Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Safety in Distance

Two weeks ago in the town where I live (Omaha) a boy shot and killed 8 people, then killed himself, at the mall where I take my kids to play. It was a Wednesday. Wednesday is the day I take my kids to play there, usually, but we decided not to go that day. The shooting happened later in the day than we are usually there, but still, it is haunting to think of something like that happening so close to home.

It was a tragedy that has set the emotional timbre of the city dissonant. Yet I find myself very unconnected from the whole thing, relatively unconcerned. I don't think about it much at all and haven't really mourned much for those people who lost their lives.

When I took the time to actually realize this I was horrified with myself. What kind of unfeeling monster am I? But then I had to stop at that question because if there is one thing I am not, it is unfeeling. I feel things much too strongly in general. My siblings have agreed that my greatest fault is that I'm overly sensitive.

So what gives? It doesn't seem to make much sense. Then, as I sat reflecting on the situation, I tried to relate it to my emotional response to other tragedies and a pattern began to form. I thought of Katrina, the tsunami, 9/11 and realized that my responses to those were very similar with one exception. When news would roll of those happenings I'd change the channel. I averted my eyes from the news articles. The exception was 9/11.

The thing about 9/11 that just overcome me was the images of people jumping from the buildings. Putting myself in their places was the most terrifying feeling I could imagine and I couldn't face it. I refused to imagine what I would do in their places. Cold, electric panic would fill my chest every time I thought of it. It was too much for me.

I have come to realize that when the unthinkable happens, I do just that. I don't think about it. It's a safety mechanism I have developed, because if I let it in it will take over and I won't be able to handle it. I am so overly-symphathetic that things like that just tear at my insides and overcome me with fear.

So I'm not heartless. I've just developed self-preservation. I've come to realize the truth of this because when I really force myself to start thinking about these events, letting the people become real to me, I feel that terror reach in and I have to shut it off before it overpowers me.

In writing, if something becomes too horrific the reader starts to find it funny. Emotionally it becomes too much to handle. That's why people laugh at slasher movies. (I learned this concept from the great Mr. Card.) The key, in my opinion, is taking it to the threshold without taking it too far to elicit the maximum emotional response. When truly horrific things really do happen and it's not fiction, many people don't know how to process it.

How do you respond to horrific events and how does it affect your writing?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Contest Entry

Here is my entry to Bernita's contest.

Milk and Cookies
By Hoodie

"Mom, are markers made out of poop?"

"Not that I'm aware of."

"Gwen at school told me that the writey-part of markers is made out of horse poop. I said 'no way,' but then I smelled it and it really did smell like poop!"

"I find it highly unlikely."

"Then what makes that smell?"

"The ink."

"What's the ink made out of?"

"Umm, octopuses."

"Mom, are you joking?"

"I think so. What are you drawing?"

"A finger tree. It tickles you all over."

"Wow, did you make that up?"

"Well, Mr. Barr sometimes pretends to be a finger tree. At first it wasn't my favorite game, but then he taught me how to do it, like this."

"I see."

"He says I'm the best finger tree he's ever seen! It's this cool special game. He says I'm so, so good."

"Hmm. Okay. Will you draw me another picture? I'm going to be on the phone for a while."

"Are you calling Daddy?"

"Yes, and maybe some other people. I'm going to try and solve that marker mystery for you, okay? We'll find out the truth."

"I told you, Mom. I really think it's horse poop."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"She's a Writer"

Last night there was a special dinner held for the members of my husband's accounting firm that work on a particular client. It was held at a pretty swanky place and I was excited about an evening dressed up and having adult conversation. The appetizer plate alone would have been enough (the best seafood I've ever had), but the hits just kept on coming: filet mignon, cheesecake. Yum.

At our table sat the office managing partner in our city. That makes him the big man at the office. It was my first opportunity to become acquainted with his wife. We were having quite a pleasant conversation when she turned to me and asked if I worked.

"I do, but I don't get paid for it, " I smiled. "I stay home with my two small kids."

Then, with a chime of enthusiasm, my husband added, "and she's a writer."

This seemed to draw attention from everyone at the table. "Really?" they questioned.

This was the first time anyone, including myself, has just come out and defined me as such, and I almost denied it, feeling that of course I don't really qualify. But I stopped, recognized the delicious feeling of being recognized as a writer and smiled. It was a beautiful moment for me. So what if I'm not published? I really am a writer.

It was a great gift from my loving and encouraging husband. Merry Christmas to me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I am Officially Ashamed

I never meant for it to happen like this. Things just got out of control. At first it was just a few days. A week. I never thought I was capable of something like this.

I haven't posted in almost a month.

I apologize to those I've hurt.

So why the lag? I wish I had a good excuse. The best I can do is that I have indeed been confirmed to have anemia and I am honestly taking naps at every available opportunity. I just feel so worn out. Still, I've managed to get everything else accomplished that is absolutely necessary and we all know that blogging IS a necessity.

How did NaNoWriMo go, you ask? Sheepishly I admit that I finished just shy of 8500 words, which is a lot of words, but painfully distant from 50000. I got to a certain point, didn't know what to do and sort of just stopped. I don't think I knew I had stopped. I kept meaning to jump right in, but then kids got sick, Thanksgiving (including lots of travel and kids with Chicken Pox) happened and soon November was over. Whoops. Oh well. I do intend to revisit this project, but I think my method will change slightly. I was hoping to write chronologically, but I think I'll just write the most exciting parts first next time.

I have stored away in my little brain some blog topics, so don't expect the drought to last. But first I must humbly thank Jaye Wells for nominating me for the Shameless Lion award. I've seen this award floating around and never thought I might actually be a recipient. There are few I could have felt more honored to be nominated by. Jaye is a blogging (and writing) goddess.

The rules are found at the Shameless Lions Writing Circle.

Here are my three things I believe make writing good and powerful (however much my opinion on the subject counts).

1. Basket-skills - I believe good stories are woven. There are so many elements involved in writing a good story, and they must all be delicately balanced so that the best parts peek through at the best times so that the overall finish is flawless and flowing. The longer your story, the more precarious the balance. That is something I discovered during NaNoWriMo. There are thousands of ways to write the very same story, but only a handful of them will be good.

2. Investment - If a writer doesn't believe in their character, no one else will either. I think an author needs to be emotionally invested in the characters and stories she is writing, trying to imagine every aspect of emotional and physical reaction to situations, finding the details. Yeah, gotta have details. I think good writers see their stories as their children.

3. Striking Stereotypes - My favorite books are the ones where you think you know what's going to happen and then something COMPLETELY different happens. When writing it's easy to ask yourself, "so what happens next?" The hard thing is not accepting your first answer, or your second or third.

Incidentally, these are all things that I think I need to work on. A lot.

Most people I find deserving of this award have already been nominated, and if my nominations are a repeat, my apologies. You can just feel that much "warm and fuzzy"er.

1. The Quoibler - Angeligue is a clever kitten who's proven dynamic and humorous both on her blog and in contests she's submitted to. Her strengths are her sincerity and wit.

2. Struggling Writer - I've admired this man's stories for a while now and give him a hearty kudos for finishing NaNoWriMo with an excess word count. He's got a flair for the funny and enjoys the same kinds of writing I do. Rock on, PL!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I'm writing this post just to prove I'm still alive (barely). Bear with me; things will pick up later. NaNoWriMo progress is all but nonexistent because I've just been busy busy busy.

I was able to get my entry into Jason's contest in under the wire (#44) even though I had to stay up through the night to find time to write it.

Health update: I had an EKG done and there is a slight abnormality in my left ventricle(?). Why did I have an EKG? Because my doctor was concerned about my abnormally high heart rate, resting and otherwise. Anyway, he says the most probable reason I'm not losing weight is because I'm working out TOO HARD! Im burning carbs instead of fat, which leaves me starving so I'm eating more too. Who'd have thought? The guys on the exercise videos, on Oprah, in the magazines say that you should always push yourself. Pushing myself generally keeps my heartrate in the high 170s and low 180s. Turns out I need to be in the low 150s or lower to be in the fat burning zone. At the gym today I watched my heartrate closely. Averaging about 156 I felt like I was barely moving. In 45 minutes I hadn't even really begun to sweat. Anyway, my doctor wants to do a heart ultrasound, which involves doing a resting heartrate ultrasound, then putting me on a treadmill at a sprint and then doing another ultrasound. If indeed the muscle around the left side of my heart is abnormally large I may need to take medication. I'm not sure. It's nothing to be worried about, that I know. Just a possible explanation for things I've always wondered about.

Anyway, Kudos to all of you who entered Jason's contest. I was honestly being as objective as possible, yet Szelsofa, Angelique and Beth all managed one of my votes. You blew me away, ladies! I have talented buddies. I wasn't even paying attention to who wrote them when I decided favorites. Aside from the five I voted for, there were four others that I wish I could have.

We're visiting family for Thanksgiving, so if I don't post, HAVE A GREAT HOLIDAY, Y'ALL!

And P.S. to those of you who commented about exercising at home. Sounds great, but my kids don't let me do it much. I actually do it whenever possible, but it's not a feasible solution for all my exercise needs.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Climbing the Wall

Thank you so much to everyone for commenting on my last post. I appreciate the words of encouragement, advice and validation. I'm doing okay today, even though my concerns still stand.

As for my weight loss, I saw my doctor yesterday who had done blood tests last week. There are some abnormalities with my red blood cells and my output of thyroid chemicals. He said that these things could cause tiredness and difference in metabolism and that without doing another blood test he couldn't rule out anemia. It is comforting to know that there may actually be a cause for the changes in my body, so I'm taking some supplements now and hope some areas will improve.

He also prescribed 1 hour of exercise a day, seven days a week, including yoga, pilates, and strength training to help manage my mood. I would love to be able to do this, and I'm trying to find a gym that will make it possible, but we don't have $140 extra dollars a month to fork out in Health Club fees (that's how much it costs to join the one my doctor suggested). I'll keep looking.

As far as the piano thing goes, I'm going to go ahead and do it. One commenter suggested that I've probably done it before and truthfully I have not. I have sung many times in front of many congregations, and I also lead our church choir. I think there were church members who kind of assumed that since I could do those things I probably played the piano well. Whatever the case, I told them from the beginning what my abilities were and they have been supportive. Even though I'd like to accompany the kids flawlessly, I'm learning to accept that it will be what it will be and I'll do well enough. It's just a little nerve wracking.

As for NaNoWriMo, I will push on. Truth be told I haven't even reached the part of the story where anything exciting happens, so I'm just going to start writing that part. I really wanted to write it chronologically, which is why there are so many bad parts because I was just putting stuff down trying to get my main character into position for the exciting things to happen. I will be able to rewrite much of what I have already written later and condense it considerably. If it has accomplished anything, it has served to flesh out background details in my own mind. Thank you, blog friends, for letting me know it is appropriate to be frustrated and that writing a novel really is hard. It helps me not feel like such a wuss.

I read each of your comments several times and cannot tell you how much your words mean to me. They have helped me achieve perspective and to feel valued.

I even had a big long talk with my husband and he seems much more supportive now.

Love to all. Thank you.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Wall

I'm going to try to write this post without sounding like a crazy person. I really would like to think of myself as a non-crazy person, but sometimes I feel like that status is severely challenged.

I've hit a wall. A big one. Lots of walls all lined up to make one big wall.

Two months ago I decided I was going to do something about the weight I'd inexplicably gained over the summer. I was already exercising regularly, but it was time for a major overhaul. I have religiously worked out daily, dieting the best I can (with only a few Halloween flubs). If anything, I can say my clothes are tighter and my flab is flabbier. Really great for the motivation. Wall number one.

In August I was asked by people at my church to play the piano for the children's program happening this coming Sunday. Even though I'm not a terrific pianist, I was given eight songs to learn which I have practiced regularly and while vast improvements have been made, I'm still seriously screwing up these songs. I'm terrified to accompany the children in front of my whole church's congregation. I feel like I could practice for forever and I will still suck. Wall number two.

I've been so looking forward to NaNoWriMo. It was my chance to give up all excuses about becoming a novelist and just go for it. I pictured it being exhilarating and I have really committed to the process. Right now my word count stands at 8,246 words. I had my husband read it back to me today and realized that even though I had given myself permission to write crap, I didn't really expect it all to actually be crap. Rationally I can realize that this is a process and that only by experience will I get any better. Emotionally, I feel like a big fat joke. My 8k words are pretty boring. I'm realizing my story must not be starting in the right place. And I'm not scrapping my 8k yet because I need that word count. But, alas, here I am, eye to brick with wall number three.

I realize that these things are pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But I can't help the feeling that no matter how strong an effort I give something I'm bound to fail. Little successes can do wonders for the ego. No success at all makes me wonder why I even try.

I know how whiny it sounds. Just writing it makes me want to puke. But I'm feeling so totally alone right now and I'm desperate for encouragement from any voice at all. I tried to tell my husband how I was feeling, but he was asleep before I even finished my sentence. He is not an insensitive man, he just doesn't get the magnitude of my feelings. In general I feel things quite strongly, so he seems, unfortunately, desensitized.

I apologize for my gush of self indulgence. But it was either this or find a sharp object and make myself bleed. And that folks, really does make me sound like a crazy person. God help me.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Nano - The journey begins

It's 10:30 PM and I've got to go to bed. After a rough night last night I don't have the stamina to stay up and write liked I'd originally planned. The end of my first day of NaNoWriMo finds me with 2,270 words and four revelations:

1. I am such a NOVICE! I can recognize so many flaws.
2. When forced to just write without continually going back and editing I find I have a horrible habit of much more tell than show, not what I would have guessed my greatest weakness to be. There is much revision to be done.
3. Good characterization is hard. Heck, bad characterization takes effort.
4. Despite my abundance of inadequacy, I like doing this.

My first chapter didn't pan out the way I had envisioned it, but we'll see what happens. I can tell you that I won't be giving up and that I'm excited to see my writing improve. Writing big long stuff is different than writing little short stuff.

To bed, to bed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Naughty Girl/NaNo Freak Out/Serious Rant

I've not done right by those who visit me, which probably means my limited readership has dropped even further, to my chagrine, but such is life. We've been playing duck duck goose with a nasty cold and I got goosed. Plus we've had all the frivolties of Halloween to deal with and hear it is the day of and I still haven't carved the pumpkin. Oh well.

At the forefront of my mind is the fact that NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! I felt like at the first of the month I was so gung ho that by the time November rolled around I'd feel ready. I am comforted by the fact that some people are doing this from scratch, no plot, no characters, nothing; at least I'm ahead of them, but I'm daunted, no doubt about it. I've got about 7 chapters loosely outlined, which I'm hoping will lay out the path for the rest of the book to follow. We'll see. I'm excited and nervous. I'll be sure to give regular updates of my progress and possible excerpts if I find something on the page other than drivel. If there is anyone within eyesight of this post who is participating this year, feel free to buddy me. I'm needy. My name over there is HoodieWriter.

And for those of you who like a good rant, I've prepared one especially for you. I am disgusted with the dominating practice in our society to let the few determine the rules for the majority. If people could start worrying a little bit more about fixing problems instead of spending all of their time blaming others for them we may not have this problem. Let me explain what I'm talking about.

We went to buy shoes for my daughter a few weeks ago. We've really been trying to stay within a budget, so price was the number factor, but I also wanted something cute and practical. We absolutely HAD to buy shoes. She had only one pair of flip flops she was fitting into and it was starting to get cold. Every store we visited either was out of her size of the shoes we liked or was way out of our price range. It was becoming quite a frustrating process. Finally, at PayLess we found one pair that seemed perfect for our needs and had been significantly marked down. I literally whooped for joy. With a triumphant grin I took the shoes to the register where I was told there had been a recall on the shoes and she couldn't sell them to me. I was so irritated. There those great shoes sat, never to be worn, because a little rivet or shoelace or rubber piece or something fell off a shoe somewhere. I was tempted to just steal them. We live in such a blame/sue-happy society companies take ridiculous efforts in keeping themselves from lawsuits. Your kid found a piece of a toy and choked on it? SUE THE TOY COMPANY!

More examples that just make my ears steam? My sister's OB/GYN, whom she adored, had to quit his practice due to unaffordable malpractice insurance. Your baby wasn't born perfect? SUE YOUR DOCTOR! They took the hand sanitizer out of the kids room at my gym because some lady said that she read of a case where a kid had continually pumped it on his hands and licked it off, making him sick. So on the weird chance some kid might lick sanitizer, LET'S NOT PROVIDE IT FOR ANYONE! I grew up in a very conservative community where most people were religious. One girl complained, though she was in no way forced to participate, that a group prayer had offended her, so prayer was banned at all functions. TO SAVE "OFFENDING" THE ONE, LET'S OFFEND THE MAJORITY! Now, because of the irresponsible use of children's cold medicine, they won't sell it to the rest of us. SORRY KIDS, YOU'LL JUST HAVE TO SUFFER THROUGH IT.

Are people getting hurt less? Sick less? Are all these bans and recalls and lawsuits helping? I, personally, don't think so. I think the only thing we're accomplishing is training people to take no responsibility for their own mistakes and stupidity but to look for a way to blame/punish someone else for it. Aarrggh.

I know this encompasses some sensitive, controversial topics. Perhaps my views don't fall within those determined most popular, but GOOD GRIEF PEOPLE!

No Vocab today.

I urge you all to indulge in some sugary treats, the real reason for Halloween.

Monday, October 22, 2007


When I was 18 I was part of a national choir that toured Europe for a month. I was able to visit, however hastily, some of the most famed and beloved cities in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and France. It was a whirlwind experience - friendships, crushes, music, travel and so many new people, sites, sounds, and places I was barely able to absorb them. Not surprisingly it was an emotionally charged month. Up until that time I had never really left the western U.S. and had associated almost entirely with conservative people who shared most of my beliefs. It was the first time I really tasted what life outside of my small town was like. My best friends on the trip were from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Maine. I was definitely the anomaly in our little group. That month it felt as if I were somehow able to open my eyes wider than I ever had before, that a new section of my mind opened up.

I considered myself a fairly cultured teenager. I had a strong appreciation of music, a love of literature and a fairly basic knowledge of art. I liked pretty pictures just as much as the next person.

In Paris we went to the Pompidou Museum. I saw all kinds of art there. Some was beautiful, some confusing and some, in my opinion, kind of stupid. But as we were browsing the gift shop I came across a 5x7 print by Francine Van Hove.

Something about this piece struck me in a way art had never done. I had always turned my virgin eye away from nudes, wondering if they were not just an excuse to exhibit images that were erotic. But I loved this picture right away. There was something so raw, simple and real about it that I was taken by its beauty. The woman seemed somehow strong and vulnerable at the same time. I bought the little print and stared at it in long stretches and something opened up inside of me. I wanted to be able to make people feel the way Van Hove had made me feel. I mourned that I was not an artist.

I found my little print the other day and my appreciation for it is still strong, though now it means different things to me. I realized, also, that I don't have to be able to draw to be an artist. My goal as a writer is make people feel. I may be a long way off from doing that effectively, but in the end that is my motivation.

What gets you excited about your craft?

Vocabulary Word of the Day:

NON SEQUITUR - noun - A statement that does not follow logically from what preceded it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

One Serious Meme

Thanks to Beth at Perfect Neurotic who likes me well enough to even think of me when trying to figure out who to tag for this next meme. The purpose of this, as I understand it, is to increase the exposure of your blog by linking your favorite three posts into the meme. Since this blog is still in its infancy my choices are not as difficult to make as they have been for others, but it also means I have a smaller quality margin to work within. There is so much of my genius still unblogged!

Anyway here are the official rules and the link progression. Everyone read, read, read!

"This seo meme was conceived and designed by Bobby at Revellian .com. This is a new fun seo meme ride for us all. This is based on the seo theory that links to posts inside your blog are more important than links to your home page. I have selected three posts I want to promote along with my site’s name. You will do the same thing. Let’s keep it simple and spread our good work around to both share and build some ratings!Make sure you pick three posts that you feel are your best. You could also select 3 posts you simply want to promote. Your site name is listed with your 3 selected posts beneath. Once you have your post up: Add the sites and post links of the folks you tagged onto your post. Try to add the site and post links to anyone involved to maximize the effectiveness. Tag a minimum of 5 people. Try your best not to double tag people so it will spread better! Please actually read the posts from everyone so you can see some really good work from our beloved blogging friends! Make your title a little different from mine to avoid repetitive titles."

Revellian dot com - SEO Keywords For Beginners, Content: The Kings Illegitimate Stepchild, Tales of Blogger-X Illusion

Mariuca - Wishing On A Falling Star - Love In Disarray, In Love With A Dream, The Good Client

Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery - Perfume Shopping Spree, Defining Beauty, In Full Splendour

Speedcat Hollydale Page - Rocket Boy in Hawaii - DC9, Speedcat’s Death Ride into Terror!, The Boy Inside All Men

Terri Terri Quite Contrary - Just How Immature Are We?, Finding a Voice, So Much More to See than the Game

Mahala - Uncle Huberts Custom Cows, Pray for the Child at Big Lots, The Legend of Saushie's Crotch

Tiff - How am I like Ron Weasley, A Social Experiment, Absolutely Boring Entry 101

Cosmic Cat - Just An Ordinary Thursday Night..., Not Gone With The Wind. Just Gone., The "Weekly Thoughtful Reminder" And Other Hazards Of Working

Field Lines - Even MIT Girls Get the Blues, Bye Bye, Friend, Bad Hair Day

The Perfect Neurotic - The Sticker, The Last American Virgin, Aunt Ellie, Come Get Your Ass

Tales From The Hoodie - Experience, Shoes, Literally, This is Killing Me

Okay, I really hope I did that right. I'm always nervous about tagging people, so I'm giving everyone I tag an out. If you've already been tagged or you plain just don't want to do it, you are exempt.

So, Church Lady, Brilliant Donkey and Struggling Writer, the choice is yours.

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
ESOTERIC - adj. - Meant for or understood by only a specific group

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Plot Elements

As I've been trying to piece together my plot I've been reflecting on common elements from other books I like. Here are a few I came up with.

- Journeys - Travel provides a change of scenery and often a change in situation.

- Talismans - Inanimate objects that carry so much meaning/importance they almost become like another character.

- Injury - Physical pain is something that everyone can relate to which makes it a good way to create sympathy in the reader

- Loss of Parent(s) - Think every single Disney story. An orphan makes an easy protagonist.

Those are some I've been thinking about today. What are some of your favorite plot elements, either to read or to write, to keep things interesting and create emotional investment?

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
TURGID - adj. - Excessively ornate or complex in style or language; Swollen or distended

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Let's Face It

The first conceived idea of the book I plan on writing for NaNoWriMo occurred over a year ago. Sometimes I'd think about it while driving, but it was all just sort of a vague idea for many months. Now that I've committed to writing it, the need to fill plot holes and do concrete research is on the front burner, so to speak. It's amazing how much plot can be developed in a short time when it's all you think about. Yesterday I think I came up with the major conflict that should push the plot along and, (this part was exciting) all my characters have names now! Naming a character does so much more than mark a place in the text. I'm able to visualize and develop the characters in my mind so much easier now that they have identities.

I discovered a funny thing I do when I'm writing yesterday. I was writing a dialogue scene and as I tried to picture what one character's reaction would be to what the other said I realized I was acting it out. I was saying the words the way I thought one character would say them, then physically reacting to them and vocally retorting. I think I do this a lot, but haven't really noticed it before. If I can do the movement, or say the words, I can see if it feels natural for the scene or not. Plus, especially when it comes to physical movements, doing them helps me describe them. Thankfully, I always write in solitude. I have yet to be made fun of for random shrugs, frowns and arguing with myself.

Do any of you do this?

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
SOBRIQUET - noun - An affectionate of humorous nickname. (Thanks Church Lady)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Update & Announcement

I spoke today, for the first time since giving his chapters back, to the man whose writing I critiqued. Find my anxiety about giving him constructive comments here. He was very appreciative and told me that I had picked up on patterns and flaws in his writing that he had never been aware of before and that no one else had ever pointed out to him. He said that he has found my comments very helpful as he has gone forward in writing the rest of his book. I was much relieved and felt that he was very gracious in his complimentary way. It was all very pleasant. He also told me that because I was able to be so specific and helpful he respected my opinion more now. Yay! I guess I did that one right.

So I started talking to him about a story that's been knocking about in my head and his eyes lit up as I laid out the basic premise. He told me he thought it was a clever idea and that I should definitely write it. That was the boost I needed. I have been toying with the idea of doing NaNoWriMo this year and his comment sealed it for me. I have never attempted anything longer than a short story before, but I think that this will be a forum in which I can really start with a sprint and keep on running without letting my internal editor shut me down. Having the permission to write crap (as long as there's lots of it) is so relieving, and who knows, maybe there will be some true gems in my piece. I'm anxious for the freedom that goes along with NaNoWriMo and exhilarated by the idea of living a dream I've been afraid of for so long. I've counseled with my husband and he is on board. He understands that this will require me to be mostly absent from family life for a month. What a great guy.

Are any of you doing NaNoWriMo?
Also, I'm trying to work out an outline in advance. How extensively do you outline?

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
ASCETIC - noun - One who renounces material comforts for austere self-discipline, esp. as an act of religious devotion

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Vocabulary Word of the Day

MALEVOLENT - adj. - Having or exhibiting ill will; wishing harm to others

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Vocabulary Word of the Day

FASTIDIOUS - adj. - Possessing or displaying meticulous attention to detail.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

In Your Dreams

First of all, my apologies to those who are kind enough to check back frequently and who may have been disappointed in my recent lack of posts. My kids were sick, then I was sick, then a bunch of other time consuming things happened. I've been able to find time for commenting here and there (Woman cannot live entirely without Blog) but I'm hoping things will settle down and I can hop into routine again.

That said-

I am a very vivid dreamer. My mind can still easily recall clear images from dreams I had as a child. Don't even get me started on the one where Spiderman captured my mom. Terrifying.

I have noticed that through different eras of my life my dreams have carried themes. For a few years in my young adulthood I was always dreaming of being chased by someone with a knife or a gun, and despite my most clever means of escape they were always right behind me. And I was often shot or stabbed, feeling my wounds and wondering why I wasn't dead yet.

Then there was another bout where it seemed every unresolved issue I'd ever encountered was coming back, begging for closure. I dreamt of the boy who wanted to marry me but I broke up with him instead. I dreamt of the employers of a job I'd walked out on as a rash teen. In all the dreams I was forgiven and a lasting relationship was reestablished.

I bought a dream encyclopedia to help me decipher what some of my dreams meant, but wrote it off as hokey, finding most meanings as specific as fortune cookie fortunes. One entry actually said, "Dreaming of insects indicates that something is 'bugging' you." Hmm.

With my recent flood, however, of incredibly vivid and emotionally powerful dreams, I got the old book out again. I found most meanings just as ridiculous as before, but one meaning in particular stuck out to me. It said "Dreaming of a beautiful lover is like a gift to oneself, a recognition of inner beauty and strength."

I'll take it.

A few nights ago I had a brief but strong dream of a man who, by the emotion of it, was clearly intimate with me. This was not a sex dream. The only image I can retain is of my hand on his waist, the texture of his shirt and sturdiness of his hip beneath it. But this one image carries such powerful emotion, an understanding between two people that I don't think can possibly exist in real life. In that one moment I was the most euphorically beautiful, understood, empowered woman imaginable.

I've also been dreaming stories. Stories more creative and emotionally driven than I can create in a wakeful state. So, of course I've been writing like crazy, right? No, and I'll tell you why.

I'm afraid. These dreams are so perfect in the way I remember them emotionally that I can't fathom where to begin in relating them to others. I don't want to taint them. No matter what I write, something will be lost, for there are feelings in dreams that cannot be achieved during consciousness.

Or, can they?

Have you ever read something that has elicited a stronger emotional response than what you experience in your own relationships?

Do you have vivid dreams like this?

Please share.

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
SARDONIC - adj. - Scornfully or cynically mocking.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

All the better to blog with, my dear.

I don't like sitting with my feet on the floor. I avoid straight back chairs when possible. If on a couch or recliner you can bet my legs will be tucked up under me or that I am, in fact, reclined, with my feet up. I sit at the kitchen table for the sake of my family so that we can all be together when we eat, but if I'm eating alone I head for the couch.

The one place I just positively have not been able to avoid this most detested position is at the computer, a dilemma to be sure, considering my affection for it. Incidentally, I have found an uncanny connection between my sitting at the computer and the onset of the need to go number two. Weird, yes. Gross, for sure. But am I the only one who experiences this? Anyway... so I don't like sitting at the computer.

Well, ha, guess what? I am writing this post seated comfortably on my bed with the love of my life sleeping peacefully beside me, comfortably propped up with pillows. Yes, folks, I am the proud owner of my very own laptop!

Let me relate how this blessed occurrence, though a bit convoluted, came to be.

For a while I was becoming a real Craigslist junkie. With two little ones and burgeoning expenses I was after any way of providing the necessities for as little cash as possible. We found my daughter, well past the age of the toddler bed, a nice twin for an amazing price. We got a piano for free. Just for fun I looked at the electronics section, well aware I wouldn't be able to afford anything, but just to see what people might be selling. I found a guy selling an IBM ThinkPad for $150. He included a picture of the actual machine and a list of all its noteworthy features. I called my spouse and asked if he thought it sounded like a good computer. He did. So I emailed the guy and asked why he would be selling this computer for so little. He replied that he already had another one and just figured he could help someone out by getting rid of the other. Hmmm. Okay. A quick run to the ATM and we (meaning my kids and I) were off to pick the thing up.

As I pulled in front of his house I wondered if it might be best to hope he hadn't seen me and drive away. It seemed only slightly friendlier than something haunted and had it not been midday I'm sure I wouldn't have dared step foot on the property. With children held close and gripped tight we knocked on the door.

I'm not a smoker, but I think even a smoker would have felt overwhelmed by the pervasive smell. The carpet in the front room had been worn down to bare wood and the cracks in the walls stood out through the greasy wallpaper. The man, whose congeniality was in stark contrast to his haggard appearance, led us past two grim, staring women on a sunken couch. They might have been able to scrape up a set of teeth between the three of them. The women seemed oblivious to my greeting. The man showed me the computer, I handed him the money and hightailed out of there, wondering if I'd not paid for his next fix, and wondering also if the merchandise had been legitimately acquired by my host. I don't mean to pass judgement, but, MAN!

Upon inspection the computer had all it had been purported to except a DVD drive and wireless Internet. While these were not expensive problems to fix, I was left with a pretty useless machine for a while, since I couldn't get any programs put on it and I couldn't use the Internet. Thanks to SuperHubby, however, we're rocking and rolling. Time and a thorough cleaning have even left it smoke-free.

I'm looking forward to more control over my writing atmosphere, being able to actually see my kids while I'm on the computer (the desktop is in a kind of secluded location) and most of all, never having to write with my feet on the floor again.

Sorry my list of Vocab Words is by the desktop.

And thank you all for missing me while I was gone. I had a lovely time and slept in for the first time in years.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Time Off

Hoodie will be on vacation until the middle of next week.

All by herself.

*giddy laughter*

Have fun without me.

No Vocab word - Hey, the vacation starts right now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Literally, this is killing me...

Okay, I try to give the majority of the population the benefit of the doubt when it comes to incorrect word and phrase usage. I've committed a few grammar felonies in my day. Though "I could care less" has become more common than the BigMac, I try not to let it get me down. But I just can't seem to reconcile myself with the new way the word "literally" is being thrown around.

The irony is like sparks of electricity in my head every time I hear it, for the word "literally" is no longer being used literally.

The compromise is so pervasive it's on TV now. I was watching a travel channel when the host of the show said, "So the fish goes literally from the ocean to your plate." No, she didn't mean that you are served a dripping, raw fish, gills still undulating in their search for water. She meant that the fish you are served was caught earlier that day, though once it reaches your plate it is quite cooked, seasoned and, apparently, delicious.

It's abuzz in public. Teenagers are "literally dying" all around me. One girl, though she appeared quite dry, "literally peed [her] pants."

What are we to do when the word has been whored to the point that when we actually need to be literal, no one knows what we're talking about?

My head asplode. (But not literally)

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
LITERAL - adj - Conforming or limited to the simplest, nonfigurative, or most obvious meaning of a word or words; Avoiding exaggerations, metaphor, or embellishment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Graceful Critiques

I wrote in a previous post that I didn't know any writers personally. This was before I found out that a family friend who lives close by has been writing a book. He only shared this information with me when I made a passing comment about writing being one of my hobbies. I politely told him I'd love to read some of it sometime and he gave me the first five chapters when I saw him next. I asked him if he wanted me to actually critique it or just read it. He said he wanted all the advice I could give him.

I just finished reading it. It's a fantasy novel and from what I can tell the story-line and characters are pretty well-conceived. There are some integral flaws, however. His POV is all over the place and the pacing is poor. He seems anchored to a single sentence structure and loses a lot of action in the telling of character background and motive. I gave him what I thought was some general, helpful advice, but IMO it would take a major overhaul for this book to be published.

Since this man has found a fellow writer in me he is eager to share his excitement and ambition with me. He keeps talking about how things are going to change "when the book sells." I asked him how much he knows about the query process and he insists that he "knows everything there is to know about getting a book sold," and that he has "no worries," on that front.

I have never sold a book, but from what I've learned from my blogging buddies, getting a book published is neither simple nor guaranteed. So my question is, do I give this man, who seems to hold my opinion in fairly high esteem, polite encouragement and let his process unfold as it may, or do I tell him what I really think?

My instinct is to do the former. But if our roles were reversed, I think I would want some realistic advice. I don't want to stunt his enthusiasm, however, of which he has plenty.

What would you do?

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
FUSILADE - noun - A rapid outburst or barrage.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Sometimes I like to just write and let it be, without editing a piece to death. It makes me feel free to let a something out and let it live, even with flaws it might have. I wrote this a few minutes ago. I will not edit it.

The photograph’s rounded corners and grainy image reminded her how long ago it had been taken, along with its unnatural hue, as if covered with a golden film.

Her childhood face smiled back at her, dirty and smiling with more bangs than any person had any right to have. Her corduroy cover-alls were smeared in mud, her feet buried in it.

She wasn’t sure if she actually remembered that day, or just the memories of trying to remember it, photos for fuel.

In the stories Mom always told about it, the mud was secondary, inconsequential. It was those shoes.

They’d left them on the car, and then drove away.

Mom laughed when she recounted how distraught her little daughter had been at the loss of the shoes she’d nearly grown out of. The silliness of children.

The pain of losing the shoes reflected back to her through the years, like two mirrors facing each other, compounding as it stretched through time. The details were lost to her, but the loss was fresh.

Silly, indeed, to still be missing those shoes all these years later. A day of realization, a peek at the cruelty of accident and chance. A turning point, to learn Mother was falliable, that dear things are sometimes suddenly gone.

Slipping the old photo back into the album in her mother’s closet, she wiped the tears from her eyes, flattened the wrinkles out the bodice of her black dress and headed back to the guests downstairs.

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
MERCURIAL - adj. - Quick and changeable in temperament; volatile

Monday, August 13, 2007

Family Haiku*

{Someone please help me! Try as I may I can't get my hard returns to translate in posting. There are supposed to be many spaces in this post!! Gah! What the heck? Anyway, here are three SEPARATE poems.}

1.What is beautiful?
For I have eyes for none else
He's what love looks like

2.Cheeks dimple-adorned
Painted with innocent smiles
Her laughter a gift

3.Recklessly trusting
And finding life in great bursts
Affection so earned

*Haiku in the loosest of terms.

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
EXPATIATE - verb - To speak or write at length; to wander freely

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Virginia Woolf Syndrome

There has been a long-standing association between art and depression. Some of the greatest artists of all time have been afflicted. Maybe because angst is such great fodder for a creative product that speaks to people? There is no story without conflict, no painting without contrasts of dark on light. Who better to understand conflict and darkness than those who feel it at its deepest on a regular basis?

If there is merit to this line of thought, then I am destined to be a great artist.

No vocab word today.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


When I was about twelve I decided I was going to write a novel. Excitedly I found my mom's electric typewriter in the basement and gave it what I was sure was going to be a permanent home on the desk in my room. I decided that my story was going to be a scary story about five friends who get stuck in an amusement park after hours with some kind of psycho, their adventures, mishaps and close escapes. I proceeded to name them all: Jake, Tiffany, Randy, Ginger and Janie. These names are easy to remember, you see, because they were the names of my closest friends at the time.

I wrote three pages, and as I held up the product of my days work, I was proud. The goal was to finish chapter one in the next few days.

The length of that book remains three pages.

I had started writing without a real plot lined up (I figured that would naturally unfold as I went along) and when I came back to start at page four, I had no idea what needed to happen, I got discouraged, and after several months the electric typewriter went back into storage.

This was my first fiction writing attempt.

Writing was always a strength through High School and I majored in English Literature in college. I wrote so many papers and essays my brain turned to pudding and I swore I would never read a "classic" again. I wrote in a journal at that time, "I used to write and wonder at the genius of it. That was before I was made to read real writing and poetry, forced to see how dim my own thoughts are next the brightness of the greats." I lost my confidence. I read Harry Potter. I married. Children came. I wrote now and then when inspiration hit, but it was mostly non-fiction. I read. A lot. (Yes, even classics)

But I still think about that book I started to write when I was twelve. Not really the book itself, but the excitement about writing it. I still feel that. I desperately want to write.

I don't know any writers personally. There are not many I associate with who share my enthusiasm. I'm still looking for my voice, picking through technique, plotting, characterization. I feel tiny, but I want to grow.

I hope that those who read this blog will look past my lack of experience and help me along my path. I have many questions, much admiration to hand out, and a burning desire to be a writer.

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
CADRE - noun - a nucleus of trained personnel around which a larger organization can be built; A tightly knit group of zealots in a revolutionary party.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Just Another Man

Since I've been in the flash fiction mood, I thought I'd share another piece.

Just Another Man

She knew she couldn’t stop what was happening to her, that fighting it would make it worse. With contempt, she stared up at the face looming above her. Bastard. How could you do this to me. She could see the pleasure in his face and fought the urge to spit on it. Let it happen, she thought. Don’t think about it. The pain between her legs seared like fire as the force came in its steady rhythm. She’d heard other women talk of this, seen how it had changed them. She couldn’t have imagined it might hurt like this.

As she lay on her back, helpless, it seemed it would never end. His hand was in her hair, on her face. She wanted to bite the damn thing off. She felt skin ripping and a scream tore its way from her lungs. No woman should have to go through this. She wept at her own powerlessness.

He looked right in her eyes. “It’ll be over soon,” he had the nerve to say. Shut up shut up shut up you son of a bitch. If you ever touch me again, I swear I’ll kill you.

The pain heightened, but she sensed it might be over soon. She closed her eyes, willing the end to come. Another scream was pulled from her devastated body, one that did not sound like her. Finally, it was done. Stillness returned as her tense muscles began to relax, but she could still hear the screams. She opened her eyes to see tears running down the man’s face.

“He’s so beautiful,” he said. “You did it, babe. We have a son.”
Thanks to Jason at Clarity of Night for hosting such a great contest. The winners were well-deserving and it was all great fun.
Vocabulary Word of the Day:
CAROM - noun - A collision followed by a rebound

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mirrors and Lines

I've created this blog for the purpose of strengthening my fiction writing, but I'm going to add some non-fiction here and there as well since I'm deliciously anonymous and can share things I mightn't otherwise. I have actually written quite a few non-fiction things and have not shared many because they tend to be so intensely personal. That is definitely who I am, however. I'm all about introspection and the relationships between people. Anyway, I wrote this about a year ago and just found it in a notebook.

note - It will be helpful to know that I am a deeply religious person and that I was a virgin until my wedding night. Knowing that may help you see that sense of anticipation that is so vital to understanding this piece.

I remember looking at my naked self in a full length mirror when I was 19. I watched the lines of my body, noticing which places were lean and which places weren't, deciding that overall it was a pleasing shape. I remember wondering what that someone would think when they saw those lines, wondered if I would be nervous to reveal myself to the man who chose me, exposing all my flaws as well as assets. My eyes traced the lines of my neck, my collarbone, my shoulders, the curve of my arms, the placement of breasts, the shadows in my stomach. I turned to examine the swerve of my spine, continuing into a fullness of buttocks, then slimmer thighs, calves, right down to my painted toes. It was the body of innocence, the body of youth, the body of ease, leisure, of health. A body prepared. A body in anticipation. Ready. Able.

Today I see myself in another mirror. It is a different age, a place far away from that 19 year old in so many ways. The lines have altered, proportions have changed. A fullness has come to this body, small expansions in almost every place. I recognize in myself the telltale lines of a mother. It is the body of a woman, carrying scars that indicate the stress of bearing new life. It is not a body one would see in an ad. It is not what the world would call beautiful. But my lines are beautiful. Proportions may have changed, but the shape is much the same. I am still me, flaws included. That someone loves me and my lines, holding them as they change.

Many mirrors in the future will reveal countless changes as this body carries me through life's experiences. Shapes will change, lines will move, but beauty will remain in spite of whatever imperfections may be picked up along the way. And there he will be, by my side, loving my lines and embracing my fluid beauty.

Vocabulary word of the day:
SUPERLATIVE - adj. - Of the highest order, quality, or degree; surpassing or superior to all others.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Digging for Treasure

If you head over to Jaye's Blahg you'll see her latest post has to with the expertise one gains in certain areas from doing research for writing.

After reading this I got to thinking more about research.

So here's a poll question for you -
What are your favorite sources to use when you do research?

Vocabulary Word of the Day:
VISCERAL - adj.- Perceived in or as if in the viscera (guts); profound; instinctive

Monday, July 30, 2007

Vocabulary Word of the Day

APLOMB - noun - Self-confident assurance

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Clarity of Night Submission

My submission for the "Halo" short fiction competition has been posted over at Clarity of Night.
Click here to read my entry, "Weekend Getaway."

The writer's companion

It seems that as I come in contact with more writers, whatever their level of experience and/or expertise and/or success, there is a common thread, aside from the fact that we all love to write, that binds us.


Sure, some seem more comfortable in their own voice than others, but there is something about submitting your work that is reminiscent of walking out on the beach in a terribly small bikini (or speedo, for the men). It's saying "this is what I've got. I hope you find something you like," even though the exposed is painfully aware of any imperfections, real or perceived.

The term "brainchild" is ever appropriate. Once you've created a piece, groomed it, loved it, it becomes something intimately yours. You send your child off to school to interact with the other children and their teachers. If your child does something wrong and someone politely lets you know, you appreciate it so that you may correct the wayward behavior. But if someone is critical or brutal to your child, instinct takes over and the desire to lash out, to defend, to protect is strong. The thing you love has been hurt, and therefore, so have you.

Why is it that in this field there seems to be such an overt presence of insecurity. Are we, as writers, really more fearful of rejection than people in other fields, or are we just more expressive about it because, hey, that's what we do?

My question is, do you think that the Stephen Kings and J.K. Rowlings still get nervous about submitting work, that nailbiting feeling one gets until someone gives some substantial validation? Or have their repeated and overwhelming successes given them a confidence that little people like me only dream of possessing?

What do you think? How do you feel about sharing your writing with the world?

And the vocabulary word of the day is:
CARP (not the fish) - verb - To find fault in a disagreeable manner; complain fretfully

Friday, July 27, 2007

Vocabulary Word of the Day

CONVIVIAL - adj. - Fond of feasting, drinking, and good company; sociable

Entry has been submitted!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Vocabulary Word of the Day

MAUDLIN - adj. - Effusively or tearfully sentimental

note - my submission for the Clarity of Night contest is complete and I'll be submitting it within the next few days. I want to sit on it a while just in case any changes become obvious to me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Vocabulary Word of the Day

Since I'm not quite so prolific a writer as to have something to post daily, I do want to reward those who visit the blog regularly. I find that often in my reading I come across a word that I either don't know the meaning of or have only a vague idea of its meaning. I will post the meaning of these words, and others I may have questions about to strengthen both my writing and yours.

Lets begin, shall we?

Todays word is:
SYCOPHANT - noun - A servile self-seeker who seeks favor by flattering influential people

Clarity Of Night Flash Fiction Contest

My friend Jason at Clarity of Night is hosting another of his fabulous contests. The theme is "Halo," and entries are to be inspired by this picture. Check out his site to find out all the details of the contest. There are prizes! I will post my entry as soon as I have submitted it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Welcome To The Hood

This is where my stories will live. Basking in anonimity I can let my writing thrive. May this be a place where friendships are made, lessons are learned and a craft is improved. I declare this site officially open for business.