Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goal Buster. Don't Go There.


I had such a great response on the PFS site with this blog, I decided it needed to be posted again here.

It’s a new year and if you’re like the majority of the human race you’re planning to set goals for 2010. You have a burning desire to tackle an area where you think you need to improve yourself or your life. You visualize where you want to be in a few months or by the end of the new year or even years down the road. Come midnight on January 1st, you’re totally focused. Your jaw is set and you’re determined to meet those goals until ...da, da, da! …your first set back.

If your goal is to get up earlier, the set back will be the morning you oversleep. If your goal is to lose weight, your set back will be the first cheeseburger or candy bar you’ll gobble up. If your goal is to write every day, the setback will be the day life took over and you didn’t have a minute to boot up your computer or grab a pad and pen.

It’s important to keep in mind when working towards your goals that there will be setbacks. As sure as the sun will rise in the east, there will be setbacks. They happen. How you handle them will determine if you will make your goals.
Like a cowboy who gets thrown off his horse, you need to get off your butt, dust yourself off and get right back in the saddle. Like a ball player who gets thrown a third curve for a strike out, you need to shrug off the disappointment, study the pitcher and stand up to him again. Like the chef whose cake falls, you need to start over. I could go on with the analogies, but you get the picture.

Hints for making your goals for 2010.

1) Make your goals reasonable. Something you can control. And be specific.
Ie: (Non-writing related) I want to lose twenty pounds in 2010. (Writing related) I want to write my next book- 375 pages.

2) Write the goals down. Yes you can have more than one. Excelling at one might help your determination to do better at achieving the other. Post the goals where you will see them every day.

3) Break the goal or goals into manageable bits.
Ie: (NWR) I want to lose five pounds by March. Five more by June and the final ten by the November 1st. (WR) I will write 10 pages a week.

4) If you’re the type of person who needs to report to someone, an accountability partner, find one and set up a schedule to report. IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind there will be weeks, maybe several in a row, when you are the one having trouble making your goal. Remember that cheeseburger. It’s okay. There will be weeks when you will shine.

5) Don’t get depressed when a mini-step toward the goal is not met on time. Life happens. Computers crash. Kids get sick. Husbands come home with candy hearts. Enjoy life. A happy person is more productive.

6) Mondays are the first day of the week for many of us, probably because of the business world, and the day of the week we seem to be most productive. It’s a mind thing. If you have more time to exercise or write on the weekend, try thinking of Saturday as being your first day of the week. Make a calendar labeling Saturday as the first day of the week if that will help you. Again, it’s a mind thing.

7) For the most part, we know our schedules for the week. Plan the minutes or hours you’ll work toward your goal out.

8) Make a list of things that have stopped you from making your goal in the past. Post that list too and don’t go there. Ie: Television, email, over volunteering, buying junk food, over stocking the pantry.

9) Remember the old adage. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

10) Remember this saying: Just do it. It says it all.

I hope my list will help you make your goals in 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Holiday Stress Free Mom

Holidays are a time for family and friends, but with all we seemingly have to do it seems we have little time to spend with the family and friends. Let me tell you a secret, one that will help relieve the stress your feeling. The family and friends will never know or notice what you didn’t get done. They will see all that you did do and will rejoice in your efforts.

So this year, I’m baking a limited amount of Christmas cookies and not the piles I normally do. There are always so many left over and I’m the one who eats as many I can before feeding the rest to the birds and deer.

Gifts are numbered this year too. Everyone will get a wrapped gift so they get that feeling of opening a surprise package but the rest are going into bags or card gifts.

Christmas breakfast will be a crockpot quiche (recipe given to me by a friend) which is made the night before and cream chipped beef which can be made days before. Christmas dinner went from sit down to buffet, again with many dishes prepared day before.

I’m actually thinking making it a ‘Come home in your sweats or PJ day’
My family will be fed and have gifts and non-stressed mother.

So do you have any time-saving hints or recipes for this holiday?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Obsessed By WildFire releases January 27, 2010



I'm so excited! I have a release date for Obsessed By Wildfire coming from The Wild Rose Press. January 27, 2010. That is only seven weeks away. WOW! Take a moment and go to my website www.autumnjordon.com under news for upcoming blog dates and locations where I'll be giving away prizes to celebrate. I hope you can make a few.

Here is excerpt.

The sight of the Yankee looming over her, his muscular forearms crossed across his broad chest, his jaw working, set Isabelle back a step. She couldn’t see his eyes through his sunglasses, but she knew they were probably the same stormy blue she remembered from last night, challenging her.

“What do you want?”

“I have a few words to say to you.”

“Then say em’.”

“You’re really full of yourself, lady. If you’ll recall, I told you two things last night. First, I’m here on important business. And second, if you want more of what went on between us then you’re going to have to find me.”

“Then why did you call me?”

“I didn’t.”

Her eyes darted toward the restaurant behind him. A blue gingham curtain dropped back into place. Heat crawled up her neck. Damn. Just as she feared. The biggest gossips in the whole damn town were watching and talking about what happened between her and Warner last night at the Blue Bug and what was going on between them now. Mentally she scratched out Chicky’s name from her hit list and substituted Ray-Ray’s.

“When I called for the cab a man answered. I guess he was the dispatcher or owner. I didn’t know you worked for the cab company. I thought you worked for—” Warner’s lips sealed and he shifted his stance.

“You thought I worked for who?”

“I thought you had something to do with horses and the rodeo.”

“I do. I’m a barrel racer, and I am the cab company.”

“Oh. I see. Well, if you don’t feel comfortable servicing me, I guess I can go back inside and ask one of the locals for a ride. Maybe that Ray-Ray guy.”

She knew he used the word servicing to needle her. She’d be damn if he was going to get her riled in front of the whole damn town. “No. Mr. Warner. I have no problem servicing you. Let’s go.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

HOPE

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Hope. We all carry the desire—some of us on the cuff, others deep inside.
Hope. We all dream for different things; health, wealth, love.
Hope. We all cling to our faith—some with weak spirits, others with strong hearts.

Hope. Some of us share our desires with others.
Hope. Some of us dream alone.
Hope. Some of us cling to faith when others are lost.

Hope. Know, only you can decide if your desire is worthy of sacrifice.
Hope. Know, you can make a dream come true.
Hope. Know, when others are lost you can share your faith.

My hope this holiday is that a young couple I know feels God's touch and their battle against cancer is won. Please share your hope, if you so desire.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Every year on this day at 9 a.m., emotions roll through me. When I was growing up, my grandfather would call and ask if we had the parade on. His call became tradition. Not one Thanksgiving has passed that I don't stop my preparation of the holiday feast and take a moment to remember the joy Grandpap and my other grandparents gave me as a child. I hope my grandchildren remember me with as much love.

I hope you have a moment today to remember a special person in your past and to create a memory for someone. Happy Thanksgiving. AJ

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who's Got The Moves

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Game plan. The two words have a different meaning for most women and men. When men hear the words at this time of year, they think how their favorite team will take down the opposing team. They plan their fantasy teams and discuss stats at every opportunity. For most women however, ‘game plan’ is a mindset on how we will survive the holidays, getting everything done we need to do and with poise.

Before I crawled out of bed this morning, I mentally laid out my game plan for the upcoming Thanksgiving feast. My plot played out this way. Today, this morning before going to my full-time job, move all excess furniture and plants from dining room. Dust, again, the remaining furniture. Tonight, after dinner and dishes, make pumpkin rolls, pies and cut the veggies for the ton of potato filling I make every year. Tomorrow morning make the filling and etc., etc., etc. The list goes on until the moment I sit down at the table and clasp the hands of my husband and the child who sits on my right and we give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings he has bestowed on us this year and pray for the grace to help others in the coming season.

One time-saving tidbit I picked up this year is to make a Thanksgiving Dinner binder. It’ll help me next year and maybe my daughter and DIL in years to come. Inside, I will put my game plan, complete with my recipes and shopping list. This a great idea, since I’m running back to the grocery store today to get two ingredients which I forgot while shopping this past weekend. Don’t you just hate when you do that?

Also, email or facebook all company coming to put thier tupperware in the car now. Save yourself searching for extra bowls to send leftovers out the door.

So how do you handle the holiday? Do you have a game plan or time-saving hint to share?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Holiday Shopping Safety Tips

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I decided to post this blog this week because I faced a gun twice (it's not an experience I want anyone to have) and next week with the holiday we all will be too busy to sit and read. Also, I’d like to reach as many friends and friends of friends before they head out the door on BLACK FRIDAY and become victims.

Holiday shopping is dangerous. While humming classic tunes, we head to the stores with visions of the perfect Norman Rockwell holiday fogging our minds. The malls are busier than any other time of the year, and as we juggle packages while seeking the next ideal gift for little Bobby or Susie, predators lurk near. Your purse or wallet is his target. The packages you carry are his prey. You are about to become his victim if you don’t do something to protect yourself from the holiday stalker.

1) Keep a list of your credit card numbers and contact phone numbers at home.

2) Dress comfortably.

3) Do not wear expensive jewelry.

4) Never go shopping by yourself. If you do, walk with other shoppers to and from the store or ask a security guard to walk you to your vehicle.

5) Avoid shopping at night if at all possible.

6) If you can’t park near an entrance, consider parking near the roadway entering the store. Thieves do not like to have an audience when committing their crime. Also search out well lit areas. Familiarize yourself with the area you’ve parked.

7) Strip your car. Put all CD, sunglasses, loose change anything of any value out of view.

8) Hide your GPS and garage door opener from view, or better yet leave them at home. A thief can easily

9) Do not use your keychain control to lock your doors. Techno savvy thieves could pick up on the frequency and unlock your car.

10) Avoid revolving doors. Predators can grab your purse as entering and make a clean get-a-way before you can emerge.

11) Men carry your wallets in your front pocket and woman carry your purse close to your body with the flap turned toward you. When walking with someone, carry the purse between you. Consider using a fanny pack. Only carry the necessary cash and or one credit card. Leave check book and other credit cards at home.

12) Do not flash large amounts of cash.

13) Watch while your credit card is receipt is filled out and that your credit card is only swiped once. Also request any carbons. Keep receipts in your pocket, not in your bags. Make sure you get your credit card back.

14) Never lay your purchases down.

15) Avoid using restrooms where there are long, dim, hallways.

16) Do not use arcades or video stores as babysitters for children of any age. Predators are waiting.

17) Make regular trips to your car so that you’re not over burden.

18) Save your most expensive purchases for last. Go straight home. Do not stop afterwards for lunch or dinner.

19) Do not carry big packages that obstruct your view.

20) Have your keys in your hand when exiting the store. Walk with authority. Check backseat and under car. Lock door immediately.

21) Be aware of approaching strangers. Con artists may try various methods to distract you.

22) Stow your purchases in the trunk. Never in the backseat. Remember a thief doesn’t care if you have to replace your car window.

23) If you see what looks to be a parking ticket under your wiper, ignore it and pull away. Check it at another location.

24) Never go home if you think you’re being followed. Go to a busy, well-lit safe place.

25) Even though you have a zillion things on your mind, stay alert, don’t be the easy target and have a wonderful holiday.

If you have another tip or experience relating to a scary experience, please share. Also everyone commenting will be entered into a drawing for a 2010 pocket calendar. This week, I’m picking three winners.

One more thing, I'll be blogging on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog this Friday, Nov 20. It's my Birthday. Topic; A Holiday Writing Recipe. I hope you'll stop by.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Advice From The Bartender In The Sky

Late last evening, feeling angst and sporting a headache that throbbed against my skull, I took a walk in the dark. My only companion, the moon. With his hair over one eye, he watched over me—saved me from the dark shadows. I gazed up into his face and wondered about the billions of people who’ve gone on to the next world before me, the ones who had dumped their troubles on him. The ones who had shared with him their dreams. The ones who had laughed and loved under his twilight.

I wondered about their stories. Some are known by all of us. Some by a few.
As I walked, I gaze over the valley that was my great grandparent’s farm, now divided among their children’s children. I know my great grandparent’s names. I can tell you they lay in the cemetery on the rise to the east. I can tell you their birth and death dates. However, I don’t know what they were like as people. Did they enjoy music or reading? Were reserve or outgoing? What was their favorite time of the year? Or their favorite foods? Did they believe and trust in the Almighty? What were their dreams?

We have pictures of course with names scribbled on the back, but by who? We have ledgers and invoices of transactions stored in the old farm house attic, but no personal memoirs. Knowing this, sadness crept in my heart as I crossed an open field. I wished someone had left behind their words for me. Told me who they were. Left a clue as to who I called my pass.

At that moment, the moon winked at me and from within I heard, “You were given the gift of the written word. Why haven’t you left behind words for your children or grandchildren or great grandchildren? Not all will seek them, but there will be one who will. Like you, they will cherish the memories you share and pass them on to another who well cherish their heritage. And so on.”

Stunned, I gaped into his one eye. The ancient man was right. He winked again and turned into a cloud, probably to advise someone else. I finished one swallow of crisp night and with a light step headed for home. I pulled from a drawer a diary given to me one Christmas years ago and wrote; November 8, 2009. Within these pages you will come to know who I was, what I felt passionate about, and what were my dreams. My hope is I will teach something of the pass, something that will make you a stronger person and that I’ll touch you in some way. With love, your heritage.

Note: Everyone leaving a comment will entered into a drawing on November 14 at 8pm est for a 2010 pocket calendar.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Preparing To Meet Your Destiny

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You're excited. You're going to a conference. Yeah! I love networking.

Are you prepared? I’m not talking about what do I pack or what type of clothing should I wear? That is a no-brainer. Business casual. I’m talking about how do you prepare to make the most of the experience?

Well, first, relax. There is no reason to become stressed. Everyone going to the conference is riding the same wave you are. The ones who prepare will land on the beach more gracefully, that’s all.

Second. Determine what is your goal in attending the conference? Is it to learn about the craft of writing? Are you interested in learning more about the publishing world? Do you have an agent and editor appointment in hopes of gaining interest in your work? Are you looking to network, and make connections with other writers or industry professionals? Whatever your reason, you do need to prepare.
Third, HOW?

1) This item is important for all the reasons listed above. Business cards. You must have plenty of business cards. Atleast thirty. You don’t have to special order cards. You can buy printable business cards at Walmart. The cards should have basic information; your name, pseudonym, address, email address and phone number. That’s it. If you want artwork, fine. Just don’t let the artwork over shadow your name and make your contact information so small it will take a magnifying glass to see the information. Remember you want people to remember your name not oh, how cute the kittens were.

2)You’ve identified your purpose of attending and that is...

a)To learn about the craft. Conferences schedules are filled with valuable workshops. It’s like going to a smorgasbord of knowledge and we tend to say oh, I want to see this and hear her, and my chapter mate is speaking. The thing is, we can’t be everywhere and hear all. So you need to decide ahead of time, what are your writing weaknesses and attend specific workshops that will help you. Don’t worry what workshop your friend is going to. She might need help with POV. You’ve got that down pat.

Or if you’re craft savvy, attend the workshops which lay the industry out. Don’t burn yourself out running from class to class, because there is one. Which leads to the next reason. Networking.

b)Networking. Most writers are introverts. We spend long hours by ourselves. We like being by ourselves. Suddenly we’re surrounded by people. Remember they’re introverts just like yourself. Be yourself. Smile. Say hi. Start a conversation. Exchange cards. It’s that simple.

Note of common sense: When approaching people who are having a conversation, study their body language. If they open the circle to you, then they too are looking to network, but if they turn away, however slight, move on. Their most likely having a personal conversation that at that moment is not open to newcomers.
Ahead of time, practice reciting the blurb of your book. This is not just for the agent and/or editors. Practice conversations. What questions would you ask of an editor or agent or an author you adore? It’s easier to have a conversation with someone if you think about it ahead of time. If you don’t believe me, try it. Think of three topics to discuss with your spouse or a friend. Practice and then have it. You’ll see. The conversation will flow.
Over the years, I’ve made tons of friends. Each has brought joy to my life. So go get them.

c)Finally, the dreaded editor and agent appointments. Don’t sweat it. Practice your pitch. Know your book. Know your characters and relax. Editors and agents are just people. They’re there hoping someone will wow them. So do it.

Last bit of advice. Have fun.

Anyone leaving a comment will entered into a drawing for a 2010 Autumn Jordon Pocket Calendar, so please share.

Friday, September 25, 2009

An S Curve AT 100 MPH

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Have you ever gone on a ride through an S curve at one-hundred MPH?

Life can seem like that dangerous feat sometimes. You’re going along at a nice steady pace, the sun is shining on you, the temperature is perfect and, well, life is just grand. Then out of no where, others surround you. They’re passing you as if you’re standing still. They’re behind you, urging you to get out of their way. Naturally your instinct for self-preservation kicks in and like the blood rushing through your veins you pick up speed, ignoring the possibility you might make mistakes and put yourself in danger.

With fists clenched, you hang on as you sped forward, trying to keep up-get ahead. Realizing you’re headed in the wrong direction, your whole being quakes and you swerve to keep on track. You bump against others and the walls of kismet. You get knocked around and within a short time your ego is bruised. You’re battered. And the destination you were headed toward no longer has the sparkle it had when you started out on your journey. Slowly you make it to the sidewalk of life and stop. What to do?

First, realize getting off the fast track was the smart thing to do. Second, zooming is not meant for everyone. Third, taking your time doesn’t mean you will never make your destination. You will, and you’ll enjoy the journey much more if you strive toward it on your own terms. So relax, set your goal, work at it at your own pace, believe in yourself and enjoy the ride!


As a side note: My Ruby Slippered Sisters are blogging at http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com
They're offering great words of wisdom. Please stop by.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Last Summer Fling

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Okay we all know summer is nearly over. The BIG YELLOW school bus wheels are going around and around. The sun is setting before the dinner dishes are dried. The air, at least in my part of the country, has that cool it-will-be-good-sleeping feel. And we have a twinge of angst coursing through our veins. Why? Because we know there is one more great summer adventure to be had before the sweatshirts and sweaters take up the hangers in the closet.

I feel the angst and I’m so ready for my escape. I’m thinking Arizona this year. I want to feel the sun on my body, lounge in warm water, read for endless hours and enjoy the excitement of a summer night watching a ball game, after my DH takes me out for dinner of course. No dishes, no laundry, no alarm clock unless it’s for an early golf tee time.

Vacations from everyday chores and responsibilities are so freeing. Your mind and thus your body recharges itself with renewed energy. Escaping the everyday routine is important to your health. Seeing new things, sparks creativity. Smiling and greeting a stranger feels so good. Laughter is healing. Give yourself permission to get out there and act like a kid for a day or two.

So, will it be the shore or a camping trip up into the mountains? Or the amusement and water park? Or tailgating at your team’s game? What are your thoughts and/or plans? I’d love to hear them.

AJ

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Blog interrupted

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Sometimes life comes into play and we need to just roll with the punches or go with the flow. (Margie Lawson will kill me for the clinche's) So for today, I need to step back from my cyber-friends and take care of mom. We're off to doctors.

I will be back next week. Until then, take care. AJ

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Welcome 2009 Golden Heart Finalist Rita Henuber

Hi, everyone. Today, Wednesday, my guest is 2009 Golden Heart Romantic Suspense Finalist, Rita Henuber. She's a great lady and has lots to share. So ask lots of questions. Please welcome her.

AJ: What did you do or think when the RWA office called you?

RH: I thought, I did it. I really did it! I sat there and grinned for a very long time. This was the first time I'd entered and it was my first romance manuscript.

AJ: How was your Golden Heart experience?

RH: I'd say it's like having a first class ticket on the space shuttle. One heck of a ride! Overwhelming, exciting, fun, an experience of a lifetime. Most of all I have the privilege of being in the company of a group of ladies who challenge and inspire me every day: the other finalists, my Golden Heart sisters. Thank you all, ladies.

AJ: Do you have any advice for someone thinking of entering the Golden Heart?

RH: Do it! Absolutely. Have a rockin' first line. Write a good story. Show the reader on the first page why your book is different. Write a good story. End the first page on a hook. Oh! Did I say write a good story? Make that story unique and compelling. Go for it and keep going like the Energizer Bunny. Never give up.

Here's where I get to tell my little story. In November and December last year I didn't write a thing. I almost gave up. I had promised myself I would enter the Golden Heart no matter what and reluctantly did. A group of writer friends encouraged me to get started again and to them I am forever thankful. Since the beginning of the year I queried forty-three agents. I received a bunch of rejections and was offered representation by four brilliant agents. Perseverance is everything. Do not give up. Never stop learning your craft.

AJ: How long have you been writing?

RH: Writing as in for publication? Almost three years. In a way, I've always been writing. As a child I told stories and put on plays for my extended family. My cousins never let me forget how they were forced to participate. I wrote stories for myself. I shared them with a friend's mother who seemed to love them. I just remembered that. Gosh, I would love to have those now. In high school I wrote a play for the history class to produce. I quit putting words on paper for a very long time. Told stories to my children. And of course there were/are the stories rumbling in my head waiting their turn to escape and be immortalized on paper.

AJ: Do you write every day?

RH: Almost. When I'm not writing, I think about it. I make notes, do research. There are scraps of paper all over the house. With my current story, I started with a synopsis, back cover blurb and a log line. It has really helped my writing process. I don't really consider it writing unless I'm working on a manuscript.

AJ: Why write Romantic Suspense? What do you love about the genre?

RH: Suspense and thrillers are what I like to read. Writing them is natural.

What's not to love? I like the action. I like a story you have to stop reading to catch your breath; A story you don't want to read alone, late at night. I like a story with hero's that are bigger than life and heroines we all want to be.


AJ: How do you research for a suspense novel, before you start the book or while writing the first draft?

With my current story I wrote a synopsis/plot first. For anything that will require details, I researched before starting the actual draft. I'm not in to giving a lot of details. The goal is to layer in just enough to make a scene believable, to put the reader comfortably in that scene. For my first story I have pages and pages of research on the helicopter she flies. I can quote you manufacture, height, weight, number of engines, propulsion type, sit speed. Yawn. Would the reader care? Nope, but it helps me understand my scenes. And should the occasion arise, I can slip in a line or two of that info.

Writing contemporary suspense and thriller I'm always on the lookout for some snippet I can add to a story to amp it up. I get the Washington Post and LA Times online and cruise the headlines for interesting tidbits. Sometimes I check with the BBC and the London Times online. They have a different perspective on world events then we do here. Makes you think. I also check out the US government and military web pages.

In Guardian Angel I needed a cover story for the heroine. Couldn't come up with one. A headline in the LA Times gave it to me. In my WIP the hero needed a job that was out of the ordinary, the Washington Post story came to the rescue.

AJ: What makes your book different than other romantic suspense novels?

RH: My heroines can more than take care of themselves. They don't need to be rescued by the hero. They have unique jobs. The heroine in my first book is a Coast Guard helicopter pilot. She rescues the hero. (By the way the hero does save her once.)

In my current manuscript the heroine, a Marine Corps Intelligence Officer, is a hostage negotiator and interrogator. She's smart, wealthy, beautiful and loves her job. And don't worry, she does have a lot of inner conflict.

AJ: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other writers? Ie: World building, characters.

RH: Write what you love. Be true to yourself. Write characters readers want to be. I do not think writing to a trend is a good thing.

If you are writing about the FBI and CIA get it right, call and ask if you have a question. If you write about a person knitting learn how to knit. Read everything you can in the genre you write. Emulate what's good. Use the bad as a shining example of what not to do. It's difficult to read a book any more without taking notes. Even movies teach the craft.

AJ:Is there a craft book that resonated with you and you’d suggest to others?

RH: Heavy sigh. There are so many good books. I suggest you talk to someone who writes your genre and has a style you like. Ask them what they would suggest. We all learn in a different ways. What resonated with me, you may hate. I also suggest if you are having a problem in a particular area (say opening hooks or creating character conflict) ask other writers what they recommend and why. I learn more by example, so I gravitate to classes with a lot of teacher feedback. There is no one way to learn this. The important thing is to challenge yourself to move forward constantly Make an effort to learn more about your craft. There are always improvements to be made. In writing no one is at the top of their game because the bar is always being raised.

Okay I have to say these are excellent. The Art of Dramatic Writing Lajos Egri. The Fire In Fiction Donald Maass and Stephen King's On Writing

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

AJ: Did you want to tell us a little about your book?

RH: GUARDIAN ANGEL follows my heroine and hero from a torrid one night stand to a fierce gun battle at sea.

Olivia has a brilliant career in the Coast Guard flying helicopters searching for terrorists and drug smugglers along the coast of Florida. She’s confident, in control and at the top of her game in a man’s world. Her twin brother, a Miami undercover detective, is executed by the drug cartel he was investigating. Justice moves too slow for Olivia and she seeks her own revenge. With the help of a hot DEA agent she penetrates the drug underworld.

AJ: Is there a next book planned?

RH: As I said, I'm currently working on one and have another plotted. I also have the first draft of a Women's Fiction that follows the same theme of extraordinary women.

AJ: What is your website url, so others can check on news from you?

This I am working on.

I am pleased to tell you the 2009 Golden Heart finalists blog will go live September 21st. During the first week, the ladies will offer their thoughts on how to final in the Golden Heart. Check back for the blog address.

Autumn, as soon as I know my website url, I'll let you know so you can pass it along to your readeers.

Thank you, Rita

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer Haiku Fair

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Did I ever tell you about my first publishing credit? It was for U.S.A. Today. My payment was a baseball cap which I wear proudly by the pool and on the golf course. I contributed to their on-line haiku poem. I love writing haiku poems. Creating one gets my creativity flowing.
For those of you who don’t know what a haiku is here is the definition from Wikipedia.

Haiku (俳句 haikai verse?) listen (help•info), plural haiku, is a form of Japanese poetry, consisting of 17 moras (or on), in three metrical phrases of 5, 7, and 5 moras respectively.[1] Haiku typically contain a kigo, or seasonal reference, and a kireji or verbal caesura. In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line, while haiku in English usually appear in three lines, to parallel the three metrical phrases of Japanese haiku.[2] Previously called hokku, haiku was given its current name by the Japanese writer Masaoka Shiki at the end of the 19th century.

Okay, so I thought why not this week invite my friends and new guests to tease their muse and submit a haiku poem about summer. So come on while you're having your morning coffee or riding into work, or later at lunch or even after dinner relaxing pick something you love about the season, write the poem and post it here for all of us to enjoy. Show the area of your world. (Please note all works posted here belong to the author. ) I’ll start off with two of my poems.

Pinkish skin gives way
Nectar sweet drips from my lips
Heavenly firm peach

Cool aqua water
Long seven days and six nights
Refreshing the soul.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Welcome 2009 Golden Heart Winner Darynda Jones

Hi everyone. I’m so excited to welcome Darynda Jones.

Darynda, congratulations on winning the 2009 Golden Heart for the best Paranormal Romance. You must be so excited.

I love the title of your book, ‘First Grave On The Right’. Where did you come up with that name? How important do you think titles are and why?

(DJ) I think titles are terribly important. They should reflect the ambience of the manuscript/book. If your manuscript is a romantic comedy, you probably shouldn’t call it ‘The Killer Within’. Though ‘Killer Heels and a Double Latte’ might work. While most people are thinking, well, duh, I have seen some pretty bad titles. Boring titles are almost as bad. The title is the first thing a potential buyer sees. (Until you make it BIG. Then they see your name first.) I remember how bad I wanted to read the short story ‘In the Gloaming’ based on the title alone. It fascinated me.

It took me a while to come up with First Grave on the Right. My working title was Dead People. LOL. Because I really wanted First Grave to be the first in a series, I wracked my brain to come up with a way to let people know, “Hey, this is the first one in this series, and this is the second.” I’m one of those readers who simply must start at the beginning. I hate jumping into the middle, although any book within a series should be able to stand alone. So I figured I would help people out and put First in the title. My working title for the second in the series Second Grave on the Left. :)


How long have you been writing?

(DJ) I can honestly say I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I’ve been writing since before I could write. When I was five, I would pick up a pen and paper, scribble a story onto the page and ask my mom to read it. Thankfully, she would play along. Later, I would write plays for the neighborhood kids to act out. My plays were startling similar to Cinderella, so I’m just grateful Disney didn’t catch wind of my productions. For the most part, nobody caught wind of them. We rarely had an audience.

I wrote my first manuscript in high school, though I never quite finished it. Then, like so many others, I lost the dream for a few years. It still burned inside me, but life just got in the way and I decided I had to give it up and get on with my life. But as we all know, quitting something so visceral simply isn’t that easy. I started writing seriously again about seven years ago and have three completed manuscripts, each in different genres. Sigh...


Do you write every day?

(DJ) Oh, I’m horrible. I would say I write about four days a week, though that is changing. I think we writers need to get into the ‘habit’ of writing on a daily basis. So that is one of my long-term goals. Even if it is for only fifteen minutes a day, I think it’s important. JR Ward writes seven days a week, never takes a day off and never takes a vacation. That is my goal, minus the never-taking-a-vacation part.

Why write Paranormal? What do you love about the genre?

(DJ) Paranormal has absolutely no boundaries. There are very few rules and you can custom build your world. The only limits in paranormal are those the writer creates. I just think it’s a fun genre and I wanted to write about something you don’t see everyday. Something so unique, so different, people stand up and say, “Hey, that sounds pretty cool.” When I came up with a female protagonist who was born a grim reaper and falls in love with the son of Satan, I just knew I had a classic love story in the making. Move over Margaret Mitchell. LOL. (That was a joke. Margaret rocks!)

How do you research for a paranormal romance?

(DJ) You read what everyone else is doing, throw it all out the window, then sit down and pull your hair out until you come up with something unique. Then you make up the rules as you go. Of course, if you are doing something like a vampire or a werewolf, there are rules you can break and rules you can’t. In those cases, I would go back to the beginning. Study the origins of the myths, add a twist here, a turn there, a dash of this and that.... Whatever you write, make it yours and yours alone.

Do you have any advice you’d like to share with other writers? Ie: World building, characters.

(DJ) Study the masters. Read. Then read some more. Some people are just naturals at world building. One of my new favorites who I highly recommend is Nalini Singh. Her worlds and her characters are simply amazing. They have a depth that pulls you in and doesn’t let go. Also, it doesn’t hurt to study shows like Buffy and Firefly, and it’s a great excuse to watch TV. I am a huge Joss Whedon fan and would bear his children if asked. Because he has the skill to literally force the viewer to laugh and cry at the same time, I really did study his stuff. I mean, I watched it over and over and took notes. I studied how he made us fall in love with Spike even though Spike was an awful, evil vampire. How he made us cheer for Angel and Buffy even when Angel lost his soul and went around killing all of Buffy’s friends. Joss Whedon is a master at pulling those heartstrings.

Is there a craft book that resonated with you and you’d suggest to others?

(DJ) The very first craft book I read was Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages. It blew me away. I thought, “Now hold on there, mister. You’re saying I shouldn’t use adverbs repeatedly???” (I was new.) Next was the absolute must, Stephen King’s On Writing. I loved it so much. His writing style resonates throughout the book and flows with effortless ease. It’s humorous and poignant. If only I could write like him.... The truth is, I love craft books. That’s when you know you’re hopeless. When you love books on writing as much as fiction.

How was your Golden Heart experience?

(DJ) In a word, surreal. In more than a word, one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have a slew of new sisters that I have grown to love, an irrevocable validation of my writing, and a fantastic agent, Alexandra Machinist of The Linda Chester Literary Agency. The whole thing has just been such an amazing journey. I highly recommend finaling in the Golden Heart!
On this note, I must say that the final alone was such a shock to me, I could hardly believe it. I had entered the GH before and each time I figured I had a chance. This time I didn’t. I was so mad at myself for entering when there was simply no way I would final with this manuscript. So much so, that I almost didn’t send in my entry. Seriously, I decided not to—I didn’t have time—then I found out I had another day and, with great reluctance, I sent it in anyway. Then I was mad at myself for wasting all that money on postage. But when I won...wow, talk about shell shock. I sat there staring wide-eyed at my best friend so long that she had to hit me to get me to the stage. Then I forgot my shoes, but that’s another story.

Now, for those of you having a hard time, I have a little anecdote. I have entered this same manuscript in six contests. Six. And guess how many times it has finaled. Once. It finaled one time and in that contest it won first. In all the other contests, this same manuscript, the one that WON a Golden Heart, came in almost dead last. And the contest it won in? They dropped the lowest score. The contest coordinator sent a grid of all the scores in the category, and had they not dropped the lowest score, my entry would have come in second to last. So trust me when I say I was more than a little floored when I won the GH. I really and truly did not expect it. But I am more grateful and more honored than anyone can imagine.


Do you have any advice for someone thinking of entering the Golden Heart?

(DJ) Again, make it unique and make it shine. There are other books about grim reapers, but most of them are dark. I wanted mine to be light and fun with a sassy protagonist who is somewhat of a danger magnet. So the idea wasn’t as unique as was the twist I placed on it. Remember, there are no new stories, just new ways of telling them. And polish that baby. Study the rules of grammar until you can quote them in your sleep. Then break them, naturally.

Since you won the Golden Heart, I’m sure we’ll see you book on the shelves soon.
Did you want to tell us a little about your book?

(DJ) Well, I pretty much gave this one away already. Here is the blurb from my query letter:
Private investigator Harley Davidson was born with three things: a smoking hot ass; a healthy respect for the male anatomy; and the rather odd job title of grim reaper. Since the age of five, she has been helping the departed solve the mysteries of their deaths so they can cross. Thus, when three lawyers from the same law firm are murdered, they come to her to find their killer. In the meantime, she’s dealing with a being more powerful, and definitely sexier, than any specter she’s ever come across. With the help of a pain-in-the-ass skip tracer, a dead pubescent gangbanger named Angel, and a lifetime supply of sarcasm, Harley sets out to solve the highest profile case of the year and discovers that dodging bullets isn’t nearly as dangerous as falling in love.


Is there a next book planned?

(DJ) Yes. And a third and a fourth...I’m dreaming big. :)

What is your website url, so others can check on news from you?

(DJ) My website, when I get it up, will be www.daryndajones.com. I do have a blog though, www.darynda.wordpress.com. Now I just have to write something in it. And naturally I’m on facebook and twitter and myspace.

I just wanted to thank you, Autumn, for this opportunity. I love your blog and I loved getting to meet and hang out with you at conference! Here’s to the Ruby Slippered Sisters!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Welcome Alison Hart/Jennifer Greene

Alison, First congratulations on being honored by the Romance Writers Of America with the Nora Robert’s Lifetime Achievement Award. That is quite an accomplishment and deserved. I was so thrilled after the ceremony when you let me touch the award. I can only imagine your feelings. I have a few questions for you.

1) You’ve published over 75 books since 1980. What is your secret to be so prolific?

Mostly insanity.  I can’t let a book go once I get started.

2) During that time, have you written to follow a trend or do you follow your heart? And why?

Years ago I was given some great advice by another author—a Harlequin author by the name of Charlotte Lamb. She told me that every author who lasts needs to find a work formula that works for her…we write for the reader, always. But if we write three books for the readers, they just might tolerate a fourth book that’s a little more off the beaten path.
So—I’ve never written ‘to a trend’. But I’ve tried to find topics and characters relevant to readers…with an occasional slip up,
When I had to try an idea just for the creative need of it.


3) You’ve written for several publishers and different lines, both category and single title? Do you have a favorite?

I started at Berkley (l5 books), did one for Dell, aimed for Harlequin and Silhouette, did a couple for Avon, and had a literary essay published somewhere in there. Through the years, I’ve found terrific editors, dedicated publishers, and fascinating & enthusiastic readers everywhere.
For me, this isn’t about a specific publisher or line…it’s about writing books for women, to women, about issues and values of interest to us.


4) How would you describe VOICE? And can you give any advice in developing a voice?

An author works with style, depending on the period and time of book she’s writing. That’s her job. Voice is what she brings to the page, no matter what kind of book, what kind of subject matter. It’s what makes her writing different than anyone else’s, even if two authors are tackling an identical theme.
Voice is everything an author brings to the table—her childhood, where she grew up, what she believes in, who hurt her, who loved her—the whole kit and caboodle that define how she sees the world, different than anyone else. This is what an author offers the reader…and the ‘takeaway’ the reader always gets from a good book.
It’s nothing an author has to ‘study’ or develop. It’s what she brings up at the moment of time when she’s writing any specific story.


5) Are you a plotter or a pantster? Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

I used to believe that each writer had a process. To a point, I still do believe that. But the longer I write, the longer I discover that no one method, or one rule, or one method of writing, always works. The key to survival in writing is flexibility. There’s nothing rigid about the creative muse.

6) Do you feel it’s important for authors to study craft books, and if so, do you have particular ones you would recommend?

I love craft books, have at least a full library shelf of them. Included in my favorites are Stephen King’s ON WRITING, and all those by Donald Maas. I have to say, though, that writing books seem to work like an ‘affirmation’ rather than like a true teaching tool for most of us. Writers learn by writing. By making mistakes, and exercising that ‘delete’ button over and over, by being miserable when the words won’t come. (!)
I believe writers today especially need to learn craft—because we’re just not taught to write in school. But our best teaching tools are probably the books we loved to read the most—rereading those, analyzing why and how and when an author did certain things.


7) I saw on your web-site that you have 4 books coming out in 2010 and that you’re changing genres. Can you tell us why you’re changing from contemporaries to romantic suspense and a little about the stories?

I do have 4 books coming out in 2010. The “Danger Series” are a Romantic Suspense trilogy. They’re about three sisters who lost their parents in a fire when they were children…that loss of family affected how each of them view love and permanence once they’re grown. None of them felt *safe* from the time they were children---for good reason, as each stories reveal. And each hero, of course, makes them feel the opposite of safe! But the relationship forces them to confront their worst fears, and to find the strength within themselves to go after what they want.
I LOVED writing these stories. Still finishing up the third one. They come out in a sequence—April, WHISPER OF DANGER
May, TASTE OF DANGER
June, HEAT OF DANGER
Actually this isn’t a new genre (or subgenre) for me—I did four Intimate Moments in the past, three of which were romantic suspense. (And two were Rita finalists at the time.) I just hadn’t had a chance to get back to this in a long time.
These are difficult publishing times….but, of course, we’ve been through difficult publishing times in the past. My theory on that is to use a rough time as an opportunity. Try something you love writing or reading, experiment, enjoy playing with different story types and ideas. So doing these Rom Suspense books was just a for me.
The fourth book coming out in 2010 is “BLAME IT ON THE BLIZZARD”—one of the stories in Harlequin’s BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE anthology. This was a natural.  I had three HQN’s over the last couple years—BLAME IT ON CHOCOLATE, BLAME IT ON CUPID, and BLAME IT ON PARIS. So for readers who loved those, the title and nature of story was a terrific chance to play with that same nature of theme.


8) In the first contest I ever entered, you were one of my contest judges. You actually signed the score sheet. I didn’t final, but you gave me constructive feedback and encouragement. Thank you. Do you have any advice for authors who judge contests.

I’m glad I could help!
And no, I don’t have advice for other authors on judging. But I’ll share my feeling about judging….I always sign a score sheet. I believe that the writer should be able to know who the judge is, because if she does or doesn’t care for the judge’s writing, she’ll know whether the feedback is valuable to her.
Second, I’ve found terrifically successful writers through contest entrees that DIDN’T make finals. The thing with contests is that the judging criteria is limited. Many, many writers submit work that could be terrific, but just won’t ‘shine’ via that criteria. Writers need to understand that a score in a contest doesn’t necessarily mean anything positive or negative about their writing. Placing in contests is a super way to get your work in front of an editor…but it’s NOT a measure of whether you can make it or not.
I ‘found’ two authors in contests that are both regularly on the NY Times List…yet they didn’t do well in contests. Still, contests are also a way for an experienced author to help a new one.


9) Finally, what advice can you offer to the unpublished authors among us? And for the published authors, is there any advice for career planning?

For the unpublished—never stop learning your craft. Concentrate on your book, on your writing….and less on business, promotion, all the distractions out there.

For the published—don’t panic in the tough times. All authors have them. Publishing is never static, never always an uphill road. When the times are rough, remember to concentrate on your writing—and less on all the distractions out there.


Alison will be checking in throughout the day until 8pm EST and answering questions. After which, my Irish Setter will be picking one name from those who left a comment using a very unique method. The winner will recieve a gift certificate to Starbucks or Dunkin Dounuts and one of my 2010 pocket calendars.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What do I bring?

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Can you believe summer is half over? In one short month, school will be back in session. If your life is like mine, your weekends have been packed with graduation parties, weddings, showers and picnics celebrating friendship. At all these events there are lots of delicious eatables. It’s all been great, but I’m getting a little tired of the usual macaroni and potato salads, veggie platters, burgers and hot dogs.

With that said, I thought this week why not ask for proven recipes from my followers. We live in many regions and come from different ethnic backgrounds. Let’s think out of the box, ladies and guys, and share mouth-watering recipes that do not take hours to make.

For example, I’m always asked to bring my Pierogie dish. It’s yummy and not hard to make, really. Warning, however, it's not for the dieter.

1) Boil and drain 1 box of Lasagna noodles. (you can make these up to three days prior—just cook al dente, cover with water and a little vegetable oil and refrigerate.)

2) Peel, cook and mash about 2-3 pounds of potatoes. (You can use leftover mashed potatoes - just warm them a little in microwave before spreading on noodles. So make extra when making a meal earlier in the week and save time.)

3) Sauté 1 large Spanish onion in 1 pound of butter. Yup 1 lb.

4) In a baking dish, layer, melted butter, lasagna noodles, potatoes, Velveeta cheese, finishing with butter. (I used ¾ of a large box of Velveeta cheese.) And bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees until cheese is melted. Let cool for about five minutes and cut in 2 inch squares. This dish is very rich and very filling.

I have a baby shower this weekend and want something to wow them, so please share.

Hugs, AJ

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

To conference or not?

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My advice to anyone on the fence as to go to a conference, especially the RWA National conference, is to go. The experience is like none other.
I’ve just returned from DC where the national conference was held this year, and I’m totally exhausted. It might take me weeks to recover. The funny thing is I didn’t feel drained at all while at the conference. The energy was amazing. Every workshop
I attended provided information I didn’t have or brightened light moments which for me had for some reason or another dulled over time.

Networking is probably the biggest reason to go to a conference. Your circle of will friends grow. I’m so happy to have met a number of my on-line friends face to face, especially my Golden Heart sisters and the Elements Chapter ladies—along with a few of their husbands, and new friends (waving). The conversations and laughter we shared strengthen our bond. I also met readers. I was so excited when one asked me to sign a DayTimer I had given her. Yeah, I know it’s not a book, but still. And one day soon.

Also, the chance to just sit and chat with NY Times authors, agents and editors is an opportunity none of us should pass up. I met several agents, my publisher, and a few editors. A particular editor and I found we’re co-24 NUTS. We chatted about next season and the twists that might occur.

In a social setting, my DH and I spent hours talking to Deb Webb. One sweet lady. We chatted with Suz Brockmann and her hubby—the guys talked playing baseball. Suz and I talked about mending them up after a game. Frozen peas do have another use besides being part of a health meal. DH also chased and caught lighting bugs for Maureen Child and friends, who had never seen them before. I spent an hour chatting about the industry and craft with Jordan Dane (She was awesome), and met Allison Brennan while doing so. Avon author, Deb Mullins, dished out advice and hugs as only she can. Along with my long distance good friend, Intrigue author, Jan Hambright. And of course I ran into Brenda Novak, who I adore—not only for her writing but because she is an example of an author who gives back. I could name a hundreds of authors but this post could go on forever.

I believe no matter what line of work you’re in conferences can be invaluable to your career.

What are your reasons for attending conferences, or not? Please share. And if you had a favorite moment or learned some great at RWA this year, please tell.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

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Right now I’m sitting on my back porch. Finally, a summer morning I can enjoy the outdoors. Not a cloud in sight. No drizzle of rain to further drown the garden plantings and the temperature is just perfect.

Last week I said I was late because of Margie Lawson. The statement was true. I spent last Saturday taking a two hour track over to NJ, attended Margie’s Editing workshop presented by the NJRW chapter and made the trip back home. It was long day, made longer by the fact I couldn’t sleep for thinking of my wip. Anyone who has taken Margie’s classes on line can only imagine the energy this woman projects. Awesome class!

Over the past year Margie’s teachings hit home with me and made a real difference in my writing. If you don’t know what I mean, take a Margie class. Two other people have also helped mold my writing. Kasey Michaels and my critique partner Sylvie Kaye. Both didn’t hold back punches when reading my work. They both gave me advice, whether I took it or not was up to me. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t, sometimes I changed my mind after mulling it over and reversed my decision. There have been other writers, contest judges, who encouraged me along the way. The result is my work.

Writing is like any other profession. You need to work at it every day. You need to take lessons and advice from experts, and sometimes from layman, and unless you’re financially set and supported, you will need sacrifice other activities in order to reach a level where other professionals look at you as an equal.

Whenever I give someone the go ahead and read my work, I tell them to rip it apart. I want to know what does and doesn’t work for them. I want my work to be the best it can be.

So, who has helped you along the path and how?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

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Yes and no, I’m late because of Margie Lawson, but that is another story, for another time. Maybe next Sunday.

Today it’s all about dad. My dad is too cute, and I admire him to the ends of the galaxy and beyond. It took me years to realize the kind of man he is.

He is definitely not a sentimentalist. Don’t buy him a card, you’d be wasting your money and you’d get a lecture on spending wisely. But family is most important to him.

Dad’s all about business. He has one part-time hobby. Most of his conversations lead back to the family business. But the business feeds the family and others.

He’s a thinker, but he’s also a get-it-done kinda guy. He never gives up. And expects hard work, good work to be the same path for his children.

He also will give the shirt off his back to help you, if you deserve help.

Today, look back over the years, over your life and take note of all your Dad did for you and honor with him a hug or a call.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

New Adventure Angst

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Did you notice the extra cursor this week? It took a few seconds longer to start hitting the keyboard. Taking longer or starting later is okay.

Recently, I’ve been included in a yahoo group with sixty-six other women. This association has a wide range of ages. I’ve heard some express that it took years for them to begin the adventure they’re on and they’re fearful it’s too late to realize their dream. I disagree. Starting projects later in life has its advantages.

We’ve experienced more life. We’ve witnessed events the younger generation hasn’t—if you’re writing, that’s more material. We’ve built many more networking bridges and taken down a few that needed to be. Our time left here in this world is not known by any other—it could be decades more so we have time. On occasion, we have more time than our younger counter parts. Life is just beginning for them and it includes lessons to be learned.

So relax. Don’t angst. Next time you think I’m too old to start another new adventure remember you’ve got a lot going for you. And to the new girls and boys on the block, you have time.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

And so summer begins...

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Four-thirty a.m. As a child, once a year I’d rise to the sound of my parents alarm clock buzzing at the early hour and would shoot from between the sheets as if they were on fire . The alarm went off other mornings, but it’s ringing never meant there was an adventure in store for me. My sister and I would scramble to use the bathroom before our three brothers were shaken from their beds by dad and chased after by mom. Afterwards we’d rip into the outfits we meticulously chosen the night before, grab our suitcases and head to the car. The sky’s center was always as black as the well in the hollow. One star always dangled on the canvas and sky’s lower edge burned with the rising sun.

This event occurred the first weekend of August every year for fifteen years. It was always a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and we called it our summer vacation to ATLANTIC CITY, even though it was the only vacation we ever took.
Within the hour, my two uncles and aunts, and my twelve cousins filled the two cars who met us at the edge of the drive. We, the older cousins, were truly filled with excitement. We had worked doing odd jobs all summer and saved in anticipation of spending our earnings anyway we wanted. I always came home with a ceramic horse.
We never had reservations. While my dad and my two uncles would go inside the hotel and acquire rooms for all twenty-three of us, we’d sit in the car. Our necks grew damp as the morning sun rose and beat down on the car, glaring off its hood. French fries, candy cotton and fish wafted in the air. The buzz of the big city, the roar of the ocean beyond the boardwalk , the call of “Watch the Tramcar, please” made our legs twitch. After a three hour ride, we wanted out.

Three days is what we had to enjoy another world. A world where hundreds of Miss America’s had strolled the boardwalk. Where a white stallion dove into a swimming pool. Three days is all it took to etch into my memory the feel of the hot sand as we hopped toward the cool foam of the waves, the laughter shared as we romped in the ocean and Uncle Lee lost his teeth, and the way my blood rushed searching for my little lost cousin George among the crowd of thousands. To this day, the Coppertone Baby signifies a carefree summer for me and the scent from the lotion will take me back to the innocent time. And, to this day, I haven’t found ice cream sandwiches as good as the ones we devoured on the AC beach, the sandwiches laced with sea salt and sand.

I think I’ll go poolside today and crack the lotion bottle.

I’d love to hear one of your summer vacation memories.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I'm Late

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I’m late. It seems, to me at least, that I’m late more and more often. Maybe not. But it sure as hell seems that way.

Life takes over sometimes and causes us to run behind. Life gets in our way, causes our desires to be on hold and plays havoc with our goals. Life frustrates us, causes us to worry and keeps us up all night. Life can sucky and suck our energy, leaving us drained, unable to think. But life also brings us friends and family, laughter and love.

Deep breath.

Even though life spins us in circles, it’s important to remember to stop and breathe. Slow down, lighten up, chill out and enjoy what life is teaching us. Such as, the circle of life is ever evolving and it’s your turn to step up and take the wheel. The car can be replaced, a life can’t. A closing door opens another, chance to grow and expand our realm of knowledge.
Life is why we exist. And it’s what makes a great story.

So breathe and take notes.

Today, my husband and I are going to work side by side in the yard. It’s opportunity to connect, to talk, to laugh. I’m looking forward to yard work and taking mental notes.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

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Our first steps were probably hard to take. Remember that moment. We clung to a stable element. We looked out into a world where thousands of new adventures waited for us. Our hearts fluttered with exhilaration like a Hummingbird’s wings. Our knees trembled. We hesitated. Our feet felt like they weighed more than our entire bodies.

A quest as old as mankind called again.

We drew a breath and let go of the safe haven. The first shaky step made us hesitate, but we didn’t stop. We sat our jaws, focused and took another—more stable this time. With each step our confidence grew and showed in our smiles. We started our journey. We made one of our dreams come true and we’ve been working at others ever since.

Whatever your dream has been, remember one of the people who played a huge part in encouraging you to step on the path.

My mom is my best friend, and today she will be receiving chocolate and tomato plants.

Happy Mother’s Day.
AJ

Sunday, May 3, 2009

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I remember my English professor suggested free writing whenever the cursor blinked.

Hmmmm. Let’s see. Deep breath. Hands on keyboard. Ready.

Blank.

Okay. Try again. Deep breath.

No. No deep breath. I’m acting like I’m getting ready to jump off a cliff into a rushing river. Like I need to write the next great epic. I’m writing a blog for God sakes. A short piece on my thought for the day. I can do this. Yes I can.

Attitude has everything to do with what we want to accomplish. We’re writers so we’re thinking TASK is writing a novel. Correct? Okay. If we perceive the task as daunting, it will be. And for large percent of the human race, we will quit right there. But if we look at the big picture as the end result and then think okay, what steps do I need to do to accomplish the job, the task becomes manageable.

The thing about breaking the chore into steps is you can have as many steps you feel necessary for you to manage the undertaking. I would freeze up every time I open my laptop and the motto ‘I will write a hundred thousand word novel’ hung over the computer screen. Especially if I saw that dictum every single day for months and months and months. But the mantra ‘Word by word. Line by line. Page by page.’ works great. Writing a page a day is a goal I can handle. It’s a goal I can surpass most days, which drives me to do it again the next day. I still know what my ultimate goal is, but accomplishing the feat in small bits works for me.

In any task, look at it, step back, figure out manageable steps and then get to work. And if you’re stuck, try free-writing.

Autumn
www.autumnjordon.com
2009 Golden Heart Finalist