The Magic of Writing a Book

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”

–W.H. Murray
Author of The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

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Tuesday Inspiration – “Maybe I Made It Look Easy.”

I am a big fan of all things inspirational, especially since I am gearing up for the frenzy that is National Novel Writing Month. I have been digging deep and looking for any and all things to get me fired up, and I’ve got to admit that this is one of my all time favorites. I am a huge basketball fan and adore Michael Jordan. I think he is the epitome of hard work and I know without a doubt that he got to where he is because of countless days of fighting through the blood, sweat and tears. This video always gives me the goosebumps and lights a fire inside of me. Three more days….

The Paradise – Season 1, Episode 5 Recap

2In collaboration with a few of my favorite blogger gal pals, we are watching and recapping the fabulous new show, The Paradise, now on PBS for all of you lovely readers. Now, I am assuming that you are all caught up with the show and are ready to dish. Am I right? If so, fabulous & I can’t wait to get started. If not, then you can watch the latest episode on PBS.org.

OK, so let’s get started!

There were really two big main plot lines this week on The Paradise that I feel are worth mentioning.

First off, we have dear sweet Katherine trying to woo back Moray. This one in particular had my screaming at my television because to be honest, I am not her biggest fan and to make things worse, Katherine decided she wanted to play hard to get. In true first grade fashion, Katherine ignores Moray and decides to put her money where her mouth is by spending her dollars everywhere else besides at The Paradise. Oh, the horror! Luckily for her, her evil plan worked and she definitely got his attention, although as we all suspect, Moray has the hots for another lady! So scandalous!

The other second plot line this episode is Moray’s plan to expand and the hiccups he encounters. His plan to expand the business into the next door barber shop backfires when Mr. Burrough insists on being made partner in The Paradise. Moray tries to move past it but realizes that Mr. Burrough means business when he refuses to sell his property on any other terms but the one stated. Jonas advises him to put a clause in the contract and together, they bring him in, and it’s no surprise when he starts to act a fool. My favorite line of the night, “You’re a barber, in a suit, that doesn’t fit,” comes from Miss Pauline after he fails miserable at wooing her numerous times. Things start to get really interesting when he mentions to Jonas that he may know a little something about the former Mrs. Moray’s death. Oh, how I love a good blackmail! And then there is a sudden disappearance. I am so curious to see how this pans out!

Other than those two main story lines, there are really only a few odds and ends that are worth mentioning. Clara is on a warpath and is convinced that her dear old Mr. Moray is in love with Denise … which fingers crossed, is where I think the show is headed. There is one particular scene toward the end of the episode that definitely left me wondering and eagerly awaiting some close interaction between the two. And speaking of Denise, much to my surprise, she finally has an idea that backfires. Maybe she doesn’t have the Midas touch like once believed?

So, that about wraps it up. What are your thoughts for next week?

Here are my thoughts:

– The love triangle will gather some depth and Mr. Moray will have some very hard decisions to make ahead.

– We find out what happened to Mr. Burrough. And was Jonas involved like it’s implied?

– I’m sure this will take a while, but I am so eager to find out the real story behind the former Mrs. Moray’s death.

And those are my thoughts. I hope you have enjoyed my recap and my thoughts on the episode, and until next time, that’s all folks!

Don’t forget to enter The Paradise Giveaway. There are several fabulous prizes up for grabs, including a $50 gift certificate to Macy’s. Check out the details here.

Be sure to check out next week’s recap, courtesy of the lovely Tracie Banister. You can read previous episode recaps here, here, here and here.

Life at 17 Months!

**In addition to regular posts about writing and all things book related, I will also be posting about things relevant to me and my life, one of which is being a mommy. You can find these postings included in the “Life, etc.” portion on the top toolbar.**

Dear Ethan,

Another month has come and gone, but this month you really seem to have grown so much. You are no longer a baby, but a little person who is full of energy, spunk and love.

3Your language abilities have increased by leaps and bounds and you constantly amaze me with your observations. You try to assert yourself everyday and communicate your wants and needs  by telling us over and over again what you want, even though sometimes we can’t quite figure out exactly what you you are trying to say.

1You are full of mischievous grins, robust giggles, and make-you-melt smiles. You are very generous with your hugs and kisses. Last week when we were on vacation, you hugged goats and pigs and even tried sharing a few kisses too. And although I’m sure the goats would have loved it, we had to hold you back from showering them with love.

5You have also figured out that you can stall bedtime by a few minutes if you snuggle with mom. And to be honest, mom doesn’t mind. She loves your hugs and kisses and  will delay bedtime any night for a few more seconds with you.

2You love playing outside, helping mom in her garden, and helping dad do “manly” things out in the garage. You also love going to the park. You have become obsessed with the slide as of late and it is so fun watching you grow. Sometimes I look at you and think about how big you are, but then I see bigger kids run down the street and realize that you are still so small, although I know you are growing every, single second.

6You also love playing inside. You are quite the book worm like your mom and are most content flipping the pages of Goodnight, Moon and The Hungry Caterpillar. You also love playing with your trucks. Your dad often gets carried away when shopping for toys and gets toys for big boys, but you absolutely love them!

4These days you really surprise mom with what you eat. Two nights ago you devoured a bowl of stewed Turnip Greens and even wanted “mooore.” But, there are days when you surprise me with the things that you don’t eat. Everyday is new territory, but overall, I know that we are lucky because you do eat so well. You are also quite fond of cookies, or “cook-cooks” as you affectionately call them. Every time your dad or I open the pantry, you think you are entitled to a cookie. Although it is ridiculously cute, we have to fight the urge on an almost daily basis.

7A beautiful 17 months has come and gone, and even though you act like such a tough guy, you are still so kind and sweet. Every night, whether you know it or not, I sneak into your room before I go to sleep. I gently stroke your face, listen to your peaceful breath, and cover you up with a blankie so you don’t get cold. You are so beautiful and sometimes, I find it hard not to cry when I think about how lucky I am to be your mom.

So, thank you, sweet boy, for a wonderful 17 months.

Love,

Mom

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo!

November is just around the corner, which means many different things to many different people. But for me, and for my fellow writers, November brings a month of writing insanity with National Novel Writing Month! Woohoo! Can you feel the adrenaline?

In case you have not heard of this program, it is a competition to write a 50,000-word first draft of a novel in 30 days, beginning on November 1. Yep, that’s right … 1667 words per day, every day, for 30 days straight.

This will be my first time joining my fellow writers on this month long stretch and I am so excited to get started. Yes, 50,000 words is quite a feat and at times, it seems almost impossible, but from what I understand, it teaches writers endurance and discipline, something that I am definitely lacking these days.

Here is a little more info:

The program started in 1999 in San Francisco and has grown exponentially since that time. Here are the numbers:

1999: 21 participants/six winners.
2000: 140 participants/29 winners.
2001: 5000 participants/700 winners.
2002: 13,500 participants/2,100 winners.
2003: 25,000 participants/3,500 winners.
2004: 42,000 participants/6,000 winners.
2005: 59,000 participants/9,759 winners.
2006: 79,000 participants/13,000 winners.
2007: 101,510 participants/15,333 winners.
2008: 119,301 participants/21,683 winners.
2009: 167,150 participants/32,178 winners.
2010: 200,500 participants/37,500 winners.
2011: 256,618 participants/36,843 winners.
2012: 341,375 participants/38,438 winners.

A number of these first drafts later became top-selling novels published by traditional publishes. Among these were The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.

Like I said before, the task will be challenging, but I am up for it. So, say a little prayer for me and if you see me with bags under my eyes, please bring coffee … or chocolate. Or just give me a hug.

And now a question for all my fellow writers, have you ever participated in National Novel Writing Month? How was the experience? And what did you do to prepare yourself?

 

The War of Art

Lately I’ve been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He is a very talented writer and I must admit that I’ve enjoyed a few of his novels, but this book is completely out of his normal realm. As a writer, I often struggle with doubt and my own resistance. And, I am glad I’m not alone because apparently Steven struggles with these same issues. So much in fact that he wrote a little book about it.

This book is a really quick read and quite motivating. Or, maybe encouraging is the right word. Either way, I am devouring it, page by page. I will offer my full thoughts once I finish, but here is a quick passage I’d like to share:

“The writer is an infantryman. He knows that progress is measured in yards of dirt extracted from the enemy one day, one hour, one minute at a time and paid for in blood. The artist wears combat boots. He looks in the mirror and sees GI Joe.”

Encouraging, right?

Can’t wait to finish it up.

 

5 things I love about October

hello October1. Cooler weather. There is something so special when the temperatures begin to drop in Texas. After a few months of hell–aka, Summer in central Texas–Autumn is always welcome. I love being able to wear layers and pull on a nice cozy sweater and a pair of boots.

2. The sky. I love when the first cool fronts move in and leave a gray, haunting overcast behind. Yes, it can be gloomy to some, but to me, it is cozy and makes me want to run home and get underneath a warm blanket.

3. Pumpkin everything. There is nothing better than spotting the first pumpkins at the grocery store. I love decorating my house with all things Autumn inspired and more than that, I also love to eat anything and everything pumpkin. Definitely one of my favorite things about the season.

4. Food. With the temperatures dropping, October officially begins “soup season” in our household. I crave warm meals that remind me of being home–the heartier the better.

5. Snuggling. There is something so special about cozying up underneath a blanket with your loved ones. I think it really rounds out the whole season.

Overall, there are so many things that I love about October, but these five definitely top my list.

Hope you’re having a happy October!

Sara

Shopping at The Paradise

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Some period drama-loving friends and I are throwing a big online party to celebrate Masterpiece airing season one of The Paradise. There will be a premiere night Twitter chat, weekly recaps, and to kick things off . . . a fun contest involving one of our favorite pastimes – SHOPPING! This seemed appropriate as The Paradise is a Victorian-era department store where plucky heroine Denise Lovett is employed in the Ladieswear Dept.
 
Read on to find out how you can enter this exciting contest and be eligible to win several FABULOUS prizes!
 
CONTEST RULES
 
1) Take a photo (camera pix are fine) of yourself shopping for one (or more) of the following items:
 
Shoes

Jewelry
Purses
Lingerie
Make-Up
Perfume
Hats
Stockings/Hosiery
 
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You will receive ONE entry per picture of an item listed above (up to 8 entries.)
 
You can earn a bonus FIVE entries if you submit a photo of yourself with a cute/crush-worthy shop employee. (Male or female.)
 
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2) You may submit your contest photos via Twitter or Facebook.
 
Twitter – Tweet your picture(s) to @ParadiseParty2
 
Facebook – Post your pictures to the Facebook group, Paradise Party. Note: You will have to join the group in order to post to the forum. https://www.facebook.com/groups/444953335622203/
 
3) This contest is open to residents of the United States ONLY.
 
4) Contest will begin on Friday, October 4th, 2013 and end at midnight on Sunday, November 17th, 2013. Winners will be announced on Monday, November 18th, 2013.
 
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4) Prizes are as follows:
 
(1) Grand Prize – A $50 Macy’s gift card, which can be used online or in-store. The winner of this prize will be selected by the True Random Number Generator at www.random.org
 
(1) Bonus Prize – The Funniest Photo – A Kindle copy of The Ladies’ Paradise by Émile Zola (this is the classic novel that the TV series is based on.) The winner of this prize will be selected by the 8 authors/bloggers participating in The Paradise online event.
 
(1) Bonus Prize – Item We Most Want Photo – An audio CD of The Paradise TV Soundtrack. The winner of this prize will be selected by the 8 authors/bloggers participating in The Paradise online event.
 
So, you can earn up to 13 entries and there are THREE great prizes up for grabs. Cleverness and originality count with these pix, so have fun and be creative!
 
Be sure to check out the shopping finds from these fellow Paradise Party bloggers:
 

Julie Valerie http://www.julievalerie.com/paradise/

 

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Here is the schedule for the upcoming postings:

 
Sun., Oct. 6th (2 hour episode) Recap to be posted on Mon., Oct. 7th. – First hour – Elizabeth Marx, Second hour – Martha Reynolds
Sun., Oct. 13th Recap to be posted on Mon., Oct. 14th – Julie Valerie
Sun., Oct. 20th Recap to be posted on Mon., Oct. 21st – Laura Chapman
Sun., Oct. 27th Recap to be posted on Mon., Oct. 28th – Sara Palacios
Sun. Nov. 3rd Recap to be posted on Mon., Nov. 4th – Tracie Banister
Sun., Nov. 10th Recap to be posted on Mon., Nov. 11th – Tracey Livesay
Sun., Nov. 17th Recap to be posted on Mon., Nov. 18th – Laura Reese