Jill Weatherholt

Pursuing a Passion for Writing


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Refueling the Tank

001Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow. ~ Mark Twain

Yes, I did all of these puzzles over the past couple of weeks. You might wonder why someone would waste her time puzzling. I’ll tell you why…I was procrastinating or so I thought.

My goal at the start of November was to enter two writing contests this month. I knew the two contests I wanted to target and I had familiarized myself with the guidelines. I had plenty of time…no problem.

Turned out, there was a problem. Each evening I planned to write, like a hummingbird to the sweet nectar, I was drawn to the puzzle. With my iPod set to shuffle, I searched for connecting pieces. Eventually my mind and body relaxed and in what seemed like a few minutes, an hour had passed.

This continued night after night until it dawned on me the month of November was half over. That’s when I panicked. What about my goals? Why had I wasted time working those puzzles when I had goals to reach? I should have been connecting words to create a story, not pieces of cardboard.
003
In the end, I submitted my contest entries. I discovered what I thought was time wasted puzzling was actually feeding my writing tank. Few activities work both sides of your brain simultaneously.puzz When puzzling, the creative side works to see the finished product, while the logical side works to fit the pieces. Relaxing and listening to the music allowed my stories to come to life in my mind. By procrastinating, the stories traveled with ease from my mind onto my computer screen.

What’s your favorite way to procrastinate?


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Plan B

005When a glorious autumn weekend goes from this,007 sunny with temperatures in the low 70′s, to this,004 a cold rain with falling temperatures into the 40′s, you need a back up plan.

Here’s my plan. First, make a big crock pot of chili, without following a recipe.001

While Derek does a little of this,006
I’ll do a whole lot of this.
007

It’s always good to have a Plan B. What’s your go to back up plan on a raw and cold day?


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Holy Smokes!

Image Courtesy of morguefile.com

Image Courtesy of morguefile.com

In the movies and on television, things happen in parking garages. They’re the perfect place for the bad guy to hide. However, sometimes, the most obvious setting for a scene is often the least interesting this wasn’t the case for me.

Recently, after an uneventful day at work, I walked through the dimly lit parking garage. I spied my car and hit the button to pop the lock. As I sat onto the seat, I fell back with a hard slam. This happens when I take my car for an oil change and the mechanic moves the seat back.

Something felt different. I glanced toward the passenger seat, it was farther back than usual. Someone had been in my car, but why? How? A chill ran down my spine. I was in the Twilight Zone. I had to get out of this dark garage. I needed daylight.

I slid the key into the ignition, but the steering wheel was locked. I jiggled the key to release the wheel but it wouldn’t move. Panic set in…what was happening? What once felt comfortable, getting into my car to go home, now felt completely foreign.

My hand shook as I turned on the overhead light. I had to get the steering wheel unlocked. I had to get out of here. I glanced down and that’s when I saw it. Lying on the console was a box of Marlboro Lights. What? I don’t smoke…that’s when it dawned on me…holy smokes I’m in the wrong car. The car was the same color, make and model, but definitely not mine.

I jumped from the car as fast as I could and raced two spots over to my car. I slid into my seat and breathed again. As I exited the parking garage, I hoped Big Brother hadn’t captured it all on camera.

Have you ever found yourself in the wrong place?


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The Good Stuff

Imagine Courtesy of Wikipedia

Imagine Courtesy of Wikipedia

I grew up in Fairfax County, a suburb of Washington, D.C. My neighborhood had two kinds of houses during Halloween, the houses with the “good stuff” and the houses with the “cheap stuff.” The good stuff was Snickers, Milky Ways, M&M’s and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Then there was the little clear package that held four or if you’re lucky five candy corns, this was known as the cheap stuff.

Trick-or-treating was all about strategy. You had to hit the houses with the good stuff first, before they ran out. You also wanted to pace yourself in order to conserve energy. Passing up all of the houses with the cheap stuff in order to get the good stuff could be tiring.

I remember there was a particular house that went all out to celebrate Halloween. It was always decorated like a haunted house. Cobwebs and ghosts hung from the trees and Monster Mash blasted through the sound system. They even had a coffin in their foyer.

In order to get your King Sized candy bar which was known neighbor wide as the really, really good stuff, you had to reach inside the coffin. Some years there would be someone under a blanket who would grab your wrist when you reached inside. Other years a large mummy would pop out from behind the bushes and scare you away. You had to snatch the candy fast or fear would send you running empty handed.

Sometimes I would get that huge candy bar, but other years I was too scared and took off running. That family went to a lot of trouble each year to make the Halloween experience extra special, so special that after forty years, I can still picture it perfectly in my mind.

Do you have any special memories of Halloween?


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The Summer of 2014

Image courtesy of Yolanda McAdam

Image courtesy of Yolanda McAdam

One of my favorite segments on our local news is “The Good News.” Each week the stories vary. At times they make me laugh and sometimes I cry. I’m often left with a feeling that there are still good people out there and good things do happen, more often than the network news reports.

This past summer as I was enjoying the Summer Spotlight Series, I had a bit of good news of my own. As some of you know, I’ve been living with Crohn’s Disease for over twenty nine years. I don’t talk about it very often on my blog primarily because I don’t want to be defined by a disease. It’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life, so there’s no use whining and complaining. To use a quote that I’ve never cared for, “It is what it is.”

In April of 2013, I began a new drug called Remicade. It’s a two hour infusion that is administered every six weeks. In the past, other drugs only managed my symptoms. The purpose of Remicade is to stop the spread of the disease. This summer, after being on the medication for over a year, I had a colonoscopy. I was elated when I was told for the first time since the diagnosis, the disease is currently inactive.

For now, I’ll continue with the treatments until the drug no longer controls the disease or another treatment option comes along. Whatever happens in the future, I’m thankful for Derek, my family and friends who have provided so much love and support along the way.

Another bit of good news I received during the summer involved my obsession with lighthouses. In April, I wrote a post about being driven to write a story about a lighthouse keeper. I had a strong character and his backstory in my mind, but getting it down on paper was a struggle. Not only did the story hit close to home, but I had other obligations in my life that consumed my free time.

Image courtesy of Yolanda McAdam

Image courtesy of Yolanda McAdam

In the end, a story was written, one that will always have a special place in my heart. The story was submitted and a couple months later I received an email from Southern Writer’s Magazine, “Memories of the Lighthouse Keeper” had won second place in their Best Short Fiction of 2014 and would be published in July. It was a good summer.

P.S. The beautiful lighthouse photos were a special gift I received in May from my dear friend and talented photographer, who many of you know, Yolanda McAdam. She was on a hike with her husband and thought of me when she saw the lighthouse. Thank you again, Yolanda!


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Mission Accomplished

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

When I came up with the idea for the Summer Spotlight Series, I went straight to my favorite editor, Derek. I explained the idea to him and his first response was, “What if no one wants to participate?”

Fast forward twenty weeks and I’m one happy blogger. The series accomplished exactly what I had envisioned. First and foremost, I wanted to learn more about those of you who faithfully visit my blog each Friday. I’ve been blessed to meet some wonderful people and consider you all friends. However, being the inquisitive person that I am, I wanted to know more, so I thought asking a few questions would be fun.

Each week I was thrilled to see the interaction that was happening. You asked additional questions that revealed more interacting facts about the person in the spotlight and yourself. That part I loved!

What made me the happiest was to see you go to the person’s blog for the first time, leave a comment and then start to follow that blog. When that started happening, I knew it was mission accomplished. So thank you to all who participated both in the spotlight and in the conversation. You all are a talented and often comical bunch!

Next week I plan to share some good news I received during the summer of 2014 and I hope you’ll have some good news to share as well.

Enjoy your weekend!


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Summer Spotlight: Renee Johnson

189_7374461562651070902_n (2)Hi Jill and all of your blog followers and readers. Thank you for allowing me to join your wonderful list of author interviews. It’s been fun and interesting getting to know the writers a little deeper.

For those who are already familiar with my work, you’ll recognize me as the author of http://writingfeemail.com and http://reneejohnsonwrites.com. The first is for pleasure, photography, and whatever pops into my head. The second is based solely on my journey as a writer – what I’m doing, thoughts on working with an editor, etc.

My first novel – Acquisition – is being published by The Wild Rose Press and is scheduled for release on November 7, 2014 through http://thewildrosepress.com and all of the other usual sites.

Now onto Jill’s questions.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?

So many people came to mind, but in the end I decided on the first one to pop into my head – Ernest Hemingway! He had so much courage, yet in the end, succumbed to his depression. How enlightening would it be to sit with the man who changed the way we write and then naturally get his opinion on some of my work! (Of course, I might then wish I’d chosen a different answer.)

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
Speak other languages fluently, especially French and Italian. Even when I work at it the words seem to fly out of my head as quickly as I chisel them into it.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

Time. There seemed to be plenty of it when I was a child. I could read for days on end. Now, there’s barely a spare minute for even the blogs I follow, much less the many novels waiting for me on my Kindle.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
A lot of answers popped into my head for this question. There are physical challenges, mental and emotional ones, and some professional hurdles as well. But in the end, I think I’d have to say releasing that first manuscript for someone’s critique took a lot of courage. Writing is such a personal act, even if the scenes and characters only exist in your imagination. When others read your words, they are traveling not only through your novel, but through your mind. It’s very intimate and makes me feel quite vulnerable.

If you could visit any place in the entire world, where would it be?

Egypt. My traveling friend and I were discussing visiting when the uprising occurred. Since then, it hasn’t seemed wise. But there is something about the history of Egypt and its pyramids which speaks to me.

If you could go back in time to change one thing what would it be?

Oh boy. This gets tricky. There are so many things I would want to change, such as my father’s death – as untimely as Ernest Hemingway’s if you know what I mean. But, in the end, if you like the person you now are, you also have to realize changing events in the past alters who you would become in the future. So given the necessity for the courage and determination these events seared into me, I suppose I’d change nothing and just learn to be at peace with everything up to this point.

Thank you so much for taking the spotlight, Renee. I know it’s a busy time for you with your book release and the writer’s residency. I wish you all the best and I look forward to reading Acquisition.
Up next week, I’ll be back!

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