Guest Post: Melinda McGuire talks about New Year Resolutions & the power of “yes”

new year resolutions


Melinda McGuire is a Southern Lit loving and writer with a big heart person! Melinda and I began tweeting some because we saw each other via Deep South Mag- and then Melinda let me guest post a couple of times on her blog! Reading her blog posts made me know that I wanted her to write a guest post about her resolutions- and she did. And it’s beautiful.


Melinda McGuire and the power of “yes”

2014 and Learning the Power of Yes

Christmas Day has passed. All of our boxes are packed in the attic – better organized this year, thankfully, since I was still unpacking random ornaments and wrapping paper on Christmas Eve from these mysterious boxes and bags I had hidden from myself. I guess I wanted to give myself a challenging game – hide and seek the Christmas Decorations. I lost, so well done my evil twin, well done.

I have double motivation for New Year’s Resolutions. One – another year is coming, a fresh start, a clean slate, the opportunity to make changes. Two – New Year’s Day is my birthday, another year older, an opportunity to reflect on where I am in my journey of life.

I have some of the usual resolutions on my list: lose weight, get in better shape, survive running a Mud Run and Color Run with my oldest child and my husband, do a better job of managing my money, improve my organization habits.

I also have a resolution that may not be on everyone’s list: learning when to say “yes” and why.

Saying “yes” –to more time with my family, more time “unplugged,” more time reading for pleasure, more time resting, more time playing, more time working on the IMPORTANT, more time reading and studying the Bible, more time in prayer, more time seeking ways to use the gifts that I have been given to bless others. “Yes” to strengthening and building my spiritual life, my family life, my professional life.

Saying “yes” – to initiating experiences that I want, to seeking out the important in my life, to setting boundaries, to giving myself permission to fail, to giving myself permission to succeed!

Yes to gratitude, yes to peace, yes to rest, yes to perseverance, yes to optimism, yes to hope, yes to good coffee.

Yes to warm blankets and old movies, yes to afternoons in the sunshine, yes to late night summer barbeques, yes to family traditions, yes to days on the lake, yes to road trips, yes to planning for spontaneity!

Yes to hugs, yes to kisses, yes to towels hot out of the dryer, yes to new socks, yes to beautiful bookmarks, yes to notebook after notebook of writing and business information, yes to the free flow of ideas.

Yes to kicking the negative soundtrack out of my head permanently.

Yes to knowing who I am and being that person with grace, compassion, and joy.

So, here’s to 2014 and to learning the power of “yes.”




If you enjoyed reading Melinda’s guest post- visit her blog!



T Traveling With T pic sign off

A Year of Blogging- My Blog’s a year old!

Today my blog, Traveling With T, turned a year old. It’s been a crazy, fun, wild, frustrating, challenging year. But, and here’s the key: It’s been so worth it. Fulfilling. Enjoyable.

When I started Traveling With T, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wanted a blog where I could write about experiences- local restaurants, book signings, events. I wanted some anonymity, I wanted a title that was catchy, but didn’t pigeonhole me- one that I could discuss different things; but still with a focus.

I didn’t start the blog because I had a burning desire to be a writer (although, I have much respect for writers).  I’ve thought over the last few years that someone publishing my thoughts from the pitfalls of guys using emoticons in texts, to the art of the road trip, to why being a nail polish namer has to be an interesting job (plus much, much, much more) would make for an interesting book- but I’ve never really had a burning desire to write for a living.

When I was a kid, I used to read Ann M. Martin books, Francine Pascal and more. Reading these books, I always thought it would be so nice to get to meet the people behind the books I loved. But, a small-town girl, states and hours away from these authors never did get a chance to meet them. As I grew up, I put the idea out of my head- reading was not cool (even though I secretly read in high school). The older I got, the more I realized reading was a part of me- it was something I needed. With social media, I can chat with authors, learn about book signings and more. Going to a book signing is the best kind of fun. Proud to report that I’ve been to several book signings over the past year- and I love each and every one.

Part of the reason I started blogging is that while I don’t have burning desire to be a writer/author- I do have a strong desire to be around the writer types. To hear where they get inspiration, to see their works comes to life. To be able to sit down with them- with total wide eyed innocence and discuss the things I love, dislike, and more about their books. An author has a creative energy that I adore being around- a creative energy that fills a place in my heart and life. An author gives me something to think about, something to ponder deeply and maybe even creatively for days, weeks. When I’m around an author-type person, I feel like I’m the best version of myself- the bright, inquisitive person- the person who is fully validated because she is with people who speak a language that she loves. I feel smarter, brighter, almost Wonder Woman-ish.

There have been times over the past year that I thought of just deleting my blog. It seemed like it wasn’t going anywhere, some days it wasn’t even fun. But, slowly, I began to get followers- and then I became involved with She Reads Blog Network- and that for me was all the validation I needed to continue. While, I don’t think I started the blog with the full on intention to review books completely- being able to review books is something I find pleasure in. It’s back to that whole “books fill a place in me, in my creative part”.

My desire for myself and my blog:

1. Host giveaways. I promote other blog giveaways, but have never had one at Traveling With T. 2013 will be the year that changes.

2. Continue to review books. Fiction, #southernlit, cozies and more.

3. To one day, be more involved in the process of an author’s life. A publicist, perhaps? To be more involved in the work of an author from the beginning of the process to the end would be very fulfilling.


On today, as my blog turns a year old- a heartfelt “Thank You” to my followers, the people who “like”, retweet, and share my blog posts. Without you, my blog would be floating around in the internet. Each time you like something I write- I”m reminded of the Sally Field “You Like me! You Really Like Me!”

To MVBClub- thanks for letting me guest blog, for being an inspiration and a sounding board. xoxo

To Melinda McGuire- thank you for letting me guest blog about Oxford and Faulkner- you’re the best!

To Deep South Magazine- thank you for every RT, every comment and more. My appreciation for you is beyond words.

To authors (Erika Marks, Erika Robuck, Nichole Bernier, Michael Lee West, Meg Donohue, Jenn McKinlay, Cleo Coyle,Lucy Burdette,Robin O’Bryant, Claire Cook, Mia March, Sarah Jio, Michael Morris, Peggy Sweeney-McDonald, Megan Abbott) Thank you for your books. For taking time out of your schedules to tweet with me, to call in for book clubs. Thank you for writing great books and books that I anticipate being great.

To She Reads, She Reads Blog Network, and Kimberly Brock- I’m so overcome with happiness for being able to be part of She Reads. Thank you- Thank You- Thank You. Being able to be a part of this great group just makes me feel all sparkly and happy. Honored to be a part of a such a sparkly wonderful group.

To authors everywhere: Even if I don’t know you- you inspire me. To the dreamers, the people with the imaginations and creativity, to the ones who have the desire, drive and determination to write a book: Never change. Keep writing. Keep inspiring people. Write not just because you can; but because you can’t live in a world that’s without your writing.


Traveling With T


PS: A special thank you to Ann M. Martin, Judy Blume, Francine Pascal and the Nancy Drew books: without your books, I might not be the reader I am today. Beyond grateful for the love of reading the books you’ve written that has instilled a love of reading in me. “Thank you” seems so inadequate- but that’s all I have to say.





A catch-up and preview of things to come…..

Sorry that my blogging has been so, what’s the word, oh yes…. spotty lately! Between a trip to Pensacola for my brother’s wedding AND the very next weekend a trip to Nashville (note to self: booking 2 weekend trips back to back is not advisable- I should have told my brother to move his wedding to a less busy time, right? 😉

So- today’s entry is going to be a mash-up, a catch-up, a running tally of things that I’ve been meaning to talk about but haven’t. Hold on to your hats, I’m getting on a roll!

1.  Deep South Magazine is giving away a copy of Erika Robuck’s book, Hemingway’s Girl, this Friday (Sept.28) AND is having a literary chat with Erika Robuck. If you haven’t heard of Hemingway’s Girl– it’s getting some good reviews from a few book-bloggers, so I anticipate the book being good. To enter the giveaway, click HERE. On Friday, September 28th, Deep South Magazine is hosting a Twitter chat with Erika Robuck- use Tweet Chat (it’s the best way to participate) and #southernlit. The chat will go on from 1-2pm CST.  To find out more about Erika Robuck before the chat- click HERE.

2. Speaking of Erika’s- my blog countdown clock reminds me that Erika Marks new book, The Mermaid Collector, will be released in 1 week. If you missed out on Little Gale Gumbo (Erika Marks first book) do yourself a favor and read that! I hope her second book is as good as the first one!

3. If you find yourself in Dickson, TN- there is a store called Reading Rock Books. Used and new books- I bought myself 2 used books for a fairly good deal. Nice little store- wished I had more time to spend in the place.

4. Speaking of used books- I was in Nashville this past weekend for a girl’s weekend AND the Carrie Underwood concert. We went to a place called McKay Used Books– huge warehouse-style place. Books and Movies- EVERYWHERE. I saw some paperbacks for as low as 5 cents. Definitely worth a look if you are near the area.

5. Melinda McGuire- you know who I’ve been raving about for a few weeks- 1. for her #STHRN project and 2. for her writing skills and because she’ll be at Grand Festival of Arts and Books in Fairhope, Al (October 5th and 6th!)…. BUT- here’s a whole other reason to rave about her: Melinda will have a new book released on September 28 (This Friday!). The book is called Rich Fabric– the tradition, symbolism and stories of quilting.  While the book sounds all neat and all- what makes this even more special is this: All profits from the book will be donated to Twilight Wish Foundation- a non-profit for elderly people who live below the poverty level. For more information about Rich Fabric– click HERE.

Psst- and in case you don’t get enough information from that link- Melinda McGuire will be guest-blogging here in the next few weeks. So keep checking back!

6. I’m reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls for book club. I don’t hate it, but man, it’s depressing. Disturbing, even. Anyone read it? Thoughts?

7. Has anyone read Dare Me by Megan Abbot? I’ve been hearing good things about the book, but haven’t read it.  It sounds good.

8. While it’s still a bit warm where I live- fall is approaching. And while I love reading, I love watching TV and movies, too. So any new shows out this season that are just GREAT? What about movies you anticipate seeing? My movie list is: Taken 2, Pitch Perfect, and Alex Cross. Tell me your list!

Happy Reading- and have a great week!



Interview with Melinda McGuire (@melindamcguire)

Starting a new feature on my blog: interviewing other writers or bloggers about their writing or blogging. It’s still very early stages, but I think it’s only fair to shine some light back on some people who have encouraged me in my beginning  as a blogger.

Melinda McGuire, @melindamcguire on Twitter, is a sweet Twitter friend. She had an idea about interviewing Southern creatives (#STHRN) on her blog (melindamcguirewrites) and has interviewed some great people. I had the good fortune of just returning from a trip to William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak, pitched her my idea and she was gracious enough to accept it.

In a spirit of “paying it forward” or helping expose readers/book signing lovers to new people and events- I interviewed Melinda. Read on to out more about The Grand Festival of Books in Fairhope, AL; Melinda’s favorite book, #literaryconfessions she has, and her advice to beginner writers!

Thank you, Melinda, for taking the time to answer the questions. I sincerely hope you have a fantastic time at The Grand Festival of Books and meet tons of interesting folks!

Interview with Melinda McGuire

Why did you decide to become a writer? Was the decision a life-long dream?

I can’t remember a time of not writing or at least writing stories in my head. If I didn’t write, my house would be much cleaner, but I would be miserable! It wasn’t really a decision so much as filling a need. I knew I had to write, that I was meant to write, so I went about acquiring the skills to do that. Thankfully, the most important skill in being a good writer is being a voracious reader!

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part is sitting down with a blank document pulled up on the computer and listening to the story the characters tell me. I just try to transcribe as fast as I can. That’s my favorite part – getting to know the characters, where they are coming from, what’s happening, why they are important.

Do you like meeting fans at book signings? What is the best part, in your opinion, about book signings?

I LOVE talking to people at book signings. I am meeting people who like to read and I like to read, so automatically we have that in common. I am not a very good salesperson, so I focus on meeting new people, getting to know them, where they are from, what books they like. I like being around people, especially readers, so book signings are wonderful opportunities.

The Grand Festival of Books at Page and Palette in Fairhope, AL will be October 5th and 6th. What can visitors expect from this event?

There’s going to be over 150 artists and authors there, so I hope that visitors can expect to have a great time! I am excited to be going and thrilled to have been invited. This is my first time there, but I am looking forward to being in such a creative, artistic environment, and I cannot wait to meet the readers, writers and artists who attend.

When you write, are any of the characters based on real-life people?

Tamara, are you trying to get me in trouble?

I think that all writers take bits and pieces of people, whether it is conscious or not, and morph them together to make their characters. Some writers borrow more directly from the people in their lives, but for most of us, our characters are compilations of people we’ve known.

Any advice for beginner writers?

1 – Write, write, write. Stop talking about writing and write. Stop thinking about writing and write. Nothing’s going to happen until you get the words out of your head and on the paper.

2 – Write for your IDEAL reader. Once you get your first draft out of the way, do your revising and editing and subsequent drafting with your ideal reader in mind. There are going to be people who do not like your style, your character, plot, setting, whatever, but you aren’t writing for “everybody”. You are writing for your specific audience, and your specific audience starts with your ideal reader.

What is your favorite book of all time?

No question – Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. I have many other favorites – To Kill a Mockingbird, In Cold Blood, but for me, it all starts with Faulkner.

What books are you currently reading?

I am re-reading Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. James Franco is filming the movie version in Mississippi in October. I am excited to see his adaptation. I am also reading $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.

Name an author (dead or alive) that you would like to meet.

Besides the obvious answer, Faulkner, I would like to meet Hemingway, maybe even at the same dinner so I could watch as they threw literary insults at each other!

Do you have any #literaryconfessions?

One of my #literaryconfessions is that I hated poetry until I watched Dead Poets Society, and then I went and read every poem mentioned in the film and tried to force myself to like ALL of them. It didn’t work, but I did develop a greater appreciation of poetry. And, because of that film, I wanted to sound my own barbaric yawp!

Literary Friday ya’ll….

Oh how I love Friday’s- it’s just the official beginning of the weekend for me. Friday was always the best day in school- an extra-long recess! Friday’s are good day for movies usually the movie opens on Friday night. For years Friday night was THE night to watch TV on ABC (TGIF line-up).  But I digress- Friday is the best.

A round up of information for Literary Friday:

1. Always check out Deep South Magazine– Literary Friday is the best there!
This week has news about The Great Gatsby film, The River Witch book signings for Jackson and Greenwood (be there or be square!), and a collection of book/town festivals. Also in Deep South Mag’s round-up of Literary Friday is my guest blog for Melinda McGuire about Rowan Oak and William Faulkner- thanks to Deep South Magazine for posting that link!

2. Are you a fan of reading book reviews? If so, She Reads is a place to stop by! Follow She Reads on Twitter (@SheReadsBookCLB) and use hashtag #SRblognetwork for reviews on great books!

3. My current #literaryconfession: I still have a copy of The Monster at the End of the Book- I actually have 2 copies- my childhood one and one that was given to me as an adult because of my great love for the book. I freely admit that this book holds a prominent place on my bookshelf!

4. My #fridayreads is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin. Kind of fitting since Vanity Fair calls Emily Giffin “a modern day Jane Austen”.

5. My friend, Keetha, did a great blog post on handwritten letters/cards and how she loves that kind of mail, loves getting those kind of things for gifts. I have to 100% agree with her- cute mail makes me happy. And I adore buying or getting as a gift great cards/paper- throw in a good-writing pen and I’ll do a happy dance! So, thoughts: Is paper just paper? Do you like getting random cards or letters from friends in this day of digital communication? Do you save the cards or find them to be a nuisance that you have to throw away?

Have a happy Literary Friday- and chime in with what you are reading or book recommendations!

Guest Blogging for Melinda McGuire (melindamcguirewrites)

If you’ve read my blog the past few weeks, I’ve been mentioning Melinda McGuire and her great idea for Southern posts (#STHRN for Twitter people!). I’ve really enjoyed reading some of the other guest bloggers posts, and having recently had the opportunity to go to a uniquely Southern place- I sent Melinda an email, pitched her my idea, and she graciously accepted it.

Here’s my post on Rowan Oak, Oxford, and a taste of the Southern Life. Thanks Melinda for letting me have the opportunity to write of a great experience and to share with people all over. Check out Melinda McGuire’s blog melindamcguirewrites– great articles, guest posts, and more!


Happy Reading!

Literary Friday ya’ll…..

Friday- TGIF. Katy Perry Songs. #DAYSASTER (if you are a fan of Days of Our Lives). Oh yeah, and tonight- Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics- I love the Olympics!

So since this is a special Literary Friday (because of the Olympics) I’m going to change some things up- I’ll be raving and providing information on Literary things, but will tie it in with the Olympics by breaking categories down in Gold, Silver and Bronze worthy sections.

Gold Medal:

1. Deep South Magazine and their Literary Friday- a weekly what’s what in the world of literary gems. Always insightful!

2. Mia March The Meryl Streep Movie Club– I’m def giving it a Gold Medal. I enjoyed it that much.

Silver Medal:

1. Melinda Mcguire is still looking for people to guest-blog for her #STHRN idea. She’s had some interesting people (and my guest-blog on Rowan Oak, Faulkner, books will be posted in August!) so if you have ideas, please check her page out!

2. Francine Pascal- The Sweet Life– the stories of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield at 30. Part soap-opera, part nostalgia- and all together a delicious little e-serial. It’s  really the only reason I look forward to Sunday now, so that I can read the latest installment.

3. The blog Man VS Books Club (@MVBClub) and the staff- they post reviews of books that are current and getting quite a buzz, committed to exposing readers to books that they might not know of , and always up for a literary chat on Twitter. Great work, ya’ll!

Bronze Medal:

1. Emily Giffin and the latest book- The book is great, actually, but there is a teensy spoiler to another couple in one of her books. I hadn’t read that book yet, so now I know basically how things work out. I’ll still read the other book, but I wish I’d known that she’d have these characters in her new book Where We Belong.

Other Literary Friday Tidbits:

1. Kimberly Brock, Anna Kline and the Grits and Soul Band will be making their way across the South to different bookstores. Kim will be signing The River Witch and Anna/Grits and Soul will be singing/playing. Don’t miss out!

2. My #fridayreads are as follows: Where We Belong by Emily Giffin (almost finished), Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald.

Happy Reading!