Jill Weatherholt

Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey


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The Gift of Today

Image courtesy of JillWeatherholt.com

Image courtesy of JillWeatherholt.com

Each December, for the past several years, rather than make a list of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve chosen one word. My word choice has always been based upon what I’d like to accomplish in the year ahead. The accomplishments typically involved writing so choosing words such as perseverance, faith, commit, focus and resolute kept me grounded and on track with my goals.

As I reflected upon my word for 2016, resolute, I realized while I’d remained determined; the year had rushed by in a blur of deadlines, edits, proposals, copious emails and blog posts. All of this, outside of my day job, which comes first. I had lived the year in the future, always focused on what I had to do next. To be honest, it was exhausting.

Did I accomplish my goals? You bet I did. However in doing so, I lived out of touch with the present, and I missed special moments that will never come again. Loved ones, who deserved my full attention, didn’t get it. My body was there, but my mind was a week or month ahead of the moment.

“What day is it?”, asked Winnie the Pooh
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet
“My favorite day,” said Pooh”   ~  A.A. Milne

After scanning through the packed pages of my 2016 Day-Timer, I knew what my one word had to be this year…today.

Image Courtesy of JillWeatherholt.com

Image Courtesy of JillWeatherholt.com

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.  ~   Bill Keane

 

Do you strive to live in the present?


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Welcome Author Lori Virelli

loriToday I’m thrilled to welcome writer, blogger and friend, Lori Virelli. If you loved the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll want to read her post below, and order a copy of her debut novel, Whit’s End. On Amazon, the e-reader version is on sale for .99 cents beginning today and running through Sunday, the 22nd.

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Greetings and Happy New Year! Is it too late to still say that, or is it okay until January is over?

I’d like to thank Jill for offering me this opportunity to talk about my debut novel, Whit’s End. She said to share a bit about me and my writing process. I have a blog and even a short memoir published, but I still get uncomfortable talking about myself. The stories I write aren’t meant to be about me, but to bring out in the open our common experiences in life, hopefully with a bit of inspiration to bring us together.

So, I’ll share where I came up with the idea for my novel. Early in my marriage, as a newlywed, I had difficulty integrating into my husband’s family. I came from loud, expressive Italian-Americans with a flair for flavorful food. My husband’s family was similar to the groom’s in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Good, quiet all-American people who enjoyed bland meats and potatoes. When I introduced pasta to their Thanksgiving meal and brought focaccia bread in place of rolls, they thought their son had married a woman from outside of this galaxy.

Here we are, happily married thirty-one years later. When you love someone, you learn, you adjust, you grow.

In Whit’s End, you’ll find some minor influences from my life in the character, Ava, like her Italian background. The two main characters, Meg and Ava, marry into the dysfunctional Whitaker family. Do they learn, adjust and grow? Both have difficulty adjusting and struggle for years. As their marriages suffer, other men come into the picture. Each woman has to make a choice . . . work on their marriage or fall into the arms of another. Each makes a different decision, which deeply affects their lives and the lives of their families.

I’ve also written a memoir anthology, Home Avenue, with four short, humorous tales about growing up an Italian-American girl in the 1970’s in suburban Chicago.

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As far as my writing process goes, it’s a bit boring. I write the beginning, and then each chapter comes together as I go along. I take notes for the next chapter as I write the one before.

I’m honored that Jill has given me this space to tell you about my books. I hope you enjoy them.

Jill here. Thank you so much for visiting today, Lori. To those of you reading, I’m curious, do you have any family members who could star in your own version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding?

 

nye2016d-ldrv-337x640Bio: I enjoy figuring out (and sometimes over-analyzing) the human psyche, people’s motives, and finding ways to come together. This is why I like writing about relationship dramas. My husband and I recently moved back to our hometown in the burbs of Chicago with our Australian Shepherd, Max. It’s great to be near family again. I’ve written short stories for the magazine Angels on Earth and the anthology, Dogs and the Women Who Love Them. You can find me on line at my blog.


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What’s wrong with yellow?

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Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. ~  Abraham Lincoln

My mother taught me; if you didn’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I’ve carried those words of wisdom with me throughout my life. At the suggestion of my friend and fellow writer and blogger, Pam Wright, I’d like to share a recent experience where my mother’s words were put to the test.

It was a couple of days before Thanksgiving. After work, I headed to the grocery store. My mood was exceptionally good as I looked forward to time off from work and a quiet holiday with my family.

As I entered the store and  strolled toward the shopping carts. A high pitched, scratchy voice stopped me in my tracks.

“Oh my God! You’re blinding me! I can’t see. Oh—I can’t see a thing!” The whiney voice shouted.

Dressed in my bright yellow, albeit fluorescent blazer, I turned to see a woman in her mid-sixties shielding her eyes.

“I’m blinded!” Her prickly squeals echoed throughout the market.

She continued her rant while I stood dumbfounded.

“I just came from another store where I was blinded by a woman in a bright color. What’s going on today?”

The day was cloudy so I calmly responded with a smile. “I guess we’re trying to brighten things up.”

It was then that this complete stranger, dressed in a drab colored jacket and gray slacks, launched her attack.

“That’s not your color!” she snapped.

I stood speechless.

“I’m a wardrobe consultant and I’d never recommend that color for you.”

Was this her way of getting new customers? My feet remained planted, despite my urge to run my shopping cart over top of this crazed woman, who in a matter of seconds was squashing my good mood.

Perhaps my expression told her I didn’t appreciate the attack on my love for the color yellow. Or maybe she realized how ugly she sounded. She lowered her voice and spoke again. “You’re such a pretty girl; I’d just never pick that color for you.”

 The offender

The offender

At that moment, my mother’s voice echoed through my mind. So many words danced on the tip of my tongue. Instead, I held my peace, refusing to allow her to steal my joy. I walked away with no response.

Has a total stranger ever taken you by surprise?


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Welcome Sheila Hurst

100_1226Today I’m excited to welcome my friend, Sheila Hurst. We met several years ago through Word Press and during that time we discovered we have a lot in common. One big commonality is that both of our first published books were a result of participating in NaNoWriMo. She’s here today to share her experience and some terrific advice. Mention in your comment that you’d like to be entered in the drawing for a free e-copy of her book. The contest will close December 10, 2016.

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Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog to talk about the writing process for Ocean Echoes. I’ve always loved visiting here because your posts cause so many smiles, laughs, and memories.

Anyone who has ever participated in NaNoWriMo knows all about the beginnings of my writing process. It was fueled by chocolate, coffee, take-out food, and insanity.

Unfortunately, I must not have had enough leftover Halloween candy because I didn’t make it to 50,000 words back in 2010. Still, by the end of the month I’d probably written more than ever, and that’s saying a lot because I used to be a reporter. Ironically, I left that job because I didn’t want to feel like a writing factory and there wasn’t enough chocolate involved.

I loved the wild ride of NaNoWriMo. I didn’t outline beforehand so I had no idea where the story might take me. There were rough character sketches, but that was about it. The NaNoWriMo craziness made me throw twists and turns and a few silly things into the book, things that I probably wouldn’t have done in any normal writing situation. That’s really something to embrace about NaNoWriMo, because if you’re not having fun while writing it, then reading the book isn’t going to be all that fun either.

Writing partners cheered me on through it all. We checked in with each other and commiserated often. At one point, it felt like another character should be introduced but I had no idea who that person should be. Instead of stopping to think about it for too long, I asked friends on Facebook to suggest a character.

A friend from college told me that a character based on her brother would be perfect because he’s always been interested in science and likes to wear a gorilla suit. Amazingly enough, that character is still in the book and he’s one of my favorite characters.

After NaNoWriMo, I researched and revised for years. My novel is about a marine biologist who studies jellyfish. I work at an oceanographic research facility, so a lot of that research naturally happened at work. I also made sure to read books, newspaper articles, and anything else that would help to add more details. Sometimes I’d simply be reading the newspaper and an article filled with needed facts would start waving at me. Through it all, I kept revising.

It’s true that by the end of NaNoWriMo, you just might end up with a crazy draft. But it’s also true that you’ll have a huge chunk of writing that can eventually be developed into a book. So to any NaNoWriMo writers out there, whether you made it to 50,000 words or not, keep going, keep revising, and remember – you can do it!

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Sheila Hurst grew up in Michigan and Massachusetts, contributing to a split personality involving a love of farmlands and the ocean. Early influences include Harriet the Spy, Bozo the Clown, and the books of Judy Blume and Laura Ingalls Wilder.

She received a journalism degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and worked as a reporter while writing fiction on the side. Her short stories have been Glimmer Train and Writer’s Digest finalists. All-time favorite authors are Barbara Kingsolver, John Steinbeck, and Carl Sagan.

Sheila’s book is available on Amazon.com.

A percentage from the sale of this book will go toward nonprofit organizations working to protect the world’s oceans for future generations.