I’m a word banker…#MFRWauthors

I retired from my long time job in 2015 when I got my first book contract. So many people asked me at that time, “What are you gonna do with yourself now that you don’t have to go to work every day?”
Hello!!! After informing them that I was trading my hated job for a life long dream job and explained that I would now be writing full time, they still said things like, “But surely you can’t write all day?” and “But what else are you going to do to fill your days?”

I remember thinking at the time that people, for lack of a better word, can be really stupid. But that’s another blog… This one concerns word counts and I told you the story above as a precursor.

I approach word counts like I approach a job: all in. What that means for me is that I have a minimum goal I have to reach every single day that I write ( and I write every single day) before I can do anything else. You wouldn’t just leave a job in the middle of the day to go grocery shopping, or to have lunch with friends. You’re working. You have a job to do and you get paid for it.  That’s my approach to word counts.

Every day I write 2000 words minimum in whatever book I am currently working on, my WIP ( Work in progress). After that 2000 is done, I then decide if I want to keep going, or do the stuff I need to do to, you know… adult. Like, grocery shop, laundry, ironing, clean the house, do banking, pay bills. Even take a shower!

The fact that I’m blessed with chronic insomnia (and I never thought I’d hear myself say that was a blessing!) helps. I can get so much written between the hours of 3 and 6 am every day, that’s it ridiculous. My entire first book SKATER’S WALTZ was written during these times.

Word counts are, to many writers, a bane. A necessary evil. If they set a goal and then don’t make it, they feel many things: unworthy, like a failure, inept.

To them and all writers, I say STOP! Word counts are simply ways of tracking what you have written.  Only during the month of November if you participate in  NANOWRIMO should you worry about how much is “good enough” to write every day. Creativity can not be forced. And it shouldn’t be. If you write 6 words or 6ooo in a day, so be it. Those 6 words are probably the best you’ll wring from yourself, so good. Yay. 6 is better than none, right?

Now, you’re probably thinking, “but she said she writes 2000 every day before she does anything else, and yet she’s telling us not to worry about how much we write?” Correct. I am. But that’s what I need to do. Every writer, like every book and every story, is different. I know a contemporary romance writer who sets as her goal 100,000 words per month. If you take a month at 30 days, that means she has to write 3,333 words every single day no matter what. She has an assistant, so she doesn’t need to do the mundane things like social media updates, laundry, and grocery shopping. Lucky her. Most of us don’t have assistants, though. So again, whether you write 6, or 6ooo words a day; 10000 or 100000 per month, word counts are individualistic.

And necessary. Oh, so necessary. Don’t try to compare yourself with others when it comes to word counts. Like I said, everyone is different. As long as you write – and what you write is good – then, so be it.

Because this is a writer blog hop, click on some of the other authors here to see how they approach their writing word counts…or even if they have them!!

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A #WonderWoman fan…

For all of you who read my blog the other day about the men who were bashing WonderWomen female only movie showings, this man is NOT one of those guys.

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“After a hurricane, comes a rainbow”

I put the title in quotes because it’s from the Katy Perry song Firework.    The reason I’m quoting that song today is because I need to say something about what’s been going on in the UK for the past 2 weeks.

While I won’t address the atrocities–they’ve been given enough coverage by the mainstream media–I do want to honor the courage, strength, and fortitude of the British people. A people, so kind, so good hearted, so friendly, that their uniformed police officers don’t even carry guns to police the populous.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit London and the UK several times with my daughter and husband. London itself is a metropolis filled with thousand-year-old English history but is a veritable Babel of languages and cultures all living, working, existing together. And every single Englishman I’ve met on my travels, no matter what their color, religion, or political party affiliation, has been polite, courteous, friendly, and–to use a British euphemism–Brilliant. One of my brothers-in-law is from the UK and he is just as kind, loving, and,  yes (again!) brilliant as his homeland mates.

During World War II when Britain was getting bombed and gassed by its enemies, Winston Churchill told his people “..never flinch, never weary, never despair.” That well known British stiff upper lip and backbone of steel has served the people of the UK well for generations and will continue to do so.

The outpouring of love for the people of Manchester and the victims, families, and citizens of the London attacks, from around the world is an example of what never giving into evil can accomplish; of remembering that love is unbreakable like a diamond whereas evil is like a deadly virus that must be isolated, treated, and eradicated for the good of all.

In a game of rock, paper, scissors, love is always the rock, the winner. Love crushes everything else – every evil, every terror, every atrocity. Love always wins.

Always.

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Wonder Woman and mad men….#WTF??

Just read an article about a group of men who are super pissed that many theaters around the country hosted WOMEN ONLY screenings of the new WONDER WOMAN movie this weekend. I don’t want to copy the article in its entirety, so here’s the link. Men were tweeting that this is discriminatory and that they think someone should sue the theater chain holding the all female screenings for sexism,  gender discrimination, and male bashing which they equate to a hate crime.

Seriously?

With all the horrible shit currently happening – the Manchester and London bombings, North Korea’s nuclear tests, the US’s pullout of the climate accord, not to mention healthcare, welfare, hate crimes, and EVERYTHING ELSE important, some men are complaining because a movie about the first and only FEMALE SUPERHERO is catering to a female-only clientele? For real?

My only comment to these misguided, misogynistic men is, get a friggin’ life!

Male superheroes abound. Every weekend of the summer it seems a new male superhero movie opens up. Tony Spark (Ironman), Thor, SpiderMan, Batman, Captain America, the list goes on and on. And lest these knuckleheads who are protesting say something stupid like “what about Black Widow? She’s a superhero.” Yeah – a SECONDARY CHARACTER superhero. THAT’S IT!  There’s no movie in which Black Widow is the end all- be all. No storyline that a major movie company funded for her.

Diana Prince is the first female superhero to have her very own big budget, top studio-made movie. She is the star, the storyline is hers and hers alone.

The back story is hers. She’s female, she’s the protagonist, the movie was directed by a woman, and the cast features some of the baddest-assed women in entertainment today ( Anybody watching HOUSE OF CARDS want to debate that point about ROBIN WRIGHT?) This movie is showing girls everywhere, all girls – from toddlers to teens to middle aged and beyond – that girls have power. Girls are smart. They can think deductively. They can make a difference through their strength, their intellect, their courage, their compassion. This movie is a prime example of female empowerment in its purest form – and it relies on Diana Prince’s sense of inner humanity and her desire for the downtrodden of the world to have a voice. SHE is their voice.

 

I can’t possibly believe these men feel threatened in any way by the movie houses catering to women only for this release. Men, unfortunately, still rule the world in every way. They make more money than women for doing the same job, they hold the vast majority of political offices in the US and abroad, they manage most of the major corporations on the planet. Why are they so pissed off about a movie theater chain catering to a women-only audience for a few days?

Do they think that the message in the movie — that WOMEN — can fend for themselves, physically, economically, emotionally, and defensively without the help of men, is true? That a  society where women rule with peace and understanding, yet physical acumen, is a threat?  A potential future event? Are they so scared of a woman who believes it is her duty to right the wrongs generations and eons of men have thrust upon the world, is a bad thing?

Or are they just acting like bratty children who want something someone else has and can’t have and feel left out?

I’m gonna take a wild guess and say those same male protestors didn’t vote for a woman in the 2016 election…. just saying.

Oh, and BTW, the movie grossed $100,000,000 + in its opening weekend. That’s a huge chunk of change. Hollywood ( male dominated and run Hollywood) take notice. Again…just saying.

 

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Filed under Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, female friends, Life challenges, Strong Women

Book Pet Peeves…I’ve got a million!


Dialogue that doesn’t ring true to the characters. Misplaced modifiers. Sex just for sex sake. Hunky guys who don’t know they are. The alpha whose entire personality and being is changed overnight by the love of a good woman.

The list could go on and on and…you get the picture. I’ll pick one just for space saving sake ( that way this blog won’t be 50,000 words long!)

The one that really gets me is the last one. You’ve got an alpha male who basically is a walking, talking, take-no-prisoners-be-the-leader kinda guy. He rarely smiles. He’s built like a combat tank. He vows never, ever, EVAH to get close enough to anyone that he’d feel any kind of emotion for them. Your basic misanthropic hunkadoodle. I have a writing friend who calls these types of guys ALPHAHOLES. Perfect description.

Enter the heroine. In 250+ pages she does one thing  – it could be anything from biting her bottom lip to punching the hero – that miraculously changes everything that has gone into this man’s internal makeup for 30+ years. Overnight. One thing.

And he’s a changed human for the rest of his natural days. He’ll never again be the silent, sacrificing all for the mission, defender of the world at the sake of his own happiness kind of guy. His entire demeanor changes. His way of thinking evolves. Overnight.

Overnight.

I’m just not feeling it, peeps.

I read a lot. A LOT! And I’m a wicked fast reader. I’m a Netgalley reader/reviewer, plus my Kindle has more books loaded onto it than I think it was constructed for. I can read a book a day – and not the Harlequin 200 paged ones, either. I just finished the hardback version of COME SUNDOWN by Nora Roberts in a day and that baby topped out at 468 pages.

So, I read a lot and I’m a widespread reader. I’ve seen an awful lot of these silent but deadly alphas written lately by traditionally published and self-published writers. Some of the story arcs make sense and give a reason the male transitions his entire makeup when he realizes his love for the heroine – many do not. Actually, A LOT do not.  There’s no justifiable reason this guy turns from hating mankind to kissing babies in the street and adopting orphan kittens. And that just burns me because people don’t change over night. People, basically, if truth be told, don’t change. I understand this is fiction and we have a great deal of literary license when it comes to characters/people. I get that and believe me, when it’s written correctly, this situation can happen in romantic fiction.

 

Give me a redeemed criminal who’s rehabilitation is believable, that there’s a legitimate reason he went straight( JD Robb’s Roarke, for instance ) and I’m hooked. Show me how a wounded soldier who thinks he has nothing to live for works through that emotion -logically – with the heroine and I’m hooked( Marianne Rice’s WOUNDED LOVE for instance).

Don’t just give me an alphahole and have him change overnight because the heroine is spunky or cute or a ballbreaker! That just doesn’t ring true, folks. Not in romance, and not in life. Not in my experience, any way. IF you like these types of heroes and stories, then YAY. Have fun reading them. I don’t and when I realize I won’t get that hour or two I invested in reading an implausible character back, well, I’m not a happy camper.

‘Nuff said….

Because this is blog hop there are a bunch of other writers who have their own peeves. Stop by and visit them.

 

 

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Filed under #Mfrwauthors, Alpha Hero, Alpha Male, Author, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Literary characters, love, Netgalley Reviewer, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

Some Girls Like It Hot…..

The first blog hop/facebookhop/ giveaway of Summer 2017!

Some Girls Like It Hot and We Do Too!

 

We’re treating romance readers to a hot, summertime giveaway. Enter for the chance to win a Kindle Fire HD 10, Kindle Fire HD 8, Kindle Fire 7, Amazon Gift Cards & More!

 

Grand Prize Giveaway June 1-12
and Facebook Hop June 9-12

 

(Sponsored by the 53 authors listed below)

 

Alyson Hale • Amy Knupp • Astrid Arditi • Cailin Briste • Cheryl Matthynssens • Christa Paige • Constance Phillips • Cynthia Clement • Debbie White • Eden Rose • Elizabeth Rose • Elizabeth SaFleur • Emily Leigh • Enigmatic Books • Felicia Beasley • Gayle Parness • Jeanne St. James • Jenna Barwin • Jennifer Allis Provost • Jennifer Wilck • Joanne Dannon • Jody A. Kessler • Josie Litton • Katie O’Sullivan • Kris Michaels • Kristina Knight • Laura Marie Altom • Lynda Haviland • Margo Bond Collins • Marie Booth • Melissa McClone • Mia Ford • Michelle Jo Quinn • Nancy Segovia • Olivia Wildenstein • Peggy Jaeger • Romance Author Quinn • Saint Brothers Series • Sarah Williams • Siera London • Sophia Knightly • Soraya Naomi • Sorchia Dubois • Stacy Gold • Stella Marie Alden • Stephanie Julian • Stephanie Queen • Sydney Aaliyah Michelle •  Tamara Ferguson • Tania F. Walsh • Victoria Pinder • Aileen Harkwood

 

Enter the Giveaway Here

http://somegirlslikeithot.blogspot.com/p/the-hop.html

 

Be sure to join us for our Facebook Hop June 9-12, when we will have 100+ gift cards for you to enter to win. That’s a gift card at every stop! Plus a bonus giveaway for the winner’s choice of an Amazon Echo Dot or Kindle Fire.

 

Facebook Hop Starts Here on June 9

http://somegirlslikeithot.blogspot.com/p/the-hop_29.html

 

Don’t Miss Our Second Giveaway June 9-12, where we do it all again!

 

 

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Elvis and Me

I try not to think too much about my childhood because it was…intense. And disturbing. And very lonely.

But, in the spirit of this challenge, I’m going to pluck a good memory out of the old storage banks of my aging mind.

For my twelfth birthday, my mother wanted to do something special. I had no friends, so a party wasn’t feasible. I don’t think at that time in my life she was talking to any of our relatives, so again, no family get-together was going to happen to celebrate my big day. She decided – and I don’t know how or why – to get tickets for me, she, and my step-father to see Elvis Presley perform at Madison Square Garden in NYC.

The King was on his comeback tour and my mother had been a fan in her teens. Strangely, I was too! I was a fan of his movies, his lively music, even his bless-from-God good looks. They didn’t call him “KING” for nothing!

We were on an exceedingly tight budget as I remember from those days, and my mother had to save for 6 months to pay for the tickets. 6 months. The tickets she was able to afford were the least expensive ones, at $12.50 each.  6 months to save a few cents or a dollar a week from her grocery shopping, using coupons to wiggle every penny she could to pay the $37.50 for the tickets. That should tell you how financially strapped we were. This was 1972.

Anyway…

She scrimped and saved and the big day finally came. We hopped the ferry from Staten Island, which was .25 cents per person each way ( so another $1.50 added to the budget) then took the subway uptown to 34th street. Believe it or not, I can’t remember how much a subway token was back then. It was a Saturday night show, so the Garden was packed. We were in the second to the last row in the last section of rows in the entire building. I could almost touch the Garden’s ceiling!  I couldn’t even see the stage. It looked like a minuscule postage stamp from our seats. There was no jumbotron so people like us could see Elvis projected in full form – it hadn’t been invented yet, can you imagine? You can’t go to any kind of venue now where they don’t have a jumbotron or two…or four.

Anyway…

We walked to our seats ( and it was a helluva walk!) settled down and waited for the show to start. No leftover funds for things like popcorn or souvenirs, but I didn’t care. I was at my very first concert and it was the King of Rock-n-Roll! My 12-year-old self was super jazzed. The lights dimmed, the crowd started to clap, and the music started.

It’s impossible to tell you how excited I was. I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him. Perfectly. Up to the day he died,  the man had a voice the Gods of music gifted to him. Deep and rich and perfect. At 12 I was too young to think of it as a sexy, purely masculine voice. At 57, I’m remembering it as just that. A hot blast of smoke and heat, raw and primal. God, I loved that man!

For over two hours Elvis sang, flirted with the audience, played a few instruments and generally made this the happiest birthday I’d ever had – and the happiest I’d have for the next decade and a half. Intense childhood, remember? (Teen years were worse.)

 

Anyway…

That’s about the happiest memory I have from my childhood and it was a doozy! Five years later the King would be dead. Generations of fans to come could only know him through the memories of his music, films, a few videos.  But I’ll always be able to say I saw him live. I saw the King of Rock-n-Roll. I experienced a little bit of musical history at a time when music and books where the only good things in my life.

Since this is part of blog hop, stop by some of the other author blogs below and read about their happy childhood memories.

 

 

 

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#Celebrating some good news.

Just found out that my Wild Rose Press book from last Christmas holiday season A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS is a finalist in the 2017 STILETTO contest from the Contemporary Romance Writers RWA chapter! I’m one of 3 finalists in the Contemporary Romance – short division.

Can you just say “YOWZA!!!”

I am uber-stoked. A KISS came in 3rd in the NECRWA 2017 Reader’s Choice awards, and now this!!! My little romance writing heart is all aflutter today. And probably will be until July 28 when the winners are announced at RWA2017.

Yikes! I need to get to the gym so I can fit into a nice dress for the announcements…

See ya……………………

But before I go, if you haven’t read A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS yet ( and why not???) here’s a little taste:

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind. Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not. Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

 

Excerpt:

At twenty-four I still lived under my parents’ roof, had no full-time paying job other than helping my father with his business books and those of a few of his business associates, and my love life was nonexistent.

It wasn’t that I didn’t get asked out or date. I did. Often. Plus, I was perpetually being set-up by the aunts and uncles. I’d had a steady boyfriend all through high school, but we went our separate ways when we each left for college. My choices had been limited in recent years to guys I met in college–who were all looking to score, not forge a lifetime commitment—and then in accounting school who were, for lack of a better word, boring and absorbed either in numbers theory, finding jobs after graduation, or in just getting into my pants. The men my extended family routinely set me up with were mostly thick-necked, uneducated, wiseguy wannabes who wanted a conventional Italian bride they could keep barefoot, pregnant, and cooking.

So. Not. Me.

I needed to make some decisions about my life and make them soon. First, pass the exams and get licensed. Then, look for a real job so I could afford to live on my own. This one might be the hardest to accomplish since my parents were old-school thinkers who believed girls should stay home until they were married. They couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to go from their house to a husband’s house, and never experience what it would be like living on my own.

Lastly, I wanted to find the one special guy I could commit to. A guy who’d be family oriented like me, want kids, the minivan, a house in the ‘burbs, the whole family-comes-first-and-always mentality I’d been breastfed on.

I wasn’t too picky. Obviously, I didn’t want him to look like a troll, but nice looking wouldn’t hurt since I’d be spending eternity staring across the kitchen table at his face. A good-paying job would be nice in a career where I didn’t need to worry he’d make one wrong move and wind up as fish food in the Meadowlands marshes.

Don’t laugh: have I mentioned my Uncle Sonny?

BuyLinks:

Amazon // Wild Rose Press//  Kobo // Nook

When I’m not celebrating, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under A kiss Under the Christmas LIghts, Author, Candy Hearts, Characters, Contemporary Romance, Cooking, Family Saga, Foodie, love, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Cooking and Baking…the secret to happiness, one loaf at a time!

So, in my non-writing life, I love to cook and bake.  And I love to eat what I cook and bake. So much so, that I should be on that show My 600 pound life. Luckily, I’m not because, you know…exercise!

When I was dreaming about my current series WILL COOK FOR LOVE, I knew I wanted to incorporate some of the cooking and baking knowledge I’ve gleaned over the years into the books, so each book has specific recipes targeted for that story. In COOKING WITH KANDY, I added some baked goods and even made a recipe card for reader swag for Grandma Sophie’s Banana Walnut muffins. For my October 3 release, A SHOT AT LOVE, there’s a scene in the book concerning french toast, so I made another recipe card for swag for that.  To make sure the recipes hold up for the reader, I made a batch of Challah french toast this past weekend to ensure it did.

On Thursday, I made the bread. These are pictures I took to document the bread baking cycle. Start with the dough, cover it and let it rise for three hours until it doubles:

           

Then, divide the dough in half, slice into 6 ropes and braid it to make 2 loaves. Let it sit for another hour.

    

Cover with an egg wash, and bake:

    

Now I had my bread for the french toast, but I had to let it get a little stale. 2-3 day old fresh bread gone stale  is best for french toast. Sunday morning I made the actual breakfast.

     

I took pictures and made a new swag recipe card that I’ll be giving out at RWA this year when I do the Kensington Book Signing.

For those of you not going to RWA, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients to make the Challah

  • 1 1/8 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 Tbs dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten, plus 1 whole egg for glazing
  • 1/2 Tbs salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water with 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Beat well and let set for 10 min., until it’s frothy and bubbly.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Then add the salt, sugar, and oil and beat again. Add the frothy yeast mixture and beat well. Now add the flour gradually, cup at a time, and just enough to make a soft dough that holds together, mixing well. Turn out onto a bread board and knead for about 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, adding flour if the dough is too sticky.
  3. Pour a little oil in the bowl and turn the dough around the bowl, so that it is greased all over.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place to rise for 3 hours, or until it has doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down and knead again, then divide into 2 pieces to make 2 loaves. Divide each into 3 long strips to make 2 bread braids.
  5. Braid challah into desired shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow them to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  6. Brush the tops with the beaten egg.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 25-30 minutes or until the loaves are golden-brown. They are done if they sound like a hollow drum when you tap the bottoms.

To make the French toast:

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, nutmeg, apple pie spice

3 tablespoon brown sugar

butter, syrup, confectioner’s sugar to taste

Directions: You need a griddle for this or a cast iron frying pan

Heat griddle to medium heat, grease top.

Beat the eggs, add the milk and vanilla. Mix well. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, apple pie spice and brown sugar.

Mix very well. Cut the Challah into 2-inch widths. Dip each piece in the above mix to completely coat- do not saturate!

Place each piece on the griddle and cook on each side 1-2 minutes, until each side is golden brown. Serve hot and add your own butter, maple syrup , and confectioner’s sugar to taste.

Book One in the WILL COOK FOR LOVE SERIES is out now. COOKING WITH KANDY:

Sugar and spice and everything sexy make the perfect recipe for romance in this brand-new series by Peggy Jaeger. Look for exclusive recipes in each book!

Kandy Laine built her wildly popular food empire the old-fashioned way—starting with the basic ingredients of her grandmother’s recipes and flavoring it all with her particular brand of sweet spice. From her cookbooks to her hit TV show, Kandy is a kitchen queen—and suddenly someone is determined to poison her cup. With odd accidents and threatening messages piling up, strong-willed Kandy can’t protest when her team hires someone to keep her safe—but she can’t deny that the man for the job looks delicious. . .

Josh Keane is a private investigator, not a bodyguard. But with one eyeful of Kandy’s ebony curls and dimpled smile, he’s signing on to uncover who’s cooking up trouble for the gorgeous chef. As the attraction between them starts to simmer, it’s not easy to keep his mind on the job, but when the strange distractions turn to true danger, he’ll stop at nothing to keep Kandy safe—and show her that a future together is on the menu. . .

 

My 3 favorite things: cooking, baking, writing. Oh, and eating. I need to include that, too, so 4!

When I’m not doing any of the above 4, you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Author, Cooking, Food lover, Foodie, Friends, Kensington Publishers, Lyrical Author, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Laine Women

Commencement…a funny word for the end.

My facebook page has been deluged for the past two weeks with happy  pictures of graduations, both high school, and college. I love sharing in the excitement and joy of all my friends and their families at these monumental achievements.

These young people have so much in store for them, ahead of them, and concerning them, their futures, their successes, and –let’s be honest — their disappointments, too.

I can clearly see the days I graduated from high school, nursing school, college, and then from my Master’s program. Clearly! At each, I remember certain emotions of the day that seem almost prophetic now.

High school: “Thank God I can get legally get out of the house now!”

Nursing School: “Thank God I can get a good job now!”

College: “I did something no one else in my family has ever done – graduate from a school of higher learning! Thank you, God, for giving me the strength and fortitude to do this.”

Masters: “Done! Now I can get married knowing my formal education is done!” ( I never wanted a Ph.D., so I knew I was stopping here.)

I was 27 when I got my Masters degree and married the man who gave my life meaning.

I’m now 57 and all I can think about is how fast those 30 years went by.

Marriage, moves to different states, childbirth, back to work, family obligations, deaths, more births… yadayadayada. Those 30 years flew. Really. Flew by. If the insurance statisticians are correct and the average American born woman lives to 79 years of age, I’ve already lived more than half my life. Way more.

People call this The Second Act of your life. What you’re supposed to do now, since you’ve gotten all the obligatory things out of way, are the things you’ve always wanted to do. Travel, invest, take up those hobbies you never had enough time for before now. Retire, learn to do the things you’ve always dreamed about learning to do. In the great scheme of things I shouldn’t be writing – that should have happened in the first act. But…it didn’t. The writing career I wanted– the one where I could financially support myself with my writing and have it be my primary job, my career, my way of existing — didn’t happen when it was supposed to. No. It happened when I turned 55. Way after graduation. Way after my life was already settled.

At my college commencement, the speaker asked the graduates to evaluate their education. Did it prepare us for the future we wanted? Did we feel we were adequately informed and prepared for what was in front of us? Did we feel we could go out into the world and change it?

My answer was a resounding NO to all those questions. Looking back now, I’m changing that to “HELL, NO!”

Life is longitudinal. You keep moving on that line, having some success, having some failure, reformalizing goals and aspirations, but always moving. Sometimes the line moves up, sometimes down. Sometimes it just moves straight and steady from one point to another without fluctuating. But it always moves and we are always learning.

Our education doesn’t end simply because we’ve been given a piece of paper that says Graduate. No. We are lifetime learners. I learn something new every day. Every friggin’ single day. And yes, some of it I wish I didn’t know!

If I was giving a commencement speech the one thing I would emphatically tell the graduates if this: This is not the end of your education, of your learning, your schooling. Nor is it the beginning. It’s simply part of a continuum. Meet every day as a new challenge, a new learning experience. Keep your eyes, minds, and hearts open to new things, new thoughts, new ways of doing something. Don’t be static. Be dynamic instead. Embrace the new while learning from the old. Plan for the future, yes. Please do that. But don’t forget about the present. Enjoy it, don’t just look at it as a means to an end. Don’t NOT do something you dream about doing because you’re worried you might fail. Do it anyway. Failure is a form of learning; people tend to forget that.

 

 

Learn something new every day. Every. Day. You don’t want to get to a certain age in your life and think: “I wish I’d done that.  I wish I’d gone after that dream. I can’t now because it’s too late.”

It’s never too late, especially for a dream.

I really think Mother Teresa said it best:

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