When I Grow Up…

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As soon as I typed the four words of my title, I knew my post was probably going in a different direction than most of the others in the Writer Wednesdays group.

You see, if you’re a musical theatre aficionado like I am,

the title probably brought to mind the song from the Tony-winning production of “Matilda.”

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Well, it did for this theatre buff, anyway. 😀

If you’re not familiar with song and you wanna hear a catchy tune, let me oblige you: “When I Grow Up

I challenge you not to find yourself humming this later today.

If so, drop me a comment below or shoot me a tweet via @prisoliveras to let me know.

The lyrics  offer a cute look at how kids often (mistakenly) think life will be easier when they’re adults.  ‘Cuz, you know, when you’re grown up you’ll get to do fun things like “eat sweets every day, on the way to work”, “go to bed late every night” or “spend all day just lying in the sun” and not burn ‘cause you’ll “be all grown up.”

Even better, as the song says, you’ll “be smart enough to answer all the questions that you need to know the answers to.” And you’ll be “strong enough to carry all the heavy things you have to haul around with you.” Even better, you’ll be “brave enough to fight the creatures, that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown up.”

If only life and our adult decisions were that simple.

Figuring out what we want to be when we grow up can often be pretty mind boggling. But like the wise man he was, Dr. Seuss put a positive spin on  the idea in one of the childhood books my daughters loved:

Maybe You Should Fly a Jet! Maybe You Should be a Vet!

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Here are two of my favorite, often-remembered pages:

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“Want to be a ticket taker? Want to be a pizza maker?”

Maybe you

How about a wrestler… a writer… or a waiter?”

The rhyming and rhythmic list of jobs Dr. Seuss offers—some silly, some more practical— is a reminder to kids that they can be whatever they want to be, whatever they dream to be.

But the thing is, I think the book offers an important message for all of us no matter what age we are. Because it’s never too late try something different. To stretch our wings. To seek a path we’ve thought about, but never pursued.

Because life doesn’t have to be set in stone.

Like Matilda says at the end of “When I Grow Up” and in another song titled “Naughty“: “Just because I find myself in this story, it doesn’t mean that everything is written for me.”

I see both songs as a call to action.

A reminder that we’re never too old or too young or too little to try a new adventure.

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Like one of the musical’s tag lines says: To change the world it takes a little genius.

And a little gumption, too!  😀

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So, whether life has thrown you a curve and you need to re-evaluate, or if you’re trucking along just fine but wanna try adding something new in your life. It’s never too late to go for it.

What’s something you’d like to try or do “when you grow up”—I’d love to hear some of your ideas!

And don’t forget to check out what the other Writer Wednesday bloggers are sharing about “When They Grow  Up”!

Romantic Suspense author: Carol Post
Paranormal Romance author: Kay Hudson
Contemporary Romance author: Tamra Baumann
YA romance author: TL Sumner

Most Embarrassing Moment

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When I read the topic idea for this month I had mixed reactions.

First, I cringed—goodness, why would I want to relive embarrassing moments?

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Then, I chuckled—having fun remembering all my embarrassing moments.

And if you ask my kids, there are plenty of them.

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Finally, I grew pensive—hmm, which one should I choose?

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After a while I realized, I’m a romance writer with heroines who often find themselves in embarrassing situations.

So, let me share a moment that I probably would have rather written about than experienced.

After a decades-long marriage that ended several years ago, it’s taken me a while to feel “ready” to get back in the dating scene. With my kids off to college, I’m on my own for the first time in ages.

That’s liberating, but also a little nerve-wracking.

I actually had to work up the confidence to do things like go to the movies on my own, or head out to dinner and request a table for one (honestly, I usually take my writing or read a book). But go out to a pub for a drink on my own?

YIKES!!

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So picture this scene:

A young—okay not so young, but go with me here…What about this?

A young-ish newly single woman heads to a local pub to meet up with some friends. She’s coming from a university campus event, dressed in team colors and sportsfan shoes that might be a little over the top for anything but an alumni event.

She’s talking on the phone with a friend as she drives to the pub, and while waiting at a red light, decides to slip off her sportsfan sandals and slip on a pair of simple ones she brought along. You know, tone down her outfit a bit.

The light turns green, the young-ish woman drives away and arrives at the pub.

Her friends text; they’re delayed.

She takes a deep breath, reminding herself that she’s an independent woman and can certainly go in alone. After moment of hesitation, she heads in to order a drink at the bar and wait for a table to open up.

Twenty minutes her nervously scanning the area, but failing to recognize anyone go by. And still, her friends haven’t arrived.

Nearby, a woman accidentally drops her pint glass. It hits the tile floor and shatters. A pub employee rushes over to sweep up the mess.

The young—darn—young-ish woman sticks out her foot to point out a large, jagged piece of glass near her. That’s when she notices the shoe she’s pointing has a puffy blue flower on top of it.

It’s a sportsfan sandal. Just like the one she slipped off at the red…

A quick glance down alerts her to the fact that yes, she did slip off the right shoe and put on a simple white sandal. But her left foot still has the sportsfan sandal with the BIG BLUE GO TEAM FLOWER.

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Cut to the young-ish woman surreptitiously setting down her own pint glass,

and then slinking out the side door to rush back to her car!

Talk about embarrassing moments!

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Thankfully, this fabulously strong young-ish woman quickly changes her sandals. Takes an evaluative deep breath.

Stares at her reflection in her rearview mirror. And laughs.

Then, she freshens up her lipstick, gives herself a little wink, and heads back into the pub.

The fun is just beginning!

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So, now it’s your turn!!!

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If you’d like to keep smiling along with the rest of the  Writer Wednesdays bloggers, checkout the stories they’re posting by clicking on the names below and jumping over to their sites:

Carol PostTamra BaumannSharon Wray

And we hope to see you next month on the second Wednesday for another rendition of Writer Wednesdays!!

My Favorite Writing Spot

 
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This month’s Writer Wednesdays blog is like a round robin game of Show and Tell as the WW authors share their favorite place to write. Personally, I’m excited to get a peek inside the various writing havens to see where my friends tap into their creativity and spend playtime with their muse.

For this Florida girl who spent her childhood summers visiting her Abuela in Puerto Rico, if I’m looking for inspiration or need to refill my creative well or if I #amediting, you’ll find me here…

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or here

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or here

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often with my trusty sidekick, Addi.

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If I #amwriting new pages, a blanket on the beach is a little too cozy, but I do love writing in a spot with a beach view.

For me the open ocean evokes a fulfilling sense that anything and everything is possible. I will  be published. I will  honor my characters by telling their story the best I know how. So if I can write in a place like this…

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or this

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I’m feeling like I #amblessed.

I’ll go back and forth between listening to the sound of the waves and popping in my headphones to let Pandora Radio serenade me with Spanish ballads like Luis Miguel’s “No Se Tu” or “Amarte es Un Placer.” The ocean waves and my favorite Spanish love songs never fail to put me in a romance-writing kind of mood.

Unfortunately, I don’t live right on the beach and my day job doesn’t need me to set up an office in a sandy alcove. I know, bummer. That means my jaunts to the ocean are relegated to the weekends when I can get away.

To appease my yearning for a sunny spot with a little shade, I’ll write in my home office for a while, then treat myself by moving my laptop out to my back yard. There I’ll set up shop on our picnic table underneath an awning.

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If it’s been a long productive day and especially if I’ve met my writing goal, I treat myself even more by taking a nap on our hammock. :-)

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How about you? Where you do go for inspiration—if you’re a writer or for life in general?  I’d love to hear about your productive spot or your getaway place that helps you refill your creative or emotional well.

And if you’d like to see where the rest of the Writer Wednesdays group gets their writing done, hop on over to check out their special places by clicking these links:

Fellow contemporary romance writers: Tamra BaumannShelly Alexander

Romantic suspense writers: Carol J PostSharon Wray

Novels with romantic elements: Jean Willett

Faith-based and sweet romance writers: Kristen Ethridge

A Smorgasbord of Romantic Date Ideas

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Yes, that’s right, the Writer Wednesday gang is doing it up Valentine’s Day style this year and we’re here to help you out with some romantic date ideas.

This  month I’m subscribing to the “a picture is worth a thousand words” idea. Thinking that a pic will get the point across faster. And with the clock ticking ever closer to V-Day on Sunday, you might need to get crackin’!

And of course you’ll want to check out the other Writer Wednesday author sites to see what they’ve cooked up for you.

Today, you’ll get a little smorgasbord of ideas, since there’s a smorgasbord of dates that I’d find romantic. :-)

Of course, there’s the age old– sunset beach locale.

In my book, you can never go wrong with this place.

Whether it’s a blanket or a lounger with some snacks and a bottle of wine to share

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Or if you take it a little further with chairs, a table and a meal

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Or you go all out at a fancy restaurant with a killer ocean view

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it’s a great way to WOW a girl who loves the sound of ocean waves lapping the shore, the smell of salt and sea in the air, and the relaxing sensation of her toes in the sand!

If she’s a dance lover, like me, maybe a night out at a club for a little salsa, merengue or bachata?

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Maybe a movie night– in or out. I’m always up for a blanket, a picnic and great flick on a big screen in the park.

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Or how about Shakespeare in the Park? ~~Sigh~~

For this English-major, book-lovin’ girl, the pic below is definitely

the start of romantic evening if I’ve ever seen one.

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But if you know, or if you’ve checked out my website, you’ll know that one of my favorite ways to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon is sitting in the bleacher seats at Wrigley Field, cheering on my beloved Cubbies.Wrigley-Field-Chicago-Cubs

The warm sun shining on my face, a cool drink in one hand, the crack of the bat when a Cubbie gets a hit…

and a special someone at my side cheering with me .

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But you know what?

After a busy week with a long To Do list, a quiet walk in the park just might do the trick.

A stop along the way, holding hands as we relax side by side on a bench.

No specific destination, no particular time to be somewhere other than right where we are, together.

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My best advice if you’re trying to come up with a romantic date idea for someone special is to take a few moments to think about that person. What she (or he) likes to do, hasn’t had time to do, or what brings a smile to her/his face.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a grand gesture– well, at least not for me. :-)

I’d love to hear what your idea of a romantic date might be. Hope you have some time to share!

Looking for more romantic date ideas? Check out my Writer Wednesday sisters and see what they have in mind:

Contemporary romance : Tamra Baumann and Shelly Alexander

Paranormal romance :  Kay Hudson

Romantic suspense: Sharon Wray

Novels with romantic elements: Jean Willett

Faith-based & Sweet: KD Fleming

Historical romance: Wendy LaCapra

Holiday Décor– Gingerbread Style!

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It’s holiday season and the clock is ticking closer to my favorite holiday of them all—Christmas!

When it comes to Christmas, I’m a sucker for it all—decorations, gift buying and giving, singing carols, gatherings with family and friends, and the baking. Especially the baking!

Years ago when my girls were younger I started a tradition of baking and decorating a gingerbread house together. It’s not a simple process, more like a several-day process.

It all started when I came across a how-to bake a gingerbread house from scratch VHS tape (yes, I’m dating myself here) called the Magic of Gingerbread Houses.

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From whipping up the cookie batter, to cutting out individual pieces by hand, to decorating the sides and allowing them to dry overnight, to assembling the house, and finally to decorating the roof and the surrounding yard/landscape.

It’s not a one afternoon process. But, we would start the Christmas carols playing and enjoy the family time. And once we were done, we had managed to create one of my favorite decorations in our house. A beautiful masterpiece (in our eyes anyway) that made the house smell sugary sweet!

The first few years we made one house together. Eventually my girls decided they’d like to try making their own and we created a three-house neighborhood. Soon we were moving on to a city center with a beauty salon, two-story dance studio and the mayor’s mansion. One year we made a country house with an airplane hangar and runway in its backyard.

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Another year, being the diehard Chicago Cubs fans that we are, we created Wrigley Field with mini gummi bears as Cubs fans and a signature bar with rooftop seating across the street.

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Another year we decided to try our hand at creating some of our favorite places to visit. My youngest built a large two story house in Santorini with a sandy (brown sugar) beach leading to the ocean that connected it to the Roman Coliseum and a pavilion in Guell Park in Barcelona.

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Once all my daughters left for college I figured the tradition might not last. Their time at home was now limited. Life changes happen. But that first year they were all off to school, when December rolled around my girls started sending texts asking about designs or they scoured the internet and swapped house plans with each other to see which they’d like to try.

So I bought the supplies and once they arrived home, we started the music and got to work– together. In recent years we’ve created gingerbread neighborhoods like this one.

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and this one

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And three separate houses displayed together or separated around the house.

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Last year, with my oldest home for only a short time and my middle daughter volunteering out of the country throughout the holidays, once again I was dismayed to think that we may not take the time for gingerbread houses.

Thankfully, my youngest saved the day by deciding she wanted to be adventurous and create the Eiffel Tower. She found a template on-line, then I used my stellar math skills (read that as: the most math this English major had used a looooong time) to double the measurements so I could cut out our template. It was simple, yet elegant and served as the perfect table centerpiece on our lazy-susan.

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Yes, our home is sprinkled with other decorations—both inside and out. But when it comes down to it, some of my absolute favorite decorations are the houses we’ve created together. It reminds me of the power of tradition to bond families and people. Of the time my girls and I have spent together over the years. The fun we’ve had breaking the houses on New Year’s Eve and enjoying the fruits of our labor.

But more important than those gingerbread houses are the memories we’ve made—as always, together.

 

What about you… Is there a decoration you have that for whatever reason is your favorite? I’d love to hear what it might be.

 

Also, I encourage you to hop on over to visit my Firebird sisters Jean Willett, Sharon Wray, Tamra Baumann and Kay Hudson. Like me they’re sharing about their holiday décor, too!

 

I wish you the most blessed, joyous holiday season!!!