Category Archives: My Ramblings

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Standard

So, I was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award by the very inspiring Chris Allen-Riley.

Chris is not only a fantastic writer, but super talented at all sorts of creative, crafty awesomeness.  Check out her blog at the link above for a sneak peek at some of her cross stitch (and to learn more about her).  Also, she’s going to help me build a fort with a moat and long bow archers.  How can you not love her?

As part of the blog award, we’re supposed to reveal seven interesting things about ourselves and then nominate 15 other bloggers.  I’ll be honest, it took me a little while to come up with the seven things (hence the time lapse since her blog post), but once I did, I got a little long winded.  Oops.

Also, when it comes to nominating people, I don’t think I’m going to.  It’s not that I don’t find others inspiring, I absolutely do.  But instead of nominating people, I’m going to direct you to the links on the right side of the page to blogs I read/follow.  I find each one of these people inspiring for different reasons, I think you might, too.

Okay, so seven things about me.  Here I go…

1.     I am terrified of fireworks.  Not the little ones you can light in your driveway, but the big overhead 4th of July celebration kind of fireworks.  Terrified to the point where when I was a kid, I used to try to bury myself in the ground.  Now I just avoid them.  Instead, I watch Pops Goes the Fourth or A Capital Fourth on TV and see the fireworks from the safety of my living room.
2.     One of my dreams is to live in a house with a turret, with my office at the very top.  There are a few houses in my town like this.  I drive past them every so often and sigh with longing.
You can’t see me but I’m there at the top being clever and creative.  🙂
3.     I rarely (very rarely) swim in natural bodies of water.  Because…I was once caught in a jellyfish migration off the Gulf Coast in rough waters.  I was stung repeatedly by the jellyfish as well as detached tentacles that broke off in the waves.  I don’t recommend it.  However, side note, if you are ever stung by a jellyfish put meat tenderizer on it.  It helps with the pain but I have no idea why.  My aunt used to keep a spice jar of it in her beach bag. 
4.     I love anything related to Ancient Egypt.  One my of my life goals (I refuse to create an actual ‘bucket list’) is to learn Hieroglyphics.
5.     My cat, Noah, once saved me from being locked out on my balcony.  The balcony door had a security bar in the middle of it (as opposed to on the floor) and while I was outside, the bar fell and I wasn’t able to slide the door open.  My ever-curious kitty decided to see what was going on and started batting at the security bar.  I tapped on the other side of the door near the bar trying to get him to play with it.  Eventually (after less than 10 minutes), he wrapped his paws around the bar and pulled on it.  He moved it enough I was able to slide the door open and get inside.  He got a catnip reward for that one.
Noah in his Halloween costume, its a rooster hat.  Can you tell how happy he is? 
6.     I have this…thing, for lack of a better word, where I have intense reactions to certain sounds.  Usually it’s something like another person coughing or chewing, but basically I get incredibly angry and I have to bite my tongue to keep from yelling at the person.  I have learned that this is a real condition and there is a name for it, but I can never remember it (it has to do with sensory overload).  Instead, my husband has taken to calling it my “climacaphobia.”  (And if anyone knows where that is from, I’ll send you chocolate.)
7.     When I was little, I had a killer goldfish named Charlie.  He lived well beyond the normal lifespan of a goldfish and killed every other fish we put in the bowl with him.  He either ate them (we found the leftovers) or would somehow convince them to commit suicide and jump out of the bowl.  I think we went through three or four fish before we decided Charlie should probably just be a loner.


This blog post got totally out of control, but there you have a few things about me.  I encourage you to check out Chris’ blog and the others I follow.  You will be inspired by them just as I am.

Advertisements

Take a Chance and Be Brave

Standard

So I did something brave this weekend, something that was so nerve-wracking to me that it actually made me a little sick to my stomach.
I shared two of my WIP’s with someone, my mentor in my writer’s group actually.  The only other person I have shared my projects with is my friend Stephanie.  We’ve known each other for years and know just about everything about each other, so I have nothing to hide from her.  It still made me sick to give her my partial manuscripts.  So, imagine the nerves I had when sending the two files to a published author who also happens to be an editor at a publishing company. 
It all started because I was lamenting on Twitter about not knowing how teenage boys interact.  My mentor happens to have two teenage sons so the conversation went from there.
I’ve been really stuck the past month or so (maybe longer) for a number of reasons.  Some of which I’m just now figuring out, some I still don’t know.  So, my mentor offered to read my current project and after talking about it a little bit, the other project as well.  The two stories have quite a few things in common.  I started the first one and really liked some of the aspects of it, but didn’t know where it was going.  When I started the second one, I had a fully fleshed out idea that was plotted (at least loosely) for a four book series.  I ended up incorporating some of the characters from the first into the second. 
But now, I can’t seem to make progress on the first of the series I have plotted out.  I sit and stare at the screen with no idea, or no desire, to further the story.  I don’t know if I’m just stuck in a part of the story that I don’t like or if I don’t like the entire story anymore.
I don’t think that’s true though.
When I think about the story in the abstract, I’m still excited about it.  I like the IDEA of it, I’m just struggling with getting it out on paper, or the screen as the case may be.  I end up with these huge blocks of time in which I could do nothing but write, but I don’t.  I find anything to do instead, or nothing to do and just ignore my computer.
I’ve come up with all kinds of excuses.  After looking at a computer all day at work I don’t want to when I get home (yet I spend the evening messing around on my iPad).  I hate to ignore my husband (true, but he understands and doesn’t mind).  I don’t have time (flat out lie – sure I have a full time job, but I know people with a lot more going on than me who find the time to write).
So, what does all of this have to do with being brave?  By sharing my projects with someone else, I have to accept what is wrong with them (in the form of feedback) and acknowledge that I need to get moving on making progress.
Part of our monthly writer’s group meeting is to celebrate who met their goals for the month.  I have yet to meet my word count goal I’ve set for myself on a monthly basis.  That changes this month.  That’s another part of being brave, putting my goals out there and keeping track of my progress in a public way so others can see how well I’m doing (or how much I’m missing the goals, as the case may be).  
Here are the goals for the January meeting on the 12th:
        – 15,000 words (I didn’t specify a project, just word count on something, not including blogs)
        – Complete four Thursday’s Children blogs
        – Post on the GRRWG blog on Dec. 15
Now I just need to buckle down and get to work.  And not make myself crazy waiting for feedback from my mentor.
Here’s hoping these little acts of bravery get my back on the right track…

A Letter to Teenage Me

Standard

I follow a blog called Chatting at the Sky.  The author of that blog, Emily Freeman, recently had a book released (gracefulthebook.com).

As part of that release, she wrote a letter to her teenage self and has asked others to do the same. So, I thought, why not?

It was harder than I thought, but here it is; a letter to teenage me.

Dear Me at 16:

Lighten up.  People are going to tell you this your whole life and it will annoy you pretty much every time someone says it, but it’s true.  You need to lighten up.  I’m not saying never be serious, because seriousness has its place.  But so does fun, and wackiness….just be a little bit goofy.  So what if someone laughs, it might be because they actually think you’re funny.  You’re future husband sure does.

And that’s another thing.  You will get married to a wonderful guy you who loves you and makes you happy.  I know things aren’t great now; not having a boyfriend in high school seems like a catastrophe.  It’s not.  I’m not trying to be harsh, but I am trying a little tough love, you could use it.

In a couple years you’re going to go to college.  Don’t sell yourself short.  If you want to go to a big name school, apply.  Just see what happens.  You might get in, but then again you might not.  Maybe it will be expensive, but you’ll figure it out.  And, find what you really want to do and do that.  Don’t do something just because you know it will pay the bills.  There’s more to life than paying the bills.  Do something that will make you happy.  Even if that means struggling to be a writer and having to work jobs that aren’t so much fun in the meantime.  Stick to it.

Talk to your brother.  He lives in Ann Arbor now and is only a couple of hours away.  In a few years he’s going to move to Seattle and it will just be that much harder to build a relationship with him.  Start now when he’s close enough you can go see him on your own.  Take advantage of that and try to come out of your shell a little bit.  He’s your brother, who cares what he thinks (or what his girlfriend thinks).

Oh, and one last thing, the clothes.  I know you like to hide in baggy clothes bought in the men’s section, but just try something a little more feminine.  You might be surprised at how it makes you feel (and look).

Things are rough right now, I know.  But stick out it and things will get better.  You will meet some great friends in college and at your job during college.  Stay in touch with them.  And when someone you sort of know asks you if want to go on a blind date with this guy who’s maybe related to your best friend’s husband’s sister’s boyfriend, go for it.  You’ll be glad you did.  But wear better shoes on your second date.

Love,
You at 32

Time to face the change…ch-ch-changes.

Standard

I’m getting whiplash from all the changes going on around me lately.  Most of them are out of my control, some of them are very personal to others, and some of them (I’m hoping) will lead me down a positive road of changes.  Despite that last fact…ENOUGH already!  I know change is supposed to be good and can lead to great new opportunities, but can things please the stay the same for five freaking minutes?!
One change I’ve implemented myself was a tough decision to make, but I hope it will be worth it in the long run.  When I finished my Master’s degree in May 2010, I started taking violin lessons.  I’ve always wanted to learn to play the violin and ever since I was told in 5th grade that I didn’t have the ear for it (not that I’m still bitter about that, not at all), I’ve listened wistfully to violin music wishing I could do that.  Okay, maybe I didn’t listen wistfully when I was in 5th grade, but definitely when I was in my 20’s.  So, after I finished school I decided, I’m an adult, if I want to learn to play the violin, I damn well can!  So I started taking lessons.  Well, this week I decided to stop.  I’m stopping for sure for the rest of the summer, I’m not sure if I’ll restart in the fall or not.  It got to the point where it wasn’t fun anymore.  All I did was stress about how I didn’t practice enough, didn’t want to practice, and how much I was going to suck when it came time for my weekly lesson.  That is not fun.  It got to the point where it was just an obligation.  I don’t need any more obligations in my life.  I’m hoping this change (while minor) will help relieve some of my stress and free up some time for me to do other things I want to do, instead of being paralyzed into inaction by worrying over other things I ‘should’ be doing.
I hate the word ‘should’ by the way.  It makes me feel like a slacker.
That’s about the only recent change that is under my control.  Things are changing at work, for better or worse I don’t know at this point, but I have absolutely no control over those changes.  They are stressing me out, more because of the unknown and uncertainty in the future.
Things are changing in my personal life.  The changes don’t affect me directly per se, but they affect those around me and I wish I could help in some way, but there’s really nothing I can do except be a sympathetic ear.
The changes are overwhelming, there are too many at once and I honestly don’t know what to do about most of them.  I’m going to try to throw my overactive brain into a more productive environment and finally finish my outline in the next week so I can get back to writing.  I’m tired of outlining; I want to see forward progression on the manuscript.  (Not the best attitude I know, but that’s where I am right now.)
But, for better or worse, I’m going to embrace the changes and let them take me where they may.  Who knows where I’ll be in a year…and how many more changes I’ll go through before then.

Practicality and How it Shaped My Life

Standard

Anyone who knows me knows that I am, by nature, a fairly practical person.  Sure, I have my crazy moments.  I fly off the deep end and can be totally neurotic about some things.  But when it comes to the big picture of life, I’m as practical as they come.  I went to a good four year college right out of high school, majored in a Business related subject and even worked for a bank for six years.  Then I went back to school and got my Master’s degree in Accounting.  What is more practical than accounting?  It brings to mind adding machines, spreadsheets, and black plastic frame eye glasses.  Yes, I know.  I love spreadsheets, I have black plastic frame eye glasses and I’m fairly attached to my adding machine.  But, do I want that to dictate the rest of my life?  The answer is a resounding NO!
I look at people who took chances in their lives and I’m envious.  My older brother, for instance, moved out to Seattle without a job or a place to live.  A decade later and he’s thriving there.  He’s part of something he loves (shameless plug – check out www.cafenordo.com) and he has a good life out there.  I, on the other hand, took the practical route and stayed in the area where I grew up, went to school here, and majored in accounting.  You can’t get much more practical or safe than that.  And, to be honest, I’m not happy with my choices; well, not all of my choices.  I do love my husband and I know if I had moved away when I originally thought about it I wouldn’t have met him.  So, some good has come from taking the road more traveled. 
But, I’m ready for that time of my life to be done; that practical, all planned out time.  Unfortunately, I’m so entrenched in it; I don’t know how to make a change any more.  I have a house, cars, bills – things that require money and steady income.  So, here I am going about my day to day life, not entirely happy and not sure how to fix it.  I know what I want to do.  I want to write, professionally.  I want to be published and I want to be good enough at it that I can make a living.  I don’t want to be a millionaire, I’m not looking to be the next big thing in the world of literature, I just want to make enough to be able to quit my day job, so to speak.  I want to be successful enough that I can write full-time and live the kind of life I want to live.  I hate working in a cubicle and shuttling myself back and forth to work every day like a hamster on a wheel.  I want to work from home and surround myself with my characters and my worlds.  In my head, saying things like that sounds cheesy and I don’t usually say them to anyone.  I don’t want to give people the opportunity to tell me I’m not good enough, that they can’t see my being a writer, or that only a few people make it and I can’t possibly be one of them.  People don’t see me as this type of person; they see me as what I currently am. 
So, I’m starting to take steps to break out of my practical mold.  I’m going to attend the next meeting of a writer’s group in GR.  I’m going to meet other writers; quite a few published, and learn everything I can from them so that I can hopefully take a step in that direction.  I’ve started following a number of blogs of writers I like, I’ve been reading every piece of advice they give about writing and their processes.  I know I have to develop my own process, but I’m feeling so mired and overwhelmed by the thought of writing a whole book that I can’t seem to get going.  I have an idea, I’ve been told it’s a great idea.  I have the background, I have timelines, I have plot lines and character descriptions…but I can’t seem to get past that.  I keep telling myself I need to write a detailed outline because I’ve heard so many people say they can’t write without one.  I can’t seem to get past the first chapter in an outline, it seems redundant to me.  I’d rather just write.
I have been advised, instructed, really flat out told….just get it down on paper!  I know this.  Get the ideas out, get the story written; embellishments and corrections come in the editing process.  But this is part of the practical side of my nature.  If I’m going to write it, I want it to be great the first time through.  That’s a lot to ask from a seasoned author, let alone someone who is trying to get through their first book.
So what is the point of this post?  I think the point is to tell my practical side to sit down and shut the hell up so I can get this story out on paper.  I need to silence my inner critic and not listen to the little voice in my head saying, “You can’t do this, you’re not good enough, you’re not a writer.”  I need to tell myself it’s okay to stay up until 2 am writing if I’m in the mood and not worry about the fact that I have to go to work the next day.  I need to just get the story down on paper and then worry about fleshing it out.  I need to abandon the practical side of me, just for a little while every day, so I can make progress. 
My goal for today through Sunday (the next six days) is to write at least 500 words a day (no averaging!).  That doesn’t seem a like a lot, but it’s a start.  No matter how tired or un-motivated I am, 500 words.  So, here we go…

The Beginning

Standard

So I’m going to try this blogging thing.  I’m hoping it will be a kick in the ass to get myself writing on a regular basis, that’s really my goal.  You’ll find a little bit of everything here; book reviews, new recipes, my writing progress, and really anything that comes to mind.  I hope you’ll come back from time to time and see what’s going on in my world.