Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

First, I can't believe that it's already New Year's Eve.  This past year has been a whirlwind of events, experiences, and growth.  And, I'm looking forward to 2012, and not only because I prefer the even numbered years to the odd numbered ones.  Yeah, I know, that isn't really logical, but it's the fact.

Many, well, most of the blogs I read are talking about making resolutions, and I'm not going to repeat all that.  But, I am curious, do you make resolutions?  I make what I like to think of as course corrections because they are more reflections of what's working and what's not rather than an all out resolution.  I like making them now and I also do the same thing at the end of the school year in June and at the beginning of the school year in August.  I feel like those time frames give me enough time to really know what's working and what I've just not put enough effort in for it to be successful.

Also, this year I'm going to choose a word for the year, or at least for the first six months (until my June course correction!).  I was thinking of LISTEN, but I still haven't decided.  Are you choosing a word?  If so, what is your word?

One thing I want to do more of in 2012 is be more aware of all the blessings and gifts around me.  I'm working on concrete ways to implement this practice.  After all, they say you have to do something for 21 days before it becomes a habit.

My prayer for you is that 2012 will be the year you learn how to weave your talents, abilities, gifts, and creativity into your life in amazing and miraculous ways.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Conferences and such

This time last week I was reflecting on everything I heard and learned at the Tri-Region SCBWI conference in Gettysburg.  It was amazing!  One thing that was very cool was the fact that over the last few years I've made friends at these conferences.  Now, it is true that I don't get to see these friends very often, but our love of writing, and probably our shared frustration regarding our writing that at times we all experience, makes it easy to pick up where our last conversation ended.  These are the people who understand how much I care about my characters, and who know how far my story has come--and improved!

And, since I've already marked my calendar for the Spring WPASCBWI Retreat, I know when I'll see many of these writing friends again.  I also found out more information about another conference I want to attend, so I'm working on getting a submission together for that.

Oh, and did I mention I spent more money than I'd planned buying books!

The past few weeks have been hectic because of complications around my day job, and while those complications are still present, I have come up with better ways (I hope!) of dealing with them; therefore, I plan to get back on track with my postings as we move into the holiday season.  So, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, I want to share how thankful I am  for all of you who have encouraged me in my writing, especially my sweet husband.  Most of all, I am thankful to God for the stories He's given me, and I hope the next few months find me being a good steward of those stories, as well as of all the other gifts He's given me.

Happy Thanksgiving!  What are you thankful for?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How being a writer can help when you get a parking ticket

This semester I'm taking a graduate class in connection with my day job.  The class is tough, but the challenge is exciting and I may write about that in another post, but all you need to know for this post is that I'm taking the class at a downtown/city campus. 

On the first night of my class, I was nervous.  I wasn't sure about the class or where to park or who would be in the class or where to park.  You get the idea.

I left my day job with plenty of time to get to my class and pick up my parking pass, then proceed to one of the parking lots.  Well, I thought I had plenty of time. I parked, legally at that time of day, in the only space I could find, and took off to get my parking pass.  I followed the sign to the parking department, but found out that it had moved to another building since the last time I took a grad class, so I lost some time finding the right building.  Then, I found out that there was a problem with something in the building that houses the parking office, which meant I was directed to another location to pick up my pass.  When I arrived there, I was told that the building was open for people who needed the pass I needed, so I went back to the building.  As I opened the front door, I met a large group of workman coming out.  One of the men told me that the building was closed again to everyone for the next 30 minutes.

Since my class was starting in less than 30 minutes, I gave up and walked back to my car.  I turned the corner of the street where my car was parked just in time to see a parking office from the city, not the university, putting a ticket on my car. 

I grabbed the ticket off my windshield and drove to find another, legal at this time of day, parking space.  I drove around, turned around, drove back, but couldn't find any legal parking places with vacancies.

By this time, my class had started.

Now, you may be thinking, okay, fine, but what's the writer bit and how did that help?  Well, as I drove, my brain starting going.  I played out the whole story of what if I drove around for the next hour, ( I had plenty of gas), and found a parking place when everyone was leaving their classes.  Then, I'd run in to my class, only to meet everyone leaving.  What would happen next?  Would the professor talk to me or expunge my name from the class roster?

Then, I started noticing how many other people had tickets on their cars.  Unlike me, they'd just left their cars where they were without worrying about the ticket.  I wondered about those people and wondered if they did this every week.  Did they ever pay their tickets?  Did some of them owe the city thousands of dollars?  Could I make a citizen's arrest and get a reward that would be big enough to pay for my ticket?

My point is that every time I followed this line of imagining, I started to laugh.  Which was better than the few moments of weeping I had when I first started driving around with the parking ticket on the passenger's seat next to me.

Just when I had almost given up and was onto a story of how great it would be to have super powers and be able to pick up my car and put it in a parking space, I saw a deck for visitors that still had vacancies.  I parked and ran to my class.

My late arrival is another adventure, but I'm still enrolled in the class.

Once I reached home and told my husband of my adventures, he added another idea to my creative fire.  He thinks that the city police mark this week down as a huge money maker week and that they just wait for people like me who are starting classes and are clueless about where to park.  I made a few notes that night about potential stories with lurking parking officers and magical parking lots.  I'll probably never use those notes, but who knows.

What I do know is that being a writer helps me keep events in my life in perspective. 

What about you?  How does being a writer affect your every day interactions?  For example, raise your hand if you keep notes of phrases or comments you hear?  (Mine is raised!)  Let me know.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reflections on September 11

Rachel Gardner challenged her blog readers to post their 9-11 memories/thoughts in 100 words or less.  I hadn't planned on writing about September 11 because it seemed to me that so many others had so much more to write about the events than I did.  However, after reading her blog, and after reading Maureen Johnson's post  I started thinking.  And writing.  So, here are the thoughts that came to me.

September 11, 2001, found me teaching senior English to a small group of high school students in a school where my husband of less than six months also worked.  We heard that something had happened when a student shared what she’d heard as she signed late in at the office.   Since we had televisions in our rooms and they were connected to cable,  we turned on a channel to check out what was happening.  At the time, I agreed to turn on the television because I thought there'd be nothing going on, and that drop the subject so we could get back to class work.  

I was wrong.  We watched, and watched.  None of us really said anything.  It was one of the student’s birthday, and his mom had sent cupcakes via another student.  We’d already each taken one, but as the period (100 minutes long) and news coverage continued, we ate all the cupcakes.

All of us got through that day, and at 3:00 p.m., we went home to watch the reports of everything that had happened and was still happening.

For days, afterwards, I insisted that we sleep with the television tuned to CNN or the radio on NPR, the volume very low, while we slept.  Somehow I thought that if something else happened, even in my sleep, I’d be able to tell the difference in the coverage and wake up so I would know about it.

That’s one thing that got to me; the need to know what was going on, what was happening.  Being in a classroom all day is very isolating as far as world events goes.

I was also very thankful that my family members were all safe.

My niece was in first grade, and her teachers did a magnificent job of keeping all their students calm and ignorant of what went on during the day of September 11, so that the children’s parents could explain things to them once they were home that evening.  My sister-in-law walked my niece to school on September 12 and was telling her something like, “You might hear some things today, that some bad people did some things and hurt people.  We’re sad about that, but you’re safe and we’re all safe, so you don’t have to worry.”

My niece’s response?  “Why didn’t the bad people’s mommies and daddies do something to stop them?”

I've thought about that a lot since then.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How time flies, and other things. . .

Yes, so much for my "I will post at least three times a week" plan.  My only defense is that I've been reading and writing as well as starting back to work at my day job.  And yes, I have been following the WFMAD challenge.  Have you?  If not, check out Laurie Halse Anderson's blog.  You could always start in September.

Also, I've been mourning the demise of Borders.  My favorite Borders store had survived the most recent round of closings, and I was relieved.  Then, the final death knell announcement broke about all the stores closing.  I know it's only a store, but it was MY Borders store.  Based on my research, there is one bookstore within a 45 minutes drive from my house.  There are no locally owned bookstores located less than an hour from me.  Sad.

Now, let's move on a happier topic.  What have I been reading?  Listed below are two of the books along with my reactions:

Divergent by Veronica Roth
I LOVE this book!  At first, I resisted reading it--even though the concept intrigued me and from reading her blog, I liked the author's writing.  The reason I resisted was that I just wasn't sure I was ready for another dystopian novel.  I became so caught up in the Hunger Games trilogy that I thought of the characters throughout the day, and I went through withdrawal at the end of The Passage because the next book isn't schedule for soooooo long;  let me just say that I didn't want to go through any of that again.  But, like I said, I was intrigued, so I read. . .and read. . .and read. . .and read.  I read the entire book one evening when I should have been washing clothes and getting to bed early.

And I didn't/don't regret a single minute of lost sleep.  (I washed clothes the next night, so I did not wear dirty clothes!)

The whole idea of this society has me thinking about all that could go on in the next book.  I believe in and care about Tris and Four; I can't wait to find out what happens next.  Also, I believe in Veronica Roth's vision and writing so I have no fears she will let me down in the upcoming books of this trilogy.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire
First, let me state that in high school, I was never one of those girls who read romance novels.  My cousins were and happily shared their books, and I read, oh, maybe one, and then just took their books and returned them, unread.  I read mysteries, horror, Greek myths, and a million other things.  I'd read good reviews of Hourglass, but thought maybe it wasn't for me.  But, I picked up a copy and. . .was hooked.  The whole time travel aspect kept me interested, and yes, the romance worked.  I loved the details about the setting and the food (yes, I kept wanting Cuban coffee) in the story.

I am in the process of reading the following books:

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Imaginary Girls

NOTE:  Yes, I am one of those people who read MANY books at one time.

Books I'm eagerly waiting to read:

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab  (Just received my copy in the mail.  It is my reward for this week, because not only am I back at my day job, I'm also starting a class relating to my day job.)

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson  (I've pre-ordered my copy from Books of Wonder and am hoping it will arrive BEFORE the September 29 release date.)

Downpour by Kat Richarson  (It shows how I've only been doing the limited survival type things lately because this book was released at the beginning of the month and I haven't gotten around to buying/ordering my copy yet.)

Okay, so that's what I've been reading.  What I've been writing will have to wait until my next post.  What are you reading?  What have you read this summer that you would recommend?  Let me know.  Until next time---READ ON!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge

Okay, so three posts in one day is a little overboard, but hey, all three are time-centric, so that's the way it goes.  For anyone who doesn't know, today is the beginning of Laurie Halse Anderson's fourth annual Write Fifteen Minutes a Day Challenge.  The challenge is simple; write 15 minutes every day of the month of August.  There are no sign-ups or check-ins or word counts.  People are just supposed to write 15 minutes a day.

That's it.  Simple, elegant, accessible.  Write 15 minutes a day for 31 days and see if (it will be)  your life is changed by the end of the month.  Are you up for it?  Will you accept the challenge? 

I am.  Will you join me? 

If you do, then let me know.  And, check out Laurie's blog and let her know, too.  Read her entry about the challenge. 

Taking the time to write every day can make a difference in anyone's life, whether you are a writer or not.  So, take the challenge, what have you got to lose?

For anyone in the south who reads. . .

There's a book tour coming up in the south, and even though I can't attend, I thought I'd let those of you who might be able to stop by know about it.  The website is here.

The authors participating are listed below, along with links to their websites:  Myra McEntire, Victoria Schwab, Beth Revis

Here's what the tour website posted about the book tour:  "Myra, Victoria, and Beth are thrilled about bringing a tour to their local areas--from Asheville, NC, to Nashville, TN. We'd love it if you came out to see us. . ."

If, like me, you can't attend a book signing, then check out the links to the authors' websites!  READ ON!

Contests and authors! Prizes and books! Hurrah!

This is just a quick note to let everyone know about the YA Scavenger Hunt that's going on today!  Twenty-three (count them, 23!) authors are involved and there is a grand prize as well as special contests offered by individual authors.  Plus, you get to find out about deleted scenes and upcoming sequels and all kind of other good readerly things.  The only problem--the deadline is Midnight, August 1.  So, here's the link, and get moving and reading!

I know, it takes time, but it's worth it!  I have a huge list of books to read and books to look forward to reading, plus I've learned about new authors.  Get moving!

P.S.  Still not convinced?  Check out this list of authors who are participating: 


Now, get moving!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Reading and reading some more

Lately, I've been reading books and reading blogs and reading tweets.  Just in case you haven't been doing any of these things, let me tell you there are some amazing people doing amazing things out there!  What I'm reading right now is Hourglass by Myra McEntire.  I'm more than half-way through the book and I care so much about these characters!  I can't wait to see what happens next.

The blogs I've read include ones by Jane Friedman and Veronica Roth.  I've learned a lot about writing and creating characters, as well as what to do (and not to do) in blogging.  I've also been following links all over the place reading about how to create a blog people will read.  So, look for implementation of those ideas!

And, I have to admit I've spent more time than I want to admit reading tweets by Maureen Johnson.  She is hilarious!  I also read 13 Blue Envelopes and have pre-ordered her new book, The Name of the Star, from Books of Wonder in New York.

In addition to all this reading, I've also been writing.  Gracie's story is moving through a major revision because of a huge change in the beginning of the novel.  The NOHSCBWI conference is September 23-24, and I plan to submit pages for a critique, so I still have more to do!

What about you?  What have you been reading?  Read any good blogs or tweets?  Let me know!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

So many books. . .

One goal I have this summer is to read and read some more!  As I've been working on achieving this goal, while also attempting to be a responsible consumer, I've run into some problems.  First, let me state that I LOVE our local library.  I use its services and support it in every way I can, including writing letters to my elected officials every time they talk of cutting funding.  NOTE:  My letters and those of others are doing some good, but those elected officials (whose names I am collecting) are still cutting funding every time they can. 

My problem is that even though I love my local library, they just don't usually have the books I'm looking to read.  Of course, another option I have is to buy a copy of the book.  When I take that route, I run into a couple of problems.  One is that my local bookstore doesn't always have the books I want.  Plus, I am trying to save money and I only have so much room in my house for books.

I know I have just revealed by that last statement that I have not joined the ereader club; yes, that is correct.  It's not that I am morally against it, as some of my acquaintances are, but I haven't figured out if I'm a NOOK person or a Kindle person.

Right now I'm teetering on the very dangerous ledge of going online and ordering every book on my "To Read" list.  It's just so easy to click those little buttons and wait for the package to come via UPS and US Mail.

So, probably the real reason I haven't bought an ereader is that it would be too easy to order books.  Am I able to withstand to temptation to just click and have the book right there in my hot little hand which is holding my hot little ereader?  I don't know if I am.

What about you?  Are you a Kindle person or a NOOK person?  Or, do you have another way to read your ebooks?  If so, how do you handle the temptation to order books immediately and without the concern of where you will put them?  How big is your ereader bill?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Endings and beginnings

Even though the first day of summer was officially last week, I feel like the first day of summer is TODAY!  The reason for my delayed start and celebration is because (drum roll, please!) yesterday I submitted my last assignment for the grad class I've been taking.  NOTE:  That's the ending part of this post.  Yahoo!  Also, one lesson that this class reinforced for me is to always be open to learning.  I hadn't been looking forward to taking the class because I thought it would be a rehash of things I already know (it is in connection with my day job), but, I reminded myself to have a positive attitude and as I reflected on the course yesterday, I realized how much I had learned from it.

Another beginning for today comes because June 29 is the official publication date of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies.  The author, Deborah Halverson, is having a Virtual Book Launch.  Go here to find out more about her new book and the contests and giveaways she's having in association with her Virtual Book Launch.

I know I can get carried away with reading about writing, and just reading, instead of sitting down and writing, but I am looking forward to reading Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies.  The selections I've already read have given me some things to think about as I work on my own writing. 

Speaking of my own writing, I better close and get to work.  I am excited to be able to refocus on my own creative work.

On a personal note, another reason I'm celebrating today is that it's my wedding anniversary!  Yaaaaahhh! 

What about you?  Is today a start of something new, or maybe a restart?  As a former colleague liked to say, "You can restart your day at any time."  No matter what's going on with you, think about making a new start today or a restart, and celebrate the day with the ones you love! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Happy Summer!  I have to admit summer is not my favorite month (I LOVE fall--autumn), but this year has been tough, and summer feels like what we need.

The title of this post is " Metamorphosis" for several reasons.  One is because since summer means I have a break from my day job, it is always a time of change for me.  The other is because I have recently discovered a great artist, Leah Piken Kolidas.  Please check out her website and her art work, and while you're there, read her blog.  She has a challenge on her site called Creative Every Day and I've signed up.  Read more about it at her site, and maybe you will, too.  Anyway, the theme for this month as we create every day is, right, you guessed it, METAMORPHOSIS.  It's not a theme everyone has to follow, but with how I've been feeling for the last few months, it seemed like a good one to use.

So, today I finished my next to the last paper for a grad class that goes along with my day job and I painted and wrote.  The beginning of my novel has changed and today a new scene popped up which introduces a couple of characters I hadn't thought we'd meet until later.  It's pretty exciting, but it means there will be more changes than I'd expected as I'm working back through it.  I'm excited about it, and I hope others will be, too.

It is storming outside, so I'm going to watch the storm!  What changes are you thinking about undertaking in the next week or month?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Social media?

I've spent the week working on writing, but most of the time I haven't been writing!  Based on everything I've learned at conferences, I've known that I needed to update my social media connections, but I just hadn't taken time to do it.  Well, this past week I did just that.  

I bought my domain name,, updated my twitter account, lillianwrites, and revised my facebook, linkedin, and blog information.  Yes, I've been busy.

So, now you can follow me on twitter and all the other avenues as well.  I have plans to change around my blog, so stay tuned for that.

Also, Lisa Robinson came to do research for her book at my day job on Friday.  It was cool to show her around and I think she got some great information to help her with her novel.  I know I'm excited to read it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Beginnings

In April I attended the Western Pennsylvania Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (WPASCBWI) Spring Retreat at Bethany College in West Virginia.  It was amazing!  The other participants and the two editors, Kate Sullivan and Connie Hsu, were encouraging and insightful.  I've been able to go to this event for several years and have learned so much each time.  I returned home determined to work on my writing and integrate what I learned.

And, so far, I have.  The Monday after the retreat, things at my day job heated up and have been steadily boiling ever since, but I've been writing.  So, a gold star for me in that department.  I have not kept in contact with my fellow writers from the retreat, so in that department, I'm a "bad webbis" (Shirley Jackson--Life Among the Savages--if you haven't read it, go NOW and get a copy!).

One thing that impressed me at the retreat was how much I enjoyed--craved the contact with other writers.  I do not belong to a writing group, not because I don't want to be in one, but because I haven't found one in my area.  I know there are on-line groups, and I may look into one of those.  As writers, we work in isolation, and we need to do that to achieve our writing goals.  But. . .we are also social creatures and contact with other writers can help us become better.

So, my question for today is how do you keep in touch with other writers, other artists?