A wedding without an invitation

weddingWe went to a wedding earlier this month – a wedding we never received a formal invitation asking us to attend. No, we weren’t wedding crashers.

It was a ceremony for someone my husband met in law school. I wouldn’t categorize her as a “close” friend. This friendship has waned a bit as friendships do. It doesn’t help that we don’t live in the same town.

Mercy and Adam have been together quite a while. They have two kids – the oldest being six. They finally decided to make their relationship “official” this past May. They decided not to have a big wedding and not to have a long engagement. I guess eight or so years together was enough.

A few weeks later we got a “save the date” text from Mercy. They were to get married Saturday, Sept 7th. As the next few months went by we would hear a few other details – Mercy bought her dress (cost $1000), they signed up for a bridal registry at Williams-Sonoma and such.

I kept waiting for an official invitation. Heck we didn’t even know where the wedding was (other than in San Antonio) and what time of day it would be. (That make lining up a babysitter really hard though Mercy told us we could bring the kids to the wedding after all her two kids would be there. Ah, no. Not something I want to do. They would be bored and driving me crazy.)

Finally, it was August and the wedding was five weeks away. No invitation. My husband texted Mercy. She said she was still working on them. Two weeks go by and no invitation. I am starting to wonder if there is even going to be a wedding. And I was still wondering how we are going to line up a babysitter with no information. (About this time my mom was in the hospital, and my father-in-law was scheduled for surgery at the end of August, so I was thinking my choice of babysitters might be slim with everyone recuperating.)

Finally, Mercy admits that she is having a hard time justifying spending money on invitations. Umm…you spent $1000 on a wedding dress that you will only get to wear once, but you can’t afford invitations? She can do her bridal registry for expensive items from William-Sonoma but can’t get out an actual invitation to her wedding?

I know wedding invitations are expensive, but she is only inviting a few friends and family. She probably doesn’t need more than 30-40 invitations. With all the options online nowadays, I am sure there are some cheap options. Heck, if she is really opting to save money. she could go to Wal-Mart and buy some fill-in-the-blank type invitations.

And while I am a traditionalist and would like a printed invitation, I know the times are changing. In a world where you are more likely to get an e-invite than a physical invitation I would rather have that than nothing. At least then we would have all the details. As it is, we had to piece together through several texts to find out the date, time and location. We were never even asked to RSVP. I couldn’t figure out how she was planning a dinner reception without knowing who will be there.

As it turned out, everything went fine – except we were five minutes late due to a traffic jam and pretty much missed all of the 7 minute ceremony. The bride looked beautiful and the reception was nice. I guess everything turned out okay but I must admit – I still think she should have sent out some sort of invitation. If nothing else, it will keep me from going crazy.

Today’s Featured Author: Ronald Griffin

Today I have paranormal fantasy author Ronald Griffin on my blog. He is on a blog hop promoting his debut novel, Blood Stained Lives.

Interview

Tell me about your latest?

Well it is a paranormal fantasy about this one mans journey to become the hero he was born to be. He has many trials along his way that he must make his way through.

Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

The importance of friends and family. When you have them on your side anything can be done.

What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story?

My Mom always had a passion for reading and we would always watch movies together as well. We would watch mostly fantasy movies like Legend, Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Krull, and many other movies and I believe growing up with such movies sparked my imagination. I started writing short stories when I was in kindergarten but they were usually based on cartoons. In middle school I started writing my own superhero story. It wasn’t until highschool until I started writing supernatural stories. It was then that I started writing some of the elements of this particular novel. Over the years I wrote many short stories and always wanted to write a novel but certain life events caused me to post pone. I have kids now and decided that I want to leave behind something that they could be proud of.

What challenges have you faced in your writing career?

Getting it started. I didn’t realize there was so much work in self promoting. I am just glad I have made some wonderful friends along the way.

Do you feel like your dream has come true or is there much more to do?

This is my first novel and although yes my dream is going to come true, but I believe there is much more to do to keep that dream alive.

What does your workspace look like?

My work place varies, sometimes I write from my bedroom, the dining room where I can look out the sliding glass doors, or the locations that are mentioned in my novel. Sometimes it is good to write from the actual locations.

Have you ever had a day when you just wanted to quit?

There were times I felt that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this but I kept pushing through it and well here I am.

 What do you do when you’re not writing?

Working or watching movies. I enjoy a good movie every now and then.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don’t be afraid to ask friends for help if going at this alone.

After this book, what is next?

Writing a series of origin novellas building up to the release of the second novel for this series.

Book Description

blood stained lives coverIn an epic battle between good and evil, young Namon will discover what being the last of his kind truly means- born of a destiny with the power to protect all humanity. He must come to terms with his fate, and seek out the one responsible for his parents deaths and the near extinction of the White Wolves.

The night vampire Aluana meets Namon, she was just out looking for a good time. Needing to escape the fear of her unknown past and origins, she wasn’t expecting a harmless dance to have unintended consequences. She finds herself falling in love for what she suspects is the first time. Namon may be the key she needs to unlock hidden memories, but at what cost?

Now the two are caught between mortal enemies and earth’s destiny lies in their hands…

Author Bio

Ron's pic 1Ronald Griffin is a 31 year old author who grew up in Georgia and still lives there today. His current writing style includes paranormal fantasy and horror. He has been writing since he was 9 years old when he wrote a Tiny Toons Adventure skit for his class and it was well received. From there, he was absorbed with writing about Superheros but once high school hit, the supernatural started calling him, especially the werewolves. This is where his latest The Blood Lives Saga was born. You can either find him locked away in his writing cave or at his local Cracker Barrel where he supports his fantasy genre reading habit. His author idol is the husband and wife writing team Ilona Andrews. He has thoroughly enjoyed their magic series novels and feels encouraged that they are from his same state. When not writing, you can find Ronald spending time with his daughters (ages 3 and 9) and his son (age 7). He can be found spending time making precious moments with them and hopefully passing along his writing bug to them.

You can find out more about Ronald on his website or his blog. Or check out his Facebook page.

You can purchase Blood Stained Lives on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Smashwords.

Finding the perfect ending to your scene

Last week, I discussed ways in which to begin a scene in your novel. Alas, every scene also must end, and that is what we are going to focus on today.

Every scene has a beginning, middle and end. The ending moments complete the scene and should leave the reader wanting more. It should make them eager to begin the next scene.

It is always best to end a scene as early as possible. You want your last statement to be strong and not full of unnecessary details. Depending on the situation, you can end the scene with a sense of finality or with something that propels the reader forward.

Remember that each scene is part of a larger story. The ending of a scene should make the reader think, “That was good. I want more.” And then plunge ahead into the next scene.

cliff hangerA popular ending is the Cliffhanger Ending. This type of ending is characterized by stopping the scene just as a major action is about to take place or in the middle of the action at a crucial point. The easiest way to think about this is to watch a TV drama. Something important is revealed and then…cut to commercial break. That leaves the viewer hanging around waiting for the show to return rather than channel surfing. You want the same type of reaction from your reader.

Cliffhanger endings typically happen at the end of chapters forcing the reader to start the next chapter to see what happens. (I have stayed up WAY TOO LATE often because of this technique.)

However, some authors do not continue the scene in the next chapter. In order to heighten the reader’s curiosity, they insert a scene or chapter that takes place somewhere else, perhaps with different characters. (I personally don’t like this when I am reading. I usually would rather skip ahead and find out what happened to the character in peril than read about another character.)

Even though the cliffhanger ending is a powerful tool, you can’t use it to end ALL of your scenes. Your ending to other scenes can still build anxiety in the reader as one of the characters wonders if she ever sees her family again or feels that moment of panic when they realize they are lost.

Another type of ending is one that implies the character would have done something different if they knew what was about to happen. “If I had known today was going to end this way, I would have stayed in bed.” Or “Had Sally realized she was going to die today she would have stayed buried under the covers.”

Your end of a scene might reveal insight into one of the characters. This might happen through an internal monologue that the character is having about the events that occurred in the scene, or it could happen through dialogue with another character. Ending in the middle of dialogue can be confusing to the reader, but it also can heighten a passionate or revealing exchange. The exact place the dialogue ends could reveal a lot about the character: their fears, hopes, how they are changing.

Sometimes a scene ends with a note about the setting or the character doing something mundane. But the fact we are focused on it elevates that item to greater importance.

No matter what ending you decide to use, remember to make sure they do their job: hook the reader into wanting to read more.

My birthday present to you….Book Sale!

My birthday is this week and I thought I would give you, the reader, a present to celebrate.

For one week, I am dropping the price of Summoned, Book One of my fantasy trilogy to 99 cents.

If you are a cat-lover, I also suggest checking out The Search, which features a telepathic cat named Tosh. You can get this fantasy short story for only 99 cents on Amazon.

But I will let you in on a secret – you can get The Search from Barnes & Noble, the Kobo Store, or Smashwords – where it is available in all e-book formats – for FREE! That’s right. It is FREE every day!

So for just 99 cents this week you can get TWO fantasy stories. Enjoy!

SUMMONED: Book One of The Elemental

SummonedFINALAt the age of four, Lina discovered she could start fires with a mere thought – a trait which had died out long ago. Cautioned by her telepathic cat, Tosh, she kept this Elemental power a secret to avoid being an outcast. That was easy to do growing up in the remote grasslands of Zena.

Now as an adult, she had no plans to leave her beloved homeland. So when a strange urge compels her to travel north to an unknown destination, Lina resists this unnatural feeling. But her plans to stay in Zena are taken out of her control when she is kidnapped by gypsies and wakes in a foreign land. The desire to travel north is as strong as ever. She fears she will have no choice but to give into the compulsion. When a raging fire prevents her return home, she realizes she must find out once and for all what or who is summoning her.

On her journey, Lina befriends an odd assortment of allies. Together they battle mystical creatures and unnatural forces despite the fact that such magic had died out over 800 years ago. Lina reluctantly begins to use her innate Elemental power as she becomes more certain that someone is using magic against her. When she discovers the shocking truth, it will change her life in ways she could never imagine.

Regular price – $2.99 – NOW just 99 cents!

Amazon       Smashwords (Coupon Code: LQ64P)

The SearchThe Search

For over a thousand years, telepathic cats known as STACs have faithfully searched for those with power over the elements looking for the one foretold to save the Land. None have questioned their duty to fulfill this ancient task.

But when Tosh’s latest charge is murdered because of his Elemental powers, Tosh considers abandoning The Search. Will a glimpse of the future destruction be enough to change his mind?

Amazon                 Barnes & Noble               Kobo Store           Smashword  (every ebook format)

Choosing school-day breakfasts my kids will actually eat

breakfast girlI have heard all the reports and experts spout out about how a good breakfast is essential for your kid to start off the day right and learn more in school. The problem is how to get my kids to EAT that breakfast.

I went to seven different websites looking for breakfast suggestions. (I found these websites by doing a search for kids and breakfast.) Here are their suggestions and why most won’t work for my family.

Website #1 (www.npr.org)

Suggestion #1  – Peanut butter toast and a glass of milk

Child 1 – won’t eat peanut butter or toast.

Child 2 – allergic to peanuts, won’t eat bread and doesn’t drink milk.

Suggestion #2 – breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs and salsa on whole-wheat tortilla)

Child 1 – doesn’t eat eggs.

Child 2 – will eat eggs and tortilla (has not had them together) – no salsa – This one might be doable.

Suggestion #3 – whole-grain toast with melted low-fat cheese and tomato

Child 1 & 2 – won’t eat cheese, toast or tomato.

Suggestion #4 – whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk

Child 1 – will eat cereal with milk  – but we already had this down as a possible breakfast item.

Child 2 – nope, might eat cereal but not with milk and usually doesn’t eat enough cereal to count.

Their foods to avoid: soda, chips, sugary cereal, breakfast pastries, donuts

Website #2 (www.bhg.com)

Again, they list things my kids won’t eat – cheese, trail mix, cottage cheese. They do list yogurt as a good choice but this is one of the lunch choices for Lexie, and since she can’t have too much dairy it is either a breakfast OR lunch item – not both.

Website #3 (www.babycenter.com)

This one was heavy on the smoothie suggestion. I might have to try this at least for Lexie. Another option was fruit salad with a dollop of yogurt but again, this is usually Lexie’s lunch, so I don’t know if I can do it in the mornings too.

pancakesWebsite #4 (www.parenting.com)

Suggestions – various muffins, Ham & Cheese sandwiches, pancakes and smoothies. Pancakes my kids like but I don’t know that I will have time for this on very many mornings.  Some of their recipes such as breakfast tortillas had a 45-minute prep time. I don’t have time for that!

Website #5 (minesota.cbslocal.com)

This one featured a registered dietician who suggested you include items from three food groups: whole grains, proteins and fresh fruit. She suggested cereal but not every day. Her suggestion: oatmeal made the night before. And you know what – you guessed it – my kids don’t like oatmeal!

Her next suggestion – apple sandwich. No bread or peanut butter eaten here so that is out. After that she suggests ham and cheese on a tortilla. No cheese for my kids. Thanks, but not much help on this site for the picky eater.

Website #6 (kidshealth.org)

This site says any breakfast is better than no breakfast. (Totally agree with that!) It says to avoid doughnuts and pastries. (Agree with this in theory at least but sometimes something is better than nothing.) They say if you eat a doughnut, you won’ feel full for long. I think the same thing about eating fruit for breakfast.

Cereal and orange juice uid 1197396Their list of traditional breakfast items: eggs (yes for Lexie, no for Jase), waffles or pancakes (yes for both), cold cereal (yes for Jase, no for Lexie), hot cereal (no for both), toast or English muffins with cheese (no for both), yogurt with fruit (Lexie might go for this but again, this is my plan of what to send for her lunch), fruit smoothies (willing to give this a try again).

Website #7 (www.education.com)

Here they suggest hard-boiled eggs (again, something my kids won’t eat), muffins (again a no), pancakes (ok), omelets (Jase doesn’t eat eggs and Lexie is fine with just plain scrambled eggs – she won’t eat the veggies they suggest adding to the eggs) and then the list goes to more no items – cheese, bread, peanut butter and oatmeal.

Pintrest has a lot of good-looking breakfasts for kids but just because you shape something into a lion or bear doesn’t mean my kid will eat it. Plus who has the time during the busy school morning rush to create these meals.

So needless to say my search online has only added smoothie to my possible breakfasts. I know you shouldn’t load them up with sugary food before school but sometimes that might be the only way to get my 5-year-old to eat something, and something is better than nothing.