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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Welcome Back

"Welcome back. Your dreams were your ticket out." - "Welcome Back" by John Sebastian

After seven months of silence, I think it's time to revive this blog! Life has thrown me some curveballs since I last posted, and I am discovering that change can be a very good thing and life's little surprises can be exactly what you needed but didn't even know you wanted. Mysterious? Yes, but all will be revealed in good time. Some things never change though. I am still a writer with the dream of making a career out of doing what I love, I am still working as a nanny for two crazy kids, and I am still obsessed with The Gaslight Anthem, Christmas, and Barrow, Alaska of all places.

In the past, the Willow Writer blog has been a hodgepodge of posts, mirroring the random thoughts that course through my brain at any given moment. But starting now I am going to focus mainly on the subject of writing, with some pop culture stuff thrown in because I just can't help it. And every once in a while, I may toss up a story or two about my life that I find too exciting not to share.

As some of you who have been reading my blog for a while may remember, I used to have my first two "Willow Ryan" novels available as ebooks through Barnes & Noble and Amazon. I took them down while I pursued other publishing avenues, but they are now available once again and I am very excited at the opportunity to share my writing with the world. Here are the descriptions of my first two Willow books, and if you are interested in previewing or downloading them, simply click the book covers in the sidebar to the right.


It is the summer of 1986, and recent high school graduate Willow Ryan is going to have a baby, something she never imagined would happen to her. Unable to disclose her secret and unwilling to give up her baby, Willow leaves her Midwestern home for a new life in charming Santa Elena, California, where she lands a job working for a quirky Southern belle named Peggy, who has a knack for finding trouble in the most unlikely places. Willow's new neighbor, a friendly surfer dude named Denny, quickly becomes someone she can count on for anything, but could there be more to their relationship than Willow sees?

"Secrets" will take you on a journey with this independent, determined young woman as she grows up quickly, becomes a mother, and deals with a catastrophic event that makes all of her secrets come to light.


It's now 1987 in the small coastal town of Santa Elena, California. Willow Ryan has a beautiful baby, a good job at a children's boutique, great friends, and Denny, her neighbor and boyfriend who she is growing closer to by the day. After more than a year's worth of secrets and lies, Willow's relationship with her parents is on the mend as well, leading her to believe that all of the pieces of her life are finally falling into place. To top it off, Willow's sassy Southern boss and fairy godmother in disguise, Peggy, proposes an exciting new business venture that could mean big things for both of them. Working at Two Peas in a Pod is always fun, and now it could possibly get even better!

But just when Willow thinks that things are picture perfect, her world is turned upside down when Denny drops a bombshell that could change everything. Will their relationship survive this latest challenge, or will Willow lose the one person that has been there for her through every step of her rocky journey?

Follow Willow as she continues to grow, learn, and navigate through her wonderful, crazy, difficult, blessed life in "Promises".

Thank you so much for reading and welcome back to us all. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Welcoming the Light

"There were times when I thought I couldn't last for long/ But now I think I'm able to carry on/ It's been a long, a long time coming/ But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will." - "A Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke

Wow, it's been a long time since I wrote a new post! I have not forgotten about my blog, but I haven't been a place where I can focus on writing something worth reading for a little while. My life was getting overwhelming and now that the kids are out of school, I have been working double my normal hours, so writing has gotten pushed to the back burner.

This week I am on vacation from work though, and I am determined to get to a better place in every way. Yesterday I went down to the beach very early in the morning, and I cleared my head, spent a lot of time praying, and worked on some poetry as I watched the sun come up over the Atlantic Ocean. For the first time in a very long time, I felt at peace with myself, and that is a huge deal for me. So I thought I would share a poem with all of you as well as a few photos of what I was seeing as I wrote it. I hope you guys enjoy this. :)

"Welcoming the Light"

The sand and the sea meet
Two bodies intertwined
Altering the coastline forever
While the town sleeps
Beneath a red sky night

The roar of the waves
As they crash on the shore
Replace the riotting murmurs
In my cluttered mind and aching bones
And I know a change is gonna come

The tide rolls higher
As the stars disappear
Washing away the broken shells
Of past life
Leaving the world at peace

Goodbye darkness my old friend
Sailing out beyond the pier
Until the time we meet again
Like the sand and the sea
Under a red sunrise

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Something I Learned Along the Way

"I can do anything/ I am strong/ I am invincible/ I am woman." - "I Am Woman" by Helen Reddy

First off, I really hate that song. It's so annoying, but it fits this post so I'm going with it. I was thinking the other day about how much I have changed since I was a teenager, and one thing that stood out to me the most was how I react in certain situations.

I have always considered myself to be a feminist. I think that women can do anything men can do, I believe in equal rights and equal pay (it makes me furious that women in America still only make $0.77 on the dollar compared to men), and most certainly do not feel like I belong to the "weaker sex". And I will proudly and loudly voice my opinions whenever I feel it's necessary. That will never change. But when I was a little bit younger, I would actually get a little angry, offended even, if a guy tried to open a door for me, offered to carry my things, or do something for me that I was perfectly capable of doing myself. I think I knew that they were just trying to be polite or helpful, but I took it to mean that they thought I couldn't get the job done on my own. I was a little too proud and stubborn for my own good.

That changed a few years ago when I started going places with the kids on a regular basis. When I had two toddlers in tow, plus a diaper bag and enough other junk to last us a week on a desert island, I found myself smiling and offering my heartfelt thanks if someone opened the door for me, picked up something I had dropped, or offered to help me out to the car with my purchases. It took me being in a more vulnerable state to learn that it's okay to accept help when someone offers it. It doesn't mean I am any less strong of a woman, of a person, or that I am dependent on others to get through my day. It just means that maybe sometimes it's okay to not be the one who has to do it all. Even for little things like I have mentioned here. Sometimes it's better to accept someone's act of good will and then pay it forward. That's what I try to do now, to graciously accept and give back, and I think it's a good example for the kids to see as well. And whenever I see one of them thank someone for helping them, no matter how minor the help was, and then turn around and hold a door open for someone else, help their friends carry their things to the car at school, or offer to help their teachers clean up just because they know it's the nice thing to do, I feel a sense of pride build up inside of me. It looks like they are learning this lesson much faster than I did.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Can't Move On and I Can't Stay the Same

"But that ain't the way.../I can't move on and I can't stay the same/ And all my friends say.../ Hey, turn the record over/ Hey, I'll see you on the flip side/ There you go, turn the key and engine over." - "45" by The Gaslight Anthem

These lyrics are part of The Gaslight Anthem's new single "45", off of their album "Handwritten", which will be released on July 24. As soon as I heard this song, the words spoke to me, just like every song in Brian Fallon's catalogue does in one way or another. I'm telling you, this guy is a poetic rock and roll genius. So, what exactly hit me with this song? It was the phrase "I can't move and I can't stay the same". Allow me to explain.

I have been trying to get a literary agent off and on for a long time now. "Off and on" being the key words there. I can't be lazy about this anymore. I can't continue doing the same thing, where I query a couple of agents, get depressed if the news isn't good, and then not query anyone else for months and months. I will never get anywhere with that approach. But I can't move on either. I know a lot of people would give up after not getting a bite the first couple (dozen) times they throw out the line, but I believe in my "Willow Ryan" series and in my abilities as a writer too much to stop without achieving success. I am supposed to be doing this. Writing is a gift that God gave me, and I am determined not to waste it. So now that "I can't move on and I can't stay the same", what will I do?

I have revised and streamlined by query, and am compiling my next list of agents to contact. I will send out emails and snail mail queries, and I will wait. While I'm anxiously waiting for a positive reply (I had to consciously try not to roll my eyes as I typed that), I will do what a writer is supposed to do - I will write. Who We Thought We Were is going nowhere fast and I have to get back into the swing of things with that novel. I will also work on some articles I have rough drafts of and some poems I have been working on, so I will have plenty of productive projects to keep me busy and focused. And if I don't get anywhere with these next queries, I will turn right around and send out letters to the next several agents on my list. I am going to make this happen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tuesday's Top Ten - Things I'm Looking Forward To This Summer

"In the summertime when the weather is high/ You can stretch right up and touch the sky." - "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry

Summer is my least favorite season. In fact, I dread it because of the horribly oppressive heat and humidity that plagues the South, not to mention the gigantic, steroid infused, Incredible Hulk sized insects that invade this part of the country for about six months out of the year. But in an effort to use positive thinking, here are the ten things I am most looking forward to this summer.

1. The Gaslight Anthem's new album "Handwritten".It will be released on July 24, and that can't come soon enough for me! It is definitely what I am most looking forward to this summer. It's going to be phenomenal! The new single, "45" is available on iTunes today, and I will be talking more about that in tomorrow's post.

2. Spending quality time with the girls I nanny for. All school year long we run and run and run, so it will be really nice to be able to hang out at the house, do some fun homeschool work, play, and relax. I am bound and determined to let them act like kids this summer and not have to worry about staying on a strict schedule and dashing from place to place all the time.

3. Four weeks off of work! They will not be all at the same time, but it looks like I will have a week off in June, two in July, and one in August while the family I work for goes on vacation. That will really help break up the 50+ hour work weeks this summer.

4. Christmas in July! If you have read my profile (or any posts from December), you know that I am obsessed with Christmas. It's my favorite holiday, so why celebrate it only once a year? My family has been having a Christmas in July celebration every July for about eight years now, and it's something I really look forward to.

5. Writing! With my various weeks off this summer, I am planning on working on Who We Thought We Were, as well as some poetry and articles on child development. I need to be much more proactive about my dreams of a writing career, and this summer will be the perfect time to get down to business.

6. The 2012 Summer Olympics. I always get excited when the Olympics start. I first got into watching the Olympics in '96 with the "Magnificent Seven" women's gymnastics team. I don't know if anything will ever beat Kerry Strug's vault that she did on an injured leg, but you never know. The events I will definitely watch are gymnastics, swimming, and diving, and probably some track and field as well.

7. Listening to summer music. I have about 50 songs in a summer playlist on iTunes, and I don't listen to a lot of those songs any other time of the year. The Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffett get played a lot. When it's 100 degrees outside, nothing sounds better than songs about hanging out at the beach or getting wasted away again in Margaritaville.

8. The Beach Boys' new album "That's Why God Made the Radio". Due to be out on June 5, this will be the perfect start to the summer season. From all of the reviews I have read, this album is supposed to be like a throwback to the classic Beach Boys music of the 60s. That sounds great to me!

9. Summer reality TV series. Being the TV junkie that I am, I'm really looking forward to So You Think You Can Dance, Big Brother, and Hell's Kitchen. I am a sucker for these reality TV shows/competitions, and they are on almost every night of the week all summer long.

10. Thunderstorms. I love thunderstorms, just as long as they are not in the middle of the night while my dog keeps me awake as he shakes uncontrollably from his irrational fear of lightning and thunder. I think storm clouds are beautiful, I love the sound of rain and thunder, and best of all, they can cool the air down by 20 degrees sometimes, and that is always welcomed during the long, hot days of summer in Virginia.