Category Archives: Motivation

Letting Your Moments Breathe

Mermaid-Carlene-300x225Do you ever wonder if you’re the only one replaying that spark-filled first date a zillion times in your mind or reliving that soul-clenching performance by your favorite band the whole two hours long ride it takes to get home from their concert? Do you ever wonder if the experiences in your life mean way more to you than they do to the other people who experienced them with you?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how deeply I’m affected at times in my life by certain people and experiences. Sometimes I worry that I’ve put a more-than-is-normal amount of time and thought and energy into not letting go of the moments. Am I starved for interaction? Is that a bad thing? I just don’t want to lose the inspirational feelings, the inside-smiles, and most importantly, the connections. I also, however, don’t want to be that person who can’t move on. The person whose today is not quite up to par with their wonderful yesterday. That’s all. I think, at least I hope, this is something most of us do and can relate to. As a writer, I feel so incredibly blessed because when I feel powerless against time and the gradual fading of these memories, I can always write them down and capture them and keep them in that very special way that writers do. 

Writing 1


Perfect moments don’t need expectations put on them afterwards, so don’t do that to yourself or the moment. Just let it be perfect. Just let it breathe. If you leave it alone in this way, it will live on in your memory and serve your heart, soul and mind as it was intended to do. It may even revisit you sometime in the future when you’re least expecting it. It will never leave you. It will always be a part of you, there when you need it, affecting your present and future right there from the everlasting past. 

Your true souvenir? Yourself. You’ve come out of this affected and therefore different, stronger, quirkier, better. 

The time I met my musical heroes, Depeche Mode, I printed out a picture from our meeting and wrote along the top of the frame, “This moment in time was mostly mine, but it was a little bit yours too, and that makes me smile.” That was nine years ago. I can still feel and smell and see everything that happened that day. I also wrote a five-books-to-date series about that experience. That moment is forever mine and forever theirs and now, forever my readers’. It’s okay that I’ve thought about it a million more times than anyone else has. 

Writing 3

I’m thankful everyday for the gift of being a writer. Without it, I think I’d be so locked in my head, trying to never let go of the past, that I’d forget to open my eyes and see and be a part of today. I can make a very heartfelt promise to any and all who cross my path that I will remember you. I will take what you’ve given me, whether it was a passing smile or a life-lasting long conversation and hold it close to my soul. But I also promise to let you breathe. Because ultimately, I want the best for you. Breathing is good, breathing is life. If you’ve touched my life, imagine the wonderful lives you have yet to touch. 

Friends, how do you cherish and hold onto your most precious memories? 


Clutter Blocks My Brain – Or Does It?


Susan-Mermaid-avatarNo, this is not a blog about clutter (sort of). I’ve been reading a lot about clutter this month, however – when I’m not reading yummy romance novels, that is (Jamie Beck’s Worth the Wait  – so good!). It *is* the first of the year, though – and resolutions are made (and broken) every New Year. Mine is all about getting my house under control.

I’ve been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, and it is a fascinating read. And the best part of using her tips, is the number of bags that have already left the house. I can almost see myself gliding through a perfectly organized home. *brief pause* Okay, done with that mirage. But…

I remember a moment, years ago, at the beginning of my writing career, when my friend said to her mother, “Susan is one of those neat freaks. We have to pick everything up before we’re done playing.”

“She has a very small house,” her mother answered. “Small houses require a person to be very picky about being neat, or she will be overwhelmed in no time.”

And I patted myself on the back. I was a tidy person! I could clean the house, top to bottom, in a single day (it was a really small house).  I took care of my family that way. And I wrote while my daughter napped. It wasn’t hard at all!

(Fast forward thirty years….)  

Where did that woman go? Who is this aging writer, with Too Much Stuff in her clutches and Too Many Stories in her brain? My children are grown, I have a big(ger) house, and it’s a mess. I recently read an article about how creative people thrive in disorder and I wonder: how? I’m a creative person and, whenever I sit down to write, I find myself contemplating the clutter around me. I mentally shame myself for not leaping to my feet and cleaning it all up. Then, I tell myself, I could write in peace, loving the house I’m living in and having freedom to spin my glorious tales (which would immediately make every bestseller list known, and gain me a gazillion dollars).

 Something tells me my fantasy is a lie. Clutter and brain block are separate problems, and it’s blame-shifting to allow myself to delay writing because I’m bothered by the mess around me. I’m either going to write, or I’m not. (And, even as I write this, the devil on my shoulder whispers that cleaning up just the area in front of my would open the floodgates of creativity.)

Where I write, before stuff crawled began to surround me... !

Where I write, before stuff crawled began to surround me… !

 What do you think? Have you ever been stopped dead by clutter? Or do you thrive in it? Do you enjoy settling down to a pristine, tastefully decorated desk? Do you color code your file folders? Or are you a whirlwind of disorder, obsessed with spinning  your tales and too darned bad if the junk doesn’t get picked up – you have stories to write!

Maybe it’s a fantasy I have, that my house will be perfect one day. Maybe I need to write a story about the house that could be perfect. Wait – I already have that story in progress!

Where do *you* like to write the most, and what atmosphere makes you the most productive?




The Solitude of Writing–It’s ALL Good!

Writing to some may be considered a lonely profession but for me…it’s never lonely. Which is not necessarily a good or bad thing–it just is.

Working from home to write is not all it’s cracked up to be (no, I do not spend time in my jammies–unless it is a snow day or I am sick).  But you would think I would get a heck of a lot of writing done in my secluded basement office typing away all day long.


Working from home has some people thinking you have all the time in the world to do things like, run errands, pick up sick kids from school, volunteer for that PTA thing, go on field trips, housework, pick up prescriptions, make doctors appointments…

WAIT! That sounds like the job of a stay at home mom! (Well, technically in a round about way, I still am even though my girls are grown now.)

So when the hubster asked if I would like to go with him on one of his month-long business trips to do nothing but stay in a hotel room all day while he is at work what did I say:


“Won’t you be bored?”

“I have two books I’m working on, marketing, social media, updates to my website/blog, reading, reviews and a few millions of other things that come with being a self-published author…I don’t think I will have time to be ‘bored’, sweetheart.”

Just the past few days in this ‘boring, extended stay hotel’, I have achieved more of my goals than I could have done in two weeks at home in my office. I also don’t have to worry about taking time to drive to the gym, as they have a fitness center only around the corner from my room. Breakfast is free (though I’m Gluten-Free I’d really love to have one of the waffles but settle for yogurt and fresh fruits and occasionally scrambled eggs if I am in the mood). I have a kitchenette that I have fresh strawberries, bananas and milk for lunch and Kind bars for snacks. When hubs gets home, my day ends and we share quality time.

So am I a bored, lonely, social recluse?

YEP! And I’m loving every minute of it.

Hey everyone, I’ll be back on Facebook as soon as I post this…still have a few minutes of social time before I get back to the novel! LOL


Conference Magic: MerSisters, New Friends, and life altering moments

SusanMermaidI will confess: I live via nega-talk too often. The devil on my shoulder whispers, “Why do you even bother going to the gym? You never get anywhere, and then you cop out. Save yourself the trouble: stay home.”  She says, “Why do you keep banging your head against writing? You start and stop, change your mind, and doubts are your best friend.  Nobody will miss you…” And “Why in God’s name are you going to a conference? You spend so much money and you spend too much time being I didn’t know that last Friday and Saturday were days to change a life:  getting up early, driving with The Man down the New Jersey Turnpike and over to Iselin for the NJRWA Put Your Heart in a Book conference

put-your-heart-in-a-book Nor did I realize Sister Mermaid Denny S. Bryce, fresh off her Golden Heart win, would stroll into the hotel lobby around noon and we would get to be MerSisters for the next 36 hours. SoFreakinFine!

NJRWA DENNY I hadn’t realized Roxanne St. Claire would offer such an amazing pre-conference workshop. She didn’t realize she would talk herself into laryngitis and have to hire/persuade/inveigle a substitute reader/speaker for Sunday’s Novelists, Inc. engagement. Poor dear! She has my heartfelt sympathy and thanks.

More than anything, I learned that a small conference can be a hidden trail to change your life. The National conference is a tremendous opportunity, to be sure. But these small conferences are a little more casual, a little less intense, and a lot of fun. I saw people I’ve known for years and made new friends (a special shout-out to Kathleen Ann Gallagher – yes, it was meant to be!). The pubbed author’s roundtables offered in-depth insight into the challenges we’re facing today, with the changes in publication formats, the shrinking market, the possibilities, the challenges, and the JOY of a career in writing a romance.

Have you been to a conference you felt changed your life? Share!



Days Like These…

Okay, I have to admit lately this video makes a ton of sense to me.

With a recent book release, Immortal Heat (self-published), Distilled Spirits, the sequel to Wanted: One Ghost coming in December, and the sequel to Immortal Heat, Immortal Angel to be written and released in January my head is about to explode! But it’s for the Greater Good….’the Greater Good’.

So if you see me around with a weird smile on my face…it’s just the Zoloft taking effect.  (LOL).

Seriously, it’s a great time but crazy. Trying to wear all the hats in a business (and anyone who tells you being an author isn’t a business should be boiled in peanut oil and salted…because they are NUTS!) is not an easy task. That is why there are so many ‘helpers’ out there (and no, I don’t mean the happy pills).  There are editors, agents, and promotional specialists who are out there to help take the burden off some of our duties and they are a godsend!

I also have my daughters who are big helps when I need my kitchen cleaned because I’m on deadlines or meals prepared. But still, the job can become overwhelming. I’ve always been a person who deals with To Do Lists, and even they are starting to look like a jumbled mess of manuscript needing to be edited.

So yeah, it’s a job and days like these…well they happen.

What do you do to get through “Days Like These” ?




Is it Christmas yet?

SusanMermaidFriends, I have a confession to make today.  And a story to tell.

Confession: After a summer of industrious writing almost every single day, my writing urge came to a screeching halt.  Sometime in August, I believe. Definitely about a month ago.  Maybe more. I didn’t panic, because I was sure the root cause would be discovered eventually, and we’d get our little writing choo-choo back on track.  And, with the school year started, I’m not exactly eager to strain my back getting pages out. I have Freshmen to train, and Seniors to tame, and a library to run – that is the priority now, until next May. If the writing waits, it waits. I’ll live.

At least, after the CTRWA Cherry Adair workshop last weekend, I do know more about why my story is stalled. Gang, it’s not pretty. Ms. Adair diagnosed my story as “thin”. She had ideas, and my chapter mates backed me up with suggestions for an intriguing bad guy and a twist. Once I get her plot board out of the car, I’ll clean off the dining room table and get my butt back in chair.  And that’s my confession.  Which brings me to my story, which is about a much earlier stall in my writing career.

Where I write these days.

Where I write these days.

Story: A long time ago (about 1992), I hung up my keyboard and quit writing. I’d moved to New York two years before, and I was so homesick I really wanted to quit everything – family, home, marriage, kids, all of it. Sitting at the keyboard was an anxiety-riddled exercise. I was an award-winning author with a book out, and I needed to produce, but I was stressing myself out of it.  I’d been writing for ten years, and I couldn’t think of a thing to say. There had to be some peace, somewhere.  I was desperate to escape my disappointment and self-hatred, so I killed it, my writing, that part of me.  Writing couldn’t fight back, because it was in me, and my struggles with it were damaging me.  I announced I was done with writing, refused to think about writing, and said I was moving on. Done, Dead, Fini.

Except it wasn’t dead. Part of me knew I was able to write, just that I couldn’t or wouldn’t make a story happen at that point. I wasn’t going to write a book, but I would write letters. I wrote looooong letters to friends (in the days when people still wrote letters, before the internet killed written correspondence). I wrote notes to my mother and sister.  I wrote directions to patterns for the sewing classes I was teaching.  And I wrote Christmas letters.

My Christmas letters eventually became the highlight of my year.  I started them by mid-November, knowing I would need a month to create and polish what I wanted The World to know about Our Life This Year.  Each character would get his/her own summary of the year’s ups and downs. I chose a theme each year, opened with a question, wound up with an answer, and a recommendation for calming down, loving everyone and eating another slice of pie. I wrote, trimmed, condensed, and molded my story to fit a single typed page. I reduced margins, added my own illustrations and signed all our names.

    I wrote every letter to a friend I had in mind as I wrote, as if I were telling the story to her.  And I wrote the ending until I cried. It was probably my favorite part of the process, because if I could write something that made me cry, I could be pretty sure my readers would feel my depth of emotion for the topic, and maybe they’d be moved, too.

Not all of the letters are in my Christmas closet, the cubby where we keep all the trimmings. Somehow I don’t worry about this much, because another friend has kept all of them, and I know she’ll send copies if I ask. It’s not so important that I have the record of them.  Writing those letters made me happy, and made other people happy. That was enough.  And yet…

Going back to my lack of interest in the summer’s writing this past month, I was wondering just this week – would I be able to kick start my writing a little bit, if I started my Christmas letter early?  I feel better, knowing I could have fun, writing another. Maybe it’ll start the juices flowing. And, since I’m wondering about it, I’ll also ask you the question:

How do you get yourself back in a butt-chair-write mood?

Refilling Your Creative Well

When the Waterworld Mermaids blog first started three years ago, I wrote a post about the Artist Date and my hobby of making bento box meals for my kids. For those of you who don’t remember, Julia Cameron defines the Artist Date as apintip time used to nurture our inner artist and a way to refill our creative well. (THE ARTIST’S WAY, 20-21).

In the past few weeks, I have found myself in desperate need of refilling my well. Lots of things can suck your creativity dry, some writing-related and some not. Health issues, money problems, fatigue, and the loss of a loved one, to name a few. Rejections, revisions, and less-than-stellar reviews, to name some others.

Whatever your reason, if you find yourself in need of an Artist Date, here are some suggestions:

1. Plant a garden. Buy some potted plants, seeds, soil, planters and dig in. Get your hands dirty. Nurture your plants, day after day, and revel in the pure joy of growing something.

2. Get a mani/pedi with your daughter, niece, or neighbor’s kid. Pampering yourself at the salon is a treat in and of itself. But experience it anew through the eyes of someone who’s not used to such an outing. I guarantee you’ll gain a fresh appreciation for something you may have been taking for granted.

3. Go fruit-picking — and make a fresh fruit pie. I believe strawberries are in season at the moment, but blueberries, cherries, and blackberries are coming right up. My personal favorite is raspberry pie — but regardless of flavor, let that freshly-picked taste burst in your mouth. There’s nothing quite like it.

4. Flex your creative muscle — in an area outside of your comfort zone. If you’re a writer, dance. If you’re a dancer, paint. If you’re a painter, make some music. In particular, I would suggest going to pottery painting studio, where they have all the equipment you need and you just pay for the cost of a certain piece. I have spent many relaxing hours creating fun, moderately attractive pieces at these places.

5. Go out to dinner — at a new restaurant, or better yet, in a cuisine in which you’re unfamiliar. What better way to stimulate the senses by trying something utterly new? And if you can taste yummy food while you’re at it, even better. Best of all? Invite a friend along for the outing, someone who connects with your creative self, and before you know it, your well will be overflowing.

So what do you think, mermaids and friends? What suggestions do you have, or what fun Artist Dates have you been on lately? Please share! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Self Efficacy: Sexy

Mermaid CarleneHi fishy friends! It doesn’t happen often, but I’m slipping out of my silly mermaid fins and using some of my bigger words today. I hope you enjoy them.

“Your belief in your own ability to do the things you want to do.”

That’s self-efficacy.

Not too long ago, hubby left a ten page article on my desk with a small note: “PLEASE READ”.

The article was by Ian Walker ( and it was about an experience Ian had that made no sense until he discovered the concept of self-efficacy. It was a great read. I encourage you to check it out where it appeared HERE at The Art of Manliness blog. (PS–As a romance writer, I love this manly blog!!!)

Back to hubby’s note. This was rare. I knew he meant, “AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, please.”

Later that day, before I’d had a chance to read the article, hubby let me know he was unhappy at his day job and he was quitting in the next month to finish his master’s degree as a full-time student.

I’ll admit, there were parts of me, especially the stay-at-home-mom parts of me who depend on hubby to support the family, that had to bite down on the immediate worry his declaration brought on. But the partner who supports hubby’s happiness said, “Okay babe. Let’s do this.”

Even though it’s a scary feeling, there’s something I’ve always been attracted to about hubby and that’s his fearlessness. It got him through twenty-one years in the Army, going off to war a couple times, and now it’s gotten him out of a situation that wasn’t fulfilling him personally and professionally. I have confidence he’ll make something happen for himself and therefore our family as well. Determination, fearlessness, confidence = Sexy!

I dipped down into the tub the day hubby gave me that ten page article and read. What I realized is that I want to be “self-efficacy sexy” for hubby, the same way he is and has been for me. That means I better really believe in my ability to do the things I want to do in life, even if they’re as crazy as being a successful romance writer. I better never quit. I know he won’t.

**Update: I started this blog post last year, knowing I wanted to share it eventually. Well, hubby has been pursuing his master’s degree in counseling for about six months now. We’re living on a student budget which is all kinds of fun. But you know what? He’s never been sexier to me. He’s gonna do this. He’s gonna see it through and he’s gonna help a lot of kids when all is said and done.

Here’s to you believing in yourself and acting on that belief.  There’s plenty of room for more in the Self-efficacy = Sexy club.  Feel free to share a time when you had to rely on a belief in yourself when perhaps it wasn’t the popular thing to do. Maybe a time when doing something you knew in your heart was right even though it made no sense. Have a great day everyone!

Fishy kisses!

Carlene Mermaid

Getting My Butt Kicked

Susan-Mermaid-avatar As I’ve always said before, I generally avoid New Year’s resolutions.  This year, for a change, I made several:

–       I will join a critique group

–       I will allow myself to mentor someone, and ask for a mentor

–       I will submit material for publication

At the January meeting of CTRWA, I was right there with the club’s critique group.  We found much to say about each other’s work (both pro and con) and left feeling we’d encouraged each other in the best ways.  Resolution One:  check.

Also in January, responded to the semi-annual offer of matching Yodas and Grasshoppers.  Don’t laugh – our most accomplished writers are called Obi-Wans.  However, with the snag of a badly typed email address, I didn’t make the deadline for getting matched.  The coordinator felt badly for me and offered herself up, saying she didn’t feel she was Yoda status yet, but was willing to try.

Resolution Two: check.  Mentor achieved, and by the skin of my teeth.  But what an experience.  It has already changed my life.

You see, Joy asked an interesting question: what did I want from a Yoda? She had already joined the critique group, so she knew my writing.  (A side-resolution: I would be honest in my answer)

“I want someone to kick my butt.”

She wanted to see the synopsis for the book I was closest to finishing (not the one I was working on).  The next day, I had an email:  “We must meet.  This week.  When are you available?”  We settled on Sunday afternoon.

As luck would have it, I had a car accident on Friday.  Spent Saturday feeling like someone had squeezed all my back and shoulder muscles into one big knot (I’mostly fine now.  Really).  On Sunday, I asked Himself to drive me to the meeting spot in Connecticut, where my mentor was going to kick said butt.

I’d already told him he was NOT to sit with us.  Even though he’s a writer.

Thus, my husband of nearly 34 years found a table nearby, placed his lunch order and opened his Kindle.

Ninety minutes later, Joy said something I don’t remember ever hearing:  “I don’t need to see your chapters.  I already know from what I read in critique group, and from your synopsis, that you can write.”  And she asked a question I’d never had to answer before:  “Why are you writing?”

Oh dear.  A question I didn’t know how to answer.  Did I want to be published again?  Sure.  Was I willing to do what it takes to make that happen?

You’re writing, she told me, because you want to see your book published.  You want to know people can read your book.  You want them to see it and know how amazing this story is.  And the way to do that is to submit.  And the way to submit is to




writing space susan 2010

Amazing, how this women – in less than two hours – cuts though the all the crud of my denial and strips away my excuses.  Since our meeting on Sunday, I’ve read through the first ten chapters of THE LAKE EFFECT.  I see lots decent writing, and some of it is terrific.  I also see disjointed scenes, clumsy scenes, awkward phrases, bad word choices and incomplete sentences.  This, I realize, will be my first second draft.  What an idea!  It’s almost something to look forward to – like a strange and unexpected adventure.

Which brings me to the question:  what scares you most about writing?  What would you discover if you dared?


Writing Lessons: What a New Shirt Taught Me About the Muse

I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

Susan-Mermaid-avatar   I had a “fashion” moment last Saturday.

I’d been to the hair salon for a cut and color – an absolute must before a major holiday!  I’d driven with bestie Colleen to Danbury for shopping.  First, I said, let’s stop for a bite to eat.  Then, I promised, we would attack the mall and our Christmas lists.

But, as I crossed the parking lot, I realized:

  • The shirt I was wearing didn’t feel “good” on my body anymore,
  • It was too short for the current styles,
  • And it was faded.

We must detour, I insisted.  Just a quick stop at JCPenney, I promised.  Yes, I typically take several hours to decide on anything, but this will be different!  Zipped in, scanned the offerings, tried on three shirts, selected one.  I wore it to the cashier and held out of the tag dangling from my wrist:

“I realized the shirt I was wearing is too old to be decent.” (Colleen holds up the shirt I’d arrived in as proof) “So I found this shirt, and I want to wear it right now – can you ring it up without me taking it off?”

Like this, but prettier.

Do you know, this might be my favorite shirt now?  It got me out of a fashion pickle, allowing me to shop for several more hours without that sneaking sense of frumpdom.  I even cuddled the other shirt, safely wadded up in the JCPenney bag the sales associate had offered us, gave it a farewell pat… and stuffed it in a Food Court garbage can.

That’s how determined I was not to be lured into wearing it again.  Its twin (same print, different color) is still at home, but in the bag for Goodwill.  Let someone else deal with it.

You might wonder what this has to do with writing?  Well, when opportunity knocks, you answer.  You don’t hesitate, you act!

When it’s time to write, you don’t wait.  You don’t tell yourself  “Oh, I’ll remember that!  It’s such a good idea, how could I forget it?”  You can!  You can forget it!  Give your brain five milliseconds of distraction and your inspiration is gone!

You don’t tell the Muse to hang on.  When you have the idea, it’s time to buckle down and get your work done.

I hit JCPenney with an idea in mind.  I was determined to act on the idea.  It happened.  Not because I dithered.  Because I acted!

So, here’s the lesson.  Grab your Muse, shake it loose and tell it to get off its sweet hiney and give you material.  Then, don’t wait around for that fickle bitch to show up.   Make the material happen.  She’ll figure it out.

You can do this!  It’s your choice.  Are you gonna wear that tacky old shirt and hope the writing shows up?

I’m saying that the right man for you might be out there right now and if you don’t grab him, someone else will, and you’ll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that someone else is married to your husband.”

You can do better.  If you choose to be a writer, find it in yourself to step away from the tacky old shirts, the worn-out excuses, the distractions, and the do-overs.

The fact that you’re not answering leads me to believe you’re either (a) not at home, (b) home but don’t want to talk to me, or (c) home, desperately want to talk to me, but trapped under something heavy. If it’s either (a) or (c), please call me back.

Stupid delay tactics.  They neve work!  Which is why Harry had to run across New York to find Sally and claim her, at last, on New Year’s Eve.

Good for him.