Lessons Learned: The Warmth of Home

The holidays can be hectic. The swirl of events usually starts with Thanksgiving and fills your calendar until the first of the year. You begin to bake, decorate the house, shop for gifts, eat too much, and maybe drink a little too much. You look forward to all of them (okay, maybe some of them), and soon the days become stressful and tiring as you long for some normalcy. When that happens, remember to take some time for yourself.

Sit down and relax with a favorite beverage and listen to some music or the snow falling outside. Clear your mind to appreciate what you have and let the spirit warm your heart. I like to sit on the stairs or on the living room floor with my back to the wall and a glass of wine to enjoy. I turn off all the regular lights in the house and then turn on the Christmas lights. I sit quietly and look at my surroundings. I find comfort in the warmth of my home. I reflect on holidays that have passed and cherish the moments that the season brings.

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the holiday season.

P.S. And to my “Aunt” Harriet who passed early this morning, I bid you farewell. I bow with admiration to your spirit and hope you’re kicking up your heels with the rest of the them. I’ll miss you!

Lessons Learned: Two Goals for “Gitana – Life Plan”

One of my goals for this year was to publish my first book. In March, I published Gitana Life-Plan in electronic format. The eBook is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, iBook, and other outlets. A second goal for this year was to publish in print format. Drum roll…I’m happy to say that Gitana Life-Plan is now available through Amazon in print format!

When seeing Gitana Life-Plan for the first time on Amazon in March, I was thrilled to no end. I immediately went to my Kindle and bought my eBook. I clicked through the pages with a big smile. I did it! I was a published author.

Front Cover

Front Cover

However, being old school, I knew there was nothing like holding a real book in my hands. I decided to wait at least six months before publishing in print. I began the process in October, using CreateSpace (Amazon) for my POD (print on demand). Again, I was thrilled to no end when I opened the box that held my proof for review. I loved feeling the book in my hands. I loved how the cover, spine, and back turned out. I read each cream-colored page (and so did my husband!) to make sure all was correct before clicking on the “Publish” button. I’m still smiling to know that I’ve accomplished my two goals. I can’t wait until my next one comes out 🙂

Back Cover

Back Cover

Lessons Learned: Standing Up for Vets

Not too long ago I was part of a conversation of hiring new employees. When the conversation turned to veterans, the female wrinkled her nose and said how she didn’t like hiring Vets. When we gave her a funny look, she explained that the status wouldn’t sway her decision one way or the other…she wouldn’t give them any preference. The other (younger) person in the conversation reacted. He immediately chimed in that he would hire a Vet and he or she would be at the top of the list. He explained how vets have the discipline that most other people don’t have today. Vets know how to handle stress, and they have a great work ethic. They learn their job and take pride in it.

I was proud of the male for standing up to the other person. He asked me later why I didn’t get on her case. I told him that I didn’t have to. I supported what he said in the conversation, but his comeback was perfect. This wasn’t about attacking the person for what she said but for changing her mind. Because of his words, this woman will now remember to think twice the next time she’s reviewing resumes and interviewing.

Thank you to all the Vets who have served our country. This includes my dad, my father-in-law, and my brother. I have many other relatives and friends who’ve served. I’m proud of all, especially my son. He’s currently deployed and has served our country for over six years.

Happy Veterans Day!

Character Names

I learned at a past conference that when you name the heroine and hero in your story, those character names (first and last combined) should be five syllables in length for proper flow when reading or saying the names aloud. I thought about my character names. The heroine’s name in my book “Gitana – Life Plan” is Gitana Sothers which has five syllables; however, my hero Cade DeVerine only has four. I like the idea of having five syllables, but I like to base my characters’ names on gut feeling. I’ve used different methods for different storylines.

One method I’ve used is by thinking about the story that I want to tell. I’ll picture my heroine first to know what she looks like and then I’ll develop her personality. Based on what I come up with, her name will usually come to me. I used this method when thinking of Gitana Sothers’ name. The character I built in my head had long, black flowing hair and deep brown eyes. Her looks and spunk reminded me of a gypsy, hence the name Gitana. Next I come up with the hero’s name. For Cade DeVerine, he’s a solid, tough guy. Cade fits the toughness. DeVerine just flowed nicely with his first name.

Another way I’ve picked my characters’ names is by keeping a list handy of unusual names that have stuck with me. The heroine’s name in my next book “Jezamina – The Calling” is Jezamina (with no last name). Back in high school, I watched a movie in my Communications class where the heroine’s name was Gelsomina. The name stuck with me, but I had to tailor it to my character’s personality. For the hero in the same story, his name is Jezero. I made his name similar to Jezamina’s since he was the one who gave her the name after finding her in the sea.

I’m also writing a book with two writer friends. We picked our heroine’s name and hero’s name by using a book of names. We opened the book to the section for their nationality and then randomly selected three names. We went with the name we liked best out of the three. This isn’t a method that I really like, but it worked for us and the story we’re building. We like both their names as they fit with their character.

I understand there are rules to picking names, but I think the best approach is to go by gut feeling. Sometimes the name will come to me right away and other times not. I’ve also changed the name of a character as I write the story and learn more of his or her personality. Either way, it’s always a good feeling when you know you have picked the right name for your characters.