‘Spring’ing Forward

Hey y’all.  Spring is in the air for sure here in Central Georgia.  Our Dogwood trees are blossoming, the others are forming their buds, the weather is growing warmer by a couple degrees every day; the weather was so nice last weekend I spent the day outdoors, raking our front and side yard. I should have taken some photos to share, but I didn’t.  I felt it the next day though.  My entire back was stiff, right up the spine. 

There were people in our park last week, power washing the mobile homes.  I didn’t think ours was that dirty until the guy power washed it.  That may or may not have been my reason for wanting to get outside and rake the yard.  Just saying.  That mixed with the long, rather isolated winter we all experienced thanks to Covid quarantining.  Please, keep wearing your masks y’all.  We’re close to the end of this, but not quite.

With spring in the air, I’ve also been moving progressively forward.  One project I have moved forward with is my book.  A couple weeks ago, I received, reviewed, and approved my cover design from my cover design artist.  They did a spectacular job!  Now I’m patiently waiting for my box of 10 copies to come.  Once that happens, again, I receive, review, approve, and then I can finally begin sharing my first published book with y’all.  I can’t wait to be able to share the link with y’all!

I sprung forward with another project as well.  I’ve been creatively working on another personalized piece of artwork, but this piece I created for Bindi Irwin and her husband Chandler, for their baby wildlife warrior coming.  I think I’ve spent over a month sketching it, then another couple weeks, night and day, adding the color, and finally a few weeks ago, I mailed it out priority mail to Australia.  When I learned they were expecting, my creative visioning kicked into high gear.  I hope they like it.  It turned out adorably.

Now I’m moving forward, towards advancing our future.  We want to travel and see the world and share every experience with y’all, whether by blog, vlog, or book.  It could be sooner than hubby and I think, but we don’t know.  We are simply springing forward. 

As always, thanks for reading y’all. Have a great day!

Surprise! Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Greetings y’all! Since my last post, many things have happened. We found a kitten, I moved into the ‘cover design’ phase of publishing, and Thanksgiving came. It has been an interesting few weeks to say the least.

On Saturday, November 7th, my dad gave me a ride to Macon, to Kitty City Cat Rescue, so I could pick up ‘Maleficent’ and bring her home. The whole idea was to surprise my daughter with her very own kitten. She has had the name picked out for years, though not as long as my husband and I had the name ‘Merlyn’ picked out before we were finally able to establish a home where we could have her.

‘Maleficent’ is proving to be very energetic, with a feisty attitude, but she loves to play. She reminds us of ‘Merlyn’ when ‘Merlyn’ when her age.

The day I brought her home, we absolutely surprised our daughter. ‘Maleficent’ had spent the entire 45-minute car ride, from Macon to Thomaston, meowing, which is normal. Unfortunately, the long car ride mixed with my dad’s driving technique, gave ‘Maleficent’ a queasy stomach. Luckily, I decided to include the blanket you see in the photo, in her carrier, and she only got sick on it. Twice. The good news is she hasn’t gotten sick since.

Having ‘Maleficent’ around has been different. ‘Merlyn’ and ‘Carlee’ are 8 and 6-years old respectively, so it’s been quite some time since we had a kitten around. ‘Maleficent’ is feeling right at home though because she runs the halls with ‘Carlee’ at night and into the early morning, and she gets her roughhousing with ‘Merlyn’ during the day, when she isn’t sleeping. Her favorite early morning activity is to play in my bed, attacking different areas of my bedding, about half an hour before my alarm goes off for work. I admit, it was kind of annoying at first, but what do you do when it’s a kitten.

I mentioned earlier, my book has moved forward, and now I am in ‘cover design’ mode. As soon as my friend whose a retired hairdresser can trim my hair a little, I get to experience my own little homemade personal photoshoot. I’ve never had a personal photoshoot, unless you count glamour shots that sadly fell through due to cost. That’s a story for another time.

Now, Thanksgiving. That was a busy day. I took the day off, meaning I didn’t open any time slots for my student’s parents to book. Instead, I woke up at 4am to begin prepping and baking. A week before this, my husband and I created the menu we had been planning to cook for our family and friends.

As you can see, we offered several choices for Thanksgiving dinner.

Preparing everything was tiring, but fun and worth it. By the time my husband got up at 6am, both pumpkin pies were in the oven, and I was filling the deviled eggs. Afterward, I started in on mixing my no-bake cheesecakes together, then I took a break. All the prepping we did, it reminded me of my mornings when I worked as a prep cook for Applebee’s in Monroe, Georgia. My husband and I learned early on that we work better in the kitchen together than anyone else we know. There are some people who don’t understand how we work so well together.

Now, to say our Thanksgiving day went absolutely perfectly smooth, that would be a lie. We did reach a hiccup in the system plan. First, it rained all morning, off and on, from heavy downpour to light drizzles, back and forth. We might have gotten past the rain, but the hiccup that followed left us without further options. We hooked everything up correctly, the propane tank to the turkey deep fryer we purchased, but there was a hit/miss somewhere because we weren’t able to officially deep fry the turkey. It wasn’t raining when my husband hooked everything together. It wasn’t raining when we set it all up in the spot we designated specifically for it. It began raining as we were trying to ignite the purpose, and because it did, we had to shut it down. So, instead of deep fried turkey, we properly executed a last moment oven roasted turkey. It was delicious!

The hardest part was sending text messages to our family and friends; “Due to inclement weather, deep fried turkey is now oven roasted. We’re sorry for the switch.” I felt like Gordon Ramsey on “Uncharted” when he’s unable to deliver his original dish idea to his guests of their culture. I am so thankful everyone was understanding. Well, almost everyone.

I experienced an additional hiccup, but it was neither food nor Thanksgiving related. At least I don’t think it was, but I don’t honestly know. My husband and I decided to do Thanksgiving this way because, as I mentioned and we all already know, we all have to take caution against Covid-19. I spent Thanksgiving, planning, prepping, preparing, and cooking with so much care, love, devotion, and thanks. Every plate we made, everybody we fed, we did it because we are thankful to have each and everyone we included in our Thanksgiving feast, in our life.

Our delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

Well y’all, I think that’s all for now. Christmas is right around the corner and with Christmas comes our Christmas menu. Yes, my husband and I are planning the same kind of theme for Christmas, but yes, a different menu. No turkey. We’re thinking about a spiral ham, prime rib, and colorful side dishes. Equally delicious.

Additionally, it’s not just Christmas we’re planning for, my husband and I were blessed to have a child born exactly 2 days after Christmas. This year, she turns 16, but because she’s a Descendant’s fan, it’s not ‘sweet sixteen’, she prefers her 16th birthday VK (villain kid) style; ‘sinister sixteenth’.

Thanks for reading y’all! I’ll post again soon!

Summer is Officially Over

Hey y’all!  Good morning!  While it’s not officially the end of summer, but it’s the end of summer in my household.  As I’m typing this, my daughter is in a virtual classroom with her homeroom teacher, preparing to take her first MAP test of the school year… tenth grade.  Where has the time gone, right?

Since school is back in session, I’m back to fully working.  I’m teaching in the early morning, then after my daughter starts school, I’m cracking into creating new bookmarks to promote my upcoming book, brainstorming and creating fliers to promote my free library, communicating with my editor and preparing images to include in my upcoming book, and of course, keeping up with my daughter’s school agenda.

I’m actually glad school is back in session, because my daughter’s attitude, being a teenager and all, has been, per say, through the roof.  She’s at that age where she wants to believe she already knows everything, and as a teacher, I’m trying to educate her about the real world, but she just rolls her eyes or walks away; goes to her room.  I don’t remember ever showing as much attitude when I was her age, but we all say that, don’t we?  All in all, I can say she is generally a good kid.  Like any teenager, she needs an attitude adjustment every now and then.

My tomato garden is still coming along.  I’ve been able to pick three from the original I call ‘Mater’.  My roma, which I call ‘Roma’ has finally blossomed enough to develop a few tomatoes, and the larger of the three different tomato plants I have, I call ‘Allyn’ because she was given to me by my neighbor, an older gentleman.  His front yard is full of potted tomato plants nearly as tall as he is.

Here are some before photos of my tomato plants.

 

Here is what my tomatoes look now.

I’ll be able to pick the two in the single picture soon.  My ‘bae’ and I are looking forward to eating them on tomato sandwiches; my favorite simple summer sandwich.

I also wanted to share with y’all a photo of some ‘Elephant Ears’ growing on their own in my yard.  They aren’t as big or tall as the ones growing in my neighbors yard, but I still think they are a unique plant.

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Aren’t they cool?  I think so.

Well y’all, I’m going to conclude this post for now.  The good news is, with school back in session, as I mentioned before, I’m ‘in office’ more full time now.  Not that I ever left.

I hope y’all are maintaining a safe and healthy ‘in-home’ lifestyle.  I hope y’all are wearing your masks when going into public, and I hope y’all are practicing the health safety of social distancing.  Remember, we’ll get through this.

Thanks for reading y’all!

A Little Bit of Everything

Good morning y’all.  I’m sorry it’s been awhile since I last posted, but things have been, for lack of a better word, slightly depressing.  Some changes have occurred where my family is concerned, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with it.  To sum it up, my dad quit talking to me for reasons only he knows.  At first, I didn’t know how to deal with it, but then I had an epiphany.  If he doesn’t want to talk to me, that’s his choice, not mine.  He’ll come around in his own time.

So, moving on.

After more than a month, last week, I finally heard from my publication coordinator, via email, that my manuscript is ready for me to review the edits the editing department has proposed in my manuscript.  Since this past weekend was 4th of July weekend, I took that time away from work, and now, today, I’ll begin reviewing the edits in depth.  This should be fun.

In other news, about 5 years ago, I gave up my Facebook account.  Why?  It was the only way I could disassociate myself from select people I no longer wanted anything to do with.  It was the only way I could seek the solitude I needed to overcome the dramas and stresses of my own life.  While Facebook is a great way to keep in contact and communicate with select friends and family, I didn’t want any part of any of it.  Recently, I’ve been thinking that now might be the right time to regroup and restart.  I admit, part of me is fearful of Facebook because of the people I once knew.  Like the movie “Cyberbully” with actress Emily Osment, I couldn’t escape, but I wasn’t being bullied.  People just would not leave me alone.  However, with my book in publishing and ‘Moore’ Books Free Library slowly coming together, I think those two things are reason enough to restart a Facebook account, but rather than a personal account, I’m thinking more along the lines of ‘Public Figure’ account.  With coronavirus cases still on the rise, Facebook will be an avenue that I would not otherwise have for online book signings and other such events.  Actor and author, Chris Colfer did it, so why can’t I do similar?

The entirety of it will take time, but that’s okay because all of the best things in life take time.

On a totally different note, I gave gardening another shot.  My first time didn’t go so well.  While I tried my hand at growing green beans, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and a couple other vegetables, things were going good until I transferred them to bigger planters, then they all died.  This time, some friends and neighbors gave me a few a tomato plants, and I’m very pleased to say that I have 8 tomatoes producing so far.  They’re still green, but they are growing.  My ‘bae’ has to craft together some stakes to help my roma tomato plant stand more upright, but it’s doing well and that’s all I can ask for right now.  Roma hasn’t yet produced anything, but it’s early yet.  I do have a few pictures to post of my budding tomatoes, and I’ll post them soon, but I have to first transfer the pictures from my phone to my computer.  Then I’ll be able to share them with you.  If things continue to grow as well as they are, this time next year, I’m going to try for a raised personal garden.  Time will tell.

Finally, the Georgia heat has really kicked in full swing since summer officially began.  The humidity is practically through the roof, making it harder for my ‘bae’ to breathe when outside what with his heart condition.  Heck, I’m perfectly healthy and the humidity is even getting to me.  The only time I’m really going outside is to feed and water my plants, or to take out the garbage.  It’s so hot out, we don’t even feel like grilling.

So, that pretty much sums up the essence of my life currently.  A little of this, a little of that, but not much of anything else.  I’m doing what I can, and practicing patience by working on the inside.  More or less cleaning, rearranging, and reorganizing.

Well y’all, I guess that’s it for this post.  As always, thank you all for reading and following my blog.  By the way, is there anything y’all would like me to write about?  I’m always open to suggestions; something new to talk about.

Until next time!

What’s Up, What’s Up?!

Hey y’all!  So, the last time I posted, I wrote that I had submitted my manuscript to my ‘possible’ agent at Page Publishing, and I would know, either way, within 2 weeks.

Well, last Tuesday, my ‘possible’ agent called back.  He actually called me on Monday, but I was bravely shopping at my local Walmart.  Don’t worry, I always wear a surgical face mask and gloves.  My husband was home, so he took the call, but my ‘possible’ agent didn’t say anything except “I’ll call her back”.  When I came home from shopping with my next door neighbor, my husband told me all about it as he came out our front door and crossed the street to meet me with our groceries at our neighbors car.  For the rest of the day, everywhere I went, my phone was on me, waiting for the call back, but he didn’t call back.  However, on Tuesday, the moment the phone rang, I snatched it up.  Low and behold, it was Page Publishing.

My ‘possible’ agent asked me how I was doing; I said I was good.  He asked how I was feeling; again, I said I was good.  Then he said, “I have news regarding your manuscript.”  Now my heart is racing, beating so hard it’s in my throat.

“Are you ready?” My possible agent asked me.

“I’m as ready as I’m going to be.” I replied, and we both laughed.

Without dragging it out any further, my agent accepted my manuscript.  I’M.  GOING.  TO.  BE.  PUBLISHED!  Y’all Didn’t Hear it from Me: A Journal of Life Stories is getting published!  OMG!!!

I am sorry that it took me a week to share my breakthrough news with y’all, but I was waiting until I signed my agreement and communicated with my assigned coordinator before I said anything.  Now that I have my itinerary, it’s real!  I AM A PUBLISHING AUTHOR!

So, what’s next?  The long, patient wait while everything about my book is checked and rechecked, created, developed, and priced.  Now I have to work on writing the Synopsis of my book, my ‘About The Author’ piece, submit any images I want included in my book’s content, and anything else my coordinator may want from me.

As of right now, the journey to writing and completing my manuscript was taxing, but enjoyable.  I feel like the journey to publishing is going to just as taxing, yet enjoyable as writing the physical book was.  Even hearing my coordinator go over all of my information felt remarkable.  It wasn’t just go over my name and author name, it was more when she read my title aloud to verify my work.  To hear someone other than myself or my husband say it, “Y’all Didn’t Hear it From Me: A Journal of Life Stories”, put me on cloud 9.  I know one thing is for sure, the day it all comes together and complete, and I receive my 10 copies in the mail, I’m vlogging the video for y’all to see.  I may cry, because I never saw myself publishing a book, but here I am, doing something extreme I didn’t know I wanted.  Something my family has doubted the possibility of since my great-grandmother, Nanny, published her Christian book of poetry.  She didn’t do anything with it, so it didn’t go anywhere.  She chose not to do anything with it for her own reasons.  I have so many reasons I am doing this.

By the way, what do you think of vlogging?  I’m curious.

Anyway, until next time!  Thanks for reading y’all!

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Tradition, and Further Updates

Hey y’all!  I’m posting as promised!  Sadly I have no photos to share because I didn’t take any.  I had a decent day, but wasn’t feeling like photos.  That’s all.

My corning beef and cabbage came out perfectly. I put my brisket into the crock pot after finishing with my 7am class, added a few cups of water, turned the crock pot on high, and let it cook until about 4:30pm.  Fall apart, melt in your mouth, like butter, delicious!  My landlady’s husband is Irish, but he doesn’t like corned beef, so I made her a plate and invited her over. She loved it as well. Said it was ‘the bomb’.  The cabbage I fried up using my wok, a little bit of vegetable oil, and some natural corned beef stock from the crock pot.  Add seasoning to taste; salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy. Cook it down then add hot sauce and simmer. Mouth watering.  I boiled, then baked my red-skinned potatoes.  I’ve never done this before, but wow, they came out as good as my roasted potato recipe.  All in all, a great meal turn out considering I couldn’t get my hands on any Guinness beer to go with it.  Instead, my husband and I enjoyed some Bud Light Platinum.

The day wasn’t as busy as I initially thought and planned for it to be.  My parents are feeling their age and have been tired and achy with the weather, not to mention their own health ailments, so I didn’t have to go clean their place yesterday.  I wouldn’t have minded doing the cleaning for them, but they said it could wait until next week.  I did still go to my doctor’s appointment, a follow up on my eczema, and working to find a medication for it that my insurance will cover.  We tried Eucrisa and it works, really well, but insurance doesn’t cover it and it’s WOW expensive.  It’ll get figured out.

After I got home from my doctor’s appointment, I jumped right into cooking the rest of our St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  So, that was that.

Now, I’m fully focusing on finishing my manuscript.  It’s about halfway done, but the only stories I have left are those in my file on my computer.  I’ll be writing, revising, editing, and getting those polished up over the next month, then I’m sorting, categorizing, and preparing the file to submit to Page Publishing.  Fingers crossed!

This last week, though I was hanging outside on my porch because our weather was beyond beautiful, I sat outside with my writing binder, composing rough drafts from some notes I wrote a few years ago.  I had originally titled the entirety of the story ‘The Battlefield’, but after rereading all my notes, I decided a better route is breaking the story up into three shorter, but more detailed stories.

‘Dad Has What?’ is my dad’s cancer story from my point of view.  It was a very stressful time, a very scary situation, and I was only 14 years old.

‘The Gavel Hits Home’ is my story about the custody battle between my mother and dad, for me and my little sister.  It wasn’t pretty.

Finally, ‘Sneaky, Sneaky’ is about a little no-no I did while on visitation with my mother.  I was a well-behaved teenager, for the most part, but this is about something I did against my mother, without her knowledge, and I believe it helped us during the custody hearings.

So, as you can see, I’m still working, still writing, and to be honest, avoiding public places as much as possible, what with this Coronavirus, COVID-19, cautionary scare.  I’m not saying I don’t believe it, I’m saying I’m using as much caution as I can and I understand the fear of it.  Thank goodness my daughter is in online school.  However, I am wondering what they’re going to do as EOG’s and EOC’s were scheduled for the end of next month, but are currently suspended until further notice, so to keep our kids healthy.  So we can all stay healthy.

As always everyone, thank you for reading, and y’all, please stay healthy and safe!

“Happy Dance!”

This week is definitely improving compared to what last week was like.  Not only did my daughter do very well in school today passing both quizzes and redoing a misunderstood assignment from a couple weeks ago, but I finally spoke with the publisher this afternoon.  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to call him, or if he was going to call me, but when he hadn’t called 10-minutes after the time, I called him–and he answered!

It was such a nice conversation.  It was full of information and he answered all my questions!  My head is still ‘buzzing’ with all the new-found knowledge!

So, what is my next step?  Well, the only direction to go is up.  From here on out, Monday through Friday, I’ll be creating, writing, revising, editing, and polishing until June when I’ll submit my finished manuscript to Page Publishing.  Then I’ll figure out what I’m doing from there.  For now, I have an official deadline.  He told me he’d call me in another month to see how I’m doing, and find out how my manuscript is coming.  I literally heard him typing this into his computer, so he’s serious, and I’m excited!

This is a whole new experience for me, but I’m not afraid anymore.  I know I can write.  Friends and family tell me this all the time.  Well, not all the time, but often enough I should start believing them.  I need to believe in myself.

The door to opportunity just opened, so I’m going to take it.  Now, to focus and concentrate!  Happy dance!

“Tag, You’re It!”

Have you ever played ‘tag’?  The game we played as children with our friends and the neighborhood children where one person is ‘it’ and runs to ‘tag’ another person?  I used to love that game, but now I play ‘tag’ with phone calls.

Last week, I did some research, checked out a publishing company website–I’m sure you’ve heard of it, it’s called Page Publishing.  I’ve seen the commercials for it across my television all the time.  Well, last week I finally decided to check into them.  I entered my name and mailing information on their website, and the next day I received a phone call.  I was in class connect with my daughter at the time, so I let it go to voicemail and I checked in after class was over.

Checking the message, he let me know he’d mailed the submission informational kit that morning, but he had some questions for me about my book.  I didn’t call him right back, but instead sent him an email.  I was hoping I could get an idea of what kind of questions he had for me about my book, but no such luck.

Well, a day passed, and then he called me again this past Friday, but I missed the call busy with something else.  When I listened to his voicemail later, he was checking if I’d received the informational kit, and urging me to get in touch with him.  Being later in the day, I decided to wait out the weekend, see if the informational kit arrived, and prepare myself for our phone call.  I spent the weekend thinking about all the reasons why I write, all the things I could write about listing a few topics specifically, and I wrote down some ideas I have for other work (other books) I plan to write.  However, I forgot Monday was President’s Day and after the packet didn’t come Saturday, that was it until Tuesday (today).  No mail.

Today, I finally received the informational packet from Page Publishing and I read it thoroughly because I want to be as prepared as possible for our interaction.  Then I called the representative back, but I got his voicemail.  Guess what?  ‘Tag’, he’s it!

I’m currently waiting for him to call me back…

“Write, Wait, Repeat”

One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn being a writer is the amount of patience I have to have to get published.  Your first submitted story never makes the cut, so receiving that first acceptance letter takes forever.  Years.

I’ve been submitting short stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul since 2014.  It’s been a very long, very trying road, and it continues to be, but I keep writing, and I’m still submitting.  My writing has improved greatly through the passing time.  However, I’ve learned another lesson because of this trying process–don’t look for the email.  You’re almost better in forgetting that you submitted a story, but we all know better than to believe we can forget about something we really really want.  Whenever Amy Newmark shares a new cover design for a book on Twitter, I save it to my phone.  I know and remember the stories I’ve submitted to what titles, I can’t help but to keep track because I’m proud of that work.  My work.  I surprise myself every time I read one of my own polished peices.  I’m all like, “I wrote that!?”

I think the worst thing a writer can do to themselves is wait for that acceptance email because it just makes it worse when you never receive it.  Another thing I have learned is to constantly remind myself that it’s not that my stuff is crap.  I’ve been following Chicken Soup for the Soul long enough to understand that most of the time, it’s not me or my writing, it’s the direction or the multiplicity of common topic stories.  For instance, I submitted a story to Chicken Soup: Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone.  My story Retail To Detail didn’t make the cut, but I still attended Chicken Soup for the Soul’s twitter launch party for the book.  I got to greet and converse with all the other contributors that were in the book.  One of the contributors wrote a story about how he landed a job as the weatherman on the news.  Well, in learning this, I realized my story was written on a similar note, so it was no wonder my story wasn’t chosen.

Coming to this realization, I’m still writing and I’m still submitting because one day it’ll happen, but never look for the email to come.  Besides, all my work doubles for my own book series, Y’all Didn’t Hear it From Me–my personal memoir.