Getting over the Winter “Funk”

I had heard in the past about the “winter blues”.  People getting depressed during the winter.  I never really believed it was true. And I’ve actually been one to wish the colder weather comes quickly because I DO NOT like the summer, with its stifling heat and oppressive humidity.  But this year I have found myself not enjoying the winter.

The days have been fine, I like a little gloominess.  I find I can think and create when I’m a little melancholy.  However, there’s been a thin fog covering my thoughts and all I can chalk it up to is the weather.  So I take to the task of doing some research and I find there’s an actual “disorder” for this funk.

It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD.  Some of its symptoms are irritability, low energy, changes in appetite, weight gain and trouble getting along with others.  All of which I have experienced.  I should probably apologize to those around me, since I have probably shown my “not so nice” side to them.

I also found out that one thing to help combat this disorder is exercise.  Sounds nice and a lot of fun but I can’t muster the energy to start that workout.  Even though I know it will have many benefits for my tired self.

But, today the sun came out and my original smile returned.  I feel somewhat energized and hopeful.  I can stop moping around, without an apparent reason, and I can start enjoying my surroundings.

It’s kind of crazy to think that the elements have such an effect on us, but it’s also nice to know there’s lots of others out there who know what it’s like.  Maybe I should put on some music, instrumental, and write.

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Teaching our Children to Love Reading

By no means am I an expert on this subject matter.  I am, however, a mom who wants to instill that same love of books in my children that I have.  I always have a book, or two, in my bag.  Just in case I finish the one I’m currently reading, I have the next one lined up.

But, I know that just because I love books and stories, it is not a given that my little ones will too.  And with all the video games and television shows, that don’t require an effort to play or watch, how can a book compete?

One of the things that I have found so far, is reading to them from the moment I knew I was pregnant.  I also like to “bring the story to life” by using different voices for different characters.  I like silly stories for them because I love to hear them giggle.

And even though two of my kids know how to read by themselves, I still like to read to them.  I like to think that it is something that they will remember fondly when they are older, mom tucking them in and preparing their little selves for the world of dreams.  And hopefully they have been on so many “adventures”, they will always be interested in what is hidden between the pages of a book.

We make it a point to go the local library and search for books to read for the whole week.  We look for titles that will interest everyone, so that all will be engrossed in the story.

I believe that by teaching our children to love reading and learning, we are giving them a huge push towards a great future.

Finding Inspiration

Where does one go to find inspiration when you have the urge to write and nothing comes to mind?

Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.”

For some it’s as easy as reading a book, they can immediately envision a different twist or outcome.  Others can see a scene unfold at a local restaurant, park or grocery store and weave a story around it.  Others are moved by a rainy day, a forest highlighted by the moon or a flower struggling to make it on a hot sunny day.

Sometimes it’s easier to write about ourselves.  Our likes, our dislikes.  Our thoughts, our beliefs.  What is of utmost importance or that that is mundane.  We search for words that can describe what we’re feeling or thinking hoping someone else can see the exact same thing we do.  We let our fingers hold the pen and our minds guide its tip.  Letters appear one by one creating sentences, paragraphs or stanzas.

And yet, at times, we live with that awful enemy called “writer’s block”.  Uninvited he comes around and rejects any invitation to go away.  He waits around watching, mocking, waiting to see if we can overcome it.  Taunting, getting the upper hand.  Until, alas! our thoughts line up.

Then we write and write with feverish artistry until all is well in our worlds again.  We let others read our work, hoping to get only praise and feeling as failures if they find something wrong.  So, we doubt our abilities and yet we write again because we must.

Our search continues for that one thing that will make us feel good.  That will help us connect.  That could possibly change the world.  Or just allow us to write a lasting story.

I guess it’s time for me to go looking for my club.

Having a bad day

Why is it that when someone is having a bad day, they automatically think that it’s okay to take it out on whoever they find handy?!  Today, I had someone complain about me over something that happened a month and a half ago!  An easy mistake that anyone could have made.  I called her, explained the situation, apologized and I was certain that everything was okay.  And today all of a sudden, they want to complain and “escalate” the issue until… I don’t know.  I don’t know exactly what they are trying to gain.

But we’re all very capable of this very thing.  How easy it is at times to let go of some of our frustrations on unsuspecting, sometimes innocent people.  Have you ever lashed out at someone, because you didn’t get cheese on your fries?  Or because you had to wait a few minutes in line to cash your check?  Or because a co-worker didn’t do their full job?  Why are we so quick to hurt other people’s feelings?

I know I’ve been guilty myself, in more than one occasion, of lashing out to the wrong person, so I understand that I have it coming to me at times.  What irks me is that I already apologized twice to this person, and now I have to call her again tomorrow and re-apologize!!!  How many times does it take to finally put an incident to rest?

Well now I’ve vented.  Now I’m ready to put this behind me, again!

And I shall take these fine words and run with them! Haha!

The First Rejection Notice

Yes, I received my first rejection e-mail for my manuscript.  I have to confess that I did expect it, I mean I understand that my writing abilities would have to be super-freaking-awesome in order to have gotten accepted on my first try.  Nonetheless, it still made me sad.  I feel like I let my work down.  Three years of writing, deleting, editing, and re-writing the story.  Hours of forming the characters and their lives.

I know, that’s not the only chance I will have to get my work out there.  I have sent it to other agents.  I also know that other writers have been rejected multiple times before getting their big break.  So I’m not totally naive but I am still hopeful.

Now, to find out what went wrong, I re-visited my query letter, which I will not post here because I am embarassed of it.  I found that I did not create enough interest in my story.  In an attempt to keep things “secretive” I short changed my characters.  I talked some about the story line and then, I don’t know what I was thinking with the rest, I messed up.  Sad part is, I spent days trying to get it just right and turns out I got it just wrong.

But that’s life right.  We live, we learn.  And yes, this has me feeling low but my time will come.

Meanwhile I will do another query letter and really amp it up.  I’ll e-mail it to multiple agents and hopefully one will see the beauty in the story and believe in it.  I’ve also entered a short story competition that closes at the end of this month.  Hopefully I can win and give my name a little boost.

I also have this spot where I can write and polish my style and get feedback from those of you that kindly take your time to read my thoughts.

Well, here I go again, to my query letter.  Until tomorrow!

Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes

Another love of mine is chocolate.  A love that I have to be very careful around.  One that I can only indulge in sparingly.  I love to bake, however I am not the kind that “has enough” just by smelling the baking goodies.  And I’m definitely not the kind that can have just a sliver, or just one, once the baked dessert is out of that oven.  And I surely don’t even wait for it to cool!

But on those occasions when I splurge I like to make the Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes that I found in the Cupcake edition of Better Homes and Gardens.  I love it because it’s super easy to make and very fun to eat.

Although I really enjoy making things from scratch, and you are welcome to use your favorite chocolate cake recipe, this one calls for a 2-layer-size package chocolate cake mix.  It also calls for two 16-ounce cans creamy white frosting, but I like to make my own whipped cream cheese frosting.  So if you now have the urge to eat some crazy good cupcakes, here’s the recipe:

sundae cupcake

Ingredients:

1 2-layer-size package chocolate cake mix

1 12-ounce jar hot fudge ice cream topping

1 to 2 16-ounce cans creamy white frosting

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces or I like the Hershey ice cream toppers (saves you the melting)

1 teaspoon shortening

Chopped nuts

1 10-ounce maraschino cherries with stems, well drained

Direction:

  1. Prepare cake batter per box instructions and divide evenly in muffin cups baking dish, lined with paper baking cups.
  2. Place a small tablespoon of ice cream topping on the top center of each cupcake.
  3. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.  Once slightly cooled remove cupcakes from muffin cups.  Cool completely.
  4. Spread some of the frosting over each cupcake.  Place the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe some on top.
  5. In a small saucepan melt the chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat; cool slightly.  Drizzle chocolate over top of frosted cupcakes. (This is where I use the Hershey’s ice cream toppers).
  6. Sprinkle cupcakes with nuts or sprinkles if you’d prefer.  Place a cherry on top.

This recipe will make you 24 cupcakes.   And in case you want to make your own frosting:

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

1  pkg.  (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup  butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp.  vanilla
1 pkg.  (16 oz.) powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended.

Add sugar gradually, beating after each addition until blended.

Now, you can make these cupcakes without the nuts, but I prefer mine a little nutty, (like my Nana) – for those of you that watched Wreck it Ralph. 🙂

Reading Interests

Day 4 of this 500 words a day challenge… and I am stuck.  I can’t think of anything to write about.  So I navigate the web for writing prompts, creative writing prompts, first line prompts and nothing materializes in my mind.  But I keep searching, thinking and pushing myself to write, because that’s what they say, right?  If you’re having trouble writing then you must write.

But I feel like I’m just going around in circles.  So I’ll put this draft aside for a while.

I’m back.  I was able to start on lunch, start a load of laundry, started reading a new book (which by the way, I don’t think I’ll finish).  The title was very catchy and I read the prologue, which was very interesting and then I turned to Chapter 1 and got lost in the choice of words, by the end of the first paragraph.  I guess I could try to get through the first chapter and see if it gets better, but sometimes that’s hard to do.  How about you?  How long do you give a book before you decide it’s not for you?

I hate to just put a book down because I know the journey that the author took to write it.  The countless hours of writing, deleting, re-writing, editing, loving it, hating it, re-structuring and finally getting it right.  And then, I don’t know if you do the same thing, having to get over the “errors” an editor missed.  For some reason, I’ve found alot of those lately in different books and it can be quite distracting.

Then there are those books that I finish and think, “Wow, I wish I would’ve have written that.”  My favorite genre, at the time, is historical fiction.  One book I recently discovered is Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole.  It’s backdrop is WWII and we are introduced to a love story that grows from words.  You can feel the sentiment coming off of the page and you root for the protagonist and her love interest.

Another author that I truly enjoy is Kate Morton.  Her books The Secret Garden and The Secret Keeper are two of my all-time favorites.  And I also know that Michelle Moran has a new one coming out soon, The Rebel Queen.

Because I enjoy historical fiction so much, I am now taking a shot at writing it.  I found a really cool prompt at http://www.writersdigest.com a few months back about finding a journal and a short story came to me.  And even though I wrote the story back then it still hasn’t gone away.  It wants to be told as a whole.  The characters are forming in my mind and searching for their voice and all I can do is grab a pen and paper.

The only plausible setting I can give it is the early 1900’s, so now I am immersed in research about that timeframe.  I am learning about flappers, speakeasies, the Charleston and many advances that pushed life forward.

On to my books I go, and I would like to notate that I did make it to 500 words, even though when I opened my laptop, I couldn’t think of a single thing to write.