TSA Ate my laptop – version 1

Quick recap of what’s going on here.  I left my laptop at TSA in Austin last Tuesday and on it was my homework for my writing class.  Disaster!  So, in order to maintain my good-student standing I quickly recreated my 600 word character study from memory and presented it in class, also on Tuesday.  (The details of the assignment and the AACCKKK! version of my story were detailed earlier.)  Today at 10:00 the FedEx man delivered my lost laptop to me, and I did not hug him, but I wanted to.  I ripped off the bubble wrap and hugged my laptop.  It didn’t mind.  It missed me too.

Now, after doing all the work things that were waiting for me on the recovered laptop, I can present to you the first version of my assignment.  The one I was thoughtful about, edited, and worked hard on.  Then the fun part.  Let’s compare which story was better!

As a reminder the assignment was to “imagine a person with an idiosyncratic way of seeing the world…Have this character witness a traumatic event” using first person point of view and 600 words.  (Check out the 3 AM Epiphany for this writing assignment and a host of others.)

I’m not one of those go getters.  My comfort zone isn’t being the lead, or making the strategy, or finding a new path.  Really, I like being told what to do, and I think that’s an overlooked and important role.  As much as my mother complains about my lack of initiative even she sees the benefit.  When she asks me to do the laundry or make dinner, I do it right, every time – provided she gives me the right level of detail in her instructions.

Life is made up of vague requests and other people spend their energy chasing after the right problem.  Not me.  In college, I’d utilize office hours to make sure I really understood assignments.  Exactly what did my professor want the program to do and how should I code it?  The bonus was that sometimes he would even start the assignment for me, because it was the best way for him to provide me with total clarity.  That’s what I’m always striving for.  Total clarity.

My desire to do what I’m told doesn’t mean I’m a follower, far from it.  As soon as it was legal I changed my given name from Charlie to Charlemagne, because it better represented the persona I want to present to the world.  There is a misconception that people who want to please can’t be unique individuals.

Unfortunately, it’s been hard to find my way after college.  I’ve been let go from three jobs because they said I lacked initiative.  What they wanted was some person who was willing to go off and waste time solving vague problems because my bosses were too lazy to define what they really wanted, but I probably shouldn’t have told them that.

I’ve found a niche for myself, though.  Hackathons: events where a bunch of coders, entrepreneurs and big thinkers get together to solve a problem over a weekend.  The big thinkers get up and pitch ideas and the coders, like me, have to create a prototype.  In no time I learned how to pinpoint the big thinkers who needed me: the ones who knew exactly what they wanted done and needed someone to do it.

I won a couple of hackathons with my strategy:  even a big one worth $5,000.  But the best part of being a hacker was that it made me a hero.  One night I was getting some last details from this executive guy.  Everyone else had left, and he was going on about how market share, or something.  Suddenly, he stopped talking and grabbed his chest.  He dropped to the floor.

What was I supposed to do?  Crouching down next to the guy I asked what he needed, but he wasn’t able to answer.  When I called out for help no one came.  I sat next to him for a bit, but after he didn’t wake up I decided to leave.  I made it as far as the hallway, then clarity.  There was one of those AED things on the wall.  I ripped it open, and it started talking to me.  The machine told me exactly what to do, and I did it.  When the machine told me to call 911 I did that too.  Then the dispatcher told me exactly what to do.  When the paramedics arrived they checked the guy out and said, “You saved this guy’s life.  You are a hero.”  I saved a guy’s life doing exactly what I was told.  I’m really hoping he makes a full recovery and then gives me a job.  My clarity saved his life.

Oh.  Some things are better, but some things are worse.  What do you think readers?  I’ll provide my own self-evaluation next!

TSA Ate my Laptop – version 2

I’m taking a class at Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop on Writing Apocalyptic Fiction.  With everything going on in my world I felt like the best way to counteract my fears of climate change, economic disaster, and governmental collapse was to immerse myself in the apocalypse for 8 weeks.  Layer a writing class on top of anxiety on top of a crazy work schedule -including weekend travel- and one of my carefully balanced life pieces was bound to come crashing down.   Cue leaving my laptop at TSA security in Austin and not realizing my mistake until I was midair and halfway home.

At the moment I realized what had happened the first thought to hit me was, “but my homework was on my laptop!”  I intentionally timed my trip to ensure I’d be home right before my writing class.  I’d done the homework and now I was faced with going to class with the lamest excuse.  So, being a total goody-two-shoes I got home and rewrote my 600 word assignment from memory.  Arriving in class I told everyone my story only to discover I was the only person who did the homework, and I did it twice.  (See earlier goody-two-shoes comment.)  Thus I got the honor and privileged of reading aloud my hastily thrown together homework to everyone.  It wasn’t bad.  I got a few snickers at the funny parts, and no snickers at the not funny parts.

However, now find myself faced with a fun personal writing experiment.  My laptop is due to be delivered by FedEx any moment, and I can compare my homework I spent time on – checking grammar and editing – with my 30 minute word dump.  Often I’ve wanted to just trash something I wrote and start over, but I always wonder if the new version will really be any better.  Now I’m going to see, and I’m going to let you see too!  Here is my hastily slapped together homework.  The assignment?  To “imagine a person with an idiosyncratic way of seeing the world…Have this character witness a traumatic event.”  The assignment was to be in first person point of view and 600 words.  (Check out the 3 AM Epiphany for this writing assignment and a host of others.)

Here is the slapdash version for your entertainment:

I am not one of those go getters. In fact, I’ve always liked being told what to do, which is a misunderstood and undervalued skill. People waste a great deal of effort chasing after elusive requests. It’s more efficient to spend time really understanding what someone wants before you go into action. Even my mother – who has always complained about my lack of “get up and go” – admits there are times she appreciates my approach. If she asks me to do the laundry or make dinner she gets exactly what she wants: provided she gives clear direction.
My technique really shined in college. I utilized professors’ office hours to ensure that I really understood their assignments. What programming language did they want me to use? How should the end product look? An unexpected advantage was that often they’d start my project for me to ensure I had perfect clarity. Always my goal is perfect clarity.
Since graduation I’ve been in and out of jobs. Every interview I’ve very up front about my approach, and the three companies that hired me seemed excited by my process. But something always changed; each time I got let go for “lack of initiative”. Lack initiative? The problem was that my managers and mentors never deeply explained what they wanted me to do. They wanted me to take some vague idea and magically turn it into something they wanted. If they weren’t so lazy I would be more effective, but I learned that people don’t want that kind of feedback.
To make ends meet I spend weekends at hackathons. Hackathons are events where programmers, entrepreneurs and big thinkers come together and prototype innovative ideas. My strategy is to listen for the guys who have a really detailed idea. Those are the ones who need my help. I seek them out and we spend all weekend creating their vision. I won first place once – $5000 – but the best thing that happened as a result of hacking was that they made me a hero.
At my last event there was this really old guy who knew exactly what he wanted. He went way over time talking about his idea and encouraged questions while he was being shut down by the event organizers. He and I were a great team. Late at night we were nailing down some final details when he grabbed his chest and collapsed. I didn’t know what to do. Crouching next to him I asked, “What do you want me to do?” but he didn’t answer. I yelled for help, but everyone else had left. After a bit I decided to leave. What else could I do? Then I found total clarity when I walked past one of those AED things on the wall.
I ripped it down and the thing started talking to me. It gave me very specific instructions, and I followed them perfectly. When it told me to call 911, I did, and the dispatcher gave me very specific instructions, which I followed perfectly. Then the paramedics showed up. After I did what they told me, one of them turned to me and said, “You saved this guy’s life. You are a hero.”
They rushed him to the hospital and he made a full recovery. His company had this big event when he went back to work and they presented me with a medal. My mom even got to come. It was great, but I was really hoping for a job. I mean, my clarity saved that guy’s life. We made a great team.

Oh, ding dong!  My laptop is here!  The original version of my assignment coming next!

Editor’s Block

I got past my reader’s block in July and quickly moved into the next phase: editor’s block.  In this phase I stared at my 99,000 word manuscript and tried to figure out how to eat the editing elephant.  I would scribble word changes and deletions because I didn’t know what else to do.  I paid good money to learn how to write a query letter and sent my first 10 pages to an agent.  (This was through Writer’s Digest and I thought it provided great insight into the publishing process.  If you are almost done with editing and want to try conventional publishing this is a great resource.)  My assigned agent, Mary C. Moore, gave me some good tactical advice:  vary my sentence structure; keep prose active; don’t over explain smaller actions of characters; be aware of slow pace; and, most importantly, “Keep going with this, you are on the right track!”

 

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Armed with things to do, I made a goal to finish editing by Christmas.  I only needed to edit 3 pages a day.  Time passed and I didn’t edit so the goal became 5 pages per day.  Time passed and I realized I had no idea what I was doing.  It was like I had a plan to swim the
English Channel.  All I needed to do was swim an additional 100 meters every day but I didn’t know any strokes, didn’t have a swimsuit, and couldn’t identify water.  Despondent about my book progress and a host of other things I turned to my family therapist.  She told me to do two things: come out of my writing closet and find a writing group.  I’ve talked with other bloggers about writing groups, and while not enthused about the idea, I felt like I needed to find some experienced writing peeps to help me.  Minutes into my Google search I found Lighthouse Writers, a local “community for writers and readers.”  I joined, and then on a whim physically visited their space.  This wonderful woman stopped what she was doing, and joyfully took me on a tour of the amazing historic mansion that houses their program.  Lucky me, a four week session was just starting, and in it was a class called The Big Edit which promised to “turn the amorphous process of cleaning up your draft into a manageable practice.”  Gasp!  Of course it was full, so I got on the wait list.

Providence does not put all these magical pieces in place just to snatch them away, so four days before the start of class a space opened. Eleanor Brown, the author of the New  York Times bestseller The Weird Sisters is the teacher and in the first fifteen minutes she laid out a process that made total sense.  She explained how we would edit in at least four passes.  We’d start with the Big Picture, move to Characters, then to Pacing and end with Copy and Line Editing.  (This means that I don’t have to worry about commas until the very last editing pass.  Hip hip hooray!)  This process isn’t quick, but I am okay with that.  I’ve spent years on this book.  I can invest another year so long as I’m moving forward.

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Not only has she given me a process to follow that makes total sense, but she’s also promised to help us discover our strengths and weaknesses as writers.  Through the class we’ll understand if we are good at theme, story, character, or pacing.   She’ll give us tips for adding editing passes for things like dialogue, humor, flashbacks or description that will help address weaknesses.  We will make a plan which allows us to stay focused and organized while developing a feeling of progress the same way we felt progress when writing.   We even have homework!  (I’m excited by this even though anyone who experienced my school days knows I hate homework!)  Here’s a picture of my first completed assignment: developing a theme card that I can hang above my writing space to remind me what my book is about.

In 2015 I came up with a list of nine things I needed to do to get my book published.  I’m still on step 2, having vastly underestimated the scope of the editing step.  But I have a plan now and cannot tell you how amazing that feels.  I have book hope for the first time in ages.  There is work to do, and I know what that work is.  I finally agree with Ms. Moore’s statement, “Keep going with this, you are on the right track!”  Time to get to it.  I’ve still got more homework.

Reader’s Block

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I wrote a novel.  Well, I wrote the novel right hear on planet Earth, not far way, but it was finished over fifteen months ago, which is a long time ago.  As a novel writing novice, I thought the step from first draft to publication was a small one.  Following the advice provided by Stephen King’s On Writing, I sat down to read my whole book in one sitting after giving myself a nice break.  I had my pen ready, and prepared to make a few brief notes as I fell into my book.

I’m a great reader.  I love novels.  Short novels, long novels, well written, good plot, and why-the-hell-don’t-I-stop-reading-this-drivel novels:  Twilight series, I’m looking at you.  I love them all.  No iota of my mind was worried about this step, the reading of my book.  Oh, silly me.  Reading MY book was nothing like reading A book.  I would sit down to read and become stuck in the land of commas, verb tense, and sentence structure.  Hours would pass and I would have “read” a few measly pages.  This scenario happened over and over.  I couldn’t read my own book.

Finally in July inspiration hit.  You can email files to your Kindle and read them on your device.  I have known this since I got my first Kindle and used to send technical reports to it when I wanted to do a last cut for readability.  (If you want to try this for yourself, check out the Send to Kindle page.)  The solution worked.  Unwilling to mark up my Kindle screen with annotations I was able to read my book.  I also did this while I was on vacation so my access to paper and writing implements was limited.  Gloriously, many of the pacing issues I thought I had disappeared when I wasn’t distracted by note taking.  At times my book was good, and once or twice it was really good.  I did come up with a few big picture things I wanted to fix, which I think is the point of the first big read.

Hooray!  Problem solved.  Now all I had to do was edit, which in On Writing takes two measly pages.  You look for big plot holes, awkward character motivation, and ask big questions while you edit.  After two drafts you bestow your book on your ideal reader.  Easy peasy.  Folks, let me tell you that I have been struggling with how to execute those two pages for five months now.  I have begun to understand that King’s book was called On Writing and not On Editing for a reason.

I needed help, because I’d moved past Reader’s Block into Editor’s Block.  Have you ever found yourself in either place?  If so, I’d love to hear your solutions.  Keep reading and I’ll share how I am clearing out the blockages.


My first of a series on reader’s and editor’s block.

Help Me Out of my Writing Closet

I write in a closet.  It’s a cozy place with everything I need to create my stories.  There is a Microsoft Surface with a blue keyboard and a mouse, because I can’t figure out how to use the trackpad on that thing.  There’s a meandering path to get there and inevitably I find myself distracted by work, husband, child, and friends when I’m on my way to write.  Even when I carve out time to visit my writing closet the way is often blocked by obligations.

The thing I like about my closet is that I decide who visits me there.  Hand selected friends, family members, and other bloggers get to see what I produce in my closet.  If I take a risk and show my work to new people and they don’t like it my closet is off the beaten path so they won’t stumble upon it again.

In my dreams my closet is huge.  It’s an auditorium filled with adoring readers and harsh critics who can’t help but love me.  I sit onstage and read my work with tears coursing down my face and tissues are handed around as emotions fill every nook and cranny of the audience.  There is magic in that space and time stops for my stories.

But, growing out of a closet is scary.  What if when I get to the auditorium it’s empty except for me and my mom?  (Of course  my mom will come, she’s awesome like that.  She will even be there early.)  What if it’s filled with haters and they throw rotten vegetables at me?  What if it’s rundown, rat infested and stinky, and not the space I was dreaming of?  It’s so cozy in my closet, and I’m not sure I want to leave except that dream is so alluring…


I had an enlightening meeting with my family therapist on Friday and she told me I have to stop hiding my writing.  She said I had to go home and post about my writing on my personal Facebook account, but that terrifies me.  Right now my writing world and the real world are very separate, and I’m scared of merging the two.   That said, I’m also tired of living this dual life: one where I live out my hopes and dreams through my stories and another where I look down my engineer’s nose and scoff, “Isn’t writing for 23 year old English majors who can’t find a real job?”  I even have two separate Twitter profiles.  This schizophrenia runs deep.

So blogger friends, as people I trust to hang out in my writing closet all the time, what do you do?  Is your writing life and your real life the same?  Did you ever hide your writing life from your real life?  What happened if you merged the two?  Any advice for how to embrace my writer persona?  Have you put your writing on your personal Facebook account, and if so what happened?


Oh, and I totally don’t write in a literal closet.  I write in a beautiful basement study that was recently remodeled.

In fact, there’s even a real closet in there.  It’s filled with games and craft supplies, and anyone is welcome to see it.  Even you, my blogging friends.

 I’m looking forward to some help!  Thanks friends!

Is pole-dancing or writing a more embarrassing hobby?

The answer might surprise you.


Today my daughter, who wanted to be a doctor when she was three, announced that now she wanted to be a singer or an artist when she grew up: the singer part is new.  When she was out of earshot I asked my husband, “At what age do I tell her that under no circumstances will she be a singer or an artist?”

“When she’s a junior in high school and she still says that’s what she wants to be,” he replied.

I am a hypocrite.  I aspire to be a writer, but do not want my daughter to want to be an artist.  Somehow it’s okay that I want to be a writer in my spare time because I have a real job.  Since writing is just a hobby, it’s okay…except even then it’s not really.  When I was at a work meeting recently with 60 people we all had to go around the room and tell our “secret talent.”  One woman said she used to have a food blog with over 100,000 views.  One woman can herd goats.  A man explained his art – oil on hammered metal – and when my turn came I said, “I am a knitter.”  Others went on to reveal things like a competitive pole dancing talent and I wondered why I couldn’t bring myself to say that I am a writer or that I recently finished my first novel.  Why is writing more embarrassing than pole dancing or knitting?

One of my issues is that in all areas of life I am in a rut.  My real job isn’t going well and inevitably the place I spend 40 (+ or – 20) hours a week impacts the rest of my life.  When work goes down the toilet so does my general outlook on life, and as a result  work starts going even worse and the spiral continues downward.  Eventually I don’t want to work, parent, write or knit or do much of anything but sit in the parking lot at work and dread my day.

I’m bad at my job which means my whole outlook on me is a mess.  I’m obviously a crappy writer and mother and wife and child and knitter: you should see the mess I just made out of the blanket I am working on.  When things get like this nothing will convince me that I don’t suck and I’ll find endless examples to support my theory.  (My husband will tell you I am a joy to live with when I get in this place.) If I’m getting consistent external feedback that supports my crappiness vision then things go from bad to worse, and I’m getting that right now in vast quantities.  Ergo, I am not in a good place.

Then today I read this amazing article in the Washington Post that promises to fix my “negative self talk” problem.  I am supposed to write three things I liked about myself everyday before I go to bed and read the ever growing list when I wake up each morning.  I emailed the Washington Post article author to commit to the project, because I think accountability is important for me to stick with this.

So here I am at the end of the first rotten day and I need to start my list.  As much as I want to rant about my shortcomings I’ll do the assignment, mostly because I need a deadline to stop being miserable.  If things are not better in 30 days, either due to this exercise or some other reason, I can assess bigger changes.

My first list:

1. I like people even more for their quirkiness: for example my daughter’s friend who only eats ~6 foods.  It makes her parents crazy, but I just adore that uniqueness about her.

2. I said hello to my friend’s stepdaughter when I saw her at the garden store, even thought she was with her mom. It was a little awkward explaining the relationship to her mom, but worth it to see the joy in the girl’s eyes at being recognized by a grown up in an unexpected place.  I like that I think kids are people too.

3.  I asked a friend to recommend a recipe so I can make a dinner for a family friend whose dad died.  She is a very healthy eater, so my normal comfort food options are no good.  I like that when I comfort friends I try to do it in a way that is thoughtful.

Now I need to transcribe these into my notebook and read them tomorrow morning.  Hopefully in 30 days I’ll have a perspective that helps me realize my dreams, gets me out of my own way, and let’s me confidently claim my unique talents.

 

Finish Something, Again – The Writer’s Digest Version

Here I go again.  I’m sending my short story, The Fisherman, out into the world to see if it can find love and acceptance. I like shooting high, so this time I’m trying for the Writer’s Digest Short Short Story competition.  The word count limit is 1500, and I come in with plenty of room to spare at 1247.  I won’t find out until February if it gets accepted, so once this goes out I’ll turn my attention back to the second draft of my novel, which really needs some attention.

I’m amazed at how the story has morphed with each submission.  I like it better this time than I did with the Glimmer Train draft.  It’s more direct, and more intimate and that’s really a better voice for me.  Having already developed callouses from my first rejection, I’m not as excited this time, but I’m feeling more like a real writer.  Oh yeah, I’m just resubmitting to another contest.  I’m getting it out there.  You know how it is with writing.  I’m so blase.  (How do I make the ticky thing over the e in blase?)  Maybe this time I’ll even forget about the day the winners are announced and not go crazy as the day gets closer.  (Yeah, right!  Winners will be notified by mail by February 29th.  I’m sure if I haven’t heard by then I’ll be stalking the poor postman.)

Stay tuned blogging friends.  In a mere 3 months and 15 days I’ll be a crazy person again, but I’m doing what my BFF Neil Gaiman told me to do.  I’m finishing things and getting them out there.

What’s the Opposite of Prophesy?

Sunday the Glimmer Train August Short Story Award for New Writers was announced.  I had high hopes for my short story The Fisherman.  As I knew from my status, I didn’t win.  As I learned Thursday, with my excellent web research skills, I did not make the top 25.  Finally I learned, from the official Glimmer Train announcement, that I didn’t even make the honorable mention list.  My first fiction submission and I got nothing.  Crap.  My prophetic dream was the opposite of what I had hoped.  Everyone was right.  You don’t get published the first time.  What a bummer.

I was disappointed, until my husband asked a very important question:

“How did they decide the winner?” asked Mr. Afthead

“Well, these two sisters run the literary magazine, so they decided.” I responded.

“That seems awfully arbitrary.”

He was right.  Two women didn’t like my story.  Yes, it was two women who happen to have the power to publish, but it was just two people.  His words jolted me into remembering why I wrote the story in the first place, and why I wanted to get it out there.  I love that story, and the only way for me to share it with people is to write it down, be brave and send it into the world.  With my first draft something amazing happened.  The story developed a story of it’s own when others read it.  Different people liked parts that other people hated.  Some people thought it was creepy.  Another blogger, On the Lamb Design, tied it to a real life experience, and the similarities are haunting.  Overall the response was not just positive, but thought provoking.

My favorite reaction was my husband’s.  I gave him a copy of a later draft of the story and asked him to read it.  When he finished we had the following discussion:

“This is good,” he said.  “Where did you get it.”

“I wrote it.”

“Reallly?  I thought it was by a real writer.  I like how The Fisherman made the dad a better dad.”

Okay, first of all my husband thought a “real writer” was the story’s author.  Then, he found a story in my words that I never intended.  I didn’t mean for The Fisherman to make the father a better dad, but when my husband found that meaning I saw it too.  When I write and share, something magical happens.  I agree completely with my writing guru, Stephen King, when he says that the reading/writing bond is telepathy.  I write something, and you read it through your lens, and we share a common vision together.  Sometimes our lenses are the same, but sometimes one or the other distorts the story and it changes.  To understand how others find different meaning in my words makes me want to write and read more.

So I’m disappointed that two sisters didn’t like my story, but I’m still going to write, and I’m still going to share, and I’m still going to submit.  This is magic stuff happening, and I’m not about to let it go.

Dream or Prophesy?

On September 13th I had a dream.  (Yes, I know, I hate hearing about other people’s dreams too.  There’s a point.  I’ll be quick.)  I’m holding in my hands a book, well, not quite a book.  It’s papers with book-like organization and book like shape and it has my story in it and pictures of me.  Not quite my story, there are differences, but my story and weird pictures I don’t ever remember being taken, but they are of me.  I flip through the unbound pages to the cover.  Glimmer Train.  “Oh,” a woman’s voice says, “You aren’t supposed to see that yet.”  The story is The Fisherman, which I submit to Glimmer Train for their Short Story Award for New Writers award the end of August.  In my dream I saw my story in the magazine.

I have read countless articles and books on writing.  Get it out there, they all say.  Just keep submitting, they all say.  Then they always say, “I didn’t even remember I had such-and-such story out there, when I found out I got published.”  Okay, I know I’m a newbie, and I know this is my first submission but WHAT?!?!  I’m going crazy here.  I have a full time job, I’m a mom, I’m fostering two kittens from the animal shelter, I’m coaching my daughter’s soccer team and I still check my e-mail several times a day to see if I’ve heard from Glimmer Train yet.  Are these other writers beings with hearts and souls of stone, or am I just nuts?

It’s kind of fun.  The site says, “Winners will be contacted directly the week before the public announcement in our bulletins” and the bulletin is due out November 1st so the longer I don’t hear something the more giddy and butterfly-stomachy I feel.  Sixteen days….but if I don’t hear in nine days is that good news by default?  *flutter flutter*  Then I tell myself, “They just moved to a new computer system.  You know how that goes.  It’s what you do for a living.  They are probably just doing a batch update in the old system and that’s why you don’t know yet.”  *flutter flutter*

I’m trying to keep my rose colored glasses on.  I know the odds are slim.  I know they get tons of submissions.  I know no one gets published on their first submission.  Why did I have to be the one who submit a story when they got a new computer system?  But I haven’t heard anything yet so the excitement builds.

They probably just lost it.  It’s stuck in some bit or byte and they don’t even know it’s there.  November 1st will come and go and I won’t hear anything, and I’ll miss my chance to submit to the Writer’s Digest competition I’m eyeing.  I’ll be that awkward whiny person who e-mails them, “Uh, did you ever read my story?”

Gasp.  Maybe they like it.  Maybe I’ll get published.  Maybe it really is good.  I think it’s good….sometimes.

It’s like a writer’s Christmas Eve, but this time Santa really might not come, or he might bring me coal.  Do you hear the reindeer’s hooves?

I just checked.  Still no e-mail.  Still no update on my submission status.  I’m still In Process – Your work has been received and is in the review process. Check guidelines for response times.  Of course the guidelines are gone, because of the new system.  This is like every user I’ve ever programmed for paying me back for moving stuff they want to find on a website.  When will I move to Complete or *flutter flutter* Accepted for Publication?

Nine more days, or sixteen….

*flutter flutter*

Blogging Awards – Sunshine

Hello readers.  I shall take some time off from my normally scheduled programming to say thank you to Lula Harp for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award.  Like many of these awards, there is a built in blog post built in with the nomination where I get to talk about myself.  So, without further ado here are my responses to Ms. Harp’s questions:

  1. What are 6 things you couldn’t live without?
    • In no particular order: air, food, Diet Dr Pepper, books, outside and my daughter.
  2. What time of day do you do your best writing/work?
    • I really only get to write in the morning (which is horrible) or at night (which is better.)  I think I might write well during the day, but that’s normally when I’m writing e-mails, proposals, performance reviews, and other worky writing things.  Worky writing is not my best or my favorite.
  3. Biscuit or scone?
    • Both, but if I was forced to choose I would pick biscuit, especially because lots of times scones have gross things like cranberries, blueberries and currants in them.  I told my husband recently that if I suddenly had infinite time available I would learn how to make the perfect biscuit.  I have heard rumors that it involves grating the cold butter.  My husband thinks I have lame goals.
  4. Favorite season?
    • Fall, or perhaps spring.  I love fall because I love the weather, the crispness of the air, and the clothes.  I love spring because I love the winter ending and the tiny new plants poking up out of the ground.
  5. What are your thoughts on social media?
    • I’m addicted to Facebook and knowing how my 30ish friends are doing.  That said, all my Facebook friends are also flesh and blood friends, so it’s like an extra expansion of my friendships.  I don’t really get having 500 friends.  I get having 500 connections on LinkedIn, because careers are made via connections.   I loved Twitter when I had 40 minutes on the bus each day, but now that the bus riding is over I can’t make time for it.  I do like the instant connection to anyone, and how it made Neil Gaiman my BFF.  All this said, I know that I need to start figuring out how to better use social media to promote my work, which makes me feel like an old fuddy duddy.
  6. Favorite way to end the day?
    • Sleeping.  I love sleeping.
  7. Best trip?
    • I think the trip my husband and I took to Boston and Maine last year.  We had just come over a really rough stretch and we got to spend 8 days just being grown ups together.  Eating, hiking, walking, kayaking, exploring and just having fun.  As much as I can’t live without my daughter, it was amazing to remember why I choose to live my life with this guy who normally I value for his ability to take out the trash and do dishes.
  8. Would you eat at a restaurant that was really dirty if the food was amazing?
    • So long as the really dirty didn’t involve cockroaches I could see.
  9. How important is it to you to learn something new?
    • Not super important.  I like to learn new things organically.  I would never sit here and think, “Today, I am going to learn French.”  I would learn French if I was going to France, or Montreal.
  10. Have you ever flipped a coin to make an important decision?
    • Nope.  I’m a total spreadsheet decision maker.

Also, I went to the grandmother of my nominator Blabberwockying to check her out.  I love her questions, especially this one:

Do you feel you are at peace with yourself?

  • Absolutely not.  I have moments where I can glimpse peace with myself and it seems so magical.

Finally I went to the great-grandmother of my nominator, to try to see if I could give this award to just anyone.  (It appears I can.)  Then I used her badge for the award, because I like it.  Thanks to A Dark World Inside.

So my nominees are:

Clare from Around Zuzu’s Barn.  Clare’s stories are pure sunshine to me, and I love hearing about her cats (both real and fictional) and her adventures.

Kathy from K E Garland.  Kathy has a wicked wit and a sharp eye for the injustices and idiosyncrasies of life.

On the Lamb Design who is a knitter and a runner like me, which means I love her stuff.  She also was the first person ever who read a fiction piece I wrote and tie it to one of her real life experiences.  She compared my short story, The Fisherman, to this post of a dinner she had in Copenhagen.  Every time I read that post I get chills: it’s total magic.

Alexand Knits for tickling my eyeballs with beautiful knit items.

Now for my questions, if you all are interested in playing along:

  1. Where do you feel at home?
  2. When are you most truly yourself?
  3. What do you love doing, but don’t have enough time for?
  4. What is your biggest time suck?
  5. Who makes you a better person?
  6. If you had to pick four words for a family crest, what would they be?
  7. What do you collect?
  8. Name one word you despise and why do you dislike it?

Thanks again to Lula Harp for the nomination!