05 December 2010

Deep in the Forest of Edits and Paper

Mood: Tired (dreading the Monday dragon - it's peeking around the corner)
On TV: Bama Belles (Help me - I have a reality TV addiction!) 

The halls at Casa de Cowsert are completely decked, the tree shelters a nice pile of gifts awaiting a visit from the gift wrapping fairy and I'm hip deep in the editing process.

Once upon a time I thought of the editing process as something akin to slapping a fresh coat of paint on an already gorgeous wall. You know, something that looks good already but just needs a little pizazz to send it right over the edge? This? Was because I used to over think and over edit as I wrote - which basically meant that I would rarely ever finish a draft of anything because I was too focused on achieving perfection the first time around.

So up until now, my edits have resembled a project something like this:

Thankfully I learned to let go of that obsessive need to be perfect during the writing process. I was all "Yay! first drafts are supposed to suck and I suck so yay me!!!"

Now, however, I'm faced with the aftermath of a sucky first draft. Instead of just slapping a fresh coat of paint on a perfectly smooth and primed wall I'm left with something that looks more like this:

It has great bones, a solid structure and with a LOT of TLC it could be really amazing but I'm going to need a sledge hammer, not a paint brush to get me there.


25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mood: Tired but content (and a little stuffed to be honest)

On TV: World's Dumbest - Holiday Edition (watching stupid people do stupid things - the perfect way to end a holiday!)

In case anyone missed it, today is Thanksgiving! It's the day to jump out of bed, turn on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and then eat yourself silly all in the name of being thankful for the blessings in our lives. So, today I'm especially reminded to be thankful for:
  • My hubs. He drives me crazy. Seriously crazy. But. I wouldn't know what to do without him. And they make medication for the crazy. 
  • My family. Ditto the crazy but, again, I wouldn't know what to do without them. Also? The medication for the hubs crazy works equally well for the family crazy. 
  • Car horns. They keep me from having a head on collision with people who are driving the wrong way down a one way street. They also allow me to advise said people of their error. 
  • My laptop - I know, shallow right? But I loves my laptop! 
  • Friends - both internet based and real life. Without friends I'd need a lot more of the medication for the various crazy in my life. 
  • Disposable cookware. * 
So there you have it. Hope everyone has had a great turkey day and that you have many blessings in your lives for which you can be thankful. 

*Don't judge me - when you cook for a huge family it's all about the easy clean up.


24 November 2010

Thankfully Crazy?

Mood: Thankful (what? It's like the whole point of the holiday, no?)
On TV: Hell's Kitchen (It is Wednesday and nothing like seeing some chef butt kicked to start the holiday off right!) 

Tonight I have made two pumpkin pies, two chocolate pies and one banana pie. I also have bags filled with all the fixings necessary to feed a standing army of approximately 5,000 hungry soldiers - or my family. Tomorrow I will take said fixings to my mother's house where I will spend hours with my sisters preparing an awesome feast that the hungry masses will annihilate in a mere 20 minutes. What can I say? It's tradition!

You know what else is tradition? Black Friday shopping! But seriously? What is up with the whole "go to the store at 3:00 am" crap? People, we have got to stop the insanity! Most of us will spend all day tomorrow with family and friends, eating ourselves into a carb induced coma, and then we're expected to drag our tired, pie filled selves out of bed in the middle of the night to schlep through the freezing cold of a November night to save $10 on something that we probably don't even want to begin with? I. don't. think. so! There really isn't anything I want badly enough to stand in line for in the middle of the night.*

However, it's tradition so Scott and I will drag ourselves out of bed somewhere around the crack of 10:00 am on Friday (and that's a bit too early for our liking on a day off). We'll curse the crowds, we'll find some good deals on Christmas gifts, we'll see Santa** and we'll do it all with the benefit of a full night's sleep because that's what sane people do. And really? If hubs and I are the measure of sanity in any given situation then people really need to reevaluate their life choices.

*Okay, there was the Harry Potter book thing but that was different.

** Don't judge me - how else is Santa going to know that I want a Nook Color for Christmas?


06 November 2010

I'm a NaNoWriMo Drop Out!

Mood: Lonely and out of sorts (hubs is at work all day today - great OT for the holidays but I'm used to having my best friend at home on a Saturday and I miss him. )

On TV: Haunted London (guess the tv isn't ready to let go of Halloween just yet)

I? Am officially a NaNoWriMo drop out. Yep. That's right. Already. I'm a quitter. *hangs head in writerly shame*

For the non-writing peeps out there, NaNoWriMo is national novel writing month. 30 days of insanity that take hold every November when writers, professional and amateur alike, try to pound out a novel of 50,000 words in just a single month. It sounds like a great idea, right? Just write with abandon and get the words out on paper (or the computer) and at the end of a mere 30 days of insanity you will have completed a basic novel.

After completing my last work I thought that joining in the NaNoWriMo insanity fun would be a great way to get the creative juices flowing again. It would be a way of driving forward with my next work while the previous one awaits rewrites. Yeah. That was the thought anyway. The reality was much different.

Here's the thing folks. I'm a nerd. A card carrying member of the "I have to have straight A's or I'll die" geek club. Which means that when it comes to writing (or anything that remotely resembles an "assignment") I'm a painful perfectionist. Why that perfectionism couldn't apply to something more useful like, say, keeping my house clean or actually applying make-up everyday, I'll never know but it is what it is.

So, when I decided to dive right into the NaNo fray? I froze. Couldn't write, couldn't think. Spent days trying to flesh out an idea and failing miserably because all I could do was feel the pressure of the looming deadline. My muse clammed up and sat in the corner refusing to talk to me. My brain? Was only capable of playing endless rounds of on-line Yahtzee.

What if I didn't finish? (okay, really, what did I think was going to happen? It's not like the NaNo police are going to come and confiscate my computer.)

But if I didn't finish then I would fail and I can't fail! (I can however let my dishes pile up, my vacuum cleaner grow dusty with disuse and are there really people who immediately put their laundry away after washing because I really think that's a vicious rumor).

Ultimately I decided that I needed to remove the pressure from  my writing. Not that deadlines aren't useful but, for me, the deadline of one month was nearly enough to drive me out of my mind in less than a week.

So, to all the NaNo warriors out there - I wish you luck and flowing words.

As for me? I have another game of on-line Yahtzee to finish and then maybe I'll do the dishes. Or maybe I'll write because now that the deadline has been removed my muse is starting to look like she might be willing to have a little chat.


25 October 2010

*Ahem* I Have an Announcement...

Mood: Happy (even though it's Monday)

What I'm Listening to: Christmas Music (shut up. I like Christmas music)

I know that I've been MIA in blogger land lately. Now, this will come as no great shock to those of you who know me. I'm quite possibly the world's most inconsistent blogger. No. Really. I think it's a title and I hold it so don't rain on my parade.

However, this time, I have an epically good reason. *cue epic music*

The official announcement was made by my sometimes cheerleader, sometimes butt kicker but always supportive award winning (because that's how she rolls) author and dear Tweetie friend,  LK Gardner-Griffie on Saturday night on Twitter. But, for those of you who don't obsessively follow all the writing threads on Twitter, here it is:

Ahem #amwritingparty Let it be known - @rcowsert gave birth to a shiny new novel at 19:16 PT. Mama & baby are doing well. WIP is incubating.

Yep. That's right. I finally finished it! *cue happy dances, sparkles and streamers from the ceilings* I've been spending the last month or so really pushing for the end of this endless novel and I've finally made it! Of course, it's still a baby WIP, which means that it needs a lot of work before it's ready to go out into the world on its own but that's okay. I'll have it walking, talking and potty trained and ready to go to agents in due time. Until then I'm enjoying that new WIP snuggly smell.

*tickles WIP tummy*

Now....hmmm...starting to think that maybe baby WIP needs a brother or sister to play with....


19 September 2010

Silencing Speak?

Mood: Irritated (banned and challenged books do that to me)

On Tv: COPS (hoping to see someone tazed - sweet, I swear, someone totally just got tazed!)

I have never read this book:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a book for young adults that deals with very real but very difficult and uncomfortable young adult topics. Like drinking. Like parties. Like Rape. Like a young woman who feels she has to remain silent about what has happened to her. In other words, it contains uncomfortable and difficult young adult topics faced by nearly every teenager at every high school in America today. 

Unfortunately, this has prompted some dissent from people  like Wesley Scroggins. Who has decided to protest its inclusion in school curriculum (certainly his right) but he protests its inclusion by calling it "filthy" and "soft core porn" and then calling into question the Christian morality of the school board, teachers and parents that allow such immoral reading material to be put into the hands of our nation's teenagers. 

Really? Really Mr. Scroggins? First, rape is not porn. It's a horrible act of violence. And it happens whether someone is moral or not. Whether they're Christian or not. And when it happens it leaves the victim feeling alone, broken, traumatized and terrified. Just like the character in the book. And just like the character in the book so many of those who are victimized will be afraid and embarrassed and, because of that, they will choose to live with their shame instead of allowing the shame to rest where it should - with the perpetrator of the crime. 

Uncomfortable or not, these are issues we need to discuss with our young people and, whether you use it as a talking point with your teen or if they see themselves in the book and feel empowered enough by it to come to you, books like Speak can be an incredibly effective way to open that oftentimes difficult path of parent - teen communication. 

While I strongly acknowledge a parent's right and responsibility to monitor their children's reading material for content and age appropriateness, no one has the right to decide what I will and will not allow my children to read nor what I will read myself.  

So, I said at the beginning of this post that I have never read Speak. However, I will. And if I don't like it? I will opt not to read it again. If I don't think it's appropriate for teens? I won't allow teens in my care to read it. But if you want your teen to read it because you think it will be a powerful teaching tool? I will give you my copy! 


10 September 2010

Meanwhile, Eight Years Later...

Mood: Content (just got back from a mini-vacation and celebrating my 8th wedding anniversary with the hubs!)

On Tv: Chopped (love what they give these chefs to work with - here's some hotdogs, liver, dried cranberries and dandelion greens - now make me a tasty dessert!)

Hubs and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on September 7th. In honor of this stunning accomplishment (seriously - his packrat tendencies and my OCD tendencies should have really created an ultimate death match situation far before now), we decided to take a small vacation to the St. Louis area and, for once, the vacation Gods smiled and we were allowed to (mostly) enjoy our days off!

First? We went to the Arch in St. Louis. Hubs has been before but I have not. I seriously underestimated two things.

1. Just how TALL the Arch really is.
2. Just how terrified of heights I really am (for the record? Terrified doesn't even begin to cover it.)  

Dude. That? Is tall. Props to hubs for doing the vertical pan to get it all in one picture because it was way more massive than I imagined. Also? Had no idea that there was a museum, shopping and other fun stuff under the arch...well, not under the arch but under the ground under the arch. Amazing. Really.

At first, I was all "no way am I going up to the top of that thing" and really that was a very smart initial reaction. I am a big baby. I make no bones about it and one of the things that I'm most terrified of is heights. Well...not so much heights as the potential for falling from them.

Then? I was all "I'm brave and I'm not going to allow my fears to limit my life experiences! I'm going up to the top of the arch!" So now I can say that, on this trip, I added to my list of life experiences : Going to the top of the Arch and Having a panic attack at a major National Monument. Go me!

Oh, and for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of going to the top of the Arch? You go up in a "pod". The pod is tiny, they cram up to 5 people in each one and it jerks and tilts as it makes its way up to the top of the Arch. I may have gotten a jump start on my panic attack in the pod on the way up. I may or may not have mentioned my fear that we were going to die.
                   Scary, tiny pod of doom ---------->

After we survived the Arch (and the resulting panic attack) we headed over to the Old Spaghetti Factory for lunch. Hubs raved on it, friends have raved on it and now I see why. The atmosphere was amazingly classy and romantic without being too over the top. The food was incredible and I tried an Italian Cream Soda. Quite possibly my favorite new drink of all time. Seriously, how did I not know about these and their amazingly creamy goodness?

The next day we *I* was all geared up to spend the day at the Grant Farm. It's a living history farm with all kinds of animals, historical demonstrations, A Deer Park, the famous Budweiser Clydesdales and all kinds of other fun and "squeee" worthy stuff. The best part? It was all free except for a nominal $11.00 parking fee. I was practically bouncing with excitement.

Thanks to my trusty smart phone GPS app we found the place easily enough but I was immediately concerned when I noted that the parking lot was completely deserted. The place was absolutely empty. Normally that would have made me happy but I realized there was no way that a place like this would be completely empty if it were, in fact, open.

Suddenly I had that sinking feeling that Clark Griswold must have felt when he arrived at Walley World

Unfortunately, there was no giant moose for me to punch. Why are there never giant mooses to punch when you need one???
Apparently the farm is only open on weekends after Labor Day. Well played Vacation Gods, well played.

Hubs and I quickly regrouped and decided to check out the St. Louis Zoo.

You guys? I got to play with stingrays. Baby stingrays, giant stingrays, black stingrays, gray stingrays...it was epically epic. I'm usually not a fan of touching wildlife of any kind and stingrays, well, they killed the crocodile hunter and he was pretty bad ass so normally I wouldn't even think of putting my hand in a tank of these things...but for some odd reason I really, really wanted to. And I LOVED it!

Oh, and ladies, try not to be too jealous but I have one more picture to share. My anniversary gift from my loving hubs:

 Some women get jewelry, some women get showered with priceless gems. I get a ceramic pig with a tiara and a tutu and it's absolutely perfect proving that my hubs "gets" me. :)


30 August 2010

Moving on Up?

Mood: Angsty (Just out of sorts and can't settle my mind to anything - even writing - which is what I should be doing)

On Tv: Hoarders (Someone please tell me why I am so fascinated by the amount of filth in which some people are comfortable living?)

Is there anything more fun that getting together with friends and family to move an entire household full of stuff for my mother in one night? No? I didn't think so. So, that's what the hubs and I - and the rest of my family and some friends gathered to do last Thursday night after work.

Some of us were obviously a bit more excited about the upcoming move than others...

At one point in the evening's work, my sister Sarah and I found ourselves left in charge of entertaining our four nephews and two nieces (all under the age of 8) in a house that was nearly empty and devoid of any meaningful forms of entertainment outside two already tired aunties.

Striving to provide entertainment for the restless masses, Sarah and I sang endless verses of Jingle Bells, The Wheels on the Bus and various other half remembered childhood songs - thankfully none of the kids knows how to operate a video recorder so these precious moments of humiliation (complete with the accompanying movements to act them out) were not preserved for public consumption via YouTube.

Through the course of the evening I found myself saying things that I never thought I'd say. My favorites?

*Stop licking your sister (really? Why are you licking your sister?)
*Stop chewing on your feet (although I admire your flexibility)
*Stop chewing on your brother's/sister's feet (Ewwww...just...ewww)
*Don't shove that in your: nose, ears, mouth (because Auntie Rhonda is not going in after them)
*Don't shove that in your sister's/brother's: nose, ears, mouth (ditto on this one)
*Stop throwing your sister's dirty diaper around (Also, I don't need your comments on the contents and/or odor associated with that diaper)
*Stop throwing YOUR dirty diaper around (ditto here)
*No. You cannot eat Styrofoam. (although I appreciate your attempt to provide for yourself)
*No, tossing ripped up Styrofoam does NOT mean it's snowing (but it does mean Auntie Rhonda's eye is starting to twitch uncontrollably).

Luckily my sister Amanda and her husband showed up before they started making snow angels in the living room.
Next time? I'm going to take a page from my brother's book and just give them some cash to behave.


26 August 2010

Arguing With Myself

Mood: Stabby (Ask Jen Lancaster...it's a mood!)

On the Interwebz radio: Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits version...from Empire Records - but today is so NOT my personal Rex Manning Day - if you don't get the reference, watch the movie. Seriously.)

*Hangs head in blogger shame*

I have been neglectful of my poor little blog. *Pats blog on head* I knew it had been a while since I blogged but I didn't think it had been over a month! Most writers I know blog almost obsessively. They wax witty and poetic on life, on writing, on their children and their pets. While I? Am doing what? Nothing! Well, not nothing obviously...I mean, I'm breathing and possibly playing Frontierville on Facebook, or eating ice cream...

<---- FYI: This? May or may not be what I look like when ice cream is involved.

...but obviously I've not been doing anything so spectacular that I've been kept from blogging. Because if I had been doing that awesome stuff? I totally would have been blogging about it.

So, let's take a small look inside my blogging mind:

Me: I totally need to put up a blog post. It's been like for-ever!
Myself: But I don't have anything interesting to blog about.
Me: So. Blog about writing.
Myself: I don't wanna blog about my writing. My writing sucks. I'm going to run away and join the circus!
Me: Well blog about that then.
Myself: Puh-leeze. Like anyone is going to believe someone with my bad balance and fat arse is going to join the circus.
Me: You could be a clown.
Myself: Shut.up.! I would not join the circus unless I could wear a super cute outfit and a sparkly tiara - like maybe the trapeeze.
Me: You're afraid of heights so the trapeeze thing? Is probably not the best option.
Myself: FINE!
Me: So? What are we going to blog about?
Myself: WE? We are not blogging about anything. This was your stupid idea, I'm going to get some ice cream.
Me: Ice cream? I want some too!!


So, yeah, kind of scary in there isn't it? And we didn't even get close to the crap I keep hiding behind High School Algebra.

Anyway, I'm going to try to stop by here more often because really? After a month you would not believe the dust and spiderwebs that accumulate around here! :)


21 July 2010

For Me? Really?

Mood: Full (seriously, I think the hubs and I ordered all the Chinese food that exists outside of China - but it was quite yummy!)

On Tv: Toddlers and Tiaras (Don't judge me!)

<--- SQUEEE!!! Look what I've gotten!!! Some new blog bling and you all know how much I love some new blog bling!!!

I know, I know, I've been a bad blogger lately. A really bad blogger. I could say that I haven't had the time or that I've been devoting all my extra time to my writing work in progress, but that would be a lie of the biggest and fattest variety. The awful truth is that I've been sucked into the vortex that is Frontierville on Facebook. *hangs head in blogger type shame*.

Still, here I am blog folks and what better reason to be back here than to acknowledge the lovely award given me by none other than the amazingly talented and supremely kind EJ Fechenda over at EJ's Rants and Ramblings (and I swear, I would have said all of that even if she hadn't given me this award of awesomeness!).

  As always, there are rules: 

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award. (Did I mention how awesome EJ is? Because she is!)

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass the award to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who think you are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)

4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Okay, so 7 things about myself. This one's a bit more difficult than you would imagine because I've already shared most things through the course of this blog. Hmmm....

1.) I love to go camping - and I'm talking about the "in the woods, in a tent, no electricty or running water" roughing it type camping.

2.) I hate bugs (I know this would seem in direct odds with #1 but what can I say? Bugs are gross!)

3.) When I was younger I wanted to be a nurse but I can't deal with blood or anything remotely medically gross - so nursing was obviously not the career choice for me.

4.) Autumn is my very favorite season. I love everything about it...the pretty leaves, the cooler days, the way the air smells. It's my absolutely favorite time of year.

5.) I'm an American History buff and completely geek out when it comes to living history events. Seriously. It's sad. I probably need some sort of help.

6.) I have an unnatural addiction to the Frosters you can only get at Circle K. Unfortunately, there are no Circle K stores in our town. It's practically a tragedy of my existence.

7.) I was born with a birth defect called Congenital Muscular Torticollis. Now they can correct most cases with intense physical therapy - back when I was diagnosed I had to have major surgery on the muscles in my neck when I was six months old and then spent the next year sporting a specially made baby sized whiplash collar.

Whew. Okay, now on to 15 bloggery type people who are so amazing that they definitely deserve this award.

1. Carol at Carol's Prints

2. Tawna Fenske over at Don't Pet Me, I'm Writing

3. Jamie at Bookmom Musings

4. Anne Riley at Anne Riley Books

5. Shannon Messenger at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe

6. Lisa and Laura at Lisa and Laura Write

7. Wendy Sparrow at Where Ladybugs Roar

8. Courtney Reese

9. Sarah McClung at Babbling Flow

Whew...okay, so I wasn't good at math but even I know that's not a full 15 but don't think I'm a lazy slacker (okay, so I'm totally a lazy slacker) because I will come back and finish this list with more amazing bloggers that you should be stalking if you're not already!


07 July 2010

Is This Type of Torture Legal?

Mood: Frustrated (trying to write and the hubs keeps interrupting me - every few minutes - for oh so important things like switching out cables for our printer).

On tv: The Simpsons (Don't judge me!)

It has recently been brought to our attention (via the fact that our clothes no longer fit properly and walking more than a few feet has become cause for both exhaustion and celebration) that the hubs and I are in desperate need of a renewal of our gym membership. Truthfully, we thought that we'd only allowed our membership to lapse for a year...maybe a year and a half, tops. However, when we dragged our tired, fat, lazy selves up to the gym counter to "renew" our membership, we were advised that we were no longer in the system, nor were we in their "old" files. The perfectly perky lady at the counter cheerfully advised us that they only keep files for three years. Seriously? Three years? It's been  more than three years since we've dragged ourlazyselves to the gym?

Since our last foray into the world of exercise, a few things have changed. First, we had to fill out a new form and then instead of the old (and quite handy) key fob you used to swipe to check in, we were issued ID's - with pictures that they took with no warning. Kind of like a surprise mug shot that left me looking a little like this (only fatter):

Personally I suspect that they are going to use this picture to shame people like  me into coming in and working out more often. I expect that I'll open the local newspaper someday and see my picture with a caption "have you seen this woman? Last spotted in the Dairy Queen drive thru - if found, please return to the treadmill."

Sigh. I tucked the card away hopefully to be promptly lost tragically misplaced and never to be seen again. Then, the hubs and I headed for the equipment room...where lots of shiny new equipment waited for us - ready to torture us mercilessly help us get ourselves into shape.

I headed for the treadmill because walking seemed easy enough and I was drawn to the fact that the new treadmills have personal televisions attached (short of hanging a piece of chocolate cake in front of me, tv is a pretty good way to keep me moving). The problem? I am gym equipment stupid and there were way too many buttons and way too few instructions on this machine.

<----See? Lots of shiny fun buttons to push.

Oh sure I figured out how to turn it on and even how to set one of the workout programs but the tv? That took a bit of effort. I finally figured out how to turn it on and change the channel (is it sad that I was wishing for a remote so I could just punch in the channel I wanted instead of having to scroll through and find it?) but the headphone jack still eludes me - thank God for closed captioning or I'd have no idea what the Food Network challenge was all about. Yes, I watched Food Network while walking on the treadmill - don't judge me!

Eventually, the machine and I were moving. Well, mostly it was me doing the moving but in an occasional burst of sadistic rage the treadmill would speed up or suddenly ramp up the incline so that I was forced to hold onto the bars for dear life. I began to both fear and loathe the random mood swings of my self inflicted torture but I reminded myself it was for my health, for the greater good - eventually I resorted to closing my eyes and thinking of England (which, btw, was absolutely useless).

Finally, I was nearing the end of my workout. I was watching the countdown timer the way a fat woman I watch the cookie timer. I was checking my pulse on the pulse bars, I was checking out how many calories I had burned (surprisingly little considering how much punishment that machine had doled out), etc. when the unthinkable happened. My hubs, the love of my life, came bouncing over after his workout on the stationary bike and decided he had to "check his pulse" on my machine - he reached across and put his hands on the bars tripping the emergency stop button on the treadmill and causing all my wonderful information - time, distance, calories burned - to be erased in what I can only assume is the exercise equipment equivalent of a panic attack.

Then he had the nerve to look at me and say "Why did you stop walking?"

We Hubs decided that, in light of the homocidal rage annoyed look in my eyes that it was best to call it a day and head home for dinner. The sad thing? We've got that membership so we'll be going back and I'm fairly certain I saw the elliptical giving me the evil eye.

I may die doing it, but mark my words I WILL figure that tv out!*

*Yes, I realize that I should be saying "I'll get in shape" or "I'll lose weight" but I think it's only fair to be realisticly honest and my money is on my ability to figure out the tv.


24 June 2010

Five Essentials for the Slightly Neurotic, Sometimes Obsessive, But Almost Always Interesting Writer

Mood: Is it Friday yet (that about sums it up this week)

On Tv: Nothing (I swear, occasionally I do turn it off!)

I recently reconnected with a high school classmate through Facebook and she asked me what she would need to be a writer - how she would go about starting the process. My first thought was: "why is she asking me?" Obviously, with one (truly awful) completed manuscript and several unfinished (but probably equally awful) manuscripts to my name, I'm hardly an expert on the subject.

But, in the name of old PTHS spirit I gave her question some thought. Of course, there were the obvious things: proper tools (pens, pencils, computer, etc.), connecting with a community of supportive writers (like the #amwriting and #amwritingparty crew over on Twitter) and a good story idea with an excellent hook (duh).

Then, I thought deeper. What is it, aside from the obvious, that I really need as a writer?

Rhonda's Five Essentials for the Slightly Neurotic, Sometimes Obsessive, But Almost Always Interesting Writer

1. You will need a vice. I don't care what it is but it needs to be bad for you (although, ideally it won't kill you) and it needs to be something easily accessible.

For many writers this takes the form of a beverage of some sort. Coffee, wine (although the raging alcoholic writer is so 1920s so be careful here) and Diet Coke are some favorites but anything will do really, except water. Water is not a vice - it is a vile liquid that nutritionists and doctors insist we drink for our health (and to keep living, blah, blah, blah).

For other writers, like me, this takes the form of food. Now, I'm not talking about bean sprouts and celery sticks here. I'm talking real writing stress food full of everything that Dr. Oz tells you not to eat. Chocolate, ice cream, cupcakes, etc. are all winners in this category.

2. You will need distractions. Trust me. There will be times when you sit down at the computer and the blank page and flashing cursor are mercilessly mocking you. Are you just going to sit there and take that? No. You have better things to do than just stare at that flashing little bastard!
I personally recommend Facebook (hello? Cyber stalking your friends and family, playing endless rounds of mindless games all without leaving the comfort of your computer - what could be better?) , Twitter (for when Facebook is too boring) and a blog (even though I'm possibly the world's most inconsistent blogger). I've also been told that dogs and cats serve this need quite nicely as well - I cannot attest to this personally as our apartment managers are big meanies and won't let us have any pets! (and yes I'm pouting!)

3.) You will need a supportive spouse or significant other who will understand that sometimes the world you're living in isn't, well, exactly real. Therefore, they should be able to jump easily between discussing  grocery shopping and the best dagger to kill an evil werewolf without missing a step and should be at ease spending dinner discussing the adventures of your main character (brownie points if they refrain from reminding you that your main character isn't a real person - because your main character totally doesn't know that he/she isn't real and you don't want to hurt his/her feelings).

4.) You will need an understanding employer. Ideally writing would be done around the writer's "real" life but this doesn't always happen. Sometimes you'll find yourself madly writing at 3:00 am because you're on a roll (which leads to the occasional 'falling asleep at your desk' incident the next day) and sometimes you'll be so blocked that the words won't come - until 2:00 pm on some random Thursday afternoon (when you'll use up your entire supply of post-it notes trying to capture the brilliance that is just pouring from your artiste type brain).

5.) You will need become comfortable with the fact that some of the things you're going to do as a writer? Are going to make you look downright weird. You may find yourself balancing a dagger in your hand, feeling the weight of it, trying to memorize the texture and feel of the metal and then asking your husband if he thinks it's both big enough to kill someone and small enough to be concealed (don't be surprised when the old lady at the booth next to you suddenly turns and runs in the opposite direction). Or, you may find yourself staring unashamedly at a handsome young man in the food court because he looks exactly like you envision your main character to look (and you will even toy with the idea of asking to take his picture - hopefully someone will stop you before the poor kid calls mall security).

*Ahem* Not that these things have happened to me personally *looks around innocently*.

Luckily, society has long accepted the stereotype of the eccentric artist so just have someone follow you around giving everyone in your path a sympathetic look and a whispered "she's a writer" as an explanation for your obvious insanity.

There it is. The top things that I think every aspiring writer should know about what they need to survive this crazy endeavour we call writing.

So, what is on your absolutely essential list?


13 June 2010

Sunday - The Day of Rest?

Mood: Stressed (Really? Murphy and his law are having too  much fun with my day!)

On TV: Food Network Challenge (Toy Story 3 cakes - am I the only one that didn't like the Toy Story movies?)

The hubs and I were awakened this morning by the unsettling sound of the airconditioner motor dying an early and unnatural death. Since the hubs was  snoring like a saw sleepy peacefully, I decided to get up and investigate. Luckily it turns out that the airconditioner wasn't exactly dying - but it was completely frozen over. Well played heat and humidity. Well played.

Hubs and I dealt with the frozen compressor and then decided that we hadn't had quite enough home improvement type projects so we headed out to Wal-Mart where we bought a much needed new bookshelf. Why was it much needed? Well, this is my *old* "big"  bookshelf:

As you can see, it's well more than overloaded with books. I also have a smaller  tiny bookshelf that is just as packed with books AND I also had the leaning tower of books. Alas, I neglected to take a picture of the leaning tower of books but it was a tower of books on the floor next to my bed that had grown so large that it was, you guessed it, leaning (see how clever I am with the naming things thing? If I had a baby, I'd probably name it "baby" - so yes, it is a good thing that the hubs has had the big snip).

Anyway, two hours, several curse words (seriously? The instructions were written in Spanish with pictures in Swahili), a few smashed thumbs and many false starts later, we ended up with this:

Just imagine all those books stacked up in a tower with no home to call their own. *sniff* Now they're properly shelved and happy! Oh, and because no bookshelf is complete without it:

Also, I totally have empty space on these shelves - you know what that means??? Hello B&N!!!


11 June 2010

Requiem for a Laptop...

Mood: Tired (it was a long week but it's finally FRIDAY!!!)

On TV: Judge Joe Brown (I love that people are willing to put theirstupidselves out on tv like this for my entertainment)

Dear bloggie friends, it is with great sadness that I announce that I have come to the end of an era. *sniff* For the last three years, my laptop has been my constant companion. She has allowed me to keep up (or not) with my blogging and my writing. She allowed me a gateway to the idea of Twitter and Facebook. She bears scars from my watch hitting her below the keyboard, spots on her keys from the occasional soda spray and is fully accessorized with a matching purple pendrive and carrying case.

However, recently she had some issues with overheating. The hubs worked on her, he added new heat grease to her processor and I restored her operating system. We thought we'd saved her and, in a way, we did - but - she's not quite her old self anymore. She's kind of like someone's beloved old auntie who isn't always quite as sharp or fast as she used to be. She randomly shuts down programs as I'm using them and reboots herself quite often when she should be just putting herself into sleep or hibernate mode. No amount of setting changes seem to rectify the situation.

Finally the hubs decided that, since we were getting a new desktop for him (lightning strike) that we would get a new laptop for me. I should be happy (the cost aside) but I'm not. I'm in mourning for my current laptop. She was a gift from the hubs - his way of saying "I have faith in your ability to write and I'm willing to provide you with the proper tools to do it". She's pretty and purple with flowers and I super sparkly heart her...even if she doesn't work as quickly or reliably as she used to.

However, hubs is right. I can't depend on her not to crash in the middle of a blog post or a marathon writing session so she needs to be retired to "light duty". We will use her as a back up/ travel laptop. She will get to enjoy her retirement by accompanying us on trips, seeing different places and enjoying making connections with different networks where ever we go.

She will always be my first laptop love. Maybe I'm weird for having such an attachment to my laptop or maybe it's a writer thing but I'm having issues letting her go. Even now, with my new laptop is sitting on the table, still in the box, I chose to post this one last blog post from my old friend.

Well done, good and faithful servant.
P.S. My trusty old laptop has crashed this blog post at least 3 times already. I think she's trying to make the transition a bit easier for me.

06 June 2010

I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore...

Mood: Grateful (that all my family is safe after last night's tornado touch downs), overwhelmed (by the amount of damage that was done) and hopeful (that the injured are well on the road to recovery).

On Tv: Judge Judy (Nothing like a cranky judge to take your mind off of reality)

As some of my Twitter peeps already know we had some more than interesting weather travel through our area last night. Tornado warnings (yes, plural) were issued, tornadoes were sighted, tornadoes touched down and stayed on the ground for more than 20 miles through two towns.

Luckily, the worst of it just missed us. The town where some of my family lives was not so lucky. The tornado, as tornadoes go, was a relatively small one. An EF2 on a scale that goes up to EF5. However, even this "small" tornado did an amazing amount of damage. Here are a few pics we managed to snap this morning.

Keep in mind that we were not able to get anywhere near the areas of severe damage - these were just the neighborhoods/areas with "minor" tornado damage.

Here's a shot of some healthy trees that were knocked over and some were completely uprooted.

And here's another shot of an uprooted tree:

The classic tornado shot - a piece of a nearby metal silo rammed through a power pole.

A stop sign in a corn field. We have no idea where the sign came from. The nearest corners still had theirs (bent, but still intact).

And finally, a brand new barn building...thankfully the house escaped any  major damage. Unfortunately, my aunt's family farm wasn't quite so lucky.


25 May 2010

YA? Why?

Status: Meh (long day at work but had an amazing dinner - life evens itself out)

On tv: World's Dumbest Criminals (seriously, even I had no idea that there was this much stupid running around)

We spent last weekend attending my step-daughter's high school graduation. A six hour road trip just to get there, tons of gifts, lots of hugs and, of course, plenty of tears later I'm proud to say that the hubs and I are now the parents of a high school graduate.

As we watched our precious little girl cruising down the aisle while a rock version of Pomp and Circumstance blasted from the PA system (seriously? how kick ass is that?), I noticed that she was crying. Not just regular crying but full on snotty nosed, wracking sobs crying. Really? Crying?

<----  Oh, yes, there was sobbing.

I watched her collect her diploma and I couldn't help but think back to my own high school graduation. There had been no tears from me on that night. I'd walked through my entire four years of high school with a cosmic kick me sign taped to the back of my hand me down K-Mart clothing and, on graduation day, I was so incredibly happy to be done that I couldn't wait to get my diploma in my hand and leave my high school experience behind me forever.

Which leaves me wondering why I'm drawn to writing YA novels...it's not like I'm trying to relive my high school glory days because, let me assure you, I had none. I had humiliating days, awkward days, lonely days, ugly days, and hurt filled days but definitely no glory days. After that kind of experience, you'd think the last place I'd want to revisit, even in fiction, would be high school. Yet, that's where I often find myself when I sit down to write.

I open a word document to find myself once again navigating the uncomfortable territory of high school hallways, lunchroom table seating politics and the horrors of the girls locker room during gym class. *shudder* Why? Really, why would I want to do that? Maybe it's like being a ghost stuck in an endless loop reliving your own murder over and over again until your murder is avenged. Only in my case it's more like being an awkward teenager reliving the moment when I got stung by a bee - on my ass- in the middle of gym class or the day that I slipped and fell, butt naked, coming out of the shower in the girl's locker room? I mean, it's practically the same thing, right? Hell, I think I would have preferred dropping dead over laying there on the cold tile floor of the locker room while all the cool, pretty girls laughed at me (okay, I totally would have probably laughed at me too, but still...).

As I sat through that hot, neverending ceremony (was the 20 minute slide show really necessary?), I realized that I write YA because teenagers can be mature and funny, smart and naive, hopeful and angsty all at the same time. They have the future wide open ahead of them and think that they've lived it all and have all the answers. Basically, they can be anything and everything - often all in the same day (if they're teenage girls, they can run the full gamut in less than 10 minutes). They're fun and interesting if you don't have to live with them.

Here's our graduate! It's all official, the sobs are gone, the smiles have appeared and may her future be just as bright and filled with joy as she is!

Also? If a character who vaguely resembles one of the cool, pretty clique of girls who tormented me during high school just happens to fall, butt naked, coming out of the girls shower in one of my novels? It's totally a coincidence. I swear.


05 May 2010

Dan Quayle Was Here?

Status: Crazy stressed (lots going on, not enough time or sanity to go around)

On tv: Addicted (Another intervention type show - wondering if my slight obsession with reality tv could be considered an addiction. Maybe I need an intervention?)

The hubs took me out to dinner tonight because, well, I was having a bad day and he knew that if I didn't feel like cooking, dinner prep would fall to him  he loves me and wanted to pamper me. It was steak night at the restaurant that he chose - so YAY!! Sorry, but I seriously loves me some steak! :)

However, when we sat down at the table and I glanced at the "special" steak menu, I felt my eye start to twitch. The special menu listed the different types of steaks one might order along with the note that each meal came complete with a salad, a dessert and my choice of POTATOE.

Really? You run a restaurant and you don't know how to spell "potato"? *sigh* I tried to ignore it. I tried to convince myself it didn't matter if the word was spelled wrong but really, it does matter. I couldn't sit there and eat at a table where the little standing menu proclaimed that I could have a potatoe.

So, I did what any self respecting writer would do. I pulled my favorite pen out of my purse, removed the paper insert and scribbled out the "e" at the end of the word. Finally all was right in my world and I could enjoy my dinner.

Tomorrow, I'm totally fixing the sign outside the local market advertising the fact that they "except" debit cards.

I seriously suspect my hubs has the local insane asylum on speed dial.


04 May 2010

Some (More or Less) Helpful Advice for Writers

Status: Worn Out - I think that this week may have already lasted about a month.

On Tv: The Maury Show - I'm no genius but I'm betting it's going to be about someone who doesn't know who her baby's daddy is.

It seems that there's been a lot of discussion around the writerly interwebs lately about our "on-line presence" as writers. How we should brand ourselves, how we should present ourselves and whether we should post about our writing or discuss the publishing business. ACK!!!! 

At first? I'll be honest, I blew it off. I was all "I'm like Popeye!" I am who I am, right? Or am I? After reading one too many articles I started to worry about what I was saying and how I was presenting myself. Suddenly I was afraid that I was coming across too...angry (road rage) or judgemental (weird neighbors) and just plain old self centered and intolerant (Dealing with the public).

Suddenly it was like I was back in high school worried about wearing the wrong clothes (which I totally did - we were poor, my clothes were K-Mart hand me downs)* or sitting at the wrong table at lunch (the cool kids don't want to sit next to the poor, K-Mart hand me down wearing nerd). I would start a blog post and delete it just as quickly because I was certain I wouldn't be presenting my writer self in the best light.

Then, today I read another "top ten tips for authors" article - this time giving advice for television interviews and public appearances. One of the first things on the list? The tv adds pounds so dress to hide yours. The article also went on to say that it wouldn't be out of line to consider minor cosmetic procedures like botox or collagen injections. Seriously? WTF? BOTOX????

It was then that I realized just how crazy some of this advice really is. Sure, some of it is great. Some of it is great for some writers. However. Some of it? Is.total.crapola. So, I came up with my own list of helpful advice for authors (aspiring or otherwise).

1.) Write the way you want to write. Plan, outline or just fly by the seat of your pants. Edit as you go, or edit at the end. Whatever works for you because writing is an art and art is in the journey and the beauty of the art is appreciated differently by different people. That's okay!

2.) Be who you are...whatever that means. For me it means that sometimes I'm cranky, intolerant and just plain in a bad mood. It also means that sometimes I'm kind, compassionate, caring and empathetic. If someone chooses to judge me based on one or two blog posts? There's nothing I can do about that but I'd rather have someone dislike me for who I am than like me for who I'm pretending to be.

3.) Don't worry so much about what people think of the way you look. I'm fat and no amount of clothing is going to hide that. I've also got gray hair, laugh lines, and vampire pale skin. But you know what? That's okay because it's part of who I am. If I want to lose weight, cover my gray or get botox because I think it will make me feel better about myself? Then fine. But I'm not going to do it to impress someone who more than likely doesn't care about how I look anyway. Seriously...when was the last time you looked at an author interview and thought "gee, I'd love to read her books but she's just too fat and wrinkly to possibly write good fiction."

Remember, chances are you're not perfect but there is every chance that you are perfectly and uniquely you!

4.) Finally, some advice specifically for women: Buy.a.tiara. Seriously. Because writer girls in tiaras just rock!

So, there you have it...my very best writerly advice. Take it for what it's worth, throw out the rest and, as I've said before, embrace your inner awesome!

* The hand me downs? Were often from my grandmother. If you think wearing your grandmother's hand me down K-Mart clothes doesn't make you the most popular girl in school then you just didn't know what you were missing!


26 April 2010

Epic Blogger Type Contest

Status: Tired (is 10:00 pm too late for a nap?)

On tv: The Simpsons (Classic!)

Guess what's going on in the interwebs? Go on, guess. Give up????

Alright then, I'll just tell you. In honor of reaching 300 bloggie type stalker people Carol over at Carol's Prints is hosting an epically epic contest. Seriously. You can even dance for more chances to win. That's right. I said dance. On the interwebs. For prizes. Kind of like Dancing With the Stars only without the stars part. The prizes are totally incredible so it might be worth the public humiliation to up your chances to win. For someone else I mean. Not necessarily me. No one needs to see me dance.

*Ahem* Anyway you should totally head over to Carol's blog and enter her contest because even if you don't win, she's a totally awesome blogger, writer and internet friend so it's a win/win!


23 April 2010

Jury Duty Again? Really?

Mood: Happy (My brother is home for keeps from the USAF! The best words ever? Honorable Discharge! Well, that and free chocolate.)

What I'm Watching: The Soup (All the celebrity crap I didn't have time to keep up with through the week. What could be better?)

I? Am officially the local government's biotch. For the second time in as many years I've been summoned for jury duty. This time it's for grand jury duty which means I'm on deck for 18 months. That's eight.teen months! Luckily we only meet when necessary so hopefully it won't be an every week thing but knowing my luck every single felon in the entire county will choose this as the perfect time to commit a crime.

On the plus side, I'm getting a good look at how the court systems around here work so if I ever decide to branch out and write a book about a fat, 30 something year old woman who totally loses her mind after being called up for jury duty one too many times...well, I'm totally covered.


11 April 2010

Enter The Duck-Man

Mood: Happy (I've had a great weekend w/ the hubs enjoying the nice spring weather!)

What I'm Watching: Kirstie Alley's Big Life (Seriously? I think I need a reality TV intervention but watching Kirstie Alley getting a Twitter intervention is just too funny!)

If you were a pre-teen/teen in the 80's then there's little doubt that you were well aquainted with phenomenon that was the John Hughes teenage movie. The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off - they're all absolutely amazing and if you were born after the 80's and haven't yet seen them, you should run right out to your local video store and rent them. If you were a teen in the 80's and you haven't seen them? What the hell is wrong with you?!?

Anyway, while they're all great, what's been sticking in the back of my mind for the last few days is the Mollie Ringwald/Jon Cryer classic "Pretty In Pink".

For those of you heathens who are unfamiliar with the magical genius that is "Pretty In Pink", the movie is a basic love triangle (but with a kick ass 80's sound track and hello? Jon Cryer). Mollie Ringwald plays Andie - a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is constantly accompanied (and semi-stalked) by her friend Duckie (played brilliantly by Jon Cryer) who is totally and utterly in love with her. Then, of course, what teenage drama would be complete withouat the totally cool, completely awesome, popular and rich guy - in this case we have Blane (played by Andrew McCarthy).

At the end of the movie, Andie ends up with Blane. Blane. Yes, I know I totally just gave away the ending of the movie - too damn bad, you've had over 20 years to watch it!

Ahem, anyway, Andie ends up with Blane but every woman I know, knows that she totally should have ended up with Duckie. Duckie might not have been as rich or classically handsome as Blane but the  Duck Man was totally there for her no matter what. He was even gracious in defeat - if being with Blane was going to make Andie happy? Duckie was totally willing to step aside and let her be happy with Blane.

*Sigh* How romantic right? So how could she not have ended up with Duckie? The truth is that, orginally, Andie did end up with Duckie but that ending didn't play well in front of test audiences. They wanted Andie to end up with Blane so the ending was changed because it was thought it would "play better" for the film audience.

So I know you're asking yourself "what does this have to do with anything?" Possibly nothing and possibly everything. Like many writers I write and I worry that what I write isn't good enough. I plot and I worry that the plots won't make sense to the reader - that they won't "get it". I think about the query process and I get knots in my stomach because I know that the process will bring with it tons of rejection.

But really, does any of that matter? I mean, sure, it would be great if every agent, reader and critic totally loved everything I write but ultimately the stories are mine. Taking constructive criticism is a necessary part of the writing process but pleasing everyone along the path is not. I totally need to remember that sometimes? A girl needs to end up with her Duckie no matter what the test audiences think!


31 March 2010

Finding Your Fun and Embracing Your Awesome!

Mood: Meh (It's been a long week...a very long week, but this weekend is a three day holiday weekend so things are looking up.)

What I'm Watchin?g: It's the Easter Beagle Charlie Brown (Seriously, what a classic and Woodstock? Totally has a happening pad!)

When I was a little kid with lopsided  ponytails and really bad 70's polyester clothing I decided that when I grew up I wanted to be the gas station attendant who checked the oil, pumped the gas and, best of all, washed the windows with the super cool squeegee. Why? Because it just looked like fun. The guy was always smiling, always whistling and, besides, hello? The squeegee!

I never considered whether I would make enough money to support myself, whether people would look down on me for working at a gas station, whether I'd look good in that blue and white striped shirt with my name embroidered on it or whether it was a job that I would be good at...I wanted to do it because it looked like it would be fun. 

Writing started out in much the same way. It was a fun and creative way to entertain myself. I wrote fantastically horrible stories that I was just sure were pure literary genius and I was happy. At some point, though, I allowed some of the fun to be sucked out of the writing experience.  I allowed people to tell me that I shouldn't or couldn't write - that it was silly and a waste of time. I allowed myself to internalize those messages and began to doubt everything about my writing. Eventually I decided it would be easier if I just kept my writing to myself.

I was so scared someone would find out about my shameful secret that I even hid it from the hubs. When he moved in with me I actually threw out several notebooks filled with years worth of notes, story starters, ideas, etc. because I was so afraid that he'd find it and think that I was stupid or silly or whatever other horrible thing that I was afraid of. Yes, I realize now just how stupid that was (stupid, stupid, stupid)* because, the hubs is incredibly supportive and he nearly cried when I confessed that I'd tossed out so much of my work because I didn't want him to think I was stupid for wanting to write.

Now, I'm working on rediscovering the 'fun' in my writing and trying to learn to embrace my inner awesome. After all, writers are completely awesome people - we get to create and manipulate worlds using nothing more than our imaginations and simple words - what could be cooler than that? Want to learn more about your inner awesome? Check out Tawna Fenske's blog post about it. Really. Do it. Now!

So while I may not have a squeegee or a shirt with my name on it, I've got a totally cool laptop and my livescribe pen? Is just made of awesome!

What about you? Have you found your fun and embraced your inner awesome?

*slapping self on forehead kind of stupid

28 March 2010

My Laptop, Myself..

Mood: Frustrated (this has been a very long weekend)

What I'm Watching: The Simpsons (Homer in the Holy Land? Classic)

This? Is my computer. Well, not my computer but one exactly like mine. She's purple with pretty flowers and very girlie. She's the first new laptop that I've ever had and she's all mine! I seriously love my laptop and, as a writer, I depend on her to do my job. I need her.

So I was understandably upset when she started freezing and locking up on Friday night. I tried all the standard stuff...checking for viruses and spyware but nothing seemed to appease her.

Luckily the hubs is a computer technician so he did some exploratory surgery on her and discovered that there was a lack of proper heat grease stuff (technical term) on her processor and this was causing her to have some wicked hot flashes which would cause her to overheat and lock up.

So, we cracked her open and did some more intensive surgery to replace the heat grease stuff. Just in case you were wondering? It looked something like this:

After surgery the overheating issues were resolved but there were some long lasting issues with her operating system. After all the trauma she'd endured many of her files had become corrupt and her operating system was no longer fully functional.

We had no other option but to pull the plug and start over. I had to wipe her hard drive, reinstall windows and all of her software. Which left me looking a lot like this (only fatter) for the entire weekend:

After hours of stress, worry and just plain old frustration, my pretty purple computer is happily recovered from her traumatic experience and I? Am about a pint of Hagan Daaz Butter Pecan ice cream away from being sufficiently drugged with enough fat and sugar to not care about my wasted weekend.