A Day at the Dallas Arboretum

I wanted to share some of the pictures I took while visiting the Dallas Arboretum on March 26. I had been to one of my chapter meetings in the morning, and I was feeling inspired. I love being out doors, but sometimes that is a blessing and a curse. With it being Easter weekend, I had no idea what the crowds would be like. It was busy to say the least, but the crowds were courteous for the most part. I think I got some great pictures to draw on for inspiration as I write. The Arboretum is a romantic setting if you have someone with you to share the experience.

Sunrise with Susan

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I have been posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram some of the sunrises I have been enjoying lately. I have been hash tagging them as #SunriseWithSusan just for fun. If you want to join in, I would love to sunrises from all over! There is so much beauty to be found in the start of a new day. Here are a few of the pics I have posted, and I hope to see some from you!

 

 

Inspiration in Local Parks

I took these pictures a few years ago in one of the local parks. While not the one pictured above, I’m lucky to live on a beautiful park. Frequent walks spur my imagination and creativity. Sometimes getting outside in the fresh air can help me break though writer’s block.

The day I visited the park in the pictures I had asked several friends to go see it with me at various times. They all had things to do and reasons to not go so I went alone, and it gave me time to ponder many things. Mostly, it gave me time to think about the beauty of the park uninterrupted. I decided to take pictures at different angles, and I was really excited that they looked pretty cool when I got home and uploaded them.

Don’t be afraid to venture out into the world alone. Inspiration might be right around the corner and lead you on a new path.

San Diego -RWA16

My 2nd Romance Writers of America National Conference

There is so much I could say about my trip to RWA16, but I’m just going to hit the highlights today. Okay… make that a few of the highlights, because I’d have to write a novel to cover them all!

Location

San Diego has the best weather! I’m quite sure I told everyone I know I understand exactly why people want to live there. Having lived in Texas over half my life, summers are humid and rival the temperatures of Hell. San Diego never got out of the mid-seventies.

Coronado and its beach are my new obsessions. It was a short walk to the ferry stop from the hotel and a quick ferry ride across the bay. The beach was so clean and beautiful (upper left pic). There were even polo ponies and Porsches on the beach one day for an event in front of the Hotel Del Coronado. And by the way, the woodwork inside the Hotel Del is magnificent and ornate. I can see why it was chosen as a movie set location.

The Marriott Marquis where the convention was held was a huge hotel with a fabulous pool. They offered some of the best customer service I have seen at a hotel. The view from the balcony of my room is the upper right picture. The marina had so many ships. I had to post one on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to try to figure out what it was. It was modern and sleek. Turns out it was just an amazing massive yacht (pic below that does not due justice to the size of the boat).

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Seaport Village was a brief walk from hotel, and we ate a several restaurants there while enjoying views of the marina. I walked down the morning before my flight and stumbled on Frost Me Cupcakes and had to try one of their Cupcake Wars winning Cashew Caramel Orange Zest (picture below). I have full knowledge as to why it won! Here are a few pics from Seaport Village.

 

Speakers, Workshops, & Conference 

I learned and laughed a lot this year. Beverly Jenkins was our keynote speaker, and she did a phenomenal job. She made the entire room cry and roar with laughter. I left the room feeling inspired by her. Dr. Valerie Young was the featured speaker on Friday, and she spoke about Imposter Syndrome. If you have time, Google it. I identified with it as I am sure most creative people and women would. Sherry Thomas was the featured speaker on Saturday. Her positivity is a force of nature. She epitomized perseverance.

I attended as many workshops as I could. I took a tip from a chapter mate and focused primarily on one track. Craft was my choice, but I did weave a few others in there including attending one about how covers are shot for romance novels. Below are pics from a few of my favorites.

I made sure to introduce myself to people and sat with people I didn’t know at breakfast this year. I pitched my manuscript to an editor and an agent, and I powered through my nerves. They were both very kind. Even though I went to the conference last year, I skipped the Rita and Golden Heart awards ceremony for a couple of reasons. It was so exciting to attend the ceremony this year with friends and see one of our chapter mates win a Rita! I was so busy taking in the whole process I forgot to take pictures there, but I do have one I took of me before the awards. Here I am –

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I’m already looking forward to next year. I hope to have published my book by the conference next year which was one of my Dad’s wishes before he passed away. He knew how much it meant to me and supported my dream.

 

Losing My Daddy

Dad 9May 26 was the hardest day I’ve ever had to face. My brother-in-law called me telling me my dad had taken a turn for the worse, and they didn’t expect him to last long. I had just been there a few days before, and I knew our time with him was short.

He’d been preparing me for the day for two years. We had sat in the garage and in the yard on several occasions when he would bring up that he knew he didn’t have long. I wanted to remain in some denial though not completely. I understood what he was telling me. I’m the youngest child. The Caboose is what he would call me. He tried his best to prepare me for what was to come. Something had told us Christmas 2015 would be our last Christmas with him.

My father was a fiercely passionate and adventurous person, and I am so glad to have him for a hero and example. He believed in living every minute full of zest. His influence is in everything I do and helps me continue to chase my dreams daily. His determination and perseverance are embedded deep in my very nature. I might be full of fear at times, but I feel the fear and do it anyway!

I called him every day without fail for about the last six years… maybe longer. Sometimes our conversations would be short, and sometimes they would be about the news and whatever came across his mind. We had what I called a skit to start the conversation. He would answer with “O-lee-O-lee-O” and then break off into his choice of banter for the day. There were days it would be a string of words that might not fit together or a random phrase that I would have to remember to recite back to him. It always included, “I not Oscarly Bosco Junior.” When I was about four years old, I was sitting on top of a silver metal trashcan like Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street. I’m sure you can see where this is going. The lid slid off, and I folded complete in half, falling down butt first into the trashcan. There were several people there, and they were all laughing. From there forward, Dad would call me Oscar to harass me. “I not Oscar” was my four year old self’s response.

I arrived in time to say one last good bye to him. My heart is still broken from losing him. I will never be whole again. I am, however, even more determined to get a publishing contract for my book. He repeatedly told me I needed to get it published, and I will make sure it happens in his honor.

Thanks, Daddy, for believing in me and showing me what it means to be the best at what you do.

 

 

Writing Challenges

CNW_Winner_1500-1Do you participate in writing challenges? I participated in NaNoWriMo last November and learned tons about myself. I completed a first draft in a month! Woohoo! I would have never thought I could do that before the event. I wrote outside my comfort zone. As a pantser, I generally jot down some high level ideas about the plot and characters. For the November NaNoWriMo, I took a research trip to The Hill Country of Texas. I took notes and lots of pictures to inspire me during the writing process. I prepared as much as possible so when November came around I could write. It was liberating to write without editing, and it was, also, a realization that I can find time to write everyday. My goal was to finish before Thanksgiving, and I finished my contemporary novel set in Dallas and Dripping Springs.

A friend told me about another NaNo challenge a few days before Camp NaNoWriMo started in April so I decided to join her. For the November event, the goal is 50,000 words, but Camp NaNoWriMo allows you to set you goal for a word count or editing. A New Adult novel had been swirling in my head, and I thought this was a great opportunity to put it on paper. With everything going on in my life, I decided 25K was a respectable word count for April. I made it last night! Woohoo! I should have set a higher goal so I’m going to keep going at it, and see just how far I can get the next few days.

Writing challenges always seem to lead me to answers I didn’t even know I was looking for, and I find out I am capable of more than I think I am. Good luck on your writing endeavors!

RWA15 Flashback

As we approach the RWA Conference this year, I thought I’d share some of my pictures from the conference in NYC last year. It’s no secret how much I love NYC, and part of the trip was taking some time to work on my fear of heights. I got some fantastic pictures for a book idea I have that will take place at least partially there. As a writer, I think I look at places I visit differently than I use to. I take mental notes, pictures, and often times notes in my phone about settings, people, or activities I observe during my journeys. This was one of the best. This year the conference is in California, and I cannot wait to see what I bring back as inspiration from the sites I see. Not to mention all that I will learn from the conference itself!