Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

Back in April, I joined the My Name is Not Bob Platform Building Challenge.  The challenge gave birth to a friendly writing community, thanks to the hard work of some talented and dedicated writers - both poets and prose, alike.  Over the weekend, a couple of the members--Veronica Roth, Rebecca Barray and Gerry Wilson--clued me in to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.  While I may not participate every week, it sounded like a lot of fun, so I decided to give it a try for today's post.  This may be a great way to keep my blogging schedule through Camp NaNoWriMo, too!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple

If you look carefully at the bottom middle, you can see a bee gathering nectar. I got down on my hands and knees to get the camera close enough to show the differentiation of the flowers, and the bees showed up just in time to get their picture taken, too.  

Some call the flower a native wildflower, others might call it a weed, but I love them, no matter what they're called.  They bloom throughout the summer (if we don't mow them off), and are a beautiful splash of color to the otherwise dusty yellow of the dried prairie grasses.

On a sad note, last Friday was the final post for the Life List Club Blog.  I will be keeping my Life List, although it shall return to the boring name of "Goals."  I also will be re-running some of my posts from the LLC Blog, to help with the stress of Nano, so if you recognize a post, that's probably where it came from.

Have a great week, and we'll see you on Friday!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Funny Photo Friday

I want to say a huge "Thank You" to everyone who acted as my Magic 8 ball.  You guys are terrific and gave me some great feedback that I totally believe will help my get my beginning pages in tip-top shape.  Thank you, thank you!  

I'd also like to thank Cecilia, Kimberly Gabriel, Medeia Sharif, and Ink the Book for stopping over here and staying for a while!

A little public service announcement regarding Funny Photo Friday. I deleted many of the posts that included pictures that I was not sure I hadn't stolen, so if you go to look at old entries and they're not there, that's why. 

I pre-scheduled this post and decided to stick with Pyzam, who states on their site that their photos are free, until I figure it all out.  Then I e-mailed icanhazacheezeburger and waited for them to e-mail me back.  I didn't have to wait long.  A very nice lady explained to me that, as long as the photos are not used for commercial purposes and the imprint is displayed with the pictures, people are allowed to copy and share at will.  Yay!  So, I get to go back to icanhazacheezeburger.com for future posts.  Now I'm sad I deleted all my other posts.

If I was sure I could use it, I'd have posted the picture of the Donut Seeds (Cheerios in a baggie).  It gained the most votes for favorite.

Here's this weeks offering of photos, from Pyzam!

He looks like the walrus in Alice in Wonderland (cartoon edition)

Do you think the ones on the bottom are suffocating?

Cuteness attack - the zombie puppy specialty.

The one behind it is smiling, too. I'ts a seal joke.

It's actually wrinkling up it's nose!


Too very cute!

I think my favorite is the hamster.  I love it's little face.  
Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Magic 8 Ball Comes to the Rescue

Hope Roberson is quickly becoming my favorite person on the blogosphere!  Not only did she offer me the opportunity for the great interview last Friday, but now she's tagged me for the The Magic 8 Ball Meme.  This is great for two reasons. 1.) I needed a blog post and 2.) I need some help with the beginning of Finding Meara.

Before I move on with the meme, I wanted to let you all know I'm over at Vaughn Roycroft's blog today sharing  The Way I Like My Rejections.  Obviously something I'm living right now!

I'm going to share the rules of the meme first and then it'll all become clear, I promise.

Rules for the Magic 8 Ball Meme:

1. Post the button and link to Jaycee deLorenzo (following would be nice, but not required). 

2.  Share an excerpt from your current WIP, perhaps something you're struggling with, are stuck on, or just can't "get right."  

3.  Ask a question about your excerpt.  It can be something easy such as "What do you think?" or something more in-depth, such as "Can you suggest a better way to word such-and-such," or "How can I make the emotions in this scene more realistic?"   

4.  Tag 8 people. 

I contemplated the whole query letter thing because I think my query stinks, but I decided to ask for your knowledgeable help on the first couple pages of Finding Meara, instead.  I have had contrary feedback on the beginning.

One person who would know said it was sufficient, but not strong.  Another person who would know said that it was a great beginning.  So, I'm giving you a little over the first two pages (the entire chapter is only five, but I didn't want to be greedy) and would like to know what you think I could do to make it stronger.

Here goes:

The beautiful fall day didn’t give any hint of the unbelievable mess my life was to become.

By late morning, I’d opened all the windows in my apartment.  The outside smells of dried leaves and cool air flowed through the rooms.  They mingled with the infrequent rumble of large delivery trucks coming off I-25 on their run into downtown Denver.

I focused on my laptop’s screen, and wished my online racing bet would download faster.  I wanted to get going.

The loading bar ticked up to ninety-seven percent, ninety-eight…

“And…done!” I said to the empty apartment.

I snapped the lid of the laptop shut, and set the computer on the coffee table.  Clasping my hands behind my head, I stretched the kink out of my back when the sound of heavy footsteps outside the door grabbed my attention.


Nobody had access to my floor without being buzzed up.  I crossed to the door, while I checked my cell phone for messages.  No alerts showed on the screen.

No one on the other side of the peephole, either.

“See there.  You’re just hearing things, Hazel.”  I checked my watch and headed for the bedroom to change into my workout clothes.

I made it halfway across the living room before the door shattered with a spectacular cracking noise.  Shards of wood flew by me.  Instinctively, I covered my face with my arm, and dropped to the floor.


I uncovered my eyes, and stared at the hole where the door had been.  My heart pounded.

A gigantic man watched me from the hallway.   He said one word.



The man strode through the wreck of the doorway.  His black trench coat rippled around his legs. A fedora, pulled low on his forehead, obscured his face.

“No! I’m Hazel… Hazel Michelli.”  I scrambled to my feet. “Stop!”

He didn’t stop.  Who I was didn’t matter.  He was going to kill me.

I searched the room for a weapon, but found nothing.  No vase or lamp to throw.  No baseball bat to beat him with.

The bathroom, I can lock myself in the bathroom.

Sprinting down the hallway, I slipped on the wooden floor and skidded past the sharp left into the bathroom. Crashing to the ground with a bounce that made my teeth hurt, I lost my grip on the phone.  It fumbled from my fingers, and slid away from me.

Phone or bathroom?  Indecision rendered me motionless.

The guy had made matchsticks out of my front door.  A flimsy bathroom door would be no protection.

I lunged for the phone.  A decision made too late.

An oversized hand wrapped around my ankle.  The man flipped me on my back, and pulled me toward the balcony.

My breathing rasped in my ears. If he got me out of the apartment, I’d be a goner.

I stretched for a chair leg, then the coffee table as they slid by.  Each time I grasped some piece of furniture, he gave me a violent shake, and I lost my grip.  Whatever I held on to slipped away behind me.

He was way too strong for a man.  I quit fighting long enough to really look at him. 

My heart stopped.

His hat had fallen off.  The skin on his bald head was grayish-green and had the waxy sheen of day old death.  Bulky knots protruded from above his shoulder blades, while his arms reached to his knees.

A cold chill flooded through my blood.

He wasn’t a man at all.

So there it is!  Please let me know what you think, as I'm trying to decide what to do with both my query letter and my first chapter before I start sending it out again.

Now for the tagging, which may be difficult because I know a lot of people have already been tagged.  If you've already been tagged, just know I like you so much I tagged you again!  Of course, if you haven't been tagged and I don't tag you, I still like you!

Denise Falvo
Emily R. King
Leigh Covington
Hildred Billings
Suzi at Literary Engineer

Okay, I'm stuck, so I'm going to cheat and only go for five! Thanks so much for any thoughts you might share on my pages.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Funny Friday Photos

Sadly, I felt it best to take down the pics I had used this week, except for the one from Pyzam, as they say they are free and usable without copyright infringement.  Come back next week, though, because I've got some more pics I know are free, and funny!

It's Friday, again!  It's pretty calm in my neck of the prairie, which means it's going to get pretty hot!  I used to hate the year-round wind, until I realized it's a necessary evil in the summertime or I melt.

A few announcements before we get to today's pictures.  First, I'd like to say "Thank You!" and "Welcome!" to Donna Nolan and Pappa Anton.

I decided to do CampNaNoWriMo in August to get the first draft of Age of Stars done.  I've never done a NaNoWriMo before, so we'll see how this goes.  I've also never done a vomit draft before, and I'm wondering if I can turn off my inner editor for that long.  Just thinking about not going back and "fixing" things before moving on makes me jittery inside.

The 13th through the 17th of August I'll take some time off from NaNo-ing to hop around and participate in the Fairytale Madness Blogfest!  Leigh Covington, Mark Koopmans, Cassie Mae, and Morgan Shamy are hosting this fantastic hop. I haven't written anything yet, so I have no idea which Team (Plot Twist, Love Story, Tragedy, or Comic Relief) I'll end up on.  Click on any of the links above to learn more about it and to sign up!

Finally, I've been interviewed!  I totally jumped at the chance when Hope Roberson--in her capacity of interviewer for Falling for Fiction--asked me if I'd like to answer her fun questions.  If you'd like to know my answers, head over there today to read the whole interview.  The FFF blog has so many other interesting and helpful articles, don't be surprised if you stay a while.  Thanks so much, Hope!

And now, what you've been waiting for... the photos!  Last weeks winner for favorite photo was...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Writer's Hierarchy of Needs by Cindy Keen Reynders

I'm so happy to welcome my writing friend, Cindy Keen Reynders to Motivation for Creation.  One of the local published authors, she has been a source of support and assistance to me since almost the beginning of my writing.  She writes paranormal romance with a quirky humor that made even my husband laugh out loud.      

When Cindy offered to share this post about the Writer's Hierarchy of Needs, I jumped at the chance! Please enjoy the article, and give Cindy's blog, Saucy Lucy Wisdom, a visit afterward.  Take it away, Cindy!

In 1943, while Adolf Hitler was waging his reign of terror, Abraham Maslow was developing his theories on mental health and human potential. If Maslow had done research on someone with a disturbed psychology, perhaps he might have chosen Hitler. Instead, Maslow chose to study healthy, well-adapted individuals.

Because of his research, we now have a diagram called “Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs.” I’ve posted Maslow’s five levels of self-actualization. The bottom of the pyramid represents basic needs of survival, while the top levels represent what we need to personally flourish.

Maslow’s theory suggests that once people have met the basic needs of shelter, food, etc., they typically branch out to connect with others, then begin to achieve and accomplish in different areas. Now maybe this is a stretch, and I don’t have any fancy-schmancy college degrees that lend any credence to my meanderings, but I decided maybe I could translate those five levels of growth progression into what we need to grow as writers.

Please bear with my crazy ramblings, but here it is:


Maslow said that in order for people to survive, they need to have basic needs met such as food, water, sleep and air. 

For writers to survive, we first need something to write with; paper and pencil, typewriter, computer--that sort of thing. We need the basic tools to record our stories. Without these, we are dead in the water because our characters and plots will stay stuck in our heads forever, driving us crazy rather than (hopefully) entertaining the masses.  

Next Maslow said people need safety, security and shelter to survive. 

Let's see...for a writer, at least at the beginning of our careers, before we start earning the big bucks, that would mean we need a day job to enable us to buy food and clothes, to maintain our homes and cars and to afford health insurance. Or that would mean maybe we are retired and have a steady pension that takes care of necessities. Or we may possibly have a significant other who provides financial stability so we can concentrate on building a writing career. Here's another possibility, and this is the funnest to think about, maybe we inherited wealth or won the lottery, making us independently wealthy and enabling us to pursue writing without financial concerns. You get the idea. I think I also want to add that a writer needs a dedicated area to write in, such as a desk in the corner of the family room, a place at the kitchen table or maybe even our own office where we can focus on creating.

Maslow said social needs aren't as necessary as the psysiological and security needs. However, once the first two needs are fulfilled, people begin to reach out for friendship, companionship and acceptance. 

For writers, I would say that at this stage we begin to connect through social networking sites dedicated to writing or we begin to join writers groups and attend meetings, attend writers conferences and possibly join critique groups so we can receive feedback, recognition and acceptance as recorders of the written word. We crave being with other writers, to feel the special energy that wordsmiths create and to hold discussions using the unique language known only by other authors.

Once the first three needs are satisfied, Maslow found that people needed to validate themselves by building their self esteem. 

For writers, at this point, we may feel confident enough in our writing that we begin to submit our work to writers contests where we will hopefully receive enough positive feedback to improve our scores, enabling us to eventually place in a contest or possibly even win. At this point, writers are probably confident enough to submit their work, weathering the rejections (albeit difficult), until eventually pieces begin to sell. Then, hallalleujah, we begin to receive recognition for our contributions to the literary world.

At the top tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, this level happens when people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, less concerned with the opinions of others and interested in fulfilling their potential. 

For writers, this is where the rubber really hits the road and we begin to spread our wings. We write to please our own muses, not someone else's muse. We challenge the boundaries of our imaginations, we take on more difficult plots and our characters become deeper. We have found our voices, and we are comfortable with our writing skills and what we know about the craft. This is where our writing seems to take on a life of its own. By the time we've reached the fifth level, we are only limited by our own imaginations. In essense, we strap on wings and let our writing soar. As long as we keep our eyes on the finish line, we have nowhere to go but up.

What do you think of A Writer's Heirarchy of Needs? Is there anything that you think should be added? Do you see yourself in any of the levels?

Author of the Saucy Lucy Mystery series and the paranormal romance, The Seven Year Witch, Cindy also works as a marketing specialist at the local school district.  She lives with her husband and little dog, Ewok (who does indeed look like an Ewok).  She is currently working on the second installment of The Wysteria Hedge Haven Clan series, due for release in late 2012.  You can find Cindy at her blog, Saucy Lucy Wisdom.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Funny Feline Photos

In honor of our kitty that just had kittens, I dedicate funny photo Friday to the funny cats of the world.

Our cats live outdoors, and this particular cat (we call her Baby Kitty -- original, I know) is the only friendly cat we have.  Usually we don't see the kittens before they're already old enough to be wild, but I'm hopeful since Baby Kitty likes us, we might have a chance at domesticating some of the kittens.  We're keeping our finger's crossed.

On to the photos!

Overdid the catnip last night...

Exactly how I feel in those types of chairs.

The poor, unsuspecting Chihuahua.

It reminds me of either Pete the Cat or Skippyjon Jones.  All you parents know what I'm talking about!

Did I use this one before?  I still think it's cute, if I did.

Demon cat.  Totally...  Next picture it turns inside out and swallows the guy's hand whole.


Umm... Publishing contract?

Before I go, I need to thank Eva at Not Just Another Writer for sharing the Kreativ Blogger award with me this past week! While I received the award a while back, I always, always appreciate when someone likes my blog or thinks I'm creative!  Thank you, Eva!

Catnip kitty is my favorite!  Do you have a favorite this week?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Where Has All the Pressure Gone?

I think I was supposed to draw for the winner of my Milestone Party Giveaway on July 6th, so I must apologize for being late.  I'll discuss that later, but right now, I'd like to announce the winner.

Mike Schulenberg, come on down!!

To claim your prize, just tweet me or e-mail me at laschiff(at)ymail(dot)com your card preference (Amazon, or some other card) and we will figure out how to get the gift card to you!  Congratulations!

Since the end of June, I have been working on organizing my house.  Are you wondering why I am telling you this?  Well, partially because it is my excuse for not having the drawing when I should have, but also because it got me thinking about what writing is for me.

The roles I "play" are pretty varied.  I work as a social worker in a Title 1 school, so I get to see some pretty sad families and children. I struggle at times with my own parenting, especially when I can't get my children to stop talking about poop, pee, diapers (what is THAT about), or passing gas (out of either end.)  My husband is taking classes for his second masters, my parents are getting older and starting to have health issues.  My nephew has Asperger's Syndrome and I worry every day that the kids at school will pick on him, yet again.

This is my life.  Don't get me wrong. I love it, and feel so fortunate to have a well-paying job, two healthy children, parents who live nearby and I can see daily, a husband who "gets" me, and my nephew close by.  It's just that writing doesn't seem like reality.  

What Writing is to Me
Photo by Brenda Starr

Writing is a "want to" not a "have to."  I want to write great, well-constructed stories.  I want to have them published in a place that will allow other people to find them and read them.  I want to have people enjoy my stories, and want to read more.  But when it comes down to it, I will survive if none of that happens.

Because of the type of person I am, I am going to do whatever I can to get to the place I want to be.  I'm going to write. I'm going to achieve the goals I set before myself, which act as signposts to the final goal of (hopefully) becoming a full-time writer. But by realizing that I don't have to be writing, blogging, tweeting, etc..., a lot of pressure has gone away.

Where Has All the Pressure Gone?

Beats me!  But, I'm happier for it.  I am writing a story that I find interesting.  I'm doing my best to get around to read everyone's fine blogs, but not worrying if I don't make it or can't think of a witty comment. I'm feeling more relaxed than I have in the three years I've been writing fiction.  I'm not stressing over -- okay, not stressing as much -- about getting published.

Free Digital Photos
It's All About the Love

What I love about being a writer is the sense of other-worldliness I get when I write.  For the amount of time I'm plotting, or writing a scene, I get to be whomever I want, and go wherever I want.  I have some control and can right wrongs I don't get to in "real life."

Writing, for the last three years, has been sanity.  It has given me an escape from the stresses of every day, and allowed my the joy of creation.  It has been frustrating, and exciting, and educational.  I've learned a ton about the craft of writing, but most of all, I've learned a ton about myself.  I do love writing, and I don't think I will ever stop, even if I never get published.

As I mentioned in the Milestone Party post, I've realized there are certain things I can't control.  All I can do is make sure I have my part done, and then hope for the best.  Finally, I'm okay with that.

Have you had any epiphanies lately you'd like to share?

Monday, July 02, 2012

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Time has flown like a river from when I received the Leibster award from Sharon Vander Meer and J.B. Everett in May.  In the meantime, I received The Booker Award from the ever-kind Emily R. King and The Fabulous Blog Ribbon from the generous Ashley Nixon.  So first I want to say "Thank You" to all four fantastic bloggers for thinking kindly of my blog.  

Photo Courtesy Freedigitalphotos.net

Thank You!

To receive this award the blog must be at least 50% about books (reading or writing). The recipient must share their top five favorite books (at least) and then pass the award on to five other bloggers.
The way I'm going to do this is give both awards to five different blogs (to keep it short and sweet!) so I'll wait until the end to share the new recipients.

My top five favorite books

*  The Taking by Dean Koontz
*  The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
*  Prey by Michael Crichton
*  Ringworld by Larry Niven
*  The Last Oracle by James Rollins

The rules for this award are to post the rules (check!), name five fabulous moments (either real life or in the blogosphere), name five things you love, name five things you hate, pass the ribbon on to five other bloggers (and let them know in their comments!).

My Five Fabulous Moments

Getting married to my husband
Having my first child (didn't think we could have children)
Having my second child (NEVER thought I'd have two children
    -He's my "bonus baby"
Graduating with my Masters of Social Work
The first time I saw my name in print as author

Five Things I Hate (let's end on the love part!)

Laundry (especially folding underwear)
Seriously, I can't think of anything else right now.

Five Things I Love

My family (including my Mom, Dad and Nephew)
The blue sky and open spaces of the prairie
Hearing my boys giggle
Kindness and Affection
To Laugh
Five Bloggers Who Are Fabulous and Blog about Writing/Reading

Lauri Meyers at Your Imagination is the Limit
Diane Carlisle at Are We There Yet
Suzi at Literary Engineer
Donna at Always Write
Vaughn Roycroft (since I told you how much I like his blog last week)

Have a great week and a lovely Fourth of July. I will be posting on patriotism on the Fourth over at the Life List Club blog, so if you'd like to stop by, I'd be happy to see you!


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