Bucket List

I’ve recently had another reminder that our time here is limited, which is why it’s SO incredibly important for each one of us to live each day to the fullest, the way WE want to live it.  That being said, I’ve thought a lot about what I want to have, be, or do before my time is up, and I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 things that I would like to accomplish in the next few years.  I’d love to hear YOUR goals!  Leave a comment below, or on Facebook or Twitter!

1.  (The Obvious) Write and Publish a book that readers will love.  This goal is currently in the works, and I am SO excited about it.  The book is written, and it’s currently in the editing process.  I should have the manuscript back in a couple of weeks, then I will be working very hard to review my editor’s feedback, approve the edits, and do any necessary rewrites based on her feedback.  I want more than anything for my book NOT to suck.  Which means I will be doing everything I can do to make it awesome!

2.  Drive a Racecar.  I like to drive fast.  In the summertime, when the windows are open at my house, I hear the zoom of the race cars from the Milwaukee Mile.  Someday, I WILL enjoy the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience!

3.  Spend more time with kids, husband, family, and friends.  Something happens when you become a parent.  You start to lose touch with friends, and everything you do is in support of your children.  Responsibilities build, and build, and build, until there is no room left for fun.  One thing that was mentioned time and time again, as I was studying how to write, is how incredibly important it is to “show” vs “tell” in your writing.  The same is true in life.  I’ve realized in the last year is that if I want my children grow up happy, I need to show them how.   And happiness for me, is having fun with my loved ones.  Like Ed Foreman says, “Life is for laughing, loving, and living! It’s not just for whining, worrying, and working!”

4.  Visit Europe.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.  The history and culture over there is intriguing to me.  I don’t even really care which country I visit, to be quite honest, they’re all rich in history and culture.  I think this will be the most difficult of my goals to reach.

5.  Move into a different house.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my home, and I’m grateful to have a roof over my head.  It’s been home for 10 years, and it’s full of wonderful memories!  And honestly, I could live here forever if it means being able to spend money on fun experiences instead.  If/when I ever do move, I’ll probably cry from grief of losing my home.  Let’s just say, 2 bedrooms and 900 square feet can be quite cozy for a 4 person family sometimes, that’s all.  One good thing about a small home though…I know my kids business.  One bad thing…They know my business.

Something Worth Publishing

In my last post, I mentioned that as a new writer, I have not yet written anything worth publishing.

My mother quickly brought to my attention that I have, in fact, written something which has been published.

It was a 5th grade school assignment where we could write a paragraph about anything.

Like any good mother would, mine saved the original piece from the April 4th, 1989 edition of The Milwaukee Journal.  Here it is:

001

Little did my poor Mother know at the time, that my need for “independence” would only increase as I hit my teenage years.  Let’s just say, I pushed my limits back then, crossed a line or two, and made some “interesting” choices, for the sake of having a little bit of independence.  Now, as I read this old article, all I think about is that my daughter is mini-me, I have been in this exact same situation with her several times, and from what I hear about Karma, I’ve got some “interesting” teenage years ahead of me!

Progress

When I started writing in April, I had no idea how long it would take me to write a novel.  I had no idea of the research and thought involved, no idea how much it would consume my thoughts, and no idea how nervous I would be to share it with people.

As a new writer, one who has never really written anything worth publishing, the time spent in researching how to actually write a novel (that people will want to read) took up just as much time as actually writing it!  Actually, more…

I find writing to be interesting, fun, and intriguing, and I am learning more and more about it every day.  Regardless of how successful this book is, I plan on continuing to write after this book is finished because I have truly found passion in it.  In fact, I already have a basic plot in mind for my next book!

With my kids spending this coming weekend with the Grandparents, my plan is to hopefully finish my debut novel by the end of the weekend.  I have given what I have written so far to a few key beta readers, and once I get their feedback, I will edit accordingly before sending it out for the final edit.

I am SO happy to say that my old high school friend, who is now a high school English teacher, has agreed to do the final edit!  Thank you so much Angela!

As far as publishing goes, I am still researching the best route for that, but I do know it will either be through Smashwords or Amazon.  Smashwords even has a new pre-order feature which is pretty awesome.

I feel so lucky to have such supportive family and friends and I can’t wait to share the book with you all!

Don’t forget to follow my blog by clicking on the “follow” button on the left, like my author page on facebook, follow me on twitter, and share me with your family and friends and any avid book readers you may know!

And check out my novel playlist on spotify!

What have I been doing lately?

I admit that in the past few weeks, I’ve neglected the blog a tiny bit.  I’m so sorry!  But I have been doing a lot of book-writing!  The novel is almost finished, I just have a few more scenes that are floating around in my mind that I need to get down onto an actual page.

According to my husband, the book is coming along very well!  My only hope is that everyone likes it as much as he does…

Once the first draft is complete, it will go through an editing process.  Once the editing is done I can publish!

So what have I been doing other than writing you ask?

Since my kids told me I’m no fun anymore (see previous post) I have made a point to have a lot more fun with them.  And what could be more fun than touching sting rays?

IMG_20130801_110521

The first touch was…interesting.  My poor kiddos were a little embarrassed from the attention my scream drew to us, but eh, they’ll get over it.  Who knew sting rays would be that slimy?

We’ve had a few dinners with our favorite Mariachi singers!  How sweet they are to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star en espanol for the kiddos.

IMG_20130717_180718

I’ve got to say, I’ve never had a bad experience at El Beso, their service is always incredible.  In fact, the last time we were there, as we sat next to a large group (which included several kids) at the outdoor patio, a baby bird fell from it’s nest, and the staff got their big ole’ ladder out and returned the little bird to it’s home so that all the little kids could rest assured knowing that it was safe.  Pretty touching, huh?

The food is quite delicious, too.  Tasty food.  Excellent service.  Charming Mariachi singers.  (And yummy drinks).  Can’t go wrong with that!

1150369_10201477277951951_698908678_n

And really, Summertime would not be complete without going to the lakefront at least once or twice.  And for you out-of-towners, when I say lakefront, I mean the big one.  Here’s the husband teaching the kids how to skip stones.  Moments like this truly are the best!

941219_10201300438491075_538895243_n2

Another staple of summertime?  Concerts.  My husband and I saw Hinder for the first time and despite the lead singer not being there, they put on an amazing show!  Remember my post from a few weeks ago?  The one where I talked about how the song Beautiful Day by Saving Abel inspired one of the scenes in my book?  (If not, click here)  Coincidently, Jared Weeks from Saving Abel was Hinder’s replacement singer.  I know…Spooky, right?

Maybe it was the smaller venue, but I’ve never seen a rock band show such genuine gratitude for their fans.  Meeting the band was an exciting surprise and, although brief, it was an experience I’ll remember forever.  I encourage everyone to listen to their music…because it’s good.  And for some crazy reason, the only Hinder song that I’ve ever heard on Milwaukee radio is “Lips of an Angel,” so if you want to hear their newer stuff, and you live in Milwaukee, call up the radio stations and tell them, or click here to see Hinder on youtube.

012

We had a great time at Theory of a Deadman, too!  Didn’t get to meet them though…I guess Hinder has raised the bar for me in that sense.  😉  Still, TOADM is my other favorite band, and come to think of it, I haven’t heard their music on Milwaukee radio either.  What the heck, Milwaukee?  Click here to see TOADM on youtube.

1097966_10201466997374943_1153395844_n

These are just a few of the things I’ve been able to do this summer.  But it’s not over yet!  There’s still plenty of fun to be had!

A Little Thing Called Balance

Balance.

I’ve got some questions about that.

Like, how do you do it?

How do you do it when you want to spend all your time with your kids?  And husband?  And chasing your dreams?

How do you do it  when there’s laundry and dishes and work and appointments and grocery shopping?

How do you do it when there are parties and get-togethers and extracurriculars and other “functions?”

I’ve been thinking about this incessantly for the last week or so…Ever since my kids told me I’m no fun anymore.  And I’m a fun Mom, so that hurt.

Some Solutions:

1. Prioritize.  Kids/Family first.  Dreams second.  Work third.  Parties/get-togethers fourth.  As for laundry/dishes/etc…If I get to it, I get to it.

2. Get organized.  Schedule everything – including alone time.  (This one will be tough…I’m a “take it as it comes” type person)

3. Realize it’s ok to say no sometimes.

4. Be ok with it if I make a mistake or two along the way as long as I learn from it.

Ok, to be completely honest, these steps may or may not happen.  I am in no way a supermom or superhousewife, I can’t even cook without burning something.  I’m just a person trying to make herself and her family happy.

I like to do what I want when I want to do it so the scheduling thing might not work out so well, and I hate having a stinky house and wrinkly clothes so I’m going to have to do dishes and laundry at some point.

My hope is that if I, at the very least, keep these steps in back of my mind, I will somehow metamorphasize into supermomwife and all will be well in the world.  And if I don’t become supermomwife…I’m ok with that as long as my kids think I’m fun, and I get to do a little bit of all those things I want to do.

A better solution:  Just roll with it.

If IMDb says I’m an actress, does that mean I am one?

Last fall I lost 2 people, who were close to me, to cancer.  One was an uncle-in-law, the other was a co-worker.  Both were way too young.  Both left behind young children.  I learned an extremely important, crucial, valuable lesson from them which I will forever be thankful for.

After losing them, I came to a realization.  One that everyone always talks about, but never really hit me.  Life is short.  Today really could be our very last day her on earth.  I’m young(ish)!  I have small children!  It could happen to anyone at any time.  It was a slap in the face, a light-bulb going off in my head, it was as if someone had shaken some sense into me, and I started to ask myself…If I died tomorrow, will I have been content knowing that I have done all I wanted to do in this life?

Of course not.  I would like to meet the person who says yes to that question.

So then I thought…”What do I want to do that I haven’t done?”  and I said to myself, “Being in a movie would be cool.  Other people act in movies, why can’t I?”  (This was long before writing a novel came to the forefront of my mind).

So, I did an internet search and found out that it’s very difficult to get information about an audition if you don’t have an agent.  And if you don’t have experience, an agent won’t even consider representing you.  And you can’t get experience without…Well, you know.  It’s a vicious cycle.

However, I did find an audition for an independent film, without the help of an agent.  I had a lot of fun with the cold read, and got a callback, and after the callback, I was offered a small role.  Cool, huh?

The shoot was earlier this week, and since the role was a very small one, it was very quick.  The entire process was such an incredible learning experience and I am truly, utterly, deeply grateful to have been able to do it.   Thank you to Brandon Colvin and Moss Garden Productions for giving me a chance!

For more information about the film, go to Sabbatical’s website – click here.

To see the film’s IMDb page, click here.

Here are some thoughts I have been pondering about this experience:

LESSONS LEARNED:
1. It takes a lot of people to shoot a scene in a film.
2. The cast and crew of Sabbatical are pretty freaking cool.  They know how to make a newbie feel comfortable.
3. I get nervous in front of a camera
4. I’m much better at reacting to an actual person than I am at acting at a camera
5. Ask questions!  If I don’t get something, I need to ask questions until I do.  Ask, ask ask. 
6. At the end of the day, no matter what situation I’m in, I am able to come back to a loving home, to a husband that makes me feel awesome (even when I am feeling less than awesome) and kids who make me smile and laugh.  In the grand scheme of things, this is the only thing that truly matters.
7. Those 2 special people, who taught me such an incredible lesson, will forever hold a cherished place in my heart.
THINGS TO DO:
1. Get in front of a camera more so I can get over that weird, deafening, heart-pounding thing that happens when you stick a camera in front of me (Lisa G. where are you?  I need some tips!)
2. Remember to ask questions.
3. Thank my husband and kids every day for their love, support, and encouragement while I live out my cockamamie dreams.
4. Keep bringing my cockamamie dreams to life.
I LEAVE YOU WITH TIM MCGRAW

What’s Your Passion?

I came across a quote the other day:

“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” – T. Alan Armstrong

I can’t tell you how nervous I was when I “let the cat out of the bag” and told you all I was writing a novel, because the thought of people actually reading what I’ve written kinda freaks the hell out of me.   But the truth is, since I’ve started this project, I’m excited, charged, renewed…I’ve found that I truly enjoy writing.  It’s an adventure!  It’s something I’ve become passionate about.

Of course, we all have many things in our lives that we find passion in, including our relationships with our loved ones.  But what’s that one far-fetched thing that you always wanted to do, but never did because of “this” or “that?”  My advice?  Do it.  Make it happen.  Even if it freaks the hell out of you.

And have some fun with it!!!

Play it loud! And often!

Who’s kids say to their parents:  “Turn the music down!”  and “why do you ALWAYS have to listen to music?”

Mine.

My answer: How boring would everything be without it?  Music is motivation.  It makes doing laundry easier.  It makes driving more fun.  It enhances experiences.  We all know there are certain songs that, when you hear them, immediately take you back to a time and place.

Collective Soul came on the radio today and I was in high school again.  Sweet Child O Mine takes me there, too.

Every time I hear Drive, by the Cars, I travel back to my childhood bedroom where I would play my Cars cassette over and over again on the purple tape player that I got for my 8th birthday.

Crash by the Dave Matthews Band?  I’m in the Smoky Mountains where my now husband/then boyfriend and I took a spontaneous camping trip and forgot to pack our sleeping bags.  (Brrrr!)

Music plays constantly while I write.  Most of the time, I’ll play a song over, and over, and over again until a scene is done.  In fact, the sunrise scene had 2 huge inspirations:

This song:

And this sunrise:

222975_2031694110081_306851_n

Here’s my point:  Listen to music loud and often.  I believe my children like music just as much as the rest of the world does.  They just like to go against the grain…

Teaser anyone?

I haven’t written anything in a few days.  I’m finishing up a heartwarming scene and going into a heartbreaking one.  The “rip your heart out of your chest and slice it into a million pieces” scenes seem to be the easiest to write, as far a flow goes, but they’re so darn devastating!  I have to mentally prepare myself for it.

So…I’m procrastinating.  Which means…It’s time for a TEASER!!!

“I’m not here for them, Liv.  I wasn’t even going to do this tonight, until…”

“Until what?” I stopped and looked directly at him, meeting his eyes.

Hmmm…What could it mean???  Who’s “them?”  Where are they?  What did he do?  Why wasn’t he going to do it?

Oh the suspense!!!

Stay tuned!  My goal is to have the book ready to publish by Fall at the latest.  I’m currently at 47,000 words and I feel like there’s a lot more story to tell, so I’m probably a little over the half-way point.  I can’t wait for you all to meet Liv and Logan!

Eleven Little Words

A few months ago, I read one of the best books I’ve ever read. I laughed, it was sexy, I cried, and I got furious (I may have even smacked my husband in the arm at 2am screaming “WHY?!”). It had everything. I liked it so much that I sent the author an email telling her how much I loved it, and included a short blurb with a few ideas I had for a story. Mind you, it’s very uncharacteristic of me to do something like that. I clearly knew there was no way this famous best-selling author would respond but it didn’t hurt to try and low and behold, she did reply with eleven little words.

“That’s a GREAT story! You should definitely write it down!” ~ Awesome, Famous Author

That was it. Who knows if she meant it or not, she could’ve just rolled her eyes and said it to be nice, but those eleven words triggered a motivation in me that I had kept buried under excuses for way too long, and the excuses started to morph into reasons why I should do it. Other people write books…Why can’t I?

So, for the last few weeks, I have spent every free moment (which is not much considering my job, kids, and household to take care of) at my home computer, plugging away at my story. My husband thinks it’s awesome so far, but he’s a little biased…Cuz he loves me and all. He has been an incredible support, helping with the kids and around the house, while I write. I’m couldn’t do it without him.

I didn’t want to tell anyone at first, in case my book sucks, but Don (my husband) made a great point. He said, “Don’t say that. It will only suck if you let it. And you won’t let it.” And he’s right. For those of you who do not know me very well, I’m a little OCD. I obsess over things. I will not release anything until I am 100% happy with it. It may mean you will not see my book for a very long time, but it WILL happen.

I’m blogging for 2 reasons:
1. It’s something to write when I have writers block. Gotta keep the juices flowing, you know.
2. If other people know about this, I can’t give up on it.

BTW, my book is a fictional romance (New Adult Contemporary). I’m a sucker for romances. Blurb coming soon.