day boating with our captain, Delbert. We hiked. We relaxed by the pool with the ocean just steps away. We went to a pristine beach and lounged under the shade of mangrove trees.

Indulgent? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely! Sometimes married folks (or those in long-term relationships) get so lost in the daily grind that they forget what brought them together in the first place. A little reminder of why you said, “I do,” before the kids and the mortgage came along never hurt anyone. Thank goodness I ignored my practical nature because after five days alone with my husband, I’m looking even more forward to the next twenty (or more) years together.

Our beach buddy. Yes, that is a rooster.

Our beach buddy. Yes, that is a rooster.

We’re home now, all of us from our adventures, and Mama’s happy to have all her chicks back under one roof. When was the last time you took the time to get away with your someone special?

The Times They Are a Changin’!

meet the authorThroughout the last few months, I’ve noticed things getting very contentious within the publishing industry.  Change is to be expected and I’m all for the advancement of society.  But while the paradigm within the industry has been shifting for nearly a decade, it seems that lately things are getting more and more heated.  What I’m finding most troubling is that everyone feels they have to take a side:  self publishing versus traditional publishing.  And with taking sides comes the bashing of one another, the misrepresentation of data and the huge schism of mistrust.

At a workshop earlier this month, I equated this issue with the whole “working mother versus stay-at-home mom” debate.  It’s becoming emotional and it rankles.  A lot.

The bottom line, though, is that we all want to write; to get our words, our books, before readers.  Few of us will become rich through this process, but the sense of pride an author feels when they see their book in print or on a reader’s e-reader can’t be quantified.  It’s the issue of how we get our story to readers that seems to be splintering the industry the most.  And writers aren’t the only ones feeling the strain.  Agents and booksellers are also trying to figure out how to reinvent themselves in this constantly evolving industry.  They are feeling the emotional toll as well.

I was delighted when the Southern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA) invited authors and indie booksellers to a team building/market awareness exercise in Atlanta earlier this month.  It gave both groups a chance to discuss ways to navigate the changing terrain.  We started by dividing up into teams for a cooking challenge similar to something you’d see on Top Chef.

Team "For Whom the Dinner Bell Tolls"

Team “For Whom the Dinner Bell Tolls”

Our lunch!

It was a lot of fun and I can tell you we were all happy to finally sit down and eat our lunch after the stress of preparing it!

Afterwards, we spent the afternoon discussing how indie booksellers and authors—both indie and traditionally published—can work together to strengthen one another.  I came away feeling better about my path as a writer and even more energized about supporting my local indie bookstore. Despite the rise in digital content, there is still a very viable role local bookstores can and should play in today’s publishing market. Authors who overlook this are shooting themselves in the foot.

Indie bookstores are actively looking for ways to support self published authors by promoting their work. They are developing a la cart promotional opportunities for authors to purchase in order to reach a greater audience. But those same authors need to understand that these booksellers are small businesses, too. They are being inundated by indie authors who want their books carried in stores and booksellers have to pick and choose which authors to work with.  Authors who’ve done their homework and know what kinds of terms to offer for the sale of their books rise to the top of the pile quickly.  It goes without saying that those who are courteous of the bookseller’s time by sending an email, an advanced reader copy, or letter will also catch the bookseller’s attention.  And the big no-no:  Don’t go in an indie bookstore and tell folks they can buy your book on Amazon!  Sadly, that’s happening.

No one knows what the future will bring within the publishing industry, but I think we’ll all survive to see the other side if we keep sight of the most important aspect:  the book.  In the end, it’s all about having good books to read.

On Daffodils and Dishes

Daffodils 2014Some days it’s no fun being an adult. I have to take a shower and get dressed when I’d rather lounge in my jammies. I have to make an appointment to get the car inspected. I have to wash the dishes every single day, without end. Whose idea was this adulthood thing, anyway?

I miss the endless summers of childhood, the hours of roaming through the fields until we got hungry, only to go back outside after sating ourselves on bologna and Velveeta cheese sandwiches. Those really were simpler times, when kids didn’t have gadgets to substitute for their imaginations.

But when I was little, childhood felt like a prison to me. I was trapped following someone else rules, unable to make my own decisions. I couldn’t wait to grow up. My eighteenth birthday was one of the happiest days of my life.

It’s easy to get nostalgic and forget that kids don’t have it easy, either. Growing up is tough. Figuring out who you are, and how you fit into the world outside your family. Seeing how far you can push the boundaries toward autonomy and personhood without getting into trouble.

I wouldn’t go back, not even when I’ve got a sink full of dishes that aren’t going to wash themselves. But there’s nothing to stop me from spending a Saturday romping in the fields, or substituting cold cuts and processed cheese for a cooked meal once in a while.

Being an adult doesn’t mean you have to work all the time. It doesn’t mean you have to be responsible all the time. It doesn’t mean you can’t play.

I’ve got a full-time job and I’m pursuing a career as a novelist, so it’s hard to justify taking time to simply enjoy life. But if I don’t, I won’t have anything interesting to write about. Great fiction comes as much from the world outside the window as the world inside your head.

So while I’m scheduling my car inspection, I’m also going to schedule some time to play in the dirt, to breathe the fresh air, to cut some daffodils and bring them into the house. It’s been a long winter. It’s time to enjoy the spring.

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