Life

May Day, May Day, We Need A New Goal!

You know how Facebook has the “On This Day” feature? (I guess it’s a feature, but sometimes I don’t WANT to look back!)

Today is May 1st and Facebook was kind enough to remind me a year ago today Bill and I bought our first home.

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I know it looks small, but it is actually really big and I still love it!

So then Facebook reminded me about two years ago. Two years ago I graduated with my Certificate in Professional Writing:

Look how little Talia was!! She was only a few months old and just a little “nugget!”

So fast forward to today….

I feel compelled. Compelled to accomplish something. The funny part? I didn’t really think about May 1st as being the day we bought our home, and I completely had forgotten the date of graduation. Why is it funny? Because I set today as a launch date for a new project!

Several years ago I was the Editor-In-Chief of My Petz Magazine, Charlotte, NC edition.

I also was the head writer, editor, and sold advertising……it was super grass roots!

The magazine was successful, until payday came. My pay was based on the ads I sold, nothing else (so my “friend” and I could get the magazine off the ground).

Payday came and payday went. There was a lot of avoidance from the publisher…and then the email came.

I wasn’t getting paid.

All the money (allegedly) went to publishing the magazine and everyone was getting paid except me. This means the graphic designer was paid, the printer was paid, but I wasn’t paid.

I was beyond upset. I was counting on the money to …you know…pay bills.

Thankfully I had a second job.

The publisher of the magazine decided to fold everything (including the original publication in Atlanta, GA) and be done with the whole thing.

So here I am in the Midwest. I have tons of other experience in other areas of publication, I have just never owned my OWN magazine.

St. Louis (the biggest city near me) has no pet publication…

I decided to go for it and launch a magazine. I started setting everything up with the “launch day” set for today as far as social media.

It wasn’t until I logged into my FB account, I saw today is generally a day of accomplishment.

Now none of this takes away from all the other things I’ve accomplished. It just feels good to be moving forward when so many things have been rough! I need to have a plan…even if it changes along the way.

I know I need to write, and I need to be able to work from home as much as possible for my husband and my kids. I can’t tell you how many appointments we have every week for Bill alone. He sometimes can go to three different VA/Vet Centers in two days…it’s insane!

Pets have always been something I am passionate about, along with writing. There’s an opening in the market for a great, quality magazine in the area not too far from me, so I’m going to go for it and see what I can do!

 

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Writing & Publishing

Can I Get a Do-Over?

Did you set some New Year resolutions this year? I did. One of them was to blog more. Yeah….at least once a week. Don’t look back now, but that has NOT happened!

Why?

Things like The Case of the Missing Eggs, and The Butterscotch Pudding Incident have kept me away.

Allow me to explain.

Our oldest child (Talia) just turned three. She LOVES eggs. She thinks helping mom bake is about the coolest thing ever (poor kid). I noticed one day, there seemed to be some eggs missing from the tray. I didn’t think too much about it, since hubby often makes the kids breakfast to include eggs.

A few days later, I pull the laundry out of the dryer, only to see egg shells trapped in the lint trap…but no eggs. I asked Bill about it, and he just shrugged it off.

I moved on.Eggs Image

Three days later, I notice the dogs and toddler got into one of the cabinets in the kitchen. The pudding was missing, and a light brown dusting ran from the kitchen to Talia’s room. Sure enough, I checked her room and Peppa Pig, the bright pink comforter, and cream colored carpet were covered in several packages of pudding mix.

So now I have to strip the bed, clean up all the packaging, and wash the comforter without making pudding in our new washing machine.

I was about to hand over my mom card and toss the whole thing outside, when upon picking up the comforter, our rolls about four half cooked eggs. They weren’t raw, but they sure as heck weren’t hard boiled.

My mind immediately went to the eggs shells from the dryer, and then I pieced it all together.

My aspiring pastry chef daughter must have taken the eggs to play with, left them in the dirty laundry pile, and Bill didn’t see them when he loaded the washer. They then went with the bedding into the dryer, where they were slightly cooked, and peeled of their shells, which ended up in the lint trap.

Now I have a comforter covered in pudding mix, half cooked eggs on the floor, a toddler laughing, and three of the six dogs trying to get at the eggs and pudding mix.

Bill is, of course, MIA when this goes down, so I have to battle the kids, dogs, and mess on my own. I call my mom, who is laughing too hard to help. I hand the phone to Talia so my mom can at least long-distance-babysit for a minute.

I can’t toss the comforter outside, because the other dogs are out there. I can’t toss it in the wash, because both the washer and dryer are loaded.

In the end, I finally let all the dogs in, threw the comforter out the door, and organized the chaos just in time for Bill to get home and the laundry done.

So what is the point?

Well, no one is getting butterscotch pudding EVER again, but these are the reasons I have been so bad about blogging.

My lack of writing in general has been nagging at me lately, so I packed up all the extra things in my life which don’t make me happy. I cut back on the number of hours I teach yoga, I cleaned up my office, and I packed up the millions of little projects around the house.

I feel better.

So now, my new focus is on writing. I still have to work my 9-5 job for now (but seriously, I work in hockey, so it’s about the best 9-5 job you could ask for), but I’m moving toward being able to write full time.

Will you tag along on the journey? What if I promise to write to you, dear reader, more often?

Let’s try!

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!

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.

Writing & Publishing

Book Club: Six Miles to Charleston

Six Miles to Charleston: The True Story of John and Lavinia FisherSix Miles to Charleston: The True Story of John and Lavinia Fisher by Bruce Orr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Have you ever read a book in one sitting? I did! It was this book. Granted, the book is not exceedingly long at 125 pages, but the content was so engaging.

When I first moved to Charleston, South Carolina six years ago, one of the first things I learned about was the legend of Lavinia Fisher. Some claim Lavinia Fisher and her husband John Fisher were convicted mass murderers, making Lavinia the first female serial killer in the United States.

Legend has it, John and Lavinia owned an inn just six miles north of Charleston. When someone would stop there on their way in or out of town, Lavinia would invite them to tea and ask questions to determine if the guest had anything of value on them and if they would be missed should they not turn up at the next destination. If the visitor fit the bill, Lavinia would poison them with tea. Once the guest was asleep in their hotel room, Lavinia would sneak into the room, pull a lever, and the unsuspecting guest would fall into the basement pit, allegedly full of spikes. John Fisher would then dismember the body while Lavinia robbed them of their belongings.

The legend goes on to say there was one man who escaped (he did not care for tea and poured it in a plant) and made it into Charleston where he alerted authorities to the gruesome crimes taking place just outside of Charleston. John and Lavinia Fisher were arrested and brought to the Old City Jail.

The couple was then sentenced to hang for their crimes. The beautiful Lavinia is rumored to have worn her wedding gown to the gallows where she hoped after her husband was hung, she would find a suitor to marry her and save her from death. When one such man did not appear, her final words were β€œIf you have a message for the devil, give it to me and I shall take it to him.”
It’s quite the story, don’t you think? Since her hanging in 1820, locals and tourists alike, claim to see the ghost of Lavinia, roaming Charleston in her wedding gown.

So why does this book exist? Well, there is a lot wrong with the legend, and so Bruce Orr, a Charleston local, set out to find the truth on Lavinia Fisher. As exciting as the legend is, much of the story is not true. The facts however, are quite engaging and interesting; so much so, I could not put the book down. It involves a highway gang, a president of the United States, a drunken jailer, a disagreeable sheriff, corrupt local government, and some other unsavory characters from historic Charleston. As sad as it is to find out the legend told to thousands of tourists each year is not the exact truth, the discovery of the truth in this book is even more exciting than the legend.

I originally picked up this book as a point of research for a historical fiction project I am writing, only to discover a well written, engaging, true story anyone who has ever lived in or visited Charleston needs to read!

 

View all my reviews

Life · Writing & Publishing

Settling In!

While adding a new member to the family always requires an adjustment period, I’m happy to report things are going well with our new family member.

Talia thinks Liam is hers!



We love how much she loves him. She’s not the only one….


This is Addison. Her mom is one of my BFF’s.


Addison’s brother, Ellison….


Their talented mom, Selena. Selena is a newborn photographer and we were so excited to do pictures of Liam.



So far, this is the only one we have back. She’s so busy with sessions, it will be a few weeks before we see them all. This picture is one of my favorite EVER!

Here Selena was editing AND holding Liam while I used her oven.


So why am I using her oven? Well, she had a session requiring a smash cake. Even though we closed the bakery and are moving next May, I still make her smash cakes. The problem? Our oven caught fire last week.

Thankfully no one was hurt, and it didn’t happen while we were evacuated, but there’s nothing like waking up to the smell of something burning INSIDE your house. 

When I woke Bill, he insisted someone was burning toast. Um, there’s no reason we should be smelling someone’s burnt toast in our house. Sure enough, he went into the kitchen and the INSIDE of the oven was bright red. The oven locked itself shut as if it was on a clean cycle, and the only thing Bill could do was unplug the unit.

It took the fine people at GE almost a week to call us back. Our model wasn’t recalled, but they wanted to come look at it anyway. By the time they tried to finally come out, the landlord had replaced the unit. Pretty sure I won’t be buying any GE appliances anytime soon!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Bill and I started the next semester of school and Liam went to his first hockey game.


He basically slept through it all, even when daddy (Bill) was recognized as the Hero of the Game for his service in the USMC.




So proud of him!!!

I feel as though I can really get back to writing and querying over the next few weeks. I’m still tired, but not like I was when I was pregnant with Liam. November is National Novel Writing Month and it’s time for me to put out another novel! I’ll be sure to put together a bit about the idea and share with you over the next few days. Hopefully I can get out 50,000 words again this November, even with a toddler, newborn, school, and everything else!

Life · Writing & Publishing

Celebrating with Edgar Allan Poe

Today we celebrated!

Yesterday, after hours pounding away at my keyboard, I finished….

I finished my novel.

I landed at 84,344 words. I was thinking it would be closer to 90k, but the story has been told and now we start editing. I have to go through it once, then send it to my mother. I know there are a few places I need to add some things, so I think this is close to the final number of words, which is ideal for a first novel.

After a quick trip this morning to the birth center to check on Liam (all is well!), Bill, Talia, and I headed out to Sullivan’s Island to have lunch. The famed Poe’s Tavern serves up the most AMAZING burgers, and given the theme of the tavern, it seemed an appropriate place to celebrate!

Bill insisted on riding his motorcycle out to lunch, with Talia and I following behind in my truck. When we arrived, we had a short wait for a table (the place is always packed!). We were seated and then approached by the manager (of course my first thought was “crap, what did I say???”). A patron, and Army Veteran must have seen the patches on Bill’s riding vest. He has one for his purple heart, another one for his time in Afghanistan, and one for his three tours in Iraq. The man had given the manager a $50.00 bill to pay for our lunch!!! I seriously almost started crying. It was an amazingly sweet gesture and Bill and I will be sure to pay it forward!!

If you’re ever in Charleston, SC, you need to visit this place. They recently opened two more locations, but we are excited to have ours be the original. Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie, which is on Sullivan’s Island. It’s been long debated, but I really think when Poe refers to “The Kingdom By The Sea,” he is referring to Charleston!

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The picture is crooked because the sun was in my eyes! I had to take it blindly! Notice the Raven in the logo?

These two always love a trip to Poe’s!

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The Goldbug! (Goldbug Island is right up the road!)

 

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My handsome husband posing with Poe.

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The menu. Sorry the picture isn’t great. It’s a tavern, so the lighting isn’t the best. If you can read it, you can see all the burgers are named after his poems. I had the Hop Frog burger while Bill had the Amontillado. I gave him cr@p in front of the server (Jordan, who was awesome) about the way he pronounced it. Turns out he said it right, I said it wrong, and apparently a “Redneck can read” as he proudly announced to everyone in our section! Love him!

Talia loves dipping. She JUST eats the fries. She might eat a burger, but we didn’t bother offering her any…they are so good! This is my Hop Frog burger!

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Bills burger.

Talia checking out the art on the wall (all Poe themed.) The second picture is Talia looking like Ms. Hollywood…apparently I caught Bill off guard.

We had a great time celebrating, are really appreciative of the great meal and the vet who paid for it, and now it’s time to start editing!