Category Archives: Writing

A Man Above Reproach

book of love

I think good news for fellow writers is even better than good news for myself. I can talk myself out of believing my own hype, but when it comes to the incredible writers that I know, I can dive in wholeheartedly and wallow around in their well-deserved accolades.

So, it made my day to find out that Evelyn Pryce is a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest for best romance entry! Who doesn’t love a juicy Regency story with a smart heroine and an enamored duke?

Amazon announces the finalists next month and I encourage you to download the FREE sample and throw all of your five-star reviews her way. You’ll hear more from this rising star- I bet my hat. If you’re an agent, a book blogger, a publisher of romance, don’t miss your chance to get in on the ground floor with this talented, hardworking writer.

Get your free sample HERE.

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Hooked

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I wrote a dirge to a tiny, dead computer person today. Ten lines with ten syllables each carefully and lovingly constructed. This is the level of my addiction to Oregon Trail: American Settler.

To be fair, she was the first of my settlers to die. I am a fairly good mayor for this tiny town living in my phone which insists that I pick crops and make splints for the population all day. In the week since my sister got me hooked, I have built forts and silos, grown cotton, and cured cholera. I have, only once, stayed awake for an extra thirty minutes to save a villager from typhoid. Ok, twice.

I am not a gamer. My Wii connects my TV to Netflix for me, but I don’t own a single game. However, I spend a large portion of my time at work on conference calls and web meetings which allows me to plant potatoes between tasks. Or to play another word in Words With Friends (eleanorstrousers, if you want to play). And of course, to tweet, check Facebook, or text. If you see me, my face will be staring at that tiny screen.

In the interest of being a little more active in the real world, I’m setting aside two phone free hours for the evening. If someone dies of typhoid, though, I’ll have only myself to blame.

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Wake Up and Fight

Today, I made a poem. This making things business is going well. I also invented something that I call Hot & Cold Dip (take about 1/2 cup of low-fat sour cream and stir in 3 or 4 tsp. of Frank’s Red Hot sauce, or more if you’re me and like it spicy). I used it to dip some grilled chicken tenders and sweet potato fries. The Lady and I have teamed up to try Weight Watchers online this year, to keep from buying two new wardrobes full of muumuus in 2012. We each dropped over 3 pounds the first week, but then Christmas happened and well….. let’s just say that we needed to start over.

I love the New Year, a new opportunity to pretend that just once, we’ll actually get it right this time around. A time to make lists, which is one of my favorite things.

A friend of mine posted this Woody Guthrie list of resolutions from 1942 to Facebook.

I could stand to keep these in mind myself. Tomorrow, I’m clinging to #19 “Keep Hoping Machine Running” when I go to drop off a writing sample for a fellowship that I’d really like to have. And since it’s back to work after a 10 day vacation and the first day for that early alarm, I’d better hop on #33 and “wake up and fight.”

Hope your 2012 is full of new beginnings and unbroken resolutions thus far!

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Filed under Building a Better Me, Lists, Photos, Writing

Why I Just Can’t NaNoWriMo No Mo

For the last five years, every November led to frantic typing as I tried to knock out a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I was a compulsive NaNoWriMo. Each year I swore it would the year that I finished a first draft. The year that I could say, here is my giant stack of pages ready for the world. Or at least for some serious editing.

But the thing is? I hated it. At work, I felt sneaky trying to cram in four pages around conference calls and distracted that I might get caught. At home, I felt like I needed to declare hours away from friends, roommates, or partners to “be a writer”. And to get huffy if that writer zone was infringed upon by the slightest noise, question, or once- to my great shame- when I was offered a cup of coffee. It didn’t matter what I wrote, as long as I met my daily word quotient, and when my brain got bored, my characters would get attacked by robots, all die, etc. only to be resurrected back in the sensitive literary novel the next day.

I was writing, but I wasn’t creating anything. For me, it was the difference between riding a stationary bike in a gym and biking through the countryside. No view, no sensations, just putting down words to get to that magic number every day.

I know plenty of writers who claim their success is based on forcing themselves to meet a word count every day. And lord knows, writing is a nebulous enough thing without anyone decreeing one way that it should be done.

But in my case, I not only never met the word count goal for the month, I never liked a single thing that I wrote with that word count hovering over my head.

So this year, I’m not doing it. Instead, I’m setting a goal to do some writing every day. A poem. A journal entry. A blog post (wouldn’t that be grand!). To keep myself writing. But if it’s one good sentence, instead of four pages, I won’t punish myself and get all those voices in my head going about whether I am a “real writer,” “lazy writer,” etc.

To those of you about NaNo, I salute you. It’s just not for me, anymore.

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Living a Life Worth Writing About

 

Podcamp Pittsburgh has come and gone once more and as usual, even when I only attended a few sessions and the meet-and-greet, I found something to inspire me. Britt from In Pursuit of Happiness swung through Pittsburgh to host a session on setting boundaries on your blog and shared her own story of finding those limits for herself.

I suppose in some ways, I have blogged less because life is good, but also because I’m finally dating someone who actually uses the internet. The upside? Great fun playing around Twitter together. The downside? Even with my vaguely “anonymous” format (to keep me off the radar at my day job),  I would hate to write anything that The Lady felt was a betrayal of her own privacy or would negatively impact the super wonderfulness of us, together.

But Britt made one statement that really stuck with me when discussing how to find content when you are reigning in the boundaries a bit. Live a life worth writing about. In her context, she was suggesting a way to avoid becoming boring when life gets routine, but I think that it works on other levels.

For a long time, when I was in an awful relationship, my “life worth writing about” was worth reading about because it was such a disaster. The blog was my form of therapy in many ways and venting to the world about the insanity of it all made me feel better. And truth be told, made for a pretty readable soap opera. While I’d never choose to relive that misery, it was great material. (Saying this sort of thing is why some people find writers and bloggers irritating.)

But being single also gave me a reason to fill my schedule with lots of events and adventures that made for excitement. And while I still have adventures, I’m less eager to book myself solid around the clock. Being at home on the couch watching movies makes for great romance in my world. As exhausted as I get at work, I’d rather be in my pajamas than at a five-star restaurant almost any day.

But! Now I have someone new to have adventures with. And it might be time to start writing some of those adventures down  and starting what I hope will be a magical cycle of having adventures because I want to write more and writing more because I’m having more adventures. *cue the Lion King theme*

In the meantime, expect some technical upgrades around these parts now that winter is on its way and there’s finally a reason to sit inside in front of my laptop. For now, if you like Facebook and want to like this blog on Facebook to add these adventures to your stream, you can do so here.

 

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Filed under Admin Note, Pittsburgh, Relationships, Writing

We Interrupt This Meme to Bring You…

The conclusion of my 101 in 1001 project! Another meme! From 2008! If you’re still reading, your meme apology card is in the mail. Ok, I haven’t sent it yet. I’ll get around to it. Like this project wrap-up. Which actually ended last Wednesday, but as you’ll know if you’ve been reading here for a while, being timely isn’t my strong suit. However, I am excellent at making lists. And surprisingly, at completing some of the items on them.

Here’s a rundown of the 35 that I actually finished before the deadline. Yes, 35% of them! Which I will explain later when we get to the ones that I didn’t finish.

  • Flying first class- thanks to my business trips, I managed to become a frequent flyer, complete with the perks of first class seating, multiple times. Twix bars and free cocktails are always a win.
  • Visit Louise in NYC- After six years away from Manhattan, one of those business trips actually brought me to the Big Apple and I spent four glorious days happy houring and theatre going after hours with one of my oldest pals.
  • Get my U.S. Passport- done.
  • Go back to New Orleans- After this made the list, it just so happened that I was offered a job with a boss based in New Orleans. Which means I’ve been back for 11 weeks since it was listed.
  • Go to the Waffle House- My first achievement, and so delicious.
  • Buy a digital camera- Back in 2008, this was an upgrade. Now I barely use it, thanks to my iPhone. The times, they have a’changed.
  • Join a CSA- Loved mine last summer, but didn’t subscribe this year due to my travel schedule. I’m glad to share, but it stung having to give away so many delicious veggies while I was on the road.
  • Own a classic piece of Tiffany’s jewelry- the ex bought me pearl earrings. I loved them. I lost one. I can’t have nice things. At least he was a jerk, so there were no sentimental attachments when the earring went missing.
  • Subscribe to the Sunday NY Times- good journalism isn’t free, people. And yes, I can read it online. But subscriptions pay for journalists to keep working. I’ll get the paper version. Besides, with a pot of coffee, the newspaper in bed is the best thing that happened to Sundays.
  • Get a Blackberry- Three years ago, my Blackberry was my dream phone. Now, you’d have to pry my iPhone out of my cold, dead hands.
  • Have an inspirations bulletin board- one at work, one at home, and my new toy, Pinterest.
  • Host a dinner party- Not precisely dinner, but I did throw a Southern grub fiesta on New Year’s Day (using FIVE crock pots) to ring in the new year with friends and a wide variety of hangovers.
  • Convince my boss to let me telework- It’s not part of my regular schedule yet, but I’ve done it for bad weather, illness, and the occasional project that required my home computer. Permanence is only three months away!
  • Create a personal “altar” space- I like the idea of somewhere quiet to sit and reflect. I gathered some candles, some photos that I love, and a few books that make me think and piled them by some lounging pillows. I don’t use it as much as I should to find some peace- it’s so far away from my laptop.
  • Plant flowers that actually grow- I’m no gardener. But last year, after a haphazard dash of seeds in the yard, I did manage to grow a feast of zinnias with almost no effort. The package said that they were supposed to be 18″ tall. Mine were 36″.
  • Get new contacts- done. But now it needs to be done again.
  • Get a professional massage- I’ve still not done a full-body massage. It seems weird to pay a stranger to rub me while I’m naked. I’m not a prude, I’m just not used to paying for the service. But I did get a lovely upper body massage when I got my first professional facial.
  • Go to the dentist- After 8 years of stalling (due to a lack of insurance and money, not a fear of dentists or lack of desire), I went and got all of my catch-up work done and have my regularly scheduled cleanings like a good little girl who plans to chew with her own teeth for as long as possible.
  • Watch a sunrise- Cocoa Beach, FL.
  • Watch a sunset- Dozens, but the most memorable was in New Orleans.
  • Submit my writing 12 times to journals- We are wayyyyy past the twelve submissions mark here. At least count on my Duotrope account, I’ve submitted at least 82 times. (By the way, if you are disorganized and submitting things to literary magazines, Duotrope is your new best friend. You’re welcome).
  • Update my 100 things about me- done. And it could probably stand to be done again.
  • Take a creative writing workshop- Not only did I take a few local workshops, I attended Bread Loaf  in 2009. It completely changed my life, and I hope to attend again.
  • Make a crocheted blanket- my first niece received her very own lavender baby blanket, made by me. My sister is forcing her to love it best.
  • Take a sewing class- I made my very own throw pillow and brushed up on those sewing machine skills.
  • Publish another chapbook- Miracle of miracles, it will be coming out in August 2011. Final edits are in progress.
  • Return my library books- They were wildly overdue. They’re back and safe in their library home now.
  • Try being a  vegetarian for a week- Another example of changing times. While I haven’t given up meat entirely (I love a steak), I very rarely eat any, besides seafood and even when I do, it’s at a restaurant. Living alone, I don’t really cook it at home. And I’m in no danger of starving to death.
  • Go to book club more than once- Twice! And both times I actually finished the assigned book. The book club fell off the radar a bit, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.
  • Start and keep a one-sentence daily journal- One of the better things that I got out of this project. Keeping an actual diary overwhelmed me from a writing perspective, so I got a big day book with dates and full pages. I just jot the year and a sentence or two to describe the day. Looking back on the last three years as the days roll around is a great reminder of how far I’ve come.
  • Meet an internet friend in person- Oh 2008! Aren’t you quaint? If you run into me with anyone these days and ask how we met, 8 times out of 10, it will be on the internet. Twitter mostly. And I got to meet Green Yogurt on my trip to San Francisco! Lora, you’re next.
  • Go on a picnic- Last summer, BC and I dragged some Middle Eastern food (and a few covert beers…. shhh) to the park and spent the 4th of July people-watching and stuffing our faces.
  • Teach a class- A major part of my new job involves hosting trainings- online and in person. I taught 200 people how to use Twitter a few years ago at a conference.
  • Get back in touch with my penpal- Facebook finally spread to Australia, so I can look at pictures of her beautiful baby every day if I like. I’d still like to write more pen-and-paper letters.
  • Send and receive a Postcrossing postcard- I love postcards. I sent mine and got a postcard from Romania of Dracula’s castle! Very cool.

What didn’t I do and why? More to come….

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Filed under Building a Better Me, Lists, Working for a Living, Writing

What I’ve Been Up To

Those of you follow me on Twitter may have seen a post a few weeks ago with my good news. In August, a small collection of my poetry will be published. I swooned a little when I got the email confirmation from the editor. Especially in light of the fact that when I sent off the manuscript, none of the poems included were accepted anywhere for publication by themselves yet. In the months that passed, I had almost forgotten about the submission, and delightfully three little poems had found future homes in some journals.

So, I’ve been buried up to my neck reviewing the manuscript, changing words and punctuation here and there, moving the poems about to get them in a semi-logical order, trying not to obsess and failing and succeeding at not obsessing depending on the minute or the hour. I want it to be really good. I want it to be better than I know how to make it. But, I also want to remember to take a deep breath and remember to just feel good. Someone wants to publish them.

Deep breath.

Gratitude.

It’s hard to remember to just enjoy the moment sometimes. I’m working on that.

Then, I can get back to working on my manuscript.

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