Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Cookie Cult at my Door wore Green

     What? You may ask.  This is one of my favorite times of the year: Girl Scout Cookie cult time.  I was busy revising chapter fourteen and in the middle of thinking how much I could go for a nice chocolate chip cookie, my doorbell rang.  The dogs went wailing down the stairs and I heard the cute little alarm on my door say in her pompous voice, “front door open.” The next thing I heard was music to my ears as my son shouted, “Mom? Girl Scouts.”

     “Thank you cookie cult gods for hearing my silent, reverent prayers,” I whispered while pushing the cat off the bed so she wouldn’t step across my keyboard accidently hitting delete. I hate when they do that.  Like little kitty paws know exactly what hot buttons would corrupt my computer to a point I can’t go back and fix it.  I ran down the stairs as quick as my Hello Kitty house-boots would take me.  “Put the dogs out I back,” I shouted, wanting to be able to peruse my cookie selection without seething K-9’s at my heel.

     “5 boxes for $20,” the eager salesgirls grinned.  I was delighted, even over joyed, to know inflation hadn’t hit the cookie cult business yet. I bought five boxes of delectable, sugary, calorie rich goodness.  All I could think of was the cookie ice-cream shakes that were in my future.  I whispered to the boxes that I would see to it they were treatedwith the utmost of eating ompassion there could exist between a woman and a box of Lemon-aides.  I coud already taste the cool Thin Mint complimented by rich chocolatey icream blended together.  I quivered at the thought then ran into the house to see two teenagers standing in the kitchen.

     “Don’t eat them all!” I shouted, secretly wanting to hide the boxes in my closet and covet them for myself.  I paid for them afterall.  Nevertheless, the kids dove into the boxes and I couldn’t help but think of the promise I broke to the cookis when I said they would be eaten with compassion.  No.  They were consumed with the unsatitiated appetite of ravenous cookie-avors.  I had to walk away, but not before my son asked me to explain to his friend why I call The Girl Scouts a cult…here is my theory that I was once asked to defend as a red wagon approached ladedn with yummy goodness–

     First of all, to correct my child, I did say The Girl Scouts were a cult in jesting, but it was the pyramid scheme that I was impressed with.  Children, cloaked in emerald green, wearing sashes adorned with badges is the best pyramid scheme I have ever encountered and gladly purchased from.  Here, parents send out their lovely daughters to sell these cookies in order to elevate the status or finaces of the troop (my theory only. I was never in Girl Scouts so I don’t know.) They earn badges so other little girls will want to join the emerald green, cookie toting cult thus elevating their status and earning more badges.  The next generation comes in and perpetuates the cycle as the older girls move into a higher group at the top of the pyramid.  Children are smitten by the badges, camps, and events so more girls join thus making their troop grow.  More girls, more cookie sellers=more money.  And the pyramid grows bigger.

    Okay, so I was asked why they were a cult.  My response.  Because they wear green uniforms and have ranks.  And they push us to eat these amazing cookies so we’ll be so stuffed and sugar innoculated that we won’t notice as they infiltrate the world around us.  Who would dare ever suspect the girl scout cookie peddler after all? Not I.

     DISCLAIMER! I am not knocking the Girl Scouts of America.  I think they are a wondeful organization and give our young girls something to do when our government has taken so many other venues of socialization away.  I love what they teach and agree with their mission statement.  This conversation i spoke of came up as a joke when my son and I saw a Girl scout tugging a red wagon filled with cookies across a parking lot.  Sometimes we talk to talk, and this was one of those occasions when my son asked me to defend a comment I made about them being a pyramid scheme…of course we bought $20 worth of cookies after.  And i’d do it again.  I love Girl Scout cookies!!!!

     Also, the little cookie break gave me a sugar rush which allowed me to finish chapter 15’s revisions. 

 

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Radiant, blue eyes are arrogant

     Week one of developmental revision.  12 Chapters in. 3 sleepless nights. 5 early mornings. Lots of trips to Starbucks for green iced tea.  That’s the update!

     Last report I said how I was in conflict over the developmental editor asking me to change my character’s personality.  I’ve made very subtle changes, like changing “she burst into tears” to saying, “she wanted to drop to the ground and go fetal, but for Jack’s sake, she remained resolved to be strong in his presence.”  I know its a lot more words, but to be honest, I’m very pleased with the changes.  I’m new at all of this and so my initial impression of killing off the developmental editor in my book has become less dramatic.  I have learned to allow my character to evolve.  She’s not devoid of all emotion.  It will just come about a bit slower so as to build to her ultimate crisis.

     Other changes: point of view (POV).  I am so glad I have learned about this POV rewrite because I can now see how my readers will be caught up in only ONE person’s head.  It has caused some major structural changes in the book due to the fact that people will not know what all three character at the skating rink are thinking…I had to move one character’s thoughts and feelings to another chapter where it was in her POV.  Mind you, I didn’t change the emotions, I simply had to drop and drag to different areas.  And, again, in my opinion it has worked so much better to stay with one character.  I suppose these are the lessons a novice who has no formal literary schooling must strive to learn and overcome.

     Next change: Staying out of my own head.  I can’t say things the character doesn’t himself/herself see.  Example: “He looked at her through radiant blue eyes.”  Now unless my character, Travis, is very arrogant, he would not use the term, “radiant blue eyes.”  He might say he looked at her through burning eyes or stinging eyes or squinted eyes, but NOT radiant blue eyes.  Does he know his eyes are radiant? And how conceited to say, “radiant, blue eyes.” So I am learning to be the character in that scene and only see what he/she sees.  Not always an easy task, by the way.

     It’s cost me a fortune in green teas at Starbucks, and I have since starting using a registered gift card so I can at least earn rewards.  Maybe because they see my face there for 2 hrs a day and twice a week they will let me do a small book signing there.  It’d be nice and cozy.  Only 22 more chapters to go and I am exhausted.  I never knew just how much work went into sending a book out to publication.  Is it all worth it? Is it worth the onslaught of migraines and investment in Costco sized saline eye drops and Tums? Is it worthe sleepless night and early mornings? Is it worth the dirtiness of my bedroom that has been ignored for 6 months? Is it worth black roots that show through my red hair because I just have to finish this last chapter that goes well into the midnight hour? Hell yeah it is.  I can’t wait to see my finished product.  Can you? As Captain Jack Sparrow would say, “Now bring me that horizon.”

Bring Me That Horizon

Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you, Sally Panayiotou for passing the Versatile Blogger Award on to me! Read more below …

I was nominated for an award and after only a few months on Word Press. So exciting.

I am now supposed to thank my award-giver who is at www.sallypanayiotou.wordpress.com or the link above, who also writes with the Limebird team here on WordPress.  Please go visit the site.  Lots of fun stuff to read there.

Next I am supposed to share 7 things about myself, so here goes:

  1. I am terrified of butterflies and bridges that go over water
  2. I hate confrontation
  3. I’m pretty sure I’m the black sheep in the family
  4. I still want to marry Han Solo and get jealous when Princess Leah gets to kiss him 
  5. I’m afraid my new novel will be on some list for worst novels ever written
  6. Once, when I was pregnant, I ran to the bathroom at my hospital (I was working) and vomited into the toilet, but when my eyes opened it was dark and I freaked out because I thought I had some strange pregnancy induced blindness.  I called for help and later discovered, to my embarrassment, that the bathroom had recently been put on a timer…guess my time had run out.  😦
  7. Yes, I talk to my pets, my plants, my stomach and any other inanimate object that will listen

Now this is my list of other bloggers I would like to nominate.  There are not 15 because I am so new and caught up in writing before I go back to work that I don’t always get to peruse this website.  But those on my list are the ones I read daily.

I was reading out loud when I said, “hey, I received an award.”  My 4-year-old daughter stretches out her hand and replies, “congratulations on your award, Mom.” Gotta love my girl who mde this feel even more special.

A finer moment

I received my developmental editing yesterday and I was as nervous as a dog on a thunderous day to get home and read it.  To my dismay it pretty much said the exact same thing the editorial review said, and I was left to wonder why the heck I paid for this.  But i’m trying to see the proverbial silver lining to the colorless rainbow.  The good thing is I have had time to further develop my characters in my head.  And taking some advise from the editor I have modified some personaliy issues (namely, one character is tooooo emotional).  I have called family and friends and posted a query to Facebook friends as to their opnions.  I have been told there is a safety in a multitude of numbers … was it God who said that? Whoever it was a wise soul.

So I am in the process of revamping my characters and giving one of them more of a spine (despite my personal opinions).  But I reread the chapter with the personality changes to my boyfriend, who has heard the ten other revisions to chapter one, and he says he likes the changes.  He better if he wants a place to sleep! Seriously, I don’t think he would steer me wrong. He has given great advice so far.  So I reread chapter  one at least three times and feel comfortable with my changes and think my character will be better for it.

I was also told to give more description in one particular paragraph where I hurried through Jack’s dream.. I was told it was a moment where my creativity should kick in with more detail.  After at least five rewrites, shaking my head a bunch of times, and asking the dog for her opinion, I think I got it right and feel like it is one of my finer moments.  So here is a teaser from Chapter Three … although after two more editing services from iuniverse it may change again.

Eventually, a solid month passed and Jack wasn’t finding sleep any better; paranoia about suffocating to death from his disease coupled with the recurring nightmares ensued night after restless night.  Most nights he awoke drenched in a cold sweat, unsure of what the dreams were about.  He figured not remembering them at all would be best. The parts he did recall was seeing Shannon’s face soaked in blood, her bold, lifeless eyes stained red, almost animalistic, trying to consume his soul with their wild, ravenous gaze.  She would call his name long and drawn out, her voice raspy and seductive as a demonic vixen, ensnaring him to go closer where she could steal away his life and end his pain.

Okay, well thought I’d share one of my finer moments when I feel okay with giving myself a pat on the back.  By the way, the original paragrah read:

A solid month had gone by, Jack wasn’t sleeping any better.  In fact, he wasn’t finding much comfort in sleep due to the recurring nightmares which ensued night after restless night.  Most nights he awoke in a cold sweat, unsure of what the dreams were about.  He figured not knowing was better than remembering.  The most he could recall was seeing Shannon’s face soaked in blood, her bold, lifeless eyes piercing his soul.

Stay tuned for more teasers into, “Be Still.”

The Trouble With Men

     Well, where should I start? But seriously.  This blog is about writing outside of the box … or gender.  So as I am on day 23 of waiting for my developmental editing to come through, I have continued to write my third novel.  Oh, by the way, my numbers continue to rise on my first novel, “When I Though I was Tough,” on Bookemon.com.  I now have 1323 reads, 10 favorites, and 178 likes.  So if you do visit that site please click the like button or join and make me your favorite.  Okay, so back to the trouble with men … I am in process of writing my third book and obviously there is a strong hero (as opposed to heroine) in the story, but I’m a female.  While writing the thoughts of my hero yesterday when he was watching a new mother interact with her newborn daughter, I realized something profound: what do I know about what men think?

     Okay, I browsed through Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars years ago, but it didn’t amount too much for me.  Men are such different creatures, and I can’t ell you how many times I’ve looked at a guy I was dating or just a guy friend and said, “how the heck did you make it out of the cave?” Seriously, guys? It’s like there is forward thinking and constant movement of progression but you are content to remain absolute or try to revert to your Neanderthal roots.  But, in your favor, you are nice and cuddly and warm, and sometimes say sweet things that make us girls all gushy and want to say, “okay, we can live in a cave as long as I have you.”  Now, that’s all my opinion.  I won’t be writing some kind of insight into men and women, but the truth of the matter is, as a writer I sort of have to do that with my characters.

     It doesn’t matter if I am writing the hero, his best friend the frat guy, or the vainglorious guy, or the nice guy who finishes last, or the dad, the older brother, the friend who is a total douche, the nerd, or the jock.  They all have individual personalities but at the root of it all is testosterone and double X chromosomes.  As a woman, how am I supposed to know what men really think? I can tell you what women really think, and why we do things we do, but what about men? How am I supposed to write them and sound legit? I don’t want a guy to read my novel and think: men do not do that.

     My solution: people watch.  Or man watch … for research (wink wink).  Most of my friends growing up were guys so I think I am doing okay there. I have known the jocks, the nerds, the hot guy, the cool guy, the loner, the rebel, the douche, etc.  I have a tiny bit of insight into men but not enough to even brag about.  I have been married twice and in a pretty serious relationship now and all three of these guys are polar opposites (if the law of physics allows 3 polar opposites).  They all outwardly think so different and it drives me insane because I don’t think I will ever figure it out.  There are double standards and hidden standards within those double standards, not to mention the standards that they pretend don’t exist, the rules with bros and the rules with girls, and the rules about bros girls, and the lines they drop so easily, but sometimes reading between the lines mean they just want my opinion so this earth will continue to spin on its normal axis, but something as simple as, “where would you like to eat for dinner?” can cause uncertain negative dynamics that even the nuclear physicists at Bikini Atoll couldn’t think to predict and I have to somehow make heads or tails of it all to give my hero more depth and make him believable!?!

     In the end, I just assume I know what men are thinking, but have to conversely assume I am getting it all wrong no matter how I write it.  But ya know what? These are my characters and I am omnipotent and I give them life, so they will think what I tell tem to think and do what I tell them to do.  So if  Ben is a generous, swell guy with a heart of solid gold then so be it.  Doesn’t mean he won’t kick Dale’s butt in chapter twenty-six, and just because Dale the Jerk is a prize-winning  jerk doesn’t mean he won’t profess to having deep seeded Y chromosome emotions in chapter thirty-eight.  They are who I tell them to be, because they are my thoughts…until an editor says otherwise.  Until then I will continue to take bits and pieces of the little things I know about men and try to build it into the perfect man us women will love, or hate, or take pity on, or want t go shopping with.  That is my talent.  That is my gift to you.

  Just when I think I have men slighty figured out this happens: My son asks my boyfriend to buy him a hamburger (9am) after he gets is haircut (boyfriend, not son). Boyfriend leaves for haircut and my son and I sit down and eat cereal.  Boyfriend calls at 10am and asks if I want a burger, to which I tell him no, because I had cereal.  he asks if my son still wants a burger and I’m thinking probably not since we just had cereal, but I ask anyway and my kid looks at me like this is some odd geometry questions and says, “of course I do.”  I say, “but you just had cereal.” He says, “but it’s not a hamburger is it?”…..moral of the story: whatever it is I think a guy is thinking is probably wrong, but read the book anyway.

Chocolate and Caffeine

     So far I have dealt with writer’s block and snot issues that have impeded my writing progression.  I know writer’s block is a huge issue amongst writers and authors.  It’s the like the plague to us.  For me, writer’s block occurs every few weeks as nothing more than a mild bump in the road that I can easily just hop over.  But then there are times when it is like hitting a huge wall and I have to do the military climb over the wall … and I don’t do obstacle courses very well.  Above all that there s one thing, one ginormous issue, that I have trouble working through on a weekly basis: Migraines!

     I have suffered from migraines since I was 12-years-old.  I will be honest, at one point in my life they were so severe and clustered that I spent 20 days out of the month dealing with them, 5 days recuperating, and another 5 days wondering when they will strike again.  It was a time in my life when suicide was a better option than living with this wretched infliction, but I never did it (or tried).  At that time I was told to stay away from caffeine and chocolate … twenty years later it is caffeine and chocolate that we are told to take.  Funny how that works.  Well, migraines stopped me from doing many things.  I once thought about enlisting in the Army when I was younger, but I knew it would be difficult with the migraines.  I thought about the Sheriffs, but drowned in the same conclusion.

     Eventually the migraines stopped, but they return for about a two-year stint then vanish just as long.  Now-a-days we have great meds like Imitrex, which cure the migraine but make me feel like I am having a stroke in exchange.  Good old-fashioned Coke and a Snickers works for me,and if that doesn’t then a massage at Ling Ling’s in the Mall of Victor Valley works, too.  Oh, fifteen minutes under the catatonic accupressure to my scalp and space between my thumb and pointer finger will make me fall to my knees, but when it’s all over and done with I am migraine free.

     The reason I bring up migraines is because it is the single best way to halt any progression of my writing.  Today, for example, I was suffering from a tension migraine which hits like a million tiny needles at the base of my skull then sends it soldiers of pain into my shoulders and neck.  It sucks.  But worse than all that I find I can not write.  It is a total vacuuming experience where it sucks my will to even think about writing.  And if I do push past the urge to sleep all day then the photophobia (sensitivity to light) sets in.  Kind of hard to stare at a monitor when the light is burning my cornea.  Migarines! A fiendish alli of the devil that has been put in place to keep me from realizing my talents.

     Ever notice how injuries tend to hurt people in ways worse than another person might take it.  For example: a writer goes blind … how does he write? A carpenter gets arthritis … how does he work? A runner loses a leg in an accident … how does he run? A photographer goes blind.  etc etc…  We see all the time the will of man prevailing past these logs in the road and we write about them or make movies dedicated to the strength of man.  I have to tell you, being a writer who suffers from migraines is like being a painter who is losing his sight.  It is not easy and sometimes makes me want to give up on it, but I haven’t.

     Toady i put my head down on the cold table at Starbucks with a cup of ice water poised on my neck and lowered the light on the computer screen, closed my left eye (the one which hurt most), and typed with one finger.  Oh, I saw the looks people gave me, but you know what? I finished chapter twelve of my third book.  I pushed past the thorn in my eye and prevailed.  I conquered the migraine monster that was all set to defeat the fair Chapter Twelve and laugh as I went fetal under a cold shower and 800mg of Ibuprofen…BUT, I prevailed! I opened my throbbing left eye, raised my cup of ice water and shouted, “I AM A WRITER! READ MY ROAR!” Okay…not really.  I hit “sleep” on the computer then went and took a nap in my car until my son got out of school, but its the principal of the matter, I think.

     Today’s word of wisdom: don’t let it get you down.  Whatever your “It” is, your will is much bigger.  It may be a small accomplishment like finishing the last few paragraphs in chapter twelve, or it may be getting up out of bed after a bad break up.  Whatever “it” is, you must be strong in mind.  Then you can be strong in body.  And when you are strong in mind and body, then you can be strong in soul.  Give yourself permission to be bigger than the boogeyman.  I conquered the migraine monster, now go defeat your monster.

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My Books With Links update 12/11/12

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