What I’m Most Thankful For in 2016

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is already upon us! Where did the rest of 2016 go?

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Well, as this year draws to a close, it’s time to look back and think about all the things I’m thankful for. Compared to 2015, this year has been a great one. No, it wasn’t  perfect, but it definitely had more ups than downs. I gained a new nephew, I made significant process on my novel, I got a new job, I paid off my car and student loans, I met some amazing people…The list goes on and on. But, the things I’m most thankful for in 2016 are:

New Job

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I knew going into 2016 that at least one major change would occur: a new job. With no promise of tomorrow at my current one, it was time to move on…even though I really didn’t want to. I liked my job. No, it didn’t pay great, and no, it wasn’t close to home. But, I loved my co-workers, and I could call myself a writer by day and night. Unfortunately, the reality of my situation couldn’t be ignored. If I lost my job, I’d be in deep trouble. So, after a few months of frantic searching, an opportunity all but fell into my lap. Within a week, I had a job offer,  and after many tears and a severe case of denial, I accepted it.

Looking back now, I’m so, so, so grateful I was forced to leave my old job and accept my new one. Even though I no longer get to write during the day, I’m learning a lot, I’m making more, and I’m less than ten minutes from home. And I love–LOVE–the people I work with. It’s been a fantastic change and I’m so thankful God put me in the situation he did. If He hadn’t, I might never have had the motivation or nerve to leave my old job.

Family 

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Yes, they’re loud. And, yes, they’re a little crazy. But I absolutely love my family. Not only are they there for me during the good times, but also the bad. As kind as 2016 was to me, it still had its rough patches, and  I couldn’t have gotten through those moments (job change, heartbreak, bad days, failures, fender benders, etc.) without my family. They’re always there to pick me up, brush me off, and say, “Everything will be okay.” And they’re always there to make me laugh, especially my nephews and niece. There’s nothing that can bring a smile to your face faster than a child. The things they say, the hugs they give, the laughter they create–it’s magical.

I’m just so blessed and thankful to have so much support and love in my life, day in and day out.

Writing Group/Friends

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Writing is a lonely job.  But, it’s a lot less lonely when you find a tight-knit group of writers to share the experience with. And I found that with an online writer’s group a few years ago.

Now, when you think online, you don’t think it’s going to be very helpful or personal. But, this group is exactly that. Not only have they made me a better writer, but they’ve been there for me during the high and low points in my life. In fact, I’d consider many people in the group some of my closest friends. We talk every day, we offer each other constant support and encouragement, and we laugh, cry, and vent together.

I’m so thankful for these amazing friendships (and the ceaseless support for my writing).

Health

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In early 2016, I had a slight–SLIGHT–health scare. It thankfully turned out to be nothing, but the fact that it could’ve been something made me stop and think how lucky I am to be healthy. To wake up every day free of aches and pains (well, mostly), to exercise as much as I want, and to move about my day with ease. And, most importantly, to not suffer–mentally or physically. So, I’m very–VERY–thankful God has blessed me with a healthy body, mind, and spirit.

Faith 

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Above all else, I’m thankful to my Lord and Savior. I know not everyone reading this is a believer, but I am. And, I must say, He’s the one I turned to the most during 2016. When I refused to believe I had to get a new job, He pushed me into getting one. When I couldn’t tell my family everything because I didn’t want to worry them, I told Him. When I feared I might be sick, He kept me calm and sane. I could not walk through life without Jesus Christ by my side, even if I sometimes ignore Him because life gets busy or I lose sight of what’s truly important in life (oops).

So, that’s my list for 2016! It’s a bit more serious than usual, but this was a semi-serious year. A good year, yes, but one loaded with significance. How about you? What are you most thankful for in 2016?

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it. Be safe, eat lots, and take a moment to consider what you’re most thankful for.

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P.S. I’m also thankful for Gilmore Girls and the show’s decision to do a revival. I’ll be hunkered down the day after Thanksgiving with some friends to watch all four episodes. Eeks!

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Music Monday – Dark Paradise – Lana Del Rey

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicHave you ever heard a song and thought, “Whoa, this could be my book’s theme song!”? Well, that’s how I feel about Lana Del Rey’s “Dark Paradise”.
lana_del_rey___dark_paradise_by_joykill_design-d614nenI actually laughed when I first heard this song because it sounded exactly like my story’s female protagonist. The words, the voice, the tone, the emotion–everything about it was her.

Since then, I’ve listened to it countless times, and every time, I’m inspired by it. Lana Del Rey has one of those sweet, yet sultry voices that can borderline on eerie, which is perfect for my story.

What I love most about this song is its lyrics. I can’t explain how much they relate to my story. I feel like when I listen to them, I’m actually listening to my protagonist. It’s downright weird.

All my friends ask me why I stay strong
Tell ’em when you find true love, it lives on
That’s why I stay here

And there’s no remedy for memory, your face is like a melody
It won’t leave my head
Your soul is holding me and telling me that everything is fine
But I wish I was dead

c3ddb2965a98ea0f602a5f7f2e1a6452So, if you’re looking for a haunting song that inspires a wide range of emotions, check out Lana Del Rey’s “Dark Paradise“.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

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Thank You, Mom

As many of you know, my mom is very important to me. Not only has she provided me with a lifetime of love, guidance, and laughter, but she’s also been my biggest cheerleader as I pursue my writing dreams.

10675569_10101945416237253_5209288535149780450_nIf it wasn’t for my mom, I might still be writing behind a locked door, quiet as a mouse, cautiously saving my stories under names like “Comparative Politics Study Guide 2” (no joke) to make sure nobody ever read them. I was terrified I’d be judged–teased–mocked.

Thankfully, my mom put a kibosh on those fears a couple of years after I graduated college. As I complained to her about my job and explained how unhappy it made me, she asked, “Well, what do you want to do? What will make you happy?”

After a lot of hemming and hawing, I confessed, “I want to be a writer.”

“Then do it!”

Her enthusiastic response gave me the strength I needed to tiptoe out of the “writer’s closet” and embark upon a career I love.

So thank you, Mom, for helping me overcome my fears. And for convincing me my dreams weren’t stupid and I should go after them with all of my might.

10245309_10101552065949383_449044523913113086_nMy mom has done more than kickstart my writing journey. She’s also stuck by my side throughout it, holding on tight as I’ve hopped, skipped, and crashed down the industry’s rocky path.

In 2008, she celebrated my first completed manuscript…And then comforted me as I received rejection letter after rejection letter for it.

In 2009, she supported my decision to set aside my first novel and begin writing a new one…And then freaked out with me a year later when a Hollywood producer optioned it.

In 2011 and 2012, she helped me rewrite, revise, and edit my optioned work (again and again and again)…And then picked me up and dusted me off in 2013 when my contract expired and I was sent back to square one.

In 2014, she urged me to be brave and take on new challenges, learn and grow, and become a better writer…And then cheered for me when my hard work paid off.

Now, in 2015, she has convinced me it’s okay to let go of the past, embrace new ideas, and begin working on a new project.

So thank you, Mom, for sticking with me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. And for helping me realize nothing is ever over until I give up and quit.

10629715_10101749910292733_7705700716641345905_nSeriously, my mom is amazing! More than amazing. Special. It takes someone like her–calm, firm, and understanding–to deal with a writer like me–perfectionist, borderline manic, and neurotic.

I mean it. Most people would run out the door if they ever encountered me on a writing day. They wouldn’t know how to deal with my roller coaster temperament, detached demeanor, or crazy hair.

10982080_369275416598346_3868432891056136335_nAHHHHHH! Run for your lives!

But my mom has never run away. She has always been willing to brave the Writing Beast I become when I hit the zone, and deal with my wacky behavior: the short fuse, the lack of focus during real-life conversations, the self-deprecation, the fatigue, the obsession…

So thank you, Mom, for remaining patient, compassionate, and calm whenever I go into my crazy writing mode. And for also grounding me when I need it most.

1012127_10101036544767963_470107348_nEvery writer needs someone who can push them without breaking them. Someone who can read their work and give them 100% honest feedback. Someone who makes them a better writer.

For me, that’s my mom. I can rely on her to read my stories and tell me exactly what she thinks.

“You have a good start, but I think it needs (blank).”

“I like the premise, but I didn’t feel enough (blank).”  

“I loved (blank), but I didn’t love (blank).”

As you can see, my mom’s a master at the sandwich technique (good-bad-good). But what makes her advice so valuable is that I trust it. If she thinks a plot is dull, then I won’t use it. If she believes a character is cliche, then I’ll add depth or spin them in a different direction. If she wants more suspense–more drama–more horror–more more, then I’ll give more.

So thank you, Mom, for pushing me to be a better writer. And for always demanding I take my stories to the next level.

10653421_10101749910377563_8640838046765233212_nI might have a lot of people in my life who support me and my writing ambitions, but it’s my mom who’s there for me the most.

She’s the one who’s always willing to sit and listen to me brainstorm for hours about plots and characters. She’s the one who will read draft one, two, three, four, five, six, seven…She’s the one who will shake sense into me, dust me off, and push me to keep going. She’s the one who believes in me–completely.

And because of that–because of her–I know I’ll reach my dreams someday.

So thank you, Mom. For everything.

Love you!

10173680_10101505439873413_6929469929429599948_nHappy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

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What I’m Thankful For

Of course I’m going to celebrate Thanksgiving with a little dance. What else would you expect?

Well, since it is Thanksgiving week here in the States, and since so many of us will be taking a few days off, I wanted to do a special post before I sail off into Crazyville.

And, trust me, things will get crazy. Mostly because of my family.

They’re total nut jobs.

And LOUD!

I usually end up at the dinner table doing this:

…Or trying to yell over everyone else, because my story is the funniest one of all–ha!

But, you know what? As wacky as my family is, I’m so thankful to have them in my life. For better or worse, they’re always there for me, and they always understand my slightly eccentric ways and passion for writing. Well, most of them do. My grandpa would rather see me married off and giving him grandbabies than pursuing my dreams.

…Yeah, I basically handle that situation like this:

Okay, okay. I don’t spray mace in his face. I tend to take the less sinister road of grinning and bearing–and perhaps cracking a joke to distract him. But, in my head, I go all Black Widow on his grumpy butt 😉

Besides my family, there are many things I’m thankful for. Actually, there are so many, I can’t list them all here without risking putting you in a coma. So, I’ll just list the ones that come first to mind!

Faith

I don’t talk about this much here on my blog, but I am a girl of faith, and I do claim Jesus Christ as my savior. Without Him, I wouldn’t get through most days, especially on the writing front. Let’s face it, being a writer isn’t always the easiest thing. There’s constant rejection, criticism, and naysayers to deal with. If it wasn’t for my faith, I don’t think I could bear the negative burdens.

My favorite verse is from Mark 4:40: Why are you so afraid? Have you no faith? Whenever my fears, anxiety, and/or doubt becomes too much, I quietly repeat those words and immediately feel stronger, lighter, and calmer.

Nephews and Niece

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I know I’ve already mentioned family, but I’m specifically thankful for these four goobers. They claim a large chunk of my heart, and I can’t bear to think of life without them. Their smiles, laughter, imaginations, hugs, kisses, silliness, and wonderfulness light up my world. Even on the darkest days, they have the power to make everything better.

Thank you Dane, Harley, Cy, and Rees for bringing such joy to my life. I love you with all of my being.

The Internet

I know, I know. General and laughable. But think about it! What would we do without the internet? No more information at the tips of our fingers. No more easy access to friends and family. No more opportunities to meet new friends. No more blogging. The internet has opened the world in an amazing way, and I’m so grateful for the way it has opened mine.

You!
I know you’re probably thinking, “Well, she has to say that cause she’s writing this on her blog.” Wrong! This blog and those who follow it have made a huge impact on my life. In fact, last August I wrote an entire post about it. The words I said back then remain true today. So, thank you for being you, for supporting me, and for letting me ramble on and on…and on… 😉

Chocolate

Need I say more?

 Writing and Passion

Besides friends and family, writing is my heart, my dream, my everything. And I’m so thankful to have that kind of passion in my life. There are many people in the world who never figure out the answer to the eternal question: “What do you want to do with your life?” Well, I know what I want, and I’m so grateful to have that type of clarity.

Coffee

Again, duh!

Okay, I’ll stop there. It’s frightening how many more things I could list that I’m thankful for: Friendships, watermelon gum, the Colorado mountains, my 9-5 job, books, breakfast, music, health, lip balm, the roof over my head, The Mindy Project, clean water…Sheesh. Amazing how many things you realize you’re thankful for when you stop to think about them. I encourage you to do the same, and not just this Thanksgiving, but on a daily basis.

Anyway, have a happy, blessed, and safe Thanksgiving! Be sure to eat lots of turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie. And, my personal favorite, stuffing.

P.S. To those who must deal with pesky, nosy, obnoxious relatives this week…

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Photo credits:

http://www.mtv.com/news/1964584/friends-netflix/ 

http://www.crushable.com/2014/01/09/entertainment/sofia-vergara-jimmy-kimmy-mean-internet-comments-video/

http://included.co/5-reasons-why-coworking-beats-coffee-shops-for-getting-work-done/

http://www.tonpetitlook.com/en/2014/07/08/healthy-crustless-quiche

http://streets-of-monte-carlo.tumblr.com/

http://www.insideoverneath.com/2014/06/rest-in-company-of-love.html 

http://pentharis.tumblr.com/post/34547566915/baaaaaaaaaaaaaaatman-visitingfan 

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/being-nice/images/9073064/title/group-hugs-photo 

http://ilovereadingandwriting.tumblr.com/

http://hellogiggles.com/running-out-of-chocolate  

https://sarahmarieh.wordpress.com/tag/lorelai-gilmore-coffee/  

http://weknowmemes.com/2011/12/emma-stone-yum-gif/ 

http://memeguy.com/photo/49031/mrw-my-computer-freezes-up-and-starts-making-loud-noises

Music Monday – You Don’t Own Me – Lesley Gore

Welcome to Music Monday! As many of you know, music contributes a great deal to my writing process. Whether it’s a song’s lyrics, beat, rhythm, or tone, I find myself constantly inspired by it.

writing-to-musicLast week, I was completely obsessed with one of my favorite Malt Shop artists, Lesley Gore. It seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop listening to her music, not even the awesome “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows”…Don’t worry, today’s Music Monday feature isn’t that yippity-dippity hit. It’s Gore’s much more dramatic and empowering “You Don’t Own Me”.

I fell in love with this song years and years ago, all the way back to when I was a kid and my aunt used to babysat me and my siblings. Whenever we’d go over to her house, she’d throw on Lesley Gore’s record, grab a spatula, and “serenade” us while we ate dinner. Usually her performance would end with all of us dancing around to “It’s My Party”.

However, it was my aunt’s theatrical rendition of “You Don’t Own Me” that stuck with me throughout the years. And lately, as I’ve been working on the edits for my manuscript, it’s become one of my obsessions.

“You Don’t Own Me” is one of those songs that inspires me purely on its attitude, empowerment, and drama. And Gore’s performance in the music video below is the cherry on top. So much spirit and spunk! Just watching her makes me feel strong, rebellious, and all “Don’t tell me what to do!” And I need to feel those types of emotions while working on my novel.

You+Dont+Own+Me+LiveSo, if you’re looking for a wonderful song that’s full of power, drama, and attitude, listen to Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”.

What song(s) are you in love with right now? Which one(s) offer you inspiration? Let me know! I’m always searching for songs that motivate my writing.

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Photo credits: 

http://michaelgalvis.com/

http://rebloggy.com/post/gif-black-and-white-vintage-singing-singer-gif-set-1960s-b-amp-w-60s-lesley-gore/40830810486

http://rebloggy.com/post/my-gif-gif-funny-glamour-party-humor-new-years-retro-nostalgia-1920s-classic-fil/71786318384

http://www.last.fm/music/Lesley+Gore/You+Don’t+Own+Me+(Live)

A True Thursday Treasure – Hermione is born

Normally, I dedicate Thursday’s to “Twitter Treasure Thursday”. However, a true treasure came into my life this week.

Now, for those of you who’ve been following my blog since last fall, you might remember my post, Hermione Wins. Well, can you believe it? Nine months have passed and “Hermione” has been born! I’m now the proud aunt of a beautiful little girl, Rees!

1947774_10101436653990873_1735696850_nI met her last night for the first time and she’s perfect! She had this little smirk on her face the whole time, like she was silently saying, “Yeah, yeah. I’m adorable. Duh.” Stinker. I introduced myself as her “crazy aunt”, and told her we’d throw plenty of tea parties, play dress up, and read lots of books together. She just kept smirking. I could practically hear her little voice saying, “Yeah, I’m on board with the whole reading thing, but tea parties? Dress up? Um, no.”

We shall see, Rees. We. Shall. See!

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