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

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!

Writing & Publishing

The Hydrogen Sulfate Conundrum

What happens when five dogs eat 20 pounds of cat food? You end up awake all night forced into breathing the wretchedness that is rotten broccoli and dying chicken smell, in the form of hydrogen sulfate. You do this while the main commode for the house continuously runs all night long because it decides to break at 11 pm.

You flush the toilet several times to try and fix it, but each time only changes the sound. First it sputtered. Then it hissed. Next came the foghorn sound, followed by the puttering noise. No matter how much you flush and “jiggle the handle,” the noise just changes like when you forward through a CD. The problem is, all the songs suck except the one you bought the CD for, so you keep skipping to the next track, (Hello, I’m looking at you Adele!).

So this was my night. Lucky for me, all 5 dogs slept with us last night, including Baker who usually sleeps on the couch (not sure if he’s protecting the door or just figures it’s more comfortable than the dog beds we have). Last night he was kind enough to sleep in the bed, with his head at the foot, and his rear end facing me. I have a feeling he was the instigator of getting into the cat food bin, and ate the most. He was the only one who still didn’t want dinner.

Oh, keep in mind, the toddler and the redneck (yes, my husband, whom I love more than anything, is a redneck….just look through my pictures) were also kind enough to add their own hydrogen sulfate to the mix as they slept.

I digress.

Why does this matter? Because I had a LOT to do today….and I am just dragging. Being pregnant takes a lot of energy, but when that alarm went off this morning to get Talia ready for The Little Gym, I was already wide awake.

Bill took Talia to her class, but we had a ton of errands to run and then I needed to get ready for CampNaNoWriMo!

If you have heard of National Novel Writing Month, you know about the challenge to write a novel in a month. Actually, it’s 50,000 words in a month, which is really more of a novella than novel….BUT IT’S IN A MONTH!

In July, Camp NaNoWriMo takes place. There are a lot less rules. The idea is to get you writing. If you’re a writer, you need to check this out. You pick your word count, and you can work on a project in progress…which is my plan.

I am about seven chapters into Seeking Sita, and would like to finish this month so my editor (aka “mom”) can edit. My friend Kim, also a writer, talked me into Camp NaNo and I think having challenges and other writers around via internet will help me meet this goal!

If you are an author and would like to participate, feel free to check out the website and find me!

Military Spouse Life

Well, Hello December

I don’t even know where to start!

Thanksgiving was awesome as I got to see my dads family AND my cousin Stephanie revealed some big news.

Actually my grandmother spilled the beans.

I was on the couch while grandma was at the other end talking to my cousin Shea. Technically, Shea is dating Stephanie, so he’s not blood related, but my family doesn’t care about that! Anyway, my grandmother asked Shea about the baby, and I overheard it….

“WHAT BABY, SHEA?” I wanted to know.

Shea hesitated. He can’t lie to me. It’s actually cute. He said he thought about telling me they got another dog (apparently it’s a family thing…not just Bill and I…..we ALL have rescues). As Shea stood there fidgeting, I took maters into my own hands and pushed passed him and my tiny grandmother (she’s MAYBE 80 pounds and 4’8″….she’s your quintessential¬†Italian grandmother). I marched into the kitchen (which is a HUGE NO-NO when Aunt Lani is cooking) and demanded to know from Stephanie “what baby is Shea hiding?”

Sure enough, Stephanie is 10 weeks pregnant, which is so exciting for both of us since the kids will be close in age!

Bill and my dad came back in the house and in typical Tina fashion, I yelled out before anyone could say anything “STEPHANIE AND SHEA HAVE TO TELL YOU GUYS SOMETHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I can’t keep a secret. I just can’t. I give Christmas presents in November because I get so excited. I’m THAT person in the family.

Thankfully, my family gets me and Stephanie told my dad and Bill, who are both also excited. Grandma is 92 and has no idea she spilled the beans! It’s actually rather funny.

Back in Charleston the next day, Bill actually went with me to look at baby furniture on black Friday (this is HUGE for a combat vet with PTSD. In general, crowds are a BAD thing. Marines are trained to know where everyone is, what they are doing, and what they are about to do. Having so many people in an uncontrolled environment has to be complete chaos in their minds, and they tend to shy away from large groups.) It makes sense, but Bill wanted to look at baby furniture AND the recycle store for kids (think Goodwill for kids, but BETTER!) was having a 30% off the ENTIRE store sale. I’m so proud of Bill! He did great! We found a stroller for under $50.00, some clothes, and a sleeper, bouncer, thingy. I have no idea what it is, but she needed it!

Monday morning Bill woke me up at 0430 freaking out because at 0930 we were having an ultrasound and he couldn’t wait.

Both Bill and I were married before and he lost a son when his ex-wife was 7 months pregnant. She had preclampsia and did not know it (because she wasn’t going to the doctor like she should have been!) and so their son passed away. Bill was fighting in Iraq when it happened and had to fly home on emergency leave. They then returned him to Iraq (ugh) and when he returned to the states a few months later, his now-ex was sleeping with all of Camp Legeune. Bill is much more reserved about it than I am. I hate her for what she did to him. He didn’t deserve that in the least!

Anyway, I explained the situation to one of the midwives where we are having Talia (she also happens to be former military.) She decided to do another ultrasound for us since this is about the time in the pregnancy when Riley was lost, just to reassure Bill.

At 0730 Bill came in the bedroom and pounced on me to get up. Then he started texting me from throughout the house to get up so we could go see our baby girl. I watched him watch the ultrasound. You never saw a more proud daddy!

We went to breakfast after the ultrasound and got a call from his buddy Josh. I’ll make it short. Josh found out he was a baby daddy through a DNA test yesterday, and when he took a bunch of xanex and then came over and drank, he passed out on our couch. I called his parents so they knew he was safe. Turns out Josh is a recovering drug addict and we had NO idea. Some things did not add up, and we only knew him about a month, but I’m glad his parents came and got him and he is out of our lives now. Bill and I were all about helping him get set up with the VA and getting his benefits, only to find out he is not entitled to them because of a dishonerable discharge due to drug use. The whole thing came as a shock, and I’m really glad we found out now instead of later!

Lastly, IT’S DECEMBER!

I did not finish National Novel Writing Month. I am disappointed in myself, but I’m also trying not to be too hard on myself since I am pregnant, work full time, go to school full time, and have 5 dogs and a redneck to take care of. As it got closer to the deadline, I opted to not crank out words for the sake of a word count, but rather take my time and produce somewhat quality work.

I also did not get my book proposal finished and to my former professor on time. I did get him his pie for Thanksgiving though (priorities). So I’ll be working on the proposal more this week.

Phew!

It looks like December is going to be just as busy….oh, and Bill and I get married in 26 more days. Thank goodness it’s nothing big….but damn….this girl is BUSY!

Military Spouse Life

I’m a Mess!

I won’t lie, I have TOO MUCH going on! So I feel behind.

In school I blatantly did not do an English paper (on King Lear of all stupid things) because, well, I didn’t read the book. I bought it today on the Kindle on my computer……it’s actually rather scary how easy it is to buy a book on Kindle….good thing I much prefer books I can hold and have only downloaded a handful in my life. Anyway, I didn’t even have to enter a credit card…..hopefully there’s money in whatever bank account that is linked to!

For National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, people are starting to validate their novels and “win” as of this week. I’m at 16,500 of 50,000 words…..sooooooo I guess I know what I’m doing over the weekend. I’m off for the holiday, so I better bring my laptop along.

Wednesday, Bill is going to drop off a pie to my former English professor. I had planned on sending along my book proposal for my non-fiction book,for him to look at. Guess what isn’t done yet? I guess Professor Macy just gets pie and no light reading for the holiday!

A lot of not getting things done has to do with being pregnant. The person who said “you get your energy back in the second trimester,” LIED! She is sucking the ever loving life out of me….but, she is less than three months from being here (that is if she comes on her due date. Hopefully she is on daddy’s schedule and not mine! I’m forever late! In fact, I was born three weeks late, and only because they took me by force.) I wish she was here already! I hate waiting!

Tomorrow is a day filled with work and then PIE BAKING. This year, I don’t have a million orders for the bakery, since we are really just putting that on hold until we move home. I do have several for my family, the neighbors next door, and Josh’s family. Josh is someone I work with and Bill’s best friend. I don’t know if it’s the military bond, or what they have, but they are seriously inseparable. Luckily, Josh is a chef and is coming over to help bake tomorrow, so I’m not trying to do it all myself. I hate asking for help, but he’s insisting.

Lastly, I will leave you with this link to make you smile. I love ice hockey, and this video Bill found literally brought tears to my eyes! I have decided Bill loves hockey just for the violence….just kidding, but not really. Saturday night we went with some friends to the SC Stingrays game. After our team literally knocked out two teeth of a guy on the other team, the game came to another stop in the third period, when two yahoos beat on the glass so hard, it broke. Those two yahoo happened to be Bill and Josh. Chris helped, but not like those two. The glass did not actually shatter, but the metal bar holding the two glass plates together “popped” forward and was no longer securing the glass, so two of the panels were not secure. When they grabbed the president of the club to come look at it, I thought for sure we were all going home early. Actually, the ref gave them the thumbs up and told them “nice job,” which only encouraged them. My friend Michelle was sitting with her other half, Bryan, in a different part of the area….I at one point sent a text saying “I hope y’all can see whats going on from where you’re sitting, but yes, that is Bill and Josh who did that.” How many people get to say their other half stopped an ECHL game for three minutes one period for breaking the arena? As of right now, they are still rather proud of themselves. I’m sure it’s going to be one of those stories we hear forever…

I’m up at 0415 tomorrow, so time to sort through the pile of dogs on the bed, and see if I can find some room for myself!

Ciao for now!

Military Spouse Life

Operation Cookie Takeover

imageSo this is what a box of 250+ cookies about to be shipped to Afghanistan looks like! I know you really can’t see what 250 cookies looks like, but it’s A LOT of cookies….and we figured if we were shipping them over to the troops, we better do it right and send the BIG cookies…with small, round, colorful, won’t-melt-in-your-hand (or hopefully during shipping), chocolate pieces included!

We received an email earlier in the week asking us to jump in and bake since someone who had committed to doing them had to back out. Since Bill and I met after his 4 big deployments in the USMC, I never got to do this for him and his company, so whenever someone asks the bakery to do anything related to the military, I answer “HELL YES” as quickly as I can. It doesn’t make Thanksgiving any easier for those who are deployed, but it might help for a minute….or as long as the sugar rush lasts.

I almost cried when I packed the box and placed the paper inside explaining why the troops were getting the cookies. Attached to the information sheet is small slip of paper (it’s on the back, so you can’t see it in the picture) with the name of someone who means a lot to me.

Rewind about 30 years (I’m 33 now) and in a small horse town in Connecticut, I learned my first words, took my first steps, and started making mudd pies under the willow tree. Fast forward to 2012 and a coward with a gun opened fire in a small school in that town, called Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. While I did not attend that particular school, (I lived on the other side of Newtown). I had personal connections to three people inside. Two of them are no longer with us. One, a first grader who is the cousin of one of my BFF’s, witnessed the shooting in his classroom.

Each year, in honor of the 26 people innocently killed, Bill and I participate in 26 Acts of Kindness with We Are Newtown. We take the 26 names and attach them to 26 random things we do between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you jump on Facebook, you can like the We Are Newtown page and get a complete list of names so you can participate. I will also post the names here as soon as I figure out how.

This year I was able to take two things really important to me…our military, and my hometown, and honor them both. Yes, it’s just a box of cookies, but maybe it will inspire others. What if we all did 26 random acts of kindness each year? How amazing would that be?

I must sign off now because my eyes are tearing up and because I am SERIOUSLY behind on NaNoWriMo. People are starting to validate their novels and be deemed “winners.” I’m still introducing characters……but cookies wait for no one!

Ciao for now!