Thoughts on This and That

A Positive View of Life

The Benefits of Simple Kindness

My favorite TV commercial of all time is the Fidelity Investments ‘kindness’ commercial. You know the one. Someone watches as another person does a simple kindness for a stranger. Then another person watches as the previous watcher does a kindness for another stranger, and so on. We can’t help but feel inspired, which speaks beautifully to our humanity.

What we forget is that giving a kindness often lifts us up even more than the person receiving the kindness. A special glow shines within us for the rest of the day, and who knows how many people we touch with that glow.

Case Study – When my daughters and I finally made it to the front of a very long Starbucks line, we met the harried employee with smiles and pleases and thank you’s. We had a fairly large order and I apologized due to the long line behind us. The employee gave me a bright smile and said she’d rather take a big order from a friendly customer any time, and that we’d made her day.

Now that felt like cheating. Making her day had only taken a couple seconds. Just a choice to be kind and courteous, and my daughters and I were uplifted for the rest of our day. Nice how that works.

I imagine every kindness as pixie dust tossed into the air to chase the away the dark clouds of negativity and loneliness. Let’s spread as much of it as we can today.

Be sure to let me know if you make someone’s day, or if someone else makes your day.

Have a good one!

NEW RELEASE – Conversations with Coach Wooden: On Baseball, Heroes, and Life

I have to brag!!!

One of my writing group partners, Gary Adams (UCLA’s all-time winningest head baseball coach), has a book coming out TOMORROW, May 15, 2013 from Santa Monica Press!!!

Coach WoodenConversations with Coach Wooden: On Baseball, Heroes, and Life is a book about the amazing and enduring friendship between two famous UCLA coaches; John Wooden (Basketball), and Gary Adams (Baseball).

Blurb swiped from Amazon:

From legendary basketball coach John Wooden’s life lessons and “pyramid of success” philosophy to musings on his favorite sport—baseball—this engaging account chronicles the friendship between Wooden and fellow University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) head coach Gary Adams. For nearly a decade, the two celebrated coaches shared an office and developed a close friendship that lasted 35 years until Wooden’s passing. Adams’s heartwarming narrative details discussions they shared about heroes, history, life, and their mutual favorite pastime—baseball. The book also reflects on Wooden’s core philosophies and the guiding principles behind his numerous basketball successes, including his election into two halls of fame as a player and a coach, winning 10 National College Athletic Association (NCAA) National Championships in a 12-year period, and being named NCAA College Basketball Coach of the Year six times. Recollections from Major League Baseball stars Eric Karros, David Roberts, and Chase Utley are also included, along with quotes from other athletes and associates of UCLA.

I loved this book from beginning to end, even though I’m not a basketball or baseball fan – I’m actually a football fanatic. But the heartwarming and beautiful memories and philosophies Gary shares apply to all ages and situations. There is so much goodness in this book.

Congratulations, Gary! I know that many, many people will devour and relish your book!

May Giveaways from Alexis Bass!

Want to win some author-signed copies of great YA books??

One of my wonderful critique partners, Alexis Bass, is giving away signed books by authors repped by New Leaf Literary & Media – the agency that represents Alexis.

Go check out her blog and enter to win signed books by:

Lisa Desrochers

Sarah Fine

Kristin Halbrook

Kody Keplinger

Ingrid Paulson

Leigh Bardugo


Mindee Arnett

Good luck and I hope you win something!

Happy Writing

I Got to See Buck Brannaman!

I know, it’s been forever since I’ve posted. Sorry! Things have just been super busy, but I’ll tell you about that another day.Buck

The important thing is, I got to attend a Buck Brannaman Horse Clinic over the weekend in Riverside, CA! I’m not a horse owner. I went primarily to do some research for my current WIP, and also because I’m fascinated with the work Buck does. While he teaches horse owners a beautiful method of training and working their horses, he teaches the rest of us how to treat each other, as well as the other animals in our lives.

As soon as Buck started speaking with his calm, even voice, I could feel his humanity from across the corral. He cares deeply about the people and the horses in his clinics. He told us horses are extremely sensitive and respond incredibly well to feel (small inputs from the owner). And that it’s never necessary to hurt a horse.

And he has these sayings! He told one busy rider that her hands were ‘busier than a cat burying crap.’ There was also something about ‘a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.’ He was cracking us up!

According to Buck, there’s a proper order to things when training horses. If the horse trusts you because he always gets a good deal with you, he’ll go anywhere you lead. Don’t be impatient. If you take your time, the horse will actually get there faster, safer and happier.

At one point he pondered the thought that if one human being could love more than hate, that person would really be something. Even if that person wasn’t particularly good at anything, they’d be the best person on earth.

Saturday was one of the nicest and most amazing days I’ve spent in a long time. I’ve watched Buck’s documentary, Buck, at least three times, and have read his book, The Faraway Horses, and I STILL learned a ton just by watching and taking notes for one day out of the four-day clinic.

If you’re unfamiliar with Buck, even if you’re not into horses, you’ll benefit by checking out his movie and/or his books. Visit Buck at

Happy Writing, and I’d love to hear what’s going on with you!

The Next Big Thing

My good friend and awesome critique partner, Alexis Bass, tagged me for the Next Big Thing Blog Hop! Be sure to check out her Next Big Thing blog regarding her Harper Teen debut!

What is the working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea came from my love of Native American culture and having visited Durango, Colorado, where the Southern Ute Tribe is prevalent. Also from some of my own uncanny premonitions that have come true . . .

What genre does your book fall under?

Young Adult Romance with Magical Realism – I know, it’s a mouthful.

What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I have no idea who I’d choose to play my characters because I don’t see them as specific actors. Aside from Kai. michael_spearsmspearswhiteshirt

I see Kai as Michael Spears.






What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Okay. I totally suck at these (I’d rather write the 75,000 word novel), but here goes:

Having a vision of dead person face-down on the floor is no picnic, but Bailey Tucker races to change the person’s fate because it could very well be her best friend or the frustrating Kai Chiwaten, who she can’t get keep of her mind or her dreams.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My goal is to be represented by an agency – which I am aggressively pursuing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I wrote the first draft in six weeks – on fire. But I’ve been rewriting for about three years . . .

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t think of any books that would compare, but for TV shows, perhaps Veronica Mars meets The Profiler.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

On my first visit to Durango, Colorado, I was so taken by the beauty of the mountains, rivers, lakes and forests that I knew a story had to take place there. On subsequent visits to my favorite place in the world, characters and a story developed. In fact, I had my full cast and plot when a very frustrating but swoon-worthy leading man busted his way into my mind and changed my entire story. But that just goes along with Kai’s personality.

What else about your book would pique the reader’s interest?

How about an excerpt from the first scene –

When I was a little girl I wanted to be an Indian warrior. When I grew up, I just wanted one. Particularly the one who kept appearing in my dreams.

“He was quiet and mysterious,” I told Dakota as I brushed out his mane. “He had deep, dark eyes, perfectly-shaped lips and long, silky black hair. He would’ve been a warrior in the old days.” I sighed because his touch still lingered on my face, his breath on my lips. I felt his high cheekbones beneath my fingertips, and how he’d twisted his hand through my hair – just as I woke up.

Dakota nuzzled me with his velvety nose. “I know, I know. I have to hurry.” I set a flake of alfalfa in his feed bin. “Jazz will be here any minute.” Dakota lifted his head and snorted as if he understood who I meant.

“You could be nicer to her, you know.” I grabbed the rake and started mucking out his stall. With any luck I’d be done before Jasmine picked me up to go river rafting.

Just as I scooped a load into the wheelbarrow, my vision went from clear to fuzzy. I blinked hard and opened my eyes. That only made it worse.

The barn twisted in a sickening way. My breakfast rolled around in my stomach. I couldn’t tell which way was up so I dropped to my knees and reached out for the stall. My vision went black.

The wood of the stall felt rough beneath my hand but when I could see again I was no longer in the barn. I stood inside a house I didn’t recognize.

Someone with long black hair lay face down on the floor.

I gripped the stall and let the splinters slice into my skin. It was impossible to be in two places at once, right? I leaned forward and said, “Hello?” I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman, but the person had the reddish-brown skin of our local tribe. “Are you okay?”

I reached out to shake the person and but skin on the arm had a bluish-gray tint to it. I flinched and snatched my hand back. That was the pallor of a dead person. I backed away. I wanted out. But I didn’t know how to get out.

“Bailey?” Jasmine said from behind me.

The house twisted away and I was back in the barn.

“Jazz.” My head swam as I looked up at her.

She frowned and pointed at Dakota. “Did he kick you?”

“Course not.” I made a feeble attempt to roll my eyes as I got to my hands and knees. I wasn’t ready to stand up yet. Dakota pawed the ground and grunted at Jasmine.

“Then what’re you doing down there?”

I gripped the side of the stall and dragged myself up. My stomach protested the movement. “Uh, I tripped.” What was I going to tell her? That I was seeing dead people? Yeah, that’d go over well.

Thank you, Alexis, for tagging me for the Next Big Thing Blog Hop! This was really fun! If you’re up to it and want to play, I’d like to pass the torch to Erin Brady Pike, Alison Stone, Amy Weaver, and Lisa Gail Green!


My Critique Partner Got A Book Deal @ Harper Teen!


(via Publishers Weekly Children’s bookshelf)

I am SO excited today!

Publishers Weekly just announced that Rosemary Brosnan of Harper Teen acquired the debut novel GIRLS EVOLVED written by one of MY critique partners, Alexis Bass!

GIRLS EVOLVED, is about a seventeen-year-old girl and her best friends who have made it to second semester senior year heartbreak free by abiding by the wisdom of Marilyn Monroe: “A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love, listens but doesn’t believe, and leaves before she is left”, until Nathan Diggs moves to town and changes everything.

Alexis worked so hard on this book – I know because I was there through all the blood, sweat and tears. GIRLS EVOLVED is a fantastic YA Comtemporary that will take your emotions on a rollercoaster ride. I couldn’t be happier or more excited for Alexis today! Well, except for how excited I’ll be when her book release day comes in the Fall of 2014!


You can find Alexis on Twitter and on her blog as follows:

Twitter: @alexisbasswrites


Alexis is repped by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary and Media

How to Make 2013 The Best!

Happy New Year!!!

I promised to blog about ways to make 2013 even better than 2012, so here we go!

I’m using two amazing programs that may seem somewhat old fashioned, but are pure gold when it comes to quality of life.

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living -

As writers, we get way into our heads. Sometimes that’s not a good thing if our minds focus on negative things – and writers can be pretty good at beating themselves up. I’ve been listening to Dale Carnegie’s book on CD ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ for the past couple months and it has greatly improved my life by changing how I think, and therefore how I write.

Give Dale a try and see if his ideas work for you. As for me, one of my goals this year is to listen to snippets of ‘How to Stop Worrying and Start Living’ at least once a week to make sure I keep my mind in the right place, and therefore stay happy and productive.

Best Year Yet

My writing mentor introduced me to ‘Best Year Yet’ in January 2012. We both used this book to write goals for 2012 and made bi-weekly progress reports to each other. The beauty of ‘Best Year Yet’ is it touches on each role you play in life.

As writers, sometimes it’s hard to quantify goals. We can have word-count goals, number-of-page goals, or even number-of-manuscript goals. ‘Best Year Yet’ teaches you how to create concrete goals and provides guidance on how to accomplish them. I highly recommend this program because of what it did for me in 2012, and I’ve already used it to write my 2013 goals!

Whether you use either of these programs, or other ideas that work for you, I wish you a Happy New Year and a lovely, happy, inspiring 2013.

Happy Writing!

Happy Holidays!

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Boxing Day!

Did I miss anything?

Regardless of which one you celebrate, I hope your holidays are wonderful and filled with the love and joy of family and good friends.

I’m looking forward to 2013 and will post soon about all the ways I’ve found to try to make it the best year yet!

As always, Happy Writing!

Hurry! Win a 25 Page Critique!

One of my awesome critique partners, Shelly Batt, is offering a 25 page critique over on her blog, Voices of a Writer!

All you have to do is leave a comment on her blog for a chance to win. But get over there quick because the contest ends tomorrow, December 14 at midnight (eastern time)!

My other CPs (Alexis Bass and Jeannie Anaya) and I knowingly brag that Shelley has mad editing skills. She has a knack for finding what could enhance your manuscipt, or what might be missing. Shelley has edited both of my manuscripts in full and my stories are much better because of her input.

If you’re looking for another set of eyes to review your pages, go put your comment in!

Happy Writing!

PLEASE Back Up Your Manuscripts – Every Day

Well, it happened. My laptop died. With all my manuscripts on it.

This could be a catastrophe.

But it’s not.

Because of my obsessive habit of backing up my work.

A couple years ago I read simple tip – probably in Writer’s Digest magazine – that saved my sanity today. That tip was to send a copy of your manuscript to your email each day after writing and/or revising. That way, you have one current copy on your computer, and one out in email land.

I do this absolutely every day after my  writing time is up – or even once in the middle of the day if I’ve written/revised a lot. This takes seconds. Rewriting a 75,000 word manuscript? Much longer.

When the current manuscript hits my inbox, I simply delete the last copy I sent. (I’m also a bit obsessive about keeping my inbox clean.)

Now, I’m sure I’ll be able to retrieve some documents from my sick laptop at some point. But how many days will that be?? I’m making agent-suggested revisions to my manuscript right now. (Yippee!) I can’t miss several days of work! Not that I’d even want to. I mean, what would I do with myself all day if I couldn’t write? Watch bad TV? No thanks.

I also back up my manuscripts to a thumb drive, but I only do this about once a month. Emailing a copy is much quicker, but it is nice to know I have a fairly recent draft in three different places.

So, please take my experience to heart, because for most of us, it’s only a matter of when. I’m writing this post from my daughter’s netbook, from which I can also edit my manuscript, because my latest copy is out in email land just waiting for me to dive in!

Happy Writing!

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