October 21, 2014

nobody does it better (and i never wish someone could)

I'd like to dedicate this song to a special someone, and I think you know who you are...

I wasn't looking, but somehow you found me. I tried to hide from your love light. But like heaven above me, the quarterback who loved me, is keeping all my secrets (like the fact that I benched Charles Clay in favor of Jared Cook this week) safe tonight.

No, nobody does it better than Peyton Manning, which is why my Fantasy Football Prince Charming of the week is none other than Mr. Future Hall of Famer...

Peyton Manning.

If you follow NFL even a little, then you know my one true love, my No. 1 quarterback of this fantasy season and the past two, had himself a bit of a banner weekend. Not only did he score me more than 37 points (which, honestly, is enough to land him lovey dovey nickname status in my world), but he broke Brett Favre's touchdown pass record.

Even on his worst week, Peyton Manning has been the most reliable football player on either of my teams--this season, last season and the season before. I know I had that little fling with his brother a few weeks ago, but I swear it meant nothing. I'll never go out for a hamburger again when I have a steak at home. And not just because I don't eat meat. There's just no point.

As a reminder, Peyton was my inaugural Fantasy Football Prince Charming back in 2013, and he earned one of my teams a spot in the championship game. Granted, we came in second place, but that was still 60 bucks in my pocket!

Peyton, you're everything to me. If I was a poet, I'd write sonnets about your ability to rack up the passing yardage. I'd write songs about your audibles. You are my sun, my moon, and the stars in the sky. You, and you alone, make me cheer for the Broncos every week. (Now that Eric Decker is gone, I can't even use the excuse that I'm cheering on the star of one of the most ridiculous shows to ever appear on E!)

Just keep it coming, Peyton... Baby, you're the best.

And great news, everyone. I'm almost too scared to type this for fear of jinxing myself, but both of my teams are now on two-week winning streaks. It's still way too soon to say I'm back, but at least I'm not sucking as badly as I was the last time we chatted about football.

And as you noticed, I didn't post my Prince Charming of the Week last week (I was too busy finishing the first draft of my third novel), but I'll make it up to you this week with a bonus post.

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October 17, 2014

cinco de nanowrimo

Hey, everyone. Long time no write. In case you don't follow me on Facebook or Twitter (which you totally should so click herehere and here for that), then you probably don't know that on Tuesday night I finished the first draft of my third novel.

And of course there was much rejoicing.

Write 1,000 words, you get a sparkly star.
Finish writing a novel, you get a star and champagne.

Even from the kittens.

Please, please. Hold your applause until the end of the post. Not that I'm not thrilled. I started this book during National Novel Writing Month last year, but after I made it about 60,000 words in (most during November), I realized I needed to take the story in a totally different direction. Three times. But finally, the fourth time I started the book (in September) I found the right groove.

I'm sure that leaves all of you with a couple of questions, namely, "Are you still going to do NaNoWriMo even though it's only two weeks away?"

The answer is yes. While I won't divulge any details about the story I'm working on, I will say that as of last night, it has a rough outline and planning. And it's already started.

The devil, you say? Yes. I'm going to be a bad, bad girl and start my fifth attempt at National Novel Writing Month early. No, I won't be cheating and counting these words towards my November word count, but I am going to start writing while the inspiration is hot.

If I've learned anything from my four previous NaNoWriMos, and several failed Camp NaNos, it's that you have to write your story when you're ready to write it. This also gives me a chance to ease into my story so I can get a good feel for the tone and pacing to really hit it hard and pump out some words come Nov. 1.

I'm not the first or last person to do this. It's called being a NaNo Rebel. While I never had any beef with others who took this approach, I never really considered myself an ideal candidate for the role. Bu then I gave some serious consideration to other people who are rebels...



And I realized, umm, yeah, I could totally rock the rebel look and mind-set.

Now, this back-to-back announcement comes with a little fine print. Because my head and heart are already so wrapped up in this next story, you might not be hearing from me quite as much. I may even have to ask Bingley to come back as a guest blogger from time to time. But I'll do my best to keep you updated on the progress (because I'm sure you're all super excited for it, right? ;)).

If, in the meantime, you'd like some of my tips on plotting out a book or preparing for NaNoWriMo, go ahead and read on here.

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October 13, 2014

'no one needs to know'

In Hard Hats and Doormats, one of Lexi Burke's favorite pastimes includes karaoke with her friends. So do I apparently.

That's right. There I am, classing up the bar with my rendition of Lady Gaga's "Telephone." I believe I was doing the opening, "Hello, hello, baby, you called, I can't here a thing," because hand gestures and showmanship are everything when it comes to karaoke. Everything.

And, like Ariana and Greg from the cheerleader sketches on SNL who needed a perfect cheer, you need a perfect song for karaoke.

That's why it was particularly important for me to get the song Lexi sings during one particular scene perfect. I struggled with making this decision a bit. I wasn't super familiar with country music at the time (I'm still not that well-versed, but I can hang in a country bar in a pinch). So I did a Google search: Popular country karaoke songs for women.

Dozens popped up and after sampling about twenty, I settled on "Fancy" by Reba McEntire. I'd watched re-runs of Reba's TV series on Lifetime back in the day, and I felt like we had a special connection. But... while the song was fantastic, it didn't really move the story forward.

It wasn't until I was telling a friend and former co-worker about the premise of my book, and the relationship Lexi has with Jason Beaumont at the start, that she made a comment that changed everything. "She sounds like that song by Shania Twain. The one that goes, 'I have my heart set, my feet wet, but he don't even know it yet.'"

Umm... yeah. That sounded perfect. So again I turned to my friend Google to find out more about the song (my Shania knowledge is basically limited to "Still the One," "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" and "That Don't Impress Me Much). Halfway through the song, I knew I'd discovered a new karaoke jam for Lexi.

And that's how "No One Needs to Know" found its way on my Hard Hats and Doormats playlist.

For more music to set the tone to Hard Hats and Doormats, listen to the playlist on Spotify.

About Hard Hats and Doormats
Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

But after losing out on a big promotion––because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Who says nice girls have to finish last?

Buy the Book
Marching Ink

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October 9, 2014

let's shut negativity down

It's been a while since I had one of these posts (and I've actually written and deleted this one three times already), but until further notice I'm telling putting negativity out into the world to go fly a kite.

There is a lot of negativity out there. Maybe it's someone trolling news article comment boards looking to start a fight. Or maybe it's someone, who might have the best of intentions, writing a Facebook post, tweet, or blog post titled something like, "Ten Mistakes You're Probably Making at (BLANK)."

Just this morning I saw three posts on Facebook that completely deflated me. (I've learned an important lesson to never get online before I've completed my morning writing goals.) Instead of working on my book--which is so close to having its first draft completed--I feel bad. Like, I'm just some hack of a writer, who has no business publishing.

Instead of doing something wonderful, I'm whining in a blog post. I'm becoming part of the problem.

No one is perfect. We are all bound to make mistakes. We're human. We're perfectly imperfect. And because we're human, we have feelings. They can be hurt. We feel shame. We feel anger. We feel remorse. We feel a lot. But we also have the ability to control what we say and how we act.

I can't control the way everyone else thinks or acts, but I can do my best to control my own actions. So... my challenge to myself--and to all of you willing to take the challenge--let's be more considerate of others. Let's project positivity. Let's be each others fans, not foes.We're in this adventure of life together.

You're amazing, I'm amazing. Let's go out there and be amazing together.


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October 8, 2014

fall feast

After my (contracted out) apple picking adventure in Nebraska City, I've become a bit obsessed with the idea of having a perfect fall dinner. It must be part of my annual nesting process--the same thing that has sent me to a craft store a few times in the past week. Or it might have to do with the two bottles of apple wine I scored during my apple festival wine tastings.

My sister and I drank the first--a bottle from the Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard, where I also acquired apple butter, apple donuts, freshly picked apples, cinnamon pecan honey, and probably five pounds of belly fat-during the Nebraska football team's win over Illinois. That was good and fine, but for the second bottle I demanded a perfect fall feast.

Can you imagine it? A homemade squash soup and fall-ish salad to start. Pumpkin ravioli or lasagna--with homemade noodles--next. All finished with apple crisp or pumpkin pie. Maybe I'd go foraging for acorns, because doesn't that sound festive?

Only, that's easier said than done. I don't know about the rest of you, but I find it pretty difficult to cook a full dinner from scratch on a weeknight. I'm all about the cooking and baking on Saturdays and Sundays, but something about sitting in an office for eight or nine hours kills my cooking drive.

In the end, my lack of patience and tiredness won out and I phoned in my fall feast last Thursday.

My sister and I started our meal with an arugula salad topped with dried cranberries, almonds and a homemade apple cider vinaigrette. I actually put all of this together myself, but before you get two excited, it took about sixty seconds.

For our main course, we had butternut squash ravioli, sweet potato gnocchi (yah, yeah, two starches, but I couldn't decide), and sun-dried tomato tofurkey sausage. All courtesy of Trader Joes. I topped the ravioli with a browned butter sauce, which was browned butter with a pinch of pumpkin pie spice (I burnt it a little. Whoops).

We 86-ed including any more vegetables in this meal, which would've been awesome, but I was feeling pretty tired after the ten or so minutes it took to prepare all of this.

Instead, we finished off our meals with the bottle of apple wine from Mac's Creek Winery & Vineyard of Lexington, Nebraska, and some inside out carrot cakes (which look like Whoopie Pie) also from Trader Joe's while we watched the Packers defeat the Vikings. We also did some hard-core crafting, but why wouldn't you?

All in all, it was a lovely, no-fuss fall meal. Even if it was the faster approach.

What would you include in your fantasy fall meal?

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