Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The "Z" word is Zero

The "Z" word is zero...zero days left in 2009. That leaves only hours to complete this year's resolutions. It's time to dump the old list and make a new one, and be realistic this time. Then starting January 1, 2010, zero in on one major resolution at a time and make it happen!

I always make a "New Year's Resolution" list and although I don't accomplish everything, I manage to get a lot of it done. I even break it down into categories. I have my "physical" list, that's what I want to do to get into shape. I have my "emotional" list, the things I want to work on to feel better about myself. I have my "financial" list, my "make life better for others" list, my "family" list, and I always have a "travel" list, stating the places I want to go. Some of these lists overlap. Before I start to make my new list I take my resolutions from the year before and look at the things I've accomplished and the things I have not. Then I take the things from the year before that are still important to me and put those down first, usually with some revisions, making them more realistic or giving them a higher priority.

This year one of my goals is to speak to as many groups, in as many states, as I can about child abuse. Another is to take those extra pounds off I just put on for the holidays. My novels are a big part of this year's resolutions. I have sales numbers set for The Advocate. I have editing and publication goals for my second novel (which still needs a name). And I plan to complete the third novel in the series.

Okay, so maybe I'm a little anal about this resolution thing, but however you do it, it's time to zero in and get started! Do you have a resolution you are particularly determined to accomplish this year?

Happy New Year!
Teresa
http://www.teresaburrell.com

Monday, December 28, 2009

The “Y” word is Yesteryear

I recently spent a wonderful couple of days with my three brothers and two of my sisters. We sat around and talked about days of "yesteryear." I learned things about my parents that were both amazing and heartwarming, things I'd never heard before. My brothers talked about the scrapes they had been in as kids. They shared military stories, girlfriend adventures, and just everyday events at home on the farm. Some of them were pretty wild and crazy, and the details varied a little depending on who was narrating, but all were fun to hear.

My oldest brother, Don, told us how daddy would stay up at night and stir the fire in the wood stove on many long, cold winter nights. Don told us that with the first four or five siblings he didn’t know our mother was pregnant because no one talked about it. He knew she was “sick” and there would be a lot of commotion for a few days and suddenly he had a new brother or sister. Our mother was a little round and he never noticed any difference.

We not only got to hear stories about their adventures but also stories that had been passed down from our parents and grandparents. If you ever get a chance to meet with elder family members and hear stories of yesteryear, take advantage of it. What a wonderful thing to hear the tales that have been passed on from one generation to another. Do you have a family tale to tell? Please share.

Teresa
http://www.teresaburrell.com

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The "X" Word is Xmas

Xmas is a common abbreviation for Christmas. I’ve heard people argue that this is a “modern” way to secularize Christmas by taking Christ out of Christmas. However, history tells us this is merely an abbreviation, just as Dr. for doctor or Rev. for reverend. The abbreviation makes one no less the doctor or minister.

The “mas” part came from the Latin-derived Old English word for “mass,” and the “X” came from the Greek letter “Chi” which is the first letter for Christ in Greek. But no matter how you slice it, it is not a move by a “modern” generation. In fact, the word “Christ” and “Christmas,” have been abbreviated in English for the past 1,000 years. There are references as far back as 1021 AD. It was used in a letter in the UK in 1753, Lord Byron used it in 1811, Samuel Coleridge in 1801, Lewis Carroll in 1864, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in 1923.

For me, it’s a great way to use the 24th letter of the alphabet in my blog. So Merry Xmas, or Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays! Just have a wonderful time, enjoy your family and friends, and celebrate how your heart dictates.

Teresa
http://www.teresaburrell.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The "W" word is Write

To write is to be whatever you want. There’s a mouthful of Ws. That is my tagline on my bookmarks, my website, and my brochures. I get many comments on it from my readers. Most just smile and say, “I like that.” Occasionally, I get asked what it means. The short answer is, “whatever you want it to be.” But I’ll explain what it means to me.

Many people write in journals, or write poems, or just doodle words on scratch paper. Journal writing helps us relive the fun times and release the bad times. Each person who experienced that day with you would write a different story. Each brings their own past to help them interpret the day. And each of us writes into the telling what our mind will let us or what we want it to be at the moment. Some people write poems and they do the same thing. You may be writing about a tree, but it’s still about you, your feelings, your perspective. And doodling…how many young men and women have written their sweetheart’s name on their notebooks? How many young women have written, “Mrs. Blah Blah,” trying on a new name, so they can be who they want.

Me, I write novels because I can create whole characters and watch them grow. In my novel “The Advocate,” my main character, Sabre, is a juvenile court attorney, just like me. But it isn’t me. Yes, I certainly have projected many of my thoughts and behaviors onto Sabre. And, yes, sometimes what she says and does is what I would do, but it isn’t me. Sabre is younger, prettier, thinner, smarter, and richer than I am. Remember, “to write is to be whatever you want.”

If you don’t write, then read…it works there too. I remember being Nancy Drew when I was ten and Scarlett O’Hara when I was sixteen.” What have you written or read that has allowed you to be someone or somewhere else?

Teresa
http://www.teresaburrell.com

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The "V" Word is Valentino

"V" is for Valentino...Nick Valentino that is. I had the pleasure of meeting author Nick Valentino last February at The Southern California Writer’s Conference. What a super, fun guy he is. For those of you who don’t know Nick, he writes in a genre called “Steampunk”. His novel, THOMAS RILEY, was just released. Nick is not only a fabulous writer, he is also a very helpful guy. Look how he just happened along when I was on the “V” word and saved me from having to write about victuals or voluptuous or some other inane word starting with the letter "v." Thanks, Valentino. So, Nick, please use your vision and vocabulary to take us on a virtuous voyage through Steampunk-ville.


Thank you Tee! It’s quite an honor to get one of the twenty six letters. On that note, I want to stress how amazing these writer’s cons can be. The number one thing is you have the chance to learn so much from writers, agents, publishers and other authors. This is invaluable information that you really can’t learn from a book on writing, editing or obtaining an agent. It’s worth every penny to attend a writer’s conference.

The second amazing thing about these conferences is that you get to meet like minded people. Sure, no one was writing a Steampunk book, but no one discriminates on what you write. In fact every one of these I’ve been to, everyone has been quite amazing. The Southern California Writers Conference was where I met your favorite blog hostess Ms. Burrell. It’s also where I met my publisher Karen Syed. I had the first ten pages of my manuscript of Thomas Riley critiqued by Karen because her bio looked interesting. That’s all. One little bio changed my life in the click of a mouse. I’m being honest here. Her bio said something about doing something with the publisher TOR and I said, "Hey that looks interesting." And I picked her and her alone to critique a relatively unknown genre. After our first meeting, we realized that we had a lot of things in common and from there the rest is history.

Karen introduced me to your hostess with the mostest and here I am guest blogging on her blog today. It’s absolutely amazing how things work out. So while this isn’t all about Steampunk, it is about writing, meeting great people and taking the initiative to achieve your goals. My goal, however remote it may have seemed was to get my manuscript published and I did it. Of course the real credit goes to those that believe in you.

My novel, Thomas Riley was conceived in September of 2008. I finished it in January of 2009 and was basically offered a publication in February of 2009. It’s now November and that book is in my hands. I’ll tell you… I’m humbled to be a part of the Echelon Press family.

If you would like to see what my dream of Thomas Riley is all about here’s a short blurb about it.

For more than twenty years West Canvia and Lemuria have been at war. From the safety of his laboratory, weapons designer Thomas Riley has cleverly and proudly empowered the West Canvian forces. But when a risky alchemy experiment goes horribly wrong, Thomas and his wily assistant Cynthia Bassett are thrust onto the front lines of battle and forced into shaky alliances with murderous sky pirates in a deadly race to kidnap the only man who can undo the damage: the mad genius behind Lemuria's cunning armaments.

If you enjoyed that, please feel free to visit:
http://sirthomasriley.com/

You can purchase signed copies directly through me at:
http://thomasriley.bigcartel.com/
or
http://www.echelonpress.com/

Monday, November 2, 2009

The "U" Word is Uncle


Uncle Sam, that is…the national personification of the American government. The first usage of the term dates back to the War of 1812, by the way.

I’m not going to go all political on you now, but I might get a little maudlin. I’m going to talk about Iraq, more specifically about Operation Desert Swap. Because regardless of your views on Iraq, I would venture to guess you still feel it’s important to support our soldiers. I know I do. I have had the good fortune to do my small part through Operation Desert Swap.

Operation Desert Swap is a program started by a mother whose son was recently sent to Iraq. She put together a group of authors and other patriotic people dedicated to actively showing their support for the troops. The program is set up so that each author/person “adopts” a soldier, sending them a copy of their book along with an initial Operation Desert Swap letter. At least once a month we send “our” soldier a letter to help keep their morale up, and we send “our” soldier at least one care package during their deployment, plus a Christmas card. The only thing the soldier is asked to do is to swap their book with another soldier when they finish reading it, and then that soldier swaps it off with another and so on. Currently we are supporting C company 3/25 Aviation Regiment, a medevac unit also known as “Dust off.”

If any of you are interested in participating or getting the project going for another unit, go to the website http://operationdesertswap.webs.com/ for information. You do not need to be an author to participate or start a program. Uncle Sam would be proud.

Teresa Burrell

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The "T" Word is "T"

That’s me…just "T." My given name was Teresa (no “h”), misspelled on my birth certificate, by the way. It was written Treasa, but later corrected (I think), but not butchered as bad as my father’s last name on his birth certificate. His last name was Johnson. Pretty simple, right? Well, it was spelled Jozsonhoz (or something like that). I researched for a long time to make sure it wasn’t a name change, but his father and grandfather were both Johnson. It was the turn of the century and my guess is some German midwife who didn’t speak English probably couldn’t spell the name.

I was born Teresa, and other than a few childhood nicknames (Sweet Pea, Trazer, Honey Girl, Tree, and #9), stayed that way throughout grade school and high school. In college I somehow became Teri. That stuck for about ten years and then faded. People that knew me back then still call me Teri. The only recent friend I have who calls me Teri is Jeff Sherratt, my mentor and author of "The Brimstone Murders" & "Guilty or Else," and he’s such a fabulous guy he can call me whatever he wants.

When I taught school some student started calling me “Mrs. Charmin” from the toilet paper commercial…I was squeezably soft, I guess. That one stuck for a few years with the students. But mostly I was called “Coach” because I had a winning softball team for so many years.

When I practiced law, my friend Bob started calling me Teebs. It caught on with a small group of very close friends...that's where I got the idea for "Sobs" in my novel, The Advocate.

When my nieces and nephews were little they called me Auntie T or TT. That eventually evolved into Tee or just T, which most of my family and adult friends now call me. But my all time favorite, which I mostly see written on emails, cards, and gifts, is FAT (Favorite Aunt Tee). The older I get the more I fit that one...the favorite part, of course.

Aren’t names fun? I don’t really care what my family or friends call me, as long as they do. But I don’t like to see my name misspelled, so remember I’m Teresa, no “h” or Tee (Please no "h" in that either). What interesting nicknames have you had along your path in life?

http://www.teresaburrell.com

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The "S" Word--Sabre

Sabre (pronounced Say-bra) is the name of my main character in my SOB Legal Suspense series. SOB, Sabre Orin Brown, is an attorney in the juvenile court system in San Diego. Her first appearance is in the novel “The Advocate” where she represents a nine-year-old whose father is fighting to keep the child protective services out of his life. Sabre's job is to protect her minor client.

What you might not know about Sabre is some of her background. She was raised Catholic, has only one sibling, Ron, who has been missing for five years, a deceased father, and some serious trust issues. She has strong beliefs in the legal system but seems to have that belief tested on a regular basis. Although she appears at ease in her expensive suits and shoes and speaking in the courtroom, she would much rather be wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and walking barefoot on the beach in the rain.

Sabre’s second adventure is in the making in another SOB Legal Suspense novel, and great surprises await her.

The name for the character Sabre came from a little girl who I met some thirteen years ago. She had so much love to give and at the time no one to give it to. She came into my heart where she will forever remain.

How has a child changed your life?
Writers, where do you get the names for your characters?

http://www.teresaburrell.com

Friday, September 11, 2009

The "R" Word--Relax

Do you know how to relax and reduce stress? Frankly, I’m not very good at it, but I’m better than I used to be. When I was practicing law and had the occasional day off (about once every six months) I would spend more than half of it trying to figure out what I was going to do. Because, after all, I can’t just waste it, right? So I would waste it trying to figure out what to do so I wouldn’t waste it. So when I ask if you know how to relax, I must first ask myself that question. Here’s what I’ve learned.

There’s all the standard stuff, like take a bubble bath, a walk on the beach, listen to soft music, do yoga, take deep breaths, get a massage, take a long shower, read a good book…these are all good things. But relaxing isn’t necessarily about being quiet and still. Try dancing. I don’t mean the slow, just swaying your body kind. Put on some Credence Clearwater Revival and rock! Let your body go, be goofy, and don’t think about anything else. You can’t relax if, while taking your bath or your walk on the beach, you’re still thinking about what you have to get done.

There are also some basic techniques that help with relaxing and reducing stress, such as getting plenty of sleep, and good nutrition. And don't miss the chance to laugh. Laughter is so important. Find something to laugh about, read some funny jokes, watch a sitcom, or dig out old photos from high school. I’ll bet they’ll make you laugh.

If all that fails, you can do what I do when I really need a break. I drive to the movie theater, buy the largest popcorn and a box of chocolate covered raisons, shut off my cell phone, and watch a no-brainer movie.

What's your favorite way to relax?

Teresa Burrell
www.teresaburrell.com

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The "Q" Word is "Q"


This is written for my good friend, Roberto, Quinones, who I affectionately call "Q." He was a dear friend and colleague who recently passed away at the young age of fifty-two from prostate cancer. I can’t say the letter “q” without thinking about him, so I had to write this in his memory. Below is a picture of Q playing Santa Claus at Clinica del Ninos in Rosarito, Mexico where we go each year to provide a Christmas party for the children. Although a new Santa will fill his spot, no one will really take his place.


Q was a very special person in my life and in every life he encountered. I first met him when he started work at juvenile court with the Alternate Public Defender’s office. He was basically there to take my job away. So you see, it would have been very easy to not like him. But the fact that we all did was an indication of what kind a man he was. He was honest, a straight-shooter, cared deeply about his clients, and believed strongly in the system. Not exactly how most people would describe an attorney. In addition, he was a wonderful father, had a great sense of humor, loved life, and always put everyone else’s needs in front of his own. I know people tend to say nice things about people after they have passed away, but Q was the kind of guy who people said nice things about when he was alive.


So once again “Q” came through for me…providing me with a word for the hardest letter in the alphabet. Thank you.


www.teresaburrell.com


The "P" Word is Party




Ever since I blogged the "N" word, I've had many questions about my launch party for THE ADVOCATE, so I'm writing a bit more about that event. It was in a "p" word...phenomenal. Everyone was so gracious and made me feel so wonderful. I couldn't have done it, however, without the help of my family and friends. We had a barbeque (thank you, David) and book signing. The weather was too hot, but other than that, everything was perfect.

Over a hundred people attended the launch party, many of them not local. My dear friend, Marilee, came the furthest, all the way from Kalispell, Montana. What a treat that was. My sister, Madeline, flew in from Idaho, and my niece, Kimmie, from Washington. I had friends and relatives from San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Kern Counties. Friends arrived from all different walks and times of my life. Some were from my teaching days, others from when I attended law school and then practiced law, from my private businesses, and even from high school (now that goes way back).

The Advocate sales were over one hundred...not bad for my first. And if you missed the west coast launch and you live by that other ocean...come see me in Kennebunk, Maine at Kennebooks Bookstore on July 30th.

Thank you all for attending, for buying my book, and for making me feel like a celebrity. That part was a hoot!

Teresa

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The "O" Word--Okapi

The okapi has been one of my favorite zoo animals since I discovered it some years ago at the San Diego Zoo. I was fascinated by its reddish, dark velvety fur, which I later discovered was oily and hleped repel water in its natural habitat, the Ituri Rainforest. The stripes on the back end of the okapi make it look like it may be some sort of zebra, but in fact it is a member of the giraffe family. The body shape is similar to a giraffe, but with a much shorter neck. However, the okapi does have a long, flexible, blue tongue used to capture the leaves from trees like the giraffe. It is the only mammal that can lick its own ears. Now that's impressive.

The okapi is a beautiful animal. You really have to see one live to appreciate it. There are approximately 10 to 20 thousand left in the wild and only about 40 zoos or institutions house them in captivity. They're not listed as endangered, but are threatened by pouching and habitat destruction.

Okapis are essentially solitary, coming together only to breed. Hey, I've been accused of that...well, not the breeding part, just the solitary part. No wonder I'm fascinated with these animals. Anyway, they're not social animals preferring to live in large, secluded areas (probably so they can write their novels.)

This is not an animal I was aware of growing up. It was, in fact, unknown to the western world until the 20th century, but has been depicted in carvings for almost 2,500 years in old Persia. Ancient carved images of the okapi have also been discovered in Egypt establishing the okapi was known to the ancient Egyptians. It was known for years as the "African unicorn."

How many of you have seen an okapi? What's your favorite zoo animal?

Teresa
http://www.teresaburrell.com

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The "N" Word--Nieces & Nephews






I have spouted off before about what a remarkable family I have, but I’m going to do it again because I just experienced another example of how this family pulls together and just does what needs to be done like a well-oiled machine. The launch party for my debut novel, The Advocate, took place last Saturday in Riverside, California. My sisters and their offspring, my amazing nieces and nephews (this includes great, and great, great nieces and nephews), just pitched in and gave me one of the most memorable days of my life. Their help and their support were incredible. And once the party was rolling they all bought books, from the oldest to the youngest. I can’t tell you the number of times I had to write “To my favorite niece” or “my favorite nephew.” Yup, they all wanted the same inscription.



But there were a couple of exceptional purchases. The first was my three-year-old great-great niece, Meredith, who convinced her grandmother to buy her a book. When asked what she wanted the message to read. She said, “To Baby Amelia & Meredith” (Baby Amelia is her little sister. What a sweet, thoughtful, little girl.)




Later when my sister gave a last call for the books, her granddaughter, Allie (Alexandria) said, “I want one.” She’s four years old, but hey, her three-year-old cousin had one. Within minutes, Allie was walking through the remaining crowd and asking for forty cents. We have no idea where she came up with the forty-cent value of the book, but apparently she thought that was what it cost. One of the older nephews conceded to give her a dollar. Then she brought it to me and asked to buy a book. What’s an auntie going to do? She wanted her book signed “To Alexandria” (too important, I guess, for Allie). Then her ten-year-old cousin got a dollar from his older brother and he wanted one. Another book went for a dollar…so though the cost of the book had diminished immensely by the end of the night, the experience had been greatly enriched.

Thank you all for making my launch party an experience I’ll never forget.

Auntie Tee

http://www.teresaburrell.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The "M" Word--Michigan and Other "M" States

I just spent five days in Michigan with my nephew Chet and his family where I received the red carpet treatment and had a pleasant, restful time--a much needed break. After a fabulous weekend in Chicago at Printer’s Row Book Festival, Chet picked me up and drove me to Bay City. Michigan was beautiful, so many shades of green (as opposed to our southern California brown hills) and lots of spring flowers still in bloom. While I was there I researched an area where one of my characters will go in my next novel. It is a sequel to The Advocate. It’s so much easier to write about an area when you've actually been there. I was quite surprised how different things were from the aerial maps I saw online. My highlight in Michigan was passing through Paw Paw and seeing where Norm Cowie, author of Fang Face, went to high school (great book, by the way!)

When I started to write this blog I thought about how the "M" states had played an integral part in my life. In addition to Michigan I have a connection to most of the “M” states. Growing up in Minnesota I remember jumping rope to the Mississippi diddy: M-I-crooked letter, crooked letter-I-crooked letter, crooked letter-I-hump back, hump back-I. A good part of my family lives in Montana, so many that we chose to have our “Family Onion” there last year. My very dear friends live in Maine and I have the good fortune to visit there quite often (going again the end of next month). We had our last sister trip with all five sisters in Missouri (memories that will forever be dear to me). My publisher, Echelon Press, is located in Maryland. So that only leaves Massachusetts. Although I’ve been there several times, have some nice memories of Boston, but it’s the remaining state to develop a real connection. Any suggestions? Any of you connected to the “M” states?

http://www.teresaburrell.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The "L" Word--Limbo

Limbo—I’m talking about the dance, not the place somewhere between heaven and hell.

Do you remember the limbo? Are you too young? I remember being the limbo champ once in school. In all fairness, I think I had an advantage. Since I was only about four and a half feet tall, I was much closer to the ground than my fully grown friends.

For those of you who are not familiar with the dance, the dancer leans backward and moves to a Caribbean rhythm as he dances his way under a horizontal stick without touching it. If he touches it or falls backwards, he’s out. During a competition the dancers follow in a single line with the stick being gradually lowered each time through until only one dancer remains.

People often associate the dance with Hawaii, but it originated on the island of Trinidad. The name comes from the Trinidad/English dialect, “limba” meaning “to bend,” from the English “limber.”

Research indicates that in certain African beliefs the dance reflects the whole cycle of life. The dancers are moving under a pole and emerging on the other side representing the triumph of life over death.

And I bet you thought the limbo was just another dance. But then you probably received most of your limbo knowledge, like I did, from Chubby Checker and his "Limbo Rock."

Do you have a limbo story? Please share.

Teresa

http://www.teresaburrell.com/

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The "K" Word--Kantor

Since most of my blogs have been about me, I thought I’d give you all a break and provide a little insight into my novel. So my “k” word is “Kantor,” the cologne Sabre’s brother, Ron, always wore in The Advocate. Here is an excerpt from the book, page 25:

She opened the office door. A familiar odor caught her attention–faint, but recognizable. Her brother's favorite cologne, Kantor. It had been years since she had experienced the smell of his cologne, unsure if they even still made it. She would check with the other attorneys on Monday to see who in the building wore the cologne. She started to dismiss it when she noticed that her brother's photo, on the credenza behind her desk, was facing the wall. She knew she hadn't moved the photo.
No point in trying to find the cologne, it doesn’t exist except in The Advocate, again on page 181:

As she approached the spot where the stranger had been sitting, she smelled the familiar odor of Kantor cologne. Once again her heart skipped a beat. It was the only cologne Ron ever wore. The smell grew stronger the closer she came to where the man had been seated. She peered around, but he seemed to be gone. She watched as she walked to her car, but no further evidence of him, nor the smell, presented itself. More paranoia?

I guess you’ll have to read the book to see where the smell of Kantor is coming from. If you haven’t done it already, you can click here to enter the drawing to win a free, autographed copy of The Advocate.


Friday, May 15, 2009

The "J" word--Juggle

Can you juggle? Years ago I learned to keep three balls in the air for a while, but I never worked at it hard enough to master it.

On the other hand, like the rest of you, I’ve been juggling things all my life. In college, I juggled schoolwork, a job, the party scene, and managed to get through it without destroying my grade point average. I juggled bills, spending money, and rides for lack of parking. I even went through a period in my life where I was pretty adept at juggling men.

And then there’s the jugular vein (which has nothing to do with the word I started with, but sounds close enough and it does start with “j”). When I was teaching sixth grade, I had a student (yes, a sixth grader—and that wasn’t half as bad as the one with the gun a couple of years later.) come at my jugular vein with a knife. I guess you don’t need to ask why I changed from teaching to law.

So, I’ve juggled many things, survived an attack to the jugular, and even dated a juggler for a few years. Most of my friends probably couldn’t tell you his name. He was simply “The Juggler.” The relationship was an adventure. You can’t imagine the places a juggler can get you into. We stayed in Elvis Presley’s Palm Springs home (long after Elvis was gone), had a shot of Louis the XIII Cognac with some producer in Hollywood (at $100 a shot—totally lost on me), and hung out with Robin Williams at the Comedy Club for hours after it had closed. The juggler, nine years younger than me, had a maturity level at least ten years less than that. But then, what did I expect? After all, I was dating a man who played with his balls for a living.

What do you have the most trouble juggling? Or the most fun?

http://www.teresaburrell.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The "I" Word--Impossible

Growing up I never really thought much about things being “impossible.” As I’ve said before, I went through life doing things because I didn’t know I couldn’t. My sisters function the same way. They’ve all set fine examples for me; none of them know the meaning of impossible.

We’ve all heard of the athlete with a handicap who does the “impossible.” Just about everyone knows about 5’ 7” Rudy Ruettiger who played football for Notre Dame. Or Wilma Rudolph, who became known as “The Black Gazelle.” She overcame polio, scarlet fever, and double pneumonia only to go on to set running records and win Olympic gold medals.

But it’s the little things you do everyday that lead to mastery and eventually overcomes the impossible. Writing that extra paragraph, doing that extra set of exercises, making one more phone call, working that extra hour, saving that extra dollar, stuffing one more envelope…it doesn’t matter what goal you’re trying to reach, it’s the little “impossibilities” that ultimately make you a winner.

So, I think I’ll go eat that extra piece of chocolate and try out for American Idol. Ok, so there are limits, but most of them are in your mind.

I’m a little “Fertile” girl who went on to write a novel, The Advocate, and actually got it published. Who’d ever thought that was possible?

What “impossible” thing have you achieved?

http://www.teresaburrell.com

Monday, May 4, 2009

The "H" Word--Hitchhiking

When I was young and very foolish, I spent three months in Europe hitchhiking around the country and sleeping in youth hostels. What an incredible way to see a country. I met so many wonderful people and had unbelievable experiences. I was twenty years old and my traveling companion, Michele, was about the same. We spent the entire summer traveling from one country to another. We started in Amsterdam, met up with old friends from home in Germany, saw the Mona Lisa in France, had a scare in Spain, danced through Italy, stayed in a haunted hostel in Wales, met new relatives in Ireland, and had other great adventures in Switzerland, Austria, England, and Lichtenstein. We met fellow travelers from all over the world and locals that often gave us housing and superb hospitality.

In those days, they didn’t have our fast food restaurants and it was impossible to find a good hamburger. We were very young and although we liked most of the food, we didn’t appreciate it as we may have had we been a little older. We were starved for good old American food. We finally found an import store. We sat outside on the steps for almost two hours until it opened. Once inside, we paid about five times the amount we would have at home for a jar of peanut butter. We thought we had died and gone to heaven. We would buy fresh loaves of bread in the bakeries and fruit from the stands on the streets and ate fruit and peanut butter sandwiches for about a week…until our peanut butter was gone.

Hitchhiking was the best way to travel back then. I was a college student at the time, and a bit of a hippie…not the real thing…I had too much “Catholic guilt” to get into the free love thing and the drug scene didn’t appeal to me. So, with my hair in braids and my loose outfits, I was sort of a hippie wannabe. I did hippie things, like: travel with just a single bag pack all summer, wash my clothes by hand in cold water and hang them out to dry, took cold showers (ok, so I had no other options), go barefoot or wear sandals, and of course, hitchhike.

We hitchhiked from city to city and then took the bus system around to see the sites, except in Italy. There we even hitchhiked in the city because the Italian men were so eager to give us rides. And yes, they do (or did then) pinch your bottom when you walked down the streets, just like in the old movies.

Hitchhike, a word my mother never quite forgave me for. She didn’t know until I got home what my mode of travel had been. She would have been so worried, and rightly so, but I know she also admired my sense of adventure. Now, I’m older and much wiser and will no longer even take a ride on a roller coaster, much less with a stranger. So now when I get the urge to put on jeans and a sweatshirt and hitchhike down the highway, I know I'm only dreaming of a time gone by.

Have you ever hitchhiked? Or picked up a hitchhiker? Please share your story.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The "G" Word--Geneology

Have you researched your genealogy? It can be great fun. I started the process about ten years ago, or more. I was able to research my mother’s side of the family back to the twelve hundreds. I found some very interesting stories along the way. I also met a group of relatives that I would’ve never met if I hadn’t been looking for information.

I returned to Fertile, MN and discovered a graveyard from the 1800’s that belonged entirely to our clan except for about six graves that were from one other family. The graveyard was off the beaten path in the woods hidden from the public. It contained the graves of my great grandparents, and my great, great grandparents and gaggles of great aunts and uncles. All those original “Fertile families” were “gi-normous.” My great-grandfather was one of eighteen. His folks came from Canada to the valley along with three other families nearly as large. They arrived there too late to get their homes built before winter settled in, so that first winter they had to dig holes in the hills and live underground until the snows passed. They initially called the area Godfrey Township. It was sometime later when my brilliant ancestors changed the name to Fertile.

I also discovered other interesting things, like the first cousins that married each other, making some parts of my family tree a “pole” instead of a tree.

Have you researched your genealogy? Any interesting stories you’d care to share?

www.teresaburrell.com

Friday, April 24, 2009

The F-Word--Family

I have the best family in the world, not the sanest, but by far the most loving. There were nine of us born to Forest and Clara in a little town in Minnesota called Fertile. (I’m not kidding.)

When my family celebrates, we feast, the Easter function at my sister’s house this year had over one hundred folks there. I counted one-hundred-four family members and friends and tables full of food.

When there’s an illness, not just the hearts reach out, but the bodies too. When my eldest sister was on her deathbed, every one of my brothers and sisters came to support one another. They came from Montana, Idaho, and different parts of California. We all huddled together in the hospital waiting room for five days. And when Sissy passed away we were all together circled around her bedside fingers entwined.

When there’s work to be done, they all pitch in. When someone has a dream they all encourage it. When someone gets married, graduates, is released from jail (I never claimed perfection), signs a book contract like “The Advocate,” or gets a job, no matter how big or small the event, this family cares and supports. That’s not to say we don’t fuss at one another. We have our share of feuds and fights, but eventually the love always overcomes.

We are one big, and I do mean big (at last count, I had one-hundred-fourteen nieces and nephews, that includes great-nieces and nephews), happy (most of the time) family—now that’s a Fertile family!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The E Word--Exercise...Ewww

Eleven (it’s an e-word day) ways to exercise without spending money or time.

1. While you’re brushing your teeth, do a few squats…slowly, so the toothpaste isn't splattered everywhere.

2. While sitting at the table eating breakfast clench those buttocks together, hold it for about two seconds, and then release. Keep doing it throughout breakfast (lunch or dinner) and it won’t be long before you’ll have a firmer butt. If breakfast and butt doesn’t sound that appealing to you, then do it while you’re sitting at your desk. Your rear end doesn’t have to get enormous just because you’re sitting on it all day.

3. You all know to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, or at the very least walk up and down that escalator. And pick up your speed when you do need to walk somewhere. You’ll get it done earlier and burn a calorie or two.

4. There are lots of things you can do while sitting at your desk. Extend your legs out in front of you and stretch those calves. It’s good to stretch those muscles and helps prevent blood clots as well.

5. You can do leg lifts from your desk, too. Start with one leg, then the other, then both. Start slow and add a few each week. This can be an effective abdominal exercise.

6. Stretch (not roll) your neck from side to side and forward and backward. Also, look right, and left.

7. If you expend a lot of time typing, roll your wrists. This can help prevent carpal tunnel. Roll your ankles as well. This can help with circulation.

8. Suck in your stomach, hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this as often as you can think to do it. After a while it will become a habit and you will have firmer stomach muscles.

9. Open your arms straight out, pull your shoulders back, and rotate your wrists (thumbs going up and back). Good stretch.

10. Keep a hand gripper around your house. Pick it up when you walk by and use it. It works your hands as well as your forearms.

11. After work, and you’ve eaten your dinner (sucking in those buttocks while you ate), and it’s time to relax in front of the television, get a large size stability ball and sit on it with back and abs held firm. Sit, bounce, and do basic exercise on it while you watch the "boob tube."

Now this isn’t meant to replace regular exercise, but those of us who can’t seem to make it to the gym at all, or on those days when we can't take those long walks, this is way better than nothing.

http://www.teresaburrell.com

Friday, April 17, 2009

The D Word--Dance

Dancing is one of my favorite pastimes. I don’t know whether I’m any good at it or not, but I still enjoy the dance floor. The motion, the swaying, the lively steps, moving with the music, it’s magical.

My favorite Garth Brooks song is “The Dance.” You’ve got to love the line—“I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss, the dance.” It’s really all about the dance of life. It’s the work. It’s the fun. It’s the accomplishments, the sweat, the deadlines, the creativity, and the laughs and smiles along the way. That’s what makes life so incredibly wonderful. They’re all part of the dance.

When I was about five years old I can remember going to town on a Saturday night with my parents. We would go to a bar called “The Sister’s CafĂ©” where mom would work and dad would drink. My sister and I would hang out. The old drunks would put money in the jukebox and then give us dimes if we danced. Looking back on it, I’m sure some of them were trying to help entertain us, others I’ve got to wonder. Anyway, as soon as we had enough dimes, we would go to the movies. Strange as it may seem, that dancing left me both feeling sentimental and scarred. But I still like to dance.

And what lyrics are better than Lee ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
Dance....I hope you dance.

I have few regrets with my choices in life, but those I do have are not because I chose to dance but rather because I sit one out. Just dance.

And best of all, my favorite quote. (I don’t know who to attribute it to but I’ve had it on my wall for years.) “The reason the rain dance works is because they don’t stop dancing until it rains.” This reminder has kept me going many times when I wanted to give up.

What's your favorite dance story? Did you dance or sit it out?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

C Word--It's All About the Children

My "C" word is children. Although, I never gave birth to any, I’ve been surrounded by them since I entered this world. I had eight brothers and sisters. I’m the baby. When you come from a clan that large you soon have oodles of nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. I lost count around twenty years ago—at fifty plus.

When people would ask me why I didn't have any children, I would jokingly reply, “I hate kids.” The truth is, I’ve spent my entire life working with those little “curtain climbers." I’ve taught, represented, tutored, counseled, and coached them. I even helped raise one son who I inherited from a relationship. He’s wonderful, but I have to give his father the credit for doing such a fabulous job. He was consistent, caring, and conscious of what was going on in his child’s world. And as a result, Bobby grew up to be a well functioning member of society. In fact he’s now an attorney—ok, so he's not perfect (and that's the part he got from me.)

Our children are our most cherished commodity. They need our protection, our love, and our direction in this crazy cosmos. I’ve seen so much heartache and pain among those little ones with my stint at juvenile court. That’s part of the reason I wrote my novel, The Advocate. It deals with a fictional juvenile court case while it delves into some of the realities of child abuse.

Life is all about the children and the joy they bring into our lives. What have you done lately to make a child’s day special? Or what has a child done that made you smile?

Friday, April 10, 2009

B words: Bald is beautiful—After the shave

At the St. Baldrick’s Day “Shaving the Way” to cure for kids’ cancer event on March 21st over 130 heads were shaved. My buddy, Jo Jensen, was one of them—a beautiful act on her behalf. Jo now has an energy efficient hairdo which will be nice and cool when the sun starts blazing. Through this event they raised a total of over $60,000 and Jo has almost reached her personal goal of $2,000. Donations were still coming in the last I heard, but Jo was over $1,800.

Unfortunately, I was not there to see it for myself, but Jo told me the energy was “electric” and the kids were phenomenal…beholding to each and every person for their donation of bucks and bristle (money and hair.)

Within the last week I lost a niece, Sheila, to breast cancer and a dear friend, Roberto, to prostate cancer. Both of them suffered for a long time and both left this world way too young. I want to give a special thanks to all of you who contribute to this research so other families don’t have to suffer with this agonizing death.

Here are the photos of Jo before and after her selfless act:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A to Z Blog--The A Words

I’ve decided to write an A-Z blog. I’m starting with the letter A (because I’m too anal to start anywhere else). My “A” words today are: accomplishments, aspirations, author/advocate and a few other “a” words.

Aspirations: I’ve always had countless aspirations. Many people I know don’t seem to aspire to much of anything, or maybe they had aspirations, life got in the way, and they lost them. I remember as a small child playing in the snow banks of Minnesota and dreaming of a better life to come. Of course, back then I thought I wanted to be an anchorite, a nun to be exact. I sure missed that one by a country mile. I loved the nuns’ apparel and I longed to take a lap around those huge beads that hung from their habits. But most of all the nuns would give me bananas when I was good (and back then I was always good.) My sister wasn’t too crazy about the nuns and usually got in trouble—and to this day she abhors bananas. I think there’s a correlation there.

Accomplishments: So much left to do in my lifetime. I have accomplished quite a bit since I left the algid winters of Minnesota. I managed to get through law school, become an attorney, and have lots of adventures along the way. I traveled to every state in the United States, except Alaska (had to cancel that trip when my brother-in-law got sick—but still planning to get there.) I’ve been to the Americas (north, central, and south), to Amsterdam, Athens, Austria, Asia, Acapulco, and other places from A to Z. (I know you writers and editors are going crazy because I’m mixing cities and countries, but it’s not easy getting all these A’s in.) Now I’ve written a novel, The Advocate. But there is so much left to accomplish, and oh, so many places left to see. There’s that “A-list” to get on (the bestseller list,) The Advocate #2 to finish, the novel after that; there’s Alaska, Africa, Australia, and Aruba. I think I’ll wait on Afghanistan. And there’s learning to play Bridge. I know it doesn’t start with an “A”, but I’ve always wanted to learn so I threw it in anyway.

Author/advocate: So, I went from attorney to author and as a result, I wrote The Advocate. Although it is fiction, it was inspired by an actual case. I have been an advocate for children most of my life, through my teaching, my law practicing, for my amazing de facto son, and my awesome nieces and nephews.

Everything I’ve done in life I've done because I didn’t know I couldn’t. What do you still aspire to? What is that one thing you really want to do in life that you haven’t done—yet?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bald is Beautiful

I received a message yesterday from my friend, Jo, in Texas. She is scheduled to have her head shaved next week. She has volunteered to do this in an effort to raise money for St. Baldrick's childhood cancer research. She has less than a week to go to reach her goal of $2000. So far, she has about $1100. I think it's an incredible thing she is doing.


I'm sharing this because I'm so impressed when people give this much of themselves. Although I'm not quite ready to have my head shaved, I was not at all surprised to hear Jo was going that extra mile. So instead, I'm helping to support her in this quest. (When I finally decide to cut my hair, I will donate it to the cause.)


How many of us are willing to do what Jo is doing? Not everyone has to go that far, but if you want to get involved, please go to http://www.stbaldricks.org/ and click on the “Find A Participant” tab. Then type her name (Jo Jensen) in the name field and make an online donation to this important cause! She'll be posting an “AFTER” photo for you to see that she kept her promise of shaving her head just to raise money for pediatric cancer research.


Yes, bald is beautiful, Jo. And so are you for helpling our "little people."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Thank You to the Protectors of our Children

This is a thank you to all the people out there who have dedicated their lives to working with children—the teachers, the classroom aides, the doctors and nurses, the social workers, the attorneys, the judges, the police, the coaches, the CASA volunteers, the children’s charities, and anyone else who spends their time and money to help our precious “little people.”

There is nothing quite as rewarding as seeing a smile appear on a child’s face for something you have done for them. If you haven’t done anything lately to make a better life for a child, start today. You’ll be glad you did.

My novel, The Advocate, (Echelon Press, publisher) gives you a glimpse of what goes on in the juvenile court system. I’m hoping it will help to educate the masses a little on what the process is like and how much some of these children suffer. I’m in the process of setting up speaking events at non-profit functions where I can dedicate the proceeds from the novel to support organizations dedicated to child advocacy. It’s a small way to do my part.

Please add your thanks to these special people with your comments on this blog.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Does a new author need a publicist?

If you read the websites of the PR specialists, they say you can't afford to NOT have one. But, of course, what are they going to say? There are only so many marketing dollars available to all of us, and in these tough economic times, even less than usual. So, do you spend your hard earned dollars on a publicist or do you do try to do your own publicizing?

And if you do hire a publicist, how do you chose one? Of course, referral by someone you trust is probably the best way to go, but when you're new to the industry you may not know anyone who can make that referral. And then there's their area of expertise. Do you hire someone who is an expert in internet marketing or brick and mortar? Both would, of course, be ideal if you can find it. But if they do both, do they know both? Or are they spreading themselves too thin and not giving anything?

I have spoken to several authors who have had bad experiences with publicists, mostly the same complaint, "It was a waste of money." I'm not suggesting this is a fact. I'm sure there are plenty of authors, novice and experienced, who have had success with their publicist. So, what does the new novelist do? Does one do his or her own promoting? I'm sure you're all familiar with the saying, "An attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client." That is certainly true in the legal field, but does it apply here? I'm just askin'. www.teresaburrell.com

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Get In Line



So, I wrote the book, The Advocate. Then I rewrote the book. Then I rewrote the book again…and again…and again. I finally found a publisher willing to take a chance on me and guess what? She had me rewrite it again. But I’ve got to tell you, this process is great fun, every step more exciting than the one before. Look at that book cover….It’s gorgeous! And here is a description about the story. I’ll give you a minute to read it….




For Sabre Orin Brown, life is good; she has it all…or would have, if only she could solve the mysterious disappearance of her brother. The search for her brother and her career as a juvenile court attorney collide when she defends a nine-year-old whose father will go to any length to obtain custody.

Sabre finds herself immersed in a case with too many unanswered questions. Her quest for the truth takes her coast to coast and five years into the past. Confronted with mysterious clues and strange occurrences, Sabre is threatened by someone wanting to make her suffer the unbearable anguish of losing everything—including her life.

As Sabre's passion to find the answers intensifies, she discovers a twisted history of desperation, deceit, and revenge. And she discovers how obscure and treacherous the truth can be.


...See, isn't that just the coolest? Makes you want to read the whole thing, right?

My head is spinning with news from my publisher. Right now, I’m thinking the only thing better than writing books is marketing books. We’re planning all these exciting things: speaking engagements, charity events, races, book launches, press releases, and other promotional activities that are brand new to me. I have no clue what I’m doing half of the time. I’m blogging, and twittering, and facebooking, and linking in, and linking on, and learning, learning, learning. Sheer excitement is carrying me through the process and I’m smiling like a Cheshire cat all the way.

The Advocate will be released in August 2009. Yes, I said August 2009! That’s just around the corner. So, you might want to get in line now at your local bookstore to make sure you get a
copy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's Just Mind "Bloggling"

I recently signed a book contract with Echelon Press Publishing. My legal drama, The Advocate, will be released late this summer or early fall.

Since I now have a book contract for The Advocate, I was told I should start blogging. So this is my first attempt at this incredible new communication system. This stuff still boggles, or should I say "bloggles," my mind. But then I'm still amazed every time I fly, that those gigantic metal birds can stay up in the sky. I'm also impressed with robotic vacuum cleaners, cars that park themselves, and microwave ovens. So, you see, it doesn't take much to impress me or "bloggle" my mind.

Once I get through this initial stage of figuring out how this all works, learn the mechanics, and get comfortable with the process, hopefully, I will come up with something intelligent or at least interesting to blog about. Meanwhile, if you want more information about my exciting new novel, The Advocate, (I keep saying the title because I just like seeing it in print.) please check out my website at http://www.teresaburrell.com.