Friday, February 17, 2012

Belize or Bust

In just three short days, I will have escaped the bone-chilling, humid grip of Georgia's winter weather and been transported to the sugary sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Yep, Sunday it's Belize or bust!

Besides the ridiculous beauty of the country, I have a lot to look forward to. Two of my sisters will be there, and there are so few opportunities in our busy lives to get us all together. What memories we'll make!

Also on the trip will be a dear friend, his cousin (whom I have met before -- he's an hilarious story teller!) and his sister, whom I will be meeting for the first time.

I know one sister's son is coming, and my fingers are crossed that the other's children will be there. My two kids have such a grand time with their cousins! And in this locale? Forget about it! (<-- Please read this with your best New Yorker accent. Thanks :D)

Belize 411 borrowed from Belize on the Wild Side:

Approximately 9,000 square miles, bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

The latest census in Belize shows a population of over 300,000 made up of Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Maya, and Europeans. Belize in general has very young population with over 50% under 18 years old.

English is the official language and is widely spoken throughout the country. Other languages spoken: Creole, Spanish, Garifuna, Maya, and German.

Belize is a member of the British Commonwealth, with a stable democratic government established along the model of the British Parlimentary system. 

The Belize Dollar has a fixed rate of $2BZ = $1US. 

Belize has the second longest barrier reef in the world (165 miles long). 

And one of the many reefs in the system includes The Lighthouse Reef. It's center is known as The Great Blue Hole. Our friend and host of the trip is an avid and experienced diver. He plans to explore this natural wonder of the world.

The Blue Hole is perfectly round, more than 1,000 feet (305 meters) in diameter and 480 feet (146 meters) deep. It's  the result of repeated collapses over 15,000 years of a limestone cave system that formed as the sea level drop during the last ice age journey. I don't dive, though I want to learn. One day, I too will dive into The Great Blue Hole. This time, I'll simply enjoy the snorkeling experience.

So, that's what I'll be doing from Sunday the 19th to Sunday the 26th. I hope you have a lovely week too, no matter where in the world you'll be. See you back here at the end of the month!


Friday, February 10, 2012


The week is coming to a close, and you've earned a few days of much deserved R&R. Make the most of your downtime!

Photo Found Here

Wishing you a happy Friday, a day to kick off a spectacular weekend full of inspiration and creative energy!

I'd love to write in this kitchen! Look at that natural light and warm color!
Photo Source Here

Whether you're writing, cooking, painting, singing, or just spending time with friends and family, I hope you're inspired to live out loud. Feel free!

Photo Source
However you see your reflection in the mirror of your soul ~you in your most beautiful light ~ let that spirit shine this weekend.   

And on Saturday, please stop by Laura Barnes's blog Laura B. Writer where I will be interviewed as part of her Savvy Sensation series. She asked me some really interesting questions!

Until tomorrow then, have a great day!                     


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spark it up!

Yesterday, I sat in front of the dreaded blank screen. There's a scene I want to write. I have the scene mapped out on paper. I know its goals, its tone. But I can't "see" it yet. So, every sentence I typed, I backspaced over. (Shush! I know I shouldn't rewrite/delete/go back. First drafts should be forward, forward, forward motion. Duh.) And yet, I did it. Over. And over. And over...

I'd check Facebook and Twitter and my other cyberspaces of choice, then go back to the WiP. When I was tired of the blank screen, roughly every seven or eight minutes, the urge to check in again hit me. (Hey, someone may have posted an hilarious photo or thought-provoking link in the past five minutes.) Rinse and repeat. That was my Monday.

Today will be different.

I've packed my bags. Once I hit the publish button here, I'm off to the gym for some cross training. I'll change out of my damp clothes afterwards and into a pair of yoga pants and hoodie. Then I'm driving to an undisclosed location with no WiFi access, that resembles the setting of the scene I want to write. I'll record sounds, smells, feelings I get from the space. I'll take photographs. And, I'll write. I may not write the actual scene, unless that's the direction my inspiration takes me. 

At any rate, the screen will not be blank today.  

What are your writing plans? Doing anything proactive to spark new inspirations?


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book Store of the Future - My Vision

The next time someone tells me we won't need book stores when the e-book revolution is complete, I'll tell them this story.

My son Cody's orthodontic appointment on Tuesday finished early afternoon, but he'd been checked out of school before lunch and we were both hungry. We enjoyed some sandwiches and the chance to talk, just the two of us. We realized as we left the diner that we wouldn't get him back to school in time to finish out the day. With the angst of rushing back lifted, we decided to spend the last forty-five minutes together walking around Barnes and Noble.

We had no intention of buying anything.

Cody and I started in the Young Adult shelves, since we both enjoy that genre. From there, he wandered toward the Sci-fi and Fantasy books, and I headed for Literature and Fiction.

On the New Fiction shelf, the cover art of this book grabbed my attention. Isn't it gorgeous? I'd not heard of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus before. When I love a cover like this, I open the book and read the first paragraph. If it hooks me too, I buy the book. Here's line one of The Night Circus:

The man billed as Prospero the Enchanter receives a fair amount of correspondence via the theater office, but this is the first envelope addressed to him that contains a suicide note, and it is also the first to arrive carefully pinned to the coat of a five-year-old girl.


I was nearing the end of the first chapter when Cody approached carrying a board game. He'd found it when passing one of the tables down the center of the aisle. It was the game's title that had caught his attention: Carcassonne.

The game is inspired by the City of Carcassonne, a fascinating historic French landmark that we visited as a family in 2009. We actually once lived in the Carcassonne region, though the kids were too young to remember. My daughter Sidney was born about ten miles outside of Carcassonne.

We bought the game Carcassonne, which turned out to be very fun to play. In just two days it's become a family favorite. ( does not list this particular game, but it does sell the expansion kits here. And here's another link to the game we bought.)

As Cody and I drove home, we talked about how we'd never have found either of our purchases unless we'd been in Barnes and Noble today. That led to a conversation about the fate of book stores in a future of electronic books. We have several Kindles in our house. They're fantastic! I love being able to download a book in seconds. It's great to have my personal library in one, slim device that weighs nothing compared to the stack of books I'd have to lug around, without the Kindle. But if book stores go away, how will we wander around and discover our next gem-of-a-book read?

The Internet is vast. With all the social media sites to spend time on, we'll have to carve more computer time out of the day to watch book trailers or read book/author blogs to find recommended books. Someone needs to come up with a better way.

I envision a book store of the future that showcases book-like pamphlets. Publishers could incorporate in the marketing budget the book's pamphlet, a paperback booklet with the book's cover art on front. Inside will be a sample of the book, preferably the first chapter. A section could include the author bio and maybe a short interview, etc. The book store would have shelves and shelves of these pamphlets, allowing customers the enjoyment of finding those books that speak to them, that pique their interest. There could be a rare book section where relics from the past -- actual paper books -- would be sold. Signed copies would become a treasure to acquire. And the store could include a coffee shop and an art gallery, and have live music to entice patrons to stop in.

But wait? How would the store make any money??

When a customer is ready to buy the e-books s/he wants, based on the pamphlets, the customer pulls out his or her Kindle/Nook/iPad/reader-of-the-future. By logging on to the book store's exclusive server and downloading the books from there, the customer receives reward points of some sort that can be redeemed on future purchases. The store could make it worth the customers while to buy "from them" rather than to download later from a site like Amazon, etc. Hell, Amazon should be the first company to open the book stores of the future! Start a trend.

I don't want book stores to disappear. I think they serve a real and viable purpose, and possess an atmosphere unlike any other retailer. Barnes and Noble needs to evolve with the e-book revolution, or they will find themselves experiencing Border Books' fate. And that, for me, would be sad, indeed.