Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'm Giving Away My Age

A dear acquaintance sent this to me awhile ago. I happened to come across it again today and decided to share it on my blog for anyone who hasn't read it. Besides, I'm having trouble coming up with today's post. My mind is on overload. I'll do better tomorrow. In the meantime, this is a sweet read. Enjoy!

Do You Remember when?

All the girls had ugly gym uniforms? It took five minutes for the TV warm up?

Nearly everyone's Mom was at home when the kids got home from school? Nobody owned a purebred dog?

When a quarter was a decent allowance?

You'd reach into a muddy gutter for a penny?

Your Mom wore nylons that came in two pieces?

All your male teachers wore neckties and female teachers had their hair done every day and wore high heels?

You got your windshield cleaned, oil checked, and gas pumped, without asking, all for free, every time? And you didn't pay for air? And, you got trading stamps to boot?

Laundry detergent had free glasses, dishes or towels hidden inside the box?

It was considered a great privilege to be taken out to dinner at a real restaurant with your parents?

They threatened to keep kids back a grade if they failed. . and they did?

When a 57 Chevy was everyone's dream car...to cruise, peel out, lay rubber or watch submarine races, and people went steady?

No one ever asked where the car keys were because they were always in the car, in the ignition, and the doors were never locked?

Lying on your back in the grass with your friends and saying things like, "That cloud looks like a .." and playing baseball with no adults to help kids with the rules of the game?

Stuff from the store came without safety caps and hermetic seals because no one had yet tried to poison a perfect stranger?

And with all our progress, don't you just wish, just once, you could slip back in time and savor the slower pace, and share it with the children of today?

When being sent to the Principal's office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited the student at home? Basically we were in fear for our lives, but it wasn't because of drive-by shootings, drugs, gangs, etc. Our parents and grandparents were a much bigger threat! But we survived because their love was greater than the threat.

Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Laurel and Hardy, Howdy Dowdy and the Peanut Gallery, the Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows, Nellie Bell, Roy and Dale, Trigger and Buttermilk.

Summers filled with bike rides, baseball games, Hula Hoops, bowling and visits to the pool, and eating Kool-Aid powder with sugar. Didn't that feel good, just to go back and say, "Yeah, I remember that"?

Double dog dare

And remember when the perfect age was somewhere between old enough to know better and too young to care?

Candy cigarettes, Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water inside

Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles

Coffee shops with tableside jukeboxes

Blackjack, Clove, and Teaberry chewing gum

Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers

Newsreels before the movie

P.F. Fliers

Telephone numbers with a word prefix...(Raymond 4-601).

Party lines, Peashooters, Howdy Dowdy, 45 RPM records, Green Stamps

Hi-Fi's, Metal ice cubes trays with levers

Mimeograph paper, Beanie and Cecil, Roller-skate keys

Cork pop guns, Drive ins, Studebakers, Washtub wringers, The Fuller Brush Man

Reel-To-Reel tape recorders, Tinkertoys, Erector Sets, The Fort Apache Play Set, Lincoln Logs

15 cent McDonald hamburgers, 5 cent packs of baseball cards - with that awful pink slab of bubble gum

Penny candy, 35 cent a gallon gasoline, Jiffy Pop popcorn

Decisions were made by going "eeny-meeny-miney-moe"?

Mistakes were corrected by simply exclaiming, "Do Over!"?

"Race issue" meant arguing about who ran the fastest?

Catching the fireflies could happily occupy an entire evening?

It wasn't odd to have two or three "Best Friends"? The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was "cooties"?

Having a weapon in school meant being caught with a slingshot? A foot of snow was a dream come true? Saturday morning cartoons weren't 30-minute commercials for action figures?

"Oly-oly-oxen-free" made perfect sense?

Spinning around, getting dizzy, and falling down was cause for giggles? The worst embarrassment was being picked last for a team? War was a card game? Baseball cards in the spokes transformed any bike into a motorcycle?

Taking drugs meant orange-flavored chewable aspirin? Water balloons were the ultimate weapon?

I think I just gave my age away ...

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Interesting Idiots

I'm putting the final touches on my manuscript since splitting it in two. (It's not a book until it's published.) It will be on its way to my agent this weekend and then Mike and I are heading to a cabin for some R&R. Rest and relaxation. A belated anniversary spot.

I feel as though my body's been welded to this chair. Every morning, however, there are a few web sites and blogs I tune in to. Dena Harris has the best blog. Funny, well written, and full of surprises. Especially today's blog ... http://blogsbydenaharris.squarespace.com/ ... she's honest about herself, which makes her not only funny... but interesting.

Interesting people. They're what make the world go around. Interesting comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. People, like Dena, are interesting because of their wit, their humor, their love for animals, their stamina to weather the storms. She's an animal lover, and get's physically ill when she sees a stray dog or cat. I thought about my friend this morning.

Some folks, though interesting ... aren't worth the time to write about them. Like our neighbors across the street. Today I realized there's a new kind of interesting breed of people. Interesting idiots. What makes these people tick, I wonder?

This morning, there's a little dead puppy at the end of my driveway. The neighbors across the street had this precious dog, a Rottweiler mix, that played in their front yard. It lived on their porch. No leash, no supervision. More than once we chased the dog back into their yard as we went to our mailbox. A friendly little fella, but we knew in the back of our minds, it was doomed.

And this morning ... it happened. Michael ran out to the end of our driveway. The dog was still breathing. Immediately, I called the police, while Michael watched the owners back out of their driveway in a beat-up pickup, take a look at their puppy laying in our driveway and then took off. But a few minutes later, guilt must've got the best of them. They backed up and got out of their pickup. Michael let them have it. Then the police came. But in the meantime, the poor puppy died. The animal protection officer also let the yahoos know a thing or two about taking care of pets.

The house across the street is a rental that changes occupants about every six months. And about every six months, a new dog moves in, as well. A dog that is usually dead before the renters move out.

I don't understand people. Interesting people? Interesting idiots. My heart goes out to animals like this. I wish I could steal these dogs and give them to a good home. We just knew this puppy's days were numbered as he would wander toward the street every day.

I think from now on, any more loose dogs I see, I'm taking action. Of some kind.

Blessings to you and your animals this day.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I'm Celebrating!

I come from people of faith. A long line of believers. No agnostics in my lineage, that’s a fact. It’s not something we can help. It’s part of our DNA.

Well, folks, it’s been a long, hard, uphill road. At times I’ve felt like a loser, a complete idiot for trying this hard for so little reward. At other times, I’ve felt on top of the world. But my faith refused to allow me to give up. My belief that the good Lord wanted this book written, and written by me, was often all-consuming. Anyway, my faith gave me the strength and courage to write for unbelievably long hours, even days at a time. With very few interruptions. Suffering (and I mean suffering) through grueling edits. Kind and cruel. Deciding what to use and what to ignore. Slaving over words, paragraphs, scenes. There are more drafts of this book than I can remember at this point. It was, and is ... a labor of love. It had to be in order to finish it. As a result, my butt has spread a little more from sitting in the same chair for years, and … my back and the nerves in my leg give me fits if I don’t get up and move some during the day.

I almost gave up. I really almost said, "to hell with this." Fortunately, I have a husband who rescued me before it ever got to that point. But every writer goes through those dark hours. Every writer is tested and tried by fire. Writers, artists of all kinds, struggle harder than most, I think. They see virtually no money for their efforts. For many years some of us. The drive is divinely inspired. It has to be. You either write, or you die. It’s that strong in those that persevere.

Some are luckier than others. They have agents/editors/publishers/Hollywood banging their doors down long before their book is finished. Sometimes it’s for books you wonder … why? How did this get published? Whoa.

And then, there are those, who have written ripping great stories. (I’ve read some of those manuscripts.) Writers with no hope to publish other than submitting over and over. They have no connections, can’t afford to go to conferences. They possess few funds to do anything but buy reams of paper on sale at Wal-Mart, printer cartridges, and stamps. Do you ever wonder how many classics have gone unseen, unread, unpublished?

But then, one day … the clouds part, the sun comes out, and somebody decides to take a chance on an unknown. It happens. Rarely. But it happens.

For me, I must’ve made God smile a little as I completed my novel, because low and behold, today as I sit here, I can say, thank you, Jesus. I HAVE AN AGENT! Talk about serendipity!

After submitting query after query, I have to laugh. My agent turned out to be a woman I found last summer by bidding at a silent auction at the WV Writer’s Conference. The highest bidder received a free critique of their query letter and the first 50 pages of their novel. At the time, I thought, okay … I’m game. Why not? She’s not in New York City, but who cares? It’s a free critique of my query letter, at least. That interested me. So for $35.00, (best money I ever spent) I won the opportunity to submit my work to Christine Whitthohn. And I'll be damned, she loved it. I have since met her, talked at length, and am convinced; this little bulldog of a literary agent is going to sell TELEVENGE, the trilogy.

Trilogy? Oh yes, three books. With Christine’s encouragement, and hours and hours of pouring over the plot, I have been able to split the book into two. And the third book is well on its way. For so long I couldn’t see my way clear to take such a huge manuscript and make it two books. But one day last week, the sky just opened up. It became as clear as the diamond on my left hand. I felt like a surgeon. After careful surgery, cutting, tweaking, adding, taking out, moving a few scenes around, and two more read-throughs, it not only works … it’s good. It’s really, really good.

And so, as of this week, I have signed with an agent. A good one. One I believe in. One that knows the industry, has sold books to major publishers and negotiated contracts, has pounded some New York City pavement, and ... she believes in me.

The next few months are going to be interesting.

In the meantime, I still have lots of work to do. My Publicity Agenda is staring me in the face, waiting to get started again. My web site will be changing its look in the very near future. Again, there’s a ton of work to do. But it’s exciting, to say the least.

I’ve also been asked to be the judge for the West Virginia Writer’s Book-length Contest. (7,000-word limit.) I'll see submissions by April, with the contest to end in May. I’ll be awarding first, second, third, and honorable mentions at this June event. And Dena http://www.denaharris.com/, my dear writing colleague, and I will be speaking about writing again. In May we’ll once again rock and roll with our presentation, but this time to Seniors who want to write their life stories. I love that about writers. No age limits.

So, say a prayer, won’t you? Believe with me. Exercise a little faith. Even a mustard-seed amount of faith can move the publishing mountains of the world, wouldn’t you say? I know my family is believing. Yes, for a miracle.

But in the meantime, I’m celebrating. I HAVE AN AGENT!

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Anniversary Day!

Today is our Fifth Wedding Anniversary!

January 18, 2003, what a day to remember. But for me, the words to the song below are as precious now as they were then. They still move me. We wrote our own vows, the wedding was simple. Our children stood beside us on that cold day in the middle of winter. A special day, the day we became a family.

In front of guests in a small, country church ... we cemented the rest of our lives together. I love him more today than ever. He is everything good, strong, and wise. The love of my life.

We walked down the aisle to this song by Don Henley. I don't know who wrote the lyrics, but they say it all. It was Michael's gift to me. I'll never forget it. Happy anniversary, darling.

For My Wedding
For my wedding, I will dress in black
And never again will I look back
Ah, my dark angels we must part
For I've made a sanctuary of my heart
To want what I have
To take what I'm given with grace
For this I pray
On my wedding day
For my wedding, I don't want violins
Or sentimental songs about thick and thin
I want a moment of silence and moment of prayer
For the love we'll need to make it in the world out there
To want what I have
To take what I'm given with grace
For this I pray
On my wedding day
On my wedding day
I dream, and my dreams are all glory and light
That's what I've wanted for my life
And if it hasn't always been that way
Well, I can dream and I can pray
On my wedding day
So what makes us any different from all the others
Who have tried and failed before us
Maybe nothing, maybe nothing at all
But I pray were the lucky ones; I pray we never fall
To want what I have
To take what I'm given with grace
For these things I pray
On my wedding day
On my wedding day

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Catch-up Blog

Ahh, I wish I could take the time to put lots of pretty pictures on my blog. But as it stands, I'm lucky to find fifteen minutes in the morning to type any kind of blog these days.

Is it really the middle of the month? It freaks me out that time goes this fast. Yesterday it was New Years Day. It seems, anyway.

I volunteer a small piece of my time with a new group, the Author Marketing and Promotion Group in Greensboro. Yesterday, we had our first meeting of the new year. This group is for published authors searching for new ways to market, promote, and distribute their work. It consists of goal setting, challenges, sharing opportunities, and all sorts of cool and innovative means to get the word out about our books. Right now, this group is in its infancy. And really, this meeting was just a kick-off to get the ball rolling. A meeting to get the "bugs out" before adding new members. I'm excited about this group and I expect great things from it as the year progresses.

Branding, a new web site, new connections all over the Internet, and more speaking engagements ... it's all part of writing and promoting my work.

There's exciting news about my book, that I can't go into detail about today. I'll share soon! Right now, I'm working like a mad woman ... we'll just leave it at that for now. Actually, there are a couple great and exciting pieces of news on the horizon. So stay tuned.

That's my catch-up blog!

A quote by Franz Kafka ... "If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for? ... we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us."

Something to think about.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, January 07, 2008

One Quote Is Enough

Good grief. I do tend to be a bit windy at times. Here's a short blog for today. An anonymous quote I just heard.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those that matter don’t mind. And those that mind, don’t matter.”

Don't you just love it when one sentence wraps it up?

Today, this one little quote said it all.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, January 04, 2008

What Is A Writer?

Not just anybody can write. Yet most literate people in America have written something at some point in their lives. Are they writers? I believe that certain elements must come together to call yourself a writer. Like lining up the moon, the planets, and the stars. Elements more precious than just putting words on paper. Or just because you call yourself one. Giving yourself a certificate to write … does not really make you a writer. Sorry. Otherwise, anybody who owns a pencil could call himself a writer. That, my friend, dilutes the beauty of being a writer for the rest of us.

I could call myself a singer. I have sung a few solos in public. But it doesn’t make me a singer. I could say, “Screw what everybody thinks. I’m a singer.” But I’d fall short. Though I love to sing, I’m not a singer.

My dad loves to write. He’s penned many beautiful letters. Even a few stories. But he doesn’t profess to be a writer. What he is, is a storyteller. He knows little about the craft of writing. Doesn't know. Doesn't care to know. His purpose in writing is for his own benefit and for his children's pleasure. He loves to entertain us with his humor and recollections of his childhood, and occasionally he’ll write them down and send them to us. He dabbles in poetry. He writes out his Bible lessons and his thoughts on various aspects of theology. Often, Daddy types out his childhood memories on a manual Royal typewriter. And once in a while, he records himself on tape.

He’s a brilliant man. A master craftsman in woodworking … and in storytelling. He could be a writer, if he wanted to. But he doesn’t. His other passions in life far outweigh his desire to write and publish.

So what is a writer? Writers possess raw talent, unique voice, commitment, passion, and a dedication and determination to see their work in print. The desire to have their words read by the masses is an all-consuming obsession, a force, and a fire that isn’t easily quenched.

Writers have a message. Many have had dreams to write for a very long time. I would be the first to encourage any emerging writer to press on toward the mark … the mark of an author. But remember that the reward of seeing your work in print … has to be enough. You’re not going to get rich. (Although some do, the odds are stacked against you.) Not everybody is going to flock to Borders and Joseph Beth to buy your book. Not even if you think your story is Pulitzer material.

Okay, so that's the reality of it. Ah, but wait. Is it wrong to dream about selling a million copies of your book? To harbor such secrets, such lofty goals of success in your heart? Is it possible that silly dreams like these might propel a writer to achieve local, regional, even national success? International? (Some would say, God forbid. How dare you, you conceited writer, you.)

IF writing is your passion, (there’s that word again) if you dream it, eat it, sleep it, if it bubbles out of each breath you take, then by all means, be it. Get yourself published … one way or another. New York is not the only way to get published these days. (Yet a New York agent and publisher is a big dream for many writers. If it's your dream, then hold on to it.) At any rate, educate yourself in the publishing industry. In my opinion, if you don’t have the desire to see your work in print, then writing is just a hobby. A pastime. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In a sense, the world needs those kinds of writers. And if that’s all you aspire to, do it with gusto. But yes, write to publish!

Why not?

If you study the art of writing AND if you’ve got a storytelling gene, the world needs to read your work.

Now, that being said, not everyone can write a book, and not everybody should. There’s more to writing a book than the writing of it. If you don’t have the desire to market your book, then just write as a hobby and don't go to the expense of self-publishing. And don't expect New York publishers to market for you. It's not that you're in the wrong business, it's just that you need to know what to expect from it. You are not always going to get out of it, what you've put into it. Unfortunately.

So, tell me now, how much do you love writing? More than life itself? That's good. It's going to take all that warm, fuzzy love to carry you through the dark hours when you feel like a loser. The best way to avoid those pitfalls, is to quit listening to family members, friends, and other writers and experts who are so quick to kill your dreams, squash your efforts, and belittle what you've already accomplished with their "reality checks."

What lengths are you willing to go to get your book into the hands of your readers? The bottom line is, unless you’ve experienced that kind of sidewalk-pounding-sell-your-book-out-of-the-trunk-of-your-car marketing, you have no clue. You don’t know how hard it is. Marketing your book, is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But the rewards are tremendous. Sure, it's tough. But you can learn how to market your work. There's many a good teacher out there. Lots of valid support. Authors are coming together these days and they're finding ways to get the word out. Never let marketing scare you or stop you.

Sure fine, once again I'll say that unless you’re one of the rare few that landed a great agent with connections to the New York publishing houses, you’re not going to be rich overnight. Writers are not rich. Well, not many of them. But it still shouldn't stop you from going after that brass ring! Why not shoot for the stars? Okay, try to keep a level head about it, but why not go for it? What's stopping you? If that's what you want, don't let some mealy-mouthed wanna-be influence you with, "writing is enough. Just putting words on paper is my reward. If I'm never published, my writing makes be happy ..." Waa-waa-waa. I'm really sick of some writers criticizing other writers for wanting breakout status. Just as there's nothing wrong with being humble, meek, and writing a legacy to your grandchildren, there's also nothing wrong with wanting to see your name on the NY TIMES BESTSELLING LISTS!

There's nothing haughty about that. If you're going to dream. DREAM BIG. Dreams, often, come true. Whose to say yours won't?

Alright. We've stated that it's okay to dream. But let's fall back to earth for a moment, shall we? "Reality check." Oh my gosh, God forbid, but do you write because you believe the world will flock to Borders and Joseph Beth to buy your book? Do you call yourself a writer because your friends and family said your story is the greatest story they've ever read? Hmmm. Let's think about that. Right now, it may be a long shot. Some would even think it arrogant to state such a thing. But what's wrong in aspiring to it? I can't believe when Dan Brown began to write, that he never, not one time, dreamed about his books becoming successful. That he thought to himself, I'm just going to sit my butt in the chair, put my hands on the keyboard, and be thankful I'm writing. Give me a break. The man knew he had talent. He knew he was on to something. He knew that if he dreamed big enough, pushed himself hard enough, he might just see his work read by millions.

There are plenty of experts out there that have written blogs, books, chapters, and article after article to discourage you. Too many. The odds are against you. Against us all. It's true. But if you can read them and still keep your dreams of successful publishing alive, then good for you! Strive to beat the odds. Perfect your craft, attend writing conferences, take classes, write your heart out. Then go on to win that contest or publish that book.

Get my point? Lofty goals are not a waste of time, just keep yourself grounded. Don't be haughty about them. Know who you are and be the best writer you can be. You may see a few of those lofty, haughty dreams come true. Keep them to yourself and smile when somebody tells you that your only goal as a writer should be to "just write."

Speaking of keeping yourself grounded, be aware that enthusiastic career goals and believing in your dreams is one thing ... getting your work edited and finding out the first part of your book sucks ... can knock the wind out of you. There are mountains to climb along the way. Like having your work edited again and again--then after your 17th draft--when you think you've written a masterpiece, you find it needs yet another rewrite. If you still want to be a writer after working on one paragraph for a week, I salute you. If you can still call yourself a writer after a hundred rejections, then you are one. If you write NOT to be praised but because you have a message, a story, a love for the craft, then you can consider yourself a giant among many. If you can write without fear, then darling, you may just be a writer!

My point is, yes writing is an uphill climb, but know the real reality of it is that it's a juggling act. One day you're on top, believing this is your year! The next day, you don't want to be within ten feet of your computer. True. But the success of writing is not an impossible dream. Keep your dreams alive, and get all fired up (kind of like I am today) when somebody tells you to be satisfied with "just writing."

Oh yeah, here's another piece of "reality." Unless you can afford a kick-butt PR firm, or you have a degree in public relations, you’re going to start at the beginning. Like the rest of us. And learn the hard way. I teach a class at Writing Conferences called, Public Relations, Publicity, and Pulling Your Hair Out. My colleague, Dena Harris, and I pull no punches. Even with conventional publishing, you’re going to be your best publicist. BUT ... DON'T LET REALITY STOP YOU. And you don't allow discouraging people (who think they know it all) to get in your way. All in all, it's a double-edged sword you're holding. One side is painful reality, the other is the dream of success. Disappointment and rejection is a sure thing, but you can't let it stop you from dreaming. That, in itself, is failure.

So … are you a writer?

Writing is my passion, yes, but I also write because I want my work published. Oh, get over it! So do you and don’t lie. If you’re a real writer, you want to see your work in print. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s admirable. In fact, it forces you to perfect your writing, to be better than average, pushes you to breakout status and what’s wrong with that?

Those who are NOT writers don’t care if their story is well crafted, they couldn't give a flip if their characters are not larger than life, or if their plot lacks tension. They’re really not --- writers.

Make sense?

Please forgive me for being a bit preachy today. Long-winded. Mouthy. Pissed off. But I love writers. I love who and what they are, inside and out. I love and appreciate those who write out of their pain and their pleasures. I love writers with enormous dreams and big hearts. So, write for the right reasons, if you must. If you write just to make yourself happy, then fine. Write your butt off. But real writing comes from deep in your gut. It’s often painful. It sometimes rips your heart out. You’ll cry. You’ll find yourself tossing at night. You’ll laugh, too. You’ll laugh hard and long. But writing also hurts. And it cleanses. Yes indeedy, writing is about the journey, for MOST folks who call themselves writers.

For the rest of us, it’s also about the destination. And you better remember to turn around and lift another writer up along the way. Because being a writer, even a penniless one, means offering support and encouragement to any writer you meet.

Raw talent, unique voice, commitment, passion, luck … all these things are important. But in essence I’ve found that being a writer means different things to different people. Nobody has all the answers, and the rules bend. You’re a writer because you work hard at your craft and you possess the storytelling gene. You’re a writer because you’d rather write than just about anything. You’re a writer because before you die, you want to see your work in print. You're a writer because you've produced the evidence. You’re NOT a writer, just because you say you’re one.

There’s a difference.

One of my favorite authors of all time says it all: "Writing is a process of self-discipline you must learn before you can call yourself a writer. There are people who write, but I think they're quite different from people who must write." —Harper Lee

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A New Year of Priorities

Another year ... gone. Poof!

As I have done for the past five years, I spent last evening watching the HGTV Dream Home Special. The house they build all year long then give away to one lucky winner. This year, the house was built in the Florida Keys. A couple years ago, the house was built in Lake Lure, NC. I've been in that house. I think it's still empty. The winner sold it back to the land developer. Dream Home winners never live in the houses they've been lucky enough to win. They can't afford to pay the taxes. So ... in a way ... the contest is a joke. Just another advertising gimmick, really, that's what it is.

But I still watch, drool, and enter. Maybe this year, huh?

I've made no resolutions this year. Nope. Not a one. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I'm sick of them. They bog me down for the first three months until I can forget about them. All I know is that changes are definitely on the horizon. But I've mentioned that already. It just feels good to write it. To see it written. To hear it in my head.

If you're a writer, however, the act of sitting your butt in the chair and placing your hands on the keyboard ... must take over as a priority this year. If writing is truly what you were born to do, then you must find the time to allow your muse to overtake you. Blogging doesn't count. Blogging, it seems, has become a form of writing to "replace" the writing you put off. Blogging, though important, is no substitute for your storytelling, your poetry, your unfinished memoir.

I've clicked on some blogs that astound and amaze me. Long, beautifully crafted pieces that I'm assuming the author wants to eventually publish. But I wonder how much energy they have left to write the rest of the day. These blogs are endless entries of the blogger's travels, their gripes and complaints, their thoughts on everything from A - Z. My question is ... where is their book?

Although I love to read blogs, catch up on a few, and believe they are a way to warm up the fingers--writers who blog should not feel as though once they've blogged their word quota is up for the day. No, blogging (in my humble opinion) should be just what it is. An online journal. A way to wake up with a cup of a coffee every morning. The real work ... the writing that matters ... should come after the blog. Spending anymore time than 20 minutes on one blog entry is biting into your time. Time that could have been spent on your next article, outline, or prologue.

If you don't see a blog from me every day ... just know there's a story I'm working on instead. I'll get back to the blog when I can. Blogging is not a priority. My blogs are just a howdy. A few random thoughts on writing, a way to let off steam, a bit of sharing the events in my life. Maybe even a few pictures here and there.

And so, to end today's blog ... I begin a new year of writing. A new year of changes. A new year and a new book. A year of no resolutions. Just priorities.

Blessings to you and yours.