Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Think Good Thoughts

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Long ago, when I was a teenager, I read The World According to Garp by John Irving.  I don't know if any of you have read it (read it, not watched the movie - which didn't nearly do the book justice) but in the middle of the book, Garp has two sons - Duncan and Walt.  In a horrible accident, Walt dies and Duncan loses an eye.  Forever after, Duncan focuses on the defects in other people.  In fact, there's a scene where he's in a NYC skyscraper using a telescope to point out the defects in the pedestrians below.

I do this.  I don't know if it's a function of my own defects or it's a function of having read this book.  I don't place any judgment based on a person's defects*, but I do note them.  (Much to my husband's dismay sometimes.) Watching the news is particularly rough.  This person has a mole, that person's ears are slightly different, that dress makes her boobs look huge, 'what the hell is up with his hair???'... don't get me started on a particular politician whose facial characteristics remind me of an evil Who (from Whoville - not the Dr.).

When I think about it now, I'm going to say it had more to do with the book at first and then the accident exacerbated it.  My first boyfriend had a birth defect where one arm was significantly shorter than the other.  And the short arm didn't work quite right.  A college boyfriend was missing two fingers from a snowblower accident.

Anyway, I've been thinking about defects a lot.  Yesterday especially.  Scarlet - one of our resident does - brought her fawn to feed here yesterday afternoon.  I got the camera and took a bunch of shots - zoomed and on the highest resolution.  He was so cute.  I ran inside, downloaded and looked through the shots I'd just taken.  And then I noticed something.  So, I used the program to enlarge to 100% and looked at his eyes.

He's missing one.

I won't post any pictures where you can see.  It's pretty gruesome and fairly disturbing.  Super cute little guy with a... well, you can picture it on your own, so I won't go there either.

I named him Sammy**.  I would call him Duncan, but then I'd have to explain The World According to Garp to my husband, who hasn't read it and doesn't want to.  I don't blame him.  It's a powerful book, but it's disturbing.  Evidenced by the fact that I haven't read the book in like 15 years and it's still disturbing me today.  (If you haven't read it, don't.  You don't want that shit all up in your head.  It never comes out.)  Plus, he could be a doe - in which case Sammy still works, but Duncan would be weird.

I guess in a way, it's good for me to notice all the little defects, or quirks - if the word defects bothers you.  I'm a writer.  Adding defects and/or quirks adds richness to the writing.  It makes the characters memorable.  But it sure makes it hard to carry on a conversation sometimes.

Another day, I'll talk a little about Walt and how that particular character warped me. (Seriously, if you haven't read it, don't.  If you have, I'm sorry.)

What about you?  How do you handle defects?  Do you ignore them, focus on them, or just file them away for the day when they might be useful in your work?

* Judging people based on their physical characteristics is just stupid.  It's not what you see that makes a person, it's what they do and who they are.  Duh.
**After Sammy Davis, Jr. who lost his eye in a car accident when he was a young man. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Picture Pause - Something Pretty

Here's a little something pretty to brighten up your Saturday.

Have a great rest of the weekend. =o)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I hit the skids.  I'd call it the mid-summer blahs, but I'm afraid if I give it a name it'll hang around like a stray cat. 

Also, I woke up under the wrong side of the rock from my nap.  Grouchy McGroucherson.  Nothing I do feels right and I have this underlying suspicion that I totally suck in every way.  This, too, shall pass.  Until then, don't expect scintillating words from me. 

Which doesn't bode well for my writing.  If I can't throw off a page worth of brilliance for the blog, how can I lay down pages and pages of spectacularness for my books? 

I'm toast.

In other news, I expect to have a most awesome guest poster for Monday on The Guide.  She totally rocks.  And in true Wayne and Garth fashion, I'm so not worthy.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Minor Pet Peeve

Okay, I know somehow or other it became 'the thing' to refer to the smell of blood as 'coppery'.  Blood doesn't smell like copper, people.  Copper doesn't smell like anything.  Metal* doesn't smell like anything. 

Blood does taste metallic.  (Yeah, I know this because I was the kid who put pennies in my mouth.  Cut me some slack, though.  I didn't know how disgusting they are.  Also, I've had blood in my mouth and the tastes are comparable.)  But only to a certain extent. 

Yes, we writers have to describe things the best we can so readers can understand what we're trying to convey.  Right now, readers have been trained to expect that blood smells coppery.  It's a thing. 

But seriously, it's a wrong thing.  As a reader it trips me up every single time - even when a writer I love love love has written it.  And I even get that what they really mean is that blood smells like metal tastes - but saying it that way is weird. 

But it's still wrong.

Blood has a tangy smell.  It smells sharp and salty (like the ocean - not like table salt, because that doesn't have a smell either).  It smells like a butcher shop or a package of fresh ground beef (because of... ya know... the blood).  Old blood might smell sour or rancid. 

My point is that blood has a lot of smells, but none of them are the smell of metal.  Don't believe me?  Pick up a copper pan and sniff it.  What's it smell like?  I can guarantee it doesn't smell like blood. (Yeah, I know what lots of blood smells like.  I may not remember much about my accident, but that stays with you on a sensory level.)

Your turn.  What's a minor pet peeve you have as a reader? 

*It's entirely possible that at some point I have referred to the smell of blood as 'metallic' - because it's a thing, not because it's right.  If I have, I was lazy.  Forgive me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Close Encounter of the Tick Kind

So there I was in the Walmart having a lovely conversation with this delightful old lady - about dishwasher detergent and what additives are best for hard water (yeah, I do things like that - and we agreed on Lemi-shine).  As she was talking, I noticed something crawling through her short, white hair.  I looked closer and it was a big, black tick.  So I said "Oh, hold still darlin'.  You have a tick in your hair."  And she did, so I took it out.  I put it on the ground to squish it, but she went after it, trying to kill it with her fingernail.  That didn't work, so she was all matter-of-fact saying "I'll just pull it's head off."  End of the tick.  She couldn't imagine where it came from.  Neither could I - she was immaculate. 

And yeah, I apologized and told her I don't usually ask to put my hands in strangers' hair.  But I couldn't just let her wander off with that thing on her.  :shudder:  She was cool with it.  She thanked me, we finished our conversation, and off she went.

What would you do if you saw a complete stranger with a tick on them?

As an aside, I would just like to say I love listening to the local children talk.  It's like walking around on the set of To Kill a Mockingbird

Thursday, July 18, 2013

MasterChef - UK vs US

I've watched MasterChef pretty much since its inception.  I love cooking competitions.  Top Chef, MasterChef, Food Network Star.  I love watching people put gorgeous food together, but hey, I LOVE food.  (Not a foodie, just a food lover.)

I hadn't watch the UK version of MasterChef until I moved here, though.  (Our cable provider didn't have BBC America on basic, and now I have satellite.)  And I only just found the show a few weeks ago.  OMG, I love it way more than I ever liked the US version.

Okay, so the UK one is called MasterChef: Professionals.  It's people in the business cooking for their peers and restaurant critics and chefs above them in terms of experience.  The US one is home cooks who'd like to break into being professionals.

On the UK version, there aren't any 'weird' challenges.  The contestants have to do perfectly normal chef things - like de-bone a fish (for the skills test) or make a perfect dish according to what Chef Michel tells them to do - usually some classical dish.

On the US show, there's a lot of back-biting and snide comments.  (Especially this season - which I stopped watching because I couldn't take the bitchiness anymore.)  On the UK show, the contestants are calm and respectful and supportive of one another.

The judges are also a lot nicer in the UK - even when they're giving criticism.  There's no yelling.  I don't think it's in Chef Michel's makeup to shout.  And there's no swearing at people.  Plus, he smiles a lot.  And that Greg guy who also judges?  He's delightful.  I love it when he eats something he loves because you can tell how much he enjoys it.  It's written all over his face. 

With Gordon Ramsey, there's yelling and swearing (not just MasterChef, but on Kitchen Nightmares* and Hell's Kitchen - geez, Gordon, you're going to give yourself an aneurysm.)  And that other judge on MasterChef - the skinny, super-superior one?  Good lord, man, take whatever stick is shoved up your... posterior regions... out and enjoy life again.

Maybe the Brits are just nicer people.  (Okay, I know Ramsey is a Brit, but I think nobody ever told him that it's possible to educate and criticize without berating and humiliating.)  Maybe the British audiences just won't put up with the kind of crap that American audiences clamor for.   I mean, seriously - they have Downton Abbey and we have Here Comes Honey-BooBoo.  Nuff said.

Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting comparison.  What do you think?  Have you watched any of the British versions of shows we have here in the US?

*And if you ever get a chance to watch the UK version of Kitchen Nightmares, even Ramsey is nicer over there than he is here.  But he still drops the f-bomb constantly.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mixed Bag

Okay, so I'm finally getting around to reading the books that have been in my TBR pile forever.  If you want to get my take on Out for Blood by Kristen Painter - a book I've had since October and only just finished - head on over to Killer Chicks where I'm doing a Random Fandom.  Right now, I'm reading Last Kiss Goodnight by Gena Showalter (that I've had at least since my daughter was still living with us).  The final really forgotten TBR book is How to Drive a Dragon Crazy by G.A. Aiken - sitting in my possession since last September. 

In the Springfield, MO paper this past Sunday, they had an article about the top jobs for introverts.  I don't know if these were in order, but Writer was listed fifth.  Well, duh.  The only issue I had with the whole thing is it said the median income for writers is $55K a year.  Umm, suuuuure.  I'll be expecting that check from my 'employer' forthwith.  I could use a cool $55K.

I got excited yesterday because I got a check in the mail for a little computer consulting I did.  A whopping $100.  And it was from my mom.  (No, I don't charge my mother for helping her personally.  She doesn't even own a computer.  What she does do is take care of the family business and I consult for that.  When I do, she shoots a little scratch my way.)  I cashed it, bought lunch and then paid for this week's 200 lbs of deer feed.  So much for being a little rich.  LOL

I didn't tell anyone this, but I entered a contest last month.  It was called Femme Fatale and Gemma Halliday was putting it on.  I got notified last night that I didn't make the cut, but the race was pretty tight.  Win or not, it was fun to enter and hope for a little while.  I'd like to thank Gemma for the opportunity and for such a quick turnaround time on that sucker.  No waiting there.  Hallelujah.

The doe I've named Scarlet (because she has a couple large scars on her sides and calling her 'Scar' was making me feel bad) shows up almost every day, but I assumed she hadn't had a fawn this year.  I mean, she never had one with her, so I made a logical assumption.  And of course, I felt bad for her.  This morning, though, she had her own fawn with her!  Yay for Scarlet!

I didn't write a single word all weekend.  (Well, not a word having to do with fiction.  I wrote blogs and emails and junk.)  Consequently, my goal of a chapter a day ended up two days behind.  Bleh.  Yesterday, in an effort to catch back up, I rewrote about 5K words.  Only a chapter behind now.  Of course, my hands are sausages today, but I will keep forging ahead.  (As long as the Aspercreme keeps doing its job.)

Yeah, even with not working all weekend, I still managed over 16K words for the week of the 7th.  Woohoot! 

Anything in your mixed bag today? 

Oh, and if you haven't stopped by The Guide, Maria Zannini did an excellent post on finding the right cover for your book. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Nothing here - Go There

Hey Everyone!  Sorry I've got nothing today.  But go over to The Guide and check out Maria Zannini's guest post: Covers that Wow.  Definitely a keeper.


Friday, July 12, 2013

The Hard Decisions

As I've mentioned before, I've been busting my hump pretty hard to get this book re-written.  A chapter a day is the goal.  Sometimes I hit it, sometimes I don't.  But this book deserves to be finished.  I have two weeks worth of work left, approximately.  Once that's done?

I'm putting this book away.  I won't be trying to get it published and I won't be seeking an agent.

Sounds silly, doesn't it?  Why bother finishing it when I'm not planning on doing anything with it?  (And oh, my god, what a colossal waste of time.)  I've thought all that through the course of today, believe me. 

It's not silly.  I made myself a promise and I'm going to keep it.  There's nothing silly about that.  Just the fact that this will be polished and lovely and complete makes it worth finishing.

As for not doing anything with it, I made the choice for a few simple reasons...

We live in a fucked up world.  Just last year or the year before a literary agent was attacked.  Not because she represented a controversial author, but because she did her job and didn't take on an author she didn't want to represent.  She didn't do anything controversial.

This book is controversial.  I love it with all my heart and I totally believe in the ideas I set forth in it.  But let's face it, folks, I'm too old to get embroiled in the shitstorm that will come after a book like this.   I like my life.  It's laid back.  There's no drama.  I love my husband, too, and he's finally at a point in his life where he doesn't have shitstorms and drama swirling around him.  I don't wanna put that back on him for anything. 

Even for the chance of this book becoming the next Fahrenheit 451.

Plus, my mom doesn't need to hide the fact that I'm her daughter.  My kid won't have to pretend I'm not her mom.  My friends can keep associating with me and I can keep associating with them without worrying whether the crazies are going to visit their homes, blogs, websites, booksignings... You get the point.

And yeah, I'm afraid.  Who wouldn't be?  Hell, J.K. Rowling weathered a storm because she wrote about a little boy at a school for wizards and witches.  This isn't even cute or sweet or magical.  These characters of mine are adults doing adult things that will piss people off.

I could, of course, go all 'under the radar' and publish under a pseudonym, but I don't want to have to hide who I am.  That's part of the point of not moving ahead with publication.  Either way, it'll be some kind of hiding.  I am proud of this novel.  I wrote it.  If it ever got published, I'd sure as hell want my name on it.  I'd want to get out there and do booksignings, and schmooze and point to this with a smile, saying 'yep, that's my book'.  Can't do that if Alice Nobody has her name on my book (even if she's supposed to be me... or I'm her... or whatever.)

Anyway, I'll still be busting my ass for the next couple weeks.  But then I'll switch to something equally awesome, but less 'oh my god, this book goes against my ideas so I have to harass the author, her family, and anyone who might agree with her'. 

Sometimes we have to make the hard decisions to give up something we value in order to protect the things we value more.  It's not a sacrifice.  It's a choice.

If any of my friends* wish to read it, they can.  They just need to let me know and I'll shoot a copy once the rewrite is done.  (Just reading, no critiquing - because I'm shelving this so why waste your time.)  The rest of you will have to wait for the next piece of literary brilliance - which may or may not still piss a sector of the populous off (we take that chance with every story we write, don't we?), but it won't piss off the ones who've already proven they are armed and aren't afraid to blow people up to make a point.

Ever had to make a tough choice?  You don't have to talk about it if you aren't comfortable - just a yes or no will suffice.

*You know who you are. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Nothing Fancy Chicken Salad

I just finished making chicken salad.  It's my go-to recipe and it's perfect for when it's too hot to think about cooking.  But it's nothing fancy...

Remember, a lot of my recipes are 'to taste', so feel free to play with the ingredients.  Find something YOU like - just make sure you write it down.  (I can't tell you how many dishes I've thrown together that I loved but can't remember what I did when the meal was over.)

Chicken Salad

2 cans white meat chicken chunks (drained)
1/2 can sliced black olives
1/4 diced large onion (about 2 T)
1 - 1 1/2 celery stacks - sliced thin
Salad dressing

Dump the cans of chicken into a large bowl and use a fork to get the chunks broken down a bit.  Add the olives, onion and celery.  Squirt or spoon - I use squirtable salad dressing - about a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of salad dressing (or mayo depending on your tastes) and add a dash or two of tarragon into the bowl.  Stir until combined.  Taste test.  Add more salad dressing and tarragon, along with a little salt and pepper, until the chicken salad has the taste you enjoy.  Let it sit for at least an hour so the flavors can meld.

I use dried chopped tarragon and cheap salad dressing, but you can use whatever blows your skirt up.  This time around the chicken was Tyson, because they had a two-can pack on sale.  And I'm using Lindsay olives.  I also used Vidalia onion this time.  They're in season and they're so awesome. 

Later, I'll put the chicken salad on a tortilla with a slice of lettuce, maybe pickles or sliced grape tomatoes, and some cheese, and make a wrap.  Hubs will probably use sourdough and make a regular sandwich.  Or you can eat it right out of the bowl.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Sign I've Been In This Book Too Long

I was just scrolling down my dashboard looking at blogs to read when I saw the name 'Kate' and thought "Wait a second, isn't she supposed to be dead?"

Ummm, yeah.  In the book, she's dead.  In real life?  Well, she doesn't exist in real life, now does she?

Definitely a sign I've been deep in this book too long.

Anything like that ever happen to you?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

I know this isn't the slated holiday for it, but if you see a soldier, sailor, airman, etc., give him or her a hug.  They work every day to make sure our country enjoys its freedom.

(The guy on the right in both pics is my dad.  USAF for eleven years.  Big thanks to my brother for scanning all these old photos and sending them to me.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hair, Beautiful Hair

I'm breaking down and getting a haircut today.  I'm way overdue - again.  I don't know what it is about getting my hair cut that makes me drag it out.  I'm all like 'meh' until I notice myself pulling it into a ponytail every damn day and then I need it cut NOW.  This time around it's been like 5 months - and I need a cut so bad I almost whacked it off myself yesterday.  "Hand me the scissors and to hell with looking good!"  Yah, didn't go there. Thank goodness.

Maybe it's that I haven't really had a good haircut in 9+ years.  When I lived in Utah, there was this one gal who did an awesome job on my hair - and then she moved.  She was the last great haircut I had.  The Utah gal after her was so-so.  My first beautician in Colorado should've changed her sign to say "Butcher".  Then I found another gal who was alright, but she moved.  And her replacement was so-so. 

I'm totally dying for a good cut.  But I'm not getting my hopes up. 

And it's not like I get anything difficult done.  Cut it like whatever picture I bring in for you.  I even try to get big pictures with good definition so you can see how the cut should be done.  And for 9+ years, I've walked out with hair that looks nothing like the pic I gave her. 

A few years back I took the Kid to Walmart and she got this guy, Daylen.  He was wicked awesome.  Her hair was wicked awesome, too.  And he was fun.  I wanted him to be my sassy gay friend.  (Out and proud in the NE plains of Colorado, bless his heart.)  But I didn't need a haircut that day and he was never there when I went back. 

So, today, I'm headed to the Walmart here.  We'll see what happens.  If I'm lucky, I'll come out looking like this:

or this:

(only darker with gray because I don't color my hair.)

If I'm not lucky, I'll come out like this:

Keep your fingers crossed.