Thursday, May 30, 2013

Live Life to the Fullest!

I recently saw this quote:

"Live like you will die tomorrow. Dream like you will live forever."

It's very powerful for me. Life can be so so short. I've had several people taken from my life far too early. People who never got the chance to marry or have children. People who never got to see their children grow up. People who never got the chance to meet their grandchildren. I try very hard to make our lives meaningful. Make memories with our kids. Enjoy each other. I try to keep our stress at a minimum so we spend more time smiling than frowning. There's no guarantees in life and the people I love can be gone at any minute. I need to make the most of my time with them now.

I think it's very important to make memories, be silly, do things that some people think you are too old for. Live your life and have no regrets. I don't want to look back when I'm 80 and wonder what I did with my time. I want photo albums filled with memories and smiling faces.

Obviously, if we truly treated each day like our last, the house would never get cleaned and we would never go to work. :) But I think the sentiment behind this statement is to at least take part of every day and make it memorable. Even if it's only ten minutes.

And for me, part of life is dreaming, and dreaming big. If you don't dream and make plans, go after what makes you happiest, what is the point?? I don't want to just exist. I want to my life to be spectacular. I dream and do what I can to make those dreams come true. It's not to say I'm not afraid, but I push past the fear and just do it. I work hard and I'm making my dreams come true.

How about you? What does this quote mean to you?? Do you live your life to the fullest?? Do you have dreams and try to achieve them?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chick Lit Chat

I don't know if you all know this, but I am one of the hosts of Chick Lit Chat on Twitter!! What is Chick Lit Chat, you ask?? Well, let me explain! :)

A while back, I believe it was my good friend Jen Daiker from Unedited, wanted to start a chat on Twitter to talk about all things Chick Lit. If you are stumped on what that even is, it's a sub genre of women's fiction, traditionally about younger women in an urban setting. The stories are funny and sassy with lots of drama. The genre has evolved over the years, with older characters, moms, small town settings, and the title isn't quite used as much anymore, but there is still a HUGE following. Jen wanted to do something fun to bring together readers and writers to support the genre, and #ChickLitChat was born.

So each week on Thursday night at 8 PM Eastern Standard Time, we all gather on Twitter and chat. You must use the hashtag #chicklitchat to participate. There is always a host and a topic for the week, ranging from our favorite titles, to our favorite types of characters, to writing related topics about plot and dialogue. Every week is something new and every week we have a total blast! I love meeting new people who love the genre as much as I do. It's great for readers because they can meet authors and find out how our minds work! And great for authors, since we love meeting our readers!

So come on over to our chat this week!! Visit the profile for our headquarters- ChickLitChatHQ and give us a follow for reminders and updates to the chat. I'm hosting tonight!! See ya there!!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Big Fabulous Summer Giveaway!

It's been a loooooong time since I've done a fun contest! And with summer coming, I feel the need to celebrate and get ready for it!!! How about you?? I am so ready for a relaxing summer with lots of fun!

As a kid, I loved summer. I mean, seriously, who didn't? I think my favorite part was having nothing to do. Everyday was Saturday. My family camped seasonally at a family campground, and every weekend that's where we went as soon as my dad got home from work. I had lots of friends there and we always had so much fun. So many amazing memories of sunny summer days swimming in the lake, and warm summer nights with cute boys. ;)

So I want to celebrate summer and it's fun and freedom. No matter how old I am, I will always bask in the joy of warmer temps and lazy days!

The contest starts today and will run until June 15th! LOTS of time to enter and keep earning more entries! I'll announce the winners on my blog on Monday, June 17th! :)

And I know you're wondering...what about the prizes!!! Here is a list of what I have come up with so far! I will be adding more as time goes on. There will be lots of prizes, so many people will win! AND entrants will be able to win multiple prizes!! I plan on getting together some kind of grand prize too. I'll have to see what awesome things I can come up with! :) So, without further ado, here is the list:

- $5 GC to Amazon or B&N, winner's choice.
- $10 GC to Amazon or B&N, winner's choice.
- Digital copies of my Karma books- A Bitch Named Karma and Karma Kameleon (in whichever format the winner chooses).
- Digital copy of my book Paradise Cove.
- Digital copy of my book Soap Dreams.
- Bath and Body Works Pocket Bacs Hand Sanitizer! Five winners, scent selected at random- Margarita, Pink Lemonade, Flip Flop Fruit, Wildberry, and Island Nectar. (US only.)

- Nail buffers and Cake Batter lip balm! Two winners! (Each will win one buffer and one lip balm. US only.)

- Nail polish and polish remover pads! Two winners! (Each winner will receive one polish and one container of remover pads. US only.)

And I finally came up with a grand prize. It's nothing major, but it is something I really would love to keep for myself! So that gives it value, to me, anyway!

- A cool water bottle and box of yummy single serving iced tea packets! (US only)

And who knows...I may add more!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Some prizes are only available for continental US residents, as noted. I sincerely apologize for this. The shipping out of the States is just too much for me to swing :( If the winner for a shippable prize is outside the continental US, I will draw a new winner for that prize and offer the original winner a digital prize.

***All winners will be announced on my blog and notified by email. If the winner fails to reply within a week's time, a new winner will be drawn.

Official Contest Rules:

No purchase necessary. Digital prizes open to US and international, 18 and over. Prizes that must be shipped are only open to US residents, 18 and over. Contest open May 15th, 9 AM EST through June15th, 11:59 PM. Winners will be selected at random and posted on this blog on Monday June 17th at 9:00 EST. Winners will also be contacted by the email address they provided when entering and have one weeks to respond or an alternative winner will be drawn. Entry details posted above in Rafflecopter. Prize descriptions: $5 GC to Amazon or B&N ($5 value), $10 GC to Amazon or B&N, ($10 value), Digital copies of my Karma books- A Bitch Named Karma and Karma Kameleon (in whichever format the winner chooses) ($10 value), Digital copy of my book Paradise Cove ($1 value), Digital copy of my book Soap Dreams ($1 value), Bath and Body Works Pocket Bacs Hand Sanitizer. Five winners, (US only), ($1 value each, total value $5.00), Nail buffers and Cake Batter lip balm! (Each will win one buffer and one lip balm. US only.), ($2 value on each prize, total prize value $4). Nail polish and remover wipes ($3 value each prize, $6 value total. US only), Water bottle and iced tea mix, ($12 value. US only). Odds of winning are determined by number of eligible entries. All winners are final. Stephanie Haefner is not responsible for technical failures. Stephanie Haefner has the right to publicize the names of the winners on this blog. All digital prizes will be awarded via email. Shippable prizes will be awarded via USPS within a week of winner claiming them. Stephanie Haefner is not liable in the event the prize or contest/sweepstakes in some way impacts the winner negatively. Contest sponsored by Stephanie Haefner- Sweepstakes is being regulated in the state of NY. Void where prohibited by law.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Boy things and Girl things?

I hate when people label things as only for boys or girls.

As a parent, I have always had the attitude that there are not boy things and girl things. I have always encouraged my girl to play with trucks, play sports, enjoy shows about trains, as well as play with dolls, play dress up, and take dance classes. I think the world views this as okay. People have no problem encouraging girls to be well-rounded. But boys, not so much. And this makes no sense to me.

My son has always been naturally drawn to things with wheels. He loves playing with cars, loves watching car races, loves riding his bike. But as the second child with an older sister, he has always been around traditional girly things. We've never discouraged him from playing with his sister's toy kitchen or her My Little Pony and Littlest Pet Shop figures. When it came time to start signing him up for extra curriculars, soccer was his first. He has always seemed very coordinated and likes running around outside and doing sports type things. It seemed like a natural fit. And so far, it has been. He no longer does soccer, but started tee ball this year. His sister dances and does theater camp, and he has never shown interest, but if he does, I wouldn't deny him.

My son used to say he didn't want to watch certain shows because they were "girl shows." They weren't. They were older kid shows geared toward tweens, like Good Luck Charlie and Shake It Up. I think he said that because they were shows his sister watches. Because he has no problem what so ever with Dora the Explorer, Doc McStuffins, and Sophia the First.

I'm sure people are wondering what I'd do if my son ran up to me with a tutu in hand and wanted to wear it. He's never done it, but I'd like to think I'd be open-minded enough to let him wear it. It's just a tutu. He's five.

Friday, May 3, 2013

If you ever want to sell on proposal....

When I started writing, I had no clue how to do it. I just wrote. There was a story in my head and it came out through my finger tips. But then I started learning there were rules. Basic rules about storytelling and characters. I read a couple books and found invaluable information. And I had to relearn all the grammar stuff I had forgotten. Boy was that tough!

I joined a writers group maybe a year or so after I started writing. The people were awesome and they really helped me figure out this writing thing. They helped me fix the things that needed fixing. They were great for bouncing ideas off of. And then we had a new member join our group. She was working on her novel, a mystery, and though she only had a few chapters written, she had the whole thing planned out. Every scene. At the time, that seemed so incredibly boring to me. I remember thinking it felt like all the creativity had been taken out of the process. I couldn't understand why someone would write like that.

Fast forward a few years....

I'd been through the publishing process a bunch of times. I'd written a few more novels. I'd met tons of people in the writing community. Many were pansers- people who write by the seat of their pants, like I did. And the rest were plotters, who plan their books, either in an extremely detailed manor or just a simple outline. I was a panser. And then one day a friend posted about her new book and how she was becoming a reformed panser. After selling several books to her publisher, they now only wanted a proposal before offering her a contract. She now HAD to write an entire synopsis for her future book before writing it.

That really hit home with me. I knew I wanted to someday sell to a big publisher. And if this is how big publishers did it, maybe I needed to take a serious look into changing my process too. So I decided to give it a try. A test. I decided my next book would be plotted out beforehand. I spent a couple weeks writing what was originally supposed to be a semi-detailed outline. But I ended up writing a very detailed outline, scene by scene. It was about 25 pages long, single spaced. When I finished, I started crafting the book. It took me only 35 days to write 82 thousand words. And not once was I bored or felt a lack of creatively. There was never a lull, asking myself "What's gonna happen next?" There were less plot holes. Since I had the book all planned out, it gave me the ease of just writing it and not having to stop and think about where the book was going. I already knew.

I am now a reformed panser! And proud of it!!

I know everyone has their process and everyone must do what works best for them. But I am honestly shocked by how at home I am with the new process I have adopted. My dream is to sell on proposal. I would LOVE to sell a book based on my ideas instead of spending months writing something that no one wants to buy. Fingers crossed that I get there!

So...panser or plotter? Any reformed pansers like me??? Were you shocked with the ease of the process once you started it?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fear and preventing our kids from being terrorized by it.

Yesterday my son's principal sent home a letter explaining the drills they have been teaching the kids. This is preschool, mind you. They are showing the kids what to do when there is a lockout. The principal wanted us to talk to the kids and make sure they understood what was going on, etc... since they would be practicing the drills over the next couple weeks.

So I asked my son, who is 5, about the lockdown drills. He said, "We lock the door and go in the corner and be quiet so people can't see us from the window on the door. They'll think we went outside."

He said it with such nonchalance. It completely broke my heart to see him talking about something like this with such ease. But I guess I should be happy. He is learning to do these things without fear. He probably doesn't understand the reasoning for why they need to do it. They just need to do it. He doesn't seem anxious or scared. I guess that should give me some comfort. If there ever comes a time when he will need to do this, he will know what to do and will do it. I can't say he won't be scared, but he'll be prepared.

I'm sad that our children need to know these types of things. But it also reminds me of the stories my dad used to tell us. When he was a kid they'd had air raid drills. He'd had to get under his desk. So even  though 50+ years have passed, and even though the world has changed drastically, we're still having to prepare our children for the worst.

I try not to live my life in fear. I want my children to grow up without worry. I want them to live as normal a life they can. Be happy. Reach for their dreams. But I also try to teach them to be cautious. Be prepared.