Preparing for the Future

Today’s Question:¬†5-years

Always good to think ahead, not something that comes easily for most creative types, myself included. As preparation for this post, I read the Ayres’ Christmas letter I sent in 2011. A LOT can change in 5 years. I wrote about how I’d just finished my novel and planned to send it out in February. By June, I would have my first contract for 18 Things. Then came 18 Truths and 18 Thoughts. This year I didn’t write much or publish anything new. I’m in a new teaching position and the struggle is real . . . learning all the new content is a task that occupies all my nights and weekends.

My goal is to write a fourth novel in my series that catches up with the characters as they’re approaching their 10 year high school reunion. (My 20th is sometime in 2017–GAK! Where does the time go?!). Hopefully, I’ll write that one over the upcoming Christmas break and have it published soon. I want to give my fans some closure, as I’ve received many emails, asking what happens to the characters when they’re older. After that, I don’t have it in the cards to publish any more books. I’m completely fulfilled with my new job of teaching English II to tenth graders. Funny thing is that five years ago I was a second grade teacher! If some Jedi Master predicted my future and told me where I’d be right now, I wouldn’t have believed them!

No matter what comes by way, I pray that I’ll stand with courage and faith, knowing God is always there for me. I hope you know that, too ūüôā

Where do you see yourself in five years? How do you plan to get there?

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

Co-Hosts:
Jennifer Hawes
Jen Chandler
Nick Wilford
Juneta Key
JH Moncrieff
Diane Burton
MJ Fifield

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In Rememberance

“You saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as one carries a child, all the way that you traveled until you reached this place.”~Deuteronomy 1:31

One week ago my grandpa passed away peacefully in his ¬†home. He was 80; he was also the last living grandparent I had . . . although I’m thankful he’s not suffering anymore like he had been for the past two years, it’s hard to lose this great generation.

From his obituary: “If you saw Doug out and about, he always had a smile and a story to tell. After retiring, he enjoyed spending time on the water with family and friends. Whether it be at Hardy Dam or Lake Michigan, you never knew where the adventure would take you, but it was always filled with laughter, love, and a memory that would be shared for years to come.”

I hope the same can be said of me when I’m gone. Every time I lose someone here on earth, it reminds me to pray for clarity of my purpose in this lifetime. There are days I feel my life doesn’t have enough meaning or depth, but I try to put my talents and skills to the best use and to show love and grace to others.

Doug 1

Grandpa in the beginning . . . just starting out on his own.

As writers, we know that every story must have a beginning and an end. A final chapter. God knows our alpha and omega, but he lets us be the authors of our own stories. Each life is a book, not to be read, but a tale to be written. What a dangerous freedom! It’d be much safer for him to dictate our every feeling, word, action . . . but then it wouldn’t be love. Love is chosen. So he hands each child a pen and whispers write carefully. That’s good advice for life and for our fictional stories as well. Write carefully.

Doug

Grandpa in the end. R.I.P.

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Feel free to join us the first Wednesday of every month! Purpose: To share and encourage.

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What I’ve Been Up To

Wow . . . it’s funny how I can give myself a break to not blog for a week & then my lazy butt can immediately turn that into four!! So sorry I’ve been MIA, but I know many of you are doing the A-Z challenge and probably haven’t even noticed I was gone.

So what have I been up to? Well, I went on a road trip with the fam for spring break. First stop, Universal’s Mardi Gras! Since we are annual pass holders, we decided to stop in Orlando for a butter beer, the parade, the Cajun food, and the Phillip Phillips concert. We watched him when he won on American Idol, and one thing you wouldn’t be able to tell from that show, is he really likes to jam with a band! I think I would’ve preferred to watch him in a small, hip bar somewhere instead, but it was still a good show.

You don't want to know what hubs did to get all these beads

You don’t want to know what hubs did to get all these beads

Next stop, Charleston, South Carolina. It was our first time there, and we weren’t disappointed!¬†Unlike a lot of other big cities we’ve visited, we felt safe walking around, and it was gorgeous! We could’ve spent all day at the museum we went to if we had the time, and our admission also included touring a historic house across the street, which was very cool. My favorite part was visiting Sullivan’s Island because it meant we got to eat lunch at Poe’s Tavern before visiting Fort Moultrie (the entire family got in for $5–what a steal!). Now, if you’re like me, you’re wondering why this famous American poet had a pub named after him there. Well, after a brief stint at the University of Virginia, Poe enlisted in the army under the pseudonym Edgar Allan Perry and was stationed at Fort Moultrie for thirteen months beginning November 18,1827.¬† His time on the island inspired ‚ÄúThe Gold Bug,”¬†a story about a mystical beetle that led to buried treasure. Anyway, very COOL d√©cor, quick service, and delicious burgers!

Poe

I ate the Tell-Tale Heart!

 

Last top was Asheville, North Carolina (where 18 Truths was partially set). My sister was getting married in Black Mountain at Lake Tomahawk . . . check out the awesome view! (This lake is used for the scene where Olga meets Sam & negotiates the terms of their agreement)

Lake Tomahawk

Even though we’ve been to Asheville twice, we never had time to visit the Biltmore Estates so we made sure to¬†leave a spot open¬†for it on this trip. If you don’t know, Biltmore is the largest privately owned home in America, still owned and operated by George Vanderbilt’s descendents. It has 250 rooms, and you can tour 47 of them. Two of the rooms were my favorite: the library, which houses over 10,000 of the 23,000 books in the Biltmore House collection and contains an impressive eighteenth-century canvas on the ceiling; and the banquet hall. With a table that seats 64 and a ceiling that arches 70 feet into the air, the hall houses five sixteenth-century tapestries, flags to represent the original 13 colonies, three fireplaces, and a huge pipe organ in the balcony.

We're thinking of buying this place for our summer home

We’re thinking of buying this place for our summer home

So that was my trip! Since then, I’ve done loads of writing on my WIP. What have you been up to?

By the way, if any of you are interested in ready my latest YA novel, 18 Thoughts, then please consider signing up for the review tour The Fantastic Flying Book Club is putting on from June 15th РJune 21st . . . that gives you two months to read the book!

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These ladies, Patricia Lopez & Anasheh Satoorian, bloggers at The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club and at A Reading Nurse, own the book club, and they are certainly fantastic to work with. And Lord knows I could use some more reviews for 18 Thoughts. It came out on January 28th, but it only¬† has 23 reviews . . . 4.9 out of 5 stars though, and it hasn’t stopped trending in the top 100 in Amazon’s coming of age category!¬†So if you like that sort of story with a paranormal twist, then please consider signing up here¬†for the review tour¬†ūüôā

Next week, I’ll post about my first visit to a virtual school.

I’m Thankful . . . Sooo Thankful

Happy*Thanksgiving*Eve!!! I’ve had an extremely busy month, so I had to step away from this blog and most of social media for a while, but I’m glad to be back, celebrating my favorite holiday.

I love Thanksgiving because of so many things. I love waking up with the fam at the crack of dawn so we can run the Turkey Trot 5k, something I’ve¬†done since high school. I love coming¬† home to my mom bringing over breakfast quiches and helping me get our feast started while we all watch the Macy’s Day Parade on TV. I love knowing we’ll be getting ready for Christmas the next day. But to me, Thanksgiving is a little bit better than Christmas because it’s all about being thankful for what you have, rather than wishing for what you don’t. This message has been especially important these past few months.

As most of you know, we took in a homeless family at the beginning of September. If you knew this single mom and her three kids¬†and heard their story, chances are, it’d change¬†the picture in your mind¬†of what homelessness looks like. Since then, we’ve moved in a new house while they’re still staying in our foreclosed home (nobody has come knocking on the door yet, even after it was sold at auction *fingers crossed*). We’ve been so blessed by our new rental, which is only a half mile from our daughter’s high school (also our alma mater–where I met my hubs when I was 14). With her being involved in so many activities, this is exactly what we wanted, and came at the exact price we needed! So you see, karma is a wonderful thing. I hope this holiday season you help someone in need if you’re able to do so. Anyway, here are the promised pictures . . . better late than never, right?

house front

Front view . . . our 10yo loves running up and down the stairs . . . not annoying at all ūüėČ

 

 

 

Our backyard . . . I've always wanted to be on the water! Fun Fishing times, but being that it's Florida, beware of gators!

Our backyard . . . I’ve always wanted to be on the water! Fun Fishing times, but being that it’s Florida, beware of gators!

 

My first home office . . . and it looks right over the water from the second floor! Beeeaaauuutiful!!!

My first home office . . . and it looks right over the water from the second floor! Beeeaaauuutiful!!!

And you want to know something else I’m thankful for? YOU!! For supporting me in my writing endeavors. I’m thrilled to announce the last installment of My So-Called Afterlife trilogy is coming out on January 27, 2015! JUST 2 MONTHS AWAY!!! If you have a minute, I’d be ever so grateful if you added¬†18 Thoughts¬†to your Goodreads and help spread the word!

Sample tweet or FB post: Add the last book of the  trilogy by   to your Goodreads now! Only 2 mo until it all ends!

THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!!! ‚̧ ‚̧ ‚̧

Also, I know most of you will be shopping this weekend. My 14yo daughter and I host a blog on my publisher’s website called The Jedi and the Padawan. If you’re looking for ideas for the geek or hipster in your life, we’ve got ya covered!

New Beginnings

Last night when I tried to think of something to blog about today, I had nothing. I felt defeated, and my heart was heavy. These past six weeks haven’t been easy. If you follow this blog, you might recall how I recently got in touch with my best friend from childhood (you can read about that divine intervention here). Basically, I got fan mail from a¬†girl named Kerri this summer, which lead me to think about my old bestie named Kerri,¬†and I immediately felt this overwhelming need to find her. After searching, I came across her mom’s obituary from the day before. She died at the age of 57 from MS. This lady was a second mom to me from grades 4-12, and I just pictured her up there tapping God’s shoulder, going “I’m glad I’m home, but can you please send someone to help out¬†my daughter?”

A few weeks later, when she was going to be a homeless single mom with three kids, we took them in. We told her they could stay, all expenses paid, until November 20th, which is when¬†the foreclosure on our home will go through.¬†You might be surprised by this, but between being a teacher and my book sales for 18 Things and 18 Truths, I still don’t have¬†a lot of extra cash (*snort*), but I can say without a doubt this was the right thing to do. That doesn’t mean sharing a 1,700 sq ft home with eight people, five of them kids between the ages of 14 and 9, hasn’t been challenging! Then this past Saturday, our fridge broke and we lost all the food in it. At this point, there’s no reason to replace it, so it was just another challenge.

The hunt¬†to find¬†the right home to rent stepped up. But when you live in a town that’s continually ranked in the top 10 cities for the most foreclosures, it’s a tough market to find a rental in because EVERYONE HAS LOST THEIR HOME ūüė¶

At every turn, something fell through. When¬†I found out¬†this morning the next two houses we were interested in were already off the¬† market, I wasn’t surprised. I sighed, went to my dentist appointment to get my two crowns in (does that make me a princess now?), came home, and decided to take Kerri out to lunch and not worry about it (for once).¬† When we got back to the house, not only did she have a call saying she got hired at an AMAZING restaurant, there was an alert for the PERFECT house from a realtor.

Here’s the thing. If I hadn’t anticipated my dental work not being an all day affair, I would’ve only taken off a half day, but based on past experience, I took a full. Because I took that full, I was able to respond the moment it was listed, go see it, and get an application. As I left, another lady was coming in who also wanted to rent the property. Keep in mind this was THE SAME HOUR THE PROPERTY WAS LISTED! I was racing the other applicant to the office, lol. But Daddy didn’t nickname me Jeff Gordon for nothing ūüėČ

Plus, if the fridge didn’t break on Saturday, I wouldn’t have been looking so diligently because I figured we still had 6 weeks, and I would’ve missed this A*W*E*S*O*M*E deal!!

So yeah, WE GOT THE HOUSE! Thank you, Jesus! I couldn’t have asked for a better house for us, at the exact amount I prayed for, on the water (BONUS! Anyone have a paddle boat for sale?!), and down the canal, a view of my daughter’s high school. Being close to her school was the #1 thing I wanted since she’s involved with a million things and it’s only her Freshmen year (apparently, that’s what you need to do to get into an ivy league college . . . she’s done months hours of research).

When I got home from the realtor, I hugged Kerri and told her¬†the move in date was October 15th because the office¬†has to wait seven days. She looked at me and said, “October 15th¬†would’ve been Mom’s 58th birthday.” Looks like Mom is up there bugging God about both of her children ūüôā

Speaking of numbers, it’s also October 8th. Dan and I got married on August 8, 1998 because we like the significance the number 8 holds in the Bible . . . it’s the number of new beginnings.

Life is full of trade-offs. We lost a good woman, but gained an angel. We’re losing a house, but God is blessing us with a better one. It’s a whole new chapter in our lives, and I’m lucky to go forward with such an awesome Father (and angel mama) looking out for us.

Whatever you’re going through, hold onto faith that our God is sufficient to supply all our needs. When we hold onto faith, we gain wealth beyond belief.

god promises

Too Much Excitement for One Week!

School starting, my first mother/daughter column, a national magazine book review, a 99 cent sale for 18 Things , and my birthday . . . everything is coming up roses this week ūüôā Let me tell you that there were many times I was severely depressed during my growing up years. My 14yo daughter started high school this week (at my old stomping ground where I met hubs when I was 14!), and as he reminisced about those years with her, I realized I hardly remembered any of my own experiences. I think my subconscious just decided to shelter me by forgetting. But I do remember HOW I felt in my darkest hours, like each day would bring more troubles than I could deal with. So this week I’m¬†incredible happy and thankful because as I’m turning thirty-five (which I¬†view as the midway point in life . . . the Bible only promises us seventy years, eighty with a little trouble, so obey your parents!),¬†it dawned on me¬†that my life is way more than I ever dreamed possible. I have two jobs I LOVE (teaching middle school writing & being an author), a husband who has stayed married to me for 16 years and counting even though I’m sure I got the better end of the deal, and two wonderful daughters. Speaking of which . . .

My teenage¬†daughter has lowered her standards and agreed to do a weekly column with me on my publisher’s website. We’ll review movies, books, music, and fashion. You get both of our perspectives, the Jedi and the Padawan. Check out our first post here, a review for the Ninja Turtles movie.

turtles

Also, 18 Things was reviewed in the Sept/Oct issue of Stone Soup magazine, written by my daughter! If you have a child 13yo or younger who loves to read, they may want to subscribe and/or submit to this magazine. As a book reviewer, they pay the child $40 and send them two free copies of the magazine.

magazine

And in other 18 Things news,¬†the Kindle ecopy¬†will go on sale for only 99 cents tomorrow and Friday (regular price $4.99). I do hope you’ll download it if you haven’t done so already. And if you have, would you mind posting a tweet or Facebook status to help me spread the word? Last time it went on sale in February, it almost broke into the top 100 on all of Amazon (#114–sooo close!!!!). It’s on my bucket list to make it to the top 100, and it’d be about as sweet as it can get if I’m able to cross this one off during my birthday week!

Will I have the Sweetest Birthday Ever?!

Will you help me have the Sweetest Birthday Ever?!

Here’s a sample tweet or FB post:

For a ¬†novel packed with love & adventure grab 18 Things ¬†while it’s only ¬†¬†Aug 21-22

What about you? Has joy greeted you this week? If not, I pray faith would make you whole again and that you could grab hold of each happy moment¬†this life gives. ‚̧

 

 

Catching Fire, Truckin’ It, & Butterbeer Goodness!!!

To celebrate¬†the release of¬†The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate¬†announced that some of the supporting cast members would embark on a National ‚ÄėVictory¬† Tour.’¬† The tour included a stop in Miami, which featured¬†special Q&As with fans and¬†autograph signings. Since Miami is only a two-hour drive from where we live and because hubby works for our local Fox news station, he was able to attend the event with one person. He didn’t bring me . . . he brought our 13-year-old daughter. Don’t worry, I’m not bitter or anything. I figure with the¬†direction America is headed, we’re not far off from The Hunger Games becoming a reality, and I plan to offer up my daughter as a tribute. Yeah, paybacks are a . . .

Kidding! Here are some pics from the event . . . .

Catching Fire

Alan Ritchson (middle) is also playing Raphael in the new TMNT!

Now if you’re worried about the state of affairs in America like I am, I have great news! My dad has a plan to save us all. He’s a truck driver, and I write¬†that with extreme pride. It’s a demanding¬†profession, and he’s the hardest working man I know. Since he spends his time traveling all across the fifty states, he has a perspective most of us don’t. He also has a lot of time to think, a luxury many of us don’t have. We have so many things pulling us in different directions, always GO-GO-GO, and we’re hard-pressed to stay informed on the important matters concerning our beloved country and what we should be doing to help. Anyway, as the proud daughter of a truck driver, I kinda think an average Joe like my dad just might be the person we need to save America ūüôā And I was so blessed that he passed through our neck of the woods on Sunday! Here are¬†some pics of Ashley¬†and I running out to greet him!

Truck

And last but not least, some of you may have seen this around the web last week, but just incase you missed it . . . you don’t have to travel allll¬†the way to my state anymore to try¬†the popular wizarding beverage¬†at¬†the Harry Potter area in Islands of Adventure.¬†Because according to Foodbeast,¬†Starbucks has collected the¬†potion recipe for any¬†Muggle to¬†try a¬†Butterbeer at one of their locations.

Here’s what you’ll need to order to achieve frothy butterscotch goodness, in either cold or warm variations:

Cold Version:

‚ÄĘ A Cr√®me Frappuccino base, made with whole milk (not skim or 2%, which will mess up the consistency) ‚Äʬ†3 pumps of caramel syrup ‚Äʬ†3 pumps of toffee nut syrup ‚Äʬ†Top with caramel drizzle

Butterbeer

CHEERS!

Warm Version:

‚Äʬ†Whole milk steamer Caramel syrup¬†(2 pumps for a tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti) ‚Äʬ†Toffee nut syrup (2 pumps for a tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti) ‚Äʬ†Cinnamon Dolce syrup (2 pumps for a tall, 3 for grande, 4 for venti) ‚Äʬ†Top with whipped cream and salted caramel bits ‚Äʬ†Optional: 1 shot of espresso¬†(2 for a grande or venti)

WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR HOUSE-ELVES!

Starbucks‚Äô Butterbeers will only be available during the next few months, as the coffee chain cuts off the flow of toffee nut syrup after the holiday season. Guess they aren’t the wizards that I thought they were! Still, I plan on hopping on my Nimbus 2000 this weekend and pairing this magical concoction with a chocolate cauldron (cupcake). As a fan and writer of geek-friendly romance, I think this has “perfect date night” written all over it *winks at hubs across the couch*

*Thanks for stopping by! Tell me, are you going to see Catching Fire at the theatre this weekend? Think a truck driver can save America? Do the think the baristas have any idea of the Bombtastic Bomb Starbucks has unleashed with this new recipe?

It’s my B*I*R*T*H*D*A*Y and I’ll blog if I want to!

Okay, so I’m not really sitting in front of a laptop and blogging on my 29th (cough, cough) birthday. I composed this post on Sunday night, suckers! *shakes fist in the air* hahaha ūüôā

So I went into my 33rd year of life pretty pumped. After all, I’d just signed a book deal last summer and I figured since Christ gave his life for me when he was 33, he’d expect me to do some pretty big things with my life this past year.

DSC05525

Monster Bday Cake my kiddos made for me last year–Num Num!

Well, life is full of trade-offs. My debut novel came out in January to instant best seller status on Amazon, but that quickly died down. Most people I talk to say it’s had a profound impact on them, that it was more than just a “good book.” That makes my heart swell, but I also wish it’d reach those thousands of rabid fans I was ready for, but still don’t know I exist. I can’t help but think maybe that’s how Jesus feels about the message of his love and grace too. The good news is . . . I ADORE a challenge, so don’t be surprised if 18 Things shows up on the New York Times Bestselling list someday ūüôā Now I am frequently misunderstood, so please don’t interpret that statement to mean I think I’m allll¬†that and a bag of chips (What? I am a child of the 90s, heehee). Anyway, I have a banner hanging in my classroom that says, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.” So, I’m staying positive and holding onto faith!!!

DSC06102

At the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. Look! I have 2 fans ūüôā

I also recently made the transition from teaching elementary school for the past twelve years to teaching middle school Language Arts. Hopefully, we’ve all had those conversations with ourselves where we ask, “Who am I? Why am I here?” After two weeks of teaching at my new school, I think that question has been answered for me! There’s a quote by Thomas Carlyle that states: “Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness. He has a work, a life-purpose; he has found it and will follow it.” That sums up my feelings on teaching middle school. I was created for this job! If you don’t know me personally, you probably think I sound insane. If you do know me personally, then you know I am insane!!! (and I love to use an insane amount of exclamation points, smiley faces, and hearts!)

DSC06859

My classroom . . . home away from home ‚̧

The other big thing that happened to me this past year is our house going through the foreclosure process. We can be kicked out of our home at any moment, but surprisingly, I am not living in fear. Sure, my heart will have a hard time letting go of this house when the time comes. We’ve had so many wonderful memories here as our kids have grown-up (wish they’d stop growing!). But you know that saying? Home is where the¬†‚̧ is. It’s true! My 13yo is probably the most sad over it, but I told her we’ll take the memories wherever we go. A home is so much more than just walls, floors, and rooms. Once again, I’m looking at the silver lining. From each of life’s misfortunes comes a new beginning, an opportunity to renew my faith. I love that I don’t know what the future holds. For everything there is a season, its own time and place.

DSC05856

Good times . . . NY’s Eve party at our house

My Birthday Prayer: Father God, another year has passed so quickly! I’m so thankful that the God of angel armies is a friend of mine. Even though lots of activities pull me in every direction, you show me every day what’s truly important. Thank you for your presence in my life. What a wonderful gift this past year has been! There were some not-so-good days along the way, but with you by my side, I was able to experience your grace and know that your mercies are new every morning. I’m looking forward to the next one! ‚̧ Jamie

If My Life Were A Book . . . Confessions of A Failure

This past week held two big milestones for me–my 15th wedding anniversary with my Prince Charming and my new adventure into the world of “Middle School Teacher.”

DSC06856

My Classroom

This afternoon I¬†skipped (yes, skipped–I do that sometimes just to scare the students)¬†down the hall to obtain a large sheet of white butcher paper so I could start my “Character Traits” poster with my classes. As I walked back to class,¬†I started¬†thinking (and yes, smoke did blow out of my ears), if I was the main¬†protagonist in a book, what kind of character traits would my students, and better yet, my own family, write down for me?

I’d like to say my list would look like this: loving, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, self-controlled, compassionate, forgiving, grateful, honest, helpful, well-mannered . . . or anything halfway close to my own protagonist in 18 Things. The best time to catch me displaying some of these traits are after a few cups of coffee in the morning ūüôā

Reality probably looks more like this: frazzled, frustrated, angry, busy, grumbling, bi-polar, worried, brutally honest (to the point of being insensitive to others), oversensitive (when comments are directed toward me), a “yes person” (most can see that “YES” sticker plastered across my forehead from a mile away which is why I get roped into too many activities). This Jamie appears after working all day without chocolate because she’s trying to be a healthy role model for her students and is therefore now suffering massive sugar withdrawals.

Not a pretty picture, aye? I’d say that’s more of the “home” Jamie than the “Mrs. Ayres” at school. If I acted like my real self at school, I’d probably get fired! Luckily, my family hasn’t figured¬† out a way to get rid of me yet.

It’s not like I want to be this way. So it’s funny when I opened up my book to do my bible study tonight and read the words of Paul in the book of Romans, chapter seven: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it . . . What a wretched man I am!”

Yep. Luckily I believe in a very forgiving God who gave me a very patient husband ūüôā

wedding kiss

Our wedding kiss *don’t everyone aww at once*

My faith has taken me through 15 years of marriage with two beautiful daughters and no doubt will take me through my years as middle school teacher!

At the end of my Bible study today, I had to write a description of a good role model. I simply wrote this:

Someone who always loves. Without love, actions are empty. A role model’s criterion for their actions isn’t based on what they like best, but what’s best for those around them.

While I’m on the subject of love,¬†Ima gonna break down dat definition for ya like it’s 1990 and it’s Hammertime at my middle school dance:

Love isn’t a feeling *Gulp* I don’t think I could ever “fall out of love” with my husband. Instead,¬†love is¬†a decision to meet¬†the needs of¬†others¬†before yourself. It’s not a natural inclination past those first days of marital bliss. Love is something we must choose to live every day.

Now, as a writer of love inspired stories and a teacher, I’m an expert on definitions, so there’s no need to confer with Webster *steps down off pedestal*

I’m taping my role model definition to my bathroom mirror as a reminder of the type of person I should be each day, not just on the days when I feel like it and not just at work. There’s a quote by Erma Bumbeck that goes, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything that you gave me.”

Or as Master Yoda puts it: “Do or do not. There is no try.” Talk is cheap. Words without action=failure.¬†When I look back at¬†the chapters of¬†my life, I want my¬†traits to¬†resemble the characters in the books that inspire me.

What’s¬† your definition of a good role model? (Lord help us if anyone says Justin Bieber, lol. Thankfully, I don’t think any of my middle school Language Arts students have found my blog yet! *looks around with crazy eyes*

Until next week, Live~Laugh~Love!

It’s A Small World Afterall . . . My Love/Hate Relationship

I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression, “It’s a small world after all.” Love the ride at Disney (ADD side note: funniest description I’ve ever read of this ride is in the opening pages of Going Bovine by Libba Bray. Do yourself a favor & click on the link to read the free preview on Amazon, and prepare to really ROTFLMAO!) . . . where was I? Oh yeah, love the ride, not a big fan of the saying. Ever since the invention of the Internet, this world just keeps getting smaller and smaller, to the point where I am afraid for the kind of world my 13yo¬†and 9yo daughters are growing up in.

Family Disney Pic 2007

I miss when my kids were small, and when I was too, lol.

I’m frightened¬†enough that when I¬†took my English 6-12 certification exam a couple of weeks¬†ago (in preparation to teach middle school Language Arts, and you should read the awesome story about that if you haven’t!), and I had to write a persuasive essay about an invention I wish would’ve never been invented, I wrote about social media sites.WARNING: If you’re my 13yo¬†daughter reading this now (b/c she occasionally cares enough to see what her old mom is up to), you may want to melt me with that laser look you’re so good at when I’m done with this blog post. So get it ready now. And remember Mom loves you.

It drives me nuts to see my daughter’s iPod Touch attached to her hand . . . to the point where she challenged herself to a 5 day detox and couldn’t last 24 hours. I walk into a house to pick her up from a party and instead of everybody talking, they’re texting the person next to them on the friggin’ couch! They constantly ask, “How many Instagram¬†followers do you have?” to the point it becomes bullying because if you don’t have at least 1,000 followers then you’re not cool. (Just made¬†said daughter take down her account because she let too many strangers ‘follow’ her). Her ‘boy’ friends¬†inhale violent video games through Xbox Live into the wee hours of the night. Her girlfriends think life can be encapsulated in a 140 character Twitter message or Facebook status update. BUT THERE IS NO COMMUNICATION! To the point where we run into one of her friends outside of school at a Shrek¬†the Musical Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre performance tonight, and they don’t even know how to properly SAY hello to each other.

You see, my daughter lost her iPod Touch three weeks ago, so she couldn’t text it, email it, tag her in a FB status, post a duck face with her friend on Instagram, ect . . . . and by the way, these past three weeks have been HEAVEN without that little Apple. Dreading officially getting her a cell phone before school starts up again, but we’ll need to because of¬†the logistics of my job change¬†Note: this will be her first cell, and I’m proud of that. When I taught 3rd grade this past year, the majority of my class had cell phones and a FB account . . . at 8 years old. Yeah, and we wonder why we have such an ADD problem in this country now. Oooh, squirrel!

But here’s the LOVE part. Yanno¬†that Shrek show I mentioned? I got to meet a publishing sister/blogger buddy all the way from Ohio there tonight. Why? B/c when hubs and I were trying to win the tickets through a, wait for it . . . YEP–Facebook contest, Tara¬†Tyler saw it and said she’d be attending the show. I asked, do you mean in your area or are you visiting on vacation? She answered she was vacationing in¬†Florida and did I live near there? Um, heck yeah! And this is the 4th blogger buddy I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person due to social media. Well, I wouldn’t have any blogger buddies without social media, would I?

Tara Tyler and me

Tara Tyler and me ūüôā

The other part I love? As a debut author, I could probably expect to sell 100 books to my friends and family without social media. But the social media frenzy caused my reach to multiply that by 10 so far, and it keeps growing. For the past 3 weeks, 18 Things has trended in the top 100 for Coming of Age fiction on Amazon, ranging anywhere from the 30’s to 100. Why? I haven’t done any real promoting since March. I’m guessing all those people who came across my¬†debut novel¬†through the What Are Your 18 Things bloghop¬†and then the 6 week book blog tour have finally gotten around to reading and recommending it (the book came out in January). That’s the power of word of mouth, and it starts with social media sites, and most importantly, it’s all FREE!

In the end, I love connecting with fabulous people like you and the thought of a couple million people potentially reading my book. But on the flip side, I hate all the murderers and child molesters that potentially¬† could be looking at my daughters on one of those sites too. It’s a win-lose situation, but I know social media isn’t going anywhere, and I must adapt or die . . . which happens to be one of my favorite quotes from the movie, Moneyball. If you’ve never seen this inspirational true story, make some time to watch it!

What are your thoughts? Do you LOVE social media, or do you love to hate it? Have you meet any blogger buddies in real life yet? Oh, and don’t forget to check out Tara Tyler’s new novel, Pop Travel,¬†a sci-fi noir, cat and mouse game where the hard-boiled detective is chased across the world, “popping” with teleportation, which has a deadly flaw he is determined to expose.¬†How cooool does that sound?!