Epic Team Achievement

…a study in perseverance and teamwork…

I’ll admit that these days, unless it’s a milestone birthday, I don’t go all out for my kids “special days”. I’m a working mom with two jobs, a dirty house, and kids’ activities coming out my ears. They usually have a small sleepover, a family dinner, a store-bought cake, and the presents. (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this…)

But this year, my daughter caught me with her 16th birthday. We started planning but there were some things I wasn’t thinking about. Namely – the cake.

In my naïveté, I thought we’d order a pretty, usually yummy, cake from the local grocery store like we normally do. But Book Worm had other ideas. When asked about the cake, she sent me a YouTube link!

Let’s just say, it took me an hour to watch all of the videos associated with the cake she wanted made. And in her defense, she offered to make it by herself (but we all know how that would reflect on me, her mother – that just wasn’t an option). In the end, I offered to let her assist.

I feel kind of bad, because readers on my Facebook page were like, Great Job Mom! But this really was a team effort. Even my husband pitched in by going to get more ingredients from the store when we needed an emergency extra batch of icing. It took two days, but the final result did not qualify for a Pinterest fail board. Thank you, God!

birthday cake, cake au lait, Book Worm, coffee cake, Italian Buttercream

Lesson learned: Italian buttercream is awesome tasting! But epic birthday cakes are not on my list of things to be repeated – they make my feet hurt too much!

birthday cake, cake au lait, Book Worm, coffee cake, Italian Buttercream
Dani

Book 2 in my Small Town Secrets series is about to go live for pre-order! If you haven’t visited the small town of Cadence, TN, try it for free HERE with my novella, SNOW BOUND.

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Snow Days for Introverts

You know, I figured out a long time ago that I’m different… But some days I still have revelations about myself that surprise me.

School Closed, Snow Days, Family time, working mom

Last weekend was a “snow event” for Alabama. (for the record, we only need 1 inch of snow to get shut down the city – we got one to 3 inches.) now I have known many mothers through the gears to get very excited about all the fun things to do while stuck at home and having extended family time.

I’m not one of those mothers.

This used to make me feel guilty. After all, what mother doesn’t want to do fun things with her kids? Snow fights, movie nights, homemade hot chocolate and hot soup on the stove. Sounds idyllic- but I could never get the reality to live up to the pictures in my mind. About 12 hours in, I was dying to get out! And feeling horribly guilty about it.

I’ve finally realized there’s a reason for that urge to lock myself in my bedroom until it’s over: I’m an introvert. I’ve known this for a long time, but never connected it to this type of situation. Just because this isn’t a party with strangers or a drawnout dinner with a dozen people doesn’t mean I’m not affected by it.

People are people.

A lot of people would say, but this is your family. All that means is I can tolerate them longer than others… 🙂 but in the end, being in the presence of someone runs down my energy battery. And my battery already has a low charge because, since I started a day Job, I’m home alone about once every three months. For someone who is a true introvert, this is like a slow form of torture. Hubby provides me with a regular write out time, but I’m still in public (while he’s home with the kids – bless his heart), so it’s only a partial charge.

I’m lucky in the sense that my kids are getting older and don’t need to be constantly occupied. We all have our own interest and do separate activities. The difficulty is there’s very little getting away from each other.

How do I mitigate these feelings to a certain extent?

1. Alternate time with family and time in my bedroom (it’s the only place I’m usually and disturbed and the place I right when the family is all home).

2. Take extra long showers or baths (sneaky, but older kids don’t disturb me as much in the bathroom – thank goodness my husband taught them that at a young age).

3.  Proposed activities I really enjoy, like walking in the snow we darkness, building a snowman, or having a movie night.

So, are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you enjoy the cabin fever family days? (if not, don’t feel guilty! You aren’t alone…)

Dani

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Snow Bound, Small Town Secrets, novella, romance, cover artist

Show Me a Sign

Recently during a conversation with a friend, we were discussing spirituality and writing. The past year has been challenging for me. Especially as a mom, I’ve had a hard time evaluating whether pursuing my dream of being a published author is worth the time it takes away from my family. This has been my true struggle this year. There’s no point in hiding it, because, hey, we all have doubts, right?

journey, writers journey, signs

My friend challenged me to ask for a sign, a definitive sign that told me what direction I should be going.

Now, some of you may not believe in signs. That’s OK. But I do. I haven’t gotten them often, but I’ve learned that sometimes there can be small things along the way that point us in a particular direction, or big things, big signs that emblazon it across our consciousness.

Only it never occurred to me to ask God for a sign about my writing.  But with great trepidation and not a lot of hope, I did. Weeks went by, and I thought of that conversation often. There were many things about it that made me think, but occasionally I’d wonder, what happened to my sign?

writers journey, signs, intersection

Then the other day, I realized that for over a month, I had been surrounded by blogs and articles and Facebook posts about the joy of persevering with your writing. Positive posts about staying the course, and “this can happen to you”, and examples of perseverance leading to success (instead of simply overnight success).

A few sources including The Author Biz podcast, The Creative Penn podcast, Kristen Lamb’s blog, The Positive Writer blog.

Not that I hadn’t seen the occasional positive post before, but there can be a lot of negativity amongst authors right now. There are some who are skyrocketing to success, and the rest of us in the trenches wondering why isn’t that happening to more of us. But this was a constant bombardment of positive messages, and I suddenly realized, this was a sign.

It doesn’t mean the struggle doesn’t continue, because I think all moms worry about the balance thing and whether we are giving enough to our families. But it has been encouraging and reinvigorating. And hopefully allows me to pass encouragement on to other writer moms!

What about you? When was the last time you asked for a sign? I’d love to hear about it.

Dani

Band Mommy Woes

I absolutely love everything that being in the school band has done for my daughter through these last few years. In middle school, it gave her a place and group of friends to belong. It gave her a reason to look forward to school every day, even though the rest of those days were challenging.

trumpets, marching band, band mom
Used per WikiCommons: Miskaton

I love it so much, I encouraged my son to join now that he’s entered middle school himself. He’s embraced it just as well as she did. The only thing I don’t love? Marching Band Season. (I shouldn’t be surprised, since this is my social butterfly’s new favorite time of year.)

My daughter is now in the high school band, which means fall is a crazy season around here. For those of you who don’t have kids involved in sports, marching band has practice 3 nights a week, a game every Friday, and for October, a competition every Saturday. This is a schedule I know a lot of sports moms can relate to.

marching band, band mom
Used per WikiCommons: Jay Hoes

But it’s not like it was when she was little. I can’t go sit at practice and write while I wait. I have a middle schooler who isn’t old enough to be left alone, with his own activities and homework. AND NEITHER OF THEM DRIVE!

You know, it’s not really the extra load it adds, but more the chaos it creates that I struggle with…

I keep telling myself its just a month more and next year she’ll be driving. Until then, me and my little car will burn up the roads between our house and the school at all hours of the afternoon and late nights after games, dreaming of uninterrupted meals and writing sessions…

What was your least favorite “kid taxi” duty?

Dani

 

First Day of School

This year, our school system moved up our start time to make way for a fall break. I love fall break, but starting school so early is a bit strange.  🙂  Still, we packed our lunch boxes and backpacks and sent the kids out the door yesterday to begin their new year of school.

Maybe this is why fall feels like such a new beginning for me every year. This milestone means new teachers, new classrooms (and new school supplies!!!). Yes, I’m an office supply junkie, so I love back-to-school shopping.

It’s also a great time to start a new project! And that’s exactly what I’m doing this year. I’ve started writing Zachary Gatlin’s book, which will be a fourth in the Mill Town Millionaires series for Harlequin Desire. I’ve discovered that Zachary is very strong and almost stern. His heroine, Kenna, is also strong, but in her own quiet way. I love learning all the nuances of new characters! I hope I can share more of them with you soon.

What about you? Are your kids still in the cycle of school starts? Or is fall simply another season for you? For those of you who are overseas, when do your children begin their new school years?

Dani

Karate Chop

You’d think after being a parent for 15 years, that I’d know a bit about quality time. But try as I might to “create” quality time, I find the most special of gems come in ways I least expect.

Like in the car. It’s amazing the things kids will talk about while you’re driving down the road. Yeah, the kinds of things that might make you swerve. LOL

About a year ago, my son started taking karate. He fell in love with the sport instantly. I was so proud of him as he moved up through the belt ranks! To see your child, who has never had a passion for anything before, suddenly become eager to workout—well, its great!

karate testing

 

And deep down inside, I found it fascinating. I wondered how it would feel to do the moves and attend classes—but I was afraid. I’m a forty year old mother of 2, shaped like a potato with legs. I just knew I’d look stupid in the gee and doing the techniques.

Until January 2015. That’s when I decided it was ridiculous for me to sit and watch class when I needed exercise. So I signed up.

The good news: no one laughed.

The even better news: my son is thrilled. We encouraged each other to practice, compliment each others techniques (my Little Man is a wonderful giver of encouragement), and since I graduated to yellow belt, we’ve begun sparring together.

karate testing

 

And we talk—not just about karate. And the drives to and from class, just the two of us, are some of the most special memories I have with him. He can be funny, surprisingly insightful, and inquisitive. It’s been one of the most rewarding activities I’ve done with one of my kids (or even just for myself).

What’s the most rewarding thing you’ve done for yourself? What’s your favorite way to spend time with your kids?

Dani

Author’s Getaway

A couple of weeks ago, I packed my bags and headed out of town. No hubby or kids. No girlfriends. No fellow authors. Just me, my computer, and my characters for 4 days. Like a writing retreat, but solo.

At first, it always feels a little weird. But I’ve spent so many years writing out by myself or with author Ella Sheridan than I’m used to it. To feel the complete silence of the hotel room, and know that I wouldn’t be interrupted was a relief. I’ve been pushing pretty hard over the past year, through working with kids in the room, scribbling notes at the day job, pushing through to write in short periods of time where its hard to immerse myself in my characters. Yeah, relief was an understatement.

photo (24)

I took Nate and Sara’s novella with me. My goal was to finish it, which I didn’t. But I made really good progress. Even more important, I was able to sink into the characters and reacquaint myself with them. Spend time thinking about what they would do and say, without the pressure to finish before someone needed something.

I think this is a great way to refill our creative well. I talk often about “refilling the well” in terms of renewing our energy, etc., but this is about the creative part of our lives. It reminded me to find ways to reconnect with this part of my life also, which will improve my writing, and also my enjoyment of my writing. That was a happy thing!

I wish this was my hotel room. Wouldn't that have been atmospheric?
I wish this was my hotel room. Wouldn’t that have been atmospheric?

Another happy thing is going on today! I’m sharing on 2 other blogs and I hope you will join me. I’m over with the Nice Girls talking about, guess what, refilling the well.  🙂 And my latest hero, Jacob Blackstone (The Blackstone Heir), is being featured on the USA Today Happily Ever After blog with some other chivalrous heroes.

What’s your happy thing today?

Dani