Thursday, May 31, 2012

Photo Prompt Monday (on Thursday) and another award

I came across this photo today that was originally posted by Starting Over, Accepting changes - Maybe and I couldn't resist.  It was screaming at me!

As Jen and Derrick walked hand in hand along the boardwalk, they came across a wedding in progress on the beach.  Jen's mind started wandering.  She had been with Derrick for a few months, and she already felt at home with him.  She wondered if this was ever a scene that they would ever be a part of.  Watching the small, intimate crowd of people celebrating the newlyweds she felt envy for the bride.  When was it going to be her turn?  She felt as if she had met all the other "fish in the sea".  She was ready to settle down with Derrick.

Derrick wondered why Jen was so quiet all of a sudden.  They had been having such a great time until coming across the wedding.  He had taken her to be best restaurant on the beach where they enjoyed a seafood dinner with all the trimmings.  He had the ring in his pocket, just waiting for the right moment.  When they came across the wedding, he thought the setting would be perfect for a proposal, but her silence made him nervous. 

The crowd cheered as the happy couple shared their first kiss and as if on cue, Derrick gave Jen the most heartfelt kiss he ever had before.  She responded with passion and deep understanding.  As the crowd was celebrating on the beach, Derrick reached in his pocket and pulled out the ring.  Getting down on his hands and knees, he asked for her hand in marriage.

Tears streamed down Jen's face as she accepted the proposal.  It was finally her turn, and she knew Derrick was worth the wait.  She was a lucky girl.

In other news, I was presented with another award!  I am so blessed with so many wonderful blogger buddies.  I received the Lovely Blogger Award from Laura at My Baffling Brain  Thanks Laura!

To accept, I was supposed to answer some questions.  They are:

What is your favourite song? My favorite song really depends on my mood at that time. I love all styles of music so there is quite a variety

What is your favourite dessert? I don't like dessert very much but when I do, I love Bananas Foster or just plan vanilla ice cream

When you're upset, what do you do? After an initial venting I prefer to be alone.

What was your favourite pet? My favorite pet at the moment is my chihuahua, BoBo. I had a green-cheek conure(bird) once that I loved too named Kermit. He was a clown!

What do you prefer to wear, black or white? Even though I don't wear it as much as I used to, I prefer wearing black over white.

What is your biggest fear? I hate roller coasters and anything to do with heights

What is your attitude mostly? I'm a realist who tries to be optimistic

What is perfection to you? Perfection to me is striving to be better, even if you never get there

What is your guilty pleasure? Reality TV!

Since I have been overwhelmed with blogger love and awards lately, I feel like I am overwhelming other bloggers with awards.  I think you all are Lovely Bloggers and anyone would be worthy of this award so I will leave that up to you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My lucky day!

Yesterday was my lucky day!
Although I have been awarded this award before, I was honored that Julie DeGuia honored me for the second time. I just met Julie last week and I think you would love her blog.  Check it out!

Here are the rules:

      1. Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
      2.  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy
      3.  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
      4.  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
      5.  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

I'm going to cheat a little and add the link to my original time winning this award, mostly because I am running out of things to say about myself.  Here it is  Versatile Blogger Award

And now for some nominees...
Empty Nest Insider 
Poetry and Writings of Inspiration -Etchings of My Spirit
My Baffling Brain
Stranger Than Writing
Middle Grade Madi

OK, so this isn't exactly 15 but these are some of the newer blogs I am following and truly enjoy.  I hope you do too!

In other news, I won the random award from Cherie's blogfest.  What a surprise!
Since my "To Read" and "Wishlist" are both getting out of control, I am planning to knock off a couple books from the list.

One is Three Daves by Nicki Elson.  Nicki has one of my favorite blogs, with lots of 80s references. I have been wanting to read her book since I first read about it.  Her A-Z posts were also filled with fun Disney facts.  Check it out here.

The second is Cassa Star, Alex J. Cavanaugh's first book.  He just released Cassa Fire, the second in the series so I have some catching up to do.  If you don't follow Alex you are truly missing out.  He is a true asset to the blogging world.  You can find him here

I am so excited to read both of these.  Thank you Cherie!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Upcoming Hops

I hope everyone had a very Happy Memorial Day.  We braved Tropical Storm Beryl here in FL but it brought us some much needed rain so we can't complain.  I was sent a picture that says all there is to be said about Memorial Day.

I had so much fun participating in Cherie's Flash Fiction Bloghop last week that I have signed up for some more.  Check these out to join the fun!

So what about was your Memorial Day?  Will you be joining any of these hops?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Flash Fiction Follow-up

This week I participated in Cherie Reich's 2nd Annual Flash Fiction Blogfest.  This was my first time participating in anything like this and I am so happy that I did it!

Thank you to everyone for the kind comments.  You all know how to make a girl feel good.
I am also thankful for all of the new followers that I have met during this process.

For anyone who missed my entry, you can find it here

Now, it's time for a little confession...

I realize this was a Flash Fiction blogfest, but my story actually came from a real experience.  I was the "Andi" in my story.  The event happened much like I described in the piece, but I wasn't alone as it implied.  To keep it under 300 words, he sadly had to be left out.

This took place on the Nantahala River in NC, a river that I have kayaked many times before.  Usually I was with a group of other Florida kayakers.  Our leader, Mark, was the owner of our local canoe/kayak shop.  It was always nice to know he was there, as well as the others, for times like the one I described.

That particular day I was with an old college friend, Richard, who was kayaking for the second time ever.  He was renting a kayak and this was our only day on the river since we had both traveled there to meet up as part of a joint vacation.  We only had a few hours left.  We knew the skies were getting dark and it was already foggy when we got on the river, but against our better judgement we decided to go anyway.

The name of the rock I hit is Delebar's Rock.  Every time I had run the river with the group, Mark had told us to be careful of the rock.  I remember always thinking that was an obvious statement!  Most of the time you can't miss seeing it, but due to the fog that day I couldn't see it.

The Nantahala River is dam controlled and the water temperature is in the mid-50s.  When I flipped over, Richard got to the shore but didn't feel comfortable enough to get out of his boat to help me.  I can't say I blame him.  He was stretching it as it was.

The Nantahala is pretty populated in the summer months so there were many other people on the river at the time although by this point, most of them had resigned to the banks to wait out the storm.  I was very thankful when one lone paddler stopped to help me out.

The river is surrounded by trees so there are only a few places along the way to gain access in or out.  Since we had just launched at one of these places, the next one was at the end.  I HAD to keep going!  I'm glad I did because I would have hated to leave my experience feeling defeated.

I had kayaked this river successfully several times.  Here is a picture of me going over the falls at the end of the run.  This time I was upright :)

So there you have it, my confession and an explanation.  I will try next time to make the piece true fiction but this is what came to mind with the Lightning Flashes prompt.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Flash Fiction Blogfest

Today I am participating in Cherie Reich's Flash Fiction Blogfest.  This is the first time I have done anything like this, so constructive criticism is appreciated.

The rules are that our entry must start with Lightning Flashed and be under 300 words.  I never realized how difficult that would be until I started writing!

Lightning flashed and Andi knew the rain would follow soon.  The fog coming off the river already made it impossible to see in front of her.  Although she had been on this river many times, this was the first time that she wasn’t with her more experienced friends.  The roar of the whitewater was a far cry from the springs that she was used to paddling.  Maybe this was a mistake.

 As she rounded the corner Andi saw a huge rock and realized that she was headed straight towards it.  Thoughts flashed in her mind of her past trips down the river when she was told to be careful of this particular rock.  At the time, she thought, “Well of course I will avoid the rock”.  Today as the rain began to fall, there was no way she could avoid it.

The kayak rubbed against the rock, then rolled over.  Andi was immersed in the icy water, taking her breath away.  She fought to catch her breath, holding on to her kayak. Her paddle was quickly making its way downstream in the rapids, and now the rain was coming down in sheets.  She floated down the river, keeping her feet up so they wouldn’t get snagged on a rock.  She didn’t have the strength and energy to be slowed down any further.  With some slow maneuvering, she caught up to her paddle at the end of the rapid.

Andi’s kayak was full of water as she made her way to the bank.  With no strength remaining, she suddenly saw a fellow kayaker round the corner.  Offering help, he emptied the kayak for her.

After the skies had cleared, Andi continued down the river.  She had a new appreciation for Mother Nature and a grateful heart for her guardian angel.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

After having a rough day yesterday, I was pleasantly suprised by Martha at Seaside Simplicity  to be honored with the Styling Blogger Award.  Only in the blogging community would I ever be considered stylish!

I thought it would be fun for the winners to celebrate along with the winners of the Billboard Awards being awarded on TV here in the States tonight.  The red carpet is being rolled out in your honor.  Strut your stuff!

There were no rules for this award but to get into the spirit, you could share a time when you were dolled up for a special occasion. What did you wear? How did you prepare?

And without further ado, the winners are...

Laura at Stranger Than Writing
Lilly at Manuscripts at Midnight
Lynn Kelly: Random Acts of Weirdness
Tonja at Tonja's Musings
Heather M. Gardner at The Waiting is the Hardest Part

These ladies are my newest followers.  Put on those stilettos girls!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

HELP: Inspiration needed!

Florida is in the midst of making yet another round of major cuts in services for individuals with disabilities.  These cuts have been a downhill battle since 2008.

As a support coordinator (case manager), and a supervisor of my office, it is my job to ensure that these individuals are as independent as possible by linking them with the services to help them do so.  The job has never been about the money.  This field has historically paid low.  The support coordinators in my office have to love what they do, or it is clearly not worth it.  If the individuals that we work with are successful, we are successful.

We are now in the midst of budgeting the money we have been given for the upcoming fiscal year with more cuts and a new system on top of it.  I found myself saying the other day, "I used to be a support coordinator.  Now I walk around with a calculator."  Sadly, that is the way things are going lately.

I work with a great group of people but it is very difficult to inspire them to do the projects when there is no incentive. We are constantly taking away all of the things that help the people that we serve be successful, the entire reason we are all working in this field. Instead we are constantly being faced with parents and service providers yelling at us in frustration, completing endless spreadsheets and truly walking around with a calculator.  We started out as advocates and now we are paper pushers.  This is not what we signed up for!

It has been difficult for all of us in our office to not have a raise in the past 4 years, but on top of that there is little inspiration from the job as well.  The individuals that we serve are suffering.  The state has cut so much money that it seems as though in July, everyone will be sitting at home for the majority of the week.  We have been told they are now only required to provide Health and Safety.  That means mental health is out the window!

You and I have choices every day that we take for granted.  If we decide we want to go to the store or go visit a friend, we have the ability to get in the car and go.  If we need to "get away from it all", we can simply walk or drive away.  We chose who we live with and we choose our meals and our routine.  Many of these individuals do not have any of that. 

How would that make you feel?  How would you inspire someone in that situation?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The River People by Kristen James

Just of all, I just want to remind you of Kristen's promotion this week of writing books
Book Promoting 101 is still available free for Kindle today
How to Sell More Kindle eBooks is available free for Kindle Thursday and Friday

And now without further ado:

Review of The River People by Kristen James


The River People follows River- Song, her father Chief Sits-and-Thinks, and the rest of their village down the river to participate in their annual summer games.  This is the time that they meet up with the other villages and young women are paired up with their matches to marry.

River-Song missed her chance with Walks-with-Pumas last year and she had been looking forward to winning him over all year.   In the meantime, her father is aging and looking to her to take over the village as head chief when he is no longer able to do so.  River-Song and her father are met at the summer games with “New Braves” who showed up at their village.  River-Song and her father negotiated with the new braves and accepted them as part of their village.

Would River-Song win over Walks-with-Pumas this year?  Would she be able to lead her village?

What I liked

I thoroughly enjoyed this story.  It combined the culture of the Umpqua Indians with basic human nature of family, food and festivities.  The new braves brought a special twist to the story that kept things interesting.  I loved how River-Song progressed into a woman and a leader.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award!

I won!!! Thank you so much to Betty at Poetry - Etchings From My Spirit  for awarding me with the Kreativ Blogger award. I "met" Betty during the recent Blogging from A-Z Challenge. She has a brilliant mind and a creative sense of poety. Check it out!

According to the Kreativ blogger rules, accepting the award includes the following:
1. Thanking the blogger who nominated me to receive the award and providing a link back to their blog

2. Sharing 10 things about yourself that bloggers might find interesting!

3. Nominate 6 other bloggers to receive the award and inform them

OK, so here goes my 10 things about myself...
1.  At 5'2", I am not very athletic but I love watching the basketball playoffs this time of year.  The only problem is that the Orlando Magic have already been eliminated...maybe next year :(
I did manage to go to my first Magic game recently though and it was a blast!
2.  I am such a reality show junkie.  It's a little embarrasing.  Now that American Idol, Amazing Race and Celebrity Apprentice is almost over, I am looking forward to So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent, and Duets. 
3.  I am missing my mom lately between Mother's Day and her upcoming birthday.  She has been gone for 10 1/2 years but not forgotten.
4.  One of my favorite things to do to relieve stress is to clean an empty house.  I love watching the house transform!
5.  I'm a night person and would prefer to stay up till 2-3am but I'm not able to due to my job requirements.  It took me a while to conform to a regular work day
6.  I like playing cards and board games although I don't play them very often.  I think the world would be a better place if more families played board games together.  They bring people together.
7.  I hate shopping, especially for clothes.  I know, I'm weird, but it's true.  I have a horrible sense of style and I can never seem to be able to find clothes that fit well and look good.  It is very frustrating
8.  I feel naked without my phone.  Whether I am checking email, Facebook, Goodreads, or playing Words with Friends my phone gives me an unrealistic sense of serenity and security
9.  I've had a variety of pets in my life including several birds ranging from parakeets to a macaw, scorpions, lizards, frogs, fish, racoons, a gerbil, a hamster, a cat and several dogs.
10.  I am so thankful for all my blogger buddies, both new and former followers, and look forward to learning even more about each one of you

And the nominees are (drum roll please)...

1.  Martha at Seaside Simplicity
2.  Ramblings by Rebecka
3.   Mooderino
4.  Krystal Maestas
5.  Sheila Scribbles
6.  Hilary at Positive Letters...Inspirational Stories...

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Loves Blogfest

First Loves Blogfest - Four loves, one blogfest!
Post your first loves – first movie, first song/band, first book, and first person.

The first movie I remember seeing was E.T.  Who can resist that cute little alien? 

Music is a huge part of my life so I can't remember the first song that I heard or the first band I listened to.  With my parents both being musicians, there were MANY!

One highlight was my first concert that I attended with my dad.  The lineup was:
Beach Boys
Starship (with Grace Slick)
Whitney Houston

It was an odd combination, even then, but it worked.  All 3 brought something unique to the table and it made for a great show.  It is interesting, and sad, to see what the future has brought for these 3.  I saw Starship again last year but the only one I recognized was Mickey Thomas.  It just wasn't the same, but kudos to them for keepin' on!
Beach Boys are a classic and still trying to play some shows together, but I think it is about time for retirement
And what can I say about Whitney?...too sad

My first record (yes, it was a record) was Michael Jackson's Thriller.  This is still one of my favorite albums of all time.

Ironically, I HATED to read as a child.  It was such a chore to me in school!  The only books that I really enjoyed were books by Judy Blume.  Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, and Are You There God, It's Me Margaret were some of my favorites.  They were very simple compared to the books that children are reading today, but I loved them!

And this brings me to the tragic story of my first love...David
David was a long haired, rock and roll drummer.  What girl wouldn't fall for that?  The only problem was that he was a few years younger than I was.  At that age, a few years made a big difference.  I had just finished my freshman year in college while he was still in high school.  We were just at two different stages and no matter how hard we tried, it didn't work.  I sometimes wonder if things would have been different if I had met him a few years later. 

So there you have it.  What about you?  Were any of these your firsts?  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Embers of Hope, Flickers of Passion by Kristen James

Review of Embers of Hope, Flickers of Passion by Kristen James

Kristen has quickly become one of my favorite writers.  I have read almost everything she has written and loved it all.  This week she is doing a FREE promotion of her writing books for Kindle.  Here is the schedule...

How to Be a Full Time Writer- free Sunday and Monday
Book Promoting 101 - free Tuesday and Wednesday
How to Sell More Kindle eBooks  - free Thursday and Friday.

Whether you check out the books above or Embers, you are in for a treat!

A  year after her divorce from Eric, Savannah returned to her home town, with her daughter Aubrey, to help her best friend, Cassie.  Cassie’s husband, Mike, had been a firefighter and had died in a work-related accident.  Cassie watched her dreams disappear at his loss.  As Savannah and Aubrey stayed with her to help, it became increasingly difficult to deny that it hurt Cassie to look at Aubrey and realize her dream of having a child with Mike was over.  She even had a nursery ready in her home.
Two and a half years earlier, Savannah had been saved from a fire herself.  All she could remember from the accident was looking into the eyes of the fireman who saved her.  As she returned, she saw those same eyes again and met Jason, Mike’s best friend.
Cassie blamed Jason for Mike’s death, feeling as if he talked Mike into continuing to work as a firefighter.  As time passed, Savannah and Aubrey  moved out of Cassie’s house to allow her to heal on her own.  Jason had offered her a townhouse near his for a much reduced rent.  They started to spend more time together, helping each other heal, but hiding their relationship from Cassie to protect her from further pain.

Would Cassie be able to grow stronger in herself?  Would she be able to forgive Jason?  Would Savannah and Aubrey be able to settle in and have both Cassie and Jason on her side?

What I thought
HOT!  HOT!  HOT!  I loved the mix of hurt and passion in this book.  The characters were very relatable and the pace was perfect.  There were several conflicts in the story, and each kept the story moving to a brilliant ending.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A - Z Reflections

I started my blog at the very end of 2011 and had no clue what I was doing.  Somehow I came across the A-Z Blog Challenge site and being as lost as I was I wanted to put the badge on my blog and I didn't even know how.  With help from Lee and Tina, I managed to get that right.  Check!

After talking more with Tina, she offered me a guest post spot on the challenge site.  What?  I have no idea what I am doing, remember???  But, I did it.  See here Teaching Often Makes You the Student   Check!

By the way, have you checked out Tina's Swedish lessons?  I would highly recommend them.  Her A-Z posts were lessons in the language and culture of Sweden and a highlight of the challenge to me.  She is a great teacher.
This all happened before the sign up list went up so of course, I signed up on the first day...Check!

At this point there were a couple months before the challenge began so I had way too much time on my hands to think about it.  I was nervous!  I started making lists of posts I could write about, themed and not themed.  When I finally decided on my theme (Musical instruments), I dove in and started writing posts.  By the time April came around, I had all of my posts written and scheduled.
Check Xs 26!

April 2 I went into work and had a girl quit on me.  Being the supervisor of my agency, that meant double work for me starting immediately.  That weekend, I had company arrive for the next week.
At this point, I was so thankful that my posts were done!  I never would have made it through the challenge without pre-writing and scheduling. 

I have met so many incredible bloggers in the past month.  I have tried to either respond by email or by visiting their blogs but if I have overlooked anyone I am truly sorry.  It was not intentional!

Some of my new blog friends are:
Betty Alark  Her poetry is inspiring
Carole Ann Carr  She gave a great education of many children's books
Positive Letters...Inspirational stories...  Hilary gave us quite an education of the many castles around the world.  Fascinating stuff!

And some of my favorites from before the challenge:
Seaside Simplicity  Martha gave a mix of all things fun
Nicki Elson's Not So Deep Thoughts  A-Z of Disney tips.  Very helpful!
DL Hammons  One of our wonderful co-hosts who always keeps things positive and inspiring
Whatever One of my favorite blogs for a good sense of humor and sarcasm

I enjoyed the challenge but now seem to be suffering from Blogger burnout.  I am glad to have planned and scheduled by posts ahead of time.  I don't think there is any way I could have enjoyed myself with writing the posts each day.  I am going to be slowing down a bit to deal with some new projects at work over the next couple months but I will still try to visit and say hi when I can.

And don't forget...

Alex Cavanaugh's First Love's Blogfest next Monday!  Check out Alex's A-Z posts also, highlighting other bloggers.  Very cool of him!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Taking a Break

A big congratulations is in order for everyone who finished A - Z!  I had a great time and would like to THANK all of my new followers! 

I don't know about you but I am tired!  I feel guilty not spending half the day on Blogger but I need to take a break.  I have some work overload coming for the next couple months and I don't want to get in over my head.

I am planning my reflections post for the 7th and I also plan to participate in Alex's First Loves Blog Hop too.

Otherwise I am going to take some time off to recharge.  I'll be back....