Encouragement, Faith, Inspiration, life lessons

How To Live Before You Die

living life fully before death
Live Like You’re Dying


The last week was a blur. I attended the Association of Writing Professionals (AWP) 43rd conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center with three of my writing group sisters.

The week of ‘conferencing’ was a good one, inspiring and fun, but when I say conference I mean a 12,000 peopled flow of writers, editors, booksellers, professors, and others. 

The hours were filled with writing techniques, editors/agent panels, poets reading heart-wrenching poetry, and writers speaking eloquent words. You know how even great stuff is exhausting and truth be told this great stuff was also intimidating.

Did I measure up, should I be writing fiction, should I revise, should I be spending countless hours writing? What was I doing?

I ‘shoulded’ all over myself.

When I got home from sleeping in a different bed, meeting people, and eating out I just wanted to decompensate and breathe.

The next day, my mind and body wanted to sleep in and tune out. The suitcase, books, and an art piece I bought lay strewn at the foot of my bed.

Could I skip a Sunday service? I had so much to do before my next day departure to Denver to see my young adult kids. But I hadn’t missed a Sunday service in years unless I was really sick.

The mess would have to wait. I dressed and left for service and was grateful I attended. The message was:

Life is a gift and what you do with it matters…

Our pastor told us the average lifespan was 79 years of age or 28,835 minutes. If those minutes were on a clock, a fifty-year-old would have 18 minutes of their life left. That put life in perspective.

Was I living a life that was significant and meaningful? Is there compassion in what I do and say. Do I give gratitude, show kindness? Do I live my life in a way where others will know I’m a Christian? Do I trust and have faith when the going gets tough?

I thought of all these questions after the service and how the sermon put everything in perspective. I was striving to live the answers to these questions. Trying is good. Trying is movement. There were no more “Should’s.” I felt balanced once again.

Achieving writing success is important to me but it isn’t the end all to my life. I reminded myself that I write because I can’t think of not writing, that would kill me inside.

I remembered that I began writing to tell the stories of girls and women who faced challenges, made bad choices, but struggled to do better. The girls who felt like no one cared who they were and only focused on what they did. The unseen women who wore mask upon mask. Girls who grew up through the garbage strewn upon them.Women and girls who needed family, in whatever shape it presented itself.

So how to live before you die?

When I thought of why I write, I remembered we all have the ability to improve the quality of our life.

We can all make choices to improve our spirituality, our health, and our emotional life.

We can love ourself and others.

We can be of service to someone or something.

Living is finding something to have a passion for whether it’s family, service, or a combination of a thousand other things.

Living is making your minutes count and they count when you stop to look at a sunset, a sunrise, notice a smile, hug someone, and other countless ways.

I’ll end with a quote about life from Maya Angelou.

Life Purpose
Life Purpose




Books, Inspiration, life lessons, Strong Women, Wisdom

8 Life Lessons from Women Writers

On Character by Joan Didion, photo by Buzzfeed
On Character by Joan Didion, photo by Buzzfeed


Joan Didion looks way cool in that Corvette. Reminds me of me, back in the late 70’s, in my blue metal flaked Chevy Malibu. But back to the life lessons.

In my section of the Southern California coast the marine mist appears in the early evening and grays over the landscape. This becomes a perfect time for reflecting on the day and writing in my journal.

Today I cleaned out one bookshelf and selected 25 books to donate to the library. The first 10 books were an easy choice, the last 15 much harder. A short task took a few hours. Any reader knows how you can get lost in a book, even if you’ve read it before.

I flipped through pages, reread paragraphs, remembered characters, and debated whether the book made it into the donation box. Many times I pulled a book out and put it back on the shelf.

At the end of the book donation I wrote down a few life lessons that made their way into my heart again.

One of the books was from Joan Didion. Here are seven more life lessons from other women writers:


1. Kindness can be a lifesaver.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop…Naomi S. Nye

2. Always be true to yourself.

“When you leave you must remember to come back for the others. A circle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You will always be Mango Street. You can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are…” Sandra Cisneros

3-Heal your wounds. You have more strength, more resilience, and more inner wisdom than you think you do. You’ll get through it, survive and thrive. 


“Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise…” Maya Angelou

4–Leave the past in the past.

“Remember the past, but don’t get lost back there. Celebrate the blessings of the past in the present, but remember to live today. Today is built on the past and tomorrow is evolving from both the past and the present. The future? Quien sabe? (who knows)” Denise Chavez

5-Age is a number and an attitude.

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan


6. Solitude can be valuable. It’s all in your perspective.

“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone, and that’s where I renew my springs that never dry up. ~Pearl Buck


7. You can begin again.

Joyce Meyer
Joyce Meyer

Only one of the books that contain the above quotes made it into the donation box. Can you guess which one? Where do you find your life lessons?



Amazon Kindle, Books, Family, Inspiration, life lessons, Strong Women, Writing

Strong Women Grow Here-Free Excerpt


Strong Women Grow Here-Free excerpt on amazon.com-alvaradofrazier.com
Strong Women Grow Here-Free excerpt on amazon.com-alvaradofrazier.com*

Have you ever felt like you’ve been down for so long it’s hard to take that next step.

I know most of us have had those times. So it’s the little things that keep a smile on the face, and the eyes looking forward.

And sometimes, just sometimes, something comes along that puts the pep back in that step. Something BIG.  I’ve been doubly blessed, I have two BIG things:

My brother is now recuperating fairly well after a tortuously long operation and three week hospital stay. Care taking has been a little difficult for the past month, but it’s worth seeing the tiny progress each day.  I can’t go into detail, he’d been very cross with me, even though he doesn’t read blogs.

The other bright news is that Amazon announced their Quarterfinalists in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) 2014. 

Amazon capped the entries at 10,000 for five genres. In March , they whittled the entries down to 2,000. On April 14 they pared the submissions to 500 novels.

My heart thumped like a snare drum gearing up for the big game when I found out I made it to this round.  

From now until May 23, 2014, Publishers Weekly reviews each Quarter-Finalists’ full manuscript and scores it on prose, plot, hook, etc.

Amazon customers can download the 17 page excerpt to their Kindle, or  download a free Kindle reading app for IPhone, IPad, Mac, or Android.

When you click on the banner above, it will take you to my novel page, (that’s so exciting to say!)  and you will see an image on the right hand side that looks like this:

Look for this image to download a free Kindle reading application
Look for this image to download  app

Any customer (sign up is free) can download, rate, and review excerpts and/or provide feedback to Amazon Publishing Editors about submission.

You can read the reviews for Strong Women Grow Here and a two page excerpt here.

Customer reviews are important to me and I’d love to read any constructive feedback you have on the excerpt.

Semi-Finalists are announced on or about May 23, 2014.

Those lucky enough to be a finalist receive a publishing contract and a cash advance.

Amazon then creates a poll asking customers to vote for their favorite of the finalist’s excerpt. The one with the most votes wins a larger advance and Grand Prize.

What an adventure! Thanks for reading and I do hope you will take a few seconds to read the excerpt on my YA novel, Strong Women Grow Here.


*The image of the woman’s hands in chains comes from an art exhibit and was untitled. The artist name is Kelley Connelly.


Author Sonia Sotomayor, Book Review, Books, first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Latino culture, life lessons, Memoir, My Beloved World, Strength, Strong Women, Wisdom

Lessons from Sonia Sotomayor: My Beloved World

The Honorable Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been on several television programs this last month and it’s not for any Supreme Court hearing. It’s because of her memoir, “My Beloved World,” which has garnered much praise and is the Amazon Book of the Month for January 2013. 

Much of the attention to the book may be because she is the first Latina Chief Justice and the third woman appointed to the Supreme Court. That’s certainly a draw, but not the only reason I selected her memoir to read. 

I was drawn to order the book because I knew there had to be a story of a struggle, tenacity, and spirit in her story. 

Someone doesn’t become the first Latina or  a woman judge, CEO, astronaut, or any other distinguishable career choice without more than a few bumps in the road. I was interested in reading about the journey on that bumpy road from the slums to the Supreme Court.

Like many readers, the stories that resonate with me are about people who suffer a loss, endure hardships, and rise to survive and thrive with courage and strength. This memoir certainly fit this description.

Ms. Sotomayor’s candid memoir concentrates on her childhood, college years, and life before she became a federal judge in 1992 and Supreme Court Justice in 2007. 

I found the first half of the book, about her childhood and teen years, the most engaging. A few life lessons stood out which made the lengthy book a pleasure to read. 


  1. Self reliance.

Her diabetes required insulin shots several times a day,(in an era without disposable syringes). Her father, an alcoholic, couldn’t be relied upon and her mother was overburdened. “To my family the disease was a deadly curse…my parents couldn’t pick up a syringe without panicking…” So she learned how to do this herself at age eight.

   2. Value family and culture.

Her Abuelita was a huge presence in her life, as well as her aunts, uncles and cousins. She often returned to Puerto Rico to visit relatives. Her grandmothers family parties always featured Puerto Rican dishes, Spanish music, and poetry.

She took numerous classes to learn more about Puerto Rico and even wrote her thesis about it. In her dedication she wrote, “To my family, for you have given me my Puerto Rican-ness.”

   3. Do your best and then try harder.

Education was important to her mother, who worked extra shifts to place her in Catholic school. “Discipline was what made Catholic school a good investment in my mothers eyes…discipline was virtually an eighth sacrament.”

   4. Expand your horizons.

Books were Ms. Sotomayor’s introduction into another world. The summer after her father’s death, nine year old Sonia spent everyday in the public library reading the stories of Greek gods and heroes. Her mother bought the Encyclopedia Britannica (as did my own mother) from a door to door salesman. “I found myself wandering the world’s geography, pondering molecules like daisy chains…the world branched our before me in a thousand directions…” 

Not every effort to  expand her horizons were as welcome as books. “Ballet class was a brief torture…Piano wasn’t much better…Guitar lessons…the worst of all. The real problem was getting there and back through a neighborhood..where a gang of taunting bullies made clear Puerto Rican kids were not welcome. I got smacked…”

    5. Find role models.

Television doesn’t usually bring to mind role models, but for Ms. Sotomayor Perry Mason, the defense attorney and Burger, the prosecuting attorney were her heroes. “…I liked that he was a good loser, that he was more committed to finding the truth than to winning his case.” She paid more attention to the judge on the show. “…it was the judge who fascinated me. A minimal, but vital presence,…a personification of justice…it was the judge who called the shots.”

Her mother, who returned to school after her husbands death to become a nurse, taught her “…a surplus of effort could overcome a deficit of confidence.”

   6. Seek to understand.

Poverty, her fathers alcoholism, her mother’s emotional detachment, racism and divorce played a part in her early life, but the reader finds that Ms. Sotomayor seeks to understand others instead of being a judge (no pun intended). 

Besides the tough childhood, strenuous college and beginning years in law, the Chief Justice also divulges that she enjoys parties, asks for hugs, was a three and a half pack a day smoker, and is a “pretty good poker player… I do win regularly among my friends. I don’t think they let me win.”  

It is no wonder that Ms. Sotomayor has this plaque on her office door:

The plaque says it all, but read the book to see how she made history.