What’s In Your Garden?


Mary, Mary, quite contrary, How does your garden grow?

With silver bells and cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row.

We know she had a nice tidy little garden with flowers.  What does your garden look like?   A writer always has a garden, but it may not be the type you think.  While some have flower gardens, herb gardens, or even a vegetable garden, writer’s often have ideal gardens.

My garden is a year round ongoing venture.  Some ideals are just seedlings, while others are fully ripe and ready to harvest.  I’ve been neglecting my garden lately, and it’s bursting with ripe fruit.

My ideal garden looks like a vegetable garden that’s gotten out of hand.  I haven’t tended my garden properly, because I can tell there are weeds amongst my ripe fruit.  I have a strawberry bed, that’s in a similar state at the moment.  I’ve been limited in my mobility with my knee injury, and the weeds are about to outnumber the strawberry plants.  I’ve already harvested about five gallons of berries – yes  you heard me, five gallons.  You’ve got to have a lot of berries to make jam, not to mention the fresh berries and strawberry shortcake.

With the mild winter and early spring, my plants are doing their job, even though the dandelions and purslane are trying to choke them out.  Now that I’m able to get out there and do the weeding, the strawberries are just about done doing their thing.

My ideal garden has suffered the same plight.  I’ve been having a bit of a pity party for myself, mostly over this injury.  I know, you’d think with all the pep talks and self-help motivational stuff I listen to and repeat back to you I wouldn’t be such a pill.

This past weekend I did some assessment of my ideal garden as we are coming into a new month – tomorrow!

There were definitely some weeds in there.  Unfortunately, the biggest ones I planted myself.  Weeds of  excuses in several varieties.  Hmmm, somehow I think they may be related to the nightshade family.  Weeds of poor time management, bad habits, and past failures.  There were also weeds of the Inner Critic, that nasty little beastie that lies within me, ready to pounce at the first sign of weakness.

There’s the varmints to deal with – the critics that can’t wait to tell you what you’re doing wrong, and the ones that say you’ll never amount to anything.  Evidence of bunny trails crisscrossing my plants were noticed and residue of pests  were also detected.

In natural gardening there are beneficial pests, as well as benefits for certain animals in our gardening.  For example, a snake – as much as I loathe snakes – is useful to eat the mice and rabbits that are munching on your ripe fruit and veggies.  They also keep the poisonous snakes at bay.  Creepy, but useful.

I spent the weekend assessing the garden, seeing what I need to plant, what I need to tend, and what weeds need to be yanked out.  I gave the snake wide berth, I know he’s there, and while I may not like everything about him, he is useful.  It’s interesting, after pulling just a few weeds out, it was starting to look like a garden again.  I got excited!  some of those ideas have been in there for a long time.

Friday afternoon I felt defeated, my best laid plans were cast aside as  “life happened”, you know those parts of our lives like wife, mother, sister, employee?  Yeah, well I can’t very well cut out the paying job to “play” in my writing garden, as it was told to me.  I was ready to chuck it all, cry myself a river, and sit by the bank and watch it all flow away.  What would that get me? Not what I want, so I chucked that ideal – it was a weed after all.

Saturday, amidst the family stuff, I did some research, and organized my thoughts.  I planned  my attack for the next month, and planted a new ideal seedling.  Like a new baby, a new ideal seedling attracts a lot of attention, but I have to focus on my nearly ripe, so close to being finished WIP’s.

I’ve come up with a simplified gardening plan for my ideal garden for this next month.

  1. Do It!  Yep, just like the Nike ad, just do it.  1000 words a day adds up over a week, or a month.  During NaNO I managed to crank out 75K words.  Surely I can manage 15K over this next month.  That would complete Both WIP’s.
  2. Go to my Zen Den.  Mine isn’t an actual hard and fast location, it’s more of a state of mind where I block out all those other demands, and focus my best efforts.
  3. Post the Scarecrow You know what the purpose of the scarecrow is right?
  4. What If?  Every writer knows this is the Miracle Grow to our ideas.  This takes your ho-hum puny plant to be a producing giant with whopper tomatoes!
  5. Game ON!  this means I bring my A-game.  I pour my heart and passion into it the way I should.  Pursue my dream with passion, zeal and fervor.

 

That’s it. That’s the plan.  I’ve got a million and one more things I could say about it and you’ll hear them eventually – over the next few weeks, in progress reports, and updates.  I have some cool things planned for this next month, I hope you’ll stay tuned to find out.

Write on my friends, and write now!

 

 

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CREATE


I’ve been attending a webinar series for the past week and a half.  Every day for a couple of hours at a time, I listen to the instructor of the day share their particular area of expertise.  This past Monday night was on marketing and was very informative and helpful.

The presenter for this session was Melissa Galt. I greatly enjoyed her style in the presentation.  I found it disturbing though, the lack of professional courtesy of some of the attendees in the comments they were making.  Really, why do some people feel the need to be such jerks?

In this presentation she mentioned Ponts of connection.  I’ve heard the phrase before, but never explained to the depths that she did in her presentation this night.   Points of connection for those not familiar are the things you have in common such as attending the same school, common interests, favorite restaurants, stuff like that.  Men do this all the time by connecting over a game of golf.  Alright, I suppose women do too but I don’t play golf so just go with me on this.

This is why writers connect with other writers. No one else understands a writer like another writer. Even though our techniques, methods, quirks, and difficulties may vary there’s a sense of camaraderie.  Consider this, as a writer you  are researching the effects of various poisons to see what the visual effects would be, what evidence would be left behind and how it would be detected or not by forensics.  Have that discussion with a nonwriter friend and they will be looking at you rather oddly, and will be very guarded around you.  However, have that same conversation with a writer, and they get it.  They understand why you need to know the details to know how to write the story and how the clues will be discovered to solve the case.  Of course you have to take into consideration the person that overhears that conversation and starts thinking you’re some sort of serial killer, and blanches completely white when they happen to see you in Walgreens.  (Really, it’s the little pleasures in life after all.)

I found the information that Melissa shared very helpful in our business as well as in my writing.  Marketing is a key area for any author.  Isn’t it the “top-selling author” that we all dream of some day?   One main reason I wanted to attend this webinar is that I don’t know enough about marketing.  It takes different techniques to market to the boomers than it does to Gen Xr’s, or Gen Y’s.

For a writer, you have to consider who is your target audience.  Hmm, same as in the business world.  Where is your target audience?  Are they local, regional, global?  Instead of listening to the devil’s advocate of why write the book, think about who would want to read your book.  Trust me, there are like-minded people out there like you whether your book is about voodoo economics or is a fantastical tale about dragons.  OH, did I mention I’m writing a story about dragons?  (shameless plug)

I wouldn’t buy a book on accounting or nursing because to me those subjects are a big yawn.  If that’s your thing great, it just isn’t mine.  Taking into consideration though, what my audience would look like  would be people who are interested in the same types of things I like.  Melissa gave an excellent breakdown on the 80/20 principle.  With that in mind I’ve begun my cliff notes bio, keeping my points of connection forefront in my mind as I consider my target marketing questionnaire.

In this age of cyber connects: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest marketing has never been easier to connect worldwide.

If you’re interested in learning to market your business, your books, or yourself better check out this site:  www.superchargesuccess.com   Insider Tricks for Growing Your Business.  There are a couple of resources that are available on her page for free that are well worth the time to look at.

One very valuable little tidbit that Melissa shared was her acronym for CREATE.  This is really the ‘piece de resistance’ to success in marketing.

CREATE:

  • Connect
  • Relate
  • Educate
  • Act (Interact)
  • Touch
  • Engage – EXCITE!

It’s not about how many, it’s about how hot you are!  I know some people who have thousands of friends, thousands of likes but they are really rather flat Stanleys and their followers are superficial.  On the other hand , you may only have 100 followers but they are white-hot, supporting you and encouraging you to keep doing what you’re doing.

This morning I got some feedback from my first real fan.  I have a couple of prepub readers who are anxious to read my scribblings, but none have ever given me the feedback like my friend Melissa Venerable.  I’m going to take Melissa with me when I tour Scotland, as I know she has similar appreciation for all things Scot.

Here’s part of Melissa’s comments:

I really think it is hot.   I am no writer…just a reader and I love what I have been reading.  I feel like a junkie wanting so desperately to have more of my choice of drug…not that I  know what a junkie goes through…I think your descriptions and details are amazing…feels like I can see it as a movie in my head.

WOW! I’ll even say it backwards, WOW!  Is there any higher compliment a writer can get?  I’ve been on cloud nine all day feeling empowered.  Somebody gets me!  Somebody gets my writing, and in a way that I was shooting for.  Notice that comment about the movie in her head?  Yeah.

I’ve learned some valuable information in my webinars  AND gotten high praise from an eager reader.  If I had some chocolate this would be the perfect day!

Windows of My Soul


All writer’s are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery.  Writing a book is a horrible exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.  One would never undertake such a thing unless driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.    George Orwell

Good prose is like a window pane.  It allows you to see beyond the confines of  your isolated world into the kingdom beyond.  Some window panes are sparkling clean, like a Windex commercial, while others are more akin to stained glass, or even dirty panes that barely let the light through. Weeding through the miasma inside one’s head to that clear windowpane is the part of writing that is so gratifying and rewarding.   We bring clarity from chaos.  And clarity brings truth.

I do believe that there is a certain vanity in all writer’s, that thought that what we have to say is so important that the world should hear it.   Writing is about affecting the future, leaving your mark in the world. Ego much?  Yes, indeed.

The ideal of affecting the thought process of people, some of which are yet unborn, if you plan to make a long-lasting impression, is a heady drug to writers. In today’s world filled with debased language, speaking opposites, confusing the issues on every level the world needs some sanity and grass-roots basics.  The current state of debased language is the art of deception.

The Devil’s Advocate will say “The world doesn’t need another book.”  How many times have you heard this?  Well, let’s be honest here.  I”m not writing for the world.  If I were it would be about world peace and healthy living, or else capitolize on what people are really buying and sell cigarettes and booze.

A writer adds a soul, a consciousness, a beating heart in the decaying corpse of society. It’s often been said that writers are a depressed lot.  Even more reason that my voice should be heard!

My clarity of truth is hope.  I think that’s definitely something the world needs more of.  Writing is a solitary act, yet I”m a very social creature.  I love to be around people, the proverbial party princess.  Yet, it’s in the quiet solitude that I plumb the depths of my soul, extracting bits and pieces from everything that makes me who I am.  Whether it’s a lump of coal for fuel, or a diamond, bit by bit my inner demon extracts them, examines then sorts into piles.

In the quiet moments is when I hear my inner voice speaking.  Writing sets the chaos to order. Polishing the rough extractions produces clarity.  In the solitude is where you pour your soul out, through your fingertips one pen stroke or keystroke at a time.  It’s secretive, almost as if the world should never see your darkest fantasies, your wild imaginings.  This is how I write my best stuff, in secret.  This is the only way I feel comfortable writing my love scenes, and *cough cough, blush* sex scenes.   In a weird way, it’s like you’re videotaping your characters private lives and then posting them on the internet for anyone to see.  Kinda weird, but that’s what it makes me feel.

A writer’s psychosis is fear of being rejected, and of being judged.  If you listen to that voice, you’ll never write a single word.  Writing is not an easy thing, and those who say it is are liars.  It comes more naturally to some than to others, but it still takes work.  I’ve listened to those voices for too long, shelving my dreams and not pushing my limits outside of the acceptable bounds.  That ship sailed, and sank in a bad storm at sea!

It’s a tormented existence this writer’s life, but in the words of a character from Tombraider, “it’s a pleasurable torment” .  Inside the writer’s box, in that solitude, no one hears your screams.

HIt Me Baby One More Time!


Stronger

This is NOT a post about Brittany Spears.  If you came here as a Spears fan – stick around you may learn something!  This isn’t about Kelly Clarkson either, the song just seemed appropriate.  For the rest of you buckle up, it’s a bumpy ride on the trail today.  You may recognize a similar expression that made me think of this title, but I didn’t feel I should use that expression.

Yesterday was an epic fail!  No blog post, no writing on novel, not even any editing. I didn’t even get the house cleaned.  My “day-job” took much longer than usual, and the list of “to-do’s ” seemed endless.  By the way the list is still incomplete, as it is flooding into another day.  Y’all know that life happens sometimes, the trick is to not let it get to you right?

Well, at least such were the wonderful words of advice from my friend.  It was great advice really, and the more I thought about it, the more sense it made.  I made the comment that I just need to “suck it up, put on my big girl pants”and get over it.

Here’s the response:

    “it really has nothing to do with “sucking it up”.  It’s just a mental attitude.  The whole “suck it up” thing . . . that’s just another projection, mostly from the Midwest.   It’s not so much, “I gotta suck it up!” because you’re still focusing on your problem, only from a different POV, and the Midwest is the worst for this.  Suck it up is bullshit, it’s saying, “your problem is still there, but you’re going to Tough It OUT!   It’s like carrying bricks, no one likes it, because it sucks.

WOW!  You know, sometimes you need a cold slap of reality.  How true is this?  No wonder I just keep feeling more and more stressed, I’m never laying any bricks down.  Yep, I’m a Midwesterner with the midwestern outlook at times.  No matter how much progress you think you’ve made, life has a way of reminding you just exactly what your humble beginnings are.

I pondered those words through my aquacise class.  There was a different instructor, and she worked us, pushing us to do more adding interval training to the workout.  The regular instructor takes more of a TAi Chi in the water approach – reach your inner harmony.  Great, that may work for some, but not me.  I paid for a class to raise my heart rate and improve my health, not to come home the same soft lump of flesh that I’ve been with balanced chi.

Ever realize what you could have had, then decide you’re not happy with what you have?  Yeah, I’m there.  I can’t switch to this instructors class as there’s a schedule conflict, but I can certainly apply what she had us do to the Chi instructor.  Aquacise class is fun, but it hasn’t been the cardio workout I’ve been used to prior to my knee injury.  To be honest , if it weren’t for the knee injury I probably never would have signed up for this class.  I’d still be trading off with the cardio equipment. But, as the doctor only released me to do the deepwater aerobics I signed up.

So, while I’m working up a sweat my mind is pondering the earlier advice.  When it hits me that I’ve been doing this for a very long time, and I’m just carrying around a huge bag filled with bricks.  You want to know the saddest part?  Most of them aren’t even my bricks.

I’m not a worrier, and I’ve never been one prone to give into that because it accomplishes nothing.  Nothing is ever changed by worrying, and quite often the things that we worry about never come to pass. This thing I’ve been doing is not worrying, no it’s  the very thing that got me into the mess before, taking on other people’s burdens.  As if I dont’ have enough of my own stuff to deal with, I have this need to help.

Can’t handle that?  Here, just give it to me, toss it in the bag with the rest of them. I”ll handle it for you.  Then while I”m dragging around this huge bag of bricks, the other people go on their merry way – tralala!

In addition to this, there’s the self-pity thing I’ve been feeling about not being able to do the things I’m used to doing.  OK, it was the self-pity that prompted the advice.  I keep telling myself that it’s only temporary, but inside I’ve been having a pity party.  I didn’t share details with this friend, just generalities.  Isn’t it amazing how accurate the assessment was?

This morning I read a post from an online friend Sian Young:

http://siansblogonwriting.blogspot.com/2012/04/breaking-that-childhood-mold.html?spref=fb

Double slap!  Well played Sian!  Suck it up should be removed from my language, and get over yourself plastered on the wall in front of my desk.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m the hardest on myself. If I do something good, I say it should have been great.  If I passed a test, I point out that I didn’t get 100%.  When I was in high school and earlier, I really didn’t have to work for my grades and I got straight A’s.  It was a rude awakening when I actually had to study in college, especially when I’d never learned study skills.  Being the overachiever though I threw myself into it wholeheartedly and managed well enough to graduate cum laude.  Then of course I beat myself up mentally for not manageing magna cum laude.  Go figure!

My 8th grade teacher once said to me “You have so much potential, it’s just a shame you don’t use it.”  Those words are emblazoned in my mind, and in many ways he was right.  In other ways, I’ve let it overshadow to the point that I don’t allow myself to celebrate small accomplishments. combined with my perfectionist streak, well I told you it’s a scary playground in there.

My point is, don’t sweat the small stuff.  Most of it is, after all, small stuff.  Deal with life as it comes, then let it go.  Celebrate the small mile markers along with the big goals.  Sometimes change is necessary,so embrace it.  Change like taxes and death, are inevitable.

I think we are all more capable than we think we are.  Keep that in mind when the thorns along the trail you’re blazing leave you scratched and bleeding.  The view from the top is worth it.  Keep on trekking, and write on!

Rowling, really?


Yesterday was a bust!  I was about halfway into writing my blog when the power went out.  It was off most of the day – oh joy.  They are building a new firehouse just up the road and for the past two weeks, you can count on the power going out for a while.  AFter the one yesterday however, there were many sirens.  Not sure what happened, but then family life and “mom” responsibilities, well it was time for my webinar, and then before you know it, it was ten p.m. and I was tired.

So this morning I’m playing catch up, in addition to the catching up from the weekend,  in addition to a half-dozen other things.

I finished three informative articles about the Civil War, the Underground Railroad, and the Emancipation Proclamation. Writing nonfiction is definitely a different animal than fiction writing.  One of my writing friend’s suggested a site called I Write Like. Ever the curious one, I had to submit my samples to see who I write like.

I don’t know about y’all but I think this is totally weird.  For my informative essays and articles – I ran three of them – it says I write like H.P. Lovecraft.  When I was in college, I read everything that Lovecraft ever wrote. I also read everything Poe wrote, and the same for Stephen King as a couple of classes were about Horror and Science fiction. Of course I read a lot about mythology as well.

For my humor pieces, it said I write like Cory Doctorow.  I had to look who that was up on Wikipedia.  Interesting, if not a bit quirky. Well, I suppose that does make sense now that I think about it.

Ah, but for my passion, my fiction writing it varied depending on the scene, and which WIP I submitted from.  The comparisons I got were Anne Rice; Isaac Asimov, and I find this one to be the most interesting J.K. Rowling.  Now, if you’ve paid any attention to the last few bogs, you’ll understand my observation.  I have never read anything by Rowling although I do respect her as a writer.  I won’t go into the whole Potter thing again, it’s just too tiring.  I will have to say, I am very intrigued by her new release.

I’ve read Anne Rice, and Asimov, but hadn’t read any of Rowling’s work.  I was intrigued as I don’t have a single vampire in my story, no one named Lestat, and no child vampires.  I didn’t see any similarities in fantastic worlds that I’d read by Asimov, or the deep mega-mind introspection I admired in his work.

To me, those three authors are distinctly different.  So of course being the “curious kitten” as my dad always called me, I made a trip to the library and checked me out some books.  There are surprising similarities, and yes, technically you can say I caved in and I am reading Harry Potter.  I’m only a short way into it, but since I started it I feel compelled to complete it.  I’m a little weird that way.

As interesting as this information gathering is however it does nothing to advance my writing.  I can’t blame it on writer’s block because honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that – not that I want to!  I am contemplating a series of blogs about procrastination and avoidance techniques. 1001 ways to Avoid Writing!  Of course I could probably make it 10,000 ways.  Why is it that I do these things to avoid doing the very thing I want to do?

For further delay I ran across a couple of blog posts that addressed the same issue of distractions.

I’ll let Michael Mayerhofer in “Advice to Writers: Stay Home” conclude:

So, again, here’s my not-so-humble advice: stay home. Don’t call anyone. Don’t text. Don’t update your Facebook status to say what you’re reading, or how many thousands of words you’re going to write today. Just leave your ego in a shoe box, sit down, and read. And write. And if you look down at your first draft and think it’s golden—well, you’re wrong.

Can’t argue with that!  So, I close out my pages, and shut the computer off. this computer that is, the one that has internet access.  I open my laptop and bring up my WIP, Kiss of the Dragon.  It’s almost like a rendezvous in private as I slip away without the distractions of the internet, the phone is on silent, the answering machine is on, and I’m not answering the door.  I need a big sign to post somewhere “The writer is IN!”

It’s good when the muse shows up anxious to play with my pet dragons.  Write on!

Digital Mercury


Most of the population are thermometers.  They are the followers, the lemmings.  A thermometer tells you what the temperature is.  A thermometer reflects the environment that it is in.  The status quo followers who are content with the ambient temperature, and happy to be a lemming.  If you’ve been here before, you know I”m not a status quo lemming.  The popular crowd says go right, I go left.

Then there are the thermostats.  A thermostat determines the temperature of an environment.  A thermostat will tell you the temperature, as well as allow you to change the temperature.  The thermostat is the person who blazes their own path, dares to go against the grain, or strikes out on something new or different.  A thermostat determines that although nobody in my family has ever succeeded in accomplishing a specific goal, goes after it anyway.

That’s the kind I want to be, the thermostat.  I am not one to follow the masses in much of anything.  I have my own sense of style or lack of it.  I have my own tastes, which are usually determined by how it fits, comfort, and color.  I do have a lot of black, you can never go wrong with black.  However, my closet looks like a rainbow.  Maybe it’s a subconscious effort to be like rainbow girl Mac!

A thermostat doesn’t let family heritage determine what they can and can’t do. “My daddy was a farmer, and his daddy was a farmer and his daddy before him.  All of us are farmers.  It’s what we do.”

A thermostat doesn’t let their place of origin determine the level of their success.  “Ain’t nothin’ good ever come out of Tulsa.” (man spits chaw onto ground from corner of his mouth.) “And if you’s from Tulsa, then you ain’t no good either.”

The thing is, that inside we’re all hardwired to do something that’s uniquely us.  It may the same general thing as your buddy but you put your own special bent on it.  If you’re a mechanic, Joe may specialize in GM products while Tom specialized in  BMW’s.  The same general thing, but different.

My Great Grandfather was a preacher, and he founded the church in our local area.  He authored several books which  consisted mostly of his sermon notes, but they were published.  He was my mother’s grandfather, yet she seemed to forget about his accomplishment when any discussion of me pursuing writing came up. I needed to pursue a legitimate career, one that would provide an income.

I shelved the dreams for years, and pursued a career as a cartographer.  There was some very interesting times working for federal government as a cartographer, and it had a great salary.  It was very unfulfilling.

Ironically though, in the last month of my mother’s life she encouraged me to pursue my dreams.  Three days before she died, she signed me up for an internet writing course.  I didnt’ find out about it until two weeks later when I started getting all the course material in the mail.

So you’re probably thinking, ‘why am I off on this rabbit trail about my mom when I”m  suppose to be talking about thermometers and thermostats?’  There’s a very good reason!

Before my mom passed away, I was very much a thermometer.  I tried to be the person she wanted me to be and live my life to please her.  Guess what? It never really worked.  We never had an ideal mother daughter relationship, and there were many subjects we just didn’t discuss.  I had to reconcile our relationship with this gesture she made for me.  I was angry because she didn’t ask me, angry because I couldn’t talk with her about it – she died!  And I was angry  about the conditions in which she died.

It’s taken me a couple of years to work things out for myself and I’ve spent most of my life as a people pleaser, and accepting the status quo.  I was very unhappy and dissatisfied with my life.  In the past year I”ve turned my boat around and instead of floating downstream with the current, I’m paddling hard upstream against the status quo to regain my life.  I’m going to go for my dreams, and be the thermostat.  I”m setting the temperature, the climate,  and setting the rules.   I don’t want to be a lemming, I’m marching to a different drummer even if I”m the only one that hears the cadence.

I’ve been the thermometer and it sucked!  I’m having a blast as the thermostat!  I’ll give you fair warning though, things may get a little hot for your comfort, I know it does for me.  But here’s the thing;  nothing really happens when you’re comfortable.  Muscles don’t grow when you sit on a comfy couch.

Out there, in the uncharted regions where the dragons are?  That’s where the magic happens.  That’s where success is achieved.

Sure, I may fall down a few times, skin my knees or have myself a little cryfest.  I’m not quitting and I’m not going back to being a thermometer.

Mercury, in Roman mythology was the messenger to the Gods.  He carried the messages back and forth between the deities.  He gave the reports, he didn’t write them.  That’s not my dream.  If it’s yours great, go for it!  He was also considered the god of travel – now that’s part of my dream.  I plan to travel to many places throughout the world beginning with Scotland, Great Britain and the Caribbean.

By achieving the first dream, it will allow me to do the second. Hey, we all have our motives right?

What aspect of your life are you being the thermometer and what parts do you want to be the thermostat?

In our home, a battle is waged over control of the thermostat.  I’m here the majority of the time and I win.  I take my victories wherever I can get them.

 

 

 

 

Stirring the Pot(ter)


Apparently I struck a few nerves yesterday with my post mentioning Harry Potter.  I knew that Potter fans were fanatical, but I suppose I didn’t take into account the vehemence with which they defend their fervor.  (If Christians were as fervent, they could make a true difference.) I left some of the comments up if you care to read them, but had to delete many, the vulgarity of language did nothing to substantiate their claims of why Harry Potter rules the known world.

The suggestions of where I should put my crutches were, of course omitted. I won’t even begin to go into the ones that had sexual overtones; thanks for the invitation but no thanks!

As “powerful webmaster”, a term one of my commenters used to describe me (really? maybe I should break out my wizardly robes after all) I have the power to post or not post comments that I find offensive like the aforementioned offers, or post those that I feel contribute intelligent thought processes.  Yes, fear the all-powerful webmaster Ellie!  Hmm, somehow it just doesn’t have that sense of awe does it?

Anyway, moving on . . . Potter fans have expressed their outrage at my faux pas of not having read the books and daring to share my opinion of my favorite author.  Ever heard the garbage pail theory?  Opinions are like garbage pails and they all stink!  It’s my blog, my opinion and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me.  Even if we don’t agree, can’t we just be civil here?  “Can’t we all just get along?”

The point was brought up that Harry Potter does have dragons in it.  My interest has suddenly been piqued!  Dragons?  J.K. Rowling wrote dragons in it?  I may just have to read it then on the basis of dragons and all so that I can give a more objective view next time.  ROFL!  Seriously?  Do you come here to my blog for an objective view?  Do you think I’m going to remain serious at all times?  NOT BLOODY LIKELY! (And yes Raymond, I yelled that!)

Amidst the comments I have to give a rundown of an assessment I’ve made.  Twelve rather rude comments and um, invitations  came from the southern United States.  I’m glad you’re reading, but just because I don’t share your passion is no reason to be rude!  Three comments came from other locations in US, and were fine.

Two comments were made from Pakistan, and honestly you need a better translating tool!  My friends in the UK are the most objective and made intelligent comments, although most didn’t actually apply to the current post.  One was very eloquent in his defense of why Rowling should rule the free world and my American idiocy should be cut short through some reference to HP that quite frankly I didn’t get, because – pay close attention here – I haven’t read the books!  Therefore the very eloquent insult was completely wasted.  The art of insult is that the person whom you are insulting at least comprehends the insult even if the full impact of it hits them in a delayed reaction! (at 2 am: Tomato juice!)

If you’re going to hurl insults at me, do it right!  Which although the very eloquent dissertation was in fact well written prose and snappy dialogue, apparently insult is an American talent.  No, we’re not talking about my momma either!  As one commenter mentioned I miss out on some of the jokes because I don’t get the Potter references.  Hurling Potter insults at me is like bringing a knife to a gunfight!  Of course, that’s an American reference as well.

I don’t believe at any time I dissed Harry Potter or the subculture that it has become, I simply admitted that I missed it.  I chose other books, other avenues of entertainment during this wave of Potterism.  I did reference that many of the people I know haven’t read classic materials.  It was a blanket statement interpreted as every person that read Potter isn’t widely read.  That’s just crazy because we all know that absolutes are never absolute.

Just imagine the turmoil I will create when I start discussing the faults of plotline in Star Trek, and the lack of creativity in the alien races that appear throughout the Trek universe.

I guess I am regressing to my  opinion column days.  One of the reasons the editor liked me is that I managed to whack the hornet’s nest and stir the pot regardless of the topic, usually in 500 words or less.  Sarcasm, it’s a true talent for some of us, and unfortunately not something that can be taught.

To Potter or not to Potter that is the question.  I will take it into consideration if someone can prove that it does indeed have dragons in it. Or, are the Potterites actually Borg in disguise, sort of pod-potters and I will be assimilated?  Maybe it’s a bacterial infection on subcellular level of tiny nanoborgs that are implanted during nano month, screaming through the veins that resistance is futile!  Attack of the podBorg zombies, quick throw the Twinkies!!!  Run for the hills – no wait, those have eyes.  Kittencalendar, kittencalendar, kittencalendar, kittencalendar. Shh, shh, shh. . . ok, what were you saying?

Maybe I’ve had too much coffee and all my sci-fi storage units are cross-contaminated!  System overload reaching critical mass, self destruct will begin in thirty seconds!  (halon alarm sounding)

Um, I think I better get the Twinkies and maybe some sleep.  If the NanoBorg haven’t overtaken you by Monday, I’ll see you then!

Harry Potter VS Dragons


While much of the world was obsessed with Harry Potter, I didn’t read any of them.  Shocking I know and I may lose some of my followers with that admission.  I’m not opposed to reading them, it’s just that during the time that Harry Potter books were on the new release lists, I was thoroughly engrossed in a couple of other series.

Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series was in full swing, and well what can I say.  Barrons is the bomb! http://www.karenmoning.com/kmm/novels/fever-series.html  They should be read in order to make the most sense.  Here’s a quick blurb from the author’s page:

MacKayla  Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car  that breaks down only every other week or so. In other  words, she’s  your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman.

Or so she   thinks… until something extraordinary happens.

When her  sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her  death–a cryptic  message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in  search of  answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a  shadowy  realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same   treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater  challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she  had no idea she  possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the  world of man, into the dangerous  realm of the Fae…

This is a dark, edgy urban fantasy that has some elements of paranormal romance.  I’ve read Karen’s other series, the Highlander series and I strongly recommend them to any romance readers.  We all have our favorites and Karen is one of mine.

During this same time, Christopher Paolini’s books came out.  I bought one of the self published editions of Eragon, and pre-ordered the rest when they were released.  I don’t know how many of you have read these books but they are substantial books, close to 500 pages each.

So while I was living vicariously through Mackayla Lane in Dublin, Ireland and enjoying the fantasy realm of Alagaesia with Sapphira and Eragon, most of my friends were gaga over Harry Potter.  I couldn’t discuss things with them because I hadn’t read it.  They weren’t interested in reading my stuff either, except my one faithful writer buddy Bethany!!!  Love that girl!

Bethany and I share a passion for The Fever series.  I pre-ordered us both a copy of Shadowfever when it was first released, only to find out that her mom had already gotten her a copy.  We never gave the spoilers away, but when we finished a book we were in deep discussion about  anything and everything that happened in the book.

I have several online writing friends, and many were taken aback to find out that I had not read Harry Potter. I’ll get around to it eventually. I find it ironic though that the HP obsession is so pervasive.  How many have read any of the classics?  Shakespeare anyone?   Fyodor Dostoyevsky anyone?  Can you even name one of the books written by him?  What about some Jane Austen? How about reading some Hemingway?  No, these aren’t currently popular, but each has its merits.

Many times authors give the advice to read, and write a little every day.  I’m not downing anything that someone else is reading.  Not everyone is going to like the same things.  I don’t read westerns, but Louis L’Amour has written many great books.  My tastes in reading materials aren’t any better than Joe Schmoe’s, just different.

There are so many books to read and only a certain amount of time that I can allot for reading.  When it came to choosing between Sapphira and Harry Potter, sorry but a dragon trumps a wizard any day in my book!

Speaking of my book, I don’t have a wizard in my story.  I have a mage.  In my world, the blood line of the mages are revered on nearly a god-like level.  My mage is very old, nearly 2300 years old, but then again the dragons are several hundred years old as well.  He’s rather lackadaisical, yet brilliant.  He’s the most powerful mage since his father died at 5600, from a rock slide.   The story is about dragons, legends, and of course the mage is an intricate component on every level of the story.  I think some of his quirks are quite funny, but humor is hard to convey in written form.

I put myself into this story, literally.  One of the characters is me, not in name but it’s essentially me.  Alfred Hitchcock always did it and I thought it would be fun.  I’m having a blast with it, I just hope my readers will  find it as entertaining.

Oh, and did I mention that it is set in Scotland?  Where else would my story be?

What do you think would trump a dragon?  Maybe I’ll write that into the second book.  Write on my friends, write on!

Just Keep Swimming!


Just Keep Swimming

On March 3, 2012 I gave a presentation at a seminar, which I blogged about on earlier dates.  If you’re curious you can check out   Overcoming Emotions, Sir Rustalot, Freaky Friday, and Let’s Try the Remix.

Although I completely changed my prepared material the night before, I nailed it!  In my exuberance however, I managed to injure myself by acting goofy.  While disassembling the mannequin, I stepped down from the stage, and wrenched my knee.  I heard a loud pop, and a quick sharp pain.  No biggie, it was tolerable and I continued on.  It kept getting worse however.

The following weekend I went to Branson, and saw the devastation of the recent tornado.  I did a lot of walking – big mistake.  By Friday afternoon my knee was swollen to the size of a volleyball, partially deflated.  I kept telling myself I was just being a weenie and I need to suck it up.  Alas, I had to “suck it up” and go see doctor as it didn’t improve but kept getting worse.  After X-rays, and an MRI, they determined that I have a torn meniscus, and a torn ligament.  I also have a tumor at the back of my knee which is probably what weakened the joint.

I tell you all this to bring to the current issues I”m having with my lack of mobility.  I”m not used to restricted movements, the leg brace is driving me fruity, and making my leg itch insanely; and I have a greater appreciation for those who use crutches.   I remind myself to quit the self-pity thing and re watch the video of Nick Vujicic.

The essential part of what I do for my job, and as a writer is not affected by my knee.  Unfortunately it involves me sitting on my bum, parked in front of the computer.  Technically there is no reason for this to have affected my productivity level, but it has.  It’s taken a mental toll on me which is why I had to remind myself to Get over it!

So, what does this have to do with Dory?  I”m so very glad you asked!

Ahem!  *tap, tap, tap*  Is this mike on???  Testing?  OK, here goes.

About two weeks ago the Dr. cleared me to do aqua-aerobics, and walking in pool and some laps.  I have to be careful with the laps though, if I flex my knee too much it still causes great pain.  The indoor pool at our local YMCA  eats suits.  Any indoor pool really will destroy most bathing suits from the high levels of chlorine.  I have a great suit that I bought last year, that I think is flattering to my . . . mature physiche. (Let’s be honest here, I’ve got some serious junk in my trunk!)  I don’t want this suit destroyed.

I went online and ordered a chlorine tolerant suit in the size and color I needed.  It arrived 4 days later.  Great Service guys, but the size is completely wrong!  they sent me a child’s size equivalent to a 6X.  It won’t even fit my 7-year-old neighbor girl and she’s a toothpick!  Strike one, have to mail it back and get my refund.  Another week in the highly chlorinated water eating away at my good suit.

I went online again and found a couple of options, and one was a local Sports Authority.  I use the term local loosely here as it’s a 45 minute drive there.  I live in a rural area, nothing around here but a horse farm and some cows.  I called the local store, and asked if they did indeed have the suit that the online database said they had in stock – yes!  I specified the size (Ladies 16) and the color (navy blue).  Stephanie said she’d hold it for me for 24 hours.  GREAT!  I’d be there in 2 hours, after my aqua class.

I was so excited during class I could have done everything at twice the normal speed, and probably re-injured my knee, but I behaved.  I turned up the tunage in the car, excitedly driving to the store.  I get there and Stephanie pulls out a black suit in a size 14.  OK, before y’all get taken aback by my size the last suit I purchased was a size 24, not a 2-4 but a double-digit 24 plus sized.  I was pretty proud of myself for the hard work I’ve been putting in at the gym, and the changes I’ve made to my diet to shed the weight.  So for me to be able to fit in a 16 – I was excited, until I saw that it was a 14.  I went to the sad excuse for a changing room, and squeezed into the suit.  I could get it on, but not anything that should be seen in public.  I looked like a sausage stuffed into a black tube!  All the excitement I’d felt about the weight I’ve lost went running out the door – screaming – inadequate,  fatso!

Have you seen the current price of gas?  45 minutes there, 45 minutes home – I lost a substantial chunk of my day and came home suitless!  I’m so pissed at Stephanie from Sports Authority I could scream.  OH, and one more thing – ever try to maneuver crutches into a changing room the size of a bathroom stall?  She’s lucky I didn’t beat her with my crutches and try out some of those Tae Bo moves on her.

So here I am back at home once again surfing the web to find the suit I want.  Does it really have to be this hard to find a chlorine resistant suit?  Maybe I should just buy some in bulk at Wal-Mart and let the chlorine eat them apart one after the other.  For the price of one decent suit I could have probably 7 or 8 from Wal-Mart.

Even though I’m frustrated about this I kept hearing this little ditty (Just Keep Swimming) in my head on the drive home.

Perseverance will pay off in the end, I’m hoping.  Either that or I”ll try the bulk purchase method.  In the meantime, I’ll be swimming and aquacizing until I can get back to the elliptical and my Zumba.  Jillian Michael’s wouldn’t quit, but I think she’d tell me to follow the doctor’s instructions.  So until I can Zumba again I’ll just keep swimming!

 

 

 

Bad Mom!


I have two teenage daughters, one whose personality is similar to mine and one whose personality is similar to my husband.  When they were younger I used to say a mini me and  a mini he.  That doesn’t work anymore, as they are both taller than me now.  I won’t even begin to go into how unfair that is!

My girls have been off school for Spring Break since last Thursday.  It has been a disruption to my already disrupted habits!  Don’t get me wrong I love my kids, I do!  It’s just that I had envisioned their teen years to be more self-sufficient.  I only have my own teen years to compare it to, and thank God they aren’t that much like me!

I planned on them being self-sufficient,  they’re not.  I planned on them being somewhat independent by now, they’re not.  I planned on them preferring to be with their friends instead of hanging out with their uncool mom, they don’t.

Sometimes they seem more helpless than they were at 2.  I know the “fits” are on par to that age.  Independence? HA!  I guess that’s what I get for being an overprotective helicopter mom when they were small.  Yes, I admit it I’ve been overprotective in many ways.  I wanted to make sure no one abused my babies the way I was abused as a child.  I wanted to make sure they were kept safe from harm.

The first time my oldest daughter got a cut, she was maybe six months old.  I was on the phone with my mother when she crawled over by the air conditioner vent in the floor.  she ran her little finger under the edge of the metal vent; and cut herself.  She didn’t cry, but I noticed blood on my tile floor.  Then realized she was looking at her little finger.  I practically screamed into the phone at my mother – “oh my God she’s bleeding!”.  To which my mother replied, “Well for heaven’s sakes,  what did you expect to come out, grape Kool-Aid?”

I know, it seems silly now.

I rarely left them with babysitters, I didn’t trust enough.  When I worked full-time and took them to daycare, I asked a gazillion questions, called at odd hours in the day.  I was a pest, I know but these were my precious babies!  It was a very good day for my mental well-being and that of the daycare staff when I retired from government service to be a full-time stay at home mother. The only drawback was that it fostered my hovering overprotectiveness.

I arranged playdates with safe families.  I took them to the parks, to Grant’s Farm, to the Zoo, and many other outings.  Now they expect it and I get complaining if it involves a train.  In St. Louis, we’ve visited the Museum of Transportation many times. It mostly consists of trains and the girls have developed an aversion to trains.  Yes, sometimes we go there just because I know they are cringing.  Yes, I know, bad mom!  Ever heard the old saying “If mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy?”  Don’t poke mama bear, she has claws.

Instead of my children going to their friend’s houses, their friends come to ours.  On one hand, it’s nice to know that my house is considered the cool house, but teenage girls can eat you out of the home almost as quickly as teenage boys.

Don’t agree?  Consider this: typical teenage boy gathering is 4 to five boys; typical girl gathering involves up to twelve girl max; more if you allow it but my limit is twelve!  Even if they are “dieting” you have more mouths to feed, and frankly most teenagers aren’t that hung up on calories yet.

It’s the same principle as the group bathroom break.  Ever hear a dude ask his friends “I’ve got to go to the bathroom, who’s got to go?”  No, and if he’s smart he never will!

When I was a teen I was very independent.  I did my chores, which were much greater than I require of my girls.  (NO ,I didn’t walk 5 miles to school uphill both ways in the blinding snow, it was only 1 mile) We didn’t have microwaves, we didn’t have a dishwasher, and we didn’t have air conditioning.  Open windows meant more dust on everything.  I can’t even get them to push the vacuum, much less use a feather duster! Yesterday when they were home, my oldest daughter complained that I went to my room to avoid them in, using her whiny voice.

I was changing over the winter clothes for spring and summer wear!  I had asked them both to do the same with their own clothes, a request that was ignored.  Oh well, those long sleeve shirts will be pretty hot in a few weeks, maybe they’ll do it then.

My husband pointed out after a frustrating episode of them not doing their simple chores that it was my fault.  Big mistake buster – not making any ponts right now! He stated that it is my fault because, although I get frustrated with them, I do it for them.  Guilty as charged, but it doesnt’ really help to point that out right now!  I went three days without them doing their chores and leaving it for them to do.  I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I did it!  Come on, three days worth of dirty dishes on counter top?  I had nowhere to prepare dinner, it had to be done.

Of course now I’m the bad mom again because I’ve taken away privileges.  Too bad, because Uber Nazi writing muse has a sister called Uber Nazi drill sergeant mom!  She’s lean, mean and unmercifully obsessed with clean!

I have a little over a year to  make certain that the oldest is ready to be on her own, as she will be heading off to college.  She’s got a long way to go.  She asked me yesterday how often the maid service changes your bedding in college.  I nearly spewed my coffee on the computer screen.  I’m not sure how things were at other colleges, but the one I attended didn’t provide maid services or laundry services.  It was all up to the students to care for their things.

I never got any instruction manual when they were babies and I was too protective.  I haven’t received any updated manuals now that they are teens, and I’m trying to encourage them, strongly suggest, and yes even push them to becoming self-sufficient responsible people.  It’s my job, it’s what I do, be the mom.  Good mom, bad mom, unappreciated mom, and even the comforting mom.  It’s a 24 hour a day/7 day a week/ 365 days a year job.  It tries my patience as nothing else can, yet provides the biggest rewards in life.

Even though we’re having a rough patch right now, I”ve got great kids.  They aren’t taking drugs, breaking laws, or getting into fights.  They are both smart and get good grades in school.  Good thing too because we’re really hoping for a scholarship!

In my current state of temporary disability, they’ve been less than helpful.  I guess that’s the root of my frustrations.  The fact that I’m not able to do the things that need to be done, and the fact that they don’t see the need to pitch in and get them done.  Meanwhile, it does nothing for my current mental state which is a mixture of self-pity, obsessing over the things I am unable to do, and my over achievers nature.

I don’t make a good patient.  It’s not life threatening, just restricted mobility for a short period of time while my injury heals.  I’m dealing with it, just not well!  It’s against the nature of being a  mom to  remain inactive. My dad used to say to my mom that she had springs in her butt!  It’s true, a mother rarely lounges around letting others wait on her.

My girls go back to school tomorrow.  Is it bad that I’m rejoicing?  It will be nice to get almost back to my daily routine. Well, except for not being able to go downstairs to do the laundry, and other household chores that involve kneeling, bending or even walking.

OK, I confess I really missed my quiet time to write.  I often have the music turned up, or the tv on for background noise, but it’s not the same as having actual conversations going on in the same room.  Especially when they are directed towards you. I put my laptop aside, and gave them my attention, but my heart was with Zane and Isabelle in the highlands.

Bad mom!