Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The World Keeps On Spinning

I was just doing a bit of blog-surfing (a habit that has slipped significantly), just checking up on people, sniffing around.

I got on Jaye's blog and watched the first half hour of her little interview thingy. 1. I feel cool just knowing her. 2. She seems like the kind of person you want to chat into the AM hours with. 3. I realized just how little I know about the process of getting published.

Then I went to Jamie's blog where he talked about the Squaw Valley conference and how he's come full circle in three short years. 1. I feel cool just knowing him. 2. He just might be the best thing that's ever come out of Montana? 3. I realized that he's right, the world does keep on spinning. Whether you've become a NYT Best-selling author or if you've stumbled back however many baby steps you may have taken into the writing world.

I entered Jason's contest last month. Writing that piece was stiff and uncomfortable for me, but I entered it anyway because I had encouraged my sister-in-law to enter and didn't want to be a hypocrite. I didn't score tremendously well, but wasn't bothered by it. In the end I was pleased with the concept even if my execution was lacking.

I think I'm rambling, but I'm also unconcerned about that because I think I'm only getting readers by accident these days anyway.

I have always wanted to be a writer. I have always wanted to be published, not because I want to be famous or have money. I'm not that delusional.

I want to be a writer because I love books. I can imagine nothing more thrilling than looking at the spine of a book, fresh and smelling of the press, and seeing my name on it. Because that means a part of me, my ideas, my words, will be seen, be read, be hated or loved, but most of all, be known.

I've been trying to take a realistic look at my writing. I'm not doing a lot these days. This makes me sad. I could take the easy way out and say that having three small children has got me so bogged down I just don't have time. That would be convenient, but untrue.

I think I've stopped believing in myself. Or something. I'm trying to be honest with myself, but honestly assessing ones own skills and abilities is tricky business. We are all our own worst critics. But I would hate to be the writing equivalent of those poor souls on American Idol who really actually think they can sing and it's clear to everyone with ears that they can't.

I think I've discovered something about myself. With a lot of practice and lot of focus I think I can be a good writer. Good enough to get published? Who knows. That's always a gamble.


I don't know if I'm a very good story-teller. I've had this one book idea circling my head like a vulture for two years and I've been waiting for the plot to pounce. I have the world in my mind. The characters. The basic story arc. It's the details I lack. What should happen in each scene. How the conflict plays out. I'm at a point where I think if I haven't been able to figure it out yet then how can I honestly expect to make it in the writing world?

I'm not writing here for encouragement. I'm just writing what I'm feeling.

At least it feels good to watch my fingers on the keyboard. To hear the click of the keys. If nothing else, I can keep writing for that.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Failure To Thrive

I remember once when I was just on the cusp of teen-dom I got invited to a party. It was a party of all girls, but it was the first time I had been included with a particular group of what I deemed popular girls and I was very excited. I felt like I had climbed a rung on the social ladder.

This time in my life coincided with a blossoming awareness of my appearance. I had been fairly unconcerned with it up to this point, but I was coming to realize that a little lip gloss, a pair of earrings and some curl to my blunt-edged hair made a difference to how I was perceived.

So this was the night, a culmination of my sudden recent spurts of "growing up." I got all dolled up and remember curling my hair with marked excitement. Doors were opening, oh yes. I even put on mascara.

My mom had told me I could use the curling iron on the condition that I turned it off when I was done. Sure, Mom. Whatever you say.

I walked to the party, about 6 blocks away. Sure enough, there were all the popular girls and, to my smug delight, they didn't seem surprised that I would be there and I was quickly accepted into the heart of the conversation.

We did tweeny things. Talked about boys. A lot. Ate Twizzlers and Doritos. Gushed about each others clothes. It was pure heaven, with a strong current of laughter throughout.

Then my mom called. I had left the curling iron on. She wanted me to come home and turn it off. "Mom!" I protested. "Can't you just do it?"

I was informed we had made a deal. Apparently I had a lesson to learn. I could come home and turn off the iron and then return to the party or she was going to take me home to stay. Something about being reliable.

Feeling extremely mistreated I scuttled home, my curls bouncing all the way. I didn't even speak to my mother as I made a great show of flipping the tiny switch on the curling iron and heading back out the door.

By the time I returned to the party my curls were falling pretty flat. So was the party. A couple of girls had gone home. Everyone else was watching a movie that I had missed the first several minutes of and my return was barely acknowledged.

It just wasn't the same after I got back.


This time it wasn't a curling iron. It was a plain miserable cross-country move and then an even more miserable pregnancy.

Have I changed? Or did everybody else just shift without me?

I came back to Hoodie land and the party just wasn't here anymore. I know my efforts at reconnecting have been feeble, but having a Kindergartner, a three-year old Energizer Bunny and brand new baby have left me feeling less enthusiastic about anything but my shower and a pillow.

I guess I have changed a little.

So. Umm. I'm not really throwing in the towel. I'll still check in on y'all now and then, but I'm not going to feel guilty about not posting anymore. Sorry to the people who check in now and then. Both of you.

Keep on living the dream, my friends. Sorry I had to leave the party.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Artistic Overlap

I consider myself a tad over mediocre in the creativity department, but drawing and painting have never been my strong suits.

My dad put me in charge of designing T-shirts for our huge extended family reunion this summer. I tried to enlist a couple of artist friends who politely declined. My family is notorious for groan-inducing cheesy slogans/pictures at family reunions and I wanted to shy away from that. It would seem from past reunions that only puns and rhymes were at our disposal.

So I decided to try my hand and see if I could possibly come up with something myself that didn't completely suck.

As I thought about the location where the reunion will be held I remembered that the last time we had a reunion there, about a decade ago, the big memorable event was when a large moose wandered through our camp. I decided to make the moose our mascot. After using a few pictures online as references, this is the picture I drew to go on the shirts.

Remember, I don't normally draw particularly well. I sketched this in pencil and utilized my eraser A LOT. It took me about 3 hours, including the family name which I cropped out of the picture. I can tell you, I haven't felt this proud about creating something in long long time.

You are now free to tell me how awesome I am.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"Yeah, Right!"

My husband considers himself a lucky guy when he sends me to RedBox to pick out a movie and I come home with Hellboy II. I don't tell him it's because it's 7 PM on a Saturday night and the good stuff was taken and everything else was either college raunch or kiddie cheese. Besides, as with most fiction, I can usually always find something redemptive in a fantasy film. I'm dorky like that.

So we're watching the movie and there's a part where Hellboy is standing next to a row of lockers and the magic-smoke-guy is making all the lockers open and smack him all over. He then precedes to gradually fall down from the battery of locker doors, to which I emphatically replied, "Yeah, Right!"

My husband started laughing. "After all the stuff that has happened this seems incredible to you?"

"Yes," I said, "because two scenes ago he was fighting with a virtually indestructible troll-thing for a full two minutes and even though he was continuously pummeled and even lost a tooth he never once withered like he did just now from a couple of aluminum doors."

See, the problem wasn't that I found a magic-smoke-guy pushing locker doors open unbelievable. It was the fact that they didn't follow their own rules. This is such a basic concept in speculative fiction that I'm amazed how often, particularly in film, the rule gets broken. You can make anything happen in fiction. ANYTHING. But if you establish that your protagonist is strong enough to withstand blows that would kill any other mortal, without so much as a shake of the head, then you can't break that rule and have him wilt later at a series of much lesser blows. When you create a world you have to create its rules. It's the keeping of those rules that makes an audience able to suspend their disbelief.

Hellboy II is RedBox worthy, but don't pay more than a dollar to see it. The fantasy characters were intriguing (though I'm still wondering why the elves looked like vampires) but the action fell flat.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Language Killed the Story

When it comes to fiction I'm generally a cup-half-full kind of gal. Even when a story might not be right up my alley I'm usually able to find a measure of enjoyment in it and appreciate that it is probably right up someone else's. (Why does that sound vulgar?) I usually find something to applaud no matter what the content or style and very rarely have a beef with the author's choices. Even if it's not my favorite, I can concede that it might be someone else's.

I recently finished reading Prospero's Children by Jan Siegel. I found the story to be fascinating and I was very impressed with her grasp of language.

Until that grasp became so strong it was like a choke hold. My beef with this book was that Seigel clearly has the ability to write an enthralling book, but used so much muscle in the vocab department that it tipped the scale from impressive to irritating. The language and sentence composition became so ornate that I found myself wallowing through the text instead of gliding though it. Her lovely story was overshadowed by the flower in her words. Seigel is plainly talented and without doubt highly intelligent.

But, in some cases, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Overly ambitious? I guess.

Contest is cancelled. Sorry to anyone who might have considered entering at the last minute. How do you pick a winner from one or two entries?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Aw, now you're just hurting my feelings.

It's only 250 words, friends.

I retract my minimum of 15 entries. I'll settle for one or two. Your chances of winning are really high. :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


The hiatus is over and I'm ready to party! In honor of my re-immersion into bloggerdom I'm hosting my first ever writing contest. Tantalized? Read on, my friend.

The welcoming of hoodlet number 3 into my life has made me feel somewhat introspective and I find all my writey-thoughts simmering in the non-fiction area of my brain.

In general I'm not drawn to books biographical in nature. I think that's mainly due to the fact that so many of them read like textbooks. I'm not engaged.

My favorite non-fiction book, however, is just as enjoyable to read as good fiction. It is a memoir by Haven Kimmel called A Girl Named Zippy. It's always one of the first books I recommend to someone looking for something to read. The way Miss Kimmel writes about her childhood in rural Indiana is so sly, witty and poignant. Perky.

SO - In order to generate some excitement here in Hoodie-land, clear away some cobwebs and string up some cyber-crepe paper the contest rules are as follows-

Write a flash memoir of 250 words or less. Submit your entry to hoodiewriter(at)yahoo(dot)com by midnight Thursday April 9. The content can be anything as long as you are writing from personal experience and judging will be based simply on how engaging I find it. Basically if I like it a lot, you win. Pretty scientific, huh? Entries will be posted on this blog and comments are encouraged. And since I'm all about expanding the personal library, the winner will receive a new copy of Haven Kimmel's A Girl Named Zippy. I'll also choose 2 Honorable Mentions who, sadly, won't receive a prize, but will have that warm, honorable feeling about being mentioned.

There is a catch, however - There must be at least 15 entries for there to be a winner. Also, for every additional 10 entries above the minimum I will choose an additional winner. So, 25 entries or more equals 2 winners, 35 or more will produce 3, etc. So you see, it is in your best interest to get the word out.

Oh yeah, and in honor of my sweet, new, little thing, your entry must contain in it, somewhere, the word "baby."

Contest starts NOW!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

On Your Mark... Get Set..

Okay my dear friends. I've been away too long.

The hoodlet is nearly 8 weeks old and I'm itching for some interaction and some brain-exercise. So as I sit on the cusp of a full return I'm making plans for the blog. I hope to regenerate some activity and perhaps even expand my circle of associates.

Consider yourself warned.

I'll be back very soon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Romance - The Dying Art

At least it's dead in my sphere. Not that I think it can't be revived, mind you, but, in general, as a relationship's teeth get longer the wick of the flame seems to get shorter.

Probably anyone who reads this will do so after Valentine's Day, but keeping in the spirit of romance I thought I'd share what I consider my most romantic experience. Alas, this didn't happen with my husband. He falls more on the side of sweet and considerate than the traditional romantic, which is okay by me. Though romantic isn't necessarily the first word I use to describe him getting up with the baby in the night, I'll take it over flowers and chocolate any day. I usually find most romantic overtures cheesy, but everyone needs at least one good romantic memory.

Anyway, when I was nearly 17 I had a big crush on a very good-looking boy. We seemed to have developed a nice friendship, but I wasn't really catching any signals that he wanted it to go any further than that. One evening he showed up at my house unannounced. He asked if I would go for a drive with him. This seemed an odd request seeing as how it was snowing very hard and the roads looked covered with a thick layer of white frosting. Of course any potential danger was completely outweighed by the fact that cute guy wanted me to hang out with him. I grabbed my coat.

As it turns out we didn't drive far. He took me to a middle school parking lot and asked me to get out. Umm, okay. The snow was sifting through a purple sky in giant puffy flakes. I remember being amazed at that silent purple sky. It felt like a magical place. Cute boy opened the trunk of his car to reveal a giant speaker, then he turned on a tape he'd made for the occasion, walked up to me hand outstretched and asked me to dance. I felt breathless as he put his arms around me, the cold air urging us closer. We didn't speak. We danced, his warm breath on my neck. After two songs we got back in the car. He held my hand for a moment but didn't say anything. He just looked at me. He just looked at me. And then he took me home.

I thought something would happen between us after that. When I hinted to him about that being a turning point in our relationship he gave me a very cryptic answer that hinted towards his real feelings for me but told me that, for now, friendship was all I was getting. And that's all I ever did get.

But I will never be able to hear this song or this song without seeing that beautiful purple sky.

What was your most romantic moment?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


About three years ago I decided I was ready to take a big step. I wanted to more fully pursue writing, learn more, try harder and, for the first time, share with others.

Before that time I had kept everything I'd ever written pretty close.

I wasn't quite sure where to start, but I figured I'd go online and search around a bit. I found a forum for writers that seemed pretty friendly and supportive. Unfortunately it was also pretty dead. Not a lot of action.

There was one guy on there, however, who noticed my newbieness, welcomed me and let me know about an online writing contest that was happening that week.

It was at this site called "Clarity of Night." I looked at it and found that the deadline to the contest was that evening. With shaky nerves I typed up an entry and sent it within the hour. I was nervous to know I might receive feedback from other writers, but eager for it. It was a giant step for me. I knew I was a novice writer, but I was ready to put myself out there. I wasn't growing keeping everything to myself.

I was astounded and shocked when I was awarded fourth place in that contest. I can still remember the euphoria and validation. Because of this I was confident enough to begin interacting with some of the other writers, so many of whom just floored me with their talent. I watched for an entry from the kind soul who had notified me about the contest, but he never entered.

He had, however, won the previous contest.

I followed his sinfully clever blog, commenting now and then. It was thrilling to follow his writing process as he worked on his first novel and then became published.

I'm sure you're all familiar with Jamie. He's a wrecking ball force in the blogosphere community of writers I like to think I'm a part of now. This is a big congrats to him and a "thank you" for introducing me to Jason and, subsequently, pretty much all the other writers I blog with. I finished the book yesterday and give it my most high praise. It is simply beautiful.
To those of you who have yet to read it, go to the bookstore right now. You won't regret it.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I FINALLY had my baby on Monday. What a long road. She definitely made me work for it. I delivered at 39 weeks on the dot and she weighed 9lbs, 6 oz, measuring a whopping 23.5 inches. She's adorable and healthy and sleeps better than my other babies did. Now I'm just trying to regain my balance before I step back into regular life. All is well. I'm discovering that the hardest part about number 3 is trying to figure out what to do with numbers 1 and 2.

I feel terribly that I missed Jason's contest. I wanted so badly to enter, but I was coming up with nothing. At that point the only thing on my mind was the fact that I couldn't sleep, I couldn't breathe, I could barely walk and PUPPP is the one of the suckiest ailments ever. For those of you uniformed that's a rash common in pregnancy that itches like crazy. Still waiting for that one to go away.

For those of you who entered, way to go. I'm sure I'll get around to reading your entries eventually.

Until later...