facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Today, I attended a cycling class for the first time in two years. I have to mention, a few years ago I was in the best shape of my life. I was working out an hour a day plus mountain biking a few times a week.

That was until I found out that I had over 70 tumors and had to start cancer treatment. I’ve been on the life-saving but horrible treatment ever since. I haven’t physically been able to workout while on the medicine, and I’m just now starting to feel better, although I don’t remember what it feels like to feel good. Throughout treatments, I always walked every day. I am currently feeling so much better; I decided to start working out again.

At first, I added a step class, once a week. And then a second step class. Today, I decided to add a cycle class. Cycle is hard, ya’ll. It was hard for me when I was super fit. Today, I couldn’t even keep up with the “resting” speed of the lady leading the class. Fifteen minutes into the class, I wanted to quit. My brain, without my consent, said it.

“Fit Erica would be so disappointed in you.”

I almost flinched.

No.

Stop.

I recognized it instantly, negative self-talk. That phrase from my brain was so flippant, so off-hand and real, I could have believed it. I could have let it drag me down. But then I started thinking about what I’d  actually said to myself. I was saying that if Erica from two years ago could see me, knowing that I had had two years of debilitating cancer treatment, she would still be disappointed in me? The idea is ridiculous. If Erica from two years ago knew what we were going to go through, she would be so proud of me. She would cry and wrap her arms around me. She would tell me that all that mattered was that I was still alive.

So why? Why do we talk to ourselves like this? Why do we think so lowly of ourselves when we all do difficult things? Why is it okay for me to say phrases like this to myself when I would never say them to anyone else? Negative self-talk is dangerous and counterproductive and always destroys. I usually steer clear of negative self-talk, but in that moment of disappointment and exhaustion, it crept in. But I recognized it and stopped it before it could hurt me.

The first step to dispelling negative self-talk is to recognize it! Call it out for what it is! Take a step back and realize that negative self-talk is counter productive and does so much more harm than good. It is the combined voice of all those people in your life that said you couldn’t do it, couldn’t be what you wanted to be. Walk away from those voices. Acknowledge and focus on the amazing things that you have done, and replace that negative self-talk with the things that you have accomplished.

We are all better off without it.

20170224_100550

facebooktwitterpinterest
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Writing is hard. Finding the right words, emotions, and pacing is hard. Writing interesting blog posts about how to be a better writer is hard. So writers stay up at night, trying to find the perfect combination of words. Then they release their work into the world, but then they perhaps don’t get as poignant a response as they’re hoping.

Bummer.

Books are different than the information we find on the internet. A book has a visual cover, but then the next 300+ pages are just words.  A reader sits down, hopefully becomes engrossed, and creates the images in their head.

The Internet is different.

There is so much vying for attention: movies, gifs, photographs, illustrations, and ads. The online world is saturated. Sometimes lovely words on the Internet are not enough to catch attention.

What’s a writer to do?

I strongly believe that including an image in tweets and blog posts, even if the image doesn’t exactly reflect what is going on in the post, is better than just words by themselves. Many writers are intimidated by the idea of having to include images with their writing.

Don’t be.

As fellow creative, writers want to use images in an ethical way, but paying for stock images every time they post on their blog is not generally doable.

But GOOD NEWS! There are many (legal, ethical) ways for writers to include images with their work, without using the Google image search.

Here are a few places to find free images.

  1. Do it yourself. Take pictures. Many smart phones have better cameras than the expensive digital cameras of ten years ago. Take pictures everywhere you go: fall colors, neat hand-painted signs, the cracks in the sidewalk. Then keep them in a catalog for when you want to use them. An example? I was out ice-skating on a frozen lake with my family and snapped a picture of the fissures through the surface three years ago. Fast forward to last week. I am promoting a hockey book for work and I created this graphic using that image from ice-skating long ago. I could have paid for a hockey stock image, but I instead used one from my catalog. Also, get familiar with Instagram. They have fabulous filters that help make any picture look professional.

RKOM_crazy.jpg

  1. Use those pictures to create graphics with images and words. Find images online that you like, and figure out how to make your own with your camera and computer. Download a cool free font from http://www.fontsquirrel.com (Links to an external site.) and put quotes on top of your photographs (the edgy font from the above image was downloaded from font squirrel). Learn the basics of Photoshop elements or some other cheap photo-manipulating software.
  1. Use free sources of photography. This website lists several places to get free, beautiful images. https://bootstrapbay.com/blog/free-stock-photos/ (Links to an external site.) . Some photography sites require the users to leave an attribution for the artist that took the picture. An attribution is easy to do in a blog setting with a small caption under the photo that says, “image provided by_____.” Some sites don’t require any attribution, but you should definitely double check before using an image.
  1. Another great option is buying a vector pack of images. Sites like https://thehungryjpeg.com/graphics/illustrations/ (Links to an external site.) have vector packs of multiple images at a cheap price and no attribution is required. You can find a pack that is related to your book, and create promos using those images.

Covers sell books. Images and graphics help draw readers to your words. Don’t be intimidated by learning something new or a new software. Look at images around the net, and find images you can emanate in promoting your writing, but don’t steal other people’s creative work. Take the initiative, and it will help your writer’s platform in the long run.

facebooktwitterpinterest
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

RKOMreleaseddar

Leap Books is releasing Right Kind of Mistake, the new adult contemporary romance today! I conducted an interview to get an inside look with the book’s author, Rebecca Thomas.

  1. Q- How did you come up with the idea for Right Kind of Mistake?

Rebecca- Anyone who has been hurt in a relationship has probably thought of ways to retaliate or hurt the person who hurt them. That is the idea I wanted to explore in Right Kind of Mistake.

  1. Q- We have to know! What are your connections with hockey?

Rebecca-I reluctantly started playing women’s hockey when my co-workers wouldn’t leave me alone about it. They begged me to play on their team with them. I signed up for no other reason except to get them to quit bothering me. I had figure skated all my life, but I’d never donned a pair of hockey skates, gear, or held a hockey stick until that very first game. Well, the rest is history. I was completely “hooked.” I knew nothing about hockey, I didn’t know any of the rules, I had no idea what “off-sides” meant, and couldn’t understand why the ref kept blowing the whistle at me. I instantly became a hockey lover. I played for 8 years before my children became so involved in hockey that I just couldn’t keep up with it anymore. Now I just write about it!

  1. Q- Who was your favorite character to write?

Rebecca- I love all my characters! I can’t choose a favorite.

  1. Q- There are some pretty intense, sexy scenes between Cam and Haylie. Were those hard to write or did it come naturally?

Rebecca- Sexy scenes are not easy for me to write. I definitely had help from my editor! I’m completely jealous of writers who say writing sex scenes is the easy part. Mostly, I try to focus on the physical attraction between the two characters, then the passion and emotion naturally follows.

  1. Q- Did you do anything specific to develop Cam and Haylie’s characters?

Rebecca- Anyone who has suffered from a broken heart can relate to Haylie. I’m certainly one of those people, so it was easy for me to tap into her. Cam developed in my mind in two distinct ways. One was the idea of wanting what you can’t have, and another was the idea of a good guy getting the girl. It seems like there are so many “bad boy” stories out there, but what about the nice guy? I really wanted the good guy to win.

  1. Q- What was your favorite part of writing Haylie’s story?

Rebecca- My favorite part was going through Haylie’s emotions with her. I loved her slowly coming to the realization that she didn’t make a mistake and she deserves better than what she got. She deserves a happy ending with a nice guy.

  1. Q- What can readers expect from book two?

You will see more of Tyler, Haylie’s ex-boyfriend, in book two.

  1. Q- Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Right Kind of Mistake?

Rebecca- There is something so special and memorable about early adulthood. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to writing about that time in life when mistakes feel so monumental. In the end, not all mistakes turn out bad, and maybe some mistakes are meant to happen.

Right Kind of Mistake – Heartbroken and afraid of commitment, Haylie, is only looking for a few hours of pure bliss.  But hockey hero Cam wants more than a hook-up. His goal? Ice-melting romance.

Available now at online retailers!

http://amzn.com/B014CB27J4

 

 

 

facebooktwitterpinterest
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

We drove WAY. TOO. MUCH. This summer. I estimate I spent at least 50 hours in the car on long road trips with my two kids (ages 8 and 4). But just because we were in the car, doesn’t mean I wanted them sitting in front of a screen the whole time. I’ve found audio-books are the perfect solution. Of the 50 hours we spent in the car, I think my boys only played on I-PAD for about three. Which I think is fantastic.

Where do you get audio-books? You can purchase audio-books through a myriad of retailers (B&N, Amazon, Audible, Itunes) but you can often find audio-books for free from the library. They have actual CD’s that you can checkout, but many libraries subscribe to the Overdrive (https://www.overdrive.com/) website where you can check out audio-books and download them to your device for free.  You just have to log on with your library card number. Even if you are getting your audio-books for free, be sure to leave a review on Amazon/Audible/Goodreads to show the authors that you appreciate their work, and to help get the word out about books you love!

So what did we listen to?

Percy Jackson Series- The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Narrated by Jesse Bernstein

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

After a life of mysterious things going wrong, Percy Jackson discovers that not only are the Greek gods still real, he is a half-blood, meaning he is half god half human. Riordan creates the perfect blend of mythology in a contemporary landscape. Bernstein’s narration is fantastic.

What did my 8 year-old son think? He LOVED Percy Jackson. Every time we got in the car, he would beg to listen to more. Yesterday, he came home from school fanatically-excited to show me that he checked out the next Percy Jackson book from his school library.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Narrated by Jim Dale

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

We all know how wonderful Harry Potter is, but have you heard it on audio-book with narrator Jim Dale? It is amazing! Seriously. I want him for the narrator of my life. We had this audio-book on CD, and the only disappointment was I couldn’t download the next one on Audible.

Other books I’ve had success with when listening in the car with my kids are-

Encyclopedia Brown 

Winnie the Pooh

Nate the Great

Magic Treehouse

The True Meaning of Smek Day

 

Are there any books your kids love to read or that you’ve had success with on audio-book? Leave a comment below.

 

facebooktwitterpinterest
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Mine Headframes

Mine Headframes

Butte, America- The Richest Hill On Earth

The sun is just settling down on the horizon, throwing most of streets into the soft shadows of dusk. The streets are eerie quiet, except for the occasional bar or pub whose music spills out their open doors in snatches as I walk by. I love it here, and would love to spend weeks finding its hidden secrets.

butte-3472

Butte HotelHotel FinleyI’ve had this strange fascination with Butte ever since I first visited three years ago. It was fall then, and fires from dry winter and a hot summer had filled the air with an ashy smoke which spread over Butte in a looming layer that seemed like it belonged in this town of boarded windows and peeling paint. That day I drove to the top of the hill where Uptown stood in the shadows of skeletal mine headframes, the above-ground remains of the underground mines first built in the late 1890’s, and a constant reminder of the town’s history.

And that history is what fascinates me about Butte. It is a mining boomtown in the extreme. Not one of these ghost towns were it goes up overnight, and then disappears even quicker when the resource runs out. This boomtown spanned decades and even generations, with underground mines providing life, a livelihood and community, as well as death.

Today is different; Butte feels different. Spring has turned the surrounding tan or pale yellow hills to a vibrant greeWelcome to Butten. The sky is the blue that only appears next to puffy white clouds mixed with gray and rain. A rainbow appears down the valley from me, not the usual thin strip, but a wall of translucent color. Every twist and turn in this place brings a building or and image I want to capture forever with my camera. I catch glimpses not of how this place is now, but of what it used to be.

Buttes’ decline started in the 50’s, when the underground mines were closed. The open pit mine opened, and was much less labor intensive. Workers lost their livelihoods. The open pit still stretches into the distance, double tHeadframehe size of the town, a mountain turned to rubble, with its inside treasures sent like tiny veins into our homes and throughout the world, now thrumming with the steady pulse of electricity. It is almost surreal in its size, grandeur, and destruction. It closed in the 80’s, but will have permanently changed the landscape

The architecture here is stunning, but ghostly. The population of Butte peaked in 1920 at 100,000. Now, barely 34,000 residents live here. In Uptown, most of the commercial buildings are empty. What glass remains is filmed with years of grime and neglect. I long to see it bustling with the windows surrounded with flowers instead of ply-wood. These buildings were built to last. In the late 1870’s a fire decimated Uptown Butte, and the city council passed a law that all Uptown buildings must be constructed of brick or stone. So here they still stand, the hollow echoes of lives that feel more distant than they actually are.

Yet, the city still feels alive in a way that doesn’t come from humans, like it was meant for more than being relegated to a boomtown. No one stopped to wonder, when Butte was full of life, “What happens when the money runs out.”

Perhaps they didn’t want to know.

Guitar

butte-3479butte-3485butte-3496butte-3470butte-3494butte-3498butte-3475Dance Hall

 

 

 

 

facebooktwitterpinterest
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

I did Nanowritmo in April and with grad-school final projects due, I didn’t get a chance to read as much as I like to the last few months, but here’s what I’ve been reading!

If you have any recommendations, please leave a comment to let me know what it is!

Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising by Leigh Burdugo

Genre: YA Fantasy

As I said when I read the first book in the trilogy, I love these books. The perfect fantasy.  It’s hard to write with no spoilers, but I will say I wasn’t sure about the ending, but I decided to love it. I read some reviews online, and I was surprised by the venom that people had toward the ending. All I can think is they wanted Alina to end up with the Darkling, a Loki-esque, hot anti-hero antagonist, but she doesn’t.

So amazing and definitely worth a ride!

The Protectors by Trey Dowell

Genre: Contemporary Superhero

“You only get everything you want right before it gets taken away.”

Super-heroes, but with a twist.

Scott McAlister is a pretty average guy. He drinks beer, lives in a cabin, and since it doesn’t mention him doing 500 push-ups every morning before breakfast, I assume he looks pretty average looking also, except for one tiny thing: he’s one of only four super heroes on the earth. The CIA forces him out of forced retirement to track down and stop the girl he may or may not love, who has been using her super powers to recklessly try and save the world.

Dowell takes many super-hero tropes and refreshingly turns them on their sides. His voice in writing Scott McAlister is amazing, with just the right amount of pithy sarcasm and introspection. The high-action, fast moving plot keeps the reader turning the pages. Highly recommend!

I hate recommending books for a specific gender, and although I think anyone can enjoy this book, I think it would be an awesome option for a reluctant teen-boy reader.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Genre: YA Contemporary Time-Travel Fantasy

Obviously I’ve been spoiled by how many amazing books I’ve been reading lately. Gwyneth Sheperd has a time-traveling gene in her family, and her whole life her beautiful and sophisticated cousin has been treated like royalty because it was foretold she would carry the gene. Imagine Gwyneth surprise when she travels back in time instead. This book was amazing in so many ways, but my favorite was Gwyneth Shepard’s voice. So perfect and believable as a teen girl. I can’t wait to read the other two!

The Writing Workshop Note Book: Notes on Creating and Workshopping by Alan Ziegler

Genre: Craft Book

Interesting book on how to get more out of writing workshops. My favorite quote: “Would you really want to invest time, money, and soul into a workshop and leave with what you brought in?” That is basically how I feel about all experiences.

When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak

Genre: Contemporary Romance

When PR publicist Gail DeMarco dissolves her contract with A-list hotty Simon O’Neal, it sets off a whirl-wind of events where Gail and Simon decide the best option is a marriage of convenience, even though they can’t stand each other. But Gail learns there is more to Simon’s self-destructive behavior then she originally thought. Very fun and sexy romance!

Rental Houses for the Successful Small Investor by Suzanne P. Thomas

Genre: How To, Investment Real Estate

I trade options on the stock market for my regular income, and was looking to diversify my portfolio by looking into investment real-estate.

I loved Thomas’s philosophy on real-estate investing: have achievable goals and use investing as a way to build income so you can spend time doing the things you really love to do. She is not selling a get rich quick theology. She also gives practical advice on tenants and how to be landlord.  That being said, the book is dated, and Thomas has very limited experience in different geographic locations. She also gives advice not as useful in the current market, like recommending adjustable rate mortgages. I am on the fence about recommending. So many other books say, “Make a million dollars in fifteen minutes with real-estate!” But Thomas’s book is much more practical. I would say read it if you are interested in investment real-estate, but then read about fifteen other books as well.

Rise of the Earth Dragon and Saving the Sun Dragon by Tracey West

Genre: Beginning Chapter Books- Fantasy

I am working on a writing project with my seven-year-old son, and this is research. Since it is hard to judge books for readers this young, I will say my son LOVED these books. It does my heart good that I have to keep prodding him to eat his breakfast because he wants to read these instead. He did like the second book, Saving the Sun Dragon  better than the first. I think because the first book had to spend a lot of time setting up the story line. Overall, perfect for kids who are just starting to read on their own.

Storm Watcher by Maria V. Snyder

Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade

Maria Snyder is all around a fantastic author. Storm Watcher deviates from her usual fantasy or sci-fi worlds to follow a boy named Luke Riley.

Luke recently lost his mother, and feels responsible for her death. He finds solace in a dog breeder’s kennel where he can take his mind off his recent loss and he overwhelming fear of violent weather. Snyder shows us the world through a little boy whose feelings and desires and loss are just as acute as any adult’s in a strong and powerful way. Loved it!

Okay, so I teared up just writing this review.

Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books For Faster, Better Writing by Libbie Hawker

Genre: How-to Craft Book

I read this as my craft book for grad school, and below is part of the review I submitted for that.

The author starts with an introduction, toting her amazing writing abilities. Her attitude simultaneously intrigues and annoys me. But then she pulls out the big guns, stating she wrote an entire 92,000 word book in just three weeks. Yes, you have my attention! Ms. Hawker claims that the steps she takes to outline a book make it so she can not only write that fast, but the writing is better because she knows exactly what her goals are.

Let me just start by saying I love craft books like this, the kind that lay out guidelines on how to make a tight plot and how to follow a step by step guidelines to make everything “perfect.” But I am also leery of writers that claim, “If you just do this, everything will be perfect and easy, and you will float about on the back of a unicorn and eat cherries!” So I would have to say that my leery-ness almost always cancels out the amount that I love them, which I don’t think is a bad thing.

When comes to plotting, I am a pantser, meaning I don’t outline everything in detail. I know exactly where the story is going, I know the ending, but I don’t necessarily know how the characters are going to end up there. That being said, I do recognize that outlining enables writers to write faster and maybe even better.

Overall, I think this was a worthwhile read. It was to the point with no fluff-n-stuff, and exactly what I want in a craft book. Do I agree with everything? No. But for a pantser like me, it is very valuable to lay the plot out.

 

 

 

facebooktwitterpinterest
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The Lovely Bridges of Paris

I’ve had cancer now for 11 years, although I didn’t know it until my diagnosis four years ago. I don’t talk about it much, really because it makes other people uncomfortable. No one knows how to react, and I don’t blame them.

But today’s post isn’t really about cancer. It’s about bodies of muscle and bone and blood.

You see, my cancer creates red, circular rashes on my body that are not only revolting in appearance, but so itchy that I bleed from scratching their tender surfaces.

I’m miserable. All. Day. Long.

Everyday.

I know what you’re thinking. “It’s just itchy, get over it.”

The itching keeps me awake. These patches sting and hurt when I work out, which is every day. They ache when I walk. They itch in a way that I can’t stop myself removing chunks of skin with my fingernails. In a bathing suit, I cover the patches with a towel because when people see them, I can see the look of disgust when they see them. I only have a few spots that I can’t cover with my clothes, but I have random strangers come ask if I got severely burned when they see them.

Most of the time, I’m just happy to be alive, but the other day, I was feeling quite sorry for myself.  I was frustrated with my body and how I am literally miserable in my own skin. But then I realized how stupid that is.

I should love this body of mine. We’ve done so much together, she and me.

I’ve looked out from the top of the Eiffel Tower. I’ve grown two tiny babies within my womb. I’ve seen sea turtles while scuba diving, and climbed the Teton mountains. I’ve made love, kayaked in rivers, and danced in the rain. I’ve sped down cliffs on my mountain bike. I’ve rock-climbed and walked in palaces. I’ve rocked tiny babies to sleep, and sang in front of cheering crowds. I’ve fallen asleep with the sun warming my skin. I’ve hugged friends, and caressed a lover. I’ve eaten good food, and ran so hard I was sick. I’ve walked where Michelangelo walked, and saw Tuscany from the window of a train. I’ve stepped on the same rock that held dinosaur footprints from millions of years ago. I’ve ridden in plane at 500 miles an hour. I’ve quilted with my grandmother and watched the sunrise. I’ve laughed until I cried and planted seeds in the ground. I’ve held someone in my arms while they cried tears of joy, and I’ve sought comfort in arms when there was the only a glimmer of joy through the pain. I’ve swam in rivers, laughed with friends, and burrowed into my covers when I’ve been sick. I’ve achieved accomplishments and broached disappointments. I’ve jumped off cliffs into water and stayed up all night reading. I’ve met people I loved instantly and slept with nothing between me and the stars.

All in this one body. I will only have one. It’s not perfect, not on the inside or the outside, but I love it, because it has given me the ability to love and experience life.

Everything I’ve ever done was in this body, and all my future joys well be viewed through these eyes and felt through this skin. Even though I get frustrated with this body and its frailties, it’s really all I have.

And I love it.

The Lovely Pastries of Paris

facebooktwitterpinterest
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The year? 1998 (I’m not actually sure). Ninth grade (I think).  My team made it to the state championships in soccer, and we drove 4 hours to the tournament.  It was cold that weekend, so cold we wore hoodies under our jerseys, gloves to push back the bitter wind, and wrapped in blankets to stay warm when we weren’t playing.

And that is exactly what I wasn’t doing: playing. Because I sucked.  I was sitting on the bench, while the coach kept sending other players on and off the field. I knew I wasn’t the best player on the team, but it was at that moment I realized how bad I really sucked. I literally had nothing to contribute to my team. Girls so exhausted they couldn’t run anymore were better than me.

I cried.

My friend Necia asked about my tears, and I told her it was just the wind, but she figured out what was wrong and actually confronted my coach. I was embarrassed, mortified, but I loved her for it. The coach put me in, and a few minutes later took me out. The beginning and end to my playing at that state championship.

We lost.

But the pain of losing was nothing compared to the pain of realizing I sucked.

Two years previous, a form had come around school for anyone interested in soccer. I’d never played, but I was interested and I convinced my best friend to be interested as well. I showed up at practice, and… I loved it. I loved everything about it. I loved the kicking, the team, the sound of the ball hitting the net, and even the feeling of pushing my body so hard that I almost couldn’t walk afterward. I didn’t play soccer because I thought it would be easy or because it would make me cooler. I played it because I loved it.

But evidently I sucked. I mean, I must have known I sucked, but I didn’t know I sucked THAT BAD.

We came home from state, defeated, and the season was over.

I never told anyone about that day, not my parents, no one. I don’t think anyone else on my team, except Necia, noticed. But what did I do the next season when the forms came around to sign up for soccer?

I signed up.

Because I loved to play, and I wasn’t going to let the fact that I sucked stop me from doing what I really loved to do. As an adult looking back, I am proud of that teenager that realized she sucked at something, and wasn’t going to let it stop her from doing something she loved.

And you know what happened? I got better. I played every season (two a year) until I graduated high school. By the end, I was a team captain and one of the leading scorers on the team. Did I turn into Mia Hamm? No. Was that my goal? No. Are my memories from soccer some of the best I have from high school? Yes. Was it worth all that pain of knowing I was the worst, but keep going. You bet!

Now, I have to remind myself that on occasion there are things that I love that I really suck at. I mean really suck, like the coach-avoids-my-gaze-because-he-knows-he-will- never-put-me-in sucks. Can I cry that I suck at something I love and want to be really good at it? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I have to quit. I am convinced that it will get better, that I will get better, even if I never turn into Mia Hamm.

 

 

This post is brought to you by my best friend’s mom, Mrs. Briggs, who shuttled me to and from pretty much every single soccer practice and game until I was old enough to drive. You’ll probably never read this, but thank you. It meant so much to me.

 

 

facebooktwitterpinterest
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

I read one to two books a week, in addition to my writing, so I’ve decided to start posting the books I finish. I will select some of my favorites and talk more in depth about them.

I read two books this month that, as a writer, made me ache because they were so good. It was one of those times that what I was reading is so amazing, I wondered if my writing will ever compare.

 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Genre: YA Fantasy

I originally bought this on Audible, but I started it and realized I need to read this book. It needed all my attention so it could settle into my bones.

It is YA Fantasy that takes place in a historic version of Russia. It is totally engrossing, one of those stories that you fall into, and have a hard time surfacing from.  It is definitely one of the best fantasies I have read lately.

Leviathan by Scot Westfield

Genre: YA Historic, Sci-fi, Steam-punkish

I also bought this one from Audible, and I can’t decide which to recommend, the print or the audio-book. Leviathan is illustrated beautifully by Keith Thompson. Seriously, the illustrations are stunning. But Alan Cumming does such an AWESOME job of the narration in the audio-book. So it is a win-win with whichever you choose.

This book is so mind-blowingly creative. Westerfield uses Darwin’s theories to create machine/animal hybrids, like something out of science fiction to create a futuristic feeling, steam-punkish historical fiction. It is an alternate history that whose beginning coincides with the beginning of World War I. It has alternating points of view, a female and a male protagonist.  Seriously fabulous!

Murder on Astor Place– Victoria Thompson

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Historic mystery that takes place in New York City. Fabulous in-depth world-building.

 

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript– James Scott Bell

Genre: Non-Fiction, Writing Craft Book

Great, short craft book focused on Dialogue. Great addition to any writing craft library.

facebooktwitterpinterest
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

I try not to go overboard for my kids at Christmas time, but I do like to make them something. Maybe by giving the time it takes to make something, it feels more valuable than money. But this doesn’t always go over well. Like the batman/superman cape of 2012. Pure disaster… anyway.

So this year, I decided that I would make them hooded towels, because hooded towels.

I didn’t tell them what I was doing, and had them pick out towel colors while at Walmart.  Of course my seven year old walked in while I was cutting it up. “Mom! That was my towel and you ruined it.”

“Was it? I had no idea!”

I was half way through when I thought, “Dino hood!” Of course it had to be.

Most of the time, people are making these for babies and so they use half a hand towel, but since this is for my older children, I used a full hand towel for each.

So let’s get to it!

Supplies for one:

Towel

Hand-towel

12 x 12 square of felt

Sewing supplies: thread, pins, scissors, sewing machine.

Fold your hand towel in half. Cut from the fold at about a 45 degree angle. Then cut the rest of the fold so the hand towel is now in half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On my second one for my younger child, I cut a little strip off the back so the hood wasn’t quite so big. They are pretty much the same, but here is a pic.

Next, cut your felt to make the dino-spikes. So I used a cheater method of measuring here. I cut the 12 x 12 square in half to make a 6 x 12 inch rectangle. On one of the long sides, I measured every 3 inches and cut a slit with my scissors. On the other side, I made the first cut at 1.5 inches, and the rest 3 inches apart. Then I was just able to eye-ball the cuts with the scissors. I made a diagram. Of course you can measure out each triangle if you would like. The end 1.5 inch spaces are the only waste.

So this next step is the trickies part, because the spikes go the opposite way than I thought it should. Everywhere the towel was cut, line the area with the spikes TO THE INSIDE. I overlapped them slightly because I had plenty of spikes and when the hood is turned right-side out they spread.

Put the other section of the towel face-down covering the spikes. Pin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sew along the area, making sure all the the spikes are in place, and the hood put back together. Then flip the spikes to the outside!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fold the large towel in half and mark the middle. Pin the middle of the hood to correspond with the center of the large towel.

Sew the hood to the towel, and your done! Let me know if you have any questions! Have fun!

facebooktwitterpinterest