When you wake up happy

Looking out the sliding glass door to the back yard.

For some unknown reason, I woke up feeling very happy. It’s not unusual for me to be in a good mood, but today I feel exceptionally hopeful. I can’t stop smiling.

I’m trying to figure out what makes today different.

• I checked the temperature on my phone and it was in the low 70s. A perfect day for a walk.

• It’s bright and sunny after a few days of dark gray clouds.

• I went to sleep early and slept through the night.

• I have an entire day without a “to do list.”

• I’ve recently spent time with friends and had visits with my kids.

• I’m backing up my files on my new laptop — which by the way — doesn’t mysteriously delete my work.

• I had my home-baked banana nut bread with coffee for breakfast. Maybe it’s the sugar in the banana bread. The recipe is from my mom’s old orange Betty Crocker cookbook. It reminds me of my childhood.

• My rewrite of my manuscript is going well. I’ve decided to tell the story from the four main characters’ points of view rather than from one.

• I’m reading an enjoyable book called “The Optimist’s Daughter” by Eudora Welty.

What little things make you feel positive and encouraged for the day?

One of my favorite spots in the house. I love to sit at the table and look outside. We moved the table and chairs from Palm Springs. It was our kitchen/dining room table for 28 years and continues on in Arizona.

A fresh start

My new laptop

Last week I got my new laptop. My new glasses also came in. I am thrilled to see through glasses without scratches. Such a joy. The optometrist told me that my right eye has gotten a little worse since my cataract surgery pre COVID. But my left eye is the same. I’ve always had trouble with the right eye not being able to focus due to a hole in my retina. I think it’s congenital and I’ve had it checked through the years and it hasn’t gotten any worse. Thank goodness!

Here’s the deal. With my new computer and better vision I have started on draft number two of my manuscript that disappeared off my old laptop. I’ve roughed out a chapter outline and worked on my characters to add more depth. It was a manuscript I wrote for NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month where you write 50,000 of a rough draft in the month of November.

I put off working on rewriting the draft until the new computer came in. Files continued to disappear from my old laptop. I didn’t have the desire or energy to get all worked up if I happened to lose another draft.

Which reminds me. I need to order a new back up drive!

Are you working on any new or old projects that you’re excited about? What are they?

My new glasses without scratches in my line of vision!

Tips to catch typos

typos meme

Some of my most embarrassing moments have happened with typos. I’ve been writing professionally since college graduation. I won’t mention exactly how many years that is. But, it’s plenty. Plenty of time to make a few mistakes.

Here’s a rundown of three embarrassing typos:

ONE

SwimSwam parent tips. I left out a number on my tips and boy did I hear about it!

My process began with a small idea. Then I’d write a rough sloppy draft and hone it down into something tight and simple.  Along the way I cut out one tip that didn’t seem to fit. But, the story didn’t automatically renumber itself. Making a mistake like that on a busy forum like SwimSwam is decidedly embarrassing.

You can read that story here. 12 Parent Tips on How to Behave at Practice.

On the bright side, I got a RT by Natalie Coughlin. I was super excited about that, so the story still worked even if it was not perfect.

Natalie Coughlin
Natalie Coughlin

TWO

My second worst typo was in the 80s. I worked for a PR and advertising firm and I wrote eight newsletters a month, plus three or four press releases daily. It was a busy, intense job. I was in charge of a fundraiser for abused women which was held at a local country club. In my press release that ran just about everywhere — I mistakenly put in my own phone number instead of the club’s to RSVP! There was no taking that one back. I lived through it by hooking up an answering machine.

oops key on computer

I felt humiliated though, when my co-workers relentlessly teased me.

THREE

My all-time worst typo was when I had my own PR and advertising business. I had some super-duper clients including the hospital’s cancer center and a local branch of a major Wall Street firm. When the boss at the Wall Street branch was promoted to NYC to corporate headquarters, he still used me for all of his work. I was SO excited! Then I made a typo on a Power Point presentation. It was on the new logo he had me create for the Western Region of the United States of America. Ugh.

He was so angry with me, because I made him look bad. I’ll never forgive myself for that one.

street sign painted typo

The thing with typos is your brain can trick you into seeing what you intended to be there.

My tips to catch typos:

1. Read the piece from the bottom, sentence by sentence.

2. Read it out loud.

3. Put it away for a few days to get a fresh view.

4. Have other people proofread for you.

5. Don’t forget to proofread the title and headers. Numbers, too.

Do you have any tips to catch typos to add to my list? What typos have you made that you wish you could take back?

Motivated by bloggers

cat on SwimSwam magazines
Olive hanging out on top of magazines with my stories inside. She doesn’t want anyone to read them.

I literally dusted off two picture book manuscripts that I wrote 20 years ago — thanks to my blogging community.

I was motivated again by blogger LA for her leap entering a writing competition. In her comments section, I lamented that I had not fulfilled my dream of having a book published. Another blogger along with LA encouraged me to keep going.

Although I’ve won contests, been published by magazines, websites and newspapers — that elusive book deal hasn’t happened.

I realized that it won’t happen — because I quit submitting to agents and publishers two years ago.

When I said I dusted off two picture book manuscripts, it’s because I discovered they aren’t on my laptop, nor are they on icloud. They’re on backup devices that no longer work with my current system. It has been 20 years since they were on my computer or backed up. That’s a lifetime in nano years.

I wondered if I had thrown out all my manuscripts when we moved? If so, my work would be lost. After searching the house and garage, I found two notebooks that I used to keep copies of my manuscripts, a spread sheet of submissions and a bevy of rejection letters. It wasn’t sad to look at the rejection letters, some had personal handwritten notes and were encouraging.

Long gone are the days of the snail mail submission with an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). I won’t receive hand written notes or form letters in the mail. Everything is done online and many publishers and agents don’t send rejections. If they aren’t interested, they don’t respond. Fortunately, some do reject via email, so I’ll know from those agents and publishers if my submission got lost in the ethers — or not.

I quickly typed the two manuscripts into my laptop and I’ll be off pursing my dream once again.

What are your goals or dreams? Have you stuck with it or did it go by the wayside?

Blogging Along Through Life

My daughter with her relay celebrating in the pool.

When I started my blog in 2014, my focus was financial news for women. I had a short stint as a financial adviser working with my husband. At that time, I thought I had lots of knowledge to share. I had passed all the exams and went through training by two big firms.

One fact that stood out to me was that women own the majority of the wealth in our nation, yet they have less knowledge about investing than men. I thought I found a perfect niche to blog about. Funny thing, nobody wanted to read those posts. Maybe it was because I was new and didn’t have an audience — but when I wrote about other topics, I got way more views and comments.

My next niche was parenting — particularly sports parenting. I submitted one of my blog posts to the most read swim website, SwimSwam, and got feedback from the owner/founder Gold Medal Mel, Mel Stewart. He asked me to start writing parenting advice. He wanted me to write once a month for three months. After that trial period, I wrote every week. You can check out those articles HERE. I continued with that for six years, mostly basing my articles on my past mistakes. I didn’t want newer sports parents to go through the drama and issues that I had. I was thrilled when parents would email me and ask for advice. I started an “Ask Swim Mom” column from those emails.

My other favorite topics to blog about were about college admissions and being the parent of college kids. I learned a lot during those years. But as my kids grew, I felt I had less to offer in the parenting arena. In fact, I think my swim parenting articles put pressure on my daughter or made her feel exposed. I realized I’m far from an expert. Who am I to give advice?

Now, my blogging is me slogging through this phase of life trying to figure it out. What I enjoy most about blogging now is the community of bloggers I read every day. It’s more satisfying and supportive than before.

I’m curious how you see your blog evolving or changing through time. Do you feel you have a niche and what is it? What are your favorite topics to blog about?

Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

saguaro cactus
stately saguaro cactus in the preserve across the street.

Last year on this exact day, I wrote about my goals and resolutions — and if they work. Take a look of what I had to say:

This year, I’ve decided to not make New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that they haven’t worked for me in the past, so long as I kept them small and not overwhelming. I view New Year’s Resolutions as a “don’t do this list” rather than “try something new.” Although that’s not totally accurate, it’s how I’m looking at it for 2021. Here’s the difference between resolutions and goals I found online:

Essentially, a resolution is something you will constantly be working toward, while a goal is specific and finite. Resolutions are made up of goals. While there is a difference between goals and resolutions, they are relevant and intertwined.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOALS AND RESOLUTIONS …

I’ve decided that I’d rather make a list of goals, not resolutions. Mostly it’s learning new things, seeing new places. In my new home, I want to learn about the birds I’m seeing, the plants, the trails and mountains.One of our first hikes in AZ at Cave Creek Regional Park.

So, a few of my goals — besides getting my house unpacked and in order — are:

  1. Start birdwatching — I already put a bird feeder in the backyard.
  2. Learn about saguaro cactus and other species of native plants.
  3. Hike on a new trail each week.
  4. Experience more sunrises and sunsets.
  5. Explore areas like the Grand Canyon and Sedona.
  6. Take a photography class online.
  7. Sketch or paint some of my new scenery.
  8. Begin a new manuscript, in a genre new to me.

Update Jan. 5, 2022: Out of my goals from last year, I did a lot of them, including enyoying sunsets and sunrises — and writing an entire manuscript in a new genre. I am birdwatching and learning about the native plants. We haven’t hiked a new trail each week, because we discovered the preserve across the street where it’s too convenient to hike and skip a 30-minute drive to get a trail. We haven’t been to Sedona or the Grand Canyon yet since we’ve moved to Arizona, although I’ve been to both in the past. That can be a goal for this year. I didn’t take a photography class, but I’m practicing on my own. I got out my sketch book and I’ve been sketching sporadically.

I think those were good goals and ones I’ll continue with in 2022.

What do you think about the difference between goals and resolutions? Do you have any you’d like to share?

desert sunrise
Desert sunrise from my back yard.

What’s your point of view?

NaNoWriMo winner's certificate
My certificate for writing 50,000 words of a novel in November for the writing challenge called NaNoWriMo.

I’ve been thinking about the project I began for my first NaNoWriMo writing challenge. After the New Year, I plan to dive in and rewrite it. Currently, the story is told in first person of the protagonist who is loosely based on me. I’ve been musing about how I need to make the plot more exciting — but then I began thinking about point of view. I think that’s where I need to start.

The premise is three women and their young children who are peacefully enjoying their quiet lives when the antagonist, an eccentric, larger-than-life character, whirls into their lives creating drama and upheaval. I think telling the entire tale from one character’s perspective is monotonous. It limits the story, because you only know what one person sees and how they interpret people and events.

I dusted off Liane Moriarity’s “Big Little Lies” which I read years ago and discovered that the chapters are told from the POV of Madeline, Jane and Celeste — in third person. It isn’t told from one woman’s point of view at all. If you haven’t read it or watched the TV show, it’s also a story of friendships of mothers of young children.

When I first began writing years ago, my writing mentor Gerry Petievich who wrote “To Live and Die in L.A.” held writer’s conferences. He said to pick out a book as a pattern book when you begin to write a novel. He said you don’t copy it. What I took away from him is that you analyze different things that work in that book such as plot structure, voice and characters. I realized that “Big Little Lies” can fill that role for my project.

Gerry Petievich "To Live and Die in L.A."

I think by alternating the POV to each of the main characters, it will add depth. I’ll need to give each character their own voice and I’ll have to flesh out their lives much deeper than they are now — which currently are only snippets of their lives seen by the protagonist. I’m not sure if I should alternate first person voice or use third person omniscient point of view like “Big Little Lies.” I tend to favor writing in first person.

When you are reading or writing, what point of view do you prefer? First or third person? What is your opinion of books that alternate points of views of characters each chapter? Do you find switching POV is confusing or do you think it adds to the story?

Have you read “Big Little Lies” or “To Live and Die in L.A.?” Have you seen the TV show or movie?.

Big Little Lies book by Liane Moriarty.
Cover of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.