Grandmom Goes “Grey”

One of the best and worst things that happened to me in 2012 was that I broke my Kindle.

I am both a voracious reader and a broke paycheck-to-paycheck schmuck. It isn’t hard to understand why I’d put the death of my beloved E-reader on the “worst” list. But best? Let me explain.

I have a borderline psychotic fear of debt. I hate the idea of owing money it will take me forever to pay back. So although I have credit cards, I only pull them out in true emergencies. As sad as it made me to see my little porthole into the world of new authors sit broken and lonely, I couldn’t call my new Kindle-less state an emergency. Instead, I started feeding my need to read by going to the library.

Here’s where the “best” part comes in.  I prefer my e-reader because there’s simply more options to choose from than what sits on the shelves of the little local library near my home. Going there brings back happy memories of Saturday afternoons with my butt plopped somewhere in the children’s section, picking out a Laura Ingalls Wilder book while Mom hunted down her next Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Even so, if given a choice, I’d have a new Kindle sitting on my coffee table.

But on my first visit to the library, I noticed a single shelf dedicated to large print books, and I almost did a happy dance.  My grandmother is at a place in her life where she has trouble filling long and lonely days. Her mobility is limited, and most of her friends live far away or are in poor health themselves. We’re always trying to come up with things for her to do other than watch TV. For a while, my sister and niece got her hooked on Angry Birds. She used to be a major crafter, quilting and making terrariums. She went through a “puffy sequined sweatshirt” phase that had us all cringing a little at Christmas. My sister recently tried picking her up some craft materials, but she said she could no longer see well enough to do them.

I suggested reading, and got the same response. Truthfully, the only things I’d ever seen my grandmother read were magazines and clothing catalogs. Still, I gave it a shot, and my suggestion was shot down just like all the others we’d thrown at her.

Me and Grandmom, 1970-something

Me and Grandmom, 1970-something

But that day in the library, I felt a spark of hope. Regular books probably were too hard on her eyes. But these big print suckers? Why hadn’t I thought of that before?

I told her about the big print books and asked her if she’d give them a try. She said she would, in that “I’m just humoring you” kind of way. I asked her what kind of books she thought she’d like.

She said “Love stories. But without a lot of sex in them.”

I gulped as I left her house and headed for the library. Love stories without a lot of sex in them? Was there such a thing?

I’m not much of a romance reader myself. But I have friends who are, and we sometimes spend summer days off lounging together at the pool. I’ll be sitting there with my next creeperific ghost story or bit of raunchy sophomoric humor or serial killer extravaganza, and I’ll glance over at my friends’ bodice-ripper and ask about it.

“Girl porn,” she’ll reply with a grin.

So I felt a little lost as I scoured the big print shelf in search of G (for Grandma) rated love stories. After a bit of browsing, I stumbled on an Amish romance.

Amish romance? That had to be pretty tame, right? I took it home to her, and she loved it. So I began grabbing a few more every time I went. Frankly, I was amazed that there were so many Amish romances to choose from. I became familiar with writers like Sarah Price and Barbara Cameron, and learned about a whole new realm in fiction.

That was months ago, and Grandmom has since branched out quite a bit. She’s delved into mysteries and dramas. She’s discovered she really likes Jodi Piccoult. She’s even given Stephen King a try. Sometimes, she plows through her books long before I get through mine.

Even so, I was completely unprepared for what happened the other day.  On a Saturday afternoon, I had lunch with my grandmother and then gathered up our books. The library is a short walk from her house, and in a park, so these trips are also a great chance for a little outdoor exercise. I had stuffed our to-be-returned books in my bag and was heading for the door when she called out to me.

“Yeah, Mommom?” I asked, my hand on the doorknob.

“See if you see that ’50 Shades’ thing while you’re there. If you do, get me that one.”

It was only the fact that my bag’s strap was wound pretty firmly on my arm that kept the books from thumping to the floor. From Amish romance to Fifty Shades? From “love stories with no sex in them” to the book that spiked dildo sales off the charts? I haven’t read the series, but again, I have friends who have. Some say it was stupid. Some say it made them forcefully drag their spouses to the bedroom, and in a few cases the spouses have confirmed that with great big grins.

“Mommom,” I sputtered. “You know those books have a LOT of sex, right?”

“I’ve heard. I wanna see what all the fuss is about.”

“I mean, LOTS of sex,” I floundered. “With like, pearl necklaces and stuff.”

She pondered this, but still seemed curious.

As it turns out, the library doesn’t carry a big print version of Fifty Shades.  Maybe we’ll order her the first one from Amazon and go from there if she likes it.

Grandmom has come a long way from reading nothing but catalogs, and all because I broke my Kindle.

Posted in Books, Family, humor, Reading, Slices O' Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

An Anti-Valentine

Me and 365-Days-A-Year Valentine

Me and 365-Days-A-Year Valentine

I am a super-sentimental girl who has been known to cry during dog food commercials. I believe in butterfly kisses and true love. I am thankful for my partner each and every day of the year.

But in spite of all that, Valentine’s Day has never really floated my boat. I’ve coasted through many of them in my forty-two years. I’ve been happily single for some, and not-so-happily alone for others. I’ve had V-Days where I’ve been smack dab in the middle of new love, and many more where I’ve been warm and fuzzy and content with my long-term love. The circumstances haven’t really changed how I feel about the day.

Maybe holidays that don’t involve getting off work just don’t do it for me. Maybe the commercialism that has been doused on the day has turned me off. Or maybe I just don’t do the V-Day version of “romance” because I’d rather curl up with my guy and watch football than go see a chick flick, or throw on my favorite jeans and boots and head to the pub than put on a little black dress and heels for a night of dining and dancing.

Whatever the reason, when I thought about what to write in honor V-Day, I just wasn’t feeling “my favorite romantic heroes” or “the best love stories of all time” or even “why I heart my boyfriend,” although I most certainly do.

So instead, I give you my top three Anti-Valentine Couples from some of my favorite television series.  Why not?  We’ve become an “every kiss begins with Kay” society. Although the pairs on my list are certainly puke-worthy, they make me less queasy than the commercials that remind men to send their lady love flowers at her office so that her colleagues can all sigh with envy and go home to sulk because their own partners are insensitive doucherockets.

Warning: If you are a fan of any of these series and are behind in your watching, this may spoil some surprises. I doubt it, but just in case, you’ve been warned.

#3 – Andrea and ‘The Governor,”The Walking Dead

When I read Walking Dead message boards, most references to Andrea seem to be begging the writers to give her a zombie-chomped death. She’s just not a popular character. But I’ve always been in her court.  I preferred her ballsiness and desire to be as self-reliant and badass as the men to  the whiny save-me-and-make-the-scary-dead-people-go-away nature of most of the other females on the show.

But when she started boinking “The Governor,” I had to reluctantly join Team Andrea Sucks. Since Michonne saved her ass repeatedly, I expected her to trust her friend’s intuition about The Gov being “off.” Instead, she let the fact that she hadn’t been laid since she jumped Shane’s bones on a zombie-shooting road trip get the best of her and remained in Woodbury. This clearly breaks the Post Apocolypse Girl-Code, which is “do not hook up with men your BFF suspects of being a head-hoarding psychopath.”

Because, ewwww. Guys who keep heads in jars just can’t be good in bed, can they?

#2 – Jaime and Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones.

This one needs no explanation for those who watch the show or read the books. But just in case, here goes:

1. Brother-Sister horizontal mambo is all kinds of wrong. So is pushing little boys who see you doing the deed out of towers to avoid getting caught.
2. Their bro-sis love spawned Joffrey. Enough said.

The great thing about Jaime being a prisoner of war for most of Season 2 was that we were spared Lannister lovefests. Well, actually,  we weren’t, since Cersei started boinking her cousin. The bitch is just nasty.

#1 – Frank and Sheila, Shameless.

OK, Frank and Sheila aren’t even a couple anymore. But their whirlwind “romance” is forever etched in my brain, in the dark corner where nightmares live and monsters lurk under the bed. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of their love story:

– Frank gets tossed out of his house because he’s a selfish, pathetic drunk who steals mortgage money from his kids.
– He gets tired of sleeping in dumpsters so he woos Sheila, the shut-in next door, so that she’ll let him move in.
– In exchange for a roof over his head, he lets her stick phallic objects in places we can assume he’s never had anything stuck before.

Frank is a classic user who would (and has actually tried) to sell his own children for beer money. But don’t feel bad for the mentally disturbed, manipulated Sheila. She was OK with the arrangement as long as Frank let her bring her toys out.

While with Sheila, Frank had a fling with a woman he called Butterface (as in ‘everything’s hot but her face’), and his bipolar, bisexual wife, not to mention his one-nighter with Sheila’s daughter. No worries though. Sheila is fine now. She’s shacking up with her daughter’s husband and raising the baby they all thought might have been Frank’s (or Frank’s son’s), but who turned out to be Chinese.

Frank made out fine on their relationship, too, since the changes her toys inflicted on his nether-regions got him home from a drunken blackout in Mexico and opened him up to a whole new career.

So there you have it. My fictional Anti-Valentines. What fictional couple are your lesson in what love should never be? Or, if you prefer to play nice, who is the fictional couple who makes your heart melt?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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When A Writer Watches the Superbowl …

I’ve been a writer long enough to accept the weird brain-quirks that come with the territory. I have grown used to the constant chatter in my brain. When the well of weirdness runs dry, I actually get a little disconcerted. Being able to get through a workday without writerly thoughts disrupting my concentration feels … off.

Even so, my Writeritis going into overdrive during the Superbowl surprised me.

Although I’m a Steelers fan, I’ve really enjoyed watching the town of Baltimore come alive for the Ravens Superbowl run. We gathered for the game at the family pub, and my Superbowl surroundings looked like this:

Happy Hawley's

Happy Hawley’s

I was in the most festive place you could be outside of New Orleans. On top of that, I was completely immersed in the game. I love football, and this was the last NFL dance of the season.

At halftime, it seemed the Ravens were going to pull off an easy win. But I’ve seen the 49ers in comeback mode, so I was still nervous for the die-hard fans who surrounded me. When the second half started, Jacoby Jones ran a 108-yard kickoff return that stretched the Ravens’ lead even farther.

Then the lights went out. Not in our pub, of course. At the stadium.

As I waited with my anxious friends and family for the game to resume, I experienced a sense of deja vu. This scenario felt awful darn familiar.  Then I remembered. Last year, I sat at the pub watching my Steelers play a nail-biter against the 49ers  at Candlestick Park, and there was a blackout at the stadium.

In retrospect, I probably should have just enjoyed the downtime. When the power came back on, the Steelers got their butts kicked.
But what a coincidence – in all my years of football fandom I have only watched two games that were interrupted by a power failure, and the Niners played in both.

After what seemed an eternity to my anxious friends, the lights came back on and the Superbowl continued. But a light had flickered on in my brain, too.  As I watched the roller-coaster second half, a sliver of my mind was busy giving birth to a freak.

He’s a short, dumpy, bespectacled dude who resembles Seinfeld’s George Costanza. He’s a rabid fan of some to-be-determined sports team. He eats sardines out of the can. Although fortysomething, he lives with his divorced mother and spinster aunt. He’s never learned to do laundry. His mom still packs his lunch (bologna and cheese with the crusts cut off). He’s a skilled computer programmer. Never an athletic guy himself, he loves football but can’t identify with the players. So his hero-worship has zoomed in on the coach, a charismatic, hyper man who is both a great motivator and prone to losing his own shit now and then.

You know, kind of like Jim Harbaugh:

jimharbaugh

My little freak emulates his hero, but having a volatile, combative personality just doesn’t work as well for a middle-aged computer geek who lives with his momma as it does for a gifted coach. So he quits his job and starts following the team, trying desperately to get the coach’s attention by finding creative ways to disrupt games. Instead of winning his hero’s admiration, he only succeeds in irking the shit out of him.

I don’t know what if anything will become of my disturbed nerd and his fledgling storyline. Maybe he’s his own short story. Maybe he’s a sidebar in another future work of fiction.

But I love the tangents a writer’s brain goes off on sometimes. A character was born because  I had a sense of deja vu about the 49ers and power outages, and then Jim Harbaugh had his fourth-quarter meltdown over what he felt was a bad call. The two things came together to start knitting an off-kilter character and a story.

I’m used to my mind wandering down writerly side streets when I’m bored. But this is the first time I’ve had such an “a-ha!” writing episode when I was truly living in the moment rather than trying to distract myself from it.

What are some of your oddest or most memorable bursts of creative inspiration?

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Book Review: Gone Girl

As both a reader and a writer, I’ve always had an unspoken cardinal rule. The major characters in a story don’t need to be perfect. They can, and maybe even should, be flawed, broken and quirky.

But somewhere along the way one of them has to be likeable.

Likeable doesn’t have to mean heroic, romantic or kind.  A likeable character doesn’t need to make me wish we could be BFFs. But they do have to be someone I wouldn’t cringe over having a beer with on a slow night at the pub.

Enter Nick and Amy, the dynamic duo of main characters in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. My local radio station’s morning show is fond of the term “douchenozzle.” If I had to pick one word to describe both Nick and Amy, I might steal that one. If Nick popped into my family pub, I’d smirk over his smug face and wonder how long  before someone tried to kick his butt. If Amy showed up all perfectly pretty and spoiled-little-rich-girl, I’d be making vomit gestures even before I realized she was also a psychobitch.

Nick and Amy, to put it nicely, are a toxic stew that could give you the Norwalk virus on sterioids.

Even so, Gone Girl is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. It had me hooked from the get-go, and kept me up until the wee hours of the morning on a work night. Gillian Flynn took my rule about needing to likeable main character and burned it like garbage in a bonfire. She accomplished this with a riveting plot, a dark and honest sense of humor, and more bends and twists than a yoga class.

The basic storyline is that Amy disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary. Nick comes home to find signs of a violent struggle and a vanished wife. For most of the book, we see the search for Amy through Nick’s eyes, and we’re appalled at his jackass thoughts and behavior. We also get glimpses of Nick and Amy’s past and the gradual demise of their relationship through flashbacks to her journal.

Or do we?

The story itself is good and keeps you on your toes. What happened to Amy? What will be the next thing to unravel in Nick’s world? What new clue will make him seem like even more of a douchenozzle?

But what makes the book great is the damn-ya’ll-need-some-medication voices of Nick and Amy. They take you deep-sea diving into the murky depths of one hell of a screwed-up relationship. If your own partner’s biggest issue is the occasional dose of PMS or dirty socks on the bathroom floor, you’ll count your lucky stars. Amy and Nick make you laugh even as you squirm a little and swear to yourself that you’ve never felt quite like that. The monsters in this book aren’t under the bed. They are the ones telling the tale, and they are an exaggerated version of our worst selves when love goes bad.

The supporting cast in this tale also make it a great read. Nick’s twin sister Margo is a bright and funny light. The bumbling but sincere cops are well portrayed. Amy’s parents, a psychologist and children’s book writing duo, make you appreciate your own dysfunctional family. The ex-lovers and bimbonic college girl and collection of quirky friends and drifters who make appearances also lend their own spices to the psycho stew.

Gone Girl is a ballsy, funny, twisted and entertaining read. I wouldn’t want to hang out with Nick and Amy, but they sure made for a good tale.

For more on Gone Girl and her other works, visit Gillian Flynn’s web site. I’ll definitely be hunting down her other two books.

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Step Away From The Book

I’ve spent January working on a big project for The Day Job, watching the playoffs, rejoicing that the third season of Shameless is underway, learning to cook a few new things, visiting the library, discovering “The Following” and “Continuum,” writing and reading blogs, hanging out at the pub, and playing The Sims 3.

After concluding my book in December, I walked away and left it simmering on the backburner.

This is sounding like another case of “here she goes. Blocked and overworked and bitchin’ about it again.” Nope. Hold the phones. This time, the hiatus has been completely intentional.

I’ve spent the last year of my life hanging out with a dead guy who likes to run around naked. You can understand how I might need to step away and clear my head. But the truth is, I’d have taken this hiatus whether my book featured a streaking ghost or algebra equations (Yikes …who am I kidding? If it had been about algebra equations I’d be hiding under my bed swigging from a bottle of vodka.).

After “The Writing” comes the editing and rewriting. Let’s face it. If we compare writing a book to a journey, the “building the story” part is driving on a stretch of open, undiscovered and often beautiful highway. The “editing and rewriting” part is chugging along in rush-hour traffic.  Knowing this, I figured I needed a little time to recover from the burnout I inflicted on myself in 2012.

Me, my naked dead guy and the rest of my novel will reunite for part 2 of our journey the first full week in February.

I do feel rested, clear-headed and ready to go. Taking a “book break” has done wonders for me. I am energized again. I loved writing my book. But when I was finished, my brain was fried. If I’d been asked to take a picture that represented by mental state, I would have found a barren tree under a cold gray sky. My mind was stripped bare not by the book, but by fitting writing it into the rest of my life.

If asked to take a picture of where I’m at today, it would look like this:

Strength and beauty

Strength and beauty

The tree itself represents the strong and solid roots I have put into the story so far. The brilliant fall leaves and the clear blue sky represent a sharper eye, a clearer head and the fresh perspective that come with time away.

Furthermore, I discovered that I MISSED my characters while we were apart. They’ve taken up a lot of real estate in my brain over the last year-plus. As happens in real life, a  temporary separation showed me just how much they mean to me. When we spend every day with someone we love, we take them for granted. Or even worse, they start to irk us a little. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Finally, I am ready to be honest about my brainchild. As I was writing, I had many “damn, I’m good” moments. I laughed out loud over some scenes and cried over others.

Yes, I think my story is “that damn good.” But I also know I’m biased, as a mother may be about her child. Little Johnny is a great athlete, a straight-A student, and respectful to his elders. So when the teacher calls to say he’s being disruptive in class, Mom’s first reaction is “oh, hell no. Not MY boy.”

Like Little Johnny, my book has flaws to be recognized and fixed. Instead of being the book-momma who overlooks bad writing behavior, I want to correct those flaws. With fresh perspective in editing, my good book can be great.

What about you? When you finish the first draft of a manuscript, do you remove yourself from it for a bit or dive right in to the editing process? Do you work on other writing projects while editing, or do you focus in like a laser until the project at hand is done? As I embark on the editing process, I’m eager to hear about your experiences!

Posted in Creativity, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing A Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Good-Bye Poe Toaster, Hello Superbowl and “The Following”

If the events of January 2013 didn’t bring back Baltimore’s mysterious Poe Toaster, I guess nothing will.

First, The Baltimore Ravens made a historical run for the AFC Championship, and will face the San Francisco 49ers in the Superbowl next week. The town of Baltimore is ablaze in a brilliant purple glow. There are Purple Birds everywhere. They glare at this Steelers girl with piercing eyes worthy of Poe’s nevermore-spouting feathered harbinger of doom.

purplebird4I don’t think Poe was much of a sports fan. But both The Ravens and their mascot (Poe) are named for him. Maybe I harbored some secret hope that the Poe Toaster would wake up from a long winter’s nap and go “Hey, things are heating up around here. Guess I should get my game on.”

But he didn’t.

In reality, the Baltimore Poe Toaster has probably been multiple people. He’s been around since approximately the late 1930s, and some say earlier. Until 2010, the mysterious figure would visit the Poe’s original Baltimore City gravesite on the writer’s January 19th birthday. The black-clad figure would toast the gravesite with a glass of cognac, then leave three roses and the rest of the bottle behind. In 2010, the Toaster failed to appear. Onlookers gathered in 2011 and 2012 in hopes of witnessing the time-tested tradition, but he never returned. Most fans unwillingly admitted that his visits were over.

In 2013, Poe Forevermore, a group celebrating Poe and his Baltimore home base, hosted their annual birthday bash. I wasn’t there, but from what I’ve heard and read, neither was the Poe Toaster.

There was, however, a sneak preview of “The Following,” the new Fox Series starring Kevin Bacon.Yes, I really did jump from waxing nostalgic about a Baltimore literary and historic tradition to a new TV series starring the “Six Degrees of” dude. Bear with me.

As a reader, writer and Baltimorian, Poe has been a prominent figure in my life. So when I heard about “The Following,” I had to give it a whirl. The show’s premise is that imprisoned, Poe-obsessed literature professor (and convicted serial killer) Joe Carroll has managed to build a cult of like-minded killers he manipulates into doing his bidding.

In the premiere episode, Carroll briefly escapes from prison. Bring in former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), who heroically captured Carroll years ago and now spends his days sipping vodka from water bottles and checking his pacemaker.

At first, I felt like these characters were hitting me over the head with their personalities. Hi, I’m the handsome, brilliant, evil dude who molds young minds and kills women. Hey, I’m the aging, flawed and broken (but also handsome in a day-after-drunk-kinda-way) hero.

In spite of that, I was drawn into the first episode.  The show takes risks and asks you to stretch your own imagination to enjoy it. No one is shocked that they have to suspend disbelief to enjoy a show like The Walking Dead. We went into it knowing that zombies aren’t real. But serial killers and their strange obsessions do exist. So when someone makes a TV show about them, there’s a reality-based framework.

We know Jeffrey Dahmers and Jack The Rippers are real. But so far we haven’t encountered a puppet-master serial killer controlling a ring of like-minded psychos from jail. That has some critics calling the show’s basic premise implausible.

This wasn’t the case for me. It takes more balls to stretch the realm of truth than it does to deal in outright make-believe, and I think the premiere episode handled it well. One of Carroll’s minions is a prison guard who “overlooked” his internet access. Like many real high-profile killers, he has prison groupies. He’s a literature prof – a charismatic teacher and a master of words. To me, it isn’t really such a stretch that he could easily manipulate minds that were already warped enough to want to be in his world. And if you think prison groupies aren’t real, just ask Timothy McVeigh.

The Poe references he uses as his clues or to decorate his murder sites are admittedly in-your-face. You can’t get much more obvious than scrawling “Nevermore” in blood on the wall of a murder scene.

But peel back that layer of obvious Poe creepery and there’s much more going on. Ryan himself is quite Poe-like.  Carroll says a surviving victim is his “unfinished business.” But really, the Poe-obsessed killer’s “unfinished business” is Ryan, the man who captured him. Ryan, who has become a socially awkward, overly serious, troubled, vodka-swigging hothead. Ryan, who wears a pacemaker after being stabbed by Carroll and whose figurative heart is botched and broken by his inability to save Carroll’s victims and his love for the killer’s wife. The man is in a constant state of lost, angry mourning.

How “Poe-tic” is that? Poe was a brilliant writer who obsessed about thumping hearts and women who died early tragic deaths. He was an awkward man with a drinking problem who remained pretty much obscure and troubled throughout his life. His life was one of lost love and obsession with death and living on the fringe.

So for me, the Poe references tossed out as clues or taunts aren’t really the primary focus. Carroll’s Poe obsession comes out most in his relationship with Ryan. You get the impression that Ryan wasn’t vodka-fueled, awkward, angry or lovelorn before encountering Carroll. The killer has actually built himself a Poe-like nemesis. Rather than being trite, I find that a brave and chancy twist.

I’m not sure Poe would give Superbowls and Harbaugh-brother battles much thought, and with his love of mystery he might be glad the Poe Toaster will remain unknown. But I do think he’d enjoy where “The Following” is going so far. As for me, it’ll definitely take the edge off my Monday nights and divert me from all those glaring Purple Birds.

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Why I Chose to Seek a Literary Agent

“I have finished the first draft of my novel.”

Almost a month has passed since I earned the right to say those words, and they still make me warm and fuzzy, even on an in-the-teens-out-there-cold kind of morning like this one. But even as I celebrate, I am gearing up for  the next leg of the journey. Edits and rewrites. Readers and feedback. That little old “getting published” thing.

For the first year of my book’s 18-month journey, I was convinced I would dive straight into the world of self-publishing.

Then in October of 2012, I attended a conference held by the Maryland Writer’s Association. Out of curiosity, I attended a session on the pros and cons of working with a literary agent and the guidelines for seeking representation.

I walked out inspired and completely rethinking my plan. I mulled over my new action plan as I finished my draft, and came to the conclusion that I would seek an agent.

I’ve shared this plan with a few writer friends. Some are already published. Others are newcomers too. Almost all are a little surprised at my decision. Why take such a long and meandering detour, instead of rolling right down the self-publishing highway? Why invest time and energy in the long shot that an agent will “take on me,” an unknown writer?

Here’s why.

1. Learning to market myself

With or without representation, I’ll have to market the heck out of my book. Yikes. My lifelong work experience is in higher education. I’m not exactly a marketing guru and my bank account has no extra padding for procuring assistance.

What better way to learn to market myself and my book than to try to get an agent? As a new novelist, I’ll have to convince a good agent that I’m worth the risk because my story is unique and I’m the best person to have written it. If I can do that, I can certainly become a salesperson when the book is available.

2. Overcoming Fear

It took me forever to get serious about writing in part because I hate rejection. I stay in a stable job rather than taking risks that might make me happier because I can’t stand financial insecurity.

If I’m honest, part of my original decision to dive directly into self-publishing was based on fear too. I know the odds of landing an agent are slim. Getting a major publishing house to take on my book is an even longer shot. Traveling this path means putting on my big girl pants and steeling myself for rejection after rejection.

Yuck.

But I don’t want to look back and say I made another choice based on fear. I learned to deal with rejection when I began sending out short stories for publication. Now, I want to put myself to the real test.

3. Old School Dreams

I’ve wanted to be a published writer since I was a kid. I was dreaming this dream this back when the only option for most writers was to get their work published through the “traditional” avenues. All the author heros of my teens and twenties went through the grueling, painstaking process.

Now, I don’t have to.  But, crazy as it may seem, a big part of me still wants to.

4. Sticking with Slow and Steady

For a new novelist, the temptation to rush to get your finished product out there is overwhelming. I feel like I’ve waited for this time in my life forever. The fastest route to the finish line is as tempting as that “one more drink” at last call or that extra slice of pizza.

But I have seen many writers make the mistake of succumbing to this “hurry up” urge with less-than-ideal results. For some, that meant getting their book out there but not knowing how to sell it. For others, it was putting a poorly edited or even poorly crafted finished product on the market.

The truth is no one would describe me as thorough and methodical. I am impulsive and flighty. But I need to learn the art of patience for this project. The exercise of seeking an agent will help with that.

5. When One Door Closes

So my plan is to spend the next several months editing and seeking an agent. What if no one takes me on? Well, I’ve lost nothing but time, and I haven’t really even lost that if I’ve also been perfecting my manuscript.  I’m better prepared for the self-publishing venture. I have a carefully edited book, I’m a better marketer than I’ve ever been. I move forward knowing that self-publishing is the best route for me – not just the one I’ve chosen because I’m too afraid or impatient to try the other path first.

6. I Love A Challenge

A speaker at the conference shared a quote along the lines of “an agent’s dream is to find the next up-and-coming writer. An agent’s nightmare is to be the one who said ‘no thanks’ to that writer.”

I’m a realist with no delusions of grandeur. But who doesn’t love the long shot of being that writer? I’ve carried that quote with me. It reminds me that ultimately, agents are people working towards their dream too. As a newbie in this publishing game, I’d love the guidance and support a good agent can offer. But as a “do-it-yourselfer” who hates to ask for help, I needed to be reminded that there’s something in the deal for an agent who takes on a good writer, too.

I’m always interested in hearing the experiences of other writers. Have you sought the representation of an agent, and if so have you been successful? Have you self-published, and if so what have been the pros and cons of that experience for you? If you are a “first-timer” like me, have you decided how you’re going to navigate your publishing journey?

Posted in Creativity, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing A Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Football And Our Inner Freakitude

I have never claimed to be “normal.” I’m not even sure what that word means, actually. I basically think we’re all a bunch of weirdos traipsing the planet in search of others who share our particular brand of freakishness.

Even so, for football fans, nothing brings out that inner freak like gameday.

Sadly, my own inner freak got put to bed early this season. The Steelers had their playoff hopes nixed by an overtime interception that left me standing in front of the TV as stunned and slack-jawed as Ben Roethlisberger himself.

But the freakshow has been rolling on around me just the same. I live in Baltimore, and this has been nothing short of a historic year for the Ravens. With Ray Lewis retiring and last week’s stunning overtime win against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the team that brings out the wild and crazy in most of my friends and family seems destined this year.

At least, I hope so. No, really. The Steelers and The Ravens have one of the best and most intense rivalries in the NFL. In years that the tides have rolled the other way and the Steelers have continued on once the Ravens went home, my nearest and dearest have rooted rabidly for “the other team,” whoever that happens to be. But although I’m a Steelers fan for life, my love for them has never come with the flip side of the coin – being a Ravens hater.

Surrounded by Purple People

Surrounded by Purple People

Since there’s no hope for my Steelers this year, I might as well see my friends and family be happy. Maybe since my own inner football freak got sent to bed early without supper, I just want to live vicariously through the ongoing local dose of crazy.

Being out of it has given me time to reflect on the whole Football Freakitude phenomena. What is it about this game that makes so many of us act in ways we’d point and laugh at in a “non-sports” scenario?  Let me give a few examples of what I mean.

1. If I wear a particular Steelers jersey or shirt during a game and they win, it must be worn again for the following game. This continues until they lose. Then I change it up until the next shirt in the cycle becomes a “loser shirt.” Yes, I know the Steelers are not looking at my gameday outfits and going “Really? The Polamalu jersey again? What about the rest of us?” But I do it anyway. (Sidenote: At least I’m not one of those people who won’t wash their ‘lucky outfit’ before the next game. Laundry is perfectly OK in my football obsessive compulsive regimen).

Steelers and Ravens girls got game!

Steelers and Ravens girls got game!

2. My partner and I cannot watch Steelers/Ravens games together. He’s a die-hard fan of the Purple Birds. But unlike me, his love of them DOES come with the expected hate of the rival team. He has almost as much “Steelers Suck” paraphernalia as he does Ravens gear. So for our sanity, we kiss good-bye on gameday afternoon and I head off to watch the game with my Steelers fan girlfriends.

3.  My parents have three televisions – one in their family room, one in the living room, and one in the bedroom. When watching the Steelers, my mother will pick one TV to get started. If things aren’t going our way, she’ll move to another in search of the “lucky TV.” Sometimes this means she races through the house like a madwoman and her dogs hide in the basement.

4. My former boss is a fellow Steelers fan. When he moved away, he started texting me with a “Go Steelers” before each game. The Steelers had a winning streak. He was busy one gameday and didn’t text. The Steelers lost. We decided that those texts were good luck, and I get nervous when we miss one.

5. A fellow Steelers fan friend does a shot of Tuaca before each game. The shot must not happen too early or too late. And it must be done.

6. I often watch games like a squeamish but curious person at a horror flick.  I put my hands over my eyes, leaving just enough space between my fingers to peek during critical offensive or defensive moments. Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Wrong Turn? They got nothing on the football fear factor.

7. No matter what the Steelers do on Sundays, my Mondays are going to be the same. I’m going to go to work, be stuck in endless meetings, and wish I was home writing instead. But when I greet a Monday after a Steelers win, I’m almost a ray of sunshine anyway. After a loss, I’m a grinchy creature best avoided until I have fed myself copious amounts of coffee.

These are just a few examples of how a relatively rational, functioning girl like me becomes a straight-up weirdo during football season. And I know I’m not alone. Thankfully, I’m not quite as out there as the Ravens fan who went up on his roof and said he wouldn’t come down until the Purple Birds won a game several years ago, but still.

The logic in me knows that the outcome of a game will never be decided by what shirt I wear, when my friend does her shot, which TV my mother watches or whether my ex-boss and I exchange texts. But the heart of a goofball fan is a funny thing. If you walk around refusing to step on cracks so you don’t break your mother’s back, I’m gonna suggest you get medication. On a Steelers gameday, feel free to tell me the same.

Since my team usually takes me into the playoffs, locking away my crazy for the year so early has been strange. But it has given me a chance to observe the loony-toonery of others with fresh eyes. And yes, football freakitude is universal.

What about you? Do you do weird, silly, superstitious things when you watch your favorite team in your chosen sport, or are you free of the freakitude?

Are you hoping for a particular outcome in the Superbowl this year or just along for the ride? Me, I’d like to see the Harbaugh brothers take each other on.

Either way, my inner freak is chillin’ and resting up for next year.

Posted in Football, humor, Steelers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A New-To-Me Kind of Writer’s Block

Do you have one of those people in your life who shares way too much about their bodily functions? The family member who tells you about her horrible case of the “green poops” over dinner or friend who gives you the minute details about why she hates her “monthly visitor?”

I do. With each conversation, I learn something about her bowel movements or some other function that truthfully, I’d have been just fine living in the dark about forever. Our chats make me vow to myself never to become one of those people who tells you too much about what’s going on with her innards.

Well, I’m about to make a hypocrite of myself, because we’re embarking on a chat about constipation. The good news is, I’m not talking about the kind that requires (or doesn’t require, as the case may be) toilet paper.

I’m referring to writer’s block. And yes, I know, every writer with a blog has the obligatory “dealing with word constipation” post. It is what we write about when we don’t know what else to say.  Old folks talk about the good old days and their current ailments over their coffee or prune juice. Constipated writers sign into their blogs and spout off about writer’s block. It is our universal woe, and if nothing else, it is sure to get us some sympathy from other writers.

But that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m not currently blocked. My movements are right as rain. I don’t need sympathy or breakthrough ideas. I just wanted to share a discovery I made this fall, while finishing my first novel, in case reading this ever helps some other writer who travels the same road someday.

In mid-2011, I was hit with “The” idea for my first book. When that happens, you know it. It feels like sunshine and lollipops and rainbows and small people in funny shoes singing to you as you skip down the Yellow Brick Road in your ruby red slippers. For the next year and a half, I would work on this novel. Some months, I would write in frenzied fits and starts. Other long stretches would go by where I added a little each day with wonderful regularity. And of course, there were those rough patches where I questioned everything and just couldn’t seem to move forward.

The darkest of those days came in the fall of 2012, as I was nearing the finish line. I had not lost faith in my story. I was not questioning my characters or my plotline. I knew where I wanted things to go and how I wanted them to get there. After months and months and months of pecking away, I was in sight of the finish line.

But I could not cross it. I was as paralyzed as a deer in headlights.

I have been through bouts of writer’s block before. They ARE like constipation. You feel heavy and lethargic and eager to get out what you’ve got inside, but it just won’t come. You need a word laxative in the worst way. There are volumes of advice written on which brand is best.

This wasn’t like that. Not at all. I COULD write. During that two-month period, I could have dashed out two different short stories. I could have posted three times a day here. I could have journaled for hours, or written one of ten different essays. I had more of a case of word diahhrea than constipation. Except, of course, for when it came to my book.

When I tried to work on my book’s conclusion, I literally got a little dizzy. My mind would wander and could not be reigned in. I’d get shaky or achy, too tired to keep my eyes open or too wired to sit still. I was a straight-up loony-toon the moment I pulled up the last chapter of my book and it sat flashing on my screen.

This wasn’t the writer’s block I’d known before – the kind where I couldn’t do anything. This was something new, a kind of targeted constipation I’d never experienced.

For a while, I just lived with it and hoped it would pass. I watched football. I hung out at the pub. I blamed my job and the economy and the mindsuck of the morning news. I invented enough cursewords that if you could patent those bitches, I’d be rich.

The answer came to me at work, of all places. I had five meetings scheduled in one day. Between each meeting were half-hour or hour-long breaks. I was in the middle of the kind of urgent problem-solving project that requires several hours of uninterrupted concentration and a fresh brain. The meetings were sucking away both the hours and the brain, and I was pissed.

“I hope the book takes me away from all this,” I thought to myself.

And just like the song says … Whoop. There it is. The answer to the cause of my targeted writer’s block slapped me upside the head and said “gotcha, dumbass.”

I started writing this novel because I was obsessed with the idea. I loved that it was unique and fun. I have always loved writing, and wanted to complete a book-length work the way I imagine a sprinter would get satisfaction out of finally doing a marathon. But somewhere along the way, my motivation changed. I was still writing the book for all those reasons, but also because I was daydreaming about publishing it as a way to a better life.

I work in a good place, with even better people. It is my work itself I am not overly thrilled about. I’m fortysomething, and after more than 20 years of doing what I gotta I am ever so ready to do what I wanna. I don’t expect my writing to save me from working. But I do dream, and dream hard, about it opening up possibilities for me to re-career and do something different. I’d love to trade the stress and simultaneous brain overload and excruciating boredom of IT work (that’s how it feels for me, I know some people love it) for a job that involves helping people and making a difference. Thing is, I can’t afford the paycut.

So somewhere along the way, my labor of love became a possible escape route. For part of the writing process, that was a good thing. It revved up my motivation and kept the engines running. It kept me plugging away towards the finish line when I was tired or just more interested in going out and having fun. It was like a lighthouse beckoning to a woozy ship on a choppy sea.

But when the finish line was actually in sight, all the sudden those dreams weren’t a quaint little lighthouse anymore. They were Moby the Friggin’ Seamonster, ready to sink the damn ship.

Those dreams of my novel opening up new life possibilities had fueled my writing for a year. They made me pour my creativity and my weirdness and my heart and my soul into the novel. The light blinked, and my little ship kept sailing full speed ahead.

But finish lines are weird, like finally reaching that dock if you aren’t familiar with the port. The lighthouse promised safe harbor and happiness, and motoring towards it was a hell of a lot of fun. But what if  once I got there, what was in the port was just more grunge and grime and same-old-same-old?

You see, once the novel is finished, you have to find out whether it WILL get you closer to your dreams. If it does, that’s another one of those Wizard of Oz moments. It is the one where Dorothy clicks her ruby red slippers together and wakes up in Kansas. But if it doesn’t? Well, that’s like if Dorothy had opened her eyes after she said “there’s noplace like home” and found herself splayed ass-down on the Yellow Brick road with a hangover and the Scarecrow saying “Sucker. And they said I was the one who didn’t have a brain.”

Yep. Finishing the novel meant game on. It meant I had to find out if what I had been working for would happen, or whether I’d still find myself facing another two decades of software-guru-who-would-rather-be-a-storyteller hell.

And that, my friends, scared the poop out of me. Or to stick with the original constipation metophor, I guess it scared me poopless. I have been thriving on my dreams, and I was terrified of not having them anymore.

I wish I could tell you how I got past it. I’d like to be able to tap out a formula for other writers who will face the same thing. I know they’re out there. I’ve met a few. But I can’t. I just had to let it happen.

What I do know is that part of “letting it happen” was getting back to basics. I had to do two things. One was get back to the original reason I started this book – because I love the story and the act of writing. The other was to promise myself that whatever happened after the writing, there had to be another way to get closer to my dreams, and I would find it. The second half of my worklife is NOT a sequel that will be based entirely on the outcome of this book. I will keep writing, working and exploring avenues of success no matter what. Many of them will be centered on this novel. Many, but not all.

In other words, I had to take my first novel out of the pressure cooker and put it back in the place it had always belonged – in my heart.

Because, after all, there’s noplace like home.

Posted in Creativity, humor, Writing, Writing A Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Looking Back and Rolling Forward

It has been so long since I’ve last written that unless you are among those who keep up with my blathering on Facebook, you probably thought I’d given into the woes of a frenzied day-jobbing writer and drowned myself in a vat of jagermeister at the pub.

No dice. I’m still here. Jagermeister doesn’t drown you, although it does cause one helluva hangover.

More importantly, the book is finished. By “finished,” I mean the tale is written in its entirety. Of course there’s miles to go before I sleep and before Manwhore makes his public debut.

I think the best way to catch up on what’s been going on during my blog hiatus is to steal a Year In Review from one of my oldest (old as in ‘been cracking each other up in the blogosphere forever,’ not old as in geezerly because she’s actually younger than me) friends Golfwidow. I have done a very similar type of “year in review” the week before New Year’s pretty much since I’ve been blogging. But I was still finishing Manwhore up until December 29th, and thus still on very strictly enforced “no writing anything else” house arrest.

I cut some of the questions to keep this from being the longest blogger comeback post in the history of the internet, and I obviously didn’t get it posted before 2012 exited stage left. Better late than never, and it is a great way to cover a lot of ground I’d probably never get back to otherwise.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’ve never done before?

Finished the first draft of a novel.
– Was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul and received my first-ever contributor’s copies in the mail.
– Attended a writer’s conference.
– Started cooking things that required more than opening a package or boiling water. Yes, I’m a woman in her early 40s. Don’t judge.
– Attended my first gay wedding.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more this year?

Yes and no. I resolved to maintain my workout regimen, write and market a shit-ton of short stories and essays, and finish my novel.  And this would all happen while I worked an average of 50 hours a week. Yep, piece of cake.

For the first half of the year, I hit the gym, wrote two short stories, and networked my happy butt off. The novel, which was at the not-quite-halfway point at that time, was ignored. If you’ve got a Manwhore sitting in your laptop and you can ignore him, you’re doing something wrong.

What I had done wrong was overextend myself in the first place. I’d love to say I fixed that by taking a hiatus from work to focus on all my other lofty goals. But if I had done that, I wouldn’t be sitting here on my comfy couch writing this. I’d be standing on a street corner wearing everything I own and holding up a sign that says “will write for food and shots of jagermeister.” So instead, I let everything else go to focus on the book. I stopped blogging, I stopped reading blogs, and I stopped tackling other writing projects. I lived and breathed my job and Manwhore.

Since it is finished, I can say my most important 2012 resolution was kept. But now I have lots of catch-up and cleanup to do in 2013. My ass doesn’t need its own zip code, but it misses a good workout. My “non-manwhore” writing muscles are rusty. And truthfully, I am both exhilarated and exhausted.

So my 2013 goal is to “keep it real.” I will edit Manwhore this year. I will turn him over to other readers. I will research and query agents. I will learn about self-publishing so that I can move onwards and upwards with or without an agent.  But I will do this all in gradual and reasonable chunks, so that I have time to take care of my body and survive that gosh-darn work thing without stumbling around looking like a Walking Dead extra.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

My beloved grandfather passed away on January 3, 2012. I was actually still blogging regularly then and wrote about it here, but because the anniversary of his death just passed it is heavy on my mind and I wanted to mention it here. Love and miss you, Grandad.

4. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

A less frenzied schedule – more time to take better care of myself, be in the moment with the people who matter and write the random things that bring me joy.

Oh, and the Steelers in the playoffs.

5. What date(s) from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

October 28th – I attended my first-ever writer’s conference. I walked in as an exhausted writer who was struggling to cross the finish line of her novel. I walked out full of hope and inspiration. It was also that day that I made the decision that I would at least give seeking an agent my best shot before just assuming my only road to publication was doing it all on my own.

December 29th – I typed the last word of the last sentence in the last chapter of Manwhore. Much squealing ensued.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finishing. The. Book.

7. What was your biggest failure?

Not being able to hit that mark without majorly slacking on every other goal I’d set.

8. What was the best thing you bought?

Our used truck. We had no choice in that matter, really. Our van died in July, we needed wheels, and we had a flea-sized budget to work with. But both Lee and I have fallen a little in love with “Vroom Boogie.” Also, the laptop I am writing on at the moment. It is my new BFF.

9. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My niece Jordyn. Her horse suffered a serious injury, and the love, compassion and care she has shown him on his road to healing has been nothing short of amazing. At 15, she pretty much spends every moment she’s not in school or doing homework tending to Jaxx. Under the guidance of his vet, she’s learned how to do things that would make many adults squeamish.

10. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

I am really trying to not let things I can’t control depress me. But appalled? Every damn extremist on both sides of the fence during the election. And asshats who shoot up schools.

11. Where did most of your money go?

Vroom-Boogie. Laptop. Treading enough water that the mortgage company didn’t knock on the door and say “keys please, bitch.”

12. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nope. I’m admittedly run-down and feeling my age for the first time in my life. But I worked a job that would turn a Zen Buddhist into a screaming tweaking psycho-banshee and wrote a book on the side, so I think that’s to be expected.

13. What made you really really really excited?

I think I might have mentioned that I. Finished. The. Book.

14. What song will forever make you think of 2012?

“Damn It Feels Good to Be Me” by Uncle Kracker with Kid Rock. Every time I’d feel overwhelmed, behind, stressed, broke, just not good enough or some combination of these, I’d listen to this song until I started believing it.

I listened to it a LOT on Monday mornings.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

Happier or sadder:  Happier. This time last year, I was preparing to travel to West Virginia for Grandad’s funeral. Tonight, I am writing a blog post celebrating the fact that I. Finished. The. Book.

Thinner or Fatter: A little fatter. But it could be worse, given that in order to carve out the time to finish the book I kicked any personal care regimens that didn’t involve jumping in the shower or discovering new and creative ways to hide sleep deprivation with makeup to the curb. Since I am still thinner than I was when I started my fitness journey in 2009, I’m considering it a fixable setback and still an overall win.

Richer or Poorer:  About the same. Which is to say I think I work way too hard to be this damn poor but I eat, keep the lights on and don’t have bill collectors calling me so it could be worse.

What do you wish you’d done more of?

Exercising.

What do you wish you’d done less of?

Letting politics and peoples’ reactions to politics piss me off and watching the Steelers lose football games.

How did you spend Christmas?

We did our traditional Christmas morning at my parents’ house. I enjoyed the day, but not as much as I usually do. My cat Sylvester had gotten out several days before and we had not been able to find him, in spite of mad searching on the part of Lee and I as well as some of our friends. I enjoyed being with my family and loved that we were able to get my grandmother out for the day, but I was heavy-hearted too. At one point, my parents’ dog Otis climbed up into my lap and looked at me, and I struggled not to burst into tears. Otis is little, chunky and black. My cat is little, chunky and black. That was all it took.

The happy ending to this story is that we found Sly three days later. He was home for New Years.

How did you spend New Year’s?

I rang it in at Hawley’s Pub as I always do. One of my dearest friends was able to make the trip to be with us, which upped the awesomeness of the night. On New Year’s day, I did a lot of napping and snuggling with Sly, and Lee and I went out to dinner.

What were your favorite TV programs?

Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, The Borgias, Shameless,  Hell on Wheels and Boardwalk Empire. That’s a shit-ton of TV for someone who complains about not having time. But all of these shows come on Sunday nights and have relatively short seasons, so I’m still only sucked into the boob tube once a week. Well, unless two of them are running at the same time and then I have to play catch-up …

Best book you read?

I’m pathetically stumped. I actually did a LOT of reading this year. It is just that nothing hit me with the force that 11/22/63 by Stephen King as well as the entire Game of Thrones series did in 2011. So I’m drawing a blank.

Musical Discovery and Best Film

Ok, ok. I have to crawl out from under my rock, because I’m drawing blanks here too. I finally watched “The Raven” and loved it, but that’s old news. This whole exercise is hitting me over the head with just how much I have had to incubate myself to be my novel’s bitch by the wee hours of the morning/dark hours of night and my job’s whore during all the hours in between. It can put the hammer down now – I get it.

What did you want and get?

Two short stories accepted for publication. My new laptop. Sylvester’s safe return. A finished draft of a book.

What did you want and not get?

Financial security and less stress at work. An extended beach vacation. The Steelers in the playoffs.

What did you do on your birthday? How old were you?

My birthday was a Monday this year, so I took the day off because birthdays are not meant to be spent going to meetings and cussing at difficult computer software. I worked on Manwhore all day, and had a few beers at Hawley’s with my family that night.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

“Look, bitches, I got out of bed and showed up. What more do you want?”

What would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Less working and more writing, exercising, cooking and generally enjoying life. Fewer money woes.

What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I discovered that Anson Mount kicks ass.  And I’m not just talking about the fact that Hell on Wheels in general and his character Cullen Bohannen rock. I haven’t seen a celebrity put as much genuine personal effort into a cause as he put into Hurricane Sandy relief in, well … ever. I’m sure there are many who have done similar things that I just wasn’t aware of. But Anson’s concern and committment really hit me. Cullen Bohannen sticks to one-liners like “Yup.” The man who plays him has a lot more to say.

Best lesson you learned in 2012?

Slow and steady wins the race. Really. I discovered that too much multi-tasking not only makes me bitchy, it causes me to do everything half-ass.  The novel I finished writing this year still needs editing, but it is a damn good read if I do say so myself. And it is only good because I finally admitted that I had to “stop the presses” on everything else I COULD give up for a while to get it done.

Best memory?

I can’t pick just one! A great early spring weekend at the beach with my mom, niece, aunts and cousins. Lee’s excitement at a new job that he really loves and that we both hope becomes something permanent. Coming home to find my box of contributer’s copies from Chicken Soup had arrived in the mail. Attending Steve and John’s wedding. Some mornings or afternoons spent writing where I found myself laughing or crying at something that had traveled from my brain to the screen. Convincing my grandmom to try reading and having her discover a love of books. Some great nights at Hawley’s with friends and family. Some awesome summer afternoons spent lounging at the parents’ pool with some of my favorite girls. Our girls-only (all holes no poles) football gatherings for Ravens-Steelers games this year.

I could go on, but you get the picture. For me, 2012 was a year of both feeling more boxed in and limited yet more wild and free than I’ve ever felt in my life. I proved that I could create a booklength story and tell it from start to finish, could live in the brains of characters who were very different from me and tell their tale from their perspective. But to do so, I sacrificed a lot of living. To be a novelist with a demanding “other” job, that’s what I had to do.

But now it is done, and I won’t be taking on another booklength work for a while. This one still needs lots and lots of love and attention to make his way into the world. And so do many other things I’ve missed.

In other words, I’m baaccckk!

Posted in Hawley's Pub, Memoirs, Personal Development Mumbo-Jumbo Stuff, Steelers, Uncategorized, Work, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments