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January 2012

Eleven Escapes from Reality


Blog photo
Photo by Sarah G.

We all juggle. We all get fed up. And oh, how we all need a break from time to time. Here are some of my escapes from reality.
11) Walt Disney World: Okay, that one was rather obvious. Still, there's nothing like a walk down Main Street USA, gazing up at Cinderella's castle, to make you forget about the huge list of must-dos waiting for you at home. It's been two years since I've gone. I'm overdo for a little fantasy.

10) The bathroom: Hear me out .... Sitting in the corner of the room with a good book for ten-minute spells is a surefire way to get some peace. Even if someone does knock on the door, that door is locked. Heck, you could be doing anything in there and one, "Can't I have a moment's peace in the bathroom?" will usually net the next 10 minutes of Bella and Edward's romance, Katniss' battle to survive, or Star's ... well, I'm not going to spit out a spoiler on Treehugger here. Is 10-minutes in the bathroom when you don't have to "go" dishonest? Sure. Have you earned it? Of course.

9) Sleep: Get some.

8) Incomparable Food: In particular, a phenomenal meal full of complex, smoothly-blended flavors. I haven't had something like that in a restaurant in a long time. Today, I tried a new Mediterranean place called Mezza located a few towns away in New Jersey. So good that I can't stop thinking about it hours later. 

7) A good Riesling (unless you're under 21, of course!) 

6)  An evening with your college buddies. They knew you when you were really becoming who you are.

5) Girl's Nights Out! 'nuf said. 

4) My hammock: Strung between two trees in the backyard. I miss it since it is put away for winter.

3) The Geico commercials with the little pig.  "Wheee, Wheeeeeeeee!"

2) Standing at the top of a ski-run, while it's snowing, when everyone has gone ahead of you, and it's just you, the mountains, and the snow.

1) Writing a fantasy novel. Not the editing, not the formatting, or the promoting. Just the writing. You're in control. Your whims, your story. 

What's your favorite escape from reality?

If a picture is worth one thousand words, then what price a photo session?

If you talk (or tweet, FB, IM, Google, or Kindleboard) with many writers--especially those on the promotion track--you'll find that life isn't easy when trying to move a gazillion miles per hour. Writing, editing, networking, publicizing...whew! And so many writers work a "real job" on top of all that! Few folks will tell you it's a breeze. And those who do are probably trying to find a way to incorporate the conversation into their newest fantasy novel. In fact, from personal experience, I can say that the last publishing-related calm experience I had was the photo shoot for my publicity pics.  

Now pictures and I do not get along. Ever since I can remember, I have tried to avoid them. In fact, except for my wedding photos (a miracle!) I'm pretty sure I have not enjoyed someone telling me to say cheese or looking at the results of those pictures throughout my entire life. That is, until my author photo shoot....

It was a beautiful fall day. The kids were in school and hubbie was home, so I didn't have to worry about making it back from Monroe, NY  in time to pick them up. In fact, I took my time adjusting my new haircut from the day before, putting on makeup, slipping in the loooong earrings someone on kindleboards suggested I wear. I hopped in the car with a smile on my face, a mixed CD of some of my favorite songs, and a Dunkin' Donuts iced-hazelnut coffee. When I hit the winding forested road known as Orange Turnpike, I jumped the CD to Madonna's Ray of Light out of habit. This road, this song, and hitting those curves with my pedal to the metal are the way I usually finish the trek to the home of my good buddy Kristina,  connoisseur of fine wine, brownies, and all things humorous. She also happens to be an extraordinary photographer.  

Kris kim
Me (left), Kris (right)

Kris and I go way back to toddlerhood. Through the years, we have helped each other out through many life trials just by talking. On top of it she has rescued me from fishing hooks, boy heartaches, fly paper, rowing a rowboat in enough circles to start a whirlpool, and most recently, my fear of having my picture taken. 



It's easy to see why I asked her to do my photo session. First off, I knew she has always had an amazing eye for photography. Next, I knew that I'd be laughing so much that I probably wouldn't come off as stiff and cardboard in the pictures. You know, the deer in headlights type deal. And I didn't. I can actually see "me" coming through in those pictures. 

Some of the shots she took that day...   


Back cover of book. Clearly having fun.
just plain silliness


Kris is such a crack up!
my favorite shot


The lake was so nice that day
Awesome day!

So here is my plug: Anyone within a reasonable distance of Monroe, NY should contact Kristina Stelz of Lakefront Photography for special occasions, portaits, etc. Anyone not within a reasonable distance should look really hard for a photographer who can help you relax! And if you can't find one, at least bring a fun friend along for the ride. What an amazing day! I'm looking forward to doing another shoot for Book Two of the Based on a Dream series. What do you say, Kris? Mohonk? .....rowboat shot?



My Publishing Journey: Reflecting on the Past Month

I slept Saturday night. As in, from 11:oo pm to 7:30 am. As in, not from 1:00 am to 5:30 am. On top of it, I  slowed down Sunday morning. Sipped coffee slower, hit my cyberspace writing haunts slower, and consciously chose to take some deep breaths. It was frigid cold outside--a whopping 11 degrees--but sunlight was blasting through the window and landing on me in a warm, thick band. Eventually, my daughter came downstairs and we cuddled on the couch. 

And in this calm, nothing but everything moment, it occurred to me: It has been about one month since I went into launch mode on Treehugger. It was around this time last month that I was in formatting / proof-checking hell. I thought that if I didn't get all the versions up for sale before Christmas Day, I was doomed. (I have since learned that wouldn't have been the case. Still, the paranoia served its purpose in getting the book out.)  

A lot has happened since the launch. For those of you who have written books and published them either independently or traditionally, I wonder if your launch was a whirlwind, too. Perhaps it was the added rush of Christmas prep, but I couldn't have been completely in the moment, because when I remember the following events, they surprise me. I think I'm experiencing the true joy in them after the fact. But that's better than not at all. These are the types of moments you can look forward to you if you decide to publish (in no particular order):

Kea with proof

1) Getting my first proof in the mail. I know I was anxious to pull the book from it's wrapper because I had been convinced that my inexperience in creating covers was going to result in funky colors or fuzzy images. Only it was perfect ... and I think that really shocked me. Apparently I was happy, though.

2) Hitting the "Publish" button to make Treehugger available for sale. All I remember is thinking, "Should I really do this? Is it really ready?" Then another voice took over, "Oh, shut up and hit the button already. Christmas is almost here. No time to think."

Mumdad proof turn3) Showing the book to my parents. We toasted it with Baileys. Today, looking back, I've discovered I really treasure that day.  It didn't seem real at the time, and during the holidays we were getting ready to go somewhere, so I squeezed in the debut between running here and there. I guess when you wait for an event for so long, when it happens, it has a dream-like quality.

4) Two of my friends ripping up paper napkins in a cafe and throwing it at me like confetti. Then they told the waiter about the book and he made a big deal, and then the owner came over and started talking book release party. I was embarrassed to death, but really, it has been one of the biggest highlights of this past month. Thank you, Helen and Norel! Your enthusiasm has meant more to me than I can express.

5) Giving my daughter the proof to take to school for silent reading time. 

6) My first excited fan...and that was before she read it. Thank you, Mo!

 For those considering writing and publishing, the learning curve is steep, and (depending on your lifestyle) pulling it all together can test your patience with the time the whole process demands. Still, it can be done ... it would just be nice to be more in the moment throughout the process and that endless rush to promote. Along with formatting covers, being in the moment is something I need to work on! 

The Good Fight

Call it timing, PMS, or a mix of the two, but I've gotten walloped by sad and inspirational stories and images this past week. You know the kind: Amazing deeds and/or feats by people in terrible situations. They make us cry, give us hope, inspire us to be better people, and cause us to re-evaluate our lives. Today, I've decided to round them up and hurl them into cyberspace to inspire us all. Go grab some tissues.

GABBY GIFFORDS: If you're not familiar with her story, you've been living under a rock somewhere in the outer-core layer of the planet. This morning, she was on the news in a story about the anniversary of the shooting in Arizona. While her recovery has been amazing, she still has a hard time speaking. You wouldn't think she knew that to see her leading the Pledge of Allegiance with more intensity than most of us have seen in a while.  It was even better to watch than the bi-partisan cheers she received when appearing before Congress to vote on the debt ceiling. Amazing how people can come together to recognize the value of life when faced with the possibility of its loss. Maybe Giffords should run for president one day. If anyone can put herself in the shoes of those who struggle with quality of life, who know what its like to have to fight the odds each day, she can. No matter who she was before her ordeal, I imagine she knows the difference between what matters in life and what doesn't now. What an inspiration she is in her demonstration of the ability to fight through seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

JESSIE REES: I only read about this brave girl two days ago when, unfortunately, she died. At age 12. She had suffered from brain tumors, but during her fight, she managed to start an organization to bring cheer to hospitalized children and others. Her idea, Joy Jars, involves selling decorative jars that come with a T-shirt inside. Purchasers are supposed to keep the shirt and refill the jar with goodies to cheer a friend. You can request a Joy Jar for a sick child as well. Find out more about Jessie, her organization, and her motto "Never Ever Give Up" (NEGU) at I'm thinking Joy Jars might be a nice place for my kids to send the donation money they set aside from their allowances.

JASON McELWAIN: Somehow, I came across this story while searching for publicity idea articles. Meet Jason, an autistic teenager who loves basketball and did some amazing stuff with his passion. Autism of any sort really gets to me. Often, there is such a fine line between autistic behaviours and "normal" behaviors. You have to wonder if the solution is something simple, and we just can't find the answer. It's truly one of the biggest mysteries out there. Watch Jason's story here:

MAJESTIC BALD EAGLE: This morning I found a photo of a bald eagle on my friend's Facebook site. She is an awesome photographer (Kristina Stelz: Lakefront Photography) and took several shots hanging out her window. (Gee Kris, I hope someone had your feet!) So Kris, in her own right, is inspiring.

However, it was the bald eagle, with its majesty, the way it is working its way off the endangered list, and the current issues affecting our country that made me teary. (No, I don't mind words like "sap!" on the comments thread; feel free!) Seriously... look at it! Wings up, taking off. Thank goodness few agreed with Ben Franklin when he wanted to make the turkey our national bird, huh?

Kris eagle

And if that isn't enough, this feathered friend, after grabbing a snack, takes off flying toward the American flag...

Eagle 2

So, while I may be a mess lately, it's wonderful to know that beautiful things have happened in spite of the bad, and I can be hopeful that good things will continue to happen in the face of adversity. 

While we're sharing, what made you teary this past week?