What’s In YOUR Gratitude Journal?

2013-05-25 20.36.42So the last couple of nights, I’ve written the same word in my gratitude journal: power.

In my corner of the world, the power went out on Monday afternoon, but not at my house. It’s an odd thing, but the first five or six houses in the neighborhood are powered by the local EMC, whereas the rest of the neighborhood relies on Georgia Power. My house is the dividing line between the two, and sometimes, during storms or ice or winds and rain, I’ll keep my power while right next door…darkness.

On any given day, I don’t think too much about the power that keeps my TV humming and my fridge cold, that lets me answer emails and read a good book before I go to bed. But then comes a time when lines go down, when I see post after post of friends without power, or look out the window to the black abyss that’s my street, and I realize how grateful I am for electricity. How comforted I am by the glow of the street light outside my bedroom window.

We just don’t really appreciate what we have until we don’t have it, do we? That’s what I said to Lisa, who moved to Florida a few months ago. We used to meet at least once a month for a critique group but then our group broke up and she got busy with her novels and I spent a lot of time taking care of my parents. So though we lived only ten minutes from each other, we rarely had the time to get together. We could get together, we always figured, so there was no rush. And then suddenly there was a rush for one more lunch that we never quite managed before she left.

I miss Lisa.

And every time I take a shower, I miss another friend from my critique group, Deb. Which wait–that didn’t come out quite right…

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Juniorette Hall thinks it’s crazy that I have a notepad in the shower. I beg to differ.

Deb sent me a notepad that sticks on the shower wall, with paper that somehow you can write on and still read after you get out of the shower. It’s amazing! She knew that I often come up with my best ideas in the shower and so when she found this amazing notepad, she had to send it to me. I don’t know how I managed before this brilliant notepad came into my life, and I never write something down that I don’t say a heartfelt thank you to Deb, even though she can’t hear it.

Deb and Lisa and all y’all, too, are on my mind after this long week. I hope all is well with you and yours, and know that your name, if not in my gratitude journal, is in my heart and prayers.

Oh! And power. Power’s going to be on the list for quite a while!

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The December Blues

Snowman familyDecember is a funny month for me, and not funny ha-ha. (Though I will watch Elf , maybe more than once, and laugh like crazy.)

As much I love the holidays, I feel more keenly the people who’re no longer around when December rolls in. And I’m not necessarily talking about the loved ones who’ve passed on, though I miss them dearly.

No, it’s the friends who were once in my life and now have moved away. And for me, most of those friends are writers.

Which is a good thing, I guess. I can keep up with Janice Hardy over at her Fiction University. Whenever I read Debra Mayhew’s blog posts, I can hear her voice. And Robyn Hood Black’s over at Artsy Letters, creating one-of-a-kind literary gifts and I see her in each one of them.

But it’s not quite the same as a long, chatty lunch or a night of writerly talking at an SCBWI conference, is it? And before I know it, I’m stewing in a big ‘ol mug of Blue Christmas.

Oh, great. Now I’m missing Elvis, too.

I think I need to pull myself up by my little Elf shoes and be thankful for all the lovely times I’ve been blessed to have with all kinds of writer friends, no matter where they are now.

And maybe call one of my writer friends who lives right down the road. Yeah, I think a long, chatty lunch with Lisa Ricard Claro will be just the ticket. She can tell me all about her next book in the Fireflies trilogy and I’ll celebrate with her by stuffing my face with Christmas cookies.

But I’ll watch Elf, too, just to be on the safe, holly-jolly side. So how about you? How do you dispel the December blues and get your holly-jolly back on? ‘Cause honestly, I’m starting to think about lots more writers I’m missing. And you’re probably one of ’em.

A Very Inspiring Blogger? Me? Really? (Aw, Shucks)

blogger award badgeDon’t you just love surprises?

Um…I mean the good ones. Not like the surprises the dog leaves in the middle of the dining room floor.

Anyway, I found a lovely surprise waiting for me yesterday, over at Tina’s Tidbits, a delightful and informative blog from new writer friend, Tina Cho. It was the Very Inspiring Blogger Award(!) and as I’m old and will forget things if I don’t take action immediately I’m humbled to accept this award, here goes:

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award rules are:
• Display the award on your blog
• Link back to the person who nominated you
• State 7 things about yourself
• Nominate 15 bloggers, link to them, and notify them about their nominations.

So, let’s see. Seven things…

1. I work way more productively when I have a ton of things to do.

2. When I have all the time in the world– I procrastinate even more. (By playing online games. But they’re puzzle games so at least I’m staving off dementia, right?)

3. I decided to cut WAY back on Facebook for Lent. (It has not gone well.)

4. I seem to be lacking in depth perception. (Which makes for interesting driving at night.)

5. I’ve had a sign in my office that reads, “What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about?” for five years. (I still laugh whenever I read it. I’m laughing now, actually.)

6. I love tuna fish salad. In fact, I think I’ll have it for lunch today. (And possibly the rest of the week.)

7. Whenever I get annoyed/frustrated/down re:my writing career, I remember how blessed I am to know so many wonderful writers (and now friends!), and I thank the good Lord for leading me where I always belonged.

And though there are hundreds of bloggers who inspire me every day, I think I’ll just choose the three who’re on my mind this day. (Three’s a nice number, right? Okay, fine. I’m also a wee bit lazy. I believe we already covered that–)

Debra Mayhew, whose blog posts somehow make me laugh and then kinda tug at my weary heartstrings.

Lisa Ricard Claro, whose determination and doggedness are fierce. Her writing’s pretty awesome, too.

Sioux Roslawski, whose insights also make me laugh out loud and then think, “Wait a minute…”

Thanks for the award, Tina! You made my day.

The Power of a Thank You

I just spent an hour online this afternoon, trying to find a Winnie the Pooh thank you note.

You see, a while back, a friend (okay, it was Debra Mayhew) sent me a thank you note and I loved that thank you. I loved what it said on the outside as well as the inside. Here’s the note:

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I remembered it well, but I thought it was a note card, when in fact, it was an actual thank you card. Which might account for the fact that I couldn’t find it online. Also, Debra sent me that card in 2011.

THREE years ago.

I can barely remember three hours ago, and yet I remembered that card after three years. And I finally remembered that I’d stashed it into a slot in my desk.

In the end, I ordered thank you notes that would tie in to the theme of my blog. They’re fine thank you notes, and I hope they’ll get here soon. I have a couple people I need to thank and an email just won’t do

Especially after the lesson I learned today: It truly is the thought that counts.

What Not To Do Wednesday on Book-Signings

ImageFirst of all, grasshopper, I’d like to say that largely, the book-signing was a success! I sold plenty of books and had quite a chunk of change to donate to my church. And I had a ton of fun, visiting with new friends like Rowena Cala and old friends like Debra Mayhew (and her cute cohorts!).

But of course, being the very human me that I am, I made mistakes. And I shall go forth and learn from them. Perhaps you will learn a thing or two as well.

One cannot, of course, control the weather. But one must use common sense when it comes to weather conditions when a book-signing event is held in the great outdoors. 

For instance, if it’s very, very windy, one’s sign (a glorious sign, by the way) might fall over. Constantly. And one might find oneself tending to a sign. Again and again and again. Unless one had the forethought to bring something as simple as Packing Tape. Or perhaps stable objects to bolster the sign (Books and a rather large purse are not as stable as you might think. After all, I had to sell the books.).

I had plenty of suggestions from the peanut gallery as to what I should have done about the sign. And I can tell you what I thought about doing with the sign. But ultimately, I just bore up (and the sign fell down) until the wind swooshed out of the festival. (Approximately one hour before it was officially over.)

Also, if it’s very, very warm (along with the wind), one might not want to bring chocolate kisses. (Not that folks will not eat smushy chocolate kisses. They will, very happily. In fact, I think kids rather prefer gooey chocolate. I’m not so sure their mothers feel the same way.)

The most interesting What Not To Do, though, involved my preconceived notions about Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I assumed that most people understood how these books worked–that the books were a collection of stories, and my story would be one among a hundred others.

Many people were familiar with the brand, but there were just as many who were being introduced to these books for the first time. And at first, I didn’t quite understand that people didn’t quite understand. So I’m afraid, grasshopper, that I wasn’t really doing my job.

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Rowena buys a book.

At some point, I realized that it was not enough to just sit there, smiling prettily and saying that I had a story in each of the books I was selling and hoping the sign would work for me. I had to…oh, what’s the word? 

Oh, yeah. SELL the book. When I stopped long enough to talk about Chicken Soup books, explaining how I happened to be in them–that I was a writer–and talked about my stories, I connected with folks. It’s true that I sold a handful of books to friends who came specifically to buy a book from me. But I sold the other handful to people who were passing by, folks I didn’t know (or know well) who were “hooked” by my individual stories rather than the book itself.

So, bottom line, don’t have a book-signing unless you’re prepared to do the selling that goes along with it. Your voice might be a bit worn out, your smile might feel a bit bedraggled, but when all is said and done, grasshopper, it’s well worth it!