Courtney S. Barr

Welcome to My Kingdom!
Join me, the Princess, on my Royal Adventures in the Land of Writing!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Christmas List for All...

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness
To an opponent, tolerance
To a friend, your heart
To a customer, service
To all, charity
To every child, a good example
To yourself,...respect.
-Oren Arnold


December 7, 2010.

The list seems daunting. So many things that in the moment we hesitate.
  • Forgive an enemy? But they are the enemy....
  • A good example? How do I do this and know that it is enough to make the child notice?....
  • Tolerance to the one I am competing with...yeah those snarky comments about their slowness/lack probably is not tolerance...
  • A friend my heart? Don't I do that, don't I always lend an ear....or do I?...
  • A customer? I am friendly and try my best to work with my business associates in a serviceable manner - is it enough?
  • Charity...for all? Did I ignore the bell and walk on in, hurrying out of the cold? Did I let the door slam on the couple as they entered the store?
  • Respect...for me. For the one person who must look at the list and take in all its tasks, place them within my heartstrings and become better with each item...yes...respect:
  • for the little girl in me who still stands amazed at the dazzling Christmas lights...
  • for the teenage girl in me whose heart beats faster every time her beau holds her hand...
  • for the young woman in me who marvels at the places in her life she has seen and excites at those to come...
  • for the person I am who is a work in progress, a person who knows that every day she must accept her flaws and love them all the same, make decisions to be proud of and learn to accept the things we cannot change with dignity...
Yes, a list. A Christmas list that should last the whole year through. It may appear to be daunting, you may wonder whether or not you have checked it twice; but the most important part of all is that you acknowledge the list.

Memorize it.

I have many lists...this is merely one. Small and simple, easy to remember but quite possibly the hardest to complete - therefore my most important.

Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays...Happy Lists!

Monday, November 29, 2010


OMG! Have you seen this yet?
Have you bought this yet? Is it on your shelf? Have you downloaded the ebook? Are you reading it right now? NO? WELL WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR...Oh, wait, some of you have not heard about it yet...well step into the Courtyard and lend me an ;o)

The Kingdom would like to welcome Tamara Hart Heiner to its lovely garden. (Isn't she just darl'n?) PERILOUS (released November 16, 2010 by WiDo Publishing)

Amazon's snippet: Jaci Rivera has plans for her sophomore year: go to regionals with the track team, make the honor roll, and eat too much pizza with her best friends, Callie and Sara. Her biggest concern is Amanda, the pushy girl who moved in a few months ago.What she doesn't plan for is catching a robber red-handed, or being kidnapped. The desperate thief drags her and her friends 2,000 miles across the Canadian border. They escape from his lair, only to find that he has spies and agents watching their path home, waiting to intercept them and take them back.Then Jaci finds something out about her family. Something which irrevocably connects her to their kidnapper, and makes her question their chances of escape.
Are you still with us or did you already grab your keys and head for the nearest bookstore? Still here? Good.

I was not sure what I was going to encounter when I was privileged to read this book before it hit the shelves. My reading selections are in no way predictable and Perilous fell right between finishing up a sci-fi fantasy and beginning a young adult paranormal romance. From the first few pages I was hooked. Jaci and her friends are much like the teens that I encounter with my own nieces. Their verbage and banter is believable in a way that sucks you back into days of your own youth. As you are introduced to the family you find a deeper tone. There are layers here that do not disappoint.

Tamara was able to weave a tale that at once excites and terrifies the reader. It could happen any time, anywhere, to anyone. The fact that it is teenage girls in situations that parents NEVER want to even imagine breathes life into the story - because it COULD happen and sadly as the news proclaims; it does.

I happily handed my own 16 year old niece this book and she gobbled it up in a day. After discussing the action, the twists, the turns, the surprises we discussed the dynamics of the girls. A chord that rang loudly is strength & perseverance. The friends discover a strength that pulls them through the trauma and propels them toward safer ground.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and happily flew through it in an evening. It is a quick read that takes the reader on an emotional journey, desperately wanting all clues, all secrets, all puzzle pieces tied up neatly by the final page...does it deliver that perfectly wrapped ending?'ll have to find out.... ;o)

In case you are still too curious to slip out into the chill and head to the store, perhaps this link will provide something that will get you moving...

Well have I whet your appetite? Are you at the door, one eye on the screen reading this - the other on the doorknob ready to break free to the bookstore? Don't close those fingers around the knob just yet...there might be a few ways to snuggle up with Perilous...

The wonderful & sweet Tamara is hosting the following, awesome, amazing contests:

Any person who comments on any post during the blog tour will be entered into
a random drawing for a book. Which she can autograph, if you want. The
contest ends on Dec. 15.

Kindle giveaway: This contest is point-based and ends
Dec. 15. Whoever has the most points wins the Kindle. There will only be
one Kindle given away. Here are the points:
1 point: blog comment (can comment on all the blogs, multiple times, on
the tour)
1 point: follow my blog (
1 point: retweet
2 points: blog about the blog tour
5 points: purchase the book (ebook or paperback, must email me the
confirmation email) if they actually buy the book in the store they can
mail me a copy of the receipt.
Add up all your points as well as your proof (links, etc) and
email it to Tamara at the end of the blog tour (tamara at tamarahartheiner dot
People can earn an infinite number of points!

In addition to her contest, I also have purchased a copy of Perilous to place in someone's stocking! Yep so um that is like so many things to win, to tabulate (thank goodness Tamara must be good at math..;o) ) For my contest all you have to do is share this review (blog/Tweet/scream it out the window/skywrite it/whatever) this review and place a comment HERE on this post of how you did it! I will be using the honor system and on December 8 (hubby's birthday) will announce the randomly drawn winner! So go, get, spread the word and enjoy this edge of your seat debut!


p.s there is a sequel... I know...I want it now too! ;o)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Feeling like a gopher...

Good Tuesday before Turkey Day everyone!

I feel like a gopher peeking out to see what's going on in the land above. These last few weeks have been C-R-A-Z-Y! Seriously.

NaNo, holiday it possible to find a nice ruby red candy apple, a coconut & peach sno cone and a chocolate iced yellow cake anywhere all at once? If so, PUHLEASE draw me a map! Those are the foods I am craving while writing, working & wondering about my To Do list!

BUT! I decided to poke my head out of the ground for 3 reasons:

1. My hair is beginning to take on a life of its own and sunshine might be necessary for its survival.

2. It's almost Turkey Day & well I am getting antsy for the family time & wonderful foods.

3. For a Royal Decree. Yep you read it right a Royal Decree!...

On MONDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2010 be sure to wander by the you recuperate from Black Friday madness and read about a wonderful writer, blogger & person:


Oh yeah she's gonna be here - yep right here, on the steps of the Southern Tower, speaking to the masses and telling all about a tale that you DO NOT WANT TO MISS!!! If you don't know who she is then you are in for a real treat!

So please stop by, learn about a wonderful new book, a great author, watch a video and enter to win!

Now I must crawl back down the hole, my poor hair...all this dirt and such...ah well the characters need me... (at least I tell them they do ;o) )


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

10 days in...Can you feel your fingertips?

"Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe, shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish..."
-John Jakes
My fingertips are beginning to rub the letters from the keys, to know the words before my mind even processes the scene, they are moving quickly then finding a slow ease to the lines that appear on the screen above them. They stretch languidly as my eyes dance along the heart speeds up as excitement turns to thrilling anticipation of the next paragraph.

My eyes dart to the clock and realize that I have to pause, to calm my heart and attend to the dayjob. I check the wordcount and smile. I have met my daily goal. I realize that I have not updated the site and chastise myself...but wait...the site is there to help me remain disciplined, to remind me of why this magical month is so wonderful, I know that updating is good but what is important is the words on the screen...the flow of the story...the discovery of the character and the passion that pours through the worn keys from heart, head & fingers....yes...I wink at the screen, sharing secrets and suppressing a smile. It is me on the screen, a part of me that knows danger, thrills at adventure, fears the unknown, loves with all its soul and defies the laws of nature...

My mind flickers to thoughts of you, dear Royal Court, and I frown. You are not forgotten, not put aside due to dayjobs, family time, or even lack of internet - you are actually my support group, my silent section of the stadium that waits patiently for the scoring drive, your faces are beautiful, your words are my comfort. I look forward to your posts even if I must visit while being invisible, must read quickly and take in your sage advice and humorous anecdotes.

Good Wednesday everyone...
it is 10 days into NaNoWriMo...
my fingertips are still tingling from the sheer joy of this month...
How are yours doing?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Memos - Da Vinci...NaNo...Art...

"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art..."
Leonardo da Vinci
My fingers have been hovering lately...not touching the keys nearly as much yet itching to feel the smooth motion as they press against the base. Twitching when they must only use the action for dayjob searches and nighttime vehicular research. They seemed to sing last week as I discovered the new car and quickly pressed print. They held the paper, featherlight between the tips and could feel my excitement.
They curled around the steering wheel and flexed as my toes pressed the new gas pedal. They fluttered as I waved to my niece; she now enjoys my old Jeep as her own...My fingers tapped against the wheel, a motion so natural that I almost do not notice it. Glancing at their dark nail polish I cannot contain the sigh....for the first time in weeks they can sense the freedom again. A surge of excitement rolls through my mind and out through their ends; the electrical sensation is more than I can handle. I must now give in and let them reunite with their artistic lover.
Once home I climb the stairs, tossing my keys on the table - their loud clang against the marble does not cause me to pause; I continue to the bedroom. Placing the laptop onto my knees evokes a broad grin. I lift the lid as I have for weeks but in this moment I feel the difference - there are no searches for vehicles to feel out, no histories to find about owners & mileage; there is only the never ending abilities of a white background, a black font, and my own mind as it guides the fingers that so desperately yearn for contentment.
It is late, my eyes blur from the black on white beauty before them. The fingers are still able to continue, but they must accept that rest will aide in their quest. Smiling I select the blue disk icon and save my work...yes my is work that we call it, yet it is art in the end...appreciated by those who will love it for all its flaws and imperfections - hated by those who find disconnect with its subject...for me it is the result of a spirit in waiting, of fingers who needed to flex and find their groove and a heart that has been absent from their tasks....
NaNoWriMo is around the fingers know it...they ache for it and I smile knowing that I will give them the pleasure of 30 blissful days to work on their art...
What about you? Have you signed up?
friend me if you'd like: southrnprincess

Have you heard about Nightshade by Andrea Cremer? If not you need to, I was blessed to get a very early copy & let me tell you - I LOVE IT! It releases tomorrow!Andrea has a blog - follow it!

PJ Hoover is having a wonderful contest about her Forgotten Worlds Trilogy - you should definitely enter - these books are wonderful!

Janette Rallison makes you think golf balls, danger & the wonderful protection of writing without an audience...

Shannon M. is giving away a copy of the Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan...yep...wait are you still here? Go enter!

Have a Marvelous Monday!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Why do you judge me?

"Why do you judge me?" they ask softly "Did I do something to offend you? Did I not tell it correctly? Was I out of line? Does it matter that I am not widely accepted but there are a few who appreciate me? Are those few out of line for loving me? Who is to say whether they cherish or hate me?"

Their questions are all at once.
Their voices are tones of all dialects, all worlds, all times, all nations, all vernacular.
They speak with earnest and wish only to be heard.
They understand that not everyone will like them all, that more than likely only a few will love them.
Their lives are determined by a select few and they understand the prejudice of those few - in fact they support their right to have an opinion.
They only wish the few allowed everyone else to make their own choices - for within their voices we can discover great things about ourselves, about life, and about dreams...

"Curiosity is not a sin...But we should exercise caution with our curiosity...yes indeed." Albus Dumbledore - Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire -the amazing JK Rowling.

"Language is man's way of communicating with his fellow man and it is language alone that separates him from the lower animals." - I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - the beautiful Maya Angelou

Suddenly two coiled arms of twisting hair shot out of Wedgie Woman's head and grabbed George and Harold by the back of their underwear, yanking them high into the air.
"You know," said George "this isn't as funny as I thought it would be."
-Captain Underpants - the hilarious Dav Pilkey

"You know when you see a gorgeous boy on the street and you say to your friend, "Look at him!" and then your friend makes a face like, ugly? We all have such totally varied tastes that someone is going to look at you and think, yum-yum dee-lish, no matter what you think you look like. You just have to learn to see what they see." - Because I'm Worth It - Gossip Girl - the witty & utterly hip Cecily von Ziegesar

"Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. I just told my mother I want a bra. Please help me grow God. You know where. I want to be like everyone else." - Are you there God? It's me, Margaret. - the honest & unfiltered at any age Judy Blume.

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther....And then one fine morning --
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." - The Great Gatsby - the moving and melancholy tones of F. Scott Fitzgerald

"It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road." - The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger

Make them more popular by putting them on a list - making them forbidden and ever so tempting.

Yes, judge them - we won't judge you for the list.

Because a list is just words & who better than the reader or writer understands words? That as a list they are just...a column of opinion...we have the freedom to look at the list, to ignore it, to accept it, to follow it and to laugh at it...

We educate ourselves in order to know that hidden within the list are lessons..that those of us who laugh at the list AND those of us who support it should always remember..

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
-To Kill A Mockingbird - the ever reclusive yet embraced Harper Lee

Pick that last one up sometime, banned/schmanned - its worth the time and the consideration to forget that its banned....

Happy Banned Books Week
For the list & more information about Banned Books Week
click Here

Oh the awesome and fun you may discover! Have a Fun Filled Friday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A girl with red hair & love that shines through the ages...

"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."
-Martin Buber

Well, hello everyone! *shakes head with a smile & waves* Have we all been enjoying the ending of summer and getting ready for those Fall colors that mimic the summer sun? I have least I think I have. :o)

My dayjob has sent me to a few locations lately that have hindered my time visiting many of you except through Google Reader. This makes me sad but also appreciate the ease of Google Reader - though not being able to comment is a real bust!

I am again getting back into the swing of things and have discovered the above quote while flipping through a magazine. I laughed when I read it, could not help it. You see lately I have seen some crazy airports, met some unique people, shopped incessantly for a car, discovered a love for feta & red pepper mashed potatoes, decided Chicago has the BEST popcorn, found Mt. Washington in PA to be one of the most scenic cityscape viewing ever, enjoyed Maryland crab cakes, pontificated over the number of rude store clerks, shopped some amazing stores and fell exhausted many nights in some wonderful hotels...all due to the dayjob. Each trip, each location is technically where I am supposed to go. But it's the roads that I take sporadically in each town, the little eateries that have me whipping the rental around and popping in for a bite, the store windows with their items glowing - pulling me in, the airport travelers, the hidden bookstores and the discovery of a new story that make this quote perfect for me.

I am always amazed at the wonderful surprises that await me when I travel. Those little gems that you take home and ponder over: the young woman with light red hair that fell in waves down her back. She wore dark black tights, tall boots and a striped dolman sweater. Her eyes were red from tears and her hand shook slightly as she sat beside me in Chicago. I did not speak for she seemed to be trying to fold into the chair, to disappear from the strangers around her. She could not have been older than twenty. From the corner of my eye I worried for her. Hoping that whatever was wrong/sad/disturbing would not plague her as she continued her journey. She carried only a purse and held an iPod tightly between her fingers.

Then in Baltimore I watched an older couple, a man no younger than seventy and a wife the same walk hand in hand down the skyway. He held her purse as she entered a restroom and I enjoyed the simple gesture with sheer pleasure. We smiled to one another across the way and later as I stood near a monitor he was there again, she stood beside him reading the scrolling flight times. Slipping another smile towards him he began to speak. "You have a lovely smile my dear. It is so rare to see young people really smile anymore." Grinning I thanked him, told him I thought it kind that he still held his wife's purse and even more wonderful that they held hands. He made a light joke that they would both get lost if they did not and we shared a laugh. I turned to see my gate and wished them a safe flight.

Random encounters give us so much to think about. I felt sadness and a deep need to want to help the young girl, but allowed her the space she seemed to crave. The couple had me tearing up and thinking how wonderful it is to have someone who already will hold my purse and my hand whenever I need it. Those secret destinations that I discovered along Blvd of the Allies, Grandview Ave, Clark Street, Charles Street and along William Penn Highway/US -22 are wonderful, memorable and worth the time; but it is the vision of red hair falling over slim shoulders, head bowed and that of the soft clasp of hands that cling to each other as they pass through the later years of life - those images, those unexpected distractions are what stay burned into my mind and lay upon my heart.

They may become characters in a story I later write, perhaps I will forget about them as time passes... but no matter what, they are dynamic within their own stories and for a moment they captured this traveler's attention completely unaware....

Have a merry Tuesday with a Twist!


Oh yeah - just heard about this AWESOME contest: Enter Carol's SPEAK about Banned Books by 9-26-2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Memos: Car Shopping & Writing...

"If you've never bought a car, you don't know anything about maintaining a car. Young buyers don't figure out how much the car is going to cost them the whole year..."
-Jeff Oseroff
Car shopping is a lot of fun...when you can window shop & dream about owning the vehicle or when your funds are unlimited... Not so much fun when you have a budget you must maintain, a teenager who truly is not sure what she wants - and is still developing exactly what style even appeals to her, a husband who just wants to find a good deal and an insurance company to deal with as well. Now, I'm no saint in this equation - I have my own list of requirements and rules for her first vehicle. Overall its just an experience that is exciting, tiring, fun & overwhelming at times. (By the way - thank you mom & dad for a patience that I am now beginning to truly appreciate)

The big details of all of this are no different than any household big purchase but it is the little conversations that appeal to me the most. Discussing the costs that will go into it and informing a 16 year old she will be responsible for gas and that where it goes/who drives it are details that we are seriously discussing at dinner & while running errands. As maintenance & care becomes more & more the subject of the search I realized this is much like writing a manuscript.

You have an idea, a concept of what you want your end result to be. You are not positive that it will be that exact story but you are pointed in a certain direction. The big details: story arc, main character and genre is much like the body, make & model of a vehicle. But it doesn't stop there - interior colors/textures are like setting/time. The miles per gallon/gas prices are much like the relevance of your story/your want for completion: does it get you from A to B at a cost that will allow you to have extra cash - is the story one that you believe in and are ready to put everything you have into it? The engine is your characters. All those parts, those tiny pieces that get the story running & keep the driver going where they need to go...Such details that we sometimes labor over and other times we just dive right in. For us, we are researching, trying to make smart decisions, safe decisions yet also make it something fun. For me, I am still maintaining - working at getting the interior details & maintaining flow. We just don't always realize how much goes into maintenance. The revising, the changes, the aggravation, the excitement, the stress, the lack of sleep, the joy, the tears...the brake pads, the oil, the gas prices, the balance & rotation, the insurance, the cleaning...

The best part about all of this is that with both cars & writing, sometimes all we need to do is trade in or maybe, just maybe, we only need a fresh coat of paint, a weekend joy ride or an appraisal to remind us that we have a classic on our hands.

We need to be patient and enjoy the fact that over time our value will be retained, even if its only by a select few - we can be proud of the end result and enjoy those Sunday afternoon drives...
Hello Monday! How is everyone today?

Do you have to tell yourself to say "no" so that you can focus on writing?Roni Griffin tackles this issue & as a fellow Southern gal, I feel her pain...

So Blaze or Dry Rot? Don't know? well wander over to Book Dreaming..I can promise you Shannon is always blazing!

Frankie met Sara Shepard! Yep - are you a Pretty Little Liars fan? If not, well shame on you - the books rock and the show is fun! Scoot over to her blog and you just might win a signed copy - or don't more chances for me... ;o)

Have a Magical Monday!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday's Written Word: Delivered

He looks at me...knowing it has been too long...
My fingers are ready but scared to dive back in...
The words are so few, such tiny scraps of paper...
So terrifying with their unknown letters...
I inhale and release the breath, accepting I must return to the habit...
to the sanctuary of the words...
This cannot be happening! Air! I need air...p-pllleeease...air!

The whimper escapes before I can stop it. Inhaling burns my lungs and I wait for the pain to ease before running my hands along the rough wall, frantically searching for an opening. I pound against the wood, ignoring the pain, wanting only to be heard by someone. It has been at least four days since I was placed in the first box and hours since the second.

Splinters pull at my skin with every inch I cover. The wood's tiny spikes scratch my bare legs and back. The cold has long since left body, replaced by the warmth of my own blood scattered across my skin. The journey was rough over the last days and the box had been thrown around. But none of the pain of travel compared to before.

My jaw aches from the lashes. Even if I wanted to speak it would be difficult. My teeth chattered for so long when they first loaded my crate that I bit the edges of my tongue, my cheek and my lips.

Wooden walls encase me; walls so tight that I cannot turn around. Every movement has my body aching. It has been hours since I last heard voices and now it seems they have placed me in another box; only this one appears to be airtight.

Please, God, please if you can hear me...please don't let me die...please...I don't understand.

My hands rest on my knees and I feel a splinter dig into my index finger - the pain is dull, no longer so sharp. Breathing hurts. Every inhale is peppered with a quiet rasp that has begun to grow louder with every passing minute.

Tears flow freely down my cheeks. Sweet salty drops fall against my lips and I taste my own fear. Hope is a fickle mystery that lingers in my mind, skirting along a thin line of sanity. My soul seems to remind me to relax, to I sit back against the coarse boards.

Closing my eyes I sit still and listen to the crackling rasp of my own breath.

My thoughts are of before, when once I knew the feeling of the safety. I had not known that things could change so quickly. They had come before I could learn the ways of the lost and taken me, stripped me of my belongings and handed me over... to him.

He hates me. I disgust him.

In my heart I believe he fears me but I do not know why. What could a girl of eighteen do to a man of such power? A man who ruled so many.

I anger him. His power tore at my face and hands but I did not weep. He wanted me to cry out, to beg and my soul would not let me. It told me to be patient and to be strong.

Why did I not cry?

It hurt so badly, yet tears would not come. Now they run freely and there is no one here to see them.

A noise in the distance has me jumping, my shoulder scrapes against the wall. Biting my lip from the pain I listen.

Footsteps. I pull my knees close to my chest, the rasps are faster now and the sound coming from my mouth cannot be silenced.

"Which one is she in?" A voice hard and gritty fills my ears.

"The one with the mark - the mark of the stone." The words are spoken in a whisper with a reverence that startles me. "They said she would arrive within the week."


The odd shaped mark on my ankle has always resembled a jewel. I have no idea if I was born with it, only that it had been of interest to him.

The footsteps are closer now, I can hear their breathing.

Loud creaking fills my ears as they open the outer box. Light peeks through the slats of wood and I fight the urge to weep.

"I can hear her breathing! She's alive. The Gelders will be so happy!"

The words have me cowering. Who are the Gelders? Dear God, please don't let it be like before. Please.

"How has she survived?" The whispering voice speaks so soft that I almost do not hear it.

The wood shakes as they try to open the box that has surrounded me for days. The panel beside me begins to loosen from the corners and I lean away from it.

Light spills over me as it is removed. I duck my head from the stark white brightness.

"Oh my...what did he - " the question dies on his lips as I slowly try to move. My limbs are sore and cut, my skin is covered in patches of blood. At first I do not think that I can even unfold myself, but I look to see his hand outstretched toward me.

Slowly I reach out for the large hand, feeling the callouses on his upturned palm as our skin meets and sensing the strength within it. I should be scared but a feeling of comfort washes over me at the human touch.

I allow them to pull me out and help me to stand. My nakedness has them blushing but I have learned in a short time that modesty is the least of my worries. The two men look me over as I adjust to the air and the light. Their cheeks are pink as their gaze travels my body but I see the light in their eyes when they find the mark on my ankle. The one who held my hand reaches for a cloak and covers me as his companion hits his knees.

Then he also kneels and bows his head.

In unison they speak and I begin to tremble.

"We bow to you, and promise to serve you. You bear the mark and we are blessed to have been chosen to be your guides."


Have a Wacky & Whimsical Wednesday!

To read past Wednesday's Written Words please feel free to use the sidebar menu on the right or visit my Original Works page!
P.S. Scoot over to CJREDWINE's Blog and donate to a worthy cause - one of the most amazing reasons to enter a contest - a family can be made a reality...THE LAST WORD

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Memos....Routine vs Life

The less routine, the more life!
-Amos Bronson Alcott

*** we are again...
that word..
that stinky little 7 letter word that sometimes eclipses the wonders of that 4 letter word.

I don't mean to let it slip in and take over, let it sometimes suck the fun out of a good 4 letter word; but gosh darn it - it can.

It creeps in when I sit down to plan out dinners, when I look at a football schedule and try to decide how to time everything just right; it walks into my bedroom every morning at 7:20 and works diligently to point me in the correct direction...

but alas...those 7 letters are a formidable opponent but the 4 in the opposite corner win out every time:

Routine vs. Life

Who knew that between the little ticks on a daily planner that life can swoop in and create an inky mess or wonderful escape?

Routine can be perfect for one matter and ridiculous for another. We talk of balance, of time management, of school schedules and work shenanigans all the while forgetting that each routine must have life within it...Life wins out, even when the routine seems perfectly patterned for success. That little bump, that hitch in your time management - it isn't exactly a bad thing; actually it is probably just what you needed to remember that Life isn't routine. It is not set in stone within the squares of a DayTimer. It is messy, unforgiving, relentless, exciting, dramatic, tiring, busy, surprising, heroic, fatal, mysterious, romantic, shocking, hilarious, sad and dangerous.

It is all the elements we seek when wandering a bookstore - granted even a book store attempts to control routine, yet we all know that genre divisions can be misleading and often overlap. They segregate the books into genre, theme, author, style - forgetting that if its good, if its worth the time to read it, to enjoy it, to relish it...well, we don't mind which piece of life is in it - so long as the life is there when we turn the page....

So work on your projects, let the hitches come, let the routine slip a little, let the day planner have a blank square...because I promise if you were to flip back through it and think about that day you will remember: not a blank day with no activity but a day full of the routines of life - after all Life always wins... ;o)

For me daily match with Life can be found in these blogs as well...

Tina Lynn asks if you also struggle to find a new VOICE...

Dear Lord! I could pass out - James Dashner graciously gives us an update on book 3 in THE MAZE RUNNER trilogy and lets us see a snippet of the SCORCH TRIALS!! I may faint from excitement...

Lola's preaching to my writing choir today and choir needs to be sure to keep showing me their talent...(though telling me appears to be their favorite method) - oh the agony of realizing I tell too much... ;o)

DL has a wonderful post discussing his 'budget' that can in many ways relate to Routine vs Life - those that's and then's we encounter while writing our beloved manuscripts...

Enjoy your Marvelous Monday...I hope its full of Life... ;o)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Memos!


You can find hundreds of blog posts all over the internet that focus on "hooking" your reader. Books are written about how to pull a reader in by using tone, subject, description or just a few words - oh I'm sorry, the right words.

We all search for the right words. What makes me laugh is that we search not only for the words to draw a reader in, but we must work to discover the ones that keep them in our clutches. ;o)

We want them to turn that first page, stay up late, lose sleep because they cannot put it down and fall in love with our characters. These are demands we make of ourselves as we scurry through a manuscript. What we sometimes forget is that we are also the reader during this process. WE need to want to turn the first page, we need to want to stay up late, lose sleep and fall in love with the villains, the heroes and the supporting characters. But for the writer even if the first attempt does not keep us close, don't lose faith or think it a wasted beginning.

Plato is right the beginning is the most important part, what he leaves open to interpretation is "what is the beginning?". For the reader it's that hook on the first few pages...but for the writer it is whatever point the story appears in our mind then fleshes out on paper. Some write from middle to end and end to beginning. Others are traditional and start from page one, some create an outline and fill in as they go. I am a traditionalist for the most part but have found myself waking up to a scene that is at the end of a story itching to be told....they are all beginnings for the writer. They are all our most important part of the work for that story.

We cannot forget that each story is its own beginning as a whole. It is a step, a platform, a direction that we yearn to explore. It is a part of us that must be nurtured. Yes, I know some stories get shelved, they never get printed out, they are barely even a full MS; but can you not see that they too are beginnings...they are the first step or the turning point or the base for something we will begin again later or that will push us to write the MS that changes it all. Yes, beginnings are the most important work. Life is full of beginnings just waiting for us to discover their hook and keep us up late, working our fingers to the bone and loving every single second...

Where do you begin?

Around the blogs today!!

Um, are you ready for WRITE ON CON? NO? What? You have to be - it begins tomorrow!!!!!

Wendy Ramer has an adorable post about Justin Bieber - yes, you read that right!

The Literary Lab has a very interesting interview with Murray Dunlap, What would you do if you forgot everything you ever wrote?

Oh & The CONTESTS!!!

Okay, Lola's is awesome - go enter now! Click on the pic in the right sidebar -No other words need be said ;o)

Early info on Miss Snark's August Secret Agent contest!

Rebecca & Naomi: 2 sisters, 2 birthdays, 2 contests, 2 AWESOME GIRLS!
Follow both: Rebecca & Naomi

Carol over at Carol's Prints is giving away 7 ARCS! Yep you read it right 7 ARCS!!! click now it ends 8-15-10

Have a Marvelous Monday!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Welcome to the HIGH DRAMA BLOGFEST hosted by the sweet and wonderful DL Hammons... be sure to wander over to his blog Cruising Altitude and wander through the other entries.
I was a bit unclear as to what constituted High if this is not textbook definition I apologize, for me it is dramatic - I hope for you as well ;o)
This is not from a WIP but written specifically for the blogfest...
"What does it mean?"

My eyes followed her nervous fingers as she opened the door; the round edges of her nails a stark white against the dingy brass knob. An urge to stop her slammed into my gut.

"It means that things have changed." The voice that spoke did not sound like my own. Gruff tones, low and sad.

What is wrong with you?

"Why? I thought - I thought you...I mean I thought it was getting better."

Her voice isn't gruff. It is soft and sweet, a sound that could soothe away any pain, make you remember things long buried and not care about the things you had done. I wanted to hear her always.

The large wooden door creaked as she pulled it open. Melodic strains of Rachmaninoff glided out and chills ran down my arms. Her question was simple but now I knew the answer would not be - at least not to her.

"It isn't."

I pushed her through and she stumbled to the floor. Her gasp barely registered when I saw him. He stood. Long, lean limbs unfolded as he straightened; dark black hair curled at the nape of his neck. A gray shirt hung loosely on his gangly frame accentuating the snug jeans. High cheekbones, eerie in their structure sat beneath eyes of night - black and terrifying.

She backed up and pressed against me. The ache grew and forcibly I pushed her forward.

"Wait - please..." No longer sweet and soft, her voice a pleading whisper that was more whine than ever.

He was in front of her before she could finish; his movements barely visible as he crossed the room. Long bony fingers curled around her neck.

Her body shook as she tried to turn back to me.

I started to leave. His head snapped up and I froze. He looked from her to me and smiled.

"I know the rules Evan."

Silently I nodded.

"Good." Gravely tones elongated the word and I knew then that yes, it isn't any better. "I apologize Evan, but I do not sense the gift in her."

Before I could say a word his hand twisted and her head fell to the side unnaturally. He released her and I watched the soft peach skin, dark chesnut hair and the brightest light I had ever known collapse onto the floor.

The ache was gone, replaced by an internal scream that can never be freed. My breathing hitched as I stared at her. He cleared his throat and I looked back at him; my body reeling with a hatred I had never known.

"Do better next time Evan." He began to hum along with music, waving a hand in dismissal.

I glanced at her, seeing her eyes stare blindly towards the wall and felt the scream die down replaced by a burning heat.

"Oh, I will sir, I will." Yes things had definitely changed.

Have fun today on this Sunny Saturday!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Fun: Tag! You Are It!

H-E-L-L-O F-R-I-D-A-Y!!!

(Wacko's Hellllooooo Nurse! is stuck in my head today)
So Shannon over at Book Dreaming decided to pay me a visit this morning. Yep, she popped over to this here lil' Royal setting and told me I was before I hyperventilated with worry as to what on earth she had tagged me for I grinned. Not just any grin, but a big one.
You see I have been a bit chaotic and busy lately. Not able to post as regularly, have missed my Wednesday writings and well am just now beginning to slow down even the tiniest bit. To some it might appear that my slow down and their slow down are TOTALLY different definitions, but I promise it really is beginning to be a little more laid back at the Castle. What had me smiling was the comments from Monday's post. There wasn't just one, but 9. Nine comments. Each one sweet, sincere and genuinely glad to have visited. I had not yet posted my own comment to everyone else and well I just wanted to say Hello & Thank you. You have all been so supportive during these adjustments for our Kingdom and have visited here each time I have posted. For that I am forever grateful. We all go on soapboxes every now and then about the wonderful community of writers, book bloggers & authors that we frequent, I often chime in and this time I just want to express the simple appreciation for y'all letting this Southern Princess prance around & feel so welcome. I hope that I am able to return the love in every way possible.
Now on to the tagging:
This is the one where you have to write the following list of items in your own handwriting and then post a pic of it here. I had to split mine up because my cell phone won't hold the whole thing here goes...The instructions are to write the following items:
1. Name/Blog Name.
2. Right handed, left handed or both?
3. Favorite letters to write?
4. Least favorite letters to write?
5. Write: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
7. Favorite song lyrics?
8. Tag 7 people.
9. Any special note or drawing?
Okay so the ones who are now tagged:
if you cannot decipher on the photo here they lovelies are again...(if you have already done this one, please just divert your post to the link) ;o)

Jemi @ Just Jemi
DL Hammons @ Cruising Altitude
Frankie Mallis @ Frankie Writes
Talli @ Talli Roland
Okay, whew! Well that was fun! I hope you all enjoyed this odd look into my handwriting!
Have a wonderful weekend and be sure to check out DL's Fantabulous HIGH DRAMA BLOGFEST tomorrow..should be a great one!
Also be sure to check out Lola's AWESOME Whatever Lola Wants or her Back from Maine Contest!!!!
*I should add one I change my signature about every 3 months, so the way I write my name can be different at a moment's notice.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Memos...First Focus...

"It's not what's happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it's your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you're going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny."
-Anthony Robbins
Focus is a big word right now in our house. We have come to discover that within those five letters lie a host of directions. By now most of you have seen the post(s) regarding our newest family member Kristin, have seen that we have been vacationing last week and that my blog has been more sporadic than ever before - well it has not been purposeful and I realized that I had let my focus stretch out. There are moments where I focus on one schedule, then another, then another until I am such a mess that you cannot even consider my thoughts to be collective!

We sometimes do this when we are writing. We begin at one point and plot through our story then we find a hole/a change that we jump to examine. We adjust, we make note then shift back to where we were; only to discover something else that might need tweaking. We tell ourselves to wait until it is complete, when revisions should be the focus but it is hard. The characters are everywhere, the details are forming and we feel the draft is beginning to take the shape of a large building. The hardest part is when the draft/building begins to show early wear & tear. The sides are bulging, the floors are becoming dingy, there are way too many pink flamingos on the lawn and the windows are not only open but missing in some rooms. Often we lose hope and the drive to refurbish or sometimes we continue to add elements that truly make an ostentatious, over done, extravagant & cheeky place that really needs to be bulldozed!

That is not the way to utilize focus. Anthony Robbins is right-Its where you place your focus that determines where you will end up. Those decisions to add TOO much or revise TOO soon, well it normally means you will be working on that draft for MUCH longer than you expected; cull the parts that need to go, kill the character that needs to die, change the setting, end the story - all actions that determine your draft's destiny. Yes, yes, there are agents & publishers to woo and seduce but before that, before the great announcement there must be what I now call First Focus.

Don't worry I am in First Focus myself and trying desperately to not have the tackiest house on the block. I have discovered that focus is not always easy, that distractions are not always simple to push aside and that learning from my mistakes is still a work in progress. But no matter what I must remember to Focus. That with the proper First Focus I will hopefully be ready to have that curb appeal we all seek. Though a few flamingos can be cute...can't they?? (just lie and say yes ;o) )

So how are all of you? Are you aware that you need to slow down and maybe refocus in order to find the right direction?

A few announcements...

Rebecca asks if you have a System?

Jamie over at Writer's write, right? is hosting a FIRST GIVEAWAY... - be sure to check in on 8/9 for more details!

Oh yeah...there is a for a prize pack of Harper Lee goodness...


To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill A Mockingbird featuring Gregory Peck DVD
Surprise from the Monroeville, Alabama Heritage Museum



Now Liza did not leave an email in her comment and I laughed out loud when her name popped up especially since her comment was this:

"How did I miss this last of my all time favorite books? So, old follower...6 little points for me. I won't win, but may get out my yellowing, thumb-eared copy and give it another read. Thanks for reminding me that it is time."

So Liza I am going to try to track you down!

If I cannot find you by Wednesday, 8-4-2010 I will have to draw another name, so please if you read this send me an email!

Don't despair, I have another contest coming up...yep a good one since I am dancing around 300 followers... so look out for that post coming up... ;o)

Have a Marvelous Monday!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Greetings from... A Royal Departure...

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air..."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
All adventures seem to find their way to a conclusion. Yet it is in the final moments that we reflect on the events and marvel at their surreality. The steps that took us to the final scene, the moments that captured our breath and left us wanton; those glimpses of magic that remind us of all that fascinates and the surge of pleasure we get when we realize how amazing this life is.
Our Royal Adventure to the Gulf Coast has been truly an adventure. We came hoping to find a fun and fantastic vacation and leave with the child like exhaustion of a day in the sun. We are tired, we are tan, we are moving a bit more slowly, reacting with a bit more snark and grudgingly collecting all our goodies before the long drive home. Yet with every single damp towel, sand crusted flip flop, empty suntan bottle and over stuffed suitcase - we pack up a week's worth of smiles, a lifetime's worth of memories and the pleasurable feeling of returning to normal life knowing that we just spent 8 days having a blast with close family....we also know it will be around 2 -3 years before we do this again so we breath a little easier.

I have enjoyed this week and all its activities, waking each morning at 6 a.m (my dog decided to try a new time schedule...WHILE ON VACATION! ;o) ), wandering the sandy shores & wading in the water collecting seashells until after 9:30 a.m., then gathering together to discuss the day's options. So many of us, so many places to go, things to see and pictures to take. We are a big group and getting around restaurants, movie theaters and the swimming pool can be overwhelming but we do it and we love it. Yes, there are occasional snide moods and snarky teenagers, whining young ones and grumpy adults but the in between, the up & around, the middle moments are when we shine. I am thankful to have a wonderful family. One that likes to have me around and welcomes me with open arms.
We missed those that had to leave early and there were a few who were unable to attend at all due to uncontrollable injuries (yep a broken arm and foot fracture was not the worst that struck our family but that is another story - one that today has high hopes for a good recovery in the next months). We are all at such different points in our lives. We move in so many directions that often a printed map would definitely help us keep up if not get us to where we should be. It is trips like this one, full of laughter & excitement that finds the checkered flag on our personal GPS systems. It allows a win that we were not expecting, that feeling of contentment similar to winning a prize and wanting to display it on the shelf.
So prize, my trophy is to sit upon this blogging shelf and shine for me to remember and for you to enjoy...

Kristin & Me driving up and down Front Beach (don't worry we are at a stoplight) ;o)

Me & My sister Nina!My niece Anna hula hooping at J Michael's restaurant - you can barely see the hula hoop spinnng around her..

Broken arm and all...texting is still the utmost important thing to a 16 year old..

Kristin in the Hot Seat at Ripley's - one handed she made it to 3000 points, not too shabby...

Watching the dolphins play...

Kristin & me on the dolphin cruise...

The "Spearhead" my sister stepped on while shellseeking...she is adamant about it being a giant arrowhead or spearhead. I must say the shape is definitely interesting as is a mark at its base that resembles an indention of where a post may have been..either way it is her treasure...

A snippet of the shells collected each morning...

A few of my favorites..

So there you have trophies, my lovelies, my memories...treat them well and I hope you enjoyed perusing our Royal Ramblings...

Have a Fantastic Friday & Wonderful Weekend...check in on Monday for the return of Monday Memos & the winner of the Harper Lee Prize Package..