A to Z ChallengeΒ 

It’s almost April, if you can believe it, and for me that means the awesome A to Z Challenge!  

Many of you may be familiar with the challenge because you are doing it yourself, or you remember my posts from last year, but just in case you’re not familiar, I’ll tell you a little about it. 

Every day for the month of April, with the exception of Sundays where we get a rest, all participants in the challenge (there are almost 1500 of us this year!) will be posting, most of us with a theme, and all using a letter of the alphabet designated for that day.  A to Z.

Some of my blogger friends post daily as their standard operating procedure, like Jesi or Amanda, so posting every day is probably less intimidating, but a daily post is definitely a challenge for a once a week blogger like myself.  Having done the challenge before, though, I know it’s well worth the effort. 

If you’re a blogger and want to give it a go, you still have a few days to add your blog to the list.  List closes the first day of the blog challenge.

The A to Z is more than just a challenge for the bloggers putting posts up every day, it’s also a great way to find new blogs and meet other bloggers. Even if you aren’t participating in the challenge as a blogger, you can check the sign up list for those participating and go explore new blogs.  When we sign up we include a code that shows the main focus of our blog so you can find like-minded blogs to follow. My code is WR for writing so people know it has a writing theme, though I am not limited to posts strictly about writing.  Last year my post theme was inspirations for writing, but turned into a bunch of posts with me basically just gushing about my favorite books, movies, TV shows, etc. πŸ™‚ 

This challenge is very social, too.  Part of this challenge is to go read at least five other challengers’ blogs and leave comments so they know you visited. It’s a great way to find others with similar interests. Last year I met some very cool people as part of the A to Z by going through the list, reading and commenting. Like most bloggers, it always makes my day when someone reads and comments on my posts, so that was a big reason to return again this year. 

As I mentioned earlier, most of us post with a theme for our A to Z.  It is not required, but I like it both as a writer and as a reader.  I didn’t realize until after my post last week that the “Theme Reveal” day was last week.  So I am a week behind but … drumroll, please…:)

My A to Z Challenge Theme for 2015 

Great Quotes & Lines from Literature 

Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration.

Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well. 

Don’t forget to go check out Jesi’s post at Twisted Writers today and mine there tomorrow, please. πŸ˜ƒ 

And then I will see you Wednesday for Day 1 of the A to Z. 

Have a great week! πŸ™‚ 

-CJS

Please And Thank You Are Still Magic Words

Up front I will concede that as a parent of young children, the battle to ingrain politeness is fairly constant. I push “Yes, ma’am” and “Yes, sir”, though I know some people now think it isn’t important. I encourage my boys to open doors for people, not just ladies, because it is the gentlemanly thing to do, even though it isn’t always in fashion. But one of the biggest things I push is for them to say “please” when they are asking for something and “Thank you” for all sorts of things people do for them. I don’t generally say, “What’s the magic word?”, but I know I’m not the only one who has heard that prompt before. And I believe that they still are magic words. 

Lately I have found myself wanting to correct perfect strangers, prompting them for a “Please” or waiting to hear a “Thank You”. Of course, I do not, since I know it is not polite (and might get me beaten up or something).  But I had two different situations recently that had me wishing more people used these magic words. 

My family was lucky to go on vacation recently and when we got back I was tired. Very tired. So I ran out to pick up Subway for dinner instead of cooking. When I got there I was bummed to see there was a line, but I got in line and waited my turn. The Subway employee was alone facing a long line of people waiting for sandwiches. The lady ahead of me talked on her cell phone while waiting in line and when it was her turn, pulled the phone away from her face to demand some special she had heard about somewhere that wasn’t currently being offered. The Subway employee answered questions and made suggestions while the lady complained about what the worker couldn’t offer her. Finally she ordered a sandwich on the menu and resumed her phone conversation, loudly complaining about the missing special to whomever she was speaking to, despite the Subway worker needing her to answer questions about what she wanted on her sandwich. I don’t know if you have ever been to a Subway, but they offer a lot of options. What type of bread? Toasted/Untoasted? What type of cheese? Vegetables, condiments etc., and then would you like something else to go with your sandwich.  Rude woman was annoyed, so pointedly ended her phone conversation. “I will call you back when I get done here.” Then she answers the questions. “I want white, but don’t toast it.” “I need American cheese.” “Yes, all the veggies but peppers.” “Give me extra olives.” “Did you forget the tomatoes?” On and on without a hint of appreciation or acknowledgement that the person making her sandwich may have been stressed with the long line waiting or with being stuck there working all by herself.  Anyone paying any attention could see the worker was fighting off annoyance with the rude customer and trying to get the order done to move on to the others waiting. Thankfully, Rude Woman finally left and stressed worker asked me what I wanted. I made sure to say please and thank you and smile a few times and you could see her relax a bit. It cost me nothing to treat her politely and with appreciation, even though I was tired and impatient as well. Magic words πŸ˜€

Another time someone practiced their magic on me. I was the stressed out worker having a tough day in general. A quick email saying, “Thanks for all you do”, made me take a second and remember that people appreciated me. It was such a little thing but it made my tough day a little better. 

We all have this magic within us. Magic in just a few simple words. πŸ˜€ 

Have you had seen or experienced a moment like these? Have you seen the magic at work? Please share with me in the comments. Thanks!

Have a great week! And please remember to check out my post over at Twisted Writers blog tomorrow and every Tuesday. Thank you! πŸ˜ƒ

-CJS

Something “Twisted” This Way Comes…

Today is the first day of a new blog launched by a group of writers I belong to now, which we are calling the Twisted Writers!  Check out Twistedwriters.com, where every day we will have a new post from one of our group. 

Currently we have six members in the Twisted Writers, each with a specific post day, and will leave Sundays open for snippets of our work or guest blogs. We will all make sure our posts touch on, if not center around, writing themes.  We also have some upcoming projects as a group we’ll share more about as they develop. 

There are lots of exciting things to come, so stay tuned!

Jesi Scott, from over at The Lunatic Poet, will be posting a cute little story about our group today on Twisted Writers which you should go check out. Jesi will be posting every Monday, including, I am sure, some of her poetry work and insights. 

Read my first post tomorrow about what makes us Twisted Writers. Then you’ll see my posts there every Tuesday.  πŸ˜ƒ

AJ Prince, from Fiction and Food, will be posting on Wednesdays. You’ll love her natural writing style and great sense of humor. 

Joe Bucemi will be posting on Thursdays and I am sure will quickly become a favorite not only for his writing but for his fantastic and fun cartoons.

David Franklin is our spy thriller writer. His keen intelligence, razor sharp wit and tight writing will keep you reading. 

Amanda S. Green from Nocturnal Lives will be posting on Saturdays. She has published novels and short stories under several pen names so offers great insight into the joys of publishing and the ups and downs of our current publishing industry. 

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll give the Twisted Writers a look as well as we start this new adventure. 

Have a great week! 

~CJS

Don’t Take Yourself Out of the Game

I’ve recently started watching old episodes of the TV show Parenthood through my Amazon Prime instant video.  It’s not perfect, but it’s got some good moments showing some of the ups and downs of the huge cast of characters in the Braverman clan. I think the series has ended, so it’s not exactly current, but I was watching an episode recently with a quote I just loved, so I thought I would share. 

The scene focuses on one of the high school girl characters who we see struggle in a lot of ways that affect her confidence.  Amber doesn’t want to meet with a college alumnus because, hey, she might fail, right?  Her mom, Sarah, enlists her brother Adam to talk to his niece about it.  Adam is the fixer of the show, so it makes sense to send Uncle Adam in to convince Amber to give it a try.  It was what Uncle Adam says to Amber that I liked so much. When she admits she doubts herself, he says, essentially, that the World is going to knock you down again and again, so don’t knock yourself down. 

Whoa. Right? Great advice there Uncle Adam.

I know for certain that I have been guilty of knocking myself down and I bet I am not the only one. πŸ˜€

It is easy to see the faults. It is easy to say we aren’t quite good enough.  Maybe it is our writing.  Maybe it is appearance. Maybe it is intelligence. Maybe it is any old thing we use to knock ourselves down. 

Taking Uncle Adam’s advice though, we should remind ourselves that there are plenty of others who will want to do this for us. So we can’t be one of the naysayers. 

We need to be our own advocates. We need to be ready to fight for our work.  Decide we are attractive enough. Smart enough. Whatever it is, we are enough. 

There’s a great song, Put Me In Coach by John Fogerty, with a chorus that says, 

Oh, put me in, Coach, I’m ready to play, today

Put me in, Coach, I’m ready to play, today, 

Look at me, I can be Center field.


I will admit I’m no baseball expert (understatement), so I don’t get the full significance of playing Center field, however, I love the idea of saying, “Put me in Coach”, instead of, “Yeah I don’t know if I am good enough, I will just leave it up to you and hope you think I am”. Or even worse to say nothing at all because you have already decided you are not good enough. 

Life is gonna knock us out of the game sometimes, or flat out keep us from playing, so it is our job to push ourselves and to believe in ourselves so we can try to get in the game. And to stay in the game. And maybe, sometimes, to knock it out of the ballpark.

**Dedicated to my awesome mom who is starting a new job after the not so fun process of job-hunting, which we all know can knock you down if you let it.  Congrats, Mom, on not letting it! Go out there and knock it out of the ballpark. I know you can! πŸ˜€**

Have a great week y’all. 

-CJS

Surprise Yourself

IMG_4679.PNG  Lester Burnham – American Beauty 

If one of the main questions we ask ourselves in this life is: “Who Am I?”, then one of the next important questions should be, “And who else do I want to be?” 

I find the answer to “Who Am I?”, a fairly involved one. I wear a lot of hats. I work a challenging full time job where I am still always learning and always busy. I am a mother to three young children who keep me *very* busy. I am lucky to also be a happy wife to a great husband. I’m a daughter, a sister, a friend.  All of these roles help define much of my life and keep my life very full, but I realized in the last few years that I needed a creative outlet to be fully myself.  I have long had a call to write, so I am also a blogger, a tweeter (is that a word?πŸ˜ƒ), a novice poet, novelist and writer of short stories. 

Yet, despite having written a great deal, I haven’t published yet or submitted much of anything for publication.  So, if I ask myself what else I would like to be, one big answer for me right now is – to be published! 

For this reason, amid all the existing craziness in my life, I’ve recently become a part of a group of writers making plans to launch a new blog. (Details coming soon! πŸ˜€) We are also putting some plans in place for some intriguing future projects which I will also happily share later as things develop. 

The goal of all our plans is essentially to help light a fire under all our behinds to get our work out there.  Then the goal is also to promote each other’s and our own work.  Just the initial meetings alone have helped prompt me to tackle a few things I haven’t pushed myself to do before.

While committing to this team makes my list of things to be done quite a bit longer, it is a surprising and exciting new piece of who I am and hopefully will help get me closer to where I want to be! 

What challenges are you setting for yourself?  

When was the last time you surprised yourself? 

What else do you want your life to be?  

Let me know in the comments and have a great week! 

~CJS