Miniature Diamond J

When I was growing up, I always said I was going to live on a farm surrounded by animals. I wanted dogs, cats, horses, goats, cows . . . I wanted it all! I spent my summers armed with a recycled jar with nail holes in the lid, determined to catch lightning bugs, frogs, crickets and praying mantises (OK – that word has shown up twice today . . . I really need to look up the plural for that. Manti?). And I awoke each morning horrified to find the tiny dessicated carcasses of whatever creature I had caught the day before.

But I digress. Animals, whether large or small, were destined to be part of my life. When I met my husband, I was delighted to learn that he wanted to move to the country. And we did. Several years ago, we bought the 10 acres that we live on, then we bought a modular home, built a shop and built a barn. We’ve had cattle (and, oh, boy, are there some stories there. When you read Denim & Diamonds – which you will, right? – the scene where Andi helps deliver the calf is the story of our first calf), horses (tip: If someone offers to sell you a horse named “Satan’s Lady” – run.), dogs, cats, turtles, fish.

Cali, Cinnamon & Jasper

Cali, Cinnamon & Jasper

My favorite farm animals by far are our miniature horses. We bought Jasper when our kiddos were little, and gradually added to our little herd over the years. We’ve had babies and we’ve lost horses. Right now I’m sitting on the back deck watching Jasper, Cali and Cinnamon graze in the small pasture behind the barn lot. There is something so calming about the snuffling of horses, the small of fresh hay, and their soft nickers when you talk to them. Though I dreamed of having a horse ranch like the Diamond J, I’m quite happy with our little mini farm here in rural Missouri.

When you were a kid, what was your dream home?

 

A Day Off

Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett

Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett

I work full-time, and have spent the last few months writing like a madwoman. It is paying off. I signed a contract with CaryPress last month, and Denim & Diamonds will be released next month. I submitted a manuscript to The Wild Rose Press for the upcoming Lobster Cove series, and really hope that story impresses them enough to offer a contract.

My point is, all my time has been filled for several months now. I work. I write. I edit. I rewrite. I update social media. So, yesterday, I decided it was time for a break. I spent the afternoon on the couch curled up with my puppies and watched a Deep Space 9 marathon. I’m kinda partial to Deep Space 9. I went to a Star Trek convention last year and met several of the actors: Max Grodenchik, Aron Eisenberg, Chase Masterson, Jeffrey Combs, Cirroc Lofton. It was absolutely wonderful! Watching TV I mean. Such a refreshing day.

Oddly enough, that break was good for me. I was afraid I’d lose momentum if I took a break, but I slept good last night and awoke feeling recharged. I’ve spent the morning reworking my website, jotting ideas for a new story, and thinking about the draft I need to rewrite.

DSCF3372So, even though you feel like you have so much to do that you can’t possibly take a break, sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do. And if you’re looking for something to do, watch Star Trek.

Denim & Diamonds: Proof Copy

Denim & Diamonds

Denim & Diamonds

 

I just got an email from CaryPress. They are mailing a proof copy to me. I can’t wait to actually hold this book in my hands.They had no further changes after my last round of edits – but I bet I find something else when I read through the book again.

There’s something about reading something in a new format. If you have to proof something, print it out in another font or print it on colored paper. The human mind is an amazing thing. It sees what it wants to see. It knows what you meant to say. So, sometimes you have to trick it. That goes for writing of any kind – fiction, non-fiction, stuff for work.

Try this trick the next time you need to proofread something, and I bet you find something you’ve missed before.

Juggling Jobs

Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett

Denim & Diamonds by Lori Robinett

I work full-time as a paralegal. For the past several years, I’ve written during my spare time. In the last few months, I’ve upped the ante and started treating my writing as a true “second job.” What’s this mean?

  • I’m doing the fun stuff . . . and the not-so-fun stuff like editing and rewriting and marketing.
  • I’m writing for publication, not just for me. Which means when my critique partners tell me to kill my darlings, I do. <insert evil laugh here>
  • I’m writing every day, whether I am inspired or not. Regardless of how tired I am, I show up at the page and put my fingers on the keyboard.
  • I’m submitting. Although I think there is true value in the indie revolution, I wanted a contract. And I feel so honored that Cary Press offered me that first contract!
  • I’m spending a vacation day ensconced in my writing perch at the end of our sectional, instead of lounging in the pool with a drink and a book.

This is harder than I expected, and I have a newfound respect for those who turns hobbies into second careers. It can be done, but it’s tougher than expected! Not that I’m complaining! 🙂

Denim & Diamonds: Cover Reveal!

Denim & Diamonds is my first novel. Please join me in celebrating!

Though I’ve been writing for over a decade, the world of publishers is new to me. Pre-orders are very important to writers, because they help determine how much effort the publisher will put into the author. Denim & Diamonds is based on a novella I wrote in 2004 for National Novel Writing Month. After 10 years of fleshing out and polishing, the full-fledged novel will be released around July 1. If you are looking for a sweet romance, about a woman who is searching for home and family, who moves away from the city to her father’s horse ranch to begin rebuilding her life, please consider pre-ordering a copy of Denim & Diamonds.

Thank you so much for sharing this excitement with me!

Putting On a Happy Face

Recently, I posted something slightly negative on my Facebook page.

Feeling really grouchy & irritable today. You know, more so than usual. Thinkin’ it’s a good day to keep my head down and buried in work.

A friend responded.

Oh, dear – and you seemed so happy yesterday! Hoping it’s a temporary grouchiness and you’re already feeling better. <hugs>

Seeing that post really did help. Those virtual hugs aren’t just data. They’re emotion.

And that emotion that transmits via social media is why I’m generally careful about what I post. There’s research that indicates mood spreads via Facebook (check it out here), and I have no desire to add to the negativity in the world so I put on a happy face. I do the same thing at work, most of the time. I smile. Pretend I’m not hurting. Pretend everything is OK. And I bet others do the same thing. Does that give others a skewed view of our true selves? Probably. Does it serve a purpose to share those darker feelings? Maybe. Probably depends on why you share your darker feelings.

The reality is, my 18 year old daughter ripped my heart out about a year ago, days after she graduated from high school. Recently, I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of prom and posts about senior events and graduation. Those memories will forever be tainted for me, because they feel like a lie (yeah, yeah. I know they weren’t truly a lie. But they FEEL that way). On top of that, we had to have our 13 year old yellow lab put down last month. And now it looks like we’re going to have to have our 14 year old miniature schnauzer put down, likely on Saturday. If, that is, I can bring myself to make the phone call.

So, no, I’ve not been happy. I’m hurting and angry and disappointed and frustrated. But that’s OK. Those feelings are natural, legitimate feelings. We should not be afraid to share them with others, but neither should we let those feelings wrap their tendrils around every aspect of our lives. Do your 500 friends on F/B need to know that you’re feeling a little down today? No. But a quick post to let people know how you’re feeling is OK. Maybe you’ll even get a virtual hug that makes you feel better.

But remember that there is life outside of Facebook.

Acknowledge the feelings.

And then practice a little self-compassion.

 

 

5 Things I Learned In a Job I Hated

Over the winter I was told about a job in North Carolina. I have family there. The climate is pleasant. Beach. Mountains. It was, oh, so tempting.

Except for one small thing.

I love my job. Well, I don’t love my JOB. Much of what I do is monotonous and boring. But I love the people I work with. I love having a nice environment. I love having equipment that works. And occasionally I really do love the work I do. And so, I did not apply for the job in North Carolina. Because what it all boils down to is that finding a job that you love is a very rare and wonderful thing. And I would not know how to truly appreciate my position without having experienced one I hated.

Still, I am thankful for the Job I Hated, because it taught me these things:

  • People Matter. The other support staff in that job supported me and encouraged me. Without them, it would’ve been difficult to face each and every day. Now, I’m fortunate to work with people who sincerely care about one another. Now, I am told on a regular basis that I am appreciated.
  • Tools Matter. Doing your job is difficult enough without trying to “make do.” Computers have to be updated. The way I look at is this: a trucking company doesn’t buy a fleet of trucks and expect them to last forever. They need oil changes, new tires. Same goes for offices. It also helps if you have a chair that isn’t broken.
  • Respect Matters. I am an educated, intelligent person. Being treated as a human being and not a piece of office equipment is always appreciated. I don’t expect anyone to bend down and kiss my feet, but if I question something, it’s because I care, and think I may actually want to do a good job.
  • Environment Matters. I once worked on the 3rd floor of a building with no air conditioning. This was back in the day when women still wore pantyhose every day. I had to ask and convince my boss to let me not wear pantyhose the week it reached over 110° in our office. It’s not a matter of mere comfort. It’s a matter of being able to focus and do the job.
  • Flexibility Matters. My kiddo missed out on stuff because the hubs and I both worked in inflexible jobs. The number of school activities that end at 5 pm baffle me. Why not end at 5:30 so Mom or Dad can get off work & then pick the kid up? The Job I Hated was difficult to leave early. Heck, it was hard to even take vacation without a fight. One year I was told the week before vacation that I really couldn’t be spared. Uh, what? At the Job I Love, I still catch myself justifying why I want to take off. My co-worker told me shortly after I started that I didn’t need to do that. My time off is just that: MY time off. No explanation required.

And that is why I didn’t even explore the possibility of working in a wonderful climate, near family that I love and miss. Because I have a Job I Love, and thanks to the Job I Hated, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

5 Things I Learned on Our First Camping Trip

The Hubs in Our New Camper

The Hubs in Our New Camper

  • Make a List. No matter how much stuff you take with you, you’re going to need more stuff. The hubs and I have camped before. We felt pretty confident in what we would need. We just bought this new-to-us camper and have been gradually filling it. Put the stuff from our old pop up camper in the new camper. Bought new sheets and made the bed. Got plates. Got cups. Got towels. But we got there and realized we didn’t have a thing to drink. So, we ran to a convenience store and grabbed some sodas. Crisis averted.
  • Space Is Underrated. Don’t know if you caught it or not, but we used to camp in a pop-up camper. That’s little. Really little. Like, on top of each other little. And not in a good way. Our wish list for a new camper included floor space. This camper’s got it in spades and it made our little weekend excursion so much more enjoyable. I love my hubs dearly, but I gotta have my space.
  • Coffee. We stopped on the way to the campground to buy a coffee maker and coffee. We’re trying to save money. I told the hubs I could do without coffee. He disagreed.
  • Electricity is a Plus. We hooked up to shore power (yeah, I’m learning the lingo. At least I sound like I know what I’m doing, right?). Thought all was good. Until the hubs started the water pump to flush the toilet and the lights went dim. We had to run to Wal-Mart at 10:30 to buy a new battery. We gotta get that situation figured out before we go again.
  • Pets Matter. Seriously, our dogs are the reason I wanted a camper. I love to travel. It’s a basic need for me. Life is all about experiences. But when I go someplace and have to leave my puppies at home, it is not enjoyable. I miss my dogs. Sasha is 14 and Gracie is 9. I want to cherish every minute with them. Besides, I like them better than most people.

Empty Nest: First Easter

Peeps - Star Trek Style

Peeps – Star Trek Style

This was our first Easter as empty nesters. It seems like I’ve gone through the entire year marking the holidays, marking the firsts, feeling melancholy about the change in our status. Instead of looking backwards, I prefer to look forward. It is a conscious thing. Being happy is a choice. I chose to:

  • Remember the Easter baskets I gave the girls.
  • Remember the time I got the Easter Bunny to visit Jodi at school.
  • Enjoy spending time with my husband.
  • Enjoy the new freedom of being an Empty Nester.