Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Tyler

Yesterday, December 15, was Tyler's 2nd birthday.

For those of you who missed it, 2 years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who had a heart that was medically (and I believe, metaphorically) too big for this world. He was kept on life support until it was all too much and five days into this world, he went to Heaven.
You can read the full post on the experience here.
In short, it was amazing. We had the best doctors and even better nurses, who I believe were sent and placed there for us for this event and time in our life--and for Tyler. These women were beautiful inside and out, strong, and compassionate and they helped me get through a time no mother should ever have to experience. I can never, ever express the depth of my gratitude and love for these women or for the UVA hospital--the doctors and staff who were there for us and for our baby. It was a sad time but also a time full of miracles and everywhere I looked, I saw the good.

Since then, I have tried to see that good every single day. It IS there, if you're looking. People are compassionate and giving and life IS exciting and rewarding. My renewed outlook on life centers around two truths: One is the fragility of life. We are not promised tomorrow. We have only today, only this life. And it's up to us to live it fully. To experience NOW. To never wait to say or do what it is we feel and what is important to us. I have had such a blast living that way and done some of the most exciting things I never thought I'd get to do--and I wouldn't have, if I'd continued to have an "I'll do it later" attitude.

One of the biggest so far is the start of my author coaching business, Phoenix, where I can help others do exactly what I've done and that is to create a career of freedom and full-time income doing what I love while still spending plenty of time with the people I love. Some others are: standing on stage at a Zac Brown Band concert to a sold out crowd, meeting Plain White Ts, owning and riding a motorcycle!, Visiting Colorado (on my bucket list) and seeing the mountains for the first time, vacationing in the Dominican Republic and sipping a margarita on a white sandy beach!, standing front and center at an Andy Grammer concert (his music inspires me to press on and achieve my dreams!), visiting New Orleans for the first time, travelling multiple times a year for pleasure, and SO MUCH MORE.

My point is this: do it now. Whatever "it" is--stop waiting. What if "that day" never comes and you die without doing "IT"???

The second thing I've become aware of and centered around is a collective connection we all share with one another. The entire world is a collective consciousness. Have you ever had a great idea that feels inspired by the Universe itself only to hear someone else has started or done something similar shortly after?
Me too.
And I think it's awesome because it's a sign we're all connected. To a higher power and to each other. How cool is that??
In honor of seizing the day, our birthday present to Tyler was the gift of making someone else's life better or making their dream come true, through a Kiva loan.
If you're unfamiliar, Kiva works like this:
You make a loan on Kiva. All Kiva loans are made possible by our Field Partners, who vet, administer, and disburse each loan. Throughout the life of the loan, you will see progress updates from Kiva through your email, and if you come back to the site.As the borrower repays the loan, the money becomes available in your account. This is called your Kiva Credit. You can now use it to fund another loan, donate it to Kiva, or withdraw it to spend on something else.
Who do you loan to? 
There are hundreds of stories and potential borrowers listed on the site. This year, my kids and I chose someone from Senegal. A single mother who will use to money to buy fresh vegetables to resell in her local market. She will use the profits from her business to pay for her children's schooling. 

Basically, this is awesome. 
It helps someone else live a better life NOW and it connects us. 
If you're looking for a way to honor someone or give back in any way, Kiva is it. 

This entire week is a way for me to look back and remember those beautiful five days and be grateful for that time as well as all the time I get now to make my life the best it can possibly be. This is something I can do for Tyler and for myself, to honor him. And through it all, I've had unending support from my reader and author friends and I am SO grateful for every single one of you. I didn't set out to be an example or inspiration, but for those of you that have told me I am that for you, it warms me to know my story--Tyler's story--is able to help in making your life better and to connect us. 

Happy Birthday, Tyler.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Interview with Liz Long, YA Author

Friday Fun: An author to author interview series by the Society of YA Storytellers. Author Liz Long stopped by the blog today for a fun Friday the 13th author interview. You can find me returning the favor here
Thanks for stopping by, Liz. I can't wait to check out your books!

What would we find in your refrigerator right now?
Brita pitcher, sweet tea, spaghetti leftovers, maybe butter and cream cheese, and sandwich meat. Hunh. Sounds like I need a grocery store trip.

If you got arrested, what would be your crime?
Honestly? Probably verbally assaulting an idiot.

Werewolf or Vampire? 
Werewolf - they can walk around in the daylight, too. Plus, that whole drinking blood thing sort of gives me the heebs AND the jeebs.

If you took the aptitude test from Divergent, which faction would you be assigned to?
I'd say Amity (the Peaceful). I'm laidback and pretty upbeat, plus I'm definitely more a creative type than anything else. I like to keep the peace and avoid confrontation.

What is your favorite scary movie? 
Scary movies aren't high on my preferred watching list, but I've always remembered Scream really setting that sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat bar.

You write YA and we have to know: Describe yourself as a teenager:
I was pretty quiet and preferred keeping to myself and reading a lot. I had plenty of friends and participated in things like Colorguard/marching band and Yearbook, but I spent far more time sitting alone on my balcony under the stars, writing in journals and obsessing over Harry Potter.

About you, as the writer:

What do you write?

What are you working on now?
I'm about to release my third book: Burned, A Donovan Circus Novel, which is the second in the series. Next up is an NA title with a unique twist on Reapers.

Which of your characters is most like you?
I would probably have to say Lucy - while I'm not as fiery as her, I tend to let my snark get ahead of me. I also try to think logically about all my options, and above all value my relationships with family and friends. 

About LIz:
I am lucky enough to have my dream job as the Social Media Editor atLeisureMedia360, where I run the social sites (blogs, website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) for our publications: The RoanokerBlue Ridge Country, and bridebook. I also write articles for print issues, though my focus is online content. I will be leading social media workshops at the 2014Roanoke Writers Conference and over the next year for work-related interests. I was an editor and writer at Bella Magazine, as well as a marketing associate at a small book publishing firm in Nashville, TN. I’ve also worked for publicity in radio and newspaper. (Now you know I have some experience with the articles I write for you.)
And if that doesn’t do it for you, I was a hipster and did the fan fiction writing and online socializing thing back when the Internet was still a baby. Now I wish someone had taught me code so I could’ve built Facebook (and subsequently a small fortune) first.
Let’s rock this. Got questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you! Email me at!
Twitter: @LizCLong

Thanks, Liz! Happy Friday the 13th!!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Vampy, Sleepy Beauty

A few weeks ago I had the experience and privilege of hanging with a most awesome group of fifth graders. We talked about working in your PJs and what it takes to create a story and "why haven't you made your books into movies?" (Good question. Hollywood...? Anything... ?)
We also wrote our own story together, just to show how fun the process of creating can be. There were two classes and two stories. The first is a Zompire Love Story, which you can read here. This is the second:
BTW-our future authors have some crazy, awesome imaginations!
I had SO MUCH FUN with you guys!

A Vampy, Sleepy Beauty

Once there was a girl named Kate who, through a paranormal curse from an evil vampire, became trapped in permanent sleep. Doctors came and went. Her mom even hired healers, shamans, and medicine men but no one could figure out how to wake her up. One day, her boyfriend Shawn came over. He was a vampire but he still had a good heart. Shawn loved Kate and would do anything to save her. Someone had told him the only way to heal Kate was to bite her. He didn't want to. He was scared to hurt her. But nothing else had worked.
Shawn waited until Kate's mom had left the room and then he bit her.

There was a lot of blood. It ran onto Kate's bed and the floor, staining Shawn's sneakers. 
Kate's mom came in and screamed and Shawn ran out just as Kate woke up. 
Kate opened her eyes and when she saw her mom standing there, Kate's fangs came out and her stomach growled.
She jumped out of bed and tried to bite her mom. Kate's mom ran into the basement and called the police. 
Kate was captured and locked away in a mental hospital. She insisted she wasn't crazy--she was a vampire. But humans didn't believe in vampires. So they kept her locked up in a padded room.
One day, Kate's childhood friend, Kody Bahnks, came to visit her.
Kody was a werewolf. He'd moved away because he couldn't let anyone find out, but when he heard Kate was a vampire, he wanted to help. and he wanted a friend again. 
Kody promised Kate he would help her get free.
One night, when the moon was hidden in the clouds, Kody broke into the hospital  and freed Kate. 
Prison Cell by Chapboy, DeviantArt

They decided to run away together but first they had to stop at Shawn's one last time so Kate could say goodbye. He was the one that saved her from the sleeping curse, after all. 
When Shawn saw that Kody was a werewolf he became very angry. 
"You can't leave with him," Shawn yelled. "He's our enemy!"
"He is my friend. He helped me escape," Kate yelled back. She tried not to cry. She was already sad because she had missed Shawn. She didn't want to fight with him on their last night together. 
Kody growled at Shawn. Shawn bared his fangs. Before Kate could say anything, the two boys leaped on each other, fighting and biting and wrestling the other to the ground. 
"Stop!" Kate screamed but neither boy listened. 
Kate jumped in between them and wedged herself in front of Shawn's raised fist. "Stop," she repeated. "You can't find about this. Or about me."
Shawn stepped back. "Fine," said Shawn. "But I love you, so you have to choose one of us."
Kate looked at Kody. "He's right," Kody said. "Choose one. You can't have both."
Kate was sad. She loved Shawn but Kody had been her friend since she was a kid. And both had saved her. She couldn't give up either one.
She hesitated and a noise came from the darkness behind her. 
"Look out," Shawn yelled, his eyes wide. 
But Kate didn't move in time. 
Something grabbed her wrist in a tight grip and lifted her clear off the ground.
She screamed as her feet scraped the grass and then lifted higher before carrying her up into the clouds.
The boys yelled and stared after her, trying to see which direction she'd gone, but the darkness swallowed her up. 
The only thing they could see was a white trail of whatever ghostly kidnapper had taken the girl they loved.
To be continued.... (maybe.)

--Story by Mrs. Strohecker's Fifth Grade Class.

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