Writing & Publishing

Here’s to Lavinia!

I’ve been working for MONTHS on the research for my next novel. I have done everything from visit the scene of the crime (well, what is left of the site) to taking a ghost tour with my sweet friend, Beth (scroll back to previous posts where we visited Old City Jail in Charleston, SC.) I’ve read books, done online searches, and poured everything I have into the research…. I will be writing historical fiction about Lavinia Fisher (be sure to check some older posts for more on her! I’ll be writing more about the book later in the month.)

Well now it’s time to write. If you have never heard of NaNoWriMo, you need to check it out! National Novel Writing Month happens each November and it’s the perfect time to write a novel. Now keep in mind a few things….I have two kids, a husband with combat PTSD, six dogs, two FIV cats (thankfully both are otherwise healthy at the moment), a full time job, and teach yoga for 5-8 classes a week. I also have some freelance writing I do on the side. My friend Michele also is getting me into essential oils for the studio, so there is a lot of learning going on. As if this isn’t enough, I did just get a scholarship to do some training with Warriors at Ease, so I can work with veterans on Yoga for PTSD.

I have a full plate.

I also plan on writing the first 50,000 words of my novel this month. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in one month. A traditional novel is 80,000-100,000 words, so the entire thing won’t be finished, but it’s a great start!

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I need to write 1,667 words each day to stay on track. So far, I’ve written well over this….in the form of FaceBook posts, this post, text messages to my husband, and of course…….find me on Twitter @TinaRussoKinney or on Instagram @TinaRussoKinney because I like posting there. Sadly, those things do not equate a novel, so I will bid you adieu for now. Hopefully I will be better this month about keeping up with this blog! I also have a website for this (upcoming) book, and I hope to get some work done for you on the site this month too.

If you’re also writing this month, here’s to you!!!!! If not, I hope you will come along for the ride and HERE’S TO LAVINIA FISHER!

Life · Writing & Publishing

Happy Birthday, Fix Your Liver

It’s been a busy few weeks since I last posted, but I wanted to stop and check in with you!

A few weeks ago I started teaching yoga again! I rented a space on Monday nights at a pop-up shop in the next town, and it’s going GREAT! Sadly, this cuts into my writing time, but I really love my time on the mat. Three straight hours of yoga is great for the body….especially as it ages!

Right? Wait! What?

If you count back 40 weeks from this week, you land on New Year’s Eve/Night. With the most popular birthday being October 5th, you can pretty much assume all of us first week of October babies are the result of some hard core partying on the part of our parents as they rang in the New Year. I apparently am no exception, with my birthday being October 6th.

Last week I went to the doctor for a routine checkup and to refill my depression medication. No big deal, right? WRONG. She thought it would be cool to stick me with a needle and draw some blood. (I had Talia with me and she scored not one, but TWO toys even though I had to give up the blood!!) Anyway, I didn’t think much of it, and moved on with my day. The next day though, the doctor called….and told me she needed more blood. Apparently, Dracula didn’t care for my elevated liver enzymes and wanted to do further testing.

Seriously? I’m turning 36, not 86!!!! (Though we all outlived Hugh Hefner, which I did NOT think would happen!)

So after I told Bill what was going on, and called my mother in a panic, and then my dad (demanding an extensive family history…none of which included liver disease) I turned to the World Wide Web for answers….

Here’s a pro-tip for you….if your doctor tells you something might be up, don’t get on the web. If you do this, you will convince yourself you are dying of some foreign disease not in existence for the last 300 years.

Me? I thought I was dying of liver cancer…..

I’m not dying of liver cancer.

My doc called back today and told me I had high cholesterol and had to stop my medication for ADHD because it could EFF you up! (I’m looking at you Lily Pharmaceuticals).

Thankfully, I just need to take a new medication and stop they other medication. I did however jump on Amazon and order liver cleanser…..I know, I know, but what can it hurt? It made me feel a bit better for about an hour.

So tomorrow is a new start. I’ll be 36 (still in my MID-30’s…..not late 30’s yet) and I hope with the new trip around the sun, I can be more diligent about posting on this blog! Be assured, if you don’t hear from me, I’m okay. I’m working on writing my next novel and doing a lot of freelance work! OH! How could I forget??? Hockey is also back as of tonight (I write as I sit in front of my TV). Hopefully I’m a better fan this year. Last year I was working so much, I didn’t log in much fan time.

#GoBruins

#BruinsForLife

Here is a picture of Talia when she turned 1!!!!! #HockeyBabyHockey Baby.jpg

 

Life · Writing & Publishing

I’m Still Here

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this blog, alas, I am alive. I still think about you, dear reader, quite often. The reality is I’m working on a new project.

Let me back up.

We have settled into Illinois and I am sure we made the right decision to move here. I found a day job I enjoy (I literally get paid to drink coffee all day!) and our children are loving every minute of being with family.

Sadly, my paternal grandmother passed away in July. Bill and I had to take the kids to PA and then CT to say goodbye. I won’t get into the sadness of it all. The lady was 95 years old! She lived a good life and now it’s time for her to be with her youngest son and my grandfather again.

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I was able to see my her in April at my cousins wedding. Here is the last photo of us together. Please note my daughter had on pants which were too big, so the last picture of her with my grandmother entails her pants being around her knees….only my kid!

My own kids are growing like weeds, as they say…and Liam was kind enough to wait until we were in a hotel in CT, completely tired and stressed out, to break his first tooth. He’s much happier now, and since getting the second tooth in, he has taken on everything from pasta to Pop-Tarts (the Pop-Tarts are his fathers doing!)

Talia is talking up a storm, and just when I thought she was already into everything, she finds something else to get into.

Back to the project.

I completed the book Seeking Sita. I’m still working on finding a Literary Agent to work with, but in the mean time I am writing The Legend of Lavinia Fisher. Because it’s a historical fiction novel, I have had to do an extensive amount of research, hence my lack of updating this blog.

I did start another website, http://www.LaviniaFisherLegend.com to detail the book. I’m hoping to put together a book trailer once the manuscript is complete and edited. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I am almost done with research and I’m outlining the book so I can start writing.

I’m also baking again, going back to teaching yoga, and finally finishing my degree. I have chosen Forensic Psychology as my major, since most of my coursework has already been in Criminology and Psychology. I feel it will help my writing, since the main theme in my books has been setting the main character free from whatever their struggles have brought them. I can talk more about this once this next book is finished. As crazy as it sounds, I also have ideas and themes for the next two books as well. Basically, I need about 10 more hours in each day!

Until next time!

Life

11 Things I Learned in the South

I’ve been in Illinois a week and thankfully I have not had too much in the way of culture shock! I was a bit surprised when I tried a new grocery store and they required a .25 deposit for the cart, then charged me for bags, then made me take my groceries back out of the cart to bag my own bags…which I just paid for, but nothing was as surprising as the things I encountered when I moved from New England to the South. Some of them are funny (now) and so in no particular order….

  1. Texas Pete is not a biker dude. When I first moved to the south, I left the world of law and my position as a paralegal to wait tables. The money was much better, and I was not stuck behind a desk. A rather large man with a Harley Davidson shirt asked me for Texas Pete. The restaurant was loud on a Sunday morning for brunch, so I did not clearly hear the way the question was phrased….I just heard the name. I was taken back for a moment. I know I have tattoo’s, but what about me made this guy think I hung out with a guy named “Texas Pete”? When I told the gentleman I didn’t know him, he asked for hot sauce in an aggravated tone. It wasn’t until I got back to the server station and asked if anyone knew my mystery man, did I realize my mistake. Texas Pete IS the hot sauce. This was 10 years ago, and I’m sure Texas Pete has made it into New England supermarkets since then.
  2. Armadillos are roadside ornaments. In the 10 years I spent in the Carolina’s, I never once saw a living armadillo. I only saw them on the side of the road….dead.
  3. Alligators will fuck you up. I’m not kidding when I saw my first “Beware of Alligators” sign and about choked. I had no idea I was moving to the land of gator, and I thought they only lived in the Bronx Zoo. Not only do they walk about freely, there was one found at a drive thru window in the heavily populated Tanger Outlets near our house, just looking for a burger. Not cool.
  4. They are still fighting the Civil War. This one is sad. As soon as I landed in North Carolina, and even more-so in South Carolina, it was evident racism is a BIG deal. Having grown up an hour outside of New York City, where you can be anyone you want to be, I was shocked. I can’t tell you how many times I was called a “Yankee” with negative connotation. Some people just automatically hated me because of where I was born. They have not realized the Civil War was over 150 years ago, they lost, and my family didn’t even get here until the 1920’s…..we really had NOTHING to do with it.
  5. They call Cockroaches “Palmetto Bugs!” Not only is this the state bug (gross), it’s a damn cockroach. Southerners can call it what they want…it’s a cockroach and it’s nasty!
  6. College Football is a Religion. It doesn’t matter if you even went to college, or where. Everyone has an affiliation they pull for on game day. Some of the major teams include USC, Clemson, Ole Miss, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. Like I said, you didn’t have to go there, you just have to wear their colors and carry their koozie around….which brings us to number 7….
  7. Everyone uses a Koozie. I had never heard of this until I showed up in the south. Everyone uses koozies for everything from soda to beer. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They even personalize these things. Having a bakery, I delivered cakes to a lot of weddings. Personalized koozies were so popular, I swear 3/4 of all weddings I did the cake for offered guests their own koozie commemorating the happy couple. Koozies bring me to the next thing…Moonshine.
  8. Moonshine exists. In high school and college I could drink a lot of people under the table….then I met moonshine. People in the south still produce the illegal substance in sheds and can it in mason jars. It comes in a variety of flavors and is often given as a gift…you know…on the down low. This stuff is no joke! My first sip almost knocked me off my stool. I’ll just stick to my Amaretto Sour, thanks.
  9. No One is Ever in a Hurry.  Dear Lawd I cannot express to you how frustrating it is when you’re trying to do ANYTHING in the south in a timely manner and everyone else is just taking their time! They don’t drive fast, talk fast, or just move fast at all. Yes, I grew up an hour outside of New York City where the term “A New-York Minuet” comes from, but seriously folks, people will just miss entire green lights and NO ONE will hit their horn AT ALL…EVER….. These same people enjoy sitting out on their front porch, just sitting. They aren’t even reading a book. They just sit there with dogs next to them…..doing nothing!!!! The dogs bring us to number 10.
  10. Hunting Dogs Are Working Dogs. Here is another sad one. So many people in the South actually use their dogs as hunting tools. When they are done with the dog, they abandon them. The most common of these dogs are Treeing Walker Hounds. I have had 3 in total….all abandoned.

    This is Tremor. He survived one of the worst abuse cases in SC history (by the skin of his teeth) and was once a great hunting dog. Because he’s older, he was abandoned and given to a man who killed over 200 hunting dogs. Tremor was one of 45 to survive.

  11. BBQ is important. In Connecticut, we used to drive over an hour to get the best BBQ in the state….it was also the ONLY BBQ in the state. In the south, BBQ is so serious, each state has their own signature flavor or rub. Some people will only eat certain types of BBQ and I’ve even heard people fight over what is the best. Seriously, I was just happy to have it wherever I went! Some people take their BBQ so seriously, they drive around with smokers attached to their vehicle. I guess it’s “just in case?”

So there it is! The good, bad, funny, and ugly of living in the south.

Book Club · Writing & Publishing

Book Club: Review of Thirteen Reasons Why

I have been without internet for a few days, but we made it to Illinois! I’ll be posting more on our trip later! (Including how I ended up stuck in a cemetery on moving day and how the rabbit was free and under my seat in the truck most of the trip!)

For now, here is a book review: (Be sure to friend me on Goodreads where I post my reviews!)

Thirteen Reasons Why

by Jay Asher (Goodreads Author)

Tina Russo Kinney‘s review

Apr 30, 2017

 

Have you ever wanted to love a book but just couldn’t? I REALLY wanted to love this book. It had been brought to my attention twice in the past week, so I bought it off Amazon and had it shipped. As soon as it arrived, I started reading. By the time I finished the book, I almost hated it!

The book is about a teenage girl who has killed herself. Before committing suicide, she makes a set of tapes explaining the reasons why she killed herself, and the people leading her to commit suicide.

Let me say the book is well written. The first 2/3 of the book had me captivated. Then I found out the reason why the main character was part of the tapes.

I felt cheated.

The main character did nothing wrong. The reason he was on the tapes was quite cliche. At this point I considered putting the book down, but I was quite vested. I read to the end, but was extremely disappointed. I think I held out to hear the last reason amd hoped it would make it all worth the read. I was even more let down by the last reason why!

As someone who has a mental illness, I understand first hand the feeling of wanting to be dead. I understand the thoughts of suicide. None of the reasons given by Hannah Baker deemed ending her life. The girl really needed some perspective. The character also needed more reason to struggle with suicidal ideologies. I know high school can be rough, but none of the stories warranted the feeling one needs to die to escape their pain.

The back of the book included the first chapter of the next book by Asher. At first I was excited to read the sample chapter. By the time I finished this book, I did not bother to read the start of the next one. I had been too let down.

Life

Tanski Talks: My Mental Illness

I have Major Depressive Disorder. It’s not a secret. I’m not ashamed. Sure, I know some people judge because of the stigma around mental illness and being “crazy” but remember, I am currently writing the book on crazy…literally! Visit my Author website to see an excerpt from my book Literary Crazy.

Anyway….. Scott Tankski. Scott Tanski plays for the South Carolina Stingrays (hockey). Last night we had the pleasure of meeting him in person. He organzied the Meet N’ Greet as a “Thank you” to fans who purchased his “Tankski Talks” t-shirts. Money raised from the shirts is being donated to the mental health clinic here in the LowCountry, which I might add, actually saved my life once.

Here is a picture of one of my BFF’s Mersadies, me, Liam, Scott Tanski, Bill, Talia, Big Garrett (Mersadies hubby) and their son, Little Garrett.

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Tanski was personally touched by the story of Daron Richardson, the daughter of a 20 year NHL player (Luke Richardson) who lost her battle to mental illness at age 14. He designed the t-shirts to raise awareness, get people talking, and support local organizations.

Click HERE to listen to the interview of Scott Tanski.

Bill and I purchased a shirt for each of us, one for Talia, and one for my therapist who I will see for the last time before our big move, at the end of the month.

Here is a picture I stole from the SC Stingrays website of all the guys sporting the t-shirt.

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Scott could not have been any nicer. He signed Talia’s shirt for her and I told him (almost without crying) how the organization he is donating the money to saved my life once. (That is a whole other blog post!) He seemed to be appreciative of hearing the story and gave me his full attention, even with a line of people out the door to meet him.

Also this week, I got another tattoo…this one is the semi-colon. It’s not because I’m a writer, but because it serves as a reminder I could have ended my story, but decided not to.

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Project Semicolon was founded  by Amy Bleuel who started the semicolon tattoo trend. Sadly, she lost her mental illness battle last week, so it was time for me to get my tattoo for myself, and for Amy.

Some people get cancer, some people have diabetes, others live with IBS or an array of other medical issues. Some of us have mental illness. We need to start talking about it. We need to accept mental illness like we do other forms of illness. Let me know if you want to chat!

Life

The Case for Peter Rabbit…err…Gizmo

First let me preface this post by saying I do not believe once you adopt an animal as a pet, you should just willy-nilly get rid of the pet. This said, Bill and I did recently agree to find a new home for his snakes.

For starters, moving them home to Illinois from South Carolina poses the risk of one or both tanks getting broken or damaged in the move. This is not a major issue, but my Mother-in-Law has a phobia of snakes. When we got them, we had no idea we would be moving to Illinois. Had we known this, we would not have gotten the snakes at all.

Bill has taken great care of them over the past few years, but I can’t have my MIL deathly afraid of coming into the house once we are home. The snakes are not attached to us the way our dogs and cats are, so we decided finding them a new home was okay in this one circumstance. Again, I don’t agree with getting rid of pets because “we don’t have time” or “they are getting too old,” etc. etc. (I often volunteer for an animal rescue, and I’ve seen it all. I really don’t talk about the rescue work because that is not why I do it. I can’t stand when people do things and then get on the internet and say “look at me….I’ve done something good.” UGH! I hate that. It’s the quickest way for me to unfriend/unfollow you!)

I digress.

While I would not give up one of my dogs or cats, even if I had to live in the street, we sought a new home for the snakes. Now since we are buying a home and about to move 1,000 miles away, I’ve been working as much as I can. I have one job 5 days a week. The second job is then 2 nights a week, until 3:30 am.

Between job 1 and 2, I come home and sleep. Last weekend, I came home from job 1 and tried to catch some sleep before job number 2. Bill takes Talia to the pet store to get food for the snakes. When he doesn’t come home in a reasonable amount of time, I call him. I need him home to care for Liam so I can get some sleep.

He answers the phone and proudly announces he’s found a great home for the snakes. At this point, I don’t care. I’m in the middle of 7 straight shifts, 2 of them being overnight.

Then he lowers the boom. “Oh, but here’s the part you won’t like….” he starts. I’m still half asleep, so I don’t care…yet….

“I got Talia a bunny!”

What…the….actual….F@$K.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, she wanted the bunny, so I’m getting her one from the people taking the snakes.”

I am now awake….WIDE awake.

“She’s TWO!” I remind Bill.

“I know, but she can learn how to properly take care of pets.”

“WE HAVE 5 DOGS AND 3 CATS SHE CAN TAKE CARE OF!!!!”

“But this one is her own pet.”

THIS IS WHAT HE SAID ABOUT THE CAT WE GOT LAST YEAR!!!!!

Do you see why I’m getting grey hair? Shit like this!

Bill goes on to make the trade and I go to the next job. I’m not happy, and I really don’t care if it’s cute or not. I’m also aware Talia would forget about it in a day or so.

Bill then posts a picture on the internet. I’m at work when I get a message from one of my BFF’s, Selena. The photographer. The newborn photographer. Do you see where this is going?

Shes dying to know if we really got a rabbit and if she can do a newborn session with it. Meanwhile, all the money I made that shift went to rabbit toys, bedding, hay, and just dumb rabbit stuff I didn’t want to spend money on.

I WILL give my husband this. Every time he and Talia go into the kitchen, when they get up, and when they go to bed, he does have her “check the bunny” to see if it needs food, water, litter change (oh, yes….I bought it a litter pan), or new toys.

I’m not happy about the rabbit….but it’s growing on me. Without further adieu, meet Gizmo:

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P.S. The snakes are doing GREAT! They hit the jackpot on a loving home!