Conversations With a Teen Daughter

15yo: Working on the house so you’ll have a surprise when you come home.

Me:  Oh, I love surprises!

15yo:  It’s part of Operation Sssss.

Me:  What’s “Operation Sssss?”

15yo:  It’s the plan my sisters and I created as secret siblings.

Me:  Can you be more specific?

15yo:  We’re the Scheme Team.

Me:  Yeah, I get that. What are you girls up to?

15yo:  A pet.

Me:  We have 5 pets already. A dog, guinea pigs, fish. What kind of pet are you wanting?

15yo:  We’re trying to convince Dad to let us get a Python.

Me:  A PYTHON? Have you lost your minds?

15yo:  Ball pythons are very friendly and easy to care for. You only feed them once a week. The males don’t get very big.

Me:  What do you feed them?

15yo:  Rats.

Me:  This just went from bad to worse.

15yo:  They’re not live rats. They’re frozen.

Me:   And just where do you plan to store these frozen, dead rodents?

15yo:  Duh, Mom. In the freezer.

Me:  Next to our food? Gross! No, no… just NO!

15yo:  Don’t worry. I’ve already priced small freezers. We can keep them in a separate freezer in the garage. I found one for $150 at Best Buy online. What a deal? Huh?

Me:  How do you plan to pay for this new freezer?

15yo:  Spot cleaning a house.

Me:  Whose house?

15yo:  Ours.

Me:   I’m not paying you $150 to clean your rooms and do the dishes!

15yo:  Not just the dishes and our rooms. It’s a surprise.

Me:  [after arriving home from work] Wow! The kitchen looks fantastic!

15yo:  Look. We cleaned every room in the house. [takes me on a tour]

Me:  You organized my shoes by color?

15yo:  Yep. And your books are all organized and alphabetized by author on the shelves now too.

Me:  [writes check for $150] How much is this snake?

15yo:  Depends on the type of Ball Python. There are hybrids of all kinds. They’re so pretty. [pulls out phone to show examples]

Me:  [shivers] Well, best of luck to you. Dad is terrified of turtles. I seriously doubt he’d allow a snake in the house.

15yo:   No worries. I alphabetically organized all his movies and X-box games.

Me:  You sound confident.

15yo:   Yep. Gonna name him “Monty.”

 

Conversations With a Teen Daughter

Me:    Do you want anything?

Her:   No. The food is so unhealthy here.

Me:     It’s fast food. We’re in a hurry. Get a salad or something.

Her:    Um… I’ll have a Triple Chocolate Sonic Master Blast.

Me:     *stares in disbelief*

Her:    What?! If I’m gonna eat bad food, might as well go all out.

Me:     Go all out?

Her:    You know, get the worst thing on the menu.

Me:      And that’s the worst?

Her:     Yep. Even sounds dangerous. I’m living on the edge.

 

The Honorable Ones

Today, I received my first review of The Honorable Ones manuscript. Since I’m an unpublished author trying to land a literary agent, I felt submitting the manuscript for possible review might help to get some unbiased, constructive feedback.

The manner in which I submitted the manuscript gave no guarantees that it would even be read, but I liked this concept of uncertainty. Why? If the novel’s hook wasn’t enticing to a reviewer, then it certainly needed work before pitching it to an agent. Further, the manuscript had no book cover, so I knew if it sat untouched by a reviewer then I needed a stronger pitch. I was delighted to find the manuscript was picked up by a reviewer and that it received a 5-star rating.

Here’s what the reviewer had to say about it:

5 stars! Reviewed By Michelle Stanley for Readers’ Favorite

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer.” The Honorable Ones is a suspenseful romance by Snow Brooks. Caleb Capossi, second-in-command in the Knights of the Paladin, wonders why Vince, the Capo dei Capi, wants him dead. When his wife, Abby, is attacked on Vince’s orders, Caleb goes into hiding after faking his own death to plan revenge. Abby passes her husband’s staged murder scene and has a mental breakdown, while using a method known as “boxing” to forget her husband’s existence. Caleb searches deep into the Paladin’s organization with the help of Matisse, another Paladin member to unearth Vince’s motives, but it’s more complex than he imagined and difficult to distinguish friends from foes. Nevertheless, that’s easier than trying to unblock Abby’s memory and Caleb would rather die than live without his love.

Although The Honorable Ones falls under the category suspenseful romance, it also has its fair share of mystery and murders that give the engaging drama a subtle mafia flair. Caleb is handsome, strong, ruthless when necessary, and deeply loves his wife. His determination to regain Abby’s love is admirable. The plot is very good and I particularly liked how the Knights of the Paladin hierarchy is structured. Snow Brooks’ writing is well paced and creative. She constantly leaves twists when you think you’ve got a part figured out. The Honorable Ones is a lovely book worth reading.

Mother’s Day

Mom1

It’s been 22 years since I lost my Mom. A couple weeks before she died we had a frank conversation about life and death. She was diagnosed with breast cancer so we both knew that death was a possibility, though no one expected her to die so suddenly.

I told her I was terrified at the thought of living without her, that she was my best confidant, and I would be lost without her.

She assured me, “If something happens to me, you’ll be fine. You’ll have a family of your own someday and find happiness in them. So don’t worry.”

Well, I was right. Losing her was devastating. But she was right also. I survived the grief and my family has brought me so much joy.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama! Love you!

Three Quote Challenge: Day Two

For Day Two I have chosen:

whitman

This is great advice for everyone, especially young adults who are deciding on a college major or career path. Most of us spend the majority of our lives working in a field we choose as young adults. For this reason, I believe that deciding on a career that gives you joy is crucial.

As a family nurse practitioner, I’ve enjoyed my job in healthcare for 18 years. To me, there’s nothing that brings greater pleasure than helping others.

I often have people ask me, “Why didn’t you work as an artist instead of a nurse?” or “Why didn’t you go into music? You’re so talented.” The truth is I would’ve enjoyed jobs in a number of fields and I considered them all. Had my mother not passed away suddenly when I was 18, I probably wouldn’t have considered a path in nursing.

The day of her death, I walked into the kitchen, overcome with shock and grief. There, on the wall, I noticed a plaque of her favorite phrase When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. In that moment, I wanted to smash the plaque to smithereens. How could any good possibly come from such a horrible event?

When I returned to college a couple weeks after her death, I found myself reading medical journals trying to find answers to why my mother had died so unexpectedly. Even the doctors couldn’t explain it. I had an extreme desire to understand exactly what had happened and I developed a thirst for medical knowledge as a result. So, I read… constantly. That semester, I changed my major to nursing and it was the best decision I ever made.

In each of my patients I see my own mother, my own family. I feel their pain and have tremendous empathy for their suffering, but also their joy. For me, each life I save and patient I help just makes more lemonade out of that lemon.

And besides, who ever said I couldn’t be a nurse and an artist, composer, or author? I enjoy them all. So here’s to Walt Whitman – do anything, but let it produce joy!

My three nominated bloggers for today are:

Abigail

Stella

Liz

 

Three Quote Challenge

Millie Thom, author of the Sons of Kings trilogy, has nominated me for the Three Quotes Challenge and I do love a good challenge so here goes…

The rules are quite simple:

  1. Post on 3 consecutive days
  2. Pick 1 or 3 quotes per day
  3. Challenge 3 different bloggers per day
  4. Thank the blogger who nominated you

Since this is my first challenge and I’m new to blogging, I’ll keep it simple and post 1 quote per day. For Day One I have chosen Emily Brontë:

Bronte

I was 16 years of age the first time I read Wuthering Heights and I distinctly recall getting goosebumps after reading that passage. What a profound proclamation of soul-bound love! The idea of a soulmate was novel to me then, but it struck me as a beautiful concept even if it only existed in literature.

Now as a writer, I interpret the statement as more esoteric than simply a statement of romantic love. As an author I often create characters that resemble nothing of myself, yet the characters are no less a creation of my own imagination. In that sense, they are a part of me. Yes, even the nasty antagonists.

I often wonder if this quote was as much a reflection of the inseparable bond Brontë felt toward Heathcliff as her own creation. If you are a writer, do you feel this connection with your characters as if they are an extension of your own being? Even if they are malignant villains? If not, why?

I pose the same question for songwriters, composers, and artists. Do you feel your musical or artistic creations are a connected extension of yourself?

My three nominated bloggers are:

Stan Stewart

LA Edwards

Katy Nika Raet

Thank you Millie Thom! I’m enjoying the challenge!

 

Most Embarrassing Moment of My Life

By Snow Brooks

I was only 14 years old when my mother and I traveled to Europe as American tourists. Our first stop was a 2 week stay in London and Mom had already given me the When in Rome, do as the Romans lecture. For months before our departure she’d preached the etiquette of each country to ensure I was properly prepared and wouldn’t embarrass myself with some cultural faux pas.

Twelve days in London and I had managed to blend in well! No one suspected I was American until I opened my mouth and my Southern drawl made it blatantly obvious. As long as my lips were sealed, I had everyone fooled or at least I did until I met the Piano Man.

You see, Piano Man wasn’t your run-of-the-mill musician. He was a pianist at one of the swankest restaurants I’d ever set foot in. All decked out in tuxedo and bow-tie with manicured salt and pepper hair that looked like it took days to perfect.

As Mom and I dined, I became enamored with the guy’s performance. His fingers danced across the keys with effortless grace and, as a 4th generation pianist, I appreciated his abilities. Mom was a pianist too and understood why I kept gawking at Mr. Mozart and his flying fingers.

It wasn’t just his talent that had my attention. While he performed, Piano Man would sway and lean toward me, the weird girl who kept staring at him, and flash his pearly whites.

Was he playing just for me now? Perhaps he could see how much I appreciated his musical abilities.

He grinned again just before flowing into a new song. An American song! Yes, Mr. Piano-dude was definitely playing this one for me! He must have overheard the twang of my accent.

There was a glass globe with money next to him, so I strolled over and tipped the gentleman. His smile widened as he continued playing my song. I was so honored that I decided to sing the lyrics to show my appreciation.

I began, “My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.”

Why was Piano Man frowning?

I went on, “Land where my fathers died.”

Why was Mom making cut-throat gestures?

“Land of the pilgrims’ pride,” my voice trickled off, sounding more like a question.

Why were one hundred angry eye-balls of fellow diners glued to me?

I cringed, press my lips together, and skulked back over to my chair.

Mom’s face was beet red. “What on Earth are you doing?” she chastised.

“I was singing.  America. You know,” I explained with an innocent shoulder-shrug.

“That’s not America,” she breathed through ventriloquist teeth. “Here, it’s God Save the Queen!” she informed, hiding her eyes behind a palm.

“Oh,” I sunk into my chair, feeling like the one who needed saving.