Sunday, March 9, 2014

Perserverance and Goal Setting

Today, my youngest son and I walked the neighborhood, knocking on doors, so he could ask our friends to sponsor him for the Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser for the American Heart Association. He's ten years old and faces numerous challenges with speech and language delays, attention deficit, and a few other miscellaneous diagnoses that qualify him for special services at school.

I was so proud of him and duly impressed with his self-confidence as he marched up to each door, rang the bell, and stuttered out his request, "Would you please donate to Jump Rope for Heart to raise money for the American Heart Association?" Inevitably, the neighbor would look at me with slight confusion when the last few words came out in a jumble, and I always had the biggest smile on my face, full of pride, that nothing was holding my son back from reaching his goal.

Even after reaching his goal, he kept going, determined to knock on every door in our one-mile circle. He even stood up to his mother, who repeatedly asked him if we could go back to the warm house now that he'd reached the fundraising level he'd wanted to achieve, and insisted we weren't done until we did them all. He also stood up to my bribery to make him hot chocolate. I guess he knew I'd make that, no matter what, after the mile of trekking through the snow and slush and blowing wind...he's a smart boy.

As I walked the final quarter mile with him, we talked about his determination and whether he'd been nervous to talk to people. He said no. The confidence I saw in him was breathtaking. He walked with his head held high and had met every neighbor with a direct gaze. I told him how proud I was of him for setting a goal and reaching beyond it, then setting new goals when he'd achieved his first plan. I told him he should be proud of himself.

Then we came home and drank hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A New Year

Each flip of the calendar gives us the opportunity to assess where we are in our lives and where we want to be in the coming days, weeks, months, years. Of course, weight loss is always a big goal for most people at the beginning of a new year, but what about professional goals or more personal goals?

For example, most years I set down on paper a general idea of the stories I want to complete in the next twelve months. I might not get nearly all of them done, but at least, I know what direction I want to travel in. What professional goals are you setting for yourself this year?

My personal goals this year relate to being true to myself, finding out who I am, and what will make this next year of my life memorable. My life is in the midst of some big changes, and I can't see what is around the next corner for me yet. This makes me nervous because I always like to know where I'm headed. So, along with discovering my true potential, I am also working on my patience and giving up the illusion that I am in control. What personal goals do you hope to achieve this year?

I wish you all a happy and healthy new year in 2014!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Introducing Best-Selling Author Patricia Kiyono!

I am so pleased to introduce you to my sister-writer, Patricia Kiyono, best-selling author of sweet romances.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Andrea! Christmas Wishes is my third holiday story, and it took me longer to write. Why? One reason is because it's a longer story. This book is more than twice as long as The Christmas Phoenix (released in 2011) and The Partridge and the Peartree (2012). 
Another reason the book took longer to write is because the central conflict between the two main characters is one that's very real to me. No, I'm not planning to go to the Big City and leave my small-town husband behind! But at the time I started writing Christmas Wishes our youngest daughter was contemplating a move to the west coast and pursue a career as a screenwriter—just like Sophie Gardner, my heroine. And while moms everywhere want to see our children unfurl their wings and soar, in honesty we'd prefer that they not fly TOO far away!
Sophie's plans to move away conflict with Mitch's desire to stay in the small village of Zutphen. She solves her conflict in her way, and I'm sure my daughter will resolve hers as well. I'm just glad that with technology, we'll always be able to stay close.

Mitch Carson is tired of the big city. In his former life, he'd been a news photographer in Chicago, where the dangers are endless. But now, he just wants to settle down in this quiet town with his daughter, Angie. Here, his only fear is losing his daughter to his scheming mother-in-law.
Sophie Gardner wants to be a screenwriter. She's ready to leave small town Zutphen, Michigan and go to Hollywood. With a theater degree under her belt, she's busy writing scripts while helping out her sister Joanie, who's bedridden with a difficult pregnancy. Unfortunately, Joanie has somehow coerced Sophie into directing the Christmas pageant at Zutphen Community Church. 
When Sophie and Mitch meet, the attraction is instant and mutual. But each wants what the other is trying to get away from. Can they deny their feelings and pursue their dreams? Or will the holiday prove to them that their true wishes might not be what they'd thought?

He hadn’t realized his voice had carried and he murmured an apology to Sophie, who looked anything but embarrassed. She seemed fascinated with her coffee, having it raised to her lips, but her shaking shoulders told him she’d enjoyed his discomfort.
“Okay, I’m going to speak quietly,” he said through his teeth. “I’ve got my notes app open on my phone and whenever you’re done laughing, I’m ready to write down the names of those potential babysitters and their phone numbers, if you have them.”
Sophie set her cup down. Her twinkling eyes were all that remained of her laughing fit. “Right. There’s Brenda Lou Hodges, who lives around the corner from you…”
Mitch typed as quickly as he could. Before he knew it, he had a half dozen names of junior and senior high girls Sophie knew and trusted. The younger ones lived close enough to walk over if necessary.
“And if none of them work, there’s always me. Until Christmas, anyway.”
The phone dropped to the table. “Until Christmas? What happens then?”
“Hopefully I’ll be moving to Los Angeles.”
“Wh— oh, do you have a job lined up there?”
She faltered. “Not yet.”
“You have family there? Friends? A boyfriend?” Hopefully she hadn’t caught the crack in his voice at the last word.
“None of the above,” she answered. “Well, an ex-boyfriend, but that doesn’t count.”
“So, uh, what are your plans?” He gave himself himself another mental slap. Why did he always sound like his father when he was with her?
“I’m getting my portfolio ready, and I’ll be contacting agents soon. Hopefully I’ll be able to work on a show and write scripts. And eventually I’d like to write screenplays.”
“Oh, that’s — great,” Mitch finished. His stomach churned, and he placed his hand on it. Must be the omelet I ate this morning. Maybe I didn’t cook those eggs long enough. There’s no way I could be so worked up about her leaving. “Well, good luck with that.”
“Thanks. Well, thanks for the coffee. I’ve got to get this stuff home to Joanie.” She got up and started to push her cart toward the checkout lanes then turned back. “I’m serious about watching Angie. She’s a doll, and it would be no burden at all to take care of her. She pointed to his phone. “Take my number down, too.”
He complied, and then watched her hurry away.
It’s a good thing I hadn’t started investing any feelings in her, he thought. She’s leaving.
But deep down, he knew it was probably too late.

Buy links: Christmas Wishes can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook outlets.

Author links: Patricia Kiyono can be found at her website, blog, facebook, and twitter @PatriciaKiyono

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back to School

September...the temperatures dipping low at night and bouncing back to summer levels during the day. Good sleeping weather.

Kids, backpacks stuffed with supplies, little bundles of energy with smiles on their faces and anticipation in their eyes boarding noisy, crowded yellow buses.

The house empty, quiet, except for the chatter from the parakeet, the scamper of two little kitties, the snoring from the big gray beastie, and the pop hits playing on the music channel.

The promise of learning new things, reaching new goals, and challenging myself to stretch further. To you, I wish the same. :)

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Change of Scenery

...and a good massage. That's my recipe today for renewed creativity.

I'm out of town with hubby at a math conference. I get to browse art museums, eat great meals at restaurants, and enjoy pampering at the spa, and he gets to enjoy networking with other mathematicians. I'll let you decide who has the better deal. ;)

My hope was to expense my part of this trip on my taxes, and in order to do that, I need to use my time here as research for a new book.

And guess what...the creativity juices are flowing. Well, enough for at least the first scene of a new story. Cross your fingers that I can find enough inspiration to carry me through to the end.

What do you do to renew your creativity?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Confession good for the soul.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been struggling in a writer's black hole. My thoughts can't focus on a single scene, and I haven't made any progress on any projects in the past four months.

Since I confessed this, my muse has returned for a brief visit. My writing alter ego who writes the steamy stories began the first scene of a new book. What joy!

Earlier this week, I also confessed a painful truth to my hubby. I told him I was afraid if I didn't lose 10-15 pounds before the end of August, I was going to have buy new clothes to start the school year. And I'd just bought a new set of clothes for myself the previous fall, I really don't want to spend all that money again.

The morning after my confession, I had such a renewed sense of motivation about taking care of myself. I set my alarm early to exercise, and I used a food journal to write down everything, which I have continued to do all week.

Why is sharing our struggles with someone else so important? Why does it relieve some of the burden of our challenges?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Been a while...

It's been a while since I've checked in here.
It's been a while since I've written...anything.
It's been a hard four months of distracted thinking and no productivity.
It's been a long time of negative self-talk and lack of creativity.

Time to open a door and walk into a new room.
This current one has grown old and stale.

Time to flip a switch and have the stories run through scenes in my head.
Time to focus and fall back in love with writing.

Time to pray to St. John the Apostle, the patron saint of authors.

Time to write.