Monday, February 24, 2014

The End Of An Era

Last weekend I attended a writing conference sponsored by ANWA. It was a fabulous weekend filled with wonderful speakers and even more amazing writers. I love the lessons learned, but even more, the sisterhood that is felt when you are in a room with women who love what you love.

Had a blast with this crazy group at lunch!

A lot of the conversations at the conference seemed to be centered around how the “industry” is changing. No longer do the publishing houses rule, and no longer do you need to go through typical avenues in order to be a successful author. This is all in thanks to the E-book. Is this a good thing, yes, yet, there seems to be some definite trade offs here.
            Before we know it our bookshelves will be empty and our kindles will be filled. I admit I very rarely read actual books anymore. But, just recently I stopped to realize what we are losing. For over 600 years we have been blessed with printed books. Soon that time will be gone, gone! I hope we can all realize the significance of this. It is HUGE! I am all for technology, but man, this makes me sad.
            Another thing that worries me is this idea that the author is the brand and the book is the product and that for some reason the brand is more important. I know I am old school but this idea breaks my heart. If the craft is not as important as your ability to sell yourself, are we losing something here? What happened to writing a great book, a book that changes lives? Books have changed my life plenty of times. I remember being 11 and reading “A Summer to Die” by Lois Lowry. This was the year after my brother had died of cancer. That book changed my life! That book allowed me to feel what I had kept bottled up for over a year.
            Now, I know you have to built your platform and sell, sell, sell, I just feel that your writing should still hold supreme.
            Well, this is all coming from a struggling author, so, what do I know, right? It is just something that has been clinging to my mind for a while and I thought I would share, and hopefully get your take.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Key West and Kids

As most of you know, my family went on a cruise a few weeks ago.

Back in November when I was planning out our Christmas gifts for the kids, it just hit me. What my kids need is not more electronics to occupy ALL of their time, and toys that will be forgotten or broken in a matter of months. What my kids need is family time.
            Anyone who knows my family knows family time is not something the Williams’ get to experience often. With my kids’ activities, my schooling, and Travis’ job, (though I am so grateful he has one) our lives are a bit intense. Travis works more hours then I really want to sit down and calculate and he travels quiet a bit.  Though, he loves his job, and that is a blessing.
            Family vacations don’t really happen that often. For example, we plan and plan, kids get excited, then, we cancel at the last minute because Dad is needed at work.
            So, back in November I decided that enough was enough, we were going to go on a vacation gosh darn it! One we could not back out of even if we wanted to, and one where we wouldn’t be interrupted by demands at home. So we came up with the cruise. Perfect, right? It was a close call. We worried up until the day before if Dad was going to be able to make it. Miracles of miracles, he did.
            Boy, that was a lot of backstory. Now, what I thought I would do is give you all a bit of a travel log/ do's and don’ts of the places we visited, just incase you wish to plan a vacation such as ours. Today’s installment is on Key West.

            First off, Key West is not for kids. At least we didn’t think so. Don’t get me wrong. It is a cute, eclectic island. But, there is a reason a lot of retired people live here.
            For starters, there is no good beach; we learned this the hard way. Because there are no waves due to a barrier reef, there is no sand. So, they have to ship it in. The one okay beach that we did find, one on a military base, in which we had to pay for admittance, and then walk what felt like miles to even get to, had no sand, but crumbled shell.
            We made the best of it, collecting shells and building shell castles, but, my kids all agreed that Key West was their least favorite day. One good thing about the beach was the trees lining it. I was able to sit in the shade for a while and just enjoy the breeze coming off of the ocean. HEAVEN!

            As an adult, I enjoyed the hop on hop off trolley. It was a bit pricy at $29. But we did get a free bottle of water. J And Kids 12 and under are free. The good thing about the trolley is that you get a bit of a history lesson. I am a total history nerd, so that was right up my alley. Again, my kids were not so impressed.
            I saw Ernest Hemingway’s home. Though I am not a fan of his writing, I do appreciate his accomplishments. Not just his home, but many of the older homes on the island were beautiful. Nothing like the cookie-cutter stucco homes in Phoenix.

            Overall, would I go back? For free, heck yeah. But if I had my choice of another island, I would probably take the other island. Sorry, Key West. These are just my thoughts. By bad luck we may have missed something super amazing that is only seen on this island (so take that into account). We did miss the key lime pie. I hear the trip is worth it just for a taste. And, I do think everyone should go at least once.

 One crazy thing about the island is that it is a bird sanctuary. Chickens run free EVERYWHERE! so bizarre! 

So, here are my do's   

Do: buy the hop on hop off trolly,
Do: or rent bikes, if you don't care for the history.
Do: check out the museums on the island
Do: wear comfortable shoes…. you will be walking. ALOT
Do: dress appropriately. It is HOT! 
Do: check out Hemingway's house. the six toed cats are strange.
Do: go to the southernmost point on the island. (United States) totally a tourist thing, but worth saying you were there.
Do: bring money because the shops are fabulous!!! I recommend that you leave with a little silver. (I got the most awesome bracelet)
Do: if you are on a cruise, this is the place to buy soda or bottled water to bring on the ship. It Is outrageous what the ships charges for these items. (Yet, they will feed you until you explode)

Don't: bring the kids. Save the money, they won't appreciate it.
Don't :wear flip flops. (my feet are still scared from the blisters between my toes)
Don't: believe your guide when he gives you beach recommendations (Do your own research).
I think that's about it. Good luck.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's Your Passion

I was having a pity party a few weeks ago. Ice-cream and marshmallows were involved.  I think this was the day I found that 6-year old rejection letter. Anyway, my husband bravely stepped in and asked me why I write? You struggling authors know the minefield my husband traversed in order to ask me this question at that particular moment. 

Why do I write? Travis' question got me thinking. I was grateful for his question because it made me stop and remember why.

I write because I love it. I love sitting down and being in that “zone,” you know, those moments when the story pours from you almost effortlessly. (For me, the hard part comes with editing). Writing can be addictive, just as reading and shopping can be. I am an addict! But the best part is, unlike while reading, my characters do whatever I want them to…and the enjoyment is prolonged because it takes a LONG time to write a novel. It’s my passion.

I was even revising on vacation…yes, I know, I have a problem. :)

What do I write? I write whatever story keeps me up late at night. You authors know what I mean. It’s late and you have a thousand things to do in the morning, yet, you can’t sleep because you hear conversations between characters replaying themselves over and over in your mind. For me, its usually dramatic scenes where one character is telling another character off.  I think this is due to the fact that I am probably one of the most anti-confrontational people you will ever meet. Having to “talk” to someone about something unpleasant makes me severally ill. So, these scenes are me spewing out what I would never say in person.  (It’s my cheap form of therapy, I suppose.)

The muse comes at other times as well.  You would be surprised by how many times I have zoned out of a conversation with someone because all of a sudden an idea pops in my head.  I drive my friends crazy!

I do think having a passion is important. It doesn’t matter what it is… I know people who spend hours knitting, or painting, drawing, home design, the sciences, genealogy or blogging.  I even know someone who is passionate about organizing. Life is full of responsibilities, things we have to do to be functional. It’s healthy to take time out of the crazy hustle and bustle of our lives to do something that fills our spirits, something that keeps us up late at night because we can't wait for the dawn when we get to write, knit…organize.

So, what is your passion?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cruise food. Anyone hungry?

I am going to do a write up of our vacation in a few days, after I have had a chance to recoup from our vacation… I love that you need to rest after what should be a time of rest. What is that?

Anyway. I had some thoughts this morning and thought I would share. The first thing my family did at roughly midnight last night after we walked through the front door of our home was to step on the scale. I know, I know, it's weird. But, my growing boys have a bit of an obsession with their lack of girth. Those of you with boys who are size challenged understand what I am saying. SO, why the rush to the scales?

Anyone who has been on a cruise knows of the abundance of food. Why is that? I wonder. Do they think if they can keep us all stuffed and happy, full to the brim, they are less likely to have a mutiny on their hands. I seriously don't think I have ever seen so much food in my life.

At one point I wondered if the food was laced with something. That had to be the reason why everyone in the buffet line seemed to have triple on their plate than what they could possibly consume. My family was no exception. Frozen yogurt by the pounds, turkey melts, salads, beagles, cereal, pizza, french fries, hamburgers…. By our last night, I dragged my stuffed body into the dinning room to sit down at our designated table. I had no desire to eat. In fact, the thought of food made me a bit queasy. Yet, there I was planting my increasing booty in my seat surrendering to yet another meal that I could never possibly finish. And we ate. and ate. and ate. (I blame in on the fact that I grew up with 10 siblings… passing on food is like passing on a good sale. Impossible.)

So today my boys are thrilled by the numbers on the scale. Me, not so much.

I've been thinking. There has to be a better use of all of that food. I know my family waisted much of it… hmmm… I keep thinking of the men and women who leave their families for months at a time to work on the ship, sending every cent back home. What do they think of the waste? I kept wondering what their families would think of all of that food ending up in the trash or on my hips?

Our waiter was fabulous, by the way. I was so impressed by how kind he was to our kids, (he even threw in some magic tricks) And the food, really was delicious. I will be dreaming of that last soufflé for a while.

Now back to real life and my cooking. :(

Here is a few pics of our dining experience.
Chocolate Melting Cake! I can not even begin to tell you how good it was….mmmmmmmm.

Brycen was our daring one who always ordered the most outrageous thing on the menu. I think the last night it was frog legs… yuck!