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My Rededication

It is that awkward week between the holidays and the beginning of the new year.

If you are like me, the holidays mean a break from routine... we eat different (and usually more). We sleep different, in different places (and usually a bit less). We ignore things we would be up in arms about the other 11 months of the year (she said what? Meh) and we fixate on things that don't really matter (but does this bow match this wrapping paper better?)

And in the back of our heads as we help ourselves to more green bean casserole or yet another sugar cookie... as we settle in on the couch to watch a movie or we decide that we deserve a nap on our day off... there is that sinking little feeling just behind your right eye... a little gnome that is whispering, "better get it out of your system now.. the diet/exercise regime/whatever it is starts on the first..."

This year I am starting my New Years Resolutions or Renewals or Rededications or whatever you want to call them early. I figure, since my life was all wonky, why go backwards... just start anew, now!

I am optimistic that this approach will keep me on task a bit longer into the year because instead of spending the first two weeks of january starting new things and bemoaning the last two weeks of gluttony, I will start January with a few new habits already in place, if not totally routine yet.

On a related note, I have decided to pass up a paid nonfiction writing gig to focus more on my fiction writing. 

Happy New Year.


The Road Staked Out

I have decided to pass up a paid nonfiction writing gig to focus more on my fiction writing. 


Last year was a year of transition for me writing wise... I feel like I hit a wall and then didn't really know how to get around it. I struggled with sense of self, with expectations (both real and imagined, both understandable and downright nut-so), and I floundered. A lot.

I am ready to rededicate myself to writing. To the written word that is produced by me. In fiction.

I am giving myself permission to write crap. To write badly. To write stories in drafts that are silly, lame, go no where, and have no point. I am giving myself permission to start over as a fiction writer, to wipe the slate clean and let go of the few nonfiction vestiges I have been holding onto.

I am going to stop calling myself a free lace writer, an author. I am going to start calling myself a writer's apprentice. I am going to read good books written by good writers and then hone my craft. I am going to read books on writing written by writers I admire and let go of the critiques of those who's work I don't appreciate. I am not going to write book reveiws. I am not going to edit anyone elses work. I am not going to collaborate. I am going to be selfish with my free time. I am going to reattach myself to the keyboard.

I am going to write when I don't feel beset by the muse. I am going to write when I am unsure of where I am going. I am going to write for me and not think about what will happen when the writing part is over. I am going to wallow in the writing process. I am going to rediscover my fiction voice. I am going to ramble and vent and think and finally let some of the demons out of my head an back onto the page where they belong.

I want this year to be the year that I am, once again, proud of myself... maybe not proud of what I wrote exactly... but proud again that I bothered to write at all.

I am going to find myself again through the words that only I can pick and place on the page.

Consider yourself warned.

Growing up is hard to do.

I turn 34 today. 

I always like to think back x number of years... Birthdays make me introspective. 

10 years ago
5
1

20... At 14 I could never have imagine where life would take me. 

But here's the thing, I'm married (again). I am a mother to the world's most precious 2 year old. I have writing cred and some professional cred as well. There are a few circles where I am respected. 

But I'm still that awkward nail chewing klutzy day dreamer 14 year old inside. 

And this morning proved it. 

In a bout of misguided maturity, I decided this was the morning to learn how to blow dry my hair.

Instead of ending with a mane of delightfully fluffy beautiful magazine ready hair, the experiment ended with a few tears, the loss of some hair, a bit of smoke,  and the realization that while one should try to experience new things, the trial run should probably not be done in front of the all seeing toddler. 

The morning also included a run in between the large very heavy hamper and the said toddlers little face. Note to self: when moving a large hamper please make sure that there is no toddler or other dangerouse obstruction within a 10 feet radius of you, your flailing arms, or the heavy objects. 
Secondary note: the cat, who is a black little ninja of death, also counts as an obstruction. 

We survived the morning and are now enjoying our Panera breakfast. 

Let's hope the rest of the day (year) is less exciting. 



CA Article: Year in Review

Yep... I know I quit this writing gig... and... yet....

Here is my December article.


December Article: 2014 in Review LGBT-wise

I have an article up on Community Alliance

Here you go!

Whatever you celebrate this season, please do it with gumption and flair!


Are you writing a novel this month?

I'm not.

But I am thinking about my novel.

A lot.

I have characters, plot, details, timelines... I guess it is time to plot it all out and write it all down.

Now... if I could only stand to read / work on the computer or longer than 20 minutes at a time...

Oh, right. you might not know. I have been having some serious vision issues lately. So... positive thoughts, please!


Eye Update

I left off on a good note... and then woke up with rainbows and lose of vision all over again.

Weeks later, so many many many trips to Kaiser, new meds, old meds, pills that are INSANE in terms of price, steroid drops that make me ill, and so much pain and aggravation later...

THIS is where we stand.

My eyes are getting better. The glaucoma is being caused by an inflammation. Despite all the tests (including a chest x-ray) they have no idea what is causing the inflammation. So... they can treat the symptom, but not the cause.

Also, the treatment isn't going as smooth as it should be.

So. Another two weeks on drops that make me sick, but no more drops that make my fingers and toes go numb. Two more weeks of blurry vision, sensitivity to light, and difficulty reading. But no more pills that cost an arm and a leg. (unless stuff, and then it all comes back... so yay for living in mild state of wary panic at all times... is that blurry too blurry or just a smudge on my glasses....)

Hopefully we will kick the crap out of the inflammation and they won't have to up the number of times I drop little bits of pain into my eyes from four times a day to (gulp) six or eight.

Since they don't know what is causing it, they will have to monitor me carefully to catch it if/when it comes back.

And now you know.




I have Glaucoma and I love Kaiser

I got new glasses last week.



Totally unrelated except for the "wow, that's a weird coincidence"... last weekend I developed glaucoma.

At first I thought I was having trouble adjusting to my new prescription. Then i thought I was getting a migraine. But soon the rainbows around all the light sources and the loss of focus, the inability to read, and the inability to see anything but bright light when I would stand up or move around coupled with the hazy fuzzy foggy cloud of smoke that seemed to have taken up residence in front of my eyes.. no, wait.. just my good eye... yeah all this had me starting to freak out a bit.

The next day it hadn't gone away and I was in full on freak out mode.

It was Sunday. I called the switchboard. I asked to talk to the advice nurse.

She referred me to someone in Optometry.

He listened to my plight and then promised to pass along the message to the scheduling team who would call me the next day. "If they don't call you by the end of the day, you can call them to set up an appointment for Tuesday."

I reiterated again how I wasn't able read.

He told me that they would probably want to dilate my eyes so I would need to allow for extra time before driving home.

I started to sob and almost hyperventilated in frustration. Drive? Are you on drugs. I cannot see!  I CANNOT SEE!!!!!

He promised to have the one call doctor call me.

Half an hour later, a call from the on call doctor who will always have a special place in my heart. He listened and told me to meet him at the hospital in thirty minutes.

(Quick note,Kaiser on a Sunday afternoon is very very empty)

He did an exam and told me my pressure was super high and he could see cloudy on my cornea. "Yep," he said matter of factly, "It's glaucoma."

And I was so relieved.

For reals. See, I don't have lenses in my eyes. I have known that I was at risk for glaucoma forever. I have always lived with the idea that there is a real chance my vision will deteriorate and could possibly go away at some point.

Getting glaucoma was just a matter of time... and Dr Waxman was very confident that we had caught it quick enough to stop any serious loss of vision. He gave me drops and made an appointment for me to see the specialist on Tuesday.

I'm going to skip over the rest of the crazy... the vacillating between fear and acceptance, the frustration of being on "eye rest" which meant no reading of any sort (no texting, email, facebook, etc).

After seeing the specialist this morning and having a banner response to the eye drops this is where we stand:

I have glaucoma. I  have lost a tiny bit of vision. My pressure is still higher than ideal, but it is acceptable. It will need to be monitored pretty regularly. I will have to take eye drops twice a day for the rest of my life. This should hold off any more loss of vision. Oh... and since my prescription has changed, I will probably need new glasses... but since I just got new glasses, I should be able to return the new pair for the newer pair.

Really? It was the best prognosis one could possibly hope for.

I'm doing fine, adjusting to my new (only slightly different vision) and the glasses that aren't quite right.

I am very lucky that Matthew has a job that lets us have such good vision insurance. I am very lucky that Kaiser was ON IT and got me in asap. I am SUPER lucky that Chris wasn't busy Sunday afternoon and that Mark was able to come be with me this week and help me care for Ella before the drops started really working and I couldn't see much of anything. I am so very very very lucky to have a partner like Matthew and such a great family and friend support system.

Here's a hope that we don't have any weekends quite that eciting for a while.

I... Came in 2nd!

It was a lovely thing to be nominated and the emails I got asking when I will be published again were heartwarming... and a swift kick in the rump.

So, thank you.

And.... yeah... I have two articles in next month's Community Alliance. So, I guess that puts me back on the horse in a pretty real way.


On not being a hypocrite while being an optimmist.



Me: Look at my stupid funger, it is all swollen and gross.
Matt: What happened?
Me: I don't know. I had a hangnail and I bumped it, not sure what was first but it is super tender and driving me crazy.
Matt: That looks infected. you should call your doctor.
Me: I don't want to,
Matt: But you should.

Later....

On the phone with my grandmother discussing her cough and hoarse voice.

Me: I think it has been long enugh, you should probably call your doctor.
Her: I don't want to.
Me: That's not the point, you should call your doctor anyway.
Her: Mmhmmm.

The irony not lost on me, I sent a message to my doctor via email.

This sounds odd, I know that I had a hangnail and now my finger is all swollen, very tender to the touch, warm to the touch, and bright red with a little white next to the nail. It is making it very hard to type, and as a writer, that is kind of a big deal...

I figured it would go away on its own but it has been a few days and my husband is freakng me out by insisting that it is infected. I promised him I would email you. The pic is blury but it sort of shows what Iam talking about.


I included a blury photo of my finger.
Less than two hours later she wrote back.

Your finger does look infected. The picture is blurry but I think there may be a pocket of pus which we may need to open and let out. It would be good to come in. In the meantime I've sent antibiotics for your to pick up and take.

I hate when he's right.

The good news is that he can get my perscription for me.

The bad news is I get to go have my finger drained on Tuesday.

The even better news is that Ella gets to come with me.

BUT, being the optimist I am, I'm going to use thiis as a learning tool... she can watch me have this done and then get my flu shot and learn that boo-boos happen, that doctors help us, and that everyone gets shots but live and recover quickly.

At least that is what I am telling myself.







Did I mention it is the middle finger?


A gift!

My daughter is two (as of yesterday).... and she is a gift.

But today I got a different very wonderful gift.

An unsolicited positive review from a stranger... who not only said nice things about my book... he said a LOT of nice things about my book.

Read it here!

Thank you Tony for bringing this to my attention!

I got nominated!

/blush/

My category is: "Favorite Valley Author" and you can vote here... if you are so inclined.

Thus endeth my campaign.


And now it is August

Back to school season is in full force.

And I am ready.. oh so ready.. to get back to writing as a serious thing.

I know I keep saying that. Thank you to everyone who is still emailing me and such.

Random poem inspired in part by the realization that it is my ex husband's birthday today.


---Full Moon---


The waves crashed
Low and terrible
Unquestioned power in the dark
Just out of reach, we walked
Through the sand, slowly, not touching
Be careful where we placed our words and steps
I could hear your breathing
And I knew you listened to my breath,
Considered it before you broke the silence
The words were muttered, drowned out
Meanings were clear like stars, harsh and cold and far away
Sand gave way to rocks
Slick and black in the moonlight
I tried to see past the tree line as it threatened the driftwood
The sea spit foam at us in envy
Further down there was a fire but we kept our distance
Hidden together
By the cliffs that hid what only ruined the view
Pausing now, the car a memory behind us
I wrote my name with my heel, felt it sinking in the dirty sand
While you looked for the flash of green
That was many hours old and gone
Hot and horrible was the ocean
Ceaselessly throwing herself at us
I felt her scream rising up inside my chest
And the surf was my own breathing, rhythmic and frantic

Refusing to wait I turned back and told you I was cold


July 2014

It was weird to not write a Pride article this year.

I think I am finally starting to get a hang of this motherhood / still a writer thing... the balance is pretty hard though.

Hopefully I will be able to devote more time to my fiction as E learns how to entertain herself for longer periods of time.

/fingers crossed


Memory Book update

Just ordered Ella's "Birth - 1 Year" memory book.


You'll love Shutterfly's award-winning photo books. Try it today.



She is almost 20 months old... so I feel this is pretty good, time wise.

My *goal* is to finish each of her memory books between her birthday and Christmas, but that is a lofty goal and not super practical. 

Ok, next up:
Matt and Kay Go To Tokyo Memory Book!
Matt and Kay Go To England Memory Book!
Matt and Kay Get MARRIED Memory Book!

Liklihood of these all getting done before the family reunion next month?

Nil to none.

Oh well.


Mother's Day



I am a mother now and the Mother's day thing has a whole new level of "love" attached to it.

In related new, super related actually, I am finally going to announce that the novel I m currently working on is called "Mother's Path"


Here is the tease:


Bard and his sister Seasong spent their childhood in a musty smelling VW van traveling the country with their gypsy mother until she, too ill to continue to care for them, sent them to live with their father in California’s rural central valley. Years later, they both struggle as adults to fit in. Seasong rejects convention and is a free spirited nomad while Bard attempts to find stability in middle class America. When a voice from the past calls them, they both must face what it truly means to be their mother’s children. Traveling with his sister on a road trip full of heartache and self discovery, Bard finds himself at a painful crossroads.



Happy Mother's Day!

Sometimes you can't win

A list of the things I did tonight that made Ella cry. A partial list that only represents the last hour of our day.

I gave her a fork
I gave her a spoon
I gave her water
I gave her milk
I gave her food.
I didn't let her eat off my plate.
I relented and let her eat off my plate and she realized we had the same food.
I ate some of the food.
I wiped her face.
I wiped her hands
I wiped the table after she had gotten down.
I petted the cat
I turned on a light
I only let her wipe herself twice after going potty.
I didn't need to go potty.
There were too many bubbles in her bath.
There were not enough bubbles in her bath.
I washed her hair
I washed her privates
I washed her back
I didn't wash the duck the right way
I let the water out of the tub
The water did't empty from the tub fast enough
I dried her off with the wrong towel.
I yawned.
I offered her jammies that she hates
I offered another pair of horribly offensive PJs
Another pair.
I didn't pull her PJ pants (first set) on her fast enough.
I read the story in the wrong voice
I sang the wrong song
I sang the wrong other song
I still couldn't figure out which song she wanted
I finally figured it out, but then I didn't sing it enough times.
I tripped over the gate on my way out and had to sing another song.
The blanket was on her feet.
The blanket wasn't on her legs.
I didn't give her enough kisses
I gave her too many kisses

***

I need a drink.


Working hard....

... on several projects!

Updates coming soon!

Well, "Bless" You Too Lady

It was a warm day... not a hot day (those are coming) but still, a warm day.

Ella and I were leaving the 99 Cent store.

"Excuse me," a voice from near the door called out  as I adjust my sunglasses, "excuse me?"

I turn and see her, a middle aged woman, sitting cross legged in the two inches of shade granted her by the tiny overhang.

Seeing she has my attention, "Excuse me, do you have any spare change?"

My response is part instinct, all truth, "No, sorry, I don't carry cash."

"Ok, thanks anyway."

At this point Ella notices the dog in the lady's lap, a wiener dog with its tongue hanging out. Ella begins to make the "uff uff" sound and point in glee.

"Umm, I don't have any change, but I have water, does your dog need water?" Leave it to my toddler to remind me to be a decent person.

"Oh yes! I am trying to save up money for water." Whether this is true or not, the dog looks miserable.

"Ok, hang on." I have a costco soda fountain drink cup half full of cold water. I pour another inch into Ella's cup and then roll closer to the woman and hand her the paper cup.

"Oh, thank you! Thank you!"

"No problem," I say backing the stroller up.

"God Bless you!"

"Oh," I have a second of thinking I should just shut up, but I have a big mouth. "Not about God, just trying to be decent. Stay cool!" I turn the stroller (and the still "uff uff" chanting toddler) away and prepare to head down the sidewalk.

"Wait..." I glance back at her, "You don't believe in God?"

"Nope," I smile,try to make myself look as friendly as possible, "Have a good day"

Again, I turn and start to walk away.

I get three steps.

"Well FU*K YOU!" The cup of water hits me in the back and goes flying off into the parking lot.

I look back, she is glaring, clutching the dog to her chest, her eyes tiny needles of hate, "Yeah, you heard me, FU*K You! Hope you have fun in HELL!!!"

My 19 month old is now saying "Ohh? in a questioning tone -on the verge of tears- and my back is wet.

I take a deep breath. Pick up the empty cup, throw it away, and then walk, slowly and deliberately, away. Half way through the parking lot Ella and I sing the ABCs as I try to calm down.

Poor dog.

Quandary ...


In the mail today, addressed to Ella, was a religious story book.

From a religious family member.

Who KNOWS we are not a religious family. Knows beyond a shadow of a doubt because she and I have had several conversations about it.

There was no note, no card, in the envelope... just the book.

I am conflicted. On the one hand I want to be polite and say thank you. I want to honor the sweetness that someone thought of my daughter and spent the time and effort to send her something.

On the other hand, I don't plan on letting her keep the book. She is "reading" it now, but it will probably disappear as soon as her attention wanders.

I am trying to find a way to say thank you… but also please don’t give my child religious books or toys etc in the future. I want to be polite and respectful… but also firm.

Am I being too sensitive? Should I just disappear the book and not say anything?




Books for Sale!

I will be selling (signed) copies of my book Links: A Collection of Short Stories at the GCV annual Spring Fling event on April 26th.

Event FB page here.

I am also thrilled to be able to announce that I am now a part of the newly formed Collective of Artistic Women and thus will be sharing a table with some other lovely people!

If you are local, please come out and say hi. (Rumor has it that there will be a taco truck on site....)

The sort of loss that is a good loss

It is spring!
A time for growth and change and planting seeds!
And freaking out about swimsuit season.

Ahem

Just a quick "base touching" as it were on those 2014 Goals...

Get out of debt.
Finish the novel. Write fiction worth reading, get it out there for people to read
Get funding for GCV.
Run a well organized house.
Lose weight and get healthy.


As of April 5th.

Get Out of Debt:. (Feb 1st: $12,200. April 5th: $8,670) PROGRESS!!!!
Not as much as I had hoped, but it is a dent, and dents add up. 

Finish the novel. 
Errr. I have stopped working on the novel completely. I have some good reasons. I also sort of quit all my nonfiction jobs. So, there's that. 
I need to change this goal to :Get stuff published and enjoy writing again. In THAT category I am doing ok. I am having a lot of fun writing again and I have submitted two things recently and am getting ready to submit a few other things. This is definitively a work in progress. 

Get funding for GCV (Current Monthly Donors: 4. Promised to be monthly donors: another 2)
Hey you, yeah you... want to donate to a very worthy cause? Click here and consider donating. Even $10 a month can make a HUGE difference. In the meantime I will continue to try to fundraise and find grants and bum spare change off people. Because it matters.

Run a well organized house (Status: The living room / dining room is looking pretty ok)
I still need to redo the bathrooms. I redid the kitchen. I need to Stay On Top Of Putting Things Away. Sigh.

Lose weight and be healthy. (Current Weight: 154.)

I am down by a bit over 5 pounds since the beginning of March.

To celebrate, I got 10 inches of my hair chopped off!

Yay me!


Room

Room
By Emma Donoghue




A book club favorite, I have read and reread Room half a dozen times since it came out.

It holds up remarkable well.

The first time I read it, I saw it as a story of a little boy being raised in confinement. I found the shtick of the perspective being a five year old boy well done for the most part and I was fully invested in the plot.

True, there were things that were hard to believe and there were points when I felt I should be more emotionally invested than I was (the climax for example, because of the first person telling of the little boy, I never saw *him* in any real danger... it is a brave author who can kill off the narrator half way through a book), but that was ok because there were aspects that really worked: the treatment of the mother character, the frustration of the situation, the ending, etc.

The second, or third, time I read it, I began to see the symbolism. I began to think about more global points of our own sense of self and the rooms that we build for ourselves in our everyday lives... the walls that are real, the walls that are emotional... the walls others build versus the ones we create for ourselves. How safe are we in our rooms?

Later, I began to think about the idea of "room" being a societal point. We are who we are based in large part by our surroundings. To be that fish-out-of-water is a frightening experience. Whether we are a boy leaving the relative safety of his "room" or an immigrant leaving their home country, or a college girl leaving home for the first time... we all go through culture shocks and how we react to the inherent difficulties is very telling.

It wasn't until a more recent reading when I was told that this book was inspired by real life events.

/shudder

Let me say, that it is a quick an relatively easy read. The only difficulty comes at the emotional level, not the reading level. The characters are not all that fleshed out or profound, but that is more because the narrator is a five year old.. and through his eyes we do get glimpses of character development that isn't at all obvious to him. The story is interesting and won't soon leave your mind.

I feel compelled to say: trigger warning for violence against women and children in peril.

Well worth the read.


The 100



The 100



I want to like this show.

Why is this show making it so hard to like it?

Sigh. Ok, here goes.

What we know from the get go: space, adventure, teen, The CW.



What we can posit: sci-fi, teen angst, plot contrivances, pretty people, the need for suspension of disbelief.

Then we watch the 5 minute preview on Hulu.

And we get excited. Very excited. The first five minutes gives us exposition (handled well –quick, succinct gives we what we need to know and moves on). It gives us a heroine who is strong, feisty, and likeable. It gives us some cool space shots of space stations and other such things. In other words, there is a good budget on this, that bodes well. It gives us a peek at some of the coming drama, but it seems tempered by the story. So far so good.

Then we watch the whole first episode.

But wait… first let’s make a check list:

Teen angst means unrequited love, someone being dramatic for no other reason than being dramatic, the line “you just don’t understand!” and a pretty girl getting mostly naked.

What else can we expect? Well, I am going to predict a stereotypical villain doing something villainy, adults looking stupid, and hints to a bigger story arc, and probably the death of a somewhat central character fairly soon to show us how edgy and stuff the show is.

--- an hour later ---

That check list is now a mass of checks and stars and underlines.

Here’s the central plot: The humans destroyed their planet almost a hundred years ago and the survivors have been living in the Ark space station. All crimes are given the same weight (wha…?) and prisoners are judged on their 18th birthday. For some reason, the powers that be decide to jeteson 100 teen prisoners down to Earth with no supplies but equipped with wristbands that let the Ark monitor their vitals in order to determine if the air is safe down there. During the landing, the communications between the teens and the Ark are destroyed.

Here’s the thing. Some of the acting is good. Some of the storylines are decent. But there is a fair bit of WTF and that makes it very hard to concentrate on anything else.

The good: The show has potential. Especially up there on the Ark, a few things happened that made me wonder what the background was. I could see the introduced villain turning out to not be the villain (hopeful eyes) because he really isn’t all that evil. At least not yet. What a switch that would be! 



More good: despite hitting everything on my checklist the teens down there are interesting. The show on the ground is more Lord of the Flies meets Lost, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The bad: We do not understand the motivations of some main characters who are doing colossally stupid things. Over and over and over again. Who needs food, lets just hang out and play with the trees. Who need water, lets take off our clothes and have knife fights! Also? That check list thing is pretty annoying. We shouldn’t be able to predict the entire first episode. Also? All the teens look like they are 16 and 17. (It was established that they aren’t 18.) So. In a space station that regulates the breeding of the population and is all scrappy and hardly making do, there were a hundred 16 and 17 year old criminals? That’s… mighty specific and really really tough to swallow. 

 

Fingers crossed the show finds itself and makes it work. We need better sci-fi on TV.

---

Post Script. I watched the second episode. Let me just say, the good is slipping and the bad is getting worse. I got a head ache from all the eye rolling. So far? No problems have been fixed… but a whole lot of more crazy you have to just ignore it if you want to stay sane stuff has happened.



Le sigh

On the heels of that... something else.

Big changes in Kay-land.

Written out and over explained here

Time for the M&Ms.

The Road Thus Far

It is hard to look at one’s self fully in the mirror, to not look way, to not let your gaze linger on the parts of your face or body that you like or skip horridly over the parts you don’t.

Hard, but sometimes necessary.

When I graduated from college (May, 2005), I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to hold down some sort of boring but important job (administration assistant) and write short stories and eventually a novel. Or two. I wanted to be published and respected as a writer who created something worth reading. I wanted to see my name online and in print, to see my books on shelves. I wanted to eventually be able to quit that boring but important job and write full time. To take long walks and then sit quietly and write long novels full of literary symbolism and allegory. I wanted to write the sorts of things that English majors would argue about later, “Did you notice the two phone cords in the first chapter, how they were coiled up but  also intertwined… don’t you think that was foreshadowing???”

I got the job but I didn’t write. Instead I embarked on a spiritual journey, leaving my Christian faith behind once and for all and finding meaning in the Pagan world of symbols and chanting, of spoken word stories and of ritual.

I revised my plan. I would be a boring job person by day and a Priestess by night. I would learn the jargon, learn the stories, I would write the songs for the next generation and carry the symbols to others, I would share peace and love and faith in the Goddess.

I wanted to explore myself in new ways. I started thinking more about who I was as a writer, as an artist. I felt disconnected and tried to live my art though life moments, fleeting moments that were full of self deluded clarity. In the mornings, I was still me, still trapped, still floundering.

My marriage ended. (That’s a whole other story)

I took new vows, vows to the Goddess., vows to my Circle, vows to the person that I wanted to be; an artist full of holy grace. I wanted to paint and plant flowers and do something huge and beautiful with my life.

And then I was raped. Brutally and without mercy.

In the moments that followed, I tried to cry out to the Goddess, but it was hollow. I thought about calling out to God. It felt just as empty. I thought about my ex husband and was filled with shame. Not longing, which surprised me, but shame. I found a way to stand up. I found my anger.

And then I found solace in the bottle. Many many many bottles to be exact. Bottle of beer, which I hate. It was like double punishment, forcing myself to drink something I hated in order to black out from a life I was also starting to hate.

The rats in the walls closed in. The “cheerful” Christmas lights on my windows seemed to mock me.

I drank.

And I wrote.

And wrote. And wrote again.

Poetry. Stories. Sketches.

I found my fiction voice again. I escaped into stories of other people, people suffering, but also people who weren’t suffering, people who were just living their lives.

Eventually I decided to get sober. (That’s a whole other story too).

I kept writing. I was amazed I could write without drinking. Sometimes I couldn’t.

I met a man who challenged me, supported me, loved me without saying the words. (He eventually said the words.)

I realized that I had left the Goddess behind and had hardly even noticed. I read science books and atheist books and relabeled myself. Again.

I began to write about science, about critical thinking, about politics.

My fiction was published but instead of feeling accomplished I felt afraid, worried that my best fiction was behind me. I was afraid to start again, afraid to fail when I had gotten the tiniest taste of success.

I wrote more nonfiction, critical essays, more politics.

I started a novel. And then another one. And then another one. They gathered dust.

But nonfiction was easier, it had a quicker pay off.

It was published, applauded, accepted.

I took my place as a blogger, a monthly columnist, a political writer and reporter of the news.

I had a daughter and felt another bit of myself atrophy and die, replaced by being a mom, but still. Could I be more than a mom?

I looked at my fiction and was bored, was afraid, was intimidated.

I hid from fiction and wrote more nonfiction, I took on another role, another blog. I liked listing off my nonfiction accomplishments.

But I would wake up at night and wonder, what am I doing? What am I doing it for?

How can I teach my daughter to follow her heart if I can’t even find the time to follow mine?

And then my fiction was critiqued as being “too nonfiction” in a workshop.

And then I was offered another two opportunities to go further in the nonfiction political world… avenues to name in print, name on blogs, more little tick boxes on my resume.

But, I had hit a wall, and I knew it.

Today I wrote my last Community Alliance article. I sent in my letters of resignation. I closed a few doors firmly and even locked a few.

Fiction. My old friend, My on again off again lover. My muse and my hope and my curse.
Fiction.

Short stories. The novel, a new one of course. Reviewing fiction, reading fiction, WRITING fiction.

There are only so many hours in the day. There are only so many days in our lives. I want to be a writer of fiction. I want my daughter’s mother to be a writer of fiction. I want to be seen in the circles of friends and writers and everywhere else one circles in… as a writer of fiction.

Already I have written 3200 words in a new fiction piece and started to feel the need for a drink, for some time on you tube with cats. Already I have thought about writing a nonfiction article about… anything else.

A new chapter in the same book. Perhaps someday a new book.

I am going to be a writer. I am going to hold down a never boring and always important job (Stay At Home Mom) and write short stories and eventually a novel. And then another one.

One word at a time.

I will build for myself the life of words that I want.

I will be a writer of fiction. I will be published. I will see my name in print, my books on shelves.

Word by word I will create something worth reading.

In the mirror of introspection, I look at my eyes, dark and full of fear. I look at my mouth, too big for its own good at times.

I look long and hard at the body of work I have and the body of work I want. Counting calories, counting words. Pushing myself to sweat, and to also sometimes to stay still and keep typing.

The mirror version of me is ready. And so am I.


The Glass Castle



The Glass Castle
By Jeannette Walls



I am not normally a big fan of memoirs, but I am very glad I made the exception for this one.

Written with a powerful clarity and possessing remarkable prose, this is a story that reads like a fairy tale for the modern time.

Nomadic and possibly mentally affected mother, an alcoholic father, extreme poverty, and the struggles that are born from each make up the background.

Jeannette tells her story with humor and humility. We are never preached to, and her story is not part of a self positioned pedestal. Instead, we have her story of triumph and escape from a highly dysfunctional situation that is both inspiring and heartbreaking.

What really makes this book fascinating is her tone. She loves her parents despite their obvious and detrimental flaws, and that love shines through. It is easy for a child who doesn’t know any better to idolize her father and not see his sins as sins, but even as she ages Jeannette manages to show both the good and the not so good in her parents with descriptions that are honest and haunting, and which never place her obvious love for them in doubt.

The pace is clear, the characters are well developed, the stories from her youth as fully fleshed out and act as perfect threads that weave the story of the Walls family in vivid and tragic relief.

I highly recommend this book.

Incentives!

I'm trying to lose weight.
Aren't we all?

I have an app to track calories. I have work out videos I do sometimes, but not as often as I should.
And now I have some fun incentives!

Beginning weight: 160
Goal weight: 140

Incentive Plan:

At 155 (yay, the first 5 pounds!) a haircut!

I think I could pull this off....

At 147 (more than half way there!) a mani / pedi

Not my feet / hands. 

At 140 (whew, last 7 pounds are the hardest, right?) New dress and date with my sweetie.


Something bright and flirty like this





So far all I have done is NOT gain... but I will take that as a good sign and keep plugging away.



Annie... Remake Comes Out in December

I am trying to ignore the M&Ms in my kitchen.

Ahem.

Ok, I am gong to go either read, write, or exercise... any of which is almost guaranteed to make me feel better about not eating the M&Ms. I hope.

But first a quick note on remakes.

A wise person once said that comparing books and the movies adapted from those books is like comparing apples and apple pie. They might have the same stuff, but they are vastly different mediums. (Ok, maybe that wise person was me).

The point is, sometimes an adaptation is well done, it hold true to the essence of the story. Sometimes it can do that while dismissing a lot of the original trappings of that story.

I have high hopes for the new adaptation of Annie.

Maybe because I LOVE the musical. I LOVE the Carol Burnett version.





And I really really hope to love this new version as well.

Fingers Crossed.


FogCon Session Notes

I went to FogCon!
It was awesome!
I took notes!
Because I am socially awkward and a nerd.
So…. I am going to type up my notes and share them. Please keep in mind, if you decide to read them, that they are MY notes… so they reflect on what I was finding particularly interesting in that exact moment… and they might be a tad random. They are really more for me, to help remind myself and to give me a nudge in a few months when I am trying to remember something. Also, I know I have misrepresented the names of books or authors etc… but that is my own ignorance and inability to always hear things correctly so if I get most of the letters right I trust that I will be able to figure out what was actually meant. (and if you can add to the list or correct titles etc, please feel free)

In other words, read at your own risk and feel free to skip.

Portal  / Secret Worlds
·         Currently unmarketable
·         Books etc mentioned
o   Secret Garden
o   10th Kingdom
o   Never-ending Story (the book)
o   Forbidden Games Trilogy
o   Darkness Rising
o   Fairyland books
o   Phantom Toll Booth
o   The Magicians
o   Nightwatch
o   Songs of Earth and Power
o   Lego movie
o   Fistful of Sky
o   Lamplighter Trilogy
o   Amber (?)
o   Wizards of Waverly Place
o   Many Colored Land
o   Spell Song
·         Secret / hidden world vs actual other realm
o   Importance of how the secret stays safe, who or what guards the boundaries?
·         Importance of the exclusion / inclusion aspect… who is allowed in vs who isn’t
o   Chosen vs happenstance of entrance
·         Importance of Home as a concept
o   Journey to return, but as a changed being
o   No place like home
·         Concept of transition period / symbolism of growing up
o   Children are the ones who often leave, allegory of teen and leaving etc
·         Odysseus – journey, going home changed, resisting the pull of immortality
·         Difference between portal world and multiverse
·         Portal world has a different power structure, play with themes of who has power etc, symbol of class system and struggles
·         Prophecy vs happenstance
·         Refine vs acquire skills… part of the hero’s journey, changes how we root for the protagonist
·         Are there horror portal stories (Dead World would fit in this, need to finish writing it.)

Secret History
·         Books etc mentioned
o   Possession
o   V
o   Notebooks of Dr Br---
o   Bad Monkeys
o   Daughter of Smoke and Bone
o   Name of the Wind
o   Last Call
o   The Decoy Princess
o   Cloud Atlas
o   Liar
o   October Day
o   City in the City (?)
o   Yiddish Policemen’s Union
o   Grass King’s Concubine
o   Cold Magic Trilogy
o   The Historian
o   Pym
·         Plot is based on discovering secrets
·         (Stories of our parents… who will edit my life?)
·         3 things, Promise, Lies, Secrets
·         Knowledge can lead to obligations
·         Universal theme of “finding out”
·         Build tension with little secrets, then big reveal
·         How to build connection, either we care FOR the characters or they care SO MUCH we get caught up with them, comes down to good writing
·         Theme of the anti-chosen one
·         Noir + Fantasy = secret history
·         What about the secret history quest to discover your OWN history
·         Secrets can be dangerous, instant tension
·         A secret is very close to a lie… interesting line to play with
·         Writer advice: Leave out the parts readers skip over

When Will your Heroine Finally Get Raped?
·         The answer is “never” for Seana
·         The way we talk about rape in our culture, the inevitability of rape,
o   Yeast infections are inevitable
o   Rape doesn’t have to be, need to change the conversation and context
·         Also important, what we leave out… how we smooth over the rough edges
·         Seana: rape is not a narrative inevitability
·         Mundane life bits vs plot devices and action movements
·         Rape is part of the context of OUR world and society… but if you are in a different world, it might not be the general inevitable context
·         Rape: needs to be treated respectfully, not for titillation
·         The laziness of rape
o   Woman in peril = rape! Worst thing to happen to a woman, worse than death… but to women, for a man the worst thing is his death or the rape of one of his women
o   Shortcut to villainy, how to make a bad guy into a BAD guy… Rape!
o   Rape is the meet-cute of villainy
·         Mechanics vs emotional toll, -- motivation
·         Social context of rape is the stranger rape (which isn’t accurate) leads to men and women not recognizing rape when they see it, when they experience it, when they commit it
·         Need to change the understanding of rape and the villain construct
·         Anti-hero… we never let them go all villain (they don’t rape) because that is the unforgivable sin. Murder? Sure. We forgive that. we justify that.
·         Rape culture vs consent culture
·         The cookie cutter response to being raped, … “and then she took a hot shower”
·         Audience question of how to write a rape, answer: don’t (I disagree)
·         Language of “getting raped”
·         Why be so sensitive? People who have been murdered don’t read your books, survivors of sexual assault do.
·         Murder is always the answer, not rape.


Networking
·         The artist in the attic
·         Share your glee with others who have the same interests
·         Networking is friendship with a mercenary bent
·         BE part of the community you want to be a part of
·         Don’t be creepy
·         The line between stalking and networking is fine and must be found by you and you alone
·         Twitter is more of a word board, FB is more of an image board
·         Blogs can work but they can also not work, depends on audience
·         Pick one aspect of Social Media and focus on that
·         Author pages at FB aren’t getting as much traction anymore
·         Need to back up blogs and own your own content
·         Tweetdeck is a tool although not free
·         Real life vs online life…. How much you share is up to you, be careful
·         It is the agents job to reject your work, not your job to reject your work
·         You only need to sell your book once, don’t oversell to your fans
·         Network with your fans, network with fans of the stuff you like
·         Be self aware
·         Mailing list is a good thing


The Book Lies to You and Makes You Like It
·         Works mentioned:
o   Among Others
o   Code Name Varrly (?)
o   The Thief (Turner)
o   Downt he Stream of Stars
o   Rule 34
o   Wet Ridge
o   Gone Girl
o   My Sister’s Keeper
o   Life on Mars
o   Turn of the Screw
o   Life of Pi
o   Pain and Gain
o   One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
o   Awake
·         The Unreliable Narrator trope
·         Is it harder in a book or a movie to trust / not trust the narrator?
·         The distance from the narrator, the audience , the different relationships, see the whole context of things opposed to narrow scope
·         Is there such a thing as objective reality? My reality is reality
·         Our own sense of self edited history… memoirs, the epitome of the unreliable narrator
·         Art is what the artist defines it as
·         Author intent vs Audience response


Inspiration to Draft
·         Encouraged to set the writer’s mood… read things similar to those you are writing, be influenced.
·         Training wheel method, model your characters off of other characters until they are fleshed out on their own.
·         Experiment recklessly
·         Stories need a cool person, cool place, cool thing
·         To get over the hump:  
o   Change perspective
o   Flip things around
o   Decide, will story have a victory or a loss and for who?
·         We all tend to write our origin story unless we fully understand it
·         First drafts are hard and awful
·         Story Spine is a tool that can be used
·         Structure… works for some, not for all, need to find what works for you and then try other things as well
·         Create your writer’s toolbox, full of ideas, partly written things, moods, pictures, 100 words a day, whatever it is.
·         Understand formula and structure even if you don’t write like that

·         Set attainable goals, celebrate when you get there