WHY SO EXCITED?

Aren’t you so EXCITED?!  Of course you are!  At least it certainly seems you ought to be, considering that when you skim the news feed on FB, stop by to read a blog post here and there as you cruise through cyberspace, noiselessly tip-toe through twitter, it’s pretty much everywhere. Excitement, and lots of it.  Can we really be this Excited so much of the time?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m right there with you  to blow-up the balloons and toss the confetti in celebration of those occasions, announcements, and achievements of high excitement.  You’ve just gotten a new agent, your book is/will be published, you won the Nobel Prize? Absolutely that’s EXCITING stuff. In fact, pardon me while I dash off and bake you a cake …

EXCITEMENT OVERLOAD

In truth, it’s not the overabundant use of the word EXCITED that has me grousing, it’s the observation that maybe there’s far too much EXCITEMENT being tossed around, and quite possibly we’ve gotten a wee bit lazy with our word-ology.

Okay, so if you’ll hold your excitement for just a moment, I will make my point by serving up some suitable, and yes, EXCITING alternates courtesy of the every handy-dandy desk thesaurus:

EXCITE: inspire; upset, accelerate, agitate, amaze, anger, animate, annoy, arouse, astound, awaken, bother, chafe delight, disturb, electrify, elicit, energize, evoke, fire, fluster, foment (huh?) galvanize, goad, incite, induce, inflame, infuriate, instigate, intensify, irritate, jolt, kindle, madden, mock, move, offend, precipitate, provoke, rouse, start, stimulate, stir up, taunt, tease, thrill, titillate, vex, warm, worry …

Clearly, it’s nothing if not a thoroughly lazy exercise in word usage  to so often default to the generic EXCITED when we have such a diverse menu to choose from.

IF YOU’LL PARDON MY EXCITEMENT

Over here in my little corner of the world, this first half of 2012 has seen more than a few truly exciting astounding milestones. 

AND SO, A FEW EXCITING STIMULATING HIGHLIGHTS

1. Child #3 graduated with honors from Tulane University in New Orleans this past spring.

Aside from the “official requirement” that we pack up the jalopy and head off to one of my very favorite cities in order to attend said graduation, there is the deeply personal excitement fire of waving my third child off into the world with college degree in hand as she pursues her hearts desire. (Not to mention that by graduating with honors, I am assured that my darling girl did indeed resist the temptations of Bourbon Street and perpetual Mardi Gras well enough to open her books and work hard when necessary.) Certainly every parent thrills at such achievements in the lives of their children, but for those who, like me, carried their own Ivy League dreams straight from High School to enrollment at the University of Real Life, (although to my credit, I paid attention, studied hard, and did my homework along the way to earning a self-awarded doctorate) there mighty milestones elicit high levels of excitement animation.

2. Child #4 completed his Boy Scout Eagle Project this summer. Yes, absolutely the stuff that makes a mama proud, but there is something infinitely exciting stimulating in witnessing a 16 year old boy take a mighty step toward manhood by proving he is far more than an eating, sleeping, video game playing entity (cue Dr Frankenstein as his creature comes to life, “IT’S ALIVE!!!!”), by willingly shouldering the necessary design, planning, fund raising, labor, and responsibilities necessary to accomplish a mighty and highly ambitious project. In this case, by metamorphising a neglected Memorial plaque on a boulder dedicated to WW II veterans, into a beautiful memorial garden complete with archway, benches, brick walkway, flag pole, night-time lighting, and plantings. So yeah, this is one of those things that truly excites  inflames my pride receptors.

3. I am a shiny new Grandmother (or Mimi, if you happen to be Baby Sebastian.)!!!  Although I’ve only been wearing this newbie title for 4 days now, it fits quite nicely and feels especially comfy. To those of you who are grandmothers, have a grandmother, long to be a grandmother, I needn’t elaborate on how over-the-moon, EXCITED ANIMATED I am now, and will forever be.

4. Having weathered the accustomed angst, turmoil, and brain strain hairpulling, sulking, whining of writing, I now have a mostly official date penned on the calendar for the release of my latest novel, Asleep Without Dreaming. (September 18, 2012. Woo woo!) If you’re a writer, no elaboration necessary.  If you’re a reader, I hope pray, gnash teeth, cross fingers that you’ll consider climbing into your favorite comfy chair with my book and while away an afternoon. After mucho years of scribbling out these chapters, my EXCITEMENT supreme sense of electrification is near blinding.

AND SO

What exactly does all this word-muddling prove, you ask?  Probably that EXCITE, EXCITING, EXCITED, are pretty good words.  Because, shoot, we really are  EXCITED! And for good reason. EXCITEMENT is a feel good, done good, bring on the parade, perfect fit of a word.  Accept no substitutes imitators that sound really awkward and stupid. I might be inflamed, animated, fired up and stimulated, but mostly I’m EXCITED, by golly! EXCITED, EXCITED!

EXCITED is life at it’s finest and nothing quite expresses it like good old tried-and-true EXCITED EXCITEMENT! 

So what’s got you Excited lately?  It’s fun to share, please do 😀

*Hoping you don’t mind my adding a fleeting dash of EXCITEMENT by announcing that my debut novel The Secret of Lies will be FREE on Kindle August 2 – August 3 in celebration of the near-release of Asleep Without Dreaming 😀

Hair of the Dog

As You May Recall,

I have something of a fascination with Idioms.  You know, those expressions that are near ancient in origin, which we toss out often enough to assure their permanence in the rhelms of common language.  And yet, when we take a moment to think about what it is we’re actually saying, uh well, What actually are we saying?

For starters, just how guilty are you of  Letting the Cat out of the Bag?  I know I’ve done it more times than I care to publicly admit. Or, maybe not, considering the true meaning of this odd little phrase. Let the Cat out of the Bag:  Possibly related to the fact that in England in the Middle Ages, piglets were usually sold in bags at markets. Sometimes, someone would try to cheat a buyer by putting a cat in one of the bags instead of a piglet. And if someone let the cat out of the bag, the fraudster’s secret was revealed.

And when was the last time your mother, husband, or BFF had to corner you with this particular admonishment:  Get off Your High Horse: Medieval soldiers and political leaders bolstered their claims to supremacy by appearing in public in the full regalia of power, and mounted on large and expensive horses, thus presening themselves as larger than life. The combination of the imagery of being high off the ground when mounted on a great war charger, looking down one’s nose at the common herd, and also being a holder of high office made it intuitive for the term ‘on one’s high horse’ to come to mean ‘superior and untouchable.’

Is it possible that a  little Moderation might be just the thing to keep the dog hair off your tongue:  Hair of the dog is a colloquial expression in the English language predominantly used to refer to alcohol that is consumed with the aim of lessening the effects of a hangover. The expression originally referred to a method of treatment of a rabid dog bite by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound. The use of the phrase as a metaphor for a hangover treatment dates back to the time of William Shakespeare, when it was a popular belief that “a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences.” Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine within 24 hours to soothe the nerves. “If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail the next day.”

As a kid I thought this sounded like a fun idea, but only because I believed real animals were involved:  The term Kangaroo Court may have been popularized during the California Gold Rush of 1849. The first recorded use is from 1853 in a Texas context. It comes from the notion of justice proceeding “by leaps”, like a kangaroo. The phrase is considered an Americanism.

Sadly familiar because it’s practiced so often: Lying through your teeth:  This also may be an expression describing the act of lying with a smile or other patronizing tone or body language.  It is very old, traceable to the early 1300’s.

So, what’s the most oft used idiom in your language closet? Do you know what it really means, or do simply enjoy it for it’s familiarity and the fact that regardless of true meaning everyone tends to “get it” when you say it?

The Best Laid Plans … Yeah, Right!

It goes something like this …

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of real life, I can’t help but believe that the medicine goes down better when accompanied by a well laid plan spoonful of sugar.  Whether it be a mental list (Bahahahaha, yeah right! What kind’ve bone-head boob would rely on such foolish tactics!) or a tidy inventory laid out on paper– complete with bullet points–I’m all about planning.  Not that all my plans see fruition, it’s more about the fact that having a plan makes me feel fools me into thinking that I have a safety net in position at those times when real life comes along and attempts to blow the post-its off the refrigerator.

Did I mention my delusional tendencies?

Plans are admirable and good, even necessary at times, and yet, to believe they are ironclad or accident proof is to be mighty disappointed delusional.  The hard, cold, nails-down-the-chalkboard-truth, my friends?  Real Life Trumps The Best Laid Plans. 

For example (and I have so many I will make an effort to curb myself from dumping an avalanche here), I never fail to compose a grandiose list of New Year’s resolutions on or about January 1st, ready to sprint out the gate the moment the countdown ends, the ball drops, and I can *officially* crawl into my sparkly new and improved skin.

Make no mistake, I’m no lightweight

Which isn’t to say that I am simply a composer of abundant schemes and flowing designs–no ma’am, not this runaway chicken. To my credit, I stockpile ammo, suit-up, dig-in, and prepare for the long haul. I aim high, because I don’t know any better somewhere deep inside my rock hard head, I’ve succeeded in convincing tricking myself into believing that I’m up for the task and ready to vault over the wall at a moments notice.

My proposed lead into 2012 was no exception. Grand planner that I am, I prepared early, toiled over my intentions,scratched some, and elevated others.  It was an admittedly rosy start and I had a good run. All things orderly, neat, and infinitely promising for nearly a week.  Right up to the moment when the clown car pulled-up  and stormed the castle.

And so …

What happens when THE BEST LAID PLANS step out for a smoke, take a powder, leave the building? Well, duh, for starters you need to make new ones.  You rethink, regroup, refocus.  Because here’s the thing, the reason REAL LIFE trumps all variety of planning is because REAL LIFE is the big ticket, the hot tamale, the Leprechaun’s lucky charms. Whereas PLANS are more akin to those unintelligible instructions that come inside the box of high-quality-assemble-it-yourself furniture (why does it look like a coffee table when you’re supposed to be constructing a chest of drawers???), equal to the odds of winning more than two dollars on a scratch-off lottery ticket or waking up to find Brad Pitt scrambling eggs in your kitchen.

Say What?

Simply put, PLANS are good. They help us streamline, focus, accomplish. But still, there are plenty of times when REAL LIFE has its own PLANS and we’re left feeling as if there’s a runaway tractor trailer barreling straight through the center of our life.  Just as there are nevertheless moments when an even better PLAN comes along and trumps the seemingly perfect one you scribbled on the back of the cocktail napkin or jotted in the margin of the newspaper.

Um hum, REAL LIFE, it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And you? Are you a planner? How often do you defer to Real Life without a knock-down, drag-out fight?

A Peek Through the Keyhole…

The Versatile Blogger badge

Not so long ago I came across a ribbon I’d won a bazillion years ago on Field Day when I was in Jr High. It’s a yellow ribbon, which means I won FIFTH place competing in a sport that I obviously wasn’t very good at. I can only imagine I kept this not so impressive reminder because I love the color yellow. Or I’m a masochist.  Or maybe I thought if I kept it pressed in a book long enough it would eventually turn blue.  It didn’t.

I hope this means I’m not much of a sore loser. That while I might aspire for FIRST,  I can still appreciate FIFTH, (even as I hope that when we “go to the video tape” it will show that I actually won by a toe, and that fifth place straggler was just some limp-along wearing similar gym shorts.)

Winning isn’t essential, it isn’t the be-all-end-all, but still, it’s nice. Really nice.

Nice in a way that makes your cheeks glow, your eyes shine, and your head lift swell  when one of your VERY favorite bloggers nominates you for the coveted *Versatile Blogger Award*.  Uh hum, that would be correct. I’m talking about Elaine Smothers at Wonder in the Wild. If you haven’t been over to Elaine’s place, you must take the fastest train, plane, or automobile and get on over there. Or you can always  just click on the handy dandy link here 🙂  Because once you meet Elaine and Forrest you’ll want to pull up a chair and just stay a while.

I thank you, Elaine, most humbly and appreciatively for this Blue Ribbon Honor. Honestly, but my heart is shining– full to bursting.

And now for the fine print, as there are certain rules one must follow to accept the nomination.

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link to their blog. Check
  • Select 15 blogs you follow and enjoy, and nominate them for the award. Ouch! Was that a brick wall I just hit?  Well this is definitely a glitch, since I happen to know from my position as one of the last kid lumbering onto the bus, that by now you’ve all beat me to the podium and been nominated and re-nominated. 
  • Share 7 random things about yourself. Ha! Got this one! I am the Queen of Random! Random is easy. (Though, making sense? Having a point? Not so much.)

1. As a teenager I was wildly, madly, passionately in love with Robert Redford. My good friend Tina gifted me with a FULL LENGTH poster of my golden heartthrob that hung on the wall across from my bed assuring his was the first and last face I saw every morning and night for YEARS.

And all is blissful and flowery for someone so willing to pretend crush, destroy, lock in the vault away the rather disturbing fact that this magnificent specimen is in reality THE VERY SAME AGE AS MY DAD!

2. I love clothes. Vintage, classic, funky bohemian…love my glad rags!  And I compulsively clean out my closets (Yes, that’s correct, multiple closets, since one clearly won’t do the job,) in order to keep my threads tidy and organized.  Occasional writers block even allows me time now and again to color coordinate said garments 😀

3. Despite having multiple collections of stuff: Depression glass, vintage clothes, old jewelry, garden sculpture, typewriters, pens, etc…. I HATE clutter and disorganization, which means continuous sorting, arranging, removal. (Yes, I know, “Sick minds….”)

4. My family doesn’t think I know that they have not so discreetly nicknamed me The Food Nazi.

I care deeply am obsessed with all the crappy worthless garbage being passed as nutrition on the grocery shelves and dished up in our homes.  That’s not so say I never eat a Hershey bar, but I have this idea that if I treat my body really well and fill with High Test Fuel on a regular basis, it will return the favor by hauling me around in relative comfort until “Day is done.”

5. Despite multiple knee-scraping, butt bruising, embarrassing crash and burn, dirt eating wipe-outs over a span of months, I can now cruise around on my in-line-skates without mishap. And this makes me happy. Really really happy. Not only because I have mostly conquered my anxiety of broken bones and road burn, but I’ve again verified to myself that I’m not a quitter very sensible.

6. I think Zombies are stupid.

7.  Even when it makes no logical sense to keep standing on the tracks when I see the train hurtling toward me at an alarming speed, I remain wildly optimistic and hopeful that it will derail before impact. Pessimism annoys me probably as much as I annoy most pessimists.

You may now sigh with relief that this ever fabulous nomination only requires 7 random facts about moi.  But now it’s your turn. Care to share your own random fact?  We’d all love a glimpse behind your shades. So kindly do share 😀

MY MIND ON A SHELF

“These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but MINDS alive on the shelves”

Gilbert Highet 1906-1978
Teacher & Scholar

I am not familiar with Gilbert Highet, but his words are immortalized on a bronze plaque outside the public library in Baltimore Maryland.  I’ve read and reread this single line  inasmuch as it speaks volumes to my writers heart, particularly when I am struggling to compose that perfect sentence or Frankenstein design the endearing or imperfect character persistently struggling to stear me into their story. Despite all there years of writing, the actual process is something I find impossible to explain let alone understand. Somehow, to say that it “just happens” comes across as something of an insincere cop-out, and yet that’s pretty much the truth as it applies to my own experience with words.

Which isn’t to say that it’s easy.

It sometimes never happens that a perfect chorus of words will tango across the page with the poise and grace of a winning contestant on Dancing with the Stars.  Yet just as often, it’s a matter of strapping on a headlamp and heading in to excavate  the treasure that’s right over there behind that mammoth pile of boulders.  And you keep at it with heart and diligence, until all at once–total darkness–the vivid path of illumination unceremoniously extinguished when the bulb burns out.

FORK IN THE ROAD PIE

Even then you can’t allow yourself to cave to temporary obstacles or turn-tail from the illusion of a bottomless crevasse. Okay, so take a moment to hoist the white flag and head to the kitchen for a medicinal slice of conciliatory pie (although you’ve been writing  not baking, so it’s likely there is no pie.), but only a moment.   You’ve learned the essential importance of holding on by now. Your creative mind hasn’t taken a powder, left the building, or fallen into something scary and bottomless.  You know that if you stay in your chair, even if only to doodle in the margins, the tiniest speck of an idea will spark and then somehow–whether consciously fueled or not–will quaver and persistently swell to rekindle the fire. And I am never anything less than awed and amazed when the dust of creativity finally settles and a finished manuscript rests in my hands.  Not that I understand how it works.  I just know it does, not easily, but it does.

THE END (NOT!)

It takes me at least a year forever  to finish the first draft of a novel– not a 700 page Stephen King size tome, but compositions half their size,  between 350-375 pages. Then comes the editing–another year of rewriting, rewriting, disgust, agony, despair…and only then does it begin to look like something connected to the vision that first caught my attentions. I marvel over writers who produce a masterpiece in the space of a few months–or incredibly, weeks. How that works I can’t imagine.  I can only assume it”s because my mind is set at 33 where others are steady at 78.

Still, I’ve come to accept bemoan my slower pace as necessary for me. I am after all an obsessive compulsive editing machine. I hack, slash, and burn until I can see the words coming to life and feel my characters breathing on the page, and for me that takes some time.  The reward for my efforts, a cross-my-fingers-confidence that my work is pruned, polished and ready to stand right up there in the shadow of the big boys.

Except when it’s not.  And editing resumes.  Because it is my mind after all–quiet, hopeful, earnest–there on the shelf.  My story. My characters. My truth. Me.

I’ve always had something of a problem with the adage that so often accompanies rejection or bad reviews.  I assume it’s intended to soften the blow: “It’s not you that being rejected or disliked torn asunder by the roots, just your writing.”  Agree? Can/do you separate your personal self from your words?

The Octopus Knows- Round Robin #8

The Octopus Knows – Part 8

And so here it is my turn to write an installment of the progressive story, The Octopus Knows, originally conceived and created by the always inventive, Laird Sapir. I admit it’s a wee bit intimidating to contemplate this increasingly sticky predicament that Ninja and Simon now find themselves in, and I can only hope my writing brain kicks in to nudge our conflicted heroes in the right direction.  After seven very creative installments to-date, the most recent by Ellen Gregory (links to all installments can be found on Laird’s round robin page) we find the heinously kidnapped Ninja being held hostage in a whirlpool tub, and Simon foolishly fishing in his unflushed toilet with his toothbrush in order to recover the card containing the address of  Braden–aka Ninja’s unscrupulous kidnapper.

As we left off:

A minute later, staring at the soggy card covered with illegible watery blue ink, Simon reflected this wasn’t his finest hour. The address couldn’t be read, his wand was in the toilet, Braden had Ninja and Mr Jones was on his way to claim him.

For the first time in over a year, Simon’s immediate inclination isn’t to eat something; although it’s possible that his reluctance to self medicate with a fistful of Oreos has less to do with any sense of renewed discipline, as it relates to the distasteful condition of the card he now held in his hand.

He dropped the paper to the floor and gently laid the wand in the sink before turning the handle on the faucet to the far left–watching as the water gushed warm, then hot, over the wand.

Okay,so maybe this was it.  This was what it felt like to hit the wall at full force. He’d spent the entire past year overeating in an attempt to forget, and yet an expanding waistline had done little to dim the pain. Nothing had changed, and now Jones was back in town, towing  Marguerite like a shipwreck that gravity should’ve sunk long ago.  No question, that dame was resilient. She had no qualms about baring her fangs when cornered, and yet, in a strange way, Simon thought he might even admire her tenacity.  He wished he could say the same about himself.  But instead he’d gone soft. Traded his soul for a Twinkie.

The truth was that whatever Braden had written on the card didn’t matter. Simon knew where to find Ninja–the very place he’d long promised himself to never return. What’s more, whether he liked it or not–and he sure as hell didn’t–he somehow had to stuff himself back into those damned pants or otherwise risk losing Ninga.

And the bag–he needed to grab the bag from where he’d stashed it at the back of the refrigerator behind the gracefully molding cheese, praying hard and fast that the meticulously wrapped package inside hadn’t expired.

Steam now billowed up from the sink and with a hard twist on the faucet handle, Simon shut off the water and grabbed the wand from the sink.  He didn’t have much time and every instant was crucial. His fingers quivered like jello on bone as he attempted to handle the wand with essential care–turning the still hot tip in his fingers as he unscrewed it from the shaft.  Separating the two sections, he slid the slender glass vile encased inside into his palm. And he didn’t stop to consider risk or consequence as he popped off the lid and upended the contents onto his tongue.

Far off,  on the other end of town, Ninja’s eyes blinked open as the water in the tub all at once began churning, rolling, sloshing wildly.  A high pitched girlish scream that could only be Braden, broke loose beyond the closed bathroom door.  

With all eight tentacles reaching to grasp the edge of the tub, Ninja held tight to keep from being pitched onto the tile floor.  And if he’d had a set of lips instead of a beak he would’ve smiled.  He almost couldn’t believe it.  At long last it looked like his boy Simon had grown a set.  High time to lock and load, baby …

To be continued…

And now I respectfully pass the keyboard to Carrie Dawes 😀  Stay tuned!

Positively Peevish

Lest anyone assume I woke-up this morning  wearing my Grouchy Pants or have overindulged on a breakfast of Cranky Flakes, allow me to clarify that I am actually quite jolly and chipper as is most often the case in the AM hours–before the real world comes along to slap me in the face and wring-the-merry from my smiley face.

Nevertheless, there are those things that gnaw and grate.  Drive-by moments that come along to poke and  irritate, despite all good intentions. That rub against the conscience–sometimes in the background, other times in the forefront–but always there somewhere, ready to jump and churn at the first not so gentle nudge.

It started this morning with a Styrofoam coffee cup on my neighbors lawn. I spied it from my kitchen window.  A startling, heinously deposited object of stark, non-bio degradable  ugliness discarded on Mr. R’s hard-earned and carefully tended square of sod heaven.  The sight of which launched me directly into Peeve #1:

Littering boobs who seem to think trash cans were designed as unnecessary ornamentation.  Honestly, but I despise litter in all of its hideous forms. No excuses or attempts at rationalization accepted. It’s disgusting.

It is in fact the aforementioned despicable crime that leads me directly into this companion peeve to #1, which is Peeve #2:

Pet owners who walk their dogs (purposely steered their pooches beyond the bounds of their own neighborhood) with the deliberate intent of “Poop and Run.”  No doubt you’ve seen them, bag-less dog walkers who pick-up speed should they spy a previously unobserved witness to their dastardly deeds.

Of course thoughts of pooping naturally lead me to considerations of eating, thus Peeve #3:

Foods with healthy sounding names that are anything but healthy.  For example Nutri-Grain, or the uber appealing Nature Valley.  A wise choice for those in pursuit of  good health?  ACK!!!!  NO! NO! Lies, all lies!  Both contain Fructose (HIGH Fructose in some cases.)  Fructose, as many of you know, is the REIGNING DEVIL of bad horrifying  ingredients. To quote Dr. Mercola of #1 Natural Health Website, “Fructose is the NUMBER ONE source of calories in the US.  An ingredient that is found in virtually all processed foods cannot be considered “moderate.” Even most infant formulas contain the sugar equivalent of one can of Coca-Cola, which helps explain how six-month old babies can be obese.”  I realize that not everyone cares to be known as the Food Nazi, as my own wiseacre family has titled moi, but Jeezaloo, how about food manufactures ease-up on the blatant trickery toward consumers who really do care to improve their diets and chose wisely. If it says NATURE or NUTRI on the label it should be a rule that, yeah,  it really is. (BTW, a good rule to keep in mind when scanning the ingredient panel–beware the “toses,” they’re all stinkers. Aka, Fructose, Maltose, Sucrotose, etc.)

Needless to say, such talk of devious deception leads me straight into  Peeve#4:

People who lecture against talking Religion and Politics and then do so themselves. You know the type. They make a grandiose point of their peacekeeping rule of excluding those potentially one thousand percent quarenteed heat producing topics from all social conversation, but then proceed to poke sharpened and poisonous barbs into aforementioned gentle and purposely civil conversation.  I think it’s safe to say that the majority of us have very strong opinions of Religion & Politics, thus there are generally no allowances for slip-in, snide references, or drop and run deliveries (see Peeve #2) of said topics.

Okay,okay, simmer down, I hear ya. Enough of the cyber whining– I get it.  Still, I know you have plenty of peeves yourself.  I can hear them knocking around in your head, so  here’s your chance to pass them along (and maybe even get a soothing touch of sympathy). Large, small, or passionately festering, the floor is now open. Let er rip  😀

Caution: Exploding Brain

I’m not whining.  Really I’m not.   Well, sorta, kind’ve. Maybe just a little.  You see I get these ideas–neat, tidy, messy, disruptive, genius, life-changing, soul-shaking, ideas.  And I somehow assume that’s the hard part–the figuring stuff out part. The mind at work process.  The finger in the light socket wake-up call.

In reality, that’s just the half of it. The hard part is turning all the cogs and gears and moving all those brilliant plans into motion without my head exploding, because in the process of creation I’ve somehow forgotten to squirt some oil on the mechanism to keep it rolling smoothly.

Procrastinator vs. Overachiever

I very rarely procrastinate, although I sometimes like to take a few days weeks to think about a task or problem at hand.  Better to weigh and consider than it is to leap and regret.  For example, why rush the the doctor the minute you  notice the arrival of that strange spot festering volcano  on the tip of your nose, when it might very well disappear in 6 months?  Who want’s to be labeled a hypochondriac, for Pete’s sake. Far better to wait a while and see if anything falls off.

Ah, but overachiever! Not a title I necessarily rush to print on the front page, but okay, between you and me, I think that might be something of an issue for me.  Not because I am a TRUE overachiever, but rather, an A-Z organized, Pulitzer winning, Martha Stewart, chairman-of- the-board, Wonder Woman … wannabe.  Yes, I absolutely have all of my ducks standing nearly in a row– but as it is in real life, where I’ve NEVER EVER seen actual living ducks standing in a row–my ducks are more or less aligned in my head under the column labeled: MY PERFECT WORLD.

Perfect vs. Reality

It’s true I aspire to greatness, but my definition of such doesn’t necessarily fall into the category of Cesar or Ming the Merciless. I figure if I can just get the day-to-day requirements sorted out and orderly,  there will then be time to take it up to the next level where I conquer and build empires.

What’s more, I continue to hold to the hope that while plodding along the road to victory I might actually find myself becoming far more accomplished and in control–aka,  a lot less crazy. All I really need, as assures the quavering remnants of my logical self, is to master some simple basics.

And so, as it is with all great intentions and resolutions (hey people, they’re not just for New Years!) I will begin with a mighty list:

1. Return phone calls (Mom, even when it’s not her birthday. Also, the receptionist at the dentist’s office who is persistently calling to reschedule my 6 month cleaning, since the Dr has apparently decided to go on a cruise that week. Alas, the time has come to face the truth and cease the standoff, since only a crazed buffoon would seriously hold to the determination that by refusing to acknowledge a scheduling change, they might successfully force their health care professionals into sheepishly folding and rescheduling personal plans .)

2. Send Birthday cards on time and correctly addressed to the intended recipient. (Ex: The birthday card I recently sent to my nephew with his first name and MY last name printed on the envelope. Thank God I at least had his address correct so it did arrive. Humiliation and embarrassment of Auntie Barbara:Priceless.)

3. Morning workout accomplished without mental promises of cookies for lunch if I just do ten more push-ups and forty sumo squats.

4. Daily writing goals pursued and accomplished without being sidetracked by laundry (which will patiently wait) and cat naps because I’M NOT ACTUALLY A CAT.

5. Bills & monthly expenses paid before looming due dates have me writing checks in the middle of the night (and because I voluntarily assumed this task after telling berating hubby that he’s too much of a PROCRASTINATOR.)

6. Saying NO (nicely if possible) when I don’t have time or inclination to fulfill a request. (Beware the “Disease to Please.” It’s life stiffling!)

7. Stop making lists when I really should be doing all of those things I’m currently listing. (Although my son did just offer me one of the M&M’s he’s eating for breakfast and I did staunchly decline, so # 3 is nearly accomplished. Yeah Me :-D)

So, how about opening the valve and releasing some of that pressure from your own overtaxed-on-the-cusp-of-exploding-brain–what’s on your list?

Liebster Love & Comrades of the Pen

Last week I had the great pleasure of learning that I’d been tapped for some Major Blog Love by Ellen Gregory, when she awarded me with the Liebster Blog Award.  (Yes, that is me you hear hootin’ and hollerin’ just because winning stuff is fun and festive!) So my sincere thanks to Ellen 😀

To explain, I’m going to quote Ellen who quoted Laird, who quoted Mike Schulenberg:

According to legends that come to us from antiquity, the Liebster is meant for blogs that motivate, inspire, and have 200 followers or less.  Its apparent purpose is to summon new followers like some sort of mystical talisman, increasing the power of those of us who are just beginning. — Mike Schulenberg

The Liebster Blog rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you on your blog and link back to them.
  2. Nominate up to 5 others for the award.
  3. Let them know by commenting on your blog.
  4. Post the award on your blog.

So without further ado, I select the following five to spread the Liebster love:

Janet Lawler: The New York Screenwriting Life

Kathryn Magendie: Writing From My Mountain Cove

Heather Webb: Between the Sheets

Sherry Issac: Psychological Sizzle

Jodi Lea Stewart: Walking on Sunshine

And really this is merely the tip of the Island of Beautiful Blogs. But it does bring to  mind the fact that it isn’t merely about being entertained, informed, and having a friendly chit-chat across cyberspace. There is also the absolute joy or connection with like minds — or even not so like minds.

The following post seems a good fit with Liebster Love. It’s a repost from my long ago, far away blog, but remains a favorite for it’s close proximity to my heart.

COMRADES OF THE PEN

Do you recall your very first best friend?  How about your first writing  friend? The one you excitedly shared your aspirations with, secure in knowing your heart’s desire was completely safe and theft proof in the vault, because your best writing friend shared the inherent angst, struggle, and unsurpassed joy of putting words on paper.
Hugh Hefner, The Early Years
I started writing my “little stories’ in grade school, keeping everything in various notebooks that I’ve long lost track of. My first foray into writing with a friend was in third grade and it nearly landed me in the hot seat down at the principal’s office. My friend and I (also named Barbara), had somehow came up with the then thrilling idea to co-author a weekly newspaper, the name of which was THE NAKED CITY. We’d heard the title on a television program and been shocked, titillated, and immediately tempted to be naughty. I don’t recall much story-telling in this joint venture, but the main feature of our newspaper were naked stick-figures adventuring in a big city.  It was all great fun for a week or two, and my co-writer, Barbara, was most generous in offering to keep our back-list publications safely tucked away in her classroom desk. We were wildly enthusiastic to share our newspaper with classmates, and the brief surge of popularity was heady stuff. Or at least up until the moment when one dissatisfied reader tattled to our teacher and Barbara was forced to hand over our complete inventory of THE NAKED CITY on the spot. Barbara was prompt in implicating me as her trusty co-writer, and I was equally prompt in responding with a vehement denial.

All these years later, I am left wondering if  Barbara still holds a grudge…

Seventh Grade, The Bronx Bomber Comes To Town
I grew up in a small town in New York.  Postcard pretty: farms, rolling hills, mostly quiet, and generally peaceful. A new family moving in was immediately noted and carefully watched as they blended in. Maybe it was the leather jacket, the movie magazine tucked under her arm (when the rest of us were still reading Archie comics), or a combination of both, but from the first day when the new kid swaggered onto the school bus, my attentions were immediately captured and have held steady for over 35 years.

Unlike myself, who kept my writerly aspirations safely tucked away for my eyes only, waiting for my confidence to kick in, Janet made no secret of the fact that she was an aspiring screenwriter. Born and raised in the Bronx, she was an all out enigma in our small town and quickly became known as “The Star.” Whenever she arrived in English class toting a newly finished script, our teacher was enthusiastic in allowing the class to read and perform her masterpieces. Needless to say I was thoroughly enthralled with this leather clad epitome of all things cool. Our friendship came on fast and furious in such a way that has held on strong for the duration. We’ve come a long way from the days of skipping school to sit at Janet’s kitchen table drinking tea and typing her scripts, and despite time and distance, she remains my top-tier writing champion. It’s been a thrilling ride, supported each other from rock bottom rejections to the exhilaration of standing on the summit.  While my debut novel currently makes its way in the world, Janet, too, has had a myriad of writerly accomplishments: writing award wining plays, a movie script optioned by a renowned Hollywood director, and writer of a popular blog, THE NEW YORK SCREENWRITING LIFE: 

Writing Friends From Afar, Yet Close As A Key Stroke
Social Media. Blessing or curse?  I’ll be honest and admit that my first foray into social media was in consideration of what I assumed was a necessary evil for authors with stuff to promote. I didn’t get it — until I did. Certainly promotion is essential on some level in some places, but the true treasure to be gathered from those favorite Facebook groups, blogs, websites, etc, is the connection to REAL people traveling the same road, carrying a familiar cargo, and pressing on to similar destinations. Sort’ve like one REALLY BIG road trip.

I find it remarkable and exhilarating. These are not simply avatars passing on the internet, they are shoulder to shoulder, pen stroke to keyboard, comrades of the written word. Yep, right here with me, generous, sympathetic, and just as enthusiastic to accept the invitation to my party as I am to accept theirs.

A recent glowing example of newly discovered writer love came to me with the discovery of a most fabulous novel and it’s equally fabulous author. Several weeks ago I found myself reading “Tender Graces” by Kathryn Magendie. Now when I say fabulous, what I mean specifically is that I LOVE everything about this book .  I’m talking Triple Crown: story, characters, writing style.  Now, in my pre-social media life, I would have loved this book, studied the author bio on the back cover, and wondered all sorts of things about this mysterious creature who could write so beautifully. Not so in the here and now where we can find books, love them, and “meet” their authors, as I myself did with Kathryn Magendie, an incredibly gracious writer who has much to share and does so most generously. Comrade of the pen? You betcha! (And a crazy cool aside, she was reading my novel, The Secret of Lies, at the same time I was falling in love with her book. A situation guaranteed to kick-up the thrill of reading several notches.)

Writer love is a most wonderful thing and I gladly trade my promotional aspirations for the far more durable gift of pen-to-pen friendships.  How about it, have you been thoughtful in passing around some of your own writer love?  Would love to hear how you discovered your comrades of the Pen 🙂