Friday, December 31, 2010

To all the jobs I've had before...

Thank you for making me well-rounded!

My husband of over twenty years and I were driving home from dinner the other night. We were discussing my newest employment endeavor. Of course, he always has to throw in the, “I hope you find something new soon, because I can’t afford to send you to trapeze artist school.” As IF they had a school for that.

I grew agitated when he began recalling all of the jobs or trainings I’ve had since I became a working class citizen. I crossed my arms, pursed my lips and stared out the window. I do this when I’m irritated with him or when he listens to talk radio while were traveling, which makes me want to poke my eyeballs out with a splintered stick.

My J-o-b-s are listed chronologically below: (I will mention here, I’ve only been fired once, but hired back the next day when my boss came to his senses. So, I like to say I've never been fired!)

Grocery store cashier
Sandwich princess at Subway
Assistant at a printing press (yes, I actually helped run the machines)
House cleaner
Baby-sitter
Receptionist at a car dealership
File clerk in same dealership
Geisha girl in Japanese Karaoke bar (while we were stationed in Okinawa)
Leasing consultant (for all of 42 days)
Cashier at a hardware store (they hired me 5 months pregnant!)
Mommy!
Day-care teacher of schoolers (lasted 9 days, my child got extremely ill there!)
Receptionist at a title company
Real Estate assistant (quit after he wrote me a hot paycheck!)
Orthodontist assistant
Mommy a 2nd time!
Avon Representative (lasted 4 months—spent more than I made)
Master Gardner class
Gardener / Sales at garden shop
Writer
Real Estate assistant (same agent, what? People deserve 2nd chances!)
Sales Representative for an ad-specialty company
Gardener / Sales at garden shop (again)
Jr. College (wanted to be a teacher)
Substitute teacher
Teacher aide for kindergarten
Teacher aide for resource / special education
Yoga teacher training
Yoga instructor
Library Assistant (until October 2010)

Let’s just say while he was busy reminiscing and laughing and trying desperately to remember all of my previous jobs, he forget seven of the above which I’ve included for my own enjoyment. The holiday lights I observed out the car window that evening lifted my spirits, plus, I knew deep down his comments were all in fun.

I am sitting here tapping away at the computer on December 31, 2010 and thinking of all the wonderful jobs I’ve been given the opportunity to have. I’m still a mom, a gardener, a writer and a yoga instructor. These four occupations are the upmost fulfilling for me as a human being. Think about it. Find a job that makes you jump up and down.

Being a mother, I get the ultimate enjoyment in life of watching my two beautiful daughters grow into incredible people. It’s one of the toughest and rewarding jobs in the world. My job as a mother is never finished, I’m always on-call and my only payment is the love I see in their eyes and watching them succeed. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

As a gardener, I’m an artist. A creator. Gardening, like mothering, is rewarding. I only choose to garden at home now, so, I don’t get paid for it. My payoffs come in the spring when my roses stop traffic on the highway in front of our home.

Writing…ah, writing. Writing is how I spell r-e-l-i-e-f. It’s an escape, a chance for my creativity to explore the cavernous corners of my imaginative brain. Plus, I can get paid for it!

Yoga. Is there a more peaceful word? Say it aloud. Yoga. Don’t you just want to slide into downward facing dog? I’m about to embark on my newest employment endeavor I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Once again, I go back to yoga where I can share with others the beauty of the ancient practice. If I was rich, I’d teach it for free. But, I’m not.

There you go, sweet husband of mine, look at my long list of jobs and weep (or leap!) because you’ve only had five.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

There's a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to...

there's a (slight) chance i might be going to hell by Laurie Notaro
A novel of
sewer pipes,
pageant queens,
and big trouble

Note: First of all, the title of the book is written in all lowercase letters on the cover. This is no error on my review. I listened to the unabridged production on audio. People looked at me funny while I listened to it in my car. I suppose it was slightly curious to see a woman driving alone completely losing it in laughter while sitting at a red light.

This book seems to have it all, minus one thing, romance. Unless you consider a healthy relationship with a canine lover romantic. Maye Roberts, the main character of this novel, is a hoot! Her and her husband, Charlie, move to the quaint (bizarre) town of Spaulding, Washington when Charlie is offered a teaching position at a small northwestern university. In less than a week, Maye has offended her neighbor by putting recyclable items in the trashcan (Oh my!), let her sweet love-of-a-pup attack the hedge-leaping mail carrier, been caught stripping down to her bra at the home of Dean Spaulding (What? She got hot!), and unwittingly hooked up with a Gothic Wiccan book club. Where she barely escaped before being bathed, dusted with glitter and stripped naked before a bonfire.

She is nearly banished from the town when she declares herself a vegetarian and joins "Vegging Out," the elite vegetarian group of Spaulding. Her reasoning for joining the group is, well, "cows are pretty". This hair-brained idea ends tragically when she's caught chomping down on a filet mignon at a local hoity-toity restaurant. Needless to say, she's kicked out of the veggie club.

Her only chance of survival in this peculiar, small town is entering the annual Sewer Pipe Queen Pageant, a kooky but dead-serious local tradition open to contestants of all ages and genders. Aided by a fire-breathing, crusty former pageant queen with one eyebrow, Maye uncovers a mystery that's plagued the town for decades.

Can you say, a rollicking tale? I haven't laughed this hard in a very, very long time. This one gets a "Superstar!" rating.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Right Path

Question: How do you know when you're following your true path?

Answer: When you are led in a particular direction by an unseen force. A driving force not to be reckoned with. You'll be unable to ignore the invisible puppeteer manipulating your strings. It's the "Ah ha!" moment when one realizes the right path has been there all along. It's the light at the end of the tunnel; the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Set that pony free. Don't question it, follow it or better yet, ride it into the sunset without looking back.


On a completely different note...today is my oldest daughter's 18th birthday. Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oil and Water and Other Things That Don't Mix (Charity Anthology)

A wonderful group of writers on the online community She Writes recently compiled an anthology about the Gulf oil spill. Please visit their website if you are interested in learning more about this project.

Publishing Fall 2010 by LL-Publications. All proceeds from the sales will go directly to charities helping those affected by the Gulf oil spill. You can also follow the progress of the Anthology on Facebook and Twitter.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Oil-and-Water-and-Other-Things-That-Dont-Mix/119880561405369

 

http://twitter.com/OilWaterDontMix

 

Website: http://www.ll-publications.com/oilandwater.html

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Two Rejections, One Publication

One out of three isn't too shabby in the world of writing. Who am I trying to fool? One out of three is FANTASTIC! I'm sure any writer today would agree with me. I've been on cloud nine since this past Wednesday when I opened my mailbox to find two complimentary copies of the latest TG magazine, including an article of mine!

One publication + two rejections = success (in my heart)

I'm positive the above equation will not always be the case. However, receiving my second rejection (a different piece) at the same time as this publication gave me the power to shrug off the reject and file it away for a future submission.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Texas Gardener Publishes Article!

Texas Gardener magazine accepted one of my articles in late August. It will appear in the November / December 2010 issue that will be released soon. It is an article about preserving tomatoes in the fall, including an easy tomato soup recipe and a list of my favorite tomato varieties.

It is on page 12 in the "Between Neighbors" section. Texas Gardener is a unique magazine specifically for Texas gardeners, written by Texas Gardeners. The magazine is filled with seasonal gardening articles and helpful tips. It has been in publication for 30 years.

This is my second published article by Texas Gardener. I hope to have additional articles accepted in the future.

You can find Texas Gardener magazine in many different stores in the gardening section on the magazine aisle. If you are lucky enough to be a subscriber of Texas Gardener, your Nov. / Dec. issue should be arriving any day.

If you'd like to subscribe to Texas Gardener magazine, visit their website at www.texasgardener.com


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Writer's Conference

This Saturday, September 18, I am attending my first writer's con. I was excited until this morning, when I woke extremely nervous. The question, "What if the person reviewing my first 10 pages dislikes my writing?" keeps running through my mind. I submitted the first 10 pages of my children's mystery chapter book two months ago. I'm not sure who is reviewing the pages, however, they've had plenty of time to ponder the pages!

How will I accept positive feedback? I know better than to jump up and down, shouting for glee, like a young child receiving her first shiny, red balloon. However, will I be able to contain my excitement?

What if he or she thinks the writing is terrible or the idea is ridiculous? Will I be able to remove my heart from my shoulder and protect it from harm's way?

Only time will tell.

Either way, I promise to report back next week with the outcome. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Procrastinating the Written Word

The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.
—Mary Heaton Vorse

I love this quote! For me, it says it all. I've been so caught up in writing advice either online or in magazine articles that I've lost focus of what I'm trying to accomplish. Writing. I'll never get the job done if my butt isn't in the seat, right?

Procrastination is a nasty habit of mine when it comes to writing. I think the main reason is fear of rejection. I know, rejection is part of the game. I've heard this over and over, but it'll still be a slap in the face when I get my first one.

Another reason I procrastinate is perfectionism. I want everything I write to be pristine and beautiful on the first draft. I have to tell myself, get real. Nobody's perfect, especially on the first draft.

I'm printing out Vorse's quote right now and taping it to my desk. And, I will get busy writing...in the morning...I promise. Pinky swear.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Daily Walk Triggers Storyline

Last week, I'm walking the paths of our property, staring at the ground to watch for snakes, when a young boy's story popped into my head. At first, I pushed the thoughts away, thinking I was getting too distracted from my snake watch. However, with each step, a story unfolded in my mind. I could see the young character as plain as day in my mind. I was familiar with his personality. He whispered his story in my ears while I walked. Heartbreaking, but he conquers it triumphantly in the end.

I didn't even come in and wipe the sweat from my forehead before I grabbed my notebook and pencil and wrote the storyline down. I mean, it came to me for a reason, right?

I'll file it away for future use. At this point, I cannot let my "creative procrastination" steer me from the novel I'm working on now.

Sometimes I marvel at the functions of a creative mind. They can be counter-productive, yet fascinating.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Treasure Found in Thrift Store

Yesterday, my girls had errands to run, so I had them drop me by the local thrift store. My book-hound nose always leads me to the bookshelves first. Lately, I've been drawn to how-to writing books. I was perusing the shelves when the spine title, "Writing Juvenile Stories and Novels" caught my eye. It was written by Phyllis A. Whitney. She wrote over 70 adult, young adult and children's books, mostly mysteries.  The jacket was in poor condition.  I knew by the color scheme and artwork on the jacket that the book was dated.

The copyright date was 1976. Holy smokes, I was five when she wrote it! I immediately brought the book to my heart, (don't ask me why, it just happened) and I knew it was meant to be. A small, round sticker announced the book was only .50! I thought for sure when I opened the 34 year-old spine, the book would fall apart and reek of musty garage. Much to my surprise, the spine was in excellent condition, and the pages lightly perfumed with cedar.

I took it straight home and read the inside jacket cover (again), the back, the introduction and was hooked. She wrote 34 years ago exactly what I need to hear today. A quote from Ms. Whitney on the requirements of writing:

"Perhaps the major requirement of a writer is a strong backbone and the kind of chin that can take it--not once, but again and again. If you pride yourself on your sensitivity, if you curl up and die when some brute expresses a low opinion of your brainchild, if you get your feelings hurt easily--well, I won't say you can't be a writer. But I certainly will say that you won't be a very good one until you take yourself in hand and toughen up. You can, you know."

I'm only on chapter 3 and it's already proved many times over to be a great tool for writers. I don't read the New York Times often, however, they have a great article about her from 2008. Here is the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/09/books/09whitney.html?_r=1

I was saddened to read that she'd passed away in 2008. Shame on me; I should have known that. She lived to be 104! The article states that in 1988, she received the Great Master Award for lifetime achievement from the Mystery Writers of America.

My find yesterday gives new meaning to the old saying: One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Since My Last Post

It's been two weeks since my last post. I promised myself that if and when I started a blog I wouldn't be a part-time blogger. It's frustrating to follow bloggers who never post new information. So for that, I apologize.

I've been productive during my absence. I've submitted a magazine article, submitted an entry for the Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories picture book contest and submitted a synopsis + first 10 pages for a writing conference in September. My brain is numb--that's the only way to describe it! Oh, I forgot to mention I also completed a rough draft of a new picture book.

I began (for the 2nd time) The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Is there no darn underline feature on wordpress? If so, I don't see it. I'll italicize the book's title for now. More on the book in a later post.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Roses and Grasshoppers

About this time of year, every summer, my rose's look their worst. They're exhausted from their spring flush and would prefer to nap lazily all summer. I do my part by not feeding or pruning them and giving them adequate water in the dry spells. However, in the summer, the grasshoppers are ruthless and prefer nothing else. I'd like to have their name officially changed to "rosehoppers."

Here is a picture of Old Blush this spring.



Here is a picture of Old Blush devoured by grasshoppers



Any questions?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mate

Mate--to become or make oneself acquainted with.

"It's a pleasure to mate yew."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

To Describe or Not to Describe

Quote:  "I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English - it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them - then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice."
- Letter from Mark Twain to D. W. Bowser, 20 March 1880

Do you ever find yourself reading like a writer? I do. Sometimes, the writer in me seriously gets in the way of a good story. I'll be reading along and come across ten to twelve adjectives in a paragraph. I can handle two or three, but then I've had enough. Not to mention the overuse of the adverbs! I once read a very popular book, and no, I will not mention the title. However, I counted 23 adverbs on one page alone!

Ex: On a steamy hot summer evening in south Texas the temperatures can hover at a sticky, muggy, 80 degrees. As the blistering bright sun creeps lazily towards the horizon, the continuous piercing screeches of the katydids noisily ring out in a chaotic chorus. The luscious aroma of the giant saucer-shaped magnolia flowers lingers heavily in the air, flirting wildly with the musky scent of the wild roses. A plum streak of sky is all that is left on the western horizon. Darkness and all the mystery it beholds, forcefully creeps into every vulnerable open space of the land, allowing the dangerous night creatures to roam about freely.

Okay, have you had enough? I have. There's no doubt about it. A summer night in south Texas is down right hot! The magnolias smell delicious, as do the roses. And, in the forest near my house, it can get damn dark come nightfall. But to have to go through all that? Not necessary. You may or may not agree with me and that's alright. We all have a right to our own opinions.

I think Mr. Twain said it perfectly earlier. There I go again, using an adverb. That's all I have to say about that.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ready, Set, Query!

Why, oh why, are query letters so scary? Because they're your one chance shot, that's why! I've just about made myself sicker than a dog. Seriously. I feel like my little Jack Russell mix who runs around chomping on grass until she pukes when a storm is approaching.

I've just finished my first query letter for my children's chapter book. *Phew* It took me days to write and weeks to revise. Letters, which I've been writing since grade school, have now become the most difficult task in the world. It was even more difficult than writing the darn book itself!

I picked up a how-to book called Guide to Query Letters by Wendy Burt-Thomas. It is a wealth of information. I highly recommend picking up a copy. It was put out by The Writer's Digest in 2008.

I met a newly published author just the other day. He told me to quit fussing over the darn thing and just get 'er done!

Now, comes the hard part, sending this puppy out!

It's Official...

Okay, so it's taken until 2010 for me to create a blog. Now what? Just kidding. I've wanted to create a blog for some time now. Can you believe I've waited over a year now hoping a unique blog name would fall out of the tree and hit me in the head? Well, one didn't, as you can see by my title. Yes, those are my initials and last name. You're thinking, "Really?"

So, what will I blog about?

My goal is to report on my experiences of being a wanna be writer. I'm hoping that maybe my experiences both good and bad will be of some use to other aspiring writers. I encourage anyone out there trying to make it in the publishing world to join me.  Looking forward to hearing from you!