Madness I Tell You, It’s All Madness!

My usual Monday motivation is going to have to be put on hold.  I’ve spent the morning in the waiting room at the hospital for my sister’s surgery.  She has gone through with it, and when I left was doing well.

I took my computer with me, working on my projects while I waited.  That was my intention anyway. There are times when it’s necessary to socialize with those around you,  especially when you haven’t seen them in over a year.  Honestly I got little writing done, but it was good to catch up with family.

3 days left before school is out, my D-day is rapidly approaching.  I lost several hours into the time vortex of research, I lost several hours visiting at the hospital, and of course the hours in traffic.  Tomorrow, I’m making an extra pot of coffee, turning the answering machine on and not answering the door.  Possibly at this point, extending my deadline may be the best option, but I’m not ready to surrender yet.

There’s still some fight left in me.  I’ve got approximately 5 hours to dedicate to writing tomorrow and I made some headway over the weekend.  With that last bit of research, I don’t think there are any other “holes” in my story that need to be filled.  It’s just adding some details and tweaking a bit here and there.

So close I can almost taste it.  This will be my FIRST complete manuscript.  I think I’ve shared the unfinished project problem in the past, didn’t I?   Many are close, but not quite there.  It almost seems like fate is stacking against me here on the last stretch to the finish line.  Either that, or the finish line is just a mirage.

In addition to the time stealers, and distractions, the “life” distractions I came up with an entire new story on Sunday.  The hubs thought I was really into the sermon, taking pages and pages of notes.  I was inspired!  At some point near the beginning of the sermon, the pastor mentioned that it was Pentecost Sunday, or the Sunday of Ascension.  Ascension, hmmm.  Inspiration struck me!  I nearly jumped up and yelled hallelujah, but I didn’t want to waste any time.  Before he reached the end I had outlined and plotted through a series of bubble charts, and if- then-else flow charts my next story.  It’s going to be awesome.

But wait, I have to rein it in and finish Kiss Of The Dragon first.  GAH!  How can some writers say they have writer’s block?  Are you kidding me?  I have enough ideas now to write books until I’m 126.  Which means, I need more time to write, and less time for nonwriting activities such as house cleaning, and cooking.  I really need to sell some more articles, and a book or a dozen to be able to afford a new laptop that I can read outside, so I at least don’t look like a vampire.  Also to afford to quit at least  one of my other jobs.  Where are my rich relatives to leave me an inheritance anyway?  Some estranged uncle that liked me best, anyone? anyone?

If only money were as easy to come by as it is for some of my characters.  I think it would be so cool to have the dragon complex.  Not necessarily the hoarding gold part, but the attracting part would be totally awesome.  Life takes money, and since I can’t just print my own – well I could but I don’t want to go to prison – I am part of working class Americans that have to keep my day job.

The writing disease is apparently an inherited condition.  My Great Grandfather wrote a couple of books, they were  religious teachings as he was a minister.  My daughters are both infected, and pursuing their own writing dreams. My eldest daughter who is 17, has one story planned and is about half way through.  She has asked for my assistance over the summer to finish hers.  I’ve read it, and it’s really good, better than some published books that I’ve read.  She also has a ton of ideas for books, and came home today complaining that school was cutting into her creative time.  (insert eye roll here)

My other daughter, the quiet calmer one that is more like my husband is also writing a very creative story.  She is a stickler for details, (Hmm, I wonder where she could have gotten that from.)  and has voiced her plans to spend a good portion of the summer writing her book to be published before she turns 18.

I for one will never discourage them from pursuing their dreams.  I will advise them to have a backup plan to be able to provide for themselves while they are pursuing publication.

If all the stars were in alignment, and all the gods were in a favorable mood, we could all three get our works published before the end of this year. That would be amazingly awesome and I would do a celebratory dance on video and post it here.  Oh yes, I can dance – this white chick got some moves!  I’ve won the DDR and  Just dance challenges we have here many times. Not bad for a 48-year-old competing against teenagers.

Doors of Opportunity

Don’t you just love it when a door opens up?  In the writing world, it seems like we knock on doors daily, and most never open. It’s part of our occupation to be professional door knockers.  There are a variety of doors that we are faced with in a writing career. Every once in a while they open for us.

Locked doors: We knock and knock.  We know there are people inside, we can hear them see the evidence, yet the door never opens and the handle will not turn. Yet, we are a persistent lot and like the velociraptor, we keep checking the doors.  Some day, some one will have to open the door. Eventually.

Closed Doors:  Again, we knock.  And knock.  As a matter of etiquette we wait outside the door waiting for someone to open it.  After a while, through impatience we test the knob and it turns.  In the business world, it’s common to keep the doors closed, yet not locked so customers can come in to the front counter.  Are you going to the front counter? Or are you waiting for someone to open the door?  At someone’s home it’s poor manners to open the door and just walk on in, unless you’re family or good friends.  But, in a business – ie – publishing, are you crossing the threshold and stepping to the counter where someone can actually assist you?  Or are you pounding a business door, and they are inside wondering why you don’t just come on in?  Are you even checking to see if the knob turns?  sometimes we give up too easily.

Cracked Doors:  They are standing slightly ajar, just a crack.  It’s enough to slip your foot in.  Sometimes it’s all the access you need to get in there and make your sales pitch.  Take a clue from the Kirby salesmen here – pimp yourself baby!  If you don’t believe in the goods you’re selling, ain’t nobody else will!  Yes, around these parts ain’t is a word.

*secret huddle hereI’m not the most confident person.  Why do you think I listen to motivational things, read encouraging things?  I don’t get the Monday morning pep talk from the district manager.  We’ve got to be our own pep squad, encouraging ourselves.  Even if you’re wondering if your “goods” are good enough, sell them like they are the greatest thing since The Odyssey! *

Open Doors: Open doors come in different varieties.

  • Opening:  These are the ones that open to you, maybe as you walk up to them, when you knock.  Sometimes you’re not even looking to knock on THAT door, but someone opens it and invites you inside.
  • Standing Open:  It says come on In Y’all!  In the southern states and increasingly in St. Louis area, it is common practice in fair weather for cafe’s to leave their door open inviting customers to walk in.  It gives such a sense of welcome, and acceptance.  Many regional and local markets are like this, seeking a writer that knows the area.  This is how I got my OPinion Column.  It was an open invitation that I submitted sample writing to.  I was shocked and stunned when they accepted me and asked me to continue past the first year.  Sad to say though, that door has been closed.  The newspaper business is tough, and the readership just wasn’t there to sustain the business.  I enjoyed the ride while I was there though!
  • Flapping In the Breeze: YOu know the ones, they are dusty, dingy.  Makes you think of old abandoned buildings.  The kind that if it were a movie you’d be yelling at the screen telling the  star “Don’t go In there!”  Yet, as writer’s what do we do?  “Hello?  Anyone in here?”  We poke around, edging closer to that fluttering tarp in the center of the room, curiosity getting the better of us.

I have a door of opportunity that is a new venture.  I will be sharing a story over the summer, in a weekly installment on  Storytime Trysts.   I’m looking at this as a challenge, something new to try.  this will be far steamier than anything I’ve ever written before.  I know for a certainty that flash fiction isn’t my thing.  As much as I like poetry, I don’t have the knack for that.  Always willing to try new things though.  I’m also participating in a summer project on  RCGale  on a summer series entitled Bereshit bara.  It’s a collection of creatives thoughts on and what motivates, challenges us in our craft.  Here’s his intro for his series:

I’ve asked 13 incredibly talented Creatives to share with us what gives them the courage to create. They are writers, authors, teachers, professors, doctors, waitresses, pastors, painters, musicians, editors, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands. I just like to call them Creatives.

Creating is a daunting task. But it’s also full of joy and meaning and mystery.

How do Creatives make the first move, write the first word, fling the first brush stroke, peel back the first layer of clay?

What inspires them, what moves them, what drives them?

As if this wasn’t enough of a challenge, I’ve been given the green light from the doctor to add some low impact cardio back into my routine.  Good news, even while I’ve been limited to aqua aerobics class I’ve lost a bit of weight! Yeah!  I intend to challenge myself physically over the summer. The goal is to get back to the level of fitness I was at, and possibly beyond.  the goal – is to do 45 minutes of cardio nonstop.  We are making it a family affair by training daily.  Cycling daily on various trails and parks over the summer.   Maybe I’ll even get brave and share some photos.  Well, ok, I”m not quite that brave yet.  The one in my bio is bad enough! *facepalm*.

It’s shaping up to be a fantastic summer!  I Love a challenge!  So, here’s the deal: I’m expecting  my readers to keep me accountable, give me feedback, You’ve been wonderful already.  I’ve gotten way more feedback than I ever expected.  I’ll take quality over quantity every time!  You guys (and gals) rock!!

Write On!




Here There Be Dragons

In my former career I was a mapmaker.  No seriously!  My degree is in Cartography which is map making.  I worked for the US Department of Defense in mapping and charting division, then targets division, and just before I retired/resigned I worked in digital productions.  Some of the work was very interesting, and some rather mundane.  Sounds like any job doesn’t it?

Ever look at ancient mariner’s maps?  I love old world maps.  The skill and artistry they used to create their maps and charts were truly masterful,  especially when you consider the tools they used.  In modern times we use sophisticated sources that we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of, and in some cases would blow your mind.  Those high-tech things that you think are fictional in movies?  Mere child’s play. I better quit now, I signed many forms to not divulge secrets.

Moving on . . . those ancient charts had markings in common places that read “Here There be Dragons”.  One common spot was off the coast of China.  Another is in the upper Atlantic area between Great Britain, Greenland, Iceland, Nova Scotia, and New England area of the U.S.  It was unknown.  Maybe they saw whales, or giant squids, or Nessie’s relatives.  Who knows what they actually thought they saw.  The point is it was unknown and uncharted.  Danger, danger Will Robinson!

Isn’t this how most of us approach our unknowns?  Our first reaction is a sharp intake of breath followed by rising pulse and a big red DANGER flashing in our minds?  Why?  Because it’s unknown.  Better the devil we know than the one we don’t.

This big sign hangs over that section of our lives we call unknown:  Here there Be Dragons!  We are afraid to go beyond that border of the familiar and venture into the land of dragons.  We makes lines of demarcation on the borders to warn us not to venture beyond this point.

Enter the Dragonslayer!  (Insert dramatic music here and picture of imperious heroine standing arms akimbo on the deck of my sailing vessel!)   No, I’m not going to slay your dragons for you.  No, I don’t work for hire; unless you pay in Caribbean vacations and chocolate.  No, I’m not slaughtering innocent dragons.  NO dragon was harmed in the writing of this post.  I’m exploring the boundaries of my own limitations, and re-evaluating those areas labeled as new and different.  I’m updating my maps to explore the dangerous land of dragons.

We laugh at Medieval superstitions, but we do the very same thing in our own lives with much smaller matters.  2012 is the year my borders are expanded, and my myths are busted!  Just because I haven’t done it before doesn’t mean I can’t.  Just because I haven’t obtained success in a certain area doesn’t mean I won’t.  Just because my past is boring doesn’t mean my future will be.  Get the picture?

For those of you that prefer your nice, neat, tidy little boxes beware.  I’m in a box smashing mood, and on a rut destroying mission.  It may spill over on you if you get too close! For those brave souls who like adventure, I invite you to come along on the explorations and adventure.  Strangely when the explorations begin, that dragon that cast the ominous shadow turns out to be a tiny lizard with a blue tail.

I know, about now you’re wondering where do I come up with this stuff? To give you a little insight into that dark hallway you can take a look at a friend’s blog that inspired my dragon slaying adventure.

Sort of a yang to his yin!  Many members of my extended family are rutmakers.  I hate ruts!  I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I like to change things frequently.  If you check my post for THAT’S SPICY!, I mention it there.

February was less productive than I would have liked it to be.  I really didn’t make much progress towards my main goals, and this sickness has derailed me even more.  I’ve been plotting my charts for March, and setting milestones to achieve.  While working on that I visited Raymond’s blog, and I was off and running!

Hope there are a few brave souls to join my crew of adventurers as we sail into the unknown, charting new territory.

My course? Second star the right, straight on till morning!

The second star to the right

Shines in the night for you

To tell you that the dreams you plan

Really can come true!

Avast ye mateys, all aboard Starship Mack as we sail the uncharted waters!


The year of the dragon!  This year celebrates the water dragon.  I was born in the year of the dragon, and the motto is “I reign!” Well, this year of the dragon IS my year to reign.  I’ve taken back the reigns, taken control and no longer am letting life just happen.  I don’t like where it’s led me, therefore I’ve set some goals.

I gave up making New Year’s Resolutions years ago. Why? Because by this time, I’ve either blown the diet; not made any action towards the goal or in some other fashion, given up.

I make goals, SMART goals to be exact.  SMART goals are:

  • specific
  • measurable
  • action oriented
  • realistic
  • targeted time

For example, every year I would say “This year I am going to lose weight.”  That’s pretty vague.  Technically if I lose 1 pound I succeed, but unfortunately I need to lose more than 1 pound.  However, when I make the goal as :This year I am going to lose 25 pounds by December 31.  I’m specific (25 pounds), it’s measurable – I have 12 months to achieve this which breaks down to 2 pound every month.  That’s doable!!  Very reasonable, and nothing prevents me from being more aggressive if I choose to do so.  Action oriented: I made a plan of action that includes dietary changes, calorie guidelines; and a regular workout schedule.  Realistic:  25 is realistic, weighing 115 is not, and it’s not such an overwhelming goal that I give up.  Targeted time I’ve allowed the entire year.  I have a deadline.

This is just one example, I’ve made 48 goals for the year.  Each one has a SMART plan to achieve it.  I haven’t made much progress on some of those yet, but I’ve been developing my plans.  Thank goodness, for Chinese New Year.  I don’t feel so bad for getting a late start to my year. I haven’t been slacking off, I’ve been making a plan.  If you don’t have a plan you are destined to fail.  Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Some could look at it as procrastination, but I’ve seriously put thought into these past weeks, thinking through how I’m going to achieve my 48 goals. Not every one is life changing, some are just for fun.  I like to have fun!  All work and no play makes Ellie a very unhappy person!

The first step to making any plan is writing it down. I wrote my list, tweaked it to make them smart goals and got out my calendar to set milestone markers.  Most of my goals don’t matter to anyone but me, but they are all things I want to do, feel I should do, or desire to do.

Therefore. . . today is a Mulligan.  A do over!  A fresh start.  It’s also national pie day.   By the way, one of my goals is to try 48 new recipes this yer.  Hmm, maybe I should make a pie to celebrate.  One slice is equal to approx 2 hours of Zumba, or running 5 miles.  Is it worth it?

Which brings up another interesting point to the goal achieving; know the cost.  If I decide to indulge in pie, I will do it knowing full well I have to either delay my progress or increase my calorie expenditure.  Everything we do today has an effect on our tomorrow.  If you just let life happen, trust me, you won’t like where it takes you.