In which I invite you to have a good laugh at my expense…

Ha ha ha ha!…Ha ha!…Ha! Ahem.

That’s better. Now that I got that out of my system I can write with more focus.

I’ve always believed in the motto “laugh at yourself first before others start the trend.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a colossal klutz for as long as I can remember. Stubbing my toes on door jambs, dropping things, pinching my fingers in hinges, and tripping over my own two feet are common occurrences around my house. And that’s okay. I’ve come to grips with the fact that I’m an AWESOME mulit-tasker and that’s why certain things fall apart…you know, like the ability to walk in a straight line or think clearly.

The last part is the inspiration for today’s post.

I haven’t been thinking clearly lately. I think it’s because half my brain is in Humboldt during a massive rain storm, chasing down a killer (edits for Dark Tide Rising) and the other half is in San Francisco shifting into a vampire and searching for a cure to what’s tainting their blood supply (edits for Enemy, Beloved). There is simply no room for day-to-day happenings. Case in point: I was invited to a birthday party on June 13th. I read the invitation carefully, checked my schedule, and wrote it in under Princess’ t-ball game. In my head, it was clear as day that the party was Saturday, June 13th.

Nope.

The party is TOMORROW–Sunday, June 13th. I drove to the party and back home again in gusty wind warnings with two kids past their nap time. You’d think that would’ve been a recipe for disaster.

But I laughed almost the whole way home. I mean, really…who does that? Who misreads invitations and shows up a whole day early? I’ve heard of guests showing up hours early…no one but no one shows up the day before! *big goofy grin

It’s just something else to add to my list of things I’ve done that should’ve been embarrassing but instead were hilarious! Also on that list is going to a funeral with smudges of chocolate chip on my upper lip (I looked like Hitler and no one told me–classic), and tripping on the stairs in college in front of everyone.

Every had one of those moments? Something really embarrassing that just wasn’t because you couldn’t stop laughing at yourself? Laughter really is the best medicine, isn’t it? Now I’ll go to the party tomorrow and laugh along with everyone else.

I’m such a dork and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now I’ve got to dive back into those chilly Humboldt waters to finish off my first round of edits. I’m almost there!

Another Summer, Another End

This morning I was reflecting on how another summer managed to sneak up on me. June is brimming with bridal and baby showers, birthdays, parties, graduations and vacations to “relaxing” places. (Though often times the planning and packing takes away some of the “relaxing” part.) Being pretty much a lifetime student and former high school teacher, the whole year seems to end with the conclusion of school. January 1st doesn’t seem nearly as “new” as June 1st with nothing but summer days ahead.

So after today, my year is done!

I got to thinking how much different this year feels than last year. My flights are booked for RWA’s National Conference in Orlando (yes, it was moved due to the floods), the hotel is reserved, and I even have my brand new laptop bag begging to be used. At this point last year I was in the same place when considering all of those things…

…but I’m not in the same place when it comes to my writing.

Kiersten White did a post a few days back about “last year-this year”. Read it here.

I think writing things down that way gives a great concrete comparison. That, and I love lists.

Last year: I started and finished book 1, then realized it wasn’t good enough to be published. Booked trip to RWA to learn what I had to do to make this my career.
This year: I started and finished books 2 and 3. Booked trip to RWA to pitch these awesome stories to agents and editors. I’m so in love with Book 3…and by the response I’m getting, I think other people are too.

Last year: I hadn’t met a single writer, agent, or editor.
This year: I meet a wonderful group of writers every single month (SFARWA and BDRWA), have a published critique partner (Hi Lisa!), and have met too many agents and editors to count. And they’re all FABULOUS.

Last year: I hadn’t entered a single contest.
This year: I entered the Golden Heart and didn’t final, although my scores were good. I entered the Daphne and also didn’t final, but my scores were phenomenal with one “published, award winning” judge saying she can’t wait until my entry is published so she can finish reading it.

Last year: I was writing through the night.
This year: I write mornings and afternoons only.

Last year: I sent out 100 queries on book 1 and received 100 rejections.
This year: I sent out 10 queries on book 3 and received 4 rejections and 3 requests…so far.

Last year: Writing everyday.
This year: Writing everyday.

Last year: I wasn’t sure if I could cut it in the writing world.
This year: I know I will…it’s just a matter of when.

I simply can’t wait to see what the next year has in store!

(Oh, and did I mention I’m giving away a free signed copy of Eve of Samhain by Lisa Sanchez or a $15 Starbucks giftcard when my follower count reaches 100? If you haven’t hit that “follow” button yet, it only takes a minute…and I’ll be glowing in radiant thanks when you do!)

I’m in deep, deep trouble

Oh for pity’s sake…

All the good shows on television are ending and I’m still glued to the couch giving my knee the rest it needs.

The Amazing Race is long gone. America’s Next Top Model finale was Wednesday. Vampire Diaries ended last Thursday (*not that I watch it…*ahem). And my favorite show, The Biggest Loser, airs its finale Tuesday.

What on earth will I do? Seriously, people, I love to read…but for some reason I just can’t bear to finish JR Ward’s Lover Unbound. I have no idea why. And until I finish that one I refuse to pick up another. I think part of me believes if I start another story I’ll never come back to finish this one…and Viscious’ story deserves to be read. It really does.

At last month’s SFARWA meeting I got autographed copies of Barry Eisler’s Fault Line and Monica McCarty’s The Chief. I cracked open the first pages of The Chief and was immediately pulled in. I snapped the book closed…

Can’t read it yet…nope.

I’m being ridiculous, I know. But with my good shows ending and my unfinished read idling on my shelf I feel like trouble has come calling.

I guess I better get this knee iced so I can start moving around. Lord knows The Husband would like me to start being a little productive.

On a very side note: It’s kinda been a blessing in disguise me being out of commission and The Husband having to pick up the slack by taking over my duties as High Priestess of the house. He’s definitely realized how wearing my job is…and when it was time for him to go back to work last night I think I saw him skipping out the door. Mothers, Caretakers, Wives, Homemakers YOU ROCK.

Being Susie Homemaker is not easy to say the least (especially when you’re trying to look good doing it)…

Dreamweaver

I used to have recurring dreams as a child. One in particular involved riding my Strawberry Shortcake Bigwheel down the road with my brother who was riding his very own Transformers Hotrod. We must’ve lived somewhere hilly like San Francisco, because we’d pedal our brains out up and down hills until the road ended…now when I say ended, I don’t mean with a sign reading Dead End. I mean the road disappeared into a gigantic body of water that went on as far as the eye could see. Ever seen Lake Michigan? Yeah, that’s about right.

My brother, being the logical physicist he was (even at that age), would slam on his breaks and circle around, judging the depth of the water on the road, scheming a way to get through unscathed.

“It’s too deep,” he’d say, and circle some more, eyeing the distance to the far shore. “We have to turn around.”

I’d pedal back, scan the road for oncoming traffic (safety first) then pedal as fast as I could into the water.

“I can make it!” I’d yell.

I don’t know where I was trying to go. Water would rise higher and higher, covering my bike, my body, then finally my head. Once I was fully submerged, I always knew to reach up and grab ahold of a trusty vine before panic set in. In every dream the vine was the same–thick, sturdy, safe. I’d pull and pull, climbing until I reached the top of a huge cliff that overlooked the ocean. (Funny, I never noticed that green, poppy-covered cliff in the city before. Hmmm) My brother would be on the other side looking proud that he found a way to reach the top like me…without getting drenched in the process. (Always the competitive brainiac.)

I’d wake up feeling anxious, maybe a little scared. It didn’t make sense to me at first. I was okay. I made it to the top safely. Why the panic?

Then it hit me. It wasn’t the water, the sinking feeling, or the worry over my brother’s safety (although in the dream I was very concerned). It was the thought that the vine might not be there for me to grab onto next time. Each time the dream replayed, I could never stop myself from pedaling into the water no matter how scared I was to do it.

I’m totally having this feeling now. I don’t know where my writing will lead me, although I’m pedaling my mental-wheels as fast as they’ll go. It feels smooth sailing so far…but oh, look down there…down the mountain where the road ends. See all that murky, unknown publishing business floating around in the water? Looks pretty ominous, doesn’t it? Think we can make it? Can I circle around and find another way through safely? Enter a contest or two or three to beef up my resume? Try self-publishing? E-pubs? Write some short stories or a different genre for variety?

You know, when I stop to weigh my options, I get the same feeling from my dream. I pedal-and write. And pedal-write some more. And pedal-write, write, write, write! No matter the uncertainty, the fear, I just have this gut feeling that once I’m fully submerged in the writing realm I’m going to reach up and…

Heroes reducing themselves to Homer Status


Are you watching this season of Survivor? If you’ve been one of the few living under a rock, allow me to enlighten you. The All-Stars are back. Big time. And they’re split into two categories: Heroes and Villains.

The thing I find funny is that in a group of back-stabbing, shit-talking, game-playing villains, a select few (ahem-Boston Rob) are stepping up their game, helping out around camp, and looking more like heroes than they villains they’ve been labeled as.

And likewise at the hero camp, there are those who are looking more like villains by the way they’re cursing out their own team and sabotaging team wins. Gravedigger James disrespected Stephenie as she was leaving by telling her to “Shut her mouth.” Doesn’t sound like much of a man, let alone a hero, to me.

Many times during this week’s show contestants were surprised by the change of character in others. Really? Does it surprise you that a villain would eventually step up to get the work done in a camp that has nothing? Or a hero would lower themselves to berating others when stress-levels soar? (Haven’t we all been guilty of this?) Didn’t surprise me at all.

Maybe that’s because I was a teacher.

Teachers know that in any classroom, even ones filled with college-bound, eager-to-learn, straight-A students, a disruptive student ALWAYS steps up to bat. ALWAYS. And in a classroom full of disruptive students (that’s why we don’t track anymore, people), there will be a few who sit quietly and do their work, giving the teacher the breath of fresh air that keeps them from strangling the others. (Just being honest here. Personally, I would NEVER, EVER think of doing something that violent…*insert glowing halo and heavenly music here.)

Students and survivors alike fill the roles needed at the time. That’s why it doesn’t do any good to stereotype and label. Survivor Season 20 is a PERFECT example of that. It’s still good reality TV though. 🙂

Go Boston Rob! Who are you siding with?

Beauty on the Subway

On January 12th, 2007, in the middle of a Washington D.C. Metro Station, a violinist opened his case on the ground, threw a couple dollars in, and started to play. For forty-five rush-hour minutes, he played six classical pieces.

Thousands of people passed him by. Only a handful actually stopped to listen and fewer than that paid for his “symphony”. Had they known who he was and what was going on, they might’ve given more attention. Have a look and listen…

He was not a mere street-musician looking to cash in on some well-played music notes. Joshua Bell was participating in a Washington Post study to see what reaction people would have to true beauty in an unexpected form.

Joshua Bell was the featured violinist on the Angels and Demons Soundtrack as well as the The Red Violin Concerto. A few days prior to this, he sold out a theatre in Boston’s Symphony Hall where tickets started at $100 a piece.

To rub salt in the wounds of the passersby, the violin he played on was reportedly worth 3.5 million dollars.

I think this has a message for everyone who’s ever said to their child, “Stop splashing in the tub, it makes a mess!” or “We don’t have time to stop for ice cream.” or “No, you can’t go smell those flowers.” Beauty and love are all around…in many different forms. If we don’t have the time to stop and listen to beautiful music played by a famous violinist, what else are we missing in the world? Seriously, how much time would it take out of your day to sit and listen to a man play his heart out in a subway?

An even more telling question would be…when you first watched the video on my blog, did you skim through it? Did you watch it part-way then stop? Did you watch it at all or did you first need to know how good he was before you gave him a few minutes of your time?

Hmmm…I’d be interested to know.

Check out his website for album and tour dates.

Love and…um..Understanding?

I was talking with a friend yesterday (Holla back, Lora!) when I remembered something really funny happened to me last week that I forgot to mention.

I was getting ready to leave the gym after sweating off five pounds on the EFX machine (not really five pounds but I wish).

A HUGE black man, topping the scales at probably three-hundred pounds, standing well over six-foot-six, blocked my path. My first thought was that this man was MASSIVE. I sure wouldn’t want to meet up with him in a back alley. Tattoos wrapped around both arms, disappearing behind his sagging black tank top. His dark hair was buzzed short, matching the stubble grazing his face. Mean-sucker.

He asked in a rumble of a voice, “Would you mind helping me with something?”

Uh…me? Help him? I almost blurted, “If you want a spot, Dude, you might wanna ask someone more in your weight class.” But I didn’t. Instead, I just nodded like a moron.

He leaned close before asking, “Do you know who sings this song?”

Okay, spotting him for a five-hundred-pound squat, I couldn’t do. But I’m not too shabby with calling music as I hear it. So I agreed, pulled my headphones out of my ears, stepped into the weight room and listened.

I heard a deep voice echo through the gym:

“We got enough stars to light the sky at night, Enough sun to make the whole world bright, We got more than enough, But there’s one thing there’s just not enough of.”

Know the song yet? Or the singer? The singer I guessed right away…CHER. Can’t mistake her voice.

I told him who it was and started to walk away. The muscle-bound man stopped me with an outstretched hand and said with a goofy-grin, “Do you happen to know the name of the song?”

Are you kidding me? Am I starring on Punk’d? Is this buff weight-lifter really asking me the name of a Cher song to add to his compilation? Alright…at this point I’m already helping the guy and wondering where this is headed. I swore if Ashton came running out of the locker room laughing his ass off, I was chucking a dumbbell at his perfect, Demi-loving face. She wouldn’t love him so much when I was through with him…

I listened some more:

“Not enough love and understanding, We could use some love to ease these troubled times, Not enough love and understanding, Why, oh why?”

Being the Cher fan I am, I told him the song was titled “Love and Understanding”. That’s when I waited for the punchline.

He grinned ear to sweaty ear and said, “Thank you so much.” Then he left, walked back to the bench press, where he no doubt chest-pressed a bull.

I laughed all the way to my truck. Now this situation isn’t all that different from creating humorous scenes in stories. If you make the reader think something is going to happen (IE: the big-scary-dude asks me to spot him or pushes me into a corner), it’s frightening but expected. Yet, if you have that same big-scary-dude act all interested in a Cher song it sparks a laugh.

Try it. Think of a character in a story you’re writing. Make them do something out of character and totally unexpected. Although you can’t use the technique all the time, it’ll sure spruce up the scene! After all, it uplifted my day!

Just to put you in the moment, I’ve posted Cher’s video. Watch it and imagine the biggest-scariest-meanest-bastard you’ve ever seen taking an awkward interest in it. Heh-heh. Still makes me laugh.

Just a thought…

If you could choose between growing old from the neck up or from the neck down, which would it be?

I heard this prompt yesterday and got into a lengthy discussion about it with the husband. It seems to me, men are more likely to jump at the answer.

This was the husband’s conclusion: “Age from the neck up! If you aged from the neck down you wouldn’t be able to play sports for very long.”

Heaven forbid, right?

Now women, even though they may come to the same answer (which I totally did), have to toss it over. The answer is not black and white…and sadly has nothing to do with sports. Men are seriously from Mars. For women, there is a debatable gray area.

Toss this over: If you aged from the neck up, you could always use botox or get face-lifts to make your face match the rest of your body. Treatments would be expensive, but if they worked you’d have a youthful body, head to toe, for your whole life. If you aged from the neck down, you’d be a natural beauty (at least in the face) until the day you kicked the bucket. Everywhere you went people would say, “You’re how old?!? Wow, you look fantastic!” Compliments like that never get old. And hey, you could always cover your body with expensive, designer clothes all day every day, couldn’t you? Sounds like a good excuse to keep the wardrobe updated.

What do you think? Age from the neck up or the neck down?

On the bench

Maybe it’s the lingering Superbowl thoughts that have inspired the blog today…maybe it’s the fact that I got another rejection letter on book #2. Either way, I’m writing about being on the bench because that’s how I’m feeling today.

Sometimes I think that writing is very much like football.

Players train, study, train some more, hone their skills, and then bleed, sweat, and pray that one day they’ll get the chance to star in the big game. Writing is no different. I go to conferences, network, take workshops, plot until my brain hurts, read, read some more, study like genres, then bleed, sweat, and pray that one day I’ll get the chance to become a published author.

Everything leads up to that moment when the coach says, “Johnny, you’re in.” Or in the case of writing, we wait for that day when an agent will say, “Hey, you. Good work. The contract is in the mail.”

But until that day, there is a whole heck of a lot of waiting.

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And to make matters worse, while waiting for our own shot, we get to watch all of our friends, colleagues, peers, get their own chance at the field. Don’t get me wrong…at every single tiny milestone I’m celebrating with my writing buddies. Their victories are my victories. I jump up and down with them because they work hard and deserve every thing they get.

That’s similiar to football too. If you’re on the bench during the Superbowl when your team wins, wouldn’t you share in the victory? Wouldn’t you feel like you’re a part of something larger? I bet you would. And rightly so.

But damn, the waiting sucks. And the worst part is, all this waiting is dependant on someone else to say, “Okay, Kristin, you’re up. Let’s rock.” I’m so ready to play in the game, it’s not even funny. I wish it was something I had more control over.

Well, I suppose I do have control over something. Until I get my shot I can continue to train. I’ll go to conferences, network, take workshops, plot until my brain hurts, read, read some more, study like genres, bleed, sweat, and pray. Then rinse, lather, repeat until the coach calls me in.

Grace like rain

I’m having the best day EVER. A storm is pummeling California. Downpours, power outtages, thunder and lighting are expected to last the entire week.

And I feel like I’m in heaven.

There’s nothing quite like the smell of cool rain on asphalt. Its freshness washes away dirt and grime, leaving everything sparkly clean. Birds tweet joyful winter songs and gather to splash in puddles. Clarity exists beneath those dark clouds if you open yourself to it…

If you’re lucky enough to get caught in the middle of the storm (yes you heard me right), do something for me. Let the fat drops hit your shoulders. Breathe…slowly. Relax your body from the hairs on your head to the tips of your toes. Close your eyes. Lift your face to the heavens.

Do you feel that?

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It’s called Grace.