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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A to Z Blog Challenge 2011

Thank you to everyone who visited my blog, left comments, gave encouragement and/or helped implement the 2011 A to Z Blog Challenge. It tapped my creativity. It became a mental obstacle course. I loved every minute of it and I've already been pondering how I'll approach it this year.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to make connections across the web. And my first year of participation resulted in a book: ABC Book of Literary Devices. The Kindle version is up and running. The print version is in the proofing process.

For a very affordable price ($0.99 for the digital version, $5.95 for the print version, which provides workbook space), it guides users to becoming a better writer in 26 days. Not only that, but they also have a short story to show for their efforts at the end. For each letter of the alphabet, a literary device is presented with a definition in simple terms, an example from published literature and an author example. Plus space is provided for the reader/writer to practice.

The ABC Book of Literary Devices is an excellent tool for individual writers looking to improve their craft or for classroom language arts/English teachers to use with students.

Thank you to all of the 2011 A to Zers. I couldn't have done it without you.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Meat Department

Have you ever visited the meat department in a rural grocery store? In this video from a recent speaking engagement, I share a story from my book, If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny, about my husband and his fascination with the IGA meat selection.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It Lives!

She exhales her last warm breath and alas I am alone in the cold. Lost. Shivering. Unable to type due to the stiffness fearlessly arresting my fingers. It's hard being the one left behind.

Rest in peace, dear friend. I shall never know a constant companion more faithful than thee my sweet space heater.

Lo, what is this? My eldest child, finding her prostrate on the floor, hath restored warm breath to her lungs and by all accounts resuscitated her. Were he not of my own flesh, I would cry sorcery. But I know he hath no knowledge of potions and spells; otherwise he would have a better grade in Spanish. Thus, it can only be said that he performeth a miracle today.

Wouldst thou, dear child, feel free to perform a miracle in Spanish?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Can You Solve the Riddle?

The link below is to today's newspaper column. I got creative and posed a riddle to my readers. Can you solve the riddle? The first person to email me with the correct answer wins a signed copy of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run.

Every word of this is true, but the story is not McDuffie Mirror

To Cougar or Not to Cougar

Some have decided not to.

The cougar - a large, wild cat, with a tawny grayish coat, native to North America - though once revered as an animal worthy of mascotting teams to victory, has fallen from grace. Rejected. No longer accepting it as a representation of power and pride, Schools like Draper Corner Canyon High in Utah forgo the cougar for more benign, vague symbols like a "charger."

What is a charger? Is that like a battery charger? Is it a Dodge? A credit card, maybe? How exactly would I doodle a charger on my notebook while daydreaming in physics class?

The school board, after serious consideration of the matter and surely an entertaining discussion, concluded that they risked offending middle-aged women if they approved the cougar mascot. And for that I say to the school board, "For heaven's sake, offend me!"

I'm married with four children. If someone should even remotely refer to me as cougar-ish I take it as a compliment. It means I could if I wanted to; that I'd actually have a chance at ripping out the heart of a younger man. Cougar, when used in reference to felines or forty-something females is a compliment, people.

If they'd wanted to name the team the Escort Service or the Dirty Old Men, I could possibly see things differently. If they had even approached the issue from a morality standpoint and argued that the moniker might imply inappropriate relationships between teachers and students, I at least would award some credit for deeper, creative thinking. If they were planning to allow students' mothers to try-out for the girls' basketball team, they might have a point. Might.

But y'all, get a grip. The word "cougar" has no derogatory connotations whatsoever, and if I sat in a stadium surrounded by a crowd chanting, "Cougars, cougars, cougars," it would be a real moment of bonding in the sisterhood of women; a lightheaded experience in which I might make a huge donation to the school to be used at the administration's discretion.

Oh well. Now fans will just shout, "Chargers, chargers, chargers," and folks won't be able to think of donations for thinking of dead batteries.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


My next speaking engagement is quickly approaching and I haven't gathered the umph needed to put together my talk. Motivation, where are you? Why hath thou forsaken me?

Wait. What's that tapping noise? Could it be? Yes! Motivation has returned with all new stories to share. If you live in the CSRA, I'd love to meet and greet you. For those who don't, I'll probably post a couple of videos and/or podcasts in the near future. Stay tuned.

The details (the coordinator wrote this, not me):

Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 3 PM.
Come and meet the author, Lucy Adams
465 North Belair Road, Suite 2E
Evans University Healthcare Building
Lili Bogdanova, Bulgarian teenage piano guest of the Columbia County Orchestra Association, will play some piano music for early arrivals and afterwards. Lucy will share about her latest book, "Tuck Your Skirt in your Panties and Run" and previous books. Fun afternoon and get to meet a REAL LIVE local author.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Naming the House - Update

Thank you to everyone who has made suggestions. The quest to name my house continues. These things take time. Meanwhile, I have lent myself to research on the subject of naming a house. It's hard to find a clear set of guidelines, but I have discerned the following house naming rules from my Internet travels:

1) One must act as a responsible citizen when naming his or her house/property. In other words, if the name is to be posted or used on mail, avoid tawdry, racy, suggestive titles, as well as expletives, even though you may not be able to talk about your old bag of nails without including them.

2) A house name makes a statement about the property or the occupants.

3) Make sure no other properties/homes in the local vicinity already have the name with which you want to christen your house.

4) House/property names can be historic, sentimental, descriptive, humorous or simple. Distinguishing features of the house, plants and/or animals within the bounds of the property, or the view from the property/house can be included in the name.

5) Choose a distinctive moniker, something memorable that sets the house apart from others nearby.

6) Remember, your house will be there far longer than you. Make the name about the house/property and not about the people.

Though I don't know what I will eventually name my house, I have eliminated all of the Top 50 House Names in the UK:

1. The Cottage
2. Rose Cottage
3. The Bungalow
4. The Coach House
5. Orchard House
6. The Lodge
7. Woodlands
8. The Old School House
9. Ivy Cottage
10. The Willows
11. The Barn
12. The Old Rectory
13. Hillside
14. Hillcrest
15. The Croft
16. The Old Vicarage
17. Sunnyside
18. Orchard Cottage
19. Yew Tree Cottage
20. The Laurels
21. The Old Post Office
22. The Gables
23. The Hollies
24. The Beeches
25. The Firs
26. Woodside
27. Meadow View
28. The Stables
29. The White House
30. Holly Cottage
31. Willow Cottage
32. Highfield
33. The Haven
34. Springfield
35. Fairview
36. White Cottage
37. Mill House
38 The Orchard
39. Treetops
40. Primrose Cottage
41. The Granary
42. The Nook
43. Corner Cottage
44. School House
45. Greenacres
46. The Old School
47. Honeysuckle Cottage
48. Lilac Cottage
49. Wayside
50. Oaklands
If you can think of any other names I should NOT use, do tell. Maybe I'll arrive at just the right thing by the back door.

House Signs - Mews Style

House Signs - Floral Motif

House Signs - Custom Painted

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spelling Bee

The worst part of what we fear is the fear. Last January, my daughter competed in the school-wide spelling bee. I wasn't there to support her. I didn't even know she had advanced to the school-wide spelling bee.

The whole idea of it paralyzed her to the point of bad judgement. She hid the note she was supposed to give us about the day and time of the bee. She didn't even want to be in the spelling bee.

Feeling alone on the stage in the spotlight and petrified in front of all the parents and students who watched from the auditorium seats, she stepped to the microphone. As her palms moistened and her knees trembled, she ruminated about the embarrassment of messing up. She hardly heard the teacher instruct her, "Your word is fossil."

After school, when I asked her, as usual, about her day, she replied, "It was awful."

Naturally, I prodded for more information. The story of the heretofore unknown and now most unfortunate spelling bee poured from her like sticky honey from the comb on a hot summer afternoon. She talked fast like bees buzzed to get it back. She told of the stage and the lights and the microphone and everyone looking at her and how her first word was fossil and how she almost cried because she was so afraid she would spell it wrong even though she knows how to spell fossil.

"Well?" I asked, "Did you spell it wrong?"

"F - o - c - e - l," she harumphed.

"Then what happened?" I inquired.

"They told me to sit down," she pouted.

"That's it?"

"That's it," she said with her arms crossed over her chest.

"What a wonderful gift you received today," I told her, my typical, annoying glass-half-full attitude increasing her fury and despair. Two important things happened for her at the spelling bee:
1) She will never forget how to spell fossil.
2) She realized that the worst part of the spelling bee was the worrying about it.

Though I thought she was ignoring my upside account of her disappointment, by the time her father arrived home from work that night, she bubbled all over him in eager tones, "Do you want to hear what happened to me at school today?" When he asked her how she did in the spelling bee, she laughed, "Terrible, t - e - r - r - i - b - l - e."

This year, the school mailed the announcement about the spelling bee to the parents of the participants. She will be competing in it again. She already told me about it, excitedly, even before the letter arrived. Friday morning, I will be one of the many faces looking at her from the audience while she stands in the spotlight. I'm pretty sure that this year, win or lose, everything will be different.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Name My House

This is my house:

One of my 2012 projects is to name my house. I first got the notion to name it several years ago when a friend moved to England and lived in a place named The Old Barn. When I sent letters to her, the name of her house was part of the address. The ingenuity of elevating the prestige of a barn by calling it The Old Barn struck me as incredibly clever. I want the same for my own dwelling.

Everywhere I look, homes have names. Fiddlers Green is a property about five miles from me. A pang of jealousy stabs my heart when I pass the sign. The house is a mid-century brick ranch, but the wonderful moniker makes it so much more.

In December I read The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart. All of the characters live in the various towers of London Tower. Their residences take on an air of importance simply because they can be referenced by something other than, "That's Balthazar and Hebe's house." [This is a must read, by the way. Highly entertaining and extremely well-written.]

Currently I'm reading The Little Friend by Donna Tartt [Also a great read, particularly if you like southern lit.]. The family's old Mississippi estate was named Tribulation. It calls to something deep within me. I want that same emotion for my ancestors when they tell a lot of lies about me and my house.

But coming up with an appropriate name for 217 Lee Street has proven difficult. If I'm going to put it on a sign and hang it on my house and tag it as a check-in location on FaceBook and include it in my address, it can't come across as frivolous or trite. I don't want a cliche. I need to avoid arrogance. And by all means I will not acquiesce to the lack of creativity in something like the McNeal-Howell-Adams House. Blehk.

Thus I'm on a quest for a list of guidelines for naming a piece of property. What are the rules? Does your house have a name? How did it get that name?


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Four Words/Phrases to Avoid in 2012

As we embark upon 2012, a new year with an unknown future brimming with potential, let's make a pledge to one another - right here, right now - to unleash our creative energies and express ourselves more powerfully than we did in 2011. To that end, let us join together in a stalwart effort against the forces of popular, over-used phrases of the masses! No more shall we utter or write the following 4 phrases or words, elevating not only ourselves, but all mankind. It is a noble struggle to which we commit our unwavering resolve, but together      we     will     prevail.

Note to self, do not say or write:
  1. Amazing - Michigan’s Lake Superior State University features this beaten-like-a-dead-horse word in its annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. The 2012 list  was compiled by the university from nominations submitted from across the globe.

    Read more:
  2. LOL - If you feel compelled to say or write this acronym for Laugh Out Loud after something you've said or written, then what you've said or written more than likely isn't Laugh Out Loud, or even mildly amusing. As they say in the comedic business, if you must tell people how funny you are, then you're not.
  3. Just sayin' - Just don't.
  4. I know, right? - Every time my 16 year-old asks me this statement, my hackles rise. If he knows then why does he need affirmation from me that he knows. How could I possibly know whether he knows or not? Be confident that you do know, even if you don't, and leave off the question statement.
I already feel the bubbles from the slow boil of linguistic change rising to the surface. Who's with me?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

In 2012 It's the Little Things

Starting a new year is always about setting goals and making changes. I tend to make ambitious lists for myself. But sometimes it's the little things we do that make all the difference. For example, one year I decided I was going to make my bed every day, something my mother spent my entire childhood nagging me to do, something that I'd spent my entire adulthood rebelling against. Now that I do it daily by choice, nothing, other than a cup of coffee, prepares me to face my day more than pulling the covers up over the night.

In 2012, focus on the little things. In our digital world, the human touch in communication is frequently lost in the 1s and 0s, bits and bytes. Take a few extra minutes to add interpersonal communication into each day:

  • Give someone the gift of a smile, every day. A smile has significant value for something that's free.

  • Text less. Talk more. Don't you miss the rich nuances of two-way conversation?

  • Don't click SEND. Skip the email and write a letter to your sister, your aunt, your dad. Stroking a pen across the page is good for the soul.

  • Visit someone each week. Not a long visit, just a quick, "I wanted to stop by and see how you're doing. I've missed you."

These are random acts of kindness that will NOT necessarily change the whole world. But they will make yours and mine happier, more connected places in which to live.