31 August 2015

Building Relationships Through Communication

I hate that I've been away from my Blog friends out here, but I've been on vacation. It was a sweet vacation I spent with family, new friends, and other important people in my life, so eventually I knew I'd neglect this aspect of my world. But alas, I have some things to share: chat pics!

I decided that since my school work in communications has taken up so much of my time from 2014 to 2015, I'd compare and contrast a previous year of communication as evidenced by chats between me and my daughter, Chelsey.

No worries, I will soon share others from my son and late husband, Tim. However, their chats were not nearly as entertaining and revealing. :)

In a previous year, Chelsey wanted to piggy back off our minority status as Asians and so I put her in check. Then she put me in check.

She complained that I was too strict as a parent just before her 18th birthday when she wanted to get a tattoo and I wouldn't let her. We calmly worked it out.

She left her clothes lying around my house so that when I attempted to get dressed in the mornings, I would experience unnecessary trauma to my delicate and over-sensitive ego. Then she made me realize how ridiculous I was being.

She came through on just about every promise she ever made. Then, in her own way, she reminded me that she still has the upper hand in proving that I'm an over-protective, over-meddling, but very much loved mom. :D

She still makes me proud by letting me know we're still on the same page, even though I diluted that gene pool quite a bit. I'm kidding!!! It's a racist Asian joke.

If you haven't looked back to see how far you've come with your communication style, it's time to take note. There's always room for improvement. If you know me, you know I'm all about the progress!

Do you save your favorite text messages? Maybe you should start.

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15 August 2015

Growing Up Way Too Fast

I say there's nothing more encouraging than when your children explore the world beyond what's most comfortable and secure. Then I wonder. Comfortable and secure for whom, them or me?

When my son joined the Army and deployed to Iraq, it was hard on me. But when I see his photos and realize the independence he'd gained, the empowerment he must have felt being out there in the world, living life on his own, meeting new people, sharing skills, and helping others, it made my heart swell with pride. 

The photo above is my son Cameron posing with a group of Iraqi kids with whom he'd just shared the secret powers of the international language of peace and love. The kid next to him has perfected the signature peace sign. Click "Like" when you see it.

Fast forward several years and hear this. MY DAUGHTER WENT HIKING IN THE MOUNTAINS AND GOT LOST!! She had just told me about it this morning, after she'd been trekking the Eastern United States for the past week, hiking, camping, and bathing in the wilderness. I keep telling myself that she's 21 now and I have to let it go, let HER go.

Mountains of Colorado. The girl is brave!

Growing pains are not just for kids. I've been learning this lately, AGAIN. I love my kids so much, but I know they are grown and capable adults. I'd like to think we raised them that way. But hell, I have to give them their credit, too. I would never have made a great mother had it not been for the goodness of my children who helped me every step of the way.

The hammocks Chelsey and her friends
called beds for the past 7 nights!!

Never would I have imagined
my baby girl exposed to the
harsh dangers of the world.

And she thinks she's grown.
I think she's right! Love you both!

Have you experienced your own growing pains lately?

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10 August 2015

The Day I Started Writing

by Stephanie Faris

It all started with an anthology. I was working as director of public relations for the Tennessee Arts Commission at the time and my assignment was to promote this new book of short stories by Tennessee writers. As I read the book, I started feeling the need to write a story of my own. Something deep involving sweet tea and front porches.

Instead I wrote a short story called The Gymnasium Memorial. It was about a bunch of teens mourning the death of a fellow student. It was published in one of those scam publications that pays you in free copies if you “win” a fake contest. But the bug had already bitten. I wanted to write a book.

My first inclination was to write young adult. I’d spent my teen years reading YA books and they still weighed heavily on my mind. I wrote three books before I learned that there was no market for YA at the time—unless you wanted to be paid $1,000 to ghostwrite a Sweet Valley High or Nancy Drew book. I began searching for something that had that same youthful spirit but actually occupied space on bookshelves.

The answer was in category romance. Those books, which at the time were published under two major names (Harlequin and Silhouette), were extremely popular. Harlequin had a new romantic comedy line called Love and Laughter, while Silhouette had a fun line called Yours Truly. I knew then that romantic comedy was my niche.

I spent years trying to get published—I even got “close” a few times. I learned “close” doesn’t mean a thing in publishing. Meanwhile, chick lit came and went and in its wake, romantic comedy was no longer welcome in traditional publishing. But the good news was, children’s literature exploded…opening publishers up to the very types of books that I’d always wanted to write.

My writing journey is an example of the winding path many writers take on the way to publication. Everyone’s experience is different, but one thing is certain: all of us are doing exactly what we want to do. Whether we’re publishing our third book or writing “the end” on the first novel we’ve ever written, it’s important to celebrate every second of it. There’s nothing better.

And the Cover Reveal of Stephanie's new book out in 2016

About the Author:

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the Simon & Schuster author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, as well as the upcoming Piper Morgan series. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.

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03 August 2015

Writing is Killing My Spirit!

I've neglected my writing lately. That's not to say I haven't been writing, because I've been doing SO much writing it's killing me. Writing because I have to do it in order to maintain a GPA isn't quite the same as writing because I want to, if that makes sense.

The things I want to write about are in my heart, singing and wanting to share. The things I'm focused on these days are very academic and make me sound like an alien at times, even to myself. I'm not even sure where I can get some relief or how to escape when I need some grounding.

I think in time, I will appreciate my own tenacity for sticking with this program and finishing grad school. Sometimes I think if I stop to take a break, I won't bother to finish. I will be so elated with the freedom of complete and utter chaos I will stop caring about what's important to me. The rebel inside me entices me to quit; the scholar scolds me for even thinking about it.

When I first decided Communications would be my major (eventually), I came up with a story in my heart. Who remembers Spirit Island - The Passage?

I will return soon!

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