Archives

Grandmotherly Advice and Other Stuff for My Expectant Daughter

In 3 short months, I will become a grandmother. I find it funny how people congratulate me as if I had something to do with it. Other than giving birth to my daughter 22 years ago, my contribution ended there. But, I say thank-you nonetheless and smile. The important thing is this…I’m going to be a grandma…and an awesome one at that who will reach expert status in spoiling my new granddaughter. Yep…I have no shame.20160902_144333

But with my eldest having her first baby soon, I thought it would be good to dish out some grandmotherly advice to her in the only way I know how: In a blog post for everyone to see. After all, I’ve been a mom for 22 years. Surely I’ve learned something over the years. Right?

  1. Don’t be in a huge rush for big milestones. Things like rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, and talking are all wonderful things to experience and you should absolutely revel in each accomplishment. But don’t be in a hurry for any of it. Enjoy every moment of every day as it happens, because trust me when I say this: Before you know it, you’ll blink and your children will be grown and having babies of their own.
  2. You most definitely will be spending the first 2 years teaching your children to walk and talk and the next 16 to sit down and shut up.
  3. As your children enter their school years, you will inevitably want to step in and fight every single one of their battles for them against mean kids, teachers, and even their own friends. Don’t. They must…and I cannot emphasize this enough…MUST learn how to fight their own battles no matter how painful it is to watch. (As long as they aren’t being physically harmed. That’s another story. In those cases, you go full mom-mode and attack like a mama bear.) Otherwise, let them figure it out with a little guidance from you, of course.
  4. The more you use the word “no”, the more they’ll use it. Try to find a different way of saying it.
  5. Kids are messy. And they’re disgusting. And they one hundred percent don’t care that the couch in the family room is the first thing you and daddy bought together. Your child will ultimately spill milk on a cushion and you won’t know a thing about it until a week later when you’re trying to figure out where that awful smell is coming from. You will never have nice things as long as you have children living at home…whether they’re 6 months old, 6 years old, or 16 years old. Get over it.
  6. The first time your child uses a cuss word in front of you just to see your reaction, do not laugh or even smile. Not even a little bit. But you shouldn’t become overly angry and begin yelling, either. If you ignore it and act as though you didn’t hear it, they’ll stop. This is why your little sister only went through that phase for a week while a friend’s son never outgrew it. People may disagree with me on this one, but there’s something you should know about kids…they like attention…good or bad.
  7. Which brings me to number 7. It isn’t always easy, but praise the good and ignore the bad (to a point). Common sense is a given in certain scenarios, but let’s be honest. Our little angels don’t always act like little angels. Instead, they want to see just how far they can push mommy or daddy before the veins in our necks pop out and we lose our cool. They throw a tantrum at home, walk away. You walk away, you’ve taken away what they desire most. Your attention. But if they do something good, shower them with attention. Eventually, they’ll figure out that good attention is better than no attention at all.
  8. Manners are a lost art. Teach your children to say please and thank-you.
  9. For the love of all things holy, I’m begging you…if you’re out somewhere and your darling little angel begins to scream and throw a tantrum in public, do not just wander about the store and try to ignore it. One, it’s rude to the other people around you, but two…by ignoring this particular little gem, they’re trying to see how far they can push you. Now, I know I said you have to ignore the bad behavior, but I also said to use common sense. In situations like this, leave. Leave the store. I have literally left an entire grocery cart full of frozen items in the middle of an aisle and gone home ony to go back later…childless…and started my shopping all over again. In fact, I can think of 3 separate occasions where I’ve done this. None with you, of course. You were an angel. Your little sisters on the other hand…fb_img_1477098750909
  10. If you go to the store, never ever let your child wander from your sight. Not even for one second. This should go without saying. But I’ve worked retail during the course of my years and let me tell you something…it’s disheartening to see how many parents just let their children wander without thinking of the consequences.
  11. Yes. Stranger danger is a thing. Yes. You should teach them all about it. No. Don’t go so far as to terrify the crap out of them or you’ll never even be able to get them to go outside to get the mail from the mailbox. Trust me on this one.
  12. You will get a lot of advice about being a parent from people who have never been parents. Ignore that advice.
  13. You will get a lot of advice about being a parent from other parents who have read 30 books on the topic and believe that their way of parenting is the ONLY way to parent. Also ignore that advice.fb_img_1477098770567
  14. Don’t ever use the whole “counting to 3” trick. It rarely works and unless you’re willing to back up said threat of never allowing your sweet child to ever eat a cookie ever again (or other vain threats), getting all the way to 3 is just a waste of time.
  15. Life is what happens to you. Living is what you do as life happens. So make memories. Take lots of phots and print out those photos and put them in books. Go to the zoo. Go to a park. Go to the lake and swim. Make paper plate masks. Finger paint at the kitchen table. These are the things that your children will remember. Not the things you bought or the tangible things you gave them. It’s the things they learned and the moments they remember that will stick with them forever.
  16. From time to time, your kids will be mad at you. They’ll get over it.
  17. Read a book to your little one every night. Even when they’re only 6 months old. Read.
  18. Even if you can’t sing, sing to your little one every night. They don’t care if you’re on key or not.
  19. When they’re infants, if you’re cold, they’re cold. Bundle them up.
  20. When they’re infants, if you’re hot, they’re hot. Remove the blanket.
  21. As they get older, the same rules apply. But they will insist they’re not cold and will want to go outside without a coat when it’s 50 degrees. This is the time to go all “mom” on their butt and make them put one on…whether they like it or not.
  22. When your baby starts kindergarten, you will cry. Bring Kleenex.
  23. When your baby starts kindergarten, they will still let you kiss and hug them before getting out of the car.
  24. When your baby starts 1st grade, you are not allowed to kiss and hug them before getting out of the car. That’s for babies. But don’t get upset. You will still get plenty of hugs and kisses when they get home.
  25. When your baby starts junior high, you will cry.
  26. When your baby starts high school, you will cry.
  27. Never miss an opportunity to hold their hand, because one day they won’t let you.
  28. Never miss an opportunity to hug them and tell them you love them, because one day they’ll be a teenager and can’t be bothered.fb_img_1477098778046
  29. Never give your baby a bottle and then lie on the floor holding said baby straight up, tossing them in the air. God has a sense of humor and impeccable timing…and they will inevitably spit up inside your mouth. You’ve been warned.
  30. Think back really hard and remember all the times you thought you had pulled one over on your old mom. Guess what? You didn’t. And now there’s another you in the world. Let that sink in.
  31. Baby girls can pee for distance just like baby boys, so always keep a diaper under them when changing.
  32. When potty training, girls can projectile pee right over the seat just like a boy. Remember…butt back, lean forward. And if you forget, keep bleach wipes under the bathroom sink.
  33. Buy stock in Magic Eraser. It will clean just about anything that your child will try to destroy.
  34. Keep pens, pencils, colored pencils, markers, and crayons out of reach. Hence, the magic erasers.
  35. Give them lots of kisses.
  36. Don’t raise them, telling them how beautiful or handsome they are. Instead, tell them how they can do anything they put their mind to. Tell them to believe in themselves even when no one else will. Tell them to follow their dreams and not to let anyone…not even you…talk them out of it.
  37. When they’re teething, keep bibs on them all the time. It will keep them from drenching the front of their clothes all day long.
  38. Stepping on Legos barefoot in the middle of the night is payback for all the times your parents stepped on your Legos barefoot in the middle of the night.
  39. The “mother’s curse” has finally come true. Get ready for karma.
  40. Always allow him or her to express themselves. As long as they don’t get in trouble, get good grades, and are respectful, who cares how they wear their hair or how they dress? Remember your sister’s purple hair or that phase where you refused to comb your hair for 2 years and wore 20 rubber bracelets on each arm? You get the point.
  41. As your mother (and your baby’s grandmother), I will always…always…always be there to answer your questions and be a shoulder when the parenting thing gets rough.IMG_4977.JPG

 

An Open Letter to my Niece as she Starts College

My dearest niece,

Today is you birthday, and you are headed off to the hallowed halls of higher education. You thought being a freshman in high school was rough? Well, pull up your big girl panties and get ready for the ride of your life.

College is a whole new world filled with fun, stress, and changes that will forever shape your future.

Since I’m the queen of unsolicited advice when it comes to you and my daughters, I thought…”Why not offer up some useful advice about how to get through college without screwing it up?”

So…here it goes.

1) College isn’t for everybody. But you decided to further your education and attend a school that is hours away from your parents…and me. So, my first bit of advice is this: Don’t forget WHY you’re going to college. You’re going there to learn. You’re going so that when you get out, you have accumulated knowledge that you didn’t have before you went in so you can find a career you love. Remember that. College = Knowledge.

2) This brings me to my second point. In college, there will be men. Notice, I didn’t say boys. Boys no longer exist in your world. They can be a wonderful distraction, but they’re just that. A distraction. Refer back to #1.

3) Speaking of men, there are some that will do or say anything to get what they want from you. Now, I said ‘some’. Not ALL men are pigs, but unfortunately there will be guys with selfish intentions who will try to sweet talk their way into your life. It is your job to figure out which ones are crap and which ones are worth your time. I can’t give you much advice on how to determine which is which. But, I will say this…a woman’s gut instinct is rarely wrong. Listen to yours. If you get even the slightest bad vibe…tell him to take a hike. A really long one.

4) Make friends. Make all kinds of friends. Don’t just make friends with the people who are just like you. That’s boring. Make friends who have different interests than you – people who like different kinds of music, movies, and books. Learn what makes people tick – learn their passions and their dreams. People like that will teach you what the real world is like. Because one day, you will be out in the real world with a real job and “spoiler alert”…you will work with people who are vastly different from you. If you can’t figure out how to get along with different kinds of people in college, the real world is gonna suck.

5) Study

Your Aunt BJ, headed off for college. Don't laugh...that outfit was very chic.

Your Aunt BJ, headed off for college. Don’t laugh…that outfit was very chic.

6) You’ll have a roommate. You may get along with her. Then again, you may not. This is a great way to learn what marriage is like. Living with someone you don’t always see eye to eye with in a small, confined space? That’s almost exactly like marriage. Have a fight? Talk it out. You’re right and they’re wrong. Guess what? It doesn’t matter. They’re messy? They snore? They don’t like how you make your bed? Welcome to being an adult. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and apologize, even when you’re not wrong. Show an interest in what they’re doing. Tell them how much you appreciated them cleaning the bathroom. It’s all about compromise, give and take. Like I said – just like marriage.

7) Study some more

8) Learn how to prioritize. This will be one of the most valuable things you’ll ever master. Classes and schoolwork before play. Hard work before fun. Which paper to write first. Figuring out what takes priority in life is part of being in adult, so learn this now.

9) You’re not in high school anymore.

10) You won’t get awards in college for participation. If you want something, you’re going to have to work for it.

11) If you screw up. Own it. People will respect you much more if you admit failure than making excuses for what you’ve done.

12) Keep studying

13) Back to those men. Don’t date someone just because he’s popular, well-built, and hot. Because that’s just stupid. Popularity goes away after you graduate, even the best built guys eventually gain a bit of weight, and sometimes hot guys lose their hair. You date someone because they make you laugh. You date someone because they would rather stay in with you than hang out with their friends. You date someone because they’re the first person you want to call when something good happens. You date him because he makes you smile and isn’t jealous, rude to waiters, and secretly cries during your favorite chick flick. And you continue dating him because it turns out he’s your best friend.

14) Have fun. Up until now, I’ve talked about hard work and remembering that college is there for you to learn and not screw around. But it’s also a time to find yourself. But do it intelligently. Don’t do something that could get you arrested or killed. Drinking is prevalent in college. Be smart and use your head. One day, you’re going to be married and have children of your own. When you’re about to do something, ask yourself this question: “Will I be able to tell my children about this one day?” If the answer is no…don’t do it.

15) Refer back to #1

Your Mother

Your mother

16) Call your mother at least once a week. Mostly because she will miss you and because you love her, but partly because if you don’t I’ll never hear the end of it.

17) Remember to sleep once in a while.

18) I  know I mentioned it before, but don’t drink. I would hope you’re smart enough that I don’t have to mention the drug thing.

19) Go to the store with your friends and buy ridiculous costumes. Put them on and spend a Saturday in downtown making fools of yourselves and taking pictures and doing goofy things. You are only young once.

20) Listen to me or don’t. It’s up to you. But let me leave you with this – high school wasn’t the best years of your life. College won’t be either. Your best years are yet to come. Have fun. Be silly. Be yourself, and find yourself.

 

Typing 101

It all began many years ago – first period of my freshman year of high school. Typing 101. Now for those of you from the younger generation following along, let me explain what a typewriter is. It’s a box with a keyboard…kind of like a computer keyboard…only different. And instead of a screen you put blank paper into it and press really hard on the keys. And you didn’t need a printer to print what you just typed, and if you made a mistake…there was a white paint in a bottle you used to cover up the mistake on the paper. Crazy, I know. Well, during this class we learned many things, one of which was you were to never look at your fingers while typing. Also, you always (and I cannot stress this enough) ALWAYS put 2 spaces after each period before starting the next sentence.

This was how I learned to type. Now, none of my kids have taken a typing class…they’ve taken computer classes where they learn the ins and outs of a computer but not how to actually type on the keyboard.  Instead, they hunt and peck, and after about an hour of typing one page, they beg me to type the rest of their paper so they don’t have to stay up all night to type it themselves. I’m sorry…what happened to Typing 101?

This is a portable typewriter...the original laptop.

This is a portable typewriter…the original laptop.

But I digress.

Thanks to this typing class some (mumble) years ago, I’m able to type out my thoughts at breakneck speed. I still pound the keys of the laptop keyboard as if I’m punching the keys on a typewriter. I have had to teach myself that it is no longer acceptable to place 2 spaces after each period. But this class…this simple high school course…has ultimately given me the ability to do what I do. Write.

So, I’d like to publicly thank my typing teacher, Mrs. Syrkel, for giving me the tools to type quickly and effectively. Thanks.

A Day in the Life of a Debut Author

So, you want to know what a burgeoning author does during a typical day? Are you sure? All right. Fine. You asked for it.

(This is where I place a disclaimer stating that if you are easily bored or fall asleep while reading, continue at your own risk.)

I’d like to say that I spend all day long perched before my trusty laptop sipping coffee while birds chirp outside my window. I’d also like to tell you I have a housekeeper who comes in every week and thoroughly scrubs my beautiful, luxurious home and a nanny who arrives each morning to make breakfast and leaves every night after making dinner. Lastly, I would love to say I have a bank account in Switzerland and drive a new car every year.

But just because I’d like to say those things doesn’t make them real.

My typical day begins in the morning after I wake up my youngest daughter for school. I get her breakfast which is usually a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Then I eat something and pour myself the first of 2 large travel mugs of coffee. I turn on the television and watch GMA until it’s time to drive my kid to the bus stop.

The gym is next where I generally do 20 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of circuit training. (Need to get into book signing shape.)  Then it’s home to take a quick shower and get ready for work.  After my allotted hours earning my paycheck, the drive home is the only time, other than breakfast, where I have time to decompress and relax.

When I get home, I either make dinner and we eat as a family or (if I’m lucky) my hubby has dinner waiting for me. While someone else does the dishes and cleans up, I head off to my laptop and begin working on either my latest book or the edits from my lovely editor.

Now, when I have the occasional day off I usually do multiple loads of laundry, go grocery shopping, hit the gym and continue to work on my book and/or edits.

That’s it. Fun, right?

But you may notice some things are missing.

What?! This ISN'T the litter box?

What?! This ISN’T the litter box?

My bathrooms rarely get cleaned. I can’t tell you the last time I vacuumed my house. My daughter’s school paperwork piles up for weeks until I finally go through it and realize we missed a meeting or school event. I couldn’t tell you where we keep our feather duster.  I play Schroedinger’s Cat with the mailbox until the mailman starts giving me dirty looks. My cats remind me that I haven’t cleaned their litter in days by leaving me presents on the floor outside the cat box. My DIY projects, including my new dresser and daughter’s bed frame, have been collecting dust for weeks. And while my husband usually reads, watches TV or plays with our daughter, I’m sequestered, hunched over my 5-year-old laptop, trying to follow my dreams.

Do-it-yourself project that I started over 4 months ago. There are 4 other projects that are waiting to be started taking up room in my garage.

Do-it-yourself project that I started over 4 months ago. There are 4 other projects that are waiting to be started taking up room in my garage.

It isn’t the glamorous life most think of when they think “author”, but mine is the reality that is shared by numerous other writers. Most writers aren’t lucky enough to become a J.K. Rowling, Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer. Most of us keep full-time jobs and write in our spare time. We don’t have maids, nannies or even personal trainers. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to have a husband who doesn’t mind picking up the slack around the house so I can follow my dreams.

The one thing all new authors share is the desire to get our stories out there to the people who want to read them. Most of us don’t get into writing to become millionaires. In fact, some end up losing money during the process. But there is one thing no one can take away from authors like me…a sense of accomplishment at seeing our dream through to fruition.

Success is all in the eye of the beholder.

How I Got Here (or How Twitter Changed my Life)

Edits are underway. The cover art should begin in approximately 4 weeks. There are book signings to schedule and gift baskets to organize for raffles. These and a hundred other things are all parading through my mind as I prepare for one of the most exciting moments of my life…the birth of my book, “Haunting”.

As I take a much needed break from reviewing edits from my incredibly brilliant editor, Jennifer, I look back at the last few years and remember how I got here.

The year 2009 was rough. But I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and began to do something I hadn’t done in years – write. The first book I wrote was for my oldest daughter’s 15th birthday called “Schuyler and the Saga of the Sages”. At the time, I thought it was a brilliant piece of work. Looking back at it now, I realize it was a great concept with wonderful possibilities…but was horribly written. Why?  I was out of practice. But writing that book gave me the opportunity to clear away the cobwebs in my mind and start all over again. It reminded me the importance of structure, dialogue and character building.

So, in 2010 I came up with the concept of “Haunting”. I didn’t outline it. In fact, I had no idea where the story was going until approximately the 3rd chapter. By then, the characters began to dictate where they wanted to go and how they wanted the story to develop. At that point, I was at their mercy. That may sound strange, but many authors will tell you the same thing. If you force your characters to do something they’re not meant to do, they just won’t cooperate on paper.

In May of 2011, I decided to enter my simple paranormal romance/thriller to Readers Favorite for their 2011 competition. If I’d been asked to put money down on my chances of making it to the top 100, I would have laughed in their face. Then came the email stating I was a finalist in one of the Young Adult categories. First, I questioned the validity of the contest. I mean, come on!  I’d just gone up against numerous other authors, many of whom already had books published…and I was a finalist? After the doubt came excitement. Then, finally, came the anxiety. I was a finalist! I began to daydream of winning and of the advantages it would give me in my search for a literary agent. Around this time, I opened up a Facebook fan account as a way to update all my friends and family on my progress. It was slow going getting people to “like” my page since I think most people thought the writing thing was just a phase.

The day I received the email with the final results was exhilarating. I clicked on the link and scrolled down the page to my category. Not expecting to see my name at all, I froze when I realized that my name was not only listed in the top 6 finalists, but I had been awarded the silver medal.  Second place…I had come in second place! Out of those six who placed in my category, I was the only one who wasn’t previously published. My lowly manuscript beat out numerous other books and authors. I was humbled beyond belief.2011-silver

That is when I began submitting queries to agents and waited for the offers to come rolling in. I received two requests for partials and one request for a full, but no offers of representation. After nearly 11 months, I began to wonder if I’d ever get published. In the meantime, I began to plan out and write the sequel to “Haunting”, tentatively titled “Imprint”.

Deciding it was time to take my future into my own hands, I set up a Twitter account in July 2012…something I swore I would never do. Then, in October of 2012, I was invited by someone with Wandering in the Words Press to submit my manuscript to them…and the rest is history.

Yep.  I got my publishing contract through Twitter.

So, now here I sit with a publishing date and looming deadlines. It’s all work and no play, but that’s okay. A woman my age doesn’t need that much sleep anyway, right? But all this work is going to be worth it in the end. The day I receive that  package in the mail with the first printed copy of “Haunting” and hold it in my hands, the smile on my face will take years to fade.

Hurry Up and Wait

All right folks. We’re approximately three months away from the release of my debut novel, “Haunting”. The first round of edits will be arriving soon, my stress level has started to rise and my sense of reality has taken a back seat to the possibilities of publication. All in all, I’m in the same situation as every other debut author.

See that empty spot? That's where "Haunting" by BJ Sheldon will go on library shelves.

See that empty spot? That’s where “Haunting” by BJ Sheldon will go on library shelves.

Now that the initial shock and excitement has worn off, the real work begins. Already working on the sequel, there never seems to be enough days in the week to get it all done. My husband and daughters as well as Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and my website have all been seriously neglected in lieu of going to a “real” job by day and writing by night.  Only God knows how I’m going to find time to do the essential things in life, like eat and sleep, when my lovely editor, Jennifer, starts sending the edits in the next week or two. I may need to invest in some serious under-eye-dark-circle creams and strong coffee to get me through the next few months. It’s times like this where I wish magic was real…where is Hermione’s time turner when I need it?!

I can’t really spend a straight 24 hours hunched over my laptop. While it’s a lovely concept to be able to sit and write all day long, it’s not realistic. So, time management is now rearing its ugly head and is forcing me to rethink my daily schedule in order to fit in more writing time and prepare for the forthcoming edits…reprioritize, if you will. The problem is this…everything demands my attention and wants to be first on my list. My children, my husband, the gym, laundry…you get the picture. But in the end, that’s what life is…finding time to do everything you need to do in a 24-hour day.

Being an Army wife, I am very familiar with the phrase, “Hurry up and wait.” Anyone who has ever been in, or married to, the military knows how true this can be. The same can be said for the process of publishing.

1) Receive offer of publication – Check

2) Accept offer of publication – Check

3) Wait – Check

4) Wait some more – Check

5) Work on the sequel while waiting for edits – Check

6) Continue to wait for edits and dream about what the final cover art will be – Check

For a person who has had a lifelong struggle with patience, the entire publishing process has proved to be pure torture, to say the least. But as I say quite often, this too shall pass. In a few short months, my edits will be complete, my cover reveal will be promoted, and my book signings will be planned. As each days comes to an end, I have to remind myself that I am another day closer to the end goal. People will download my book onto their eReaders or will be flipping through the pages of a bound copy of “Haunting”…and they will be reading the words that I lovingly and painstakingly put to paper night after night with nothing but a pad of paper and a used laptop. The characters created through my ridiculous imagination will come to life every time someone decides to read my story. And therein lies the reason I began to write again after all those years…to make people smile, cry and inspire each of them to search their own imaginations.

This is the face of 40.

This is the face of 40.

This year, I turn 41. Yes…41. Call me a late bloomer if you want, but here’s the point I wanted to make.  I’ve waited my entire life for this opportunity. I’ve essentially waited nearly 23 years to see my dream of becoming a published author come to fruition. Go take a look at yourself in the mirror.  How old are you? What are your dreams?  What’s holding you back?  Why are you waiting?  The time for excuses has passed, and now it’s time to take an honest look at where you want to go and who you want to be.  If a woman entering into “middle-aged” territory can finally realize her dream, why can’t you?

So hurry up and get started…just be prepared to wait.

Liebster Blog Award and Nominations

Liebster

Well, what do you know? I received a Liebster Blog Award! I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my friend & fellow blogger, Stephanie Neighbour, for nominating me. I encourage you all to check out Stephanie‘s blog.  She’s funny and an overall goofball…which I love. Now, here’s how it works:

–       I list 11 random facts about myself.

–       I’ll answer the 11 questions asked of me by the person who nominated me.

–       I will then nominate my 5 picks (normally you’re supposed to choose 11, but I’m a rebel and never follow the rules) for the award along with my 11 questions for them to answer when they post a response.

–       If you’re nominated, your name/link will appear at the bottom of this post along with your questions. Follow the same format; paste the award badge to your blog, give us 11 random facts about yourself, answer my 11 questions, and choose your nominees…but you cannot nominate the blog who nominated you.

11 Random facts about me:

1) I am a Whovian. How did I spend my Christmas day?  By watching all of the Doctor Who Christmas specials on BBC America and topping it off with the newest Christmas special. What can I say?  I’m a giant nerd!

2) When I was a little girl, I dreamed of playing the lead in “Annie” on Broadway. I was angry with my parents for months when they wouldn’t sell their farm in Iowa and move to New York City so I could become a famous Broadway star.

3) As a child, I once had a dog named Rubbers. She was our farm dog…a beautiful reddish dog with black feet. It looked like she had black, rubber boots on her feet, hence the name.  (Get your mind out of the gutter!)

4) Growing up, I also had a horse named Woody. (I’m beginning to think there was something wrong with my family.)

5) I have an enormous fear of frogs.  Yes…frogs.  They’re slimy, gross and have the ability to hop up your pant leg if they so desire. I understand that being afraid of frogs is irrational, but that’s what an irrational fear is, isn’t it? Being afraid of something that isn’t rational. But I stick by my guns…because I have no desire to hop around and scream like a child just because I didn’t take caution around a leg-climbing frog. Don’t judge me.

Embarassing 4th

Smiling on the outside, dying on the inside

6) I used to perform in retirement homes when I was little, singing various holiday-themed songs to elderly people and their staff. My mom would sew my costumes and force me to sing in character. The worst one was when she used to make me perform around the 4th of July in a red, white and blue polyester monstrosity complete with a white beard. I was supposed to look like Uncle Sam. I looked ridiculous…but the elderly audience loved it. Oh, the things I did back then for fame.

7) My parents didn’t allow me to watch the show “Facts of Life” as a kid because they didn’t approve of the title. Yep.

8) One day, I’d love to ride in a custom, luxury RV, traveling from one end of the country to the other. My  husband hates that idea.

9) I started college twice before finally getting a degree in Business of Project Management.  The first time, I majored in music and had to drop out due to illness. The second time, I majored in English and dropped out because I met my first husband. The third time was a charm.

10) I work out about 5 days a week. My goal is to lose 47 pounds by this time next year. I’m completely okay with getting older, but nothing says I can’t try and look good for my age.

11) My mother used to keep everything while I was growing up. My hair, my baby shoes and even the scab from my small pox shot. It’s in my baby book under a bunch of tape. (How I wish I was making that up.)

– Stephanie’s Questions:

-What hobby would you like to learn but have put off trying? – I would love to try my hand at photography, but it isn’t a cheap hobby by any means. Maybe one day…

-If you could write in another genre, what would it be and why? – I love writing in the young adult paranormal romance genre, but I would love to try my hand at young adult sci-fi. It’s a tricky genre, but when done well can be an extremely good read. I wrote a sci-fi short story aimed at teens and thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. Perhaps once the “Haunting” trilogy has been completed, I may need to do some soul-searching and look at changing things up.

-You can have a two-hour lunch with anyone, famous or not. Who would it be and why? – Stephen King. I’m not a huge fan of his books, but he knows how to develop a story that sells. I can only imagine the wisdom and advice I could ascertain in a two-hour period.

-Music or television? – Television. I’m addicted to BBC America and “Doctor Who”. I will also watch pretty much anything on the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. My youngest daughter and I have discovered “The Incredible Dr. Pol” and also love  watching “Oddities” together as well. If it’s a smart, intelligent show, we’ll watch it.  If it’s “Honey Boo Boo” or “Jersey Shore”…it’ll never happen.

-What time of the day do you find you are most creative? – Between 9:00 pm and 9:05 pm. (You asked!)

-What is your biggest vice and do you plan to give it up or stay with it? – I have no vices, but if I did, I’M NOT A QUITTER!

-Mac or PC – The last time I used a Mac was in high school…and that was a long, long, long, long time ago.  So, I’ll go with PC.

-What in your life are you most proud of? – My three daughters are my biggest accomplishment.  The fact that I haven’t completely ruined them for life is a huge achievement. Each one is distinctly different. My oldest works with kids with special needs and works part-time in a day care. My middle daughter is an amazing artist and writer. (Perhaps a children’s book author in our future?) And my youngest, a third grader, has a big heart and stands up for her friends.  I’m a very proud mom.

My three greatest accomplishments

-If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? – The one thing I’d change is my college career.  If I could go back and do things differently, I would major in American Literature and get a Masters in Library Sciences. Then, I would have spent the last 13 years working as a Librarian rather than in the corporate world. Maybe one day I can still get my Masters…only time will tell.

-What is your idea of a perfect vacation? – Universal Studios. Harry Potter. My entire family. Perfection.

-What was the impetus for you to begin writing and do you think this is something you will always pursue? – As a child, I read book after book to escape my childhood.  As I got older, I began to write for the same reason. In 2009, I lost my job and needed something to do during the day between job interviews. One day, I picked up a pen and a pad of paper and began to write.  I wasn’t even sure where I was going with the story. Before you knew it, I was transcribing the scribbles onto an old laptop and the rest was history. My first attempt at a whole manuscript was a middle-grade fantasy that I dedicated to my oldest daughter for her fifteenth birthday. I look back at it now, and it wasn’t very good…but I’m proud of the accomplishment nonetheless. It lit that fuse inside me again that had gone out long ago, not to mention shook off the dust and cobwebs inside my brain. Now, I can’t imagine my life without the stories and my laptop. Undoubtedly, I will keep writing as long as my mind allows.

Here are my nominations. Click on their names below and the link will take you to their websites.

Joshua Johnson

C.A. Kunz

Kelley Harvey

L.E. Pate

Courtney Farrell

Nominees, here are your 11 questions:

-Dogs or cats?

-Who is your favorite author?

-What is your favorite classic novel and why?

-If there was on person, either dead or alive, you could spend the day with, who would it be and why?

-Book or eReader?

-If they turned your life into a big screen movie, who would play you?

-What was it that drew you to become a writer?

-What is your idea of the perfect day?

-What is the name of the person who inspired you the most growing up? How did they inspire you?

-Who is your hero and why?

-Where do you hope to be as a writer in ten years?

Enjoy!!