Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm So Not Posting an Image of This Topic

And that would be because it’s something that I’m deathly afraid of. Don't laugh. I don't admit this to everyone. In fact, I think only my family knows this about me. So what am I deathly afraid of?


I can’t look at ‘em, can’t watch ‘em, can’t read about them. They creep me out something fierce and scare the living bejeebies out of me [though what bejeebies are exactly, I’m not quite sure. (Okay, I just looked it up. Urban dictionary definition? Um, ew.)]

But can you blame me? I mean what redeeming qualities do zombies actually have?

Are they friendly?
Do they really have to eat brains and intestines? What’s the point? How ‘bout a cheeseburger and some fries?
Why do they have to leave their tombs anyway?
And what about dropping body parts? What’s up with that?

Okay, maybe they have one good quality. They can dance. Have you ever seen Michael Jackson’s Thriller video? Wicked!

As I was growing up, I never really thought about zombies. I wasn’t even aware of them, really, until I was older – maybe 19 or 20. One late night while out with friends, we were confronted by a hungry, angry mob of the undead. Well, not actual zombies, but I was out with friends and I wasn’t driving that night, which becomes important in this little anecdote. My friends and I had a conversation that went something like this:

*Greg: Hey, there’s a midnight showing of Dawn of the Dead at the movies. Let’s go watch it.
Me: Uh....
*Jack: Yeah. That movie’s hilarious!
Me: Uh...*nudges Dana and shakes head back and forth*
Greg: C’mon it’ll be fun!
Me: I don’t really think I want to see it.
*Dana: I don’t really want to go home.
Jack: Okay, we’re going. Besides, I’m driving. *backseat grumbling sounds*
Me: Maybe there’s another movie playing at the same time. *trying not to whimper*

We arrive at the movies. Dawn of the Dead is the only midnight show. I swallow hard, buy a ticket with everyone else, and find a seat.

Greg: I’ve seen this loads of times and it gets funnier every time.
Me: *squints and covers eyes with fingers slightly parted*

Opening scene in which there’s some sort of battle between soldiers(?) and zombies. The blood and body parts are flying.

Me: *in panicked stage whisper* Jack! Jack! I want your car keys...NOW! *wimps out and waits in the car until the movie ends. Dana joins me about 15 minutes later.*

*The names have been changed to protect their sorry butts identities.

And because of that experience I’ve been freaked out by the walking undead ever since. True story.

That’s not to say that I can’t appreciate zombie related entertainment. I mentioned the line dancing zombies of Thriller, I’ve heard there’s some fabulous zombie literature such as The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (though I’ll be honest and tell you I will never read it; just can’t do it). My son blasts zombies away while playing Call of Duty and I can actually watch him play - except for the close up shots - without squinting or peeking through my eyes, though the music creeps me out. And how do you actually kill a zombie if he’s technically already dead?

No, don’t tell me. I really don’t think I want to know.

Do you hold affectionate feelings toward the undead or do they give you the woollies?

Monday, October 17, 2011

What's Their Story?

Phew! What a weekend. All that blog hopping tired me out. It's a good tired, though. Thanks to all who stopped by from Alex and Matt’s Pay It Forward blog fest. I’ve added many new blogs to my Dashboard roll and look forward to getting to know all of you. What an awesome way to give and receive the support that all of us need from time to time.

As a way to unwind, I’d like to share with you a flash mob video that my friend posted this weekend (thanks, Mare). Have you seen this yet? I’ve viewed it numerous times as I love Bolero. After my 4th viewing, my focus shifted away from the musicians and to the brief glimpses of the passersby who stopped to listen in the midst of their busy days. I couldn’t help wondering what the story behind each face might be and began to imagine them.

A couple with a young child in a stroller stop to listen. Where are they coming from. Are they tourists or do they live in the city? Why are they passing through the train station?

Her hair is pulled back tight into a bun. The only color visible, wrapped around her neck. She checks her phone. No email. Will Patrick come? She raises her eyes as the steady beat of a drummer is joined by the haunting melody of a flute. She could wait a bit longer.

Another woman, black jacket draped across her shoulders, walks by barely registering the monotonous sounds of the station. Her shift was supposed to end at 8:00 but her relief called in sick. This time claims of congestion. Short-handed again. How could she keep up this schedule? Her wrists are crossed as she huddles under her jacket. So cold. She glances over her shoulder as a familiar melody distracts her from her exhaustion. Her father loved Bolero.

Does anyone else have a story? Tell me about it.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pay It Forward Blogfest

Hey all! This Friday I’m participating in the Pay It Forward Blogfest hosted by Alex Cavanaugh and Matthew MacNish. The purpose is to give props to 3 of our favorite blogs so that they’ll hopefully get the recognition they deserve. It’s also a way for us to discover new writing blogs by visiting those who are participating in the blogfest. So, without further ado, here are the three I’d like to highlight.

1. Musings of A Penniless Writer – What? You mean you’re not following my Brit HP/LoTR fanatic YA writer friend who now lives Down Under? Well then, you’re missing out one of the most tenacious, hardest working women out there. Donna Hosie and I became friends because of our shared obsessiveness with all things Harry Potter and now that obsessiveness has carried over into our writing lives. Her commitment to her family, full-time job, and writing astounds me. I’m not sure if or when she sleeps, but keep your eye on her. I have no doubt she’ll be published in the not too distant future. Oh, and she wears the cutest shoes.

2. Betsy Lerner – Betsy is an agent, writer, and a former editor and has been in the biz for a while. My day isn’t complete until I read her blog. Seriously. Her blog (and never miss the comments section) is the dose of reality I crave every day. Every post title is derived from a song lyric which I find fun to try and guess. Betsy says it like it is and never sugar coats, so be warned if you are sensitive to what some might think as crass (that wouldn't be me). She's brutally honest, but that’s why I love her. Not only does she always make me stop and think, but she's hilarious as all heck.

3. The Green Bathtub – Amy Sonnichson has the nicest blog on the block...or internet. She reflects elegance and positivity, all while juggling motherhood and a writing career. I love visiting Amy’s blog – whether it’s to congratulate her on recently signing with an agent, to view pictures of her adorable family, or to read about her life in her own words.

4. The QQQE – Oh, wait. Is that against the rules? Um, if you haven’t visited Matt’s awesome sight then take a peek. Not only is it fun to try and say the name of his blog without messing up, but on his blog Matt shares his writing journey, offers inciteful query critiques (I've learned so much!), and is all about connecting with the writing community.

Why not check them out? To check out other blogs participating in the blogfest, click the Pay It Forward to the right of this post (under Followers). That will take you to the linky list on Matt's blog.

Click. Read. Follow. Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 10, 2011

If Every Weekend Had Three Days, I'd...

...get all my laundry, folding, and ironing done.
...have more time to bake. (Like the toll house cookies I made today. Mmmm.)
...get to sleep until 6:30 and feel rested. (trust me, that's a treat)
...finish my cleaning for the week.
...catch up on blog reading and commenting.
...get more projects done, such as yard work, switching seasonal clothes, changing sheets (6 beds takes time!), sorting through papers with my kids more (we played Life Friday night. Fun!)
...plan a day trip. in the sun on my back deck guilt-free.
...have a shorter work week which means,
...more time to write!

Did you get to enjoy a long weekend? What would you do if every weekend had three days?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Signing That Almost Wasn't - Part II

Part II will also be my post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. Keep reading. I promise it ties in. If you missed Part I and would like to read it, it’s here.

I continued driving and at one point thought I missed a turn. Glancing at the clock - 6:57pm - I started to panic but knew I was close to the bookstore. “Just keep going and hope for the best.” Maybe I could turn around up ahead. As I passed the library where I listened to Laurie Halse Anderson speak last year I realized that I hadn’t made a wrong turn after all. The bookstore was only a couple of blocks further. I found a parking space across from the store, and thanks to my weird but awesome ability to parallel park in one swipe, I entered Wellesley Books at 7:05pm. I quietly headed downstairs and around the corner to a small, cozy gathering. The organizer for the night's event had just finished speaking and Laini was introduced as I sat down in my seat (and said a silent ‘thank you’ inside).

There were maybe 40 people in attendance, mostly teens and young adults. Laini stood behind a table with a small podium on top. Three walls lined with books framed her – the perfect backdrop. Laini’s lovely smile and pink hair lit up the room as she talked about her new book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and how it came to be. She had been writing a novel and working on it a long time, but it wasn’t going well. (familiar) A new novel idea came into her head and she gave herself permission to cheat on the ms she had been working on for one day. (familiar) This new and intriguing story started pouring out as she wrote but it was important for her to complete the novel she was working on. So she went back to the former ms and finished writing it before continuing her new ms. (also familiar) The previous novel she told us, “never saw the light of day,” but she didn’t feel like it was a wasted effort. She went back to working on Daughter, turned the first 6 chapters in to her publisher (they loved it), and finished writing it.

Laini then read an exerpt from her novel. There’s something special, magical about listening to an author read from her own novel, and if you ever get the chance to go to an author event, I’d highly recommend it. The scene started out humorous but ended with an emotional ache that is written beautifully. I instantly fell in love with the MC, Karou, and I’m really looking forward to reading her story.

How does this tie in to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group? I mentioned in Part I that I really felt like I needed to get to this signing – to listen to a writer who has made it. I’ve been having some serious doubts about whether or not to continue with pursuing publication. I don’t think I could ever give up writing, but at this time in my life, actively working daily towards writing – blogging, commenting, finding time to write – is taking its toll on me. I suppose if I felt confident about my current ms, I could handle the exhausting schedule of daily life plus writing life; in other words, if I felt like I was making progress.

Did you notice all the times I wrote "familiar" up above? My experience with writing my ms is eerily similar to Laini’s. I’ve worked on my current ms for almost 2 years now. I started out strong but I’m losing my momentum and am having a lot of doubts about it. Last year, I took a break during Nanowrimo and started writing a YA that I was really excited about. However, I promised myself that this time I would finish a novel, the one I'm working on - Nitpicky. That’s where I am now, trying to finish it so that I can turn my attention back to the YA project. I can’t tell you how consoling it was to know that a struggling writer like me can share a similar experience with an incredibly talented author – and it’s okay.

(Laini and me)

After Laini’s presentation, we went upstairs to have our books signed. I thanked her for coming so far from home to speak to us (she’s from Oregon) and told her that I also write for teens. When I shared with her that sometimes I wonder if I had started too late in life to become an author for teens, she gave me some advice. I’d like to pass that along to all of you, especially if like me you’re in a stage of your life where you’re thinking it’s too late.

There are two perfect times to plant a tree. The first time was 20 years ago. The second time is now.

and don't forget: "Just keep going and hope for the best."

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Signing That Almost Wasn't: Part I

Before I begin, I made it.
I met Laini Taylor.
I never give away the endings to books or movies, but you may want to skip through my misadventures on the afternoon and evening leading up to the signing. So yes, there is a happy ending which will be part of my next post. This one was getting extremely long, so I'm splitting into Part I (today) and Part II (Tues. or Wed.).

When you have 4 kids who attend 3 different schools, throw in after school activities, and the inevitable last minute change of plans, you never know what the day will bring. All the planning in the world doesn’t guarantee that the day will go as expected. And so when I learned of Laini’s signing earlier in the week and checked my schedule, I knew the timing of getting there would be tight, and there was a good chance I might not get there at all.

Enter change of plans: My daughter’s game was cancelled. At first, Aw (sad face) but then, yay (happy face) I could pick her up earlier. This meant I could go to a wake I needed to attend earlier. Then there was dinner. Friday is takeout night at our house. Easy, right? I had just enough time to go to McDonald’s for the kids and pick up a pizza for my husband and I.

No problem, until we hit traffic. Okay. It’s okay, I murmured to myself. I just needed to leave to my house by 6:15. I arrived at McD’s and there were 10...TEN cars in the drive thru! Were they giving away burgers? I’d never seen the drive thru backed up that much. Plan B: I pulled into a space and directed the 2 girls who were with me to RUN TO THE DOOR! WE’RE ORDERING INSIDE! I got to the counter, ordered, then reached into my purse when I realized, I left all my money at home. NOOOOOO! I died just a little bit inside at that point as I saw in a flash what the next half hour would be like and how my chances of getting to the signing were slim to none.

So I did what any self-respecting person would do in my situation. I shouted, GIRLS, RUN! Thankfully my girls know that Mom can be kind of a maniac at times. This was about when I started talking myself down from a frantic state. This may sound corny, but I use little mantras to calm myself down when I feel myself starting to tense up. “Just keep going and hope for the best,” popped into my head and was repeated over and over again. I really, really , really wanted to go to this signing, I needed to go to this signing (will get into that in my next post), but knew safety and staying calm were top priority. So we got back into the car and crawled through traffic back home. I grabbed my wallet which was thankfully where I thought it would be (after giving older daughter cash to go out with friends). Then we crawwwwwled to the pizza place, crawwwwled back to McDonald’s (but no cars in the drive thru this time – Woot! Small victory!), and made our way home.

I got the kids settled, grabbed my sweater and camera, and left without eating supper – it was now 6:30. Getting to Wellesley on a good day is about 20-25 minutes. I was definitely going to sweat this ride out. By now it was getting dark and I was so afraid I’d miss a turn; the timing was going to be right down to the minute. As I approached the long lines of traffic at the red lights tense as can be, I purposely diverted my eyes from the dashboard clock and whispered, “Just keep going and hope for the best.”

to be continued...