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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cast Your Vote Tuesday

This week as the name implies you get to cast your vote and pick your favorite story beginning. Below are are pasted two different beginnings to the same story. Vote on the one you like best and tell us why in the comments section of the post. At least once a month, you will get the chance to help a lucky author craft a stronger story start. So, if you have a story beginning that you need help with let me know via facebook, twitter, or email. I'll post approximately 250 words of your story opening here on my blog for others to vote on. For that entire week you will be able to follow along via viewer comments and see which story start wins. So read on and enjoy and don't forget to vote for your favorite!

Story Beginning #1

Anthem paced back and forth across the room that had been her home for the past ten years.
Where is he?” she thought. The emotion she felt reverberated around the room with the mind-speak directed at her mother, Queen Miranda.
Anthem sat down on the stool at the bare wooden table facing her mother. She glanced around the tower room. A bed, with a lumpy straw mattress, sat against one side of the room. A tiny table, with a wash basin and pitcher, sat next to the bed. The only other furnishings were the table and the two stools where she and her mother now sat.
 “Caw, caw,” the ravens crowed outside her solitary window. Damien used them to spy on her. Even with bars on her window, he didn’t trust her not to find a way to escape.
A worn rug covered the only door into the room, a trap door that was enchanted. Only the maid, who brought her meals, her mother, and Damien, could open the door by touch. Anthem had tried numerous times to figure out how to overcome the enchantment, but touching the door gave her such a painful headache that her nose bled.
Projecting her thoughts Anthem asked, “Where is he mother?” 
“Close I think,” her mother projected back to her. They dared not speak aloud, where the ravens could hear, about the one who might be able to help Anthem break free. Damien would know.  

Story Beginning #2

Anthem gripped the bars on the window as she peered down at the village below. A very young child was crying and its mother rocked back and forth crooning for her to stop. The tiny girl fought her, wanting to be put down. Anthem imagined it was something the mother just couldn’t do until they were safely home again. As a dark, hulking shape approached from behind, Anthem tried to shout a warning to the mother. Nothing came out but an inarticulate cry, as Anthem watched the ogre grasp the woman’s shoulder and turn her roughly around. The woman shrieked as the ogre ripped her child from her arms and shoved her away.
             The child’s scream echoed up to Anthem from below, as the little girl held out its arms to its mother.
            The woman got back up and fought with the ogre, pulling at its arms. Anthem couldn’t hear her words but she could tell the woman was begging for her child.
            The ogre roared. His angry words too mumbled for Anthem to hear. He shoved the woman down again and this time she stayed in the dirt, sobbing.
            Anthem felt tears track down her cheeks.
“Caw, caw,” a couple of ravens crowed from the eaves just above her window. They flapped their wings when she glanced at them. One cocked its head, and a faint reddish glow seemed to flash in its eye.
Rage filled Anthem. She couldn’t speak aloud, but she could still make noise. Infusing her voice with all the rage she felt, she shrieked from her tower window, filling the air with a piercing sound. The ogre dropped the stolen child in order to cover its ears against it. The hateful ravens took flight cawing in disgust. Anthem saw the woman dash forward and grab her baby, then run away before the ogre was able to recover. Shaking its head the ogre looked up toward her tower and shook a fist in the air.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

In Honor of our Presidents

Photo courtesy of freedigitialphotos.net
In honor of our current, former, and in some cases infamous, US Presidents I've copied some quotes for you to think about. You can learn a lot from our past presidents. Some have shown us how to be truly great as leaders and human beings. Others have shown us with they actions and words what not to do. Many have shown us the value of perseverance, hard-work, and a willingness to serve others. But we are reminded also, that power does not make anyone infallible or honest. Holding the office of President of the United States can even magnify our imperfections as individuals. Either way you look at it, whether you love them or hate them, our presidents can show us the best and worst of what it means to be human and to be an American. 

1. George Washington: "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth."

2. John Adams: "Let every sluice of knowledge be open and set a-flowing." 

3. Thomas Jefferson: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance."

4. James Madison: "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
5. James Monroe: "A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue."

6.John Quincy Adams: "America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government." 

7. Andrew Jackson: "I know what I am fit for. I can command a body of men in a rough way; but I am not fit to be President."

8. Martin Van Buren: "It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn't." 

9. William Henry Harrison: "A decent and manly examination of the acts of the Government should be not only tolerated, but encouraged." 

10. John Tyler: "Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette—the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace."

11. James Knox Polk: "With me it is exceptionally true that the Presidency is no bed of roses."

12. Zachary Taylor: "It would be judicious to act with magnanimity towards a prostrate foe." 

13. Millard Fillmore: "An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory."

14. Franklin Pierce: "The storm of frenzy and faction must inevitably dash itself in vain against the unshaken rock of the Constitution." 
Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

15. James Buchanan: "The ballot box is the surest arbiter of disputes among freemen." 

16. Abraham Lincoln: "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

17. Andrew Johnson: "The goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people."

18. Ulysses Simpson Grant: "My failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent." 

19. Rutherford Birchard Hayes: "Nothing brings out the lower traits of human nature like office seeking."

20. James Abram Garfield: "We can not overestimate the fervent love of liberty, the intelligent courage, and the sum of common sense with which our fathers made the great experiment of self-government."

21. Chester Alan Arthur: "If it were not for the reporters, I would tell you the truth." 

22. Stephen Grover Cleveland: "A man is known by the company he keeps, and also by the company from which he is kept out."

23. Benjamin Harrison: "No other people have a government more worthy of their respect and love or a land so magnificent in extent, so pleasant to look upon, and so full of generous suggestion to enterprise and labor."

24. William McKinley: "That's all a man can hope for during his lifetime—to set an example—and when he is dead, to be an inspiration for history."

25. Theodore Roosevelt: "The only man who makes no mistake is the man who does nothing."

26. William Howard Taft: "The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not always considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from Congress."

27. Thomas Woodrow Wilson: "If you want to make enemies, try to change something."

28. Warren Gamaliel Harding: ""My God, this is a hell of a job! I have no trouble with my enemies . . . but my damn friends, they're the ones that keep me walking the floor nights."

29. John Calvin Coolidge: "I have never been hurt by anything I didn't say." 

30. Herbert Clark Hoover: "A splendid storehouse of integrity and freedom has been bequeathed to us by our forefathers. In this day of confusion, of peril to liberty, our high duty is to see that this storehouse is not robbed of its contents."

31. Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."

32. Harry S. Truman: "You can not stop the spread of an idea by passing a law against it." 

33. Dwight David Eisenhower: "I never saw a pessimistic general win a battle." 

34. John Fitzgerald Kennedy: "The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly."

35. Lyndon Baines Johnson: "You ain't learnin' nothin' when you're talkin'." 

36. Richard Milhous Nixon: "Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you. Those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself."

37. Gerald Rudolph Ford: "Truth is the glue that holds governments together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go."

38. James Earl Carter Jr.: "The best way to enhance freedom in other lands is to demonstrate here that our democratic system is worthy of emulation." 

39. Ronald Wilson Reagan: "America is too great for small dreams." 

40. George Herbert Walker Bush: "If anyone tells you that America's best days are behind her, they're looking the wrong way."

41. William Jefferson Clinton: "We need a spirit of community, a sense that we are all in this together. If we have no sense of community, the American dream will wither."

42. George Walker Bush: "Recognizing and confronting our history is important. Transcending our history is essential. We are not limited by what we have done, or what we have left undone. We are limited only by what we are willing to do."

43. Barack Obama: "Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

Read more: Presidential Quotes | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/spot/presquotes1.html#ixzz2th6SG89f

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Share Your Favorite Love Story this Week

Beauty and the Beast's Belle lost in a book

This week we celebrate Valentine's Day and love. Amid the chocolate and other gifts, this is the time of year when I like to delve into a good love story. This week I'm finally going to start reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. But I've had lots of fun looking at readers' lists of the top love stories out there to read. Among them I found the usual suspects like Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Twilight to name a few. Sites like Goodreads and About.com among others are teaming with such lists right now for the avid reader. For me it's just another excuse to find new books to add to my to-read list. I was pleased to see that one of the books on the Goodreads list was one I put at the top of my list and that is The Princess Bride. Whether you prefer the book or the movie this whimsical tale is full of true love, adventure, and lots of humor. It is one of my all time favorite loves stories. In honor of the winter Olympics this year I'm also going to add a favorite romantic comedy movie to my favorite love stories list, The Cutting Edge. This movie is basically a Pride and Prejudice type story that takes place on the ice between a rich and entitled figure skater and a every-man type hockey player who learns to be a figure skater. It's fluff but it's fun fluff and the sparks that fly between the couple throughout is very enjoyable to watch.

So this week whether you have a special someone to share this week's romantic holiday with or not, pick up a good book or pop in a favorite movie and enjoy the love. And if you have a favorite love story that you'd like to recommend please share it! I'm always open to reading a good book.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Why Groundhogs???

Photo Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Ever wonder why we rely on these fuzzy rodents to predict the weather? Sunday marked the annual observance of Groundhog Day where we wait to see if the groundhog will see his shadow or not. If he does see it then we get to look forward to 6 more weeks of winter, if not we supposedly get an early spring. According to Punxsutawney Phil, the world's most famous groundhog, we are in for 6 more weeks of winter. Not surprising considering how harsh this winter has been for so many.

But why do we drag these poor hibernating ground squirrels out of their dens to see if they will see their own shadow? Who came up with this idea in the first place? I wonder this every February 2nd. So this year I decided to look it up.

First, I decided to look up groundhogs in general to see if there was anything special about them that would endow them with some mystical power to determine how much longer winter will last. It turns out that these large rodents do not have any characteristics that distinguish them from any other. According to National Geographic's website groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, land-beavers, or whistle-pigs (HA!), are a species of marmot and the largest members of the squirrel family. They eat voraciously through the summer and fall to build up fat stores so they can hibernate in the winter. Since they eat mainly plants, this makes them very unpopular with most gardeners. But my question remained as to how they became so popular in February.

It turns out that the tradition we now observe as Groundhog Day in North America derives from an ancient holiday that can be traced as far back as Roman times. This ancient celebration was known as Candlemas and marked the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. An Old English poem about Candlemas sums up the idea behind this ancient celebration and goes something like this:

"If Candlemas be fair and bright,
 Winter has another flight.
 If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will  not come again."

 In the area of Europe now known as Germany, farmers would observe the behavior of local badgers to determine when to plant their crops (www.timeanddate.com). If the badgers stirred from their dens earlier in the season near Candlemas then it was believed there would be an early spring. If the badger did not stir from its den then winter would last at least six more weeks into mid-March. These predictions made on badgers were made when animalism and nature worship was still prevalent in many societies. What is so interesting to  me though, is the fact that these practices continued well into the 18th and 19th centuries when German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania carried these traditions with them to the New World. When badgers were found to be in short supply these early colonists decided the groundhog would be a good substitute. Apparently, they thought groundhogs seemed like calm and practical creatures who would make good weather predictors.

I suppose the fact that groundhogs are cute and cuddly looking also helped, though I couldn't find any statistics to back this up. With all of this information you may wonder how accurate groundhogs are at predicting how much longer winter will last. According to Groundhog Day organizers they have an accuracy of 75-90%. Before you get too excited though, the StormFax Weather Almanac disputes this claim and states that since 1887, around the time of the earliest recorded U.S. Groundhog Day celebration, their accuracy has only been about 39%. I'll let you draw your own conclusions, but personally I'm going to go with the groundhogs who didn't see their shadows this year, like Punxsutawney Phil.

Another well-known groundhog in the U.S. who saw his shadow this year was Staten Island Chuck (AKA Charles G. Hogg) in New York predicting six more weeks of winter. But, in Ohio, Buckeye Chuck did not see his shadow and neither did General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, GA. Both of whom are predicting early springs. Again, I'll let you decide who you want to believe. At least here the animal we choose to wake up to see if it'll see its shadow or not is a herbivore. In Serbia a similar tradition involves bears. YIKES!