The Joy of Living

I lost a friend on August 20, 2015. Her name was Frieda and she was the Minister of Music at my church. Her death was unexpected and threw our church family into a state of shock. I want to tell all of you about her because she was an amazing person.

Sunflowers were her favorite. I like sunflowers. I like the way they look to the sun and then seem to bow their heads in prayer. This was so Frieda. She loved God. She loved her family and she loved her friends with all her heart. 
One of the things I loved about Frieda was her sense of humor. The years I served as Lay Leader had me at church a lot. Sometimes I would drop by the choir room on my out to say hi, and I would find Rob and Frieda laughing. You could hear it in the hall.That joy of living. It was all around.

Every song was her favorite. We’d sing a new anthem, or get our Christmas and Easter music and she’d say, “These are my favorites.” We would sing, laugh, worship and support each other.  She was our favorite and we’re going to miss her.

Our women’s retreats were full of love and laughter. Frieda would lead worship. She would lead us in song, and in meditations. She would also lead into fun, with our tacky dress day, or dress up like we did in high school day. We played games and told stories. I would laugh so hard I had tears running down my face. It was amazing and we loved every minute of it. 
She was one of the bravest women I knew. She adopted two boys who have grown up to be wonderful young men. One is in college and the other is a senior in high school. He is the drum major for his school band, and Friday, the day after his mom died, he got up and directed the marching band. I saw his picture on Facebook and he looked so serious. Bravery in the face of adversity. That is what she taught them. I knew his mother was looking down from heaven beaming.

She helped me be brave. With my writing and with my son. I didn’t have any brothers, so if I needed advice about raising a boy, she was always there. Frieda’s encouragement helped me step out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways. I even tried out for a solo one Christmas. I didn’t get it, but I never would’ve tried if she hadn’t been so encouraging. She was that way with everyone. Sometimes you didn’t have to be an amazing singer to get a solo. You just had to have the heart. And her heart was big enough to encourage and help you in any way she could.
Frieda loved the kids. I was always blown away by her patience when working with them. From the littlest ones up to fifth grade, her work with these children was amazing. The musicals they would do were nothing short of a miracle. My children loved her and will miss her. God gave her a talent and a gift and she used to His glory. 
During her Celebration of Life, her father shared a story with our pastor regarding her third grade report card. Our pastor shared it with us. The teacher wrote (and I hope I’m remembering it correctly) Frieda’s joy of living interferes with her learning. 

Joy of living. Wow! That’s what I want. I want to have that joy of living. That zest for life to write my stories. That zest for life to share with my husband and children. That joy of trusting and fully embracing the gifts God has given me. That is what I’m going to take from all this. I want that joy of living to interfere with everything I sing, say, play, write and do. 
Thank you Frieda for touching my heart and being my friend. I love you and will miss you.

School’s Back! Yay!!

School is in and life can get back to my normal chaos. My kids were very busy is summer, more than any other. With all this running around and work I realized something. Sometimes you don’t realize how much something is a part of your life until it’s gone.

I didn’t write much this summer. I didn’t get to meet with my writing group. Kids activities and my part-time job kept getting in the way. I’m not one of those parents who overload their kids with activities, but the few things they were involved in really took a toll on my writing time.

I missed it.  I missed letting my imagination go wild and writing down what pops into my brain. I missed my characters’ adventures. I missed the friendship and fellowship of the group. They are the best people. I missed the frustration of trying to market my current stories and having to keep up with everything an Indie author has to do. Okay, I didn’t miss the marketing that much, but know it’s a necessary evil.

We’re starting the second week of school. The “getting the kids to school” chaos should be about done and I can get back to my routine. Get to editing. Meet with my friends. Explore with my imagination. Fight the cat for my computer.

It’s all good.

I’m excited for my kids and their new adventures at school. My daughter wants to play violin in the orchestra. My son will be putting together a project for the science fair. It’s going to be a fun year for all of us.

The Power of Storytelling

How many of you know this joke:

 Pete and Repeat were sitting on a fence, Pete fell off and who was left. Repeat.

It’s funny and annoying at the same time. Especially, when it takes the person a while to get it.

I’m restating this:

Think and Rethink were sitting on fence, Think fell off and who was left. Rethink.

Rethink. That’s what I’ve been doing about my blog and my writing career. In the cross stitch community, when someone has loses their passion for stitching, we say they lost their “Stitchy Bug” and they ask for help to get it back. Especially when you have a BAP (Big A$$ Project) to get done. I have one of those affectionately known as the Damn Dog.

I don’t feel blocked exactly. I just feel “bleh.” I want to do another Philippa Marlowmellow mystery, because they’re fun. I know how the antagonist is going to kill mallows, but I don’t know why. The why is pretty important. I finished the first draft of my young adult novel, “The Insignificant Amy Dodd,” and was excited about starting the edits and revisions. It’s sitting on my desk staring at me.
There is so much more to a writing career than sitting and writing. You have to market, sell, sell, sell. I am not good at that part. I’m trying, but there is not enough time in my day to do it all. It’s so overwhelming. If I had a million bucks, I would hire a publicists. 
So back to “rethink.”  Printed stories have their roots in the oral tradition of storytelling. Information was passed from one person to another. Histories were kept, and some were just plain fun. 
I come from a background of storytelling. I fell in love with the art when I was on a business trip in Johnson City, Tennessee. I saw flyers about the festival and asked a co-worker. I was intrigued by what he told me and I went to the festival that year. I was mesmerized. Three storytellers stood out to me that trip, Jay O’Callahan, Sid Lieberman and Barbara McBride-Smith. Barbara McBride-Smith told Greek myths with a twist that would have you laughing. She is from Oklahoma and telling those tales with a southern accent had you laughing so hard you would pee in your pants. Sid Lieberman told Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart” that had shivers going down my spine, But my favorite is Jay O’Callahan. His stories take you to his world, entertains you, and brings you back. It’s amazing.

From: Sladen, Douglas. “Oriental Cairo: the city of the ‘Arabian Nights'”. J.B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia and Hurst & Blackett, Ltd.: London, 1911. p 28.

I tried to be a storyteller, but my anxiety would get the best of me. I once did a story telling gig at a festival. I had an hour. I was done in thirty minutes.

In storytelling, you don’t exactly memorize the story, but you know the story inside and out. You practice, practice and practice with recording your voice and in front of a mirror. I hated the sound of my recorded voice, and standing in front of a mirror- forget that. In that moment I knew I wanted to a story creator, not a storyteller.

I know we have to market to get our names out there. I know I have to Tweet, Facebook, and all the other stuff, but I want to do more than push my books. I want to engage with my readers. I want to get to know them. I want them to get to know me. I want to have a relationship. I’m going to do my best at marketing, but I am not going to worry about that anymore. My focus is going to be creating a good story.

I have included a couple of links about Jay O’Callahan. One talks about the power of storytelling, and the other is one of stories. It’s from the Pill Hill collection, which is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy them.
#storytelling #writing

Evolution of a Writer – Part 3 Balance

I’ve learned a valuable lesson in these past few weeks. I need to take time out to relax. Many of you may say, “ookay” like it’s the most normal thing in the world. For those that know me well, are aware of my tendency not to say “no.”

Friend: “Lisa can you do this for me?” I have fifteen other things I need to do. “Sure!” I say and I really mean it. I want to do this for my friend. They need help. I love helping people. My problem is I don’t ask for help in return and I know my friends would do that for me. I get overscheduled and overwhelmed, stressed and freaked out. Not good for anyone.

I’m a wife, mom, writer, have a regular job, musician, housekeeper, laundress, cook, and book keeper, and whatever anyone else needs me to be and do. I over scheduled myself and sometimes over book. Guess what? It doesn’t work.

I got myself into a situation where I was running full out on all burners and guess what? I ran out of fuel and ended up in the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack.  The doctors monitored my heart rate, and did a nuclear stress test. (I’m still waiting on my super powers). I was so stressed out. My daughter’s sleepover birthday party was the next evening and we had been planning it for a while. My husband and son had plans that had been in place for a month. I seriously didn’t have time for this. I was over scheduled. Thank God it wasn’t a heart attack., but instead of resting like I probably should have, I did the party (simplified) and I made my husband keep his plans. The girls were great  and well behaved so it was all good.

While I was in the hospital I had a lot of time to think. I  have a lot on my plate. I overschedule myself thinking, “I’m superwoman. I can do anything. I can write, work, take care of my family, practice my bass, volunteer. I can do it all. I learned the hard way I can’t. I have to take that time to de-stress. To decompress. I believe my writing suffers if I don’t.

My sister took a class on how to learn. She was telling me when we wind down, our brains rest and go into that diffuse thinking mode where ideas abound. I was in the shower the other day, and so relaxed, I figured out how my antagonist is going to be killing off mallows in the next Philippa Marlowmellow adventure. It’s going to be fun.

So, as I learn to decompress and de-stress, what are some of the ways you balance your career and family? Let me know. I could use a few ideas. 🙂

Mallow Mayhem…Not a children’s story

You know how you put your heart and soul into a story and it turns better than expected than you expected? That is the birth story of Mallow Mayhem. The story started out as a writing exercise that got away from me. I’ve told this story before, so I’m not going to bore you with the details. I was excited when I got the cover art. It was beautiful. Exactly what I wanted. The silhouette payed homage to Alfred Hitchcock, just like I wanted. I got it back from the editor, made my corrections and I was ready to send my little chick out into the world. 
It’s a fun story written in the noir genre with strippers, prostitutes, kidnappings, drugs, and mob bosses who live in the bad part of Mallowtown named the “Pink.” It’s as fun to read as it was to write. 
I’m planning on more adventures with Philippa. I love writing her stories. I hope you will love her too. You can read an excerpt on my webiste at 
#notapeep, #peepnoir, #humor, #parody 

The Mallows Are Coming! Cover Release! Philippa Marlowmellow in Mallow Mayhem!

The Mallows are coming! February 28, 2015! I am so excited! Philippa Marlowmellow in Mallow Mayhem is almost ready! This is a fun short story inspired by a diorama of the Peeps candy. It was so fun to write. This piece started as a writing exercise that got away from me. Five hundred words turned into 3000. The story literally came pouring out. My writing group loved it, and encouraged me to publish it. So after some cleaning up and editing, I have a fun short story. Philippa has more adventures to come.

An excerpt is available on my website, Here is a link to

Philippa Marlowmellow, a private chick working the seedy underbelly of Mallowtown known as the Pink, takes on a missing mallow case of one Jenny Bunny. With her mallow senses tingling, Philippa finds more that the missing mallow. To save her city and rescue Jenny, Phillipa must take on the mobster, Big Bunny, and solve the most notorious case in Mallowtown history.

You can’t trust anyone in the Pink.

Kayelle Allen of The Author’s Secret did the cover and it is amazing. Just what I had in mind. Here is a link to their site.

Inspiration: Weird and Wonderful

Story ideas come from all over the place. With me, it can come from the strangest places. Several years ago I  entered a contest with a local book store with several of my poems. One of my poems won. The prize, a place in the anthology, and a book signing. It was so much fun. I felt like a “real” poet. The inspiration for that winning piece – a toilet paper commercial. Maybe I’ll share the poem one day.
Peeps are the inspiration for my new short story. My writing group does writing exercises every other week. One week, and I know I’ve told this story before, we had to write 500 words on a picture we posted on our Facebook page. I chose this picture.
This picture just cracked me up You would not believe the dioramas people do with peeps.(I saw one about Soylent Green and it said they eat Peeple.and I was inspired to write my 500 words. The 500 grew to be 3000, and a short story was born. I apologized for the length when I submitted the piece, but the story just kept flowing out of my head and onto the paper. I was blown away when everyone in the group loved it. They encouraged me to clean it up and publish. The original title was “The Case of the Missing Peep,” but after doing some research, I found out I couldn’t use “Peep,” because of the trademark, so I made some changes. The changes worked and “Mallow Mayhem” was born. 
I’m in the process of having the story edited, and my cover is being created. The reveal will be coming soon.  In February look for “Philippa Marlowmellow in Mallow Mayhem.” You can’t trust anyone in The Pink. I’m very excited about it. 
I never know where my next idea may come from. Another toilet commercial? A picture posted on my Facebook page or Twitter account? Or maybe something my children say. You just never know. Keep your eyes and ears open because there are stories everywhere.
What is your weirdest inspiration for a story. Let me know. Post on my Facebook page It will be interesting to see what everyone says.

New Logo! New Website! Yippee!

Meet the phoenix – my new logo. Isn’t it pretty! I have always been fascinated by the mythology of the phoenix. A bird that resurrects from its ashes, being reborn time and time again. That’s how I feel throughout different phases of my life. I grow and am reborn- hopefully into a much better person. That’s my goal. 
Writing is the same way. As we figure out who we want to be as a writer, we go through that rebirth. We build the nest and are comfortable in who we are, only to find out we have to burn it and become something new. Something better. And we rise from the ashes. 
How many have you done that in life. Rose from the ashes of something less to be stronger. A better person than you were before? 
Yes, this is a short post today. I wanted to introduce you to my new logo, and invite you to visit my website to see its new look. I want to thank Kayelle Allen of the Author’s Secret, for my lovely new logo.
I found this great video on YouTube. I love the images and the music.  The title is The Mythology of the Phoenix? I hope you enjoy.

Evolution Of A Writer – 2015 All In!

By Michal Osmenda (Flickr: It’s Christmas time) 
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s New Years Day and I got up early (I’m so not a morning person) and am at Starbucks trying to get out my first post of the New Year. It’s very distracting at home with the hubby and kids. I stayed up too late and got up too early, so I hope I make sense. After doing a lot of pondering, I have decided on a few writing goals for 2015.

The first thing I realized was I was still in “writing as a hobby” mode and didn’t acknowledge it. I was “trying out the water,” so to speak. You know, dipping that toe in to see if the water is to cold. I was writing, and trying to get my marketing info in place. I have a website, mailing list, Twitter account, etc. I did all the “right” things, but I still hadn’t made that jump. That fear I talked about in one of my previous posts raised its ugly head.

“I can’t do this.”
“This is too hard.”
“I’m not good enough or smart enough.”
“I’m not a good writer.”
These are the thoughts that go through my head when I think about going “all in.” Very self-defeating, and if I want to be a writer, they have to go.
I’m reading a book titled, Excuses Begone! by  Dr. Wayne Dyer. It’s a very interesting book about reprogramming your thought processes to get past the excuses and live a fruitful and excuse free life. It wasn’t my idea to read this book. It was suggested by a health care provider and I’m glad I did. Although, I don’t agree with everything Dr. Dyer says, the premise is a good one. I’m going to be implementing his excuses be gone premise and come to this point in my writing career with passion and creativity.
So, what am I going to do about it? Well….number 1- get a logo. My friend, Kayelle Allen of The Author’s Secret is helping me design a logo for myself. It’s gong to be nice. I will reveal it when we are done. We are also going to update my website. There are things that I want to do and offer that I can’t with the way things are now.
I’m going to become an LLC and be a business. As much as I love writing, I need to separate part of it from my home finances. It will be easier that way. This is the part that scares me the most. This makes it more than a hobby. it makes it my job, and therefore, I have to do it. This makes it real. And exciting. And REALLY exciting. I could use adverbs until the cows come home, but you get the meaning.
I’m going to blog more. I don’t know about what yet. Well, I do know my next blog post will be about the release of my upcoming short story in February. I’m REALLY excited about that too.

I need to be better at time management. That is where I get most of my excuses.

“I got this new job and I don’t have time.”
“I have to do stuff for my family.”
“I don’t have time because…..”
Well, I did have to get a job, but I can write.
I do have to do stuff for my family, but I can still write.
I don’t have time, but I do. I can make time to write.
I have so many stories that want to be told and I want to write every one of them. I want to be all in. So in 2015, I’m taking the plunge. Putting all my chips on the table Going all in. I’m not a  hobby writer. I’m a professional writer. That is my goal. And with the help of God, my family and friends, I will be a good one.
Here’s to a wonderful writing 2015!