I’m reading the Harry Potter books with my daughter and so magic and muggles come up regularly in conversation. This is my fourth time through the series, and it’s amazing to me how seeing the stories through a set of fresh eyes changes it for me. The last time I read it, I was more concerned about how my son would handle the emotional situations (he’s very sensitive). This time through, I’m marveling at how Rowling crafted her adventures and enjoying the heck out of watching my daughter make the inferences that Rowling clearly intended her to make. It’s fun reading books as a writer.
My muggle concerns today include more work toward getting the new house setup, finishing up edits on a short story so I can submit before April 30 and starting my new manuscript. I attended a book launch today (that’s where the murder comes in – congratulations to Becky Clark on her book baby!). I’m going to head into my office first thing tomorrow morning (that’s Monday while we’re on the M thread) and start putting all the pieces together. It’s always an exciting (and something manic time), starting a new manuscript., so here’s to some ccreativity and endurance.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! The #AtoZChallenge is on the downward slope to the finish. Glad you’re here with me
Logo design can be a soul-sucking process. Often the cost is high, and there is a necessary back and forth between the client and the designer, which can lead to frustration on both ends. When I was running a marketing company over a decade ago, I remember having a serious falling-out over a logo. Of course, my partner and I were about as stubborn as two human beings can get!
Luckily, the multimedia company I worked with on the logo for Melissa Leigh, LLC is the best! Leona St. Louis (wasn’t it lucky that today is L day!) is creative and patient and pays attention to detail. The finished logo arrived today via email. So, I’m going to show you the logo and do a little backstory on the company.
Let’s start with the backstory.
My mother often mentioned the idea of renting out the back room of her house in New Mexico as a bed and breakfast. Last fall, I stayed at a B&B in Georgia that had me daydreaming too. And like most amazing things in my life, I was struck by a crazy and wonderful idea. Why not start a bed and breakfast in Colorado? Mom and dad could move closer and we’d have a project that would bring us all together—one that my mother and I had both been daydreaming about.
There have been about a million decisions, lots of plans, and a few compromises between that fateful day when my parents agreed to my scheme and today. But the result is Melissa Leigh, LLC and our upcoming short-term rental project. We bought a gorgeous house in a neighboring town—a place where my parents will be comfortable and connected to the community. We’ve been working tirelessly on setting up the business end of things, but also on helping my parents make a big BIG move.
At the foundation of Melissa Leigh, LLC is family. I come from an extremely close-knit family and living apart from them has been an unfortunate, but sometimes necessary part of life. I’m thrilled that in a few short months, my mom and I will be able to get together for coffee and it won’t involve plane tickets and hours in the car. My dad and I will be able to do work together again (something that he says he enjoys—making me a little teary-eyed). And I’m thankful to be in a place in my life where I can dream big and live those dreams.
Here’s the new logo. Keep an eye out for more information and updates about Melissa Leigh’s, including the continuing saga as chronicled here for the #AtoZChallenge.
My first purchase for the new house was an easy choice: a Keurig. Because if I’m going to work, there needs to be easy access to coffee. I’ve been on a strict elimination diet for the past 9 weeks and I’m fairly particular about my coffee. I have to make it myself and it has to be just so. I’m especially fond of the almond milk I have at home (coffee shop almond milk isn’t my favorite), so making my own coffee is key. AND, I don’t drink a lot of coffee—usually just one cup a day—so the Keurig is ideal for me.
For the purposes of the new house, I ordered a fancy new Keurig that does single cups and carafes. That’s a clue, by the way.
I’m a high-maintenance coffee drinker on the best of days. I like a little bit of coffee with my milk and sweetener. In college, my friend Becca and I used to have mocha Tuesdays. If it’s swimming in cream and chocolate and there’s just a hint of a coffee flavor, I’m there. When I gave up dairy, I settled on almond milk as the best alternative. When I had to give up Splenda, I settled on Sugar in the Raw as my favorite sweetener (I tried Monkfruit but it was a fail and I can’t stand Stevia). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to take my coffee slightly less creamy and sugary, but not much. And an after lunch coffee is my favorite afternoon treat, especially when I’m writing.
When I’m in the middle of writing a book, my coffee consumption goes way up. I try to stick with decaf after my first cup of fully caffeinated coffee, and I try to keep total number of cups below 3 so I’m not a jittery mess all night. BUT, when I’m in the middle of a project, I get absorbed. When I finish off a cup, I often get up to make another as an excuse to stretch. But my brain is so wrapped up in what I’m working on that I don’t always keep track of how many “stretch” breaks I take in one day. My body reminds me later when I can’t get to sleep.
So, coffee is both an essential part of my creative process, and a crutch. My Keurig is my best friend and my dealer, depending on the day. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I start spending more time in the new house in May, my cup of coffee will be ready for me.
Today, I went shopping for party supplies with my friend Crissy and her sister Jill. Crissy tells me that Jill is a favorite at her school because she is a ball of sunshine, and I agree. Jill is silly and sweet and a fun girl to visit the craft store with. Now, my friend Crissy is an artist and she may have a teeny addiction to art/craft supplies (and honestly, she knows what to do with them so more power to her). What I learned today is that Jill can give Crissy a run for her money anyday. Jill loves to paint and one of her projects while visiting with her parents is to do stencil designs outside the art studio Crissy is working on. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.
Spending the afternoon with Crissy and Jill was a nice reminder to look for the joy in everyday life. Jill’s spirit is so bright and shiny, it’s impossible to hang out with her and not feel happy. It was fun to watch her shop—to see what she found interesting and hear her opinions on the things we found. It reminds me a little bit of watching a movie you’ve already seen with someone who hasn’t. I don’t know about you but I LOVE doing that! I will happily watch the same movie over and over if I get to see your reaction to it. At the end of our shopping trip, I was rewarded with a big bear hug from my sweet new friend.
As I look back over my day, I can make you a long list of all the things I accomplished. And that’s awesome! Yay! But my favorite part of the day was my outing with Jill. And by some twist of fate, today is J day so this post is for you Jill!
There is a business component to our home improvement project. In addition to bringing my parents closer to us, the project will involve a business venture that will mean a shift in career path for my mother and a management and marketing challenge for me. I’ve been thinking a lot about business plans, contingency plans, and diversification.
Part of my overall plan has led be down a path I hadn’t considered before. About a year ago, I signed up to be a consultant for Perfectly Posh, a direct sale line of pampering products. My entire motivation for signing up was to receive a percentage off of products I was already buying (I was using some off-the-shelf lotions until one of them turned my daughter into a lobster and I decided to shift to more natural products…but that’s a whole different story). I never planned to sell the products myself since my plate is already overloaded and I’m not in a position to go out and do parties.
Then, this new project with my parents came about and I realized that if I sold Posh on the side, it could help support the new business. So, today is H and H is for hosting parties. This Saturday I’m hosting a Posh party at my house. I’m not a hardcore saleswoman, but I do love the products, so we’ll see how this goes. One thing I do like about Posh as a business is that it doesn’t require any inventory, so it’s not a bad choice for people looking for an easy added income. This may very well be the one and only non-virtual party I host.
And because I’m working on building this business, here’s the website: https://amyrivers.po.sh.
Anyway, throwing this party gave me an excellent excuse to hit one of my favorite home décor stores and do a little shopping. I purchased a few items that I can use this weekend and then save for the new house and all the exciting events that may be taking place there in the future.
I realize that I’m being vague about the new business and I apologize, but it is intentional. I promise I’ll have more details for you over the course of the next few weeks but for now I’m taking things slow.
My name is Michelle Dragalin and blog about writing, book reviews and other things on my blog Writer’s Journey. I have another blog that I discuss education, online work and other educational technology things. Currently, I am published in a few small publishing companies, a small publishing house and adjunct professor for a small online school. I stay busy! In addition to writing reviews, author interviews and online education, I am a Mom to two adult children and a wife to a retired Navy mechanical engineer. I earn most of my income by teaching online (hence the 51-talk tagline) and developing curriculum, as well as designing instruction. I work at home now, which I like. I work more hours which I don’t like, but it will all come together in the end.
Underneath my name at the end of the blog you will see a link to 51 Talk. Disclaimer: I receive a monetary reward if you click on it and successfully complete the application process.
Writer’s Notebook: Biographies, Alphabet books, Backyard Zoo and Guinea Pigs
I love to share information that I have picked up on writer’s journey and help other writers. I am not famous. I am not well known. I just like to help. In this blog I would like to share some ideas that help me as a writer.
The picture below illustrates what my desk looks like; I have books on all the above topic. I suffer a bit from ADD and so I need to be able to turn my attention from one subject to another. I also keep the information in my writer’s notebook. Recently a favorite singer of mine had his backpack stolen, he said that of all the things inside the one item he really misses is his song journal. I can relate, my writer’s notebook is a journal that I keep all my information in regarding my projects. If it were to go missing I would lose a lot of research, information and various quotes that I have developed or have received from other authors. In addition, it holds information from my contacts at 12x12, Critique groups, and Social media groups. My writer’s notebook is priceless, someone else would probably toss it in the nearest dumpster. All this information gets transferred onto my calendar, files and other areas. Yet the original information all stays in my notebook for my reference. My little desk behind me holds the material I need for my work.
Each story in development is at different stages, in addition, I include research for my online work.
A Story in Development
A story in development has various stages. The most important is the stage where I need to fully concentrate on that particular story. Right now I am working a story about guinea pigs.
The place I love to work at is the library. There is enclosed room with a white board that I can spread out on and work. Everything is available and there is no distraction, plus it has a small cafe and easy access if I need a book or some help from a friendly library. On the desk I have my laptop, which doubles as tablet, a kindle and tablet plus water and time. This way I can focus on one subject at a time, did I mention the room is enclosed!!!
My desk at home often looks like this:
Writing is a process, a development there are many areas that a person must take into consideration they develop and write a story.
Find out what works for you and organize your life to suit you! Work for yourself and in a way that suits you! My way works for me because I need to move, yet have all my stuff centrally located for when I am online teaching or meeting with people. Develop your environment to suit yourself!!
51 Talk http://www.51talk.com/na?referrer=4869960
Social Media: Linkedin
Last week was hectic, so I decided to give myself the day off on Saturday. My G post is a day late and I’m not feeling guilty (despite it fitting the G theme).
Before lounging, we spent time looking at freestanding bathtubs and opening bank accounts. We were at the bank for two hours due to glitches (see that, G again) but Melissa Leigh, LLC is all set up and ready to go. Pretty exciting stuff in the works and I’ll be sharing more as we move toward the summer.
In the meantime, my self-imposed day of relaxation has left me with a to-do list a mile long so, for now, let me say goodbye and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Believe it or not, today’s topics don’t go together (although they could, but since I’m looking at buying new furniture, I’d rather not think about forensics during that particular process). When my husband heard my topics, he said “sounds like bloody carpet.” Um, no. Just no.
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll see Friday Forensic Fun Facts posts. These posts came about for two reasons: 1) I’m studying forensic criminology and I think it’s fun so I decided to share, and 2) I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers so forensics come up pretty often both in my reading and in my writing. I got my first glimpse at forensics as an undergrad in a physical anthropology class where we got to examine skulls and bone fragments to determine gender and estimate age. Then, as a graduate student, I took a forensic science class that was AMAZING! Recently, I was reading Jeffrey Deaver’s book The Bone Collector and couldn’t help but fall in love a little bit with Lincoln Rhyme and his love of trace evidence.
So, if you’re interested in forensics, you might appreciate the Friday fun facts.
If you think about forensics too much when shopping for furniture, you might never want to bring new items into your home. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. That being said, my husband and I spent an hour in a new furniture story yesterday looking at tables and cabinets and things for the new house. While most of the furnishings are staying, there are a few specific pieces we’re looking for. A cabinet for the entry and one for behind the living room couch. A round table for the entry (or maybe a square one - still on the fence). A bed frame for the master suite that has both a bookcase headboard AND underbed storage - at the foot of the bed, not the side. How’s that for specific!
I love furniture shopping. I can really appreciate the craftsmanship, especially in wood furniture. The house I live in is so modern, and when we were furnishing it, our focus was completely different than it is with the new house. It’s a lot of fun to walk through the store, run my hands over the fabric and finishes (probably leaving fingerprints and trace evidence all over the place….ugh), and daydream about where a piece would go and how it would/could be used. It’s easy to dismiss pieces that are just completely not my style or the house’s, but other pieces require more consideration. Here are a few of the things I found during our shopping trip (these are just ideas…we’re not ready to buy anything yet).
In my estimation, emotion can alter our expectations. OK, I admit it. I just really wanted to say that.
Just spent a few hours working on the new house, including a walk-through with our contractor to get estimates for some of the remodeling work. I felt excited (another E word) but was also a little sad for the previous owners who are starting to say goodbye to their home of 15 years. While this project is a fun adventure for me, both my parents and the previous owners of our new house are embarking on major life changes. As a result, I’m trying to keep by excitement in check with consideration to the bittersweetness of the situation for those around me.
In good news, our contractor said the words “that’s going to make it easy” more than once, and easy is a really really REALLY good E word to hear when you’re getting ready to remodel a house, especially a 100 year old house. Phew! Lots of work to do but it looks like many of the things we want to do are feasible.
Oh, and I got 100% on my final exam! Yay for E day!
In terms of expectations, I continue to work on keeping mine realistic. In every part of my life, there are a lot of people whose wants and needs are intertwined with my own. So rather than spend too much time with expectations, I try to keep close company with hope. I hope all our plans for the house are possible. I hope I can get my next novel drafted by June. And I hope that I find a literary agent who will join me on this fantastic, completely un-ordinary writing journey. I expect that if I stay positive, keep working hard, and take care of myself and the people I love, that no matter what happens, I’ll find myself surrounded with love and hope and possibilities.
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.
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