Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Operation Freedom - Free a Hero

I found out about a great organization last week and I just have to share.
Freedom Service Dogs of America.  http://www.freedomservicedogs.org/
This is a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by rescuing dogs and custom training them for individual client needs. One program they offer specifically touched my heart.  It’s called Operation Freedom.
From their website: Operation Freedom was developed to help returning war veterans and military personnel transition from active duty and combat to civilian life. Service members and veterans are placed with highly specialized service dogs that help them find a new level of independence in their post-combat life.
I was amazed by what they could train these rescue dogs to do. From opening doors, picking up dropped items, helping their owners out of bed when necessary, to even being a calming presence during a night terror.
I had no idea an organization like this existed. These men and women returning from war have given the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe. What better way to say thank you than to help them now in their time of need.
Dogs are special in so many ways. My little Westie is a stinker and keeps me on my toes, but she also fills my days with lots of unconditional love and laughter.
Please take a second to check out the site and help if you can. There are so many applicants at this time, they are having a tough time keeping up with the requests. These rescue dogs are awesome, but it does take about six months or so to train them and the applicants need them ASAP. It’s so sad to think the government won’t step in and help out when these returning heroes should be a number one priority.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

This New Technology Rocks!

Now I'm pretty techno challenged at times, but I know a good thing when I see it!

"Tile" the world's largest lost and found. A new way to find the things you lose. Amazing! This little device has to be the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. Sticks to just about anything. Hmmm….I’m just wondering if I would get into trouble for secretly hiding them in my kids things. You know, like their car, purse, wallet, shoes, etc. LOL  If I've peeked your interest, click the link below to see why I'm so excited and find out more.

You just have to love technology sometimes. J
 I bet some of you are wondering what the heck the mushroom pictured has to do with this little gadget. LOL Let me think a minute. Well, I guess absolutely nothing. Unless you want to compare how quickly technology changes to how fast a mushroom pops up in the middle of your perfectly groomed yard. Darn those pesky things!  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Strong Brave Heroes We Will Never Forget

My heart breaks for all those who lost loved ones in this tragic fire. Such a huge loss to their families and to their community…

Eric Marsh, 43-year-old superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
Andrew Ashcraft, 29
Robert Caldwell, 23
Travis Carter, 31
Dustin Deford, 24
Christopher MacKenzie, 30
Grant McKee, 21
Sean Misner, 26
Scott Norris, 28
Wade Parker, 22
John Percin, 24
Anthony Rose, 23
Jesse Steed, 36
Joe Thurston, 32
Travis Turbyfill, 27
William Warneke, 25
Clayton Whitted, 28
Kevin Woyjeck, 21
Garret Zuppiger, 27

If you want to do something to help, check their Facebook page or click here to reach Prescott Firefighter’s Charities.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

One Minute After Midnight by Will Graham

 Here's another great story by Will Graham!
Get your copy today!


*SHORT STORY* - From the author of SPIDER'S DANCE and "Spider's Tango" featured in "Thriller 3: Love is Murder":*

December 24, 1964

Somewhere in the Swiss Alps, a clock is ticking down.

One man stands between civilization and obliteration of the human race.

Who - or what - will be left standing.... ONE MINUTE AFTER MIDNIGHT?

Don't know about you, but I've got chills just reading the blurb! LOL

**Here's a link to make it easy:  http://www.amazon.com/One-Minute-After-Midnight-ebook/dp/B00COBMOG6/ref=la_B005D9EFWM_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1368117006&sr=1-8


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just Say No?

You can find me blogging here today:
Eat Read Rate

Stop by, say hi and tell us if you find saying "NO" an easy or difficult task. :)

Funny Photo from my Trip to Round Top, Texas


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Easter!

Hope everyone has a Wonderful and Blessed Easter!

It was a beautiful day here in Spring today, although it started off a bit chilly. I finally got around to washing off the front porch that was covered in layers of yellow pollen. Gosh, I hate that stuff. Now I can't wait to start planting new flowers and get everything ready so I can sit outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

With signs of spring in the air and Easter right around the corner, I've been thinking about the origin of the so called Easter Bunny. Where on earth did this come from? A bunny who delivers eggs? Seriously?  I’ve never heard it explained and after asking several people who gave me that “I have no idea” look I decided to Google it. Very interesting subject.

It appears that this tradition dates back as far as the 1600s in Alsace and Southwestern Germany. The German settlers introduced this legendary character when they arrived in Pennsylvania during the 1700s. Edible Easter Bunnies were made in the shape of sugary pastries in Germany during the 1800s as a part of their Easter celebration where tales were told of the “Easter hare” who laid eggs for the children to find.

Another story links the Easter Bunny to an ancient Pagan legend where Goddess Eostre rescued a wounded bird in a snowy forest during the winter season and turned it into a rabbit to help it survive the chilly winter. Hence the reason the rabbit still can lay eggs. (Well now that makes sense) To show its gratitude for being saved, the rabbit then decorated its eggs in bright colors to present to the deity every spring.

I find it fascinating how traditions and customs are started and how they evolve over the years. I know I’ve enjoyed more than my share over the years of watching the kid’s eyes light up when they see that the Easter Bunny’s made a visit. Now it's the frustration on their faces as they search and search. We make them work for those eggs now. LOL

Amongst the fun and excitement, my hope for everyone this year is that the true and glorious reason we celebrate Easter will touch your heart in a very special way.

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6 NLT)

I don't know about you, but spending time with my family, enjoying the beautiful weather and knowing that no matter what happens, our future is safe and secure forever in the one who gave the ultimate gift puts an extra skip in my step.  Not to mention a whole lot of love in my heart. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Introverts Need Love Too

Walking into a room full of strangers can be more than a little intimidating for just about anyone, but for an introvert it can be downright brutal.

Email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media are a lifesaver for those like me. But sometimes there is no alternative but to put yourself out there and mingle. So how does one go about this without having a complete melt down?

For me it's never easy, but I have found a few tips that help get me through.

* Go with a Goal - Commit to meeting 2 new people. Learn something new about the host or program.
* Ask yourself why you're there? - Is it for fun? Marketing? To Learn?
* Don't just stick with people you know. - This one is the hardest, but branching out and meeting someone new can be a great confidence builder.
* Be aware of your body language. - Avoid standing with your arms crossed over your chest. You want to be approachable. Shy people can often come off as uninterested or snobbish, but it is so not true. Terrified is a better description. LOL
* Make eye contact and smile. - A wonderful way to help calm nerves.

I won't lie. Even with preparation, it's never easy to put myself out there. And talking in front of groups of people is the worst. Not sure I'll ever get a handle on that one.

But I'm determined to keep on trying.  Just call me a glutton for punishment. :)

So if you see someone standing alone, or looking uncomfortable, they're probably an introvert trying to find their way. Taking the time to just walk over and say hello can help break the ice and make all the differene in the world.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Authors, Writers and Readers Together at Last!

I'd like to share two great new websites that will go live on February 18, 2013. They are for readers, writers and authors! This is the vision of two awesome ladies from my writing chapter here in Houston. Waving at you Stella and Jan. :)

Eat Read Rate is an Interactive Book Club.  The goal? Bring authors and readers together.
They have a group for people who want to receive notices and give suggestions for book club events, book signings, or author meet n' greets. How about setting up a Skype with your favorite author? Or setting up a dinner, or wine and cheese event where you can ask your favorite authors quesitons?

Lots of great things in the works!

***Click on the Meet Up Link below to find other readers with similar interests!

Meet Up Link

Check out their other site too!
It's a Hub for Writers and Readers.

Need to find other writers in your area? How about a critique partner, or writer's conference? All Things Words is a one stop hop for all your writing questions and needs. Write Romance, Paranormal, Historical, Suspense, Mystery, Sci-Fy, Young Adult, or a mixture of genres? This site is for you.  

What about a book club for readers, or a book signing in your area? How about new releases? Readers look no further! :)

The possibilities are endless!

Hop on over and check it out!
You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Dragon Empire BLog Tour - Heather McCorkle

Welcome Heather!

Today we're celebrating the release of Heather McCorkle's fantasy novel, The Dragon Empire! For today's stop Heather is answering the following question:

What was the hardest part about writing this novel?

Heather: The main character has been bullied his entire life and lives in constant fear of beatings that are getting so bad, they may one day kill him. At twenty years old, that's a long time to put up with such abuse and it has severely damaged his self-esteem and confidence. Writing that was hard, and heartbreaking in many ways.

Here is a bit about it:

On Yacrana dragons are the advanced species. But advanced doesn't always mean civilized...

There's trouble in the Dragon Empire, the kind that could start a war between dragons and the races of people. Hidden factions of dragons believe they should rule the lesser races, not simply stand aside and allow them to develop as they will. Having lived so long in peace, the Emperors turn a blind eye, many oblivious that such attitudes even exist.

Despite being only an architect class, emerald dragon, Grendar is willing to risk banishment and death to stop that which his rulers refuse to see. The hope of peace lies not within the scaled breast of a dragon however, but within the hands of a group of people. But if the hidden factions have their way, these people won’t live to fulfill such a destiny. With a reluctant seer at his side, Grendar must leave his precious Empire for the outside world to save those that will one day save his kind.

While The Dragon Empire is for ages young adult and up, it does contain mild violence and some difficult subject matter. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Good-bye FEAR

FEAR: An emotion everyone at some point in their lives has felt and dealt with.

We can try to hide from our fears or refuse to acknowledge them for awhile, but it won't be long before they sneak back in, surprising us when we least expect it.

FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear is a good emotion when used as it was intended-to keep us safe from physical harm. But somewhere along the line, it turned into an emotion we let rule over us at times. The fear of the unknown is brutal. The fear of failure paralyzing. The good news?

We can overcome fear!

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face... we must do that which we think we cannot.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don't sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
Dale Carnegie

Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back.
Babe Ruth

I for one struggle with doubts and the fear of failure and I've had some pretty hard hits lately. There are so many ready and waiting to tell us why we can't or shouldn't do something. I have no idea what pleasure they get out of destroying someone else's dreams, but I think it has alot to do with their own fears and inabiltiy to deal with them.

A new strategy to overcome and move past this fear?

Simply step out boldly, knowing that we are in control of our own destiny. We get to make the decisions that affect us and our dreams. We get to decide on our own time frame. We are the only ones who know what works for us and what doesn't. A direction or route that worked for one person, may not for another, and it's okay. Successful people step out in faith and confidence in their own abilities. They don't let the criticism of others alter their paths.

They've figured out the secret to happiness.  

Do what you love and love what you do! :)

The last paragraph from a school essay my middle daughter wrote recently says it all.

"It is important to be who you want to be. Do what you want to do. Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

Wise words from a sixteen year old, don't you think? LOL
I think I'll go hug her now! :)


Friday, February 1, 2013

It's Puppy Love!

New puppy is now eight months old. Yeah! We've made it through the potty training, although it was touch and go there for a while. Now it's the chewing stage that's about to drive me crazy. Not to mention what it's doing to my writing time.

This puppy is part goat, I swear! She eats rocks, bricks, flower pots, cardboard boxes, plastic of any kind, and my worst nightmare, my walls and parts of the house.

Seriously? Why? I just can't imagine that any of this stuff taste good. And she's lost all her puppy teeth, so she's not teething.

We've had several puppies over the years, but this one takes the cake. Love her energetic personality and her desire to be snuggled up against you. But I'm exhausted, I tell ya! LOL

I've had so many deja vous moments it's not even funny. The not sleeping. The crying. The constant need to eat every waking moment. Me not getting anything done until puppy sleeps.  It's like having a brand new baby in the house again. Thankfully, there are no diapers to change.

And to think. I only have two years and four months to go.

Oh, Joy!

It's a good thing she's so lovable! And talk about great research. The unbelievable material I'm collecting will be great for a YA book someday.  :)

Sure hope I'm not in a straight jacket by then. LOL


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Time to Change the Channel

Our brains have a huge negativity bias!

Really? Do tell.

Here’s a quote from the article I read: 


Evolution has given us a brain with what scientists call a “negativity bias” that makes it prone to feeling threatened. This bias developed because the ancient mammals, primates, and early humans that were all mellow and fearless did not notice the shadow overhead or slither nearby that CHOMP! killed them. The ones that survived to pass on their genes were nervous and cranky, and we are their great-grandchildren, sitting atop the food chain, armed with nuclear weapons. Your brain is continually looking for bad news. As soon as it finds some, it fixates on it with tunnel vision, fast-tracks it into memory storage, and then reactivates it at the least hint of anything even vaguely similar. But good news gets a kind of neural shrug: “uh, whatever.
**In effect, the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.

Okay, so this mean the negative experiences and emotions get more attention than positive ones. Well, poo. It sure explains a lot in my world.  I can be having the best day ever and then Wham! I check my son’s grades, or I read a negative review, or someone cuts me off in traffic or new puppy chews up another wall. Yep, afterward that’s all I can think about for the next few hours or longer. But if Negative emotions take up more space in our brains and make us focus on bad experiences instead of the good, what are we supposed to do? It’s clear we need to find a way to balance it all out. But that’s easier said than done, right?

There is no doubt in my mind that the key to happiness and success in our careers, friendships, and even our marriages relies on our ability to search out and cling to the positive experiences in our lives verses the negatives ones.

 The negative stuff will always be there—it always has. But so will the positive stuff. All we need to do is learn or train ourselves to change the channel in our brains. That’s right. When something negative happens or we get a bit of bad news, we have to switch over to a good memory or a positive experience and focus on it until there is no remnant of the bad left.

I sure wish it didn’t take longer to change a bad habit than it does to create a new good one.  LOL

A new resolution for 2013. 

Be positive in the face of adversity, preserve when times are toughest, and resist those who insist it can’t be done!

I CAN do this! J


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Journey Never Ends

For years I tried writing on my own.  I mean most writers write alone, but I wasn’t a part of a group and didn’t know anyone else who shared my dream.  It was such a lonely place to be, I still wonder how I managed to finish that first manuscript. But I’m so glad I did. The feeling of typing those last few words was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. J  Finding someone to share in my enthusiasm was a totally different story.

My bubble of joy burst quickly as I looked for agents and publishers I thought would love to add my book to their long lists of bestsellers. I sent in the required information and then waited.  And waited.  And waited.  When the first rejection came I was disappointed, but still held out hope.  Maybe this publisher was just having a bad day.  Then the second rejection came and the third and by the fourth I was pretty heartbroken. I still had no contact with other writers, little support at home, mainly because I hadn’t exactly told hubby what I was doing, and I started to think about just giving up. I mean no one would even know I failed.

No one but me.

I discovered Romance Writers of America online by accident and started looking for local chapters around my area. There were three. One was so close it was scary. After doing a little research on this chapter, I found out they were holding their annual contest and I still had time to enter before the deadline. Sending in my entry was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I was desperate to see what kind of feedback I would get. When the results came back it wasn’t pretty at all. The disappointment and frustration almost wore me down.  But something inside wouldn’t let me toss in the towel just yet.

I tried to reason with myself. Maybe that wasn’t the right story. So I decided to keep going and start something new. After finishing the second manuscript, I knew I had what it took to get the stories out of my head and down on paper. Now all I needed was a bit of work on my craft and a lot of knowledge on how the publishing industry really worked. My mind made up, I set out to check out the RWA chapter I’d sent my entry to in person.

Geesh… and I thought sending in my entry was hard. Going to that first meeting all alone was downright brutal. Sweating bullets, I sat in the car trying to talk myself out of it for a while, but again that little voice inside wouldn’t go away.

Try it. Go in for a few minutes. If you don’t like it you can always leave.

From the moment I walked through the doors, the people were awesome!  Friendly, exciting and they shared the same dream. Wow! I knew right then and there I’d never be the same. And it was a good thing!
A few gems every new writer needs to know:

The learning never ends.

Critique partners are priceless.

Doubts are part of the process.

There is no one size fits all in writing.

You must carve out your own path, dig in and follow your dreams.

And the most important one of all,

Never Give up!

My one and only regret is that I wish I’d have found these out sooner!  I’ve made so many new friends both online and local and just knowing others not only share my struggles, but also the joys of writing as well is so dang awesome I’m getting all teary eyed just thinking about it now.

No matter where you are in your journey, or what your journey may be, please don't try going it alone. The internet opens up so many doors. Search for others who love what you love. Join them. Learn from them. Share with them.

Dream big and then make it happen!



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pantser vs Plotter

First a definition of what the two mean to me:

Panster – one who writes by the seat of their pants. Their stories start with an enticing incident, set of characters or maybe just a location. Then the writer writes and discovers the plot along the way. A Panstser enjoys the thrill of the chase, the adventure and excitement of watching the story evolve before their eyes. I get excited just thinking about this one!

Plotter– the organized writer. One who has an outline, detailed character sketch, has done their research and knows where their story is going. They focus on structure, planning and details.

Some may say being a pantser leads to frequent writer’s block or unnecessary ramblings as they try to figure out which way to take their story. I say, not for me. I’ve tried several times over the years to outline and plot. This has led me into the perilous pit of writer’s block every single time. I feel trapped inside a box and my muse refuses to work under these conditions.
Like all creative processes, there is no one right way to write. Experimenting is the best thing to do to see which way works best for you. I even have writer friends who combine the two. A little pantsing here and a little plotting there is the key that opens the creative vault for them.

  A few secrets I've unlocked for those times when the writing becomes a struggle:

* Walk away for awhile.  A break, days or even weeks, can be the perfect solution to stir up those creative juices again.

*Write out a scene in long hand. That's right, using a pen or pencil and plain old paper can work wonders.

*Met up with other writers for some fun brainstorming. (my favorite!)

Okay, break time over! Now back to my own WIP. I’m dying to find out if the Nanny is hiding something. Is she working with the bad guys or has fate just dealt her a poor hand. 

This is where I left off in the last scene:

           “Well, Miss Cooper, I think you’ve answered all my questions for now. It’s been nice talking with you.” He stood, extending his hand to her. “I’ll be in touch within the next two days. I don’t foresee any problems, but I must check references. You understand.”
Of course,” she said, laying the folder on the coffee table in front of them next to the untouched food, he’d offered and she’d declined. “I would think less of you if you didn’t. Children are our most precious gifts.” She met him eye-to-eye and smiled. “We must protect them.” An eerie distant longing flickered in the depths of her dark eyes.
Odd, he thought. Not only her reaction, but the color of her eyes at that moment. Darker now in the sunlight filtering through the blinds. He’d never seen this shade of brown before and it had him wondering about her heritage. Not that it mattered or something he felt appropriate to ask about now that the interview was over, but he wanted to know. People’s origins had always fascinated him.  He made a mental note to find out where she’d inherited these unusual eyes.
“I’ll check your references and get back with you,” he said, nodding down at the folder. “Thanks again for your time.” He led her back to the front door wondering why she hadn’t asked anymore questions of her own. Like how many children she would be responsible for or what sex they were. He filed it away under to-be-dealt-with-later. The last thing he wanted was to ruin this moment of excitement over possibly finding the perfect Nanny for Stephanie.

Friday, January 11, 2013

"Chance for Freedom" by Tess St. John

Here's one for all you Historical fans! Tess St. John will capture your heart and have you wanting more. This is the second book in the Chances Are series. I loved "Second Chances" and can't wait to read this one!
Tess was one of the first people I met when I attended my first RWA chapter meeting way back in January, 2007. I will never forget how welcome she made me feel. Taking that big step in my career and joining other writers was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Well, that and actually letting someone else read my work. LOL Tess has also been a great critique partner over the years and I must say, her insight, comments and suggestions have always been spot on, making my stories so much better in the long run.
Wishing you tons of sales, Tess!
Haunted from his years of service to The West Africa Squadron, where he endeavored to stop the trafficking of slaves, Captain Malcolm Westbourne is assigned to the disappearances of orphans in England.

Miss Katherine Ashby is thrilled when Malcolm arrives to protect her orphans, but her happiness is short-lived when he insists on an explanation of why she rejected his courtship a year ago. Katherine is falling in love with Malcolm, but must confront what happened to her as a child if she desires a future with him.

Malcolm had never experienced the instant attraction he felt when first being introduced to Katherine, but he also sees the fear in her eyes. He pursues her with kindness, humor, and patience in an attempt to gain her trust.

When Malcolm’s investigation turns deadly, he, too, must face the demons of his past. Will Katherine and he break free from the shackles binding them and learn to trust each other, or will they be held prisoner to the past forever?
Links to buy:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

In With the New, Out with the Old

2013 is off and running and I'm still trying to figure out how 2012 flew by so quickly.

It was a busy year. One with many new challenges and many new victories as well. Both in my personal life and my writing career. Most are just typical mommy accomplishments, but these are a few I'm really proud of. :)

I survived two bunion surgeries over the summer and family learned to do for themselves.
Published a short story, finished edits and published full length novel.
Sold enough copies of my first novel, Faithful Deceptions, to become PAN (Romance Writers of America's published Author Network)
Finaled in the Reader's Favorite Award contest with Target of Betrayal.
Finished NanoWriMo with a little over 50K words.
Helped middle daughter complete drivers ed and get her license.
Oldest daughter headed to Texas State in the fall.
And last but not least, got a new puppy.

I have no idea what all my goals were at the beginning of 2012. Seems I've lost my list. LOL But looking back now, I'm content.

Now to make 2013 even better!

Habits I hope to break:

Worrying so much about the kids
Trying to please everyone
Checking sales figures
Procrastinating when I should be writing
Doubting everything

That should keep me busy. LOL

Best of luck to you in the New Year!
Dare to Dream and Make it Happen!!