If you've been seeing this logo on my Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, you've probably realized at this point that I've got a big project in the works. So I'm here to tell you a little more about what it means, both for me and for this little blog's future.

I started this blog four years ago. It was just a place to word-vomit. A place to get out the stuff that clutters up my heart and my head so that it wouldn't come out in a negative way or stay hidden inside. That's what writing is for me. I have to create because I cannot help myself. I'll go mad if I don't.

Over the years, I've found a ton of other really amazing blogs. Fashion and lifestyle blogs. Religious blogs. Literary blogs. Mommy blogs (a favorite). And, like all of us, I compared and filtered and edited myself silly, trying to be like what they were or what I thought would get the most approval. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be your best. But my best is not anyone else's. And there have been so many times when I've posted here hoping to be otherwise. 

My best is found in words. Not pictures. I love all the pictures I've taken and shared here, but I am no photographer. I am no designer. I'm a writer. And, funnily enough, the advice of all the "big" bloggers out there rings true: if you blog about what's real to you, and stay authentic, others will notice. As proof, all of my most popular posts have been the ones where I shared something very personal and the photographs were just an accessory.

That's where Lady comes in.

This magazine has been a long time coming for me. My creativity flows in all directions, so it's hard for me to not get distracted by craft projects, watercolors, recipes, taking photographs, styling my closet, finding great music, or reading (hmmm...I wonder what website will show me all those things?). I mean, seriously. The books, you guys. The BOOKS. They're all over my house. And words are my heart. They are the gift I've been given. And while I can, and will, always love other things, I need to streamline my creativity and funnel it into the place where it belongs.

Lady is an online literary magazine for women of all ages. My goal as the founding editor is to showcase the work of female writers who are both emerging and established talents, who perhaps have never been given an opportunity to share their voice, or who simply want to be a part of this project with me. It's a place to welcome any woman who has something to say about her world. It doesn't have to be pretty, or fun, or happy. It can be. But it doesn't have to be. It just has to be yours.

The tagline for the magazine is "Women. Writers." And that encompasses pretty much everything about what Lady is...a stage for women who love to write and want to be heard.

The official launch of Lady's debut issue is July 7th and I'm currently accepting submissions for fiction, young adult fiction, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. If you're interested, please send your piece over to no later than July 1st. All contributors selected will have their name, bio, and any relevant personal or professional links featured on the site. 

I can't say what Lady will mean for my writing here. I have to admit I'm kind of tired of feeling like I have to "keep up" with this blog. It's silly to say so because I doubt there is anyone out there, even amongst my 76 lovely subscribers, who are waiting with bated breath for my next post. But for those who do read regularly, I thank you. And I appreciate your support and prayers and friendship over the many, many changes that have happened in my life since 2010. It's been so much fun to have this space. I might keep going, I might not. But, rest assured, there will always be Instagram. 

I'll be sure to share the link here once Lady debuts in July but, for now, you can keep up with all the updates by following us on Twitter and IG @ladyliterarymag, or by Liking us on Facebook here

Tons of love,

memorial day

What a fitting description for this weekend. But, for our family, the word "memorial" hits hard for other reasons. While Pierce's brother, father, and mother have all served (or currently serve) in the military, we have spent much of our time in recent weeks and months thinking of and praying for our little niece, Kayleigh, who is battling Stage IV Gliobastoma Multiforme, a very rare and deadly form of brain cancer. She was diagnosed in October and, since then, Pierce's mother has been living with Pierce's brother and sister-in-law in Virginia Beach in order to help them function through this (incredibly shitty) ordeal. 

Pierce, Lucy, and I made a trip up there to see the family on Friday night. Since Kayleigh will be just two in August, and I only had Lucy in November, we hadn't yet had the opportunity to see her, so we were thankful that a perfect long weekend opened up. And while our visit was shadowed by the sadness of sweet Kayleigh's condition, we still had a wonderful time with everyone.

I won't say anymore about what Kayleigh and her parents are having to endure (mostly because it's private but also because I've had to suffer so little of it) but I will say that the world is a better place for having had Kayleigh in it. She is a beautiful, precious child. And although I hope for the moment when her pain will be over, I hold tightly to the belief that God could work a miracle. But if that doesn't come, He is still good. And I know that because Kayleigh is here.

My favorite moment of the trip was when we introduced Lucy to the ocean for the first time. I was a little nervous that she would hate the sand, but she dug those long, skinny fingers right in! The beach is my safe haven. It just gets me, you know? So I'm pretty happy that Lucy loves it, too. She watched everything with those wide, curious eyes and handled the cold water like a champ. She only cried when the surf got close to her chest, so after that I just dangled her feet in. She spent the rest of the day chilling in the little float we bought her, chewing on her hands, and smiling at us. What can I say? The girl is a winner.

I might have also fallen in love with our other niece, Ashleigh. She'll be four later this year and we hadn't seen her since she was almost two. She was the most fun! I've never met a more articulate, generous, kindhearted child. She latched onto me and Pierce from the moment we arrived and we had a blast playing with her in the yard, talking about our favorite things, making flower crowns, and giving lots of hugs. The girl is something special, that's for sure.

We're so thankful for the time we had in Virginia and I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend, as well! Back to the daily grind...

(All photos from my iPhone)

on the occasion of your half-birthday

Dear sweet Lucy Jane,

Today you are six months old. Six months. Half a year (!). 

In six months, you've gone from being my long-legged sack of potatoes to a chunky, talkative child, an independent spirit who grows into her personality with every passing moment.

You smile even more these days (I honestly didn't think that was possible) and I never get tired of seeing those lips spread across your cheeks in a grin that melts my heart into all kinds of messy puddles. I spend most of my time at work looking at pictures of you. And when I go to pick you up from daycare, I drum on the steering wheel impatiently because those red lights do not change quickly enough. Don't they know I have a Lucy to get to? Who do they think they are?

You babble constantly and respond to me when I ask you questions. I'm sure you understand everything I'm saying. Daddy told me he thinks you said his name when he leaned down to kiss you the other day, but I'm skeptical. I guess I can give him that, though, considering you still get fussy when I leave the room or practically break your neck trying to watch me when I'm walking around doing busy mom stuff. Don't worry, Lucy girl, I know you're there. And I'm always thinking of you.

We started offering real food to you pretty early, but we've been distracted from that recently. You like bananas and rice cereal, and avocado is growing on you (not literally, but wouldn't that make for an interesting childhood?). Next up is sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and chicken. Maybe some grapes, too. We're pretty much game for anything as long as you are!

You are sitting up on your own for minutes on end, and you can push yourself back up if you start to to tilt. You are "swimming" more and more on your belly and I have a feeling you're going to skip rolling around and jump straight to crawling. Time to start baby-proofing the house!

You don't have any teeth yet, and no real signs that they'll be coming soon, either. You had one night recently where you  were super fussy and didn't even want to nurse. You screamed like I'd never heard you scream before, and it was pitiful. We thought maybe a tooth would pop through the next morning, but that was a big negative. I hope it's not too hard on you when it does happen!

You love to be read to (I read Pride and Prejudice last night and you went from squawking like a chicken to complete silence in about two seconds. Proud mama right here!). You love music, most of which I played for you in the belly. You like to have conversations with us and people-watch and be in crowded places. Thank you for being such an easy-going baby! We can take you anywhere. On Monday, you went to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Atlanta stadium and you just relaxed in the wrap and watched everything with wide eyes. You were the talk of the town!

My favorite thing is to see how you explore. You touch my face when you're nursing (more on that in a moment) or drinking a bottle, and hold your hands up in awe, as if to say, "Excuse me, have you seen these things?" Being outside is the same deal. With birds to hear and grass to pull and wind on your face, you're pretty much in heaven. It's so fun to experience life again with you.

Lucy, the only sad part about your half-birthday is that it's time to stop nursing. You just aren't interested any longer. You haven't been for about two weeks, but I wanted to make it to the six-month mark (call it my mama guilt). We've slowed down on feedings a bunch since you were four months old, but nowadays it's hard to keep you on for more than two or three minutes at a time. It's bittersweet for your mama. On the one hand, my body becomes mine again. No more leaky boobs. But on the other hand, it's our thing, you know? The thing no one else can do for you. And it's such a lifesaver on those rare occasions that we're out in public and you pitch a fit. No more popping baby on the boob. But I've enjoyed nursing you, Lucy girl. It didn't go perfectly, but when does it ever? We made it work for us. I'm proud of what we've accomplished together.

We're a team, we are. 

Long Shadows by Cecilia Dominic: A Review

It took me awhile to get around to this book - what with a little baby in tow, trying to work out, leading bible study, and having about five different projects going at once - but I finally did! And I'm glad because Long Shadows, the second installment of Cecilia Dominic's Lycanthropy Files, was the perfect escape from some of the longer days I've had in the last few weeks.

Long Shadows: A Summary

Being unique isn't always what it’s cracked up to be.

By day, Lonna Marconi’s busy career keeps her mind off the fact she was turned werewolf against her will. By night, a dose of wolfsbane lets her inner wolf out to play while her physical body stays safe at home.When an overheard phone call at work warns her a trap is about to be sprung, she turns from hunter to hunted in the blink of an eye.

She finds refuge with the Ozarks pack she never claimed as her own. Upon discovering a family secret that explains why she’s unique among her own kind, Lonna finds heat in the arms of Max, who’s the one thing she cannot trust—a wizard.

Another kidnapping attempt sends her navigating the treacherous metaphysical borders of a centuries-old war, pursued by rogue sorcerers, a band of ghostly wolves, and repressed memories that prevent her from reclaiming her heritage. All the while, trusting her back to a wizard who demands the price of her heart…and who may not have the luxury of giving his in return.

Warning: Some sexy scenes, adult language, and alcohol consumption. Also descriptions of Italian food that might offend carbophobes.

Long Shadows: What I Think

The summary of this book alone had me hooked. But I'll admit that after years of vampires and wizards and other supernatural creatures permeating the entertainment industry, I always feel a little hesitant to go back down that road. I'm kind of a snob about it since Harry PotterThe Chronicles of Narnia, and The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris (the books upon which True Blood is based) are some of my absolute favorite stories. But the truth is not every supernatural story has to be the same and what I loved about Long Shadows is that, most of all, it's humorous. It plays on the popularity of these kind of narratives without demeaning its own place among them. There's some self-deprecation there and whether or not was purposeful on the part of Dominic, it works in Long Shadows' favor.

I also like the idea of a love story between two supes (or supernaturals) that I haven't seen before, especially when the female plays the role of the werewolf. It's unique and further separates this novel from others because, in reality, Lonna doesn't have to be strong if she doesn't want to be. She can always take wolfsbane. Vampire women don't have that choice. So when Lonna does choose to embrace her inner wolf, it's because she's the kind of woman who is brave enough to take on the consequences.

I haven't had the opportunity yet to sit down and read this series from the beginning, but Long Shadows is strong enough to stand alone and I think readers will enjoy it on its own. But I'll be going back to the starting line if anyone wants to join me!

Oh, and Cecilia, if you ever want to meet up for coffee and swap writing tips, I live in Decatur, too! Have fun on the rest of the tour!

To learn more about Cecilia Dominic and The Lycanthropy Files, visit her official website. Or stop by her Facebook page and Twitter to say hello! And if you're interested in getting a preview of Long Shadows, click here to read the first chapter.

*Everyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win 1 eBook copy of Long Shadows and 1 Long Shadows T-shirt (pictured below). Sizes are L or XL and will be available to US residents only!*

family night out

Last week, my husband was able to score some sweet tickets to the Braves game. Since he works for the Falcons, he is sometimes given the opportunity to enjoy some of the perks offered by the generous owner, who often allows employees to attend various games and sit in his (really amazing) seats. We were three rows behind home plate with all the free food we could eat and comfy cushions to sit on. We had such a good time! And with a little baby in tow, having a nice place to rest without being squished between drunk fans was pretty much amazing. At one point, I stood up to go inside the club house for a drink and, lo and behold, nearly bumped right into Evander Holyfield. I didn't even say, "Excuse me"...I just said, "Whoa". Thankfully, I don't think he was paying attention to me.

(Side note: Pierce was in line with Holyfield at the hospital Chick-Fil-A when I was in labor with Lucy...he must be our good luck charm, or something. He's always around when good things happen!)

It was a beautiful, cool night and Lucy slept through most of the game. That girl is something else.

Unwell by Marie Chow: A Review

There've been quite a few stops here lately from some amazing authors on CLP's Blog Tours, and today I'm excited to share my thoughts with you on Marie Chow's newest novel Unwell. It's not your typical chick-lit where there's a pretty tie-up at the end, but it certainly resonates past the final page (and just look at that amazing cover!).

Unwell: A Summary
How do you tell your child that you won’t be there when they grow up? UNWELL is the raw, honest story of a mother who writes to her unborn child, sharing her decision of choosing not to be a mother. She doesn’t choose abortion. Nor does she consider adoption. Instead, she decides to give her child a fighting chance in life, without the angst and drama that’s shaped her own bittersweet life.

With a poignant lack of emotion, the young mother shares her life story. As the child of Asian parents who moved to America early in her life, the mother shares how her life disintegrated after her parents’ divorce. From upper middle class suburban to sharing her mean aunt’s house to a one bedroom apartment in a shabby neighborhood, this mother endures the indignity that comes with the change of status. From her father’s absence to her mother becoming a married man’s mistress, her story reads like a tragic Victorian novel set in the 21st century, but that’s where the similarity ends—she is definitely not a shy country miss and she certainly did not take the easy way out. 

Unwell: What I Think
At this moment in my life, stories about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, motherhood, or raising children in any capacity piques my interest. With an almost-6 month old (?!) at home, it's pretty much all I think about. And Unwell is quite the baby story.

One thing I believe is particularly important for readers of Chow's book is to face it without judgment. It's presented in the format of a diary to the mother's unborn child, and we never really find out the truth about why she won't be present for her baby's life. This doesn't bother me. Some of my favorite books are ones like Gone Girl (not exactly chick lit, I know, but relevant to this statement) where we have no idea what will happen when the book ends. We're left to speculate on our own...and that's part of the enjoyment. For me, it feels like I can participate in the story. It becomes what I want it to be rather than what the author says it is. Some people might say it's an author's job to tell us what happens, but if writing books were for the sole purpose of the author, they would never be published.

Unwell is a story that you need to take your time through...grab a coffee, make sure the kiddos are asleep, and turn off other distractions. It's a "thinking" book and it's worth it. We never know what stories lie behind the people we see every day, and some of them are like this mother's. They don't make much sense because we can only see them through our own perspectives. Unwell gave me the chance to see motherhood from the protagonist's view and because of that, I can understand it. A novel that can educate is, in my opinion, a novel that can always entertain.

If you want to read Unwell for yourself, click here to purchase your own copy from Amazon (it's only $4.99 for Kindle!). And to learn more about Marie Chow and her work, please visit her official website.

Mother's Day Weekend

My first Mother's Day was amazing in pretty much the way that motherhood is amazing on any other day. It was full of smiles and tears and lots of unexpected interruptions.

The weekend was super busy because Pierce's friend, Drew, got married on Saturday and Pierce was a groomsman. Friday night, Pierce got home late because of work so we showed up to the rehearsal dinner an hour after it started. Guys are so different from girls on this, though, because a few apologies later they were cracking jokes about it. I couldn't believe it. Anyway, we had a blast that night and Saturday at the wedding was no different. Lucy is such an easy-going baby so taking her to crowded places where there's lots of noise never seems to bother her. We chalk it up to the fact that we've never tried to be quiet while she's sleeping. We just go on about our business and the girl snoozes through it all. Just one of the many reasons we love our Lucy.

Yesterday, we woke up a little late for church, but it wasn't a big deal. Usually, I sit in the lobby and play with Lucy during the 9 a.m. service while Pierce is with his middle school boys in Transit. I try not to pay too much attention to the sermon on the monitors because we always take Lucy to Waumba Land (the baby/toddler ministry) while we attend the 11 o'clock service together (Lucy, however, loves to watch the screens). But I was super tired when Pierce got out of Transit and just before service started, we did that whole, "I could skip...wanna skip?" routine because, hey, it was Mother's Day and, apparently, Pierce had some things he wanted to do for me. Can't argue there.

Turns out, his plan was to get me a big ol' iced coffee and take me to Home Depot so I could get all the stuff I wanted to plant a little garden. He's a keeper, that one. I'm forever talking about random things I want to do - thanks to Instagram accounts I follow and, as usual, Pinterest - and he always remembers. We sat Lucy in the cart with the baby seat (so she could practice her driving skills 16 years in advance, natch) and subsequently took turns exclaiming about her overwhelming cuteness. I'm convinced that Mother's Day is actually a day for us to celebrate our babies.

After a delicious (oh, so delicious) lunch at Le Petit Marche in Kirkwood, we went home to relax and watch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. We-he-heeelll...Lucy Jane was having none of that.

We've never had Lucy on a super tight schedule, except for feeding. I nurse or bottle-feed her every two-three hours still like clock work, and she has fallen into her own sleep routine. She naps twice during the day for anywhere from 1-2 hours and then goes to bed at 8:30-9:00. I used to do a dream feeding at 11 before I went to bed, but we've been able to start skipping those recently.

Anyway, needless to say, Lucy hadn't napped but just an hour total by the time we got home. And by this point she'd normally have been right smack in the middle of her second nap. She fussed and cried and as soon as we'd get her down and press play on the movie again, she'd wake up. The Hobbit is long, but it took us a total of five hours to watch it because our poor baby was so angry tired. You know what I mean? When your baby's cries sound more like growls? She was so pitiful we couldn't even get that frustrated. Our only consolation was that we had absolutely nothing else to do so, thankfully, there was no pressure to get her to cooperate. We kind of just let it ride out and tried to function during the times she would calm down. The girl finally went to bed at 10:30 p.m.

Right after she went down, I went into her nursery (she doesn't sleep in there yet) and cried. It was a good but very heavy day for me and I just needed to get some junk out of my system. Afterwards, I went straight to bed and passed out.

Mother's Day was a reminder to me that our work is never done as mamas. Our babies don't know what day it is and even when they do, their world is still all about them. It's my job to help sharpen Lucy's focus and shape her worldview so that she is, eventually, able to see other people and serve them the way she has been served. But that day is not here yet. And I'm happy to mother my Lucy girl until it arrives...and long, long after.

Thank you, Pierce, for always taking care to listen and remember the silly things I say. Thank you for your patience yesterday and your gentleness towards Lucy. And thank you for celebrating me. I love you.

And now, before I go, I leave you with a video of Lucy in the driver's seat:

Sucker Literary, Volume III: A Review

Happy Cinco de Mayo, friends!

Today is the day to eat some chips and cheese dip (and get free spicy guacamole at Moe's, if you're near one), drink some margaritas, and celebrate life! I wish I could say I know what Cinco de Mayo is actually about, but I do not. I should probably Google it. I'm sure it's about more than just cheese dip, but still. Cheese dip.

Anyway, another reason I'm excited about Cinco de Mayo is because, today, I finally get to share my review of Sucker Literary, Volume III, the third in a series of anthologies which includes some pretty spectacular fiction from emerging and established YA authors. So, let's get to it!

Sucker Literary, Volume III: A Summary

Bullied and alone, Ainsley seeks refuge in the arms of a strange boy. Time is slipping away for overachieving Sadie Lin, but reigniting an old flame might help. Scarred by a pressuring ex, Alexandra finally faces the rain. “Pasty and chubby” Charlotte makes a public play for the “Tan and Smooth” king. The beautiful girl in the black, lacy push-up bra says that it’s time for Brenn to stop lying . . . at least to herself. A halfway house is no home for Dawn—or is it? How will Dana survive knowing everyone at school thinks she’s a monster, when they just may be right? JJ and her crush finally get a moment alone—at his girlfriend’s hottest party of the year. Sixteen-year old Sarah prepares for her first day of school by chaining up her Mamí in her bedroom. Alyssa’s life is a well-rehearsed ballet until a tragedy sends her hurtling towards a fall. Loving a boy is as simple as chemistry . . . unless that boy is an unstable element.

Eleven stories that delve into the depths of our experience—driven by fierce and untouched love that makes us seek, lose, fear, desire, long, reflect, survive, steal, protect, fall, and confess.

Sucker Literary, Volume III: What I Think

It's times like this when I would like to remain completely professional and not at all swoony, but I really just can't right now. I've been asked to review books before that, as it turned out, were not well-written or even edited. It can be tough to make it through manuscripts like that because, although it's necessary for me to finish the book in order to write a complete and honest review, I really don't want to turn another page. I expect everyone has felt like that at one time or another. The whole writing/publishing/reading business is a very subjective one.

This, however, was not one of those times.

In Sucker, eleven stories combine to create a whole body of adolescent experience without striving too hard for the angst and drama that sometimes makes reading anything about teenagers difficult. Don't get me wrong; the angst and drama is definitely there (starting with page one!). It just doesn't feel contrived. Piece by piece, Sucker offers me insight into the unique afflictions of young adults, but, thankfully, doesn't leave me there scratching my head, thinking, "I don't remember my teenage years being like that." Of course, I don't believe I'm supposed to see a mirror image of my own adolescent experience on the pages of this anthology...but I should at least be able to make sense of what these characters are telling me. Care about something they care about. Feel something they feel.

And I do.

I'm a sucker (pun not intended) for YA fiction, as a YA author myself, because those are the years that define so much of what we become later in life. And we don't even realize how simple they can be until we're through them. But that's the whole point. That's why we go back and read. So we can have the gift of foresight after we've made it through the whole deliriously wonderful/tragic/embarrassing experience. What I found in this anthology, though, is that sometimes I'm still wrong.

While reading Sucker I kept wondering if I'd be able to guess the ending of each individual story before I got there. Sometimes I could. Sometimes I couldn't. Moments of anxiety, fear, restlessness, insecurity, pride, pain, joy, anticipation, and love are laid bare for all to see...and they aren't nearly as predictable as we, who have successfully escaped being teenagers, might think.

That's what makes Sucker so delicious.

To learn more about Sucker Literary and Volumes I and II, click here to visit their official website, or stop by and say hello on Twitter!

A big thanks to Sucker Literary for asking me to review this book and for sharing these wonderful stories with me. I look forward to reading more in the future!

In My Bag // 01

If you're anything like me (and by that I mean you are a woman), you, too, probably find yourself emptying out the contents of your purse pretty often. It's kind of a black hole, isn't it? It's my catch-all for receipts, chapsticks, straw wrappers, and a million other little things. Perhaps it's more like a trash can?

I spent about thirty minutes cleaning out my bag the other day and when all the junk was gone, here are the things I was left with. It pretty much sums up my life.

In my bag:

Two pairs of sunglasses (white: mine, black: Pierce's...he gets mad at me for stealing them)
My wallet
Keys to the car, house, etc.
Elf lip stain
Lucy's headband
A necklace charm from Hobby Lobby, a sweet little gift from my sister-in-law
The Message Bible (my favorite translation!)

So what's in your bag?