Monday, July 30, 2012

Am I Just a Fickle Book Whore?

If you've ever been over to visit me on Goodreads, you might notice something curious.  Most of my reads have either 4 or 5 stars.  You'll see the same reaction if you find my Amazon reviews.  And you might ask yourself - is she too easy?  Is she just a fickle book whore, throwing her love to everyone she sees?  Am she really not that discriminating?

I think the answer lies more in the fact that I don't finish books I don't enjoy*, and I don't add a book to Goodreads if I didn't finish it.  It also lies in the fact that I was raised with the maxim: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything.

Of course, that doesn't mean I only ever say nice things.  More often than not, though, I just don't speak.  =oX

And I am kind of easy to please.  I admit it.  If a book does what I expect it to - which is to say, entertain me - without any extraneous crap, I'm usually happy with the book.  If I enjoy the book, but the author's philosophy creeps in (and it's a philosophy I don't agree with), they might lose a star - if the philosophy took away from my joy of reading, that is.  But usually, I can get past the parts I don't love and back to the parts I do without too much of a problem.  If it becomes a problem, I don't finish the book.  Simple as that.

Maybe I am too easy that way.  I mean, I see a lot of reviews where the reviewer is tearing at the writer, and ripping away stars right and left, over things that I really didn't notice. Sometimes a secondary character's hair color starts out brown, changes to blonde and I never notice.  But other people do.  (I've seen a couple reviews that point out things like that.)

Are they being too picky?  Or am I not being picky enough?  :shrug:

How about you? Are you a tough judge?  Do you put down books unread if they're not your cup of java?

*btw, I finish most of the books I start.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Did It Again

After a pretty-much sleepless night, and waking up feeling like doodle, I decided the best remedy* was to change my blog template.  Tada!

I haven't decided whether to keep my 'signature picture' up there, but all in all. I'm pretty happy.  Whaddya think?

*it didn't really remedy anything - but my blog looks shiny and new.  

:After the recent 'Pic Gate', I feel like I should probably add the following: said 'signature picture' belongs to me.  I took it.  It's mine. And I can prove it.  So there.  =op:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Quotes from my Childhood

You'd think with all my brain issues, I wouldn't have so many things jammed up in my head.  I know a lot of things got knocked out, but some things are in there forever.  Let's see if you can figure out the shows these all came from*:

"And now here's something we hope you'll really like."

"When Polly's in trouble, I am not slow.  It's hip-hip-hip and away I go."


"Nothin' up my sleeve... Presto!"


"Hey, Ab-bott!"

"Savoir Faire is everywhere."

"Exit stage left."

"Oh Poncho." "Oh Cisco"

"Wonder-twin powers, ACTIVATE!"

"I've got beaver-fever."**

*Some of them are from before my time, but we watched a lot of stuff on Saturday mornings.

** Okay, that last one wasn't from my childhood - unless you count being childish in college.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

NaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNaNa I Can't Hear You

Okay, guys, I have a confession.  I don't read books on how to write.  I quickly flip past blog posts that give any indication they're going to tell me how to write.  And I'm sure if I ever met other writers in person, if they started to talk about how to write, I'd stick my fingers in my ears and say 'NaNaNaNaNaNa I Can't Hear You'.

It's not that I think I already know everything there is to know about writing.  Gads, that would be stupid of me.  I know I don't.  But I also know from experience that any advice I see or hear about how to write completely derails me.

I read something like that and one of two things happens: 1) I start to implement their advice to the exclusion of my own common sense and writing voice.  2) I begin to doubt my own writing ability.

Eons ago, I was reading a Writers' Digest article about inserting brand names into your writing to make it more connectable to your readers.  You know, instead of saying 'shoes' say 'Nike'.  The next time I sat down to write, my passages were so filled with product identifiers, you would've thought I was a PR person for every brand name out there.  "She grabbed her Adidas and ran across the Pergo floor to grab her Gucci bag. Hopping into her BMW, she raced toward McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin before getting gas at the Citgo..."  Bleh. 

Can you say 'OVERKILL'?  I knew you could.  (And yeah, that sentence sucks anyway, but you get the gist.)

Somewhat more recently but still years ago, I picked up a 'how to' book on writing.  (I won't name it here because it really is an excellent book and I don't want you to think it was the book that did this to me.)  I got about three chapters in before my self-esteem was all shriveled up and dessicated like a grape left in the desert.  There was no way in hell I was going to be able to implement any of the advice this wonderful, intelligent person was offering, so why bother to try.  I was hack who didn't even deserve to have other people's books in my house.

Yeah, I never finished that book and I haven't touched one since.

I hit the same problem - albeit on a smaller scale - when I stumble across 'how to' blog posts.  So, I've learned to avoid them.  (Okay, so maybe I run screaming in the other direction...)  It's not that I don't want to learn.  It's just that I don't process knowledge that way.  I have to come upon it slowly, on my own.  Yeah, it's like re-inventing the wheel, but it's better than the alternative - which is being so afraid the wheel's going to run me over that I never try to invent it in the first place.

If that makes any sense.

So, I won't ever be able to discuss 'On Writing' with you.  I can't give you hints on which are the best blogs to garner information on the hows of this business.  And no matter how much I might love you, if you write a brilliant post on how to do any of this, I won't be stopping by.  Sorry.

And now for the million dollar question: Is there anybody else out there afflicted with this advice aversion malady, or is it just me?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Six Degrees of Writerly Separation

As I was writing a comment on another blog recently :waves at Jeffe Kennedy and the other Word Whores:, I began to think about how I've come to know the authors I love now.  Way back when, I would find new authors by browsing through the bookstores or at the library.  And it was pretty much that way until I became an author myself and started to look for other writer to connect with.

I remember early on, I stumbled across Karin Tabke's blog.  And from there I was introduced to Murder She Writes gals Allison Brennan, and Jennifer Lyon, and later Roxanne St. Claire (or maybe I found Roxanne through another of my early blog friends - Kristen Painter).  I know somehow or other, I followed one of those awesome gals over to a romance blog (I forget which - it's now defunct) where I found Monica McCarty.

Not only have I found awesome authors this way, but I've found new friends and critique partners.  Through Monica McCarty, I found my friend, Natalie Murphy :waves:.  Through MSW (or through Jen Lyon's blog - I forget), I found Silver James and through Silver, I found Janet.  :waves at both of them, too:

The web is such a great way to find new authors to read.  It's also an awesome way to meet people (even it's not face to face), make friends, and find people to read your work.

Who have you met online?  How many degrees of separation can you trace?  (Now that I think about it, we're probably all within six degrees of Nora Roberts.  For whatever that's worth.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wait! What? I'm Not Done With July Yet!

I don't know why this only just occurred to me this morning but July only has a week left and then it's over.  Holy crap.  I'm supposed to be done with this draft by the end of July!  :runs around in tiny circles squealing like a hurt rabbit: 

Where the hell did this month go?  I know yesterday was a frickin' blur.  If you follow me on Facebook, you know I had everything to do and got it done.  (Well, mostly.)

Here's a look at my To-Do list for the day:

- put checks in checkbook
- pay bills
- do dishes
- get gas
- make shot appts for cats
- clean Max's room
- do survey for Christine (11:23am: finished and sent, so this is off the list)
- crit two chapter for ET
- mail book
- mail bills
- mow lawn
- water lawn
- do Ch 21
- take out garbage
- clean Kira's litterbox
- call Mom

That was the list I made when I woke up.  Other things got added during the day:

- take cats for shots
- bathe Kira*
- wash out cat carrier*
- spot wash the carpet
- shower
- get cat licenses (10:36am: and now this is done, too.)
- get groceries

I didn't really need to get groceries yesterday afternoon, but by the time the afternoon rolled around I was brainfried.  I knew I had one other thing to do outside the house.  My brain said 'groceries', so I went with it.  At almost five - after I picked The Kid up from work, I remembered the one thing was stopping at City Hall to get the cats licensed.  D'oh!  Oh well, now I don't have to shop today.

Anyway, I'm sitting here this morning looking down the barrel of August 1st wondering how the hell I'm going to finish this book in 7 days when I've easily got 12 chapters left to rewrite.  That's 1.7 chapters per day!  :freaks out a little more:

It can be done.  I might be a basketcase by next Wednesday, but it can be done.  I've done worse when the end of NaNo is creeping up and I realize I slacked off too much.  So, we'll see if I can't gird my loins and get some work done.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

* I decided this year to take both cats at the same time - ya know, cuz I thought it would be easier.  But Kira hates 1) being outside 2) going anywhere 3) strangers 4) MAX.  So, after the stresses of the day, when she finally came out of the cat carrier at home, she was covered in poo from an accident she had on the way home.  Hence, the impromptu bath, and the cleaning of the cat carrier, and spot washing, and of course, the shower - cuz, well, eww.  In other news, Max is unfazed.

Friday, July 20, 2012

All the Pretty Pictures

Due to an internet kerfluffle and some poor woman facing a lawsuit, I have removed a buttload of images from The Writing Spectacle (this version only - I'll get the other sites tomorrow), the old Writing Spectacle, and Tabula Rasa.  The Home Ed Musings blog was deleted in its entirety earlier this year.

The images that remain fall into the following categories:

1) I took it.  It belongs to me.

2) My family members took it a long time ago, my brother scanned it in and emailed it to me, therefore, it belongs to me.

3) I did a book review and placed the cover image of the reviewed book - ostensibly to help promote sales of said book.  If someone sues me over one of those, they're frickin' nuts.

4) I posted the image to promote a product - i.e. the multiple images of Aspercreme, which I copied off their own site to help my writer friends with their aching hands, which will therefore increase sales of Aspercreme.  Again, I'm trying to make you money, folks, so suing me now would be cutting off your nose to spit your whole body.  Never pass up free advertising.

I took off images if I didn't know where the hell I got them because I didn't want violate anyone's copyright..  (I've been using computers for a long damn time and don't remember where I found everything.)  I took off images where I knew where I got them and even told where I got them because I didn't have permission.   I also took images off when I had a link to where I got the image - which I would think would promote traffic to their site, but I don't want to get sued.

I apologize to any toes I may have trod on.  I also apologize to anyone whose copyright I might have accidental infringed upon because I totally respect your work.  I wouldn't have posted it if I didn't, but I recognize now this was wrong.  I feel bad for that poor gal who tripped over a bit of innocent ignorance and got smashed in the face for it.

And yeah, I post pics of my own.  Please don't borrow them without giving me credit.  If you wonder whether it's kosher, ask.  Don't take my work and pass it off as your own.  That's just not cool, man.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Word Verification

I had to put the word verification back on my comments because I was getting blasted with porn spam.  Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Day in the Life - or Where the Hell Does my Time Go?

Where do the days go?  Seriously.  I wake up, do a bunch of stuff, and before I know it, it's the next day.  And I still don't feel like I'm getting anything done.

Let's take yesterday for example (which was really two days if my head is to be believed).

5:15 - awake
5:15-7:00 - drink coffee, read blogs, increase the nicotine in my blood stream to acceptable levels
7:00-7:20 - mow lawn
7:20-7:40 - water lawn
7:45 - take kid to work
8:00-9:00 - call mom
9:00-9:25 - hang out with neighbor chick, smoking and gossiping
9:25-10:00 - play phone tag with old and new doctor's offices trying to get everything set up so I no longer have to drive 2.5 hrs to get my shot
10:00 - call mom again to discuss email she just sent reminding me to email my sister
10:00 - email sister
10:05 - receive bounceback of my email as 'spam' because I dared to put a link in sis's email
10:10-10:30 - call sister
10:30-10:45 - drive to bank and then post office, realize I don't have time to get groceries, go home
10:45-11:30 - sit around waiting for kid to call for lunchtime pickup, eat lunch
11:30 - pick up kid for lunch hour
11:30 - Hubs arrives home for early lunch
12:25 - take kid back to work
12:30-1:00 - get groceries on the way home
1:00-1:15 - put groceries away
1:15 - eat hunk of coconut cream cheesecake I just bought
1:20 - eat leftover turkey taco
1:30-2:45 - slip into afternoon TV coma
2:45 - call new doctor's office to see if they received paperwork via fax
2:50 - learn they didn't get the paperwork
2:52 - call and harass old doc's office and get assured it's being sent NOW
2:53 - call and leave message for new doc's office
2:54 - receive call from old doc saying fax # must be bad because.. wait, there it goes.
2:55-4:45 - resume afternoon TV coma while waiting for new doc's office to return my call
4:45 - pick up kid from work
4:45-5:00 - discuss kid's 60 day work eval ("Doing a fantastic job" btw)
5:00 - Hubs comes home
5:00-5:30 - prep 'cold buffet style' dinner
5:30-6:00 - gnosh
6:00-7 something, I forget - watch baseball, vegetate, etc.
7something to 9 - write 1400 words
9 something - feed Max, feed Kira, fall into bed

And I know I did other stuff yesterday - like taking care of Max more, throwing a rug in the washer because someone spilled tomato juice on it the day before and didn't bother to tell me.  I also know I totally ignored doing the dishes.

Ah, we writers slash housewives slash taxi drivers lead an exciting life.  Is it any wonder I keep thinking it's Wednesday?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Should've Already Read, but Haven't

I've been thinking about this off and on recently.  There are a slew of authors out there I should have read already, but haven't.  So, here's my list of authors I need to make a concerted effort to read - you know, when I have time and when my TBR pile isn't so huge.

J.D. Robb* (Naked In Death - finished 7/18/12)
Scott Westerfield

Sherrilyn Kenyon
Catherine Coulter
Mark Twain
Madeleine L'Engle (The Young Unicorns - got partway through and gave up 7/22/12)
Stephen Coonts
Dean Koontz
Andre Norton
Robert Heinlein
PC Cast
Patricia Cornwell
Raymond Chandler
James Michener
VC Andrews
Jean Auel
Gregory Maguire
Christine Feehan
Anne McCaffrey
Andre Norton
Mercedes Lackey
James Clavell
Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur Hailey
Joseph Conrad
Herman Wouk
Louisa May Alcott
Larry McMurtry
Janet Evanovich
Laurel K. Hamilton
Thomas Harris
Daniel Defoe

There are probably a lot more, but I think you've suffered enough.   Frankly, I'm shocked that I haven't read at least one book by these people over the years.

Now it's your turn.  Who are some authors you feel like you should have read a long time ago, but haven't?  Any suggestions on which books I should start with from these authors?

*I checked Naked in Death out from the library yesterday, so that'll be off the list soon.

And no, I still haven't read Jane Austen, but after years of trying, I gave up.  She's just not for me.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

PIcture Pause - Goose Family

Good morning, All.  I'd like to introduce you to a family of Canada Geese I've been watching off and on over the past couple months. 

From left to right: Ike (who I suspect might be Isabelle), Dad, Mom, and Mike.

I'm a little sad that I never made it down to the lake in time to catch the goslings when they were still small and puffy.  They've only fledged out fully in the past week.  And if Ike there wasn't in the processing of cleaning his/her foot, you'd see its head feathers are still pretty light in comparison to the others.

Anyway, this is the first year since I moved here that any waterfowl on that lake has had babies reach adulthood.  (Or in the case of Mike and Ike, young adulthood.)  Either the eggs never get a chance to hatch or the babies get wiped out by hail or predation.  So YAY for Mom and Dad Goose getting these two darlings this far.  Pretty soon, they'll stop acting like a family group and go their separate ways.  Mike and Ike will have to finish growing up on their own.  But I think they'll do fine.  The hardest part is over.

And pretty soon I'm going to have to let them go.  Once they stop hanging out as a foursome, I won't be able to tell them from the rest of the geese out there.  =o(

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Former Friends and Old Lovers

Do you ever just snuggle up to Facebook, tickle it a little and see if it spits out the whereabouts of former friends and old lovers?  Okay, so maybe it's just me.  Every once in a while, I feel the need to skulk around the interwebs, looking for people I used to know.  I blame yesterday's excursion on Facebook itself.  I loaded my FB page only to see the face of an old boyfriend glaring at me from the sidebar under 'People you might know'.  Yeah, I knew him.  I was trying to repress that whole experience.  TYVM  :shudder:

Anyway, seeing him sitting there in my sidebar made me wonder who else is out there, perhaps skulking around the interwebs looking for me.  In minutes, I found five old boyfriends on FB (two of which I promptly blocked), and almost the entirety of my college gang.  Not bad.  The gal who used to be my best friend is still married to the guy she married the summer between my third and fourth years of college.  (I was maid of honor.)  One of my exs is now working at the same place with the guy who was his best friend back in 1990. And that guy I could never remember the real name of - cuz we mainly called him by his nickname back then?  Well, mystery solved. 

In my FB search, though, one person was curiously absent.  Of all my non-computer-junkie friends and exs from way back when, he was the one I was sure would have a page.  So I went to Google (the perfect place for stalking people without them knowing you're stalking them) and typed in his name.  Within seconds, it was perfectly apparent why he wasn't on Facebook.  He died in April of 2007 at the age of 55.  Massive heart attack.  Too bad because he was a nice guy - just not the right guy for me.  He was the first - that I know of - old boyfriend who'd passed on.  (Although that guy I was engaged to in 1989 had such a toxic personality I'd be surprised to learn he was still alive.  Liver failure or a drug overdose should've claimed him years ago.)

It's an interesting thing to go back in time this way.  It can also be a depressing thing.  To find that all the people who were my friends are still friends with each other...  Well, yeah.  That stung a bit.  Most of them went on to graduate while I quit school, got knocked up, and then got brain damage.  Over the years, I tried to reach out to them.  One short phone call here or there.  An interesting but truncated email exchange.  And that was it. 

My friend, Kathy, was the last one I talked to and that was ten years ago.  She's happily married (thankfully not to either of the dudes she dated when I knew her) and her little boy who survived cancer while we all sat around the hospital with her waiting for news is a healthy adult now.  Life is good for her.  Life is good for me.  Our good lives just no longer intersect.

It's an interesting thing to go back, but it also makes me realize something.  I can never go back.  Flipping through the interwebs this way is like reading a set of short stories I can no longer relate to.  Too bad something in me keeps wanting to try.

What about you?  Have you ever tried to find former friends and old lovers using the interwebs?  How'd that work out for you?  I've heard success stories - is yours one of them?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

900 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

Would you believe 900 posts instead?  According to my dashboard, this is my 900th post (on this blog).  Pretty amazing, especially since I've never really stuck with anything this long except parenting, writing and my marriage.

I've been settled into this place since 3/19/09.  :looks around:  Not a bad place to be.  Everything's set up just like I like it.  The decor suits me.  It's comfortable.  Homey.

My old place over at the original Writing Spectacle (which started life as Musings about Writing in December of 2006) had started to pinch after 2+ years.  I've been here longer with no unsightly bulging or uncomfortable binding.

Anyway, I'd like to thank the 117 people in my posse over there, as well as all the people who wander by and never bother to 'friend' me or comment.  You're all part of the Spectacle.  I'd tell you all to have a beer in celebration, but it's early yet.  Have a cup of coffee instead.

And thanks for stopping by.  :HUGS:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I'm Not That Big a Person

Flipping through my blogroll this morning, I stumbled across a familiar name doing an interview on a wildly popular blog.  It was my old critique partner from several years back - you know, the one who just stopped returning my emails with no warning and no explanation.  She's got a book coming out.

I want to be happy for her.  I want to be thrilled she's getting interviews and that her life has turned around.  Really, I do.  But I'm not that big a person. Sure, I'm not small enough to want to see her crash and burn, but would it be too much to ask to discover she's stuck in the same place I am after all these years?  (Okay, maybe a little behind me... but since I'm pretty much nowhere, that would be hard.) 

You know me.  I'm the person who shouts good news from the rooftops for my friends.  Hell, I'll do it for acquaintances if I like them enough.  I've even done it for people I don't even know because I liked their writing.  But this?  Well, you know how the old saying goes 'Screw me once, shame on you.  Screw me twice, shame on me.'  And it's not like I haven't had other crit partners that I've parted ways with.  We mutually agreed to let it end, or it ended slowly over time.  Sometimes things just don't work out, and that's okay.


Anyway, I just thought I'd let y'all know.  I'm not that big a person. 

In other news - because I don't want this post to be all about negativity...

At 6:30am, my husband's cell phone rang.  It's a work phone, so he always picks it up by saying the company and then his name.  The caller says "Hey Steve, how's it goin'?'  (His name doesn't even rhyme with Steve.)  At which point, I can hear my poor husband trying to explain that he's not Steve.  The whole thing reminded me of that old Cheech and Chong bit.  "Dave's not here."

(The Cheech & Chong video was embedded here, but then it disappeared.  I don't know whether to blame Blogger or YouTube.)

And stay tuned. It looks like my next post will be #900. It might be tomorrow, if I have something worth talking about.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Coming to America

Back in the 1800s, August Meissner fought in the Franco-Prussian war (on the German side).  After he was injured, and seeing the direction his beloved homeland was headed, he struck out for America, leaving behind his wife and four young children.  That was 1895.  Later the same year, his wife, Ida gathered up the kids - Olga (4), Wilhelm (3), Emil (2), and Frieda (6 mos) - and loaded them onto a Norddeutscher Lloyd steamship (whose name on the manifest is illegible) headed for Baltimore.  It took them 12 days to arrive.

I can't imagine what poor Ida went through - the only adult traveling across the ocean with four small children.  It lends a whole new wrinkle to the phrase 'are we there yet?'  (Of course, 70 years later my own mother would travel from Idaho to Michigan with four small children - ages 5,4,2 and less than 1 - but that coincidence is a whole other story.)

Thanks to my great-grandfather's sound thinking and Great-Grandma Ida's fortitude, the Meissners made it to America - land of the free, home of the brave, a place where he could raise his family without fear of the war that ravaged his own homeland.  August and Ida had a dream of freedom, and despite the trials they had to go through to get here, they made a good life for a little family that would swell over the years as they added 5 more children.

I'm sure they missed Germany.  But they loved their new home.  They had to - after all, they instilled that love in Wilhelm, who passed his own love of the U.S.A. to his youngest child, Charles.  And Chuck?  Well, he passed it along to me.

Back L to R: August, Wilhelm, my Uncle Ken.
Front: my dad, Charles

This may not be the best place every single instant of every single day, but there's still no place I'd rather live.  And if, all those years ago, August had been a weaker man and thought 'well, Germany sucks, but moving halfway around the world is scary, so I'll stay'?  Well, I'm guessing Wilhelm would've been goose-stepping with the rest of the Nazis.  Or imprisoned for not wanting to fight.  Or dead. 

So, on this day, I'd like to say thank you to August and Ida Meissner.  You gave independence to a long line of little Meissners after you, and I am eternally grateful.

And thank you to our Founding Fathers for creating a country where a man could come to be free.

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!  I hope your day is filled with the joy and fun that only freedom can bring.  =o)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Totally Random Thoughts

I'm totally sick of the heat wave.  The forecast is showing 100+ temperatures through July 6th now.  Bastards.

Because of the above (or at least that's the story I'm sticking to), I'm sucking down frozen treats like crazy.  Pop Ice, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream, Dole Fruit & Juice bars...  These temperatures are totally ruining my diet.

I love coffee.  If it weren't so hot outside, I'd totally bathe in coffee.

We've been having a dragonfly invasion these past few days.  Yesterday at dusk the sky was filled with the buggers.  And as I stood outside smoking (no, not because I was on fire - even if it felt like it), they were everywhere.  I was rooting for the Western Kingbirds to eat a few, but dragonflies must taste totally nasty because the birds weren't interested.

Friday I bathed Max the Wonder Cat.  Neither of us was happy about it, but it had to be done.  It's awfully hard for a cat with only 5 teeth and a busted tongue to wash himself.  Of course, this necessity resulted in multiple puncture wounds for me.  I totally look like a pincushion.

Last I heard most of the Colorado wildfires fires were either totally out or partially contained.  So there's that.

If you type the word 'totally' enough, it starts to look weird.

What totally random thoughts do you have today?