Looking backward, looking forward.

My nine-year-old son loves baseball.

He plays on a AAA team, which means nothing to me, but means something to my husband.

When he was nine–and for most of his youth into college and a little beyond–my husband, Billy, played baseball. He was a State Champion pitcher who got drafted into the majors at nineteen. But back then, there was no such thing as a pitch count for young players, and by the time he was twenty, his body was worn out. Even today, at the age of 47, he has problems with his rotary cuff. He did the thing he loved until it broke him.

Now Brady is playing. He’s not a pitcher–he’s a catcher. This is possibly by design (my husband’s) or maybe because Brady loves the position. It’s the most important position on the field, come to find out. He has to be aware of the positions of all the opposing players on the bags (that’s baseball jargon for “bases”–I didn’t know that either, once). If someone tries to steal a base, he has to see them and make snap decisions on where to throw the ball–and be on target. He can’t overthrow his intended baseman, because then the runner can move on to steal another base.

He also has to be aware when he can’t stop a pitch; when he goes running to get it, he also has to have eyes on the field to be sure to stop runners.

And then, there are other times when he just needs to be in the game and with the program. My favorite is when one of his team’s young pitchers are wobbly and walking batters; Brady looks so serious as he lifts his mask onto the top of his head and marches out the the mound to talk to them. He doesn’t take long, and he never fools around. Usually, he’ll pat the other player on the shoulder as he talks to them, and he looks right at them with such a grown-up expression on his face. Usually, this exchange works to calm the pitcher down and get them to throw strikes. Later, when I ask him what he said, he tells me things like, “I told him to take a deep breath and just play catch with me. Don’t worry about the batter.” Or, “I told him to follow through, just like we practiced.” Wise counsel from someone who needs reminding to brush his teeth and to use deodorant.

His coach has told us that he’s the best player in the league, and in fact, some of the “major” league coaches are scouting him. (Not the major majors, you understand. But the coaches of the older kids. My husband and Brady know what this means–I’m just in the stands, cheering when everyone else does.) Baseball has become something that means so much to both of them. Billy has volunteered to coach the young pitching “staff” and with amazing patience, teaches them the physical mechanics of pitching and how to strategize their pitches. Brady has  gained confidence and leadership skills he’s not even aware of, and has developed a focus that has helped him in school and other places because of baseball. And it’s something both of them, father and son, can share and discuss and analyze–man to man. More than a game, it’s a common link for the two of them.

As I sit on the bleachers, I’m  watching: Billy, looking backward through this current experience and reliving the golden, glory days of his youth, and Brady, looking forward and planning for his future in the game. Me? I’m just here in the present, looking forward and backward, and enjoying the view. I never understood what was so good about sports, but I think I’m finally starting to understand.

 

About Marnie Blue

Cyn D. Blackburn is addicted to love. And caffeine. She lives with her husband (of 20+) years, three children, two dogs, two guinea pigs and one terribly outnumbered cat. She knows that nothing eases the difficulties of life--and falling into love--more than a little humor.

Summertime!

Whether the calendar agrees or not, June is my official summer kick-off. Kids get out of school the first week of the month here in Las Vegas and we are ready to take a vacation! Sadly my littles and I haven’t been on a vacation in two years, but that is about to change. We are heading to California for a little beach, fun, family, and R & R! And of course as I started writing, music started popping into my head, so let me share with you, my Summertime Kick Off Playlist!

A few to take us back….

Just got to love a little DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Oh! And how can you think of taking a vacation without this little gem in your head?

And no playlist is complete without a little Jake Owen…

If I’m totally honest, this last video is my favorite. I love me some Jake! Well I love me a lot of country singers, but that is a topic for another post. So tell me, what are some songs that just pop into your head when summer hits, or vacation is coming up?

About Beth Rhodes

Beth jumps into life with both feet...or head first. Impulsive and spontaneous to a T, she joined Passionate Critters and never looked back. She loves writing and reading, which made this wonderful group of woman a perfect match for her.

The Meandering Writer

Scotland-Swing-Resized

I’m late and apologize for it. Then again, I’m always late and I recently read an article as to why. It seems that while I know time is important, it isn’t the only thing important in life. Apparently, people who are late make more time for those important things. Hmmm, I thought, maybe I do, maybe I don’t.

But while on a walk today with my husband, who kept asking me if something was wrong because I wasn’t walking normal speed according to him, I had a revelation. It’s something I’ve always known but am just now putting into perspective. I’m a meanderer. I take my time, I smell the roses. I want to see everything, do everything and want to enjoy it. So I don’t rush a thing, I meander through something to absorb it all.

Now, you may think this is odd for a writer to wander through life, meandering through, taking one’s time. But meandering is an age old tradition. The Grand Canyon was made by a meandering river who cut down through the top soil into the hard rock. It took millions of years to do so but just look at what a little meandering can do.

Much of my writing is that way. The pieces that I feel are my best are also the ones that I’d write a little on every day, set aside then come back later to them. I’d make sure the setting was perfect, that the characters acted true to themselves and a host of other things because I was striving for perfection.

Notice I said striving. Nothing is perfect and we as writers need to realize this. We need to make things the best we can make them then hand them over to others to help us find flaws we’d overlooked. Once they go through our critique groups the story will go to our agent if we have one. Then it’s back on our desk for another once-over before it goes to an editor.

If we’re not all worn out by the process, we’ll start it over again. If we’re lucky, sometime we can do this at a fast pace, sometimes a little slower but always meandering through the parts that need to be meandered through. Taking time to get something done isn’t a flaw but a trait that should tell the world we want to put our best foot forward. We want to give you the best story possible for us to give.

And if I have to meander to be a better write, I’ll take meandering any day.

So…are you a meander? Or are you someone who likes to go through life a little faster?

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Summertime

This weekend marks the start of summer. ‘Tis the season of weddings (I’m sitting in the airport, on my way to Oklahoma for my nephew’s wedding, as I type this), vacations, no arguments with the kid about homework, warm and lazy afternoons spent reading by the neighborhood pool, firefly chasing, evenings on the patio drinking sangria with friends, and, hopefully, lots of writing as well.

Summer is also the season of writing conferences. I went to one a few weeks ago, hosted by my local Northeast Ohio RWA chapter. It was fun, informative, a bit exhausting. I consider it preparation for my first trip to the RWA National conference in July, which will, I expect, be like the NEORWA conference on steroids. Lots of steroids. I honestly can’t wait.

Because I’m too tired to keep writing–I had one of those nights where you wake up every 20 minutes because you’re neurotic about oversleeping–I will ask you: What’s your favorite part of summer? What are you most looking forward to this year? And if you’ve been to RWA Nationals, feel free to share some tips!

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

Another Corner, Another Café

First, I really apologize for getting this late. I don’t have the excuse of kids going back to school or any of the other things others might have. See, I decided to take classes myself this year and I had my first test, or quiz as they call it, of the course yesterday. More on that next month.

Beer-ResizedThis month, it’s all about food or things that go along with food. Living in the city of Vienna has given me a completely different aspect of food overall. People here take their meals very seriously and many summer nights can see them lounging in the cafes talking about the latest something or other. Most of the conversations are in German but those that I do manage to understand are on subjects we all hold near and dear: home, family, school, work and more.

Sidewalk-Cafe-ResizedDuring the summer season, the doors are thrown open and the inside comes out. Most all restaurants and cafes have outside eating areas and those that don’t are at a loss for customers. The space can be fancy or not, big or not, but all of them have a sense of something special that is so hard to define. Never have I found a place like these in the States. I’m sure they exist but it won’t have the same ambiance as the places here.

 

From your seat, you can see marvelous things like bike races along the Ringstrasse. If you go further afield away from the hustle and bustle of the downtown, you’ll see the vineyards that dot the Vineyard-Resizedhills around the city. It can be on a narrow street, where you wonder just what is happening at either end or it can be in the center of a platz where you wish the people would move along.

Dessert ResizedNo matter where you are in Vienna, you’ll find a café and more delights than you ever imagined!

 

About Lynn Crain

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. You can find her hanging out online at www.lynncrain.blogspot.com, https://www.facebook.com/LynnCrainAuthor, and on Twitter, @oddlynn3. She loves hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net.

Summer? Meh.

I don’t love summer.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t. (My son read the title of this post and gasped in dramatic horror.)

There are definitely some things I like about summer–wonderful fresh local food, evenings on the patio with a cold glass of wine, lazy afternoons at the pool. I like that I occasionally get a vacation. I like that I don’t have to argue with the kid about homework, and I don’t particularly mind taking a break from hockey rinks. I’m very happy that it’s not snowing.

But other than that, summer feels much like every other time of the year, except hotter and with more bugs. I still have to work. Unlike other parts of the country, not everything is air conditioned in Northeast Ohio, including my house, so I spend much of the summer sweating and uncomfortable. And although I suspect this reveals more about me than I really ought to share, summer seems to me to be full of expectation, almost pressure. There’s a feeling that because it’s summer, something wonderful should happen. Sometimes it does, but when it doesn’t, there’s an odd sense of wastefulness–how could I have let it slip through my fingers?

Nevertheless, it’s summer and summer book lists are everywhere. Many of them contain relaxing, feel good reads, and so I feel compelled to add my own. Here are some great books that fit my summer mood, in no particular order and for no particular reason:

The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith (also known as J.K. Rowling).  — I will admit I read this just because Rowling wrote it. I tried to read her other non-Potter book but couldn’t get through it. This one, however, is brilliant.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters. — A captivating debut novel set during the influenza epidemic of 1918, I actually read this one because of the cover. Seriously–Google it, then read the book.

Not a Drop to Drink, by Mindy McGinnis. — Full disclosure time: Mindy is my cousin (about 20 times removed), but I would love this book even if she wasn’t.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells. — There’s something about the steamy south that appeals to me in the summer.

Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. — See above about steamy south, then throw in magic and teenage angst.

The In Death series by J.D. Robb — I enjoy most of what Nora Roberts writes, but I particularly like this series. It’s gritty and dark, with wonderful, likable characters and some very steamy sex. What’s not to like?

The Heir, by Grace Burrowes. — Although I adore both reading and writing historical romance, I generally don’t read them in the summer–I save them for winter.  This one, though, is a perfect fit with my summer mood.

Which books capture how you feel about summer?

About Marin McGinnis

Marin McGinnis has been a voracious reader ever since she could make sense of words on the page, but she came fairly late to writing. She dabbled with a mystery in her 20s, but didn’t start writing in earnest until after she discovered historical romance a decade or so later. While her very first manuscript will forever languish under the bed, the next one, Stirring Up the Viscount, won two contests in 2013 and was published by The Wild Rose Press in January 2015. Her next three books, Secret Promise, Tempting Mr. Jordan, and Treasure Her Heart, were also published by The Wild Rose Press. Check out her Bookshelf for more info. Marin lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio with her family. She is represented by Margaret Bail of Fuse Literary.

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