Archive of ‘Chasing Happiness’ category

I Know I Can Write. But Can I Write a Romance?

It’s been a little more than three months since I did something that scared me silly (like posing as an expert and speaking at a conference).

It’s been a little more than four months since I read as part of the Listen To Your Mother Show (which tied my gut up in knots for months).

And it’s been a whole two weeks since my latest website launched (which deep fried my brain for a while there).

So, of course, it’s time to try something new. Something terrifying. Something like submitting the romance novel I started three years ago during NaNoWriMo into another contest. This one with a publishing contract on the line.

It was a dark and stormy night when the blogger decided to write a romance novel.

It’s called So You Think You Can Write, and it’s put on by Harlequin. The winner takes home a publishing contract. Everyone who enters gets an editor’s eyes on their first chapter.

Read the rest on my author’s blog.

One Perfect Night.

I was sprawled, slug-like, on the couch, body aching with tiredness. I wanted nothing more than to close my eyes – even if just for ten minutes.

“Mommy?” Tori asked, patting my face. “Mommy, can we go see the balloons now?”

Inwardly, I groaned. We had promised to take her to the hot air balloon festival, but it was the last thing I felt like doing.

“Soon, honey. Go see if your daddy’s ready to go.” I was sure he wasn’t.

She skipped off. “Daddy? Daaaa-ddddy. Are you ready to go?”

Her voice faded and my eyes closed again. Seconds later, a small hand patted my cheek again.

“He’s ready, mommy! We can go!”

Of course he was.  Pasting a (very fake) smile on my face, I opened my eyes. “Awesome. Let’s go! Where’s your shoes?”

A short while later we piled in the car and got on our way.

By all rights, the evening should have been a disaster. We started with a tired, grouchy mom recovering from a stomach bug, a starving dad, and sat in a half-hour long traffic jam trying to get in. Once we got there, we discovered there were only three food vendors available. And worse yet, there were no balloons in sight. Not one.

But you know what? It wasn’t. It was actually kind of awesome.

Although there were only three vendors, we didn’t have to wait long.  And the food? Was greasy and delicious. We gobbled up our sandwiches (pork tenderloin for him, fish for me, bits of both for Tori) from a shaded spot on the grass while listening to some slightly off-key local band.

Then we wandered the grounds, grabbed a free frisbee for Tori, and set her loose to run with a pack of kids. She giggled and grinned, and her good mood was infectious.

Before long, the balloonists began unfurling their precious cargo, and the real fun began.

The first balloon came to life before our eyes.

a balloon inflates

As it did, small children darted in to touch it, then ran back, squealing as the wind flopped it over. Then they stood back and watched in wonder as it launched into the sky.


Soon, other balloons came to life. There was a scarecrow, a dragon, and rainbow-hued balloons of all sorts. Their operators made sure they remained tethered to the ground, and as dusk fell, we were surrounded by dancing, roaring, glowing  balloons.

a circle of balloons

The look on Tori’s face was pure magic.

And just when she thought it couldn’t get any better, the stage came to life and a band began to play. She looked at us with a silent question in her eyes.

“Go ahead, sweetie. Go dance,” I said, and she took off for the stage. Then she and a group of other hyperactive kids up way past their bedtimes danced and pranced and twirled their hearts out.

a balloon over the stage at sunset

All too soon it was time to go.

As I buckled her into her car seat, Tori grabbed my hair and asked, “Can we do this again tomorrow?”

I kissed her forehead and said “no, sweetie, it’s over for the year. But maybe next year.”

“Okay,” she said. “What about ice cream? Can we go get ice cream now?”

We did. And it was delicious.

It was the perfect end to a perfect summer night.

Why I Hate (Other People’s) Kid’s Birthday Parties.

There’s nothing my daughter loves more than to get an invitation to a birthday party.

Birthday cake by Roland via flickr

“Mommy, my friend’s having a birthday party! Can I go? Please?”

Of course I have to say yes. What kind of meanie says no? But I wish I could. Say no, that is.

Why? Well, I’m no good at parties. Never have been. Never will be.

When I am the one who’s invited, I can usually find a person (or four) that I know, and attach myself to them for the duration. But at a kid’s party? All bets are off.

Usually, I don’t even know what the kid looks like. I don’t know what her mom  looks like. Or even what her name is. Nope, I’m stuck making awkward small talk with complete strangers.

And as bad as I am at parties? I’ve even worse with strangers. Especially multiple strangers. And when faced with multiple strangers on a Saturday afternoon, after an exhausting work week, and without a drop of alcohol in sight? God help us all.

I tend to close up. Fold up. And shut down.

But that’s not even the worst of it.

I spend the whole time worrying about my daughter.

I don’t hover. That doesn’t do her any good. But I do worry. Endlessly.

As an introvert (formerly known as the Shy Kid), I want her to have an easier time with social situations. I want her to be at the center of the action. I want her to make friends effortlessly, socialize naturally, and never know a hint of shyness.

So when I see her hovering on the edges (or worse, afraid to engage at all), it breaks my heart a little. Okay, a lot.

I want to rush right in there and fix it for her. Push her into the middle. Make sure she has fun.

But I don’t. She’s got to learn to do things on her own.

Recently, we were at a party, and she was hovering on the edges, uncomfortable. But then one of her friends – a friend who’s a year older and who has recently gone off to kindergarten – grabbed her hand and said, “come on, Tori!”

And she pulled her into the fun. Then the whole group started looking out for her. The bigger girls even helped her down a particularly scary slide when she balked.

She had a grand time.

It did my heart good to see it.

She’s not me.

And just because I remember childhood as being a little more cruel, filled with kids who were a little less big hearted, doesn’t mean she will experience things the same way.

It pays to remember that.

Who knows? She might just grow up to be the life of the party.

At the very least, I hope she doesn’t learn to be afraid of them. That just sucks.


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