Joy Preble’s Finding Paris

Today I’m welcoming Joy Preble to my blog. Joy is a good friend, a great YA author–and fellow Texan. Her latest book, Finding Paris, is out today. So be sure you pick up a copy. I invited Joy to answer a few of my questions about Finding Paris.

CC:  Tell us about Finding Paris.

Joy: Finding Paris is my first YA novel with Balzer and Bray/Harper Collins, and I’m so very excited for it to arrive in the world on 4/21. Like all of my work, it’s a genre blend—a mystery wrapped around a family drama, tucked inside a road trip, with bits of tragedy and bits of romance.

FindingParis coverSisters Leo (Leonora) and Paris have only ever had each other to rely on. They can’t trust their mother, who hops from city to city and from guy to guy, or their gambler stepfather, who’s moved them all to Las Vegas. It’s just the two of them: Paris, who’s always been the dreamer, and Leo, who has a real future in mind—going to Stanford, becoming a doctor, falling love. But Leo isn’t going anywhere right now, except driving around Vegas all night with her sister.

Until Paris ditches Leo at the Heartbreak Hotel Diner, where just moments before they had been talking with physics student Max Sullivan. Outside, Leo finds a cryptic note from Paris—a clue. Is it some kind of game? Where is Paris, and why has she disappeared?

When Leo reluctantly accepts Max’s offer of help, the two find themselves following a string of increasingly disturbing clues through Vegas and beyond. But the search for Paris—and the truth about why she’s gone missing—is not a straight line. And either is the path to secrets Leo and Max hold inside.

CC: Finding Paris is a genre shift for you, crossing over from stories with a paranormal element to contemporary YA. Can you talk a little about this?

Joy: I’m what I suppose you’d call a literary omnivore. The stories that come to me don’t always fall neatly into one or the other category. So I’m very fortunate to have worked with a number of wonderful publishing houses, the latest being Balzer and Bray. It’s actually been a good challenge to write a straight contemporary novel. The paranormal elements in both Sweet Dead Life and Dreaming Anastasia serve as one of the main engines to the plot, but with Finding Paris, it’s a real life mystery, a real life sister’s disappearance, among other things. But I love the leaner nature of a contemporary story.

CC: What was the inspiration behind the novel?

Joy: Well, there are many inspirations. The surface one actually occurred as my husband and I were driving from Houston to Dallas. We’d stopped for lunch at this place called Sam’s—the kind of interstate diner that has a pie buffet and a quirky gift shop. And in stall in the ladies’ room there was all this Sharpied graffiti – everything from ‘Jesus saves’ to ‘I <3 Danny’ and of course some nastier stuff, as there often is. And then this one that had a phone number and said, “I need you to call me” And there was a girl’s name.  I walked out and in the car I began thinking: What if two girls were on the road and one went to the bathroom or out to the car and then never came back. What if there was a message left in Sharpie?  So that was the initial influence. But the deeper sources for this story come from my years of teaching, from working with students whose home lives aren’t safe or stable, who are struggling to get out of bad, untenable, suffocating situations. Who are struggling to face their truths and tell their truths. And people who have bind spots for those they love. Or who just don’t know how to fix the things that are wrong.  And as I wrote from that initial premise, I knew I had found a story that could give them a voice.  When Leo trusts Max to help her, when she takes that first ride with him, I knew she was doing so because the rest of her life was honestly a lot scarier than trusting a boy who knew the same silly physics jokes as she did.  And who she sees as the type of person she’d like to have in her life but doesn’t. Of course, that’s just the beginning. And then there’s the missing Paris…

CC: What’s next for Joy Preble?

Joy: Right now I’m finishing up the last revisions for It Wasn’t Always Like This, which comes out from Soho Press in Spring, 2016. It’s pitched as Tuck Everlasting meets Veronica Mars: A girl named Emma, a boy named Charlie, a fountain of youth, and what happens when you’re stuck at seventeen. It’s got this wonderfully huge scope, shifting back and forth from current day Dallas and Emma solving a series of murders to the Emma and Charlie of the past and how they came to be separated for 100 years. Oh my gosh, I love this book! I can hardly wait to tell everyone more about it.

joy Preble author picJoy Preble is a Texas girl who was born and raised in Chicago and a former high school teacher who now writes full time, which means she gets paid for making up stuff. She earned an English degree from Northwestern University and speaks and teaches widely on writing and literacy at libraries and schools, as well as SCBWI, NCTE, AWP, and other conferences. For more information, go to http://joypreble.com/.

You can buy Finding Paris at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and  Balzar + Bray (HarperCollins).

 

Giveaway!

I’ll give away a copy of Joy’s book Finding Paris to someone who leaves a comment. So be sure to comment.

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway, a print copy of Unbreakable, is Cassandra from Ontario, Canada.  Cassandra, email your mailing address to cc@cchunterbooks.com. Congratulations!

 

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New T-Shirt and Giveaway!

It’s getting closer to the release of Miranda’s novella, Spellbinder. I’m almost finished with Unspoken, the final book in my Shadow Falls: After Dark series. And I have to admit, there were times I didn’t think Della would make it.  But really like the direction her story is heading, and I think you will too.

Whenever I have a new release, like to have lots of swag to giveaway. So, I’m working on designing a new t-shirt, and I need your help. I have the basic design done, but I’m trying to come up with a clever saying I can add. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Born to Read
  • Book Whisperer and proud of it
  • Gotta a Minute, Get a Book
  • Ask me what I’m reading
  • Take a Book Vacation
  • Go Places, Read
  • I Read Way Past My Bedtime
  • Nocturnal Reader
  • I Have a Book Boyfriend

Which one do you like the best? I’m open to suggestions. What would you like your t-shirt to say about you and your reading habits?

UnbreakableGiveaway!!

This week I’m giving away a signed paperback of Chase’s novella, Unbreakable. And guess what? This giveaway isn’t just limited to residents of the US. But if you do live outside the US, please be sure to tell me what country you live in when you post your comment. So, come on, Shadow Falls fans, leave a comment telling me which saying you like best, or tell me what you’d like your t-shirt to say.

 

Winner!!

The winner of last week’s giveaway, a hardback copy of Eternal, is Gisselle Montes. Congratualtions! Please email your mailing address to cc@cchunterbooks.com.

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Cover Reveal!

I’m so excited I can finally share the cover for Miranda’s novella, Spellbinder!

Spellbinder_revised3When magic, romance and family secrets collide, the result is spellbinding!

Miranda Kane has always felt like a screw up–at least when it comes to her ability to wield magic.  Her only sanctuary is Shadow Falls camp, where she’s learning to harness her powers as a witch.  But thanks to her shapeshifter boyfriend who called it quits and ran off to Paris, both her heart and powers feel broken.   

When she unexpectedly lands a top spot in a spell casting competition in France, she flies out with her best friends Kylie and Della.  But her trip takes her straight into the heart of a dangerous supernatural mystery–and a heated romance.  What Miranda doesn’t expect is for her investigation to unleash shocking revelations…about herself, her family, and her arch enemy.  Now Miranda must step up and show everyone that she’s a witch to be reckoned with….before it’s too late. 

Spellbinder will be released June 30, 2015, but is available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks. Don’t miss out, pre-order your copy NOW.

Giveaway!

I’m giving away a hard cover copy of Eternal to one lucky fan who leaves a comment. (Sorry, but I have to limit this giveaway to US residents only.)

 

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Writing Advice and Other Answers

This is an interview I did for Maria Anderson, one of my Street Team members, for her Instargram fan account. Since I’ve been getting quite a few fan emails lately asking some of these same question, I thought I’d run the interview here.

1.  After Shadow Falls and Shadow Falls: After Dark will you be writing any other teen novels?

Yup. I’ve already sold another series.  I’m really excited about it, too.  It’s tentatively titled Glimmers.  It’s a story about descendants of grim reapers.  It will be spooky, and sassy just like my Shadow Falls books.

2.  Did any of the Shadow Falls characters have different names before the ones they have now?

Funny you would ask that.  Miranda was Isabella.  And it was as if when writing her dialogue, she turned and told me, “I hate that name.  You have to change it!”  So I listened to her and gave her Miranda.  And Lucas was named Hunter. But then I had one of the duh moments and realized that his first name would be the same as my pen name.  So Hunter became Lucas.  I think I like Lucas best, too.

3.  Do you have a music playlist you write to or that inspires you? What are some of the songs?

I get asked this a lot, and sometimes I want to lie because my answer is so boring.  But the truth is that I can’t write to music.  Well, I can’t write to music with lyrics.  If I do, I stop listening to the words in my head and start listening to the words in the song.  But I do have a song/video that almost seems as if it was written and filmed to be about Shadow Falls. It is called Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. Here’s the video.

 4. Do you have any advice for future writers?

I have three pieces of advice for new writers.  First, remain positive and focused on your goal.  What works for me is to do something each and every day to achieve that goal.  It can be a little thing, such as researching something you need to know before you write a scene, or it can be something bigger, such as writing X number of pages.  One thing I really believe in is that keeping a positive outlook is vital to building a career as a writer.  Surround yourself with people who share your positive outlook, and try to limit your contact with those who spread negativity.

My second piece of advice goes along with my first, and that is to work hard to become a better writer every day.  Take a writing class or workshop or read a how-to book.  Expand your horizons and read widely.  Become a sponge and soak up as much about the writing process as you can.

Last, and perhaps most important of all, accept that rejection will happen, no matter if it’s your first book or your 20th, and it’s never personal.  I worked hard to get published and believe me, I had my share of rejections before I published my first novel with Silhouette Romance in 1993.  And I’ll admit—I thought all my worries were over once I signed that first contract.  I thought I’d made it and the days of getting rejections were over but I was wrong.  The rejections kept coming.  When I wasn’t having any success selling a second novel, I decided to focus on my freelance non-fiction.  I did well with that.  I’ve had over 3,000 national credits and my non-fiction writing assignments have taken me all over the world, but along with that success came a lot more rejections.  And when I switched back to writing my adult romance novels, I racked up more rejections and even after I broke back into the market (I sold four novels in a single day), I still got my share of rejections.  But I never, ever let those rejections stop me from pursuing my dream.  And neither should anyone else.

I hope my writing advice helped those of you that aspire to be writers. If you do want to be a writer, what sort of books do you want to write?

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California Dreamin’

Embassy-Suites-pool-2I’m in sunny Southern California for the California Dreamin’ Conference in Brea, California. I’m staying at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, and look at the view that greeted me. I can’t wait to sit by the pool with a tall cold drink!

I love attending these writers conferences because it gives me a chance to connect with some of my old friends and to also make some new ones.

I’ll be presenting two workshops. The first, “The Balancing Act of First Chapters,” is a fun-filled workshop, in which I explain why the balance of characterization and plot is crucial to first chapters.  “Torn Between Two Lovers – The Challenges of a Hybrid Author,” is the second workshop I’ll present along with Christie Ridgeway. We’ll share our insights regarding juggling loyalties between publishers, scheduling, and the advantages and disadvantages of this type of writing career.

If you aren’t registered for the conference, you can still participate by attending the Multi-Author Book Signing on Saturday, March 26th , 2:00 to 4:00 PM at the hotel. It is FREE and open to the public. So, if you live in the LA area, I hope you’ll come by and say hello. I’d love to meet you.

But right now, the pool is calling my name…

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Della’s Dilemma

for blogI saw this on a new friend’s blog and for some reason it reminded me of Della.  Problem is, Della has two boys in her life and she’s only going to end up with one.  Who will it be?  Who will she choose?  Who is that boy sitting in that tree with her?

I’ll be honest, both are great boys.  And it’s gonna break my heart when one of them doesn’t get the girl.  But in life, we run into a lot of people who only stay in our lives for a short while.  It doesn’t mean they weren’t important.  Or that they didn’t make a difference in our lives.

So, here’s to all the people who come into our world, even those that are only there for a short time.  Meanwhile, I’m asking you, who do  you think is in the picture?  Is this Steve or Chase?  Who do you think Della will choose?

 Winners!

The winners from last week’s giveaway are Isabella Witte and Jordan Finnegan. Congratulations! Email your mailing address to cc@cchunterbooks.com, and I’ll send you a signed copy of Chosen at Nightfall.

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Book Signings and a Giveaway!

 

IMG_4148What a great time I had visiting with Foy H. Moody High School and the Teen Bookfest by the Bay in Corpus Christi, Texas last week.  It was a rainy weekend, but you couldn’t tell from the turnout. The students had wonderful questions and were so attentive.  Thank you so much, guys!  I had a great time chatting with Melissa, the school librarian, over lunch.  And I loved getting to know several of the students who have plans to write their own stories.

 

IMG_4136Then, the Bookfest by the Bay on Saturday was great as well.  What a time we had visiting with authors and librarians.  Thanks to everyone who put on the book festival and to everyone who took the time to come out.

So, I thought I’d share some of the great photos from both. A special thanks to Melissa Yanez for sending me so many photos. And the next time I’m at an event, I hope you’ll come out to see me, because we have a blast.

Maybe . ..   If I came to your school, or you came to a book festival that I was attending, what question would you ask me?  I may answer a few in upcoming blogs?

Giveaway!!!

This week, I’m giving away two signed copies of Chosen at Nightfall, the final book in my Shadow Falls series, to two lucky people who leave a comment or question below. (Sorry, but I need to limit this giveaway to US residents only.)

 

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RebornThis Week’s Deal

Now for the deal. Kobo has a special on Reborn, Della’s first book. The ebook is only $2.99 for a limited time. So, grab your copy today at Kobo.

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How to Slay a Gremlin

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There’s a monster hiding under my desk.  He lurks there, waiting for the right moment to attack. He’s an ugly little bastard, too.  I have a lot of names for him, but for the sake of not overusing profanity in this blog, I’ll call him by his real name, Self-Doubt.

Most of you might think that after two decades in the business, after hitting list that I only dreamed about hitting, I’d have managed to kill the gremlin.  But you’d be wrong.  That sneaky little devil won’t die.  He keeps popping back up.

I think self doubt is something most writers face throughout their careers.  And by careers, I don’t mean from the point that you become a published author, I mean, from the point you start writing.  I think the inability to fight the gremlin is one of the biggest things that prevent a writer from becoming published.  And it’s probably one of the reasons published writers stop writing.  That’s right, this monster doesn’t care what you’ve accomplished.  All he wants is a big bite out of your confidence.

He’ll tell you that whatever you’ve got on that computer screen is crap.  That you just need to delete it.

He’ll convince you that no matter how good of an idea you may have, it’s probably already been done.

He’ll whisper in your ear that you’re wasting your time, that cleaning out your grout in your kitchen tile with a toothbrush is much more important.  Sometimes he possesses your family and friends and they’ll say things like, “How long are you going to put yourself though all this pain before you find something else to do with your time?”  He’ll stare you right in the eyes and tell you that your dreams are silly and you’ll never reach them.  He’ll make you believe that the one negative review out of twenty good ones is the one you should listen to.  If you let him, he not only can slow you down, he’ll rob you of the joy and passion you feel for writing.

Now, that gremlin is always close by, nipping at your toes, giving you moments of doubt.  I think that’s somewhat normal.  But let that creature scramble up your leg, hang out in your lap, or even worse, let him climb up on your shoulder, where you can listen to him all day long, and you’ll soon be playing Russian Roulette with your passion for writing.  Because writing with a self-doubt gremlin sitting on your shoulder is about as easy as brushing your teeth with a brownie in your mouth.

So how do we slay the gremlin or at least keep him at bay?  Below are five tips for overcoming and preventing self-doubt from chewing on your sanity.

1.) Be Aware of Peer Pressure.

We preach this to our kids but so often we forget that the bad habits of the people we hang out with are as contagious as a stomach virus.  If you’re hanging out with negative people, people who have lost their ability to chase their dreams, you’re at risk of becoming just like them.  Find positive people who validate your dreams and work ethics to share your life and support your journey.

2.)  Ward off the message that you don’t know what you’re doing by continually growing at a writer. Read how-to books, take classes, attend those writer meetings and listen to what other writers offer as advice.

3.)  Mentor someone else. Nothing can inspire you more than helping and encouraging another person.  Telling others that they have to believe in themselves is a sure fire way or rekindling your own self-confidence.  It also creates karma.

4.)  Be leery of ruts. If you’re not feeling the passion for your writing, try spicing things up by doing something different.  Try writing something in a new genre, or try writing something in a different point of view.  Nothing can get you out of a rut quicker than feeling challenged.

5.)  Accept that sometimes you are going to fail. That you’re going to make mistakes. That you’re going to get rejections—that it might take you years to accomplish what you want to accomplish. Understand that you aren’t the first person to get fifty rejections, or a hundred, or even a thousand. The truth is, the number of rejections you receive doesn’t matter.  You are not defeated until you let yourself be defeated.

Writing isn’t for wimps.  Chances are, you’ll face those gremlins, not once but many times, so just be armed with good friends, knowledge, Karma, a sense of adventure, and perseverance.  And never, ever lose your sense of humor.  And now that I’ve shared with you my tips for slaying gremlins, I’d like to hear some of yours.  How do you tackle self doubt?

(This article originally appeared in Writer’s Digest, October 4, 2012. )

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Ten Reasons I Love my Fans!

IMG_0168On Saturday, I spent the day at the Montgomery County Book Festival.  And wow!!  What a blast.  I got to laugh, hug and just have fun with so many readers and writers!  Mari Mancusi and I gave two panels and it was a blast.  I gave away bookmarks, posters, bracelets and I signed books. Lots and lots of books.  I loved every minute of it.  But the best part was just hanging with my fans.  Hearing them compare favorite scene from my books was montgomery county book festivalunreal. I can’t even begin to tell you how great that made me feel.  Thank you so much to Natasha Benway and all her team of librarians and sponsors who organized this festival.  Anyway, it got me thinking about the reasons I love my fans.  And here’s a top ten list.

 

  1. My fans are readers. I’m a reader, so instantly we have this one thing in common, and more importantly, without readers I wouldn’t have a career.
  2. My fans give me a boost of self-confidence. We all have our down days, right?  It’s a bad hair day, or that time of the month.  And we’re pretty certain we suck.  Well, if it’s one of those day, and I run across a negative review, it stings like a paper cut.  Logically, I know that my books aren’t going to appeal to everyone.  Books are like ice cream, everyone has their favorite flavor, and I can’t appeal to everyone’s flavor requirements.  But still …it stings.  That said, all I have to do is go back and reread an email from one of my fans who tells me I’m one of their favorite authors and that sucky, stingy feeling fades.
  3. My fans light a fire under my butt and make me become a better writer. I’ll be cruising along, writing on my next book, thinking it’s pretty good and then I’ll read a comment or get an email from someone who says, “I can’t wait for your next book, because I know it’s going to the best yet!”  And right then it hits me.  I’d better get off the cruise control and work a little harder.  They expect this book to be better than the last one.   Yeah, that fire is hot and it can burn!  Ahh, but I need it.
  4. My fans remind me how lucky I am. I get a lot of emails from fans who are also writers.   People who are struggling to finish a manuscript or desperately trying to sell that manuscript.  Maybe they are just trying to improve their manuscript.  Writing is hard and I’ve been there in the trenches.  I’ve been unpublished and struggling with the huge goal of wanting my book to be in the hands of readers.   I always encourage those writers to never give up, but by encouraging them, I’m made aware of how lucky I am to be where I am.  It reminds me to never take my career for granted.
  5. My fans prevent me from looking like an idiot. Have you ever planned a party and worried no one would come?  My public events are very much like parties.  And my fans show up to my parties. And the party at the book festival last Saturday was a blast.  Thank you to everyone who came!
  6. My fans post about my events. Not only do my fans come, but they retweet or share my Facebook posts.  At my last event in Arizona, I had people attend that learned about the event from one of my other fan’s posts. The fan who posted the event couldn’t even attend, but she put it out there and several people came because of it.   So thank you for reposting and tweeting.
  7. My fans are living, breathing promotion of the best kind. Nothing, no kind of promotion is better than word of mouth.  I met several fans at the book festival who told me, I can’t stop talking about your books and now, all my friends read them.   And it’s true.  I seldom buy a book just from an on-line review, but if someone I know tells me how good a book is, odds are . . .  I’ll go buy it.  So keep telling your friends about my books.
  8. My fans remind me of what’s really important. Okay, I have to be honest.  I write to entertain, I don’t set out to write stories that will inspire, teach a few lessons in friendship, or to show readers that they aren’t alone in struggling with their problems.  However, because my characters are dealing with issues (loss of a loved one, a parent’s divorce, parents who just don’t understand us) then, these lessons are woven into the books.  And when I get letters from fans telling me how much my books inspired, motivated, and lifted their spirits, I’m totally blown away.  And it reminds me how important relationships are in our lives.
  9. My fans post reviews and comments. I love it when I pop on my blog and see all those comments.  And when I see the number of reviews I have on my books.  I’m just tickled pink, guys.  Plus, a lot of reviews gets you some free promotion.  So, I really appreciate them.  And you guys are the ones who do them.
  10. My fans get me—I mean really get me. Yeah, I know some of you are thinking, seriously, C.C., we don’t even know you, so how do you know we get you?  Well, if you are a fan, you enjoy my books, hence, you “get” my books.  You get my characters.  You probably love my characters.  You laugh with my characters.  You may have even cried with my characters.  These characters are a part of me. I created them.  I laugh with them. I cry with them.  Della, Kylie, Miranda, and yes, even the guys, they are all bits and pieces of my internal makeup.  In those pages you read, and some of you reread, there is my sense of humor, my idea of what’s important, and you’ll find what tugs at my heart strings.  So you see, you get me!  So just get used to it.

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Thanks Street Team and Fans Club!

I said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m always watching to see who on my Street Team and Fan Club are busy reposting, commenting, sharing and retweeting for me, and especially leaving reviews at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc. I promised I’d send surprises to those of you who do the most promotion for me. So, I have sent out gifts to Taryn Courville, Regina Barnes, Monica Coburn, Gabrielle Saunders and Bethany Avery. You guys totally rock! Now don’t forget, I’ll continue to follow my Street Team and Fan Club members, and I’ll be sending out more surprises to those who do the most to promote me. So, get busy. Next time, it could be you!

 

 

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Time and Spending It!

Old_clockTime.  It’s this mysterious thing we can’t touch, and yet it controls us.  Oh yes, we try to control it.  Try to manage it, but it’s such an elusive little thing and so, we often fail.  We used to wear it around our wrists, now we mostly carry it around on our cell phones.  We check it quite regularly, to see where we are in our day, to make sure it hasn’t gotten away from us.

 

We spend time every day.  Some days we don’t even think about spending it.  We’re on a fast track of life and we just do it.  We don’t even consider what we spend time on.  Some days it passes so fast, that we wonder where it went, other days, it seems as if it crawls by with the speed of a one legged turtle.

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The thing that most of us do, and I’m as guilty as anyone else, is take time for granted.  We think it will always be there.  You know…  When we say, I’m gonna do that later.  Someday.   It’s on my bucket list.  I’ll do it when I get around to it. “A round tuit.”

 

 

 

IMG_0135Yesterday, on Sunday, I was in my study, working. (I admit it, I’m a bit of a workaholic. I’m actually trying to work on that.)  Hubby walked in and asked, “Are you gonna work today, or do you want to do something different?”  When I turned back to look at him, I saw the white rose, held in a drinking glass, he’d taken the time to pick and bring to me the day before, sitting on my desk.

You know, if anyone has a little different outlook on time, it’s him.  You see, for the five years he was on dialysis, it often felt like he was living on borrowed time.  Now that he has a kidney transplant, he’s sort of been given a new time account.  Time looks a little different. I think he takes time for granted a little less than others.

So I looked back and told him.  “Let me finish this scene and then let’s do something different.”  Yeah, I love my career, and I believe in setting goals and making them happen, but sometimes I need to be reminded that time is like everything else in life.  It needs to be balanced.

So we took off on a country drive.  It was kind of gloomy, even rained a little, but we loved every mile and enjoyed just talking.  We saw a Mexican Eagle, we’d never seen one before.  Spotted a few hawks, silhouetted in the big bare oak trees that looked almost spooky.  We drove to see some family, that lives out in the country, and went to eat at country restaurant we’d never tried.   We drank a bottle of wine, laughed and just visited.

clockWhen we got home, I gave my hubby a big thank you.  I needed that time. Today, I’m gonna write some more scenes, but I’ll take the time to smile at a stranger.  Give someone I love a hug.  Call someone I haven’t spoken with in a while and just say hello.  And I’ll spend some more time with my hubby.

What’s on your list? How are you spending your time?

 

 

 

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