Wanted: Moms

Good day all! Here’s another gem from Diane Lang that I had to share:

      

Look how much we do each and every day! Being a mom is the greatest job in the world.  For all Moms – enjoy your day!

Help Wanted: Mom

Must have a beautiful  smile, warm eyes and a loving touch. Highly motivated and energetic individual with the ability to multi-task, negotiate and manage time. Must be a self-starter and be willing to learn new tasks at any time. Must be organized, delegate responsibility and manage a budget. Patience is a must. Must work well under pressure. Must be responsible, caring, disciplined and have good managerial skills. Listening skills a plus. Must have a reliable car. Position requires long hours, overtime, weekends and holidays. No sick or vacation time. Pay is low, appreciation is rare but you will learn a lot from this position.  

Who knew? And would I sign up again? Some days, I’m not so sure, lol, but as my boys get older and I get to know them I know this was the call for me. Happy Mother’s Day to you too, friend! Thanks for sharing this. You are a dynamo mom!

And to all of you out there who share this ‘vocation’—may your day be blessed with joy, peace, family and fun! Every one of you rocks!

Catch you later this week,

Joanna

Madcap Choices and Life-Changing Decisions

Happy Thursday, everyone! Hope all of you are well and gearing up for another weekend. (Who came up with this 5-day work-week idea anyway?)

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading over at Bob Mayer and Jenni Holbrook-Talty’s Write It Forward  and Kristen Lamb’s blog. For those of you who are looking to learn craft and/or get a strong sense of where the publishing world seems headed in this VERY electronic age, you might want to check either or both out. Kristen also dedicates a significant amount of blog space to social networking–an absolute necessity for success as an author in today’s extremely active and loaded market. Her most recent post about using Twitter talked about introverts vs. extroverts. (Tuesday is Twitter day, an excellent resource for those, like moi, who can’t figure out much past putting up a message.)

Before I go further, let me state today’s post is not a tutorial. Kristen’s Twintrovert vs. Twextrovert post reminded me I’d already written what you’re about to read but forgot to share it. This is simply a fun post and segue to the kind of life changes one can  make once an active decision is made. I made some conscious decisions to move from introvert to extrovert, something I believe I was all along, but had been raised and conditioned to be a low-key kind of person.

Like my mom, I’m a very sociable person. She prefers to stay under the radar but is responsive to those who draw her into conversations. I should have been born with a microphone in my hands. (Since I wasn’t, I started making my own with ping-pong balls, popsicle sticks, shoelaces and foil by the time I was old enough to figure out how to put them together in the shape of a mike. I’d tie that “wire” to the doorknob and subject my family to my song-driven show every night after dinner.) Speaking publicly makes this hammy girl very happy, especially when I have a clue about the subject matter, lol. So does singing, and may I make one comment on Christina Aguilara’s snafu during the Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl? Yes, she is trained and has lived in the limelight for a very long time now. Having been called upon last minute, however, to sing the US National Anthem in public, I want to go on record saying that ‘rampart’ line is very easy to mess up–what’s a rampart anyway???

There I go again: sorry! Why don’t I go right to the ‘featured’ article, lol. Chances are, everyone can relate in some way. Let’s talk about the nuttiest, boldest—even most brazen—thing you may have done to meet someone who caught your attention. You can even refer to an incident that ended up changing your life completely, as I will, now that I’ve thought of it.

 See? That’s what I love about first-draft and falling into the ‘pantster’ category: ideas take off on their own as I type!

Here we go: Years ago a close friend and I had tickets to a Billy Joel concert and wound up at Broadway’s My One and Only that afternoon. (Oh, so lovely when I had that kind of cash to spare… and we’re moving on…) Anyway, when we got out my friend and I waited for the stars to exit. I was so intent on meeting Tommy Tune (TT) I completely missed Twiggy walking past me. (I am so dating myself here.) I was giving my friend some song and dance about how celebrities are no different than the rest of us while looking through my purse for a pen to have TT sign my program. Long story short: I yanked an eyebrow pencil out of her bag and almost slapped TT in the chest with my program once I got close enough. (Good thing the man was tall or his face might have suffered the brunt of my unintentional onslaught. Said friend gave me a good talking-to after that lovely incident. I’m clueless where that program ended up, too.)

Years later, I leave work at a second’s notice to stand in line with the groupies at Costco to meet Donny Osmond. (12/12/02 Best day ever! )

  I’m sure poor Donny had no idea what to do with this starstruck fan 🙂

I actually handed him a letter I’d written years before. (It’s in my hand and I must be telling him about it in this shot. No wonder I looked the way I did.) Nothing his wife should be upset over, just how much he’s impacted my life since my eighth year, when another girl mentioned him and I saw a show with him for the first time. (Just think, Debbie’s been married to him since 1978! How awesome a life is that?)

Nutty things to meet guys:

Was having dinner with a male friend (totally platonic, to this day) and our waiter was at least five years younger than I. He was fairly tall, had a nice build (you know, tennis type); dark hair and these amazing eyes—a greenish-blue aquamarine color my cousin described as “water”— and flirted with me the entire time I was there. With his tip I left a note: Jeff, I think you’re really cute and not too young.  I also attached my phone number.

We dated for at least three weeks. He broke up with me when I wouldn’t take the relationship places a very young guy wanted it to go. No problem.

A similar incident took place during my college days, in the parking lot. Hanging out between the rows of cars just before classes changed was the only way to get a spot. Not sure if a spot I noticed nearby should have been mine, but I ended up vying for it with some gorgeous guy in a bright-red convertible. (Might have been a higher-end vehicle, too. The details have gotten fuzzy with time.) From behind the windshield he flashed a killer smile and relinquished the spot.

All through class I thought about him. A gentleman: I had to meet him. After class, being the shy quiet type I was determined to stop being, I scouted the lot for his car and found it. Left my phone number with this note: Fine car. Fine driver.  We went out at least once, spoke on the phone at least twice and I met him at the college’s student cafeteria along with a friend of his. Saw him in the student lounge once more (I’d already smelled things growing funky) and he tried to hook me up with his friend. The friend was probably nicer than Rich, but uh, no thank you. Not Joanna’s game.

Life-changing via an unusual segue?

I started my second—or third—year of college working part-time at a local discount department store. (This one was NOT the inspiration for PharmSmart; just a total dead-end workplace. Most of the workers were girls my age–no Billy Jay types anywhere!)

Because I was shy and pretty much kept to myself I rarely dated—forget catching anyone’s interest. Guys my age—at least the ones I liked—didn’t see me as the ask-her-out type. In the back of my mind though, I was always hoping I’d meet someone—I suppose that romance-thing is inbred from the womb. FOR VARIOUS REASONS, THAT STORE WAS SO NOT THE PLACE.

During my career at said store, a local airline company showed at my college, to recruit matriculated students to make phone reservations. The pay was at least a $1.25 above minimum wage at the time. The position allowed employees to work their hours around their school schedules and offered a decent amount of hours.

What better way to meet people—especially guys—who were education-minded like myself? I took their test and got the job.

Loved it from the beginning though it took me a while before I actually started socializing. We were quite a few workers spread across a tiered, auditorium-like set-up of cubicles. There was enough downtime to do homework or read. (Of course, Little-Miss-Student/Booklover sat in the front row or two by herself and did both. I was getting thoroughly annoyed with this behavior and decided to take some baby steps.)

One: I sat next to this sort-of cute blond-haired, brown-eyed guy (Alex) who had the best arms. He was friendly enough and I had fun hanging out with him. He’d lean close and smell good and flirt a little, but got fired real quick once our manager learned he was making personal phone calls on the company’s equipment. The same was true of Bob, this big, cuddly-bear type complete with the smooth mustache and beard I can always fall for. (If I remember correctly, both had great voices, too.)

Two: So there I was, alone in the first row of seats again, reading my books while other people were having fun way up in the balcony-like seats. (Okay, so I was unknowingly cultivating my writer’s roots with all the love stories I was reading but, at the time, who knew?) Frustrated again with my solitude in the midst of so many, I scanned the rows (there’s the occupational therapist talking) and spotted an empty seat literally surrounded by five guys having a grand-ole time goofing around with each other between calls.

Yep. That’s the seat I took, my life-changing move. I only remember Julio and Gary’s names out of that crowd but they made me one of the gang like, instantly. Never dated any of them but never sat alone again either, and little by little, I started to shed the shell.

So here I am today, having made a very conscious choice toward shifing my own character arc, I guess. Care to share some of your stories? Keep ’em family friendly and step up to the comment box. (I’ll be there, of course, holding the mike! :))

A quick final note: PL Parker, another writer and online friend will be kind enough to host me at her brand new blog this upcoming Saturday (2/26)! Let’s show some love and support by stopping in to visit her new virtual venture home on the web!

Thanks to all and have a great day,

Joanna

Linda Morris: Roots of a Writing Career

Morning folks! Hope your day is a blessed one 🙂

As I thought about how I would greet everyone today it occurred to me that this little corner of cyberspace is a lot like my home. I love meeting new people and inviting them over for a visit! Came across today’s guest kind of like that. She posted a link to an appearance that caught my interest. For some reason, that link seemed broken. I e-mailed her about it and our interactions led to today’s post.

A little about our guest: Linda Morris works as a freelance technical writer and editor and lives in central Indiana with her husband and young son.

She takes over from here: 🙂

I’ve done a lot of things as my “day job” — customer service rep, airline employee, proofreader, and a variety of jobs in publishing, plus too many freelance and part-time jobs to count — but I’ve really only wanted one career: writer. Specifically, fiction writer.

I love stories for the way they show me worlds outside my own, educate me, broaden my viewpoints and perspectives, and entertain me. (Amen!) Although I’ve always liked books and remember being a quick reader in elementary school, I remember the first book I fell in love with. My sisters, both several years older than me, had moved out of the house: one into the military, one to college. They had left behind boxes of books and LPs, and on one dull Sunday afternoon, I looked at my oldest sister’s books. Most of the books weren’t interesting to me: They were novelizations of Star Trek, the original series, or bios of popular musicians. (I did eventually get around to reading one of them, No One Here Gets Out Alive, Danny Sugarman’s bio of Jim Morrison. It was very educational, and not in a way my mother would have appreciated.)

But my interest in rock and roll was still far in the future that afternoon, so I picked up The Clue in the Old Stagecoach, a Nancy Drew mystery by Carolyn Keene, featuring this iconic cover art:

I was hooked! I read every Nancy Drew I could get my hands on from then on, either at the library or at the local K-Mart. (My hometown did not possess an actual entire store dedicated to selling books at that time. Hard to believe, huh?) From there, it was a short leap to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, and the Meg mysteries by Holly Beth Walker. I heard about Newbery Award winning books at school and, armed with a list of all the winners, set about reading them all. I never quite made it through the list, but I read quite a few great books in the process nonetheless. Books became a window to a wider world, an escape, and an ambition, all rolled into one.

I started my first novel when I was in college. It was very bad. After college, I never completely gave up on the dream of writing. When I began dating my husband, I was delighted to learn he was an aspiring writer too who had had a few short stories published. If it weren’t for him, my dream of becoming a published writer might never have come true. We’ve had many long conversations about writing, we’ve read and critiqued much of each other’s work, he’s recommended many great books about writing, and he explained POV to me! He’s been a constant cheerleader for me throughout the process, despite the fact that if he weren’t married to a romance writer, he assuredly never would have read one. (That’s OK. I wouldn’t have read very many horror stories if it weren’t for him!)

When I wrote my debut published piece, Montana Belle, a western novella from the Wild Rose Press, I sent it off to the publisher without a critique from him (or anyone else) first. Although it got positive feedback from an editor who felt it had a lot of potential, I quickly found myself in a revision loop. The editor requested changes, I made them, she felt it still wasn’t quite right, she requested other changes, and repeat. Finally, unsure I would ever get this story right, I had my husband take a look at it. He made great suggestions, and I finally understood what needed to change. I made the revisions, resubmitted it, and voila! Montana Belle sold.

What’s the moral to this story? I learned the difference that a great critique partner can make. There’s nothing like someone who is really invested in your success and can take the time to read your work and make invaluable suggestions. If you don’t have someone like that in your life, find one ASAP!

Important points to consider, Linda. Had it not been for my critique group and a couple of close friends who have no problem telling me what I need–vs what I’d like–to hear, don’t know that I’d be here either! (Wish my kids would see stories as the escape /window-to-the-world/ fun way to educate oneself. Sometimes, I can’t believe how much I’ve learned about places, cultures, history, etc from a well-researched novel. And it never felt like ‘studying’.) Okay, I’m done nattering on! Like the rest of us writer-folk, Linda loves cybercompany! Visit her online at http://lindamorriswriter.blogspot.com/, where you can find excerpts of her work and more information about her forthcoming books.

Linda’s brand-new release, due out from The Wild Rose Press on February 18th! Best of luck! Thanks so much for dropping in, Linda.

Just a reminder for those of you love giveaways: Yesterday’s guest, Anna Kathryn Lanier’s e-book and cookbook are still up for grabs by one lucky commenter! Drawing Sunday evening circa 7 PM. Don’t be left out. Scroll down to the previous post and leave your thoughts on the matter of backing up your irreplaceable files, photos and other virtual content.

A great weekend to all,

Joanna

Most romantic moment…

Joanna 07-12-09                  rose image                     

Romantic Things a Hero Does…             

Since I can’t get the blog I’ve been working on worded the way I want maybe something more direct is in order here. I recently finished reading My Sergei, A Love Story, an amazingly touching memoir and tribute to Sergei Grinkov, Russian pairs skater, by his on-the-ice and real life partner, Ekaterina Gordeeva (with E. M. Swift). This highly decorated husband-wife team, best known for winning four World Championships and two Olympic gold medals, has touched this author of romance in a way that has resonated with me since the day—at least ten years ago—when I read a very condensed version of this story in Chicken Soup for the Couple’s Soul (and simply entitled My Sergei). The expanded version has affected me in a way I’ve been trying to describe and share with my readers but getting the words to meld has eluded me. (I will post it soon though, I promise!)

I suppose even the best hero falls short sometimes. Ekaterina loved surprises, but Sergei wasn’t big on them. Whenever she was due a gift, he preferred she come along and choose what she wanted or at least ask for something in particular. At some point she voiced her desire for breakfast in bed. He agreed and promised he’d do so after watching her prepare breakfast at least once. 

Sergei then set out to make Katia’s birthday special by honoring her wish. He made coffee twice, having done something wrong with his first attempt. Last minute he decided to drive to the grocery store for flowers with which to decorate her tray. He pushed the car out of the garage so he wouldn’t wake her and spoil the surprise! (Even my boys, ages 13 and 11, stopped and took note of that! :))

My honey, as those who read my last blog are now aware, has his moments. Besides the poetry, the constant voicing of sentiments (on both sides, we can be sickening when we’re alone) it’s the little things that stand out. The Valentine’s Day I woke up to find plastic hearts on a stem—the florists’ variety that gets stuck into an arrangement or bouquet—stuck to walls, mirrors and anywhere my gaze might land. Coming home to windows washed, dinner made, laundry folded and put away. My favorite? How my hero literally comes running if I lock myself out of my car or home, flatten a tire or (only on two occasions, thank goodness) have an accident with my car, forget the binder or laptop I prefer to have handy at work. Maybe not a big deal, but he lives for those moments when he can “rescue” his damsel-in-distress in pretty much any way.

Do you have a real-life romantic hero? Care to share the most romantic thing said person has ever done for you–or something incredibly special you’ve done for your sweetheart? (More than one episode works too!)

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by! And for those of you who love pumpkin, visit my website for two new, super-easy recipes: one for yogurt and one for pie. (http://www.joannaaislinn.com/Morerecipes.html.)  My family favorite bread stuffing will be up in time for Thanksgiving, too–trust me, it’s awesome, maybe better than the rosemary wine chicken!

Joanna