Nov 192012
 

Why does living life seem to take up so much time? There are twenty-four hours in a day to spend however we’d like, which seems like a lot, but it’s not. Not when you have to spend eight of those hours recharging. Not when you’re getting ready for work, commuting, actually working, commuting again, eating dinner, spending time with family, cleaning up, decompressing, and getting ready for bed. In that case, twenty-four hours may as well be one.

I think the lack of time is getting to people. Well, it’s getting to me. There are way too many distractions. I’ve noticed that I’m happier when I spend time doing the things I love. Don’t people seem to be happier when they’re spending time doing the things they love? It’s like a personal road map to happy.

What would happen if we took a few moments during the day for ourselves? How awesome would you feel if you did something you truly enjoyed? Now how often do you do that for yourself?

I vow to spend a few moments of each day on myself and you should too.

I made a short video about this very thing. Take a look.

Thanks for watching!

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Nov 172012
 

Hey all,

I’ve finally completed some projects. Yea! Check out my projects page to see what’s new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve also added some new photos to my Chicago Picture Project, which is seven years strong. Enjoy!

What projects do you have in the works?

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Sep 092012
 

Once upon a time there lived a little boy who woke up very early one Saturday morning ready to go outside. He shook his sleeping parents awake and told them of his plan. After eating breakfast they headed downstairs and began walking towards Division Street for they heard there would be a DIY festival of magnanimous proportions. To their delight the festival was filled with beautiful and magnificent handmade things!

The little boy and his parents walked from booth to booth looking for the perfect item and finally, they saw it – a light blue whale sitting inside of a colorful honeycomb. It was the most wonderful toy the little boy had ever seen. He picked it up and squeezed it with all his might as it was love at first sight. He would name this little whale Wally.

He loved Wally as much as any other toy and carried him around where ever he went, even to Costco. While walking around, the little boy’s mom asked if she could carry Wally so he wouldn’t get lost, but the boy said no as it was his toy to care for. After their shopping trip they went home. That is when the little boy noticed that Wally the Whale was missing!

His parents called Costco and found that it had not been turned in to the lost and found. The little boy was so heartbroken and distraught that he cried and cried. His parents tried to console him, but his pain was immense as he had lost one of his greatest friends.

The little boy would ask to start a search party, but his parents told him before they did that they would try to locate Wally on their own. They called Costco again, but Wally the Whale had not turned up. This upset the little boy so, but his parents had a plan.

It was the festival’s last day of operation and his parents went to the same booth to see if another Whale was available for purchase, but it was not. Instead, the little boy picked up a small, blue squid and gave it a huge hug for he loved it almost as much as the Wally the Whale. The squid made the little boy so happy that he asked his parents to buy it for him and so they did.

On the way home, the little boy told his parents that he loved his new squid, but that he would always have love in his heart for Wally the Whale should he ever return.

The end.

This is a totally true story! The Whale and Squid toys are available for purchase from Zooguu. Check them out if you get a chance. Their toys are super cute!

The other two businesses that caught my eye at Renegade were Tumbleweeds and Stak Ceramics. Tumbleweeds makes amazing wooden sunglasses. My favorite ones were heart shaped. Come on people, who doesn’t like hearts?! You can check them out here. Stak Ceramics makes some of the most unique and beautiful pieces I’ve ever seen. I especially love functional pieces of art and if you do too, you need to check this place out. For more info about Stak Ceramics click here.

I had a great time at Renegade and hope you did too! If you didn’t get a chance to make it this year, remember there’s always next year. For more information, please visit: http://www.renegadecraft.com/.

Laters!

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Sep 042012
 

These past two weeks have been incredible. I won a query critique and a critique of the first two chapters of my novel from Amanda Sun. Her YA novel, Ink is coming out next year, which I can’t wait to read. I won the critique through The Write On Con, which is a completely amazing and free conference for writers. I implore you to check it out. It recently ended, but you can find tons of incredible information through their archives. Please go visit them when you get a chance: writeoncon.com.

A few days later I got notice that my short story, The Town on the Road was to be published in Luna Station Quarterly, which publishes speculative fiction from new and emerging women authors. It’s now live so you can follow this link to read it. I am so glad LSQ exists and I wish them much success in the future. Now I just have to find a home for the other short story orphans sitting on my desk. To read the rest of issue 11, please visit this link. As you all know, literary magazines are labors of love, so if you have a few bucks to spare, please support Luna Station Quarterly by buying an issue. Issue 11 is available for purchase for $2.99 in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats here.

In other news, I recently visited Stanley’s Fruits & Vegetables in Chicago and bought a coconut. I wanted my son to experience the awesomeness that is coconut. He was super excited, but the best part came when he was watching me crack it open. I used a drill on the seam of the coconut and cracked it open with a hammer. My son was obsessed with the insides, but for some reason he refused to eat any of it. Oh well. More for me! Here’s a photo:

 

I’ve also been working on completing some home projects and as I was pulling the top off of a paint can, it slipped out of my hands and landed on the counter. Here’s what I saw when I lifted it:

 

Even the paint splotch was upset at my mishap! LOL!

Well, I’ve got to get back to work! Laters!

Have a lovely week y’all.

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Aug 092012
 

Confession: I cried at the end of Sounder and Bridge to Terabithia. I also cried at the end of Steven King’s short story, “The Body,” in which the movie Stand by Me was based on. And the reason I cried at the end of that story was because Gordie’s character felt he had to mourn the death of his friend Chris in his car by himself because he didn’t think anybody would quite understand. And that kind of loneliness gets to me. And this is also the reason why I cried when I read George Orwell’s, Down and Out in Paris and London. When Orwell touched on the shame of being poor and the way he hid his poorness from others, it struck me hard. Most recently, I cried when I read a beautiful passage within Jamaica Kincaid’s book, Annie John.

Annie John was speaking about her father and how he was given to his grandmother when he was a child. He was so close to her that they slept in the same bed until adulthood. He woke up one morning to find that she had passed away. He was eighteen and alone. Even though he ended up with his own family, no amount of love they gave him would ever suffice for the loss of his grandmother’s love. Annie John never thought of how sad her father was until that moment and that sentiment made me cry like a baby. And you would have to understand a small part of my family’s past in order to get that.

My father’s mother died when he was seventeen. His father passed away when he was twenty-four. He was parentless by the time he was twenty-five. I never thought about what that could do to a person, let alone my dad until my late twenties. To this day, I can’t imagine that it wasn’t completely devastating for him. I know that’s how it would be for me. Even when I brought it up a few years ago, he quickly changed the subject. Could he still be mourning their deaths some thirty years later? I think so. As we all know, there is no time limit on pain. This is why I could empathize with the passage in Annie John.

The pain exhibited in all of the above mentioned works is so strong and relatable that it shook me to the core. Now that’s good writing.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to read about a characters struggle or pain without feeling some sort of emotional connection to the writer. What do you all think? Which books do you feel an emotional connection to?

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Mar 192012
 

This past winter in Chicago has been surprisingly warm and it’s been fantastic. Normally, it’s blistering cold and dreary and it kinda sucks, but the universe must love us because we’ve had a series of sunshiny days. As much as I appreciate this glorious weather, it wasn’t enough to recharge my battery. It was time to get away.

My family and I took a work/fun trip to Orlando. Why Orlando? Well, because it’s warm and sunny. Plus, it’s kid friendly. Last, but not least my parents and brother live there and I miss them. It’s the ideal vacation spot for us.

As usual, I packed a week before and wrote an itinerary. I planned to spend most of my time maxin’ and relaxin’. Thing is, I have a hard time relaxing on vacation because I have oodles of energy. I wake up every morning at six a.m. without an alarm clock and with the kind of oomph I crave in my normal, everyday life. Where this comes from I don’t know, but I’m glad I have it. It gives me a few hours to spend alone.

We stayed at my parent’s home, which is about twenty minutes from MCO. They live in the boonies. The boonies equals limited cell phone reception, acres of land between homes, no street lights, deer crossing signs, darkness and crickets. At first, it weirded me out. It was too quiet. I didn’t have anything to do. Idle hands and all. I’m used to constant multi-tasking, but Orlando was challenging me to sit down and take a break. After twenty-four hours, I began to appreciate the quietness and the quirkiness of the south.

The last time I was in Orlando was four years ago. Things look a bit different now, more built up. The streets were reminicent of Chicago highways except everybody in Orlando drives between fifty and seventy mph. There are no minor fender benders. They also have a Family Dollar and Family General within a block of each other and I swear they are the exact same store! There are also horses all over the place, which of course I wanted to ride, but didn’t get the chance to. Note to self: must make horse-owning friends in Orlando, Florida. The nearest convenience store was at a gas station that wasn’t convenient at all, but that’s the beauty of the boonies – ample amounts of space.

Every time we visit, my husband says the same thing. He could not live there. I used to say that, but I am growing fond of that old place. It’s a place for me to get away whenever I need to recharge my battery. Of course, part of its charm is that my parents and brother live there. They are my allies and it’s good to connect with your allies every once in a while. I also like being forced to unplug from my normal life because given the chance I know I wouldn’t. Other pluses are the sun and having long conversations with people I really like. It was all rather wonderful.

I so needed that time away.

When you need a break from your regular life, do yourself a favor and take a vacation. It will do you mind, body and soul a lot of good.

Check out these photos of the world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios:

Happy traveling folks!

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Sep 292011
 

Good supporters will lift you up; have your back, stand up for you, and root for you to succeed. They will be on the sidelines pushing you to race faster and harder until you win. They’ll encourage you to dig deeper and do better. They will be upset and disappointed if you fail. They’ll encourage you to dust yourself off, pick yourself, and fight until you reach the finish line. They’ll remind you of where you came from and who you are. They believe in you that much. Now that’s good support.

It’s wonderful to have supporters. It makes you feel alive and relevant, important even. Sometimes these supporters will be family members, friends, or strangers. Whoever they are in your life, don’t ever let them go. They will be with you for the long haul.

Do you have this kind of support? If not, ask yourself, do you give this kind of support to others? Now ask yourself how you do that.

Do you ask your supporters how they’re doing and are genuinely interested in the answer? Do you follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, and whatever the hottest social networking site is at the moment? Do you ask them how their WIP is going? Do you read and comment on their blogs? Do you buy your supporters books, artwork, literary journals, and magazines? Do you believe they do good work? Do you spread the word about them on your blog? If you do, bravo! You are a great supporter. If not, well, you may have some work to do. I know I do.

In the meantime, be supportive to others, build them up, and teach them what you know because the truth is you get what you give. Things in life tend to have a boomerang effect.

Doesn’t matter who you are, everybody needs and wants support. There is room for everybody to be successful.

I owe my supporters a huge thank you, so THANK YOU! You know who you are and you are all golden.

My new motto is to be as supportive as I can to others.

When was the last time you thanked somebody for their support?

I want to give  special thanks to Tegan Pratt for supplying these awesome images for my blog. As always, these images do not belong to me, so please do not use them without her permission. To view more of her work, please visit: http://trpratt.com.

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Sep 222011
 

It’s time for the second campaigner challenge via Rachael Harrie’s blog.

Here are the rules:

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, but the blog post should include the word “imago” in the title and also include the following words: miasma, lacuna, oscitate, and synchronicity. For an added challenge (to be included in the word count) make reference to a mirror. For a greater challenge, make your post exactly 200 words.

Here is mine:

Her Imago

A gasp of air, a beating heart, and a flushed face; these are the signs of a broken girl.

She crashed onto the floor. There was a buzzing in her head followed by silence.

They met when she was a child. She’d known him her whole life. The lacuna between them was immense and uncomfortable. Most days she would dream about the father she wanted, but today all she could focus on was the floor needing a good scrub; a hands and knees job.

She tried to ignore the past, but the miasma was too much now. It was time to go.

There were rules she had in order to keep herself sane: a sharp focus on logarithms, the latest Hollywood gossip, and exercise. They always calmed her down.

Her bedroom was a prison. She looked in the mirror and oscitated. The phone rang. It was her mother asking her to move back in. The synchronicity of events amazed her.

Tomorrow she would leave. In a few years, she would be out of her house too and under her own rule.

She crawled into bed and fell asleep counting down the days towards freedom.

Thanks for reading!

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Sep 132011
 

I got tagged by Allie Wilde to provide ten random facts about myself. Thank you Allie! So without further ado, here they are:

1. I am Polish and Puerto Rican, but I don’t speak Polish or Spanish fluently.

2. My first real rock show (without my parents) was as @ The Metro in Chicago when I was fifteen. I saw Face to Face and I’ve been addicted to music and shows ever since.

 

3. I lived in Krakow, Poland for a small period of time in my twenties. I miss hot wine in barrels and random conversations around the square.

4. I got married at The Society for Arts, a Polish gallery on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago to one of the coolest, most interesting people I have ever met.

5. I believe that Puerto Rico is paradise on earth.

6. I want to live out the rest of my days with my husband and son in Barcelona, Spain.

 

7. I sometimes have violent, end of the world dreams. When I wake up, I have to look out the window just to make sure everything is as it was the day before.

8. I am a serious coffee person. I like to drink it hot or cold at all hours of the day.

9. I haven’t eaten a hamburger in over fourteen years.


10. I can’t write unless my house is in order. It’s a focus thing.

That’s me in a nutshell. Thanks for reading. 🙂

I want to thank Allie for tagging me, and now I’m going tag a few fellow writers of my own.

Tag, it’s your turn to give some random facts about yourself: Kathleen Isaac aka Grillyfish, Beth KempKatharina Gerlachand T.B.McKenzie.

*Please note that with the exception of the Barcelona pic which I took, none of the other images belong to me. I have linked the images back to their original owners.

Have a great day everybody. 🙂

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 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Mar 102011
 

A month is all it took to get 103 followers. That’s it – one month. I now know the secret to getting blog readers. All it takes is, wait for it, wait for it, PARTICIPATION. I believe that joining online events, commenting on other people’s blogs and re-posting your blog links on Twitter and Facebook increases your readership. And as much as I like to pretend that I don’t care who is reading, the truth is that I do. I want readers and I want people to comment.  So, I want thank all of my followers to date. Thank you, thank you!

This week I’ve been thinking about self-belief and how so many people are scared to take the next step. Well, I say don’t let fear halt your life.

I have fallen victim to the fear monster as recently as last year when I started doubting myself and my writing. I was in a funk and I needed to get out of it quick if I was ever going to create again. And then one day I had an epiphany. I know who I am and I know what I need to do. Two weeks before the New Year, I took action and made a list. Here’s what was on it:

Join writing societies or associations
Meet more writers
Attend writing conferences
Find a mentor
Get my short stories published
Go to more Chicago literary events
Publish my collaborative children’s book
Finish my middle grade novel

I’m happy to say that I’ve already completed some of these goals including joining the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Through the SCBWI Illinois Chapter, I was able to attend a writing conference/workshop in mid January. It was all about creating your own marketing plan. There was a lot of pertinent information, but one of the most important things I learned was how to generate potential sales for your children’s book. I wanted to share some of these with you. Please note that I have not tried these, but I believe they are useful for any writer.

Here are some ways to generate sales for your book:

  • Network at events, through writing groups and conferences and through social networking sites like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Create relationships/connections through your personal website or blog and get blurbs written about your book.
  • Ask blog owners and other authors if they are interested in interviewing you about your book and offer to do the same for them.
  • Call bookstores and schedule readings and book signings.
  • Be there for the book sellers as much as possible.
  • Join professional or trade associations.
  • Go to American Library Association (ALA) Conferences.
  • Guerilla market through t-shirts, postcards, bookmarks, etc.
  • Use word of mouth to promote your book.
  • Talk about your book to librarians and teachers and see if they’d be open to you scheduling a reading.
  • Schedule 30-40 school visits per year.
  • Create a swag bag for school librarians and teachers. Include a copy of your signed book and postcards of your fellow author friends that are also doing the library/school visit rounds. Think about karma and the idea of what comes around, goes around.
  • Find connections. Can you co-market your book with another product?
  • Try to get your book on Tag.
  • Put your book on amazon and have it formatted for the Nook and Kindle. Your publisher may already do this.
  • Use keywords on your web site and blog to help promote your work.
  • Send info to local chapters (Mondo Times).
  • Follow up with people constantly.
  • Write a press release about your book and submit it.
  • Contact children’s indoor playrooms and schedule a book reading/signing.
  • Think about promoting through: http://www.authorbuzz.com/kids/
  • Promote your book on home schooling and mommy web sites by purchasing ad space.

What are some other ways you can think of to generate sales for your books?

I’m also attending another conference/workshop this month and I can’t wait.

As far finding a mentor goes, earlier this year, I contacted an old professor of mine, Mark Costello. He is somebody I respect and one of the best teachers at the University of Illinois. He is a great writer and gives excellent writing advice. Most importantly, he believes in the craft.

Through our letter writing exchange, (who does that anymore?!) he reminded me that you can’t let anybody dampen your writing spirit, you need to self-teach and you need to go forward. It reignited the fire in me and for that I will forever be grateful.

I realized that although it would be nice to have a mentor, I can be my own and so can you. You just need to believe in yourself and your work. You need to keep reading, writing and submitting and you can’t stop. If you get the opportunity to mentor another writer and you have the time, I say do it. It’s always good to pay it forward.

You can check out Mark Costello’s work here:

The Murphy Stories

Middle Murphy

In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, writing and submitting. I have a series of short stories that I am editing and two are out and about looking for homes. I have also found a trustworthy and incredible editor for my work, which will help me to complete the rest of my short stories in a timely manner.

Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

Join writing societies or associations
Meet more writers
Attend writing conferences
Find a mentor
Get my short stories published
Go to more Chicago literary events
Finish and submit my collaborative children’s book
Finish my middle grade novel

That leaves me with half of the things to complete by the end of this year. Will I do it? I can’t say, but I’ll try.

I wanted to leave all of my readers with a few words – make a plan, take action and keep on truckin’ no matter what. Like Mae West said, “you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

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