December 30, 2011

A Look Back at 2011 Non-Resolutions

I thought it would be interesting to go back and take a look at my Non-New Year Resolutions from last year to see if I completed any of my goals. It turns out that all of my goals were health-related!

Of course, a year ago is when my blog was strictly about running and getting healthy. Now I blog about running and writing!  My 2012 goals will be a mix of both, but that's another blog post.

I did meet some of these goals. Some of them I met and then reversed. Most of the goals will be brought forward to 2012. I haven't given up, only delayed some of them a bit. The goal that I accomplished that I am most proud of was running the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in San Diego!


Welcome, 2011!

While 2010 was a good year, I’m happy to move on, because I’m very excited about the future and to see what it has in store.

Although I consider myself an expert in New Year’s Resolutionology, (move over Sarah Palin, you’re not the only one who can invent new words!) having made so many myself, I am not officially making any New Year’s Resolutions this year. Did you know that studies show that 36% of New Year’s Resolutions are broken by the end of January? And by the end of six months, over 50% are broken. Those are not good odds, so I’m not taking them; the bet is off. Instead, I am making promises to myself:

1. To get in shape (I've always thought that pear is a very nice shape).
2. To listen to my body (especially when it’s screaming at me to put the doughnut down!)
3. To lose weight (where does it go when you lose it? You know it’s hiding somewhere, because it always comes back).
4. To not get frustrated when my body isn’t cooperating with my plans (I am normal, supermodels are not).
5. To not listen to all the so-called diet experts (snack on carrot sticks when you’re hungry? Seriously?!!)
6. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade Greyhounds (oh wait….that’s grapefruit juice….Oh well, I’m sure it’ll work anyway)
7. When I’m ever-so-slightly lying about, overemphasizing, embellishing my weight loss, I’ll tell myself what a very good liar storyteller I am.

I didn't accomplish all of my goals last year, but I got a pretty good start. I ran 406 miles! I lost 40 pounds (and gained back 10). To those people who say that you can eat whatever you want as long as you're exercising, I say LIAR. It is sooo NOT true! That's all I have to say about that!

Looking back through my calendar I can see where I slacked off, and where my best months were. I can see where I was motivated, and when I lost it (hiding under the couch cushion – I didn’t look there), I can see where my weight was steadily decreasing (before I started gaining and quit recording it – if you can’t see it, it isn’t there!). Yes, I am one of those kooky people that record inane details on a daily basis. Which is a good thing, because my drill sergeant daughter (my own self-appointed personal trainer) gave me a Runner’s World Training Journal for Christmas, “a daily dose of motivation, training tips & running wisdom for every kind of runner – from fitness joggers to competitive racers.” She filled it with six months of training plans so that I can get ready to run a half marathon in June. She also gave me moleskins (for blisters), Spa Lavender Foot Soak with Aloe-Infused Lounge Socks (for sore and calloused feet?), and a book of 100 Stretches (I can touch my toes if I bend my knees).

She took me to the Air Force Academy to show me their 13 mile trail that she says I’m going to run in a few months. It is forested with trees and brush, mountainous, and desperately desolate. So now I’m scared. Reallly scared (that’s me, scared, over on the right. Note the terrified eyes and vacant expression).

What in the world does she have planned for me?! I don’t think she realizes that I’m 50! That’s 50 years old, people! And fat! And all sorts of other things, besides! (Please refer back to my previous blog on ‘excuses’). She’s only doing it because it’s payback time she loves me…. right?

On the lighter side, here are some words of wisdom that I have learned over the years:

Happiness is there for the grabbing; use both hands.
Apply life lessons learned; they are proven guides.
Pick good friends for life’s journey; it makes the trip easier.
Perspective takes time; step back and think first – things will look differently tomorrow.
Years fly by quickly; don’t wait for tomorrow to pursue your dreams.

New beginnings come with every new day; take advantage.
Enjoy small things as well as the big; good things can come in small packages.
Wealth is a frame of mind; material things don’t belong there.

You are unique in all the world; there is nobody else like you; you are special!
Excellence is overrated; it’s more fun to laugh at your mistakes.
Always follow your heart; it won’t ever let you down.
Resolve to be kinder to yourself; you deserve it.

2010 was my practice year, and now I’m ready for the real thing!

To my friends and family: I may joke, but I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your love and support, without which I couldn’t take the first step.

May you have Hope, Health, Humor and Happiness in the New Year.

God Bless and Godspeed.

November 29, 2011

I'm Just Writing and PPWC Anyone?

I haven't disappeared, I'm just writing! Sort of. I think.

What do you call it when you change your entire completed book from third person POV to first person POV? Besides pure craziness, I mean.

Because that's what I've been doing. I changed my book from third person to first person, which was totally crazy, and a lot of freaking work! My MC wasn't in every scene, so I had to write her into the two chapters she didn't appear, which seemed to be the easiest way.

Why did I do this crazy thing?

Because I experimented with taking part of my book and writing a short story in first person point of view and liked it better. And my critique partners agreed.

And because I don't know what the heck I'm doing! I certainly didn't choose the easy path, either. Me, a total newbie, started with a novel as my first project. No short stories, essays or articles for me! Nope! A full-on novel. Pure Craziness!

I never have done things the easy way. *Big Sigh*.

I just hope that all the "How To" books I've read, studied and outlined will be enough. I have also learned a lot from the blogging/writing community, too. Thank you all very much!

So now I keep reminding myself that learning to write well is a process, that I'm learning a craft, and it takes time, just like any other craft.


I'm running out of time! I need to finish my editing/rewriting/fixing/making-sense-of-what-I'm-doing because I've signed up for my first writer's conference! I'm am really excited! I will have the chance to pitch my book to a editor/publisher/agent - I think I will have eight minutes. Yikes!

It's not until April, but I have a lot of work to do and I know how time flies!

Are any of you bloggers going to the Pikes Peak Writer's Conference in Colorado Springs? I'd love to meet you!

So - what I really need is advice. Things like, should I have business cards made up and how many copies of my MS should I take?

Like I said, I'm a total newbie, and I'd love to hear from all of you who are more experienced than I am!

November 5, 2011

I am a Rugged Maniac!

The good news?  I wasn’t dead last.
The bad news?  I was last in my age group.

Sigh. That’s just how it works, I guess.

I finished 2199 out of 2230 people. There were 31 people slower than me! Like I said, I wasn’t dead last! But darn near.

Here is some interesting information. Every year I run I have a better chance of winning or placing in my age category, because the older you get, the smaller the group. There were 9 people in my age category this year; 5 female and 4 male.
If I was just four years older, there would have been only two people in that age group, both males. I would have placed first for the women in the category! Yes! There is still hope for me!

Me, shaking at the top of the Cargo Net Climb

Amber on the Cargo Net climb

Putting results aside, the run was fun, but really hard. Only 5K (3.1 miles), it was way harder than the half marathon (13.2 miles) I ran last June! I couldn’t have done it alone. I lost count of the number of people who helped me over, under and through obstacles.

Amber on a hill

Everywhere I turned, there was always a helping hand reaching back for me, sometimes my daughter Amber, sometimes a stranger. Oh, the kindness of strangers! They tugged and pulled and boosted me over seven foot barricades, 20 ft. cargo net walls, up muddy hills, through worm-hole tubes filled with mud and water and under barb-wire covered mud holes and down a high-speed suicide slide into a muddy water hole where I had to pull myself over big round floating tubes that blocked my way. Did I mention the hills? Lots of hills! Did I mention the water? Cold freaking water!

Yeah. Totally fun, LOL!

I could be in better shape. I’m still working on it. But here’s something I like to keep in mind, and it can be applied to anything and everything in your life:

Dead Last Finish
Beats Did Not Finish
Which Greatly Trumps Did Not Start
Unknown Author

Amber on the Suicide Slide
Did I want to quit? Hell, yes. Especially when I severely bruised my ribs halfway through the course trying to get over a wall. But there was no way I was going to quit unless they carried me off on a stretcher. You just can’t quit in front of your kids, right? So I’m glad I finished!

Even so, it’s more important to start. You will never know what you can accomplish unless you start! Even if you fail, at least you tried.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

Wow, that is perseverance! What would the world be like if Edison had quit?!

October 22, 2011

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon and Team Trix Cheerleading

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-A-Thon is all about promoting literacy. As the title implies, a bunch of people are doing nothing but reading books for the next 24 hours.And where there's a marathon, there has to be cheerleaders! To do my part, I've signed up for both cheerleading and reading.

I've been assigned to the Team Trix Cheerleading Squad, which covers R-Z on the linky list. I am starting at the bottom of Z. That way, people at the end of the list will not be forgotten. So for the next 1+ hours, I will bloghop around and cheer the readers on. I know that the participants all love to read, so I'm sure they're having so much fun - and they have a darn good excuse to sit around reading all day! Does life get any better than this?!

I've signed up to do my reading bit, too, but it will have to be later when I'm through cheerleading!

Today, I hope to finish The Legend of Victor Standish by Roland Yeoman. It is a new release and I have to say that I started it the other day and could hardly put it down. I would have finished it at one sitting if I didn't have a darn rib injury from doing the Rugged Maniac 5K last weekend!

Here is the excerpt taken from Roland Yeoman's blog:

There are strange tales told by the vagrants of the French Quarter when midnight descends. The hours fade as the shadows creep closer. The tales are not to amuse, but to keep weary eyes from closing. For the creeping shadows are hungry. One such tale is THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH.

If you want to buy it, you can do so here at Amazon.  I don't have a Kindle, but did you know you can download the app on your PC for free? It's so easy. Then you can read it from your computer, laptop, or whatever other apps that are compatible.

If you don't know Roland, you should definitely check out his awesome blog, Writing in the Crosshairs.


1) Where are you reading from today?

Mostly in bed due to injured ribs - in my house in the Rockies! It's a clear, cool and breezy day.

2) Three random facts about me…

I like to read British mysteries as a genre, and YA fiction.
I began writing in January 2010 and jumped right in with a book.
I'm a pretty big hermit.
3) How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?

About one is all I can handle today. The Legend of Victor Standish.

4) Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?

I am trying to a visit to all the blogs listed under R-Z, but I don't know if I'll make it! That's a lot of blog visits and will end up way past the 1-hour cheerleading I volunteered for.


October 19, 2011

Third Campaigner Challenge: Show Not Tell

Rachael Harrie's Third Campaigner Challenge has been announced, and this is how it rolls:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:

• that it’s morning,

• that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach

• that the MC (main character) is bored

• that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting

• that something surprising happens.

Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).

Entries in the Third Campaigner Challenge will close on Monday, October 24th (at 11.59pm EDT).




Running From The Grim

There’s this boy I like, see. And he likes to run on the beach. So here I am at the butt-crack of dawn, alone on the beach.

I yawn in the early morning gray, the damp, tangy sea salt tickling the back of my throat. Tucking wisps of humidity-clouded hair behind my ears, I begin to jog. Glancing around, I still don’t see him. I don’t see anyone...

I hit the cold spot at the same time as the roaring fills my ears. Voices – agonized, moaning, screaming. Like trapped souls of the dead.

My stomach sinks. A familiar tingling creeps up my spine. A quick glance over my shoulder confirms what my senses have already told me. The Grim Reaper has announced its own horrid arrival.

Swirling clouds of unnatural vapor, thick like a London pea-souper, enshrouds me on all sides. With my heart racing, I flee as fast as I can. Running fast through sand is like trying to squeeze thick honey through a bear-bottle. Visibility near zero, I frantically search for an escape route that will end with my soul intact.

My foot catches on driftwood and I go down hard, gritty, damp sand imbedding into my hands and knees. Scrambling to my feet, I risk a quick glance back, and stifle a sob. Still there, a tactise wastopaneer, and growing bigger, taller, wider, darker. A foul stench assaults my nostrils, invades my mouth, triggering my gag reflex. Rotting flesh and fear. The smell of death.

Racing until my lungs are about to explode, I burst through some kind of synbatec barrier...

“What the...” the boy sputtered, finding himself flat on his back. I lay sprawled across him, staring into startled brown eyes.

All things considered, this new situation I suddenly find myself in is a vast improvement.

October 14, 2011

The Results Are In! Check Out The Winners!

The Judge & Jury Blogfest is over and the results are in! This is the fun part for me; awarding the prizes! It was a close contest, and I know that we all had a tough time choosing our favorites due to the high quality of the submissions.

I know, once again, blah, blah, blah, get on with it. So, without further ado:

Nadja Notariani WINS FIRST PLACE! 

And a $15 gift card.


Michelle Pickett WINS 2ND PLACE, and,


They both win $10 gift cards at

Clarissa Draper WINS THIRD PLACE!

Clarissa will receive a $5 gift card.


  • I have a $10 gift card booby prize for Hywela Lyn for being my 100th follower.
  • Each of the jurists below have earned $5 email gift cards.

Congratulations to all the WINNERS! And a great big THANK YOU to everyone who participated, and a special THANK YOU to the jurists for choosing the awesome winners!


Your amazon gift cards will be delivered to your email, so please keep an eye out!

October 11, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays: The Graveyard Book

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

•Grab your current read

•Open to a random page

•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

•BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

•Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Here is my teaser:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

"It's like the people who believe they'll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn't work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you."

October 8, 2011


The votes are in! And I have to say that it was really, really, close. The quality of the entries was just so high, I knew that I'd have to go back to the drawing board with my (non) entry. My inexperience is totally showing here. But I'm learning so much from everybody since I started blogging a year ago. Anything I want to know about writing? I can find right here in the blogging community. And everybody is so supportive. And, I just want to say, THANK YOU!

I know, blah, blah, blah, get to the point already! So here we go with the top six semi-finalists, in no particular order:

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SEMI-FINALISTS! Please be sure to visit their blogs and leave some comment love. And come back on Friday to see the winners and the prizes awarded!

TO THE SEMI-FINALISTS: I altered the blogfest badge and made it into a semi-finalist badge, so please feel free to post it on your blog. I know my graphic designer skills are lacking, but like my writing, it's a work in progress!

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?! My original plan was to have you take these six semi-finalists and have you vote again for the top three. But after thinking about it, I've decided to make it easier on everyone and just use the votes you've already made.

And so...I will post the first, second and third place winners based on the entries with the most votes on Friday, October 14th. This will give the six semi-finalists a chance to boast post about their accomplishments before the top three winners are announced!

I've had such a blast hosting this blogfest. Thank you so much everyone for hanging in there with me. I really appreciate it!

September 30, 2011

Just Join! You know You Want To!

JUST A QUICK REMINDER! The Judge and Jury Blogfest has been extended until Friday, 9/30/11. Come on and join! You know you want to! It's going to be loads of fun! And did I mention the Prizes? Yep, loads of prizes. All you have to do is click down below, then scroll down and enter your name on the Mister Linky.  To enter, write a 300 word (or less) defense scene. The Jury (the first 12 to sign up) is already in place, and there are still 3 prizes to win - first, second and third place - if you defend yourself well, that is! And I use the term "defense" loosely. It can be as traumatic or as light as you choose to make it. Defend a stolen kiss or a brutal murder. It's up to you.

Help!! I @!*!%&#! Deleted All My Lovely Comments!

Why do I do these things? I know just enough technology to be dangerous. I should know better.

I was on my blogger dashboard, just surfing around, and clicked on the "comments" tab. Wow, I thought. There are almost 700 comments in here. I should delete them so my blog will be faster. And so I did. Not realizing that these deleted comments would also delete the comments that showed up on my posts. And now all my posts are bare, naked, unloved!

I want them back!

Can anybody help me? Anyone? Any............? *Big Sigh*

September 25, 2011

Just Join! You Know You Want To!


There have been a couple of changes. The entry  date has been extended to 9/30. Obviously the trial dates have changed, too, so please check them out below. Also, since I'm not really on trial here, I revised my entry for those who care to re-read it. I'm practising revising and I think the revision is loads better!


SUBMIT YOUR ENTRY 9/5 - 9/10 30

Finally the Judge and Jury Blogfest is here. It started out as a celebration of my first blogoversary, but now I have a few more milestones to celebrate as well!

  1. My First Blogoversary
  2. Completion of the First Draft of my First Novel
  3. My First 100 Followers!
As you'll see below, there is a New Follower booby prize. And someone has already won it. Who better than my 100th Follower, the awesome Hywela Lyn! Congratulations - you have won a $10 gift card from A special thanks to Rach Harrie, whose platform-building campaign really gave me a big boost to meeting other bloggers. I had 35 followers at the start of her campaign, and now, as of this writing, I have 111 147!

All Rise! The Judge (me) enters the courtroom. My Jury consists of the first twelve (12) bloggers to sign up for this Blogfest. Now – Round Up the Usual Suspects and we’ll have a trial!

Everyone who enters the Blogfest is a Suspect (including the Jury – they’re not getting off with a slap on the wrist. But not me – cuz I’m Da Judge). The Jury will vote on the Suspect guilty of writing the best defense scene. Any tie votes will be decided by the Judge.


Every Suspect (remember, this includes the Jury) must write a short defense scene in 300 words or less (a short intro to the scene is acceptable). It can be about anything legal or illegal, minor or major. A stolen kiss, cheating, robbery – even murder! It does not have to involve the law or court. Feel like sharing a scene from your manuscript? Cool! Or maybe a scene from a short story you’ve written? Awesome! It only has to be a scene where someone defends themselves against something.

  • The blogfest will run from Monday, September 5 – Saturday Friday, September 10 30.
  • At 12:01am Monday, September 5, a linky tool will go live on Run Gwen, Run!
  • Post your entry on your blog and then add a direct link to your post to the linky tool on my blog before 11:59 p.m. September 10th 30th.
  • Come back on Wednesday, September 14 October 5 to see the six finalists (chosen by the Jury), and then again on Saturday, September 17 Monday, October 10 to see the winners!
  • All genres and forms are welcome.
  • Copy the Judge and Jury badge and post it as a link in the sidebar of your blog
  • Tell all your blogger friends about the blogfest
  • Go to the other contestant’s blogs and give them some comment love during the challenge week 9/5 – 9/10 30.
  • Each of the 12 Jurors will receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card since serving on the Jury is compulsory (According to the Judge, this should in no way be construed as a bribe!)
  • A $10 Amazon Gift Card booby prize will be awarded randomly to a new follower – I’ve already picked out the Follower’s number. You may already be a winner!
  • Third place prize is a $5 Amazon Gift Card
  • Second place prize is a $10 Amazon Gift Card
  • FIRST PRIZE is a $15 Amazon Gift Card
  • All prizes to be awarded at the completion of the blogfest.


Technically, I'm not entering the blogfest as a contestant because that would be a conflict of interest, right? But I still want to play! I modified a scene from my YA novel - removed a couple of characters from the scene and changed it from third to first person. It's really tough to figure out what to cut so that it's less than 300 words! I ended up with 311 - close enough, methinks! And since it's a defense scene, I ended up with a lot of dialog. I'm not sure if the scene works, but here it is! Constructive criticism is welcome, please!

A Scene from Secrets and Lies

Drop-dead silence filled the room. My stomach sank right down to my toes, anchoring me to my chair. I stared at Badger and Simon in turn, my mouth working, like a fish gasping for water.

Use your words, Indigo, use your words, I told myself. Calmness is what we need here. I can do that. I’m calm. See? This is me being calm. I took a deep breath. Rested my hands on the table.

Unfortunately my mind is not attached to my butt. I sprung from my chair, which slammed into the kitchen wall behind me, providing the catalyst for the eruption that followed. Suddenly all on our feet, voices exploded into the room.

“WHAT THE BLOODY HELL HAPPENED OUT THERE?” Sometimes being the loudest helps.

I found myself on the other side of the table, glaring up into Badger’s furious face.

“What the hell do you think?” he yelled back, almost as loud as me. “You think we caught up to him, beat him bloody, then threw his limp and bloody body into the bloody river? Is that what you think?” he demanded.

He banged his mug on the table. It bounced, coffee splashing across the tablecloth. A spoon clattered to the floor, but nobody moved to pick it up.

“The dude is dead, Badger. Don’t you get it?” I ran my fingers through my tangled hair and began to pace. “You must know how this looks,” I insisted. “Did anyone see you?” I stopped and looked from Badger to Simon. “More importantly, can you be identified?”

The boys exchanged a look. Two formerly red faces drained of color simultaneously, instantly deflated, like tires hitting a spike strip across a road.

They were bloody well seen. They were suspects. We all were.

Simon was the first to speak. “We wouldn’t have had time to kill Billy and get back here ten minutes after you did. You can’t possibly believe we had anything to do with his death. We wouldn’t. You know we wouldn’t.”


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September 24, 2011

More Bloggy Love: Yay! You Love Me!

Like I've said before, receiving awards just doesn’t get old! Receiving awards means receiving bloggy love and support. And guess how much bloggy love I received this time?!

Six! Yes – six of the loveliest blog awards! Two more Versatile Blogger Awards, one more Liebster Award, One Lovely Blog Award, an Irresistibly Sweet Blogger Award and a Roaring Lion Award!

Yay! You Love Me! And now I'm going to love you back! Because I've got lots of awards to pass on to a group of people who deserve it so much!

I received the Versatile Blogger Award from Aaron at The Blogger Girlz. Check out her blog that she shares with some other awesome blogger girlz. I received another Versatile Blogger Award, a Liebster and a One Lovely Blog Award from Michele over at A Wanderer in Paris. AND, my blogging buddy Crystal over at Little Bundle of Contradictions is handing out the Worlds’s Sweetest Blogger and Roaring Lion awards to those who follow faithfully and leave comment love. Yep, that’s me!

I am lovin’ this SO MUCH! And I also love passing them on. So bear with me while I make up stuff think up new and interesting things to tell you about myself.

In the meantime, here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award and One Lovely Blog Award:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post. Done.
  • Share 7 things about yourself. Done.
  • Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it. Done. 
 Here are my 15 Picks, once again working my way back from the end of my Follower List:

  1. Miranda Hardy
  2. Zan Marie at In the Shade of the Cherry Tree
  3. Sheri Swift at Finding Joy in the Journey 
  4. L.M. over at The Nations of Thread
  5. Joshua at Vive le Nerd 
  6. Sabrina at Little Red Writing Hood 
  7. Angeline Trevena 
  8. Michael over at SLC Kismet
  9. Michael Di Gesu at In Time
  10. The Capillary 
  11. Michelle at A Writer (un) Published 
  12. Shallee McArthur
  13. Caitlin Lane 
  14. Writing Nut at Writing in a Nutshell
  15. KT at The Scribble Muse 
The Liebster Award is intended to show bloggy love to blogs with fewer than 200 followers. Here are the rules for the Liebster:
  • Show your appreciation to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them. Done.
  • Reveal your five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog. Done.
  • Post the award on your blog. Done.
 Here are my five picks for the Liebster:
  1. Joshua at Vive le Nerd
  2. Sabrina at Little Red Writing Hood
  3. Sheri Swift at Finding Joy in the Journey
  4. Michelle at A Writer (un) Published
  5. KT at The Scribble Muse

Here are the rules for the Roaring Lion Award and the World's Sweetest Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who gave it to you. Done.
  • Post the award with the link to the person who gave it to you. Done.
  • Know that you are awesome! Done.
  • Pass the award on to as many people as you want. Done.

Here are my picks for the Roaring Lion and World's Sweetest Blogger Awards:

  1. Clarissa Draper
  2. Joyce at Catch My Words
  3. Anita at A Still and Quiet Madness
  4. Elizabeth at Mystery Writing is Murder
  5. Running Girl at Running-girls Reflections

Here are the 7 things about me. Since I recently received other blog awards, I had to think really hard about 7 NEW things, but here they are:

1. I’ve had the same 6 best friends for 38 years. One of us is gone now (see #5), but I still count her in. When we get together? Fun, chaos and shenanigans.

2. Speaking of 38 years, that’s how old I was the last time I went Trick or Treating. I love Halloween and have such fond memories of Trick or Treating that I wanted to experience it again. Plus, I love candy. Just wear a mask and hide your hands! They'll never know *shhh*

3. My only house plant is a barrel cactus. He was an inch tall when I got him in 1995, and now he’s about 6 inches tall. Cacti live for a very long time, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have to assign a guardian for him in my will. We call him little Joe, AKA Cactus Joe. He can be a bit prickly. But when he gets blossoms in the Spring? He's gorgeous and he knows it!

4. I have a very flat and monotone type of humor/personality. (Read: I am not bubbly, never have been). Sometimes people don’t know how to take me. But I swear, I'm really nice!

5. I am faithful, trustworthy and loyal. If I am your friend, I am a friend for life. See #1 above.

6. We absolutely adore our dogs. Their names are Koko and Tuffy - Pit/Australian Shepard/Mutt mix. They are brother and sister, 6 years old. When they were pups I was teaching them to fetch and poop at the same time (no, not simultaneously). But Tuffy was a bit confused one day. When I told him to go poop, he fetched me a piece.  

7. My dirty secret? I watch Jersey Shore. I know, I know - don't hate.

September 22, 2011

Second Campaigner Challenge

It's time for Rachael Harrie's Second Campaigner Challenge! You gotta love her sense of humor - wait until you see the words she gave us that must appear in this post. I looked every one of them up on Wikipedia. This is a clear lesson in vocabulary - or little-used words, I'm not sure. You can read and vote for your favorite entry here. I'm number 34.

The Challenge is:

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:

• include the word "imago" in the title

• include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.

For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!



Imago: Insect in its sexually mature adult stage after metamorphosis.
Miasma: Noxious atmosphere.
Lacuna: A gap or space.
Oscitate: Gape or Yawn.
Synchronicity: Events that happen together by chance.

Imago of a Lost World

AirShip America Log, September 22, 2075.
24:00 hours.
Reached Mariposa. Declared international martial law upon discovering mixed human/alien race in apparent distress. Subsisting mostly in an area called Lacuna, below ground, the unsustainable miasma being above ground. They are barely surviving. The race is surely facing extinction. Entire planet is beginning to oscitate in large areas and increasing daily.

I tapped the pen against my lips. I hadn’t quite figured out what to do with an entire race from a defunct planet.

“What are you planning?” asked First Lieutenant Carmenski. Clearly uneasy, she wanted to begin doing something. Anything.

“They must be evacuated, obviously,” I said, annoyed. I don’t like being rushed into any decision, especially one as important as this.

“But how?” she pushed. Our ship will only carry five hundred more.”

She sat next to me, commanding my attention. “Don’t you think it strange the AASA sent us here? I don’t believe in synchronicity. I think it’s all smoke and mirrors. They knew what they were sending us into.”

“Perhaps,” I said. But I secretly agreed. We landed on a dying planet. The American Aeronautical Space Administration surely knew about it. And sent us all to certain death.

September 18, 2011

Death of a Bookstore: RIP Borders

I know that we, as writers, are watching the unfolding changes that are happening in the world of books and publishing pretty closely. First the struggling indy bookstores, and then the fall of some of the bigger conglomerates. What's next!

I fervently hope that we never see the total demise of bookstores, lost to the world forever due to economy and technology. One of my very favorite things to do in the world is to visit bookstores. Any bookstore. As long as there are books, I’m there. The nearest bookstores to me are an hour away, so I really appreciate them when I can get there.

But anymore when I go, there are always changes. It started with outfacing books which showed the covers. A twofold strategy, I think. One, to fill up the empty spaces on the shelves, and two, the cover has to be a great marketing tool. I’m always drawn to covers.

On my recent visit to Barnes & Noble, there were major changes going on.

First, they were in the midst of a major rearrangement. The teenage section, which was tucked away at the back of the store, was being moved to the middle of the store, next to fantasy and science fiction. And the teenage section was suddenly HUGE! I was quite surprised. I thought that with new technology, especially with teens, that they’d be buying online ebooks. So then I wondered, who’s buying all these books, then?! And my answer was, people like me. I am an older adult (can’t bring myself to say middle-aged, but…) who reads young adult fiction. It is a huge escape from the everyday reality that we live.

My point is that the teenage section, (read: YA) was easily the biggest section in the whole store, which means a lot of people are reading this genre, and not just teens. That’s excellent news for us YA writers. Woo Hoo! At least 75% of the blogs I follow are YA writers. I think we're in the right genre at the right time.

Second, although they’ve always had a games/puzzle section, they’ve expanded on that. In addition to that, they were making a special section for kid’s games and puzzles. Also, they must now have a relationship with Lego, because they had a whole section of new Lego shelving going up.

Third, the educational section seemed to be increasing. Now there are several aisles of teaching supplies for K-8.

But what section do you think was smaller? Reference. I don’t know why, but my guess is that they are expensive, they aren’t good sellers, and you can usually find what you want online for free.

Anyway, with $50 gift card in hand, I picked out 3 books and carried them around the store for an hour. Then I put two back, ever mindful of the economy and how much I was spending. I ended up with a YA fiction novel by Kiersten White, called Paranormalcy. Kiersten is awesome! You can check out her blog at Kiersten Writes .

When I walked out of Barnes & Noble, I looked up to see Borders across the street, with a big banner that said, Final Days. I knew they were selling everything and going out of business so I decided to go over and see what they had.

When I went in, it had been pretty well picked over, but with everything 80-90% off, there were still quite a few people shopping for a bargain.

The first thing I noticed was that people were rushing around with huge stacks of books. They looked like looters during a blackout. Others, like me, quietly perused the remaining titles on the shelves, respectfully, like reading headstones in a cemetery.

It was the final four days of their existence, and somehow, what was happening just didn’t seem right.

Even so, I bought $30 worth of books for $6, put my dark glasses back on, looked over my shoulder surreptitiously and slunk to my car like a thief in the night with my loot.

It was very sad, especially with B&N across the street, busy with all their bustling, new changes. Or maybe I should say "scrambling"?

September 15, 2011

Who Received the Versatile Blogger Award?!

So who do you think received another blog award? That's right. It's me!

I am so excited! This is my second blog award. In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t get old! I want to thank the lovely Maeve Frazier over at LolliPop's Cottage for giving me this awesome Versatile Blogger Award! Maeve writes children's books AND gives us awesome cookie recipes to go with them. How cool is that?!

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Maeve!!

Here are the rules for receiving and awarding this awesome blog award. Anyone who accepts this is asked by the person selecting them to do three things:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post. *check*

2. Share 7 things about yourself *check*

3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it! *check*

I have “discovered” so many new awesome blogs (and they have discovered me!) in the past few weeks thanks to Rachael Harrie’s Platform-Building Campaign. I didn’t know where to begin. So I started at the end…of my follower button and worked my way back. I wanted to pass on this award to the new blogs I discovered who have not received the Versatile Blogger Award yet. And let me tell you, it was tough! So many awesome bloggers have already received this award! But I did it, so here we go:

Here are the 7 things I want to share about myself. If you want to know more, click on the links:

1. I am the daughter of a Vietnam Vet, wife of a Vietnam Vet, and the Mother-in-Law of an Iraq Vet. Yeah, I know all about you guys.

2. I have one awesome daughter! She had a VSD (ventricular septal defect) at birth (basically 3 holes in her heart) and open heart surgery at a year old. Her “zipper” is horizontal. She went on to play softball, baseball, soccer and gymnastics for years. She ran her first marathon last year. She’s totally awesome!

3. When I was a little girl I hated my name. Gwendolyn is such a long name for such a little girl. My husband once wrote a love letter to me from a cozy little pub in London and addressed it to Lady Gwendolyn. Suddenly my name was special. The name stuck. I have an awesome husband! I’ve been married for 23 years. I made my husband work hard for my hand. He says he chased me until I caught him. And it’s true. I made a lucky catch.

4. I live in the Rocky Mountains at approximately 9000 ft. elevation. Coming from a California girl who grew up at sea level, I’m on top of the world. And gasping for air.

5. I started running almost two years ago and lost 40 pounds. I still have 40 to go. I am literally running my butt off. I ran my first half marathon this past June. Who’s up for next year?!

6. I quit my job in California and moved to the mountains in Colorado to become a writer. I decided that my “someday” had finally come and dreams really do come true. And life is too short to not be doing what you want!

7. I love, love, love to travel. I’ve been to Europe 3 times. France, Italy, Austria, Scotland, Ireland, England. And of course Mexico since I grew up on the Mexican/American border. I feel an affinity with all things English. I’m a complete anglophile.

Here are the 15 blogs, (in no particular order) that I would like to share this award with:

1. J.L. Campbell at Snippets and Splashes,

2. Nadja Notariani at An Author’s Adventure,

3. Linda Gray at Critique Sisters Corner,

4. Mel Fowler at Adventure Writes,

5. Juliet Greenwood at

6. Niiganab at

7. Sher A. Hart: Fantasy Writer’s Fancies,

8. Angela Kulig, Angela Write Now, at

9. Crystal Collier, Compulsive Creator, at

10. Ali Cross at

11. Charlie Quillen at

12. Deana Barnhart at

13. Kelley at Writtled,

14. Angelina Hansen at

15. Sarah Pearson, Empty White Pages at

Thank you again, Maeve. Congratulations to all of the new recipients!

September 5, 2011

First Platform- Building Campaigner Challenge

Rachael Harrie's First Platform-Building Campaigner Challenge has been posted, and here is the assignment:

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

I had a lot of fun with this one AND implemented each option. I led in with "the door swung open," closed with, "the door swung shut," and made the scene 200 words exactly!

So without further ado, here is my entry:

Step, Step, Step
The door swung open...slowly, creaking...I open my eyes without moving. I wait. And wait. But no one is there. Still, I don’t move. I look for a hand, perhaps attached to a disembodied arm, pushing the door open. But I don’t see one.

I mentally shake myself and take a deep breath. This is silly. There must be a draft. I slide my eyes toward the window, squinting slightly through the musty darkness, dust motes floating in the slant of muted amber light coming through the open door. It’s closed. Perhaps from downstairs then.

An intruder? My ears strain to hear anything over the pounding of my heart. What’s that? Steps. Coming from downstairs. The basement, perhaps. Step, step, step. Now coming up the stairwell. Down the hall.

My chest rises and falls more quickly now. Surely the pounding of my heart must give away the fact that I’m awake. The room grows colder and I struggle not to pull the blankets over my head. My breath comes out in chilly puffs. The door creaks open further. A dark shadow hovers, floats towards my bed. I am engulfed with fear as the figure leans over me.

The door swung shut.

August 31, 2011

Book Cover Design Contest

Here's a fun little contest that I joined over at Teralyn Pilgrim's blog site, A Writer's Journey. The object is to design a book cover and post it on your site on August 31st. with a link to her site.

Then go over to Teralyn's site, scroll down to the linky thingy and visit each contestant to see their book cover design. Once you've seen them all, go back to the linky list and vote for your favorite covers by clicking "like" next to the three covers you like best.

Come back on September 7th to see who the winners are! (BTW, you don't have to be a contestant to vote - everyone can vote. So please go to the polling station and vote!)

Simple, right?

You'd think so, except for the anally-inclined. Yes, I'm talking about me. I knew exactly what I had in mind and spent hours (and hours, and hours) looking for the pictures I had in mind. And couldn't find what I wanted! *sigh* Because what I really wanted would have to be done professionally....after a book deal....and a movie deal. *sigh*

Well, I always do have to make things harder than they really are!

Anyway, once I came back down to earth, it was rather easy. I made use of what I had (I mean skill-wise) and this is what I came up with. I really sorta like it, imperfect as it is!

Now traditionally, the blogsites with the most followers wins these things, so here are the official rules according to Teralyn:


  • People with the most followers on their blog always win these contests. It takes all the fun out of it. Please be fair and vote for ones that deserve it.
  • Don't open an entry or vote on one just because it has a lot of likes; that's not fair either.
  • Don't vote for yourself three times. That's just sad.
Let the Games begin!

August 26, 2011

Caution: Blogfest Ahead!!!

Here is the second warning notification of my upcoming Blogoversary and planned Blogfest in September.

My first blogoversary is in 15 days! This past blogging year has gone by so fast and I’ve really had a lot fun doing it. So to celebrate, I am going to host my very first Blogfest:

The Judge and Jury Blogfest

All Rise! The Judge (me) enters the courtroom. My Jury consists of the first twelve (12) bloggers to sign up for this Blogfest. Now – Round Up the Usual Suspects and we’ll have a trial!

Everyone who enters the Blogfest is a Suspect (including the Jury – they’re not getting off with a slap on the wrist. But not me – cuz I’m Da Judge). The Jury will vote on the Suspect guilty of writing the best defense scene. Any tie votes will be decided by the Judge.


Every Suspect (remember, this includes the Jury) must write a short defense scene in 300 words or less (a short intro to the scene is acceptable). It can be about anything legal or illegal, minor or major. A stolen kiss, cheating, robbery – even murder! It does not have to involve the law or court. Feel like sharing a scene from your manuscript? Cool! Or maybe a scene from a short story you’ve written? Awesome! It only has to be a scene where someone defends themselves against something.


  • The blogfest will run from Monday, September 5 – Saturday, September 10
  •  At 12:01am Monday, September 5, a linky tool will go live on Run Gwen, Run! 
  • Post your entry on your blog and then add a direct link to your post to the linky tool on my blog before 11:59 p.m. September 10th 
  • Come back on Wednesday, September 14 to see the six finalists (chosen by the Jury), and then again on Saturday, September 17 to see the winners!
  • All genres and forms are welcome.

·    Copy the Judge and Jury badge and post it as a link to the sidebar of your blog
·    Tell all your blogger friends about the blogfest
·    Go to the other contestant’s blogs and give them some comment love during the challenge week 9/5 – 9/10.


·    Each of the 12 Jurors will receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card since serving on the Jury is compulsory (According to the Judge, this should in no way be construed as a bribe!)
·    A $10 Amazon Gift Card booby prize will be awarded randomly to a new follower – I’ve already picked out the Follower’s number. You may already be a winner!
·    Third place prize is a $5 Amazon Gift Card
·    Second place prize is a $10 Amazon Gift Card
·    FIRST PRIZE is a $15 Amazon Gift Card


*Dramatic courtroom music plays – the kind from the old black and white movies*

I am Guilty. I mean really, really, really, Guilty...of wanting more Followers. I have 35 of the dearest Followers right now, but for this blogfest to be really successful, I need more. More, more, more. So I’m throwing myself on the mercy of the blogger court. Please spread the word to your other blogger friends about this blogfest, and if they have as much fun as I’m hoping, maybe they’ll Follow me!

Whew! I feel lighter already. Confession really is good for the soul.

PLEASE leave a comment to let me know your thoughts! It’s my very first time hosting a Blogfest, so any advice is welcome.