Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Monday, April 30, 2012

All Kinds of Mad



The Guy only buys about two pairs of shoes every three years. It's a lengthy process, usually because he wants another pair "just like" the ones he just wore out, whether it's the dress shoes, nice casuals, Timberlands, or boots. He spends more time and energy (his and mine) on this rare acquisition that I spend on all of my numerous annual shoe purchases combined.

Saturday was the day. Somewhere along the way, I began to fade and requested lunch from Wentzels.

"Wentzels?" he said.

"If you don't mind," I said politely.

"What if I do?" He was teasing.
 
"Then I guess I won't eat at Wentzels," I said. "And I'll pout."

He started to laugh and pronounced that I don't pout; I rage.

This started me thinking how there is all kinds of mad.

The Pouter pouts, pure and not so simple. Lip out, hurt look, silent treatment. Will never come right out and say what's wrong. Never mistake seething for pouting. Seething often leads to raging.

The Rager. That's me. You never have to guess what I'm mad about. I yell. I slam. I say all manner of fair and unfair things. The good part is, it passes pretty quickly and when I'm over it, I'm over it. I'll even apologize, though I am careful to point out what I am sorry for (the unfair things I yelled) and what I am not (the fair things I yelled). It took me a while to learn that just because I get over it quickly, the object of my ire isn't always on the same time schedule.That's inconvenient.

The Flouncer gets very busy—washing bathtubs, sorting magazines, vacuuming floors, all at warp speed and all the while silently enumerating the injustices that are continuing to pile up by the minute.

The Wallower never lets anything go. I mean never. He/she's been mad for years about the same stuff, but the list continues to grow. When asked what's wrong, the answer is always, "Nothing." Wallower also tends to think there is hidden meaning in everything.

Poor Pitiful Me thinks he/she has no right to be angry and tries to deny it—so it grows and grows until there is an explosion unlike a scholar of Armageddon has even imagined.  

What's your anger style? Which one annoys you most?

Friday, April 27, 2012

How Linked Are You?


A few weeks ago I took a class at the local library with RWA’s 2012 Librarian of the Year, Mary Moore.  The class was Research Tools for Writers. It was a kind of brown bag lunch class and the room was packed with writers of all kinds.  

I admit, Mary and I have worked together for a few years and my biggest reason for attending was to support her.  She is (in my humble opinion) the best research librarian ever!  But wowy-zowy did I ever learn a whole bunch of things.  Not new things really, but new applications of things I’ve used for years now.  Like Facebook, Evernote, Google and such.

But the one thing I brought home with me and took advantage of right away was how to use LinkedIn to my advantage as a writer.  Yea, yea, yea.  I’ve been on LinkedIn in for a few years and never really thought much of it.  Well, I didn’t really have a need for it.  There was Facebook, afterall.  Right?  And Twitter… Flickr… DeviantART... Blogster… Goodreads… Stumbleupon…and of course Pinterest.  And the latest at my house is Polyvor.  And while Polyvor may help me look my best for that all important editor’s pitch, it’s not going to keep me in touch with my local librarians or booksellers nor will it tell me when there’s a new editor at Harlequin like LinkedIn can do.  And I like that about LinkedIn.  It’s professional and it cuts through the banter and tells me in simple straightforward terms who’s who and what’s hot today in the company world I follow. 
For instance, in the announcements I’ve had over the past 2 weeks I can see that ....Simon And Schuster has a new Assistant Editor, Nicholas JD Greene....Penguin has a new Publicist, Meghan Fallon.... and Harper Collins Publishers has a new Director of Digital Business Development, Adam Silverman.  Who knew?  

Now perhaps you can get all of that on Twitter, I don’t know.  I haven’t tackled that venue yet.  Maybe it’s redundant social networking, but it is a part of the whole in the world of business.

Anyway, the greatest thing about LinkedIn is this:  I’m connected with 35 people who are connected with 2900+ people who are connected with 309,900+ people making my potential pool of connections 312,900 people!  And guess who might just be in that pool of people?  You’ve got it!  That one special editor or agent I’ve been looking for!  And for the record, you can trust the math because yours truly did not calculate those numbers...some saavy mathemetician at LinkIn did!  :D

So…..I’m curious.  Why are writers not plugged into this incredible network?  I found tons of children's authors and illustrators tapped into LinkedIn.  But why did I only find a very small smattering of romance writers on there?  Do they not know?  Have they not seen the beauty of being linked together with other writers, editors, agents, publicists, etc?  Are you on there?  And if not.....please, oh please.....tell me, why? 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ball Park

By now most of you who read our blog regularly know that Jean has been voted Most Likely to Create a List, but she told me since this topic was burning in my soul that I could go ahead and create this list for everyone.

It is my belief that we have basic human rights that protect us in a civilized society.  My basic rights are being violated, nay, mutilated every week at the baseball field where instead of being able to kick back and watch some Little League my poor eyes are exposed to horror after horror. As a result of this retina trauma,  the other night I composed this list (with the help of Harris's Mom and Super Teacher) of what to wear at the baseball field.  These guidelines can really be applied to any outdoor casual event in the South.  I see this as a public service and hope you will share it with your friends and neighbors.

What to Wear at the Baseball Park

1. Wear a Shirt.  Now you would expect that this rule would mostly apply to men--andfor the most part it does--but there seems to be a trend among women (adults who should know better) to not wear a real shirt.  They simply wear a sports bra and some bottoms.  This is not okay, in fact, this rule was almost called, It's a sports bra not a shirt.

2. Wear shorts that fit.  If I wanted to see your butt, I would change your diaper. I have seen way, way, way too many butt cracks! Both male and female, unfortunately.  You would think this rule would only apply to too much skin showing because pants are cut so low. But sadly I have also seen cheeks sagging out the bottom of shorts that were woefully too small and often too tight, but that is another rule.

3. Wear clothes that fit--not ones that fit you when you were five, but ones that fit you thirty years later.  The Guy has a saying that sums up this situation, "That is a nice outfit.  It is a pity they didn't have it in her size." Enough said on that subject.

I realize that is covers only the most basic of rules for what to wear, but I felt that so many people seemed to need help that we should keep it simple and start with three rules.  Perhaps you all can add more rules for us...

What do you think should be worn to the baseball park?





Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Blue Heaven



            I spent Tuesday morning with seven men.  It was very hard to get out of bed at 5:00 a.m. but I had places to go.  Okay, so I wasn’t in bed with all of them – only one, my hubby.  The other six men I spent the morning with were the Blue Angels.  We went over to the Pensacola Naval Air Station to watch them practice at 8:30 a.m.  And, let me tell you, it was marvelous!!!     
       The Blue Angels, formed in 1946, are the second oldest flight expedition team in the world, after the French Patrouille de France.  Made up of volunteers from the Navy and the Marines, these guys spend three months in the winter practicing twice a day, six days a week to learn the maneuvers.  They start by learning them at a distance and then gradually moving in closer until, gasp, they are within eighteen inches of each other in some of these stunts.  They are based out of Pensacola and usually practice on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  The Naval Museum sets up bleachers for the crowd of over a thousand who come to watch.

            I was amazed and awed by these guys.  They travel at speeds of up to 700 mph.  The one stunt that had my mouth gaping was when the two soloists slowed their jets to 120 mph, noses up, and floated across the air right in front of us.  I could not believe they didn’t stall out.  The maneuvers and the speed with which these guys have to think just boggles my mind.  They do not wear flight suits because their control is between their legs (okay, no jokes here) and if the suits inflated to stabilize the pilot”s blood pressure it would interfere with their control.  So these guys wear no anti- G-force suits and must learn to tighten their stomach muscles to force the blood supply to remain in their brains so they don’t pass out.  One of their maneuvers subjects them to 7-Gs.  Amazing!
If you’re ever down at Gulf Shores or Pensacola, check the Blue Angels website to see if they are in town and are going to hold a practice session.  It’s well worth falling out of bed that early while on vacation!








And a nod to Precious Angel.  Alas, you can’t be a Blue Precious Angel but we all expect to be seeing you in the Thunderbirds one day! 

Have you ever seen the Blue Angels in flight?  Or the Air Force Thunderbirds?  Have you ever attended an air show?  Share your “Top Gun” stories with us.
            

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unexpected Things

Life is full of unexpected things.  In Jean's Monday blog, we saw that firsts become lasts, which then lead up to more firsts, and the cycle repeats over and over again.  Life is like that, isn't it?  We never seem to know when a first will blindside us.  Likewise, we don't know when a last will sneak up on us when we least expect it, leaving us fumbling for words to say.

I've been pondering this very thing lately because I've got a new book fermenting in my brain.  Along with it comes first love, the kind that develops during the course of a new story idea and the fleshing out of new characters with their firsts: first meet, first kiss, first fight... you get the idea.  ;)

Typing The End is ultimately satisfying because of the limitless publishing possibilities, but beginning anew is quite the adventure.  Expectation.  Suspense.  A compass that takes you where you want to go.  You name it!  When it comes to writing a new book, everything is at a writer's disposal.  But the choices a writer makes, the deeper into the book a writer goes, no matter how intricately plotted or conceived, oftentimes deviate from the designated fork in the road. 

To follow the plot or not?  That is the question. 

Characters like to blindside writers, don't they?  I find this part of the writing process to be the most intriquing part.  When a character comes fully-fleshed out, it's not like I have any say in the matter when that fork presents itself.

Once realized, stories become entities that no longer require a writer's vision.

I love this part about writing the most.  That moment when the story unfolds as if it is writing itself and the characters speak as though alive.  (Though it can get crowded up in here when that happens.  )

I'm having a moment like this now.  While finishing up my current book, I had a character who simply wouldn't allow me to write a scene.  He didn't like being told what to do.  (He's an Alpha male, of course and wanted things his way).  His way however, meant scaring my inner critique, that good ol' tried and true internal editor.  You know the one, or ones, in my case.  You see, my internal editor is a them, not a who.  They are the church choir staring over my shoulder, which makes it quite crowded in my tiny office space.  When the writing is good, it's so very, very good.  (Cue Hallelujah chorus, prayer hands and swaying bodies.)  But when the writing is bad, not bad writing, mind you, but writing that deviates to the deliciously bad and sexy, well... things can get ugly up in here.

Times like these call for extreme measures.  Believe me, I know.  That's why I love Alpha heroes.  Strong and sure of themselves, they won't let anyone stand in their way to a happy ending.  They're prepared to fight through the massing crowd with savvy and sword to exact my cooperation.  Until, my handsome hero defeats said internal editors and sends them packing off to the choir loft where they belong, I'm sometimes at a character's mercy.  And thankfully so.  Because when a truly fleshed-out character wants to make you his be-otch, you know the writing's good. 

When your story takes an unexpected turn, give your characters and stories their firsts and lasts.  Allow them to come to life.  Doing so, could possibly bring salvation.

How do you deal with that pesky Internal Editor?

Monday, April 23, 2012

LASTS

PA and me after Footloose. He did not choose the white tux.
We are down to a series of LASTS. Some of the LASTS are really lasts; some are just last before Precious Angel leaves. And leave he is going to. June 28. We will not be able to talk  on the phone, text, or email for six weeks. No, he is not going to jail. Or rehab. Or hell. You may remember that several months ago I mentioned that he had gotten an early appointment and nomination to West Point. It was quite an honor and he was really excited, but not as excited as when Congress Aderholt called him last month to say that the Air Force Academy had accepted him. So Colorado Springs here we come. He wants to fly planes. I don't know if he going to get to, but he is going to get to try.

Will I be sad to see him go? Of course. On the day he was born, I told The Guy on the way to the hospital, not to touch him until his parents said we could. It didn't matter that we were his Godparents; it didn't matter that they had asked us to take him as our own if anything happened to them. New parents can be funny about their new cub. But when we walked into that room, his mother said, "Get a gown," and she handed me that baby. And she has handed him to me every day since. So, yes. I will be sad to see him go, but not as sad as I would be to see him stay. Here's the thing: You clap your hands and say, "Yes you can!" if you believe that. At the same time, you don't say that when you know they can't. We never told Precious Angle he was going to the NFL or Broadway, on the basis of his high school football and musical performances. But that math and science ability—another thing entirely. 

Trite as it sounds, you work and work to give a child wings, so how stupid is it to cry when he uses them?

Besides, I'll see him Labor Day. His parents handed him to us once again when they said, "Of course, you're going to Parents' Weekend with us, aren't you?" Though we would have never presumed, you bet your sweet fanny we are.

Meanwhile we are living the LASTS.What LASTS have you had?
Last Homecoming Parade

Last Halloween Party
After the Last Football Game

Last Birthday

Last Musical--Footloose

Last ROTC Military Ball

Last Prom-He did choose this tux!





Friday, April 20, 2012

A recipe? From Me? Can it be…?

So I’m not really a foody. I like food. I eat food. But I’m not dashing to the kitchen to try out new recipes all the time. (I’m more likely to give you a recipe for paper-mache’.) But I do like to impress the company on occasion. And I like to pull out the good stuff for myself and the family too. And then of course, I grew up on country victuals and Cajun fare, so it was required to learn to cook. I can do that too. It’s just not my “thang” is all.

I have to admit, the concept of comfort food was lost on me until Painter Girl asked me about it around the time my youngest was born. I really had no idea what she was talking about, this food that could comfort you. What’s that? Then I realized it was all the foods I grew up on….the chicken and dumplings, mashed potatoes and fried chicken and gravy, the gumbo…..stuff like that. And as far as the ever true food-love of a woman, Chocolate…..well, you’ll be disappointed to know that chocolate’s not exactly my idea of a dream confection either. Unless I’m PMS-ing.

However…….

There is one chocolate recipe I will admit to being head over heels in love with. And that’s Nigella Lawson’s Chocohotopots. Oh. My. Gawd!!! I must’ve been seriously PMS-ing when I decided to makes these divine pots! I’ll have to pace myself from now on when it comes to these blessed ooey-gooey-masterpieces of chocolate scrumptousness. They. Are. Perfecto! And because of such, I will share the recipe with you. I know it’s out of character for me to do so, but every woman needs this recipe. And so I share. Please! Do yourself a favor and make these. Eat them when they’re fresh from the oven (otherwise they fall way down on the pleasure mark). They will minister love and health and wellness to your soul! Oh and….if you’re a man reading this post, for the love of God! Make these for your Lovey! I promise…she will love You for it! <3 Enjoy!


Chocohotopots by Nigella Lawson


as seen at...

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nigella-lawson/chocohotopots-recipe/index.html


Ingredients

  • 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I know, but you’ll get over it! Promise!)
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, with 60 percent cocoa solids
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar (I just use regular, it’s fine enough.)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Special equipment: 4 (2/3 to 1-cup capacity) ramekins (I use 6-8 small ones, they’re RICH!)

Directions

Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Butter the ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter.

Either in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan over simmering water, melt the dark chocolate and 1 stick butter, then set aside to cool a little.

In another bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar and flour with a hand whisk and beat in the cooled butter and chocolate mixture. Divide the mixture between the 4 buttered ramekins. Bake for about 20 minutes, by which time the tops will be cooked and cracked and the chocolate gooey underneath.

Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve. Make sure to warn people that these desserts will be HOT!

And there you have it folks! Choco….Hot….Oh….YUM!!! Mmm….nom, nom, nom! So....what do you think?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chronicles of Narnia

This week I watched The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe again. It is such a beautiful movie; I can watch it again and again. I especially like to watch it while wearing my flannel cupcake p.j.s and drinking hot tea. It makes me feel very British as I wrap my hands around my tea cup and snuggle into my couch that looks like it could be from the study where C.S. Lewis wrote the books. I enjoy this so much that sometimes in summer I will cut my air conditioner waaaaaaay down to the Arctic freeze setting so I can get this wintery experience.

Somehow, as a child, I never read these books. Perhaps it seemed too much like a "boy book" or maybe it was simply that I didn't read any fantasy-- but at any rate, I never knew about this series. When the movie came out it looked so gorgeous that it drew me in. Then I read and fell in love with the books. I even read the one that comes before this one, The Magician's Nephew. I love the rich descriptions that the movie brought to life but, even more, I fell in love with beautiful use of language and superb characters.

I would love to be the Daughter of Eve, from the City of War Drobe in the Land of Spare Oom. Or be Lucy who was curious, adventurous, and yet found time to be kind. I think it would be great to have a big brother like Peter who always took up for me and tried to smooth my way; as well as, a sister like Susan who was always trying to keep us all together. Even a brother like Edmund would keep things interesting.

There has been much made of the symbolism in this book, especially after the movie was released. Many people draw parallels between Aslan and Jesus. It is also easy to compare the wayward Edmund to the self-absorbed way many of us go through our lives. We don't mean to cause trouble, but we want a cushy life for ourselves. I can see where these idea come from, but for me the beauty of the language and the fantastic movie the book makes in my head far outweighs any cerebral exercise in spiritualism.

The characters of the children in this book are very distinct. There is also the absent minded Professor, a stern housekeeper, the MacReady, and a cast of fantasy characters from a talking beaver to the evil White Witch who styles herself the "Princess of Narnia."

Have you read these books or seen the movie? If so, what character would you be? If not, I encourage you to give them a try!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Time to Sow and a Time To Reap

I had a particularly bad weekend and now I find my week isn’t getting much better. My old horse, Sugar, has been declining in the last month, won’t eat and is losing weight rapidly. I have tried so many homeopathic remedies, vet remedies and just plain trying to get her to eat by feeding her by hand. It became apparent this weekend that if I didn’t do something, she wasn’t going to make it. Determined and distraught, I stayed with her, day and night, coaxing and pleading. This doesn’t have a bad ending, at least not yet, because she seems to be doing better; even ate her breakfast this morning without me standing there. Perhaps we have turned a corner.

I also have a lot of older animals, all with ailments like arthritis and such. As I look around I see that my time is coming to face heartbreak and sadness but then, I would never had known the joy of these loyal animals. The conundrum I put myself in is what everyone faces – you get the animals and you forget that some day you will face the inevitable. I am a stubborn person, not one to give in easily. When I am dealing with a problem I face it, then I try to determine how I can control it. I never learned the lesson of quitting; it’s not in my nature.

I started thinking in the wee hours of the morning Sunday that I have to learn to let go. Oh, not of these wonderful animals, but of the need I have to control. I guess I think that if I work hard enough, try hard enough and do enough that I can change the outcome of things. In some situations that is true. I just haven’t learned to judge when it is really time to quit. At my age, you’d think I would have. But no, I keep pushing and pulling, trying and trying when everyone else has stopped. There are greater Forces in the universe that are at work; the Bible verse “a time to sow and a time to reap…” constantly plagues me. When will I learn?

I guess I am getting philosophical because I lost a dear friend on Sunday; a man who helped me start life as a new lawyer. He was witty, funny, and at all times a Southern gentleman. His view on life was to take it with both hands, move forward and never look back. Nothing bothered him because that was just the way things were. As I stood in the barn, thinking of that man and wondering why I couldn’t be like him, I remembered his view of taking life one day at a time. He always said you never know what is going to happen but it will be interesting. So Vule, wherever you are, thanks for reminding me – we all die but we all have a job to do while we’re here.

So if I have to control things and push, then so be it. That’s me, that’s who Cheryl is. Vule would be proud of me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Four Principles of Life

Life is filled with surprises you often least expect.  I grew up a military brat and quickly learned, the friends I made would be the friends I'd have to leave when my dad got orders.  As the years passed, it got harder and harder to leave friends behind.  By High School, military brats hung together because they understood the ostracism given them by the locals.  (Why would anyone invest his/her time in making a friend who won't be around for long?)

Chief lesson learned: The world is a very small place.

I moved 8 times before I turned 16.  2 times in college and 8 times in 20 years of marriage.  I've lived in Germany 3 times (newborn, teen and wife), Japan once (as a kid) and Italy once (as a wife).  Through all these moves, I've been fortunate to experience different cultures and other languages, as well as find a way to fit in wherever I was.  How?  Sometimes you stick your foot in the door, invest yourself, in order to succeed.

Lesson:  Make the most of the time you've got.

Japan: Earthquakes carried our beds all the way across the floor to the other side of the room but I also have memories of catching Pincher Bugs and snails, skating on an outdoor ring behind our quarters, and exploring tunnels carved into the snow by my dad. 

Italy: Though I spent most of my time birthing babies and as a commander's wife, I still had time to see the Alps, Dachau, visit Pompeii, tour villas and museums, explore the Sunday markets downtown and eat pizza and tortolini at Il Dragone, my favorite pizzeria, complete with brick ovens.

Germany: As a teen, I cheered and played softball.  Our competition cheerleading squad won 1st place two years running.  I went to Frankfurt High School, toured castles and took part in a play at Heidelberg Castle.  As an adult, I traveled to Holland, Switzerland, Austria, and Bavaria.  I was also a commander's wife with two little children and a poltergeist in my car.

Lesson:  Good things come to those who wait.

Throughout our travels, there were places I didn't want to be, for one reason or another.  Sometimes it was simply a matter of LTC's job, a job that kept him on the road for 3 weeks at a time, allowing him to be home for 2 weeks before heading out the door again.  In New Jersey, LTC was home only 1 year out of the 3 years we were stationed there.  Tough times!  But as with any hardship, the good follows.  We found a home to plant our roots and were able to give our children the best upbringing they could possibly have.

Lesson:  Be careful what you wish for.

LTC is home more often these days.  The kids are grown.  I have more time to write than I did with four kids underfoot, even while working a part-time job.  I have roots!  Something I've never had the luxury of having before.  I've made great friends who cherish me for who I am.  I've joined writers groups and am surrounded by others who think the way I do and get me.

Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.  Throughout the years, I've prayed for healthy kids, a loving family, a wonderful home and the ability to write stories that will comfort people who are going down the roads I've traveled.  Sometimes I think the only thing stopping me... is me.

Be careful what you wish for.

The world is a small place- Be professional, kind and compassionate.

Make the most of what you've got- You're the perfecter of your fate. You've got what it takes to make it through!

Good things come to those who wait- If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then try again!

Be careful what you wish for.

What have you been wishing for throughout your life? 






Monday, April 16, 2012

Superpowers

I was a comic book reader as a child, but not cool comics like they buy on The Big Bang Theory about guys with superpowers. Oh, no. No Superman, Marvel, etc. and whatever. I read Dennis the Menace, Archie, Richie Rich, and Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Of course, now that I think about it, Caspar did have sort of a superpower, even if he did have to die to get it. He could fly.

If I could pick a superpower, that would be it. I'd fly all over the place. Also, the Ghostly Trio could scare somebody by just saying, "Boo"--I mean to the point that people begged them not to boo. That was pretty super and wouldn't be a bad ability to have.

But no flying for me, except in an airplane. No booing that does any good at keeping annoying people away from me.

What I can do is tell when somebody is lying. I swear, it's like a sixth sense. I wish I didn't have this ability, due to the staggering number of people who lie.

I've always been able to do it, but I have a vivid memory of the first time I became acutely aware of it. I was sixteen and my high school boyfriend told me he'd had sex with his next door neighbor's granddaughter. Now, this had supposedly occurred before he met me, so that wasn't an issue. But I knew he was lying, though there was no good reason for me to not believe him. I didn't even know the girl in question. Later, in a fit of repentance, he admitted it. All I thought was, "Well, I knew that."

And it has happened over and over again all my life. Someone will say something—and most of the time it's something small that makes no difference—and this little ping will go off in my head. Often, (often enough that it has taught me to trust my instinct) I find out for sure that they've lied because they trip themselves up.

Too bad there's no money in this. Flying would be way better. Or booing.

Oh, and by the way, The Guy never lies. I mean never. He doesn't even know how. That's probably why I let him pick me.

What superpower do you have? What superpower to you wish you had?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Deeds of The Dog…..

Ears, that is. Dog-ears. It’s an age old controversy. To use a bookmark or dog-ear the corner? (Gasp! Says the Librarian in me!)

I believe bookmarks are an art form all their own. I found a brief history of the bookmark on Wikipedia.com that was fascinating. (Though I’m sure there’s way more information on them somewhere. Imagine a coffee table book on the art of the bookmark! Love it!) Anyway, the article brought to mind a beautiful ribbon bookmark I use in my Bible that has 5 ribbons of different colors attached to a thin stiff cardboard bookmark that slides down into the spine of my bible. I can’t tell you how handy it is to have more than the standard 2 ribbons for such a big book!

Momma B (Painter Girl’s mother, who long ago adopted me and made me her very own youngun) makes the most beautiful bookmarks in the world. They’re designed with heart and love and imagination. And as much as I love her artistic endeavors, I can’t seem to bring myself to use them. They do however sit in a sparkly LOVE vase arrayed like the most beautiful bouquet of art. Sometimes I gift them to share their extension of love with someone who might need a little somethin’ somethin’ for their heart. (Momma B’s really a heart surgeon, not an artist.)

Some of my other favorite bookmarks were the ones Clair and I collected over the years at the library near our north Texas home. Every week when we went to the library, Clair would ask Ms. Liz for a bookmark and bring it home like it was the most beautiful gift in the world. I wish I’d had the sense to preserve them like a stamp collection or something. But sadly, they’re gone. MIA. Never to be seen again. What remains is an indelible love for books, and that’s good enough for me!

When I was in Austria, I found the cutest bookmarks ever. They’re bookworms handmade of fabric and threads. Each worm is wearing a tie, kind of like they’re all business about reading. The juxtaposition of fun, form, function and attitude made me laugh, so I bought as many as I could and brought them back to my kids and the library kiddos too.

Bookmarks are also functional. I often designed bookmarks at the library for the purpose of announcing book clubs or special events. Of course we had a bookmark with the library hours and circulation details on it. Romance authors utilize bookmarks for announcing their titles, too. They’re always fun to find at the library checkout desk! Of course, any bookmark is fun to find on Friday the 13th! Sorry y'all. My bookmark photos refuse to make an appearance today. :/

So, if I don’t use my bookmarks, how do I mark my place in the book? Ha! A piece of junk mail, a paperclip, a stray ribbon I found handy…and that’s just it…it’s whatever I find handy, because it’s likely all of my wonderful bookmarks are in their right place and that’s not where I can be found reading! I know right? I frustrate even myself. But for the real question, do I dog-ear the precious page of a book? Well……hmmm……maybe? If I have to? Okay, rarely. But I have been known to do the “D”eed.

So what do you use to mark your spot in the book? Bookmarks? Feathers? Leaves? Post-its? String? What? And be honest… Do you, you know……“D” the book?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's in Your Egg?

Last Sunday was Easter and we have talked a little about that here under the Tulip Tree. Last year I helped stuff 50,000 of those plastic eggs at my church. It seems that we have the largest Easter Egg Hunt in Walker County. It is open to the public at a very high traffic park and is always a HUGE hit. Although I didn't help stuff those thousands of eggs this year, I did think about it as I did some personal shopping for those hollow plastic Easter eggs that you can put treats in. I needed some for the children in my life. I was stunned and amazed to discover that they now come in tons of different designs. For your hunting children, you can get camouflage eggs, football eggs for the football fans , and baseball eggs for the boys of Spring. I even found some great cupcake ones online, although technically they probably aren't eggs.
When I told her about my amazing finds, my fabulous co-teacher told me she got some Noah's Ark Eggs for the students at her church that came with candy already inside.




But most of us, have to the make the decision of what to stuff into the eggs. There were some with chocolate, some with other flavors of candy, and others with cash. This got me to thinking about what is stuffed into my life and how I sometimes I choose what feels my real life, while other times it seems as if things truly are just stuffed in at random. I know that we have to take the wheat with the chaff but I think sometimes I get so much chaff in my life that there isn't enough time for the people and things that are really important to me.

If your life is an Easter egg, what sort of things are filling up your life? Are they things that make the egg more of a prize or things that just rattle to make noise?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Perceptions






A British woman living in France caused a major brouhaha with her column about how women hate her because she’s beautiful. I nearly choked myself to keep from laughing when I read the column. It seems Samantha Brick has endured trials and tribulations for her entire life just because she perceives herself as beautiful. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2124246/Samantha-Brick-downsides-looking-pretty-Why-women-hate-beautiful.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

In the column, Brick bemoans the fact that women snub her, ignore her and have even hurt her career simply because of her looks. The first thing I got from reading the article is that Brick seems overly concerned with other people’s perceptions about her looks. Secondly, to quote Barbara Walters, she just isn’t that good-looking. The storm over the article continued all last week, evoking responses from women all over the world. She was interviewed on a network morning show about the reactions and her response was that she didn’t intend to come off sounding so smug. It wasn’t what she had in mind when she wrote the article – she meant to point out that other people’s perceptions about looks can be hurtful. Sorry, but that isn’t what I got from her column. When I read it all I could hear was a boastful, vain woman who blamed other women when things didn’t go her way. She really laid into women who are older and “whose bloom is gone” for hating her (hmmm, could be why I didn’t like her). Oh, I know, she cited instances when women were outright rude to her but then, we didn’t really know how she was acting at the time either. I just thought the whole things was kind of silly. It did, however, bring her into the world’s spotlight.

After reading the article I got to thinking about perceptions. From what I have read, people who have a large ego require constant validation about themselves from others. People who are secure in themselves and don’t need outside validation have self-esteem. Ego is destructive; self-esteem promotes character. If you are secure in yourself, then you don’t need the approval of others. Here comes the ADD part – that got me to thinking about writing (I know, it’s a jump but then a spatial mind does that). If you are insecure about your writing, you constantly need validation from others about how great and wonderful you are. If you are secure about your writing, then you know inside when what you have written is good without other people telling you. So when the rejections start coming in or you get a bad review think about whether it’s you or your ego reacting to criticism. Yes, writing is something that seeks approval – an editor has to approve of what you have written in order for it to be published and then people have to buy it. But, not all things resonate with all people. Simply because one person doesn’t like your story doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good story or that it isn’t written well. It just means that you haven’t found the right market. I guess what I got out of all this is that you have to keep trying when you believe in yourself. Perceptions don’t always mean that others are right.

Have you heard of Samantha Brick? What did you think about her column? What is your take on the perceptions of others? Is it necessary to validate yourself? I know, being published is a form of validation, but if you’re constantly being rejected or criticized have you ever felt that the world is judging you unfairly? Just wondering…

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Home is Where Your Story Begins


Home.  It's where your story begins...

Spring is the best time of the year to own a home.  I love sweeping off the porch, setting out cushions on my wrought iron furniture, uncovering the pool, and listening to the birds outside my windows. 

Birds always seem to be happy creatures, don't they?  Singing endless lyrics.  Flying in groups with their peeps.  Chillin' on  poles.  (Today I caught myself missing Hawk.  Hawk used to sit on the power lines as I drove by.  Sometimes he'd fly out in front of me as if trying to tell me something.  Unfortunately, I just realized I hadn't seen him since a tornado hit his prime hunting ground.  Was he killed or driven away?  I can't be sure and it makes me sad.)

As with every beginning, there is a middle and an end.  Such is the way of all things, especially the calendar year.  I'm barely able to believe 2012 is almost half-way over.  It just seems like yesterday the new year began and I planned my goals out for the year.  When I look back on what I've accomplished so far, I see boons and pitfalls, but I KNOW I'm making strides.  It's all in perception, right?

Recently, I entered two books in one contest and one in another.  I sent out some queries and plotted a new book, one I plan to write during a Fast Draft challenge beginning in two days.  I'm also THIS close to finishing my current WIP.


And so, though I appear to be clanking my cymbols and bouncing along, I've pondered the energizer bunny.  How cool would it be to have that kind of energy, to hop, hop, hop from one project to the next, getting them all done in a timely manner?

Are you on track for the year?  How are your energy levels and if you were the energizer bunny, what would you do with your time?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Home.  It's where your story begins...

Spring is the best time of year to own a home.  I love sweeping off the porch, setting out cushions on my wrought iron furniture and listening to the birds outside my windows.  Birds always seem to be happy creatures, don't they?  Flying in groups.  Sitting idle on  poles.  (Today I caught myself missing Hawk.  He used to sit on the power lines as I drove by.  Unfortunately, a tornado recently hit his prime hunting ground and has either driven him off or killed him.  I can't be sure and it's made me sad.)

It's in these earliest days of the growing season that I'm at my best, planning the garden, picturing the summer scope of foilage and the vast colorful show to come.  I know lots of work will be involved.  But I don't think about that now as I weed out the chaff and plant the new.

With every beginning, there is a middle and an end.  It's hard to believe the year is almost half-way over.  It just seems like yesterday that 2012 began and I planned my goals for the year.  When I look back on what I've accomplished so far, I see boons and pitfalls, but I KNOW I'm making strides.  It's all in perception. 


Wouldn't you like to have as much energy as the Energizer Bunny?  If you did, what would you do with your time?

Keys

I used to have a wad of keys that I could have used to attack a gorilla. I might not of won, but my weapon would have evened things up a little. Now, my keys couldn't take out a baby lab rat.

At the height of my key capacity I had a key for:

  • My apartment.
  • My boyfriend's apartment.
  • My parents' house—front and back doors.
  • My parents's car.
  • My car.
  • The library, where I worked.
  • My desk at the library.
  • The library library story hour room
  • The Junior League office.

Then the key evolution began. First I got married to the boyfriend so two apartment keys became one house key. However, I gained a key to his car, so there was no loss. In fact, if I remember correctly, he had a separate trunk key so, I added one .

Then my parents sold their house and moved into an apartment with one key. Then they died. Car key and apartment key gone.

Then I quit my job at the library. Three keys gone.

Then I finally had to sense to take sustainer status in Junior League, so I didn't need in the office anymore. They took my key.

Somewhere along the way, The Guy got a vehicle with only one key.

Now I have a house key (front and back door are the same), his car, my car.

I do have house keys for a couple friends, but I don't carry those. I have a safety deposit box key and no fool carries that.

Three little keys. I can't say my life is much simpler.

I bet you think I am about to liken all this to the phases of life or compare it to writing.

Nope.

I just want to know how many keys you carry.