Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. It is the New Year, 2021. I’m excited for it because 2020 was horrible to say the least. I’m sure everyone agrees, so we don’t need a recap. That’s not to say good things didn’t happen in 2020, but the negative far outweighed the positive.
But enough about that. We’re looking forward not back. So today, I’d like to talk about my one little word for 2021. I didn’t participate in the one-word trend for the last couple of years, but this year I think it’s important. My word for this year is “PERSEVERE.”
It means a lot to me. It means moving forward. It means overcoming obstacles. It means obtaining my goals. I’m so close to my writing goals. I’ve got one story complete. I’m so happy with it and I have a total sense of accomplishment.
I’m about 50000 words into my second story and I’m just as excited about this one. It’s going much faster than the first one did. I am committed to both stories and I can’t wait to see where my writing journey will lead me.
I’m also going to persevere in my other goals. Maintaining my health is another big one. I plan on continuing my weight loss goals and exercise goals. I want to be active in my old age, and in order to do that I have to maintain my weight and flexibility.
Always at the top of my list, is time with my family. My boys are growing up and they’re not so keen on hanging out with Mom anymore, but I plan on having many “Forced Family Fun” nights throughout 2021. Even if they don’t say it, they enjoy them, too. I also feel they need to feel connected to their family especially with all this virtual learning and isolation that continues into 2021.
So, there you have it. My one little word for 2021 and some of my goals. Other words that I considered are STRIVE, APPRECIATE, and FINISH. What’s your one little word for 2021? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!
To all you Dad’s out there! Celebrate your day!
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Today, I thought I’d give you a break and share some exciting news! A colleague of mine is getting published! Her debut novel is up for pre-order and I thought this would be a great time to share it with all of you! So, without further ado, here’s my interview with up and coming author Chelsea Ichaso. Take it away Chelsea!
- What inspired you to write this story?
I used to teach high school English, and one of the books in our curriculum was A Separate Peace by John Knowles. It’s about two prep school boys whose friendship is torn apart by jealousy. It’s such a painful story, but also one that I feel like everyone can relate to on some level. One day, I thought about what it might look like if a close friendship were destroyed by a crime, rather than jealousy. Eventually, this idea developed into Little Creeping Things.
- Why did you choose this genre?
YA mystery-thriller was the genre that really lent itself to the type of story I wanted to tell. It started off as more of a suspense idea that took on twists and turns and a cast of suspects. At that point, I knew I had a full-fledged mystery on my hands. Luckily, mystery-thriller is one of my favorite genres to read and watch. Now, it’s also my favorite genre to write.
- Tell us about your writing process.
Once I have a new concept, I take a clean notebook and scribble down all my thoughts in streams of consciousness fashion. I end up with anywhere between ten and thirty handwritten pages. Then I try to hone in on the valuable sections of those notes by making a more condensed version. It’s a complete mess, but it works for me. If there’s an evident piece of the puzzle that isn’t fitting, I find a clean page and list any and every solution until something sticks.
When I have a mostly fleshed-out plot, I get on the computer and type a chapter-by-chapter outline. I don’t use formal beat sheets, but my outline will hit on all of the important elements of story structure. I find it easier to add and rearrange parts as I go when the outline is a Word doc rather than handwritten. Once I’m happy with the outline, I save it as a new document and draft right on top of it, deleting sections as they go from bullet points to complete chapters. When the outline has completely disappeared, the novel is done.
- Do you have a favorite place to write?
I love coffee shops for a change of scenery. My desk at home is nice, but sometimes being out of the house allows my brain to recharge because the normal distractions of home aren’t there. And good coffee certainly doesn’t hurt the writing process.
- How do you handle writer’s block?
I have to be in the right state of mind to come up with an idea. If not, I just get frustrated and waste a lot of time trying to force it. When I feel ready, my process for attacking writer’s block is similar to how I begin a book. I sit and scribble in a notebook for hours until I land on something that excites me. There are also plenty of times that I’ve come up with ideas while traveling. Sitting in a car or on a plane is the perfect time to brainstorm. My husband is not a writer, but he and I will take turns pitching story ideas, the more bizarre the better. Sometimes, the tiniest grain of an idea will come out of those sessions and evolve into workable concept.
- What are your hobbies?
I love to read (probably not a huge surprise). I also play soccer. My husband and I are on a co-ed team together, and all three of our kids play. Watching the little ones on the weekends is one of my favorite pastimes.
- What are you working on next?
I’m in the editing stages of my second YA thriller. I can’t say much about it yet, but there will be plenty of secrets and lies. I’m also working on a few projects in different genres and age categories because I like to juggle manuscripts. When one draft goes off to my critique partners, I do a round of revisions or begin to draft something else.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m definitely a plotter. I find it very difficult to write thrillers without any plotting. My outlines aren’t extremely detailed, but I know the basic shape of my books ahead of time. I know the major twists. That said, I love it when a new character development or level to the story arises as I’m drafting, and I always allow myself room to improvise. Some of my favorite scenes and twists originated in the spur of the moment.
- What is your favorite book?
It’s impossible to choose, so I’ll list a few. Bird Box by Josh Mallerman is my favorite horror novel. I’m hard to scare, but this one had me genuinely creeped out. I love The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and Shadow and Bone (the entire Grisha trilogy, really) by Leigh Bardugo. A fantastic mystery I read recently was In the Woods by Tana French.
10) What is your favorite food?
In and Out Burger. I’ve heard this is a west coast thing, so if you don’t live out here and you get a chance to visit, you absolutely must try it.
Thanks, Chelsea! Now a here’s the cover and blurb of her debut novel and I must say, I’m going to be reading this one very soon!
PRAISE FOR LITTLE CREEPING THINGS
“Everyone’s a suspect, and no one is safe, in this twisty debut from a compelling new voice in YA, Chelsea Ichaso. Don’t miss it!”–Kit Frick, author of See All the Stars, All Eyes on Us, and I Killed Zoe Spanos
“Little Creeping Things is a stunning debut in every sense of the word. From the chilling opening pages to the jaw-dropping final reveal, the pacing is relentless, the twists dizzying. Cass is the best kind of unreliable narrator, delightfully acerbic and hopelessly sincere even when she isn’t telling the truth. Chelsea Ichaso has without a doubt written the breakout thriller of the year.”–Dana Mele, author of People Like Us
“Little Creeping Things, with its cast of creepy and untrustworthy characters, will satisfy the appetites of all manner of mystery fans.”–Booklist
“The reveal…is both well earned and eerie.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Ichaso’s debut is a riveting whodunnit… a psychological thriller worthy of mystery aficionados.”–School Library Journal
When she was a child, Cassidy Pratt accidentally started a fire that killed her neighbor. She’s pretty sure she didn’t mean to do it, and she’d give anything to forget that awful day. But her town’s bullies, particularly the cruel and beautiful Melody Davenport, have never let her live it down. In Melody’s eyes, Cassidy is a murderer and always will be.
Then Melody goes missing, and Cassidy thinks she may have information about what happened. She knows she should go to the cops, but she recently joked about how much she’d like to get rid of Melody. She even planned the perfect way to do it. And then she gets a chilling text from an unknown number: I’m so glad we’re in this together.
Now it’s up to Cassidy to figure out what’s really going on before the truth behind Melody’s disappearance sets the whole town ablaze.
To order Chelsea’s book, click on one of the links below.
Thanks Cheslea for being a guest today! I’m looking forward to reading your book!
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I just thought I’d stop by and wish everyone a Happy Easter. It’s definitely going to be a different kind of holiday than it has been in the past, but still one worth celebrating.
Enjoy your time with your immediate family and celebrate as you see fit. Please practice social distancing and stay safe, so we can all see our extended families sooner rather than later.
Take care and God Bless, I will be back soon. Enjoy your Holiday. 😊
I found this on facebook and it resonated with me. So, I thought I should share it with all of you. 🙂
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I’m back today with a post I wrote a few years back. It was a popular post and it still has relevance today so I thought I’d share it again. Thanks to all my followers for reading. I love you all!
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about the Mom Wars. You know what they are, where Moms become competitive with each other over mothering. Whenever I see it I groan. It drives me absolutely nuts.
I remember talking to one parent in particular. My kids weren’t friends with her kids, but we’d end up running into each other at the park and we’d compare notes. For example, what movie my kids liked and what one they didn’t. She’d tell me what play areas were good and which ones weren’t and so on. However, each time we parted, I felt frustrated and I wasn’t sure why. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. So the next time we talked, I paid attention to what was going on, and I noticed that every…
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Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I saw this quote on Facebook a while ago and I thought I’d share it with all of you. I hope you have a great weekend. I’ll be back soon with a post. 🙂
“The sagely person is like water
Water benefits All things and does not compete with them.
It gathers in unpopular places.
In this it is like the Tao.
In dwelling, live close to the Earth.
In thinking, be open to new ideas.
In relationships, be kind.
In speech, tell the truth and keep your word.
In leading people, demonstrate integrity.
In daily matters, be competent.
In acting, consider the appropriate timing.
If you do not try to prove yourself superior to others,
You will be beyond reproach.”
Tao Te Ching 8, translated by John R Mabry
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week off from work. I’m changing jobs, so I took a break. There’s been a lot of controversy in the world these last few weeks what with the accusations of Christine Blasely Ford and the emotional denials of Judge Kavanaugh. Bill Cosby’s in prison for rape and more and more of the clergy from the Catholic Church are being accused of abuse.
Last summer I watched a documentary titled, “The Keepers.” It’s the story of two women who went to Seton Keough High school and while they were students there, one of their teachers was murdered. Thirty years later, these two women banded together to find out who killed Sister Cathy Cesnik. What they’ve accomplished is phenomenal. During their investigation they discovered evidence of horrific abuse by the clergy running the school. Since the broadcast of the documentary, more than two hundred victims have come forward, and the police are actively investigating new leads. They’re also finding that the Catholic Church knew about this abuse and covered it up, allowing these priests to continue their abuse. I would love to see that institution held accountable for the coverup. What a horrendous abuse of power.
That’s the common theme running through all these events. An abuse of power. People in a position of power using it to manipulate and control others. It makes me sick. I’m so glad victims are finding their voice and speaking out. It’s about time.
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Many of the victims are women and if there is a positive side to any of this it’s the fact that women are starting to come together and support each other. I love this. I love it. I haven’t seen this kind of solidarity in a long time. Before, we operated under the guise that there was not enough, so we became competitors instead of friends. We fell into the habit of judging, criticizing, and ridiculing women who were different from ourselves because it made us feel more secure. We’re right if they’re wrong kind of mentality.
We’re just now recognizing our power. It’s time. It’s time to stand up against the forces that drag us down. It’s hard, I know especially when we’ve been marginalized for so long. The insidious thread of devaluation starts in our relationships in our own home. Maybe our father didn’t value our intellect because we were a girl, and all he saw in our future was marriage and babies. Parents need to step up to the plate and teach their daughters they’re worthy of respect, and a zero-tolerance rule against abusive behavior is the only way to go. And if your daughter comes to you and tells you she’s been abused. BELIEVE HER.
That’s the best thing you can do for her during such a horrific time. I applaud the victims standing up for themselves. Speaking their truth. Know that we’re all behind you. Keep shining your bright light. Stand and be heard.
What are your thoughts on these events? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!
Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of writing and vacationing. There’s nothing like heading to the lake when you’re experiencing a heatwave. My kids invited a friend along and that made it a little more special because they’ve been friends since my oldest was in kindergarten.
I was happy the weather cooperated because the kids were able to get out and swim. Physical activity is so important for our young people. I remember when I was growing up we were outside early in the morning and only came home for meals. We rode our bikes everywhere.
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Unfortunately, it’s not like that in today’s world. Kids can’t ride their bikes all over the place because the traffic in our streets is heavy and the streets aren’t as safe as they were twenty years ago. Kidnapping and human trafficking are real issues and it’s happening in every state not just those close to the borders.
So we as parents keep our kids close to home because it’s safer. We have to arrange play dates and take our kids to trampoline parks so they can get exercise and develop face to face social skills. The internet has allowed us to connect to people from all over the world, but it has made our relationships weaker on the home front.
Because of technology, our children are moving less, reading less, and losing opportunities to develop valuable social skills. Parents need to be cognizant of this. Exercise, Reading, and Face to Face Social Interaction are good for our brains and our bodies. We need to help our kids develop good habits that include all three of the above and they need to do it every day.
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I make sure my kids get out on the trampoline at least a couple times a day when we’re home. I also try and get them to read for half an hour a day, and I try and make sure they have opportunities for social interaction. Some days I do a better job than others. Luckily, we do have neighbor kids they play games with outside where they’re getting their vitamin D. I haven’t taught them the game Kick the Can, yet. But I will. 😉
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How about you? What do you do to make sure your kids are developing healthy habits? Do you have any suggestions for me? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!