Monday, November 15, 2010

Books Make Great Holiday Gifts!!

It's true, books do make great holiday gifts! Even better gifts are books signed and personalized for a specific friend or family member on your list!

So if you buy yourself a copy of The Transformation of Things between now and December 1st, I will send you another free signed and personalized copy for you to give as a gift to a family member or friend of your choice. All you need to do is:

1.) Purchase the book. (Find it easily on Amazon or in person in Barnes & Noble, Borders, or nearly any bookstore!)
2.) E-mail me at jill(at)jilliancantor.com with the specific information about where and when you purchased the book.
3.) Let me know how you want your free holiday gift book signed and where you want it sent.

Could I make your holiday shopping any easier?!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Morning Person

I know my blogging had been a little spotty for the past week, and as I blogged about once before I have been undecided about whether or not to keep at this now that The Transformation of Things is out. My original plan was to set a deadline for myself back in August, 90 days of being positive until the book's release, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am feeling a bit reluctant to give this blog up now. It has been a challenge on some days, but also, really fun to blog about positive things and hear all the positive responses I've been getting in return. So I guess the conclusion I came to is I'm still going to try to update this blog, as often as I can. With positive things, of course!

I wanted to write about something that's been happening to me for the past week. I've been waking up early. Really, really early. Like 5 AM early. And I find myself wide awake. If you knew me a few years ago, or maybe even a few months ago, you would know how strange this is. I have always been a night person, the kind of person who would stay up way past when the kids went to bed to work on my writing, and then who would have to be literally dragged out of bed after hitting sleep on the alarm 20 or so times! I began waking up slightly earlier after younger child began waking up early over the summer, but I was always up reluctantly. This waking up early, on my own, is a new thing to me.

I know part of it is probably due to stress and excitement from the book launch, and the feeling of having so much to do in the day. But I've noticed something at 5 AM. It's dark. Very dark. And also quiet. Very, very quiet. I've found myself lying in bed, trying not to disturb any of this. (The children have super ears, and I'm sure if I were to get up, they'd be up within seconds). So I've just been lying in bed trying to think about the day, what I have to do, what I want to do, and also think positive thoughts about what I want to happen and what I want to accomplish.

And do you know what I've realized: I actually love these moments. I feel so much better during the day having had these dark quiet moments to reflect, than the way I used to feel having to drag myself out of bed. Does this mean I've become a morning person now? I'm not sure -- but I do know my college self is off somewhere rolling her eyes at this post :)

Are you a morning person or a night person? Have you ever found yourself waking up at crazy hours when everyone else is still sleeping? Do you enjoy this time or wish you could fall back to sleep?

Friday, November 5, 2010

A contest to end the week!

I'm getting to this post a little late today, but I wanted to end this week with a contest! If you're out over the weekend and you see The Transformation of Things in the wild, take a picture and send it to me at jill(at)jilliancantor.com.

I'll randomly pick one picture-sender to win a signed copy of the book next week, and I'll post the pictures here (with your permission).

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A link

If you haven't already read this, check out this post by Barbara O'Neal over at Writer Unboxed. She talks about practical magic for writers, and about how thinking positively and visualizing what we want is necessary to succeed as a writer. This is exactly some of the stuff I've been wondering about/trying these past few months on this blog, and reading her post only inspired me to keep at it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Being Thankful

Writing this blog over the past few months, I've come to appreciate more all the things I'm thankful for. So when Chick Lit Central asked me to blog about this for their site, I was happy to put it all in writing! You can read my list over at Chick Lit Central today and also enter to win a signed copy of The Transformation of Things!

And something I am also thankful for -- all my cyber friends who blogged, tweeted, and Facebook-ed about The Transformation of Things release yesterday!! It was a great day, made even better by all the virtual love and support I felt! I stopped in Barnes & Noble and was thrilled to find the book on The New and Noteworthy Paperbacks table! And though my stop at Borders was a little less exciting (When I couldn't find the book, the manager finally located it in an unpacked pallet of books in the back), my sister found it nicely displayed at her Borders in Florida, and even sent me a picture.



It's a little hard to tell here because the picture is small, but notice she is standing right in front of the book, The Good Sister! (My dad pointed this out right away!) In case you were wondering she bought this copy, and also one at Barnes & Noble, so she is a good sister :)

I ended the day with a great celebratory dinner out with my family and cheesecake. What could be better?




Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Release Day Contest!

THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS is out today!!!

Check out the Release Day contest over at my author blog. If you are one of the first ten people to purchase the book today, and leave me a comment over there, Avon will send you another one of their Avon A titles for free! And I'll throw in a signed bookmark.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Here! It's Here!

The title of this post is, of course, referring to fact that THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS is out this week!!!! Tomorrow, to be exact :-) So, all this week I'll be pointing you towards places/ways to win free books! And if you happen to pick up a copy of the book, let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Today I'm having a contest over at my Facebook author page. Click here to head over there. Or, if we're already Facebook friends, you can find it there as well. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. One grand prize winner will win a signed copy of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS and a signed copy of the fabulous Melissa Senate's new release THE LOVE GODDESS' COOKING SCHOOL. Two other winners will each win one of the two books. The contest ends at midnight tonight, just in time for me to start my amazing release day contest tomorrow over at my author blog. (Check back tomorrow for details!).

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Good Witch!

As an adult, I've never been a huge fan of Halloween. I loved it as a child: dressing up, trick or treating, pumpkins, candy, all of it. But since I've had kids of my own, it has become one of those holidays that I almost dread. I feel kind of grinch-y even admitting this here, but it's the truth.

Of course, I love seeing my kids in their costumes, and I love watching how excited they get over the whole thing. But I hate all the candy, and even more I hate dressing up myself. A few years ago my husband and oldest son talked me into doing a Scooby Doo themed Halloween. I had to dress up as Velma -- I'm still a little traumatized!

But, I am a more positive person this year, so decided that maybe I should learn to enjoy this holiday again. Yesterday, I bought myself a sparkly witches' hat yesterday and promised oldest son I'd come help out at his school costume party dressed up myself. Then my kids spent most of the night last night debating whether I would be a good witch or an evil witch (They settled on a good witch!)

As they debated the merits of good vs. bad witches, I saw the world, and Halloween, for a few moments through their eyes. Halloween is all about dressing up, become something that you're not, just for a night, transforming yourself. I guess as an adult I do this sort of thing all the time as a writer -- and also admittedly, I enjoy doing it more in my head in my introverted writerly way than outwardly in costume.

But this weekend, I won't be writing. I'll be a good witch!

How do you feel about Halloween? Do you plan on dressing up?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Power of Positive Envisioning: Part II

Exciting news, you can now "Browse Inside" The Transformation of Things on the HarperCollins' site! Click here if you want to check out the beginning of the book. (I also put it up on the sidebar if you want to click from there.)

Also some time today you should be able to read my bucket list over at Chick Lit is Not Dead (and enter to win one of five giveaway copies of the book!)

So, remember when I blogged about the power of positive envisioning back in August? Well, one thing that I actually envisioned happening for a few weeks in a row in August/September has begun to happen. I can't tell you what it is yet (and also, remember I'm superstitious, so I wouldn't want to jinx it anyway). But, I did tell a close friend of mine, and her first question was, "Do you think this was the result of all your positive thinking?"

I was stumped for a minute. Did I? Really? I'm not sure. If I think about it logically, it probably would've happened regardless of what I did or didn't do. But. I'd been envisioning this thing, and then it happened. That had to mean something, right?

I'm a person who likes control, and I guess by envisioning these things that I want to happen to me, as if they've already happened, by creating a clear and vivid picture of them in my mind at night before I go to bed, I feel it gives me some element of control. Is it an illusion? Maybe. Probably. Certainly, what I've been doing doesn't hurt. (And this is what I finally told my friend).

And now that it's worked once, I'm convinced it could work again. This week I started envisioning something new. Will it work again? Yes, because I'm being positive here, I'm going to believe it will.

For those of you a few months ago who told me you also envisioned, has it actually worked for you? And for the rest of you, have I convinced you to start doing this now?!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Of Morning Walks and Creepy Animals

Yesterday morning as my friend and I were taking a walk, we noticed something staring at us from a distance: a coyote. It wasn't super close, maybe about 50 feet away, just standing in the middle of a wash, but as we walked by it was staring at us, really, really intensely. Once we walked by it, we decided it was time to turn around and go home, and as we walked by it again, we picked up our pace (I guess that's the positive note here. My fear of the coyote probably caused me to burn more calories!)

Anyway, I'm a huge fan of exercising outside, whenever I get the chance to. When I can't, I'll get on the elliptical, but it's always with a bit more reluctance. I love fresh air, sunshine, the feeling that I'm actually going somewhere of some substantial distance, rather than moving in place. I like walking with a friend, the conversation that propels us to go faster and walk further, better than the reality TV I usually end up trying to pass the time with on the elliptical. One of the things I love about living in the desert is that the majority of fall/winter/spring it's perfect exercising outdoors weather.

But, one thing I'm not a fan of are those desert creatures we occasionally walk by. Last week we found a rattlesnake skin (Thank goodness it was the only the skin, or I may have never walked outside again), and once my husband and I walked by a mountain lion in a parking lot (This still gives me nightmares). Don't even get me started on the story I read last year about a man who was attacked by a rabid javelina while taking a morning stroll.

Do the positives of exercising outside here outweigh my fear of desert creatures? Probably. And yes, I'm going to keep on doing it. Besides, if I keep seeing creepy creatures, I may even become a good distance runner!

What would you rather do, exercise inside or outside? And how do you feel when your path crosses with a wild animal?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

One Week Until. . .

Something happened to me yesterday morning. Barack Obama called my house. Well, not really him, but a recorded message from him telling me to vote. . . I'm not really sure for what, because as soon as I realized it was one of those countless recorded election calls, I hung up.

And today it's Tuesday, so you know what that means . . . one week until Election Day! No, actually, what I was really thinking was one week until THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS is out. Somewhere in my brain I know that this whole election thing is on a much bigger scale than the release of my novel -- after all, I'm not calling Barack Obama at 8 AM telling him to buy my book, am I?

As I was trying to work on some guest blog posts for the upcoming release yesterday, my husband interrupted to try and share a political article he was reading. I kind of had the same reaction I get to those recorded calls, and I might have glared at him, just a little bit. But after the fact, I did actually feel bad about it.

Because the truth of the matter is, I do think the election is important. I promise you no matter how excited I am next Tuesday, or how many bookstores I feel the need to stop into to visit my lovely book on the shelves, I will vote. Voting is part of being positive, yes? It's part of having a voice and making a difference and trying to make the things we want to change change. I think it's easy to feel that we're only one person and that our vote doesn't matter, but I really firmly believe that it's important to feel like our vote is, well, important.

But, I can't say I'll be quite as excited about voting as I will be about THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS being out :)

What about you? Do you plan on voting? Does voting make you feel positive?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where is Spiderman's Head?

The winner of last week's contest is Tiffany! Tiffany, you get my absolute last ARC of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS -- send me your address to jill (at) jilliancantor.com and let me know if/how you'd like it signed.

Starting later this week, there will be some contests to win THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS (gorgeous, final copies!) on some other blogs. I'll keep you posted about that here, and for my weekly contest here, I'm supposed to get a shipment of some very pretty bookmarks this afternoon, so to anyone who leaves a comment this week, I'm more than happy to send you one. All you need to do is e-mail me to let me know where you want it sent!

So as I'm sitting here writing this, this is the conversation going on in my house right now. My husband, who just walked into the room, picked up youngest son's Spiderman figurine and said, "Where's Spiderman's head?" (I just looked up to him clutching a headless Spiderman.)

Youngest son didn't even flinch before saying, nonchalantly, "It's right here, in Batman's car." He opened Batman's car and ripped the head out of the driver's seat.

I just chimed in with. "You know you're not supposed to take Spiderman's head off!" (We had a little incident last week where Spiderman's head was missing for a few hours to youngest son's great dismay.)

Anyway, after I said this, I started laughing, and I pointed out to my husband how ridiculous our conversation sounded. Even more ridiculous, we've had similar conversations already about ten times today.

But that's part of the amazing thing about having little kids isn't it, the importance (or lack there of) of Spiderman's head. Sometimes as adults we get so wrapped up in adult problems and adult conversations, that it feels refreshing to have a conversation like this, a dilemma so (literally) small, and a dialogue so inane. Sometimes, it's refreshing to laugh about these things.

What kinds of ridiculous conversations do you have in your house or with your kids? And honestly -- why would the Spiderman manufacturer think it's a good idea for the head to pop on and off?!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rain, Rain, Glad to See Ya!

Don't forget to leave a comment today (or on any post from this week) and I'll enter you to win my very last ARC of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS. I'll announce the winner on Monday!

Yesterday morning it was raining and cold -- well relatively cold for Arizona. When I grew up in Pennsylvania, I used to hate the rain, and I hated it even more in college when I had to walk every where and it rained what felt like every day.

But now that I've lived in the desert for ten years, I've become one of those strange desert people who actually like the rain, you know, the people I used to roll my eyes at when I first moved here. I like the way the rain sounds on my back patio, soothing somehow, and the way the air feels damp and crisp at the same time, and takes on a certain rainy smell in the desert that it doesn't other places I've lived. This morning, I opened the back door, had an extra cup of coffee, and felt strangely calmed and happy, even despite being cold and soaked from taking older son to school.

I thought about the fact that once something becomes a rarity, the way rain is for me now, we begin to appreciate it more. I'm also pretty sure that I now take sunshine, warm weather, and shorts for granted, but that if I moved somewhere like say, Alaska, I would grow to appreciate them again.

How do you feel about rain? What weather do you hate or love? Do you change your mind about these things depending on where you live?


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baseball

I'm not a big fan of baseball (or any team sport, for that matter). But now that the Phillies are playing in the post-season games, my husband has suddenly become invested in them, and thus, I've been forced to watch the past two weeks. Even older child has decided he enjoys the games. (Younger child seems, like me, completely bored and would rather destroy the house with his train set than actually sit quietly and watch).

Anyway, my problem with baseball is that it's so slow and boring, and I have trouble really caring about balls, bats, and bases. But as I was watching last night, it occurred to me that baseball fans are actually optimists. Everyone who watches those first eight innings is really just sitting there thinking that something amazing/interesting/exciting might happen in the ninth inning. (At least, this is what I tell myself as I sit here writing this in the top of the fifth inning. Something good is bound to happen in the end, right? There must be some payoff?)

The other positive, I guess, is that we're all hanging out together as a family watching something in common, rooting for something together. And in my attempt to find something interesting, I engaged my husband in a 20 minute debate over Brian Wilson's bizarrely un-matching beard last night-- when do we ever get to talk about things like this :)

But even though I'm pretty bored by baseball, I have to admit, I do understand my husband's urge to watch. There's something positive about rooting for a team, wanting them to win something big, something that feels important.

How do you feel about baseball? Have you been a reluctant watcher this week like me, or do you enjoy it or just ignore it?


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Positivity and Colds

Yesterday my mom sent me a link to this article called "Colds Hate Positive People." Basically it talks about a study that concluded that our emotions can be tied to our immunity. Not only do positive people get sick less often, the article says, but also, when they do get colds, the colds tend to be less severe.

This is interesting because since I've made an effort to be more positive, I have also felt physically better. I've had more energy, and though I did have that one cold a few weeks ago, it only lasted for a few days, and so far, I've only had one this fall (not bad considering oldest child is in kindergarten and seems to bring home every germ in the world!).

But do I really believe the two things are linked? I'm not sure. I've also been making an effort lately to exercise every day, and I'm obsessive about eating fruits and vegetables, so I don't know if it's positivity alone that's keeping me healthy. But I do think a positive attitude might have something to do with it.

What do you think? Do you think a positive outlook can really keep you from getting sick?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Books!!

Yesterday, a surprise package landed on my doorstep that contained two finished copies of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS! First, I have to say the book is even more gorgeous in person than it appears from the gorgeous cover you (and I) have been looking at online. I found myself dropping my writing for a little while and just holding the book in my hand, staring at it, flipping through it, admiring the front and back covers.

And I'll admit, I got a little teary eyed. It's one thing to sit in my office and type and imagine my way into a fictional world, to think about plot lines in the shower, or to dream about my characters when I'm sleeping at night. But it's quite another thing all together to hold all of that in your hand, something tangible: a book wrapped inside a stunning cover. A book that, two weeks from today, will sit on book store shelves waiting for readers.

It occurred to me that this was a moment where something I'd dreamed about and hoped for and wished for was actually happening, and I was holding that in my hand. It was kind of the way I felt after each one of my kids were born -- where even though I knew for nine very long months that there was this person living inside of me -- I didn't actually really, truly believe it, or understand it, until I held a baby in my arms.

Have you ever had a moment where you got to hold a physical representation of something you dreamed about in your hands?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Play-Doh

Check out this week's contest on the right sidebar -- leave a comment this week to enter to win my very last ARC of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS! (And, if you're interested, there's also a Goodreads giveaway going on for the book. Click here to enter that.)

On Saturday my kids had some friends over to play Play Doh in the backyard. The weather was gorgeous, and the kids were thrilled. A picnic table, a few tubs of Play Doh, some molds and spaghetti makers and all of them sat there quietly playing, engrossed in their creations. Maybe it's because my kids (and their friends) hardly ever get to play with Play Doh, but it's one of those things the kids are always thrilled about doing.

And I have to admit -- I enjoyed playing with it, too. Creating things that weren't real out of nothing -- dinosaurs and ice cream cones, play spaghetti and ducks. Mixing colors and cutting out shapes. It was messy. And it was fun!

I remembered how fun it was to be a kid, to make messes, and how easy it was to feel creative in those messes. Sometimes, as an adult, it's easy to lose track of this, so I enjoyed playing like a kid, on Saturday, at least for a little while (until all the kids went home, and I was scraping Play Doh off the back patio with a knife. . . but, we won't talk about that!)

What's a childhood toy (or mess) do you still enjoy playing with or making?


Friday, October 15, 2010

I like This Moment

Last night my husband and I had the rare date out of the house, alone. We went out to dinner, and while we were eating we overheard the couple next to us telling the waitress that they had just gotten engaged ten minutes earlier. We were sitting in this strange booth that had a privacy curtain, that my husband and I agreed felt more creepy than romantic, but anyway, we couldn't see what the couple looked like until we got up to left. We heard them talking, though, relaying the story of how they met and their dating history to the waitress and then after the waitress left, making phone calls to various friends and family members to relay the happy news.

It was kind of sweet to listen to them, and I guess I should mention that one of the occupational hazards for me of being a writer is that I'm fascinated in these situations where I get to eavesdrop on strangers and observe these kinds of things. But my point in all this, is this. Do you ever have a moment where you hear someone else's good news and you wish you could go back to that point in your life again? Engagements, weddings, pregnancy announcements. I've had that feeling before -- a feeling of missing something or longing for something I once had. But last night I didn't have that feeling.

Last night I thought about how happy I was in this moment in my life. Right now. How much I loved being with my husband ten years into our marriage, how much I loved our happy little family of two kids and four cats. I thought about the fact that I was pretty young, still in college, when I got engaged, and how uncertain my life was then. And I felt absolutely and truly happy to be in the moment of my life that I'm in now.

How do you feel about the current moment of your life? Do you ever hear other people's good news and picture yourself in that situation?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Now I Remember

I've been in a little bit of a reading slump lately. I blogged a few weeks back that I was planning on getting back to reading again, and I asked for some book suggestions. I picked up a few books from my night table, started a few, but then got too busy and distracted to actually finish anything.

But since I'm taking a break this week, I picked up my Kindle yesterday and started looking through the bunches of books I've downloaded and never actually followed through with reading or finishing. I had Every Last One by Anna Quindlen on there, and it was a book I downloaded before a trip last spring but never actually got a chance to even start. In fact, I'd forgotten it was there.

Anna Quindlen is one of my all time favorite authors. When I read Black and Blue years ago, it was the kind of book that reaffirmed my desire to be a writer. In my opinion it has one of the best first chapters of any book I've ever read.

I spent most of the day yesterday engrossed in her latest. I stayed up past midnight, reading until my eyes were tired and bleary. Then I was so involved with the main character and her ensemble of friends and family that I woke up this morning mulling them over as if they were actual people in my life. When I hit the point of the book where tragedy struck, I felt it deeply, as if it were real. I am almost finished with the book and I almost don't want it to end.

This is a feeling that I used to feel quite often when I read a book. This is why I love to read. So thank you, Anna Quindlen, for bringing me out of my reading slump!

What books have brought you out of a reading slump or reminded you why you love to read?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Of Family Days and Butterflies

Yesterday, we took a family trip to the butterfly house, a huge greenhouse filled with tropical butterflies. I've always loved butterflies, and this is one of my favorite places to see them up close. There's something about butterflies that always reminds me of serenity, beauty, and new life. Check out these twin butterflies -- the orange ones were younger son's favorite!


This one below was my favorite kind because these were the ones that kept landing on our fingers!

My husband took this shot of the butterfly landing on my finger! She hung out there for awhile, though, promptly flew away when I tried to transfer her to younger son's finger. (Smart butterfly!)

And because, of course, even though I'm taking a break this week, I can't really forget about THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS (out in THREE WEEKS!) Note the similarity to the above picture -- something which my husband pointed out as soon as he snapped the photo.


Where is your favorite serene place to visit?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Age is Just a. . . What?

The winner of last week's contest, the $10 iTunes gift card, is Melissa! Send me an e-mail to jill(at)jilliancantor.com with your address and I'll get it right out to you. The contest for this week and next week are listed on the right sidebar>>> Just send me an e-mail or leave a comment here if you want to enter.

I hope you all had a nice long weekend. I did! Something happened to me on Saturday that has been happening to me quite frequently lately. First, I finally finished this massive revision I've been working on for a while, so Saturday night I went off to the grocery store to pick up some celebratory wine and crab legs for me and my husband. (Remember, my new positive mantra is to celebrate even the little things!). Anyway, while I was paying, I got carded buying the bottle of wine. Even though I'm in my early thirties, this still happens to me a lot, especially if I'm shopping alone without the kids. Usually, it's not a big deal -- I laugh and hand over my ID, and maybe the cashier will say something about how they card until age 30 and I looked under 30 and I'll say thank you. And that's that.

But. On Saturday, this cashier asked me to see my ID. I handed it to her, and she literally gasped. "No!" She exclaimed. "This can't be right." She turned it over, held it up next to the light, squinted. "You can't possibly be this OLD."

I felt a little uncomfortable standing there as the guy behind me started sizing me up, perhaps wondering how old I really was or what the hold-up with the line was. I'm not sure. I just nodded politely and told her that yes, I am this old.

"No!" she exclaimed again. "You are way too normal looking and cute to be *this* old."

"Is that a compliment?" I asked.

"Totally," she said. "That's totally a compliment."
So, I did the only think I could think to do, I thanked her, wrangled back my ID and paid.

But as I drove home, I wondered was it really compliment? Wasn't what she was really saying was that she expected people "my age" to look weird, abnormal, or not cute, that somehow despite my "advanced age," I'd been able to avoid these things? Phew! And then I decided that I really didn't care. I like my age. I'd actually much rather be in my thirties than be a teenager when life still felt so uncertain and messy.

How do you feel about your age? Do people mistake you for either older or younger than you are? And am I the only one in my thirties who still gets carded???

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Break!

It's Friday!! And I rarely need a reminder to be positive on this day of the week. This week, especially so, because next week oldest child has off school and my husband has off work. Nothing screams positivity to me like a break (and a sorely needed one in my household, as we're all still recovering from that massive cold I mentioned earlier in the week.)

But, here's something even more exciting to me. Usually when my husband has a break from work, this is my time to write while he watches the kids. I love writing, and that my husband has a job with good hours and vacations, and so I'm not complaining about that. But sometimes when I'm up in my office all alone on a Saturday morning, or most of the week between Christmas and New Year's I think about what it would be like to be able to take a break at the same time as the rest of my family.

Next week I've decided to do just that. I've given myself a self-imposed deadline to finish up my revision this weekend and spend seven wonderful days next week spending time with my family. And that thought today makes me feel positively giddy!

Do you have a break for the holiday weekend this weekend? I hope so! What's your favorite thing to do when you're on a break?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What this is really about. . .

Since this blog and my upcoming book have the same name, people have been asking me lately what the book is about and if it relates to this blog. The truth is, not really. Sure my main character Jen has some hard things happen to her and could definitely use a little positivity in her life, but beyond that, my journey and her journey are totally separate. What we do have in common -- this blog and my book -- is that I thought it would be good for me to focus a little positive energy into the universe pre book launch rather than stressing/worrying/fixating on every single little launch detail and dwelling on all the things that could possibly go wrong. Has it worked? So far, yes (but check back in with me a month from now when the book is actually out!). When my last book came out, last February, my husband jokingly referred to me as "launchzilla" (and that was probably being kind on his part). I'm feeling way happier, more relaxed, and positive this time around -- thanks, in large part, to this blog.

But anyway, for those of you who've been asking, I thought I'd share a little about about the book today. Here's what's on the back cover:

What if the reality you thought you knew was nothing but a fantasy?

Jennifer Levenworth has a great, big, pounding headache. It could be because her husband, a judge, is indicted on bribery charges, leaving her unsure about everything in her marriage. Or it could be caused by the media, who are relentlessly covering the story. Or because the friends Jennifer thought she knew and trusted have turned their backs on her in her greatest hour of need.

And then the dreams begin…

And while Jennifer sleeps, she swears she can see—and hear -- her friends' and family’s most private moments. Soon Jennifer realizes she is actually learning the truth about their lives, leading her to also question everything she thought she knew about herself. But when the dreams start to reveal a startling reality, can Jennifer find the strength to ultimately transform her life?

It's a book about understanding what we have, who we are, and who our true friends are, about how we can transform ourself, others, and our relationships. And that is why I thought it seemed only fair that in leading up to its release, I should try, in some way to transform myself.

If you were to transform one thing in/about your life, what would it be? And how would you go about it?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To-Do Lists

I'm a chronic list maker. This doesn't necessarily make me organized, because often my lists end up on scraps of paper or old receipts from my purse. Often I make a list and then forget it or can't find it. But one thing that makes me feel particularly positive is a to-do list, and not the kind of official to-do list that I usually put into the calendar program on my computer, but the kind that is hastily scribbled on a post-it on my counter each morning over coffee.

The things is, whether I make this list or not, I will honestly get the same things done. Only, when I make the to-do-list, I get to physically take a pen at the end of the day and cross off the things I've already done. This makes me feel accomplished, and thus positive about my day. If I can see, with my very own eyes, that I've completed a task(s) that I set out to, then that makes it a good day.

I do this for writing, as well as my day-to-day life -- often with one list per day scribbled on post it on my kitchen counter and one scribbled on my desk. (That's two lists that I'm allowed to cross things off of at at the end of the day!)

Do you make to-do lists? Do they make you feel positive or negative about your day?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Signs & Superstitions

I'll admit, I'm a little superstitious. Okay, maybe a lot superstitious. I'm a frequent knocker on wood and a believer in old wives' tales. I look for signs thrown out to me by the universe. Literal signs. The day I found out I was pregnant with youngest child, I nearly tripped over a dead baby rabbit on the sidewalk right in front of my house. Will you think I'm insane if I tell you that I knew, as soon as I saw that rabbit there, that I was pregnant, that that was the reason I went out and bought a pregnancy test? Go ahead, you're allowed. Writing it down, I do see it's a little crazy myself.

But the reason I bring this up is this. I started this blog to make myself be and feel more positive. And I think I've pretty much achieved that goal for myself. I'm not necessarily transforming from a pessimist to an optimist anymore at this point, but now I pretty much feel like an optimist blogging about positive things.

But also, in the beginning of this journey I believe I wrote that maybe if I put some good karma out into the universe good things would happen to me in return. And you know what -- lately good things have been happening to me. Are they related to all my positive blogging karma? Logic tells me probably not, but that that little (loud) superstitious voice inside my head is screaming YES!

So here's what I was thinking, I was only planning on keeping this blog for a few more weeks until THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS comes out (which, by the way, is 4 WEEKS FROM TODAY!!!), but today I wondered, what if. . .? What if I stop blogging, stop putting positive karma into the universe? Have I just created a new superstition? Do I need to blog to keep those positive vibes going? Am I crazy to think I might?

Do you believe in signs or superstitions? What are they?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cold Remedies?

The winner of last week's contest (chosen with the help of random.org) is Liz Fenton. Liz send me an e-mail to jill(at)jilliancantor.com and let me know your address and how you'd like the book signed and I'll drop it in the mail for you. This week, I'm giving away another iTunes giftcard. All you have to do is leave a comment any day this week to enter!

Today I have a horrible head cold, so I'm going to share two things that I'm thankful for right now: green tea and Breath Right Nose Strips. Cold medicine tends to make me jumpy, so I always try to go for non-medicinal remedies when I have a cold. Seriously, whomever invented those nose strips must've been some kind of genius, as I'm not sure how I would've slept last night without it.

What makes you feel better when you have a cold? Please share anything that might make me feel better today :-) (And since I'm thinking positively -- I promise I'll be feeling better tomorrow and back with a longer post!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Are Neatness and Happiness Related?

So today I have another question for you guys. I guess actually this should start with a confession. My house is generally pretty messy. I used to have a fairly clean house, before I had kids. And these days I guess I have somewhat of a good excuse -- at least for all the toys around the house. But, admittedly, it's not just the toys that make my house a mess. I barely ever have time to mop the floors, and papers tend to pile up on kitchen countertops and end tables. It is a rare day when I actually make my bed. These things, of course, get done before company comes over or family comes to visit. But I don't schedule cleaning into my daily life. When I get some spare time during the day when youngest child is napping, I always choose to write rather than pull out the mop.

I bring this up because yesterday, I was having a conversation with some of the other moms at oldest child's school. Actually, a bunch of them were talking about their cleaning rituals, and how their floors must be spotless and their sinks must be cleaned, etc., and I was kind of standing around trying not to get sucked into the conversation. Until suddenly they all looked at me. "My house is kind of a mess," I admitted, which resulted in some looks of horror. "I mean, I don't have too much time to clean." I think that was even worse, so I quickly changed the subject.

Then I wondered, was it really such a big deal? I could probably back up here, and say that my mom was always a big proponent of a "lived-in" house rather than a house that looked like it should be a model, so perhaps this idea was ingrained in me from birth. But I suppose that some people think neatness and happiness correlate in some way, and I suspect some of those moms at oldest child's school probably thought I was a bad person/woman/mother for admitting that my house was messy (and for not doing anything about it on a daily basis). Believe me, if one of their kids came over for a play date, I'd clean up beforehand. But I thought about it -- if I worried about cleaning my house rather than working on my writing in my free time, I'd be miserable. My floors might be spotless. But aren't there more important things to worry about? On my quest for positivity, am I allowed to simply embrace my messy house and focus on more important things?

What do you think? How are neatness and happiness related? Are they? Do you have a neat house or a messy house?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Margarita or Exercise?

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, one thing I've been doing to keep positive is making myself exercise almost every day. And I've been really sticking to either walking outside or going on the elliptical six days a week. Yesterday, I'd planned on going on the elliptical when my husband got home, but then I let him talk me into going out to dinner instead.

Since school has started, the kids have been so tired that we barely have gone out to dinner at all. On the occasional night where we can't face cooking we've gotten takeout or popped a Trader Joe's frozen pizza in the oven. Once upon a time, pre-kids, my husband and I could barely locate our oven. These days, we're pretty out of touch with the whole restaurant scene.

But last night, despite all being tired we went out to our favorite Mexican restaurant. My husband and I each had a margarita and we shared nachos and a cheese crisp with the kids. Then we walked around an open air mall and stopped for gelato. And amazingly, the kids were exhausted, but *perfectly* behaved. Maybe it was the change in the routine, or the fact that they love eating at this restaurant and haven't been in a while, but we all left smiling and happy. (This is a rarity for toddler, and for us whenever we dare take toddler to a restaurant).

So, I missed my workout last night in exchange for a margarita and a gelato. Not exactly the best trade-off? You would think not, but a little time out with my family, good food, smiling faces, laughter (and my mixed berry margarita, of course) seemed to give me a mid-week boost that, until I got it, I didn't even realize how much I needed it.

This morning, however, you'll find me power walking around my neighborhood :-)

How do you recharge mid-week? Do you ever think that the things that are "good" for you aren't always what you need at the moment?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy News

I came across this site the other day, and I just had to share. It's called Happy News. Their slogan is "Real News. Compelling Stories. Always Positive." Love this!

I'm a bit of a news junkie, but admittedly, I do sometimes feel depressed after going through the latest headlines where there's usually a lot of doom and gloom about things over which we have no or little control. For instance, MSNBC did you really need to bring me the article about peanut allergy bullying, so I can now obsess that this might happen to my peanut-allergic child? I think not.

So this week, I've been checking out Happy News instead, where I can read about Lindsay Lohan's visit to homeless teens rather than her latest issues with drugs and jail and rehab!

What kind of news do you like to read? Do you find reading the news depressing, or do you like to be up to date on the latest?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Can

Yesterday, older child and I had a conversation about trying things, and about not saying the words "I can't." He's gotten into the habit of saying these words a lot lately, and I don't think it's just him. I helped out in his classroom last week and I heard that sentiment echoed by quite a few kids. The thing I've noticed with older child is, once I can convince him to try something he actually can do it 99.9% of the time. One thing he's gotten very interested in doing lately is writing his own stories and drawing pictures to go with them (and yes, this does make me proud!). Often he'll ask me how to spell things, and I always tell him to sound it out and try to figure it out on his own first. To which I almost always get a sigh and an "I can't." And then after some of cajoling, he almost always figures out how to spell the words on his own, or close. (Yesterday he wrote a story about a starving fly. It was adorable, but here, I'm digressing . . .)

Anyway, after he said "I can't" to me a few times yesterday afternoon, I turned to him and said, "You know what? If mommy had said 'I can't' I would've never gotten my book published. A lot of people said no to me, but I kept thinking I could do it, and then I did."

He stared at me hard for a moment. "Is that really true?" he asked.

"Absolutely."

He thought about it for a moment, and then he said. "So people said no to you, and then you got to do it anyway?"

"Eventually, yes."

He thought about it again. Then he said, "That's really cool."

"Yeah," I told him. "It is."

And you know what, it is really cool. And's what's also cool is that a few years ago, when I was getting a lot of rejection for my writing and I was tempted to give it up forever, there was one thing that stopped me. Older son was a baby, but at the time, I told myself that when he got old enough to ask me what I did, I wanted to be able to tell him I was a writer, an author, published. When I had that conversation with him yesterday, I had this strange feeling that maybe this was that moment I'd been thinking of so many years ago. And that was an amazing feeling.

What's one thing you thought you couldn't do that you could? And how do you help your children get over their "I can'ts?" Don't forget, if you comment any day this week, I'll enter you to win one of my last ARCs of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS!!


Monday, September 27, 2010

In Which I Completely Topple the Wagon Over. . .

The winner of last week's contest is CBlaire. E-mail me your address to jill(at)jilliancantor.com. This week, leave a comment any day, and I'll enter you to win a signed copy of one of my very last advanced copies of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS!

So, quite honestly, I'm not sure where or how to begin this post or to put it in a way that doesn't sound negative. I guess I should start by saying that I've really enjoyed writing this blog so far every day, forcing myself to have a more positive outlook on the world by virtue of having to keep a public record of things. And I've really enjoyed all of your comments and your e-mails and your notes on Facebook, telling me how my positivity has helped you be more positive or has helped you appreciate your own life more. But --

Someone said something negative to me about this blog last week. I'm not going to say what it was, because that would be, well, spreading negativity, now wouldn't it? But the sad fact was that over the weekend I was dwelling on it quite a bit. This one thing, of course, seemed to resonate much louder in my brain than all the positive comments, thoughts, and notes (and there have been quite a few) that I've received in the past six weeks. So I wondered, why is that?

I think it goes back to the reason why I started this blog in the first place. And not because I was depressed or I have a bad life, because I wasn't, and I love my life. I know I'm lucky to have an amazing husband and two beautiful children and a career as a writer. It was more that I personally would tend to dwell on negative things that happened, or that I tended to always view things in a glass half empty sort of way rather than a glass half full. And I started this blog because I thought I could change this about myself. And really, I have been.

Except I couldn't -- and can't -- stop dwelling on that one negative comment. As a writer, it's kind of the same way I feel when I get a rejection letter or a bad review. No matter how many good things have been said about a book, it's the negative that seems to always eat away at me, making me question whether a book will succeed, or whether I, as a writer, will succeed. I even considered for a moment, this weekend, that maybe I should stop writing this blog. But, that seems to defeat the whole purpose of starting this in the first place, doesn't it?

So today my question for you is this: how do you drown out negative feedback or forget about negative things people say to you? Is there a way to make positive feedback resonate louder? Please share!


Friday, September 24, 2010

My 10-Minute Rule

Don't forget to let me know what TV you're watching this week to enter to win this week's contest. I'll announce the winner on Monday!

I started off this week expressing my joy over the new season of TV, so I thought I'd end by telling you what I enjoyed most this week (without giving any spoilers in case you haven't seen them yet). I was not disappointed by any of my old favorites, and simply loved every moment of House, Glee, Grey's Anatomy, and Bones. I kept Glee on my DVR so I could watch it again over the weekend -- awesome singing plus irreverent humor always makes me feel good!

As for new shows, (and there are a bunch I haven't watched yet that I'll try over the weekend), only one really intrigued me enough to want to see it again next week, and that was Lone Star. At first I thought I wasn't going to like a show about a con-man leading a double life with a wife and a girlfriend. In the first ten minutes, I actually really didn't like the main character, and would've turned it off, except, I was watching it while exercising on the elliptical and was breathing too hard to work the remote. Then before I knew it, maybe twenty minutes in, I was positively hooked. The character had gained my sympathy. I finished my workout before the show was over, and I really wanted to know what was about to happen next.

Here's where I'm going with this, though. I usually have what I call a ten-minute/ten-page rule. That is, I give a movie, or TV show ten minutes, and if I'm bored or don't like it, I'm done with it. The same applies for books. If I'm not hooked after the first chapter, I'm done.

But -- if I'd gone by this rule, I might have missed a show I ended up enjoying. (Consequently, there were four or five others that I did not watch on the elliptical that I did erase at the 10 minute point this week. Ooops. . . maybe).

So now I wonder, is it negative of me to make such a quick judgment? What do you think? How much time do you give a new show before deciding whether or not to keep watching? And what were your favorites this week?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Importance of Glue Sticks (and Cupcakes)

I'll admit, I'm usually terrible at baking things. Even things from mixes. Somehow, even when I follow the directions to a tee, my cakes sink in the middle or my cupcakes explode. But, since I am being positive now, I decided that I would give this baking thing another try. After all, I should be able to do anything I put my mind to, right? Maybe I just needed a positive attitude going in? Perhaps I'd always doomed myself by thinking, beforehand, that I was going to mess up?

So yesterday morning the weather was cooler and a little rainy, and it seemed like the perfect day to turn on the oven and bake something. I pulled out my boxes of Trader Joe's brand new yellow cake mix and chocolate frosting mix and enlisted the help of younger son. Let me point out here that this was two positive things I was attempting -- one to bake something successfully, and two to let younger son "help." After a rocky start that involved younger son attempting to throw -- literally throw -- eggs into a bowl, things seemed to be going pretty well. Younger son helped me fill the cupcakes without breaking, dropping, or injuring anything or anyone. The cupcakes were in the oven and rose appropriately and neatly; the frosting was mixed and sampled (and delicious). And I was feeling pretty good about myself, until younger son handed me a little black piece of . . . the dishwasher. "How did you get this?"I asked him.
He shrugged. "I pulled it off." He had no answer for the question, why, but I'm guessing that his little fingers got bored somewhere in between trying to throw the eggs and stir the frosting.

I, of course, did what any self-respecting mom would do and took the glue stick and glued the little plastic button back on. On the upside, though, the cupcakes were delicious, and nice looking, too!

What's an easy task that you have trouble with? Do you think your attitude going in makes a difference with whether or you're successful?


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's Fall aka 100 Days Left this Year!

Here's a little fact that I just learned about today: it's the 265th day of the year, which means there are exactly 100 days left until 2011. It seems like the perfect time to think about all those New Year's Resolutions we made last January, or, even better, make some resolutions or some goals now.

Today is also the first day of fall, and I always start to get a sense at this point, that the year is almost over. I'm tempted to already start looking ahead to the next year and thinking about what things I might want to do or accomplish, come January.

But 100 days is still a long time, so this morning, I'm making a list of goals, things I want to do between now and the end of the year. I'm thinking of this fall as a fresh start, rather than an ending -- kind of like how I decided a few weeks back to see Mondays as beginnings. It's a new season today, and 2010 still has 100 potentially amazing days left.

How are you planning on spending the last 100 days of 2010? What do you hope to do or accomplish?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Connections

I'm going to make this post short, because I have two DVRs working hard at my house right now, and I have lots of shows to watch! (Don't forget to tell me what you're watching this week to enter to win my weekly contest!).

I was thinking yesterday that one of the things that helps me stay positive on daily basis are my connections to other people, and the way technology plays such a part in this. There's the way Twitter and Facebook and Blogging connect me with virtual strangers and readers and bloggers old friends, and the way e-mail keeps me in contact with other writers and friends with whom I share good and bad news, writing and life ups and downs and receive nearly instant feedback. There's my phone which keeps me connected to my parents and sister who live across the country, and Skype which I often use to see my family, and sometimes even connect to readers. You would be hard pressed to find me without my Droid in my hand, at any point during the day. These connections, though, help me stay positive on every level. They're encouragement and relief and feeling like I'm in a community of writers (even if it is virtual). I'm not quite sure what I would do if I couldn't quickly e-mail a friend or call my mom when I need reassurance.

What got me thinking about this was a portion of a book I'm working on now, which takes place in the 1930s, and as I took on the life of my character for a little bit yesterday -- who was admittedly depressed and feeling negative -- I really wished she could e-mail a friend, or throw a Tweet out into the universe and get an answer that would make her laugh in return. Or, for goodness sakes, if I could just hand her a cell phone so she could call an old friend, who I knew would make her feel better. I can't, of course, and it's been interesting living vicariously this way, thinking about the way connections and relationships were so different 80 years ago. I wonder, was it easier to stay positive without the constant technological connections, or was it harder? For me, I know it would be harder.

How do you feel about connections in your life? Are you a technology addict like me? Do you think connections help you feel more positive, or do you feel better when you get a break?

Monday, September 20, 2010

TELEVISION!!!

First the winner of last week's contest (chosen with Random.org) is Laura Rachel Fox. Laura, e-mail me your address to jill(at)jilliancantor.com and I'll send out your book. Also, let me know if/how you want it signed! For this week's contest, let me know what TV show (new or returning) you're most looking forward to, and I'll enter you to win a free month of Netflix.

So, on the topic of TV -- here's something to feel positive about this week: There are real shows on again! I know a lot of writers aren't too obsessed with TV, but I don't fit into that mold. I like watching a show at night before I go to bed to unwind. It's often hard for me to read and concentrate on a book when I'm in the midst of writing one myself, so TV shows are like my nightly brain candy! The long summer without any new episodes of my favorites is always hard for me to get through.

This summer I tempered that a bit with a new Netflix membership. My husband and I started watching Bones from the beginning, and watched all five seasons in a row. The show became my new obsession, and my impatient mind was thrilled to be able to watch episode after episode night after night (way better than having to wait a whole week to see what happens!) Needless, to say, I can't wait to see what happens on the first episode of Season 6 on Thursday.

I'm also a big Grey's Anatomy fan, and despite a bit of a rocky season last year, I thought the final episode was really good, so I can't wait to see what happens, and I can't wait to see Glee on Tuesday night!

I've been reading good things about The Event and Lone Star, so I have the first episodes set up to tape this week.

I could go on. . . Honestly, I hope my dvr doesn't suddenly explode, because after months of non-use, it's going to be working overtime now.

What shows are you looking forward to?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Oprah's Book Club Pick

Here's the thing about being a writer: every non-writer that you are related to, friends with, or even vaguely know will try and offer you this little tidbit of wisdom: send your book to Oprah! I can't tell you the number of times I've politely uh-huh-ed, laughed, smiled, or just generally tried to ignore this comment. Of course, I'm sometimes tempted to answer, why didn't I think of that! Ha!

But somewhere hidden in that quite unhelpful advice, I think there's some optimism, part of what I love about being a writer, the possibility of well, possibility. Things -- great, Oprah-like, things -- can sometimes happen to your book. I'm bringing this up now because, in case you haven't heard, Oprah will be announcing her next (and final) book club pick on her show today.

I love Oprah (who by the way, I think is pretty much like a paragon of positivity) -- isn't her go-to phrase "live your best life?" And as soon as I heard she was picking her next club pick, I immediately thought of the writer. The writer, who, I'm sure, has heard from countless friends and family and co-workers and strangers over the years, "Why don't you just send your book to Oprah?" Maybe that writer struggled to get published or struggled with bouts of writing pessimism (like I have), or maybe that writer once looked at his/her novel and wondered if anyone ever anywhere would read it (like I have). And then there is the fact that that writer will now be able call his/her friends and family and even random strangers, and say, Hey, guess what? I did send my book to Oprah. . . !

It seems there's already some controversy over this pick, as it was supposedly leaked yesterday that she's chosen Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. (You can read an article about it here .) My Twitterfeed was filled all day with reactions to this news, most of it negative, for reasons varying from the fact that Franzen has already gotten so much press for the book, that he shunned Oprah once before, and that Oprah should've chosen a lesser-known woman author. I don't know Franzen, and I haven't read Freedom yet, but I have been following some of the controversy surrounding him (and reviewers' treatment of him as late), and I guess my point is that in everything I've been reading there's so much. . . negativity.

So I'll definitely be tuning into Oprah today to see what her pick is. Do you think it really will be Franzen's book? And how do you feel about this choice? Are there any books/authors you'd be rooting for?

For me personally, I'm almost hoping it'll turn out to be a book I've never heard of by an author I've never heard of, because that, to me, is the true positive thing about Oprah's club, that she's able to show millions of readers an amazing book that they might, otherwise, never have heard of.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

4:59 AM. . .

Last night my husband and I watched the movie Date Night, which we both agreed was the funniest movie we've seen in a long time. The movie had me from the opening minute when the couples' child jumps on them in bed nearly killing them and shouting "I love you." (Youngest child does this to us all the time -- frequently he is head-butting us while shouting "I love you!") And then we got to watch Tina Fey & Steve Carell being bombarded by two children shouting for breakfast, as the camera cut to the clock to show it was 4:59 AM. My husband and I were already laughing hysterically. Why? Because this could've been nearly any morning in our life lately.

I was thinking about the movie today -- and sure, as it went on it had a bit of an outlandish plot. But watching Tina Fey do her mom countdown from three (something at which, I'll admit, I'm also pretty darn good at) in the middle of a gunfight, I could not stop laughing.

I think what really got me, was that I saw so much of my life in those characters, but watching it through a comedic lens, I was able to laugh at it, the way I often can't bleary-eyed and fumbling for coffee in the half-darkness of my kitchen in the morning.

I've been thinking lately that part of starting the day off positively is waking up in a good mood. Ideally, I'd love to wake up and reflect on my goals for the day and lie in bed for a while and think positive thoughts. But realistically? I'm usually awoken at some ungodly hour when it is barely light outside by kids who are ready to go, go, go. But maybe, I need to react a little more the way I did when I saw it in the movie last night. Maybe I need to laugh and roll with this stuff more. My kids won't be young forever. Before I know it they'll be teenagers and I'll be waking them up, right?

What's a movie you saw lately that reminded you of your own life or made you laugh? And other parents, how do your children wake you up in the morning? Do you think this affects your mood for the day?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Vision List

In the comments on Monday's post Searcher Gurl mentioned that she makes a vision board. I've never actually made a vision board, exactly, but I did do something a few weeks ago when I started this journey that I completely forgot to mention on this blog. I made, what I guess you could call a vision list.

I read or saw something about this a few years back -- I think on Oprah or somewhere similar. Anyway there was someone who was feeling negative about things, and this person decided she would make a list of everything she wanted to happen. Only she would write the things on the list as if they'd already happened. Say, for instance, she was trying to have a baby or she wanted to find a job she loved rather than the one she had that she hated(and I don't remember exactly what she was trying to do), she wrote on her list, I have a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Or I have an amazing job doing. . .

So anyway, I decided, in the beginning of this journey, to make my own list. I wrote everything down that I wanted to happen in the next few months, as if it already had happened. Then I tucked the list neatly in my desk drawer. I don't feel I can tell you what's on this list -- in fact, I haven't even told my husband -- because it kind of feels like wishing on a star or blowing out birthday candles. Though, I will promise this, when the things on the list start to come true (and they will!), I'll discuss some of them on this blog, (and of course, tell my husband, too!).

So have you ever made a list like this or a vision board? And, if you have, do you share the details with your friends and family and maybe the blogosphere, or do you keep them to yourself? If you haven't, then let me know if this post has encouraged you to make one!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can Happiness Be Taught?

Yesterday, I stumbled across this website, called The Pursuit of Happiness. I read through their site and it looks like they're a group dedicated to teaching happiness as a fundamental part of education. They say that one of the basic rights in The Declaration of Independence is "the pursuit of happiness." So why aren't we taught to pursue this?

They also quote some startling statistics, that 20% of us will experience depression at some point, and that 9% of children will as well. So I wondered, is happiness really a skill, something that we could've or should've been taught in school like reading, math, or science?

I think that optimism can definitely be learned. I've felt myself become more optimistic in the past few weeks, even with my very unscientific methods of positive thinking. And if optimism can be learned, then why not happiness. Aren't the two interconnected?

I thought about this as I sat through older child's first school conference yesterday, where I got to read over the standards for the first half of the year and hear about his reading readiness test scores. What if, included in this, there was a measure for happiness or the ways to achieve it? Later on in life, will it be just as important for older child to have the skills to think positively as it is for him to have the skills to read, write, and do math? I think that it is.

What do you think?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The positive chicken or the positive egg?

First the winner of last week's contest -- the $10 Amazon gift card (chosen with random.org) -- is Tiffany. Tiffany, e-mail me at jill(at)jilliancantor.com so I can e-mail you the gift card. Thanks to everyone who shared their favorites parts of their job with me. Check out this week's contest on the right sidebar. All you need to do is comment any day this week, or Facebook or Tweet about this blog, and I'll enter you to win a signed advanced copy of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS >>>>

So to start off this week, I've got a question for you. I've gotten a few pieces of good news about my upcoming novel, THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS, in the past few weeks. (You can read about some of it on my author blog here, and some I'll share in the next few weeks!). Anyway, I was talking to my friend about it on Friday, and she posed the question of whether I thought all my positive thinking was the cause of the good news. I answered her by saying I wasn't sure if it was the cause, but I certainly have been feeling better, in the mean time, thinking positively.

I thought about it a little bit more over the weekend, and I think it's sort of a chicken and the egg type question. Does positive thinking beget good things happening? Or, because some good things have happened do I now feel more justified in my positive thinking? Can we really get good things by putting good vibes out into the universe?

I think, probably not. But hey, it can't hurt, right?

What do you think? Have you ever seen good things happen after thinking positively? Or vice versa?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Why I Love My Job

For this week's contest, I've asked you guys to tell me (either in a comment, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc.) what your favorite part of your job is.

The reason I was thinking about this, is because I've noticed a lot of people around me complaining about their jobs. That seems to be, in fact, what we do when we chat with our friends. How often does a topic of conversation start with someone saying "Wow, I love my job so much. . ." (and they're not being sarcastic!). As a fledgling optimist, I've been thinking that there are bound to be some things each of us wouldn't like about every job -- after all, nothing is perfect. But then there are bound to be things we do like. Why not focus on the positive?

So to be fair, I thought I'd share what I love about my job. First there's the fact that I'm pretty sure some people in my life don't consider what I do -- writing -- "a job" at all. These people think this in a totally negative way, but I see this as a positive. I don't spend my life in a windowless cubicle. (Okay, sure, I don't collect that steady paycheck either). But I've been able to stay home with my kids and be involved with their lives and their schools (which is another job in and of itself, of course.) I get to work on my own hours -- often late at night or early in the morning, in my own house, in my sweatpants.

But the thing I love the most, is that I get to tell stories. I get to make up things and people and places and spend hours and hours immersed in these fictional worlds. As a child, I used to spend hours and hours reading books, but somehow writing them, it's almost better. I always loved the Choose Your Own Adventure series, because I liked thinking about the different ways stories can play out. Yes, there is a lot of rejection that comes with my job, and often a lot of stress and waiting, and then often, more rejection -- the compounding of which made me feel the need to start this blog in the first place. But there is also the fact that I get to do what I love, on my own terms. I can think of nothing better than that?

What's your favorite part about your job? Tell me, and I'll enter you to win a $10 Amazon gift card!



Thursday, September 9, 2010

Laugh or Cry?

Yesterday I woke up determined to have a better day. Because isn't that what optimists do? Brush bad days off and decide the next day will be good again? The morning was better -- I only had to clean cat puke off the rug rather than my bed, and I crossed the street in a different spot to avoid the cranky crossing guard. Then I took younger son to run a string of errands, which ended with me in a shoe store where I mistakenly asked some poor customer if he could help me find a size, thinking that he worked in the store. Hey, he was wearing a red shirt, and the guy who worked there was also wearing a red shirt. Just as I realized my mistake, younger son proceeded to have a tantrum.

As I walked out of the store, I thought about my grandfather, because I had just totally done something that he often did. I can't tell you how many times I was with him in a store when I was a teenager when he'd decide to just ask some random customer for help. Of course it was the most embarrassing thing ever, and equally annoying that it seemed he always knew that the person didn't actually work at the store, but that he just didn't care. That was my grandfather in a nutshell. He pretty much did what he wanted, when he wanted to, but in the nicest way possible so everyone loved him for.

My grandfather died a few years ago, but I find myself thinking of him in seemingly random moments, like that moment yesterday. Those moments used to be sad moments, where I missed him, but more recently, they've become more positive moments, where I think about how lucky I was to have known him.

Yesterday, there was that moment, where I paused outside of the store, trying to calm youngest child down, and I thought about my grandfather. Had he been with me, I was pretty sure he would've still been inside the store, trying to convince the poor customer to help him find a size. And then I couldn't help but laugh at myself. After all, laughter and optimism must be related, right?

How do you react when you do something embarrassing in public?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Even Optimists Get The Blues, Right?

Yesterday I had sort of a blah day. It started when I woke up at 5:30 to the sound of my cat puking on my comforter, the comforter which I had just washed the day before to get out the remnants of the last time he puked on it, last week. Nothing like starting off your day cleaning a hairball of your bed, is there? Then there was the the crossing guard at oldest son's school who, I think, mistook me for a sixth grader, and then proceeded to yell at me for walking across the crosswalk without him. He yelled something like "Kid, you need to wait for me." At which point I yelled something back, like "I'm an adult. Thanks. I know how to cross the street." I didn't help that it also felt like it was 800 degrees outside and I felt like I was dying of heatstroke.

It was honestly the first time I felt like I had a "bad day" since I've started this whole optimism thing. When I sat down last night to write about it, it kind of surprised me. Is it true that even optimists have bad days?

I was contemplating all this when oldest son, seemingly out of the blue turned to me and asked me the question every parent dreads having to answer. He wanted to know how babies were made. Remember, he's only in kindergarten, so I fumbled through some general information about women growing babies in their stomachs. Yes, he said, but how do the babies get in there? I fumbled some more, and at every turn he asked more how/what/why questions. Until finally I told him that mommies had eggs like Charlotte in Charlotte's Web and that they could turn into babies sometimes. That seemed to satisfy him because he then turned to my husband and asked how houses were made. I watched my husband breathe a sigh of relief that he'd gotten the easy question. So not fair.

Then oldest son went to bed, and as I sat down to dissect my crappy day and my possibly even crappier explanation of the miracle of life, I thought about the fact that it seemed like older child was just born, and here he was, asking so many questions. It's not just houses and babies. This morning, he wanted to know what Earth was like before dinosaurs and where the first dinosaur came from. Yesterday, he wanted to know what the Earth was like before it had buildings and how thunder and lightening exist. More often than not, I find myself Googling to get him answers now. And in his questions, I start to see the world fresh again, through the eyes of someone with wonder and curiosity. This is a very good thing. This made me smile.

What makes you smile at the end of a bad day?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When and Will

First the winner of last week's contest, an advanced copy of THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS is Brenda! Brenda, e-mail me your address to jill(at)jilliancantor.com and I'll mail out your book. Also check out this week's contest on the right sidebar.

Since I'm a writer, word choice means a lot to me. I was thinking about it over the long weekend, and I realized that a lot of my new optimism project has to do with my word choice. I've found myself replacing the words "if "and "maybe" with the words "when" and "will." I also correct my husband to do the same. For instance, when he said this weekend "If X happens then maybe we can do Y." I interrupted him and said, "When X happens then we will do Y."

In essence we were saying the same thing, but I've found that if I state things I want to happen as fact, or refuse to let doubt creep into my semantics, then I actually believe these things as truth, and I stop doubting. If I say something will be true, then I believe it will.

But in the conversation I was having my husband, his word choice was technically more accurate. He, of course, pointed this out to me. Does it matter? I thought about it, and I wondered if my positive word choices also mean that, in a way, I'm lying to myself. I'm eradicating the possibility of a negative outcome in my mind, but is this the smartest thing to do? Am I just setting myself up for disappointment and maybe, more pessimism, down the line?

What do you think? Do you ever state things as fact, even if they haven't happened yet?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Long Weekend!!

Thanks for all the book recommendations this week! Today's the last day to post one, and I'll use random.org to select a winner -- which I'll announce on Tuesday.

Today is a Friday, heading into a long weekend, so even back when I was complete pessimist, it was hard to feel anything but optimistic on this kind of day. Three days in a row without school or work is enough to make anyone feel good, right?

This weekend, for me, will also mark the first weekend in months where I'm not trying to get work done. As I mentioned a few times this week, I just came to stopping points in two huge projects. Usually, I try to get a lot of my writing done on the weekends, since this is when my husband is home to watch the kids. My weekend schedule involves being woken up early by one kid or the other, making some coffee, writing for a few hours, having some family time and lunch, and then writing for a few more hours. I can't complain, because I love writing, and I'm fortunate that my husband is home every weekend and thus can watch the kids.

But. This weekend, I'm not in the middle of working on something. This weekend my husband is off and so am I. I'm looking forward to reading or maybe even working on the Sunday crossword puzzle, or, if the weather cooperates venturing somewhere fun with the kids like the zoo, and if the kids cooperate venturing somewhere else fun like brunch. I'm looking forward to three unscheduled days with absolutely no work or school.

Do you, like me, find the idea of a long unscheduled weekend optimism-inducing? Happy Labor Day Weekend :-)


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Retail Therapy

Living in the desert like I do, I find there is nothing more depressing or pessimism-inducing than the end of summer. Or rather, the fact that summer feels never-ending here. And not the fun kind of lay-out-by-the-pool and sip lemonade summer, but the unbearable 100+ degree day-after-day summer.

Yesterday was September 1st, which means to most of you reading, nice cool, fall weather is fast approaching. But not here. Here I will have to endure at least another month of 100+ temperatures. Here it has already been over 100 degrees since May, and to tell you the truth, I'm so past sick of it at this point, I'd consider moving to Alaska.

These past few weeks I've been trying to be optimistic about the heat, forcing myself to spend time outside and pretend it's not as bad as I think it'll be. (It usually ends up being worse). On Tuesday, younger child and I showed up at the park, and we were the only people there. The slides were too hot to slide down, and we left less than ten minutes later both red-faced and soaked in sweat.

But, I am trying to be optimistic here, so yesterday, I went shopping for some winter clothes for the kids. As I sorted through jeans and sweatshirts and long-sleeves, I started to feel a little better. Cooler weather can't be that far away, right, if the stores already have all the cooler weather stuff on sale?

What's your least favorite season, and how do you stay optimistic during it?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In Which I Revisit an Old Love

Yesterday, I promised I was going to try something new. And I did. Sort of. I tried something old, that I hadn't done in so long, that thinking about it felt new. Does this count? I think it does.

Before I wrote novels, before I could even envision writing something that long, I used to write short stories. In fact, I used to love short story writing so much that I swore to myself I would never see the need to write a novel (Are you getting the theme of how resistant I am to change here?). Then, about eight years ago, I wrote a novel, and I loved it so much that I swore to myself I would never feel the need to write a short story again. I haven't really thought about them much since.

Short stories are what originally made me want to be a writer. I read Lorrie Moore's "People Like That Are The Only People Here" when it was first published in 1997-ish. I loved the story so much that I re-read it, over and over and again. And I'm pretty sure that was one of the main reasons I really seriously started writing stories of my own.

But, back to yesterday. It's been a good seven or eight years since I've written, or even, read, a short story. I am fresh off finishing up two, rather lengthy, novel projects, and so yesterday, it occurred to me, that I could write a short story. Just for fun. It's been so long, I wondered, would I remember how? I opened up a file of stories I wrote back in 2002, and it felt strange to read these little pieces of my life from so many years ago, when I was such a different person and different writer. And then I remembered why I used to love short stories, because, in a way, they're like photographs, tiny snippets of life and time and the people living it. Just glimpses. I love novels for their expansiveness, for the way they consume you. But stories are good, too.

So now for my trying something new: I started working on a new short story yesterday, for the first time in over eight years.

What do you like better? Short stories or novels? Have you ever tried something for the first time in so long that it felt new again?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Thank You, Thank You, Sam-I-Am

Thanks for all the book recommendations yesterday! Keep them coming all week, and I'll enter you to win a signed copy of The Transformation of Things!

Since we're on the topic of books, younger son's new favorite book is Green Eggs And Ham. Which means I've been reading it over and over and over again to him. Which also means I pretty much have it memorized at this point, so yesterday as I read it, I thought a little bit about the guy Sam-I-Am is trying to get to eat the green eggs and ham. Clearly, he's a pessimist. He's sure he won't like Green Eggs and Ham even before he's tried them; he can't be convinced to eat them until pages and pages and pages later, when then, he only does it to get Sam-I-Am to shut-up. An optimist would try something new, because an optimist would realize that she might potentially like this thing, that trying new things can be a positive experience, right?

But I realized, that sometimes, I'm a little like that guy. I have set ideas about what I like and what I don't, and I'm some times hard-pressed to try something new or do something different. So my goal for today is to do something completely different, to try something new. I'll report back on how that goes tomorrow. But I will promise you this -- it will not be Green Eggs and Ham. I wouldn't eat those here or there or anywhere. Not even in a tree or on a train, in the dark, or in the rain. . .

How easily do you try new things?


Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm Reading Again!

First, the winner of last week's contest is Lena! Congrats Lena -- send me your address to jill(at)jilliancantor.com and I'll send you out your signed books.

This week, I'm giving away a signed advanced review copy of The Transformation of Things. Check the right sidebar for details on how to enter!

It's Monday again, and since I am committed to thinking of Mondays and new weeks as beginnings from now on, I wanted to share what I'm looking forward to beginning this week, and this week it's something simple: books. As in reading them.

Whenever I work on writing a book, I don't read books at the same time, and for the past four or five months, I've been going back and forth, working on two different projects of my own. I think I've read maybe one or two books in that entire time. As a person who, for the majority of my life, has read several books a week, this almost feels like reading withdrawal. But this week, I've come to a stopping point in my writing. This week, I'm reading again.

For as long as I can remember books have made me happy. I can think of no better feeling than staying up into the late hours of the night, being so engrossed in a book that I can't put down. That is what I'm looking forward to this week.

One book I've been dying to read and have heard nothing but good things about is Juliet by Anne Fortier, so that's what I plan on starting with.

What are you reading this week?


Friday, August 27, 2010

Date Night

Today is Friday, so it's the last day to enter the contest listed on the right sidebar. I'll announce the winner on Monday!

I think part of being positive is looking forward to things you like rather than focusing on or dreading the things you don't. For instance, right now, I'm not dwelling on the fact that I have a mile-long to-do list today or that youngest son probably won't have time to nap and thus will have a tantrum while we're picking older son up from school. Instead, I'm thinking about tomorrow, when my husband and I will have our weekly at-home date night.

The concept is something I stole from my parents. When my sister and I were little, my parents used to put us to bed early on Saturday night and then order Chinese takeout and rent a movie. They did this religiously, every Saturday for years, despite our protests of wanting to join them or stay up late.

For the past few weeks, my husband and I have been doing the same, only instead of takeout we've been cooking something new together, sharing a bottle of red wine, and watching something from Netflix.

We don't leave the house, pay a babysitter, or do anything fancy. But what we do get is quiet time alone together, the chance to eat and talk without a child interrupting or asking for something. We have adult conversations, about adult things. And did I mention the quiet?

So today, that's what I'm looking forward to. What are you looking forward to this weekend? And do you find focusing on these things helps you stay positive?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thinking Like a Cat

Yesterday I watched my cat chase a lifeless toy bug around the house all morning. She was relentless; the more the bug didn't run away, the more she attempted to attack it and make it move. Finally, I hid the bug on the counter, but then I found her a few hours later, having stolen it back and continued on with her chase.

Sure, she's just a crazy-fluffly haired cat who likes to eat my cell phone and steal my glasses when I fall asleep on the couch at night, but as I watched her, I considered that fact that she also is an optimist, as I'm pretty certain that optimists do not give up. That the word "no" is not in an optimist's vocabulary.

I just started reading the book Hard Optimism by Price Pritchett. One of the first questions Pritchett asks is what's more important, thinking positively or not thinking negatively? I paused on that for a moment. Is there a difference? Pritchett says there is -- that the real heart of optimism is learning to avoid and eliminate negative thinking rather than pushing yourself to think positively.

I realized I bug my kids about this one all the time -- that whenever they say they can't do something, I assure them that they can and then promptly make them do whatever it is. But I'm not so good about this myself.

But my cat does not think negatively. She doesn't hear the word no. If she can do it, then certainly, I can. So, today, I'm all about the word "yes," (though, if you should find me chasing toy bugs around the house, then please feel free to tell me that this little optimism experiment has gotten way out of hand! )

How about you? Have your pets taught you anything lately? Do you hear the word "no?"


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Do you Dive Right In?

Yesterday, I took youngest child to swimming lessons for the first time. Though it was only his first lesson and he didn't know what he was doing, he was quite eager to try out the diving board. In fact, at the end of the lesson, when the teacher said it was time, he climbed up the board and walked to the edge, smiling. But then, before it was time to jump, he seemed to realize that the pool was beneath him, that even though the teacher was right there, the pool could be scary. So he sat down at the edge of the board and refused to move.

Usually youngest child has no fear. He's the kid the who dives head first into literally everything, the kid who terrifies me around playground equipment, steps, and anything moving. So his moment up there on the diving board surprised me, and I have to admit, made me a little happy. I was terrified for him to jump off the board not knowing how to swim.

Today I thought about it: was my reluctance for him to jump, and his reluctance, a form of pessimism? Are fear and pessimism related?

I also realized that a lot of things I do in my life are like youngest child's reaction at the edge of that diving board. I stop and wait. I assess the situation. I'm cautious. I have fear. In younger child's case, I found his fear to be smart -- even optimists shouldn't dive right in to everything blindly, right? But in my case, I realized I've been avoiding working on something specific lately because I was worrying that I wouldn't be able to do it. Each day as I've opened up the document to get to work on my revision, I've been specifically ignoring the part that needed the most work. In short, I've been standing at the edge of that diving board for weeks now. Not today, though. Today, I took a deep breath and started with that section first. And you know what, once I started working on it, I actually started to feel better about it.

And eventually, younger child jumped too, when the teacher came up to jump along with him.

What about you? Do do you dive right in or do you stop and think?