About Me

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I'm a published author of short fiction for kids and adults. I have an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. I'm a former content writer for Spirit and Truth publishing on their Living the Word series. I've also worked as a paid book reviewer and as a student editor for The Louisville Review literary magazine. I'm a wife and mom to two great kids, three dogs, and a cat. I love books, movies, gardening, kids, and animals.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Test your Skills and Strengths at Plot vs. Character Writing

Are you better at plotting your stories or do you find crafting you characters more fun and easier to do. Check out this site and take the test to see which is your strong suit.

Blockbuster Plots-Plot Lines Test

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

There are Safe Organic Means to Control Garden Pests


As the spring gardens wind down many gardeners now face the problems unique to the summer garden crops, INSECTS and INFECTIONS! Not that spring gardens aren't susceptible to these tiny predators and infections. They are, but not to the extent that the warmer garden crops often face.

This year all the rain has been welcome for keeping my plants watered, without as much work on my part, and for keeping temperatures more moderate this summer. What I didn't foresee was the fungal infections it would cause in my tomato plants. Early blight caused me to have to trim back a lot of my foliage on my plants to help keep them alive, so I wouldn't lose all of my nice little green tomatoes. But now the tomatoes are very exposed to insects. Before they are even fully red, I have to pick them so they don't rot on the vine because the insects have already eaten half of them. I came home this week to find at least a half dozen of my tomatoes, that should have been nice red globes ready for picking, were instead eaten over and ready for composting. It was a sad a frustrating thing.

In discussing means of controlling these problems with other gardeners at my local farmers market I noticed one key reaction from most when I mentioned the word SPRAY.

The fellow gardeners would draw back in alarm and cut in frantically with, "We don't use sprays. We are all organic."

Now this dramatic response is understandable, especially if you are selling produce to the public under an organic label. The requirements to get an organic growers label for you produce is rigorous and time consuming. An overhead conversation about said growers using sprays or pesticides that aren't organic would be a problem.

However, there are many organic powders and sprays available that you can use in your garden to combat both insects and fungal infections.

Neme oil is an organic spray alternative that can be used to help combat fungal and some insect and mite infestations. There are also insecticidal soaps that are safe to use against insects. Many you can make at home yourself using dishwashing soap and water in combination with herbs and spices to help repel bugs. These homemade remedies are a fun way to experiment in the garden, to see what works best, and are inexpensive to make using common household products. Bionide is a natural pesticide that we have used in our demonstration garden to combat predatory insects, and it was safe to use in close proximity to our honey bee hive. As the name implies it is a biological spray made from sulfur and pyrethrins that targets specific pests and infections. Some bionide sprays also contain neme oil. Other forms of this product are available in powder form.

To combat powdery mildew on summer squash plants you can sprinkle baking soda on the leaves. The infected leaves will die back allowing for healthy leaves to grow in and replace them. Another powder that is organic in nature to help eliminate insect pests is diatomaceous earth. It is a powder made from diatom fossils which are created from hard shelled algae. To help combat plant infections, you can sprinkle a copper sulfate powder around their base. There are also spray dilutions that can be used on plants and trees. Epsom salts are also good for preventing infections in plants while also fertilizing them. It can be sprinkled in the hole during planting and around the base of the plant once signs of infection have been spotted.

I am sure there are a plethora of other products that can be safely used in organic gardens to help control pests and infections in plants. Of course, all this rain makes using sprays and some powders problematic. But next time you hear the word SPRAY keep these in mind and don't lump all sprays and powders together. There are safe organic alternatives that aren't synthetic broad spectrum pesticides. While I agree that overuse of pesticides is a problem for beneficial insects and the environment, not all sprays or powders are evil or harmful for beneficial bugs or the environment. By researching safe, natural, sources for pest and disease control you can prevent the loss of those wonderful veggies you worked so hard to grow.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Becoming...Junebug


Last week during one of my never-ending road-trips to shuttle my kids around I decided to let my imagination run wild. I became my character Lolly from my novel-in-progress, Junebug.

As my car sped down the winding country road through tree tunnels and past cornfields, I left my windows open to the summer air, that wasn't as hot or as humid as usual for July. Lolly didn't care if her dark, curls frizzed out in the wind. She luxuriated in the wild freedom of the air blowing through the windows. Lolly laughed as the small mini-cooper her dad let her barrow for the day whipped up and down hills and around curves. Past the small stone bridge by the old grist mill it sailed up and into the air.

Image courtesy of scificincinnati.com

Lolly felt like she was flying. There was nobody with her to tell her to stop, nobody there to warn her not to use her powers frivolously. As she continued on she realized the car actually was flying. The realization caused her to bounce back on the pavement with a jolt that would have her father shaking his head over the damage to his suspension. Lolly knew she should be sorry, but a smile tugged at her lips and she couldn't regret a moment of it.

I was Lolly in my mind. Don't worry, I didn't break any speed limits. ;) Unfortunately, my car didn't really fly over the dips and curves in the road either.


But it broke up the monotony of a everyday task for a moment and gave me more insight into my character and her motivations. Most of all, for that moment I had fun in my own headspace and enjoyed the fun of creating without it feeling like actual work. Lolly, or Junebug, as her dad calls her, was really alive for that brief span of time. She was there with me laughing at her momentary freedom, and wild excitement of just being. It was glorious.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fun Link to Find out What Kind of Reader You Are


Here is a fun web link that uses the Linnaean classification chart to determine what kind of a reader you are. I'm a cross between a book Hoarder on the chart and a Free Range "It's Complicated" Reader, just because I do have traits from other categories on the classification chart. Enjoy!

What Reader Species are You?

These are the Hamster Wheel Days of My Life

I really, really enjoyed June, for two reasons. First, it is my birthday month, so by default it is one of my favorite months of the year. Second, for this summer at least I didn't have any commitments like, kids camps, swim lessons, or other obligations other than gardening and writing, to worry about for a whole month. So I was a little depressed when it was over. I knew that the summer would pass that much more quickly once the busy time of July approached.


I know I shouldn't complain. I was the one who looked up theatre camps for my daughter to participate in during the summer. I was the one who signed her up for one that lasts for three weeks in Louisville, which is close to my parents farm. I was the one who then decided to sign up my son for swim lessons that last for two of the three weeks my daughter is in her camp. So I go from dropping her off, to going back to the farm to pick up my son and taking him to swim, to then drop him, off eat lunch, and then go back to Louisville to pick up my daughter from camp. All of this was my doing. And I'm not sorry I did any of it. My daughter is going to get to be Belle in Beauty and the Beast Jr. at the end of performance camp. My son has learned a new swim stroke that he can practice to make him a stronger swimmer. These are all good things and they are enjoying their time in camp and swim lessons. But in the midst of all the running and chauffeuring the time speeds by for summer and they will be getting ready to go back to school once July is over. I manage to eek out writing time despite all the running. I'm enjoying being back on the farm with my family and getting to be in the countryside where I grew up. I just wish that the trade off for my kids personal growth didn't seem to make the time pass faster. I know other parents when they have a moment to draw breath, often feel the same way. Our babies grow into toddlers, who become school children, and all too soon young adults. I was told by a friend recently to bask in this time of running and doing for my kids, because all too soon they won't need me so much anymore.


So while I may feel that I am running on a hamster wheel of life, I try to take time at the end of each day to look at my two cute kids and be grateful. Grateful that my kids are healthy and active in things they love, and thankful that I did get one whole month during the summer to live life at a slower pace. Now its time to cook supper, unwind a little bit, and do it all again tomorrow. ;p

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It Sometimes Takes a Village to Be a Writer



I got my first personalized rejection this past holiday week. I don't know what I expected to feel when this happened. I've gotten so used to form rejections that this one held much more of a sting. Of course my initial reaction was along the same lines as that of a three year old that has been shoved down by someone bigger and meaner. Internally I was stamping my feet and sticking out my tongue at my computer screen in between internal shrieks of frustration and calling the author of this personal rejection a stupid-head. Once all of that was done I tried to squash that rasher immature side of me and take a calm and rational look at what the note was trying to convey to me. I couldn't do it. I couldn't be rational like the tin man above and ignore the passions of my heart.

It was too hard to do. I think the publisher was trying to convey an honest reason for rejecting my submission. Which I tried to tell myself was a good thing. But in all honesty made me question my piece and my integrity as an individual.

If I didn't have a strong base of other writers more experienced than I to turn to in circumstances like these, I might have been tempted to shelve this short fiction piece and leave it buried forever. At times this might be the best option. But if you can't be objective about your own work its best to turn to someone you trust who knows your work before giving up.

I know there are writers out there who have soldiered on and succeeded on their own. But there are so many resources out there for writers that you don't have to do this on your own. This is a very hard world to navigate. It is easier when you can form a support system around you to help cheer you on, or offer you sound, objective advice when you need it. Especially other writers who know what your going through.

A writer friend I trust advised me that this was one person's opinion. She also pointed out that if this publisher didn't see some potential in my work she wouldn't have bothered to give me a detailed rejection with the reasons for it. So I'm going to pick myself up and dust myself off and re-submit my work elsewhere. But I'm very grateful to the community of other writers I've developed over the last few years. Writing is a solitary task, but it doesn't have to be a lonely one. Just like people often say it takes a village to raise a child it can also take a village or community of supporters to help you along in your struggle to make that writing better and encourage you to keep trying when you send it out there for the world to read.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New publication credit and more Juggling to be done

Check out my latest publication credit and review of "The Shy Writer Reborn."

It is my first paid book review, so it is very exciting for me. I would also say that this book is an excellent writers resource.

http://freelancewrite.about.com/od/restools/fr/Guest-Book-Review-Hope-Clarks-the-Shy-Writer-Reborn.htm

It has been a hectic few days. My daughter has started a three week performance camp this week. There are also swim lessons to sign-up for, for my son, if I can squeeze it in.

Still I've managed to finish a couple of books to review and get one review submitted that is already up online. I've also gotten more chapters sent in for my online critique group for one of my current works-in-progress and am set to send out some pitches for another book review. All in all not bad for the week so far. How about any of you? Whether it is writing or some other passion you are pursuing, how do you manage your time with family, kids, pets, etc. to pursue it? Send me a comment to let me know. I'm always eager for new ideas on how others manage their time to have a balanced lifestyle.