Sunday, January 31, 2010


This is a segment TWO in my Life Management tips….

Have you thought about what you want people to say about you when you are gone? I’m not talking about vacation…I’m talking about your obituary.

There are probably three groups of people who will miss you: your family, your friends, and your co-workers. What would you like each group to say about you? I’ve been thinking about this. It might mean I need to do something different so these people will feel the way I want them to feel about me…It might mean working on myself...


Family: Sharon loved us. She was a devoted Mom. She helped her husband advance his career and loved him until the day she died. She tried to live her life in a manner that would make God proud.  She could be serious or silly, whatever the occassion required.  She was strong when our family went through hard times. She was a supportive sister and was good to her parents.

Friends: Sharon was fun to be around. She knew how to put on an event. I always left her parties feeling like I was the guest of honor. She was a great listener. She knew when to listen and  when to give advice.   She always remembered to say thank you and she always did favors without expecting anything in return.

Co-workers (including blogging friends) and former students: She inspired me be more than I thought I could be. She always was happy for other people’s successes. She never stopped being my friend, even when she moved away. She was always thinking of me…Out of the blue I’d get an email with a suggestion related to what I was writing, studying or doing in my classroom.

Cats: Who’s Sharon and where's my dinner?

Dog: Who’s gonna take a nap with me in the afternoon?

(Yep, I’ve got room to work.)

Don’t rush into posting a comment. This maybe something you just want to think about it and keep to yourself. The point of the post isLIVE THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE REMEMERED. If I haven’t been there for you, yet, I’ll do better…Life is too short to have regrets.


Friday, January 29, 2010

TECHNO TUESDAY....(Yes, I know it's Friday.)

I couldn’t wait for Techno Tuesday, so I’m having it today. With the release of the ipad dominating the news, I decided to discuss an awesome gadget…the Statcounter. If you have a blog or a website, this techno-tool is a must. Not only does it track the number of people who visit your blog, it tells you how long they visited, and if they are regular visitors or this was their first visit. That’s pretty cool, but isn’t the coolest part…This service is FREE! But wait there’s more…The Statcounter can generate a map that shows where your site visitors come from. I had a visitor from the Ukraine yesterday! NOW THAT IS COOL!

Have a great weekend!

Be safe!

Be happy!

Hopefully, you’ll check out the link. Remember it’s free...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dream Destinations...

What is your dream destination?

About a year ago, I went to Costa Rica. I’ve traveled a lot in the United States and in the United Kingdom, but Costa Rica was exceptional. We traveled on a private bus, in the middle of the night, (thankfully) from San Jose to the resort. We traveled on roads not much wider than the bus around the mountains with steep drop offs in the middle of the night. We really didn’t know how primitive the infrastructure was until we drove back in the daylight. We were told that due to a former, corrupt government the money that had been set aside for road improvement was either wasted or embezzled from the fund.

The whole trip was a true adventure: from the extreme bus ride to the exotic resort, to the canopy of the rain forest and the guided tour of the forest floor, to the crocodile adventure and a shopping trip in a local village…It was a dream destination. If you get the chance to visit Costa Rica, GO!

So how can that adventure be topped? I’m not sure. I still have international dreams of going to Egypt, Rome, and Israel. My dream destination in the U.S. is to go back to the Grand Canyon, hike down into the canyon, to go to Havasu Falls, and to take another helicopter ride.

If money was no object where would you go? What would you do?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What Do You Dream?

Do you dream in Fantasy? YA? Mystery? Romance? Suspense?  Or Action Adventure?

Are your dreams animated? Do you dream in watercolor? Pastel? Oil paint? Or are your dreams digital?

Do you have reoccurring dreams?  I do…scary ones…

Do you think dreams tell your secret desires? Have your dreams predicted something?

Monday, January 25, 2010



How do you accomplish everything you need or want to do in a given day? Do you prioritize? Are you a list maker? Do you procrastinate? Have you ever thrown your hands up in the air? Once a week I’m going to post about life management. I hope you will join me and see if we can become more productive writers.

First: Make a master schedule…

(I’ll share mine with you.)

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

6:30-8:00 wake up, make lunch, feed and water pets, take dog out, have breakfast, dressed for

the gym, deliver daughter to school and myself to the gym (1.5 hours family)

8:00-11:00 workout (3 exercise) (T/TH 8-10 which gives me one extra hour)

11:00-12:30 run errands volunteer or take nap, lunch (1.5 chores)

12:30-2:45 write (2.25 hours)

2:45-3:15 pick up daughter from school (.5 family)

3:15-5:30 help with homework, do household chores, (write, if time) (2.25 family)

5:30-6:30 cook and eat dinner (1 family)

6:30-10:00 family and blog time (3.5 family)

10:00-10:30 read in bed (.5 writing, it’s always research)

10:30-6:30 Sleep (8 hours)

There are 24 hours in a day…

Current schedule:

• Sleep 8 hours (intended amount often read)

• Write 2.75 hours(intended amount, often doing chores instead)

• Family time 6.5 hours

• Chores & errands 3.75 hours (often more)

• Exercise 3 hours

My Daily Goals :

• sleep 8 hours

• write 4 hours

• family time 7

• chores & errands 2

• exercise 3 hours

How can I be more productive? It appears I’m spending too much time on errands, chores, volunteering and/or napping.


Friday, January 22, 2010


Everyone is scared of something…What are you scared of? Have you ever pushed yourself to do something that scared you? I do it all of the time. When you are a parent you have to do things that take you out of your comfort zone; like climb to the top of a lighthouse. Did you know as you climb up the lighthouse gets smaller and smaller? The stairs get steeper and steeper. When you finally get (almost) to the top…you have to climb a ladder, a ladder that is absolutely vertical. Going up isn’t bad, but coming down is a whole different thing…When you are the parent, you must put on a brave face and comfort your child as you go down the ladder and the steep stairs. If you are lucky, there is a nice tearoom attached to the lighthouse where you can have a cheese sandwich, some chips (fries), and a cup of tea.

Are there moments in writing that scare you? Is it sending out that first manuscript, or is it sending out the fiftieth one? Is it your first agent query, or requerying that same agent with a new manuscript?

So, what are you scared of? What’s holding you back? What can you do to push yourself to the next level?

Thursday, January 21, 2010


WATCH WHAT YOU SAY...You never know who might be listening...or reading your words.

I recently did a post on researching literary agents.  A few days ago, I was reading a snarky comment on  QueryTracker.  An agent gently reminded the commenter that agents can read the  posts about each agent.  I think this is a great lesson for all of us. 

Some agents have snarky blogs and they enjoy that sense of humor, but you better make sure you are sure your snarky comment will be well received.  I noticed one today, on a non-snarky agent blog...The agent gave a very dry response to the comment.  The commenter in question did a quick reply to try and make the initial comment sound not so snarky, but for was too late.  I wondered if the agent clicked on the commenter's name and looked at her profile...

Maybe, it's because I don't have a snarky personality.  I try to represent myself to you the way I am for all people.  I'm not perfect, but I'm not snarky.  If I comment on your blog, your wonderful words lead me to leave a comment.  My comments are genuine, but I always think as I write, "Would I want agent xxx or my future readers to read what I just wrote?"  If the answer is yes, then I hit the submit button otherwise I delete and try again...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Hilary Wagner's first book NIGHTSHADE CITY is coming out this fall:

The rats of Trillium City are underground and have been so for years. Little do the weary humans of the steely city realize, an ancient throng of strangely intelligent rats exist right under their very feet, thriving in the intricate Catacombs excavated lifetimes ago.

Last week Hilary created an award, The One Good Rat Award....

This is brilliant!  Hilary is giving out a blog award that's related to her new book. 

Hilary said," As writers, our own work is near and dear to our hearts. My debut novel, Nightshade City, is about rats, but it's also very much about family and not letting a few decide the fate of many. It's about standing up for yourself and deciding you can make a difference, you can succeed even when the odds all point to failure.

Therefore, in the spirit of Nightshade City, I've created my own blog award, which I'm very excited about! The One Good Rat Award! I thought of the heroes of my book and what they had to accomplish and the monumental odds they were up against to do so. These writers I've named for this award are on the road to publishing or already there and just life loving writers who deserve to be blogged about! "

I really think this is brilliant.  Everytime I see this award on someone's blog I will connect it in my mind with NIGHTSHADE CITY.  I'd like to thank Hilary for presenting me with the award.  I'm honored, but I'm totally impressed with the whole idea of making an award related to your upcoming book. 

What marketing activities you plan on doing when your first book gets published?

I'm still looking for workshop suggestions for 2010.  If you could click on the link and post your suggests I'd appreciate it. 

Monday, January 18, 2010


What is the best (children's) wrting conference, retreat, or workshop you have ever attended and why?  I'm looking for suggestions  for 2010....


Thursday, January 14, 2010

FAMOUS FRIENDS....and other important stuff

This is my friend, Steve Swinburne.  Steve and I met at the Highlights Foundation Summer Workshop at Chautuaqua.  Steve is a very successful author of children's books and a great presenter. 

Steve's lovely wife, Heather,  introduced us.  She thought we looked like we could be brother and sister.  Oddly enough, we both moved to America when we were eight.   We both were born in London, England.  No, our parents weren't marrried to each other and try as we have, we can't find any common ancestors.  

Steve has a long list of publications.  You can see them on his (current) website. He has two new books scheduled to come out this spring.

OCEAN SOUP will be released in February.

WIFF AND DIRTY GEORGE will be released in March.

Steve will be at the Wisconsin State Reading Conference, February 2-6, if you would like to meet him.  I hope you will pop over and view his website.   Keep an eye out here for more book releases...

If you have the opportunity to go to the Highlights Foundations Summer Workshop at Chautauqua, it's a great opportunity to learn about writing, illustrating, and the publishing process.  You also have the opportunity to network with some amazing people.

If you have any questions about Steve or the Highlights Foundation, drop me a note...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


(How can some buildings last for hundreds of years and other crumble?)

 I was going to write about my love of reality TV, but I can’t. It seems trivial to care about who sings the best or who loses the most weight when an earthquake has caused so much damage in Haiti. The photos on CNN are devastating. This natural disaster is weighing heavily on me.

A family friend, who adopted a teenage girl from Haiti, is in the process of adopting her little sister. She lives in an orphanage in Haiti. We just got word that she and the other children are fine. This is wonderful news. Seeing all the people that have lost their homes and have no place to go is  difficult to comprehend. My heart aches for them.  Holt International  works in Haiti (and other countries), helping find orphaned children homes.  If you are so inclinded, to help these children, please click on the link.

I hope that you will join me in keeping the people of and in Haiti in your thoughts and prayers…no matter what religion you practice.

Thank you…

Monday, January 11, 2010


I often wonder if I make a difference. When I taught elementary school, I knew I was making a difference. But do I make a difference now? I’m not talking about donating money or stuff to an organization. How can I make the world a happier place? My WAD mate and 2007 Highlights Magazine Annual Contest Winner, Rhonda Roberts sent the WAD a great reminder about how we can make a difference in someone’s life. Here’s what Rhonda said:

“Make a decision that once a day you will practice a random act of compliment. It has to be to someone you don't know. Maybe a lady walking down the street who has on pretty shoes, or a nice dress. As you walk by, say "That coat really looks nice on you", or "I love your shoes!", or "that outfit looks really good on you". Just try it. I've been doing this for a while now. You'll be surprised how good it will make the recipient feel, and how good it will make YOU feel. I like doing this at Wal-Mart. Especially if I see some poor lady that has the "I'm worn slap out" look on her face. I find something I truly like about her - I don't lie about it. Everybody likes to be complimented. It just takes a second, and it means a lot to someone when the compliment comes from someone they don't know. I've seen people shine like a new penny when they get an unexpected compliment. Just try it. “

Are you willing to join us in our quest to make someone feel good every day? I hope you’ll join in.

Fellow blogger, Mary Anne Gruen, honored me with The Circle of Friendship Award. I’m giving you two links to Mary Anne, so you can meet her and see some of her work. Thank you, Mary Anne. I’m honored that you read my blog.

I’d like to The Circle of Friendship Award to:

Elana has a great blog with a new look. Elana  has a wealth of knowlede and is more than willing to answer questions about the writing industry.  Thanks so much!

Sharon at Bookish Blonde. Sharon has a wonderful blog. I’m still not sure if her posts are fact or fiction, but they are highly amusing. Sharon also is great at giving advice on writing. Thanks, Sharon!

Terri Tiffany is an inspirational writer. I hope you’ll visit her blog. I appreciate that Terri reads my words regularly and writes great comments. Thanks, Terri!

Heidi Willis has a lovely blog. Her debut novel Some Kind of Normal came out in December. Heidi writes lovely thoughtful posts.

Hilary Wagner has been so helpful answering questions on her blog and through email. Her debut novel NIGHTSHADE CITY comes out later this year.

Crystal at Crystal’s Bookmark has become one of my critiquing buddies. I appreciate her spending energy trading manuscripts with me. 

There are so many wonderful blogs out there for us to read. I could have given this award to twenty other blogs that I enjoy reading. I apologize for not being able to list everyone. I hope you will check out these blogs and join the 2010 COMMENT CHALLENGE, so you can link up with lots of potential new e-friends.

I CHALLENGE YOU TO SAY SOMETHING POSITIVE TO A STRANGER EACH DAY;  A VIRTUAL STRANGER OR A REAL STRANGER. If you don’t get a chance to say something nice to a stranger, you can always try it out on a regular friend or acquaintance…

Friday, January 8, 2010


What’s on my mind today? FROZEN IGUANAS

I’m rather concerned by the photographs on CNN of iguanas freezing in trees and on the banks of waterways in Florida. I realize they are cold blooded and this is a natural defense mechanism. Their blood slows down and their bodies go into a hibernation state until it warms up (and they warm up). It’s just rather worrisome seeing them falling out of trees.

What else is on my mind? AGENTS

How much time should one spend looking for an agent? This process can be mind boggling. I’ve been jotting down notes from blogs, magazines, interviews, and from websites.

I joined It’s a great site! It allows you to keep a list of agents you might want to query. It tells you what they are interested in. Other members log in their queries and responses and you can access the data. It gives you links to the agent’s website, submission guidelines, and extra data if you pay for a membership. You can join for free, but if you become a premium member you can get more data about the agents and publishers. It’s worth the money.

I also joined a YA writing community site called It is full of great agent information as well. It is like facebook for writers.

I’m still trying to understand Twitter. I joined and read the comments of the people I follow. Lots of agent blogs have Twitter links. I’m still a novice at this, so NO questions, please.

I follow guide to literary agents; it’s a blog that gives you more information. Literary Rambles also is loaded with agent interviews and information. Not to mention, you can learn about agents on their blogs.


Thursday, January 7, 2010


HOW DO YOU WRITE? Not what do you write? Not where do you write? How do you write? I knew I needed to be alone to write. I knew I needed quiet, but today I learned I need absolute silence…

It was a snow day. My daughter cooperated. She worked quietly on her computer. She did the dishes in silence. She even took down the “candy” Christmas tree without making a peep.

But then the husband came home early, due to blizzard like conditions…Being the great employee that he is, he continued to work. Being the great husband he is, he let me keep writing in the office and he worked in the kitchen. I had no idea his job required so much phone time. I think he was on the phone for an hour and half, non-stop. When he got off the phone I said…

But by then I had completely lost my focus. I organized some notes for my MG: A TEMPORARY FAMILY and that was it for me…


Wednesday, January 6, 2010


One by one, fifty-six children climbed out of the coal-black train that rolled into Leek in central England. Every family was expected to do their part for the war effort. Daddy fought in France. Grandfather was in the Home Guard protecting the beaches along the English Channel. Grandmother worked in the Stannards Mill on Buxton Road sewing parachutes for the soldiers. Mummy and I wanted to do our part too. Mummy said we could take in one evacuee.

The children cued up and followed their teachers down the narrow cobblestone road. I could tell they were Londoners. They all were sickly and pale. I wondered how long it had been since they played outside. Their shoulders slumped and eyes cast down. Most wore dirty worn out clothes. Each child carried a small white paper bag full of their belongings. They all had a gas mask draped across one shoulder, just like me. Mr. Churchill required every man, woman and child to have one at all times, even babies.

I wanted to run to them and tell them not to be scared, they would be safe here. The War would never come to the countryside. It would stay in London and the south of England.

(This is an exerpt from a historical fiction picture book I am writing....)

I don't know how many times I've heard that historical fiction doesn't sell...But my WAD mate Tess Hilmo recently sold her MG historical fiction.  I love reading historical fiction.  I just read CHAINS & FEVER 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson and Katherine Paterson's BREAD & ROSES TOO (along with a host of books from England that were published in the early 1950's).  So, if I'm buying them and reading them, aren't other people???  Do you read historical fiction?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

HELP WANTED...suggestions accepted

The very cool and successful agent, Nathan Bransford is having an awesome contest in honor of the release of THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer Hubbard.  Click on the link to see the rules and prizes.

I'm posting my entry here...I'll be submitting my entry tomorrow morning.  Please feel free to comment on my submission and make suggestions.  It is an exerpt from the YA novel I am writing; HELP WANTED.

Journal entry 269

December 17th
Dear Steve,

He hit me! I can’t believe it! He hit me! I’m not even sure why. We were having lunch at the Student Union, just like any other Tuesday. Laila came by and said Scott’s having a party Friday night. Alec said we might go. I pouted a bit and he said we’d go. Laila asked if I wanted to go shopping after class tomorrow to get something hot to wear to the party. I said sure. Lord knows I need something to help me look hot. Alec’s the best looking guy on campus and he’s with me.

When we got in the car his face changed. He was like really pissed off about something. When I asked him what was wrong, he just glared at me. Then he reared back and slapped me across the face. “You better not show up looking like some kind of whore Friday!” he said. My face was stinging. I started crying. I told him I wouldn’t and that he could come with us if he wanted to make sure I looked okay. (I should have asked him when I’ve ever dressed like a whore.) He told me no, but I better make a good choice.

I kept waiting for him to say he was sorry, but he didn’t. I’m really worried about what I should do tomorrow. Do I buy something plain and boring to make him happy? Do I buy something that makes me look good? What if I get it wrong?

So, what do I do now? I’ve been in love with Alec since the beginning of our senior year. He’s always treated me like a princess. Maybe this was just some kind of lapse. Maybe semester tests are stressing him out. There has to be a good reason for him hitting me.

I can’t tell anyone he hit me. No one would believe it anyway. He’s always so calm, cool and collected. If I told Laila she would freak. She’d tell me to dump his lil’ white ass. Then where would I be? I would be the same old boring me…but alone. When he calls tonight, I’ll ask him how his day went and see if he wants to come over to watch CSI. Maybe he’ll come over and bring flowers or something and tell me how sorry he is for what happened in the car. He’s got to be sorry, doesn’t he? I’m sure it won’t happen again. It was a fluke. He’s never hurt me before. Well, that one time in the woods. But that doesn’t count, it was an accident.

 Marissa

The very talented Natalie Whipple, who Nathan also represents, is having a contest.  Follow the link to her contest. 

I hope you find the time to write a little something and to enter in both of these great contests.  Best wishes and thanks in advance to any of you who find the time to comment on my entry.  :)

Monday, January 4, 2010


How To Get Published...

First, write.
Second, finish what you write.
Third, submit what you write.
Fourth, keep submitting until you sell it.

My 2010 writing goals include:

• Update business plan monthly
• Maintain my blog
• Submit at least one magazine article a month
• Compile a list of potential agents
• Start querying agents
• Choose one writing event to attend

I revised my business plan today. At the beginning of each month, I will update my business plan. Three years ago, when I began my journey, my husband suggested I write a business plan. I was incredibly irritated with him. I was beginning a creative process and he wanted to add structure to it. I, reluctantly, wrote a plan. By the time I finished, I realized it was a great idea. I had some basic guidelines to help me remember what my goal was...publication.

DO YOU HAVE A BUISNESS PLAN? HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED ON REACHING YOUR GOAL?  (This doesn't just have to be for writers...)

***My year began with a bang. I won Karen's blog contest. Even though her contest is over, I hope you'll hop over and check her out. Bethany and Suzette are having an awesome contest! Their prize list includes: 2 Query Critiques, 2 First Five Page Critiques, and 1 Inscribed/Autographed The Dark Divine. Good luck to all.... (Me too).

Friday, January 1, 2010

Book Dreaming: Hear Ye... Hear Ye!

Book Dreaming: Hear Ye... Hear Ye! Shannon is having contest too...books, lots of books...

TRAVEL TOES AND untraditional New Year's Day discussion

Everyone in the blog world seems to be talking about resolutions and goals. I thought I'd give you a link to an awesome post on QueryTracker.  I'll be discussing writing goals next week.

I have a couple blog-friend updates: Karen and Falen winners of my Three Wishes Contest have good things going on. Karen is hosting a great New Year's Resolution contest.  Falen, who is super funny, started her own blog. I hope you'll hop over to their blogs and check them out.  Later this week, another WAD member will be joining the blogging world. Diana Calio, artist and writer, will be launching her website soon.

Planes, trains, or automobiles...No matter how much luxury I travel in, I end up with swollen ankles. After only six hours in our new Tahoe, my ankles began to swell to the size of grapefruits. Is this a normal reaction to traveling for a relatively fit forty-something woman? I drink water, limit caffeine and salt. I stretch my legs, do ankle and toe circles...and yet, I end up with cantaloupe sized ankles (after twelve hours in the Tahoe). I realize this isn't the most lady-like discussion, but it's a real concern for me. (I can't write or read with swollen ankles.)

Does this happen to you? Do you know anyone who has swollen toes and ankles? Any suggestions?