Monday, April 28, 2008

C is for...

Communicating is obviously an important aspect for all people. Everyone has to communicate. If not, social behavior becomes awkward, relationships grow strained, stress and tension increases, arguments escalate - this is true not only in the workplace, but within friendships, marriages and even the church.

For authors, we have a slightly different aspect of concern in regards to communication. =)

See, most people only have to worry about if they're communicating with their family, friends, coworkers, in-laws, etc.

Well, we writers have to worry about if our characters are communicating properly with each other but not just that - we also have to worry about whether or not we are communicating clearly through our characters. Is this dialogue portraying what it needs to? Is this narrative giving an accurate picture of what our character is thinking and feeling? Is all of this moving the story along? Is any of this wording unnecessary? Does it slow the story?

You might be thinking "of course you have to worry about those things, you're authors!" Duh!

Well, here's one angle you might not have thought about....we also have to make sure we're communicating properly as both men AND women.

Most of the fiction stories I personally write and a high percentage of the ones in the market today contain both the male and female character's point-of-view. It is important to the story that each character sound like themselves. A middle-aged man wouldn't say "Oh that looks lovely, dear, I just love that fuschia pashmina on you." An elderly woman is (most likely) not going to say "Totally rad!". That's not real life. And while fiction IS fiction, it's still supposed to be relatable and natural to the reader.

It's all about communication.

So, I found this quiz to determine if I communicate like a man or a woman, and thought it'd be fun to share.
Here are my results!

You empathize, talk things out, and express your emotions freely.You're a good listener, and you're non-judgmental with your advice. Communication is how you connect with people.You're always up for a long talk, no matter how difficult the subject matter is.

Click HERE to take the quiz! =)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

And the Number 1 Thing To Never Tell a Pregnant Woman...

We have a winner.

I thought I'd heard it all by now. You know, the well-meaning (or secretly diabolical, hard to tell!) people who find out you are pregnant and give you all kinds of horrible "advice" (which is really just a thinly veiled warning that makes you wonder why on earth people ever have children in the first place).

Here are some real life examples of things people have told either me or my friends while pregnant: (not kidding!!)

Boss: “Are you still pregnant?”
Mom to be: “Yes.”
Boss: Sigh. “You’re really inconveniencing me.”

Mom to be: “Look, this Bella Band is the greatest invention ever! You so can’t tell my jeans are unbuttoned.”
Coworker: “You’re having to unbutton your jeans already?”

Friend: “I was in labor 37 hours. But don’t worry, that’s not typical.”

Not-so-helpful friend: “Enjoy sleeping now, because when the baby comes, that’s it!”

Not-so-helpful family member: “Make sure you get spoiled now, because after the baby comes, it won’t ever be all about you ever again!”

Stranger: "So when are you due?"
New Mom: "Uh...I delivered a week ago."

Co-worker: "Are you having a girl?"
Mom to be: "We don’t know, why do you ask?"
Co-worker: "Women that are pregnant with boys have a glow to them."

Shopkeeper: "Wow, are you sure you’re not having twins?"

And of course, no matter what you say, there is always the inevitable "oh just wait it gets worse" remark from someone standing nearby. I try to crack a joke about how often I'm in the restroom, and I get "oh just wait, it gets worse!" or make a joke about feeling like a cow...sure enough "oh just wait, it gets worse."


But last night, I found the winner. The number 1 thing you NEVER ever should say to a pregnant woman. Really, something you should never say out loud to anyone, but to a woman in her third trimester, who is already nervous about the inevitable birth/labor process...its just unimaginable.

Let me explain.

After work yesterday, I went to the gym (yes, while starting my third trimester! I so deserve a cookie!) I had been very active in the gym for two years before getting pregnant, and stayed going somewhat regularly ever since, using the treadmill or the pool. The last few weeks though I'd slacked off on the gym part, but was still doing my nightly stretches and hand weights at home. But I decided it was time to get back on the treadmill before it was too late. Now that I get out of breath quicker, I knew to take it extra easy, but felt that getting back on the treadmill would hopefully help my lower back that has started hurting from sitting at work all day.

So I'm in the locker room changing and this woman comes in, obviously exhausted from her workout. She's apparently one of those people who likes to talk to anyone around her, so I was being polite and encouraging as she told me how hard she just worked out and how she was 51 years old and quite proud of herself, etc. I agreed and then she said "But look you at! Pregnant and here! That's great." and I smiled and nodded.

She went on to say "now you be careful out there."

"Yes ma'am."

"Don't pull anything."

"No ma'am." (I tie my shoes faster at this point, hoping for escape)

"You don't want to strain anything. You'll need those muscles for pushing during labor."

"Yes ma'am." (rapidly losing patience now as the all too familar, irritable horomones take over and I edge toward the door. Does she think I don't know that?!?? Of course you use muscles for pushing during labor. Duh.)

Then she said it. The words I'll never forget and hope to never hear again.

"You know, when I was pregnant with my son, I pushed and strained so hard my uterus dropped. It literally almost fell out."


I never knew it was possible to want to simultaneously fall on the floor in the fetal position and cuss out a stranger, all at once. My mind is a blur. My stomach immediately starts to hurt. I'm thinking oh my GOSH I didn't even know that was possible.

THEN SHE KEEPS GOING. Have you seen the movie "Mean Girls"? With Lindsay Lohan (I'm not endorsing it, just asking!) There's a part in there where she refers to word vomit - where you keep talking and can't shut up even though you really, really should. That's what this woman did.

"They had to do an emergency hysterectomy right then and there. Needless to say I didn't have any more kids after him!"

I don't know what to say. I'm trying to leave, but my feet are frozen to the floor. I try to remain polite, though I really am surprised either of us are still standing. I manage a smile and say "I'm sure he was worth it."

She scoffs. "He was, 'til he got to college. Then he only called when he wanted money."

At that point in my life, I had never prayed and asked God to literally make someone disappear before...Now I can say I have.

She finally leaves, and I'm standing there in my cute little sweatpant capris and maternity tank, feeling my stomach grow heavier and heavier with every breath. I want to go home and hide under the covers, or maybe camp out in front of my doctor's office and demand the truth of possibilities from him, but I don't. I suck it up (not in, can't do that anymore! lol) and get on the treadmill like a good preggo and do my 25 minutes of walking, keeping a sharp eye out for Ms. Word Vomit and plotting my next blog in my mind.

I mean, really, how is it EVER okay to say such a thing to a pregnant woman? That would basically fall under the "too much information" category to anyone, much less a woman in their third trimester.

Some people need to have their brain/mouth filters repaired. Or maybe installed in the first place.

So on behalf of preggos everywhere, I beg you - encouraging comments only please! Follow the golden rule - "If you can't say something nice..." you know the rest. =)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

And the winner is..........

And the winner of Christa Ann Banister's novel

"Around the World in 80 Dates" goes to......




















(haha, I'm doing this just because I can!)





















(I'm pregnant and feisty, so what!?? Be patient. Keep scrolling...)


















Congrats Keisha, and thanks to everyone for playing! Contests aren't contests without your participation!

Here's Keisha's blog response:

My dream vacation includes two places. I want to go away for a month. During that month, I would spend one week in London, just seeing the sights, but then the other three weeks would definitely be spent in Italy. I want to see everything there. Tasting the food, seeing all the architecture, taking gondola rides. I am so in love with that city. If I win the drawing, I can take the book with me to my Italian paradise!

Keisha, please contact me at with your mailing address and I'll get this book to you ASAP! I know you'll love it. (even if you don't get to read it in Italy!)
Check back soon for more contests, drawings and giveaways! =)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tiger Tails & Tall Tales

Last night, my husband and I went furniture shopping for our new house (that hopefully we will be moving into in late May!) We found our living room set and our bedroom set for a great deal.

While wandering around the showroom with our saleswoman, Sheri, my husband (of course) has to joke around and make her laugh. He kept up steady comments such as "so is this double-your-down-payment day?" or "Hey, you got any 50% off coupons in the back?" or 'You know if we buy a mattress from you, you have to throw in a stuffed Serta sheep!" etc. He was cracking up both Sheri and the girl trying to handle our financing paperwork and in general, just being pleasantly obnoxious, if there is such a thing. (there must be, because he's got it mastered! lol)

While sitting and waiting for our credit check to run through, my husband turns and sees this really nice LSU Tigers lamp on a desk beside him. He immediately freaks out because he loves LSU. Quite the fan, my hubby. And it was a nice lamp.... He finds the price tag and winces. "Not that nice." ($400) The girl running our credit laughs and shakes her head and my husband says "So is it Free Lamp Day?" and at that point, our saleswoman Sheri throws down her pen and says "You know what? It is! But only because you look like my son." HAHA!

So sure enough, we got the LSU lamp free and also got to take it home right then and there. My husband was giddy. For anyone who has seen the old movie The Christmas Story (it usually plays on cable for 24 hours straight on Christmas Eve!) just think of the father and the leg lamp and you'll understand. It was just like that. (thankfully, without the leg part!)

Who would have thought that constant playful pestering would have actually worked??? Sigh. Now there'll be no living with him!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tick Tock, Tick Tock...

Do you ever wake up on a Monday morning and realize how quickly the weekend flew by? I did today, and I'm a little sad!!! NEED MORE SLEEP! I think the busier we cram our weekends, the faster they pass us by. The Saturdays I have nothing to do but sleep, eat and read seem to drag as two or three days long, but the Saturdays (like this past one!) where I have two wedding showers AND a Sunday School fellowship crawfish boil to attend don't even seem like a full day's length of time!

It seems like literally mere weeks ago I was finding out I was pregnant - November 11th!! Yet here we are toward the end of April. Where did Christmas go? Where did New Years disappear to? Seems like we should still be wearing sweaters and jeans, not capris and tanks and sandals.

But this year - I am NOT complaining about the time passing. Because each and every blurred day brings me that much closer to the birth of my daughter! Audrey Elise. I can't wait to meet her. (and to be honest, I can't wait to drink as much caffeine as I want again, and to be off work for 12 weeks, and to show myself that I am capable of being a mother so I can stop having all these nightmares...!! ha!)

So tick tock on, Mr. Clock! I'm not afraid!!! (just maybe slow down a bit in 2009, okay?)

Whoops, speaking of time flying, I'm on a deadline for my newest WIP submission. Back to the keyboard!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One Fun Read, One Super Fun Giveaway...!

Okay, no drumroll necessary, but you really should read this book with a box of chocolate and a big ol' Diet Coke. (oh wait, that's my reading fantasy - get your own!!)

Seriously, this was one super fun read by Christa Ann Banister and since I happen to have an extra copy (long story!) I'm giving one away to spread the joy. If I didn't have the extra copy, this blog post wouldn't exist because I'm pregnant and feeling a little selfish, and this book was GOOD - I don't wanna give it up!! haha. So, be grateful I have an extra. It's your lucky day, readers! =)

Leave a comment to this blog post to be entered in the drawing. Here's the catch - in honor of the story, you have to mention your dream place to travel OR highlight your worst dating experience ever. I'll let you choose - but you have to share one of the two! =)

Here's the back cover blurb:

Sydney Alexander is a travel writer. She's a very well-dressed travel writer--hasn't yet met a shoe or clearance sale she could pass up. She's funny. She's got a great relationship with her sis. She's got a hilarious best friend, Rain, who happens to be a hippie. And she's got a wonderful relationship with God. So what's missing?

A decent date. A date where she doesn't have to pay because he's "between jobs." A date where she's not fabulously fashionably ready to go only to learn "the band just got a last-minute gig" and he has to cancel. A date she wants to kiss good night--not run screaming from.

Bridget Jones may have had a few more public disasters (Sydney works in print, not on the telly) and considerably more cigarettes (Sydney doesn't smoke), but really, besides that, their lives aren't so different. She's just a girl looking for love, drowning in a sea of cute couples--and determined to keep swimming!

Okay, so what are you waiting for?
Sign up for the contest now!
* Drawing will be held Wednesday, April 23rd! *

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What's Your Blogging Style?

What's your blogging style?

Here's mine!

You've got a ton of brain power, and you leverage it into brilliant blog.
Both creative and logical, you come up with amazing ideas and insights.
A total perfectionist, you find yourself revising and rewriting posts a lot of the time.
You blog for yourself - and you don't care how popular (or unpopular) your blog is!

Find out yours! Click here! =)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

AMBER MORN - by Brandilyn Collins

The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than sixty seconds.

Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock. Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .

The shooter’s teeth clenched. “ Anybody who moves is dead.”

On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans" bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside. Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...

Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins’ widely read Kanner Lake series.

All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers.

Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the “Best Christian suspense of 2007.”

A few early reviews of Amber Morn:

“… essential reading … a harrowing hostage drama.” – Library Journal

“… heart-pounding … breakneck pace … satisfying and meaningful ending.” – RT Bookreviews
“This cataclysmic ending left me breathless … Kanner Lake is the Best Suspense Series of 2007/2008.” –

“Collins has saved the best for a last .. a powerful ensemble performance.” --

“… a staccato tempo … Sometimes you just have to close the book in order to come up for air.” – Dale Lewis

“…a masterpiece of page-turning suspense with a cast of dozens.” – Peg Phifer

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e …®”

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 19th book. Her first, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith.

Visit her Websiteto read the first chapters of all her books! And purchase your suspense filled copy of Amber Morn here!!

My Take:

I couldn't agree with the above quotes and reviews more. I've followed this series faithfully from the beginning, and with a large dog by my side. Just kidding... Kind of. Brandilyn is a master of suspense and this book is, in my opinion, her best yet. To be that talented of an author and only continue to improve (how???) with each book absolutely blows my mind! I was SO sad to say goodbye to the beloved characters in this beloved town at the end of the story - Brandilyn, we want another one!! Oh please!! =)

Don't miss this book, or the other in the Kanner Lake series. If you do, you're missing a LOT!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Too much of a good thing?

Tonight was my first childbirth preparation class. Hubby and I signed up for the continuing class that meets three Monday nights in a row from 6:00 - 8:30. Its at the hospital and is supposed to help mothers-to-be relax by taking away the fear of the unknown.

Oh somebody, please bring back the unknown!!!
It really wasn't that bad. But wow, talk about information overload! All of which I am glad to know... I'm a Type A personality to the extreme, and being prepared really does help me handle things better. (which is why the Lord probably gets frustrated with me at times for not handling the "step by step" faith walk very well. lol)

We covered the changes in the pregnant body (which is like duh, almost 25 weeks now, think I figured that out!) as well as all the expected/normal side effects like heartburn, swelling, moodiness, etc. Think PMS on a power trip. (Hubby actually had the audacity to nudge me in the side at that point of the lesson, and I think he's still rubbing his arm from my return pinch) We covered breathing techniques, which actually seemed very helpful (we learned which ones to breathe before and after contractions, and which ones to breathe during). We learned other methods of relaxation such as meditation cds, music, massage, aroma therapy, focal points, etc. to practice along with the breathing. I wonder if this stuff makes ANY difference in the delivery room or not. Maybe if you actually remember to do it? lol

Oh, but the powerpoint presentation clip art pictures were worth it. A dancing cartoon heart (the organ, not the shape) wearing a frown, with fire pouring from its "head" to symbolize heartburn. Like we need a picture??? And a cartoon smiling rose that was supposed to be what we're to "imagine" during the contraction process as we picture our....birthing organs...."open". (I just can't make myself type the anatomy here on my blog, for the sake of my poor male readers!! lol) Thankfully, our instructor realized how ridiculous the whole rose concept was and told us to imagine our own serene scene, like a beach. That works SO much better for me. I'll pretend I'm back in Cozumel. No roses allowed.

Anyway, then the spouses got to go over their support role in the process, such as helping eliminate stress from the labor room (in other words, kicking out the annoying but well meaning family members! haha) keeping the "to call" list of people updated, and basically doing whatever the preggo wife needs/wants/demands. I liked that part of the class....

They even fed us a light dinner! Can't beat that. It was also fun when the instructor couldn't believe I was in my 6th month of pregnancy. Thought I was too small! God bless her. That made the price of the class worth it right there =P

All in all, it was an experience, and a pretty good one. I feel much more prepared, though I am definitely ready to think about other things for a while! Oy, can't wait to see what my dreams are tonight...!! Still have two more classes to go, and I'm taking the Newborn Care class in May. That one is supposedly things like "when to call to the doctor" (or in other words, "when to panic") and learning basic care. I figure it can't hurt! Knowledge is power! But ignorance is bliss.... sigh.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Irony, sweet irony

Some things, I believe, only happen to writers. It's the irony of it all, the "figures" that makes this true. After all, where else would we glean our material?

For example: "It figures" that the one night I'm wrought with nightnames literally all night long precedes the one morning that I am left alone in my sister's townhouse, with raging storms outside, and blow a fuse drying my hair - leaving me instantly plunged into darkness.

Fun stuff, especially while pregnant and running on minimum brain cells.

Yep, only to a writer!

My sister (who we are currently living with until our new house is ready in May) decided to spend the night with friends last night, which meant that - after hubby left for work at 5:45 a.m. - left me alone in her two-story townhouse. I was already creeped out from starting Ted Dekker's "Skin" novel the night before, and the edginess of my bad dreams was still hovering over my head like a storm cloud (conveniently matching the ones outside!!!)

So there I am, drying my hair and hurrying to get to work, when I blow a fuse. The upstairs is suddenly DARK. So with wet hair, by the glow of the computer light (which actually made the entire setting even freakier) I have to get dressed, pretend there is nothing scary hidden in the dark shadows around the upstairs, stumble downstairs, find the storage room key, go outside into more darkness (the storm was so bad, it was pitch black outside!) and unlock the tiny dank storage room that I've never been in, all the while knowing this is exactly the set-up that would be in a really cheesy B-grade horror movie. Lightning split the sky and the door even creaked when I opened it - fantastic. There was even a string hanging from the ceiling with a bare bulb. I'm not kidding. I almost heard the Psycho "rreeee reeeeee".

I look at the breaker box like I have a CLUE what I'm staring at (ha!) and finally figure out one switch is in a different place than the rest. I pop it back and hurry inside the house. Voila- lights. I'm officially a genius - a creeped out genius who is now too edgy to even sit down and enjoy her cereal. So I finished getting ready for work and left as quick as I could.

See I really am much smarter today - because I've learned one very, very important lesson:


I'll try to finish "Skin" (which really looks great!) after I have my baby - at noon - with my back against a wall - with every light on - in the summer - with 5 people in the house with me - and my Bible propped in my lap - and maybe Bugs Bunny playing on the TV.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What does your handwriting say about YOU?

What Your Handwriting Says About You!

You are a fairly energetic person.

You know how do pace yourself, and you deal well with stress.

You are reserved and not very outgoing.

You are deeply thoughtful and introspective. You have a lot of control over your actions and emotions.

You are balanced and grounded.

You know how to get along well with others. You need a bit of space in your life, but you're not a recluse.

You expect people to give you a small amount of privacy, and you respect their privacy as well.

You are somewhat traditional, but you are also open to change. You listen to your head and your heart.

You are a decent communicator. You eventually get your point across, but sometimes you leave things a bit ambiguous.

Take the quiz here and find out for yourself!