Author Interview: Desiree DeOrto


Here’s a little treat for  my readers.  I have the privilege to be friends with some amazing awesome cool people. Some of which happen to be authors, a few that I’ve hosted  on here in the past and given some interviews.  My guest today is the amazing Desiree’ DeOrto. AKA Confetti Queen, AKA Wonder Woman.

One of the many things I love about Desiree’ is her tenacity.  Relentless pursuit of her dreams – I could stand to learn a thing or two from this remarkable lady!

Thank you so  much for stopping by my little studio.  I just have to say, I am very impressed with her book trailer.  I’ve seen some book trailers  that are really good and many that suck.  If the trailer has the desired effect on me to want to read the book, then I  call it a good trailer.  If it makes me want to read it NOW it’s a fantastic trailer.  If it leaves me asking questions as to what is this story really about – eh, not so much.

I had a link in yesterday’s post, but here it is again.

Please welcome Ms Desiree DeOrto!

We have got to get together for lunch or a day out  or something!  Perhaps a road trip is in my near future!  At least Penned Con, right? So these questions are relating back to my creative series. ( Go check them out if you haven’t already!)

Alright,  on to the questions.

Do you consider yourself a creative?

Um, yes? lol

What media do you use to express this?

I enjoy expressing myself through basically everything. I create custom art, sing, and write, not to mention I’m addicted to arts and crafts. There’s just something extremely satisfying through expressing yourself and creating something beautiful at the same time.

What inspires you?  Discuss a specific time that inspiration struck.

Really what inspires me is my own, often uncontrollable, emotions, as well as people. To me, the two interact hand-in-hand, though with being manic-depressive the emotions tend to be effected more than normal people. Whenever I feel depression hitting, I always grab a canvas or a sketch pad, and release my demons onto it.

Do you ever struggle for inspiration?

Sometimes. I’m a procrastinator, so whenever I’m not in the ‘mood’, I do anything to get out of what I need to do lol. But once I hop into it and get going, the block usually goes away. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth in the beginning though.

Which is more daunting, beginning or the perseverance to finish, or cutting the “umbilical cord”?

By the time I’m finished with my projects, I’m so fed up that I’m tempted to burn them, so cutting the umbilical is really easy for me. Getting going is usually great, because I’m so overwhelmed with enthusiasm. The push to the finish can be the hard part, because that’s when I tend to procrastinate the most lol.

I guess this is an area that I really need to work on, I have the enthusiasm but after writing out my outline it’s like the closer I get to the end, the harder it is to wrap.  It’s like I panic and think I’ve left out some major details.

Describe your process from inception of idea to conclusion of your work.

Oh geesh. Um, I’ll get struck by an idea for a book, or an overwhelming urge to create something. I’ll be incredibly enthusiastic and attack it, all the while my mind is screaming how awesome and brilliant it is. About a fourth of the way through it, enthusiasm dies, and I’m questioning myself. That’s usually when I start sending people my progress and getting their enthusiasm, which in turn makes me enthusiastic again. That goes on for the remainder of the work, until I get towards the end. By then, I’m so possessed by whatever I’m doing that I finish it without even realizing it. When it comes to my books, at the end of the MS I’m on cloud nine, until editing starts. By the end of editing, I’m so fed up with looking at it that I want to throw my computer lol.

Of the characteristics of a creative, which category most describes you? Which one least fits you?

Umm I guess Time bandit would be the one that fits me the best, with Entrepreneurial Spirit being the least, though when I went through the list, they were all equal in traits that I do have, so in all honesty I’d have to say that there isn’t one that doesn’t fit me the best, because they all do.

Do you struggle with discouragement, distractions, or lack of motivation?

Oh yes, all the time. That’s why I depend on my close group of people who keep me going. I call them my cheerleaders, and they do just that lol.

How do you fund your lifestyle, and how would you describe your lifestyle?

Lol by working my butt off. I run four businesses and also have a night shift factory job. It’s extremely difficult to hold onto, but I believe that the pay off will be worth it. I would describe my lifestyle as utter madness! Seriously, I don’t know how I do it, and wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

Tell me about two of your works that you are most proud of.

Eh, I’d have to say my first book that I ever published, The Prophecy, is the one thing I’m most proud of. The reason for that is because for 26 years, I only thought of myself as others judged me to be. All my life, I was never ‘me’, I was Susie’s daughter, Dave’s daughter, etc. Only expected to be a waste of space, and to do absolutely nothing with my life. Finishing The Prophecy broke through that, making it known that I wasn’t a waste of space. That I was me, and that my voice would be heard.

In that moment, I was petrified, because if I wasn’t what everyone expected me to be, then who was I? Through my writing, my journey, and the pain that I have faced and risen above, I’ve started to figure it out.

Give me a brief bio about yourself, what you want readers to know, and where they can find you and your work.

I’m Desiree, often known as the Confetti Queen. I’m a mother of four adorable little hellions, and whenever I’m not stopping toddler WWIII I’m usually found throwing confetti, generating madness, or creating believable characters in messed up situations.

You can find my books on Amazon and B&N, and can also find me on Facebook. I love talking to my readers! (See links below)

What life titles do you hold?

 Mother, Sister, Daughter, Aunt, Artist, Graphic Designer, Author, Confetti Queen.

What piece of advice would you offer other creative?

Never give up. Each experience you go through, whether good or bad, can lead you to push yourself forward, constantly broadening not only your mind, but your art. Always push forward, always look for the best in each situation, and never lose hope.

That is very similar to the advice that Ryan Nelson gave.  Have you ever jotted down your idea on a napkin, torn bag, wrapper, or sketched a quick drawing of an item on any of the above?

Yes! I find that my receipts I just shove into my purse can prove useful in all situations, as long as I can remember to keep a pen or a pencil on me!

What inspired Generation X: The Rising?

My step-father, Bill, always believed in Aliens. No joke, he believed in Area 51, that the government hid things from us, and also believed in bigfoot. He was eccentric, hilarious, and my best friend. He always used to say, ‘there has to be intelligent life out ther, becuase there isn’t enough on this planet.’ lol. A part of his theories always stuck with me, and even to this day when I see something in the night sky, I’ll look up and think: ‘is that one of your aliens, dad?’ So while I was researching for another book, I stumbled across H.P. Lovecrafts ideals, and it automatically kicked my dads thoughts to the front, so I started writing, and GenX was born.

Alright a bit of fun now, you’ll have to think fast.  Fast & Furious, without Vinn Diesel or Paul Walker.  I know sorry.  But hey, we can look at their pictures. OK, first answer that pops into your head.  Ready?

  • favorite drink:  Favorite drink is coke, hands down lol
  • favorite snack while writing:  hershey’s kisses with almonds or sweet and hot beef jerky
  • favorite celebration meal:   I don’t go out for celebratory dinners. Really, I don’t. Generally whenever I get a book done, I have a euphoric, proud moment… then get right back to work.
  • what music do you listen to while writing:   I’m weird. I’ll be the first to admit it. On my writing playlist (yes, I have one) there’s Allanis Morrisette, The Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, anime music, Godsmack, In This Moment,  etc. I like all genres, except for country and some rap, so I just get all my favorite songs in one spot, set my playlist on shuffle, and start writing.
  • name 2 foods you can’t stand:  Saurkraut  and spinach.  
  • funniest moment online:  I have no idea lol. I’m sure if you asked other people involving my antics online, they could pick a couple of good ones out for you. 
  • best day in the past year:  umm…. the day I got a message from someone I didn’t know at all. She follows me on facebook, and she messaged me to thank me for being who I am, and because of that, it gave her the strength to be who she is.

There you have it folks, the down and dirty on Desiree.  Isn’t she a great sport to play FAST & Furious with me?  Go check out her books!  I just finished the first one and it’s AWESOME!


The Prophecy (Divinity Stone book 1)

The people of Shiloh, Virginia thought it was just a story. A legend to keep children from misbehaving. A challenge to prove you have courage.

What they didn’t know was that it was real.

All of it was real.

When Starlette McKinley moved from the sparkling lights of LA to the sleepy town of Shiloh, she didn’t know that she would be the catalyst. She didn’t know that the rage and energy pulsing through her would be the key to unleashing an insurmountable power that would either be the saving of mankind, or its destruction.

The blood will run, and the prophecy will be revealed. But will she be able to overcome the insurmountable odds? Or will she succumb to the energy within, welcoming the darkness that has become her only friend.

WARNING: Rated 17+ due to language and sexual content

The Prophecy: Amazon:
The Divine: Amazon:
A Stroke of Luck: Amazon:
 Write on my friends, write on!

Generation X: The Rising Cover Reveal


As I sat pounding away at the keys trying to expand a short story to a longer short story for submission to a specific call from a publisher, I get a message from a phenomenal woman.  I don’t know how she manages everything that she does,  but I could almost idolize her. Oh, to have that kind of energy again but then again just the thought of it makes me tired.

So I’m over here, being Miss perfectionist, trying to get my story just exactly right so it leaves a pleasant taste on my own palate, she has knocked another one out of the ballpark. *HEADDESK*  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not jealous – I adore her.  I am just a snail while she is Speedy Gonzales!

I am currently reading her first book ‘The Prophecy‘ and I am nearly finished.  I just don’t have the time to read like I used to.  I’ve read three samples of her work so far, and I can tell you they are page turners.  If I could be left alone with my Kindle for just one hour I’d have finished this by now.

Today– well actually it was Monday the 25th,, but my internet and I aren’t on the best terms lately– is the cover reveal for her latest release Generation X: The Rising. *THROWS CONFETTI*  I am honored  to have this remarkable woman as my friend.


The Elder Race was a story told around campfires. Aliens, monsters, mad men. Those who believed were called insane, but they were right. They came from space, the seas, and below the earth. Turns out they were waiting, patiently waiting all this time. For what, no one knew, until now. They’re coming for what they think is rightfully theirs, the half-breeds that are part human, part Elder.

 Once The Rising began, those who were different were gathered. Separated from the life they knew, those they loved, and moved into camps where they were tested and given the choice. But for Elizabeth, there was no choice at all. They meant to make super soldiers out of them. What they discovered instead was something that no one ever expected.

 Sometimes monsters aren’t the things you can’t see, but rather, they’re the weapons of your own creation. When you’re part Elder, and part human, it’s hard to see which side of you is the true hero, and which side is the monster.  Everything Elizabeth thought she knew about herself and the world around her is changing, but will she be able to get through The Rising alive? Or will she become what the Government wants her to be: The ultimate weapon.

About the author:




Desiree DeOrto is a mother of four adorable little hellions. When she’s not busy wiping noses, stopping toddler WWIII, cooking, or cleaning she can be found creating complex characters in believable worlds, throwing confetti, or causing general mayhem. Desiree believes in the power of words, and works hard to create an escape from reality through her stories. She loves to hear from readers so don’t hesitate to contact her through Facebook.

Amazon Author:

Goodreads Author:


Facebook Author:

The Prophecy


The Divine


A Stroke of Luck



Gen X: The Rising


I hope you are as excited as I am  for this newest release due out October 31, 2014.

Write on my friends, and read a good author’s book!



As a writer, take full advantage of WordPress

This is worth a read! I love the simplified illustration.
AS to the comments – I retain the right as author of my blog to publish or not publish comments. You are entitled to your opinions, but if all you are going to do is what that dog is doing on the post – then get your own blog. You can be the counterpoint to my point. I’ll even link your blog! Then we both win! Now, go read this!

The Thin Line

images (19)

Inspiration does not announce it’s arrival.  It doesn’t telegraph or give you a head’s up.  Much like lightning, it strikes seemingly at random.   I realize that 99.999% of the time, lightning is not going to strike from a clear blue sky.  But that .001% – out of the blue – BAM!

I’ve  made notes in my idea notebook, as to when the idea first struck me,   where, when, who I was around,  what was going on  – there is no pattern that I can discern.  It’s a thin line, that line of genius versus insanity. How close to the razor’s edge  will inspiration take you before your get cut?

The latest idea struck me while attending church.  I tried to pay attention, really I did. The service was all about drumming up volunteers in the children’s ministries, the nursery and  school aged kids. I understand why they do it plus it gives a once a year highlight to let  everyone know what’s going on.  So while they are talking about all things children related . . . my mind wandered.

Sitting on the second row was the associate pastor and his lovely wife.  Hmmm, what if . . . .   as Gru states “lightbulb”!  My youngest daughter says she is impressed and in fear for her life.  She suggested that perhaps I should seek individual counseling.  OH COME ON!  It’s not like I actually put this particular pastor into the story.  It was just a character based on him. And it’s not like it would be the first man of the cloth to ever have a transgression.   Let him who is without sin cast the first stone!

Is it really blasphemy to  imagine that a pastor is capable of a murder?  A murder in plain sight?  Seriously, stranger things have happened.  It’s not like I have him molesting altar boys or anything.

Faith is having a strong core belief in something.  Religion is going through the motions for the sake of following the religion.  We all know religious people that we trust less than the ex-con  down the street.   Many atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, through various faiths.  So why is it so horrific that I get struck with inspiration about a man with dark secrets to hide?

Don’t get me wrong, the real life  associate pastor– as far as I can tell — is a decent man.  It is fiction, borrowed from real life, inspired by an individual with certain goals  he wishes to achieve.

How does a person that is living a double life behave?  Are there telltale signs?  Are they absolutely secretive?  How do they  get caught?  What would terrify him so badly of being caught that he commits a crime openly in public and possibly get away with it?  These are the burning questions that came to my mind while the video played sweet cherub faced angelic children.  These are the details that have  overrun my brain.

Yes, I know I should repent.  Just as soon as I discover the details and scope out the evidence, the red herrings, and   get this dirty scumbag liar!  I’m hot  on the trail now and not even hellhounds can dissuade me from my path. I’m writing down the core ideas while they are fresh, then getting back to my edits on the current project.

I”m very pleased with my latest progress, I’ve sent off 3 submissions this past week, and I have 2 more that I am working on.  I’m having one of those writer elation times right now, and I’m going to ride this wave as long as I can because I know well the breakers are coming soon.

Riding that thin line, Occam’s razor, writer’s elation,  in need of therapy – whatever you call it – Kowabunga dude!

Write on my friends, write on!

Don’t Poke Mama Bear

Quotidiandose does not own the rights to this image.  All rights reserved to artist.

Quotidiandose does not own the rights to this image. All rights reserved to artist.

I’ve gotten used to being excluded from family  gatherings over the years.  I suppose it started with the age gap – I’m considerably younger than my siblings.  I’m also older than my nieces and nephews.  My aunts and uncles are much older,  my father being the youngest in his family and me being a late life baby and all.

My sisters are close – they are a little over a year apart, grew up with each other and they have a bond that is amazing.  My brothers used to be close – they had each other growing up, with only three years between them. Then there’s me – out there on my own. I’ve sort of gotten used to it but there are times when the exclusion hurts.

Facebook is a remarkable tool to see what’s going on in the world, with your friends and family, and in your community. It’s also the devil’s bane to see what’s going on in the world, with your friends and family and so on.  I’m sure everyone is well aware of the horrors going on in Ferguson, Missouri by now; a neighborhood that is considerably closer than I am comfortable with.

Amidst all the wonderful pictures I see for back to school first day of school – I didn’t post any, my youngest is starting her senior year and glared at me with the death dagger stare at the idea of snapping her picture – I set my phone down and backed away slowly – I find a post on my wall that  not only excludes me but my kids.  REALLY?

I’m used to crap from my family, you know every family has conflicts, everyone has arguments but usually in the end when push comes to shove we are blood and we bond together even if it’s only for that brief amount of time. But now the  fecal mater is flying in my husband’s family.  I have to assume it’s me as I am the common denominator.

You can hate me all you want – I really don’t care what anyone beyond my husband and kids think about me anymore. I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with “better than thou” opinions,  the eye-rolls, the gossip.  Seriously, get a life!  But when my kids are slighted  – it’s ON.

Now here’s the thing, I’ve never met the offender in person.  I had the flu over the last gathering when my kids met her.  I’ve never said one word to her, never spoken on the phone with her but this woman just had strike 3 you’re  out.  I know  people talk, and when you’re not around you are the one that is most often talked about.

I’ve refrained any judgment up to this point. For those of you who don’t know  my  personality, let me give you a brief introduction.  I’m usually easygoing, can be the life of the party, spontaneous, laugh easily ( for which I’ve been criticized for laughing too loud, and being unladylike because I joke around),  am generally good-natured, and it takes a lot to make me angry.  I am a good listener – sometimes, other times I am too talkative.  I take life  as it comes and usually don’t get too bent out of shape by most things.  Slow to anger but once I am,  very reluctant to give that second chance.  I don’t judge others – I let their behaviour speak, and in essence they prove themselves one way or the other.  I have strong opinions but you know where you stand with me.

If you’ve read some of my rants here, you know when things set me off but to be honest,  those are rare.  However, having said that once you cross me and prove to be a gossip, talk behind my back, I’m done with you.  You cross my children or slight them – it’s on.  Hell hath no fury like a mother whose children are hurt. 

Like I said I’ve gotten used to being slighted by family.  It’s no biggie to me,  I am  in between the generations,  and don’t really fit into either very well.  BUT,   my kids are a different matter.  In a sense we’ve sort of gotten used to certain exclusions of them by proxy.  You aren’t hurting me or the kids.  What you are doing is creating the lack of a relationship between you and them.

I realize that the offending parties are too wrapped up in their own drama and self-absorbed to the level that they never see beyond the end of their own nose to even understand the full impact of those hurtful words.  Let me clue you in:  you’ve just driven a wedge between you and these beautiful young ladies who are  intelligent, have moral integrity, and more class than you could ever hope to have.   Cutting remarks made flippantly cause irreparable damage to tender hearts.

My heart?  I’m too old to care what they think or give a crap about whatever drama it is that  they feel necessary to create. My girls however are young, impressionable, and vulnerable.  It’s not my fault  that the offending parties are too stupid to realize they are burning down the bridge that they are standing on.  I know my children well enough to know that this will hurt them deeply.  I want to protect them, tell them it’s a mistake, but when it’s posted by the individual publicly on their Facebook wall, how can you deny what is said?  I also know my children well enough that this will be a line drawn in the sand that will not be easily forgiven or forgotten.

I’ve spent the past 20 years trying to teach my kids  to behave properly, have good manners,  treat people as you would like to be treated, watch your mouth, refrain from expressing your opinion when it might hurt someone . . . and then the people who are supposed to care about them, supposed to be there for them, stab them in the back with a butcher knife.

That can’t be undone.  What I can do now is offer my daughter’s this bit of advice, and I hope that you see some value in it as well.

Confront your path with courage, and don’t be afraid of the criticism of others. And above all, don’t allow yourself to become paralyzed with self-criticism. 

I need to work on that myself.  There are times when I let the criticism get to me. There are far too many times when I am my own worst enemy with self-criticism. I want better for my girls, therefore I must strive to do better with myself.

I hope that in some small way you have benefited from a motivational post, or something uplifting by reading my blog.  It is not my wish to create strife for anyone.  All of us are trying to live the best we can, and I know it’s  not everyone that finds it necessary to be  the vinegar of life.  Most of us prefer to be the honey. But when combined, they balance each other out – the one not too bitter and the other not too sweet.  I do hope though that my posts offer a pleasant sweetness to your day, and that you keep coming back.

Life is too short to let the opinion’s of others hold you down, or make you feel  less valuable than anyone else.  I am concerned for my children, but I am also confident that they are mature enough to see this for what it is.  However,  I also know that there will be many tears before they see it.

I remember when my youngest was not quite 2, and was throwing a bit of tantrum.  My friend looked at my daughter with the big gorgeous brown eyes,  long lashes, her lips curled slightly quivering as tears rolled down her face and she said, ” Oh my gosh, how can you ever say no to her?  No one could ever bring themselves to harm such a beautiful child.”

Sadly, not everyone was of that opinion.  It’s their loss for cutting  these precious gems from their life, it’s their life that will be lacking for not knowing their inner beauty, because I know after the dust settles that my girls are strong and they will do the right thing.  I  will never force a relationship on them with anyone that doesn’t value them whether blood relation or not.  This is just one of those hard lessons of life.

I hope that you value the people in your life.  they may have their faults,   they may be annoying even but we should be thankful for them, even for the hard lessons. Be the better person, don’t degrade yourself to their asinine behaviour.

Write on my friends, and live your life with grace!




Twisted Fate

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image, all rights reserved to chronicwriter.

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image, all rights reserved to chronicwriter.


Ever have someone that comes into your life  in a “suddenly” way?  Like when our children are born – they instantly rock our world  like nobody ever can.  We are willing to lay down our lives for these helpless babies.  We are willing to move heaven and earth to make their world a better place.

No one can ever  compare to your children or spouse.  That’s not what this is about.   What this is about are those people that “POP” into your lives suddenly and you connect like you were old high school pals.  It seems a strange twist of fate that you live so far apart because you’d like to be able to hang out with them,  sit down for a coffee, and  laugh together in person. Or maybe walk down the beach to that pier, ogling the pelicans, hearing the waves crash over the sand.  Misty, Cathy, Vicki, Emily, Desiree’, Stacey, Dana – and a dozen others –  this one is for you.

With the negative comments that are a constant barrage against us,  I have a few  bright lights to shine on social media.

Yes, I’ll admit that some of the negatives are very real –  it does become a black hole of time consumption if you let it.

Yes, there are trolls out there that are eager to snare  naive  people for various reasons.

Yes, there are a lot of breakfast posts,  whining and griping, and selfies posted. 

However, today is not the day for negative vibes.  Today I am going to address something that I know  many don’t believe is a real phenomenon.

  • Connecting with kindred spirits.

I have made friends with some amazing people on social media.  A couple of my soul sisters are so similar, it’s eerie.  Through life experiences we connect on a level beyond any that I have with blood relations.  We connect  on topics that I can’t discuss with “real-life” friends.  Topics that I can’t discuss with family.

To be perfectly honest – some of my online friends are more supportive and encouraging than those  in my physical realm. Likewise,  I encourage and support my cybersisters and brothers.   I consider myself lucky indeed to have  them in my life.

Who decides what “real-life” is?  When you can discuss any topic with someone who happens to live 200 miles a way or 2000, is it any different from talking with a relative or high school buddy over the airwaves? Don’t we all have new friends that come into our lives?

  • A great community for career discussion.

I found this to be true in the writing community, not in the mortgage industry.  In the mortgage industry – it’s cut throat every man or woman for themselves.  In the writing community though  there are many groups – some good some bad, some distracting – that you can participate in. With my good online friends we can discuss many aspects of the trade:

  1. World building
  2. time lines
  3. character development
  4. plot
  5. story and continuity
  6. favorite brands of coffee

Where else but in a group of like-minded writers can a gal discuss  hot males  that inspire  our latest leading man, romance, murder, and what’s for dinner all in the same discussion?

I know you all may find that disturbing but when you are writing a story – sometimes fictional characters fall in love, sometimes they get into dangerous situations, and sometimes those characters are murdered.  Sometimes more sinister things are at work than  the  guy in the office that is backstabbing. Sometimes, the world as we know it pales in comparison to a parallel dimension.

My writerly friends know these things.  If I discussed these things with  family, they may try to have me committed.

Regardless of  the story arc, plot twist or latest recipe – the point is that  I value my online friends just as much as my ‘in person’  friends. Sometimes these online friends brighten my day  when real life drags me down.   The day-to-day stuff wears on us,   breaks our back with the weight of responsibility, burdens our heart with the latest family crisis, ongoing illnesses, and drama that is our life.

So in honor of my online friends that I have never met in person but have connected to just like we were sitting around the breakfast table sharing our coffee in  person,  Here’s to you fine ladies!  * Raises coffee mug*

I encourage my readers to express gratitude to  the cyber friends in your life.  Let them know  that you value  their  connection.

Now go!  Express yourself!

Write on my friends, write on!



Twain, The Muse, and Hannibal


It had been a difficult week, and lining up to be a difficult month.  I didn’t want it to continue to a year.  Rejection is part of a writer’s career, but six rejections in one day were too much.  The strain of rejection flowed into the strained relationship with my muse.  No matter how I begged and pleaded, she remained silently aloof, watching me flounder.

            After several days of writing and rewriting the same chapter to the same book I’d been working on for over a year, I reached an epiphany.  Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this writing thing after all and my delusions of grandeur were as much fantasy as those published writings I’d been reading.

            Mom was right after all.  I was just wasting time daydreaming and avoiding responsibility.  My muse must have had her ears attuned to the despair and negative vibes that surrounded me.  The fickle minx chose that as a cue for her departure.

            I knew the moment she had abandoned me, it was for someone whose talent was providing them with a generous income; an income that would keep the traitorous muse in chocolate, silk, and pearls.  I could see her in my mind’s eye lounging on a chase in a tropical location inspiring one of my favorite authors.  She stared back at me in a familiar smugness, lowered her sunglasses and smirked.  She lifted her glass of champagne to me as a sun-bronzed server named Javier brought her a sumptuous platter of crab legs and assorted tropical fruits.  I stared at the tuna salad sandwich on my plate and lost my appetite.

            Feeling like a miserable failure, I’d lost my appetite for just about everything in my life.  Not being prone to depression, my mental state obviously showed.  My husband decided we needed a change of scenery for the weekend.  Money is tight as always but sanity is worth the investment.

            We found ourselves in Hannibal, Missouri.  The term quaint was coined for this small town that is approximately one hundred miles north of St. Louis.  I wanted to be on a beach somewhere tropical–sticking my tongue out at Ms. Fickle Muse – not on the banks of the muddy Mississippi River.  I could hear her riotous laughter at my expense. Inwardly I pouted at the unfairness of the whole situation.

            Best known as the birth place of Mark Twain, this riverfront town has definitely retained the charm of history.  There is a nearly palpable sense of the slower, peaceful pace that is so foreign in our high tech instant world today.  A welcomed sense of lazy summer days offered retreat to the stressful state of mind I had been caught up in.

            A dinner cruise on the Mark Twain riverboat eased us into the relaxed atmosphere of Hannibal.  The soothing rumble of the engine as the boat chugged slowly over the water worked like a massage for our minds.  The spectacular sunset viewed from the top deck with a gentle breeze coming off the water offered the perfect sigh of relaxation to end the day.

Mark Twain riverboat            Back at our hotel, the hot tub offered further relaxation and real conversation, something we hadn’t actually engaged in for some time.  We discussed our job frustrations, family troubles, our growing teenagers, and our future.  It had been so long since we had considered, much less actually talk about our dreams for the future, it seemed strained at first.  It didn’t take long for us to look past the current circumstances to find hope again.

            As I reconnected with my soul-mate, it occurred to me that I hadn’t realized how disconnected we had become.  The busy state in which we lived, the stress we accepted as part of everyday life, and the pressure we were both feeling had been robbing us of enjoying life.  How did we get so caught up in the mess that we forgot to live?

            The next day we visited the Mark Twain museum, Samuel Clemens boyhood home, and Mark Twain Cave.  There was a walking tour of numerous Victorian homes which cost nothing, except a bucket of sweat from the sweltering July temperatures. Ironically the walking tour was far more satisfying than the other tours.

            Over cold drinks and hot pizza, we talked about Twain. I was reminded in the museum that Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer was the first book  I had read voluntarily.  I became fascinated by the adventure of the book.  A whole new world was opened to me through literature.  That book sparked a life long passion of reading, which led to a passion for writing.

            I contemplated this on a deep intimate level, suddenly aware that Ms. Fickle Muse was nowhere to be found when inspiration struck in my childhood.  Multiple notebooks filled with the tales of dragons, knights, monsters, and ordinary people that turned out to be heroes and heroines popped into my mind.  There was certainly not a lack of imagination on my part, so when did she (the muse) show up?

            We discussed the difficulties of Twain’s life.  The adversity that Mark Twain went through in his life could have easily been overwhelming to most people.  Yet, through all of it he managed a certain sagacious wit that is distinctly Twain.

All copyrights to this photo belong to Rockcliff Mansion management.

All copyrights to this photo belong to Rockcliff Mansion management.

            The final day we visited a turn of the century manor called Rockcliffe Mansion. Although renovations were going on in parts of the manor, the tour was well worth it.  It was full of lavish furnishings that were original to the home.  There were crystal chandeliers in numerous rooms.  A very large stained glass window on the landing of the stairwell was designed by Tiffany.  The servants’ quarters were more spacious than the master bedroom of our modest home.  Rockcliffe is a 13,500 square foot American Castle built to showcase Mr. John J. Cruikshank’s wealth.

All rights reserved to management of Rockcliffe mansion.

All rights reserved to management of Rockcliffe mansion.

            The millionaire lumber baron and his wife had four daughters that they raised in this mansion.  There were handles on the fireplace for the girls to hold while their corsets were being tightened by their attendants.  It was a lavish contrast to the austere home that Samuel Clemens lived in as a boy and not five miles separated the two homes.

            Twain came from very humble beginnings and a life of tragedy yet he became one of America’s most loved and recognized authors.  Very few people remember the millionaire lumber baron Cruikshank.

            I’ve heard it said that tough circumstances don’t last, but tough people do.  I’ve also heard the saying “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”  Winston Churchill stated “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”     These are statements made by men who have succeeded in their lives.  These were men who overcame adversity in their own life by applying diligence and following their moral convictions to achieve success.

            It struck me like a wrecking ball upside my head that success is achieved, achieved being an action word.  It seemed so simple, so obvious, that I began to laugh.  The tension began to uncoil as I laughed at my own foolish behavior, my own deceptions and frustrations.  It was at that moment my husband chose to return.  The timing was so imperfect, I laughed harder, realizing he must think I’m as crazy as a loon.

            Such is my life. A series of unfortunate and inconvenient incidences, the worst timing, and a knack for outbursts of laughter at the wrong moment that could either cause constant embarrassment or the source of great writing material.  Who needed a muse when I was comedy central-live, twenty four/ seven? What I needed was to slow down and relax.

            I had a goldmine inside me!  I already had the mining tools and the raw material.  I just needed to start the mining process.  Being abandoned by my muse turned out to be one of the best things that could have happened.  When left to my own devices I was faced with the reality that finding out whether I am made of the right stuff is totally up to me and no one else.

            This modest weekend getaway wasn’t at a tropical resort, or even anywhere I would have chosen.  It was in fact exactly where I needed to be to get myself straightened out mentally and emotionally.  After reading about the adversities that Twain overcame in his own life, I felt embarrassed with myself for the pity party I had been indulging in.

            I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and quit, and I had yet to begin  singing.  The secret to Twain’s success was an old tried and true method.  He didn’t wait for a muse to inspire him. Twain worked many varied jobs.  He worked and he kept at it, never giving up.  He wrote at every opportunity provided and created a few for himself.  “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” (Winston Churchill)

            Zig Ziglar, a well known motivational speaker, states that success is made of the following characteristics:  conviction, commitment, hard work, love for what you do, integrity, character, consistency, persistence, discipline, heredity, environment, humor, luck, faith, passion, and connections.

            Mark Twain had commitment; he kept at it when people told him he couldn’t or that he was a hack.  Yes, even Mark Twain had to deal with rejection.  Twain has been quoted as saying: “There are basically two types of people; people who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things.  The first group is less crowded.”

            As I went through the list checking all the facets that Mark Twain had, I realized that not one of them was having a muse.  Luck didn’t count in his life, unless you counted bad luck. Overcoming adversity provides confidence that the next adversity may be conquered as well.

            That fact had me wondering how my husband and I lined up against the list.  We had lengthy discussions.  We evaluated our strengths, our weaknesses, areas that we needed to improve, and realized there were things we had no control over.  We also realized that there were many more things we could do to achieve our own goals.

            “Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.” This quote by Mark Twain is one of my favorites.  It now held new meaning for me.

            Our circumstances do not define who we are.  What we do with those circumstances determines where we end up.  Armed with that bit of information, I made a new plan.  The drive home was enjoyable with real conversation, laughter, smiles (something neither of us had done in a while) and the sense that we were going to get through this mess that we called our lives.  We decided we need to laugh more often and seek the brighter side.  After all, sometimes it comes down to whether you laugh or cry and laughing is much more enjoyable.  The choice is ours.

            That is the whole key.  It is our choice how we handle adversity. Even though Mom always said I was a dreamer, she also took every opportunity to remind me I came from strong stock.  We are stronger than we think we are and able to do much more than we think we can.  It was time to revisit my dreams, and apply myself to achieving them.  Those dreams became a vision.  The vision became a plan to which I added the determination and perseverance.  I made up my mind to pursue those dreams, and not let anything stop me.

           I posted the words of Winston Churchill next to my desk: “Never, never, never give up.” 

            Less than a week later that fickle muse returned in her lazy manner.  She made a grand entrance.  The large brimmed white sun hat tossed on the sofa, she sank into the easy chair with a resolved sigh.  I ignored her.  She brushed an imaginary piece of fuzz from her gloriously tanned arm, then smoothed her designer dress over her flawless figure.  I continued to work.  There was a great deal of gesticulations and posturing before the slightest whisper of exhaled breath as she stated “Well, I’m here.  I guess we can get started now.”

            I mentally told her to go back to where she’d been.  I politely stated there were other writer’s who were waiting for her and she was wasting her time with me.  That mischievous smirk of hers appeared.  She was rather dense and didn’t catch on for a few minutes.  Never looking away from my screen as my fingers flew fast and furious trying to keep up with my brain, I reassured her she could go.

            Several minutes later she sidled up beside me to critique whatever tripe I had been working on while she’d been away.  That was when I had to be blunt.  “This just isn’t working out.  It’s me, not you. You’re fired.  You can let yourself out.”

            As I continued working on the scene that played out on the screen before me, a sense of achievement and a new-found freedom settled in.  Even if I fail, I’ll give it my best efforts.  It won’t be for lack of trying, or from fear of failure.  My conviction is that I will succeed; it’s only a matter of time.

            “History is” as Churchill stated, “written by the victors”.

Write on my friends – I know I will!