Monday, December 31, 2012

Resolutions and Good Reads...

It's that time again when you're supposed to look back and evaluate your progress on last year's New Year resolutions. I didn't make any resolutions last year. I don't remember why I didn't, except that at the time I was a bit overwhelmed with the change in my position at work. Making my to-do list longer wasn't exactly a priority.  Still, there's something to be said for writing down your goals. I didn't accomplish as much creatively last year as I would have liked. Maybe if I had written down my goals I would have been more diligent about the pursuit.

And so...
2013 New Year's Resolutions
  1. Keep a healthy balance in life - work is work, home is home, family comes first. 
  2. Eating right and daily exercise needs to become a bigger priority.
  3. Take time to be creative daily - writing, quilting, singing, drawing.
  4. Read at least two novels each month.
  5. Write at least one blog post per month.
***Addendum... I was just reminded by my friend and critique partner that I forgot a goal:
     6.  Have an extended lunch with my friend and critique partner at least once a month.

As is the tradition of the final blogpost of the year, here is my 2012 Good Reads List:
  • THE GOLDEN COMPASS, Philip Pullman
  • SUPERNATURALLY, Kiersten White
  • FLIGHT, Alyssa Rose Ivy
  • HUSH, HUSH, Becca Fitzpatrick
  • THE CRIMSON CROWN, Cinda Williams Chima
  • BLEAKER, Aimee Walker
  • THIRD GRADE ANGELS, Jerry Spinelli
  • A MOUSE CALLED WOLF, Dick King-Smith
  • DEAD END IN NORVELT, Jack Gantos
  • BITTERBLUE, Kristin Cashore
  • CITY OF LOST SOULS, Cassandra Clare
  • THE CAROUSEL GHOST, Andrea Pellecshi
  • THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE, by Jeff Hirsch
  • EAT, PRAY, LOVE, by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • THE SCORPIO RACES, Maggie Stiefvater
  • THE BOY PROJECT, Kami Kinard
  • THE GOOSE GIRL, Shannon Hale
  • LEGEND, Marie Lu
  • CINDER, Marissa Meyer
  • FIRE, Kristin Cashore

  Happy New Year! May 2013 be a year of blessings and successes!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


1. You can't find your keys. You search and search, but to no avail. You finally decide to stop and have a glass of ice water and mentally retrace your steps. That's when you find your keys - in the freezer next to the ice.

2. The cake you baked is not the rectangular shape it's supposed to be. It tilts to the side and looks more like a triangle than a rectangle. It's not until after the cake cools that you realize the oven rack is crooked. 

3. You make yourself a sunny-side-up egg with toast for breakfast. You skip the salt and pull out the small pepper grinder for flavor. It's not until you take the first bite that you realize it wasn't the pepper grinder, but cinnamon. 

4. You dress in your best black sparkles to accompany a program at church. Your pants are strangely dragging the ground, and you're tripping on them. They've never fit like that before. It's not until you are in the ladies room that you realize you've put them on backwards. 

5. You are accompanying the Christmas program in your best black sparkles. Your mind wanders and begins to make mental lists of all the things that must be accomplished before the day is done. You accidentally turn three pages instead of one, and you become completely, totally, ridiculously, no way to hide it lost in the music. It takes two pages of this nonsense to find your place again. In the middle of a performance. Just you. And the poor soloist. 

6. Your husband takes you out to dinner after the Christmas performance. You're still wearing the black sparkles. The meal is very good, but you find yourself falling asleep after the last bite. You can't keep your eyes open, or follow the conversation, or even pretend to care. 

7. You realize you've posted six signs, now seven, but your title says five.  

This is exhausted Nora. What's your story? 

Saturday, June 16, 2012


My wonderful friend, Linda Croucher, lost her long battle with breast cancer Thursday.

She was a remarkable woman whose light shined a little brighter than most. She had a special gift for making good friends, and if you spent any length of time with her, you laughed - deep, gut busting snort your ice tea through your nose kind of laughter. She lived a joyful life, had a deep faith, and fought her cancer battle with an unrelenting positive attitude. Rarely did she show despair about her illness. But if she did, she'd stop and say, "Cancer sucks!" Then she'd smile. Linda touched people. And whether you knew her personally or not, whether you know it or not, she's touched your life too.

A number of years ago I had lunch with Linda at a local restaurant. On this particular occasion we were celebrating my first manicure. Somehow the topic of manicures had come up at church, and I admitted to Linda that I'd never had one. Truthfully, I didn't care that I'd never had that experience. But Linda gave me a stern talking to that began with, "Seriously??? How could you not know that every woman deserves to pamper herself?" The next thing I know, I'm sitting in Linda's kitchen with my hands soaking in a bowl of something warm while her dog, Astro, kept watch beside me. With her assortment of surgical looking tools, Linda proceeded to work her manicure magic on my hands. We talked, we laughed, we talked some more, until she was satisfied with her work (which really was quite nice!). When she finished, we headed to the restaurant.

During lunch, Linda's phone rang. She took one look at the number and said, "I'm sorry, but it's business. I need to take this call." The phone conversation went something like this: "Yes, that's correct. No, probably not. We need all the help we can get. Thank you, Senator Frist. I really appreciate your support." This was the day that I learned Linda was a breast cancer survivor, and a tireless advocate in the fight to end breast cancer.

She told me about how she learned at age 35 that she had breast cancer. She was the fourth generation of her family to have the disease, and she was on a mission to ensure that her daughters, Sarah and Molly, would not be the fifth. Over the years, she worked with the National Breast Cancer Coalition in many roles - volunteer Lead Field Coordinator for Ohio, and eight-time Team Leader for NBCC's Lobby Day, and a two-term member of the Board of Directors of the Breast Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati. Recently her efforts were recognized by NBCCF, and she was awarded the Wo(men) Who Get It Right Award. The other recipients that evening were Jackie Hill and Brooke Shields. Former President, Bill Clinton, presented her award.

Linda's cancer returned. But even though she had to make changes in her life - like resigning her teaching aide position because she was uncertain if her health would allow her to complete the school year, and learning to cope with the ongoing disappointment of chemo after chemo that didn't bring the needed results - treatments that often made her very, very ill -she remained positive, funny, and joyful.

And just for the record... NO ONE made bald look better than Linda!  Hats loved Linda. Really. It didn't matter if it was a ball cap, a straw hat, or a fancy schmancy Sunday something or other, she always looked great! (Notice the caption - I loved her sense of humor!)

There is a wonderful song from the show WICKED that says these words.

I've heard it said
that people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

My dear Linda, I can say with certainty that because I knew you, I have have been changed for good. I will miss you more than I can ever express. You are and will always be loved.  Rest in peace.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hello, again. Hello...

It's been a long, long time since I last stopped by my dusty blog. This past year has been a whirlwind. My first year back in the regular classroom teaching 3rd grade has been eventful, frustrating, time-consuming, rewarding, and a joy. Did I mention time consuming? I love teaching, but I've missed writing. A lot.

I've cleared the calendar for the summer. No graduate classes. No committees. No major projects except one - finish that blasted novel I started working on a year ago! I've even practiced my response to those who would like to fill up my calendar with agenda other than my own. "Thank you for thinking of me, but no." Do you think that'll work???

I plan to blog again, too. And visit the blogs of all of my long, lost blogger buddies...

Today I'll leave you with a great find on Kristin Nelson's vlog: Fridays with Agent Kristin Nelson. She is posting mini video webinars on the craft of writing. This one is titled, Episode 7 - What is a Plot Catalyst?

Until next time (which will be soon. I promise!)...

Keep writing,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy New Year and my 2011 Good Reads List

Hello, and a happy belated New Year! Unless you're celebrating the Chinese New Year -then I'm right on time. It's the year of the dragon. A year meant for great deeds, big ideas and even bigger projects. My big project is on hold for the moment. School is fairly all consuming - there's not much time for anything else. But come June 2nd, my writing is back at the top of the project list.  I wish you all a wonderful new year full of successes and big surprises!

I'm going to leave you today with my 2011 Good Reads List:

  • LIAR'S MOON, Elizabeth C. Bunce
  • CLOCKWORK PRINCE, Cassandra Clare
  • ASHFALL, Mike Mullin
  • THE DRAGON HEIR, Cinda Chima
  • THE WIZARD HEIR, Cinda Chima
  • THE WARRIOR HEIR, Cinda Chima
  • RIPPLE, Mandy Hubbard
  • BUT I LOVE HIM, Amanda Grace
  • OVERBITE, Meg Cabot
  • SAVVY, Ingrid Law
  • WILD MAGIC, Tamora Pierce
  • THE UNDERNEATH, Kathi Appelt
  • INSATIABLE, Meg Cabot
  • CRYER'S CROSS, Lisa McMann
  • SUGAR AND ICE, Kate Messner
  • CITY OF FALLEN ANGELS, Cassandra Clare
  • DON'T DIE DRAGONFLY, Linda Joy Singleton
  • BEASTLY, Alex Finn
  • GOING BOVINE, Libbra Bray
  • SHIPBREAKER, Paolo Bacigalupi
  • STAR GIRL, Jerry Spinelli
  • MOON OVER MANIFEST, Clare Vanderpool
  • THE REPLACEMENT, Brenna Yovanoff
  • DARKEST MERCY, Melissa Marr
  • FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS, Karen S. Wiesner
  • THE GIVER, Lois Lowry
  • PARANORMALCY, Kiersten White
  • CLOCKWORK ANGEL, Cassandra Clare
  • AS YOU WISH, Jackson Pearce

Books I've Read in 2010
Books I've Read in 2009
Books I've Read in 2008