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We all have those relationships in our lives that one day are absolutely fabulous, and the next day we wonder why we even bother. Well, I’m having one of “those” types of relationships with social media. I didn’t grow up with it, don’t have a natural affinity for it, and just about the time I think I understand it, it changes on me.

I know that in today’s world, social media is important, especially for a writer and new author. It’s one of the best ways that we can let a wide variety of people know who we are, what we write, and why they just might want to check us and our book(s) out. But, as simple as that sounds, it sometimes isn’t that simple for me.

My biggest challenge is allocating the time away from my writing and my day job to keep up with social media. I know that every serious writer needs to spend at least 15 minutes, preferably an hour or better, on social media each day, but it’s a mindset that I’m having a hard time developing. During that allocated time, my mind keeps wandering to my overloaded “to do” list, the beauty of the outdoors outside my window entices me, I think of a myriad of other things I would rather do, or I’m just tired of sitting at the computer—period. Plus, social media “conversations” come in small bites, and I’m having to train my mind to think in small chunks while at the same time making those small chunks interesting, thought provoking, informative, or a combination of all three. Days like that are my “bad relationship days” with social media, and they do pop up.

Then, there are those days when the interactions come easy, I’ve connected with someone really interesting, my social media friends encourage me, or I read a quote or tidbit of information that is just what I needed at that moment in time, and I really get it. On those days, I’m thankful for the amazing minds that created these formats of connection and communication that allow us to reach out across cities, states, and even countries to discover and relate to a wide variety of people with varying thoughts, cultures, and ideas. It is on those days that I love social media and the whole virtual kind of existence that we now have available to us.

Then on other days I find out that Facebook is changing its format, I get behind on my tweets, or I’ve got a looming deadline for a blog, and my mind gets fuzzy from trying to make sense of all the data and requirements that are being tossed at me. On those days, I think my daughter and grandchildren wonder what planet I came from because social media comes easily to them and is a strong part of their daily existence.

On the good days, I relish discovering new ways of connecting and new people to connect with, and I’m excited about being a writer and author in this fabulous time when the entire world can absolutely be our oyster. I love that I have the ability to chat with writers and readers from all over the US and in countries like England, Australia, India, Italy. . . and the list goes on. My world is expanded and my mind is stretched, and new concepts and stories are forged into my imagination. I love those good days between me and social media. They are the reason that I continue this relationship through the not so good times.

Today, social media and I are on very good terms and I’m glad I’m in this relationship.

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I love Valentine’s Day because it’s a great reminder of the importance of romance in our lives and our relationships. An intimate relationship without romance is like toast without butter or jam—it can provide us with the basics of what we need, but it’s just not as tasty or inviting.

While I enjoy giving and receiving attention, cards, and gifts on Valentine’s Day, my favorite type of romance is the kind that happens everyday in an intimate relationship between two people who put each other first.

We recently had a huge snowstorm in my area of the country and my husband’s place of business was closed. I work out of my home, so no snow day for me. As I worked at my desk, I began to get a whiff of wonderful smells coming from our kitchen. To my delight, my husband, Glenn, made me breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and brought me several cups of my favorite tea during the day. To me, this is romance at its best.

Last night when he returned home from a week of training for a new job he recently started, I had a package of red licorice (his favorite) waiting for my husband on the table where he puts his car keys. His face lit up like I had just told him he won the lottery.

I will readily admit that romance is not one of my stronger suits. I’m a practical kind of gal, and while I am definitely appreciative and always take time to let the people in my life know how valuable they are to me, it takes me some thought and a lot of practice to put my gratefulness into actions. But the effort is definitely worth it. When Glenn and I reflect on memories, we seldom remember the gifts we gave each other on Valentine’s Day, but we definitely remember the fun, playful, thoughtful things we do for each other on ordinary days.

There is a wonderful Hallmark channel movie I watch whenever it’s on called The Magic of Ordinary Days. I love the story and the title because for me ordinary days become magical when we take time to add everyday romance.

Terri Ann Leidich at the Roanoke Reg Writers ConfereceYesterday, for the second year in a row, I had the privilege of presenting at the Roanoke Regional Writers’ Conference. Today, my body is exhausted, but my mind and soul are twirling with exhilaration. Being surrounded by writers—people whose minds are ever circling with thoughts, ideas, and possibilities—is enriching, enlightening, motivating, and inspiring. One writer speaking to another doesn’t have to explain the phrases like: space beyond the mind, my characters spoke to me, asking for inspiration from my dreams. . . We all speak the same language, at least some form of it, and we’re all hungry for more thoughts, ideas, inspiration, and motivation.

A great writers’ conference, like the one in Roanoke that is created by Dan Smith and hosted by Hollins University, absolutely buzzes with energy. My mind was busy absorbing knowledge from others and teaching what I know. Competition is left at the door as writer mentors writer, and people who are part of the support team that a writer needs, willingly guide us on writing, editing, social media, photography, and things that we need to know that we didn’t realize we needed to know.

Wrapped, for a day, in a cocoon where creative minds meet and thrive, it takes me twenty-four hours to assimilate the experience before I step back into my routine where my writer’s mind reluctantly returns to bouts of scheduled writing surrounded by periods of “have to do’s”,  “to do” lists, and schedules.

Tomorrow I’ll willingly step back into my wonderful world that is a blend of right and left brain thinking, but for today, my exhausted body is recovering as my mind floats in a state of exhilaration.

I feel like I need a drum roll, or a curtain being raised as I wait in excitement and anticipation to see what the audience will think. After all, the cover for my debut novel which will release in October, is a big deal to me.

It always amazes me how things can be happening all around us, all the time, and we don’t notice any significance until we step into those shoes. I’ve been surrounded by book covers ever since I was a young child and began to love and be fascinated by books; and I still have that fascination to this day. But, until I started working with my publisher on my own book cover, I had no idea of the love,  patience, creativity, thought, and work that goes into creating a good cover for a book. Nor did I really understand the extreme importance of a strong cover that will draw the audience to the book and then to open the pages and want to take the book (or eBook) home.

When we first started creating a book cover for Family Inheritance, I had an idea and concept in mind. Yet, as the publishing team and I worked together, new concepts started to emerge, and the characters from the book began to make themselves known in regards to the cover. (I know . . . for those of you who are not fiction writers, I’m beginning to sound a bit nutty.) Then one day, it just fit. The book, the cover, and the characters all seemed to belong together in one solid unit. Now, I can’t imagine the cover being any different than it is.

So, this phase is done. The book is in its finishing stages of being polished and honed, my marketing plan is coming together, and stage fright is starting to set in. Ahhhhh, the joys of being of author. But, I’m loving every moment of it.

Imagine a drum roll as the curtain slowly opens. Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to present . . .

Family Inheritance Cover Art Smaller Family

A week before Thanksgiving I was on my way to a poetry reading at our local Barnes & Noble where I intended to read from my book For a Grieving Heart. Before the event, a friend and I stopped for dinner at a local restaurant and starting chatting with some people we know. I mentioned that I was nervous about the poetry reading and one of the guys said something to the effect of “You do stuff like this all the time. Why are you nervous?”

My mind filled with responses like “Dah! What do my abilities have to do with my feelings?” but Mom and life have taught me to seldom speak words that quickly rush to my tongue without going through my mind to ensure they are appropriate. So, I bit my tongue, smiled, and explained that because the poetry was written during my time of grief after my son died, it was harder to read.

But the whole conversation got me thinking. What do abilities have to do with feelings? Not a thing! Just because we’re good at something doesn’t mean we know that we are, or that we don’t feel scared, intimidated, less than, overwhelmed, etc. In fact, very often, the things we are good at from the world’s perspective are the things that we feel the most frightened by. But if we can identify our fear, take steps to minimize it to the best of our abilities, and then move forward anyway, some of our greatest experiences and most pleasant moments might just be waiting for us.

I knew that reading my poetry in public was intimidating for me because I’ve never studied poetry, don’t know all of the “requirements” for a good poem, these poems are especially emotional for me, etc. and I had some fear about really making a fool of myself. So, I enlisted my good friend Betsy to come with me to ensure I wouldn’t chicken out, and to give me the assurance that at least one person there would like the stuff.

When we got to the reading I discovered that the event leader that particular night was a retired professor who had taught poetry at Radford University and the knot in my stomach enlarged to the point that it was also pushing against my throat. As panic was pulling me toward the door, Betsy’s chatter and encouragement kept me heading toward the chair.

I made it through, read my poetry, and met some delightful people. My poetry was received well. The professor from Radford encouraged me to keep writing and to even study poetry because I apparently have a natural talent for it. Who knew!

Once again, I was reminded that our fears are seldom attached to reality, but that doesn’t mean they don’t often show up in our lives, grab us by the throat, and tempt us to run and hide instead of moving forward to continually discover more about ourselves and life in general.

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