Friday, December 31, 2010

Party Time!!

I admit, I love to go to parties! I love getting together with friends and family for good food, fun, music, games, etc.... We need no excuse to party either. Anything can be reason enough to get together!

But New Year's Eve is a great reason to get together! Friends of ours have hosted a party the last few years, adults only. And it's been a pajama party! So so fun! We all don our favorite jammies and eat great food while playing Wii, singing karaoke, dancing and playing games. Some pics from last year's party:

Some karaoke:

Just dance on Wii:

Me and some of my girls:

What are your plans for ringing in the new year????? Hope you all have a fab time!! See ya next year!!

***edited to add: I have no idea why my pics are so big. Tried to fix them but I can't!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's that time of year again!

New Year's Resolutions!!!!

I make resolutions every year, but only things that I know I can take seriously and actually give my all to. I never make goals I know I have no way of reaching. I take these goals seriously and it really bothers me if I can't fulfill one of them.

For 2010 I had a few resolutions, as I talked about the other day: More family time. Get in better shape. Read 30 books. I did pretty good with all of them and I am happy.

For 2011 I have decided to give another go at the 30 book challenge. I did only complete 28 books this past year, with #29 on my night stand, but I still consider it a success.

I plan on continuing my gym routine, and hopefully toning up even more, and have decided to make it a goal of mine to keep hubby motivated.

Writing goals for 2011: Edit, submit and hopefully sign a contract for Karma Kameleon. Do a major rewrite of Spellbound. Write another book. I also want to bump up my marketing and promotion.

So, what are your goals for 2011??

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Does time of day make a difference??

Okay, so I openly admit, I usually write posts and schedule them. It's very rare that I write a blog post and post it immediately. It is just a whole lot easier for me to write them when I have time, usually I do a few, and then schedule them. But I never know what time to schedule them for.

So I ask my fellow bloggers...what do you do?? Does the time of the post affect the number of people who read it??

Now, I am East coast, so my blogs post usually at 10 am EST. Obviously, that means they post even earlier in all the other US time zones. Do people read blogs that early?? Or do people read later in the day? If my post is too early, do you think it gets buried way down in reader's blog rolls?

I think I'm going to do a test. I'm going to try posting at different times and see if I get more or less responses!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So close...yet so far away :(

Looks like I am not going to reach one of my new year's resolutions for 2010. :(

I'd only made a few.

The first was to spend more quality time as a more games together, read more together, that kind of thing. I think we reached that one, though probably not as much as i would have liked. But one of us reads with our son every night, though we have kinda slacked with our daughter. She's seven and can read on her own, above grade level. But I would like to read with her more. She just got all five Diary of a Whimpy Kid books for Christmas.

The second was to get in better shape, lose a few pounds and tone. I am definitely on track with that goal! We joined a gym the Monday after New years this year and I lost all the pounds I wanted. But have also learned to not care about the number on the scale. It's definitely more about how I look and feel. So while I have lost the pounds, my body has changed noticeably and I know I have also gained a ton of muscle, which weighs more than fat.

Lastly was my book reading goal. I read so many bloggers who do the 100 book challenge and I knew there was no way I could possibly reach that goal. So I made a far more attainable one for me: 30 books in one year. And up `til September, I was in a great position to reach, and even surpass, it. But then life happened and there just wasn't time for reading. I got most of my reading done at night before bed...but bedtime was pushed back and I was just too tired to read. And I used to read a lot at the gym. But in September we switched gyms and I was now on a time constraint. At the old gym there was no time limit for the kid's playroom. I could get my 40 minutes of cardio in (and that's when I read) and then still be able to do another 40-45 minutes of weight training. Well, this new gym has a 70 minute limit on the kid room. So I had to cut my cardio time. Which was fine because the new gym has classes and I do Zumba 2-4 times a week, so at least I wasn't losing that. But I was losing my reading time. :(

As of right now, I am about a quarter of the way into book # 29. I am hoping to finish it this week, so at least I am only one book short of my goal.

How did everyone else do on their New Year's resolutions for 2010??? Your book goals??

Monday, December 27, 2010

Totally made my day!!

As an author who is just starting out, sometimes it's really, really, REALLY hard to know if your work is being enjoyed (and, um, purchased). My royalty statements are not showing what I hoped they would at this point...and some vendors do not report sales until months after. As of my last royalty statement, I hadn't received a dime for print sales for A Bitch Named Karma even though it had technically been for sale since August.

But then I get an email like I did today:

"I just wanted you to know I asked for your book for Christmas. Our local Barnes & Nobles was sold out & said they can not keep them in stock. They have been selling like hotcakes

Congrats on your success!"

This was from an internet friend I met in an online message board community. She's from somewhere in Ohio. So somewhere in Ohio, lots of people are buying, and hopefully enjoying, my book!!!!! This is what i live for as an author. It's not so much the money, it's this.......this feeling. Knowing that people are out there reading my book. And loving it!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly By Golly Blogfest!!!!

This sounded too fun to pass up!!! Please stop by Unedited for the list of participants!!

Christmas is probably my favorite holiday. I love getting together with family, and yes, presents are a big deal to me. I'd be lying if I said I didn't like receiving them, but I really truly enjoy buying and giving them. Our budget does not allow us to buy presents for our family members often and birthdays and Christmas are really the only times of the year we buy our kids presents. I love seeing their faces light up when they open something I know they wanted badly!

As much as I love the holiday season, I'm not too into decorating. I have a few things I do- my daughter and I made some paper chains a few years ago with Christmasy-patterned scrapbook paper and I sometimes will take our framed photos off the wall and wrap them in Christmas wrapping paper, add a bow and hang them back up. And our trees are important to me (yes, we have two!). Our bow window is lined with twinkle lights, but they stay up all year. We did it one year for Christmas, and my husband liked the way it illuminated the photos sitting on the ledge, so we left them.

We don't do any decorating outside. Our old house was the last house on a dead end street- no drive by traffic, obviously. So I just never thought it was a great way to spend a few hundred dollars. We moved three years ago and I keep saying I'm going to go the day after Christmas and buy a couple of those light up outdoor trees- the cute ones, not the tacky ones. But I have yet to do it.

Here is a pic of our main tree this year:

It's a little on the small side but with our budget these days, it just seems silly to spend $40, $50, $60+ on a tree. I need to have a real tree, so sacrifices have to be made. We chose a $30 tree and that meant it was shorter, but by the time you put it in the stand and put the angel on, it was about 6 feet tall anyway. And we chose one that was not all that full...but we did that on purpose. When it comes to trees and decorating, I am naturally taken back to my floral design roots and need to create depth in the "arrangement". I like to sink the lights and ornaments deep within the tree and create depth and interest..making people want to look closer and see what's inside! :) If I had a super full tree, I wouldn't be able to do that! So for those listed reasons, this tree is the perfect tree for us!!

And tree #2:

This is my Gone With The Wind tree! I just started doing this last year. Yes, this one is a fake tree. Five years ago we went to Disney the week before Christmas. We left on the 16th and came home on the 22nd. Couldn't see paying the money for a real tree to sit and dry out while we were gone and no way was I running around on the 23rd to find a tree. Reluctantly, we bought a fake, 3 foot, prelit tree at Walmart for $12 I think. It served it's purpose and I figured we'd never use it again, or let the kids decorate it or something. But then last year I had this brilliant idea. I have been an avid collector of Hallmark Gone With The Wind ornaments ever since 1997. I have every single one accept the first from 1996 (I will get my hands on one soon!) Some years they released two ornaments. In total I have 23 including this years. Suffice it to say, they took up a lot of room on our family tree. I got the idea to use the little fake tree and make it my GWTW tree and sit it on the ledge of our bow window. I bought some decent silk magnolias and a feathery boa to pull from Scarlet's iconic burgundy party dress. Love this tree!

I have a recipe to share, but it's really nothing exciting or extravagant! We rarely host Christmas dinner and even when we have, I have kept it simple. Last year my parents and brothers came here for Christmas lunch and will do the same this year. I did stuffed shells and the whole Italian spread last year. This year I bought a spiral ham, but we'll get rolls and probably eat it as sandwiches with the chili and Zuppa Toscana (Olive Garden's recipe) that I'm also making. As far as the in law's goes, my MIL and her sisters and mother have been reluctant to let go of any of the food-making reins. That means I am only allowed to bring a dessert or something like rolls or pop or some other non-exciting contribution. But one of my favorite desserts to make is below. It's usually gobbled up! And the best part, it's way tasty, but way low in fat!

Dirt Dessert (AKA Oreo Pie)

1 pkg. fat free cream cheese (8 oz.), softened
1 pkg. regular cream cheese (3 oz.), softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3-1/2 cups cold milk (I use skim)
2 pkgs. sugar-free vanilla pudding mix (1 oz. each)
1 carton reduced-fat whipped topping (12 oz.)
1 pkg. reduced-fat Oreos (18 oz.), crushed (but I do leave some bigger chunks too!)

In large mixing bowl, beat cream cheeses and sugar until smooth. In another bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes 2 minute then let sit for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in cream cheese mix. Fold in whipped topping. Spread 1-1/3 cup Oreo crumbs into bottom of ungreased 9 x 13 pan. Layer half of pudding mix, then half of remaining cookie crumbs. Repeat layers. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Nutrition Facts: 1/2 cup equals 208 calories, 6 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 6 mg cholesterol, 364 mg sodium, 33 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 5 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat.


Hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season! Can't wait to read all the other posts for the blogfest!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Back to the real world!

Hello everyone! We're back from our Disney World trip!! We had a really great time...always love spending quality time with the hubby and kids. It wasn't perfect by any means- the kids still annoy each other on vacation and standing in lines and dealing with rude people wears on you. But we still loved it and can't wait to go back! Hoping to get some pics uploaded and posted here by the end of the week! :)

So now we are home and trying to get back into the swing of things. Today is day 4 of being home and only two suitcases have been emptied, but I did do all vacation laundry. We came home to between 3 and 4 feet of snow covering our entire property, less the area my dad snowblowed in our driveway so we could pull our car in when we came home. And we have been thrust into holiday festivities. Had a party last night and the night before were theater tickets for opening night of "A Christmas Story" at our local theater. Luckily we did get most of our shopping done on Black Friday and we really only have a few more gifts to pick up.

I'd really like to jump into edits of Karma Kameleon, but I know that is at least a few days away. Hubby's aunt has decided to do a scrapbook for her parents this year and each family was asked to contribute pages to it. I don't have a problem with that...I adore scrapbooking. But I do need a good chunk of time to do it. She wants an entire 2-page layout for each of our kids (the great grandchildren of the recipients), plus hubby, then an additional 2-page layout for our family. So 8 pages total...that will probably take me 3-4 hours. Yeah, I could just slap the pictures on some patterned paper in a half hour, but that's not my style.

So as much as it saddens me, edits will have to wait, at least a few days. And as we all know, this time of year is pretty busy, so who knows what will come up after that.

Hope you all are enjoying your December!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It finally happened to ME!

This is a repost from when I announced to all my blog readers that I had been offered a contract from Lyrical Press.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm on my way....finally!!!!

I think as a writer...we get used to rejection, almost immune to it...."Another one to add to cork board...." And even email rejection letters...though they can't be saved and used to wallpaper a bathroom, unless you print them anyway, tend to be the same. You check your inbox and see a publisher or agent's name as the sender with a subject of Re: Query. You know what it says before even clicking on it............I did until yesterday that is........................

I was offered a publishing contract!

A few weeks ago as the final last ditch effort for my second novel, A Bitch Named Karma, I started looking into ePublishers. I had been on the traditional merry-go-round with the novel several times. I did a major rewrite with a name change and started again. I'd gotten several partial requests, even a full request...all ending in rejection. I just could not find a home for this story that I loved so much. I started looking into publishing it for free for Amazon's Kindle. But it sounded so confusing and I just wasn't real sure what I was getting myself into. I then started looking into ePublishers. Seemed like a decent way to go so I sent out some submission packets.

Then yesterday I got a response from Lyrical Press! I sat there for a few minutes unsure if I was actually reading what I thought I was reading:

We’re happy to inform you that after reviewing your submission, we’d like to extend a contract for A Bitch Names Karma. Our editors and screeners thoroughly enjoyed this read and we’d love to add it to our catalog.

My husband was outside trying to finish up the last few things on the wooden swing set we bought for our kids. I walked out in my pajamas, regardless that my neighbor was outside playing with his kids, and told him. He climbed down from the playhouse part of the thing and hugged me. We both found tears in our eyes.

I'd done some research on the company and it seems like it's on the up and up. Folks at Absolute Write Water Cooler had good things to say too. Plus, this company has really nice covers...some of the others......tacky is the nicest word I can think of!!!

No fat advance, but I have to say, royalties are really decent for ePublishing! I was kinda surprised....comparable to what I'd make if my book was picked up by a print publisher and sold in books stores.

So, once I have my lawyer take a look at the contract and I sign it and mail it to them, I will officially be on my way to being a published author!!!

Is this real??? This is ME???? So many days I wondered if this would ever ever happen to me......

Monday, December 6, 2010

Are rules meant to be broken?

A repost from May 2009, when I was wondering what to do next!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Are rules meant to be broken??
When you're a kid, if you say a bad word, you get a spanking, or a time out. When you're a teen and break curfew, you get grounded. When you break a traffic law, and get caught, you get a ticket. If you hurt someone, you get sent to jail (when the justice system works properly, that is).

Basically I'm break a rule/law, you get punished. That is what has been engraved onto my brain since the beginning of time.

But now I'm being told to break the rules...make my own rules.....

So far during this querying process....I've played by the rules. I did my research. I scoured the Internet for agent websites. I read everything they had to say. I determined if they were a good fit for my writing or not and then when the time came, I sent them my query. And I did it to the exact specifications on their website. Some ask for just a simple one-page query letter, some want a synopsis with it, others want the first 5 pages of the manuscript, some want the first chapter or even the first 3 chapters. But the point is...I followed their directions to a tee!

But now I have met someone in the publishing world who is telling me that the way to get noticed is to break the rules.

So now I'm torn.

Do I abandon everything I've ever known, basically everything I stand for??? Do I try to do it this way??? Or do I stick with what I've done in the past??? Obviously it hasn't gotten me far.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One of the craziest days!

This is a repost from back in April of 2009. It was one of the craziest, giddiest, feel-like-a-kid days of my adult life!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

This week is starting out to be really FANTASTIC!!!!!!
Yesterday was a GREAT day, regardless of the filling I had to get that I was totally NOT prepared for mentally. I thought it would be just a quick looksey by the dentist and he would say, if it was indeed a cavity, "make an appointment on your way out to have it filled..." Oh no...before I knew it, he was pumping me with Novocaine.

So earlier that day I got an email from a friend of my friend's aunt...who works in publishing. My friend had told her aunt about me and my writing and she immediately called her friend and she told her to tell me to send her an email. I sent the email with my standard query and the first 3 chapters of my manuscript. Yesterday she asked if I could print up the ENTIRE manuscript and mail it to YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most of yesterday was spent with butterflies flipping and flopping in my belly. I think I blogged about qualifying for a radio contest. They were giving away a trip to Hollywood to see my most favorite guys- NKOTB, in concert. I had a 1 in 10 chance of winning..... they were making the announcement at 5 yesterday. Every time I thought about it, my heart beat faster and I told myself several times that I was not gonna win. a 10% chance was really not all that good....when the weatherman predicts a 10% chance of rain, does everyone cancel their picnic plans...hell no! I arrived home after my filling at 4:15 and had to wait 45 excruciating minutes. I was on Facebook, updating my status, glancing at the clock every 3 minutes, willing it to move faster! Then at 10 to 5 I got a call.....the number was a 905 area code, which I knew was Canada (where the radio station broadcasts from). I knew I had won. The dj played around with me for a few minutes and then announced what I had suspected!!!!! I screamed and jumped like a tween, and in the process scared the ever living daylights out of my son and made him cry. Poor baby...but Momma's going to Hollywood!!!!!! I am beyond excited and am dying to know the details. Where are we staying, when are we leaving????? My fear is that they will fly us out the day of the show....yikes....a 5+ hour flight, a 3 hour time change and a concert that night.....what a looooooong day. I am so hoping for at least a Friday flight...that would give us all day Saturday to sight see. Thursday would even be more fantastic.....almost 2 days to do Hollywood!!!