Posted in childhood, First Friday Five, For Writers, Lists, Reading

Five things I’m thankful for

For my first Friday Five, I’m tackling gratitude, because this month, and this week in particular, I full of thankfulness. Here goes.

  1. I’m thankful birthday season is over and I do not have to deal with party invites and RSVPs until October rolls around in 2017.
  2. I’m thankful it’s boot season.

    These are on my wishlist.
    These are on my wish list.
  3. I’m thankful for Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy and finally getting relief for the vertigo I’ve endured for the last 18 months.
  4. I’m thankful that I’ll have writing news to share in the near future. Newsletter subscribers will be the first to find out what it is.
  5. I’m thankful I got to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series. I grew up following them and learned the mantra “Wait until next year.” Waiting through a lot of next years taught me lessons in patience and hope that apply to my writing career. I wait for the next book to take off and be the one that gets on the shelves in Target, or at least gets a high-profile review. In the meantime, I sure do appreciate all you loyal fans, er readers, who’ve stuck with me. Can I add a 6th? Because if so,
  6. I’m thankful for you.
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Posted in Books, Conference, First Friday Five, Lists, Writing

First Friday Five Lessons from #RWA16

Last month I attended the Romance Writers of America annual conference. Since embarking on my writing career, this is the third time I have been able to attend. The 2016 conference marked my first visit to beautiful San Diego, CA. I wish I could go more often, both to San Diego and to the conference. In the meantime, here are five lessons I learned.

  1. Romance authors are wonderful people. We are smart, funny, hard-working, determined, curious, gracious and generous.

    Fantastic keynote speaker Beverly Jenkins
    Fantastic keynote speaker Beverly Jenkins
  2. Always wear comfortable shoes, especially when volunteering as I did during the Readers for Life Literacy Signing. You never know when you will need to race through the building to lend a hand to one of those wonderful authors.

    Helping at Readers for Life: with author Camille Di Maio
    Helping at Readers for Life: with author Camille Di Maio
  3. Be ready with the one line elevator pitch ANYTIME. I am on cloud 9 that my dream publishing house requested a full manuscript based on a one minute interaction.
  4. Small mental shifts in how one approaches the business of writing can be powerful. Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan shared ways to make promotion a more playful rather than dreaded part of of being an author. When Mary Burton quipped “It’s not concrete, folks, it’s words,” I found the idea liberating.
  5. Last, but not least, I learned I once again picked up too much amazing swag and too many books. This is small sample. RWA16swagThe books are in another room. I can’t keep it all. Over the next few months, I’ll draw names from my newsletter subscribers and send out some goodies. I even have a few things that I can ship overseas. If you aren’t subscribed, sign up here.
Posted in Books, childhood, First Friday Five, Lists, parenting

First Friday 5 lessons of #Motherhood

Being a parent has taught me myriad lessons. For one thing, I learned I needed to apologize to my mother as in this post from the past. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are five other lessons motherhood has taught me.

  1. Humility. Kids are terrific at pointing out all your flaws. If I misspeak, I will be corrected. If I come home after a work-out or a long bike ride, my kiddos will point out how bad I stink. If dinner is not delicious and merely okay, I will know. Forget tough to please reviewers, my harshest critics are tied to my daily life.
  2. The mundane can be amazing. I never thought much about drawers until my daughter was 3 months old and I laid her on the bathmat while I got ready for the day. I pulled open the drawer to get out my hair brush. The action was nothing to me until I noticed how big her eyes grew. She had never seen a drawer in motion before and her little mind was blown. Since then, I’ve tried to be more appreciative of small moments. Wonder is a state of mind.
  3. Bananas are tasty. I did not eat them until I had to set a good example to my children.
  4. Listen and ask questions before giving advice. Respect what they have to say, and they will respect what you have to teach them, unless it is a mispronunciation in which case, see #1.
  5. Nothing beats a snuggle and a book. At the end of a long day, I love to sit with each child and talk books. At first, I read picture books, then we moved on to new challenges. My son and I read the classics. He decides if the language is too tricky for him to read half or not. We stop and talk about ideas, word meaning and make predictions. Sometimes my daughter listens in. More often she and I snuggle and she tells me about what she is reading at the moment. Because it’s a comforting ritual for all of us, we turn to it when not feeling well or simply having a rough day. Of course, if you read this, chances are high you are already a book lover and know exactly what I mean.
Posted in Books, childhood, Christmas, Family life, First Friday Five, Lists, parenting, Reading

First Friday Five: Picture Book Bonus

The last two weeks, I’ve treated you to book recommendations for Middle School readers and for Elementary aged readers. This week, I’m sharing five terrific picture books.  I’ve given priority to books that have been released this year. As before, I’m including buy links to Amazon and Barnes & Noble for your convenience. I do not benefit financially in these recommendations, I just want to share books I love to help those who are looking for a book to give to a child.

  1. The Book with no Pictures by B.J. Novak. Yup, I’m starting a list of picture books with a book that has no pictures. Trust me on this one. B.J. Novak, previously a writer for The Office, has a tremendous way with words and a wicked sense of fun. This is the book the kids in your life will want to spring on unsuspecting parents, grandparents, babysitters, aunts, uncles and well, anyone as a bedtime story. The sense of mischief and fun appeals to kids all ages, including those of us experienced kids who have the gray hair to prove it.  Amazon and Barnes&Noble 
  2. The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers Have you ever looked at a child’s box of crayons and wondered what on earth happened to those once pristine pieces of wax? Jeffers’ playful illustrations are spot on and new readers will be surprised at the emotional depths Daywalt finds in the crayons. This is a terrific gateway for talking about emotions.  Amazon and Barnes&Noble 
  3. I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems. Mo Willelms is the mastermind behind Knufflebunny, the Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie, stars of I Will Take a Nap. Elephant and Piggie don’t look alike and possess many opposite traits (cautious versus impulsive) that can cause some conflict between the two, but friendship always prevails. Amazon and Barnes&Noble 
  4. Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat. This came out last year, but it didn’t cross my radar until my ninja loving son brought it home from the library. As I’ve said before, I think Dan Santat is a terrific illustrator and his vibrant images bring this twisted fairy tale to life. This is a fun book to read alongside an original version of Little Red Riding Hood and can lead to great conversation about empowerment and bullying. Amazon and Barnes&Noble 
  5. What Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss.  It’s not every year you get a new Dr. Seuss Book! For me, it’s no Fox in Sox (my favorite Dr. Seuss), but it is a fun book to read aloud and share with the children in your life. A lot of children will relate to the problem of picking a dream pet and in this book, there are no real life consequences, so bring on the silliness and help kids spark their creativity. Amazon and Barnes&Noble    

 

Kids that are read to from day one are kids who grow up to be readers. Study after study shows the benefit of reading with children. From building vocabulary to creative problem solving, to building empathy, to creating a passion for knowledge, few tools on this earth are more powerful than a book. Please share the joy of reading this holiday season, whether with a special child in your life or by donating a book to a school, shelter, library or program like First Book.

I hope you have enjoyed this extended Friday Five series. If you have books to recommend, or thoughts on this list, please share in the comments.

Posted in Family life, First Friday Five, Lists

First Friday: Five Simple Joys

This month I’m celebrating five simple joys that I’ve rediscovered now that my left arm is no longer encased in a shoulder to wrist cast.

1. Opening a drawer or cabinet with one hand and retrieving something with the other.

2. Holding a hardback book.

3. Holding a phone with one hand while writing information with the other.

4. Styling my hair in something other than a 1980’s side-pony.

5. Hugging with two arms.

I may still struggle to type, but every day I get better and stronger. Spread happiness and share a simple joy of your own.

Posted in Bad Traveler, Family life, First Friday Five, Lists

First Friday Five: Broken Arm

At the tail end of January, I slipped on ice and broke my left arm. By broke, I mean shattered. Trauma surgeons rebuilt my arm with the help of 8 pins.  For my First Friday Five, here are brief five lessons I’ve learned about life with my broken arm.

1. Typing one-handed is hard. So is removing a pan from a hot oven, driving, shampooing, and holding a hard back book. I could continue this list, but please see the first sentence of point one.

2. Sometimes, I wish I had the Kim Kardashian skill of balancing objects on my butt, then I would be able to open doors and carry something at the same time.

3. Some company should really manufacture  velcro front-close underwire bras in my size.

4. None of my Bad Traveler research on amputees and PTSD prepared me for how infantalizing the loss of independence can be.

5. I’m fortunate to have many wonderful people in my life who have helped me in myriad ways. A neighbor drove me to the emergency room, friends have watched my children and driven them to various tasks. Far-flung family rearranged their schedules to care for me and my children. I cannot thank my husband enough for all he has done, everything from opening medicine bottles to ordering my favorite chocolate. There’s nothing like a little misfortune to remind one of all the good in this world.

Posted in Family life, First Friday Five, For Writers, Lists, parenting, tween

First Friday Five: Writing Tween Girls

You can get Valentine’s tips anywhere, so rather than celebrating romance with my First Friday Five, I’m sharing

Five flaws an editor would point out you wrote a tween girl as they actually are.

  1. “This character is inconsistent. One minute she’s likable, the next she’s bat-shit crazy.”
  2. “Your character needs a clear goal, not the vague desire the world is against her.”
  3. “She lacks proper motivation.”
  4. “The conflict is too scatter-shot. Focus. Giving a more concrete goal and motivation will help.”
  5. “I found three variations on “eyeroll” and counted 812 incidents in the manuscript. Avoid repetition.”

Let your inner editor free in the comment section. I’d love to know what you think.

Posted in First Friday Five, Lists

Embrace the March Madness

Welcome to March Madness. This two-word phrase is synonymous with NCAA College Basketball and lots of it. The name is a bit of a misnomer, as the final game isn’t played until April, but the craziness exists. To celebrate this first Friday, I present Five Reasons to Embrace March Madness.

1. The TV will be on a lot, from approximately noon until two am, Thursday through Sunday. No one will want to cook. Consider this a good excuse to consume chips and beer.

2. March Madness proves men aren’t immune to a good Cinderella story, case in point, Virginia Commonwealth and coach Shaka Smart.

3. A charismatic player will emerge from a smaller program, reminding you not all college athletes are biding their time until they can turn pro.

4. A personal reason – if I don’t watch, I won’t see my husband for a month. Worse, in an effort to watch all the games, he’ll overload the DVR before I can watch my back episodes of Enlisted or The Amazing Race.

5. The coaches fascinate me and not just because some look good in their suits. You can watch a man’s face run through every emotion during the course of a game and it’s all in the name of research.

Posted in Crimson Romance, First Friday Five, Food, Lists, Reading, Winter Fairy

5 Winter Boredom Busters

Cold enough for you? If you’re in North America, chances are high you’re a little tired of winter at this point.  Maybe my “First Friday Five” this month will help.

5) Snow shoe.  If you don’t own a pair of snow shoes (and I didn’t until about two weeks ago), bundle up until you can’t move your arms and take a nature hike.  Chances are a little sunshine and fresh air will do you good.

4) Bake something with cinnamon. Your home will smell warm and cozy. Snickerdoodles anyone?  Or try this recipe from Fleishmann’s Yeast for a One Dish Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake (click for the link). It’s one of my favorites.

3) Do a puzzle.  If you have a cat, you will enjoy a bonus game of hide and seek since the cat will need to sit in the middle of the puzzle before sneaking off with pieces adhered to paws.

2) Crank up  the heat, play beach music and have a limbo contest in your living room. Bonus points for bare feet.

1) Read a book.  If you’ve already read my book, Winter Fairy, then let yourself be transported to a tropical destination. I recommend Hawaii, the setting for Robyn Neeley’s Destination Wedding and Sarah Madison’s The Boys of Summer.

If you haven’t read Winter Fairy, February 2014 is a great time to pick up your copy.  Winter Fairy by Lola Karns is one of many Crimson Romance titles on sale at Amazon for $1.99 all month long.  Winterfairycover

Posted in Family life, Lists, Moving

Moving Laws

Lola’s Rules of Relocation.

I’ve moved a lot over my adult life.  It’s easy to forget how many times, but I’ve been a licensed driver in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio (multiple times) and Virginia.  Over time, I’ve learned a thing or two (I hope).

The Rules of Relocation

  1. The previous holder of your new telephone number will have left a string of debts all over the city.
  2.  Something will break. Usually it will be an item of greater sentimental than monetary value.  It will never, ever be the item you most want destroyed (Curse you noisy infant toy).
  3. Your new residence will feature a radical difference in closet size.
  4. You will discover you have way over-bought some health/personal care item.  In my case, it was mouthwash, but I also found two bars of soap left over from the prior move’s over-buy.
  5. If you used professional packers, thee will be a brief, glorious period where the labeling of boxes makes sense.  It will last approximately 15 minutes. I recommend using this time to wisely re-label all remaining boxes.
  6. Your new driver’s license photo will be worse than the last one, unless you’re moving to Georgia.  The DMV there knows how to make you look good.  I have yet to see a bad photo on a Georgia license.
  7. You will find something you thought lost in a previous move–as well as the two replacement versions you acquired.
  8. You will realize you need a new and much bigger bookcase.
  9. You have the perfect excuse to try out every restaurant that delivers–until the credit card bill arrives.
  10. As soon as you empty the last box, you will be asked to relocate again.  DELAY UNPACKING THIS BOX AS LONG AS POSSIBLE!

Did I miss anything?  Let me know in the comments.