Friday, August 30, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things- The End of August

Hosted by our own indelible Viklit.  Give her a visit and see the whole list here!
My celebrations this week are short and simple:

I had a great birthday!  We played mini-golf, ate ice cream cake and enjoyed quiet, calm home-time.  It was just what I wanted.  I am especially grateful for my sweetie who made the day; my parents and in-laws who called me up to sing Happy Birthday, and all my friends who texted and posted happy messages on my Facebook page.  I felt loved and that's the best thing to feel on your birthday!

Summer Crickets  Every night when the sun starts to slink down in the sky and the air turns a little cooler the irritating buzz of cicadas is replaced by the smooth serenade of crickets.  I've been driving with my windows down a lot lately- it's better than anything playing on the radio.

Summer's Almost Over  My apologies to the kids who will soon be trudging back to school but for the rest of us who have to work all summer it's been pretty rotten.  The heat, the frequent rain storms and sauna-like humidity and all those damned cicadas I mentioned earlier.  Plus the two giant weddings that managed to suck up more otherwise free time than I even thought possible.  I am SO incredibly grateful for this summer to be over- really, I struggle to put it into words.
Plus, you know- fall is my favorite season so i'm gonna start getting giddy soon...

What are you all celebrating?  Leave a comment and let me know!

And don't forget to hop along and visit all the other amazing bloggers!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vacation

This is my first post for Denise's new bloghop Write... Edit... Publish (previously Romantic Friday Writers) and this month's theme is Vacation.  I took in a non-traditional direction and came up with a rpofile of sort.  I'm not thrilled with it, but I do like it and I'd LOVE to hear what you think.  Detailed feedback is very welcome- it's how I learn.  But any feedback at all is welcome.  Hope you enjoy!

~ ~ ~

If she let herself think about it for too long, she’d quickly conclude that she’d gone mad.  It was the only logical explanation.  After all, this was not something that sane people do.

So she focused on the little details of her plan instead, in the hopes that they would keep her grounded.  The tickets, purchased in the early hours of the morning when people with particular obsessions trolled the internet for cheap prices and a variety of other less savory things.  The hotel, which she’d allowed herself to splurge on even though she knew she’d struggle the next couple of paychecks.  And the wig.  It all started with the wig.

She’d put it on as a joke while attending a themed party with a friend.  Darla had sworn it would provide an evening of debauchery that a “repressed” (her word) woman like herself so desperately needed.  It had been a disaster, of course.  But in the midst of a variety of middle-aged men using pick-up lines that were outdated back when she’d first started dating she found a table set up with various costume disguises.  The wig was tucked in the corner, behind a neon pink pixie and bright green beehive, and distinguished itself from the others as the only natural-looking color.  Not that anything about the blond shag was natural to her.

“Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Darla had said, patting her on the back.  “No more depressed divorcee- you’re a wild woman!”

Staring back at the unfamiliar reflection in the mirror and listening to Darla’s encouragement had sparked something.  Darla was right- that woman would not allow a man, or the lack of one in her life, define her.  That woman would not slink quietly into the twilight of her life as she had been since Chris had left.  That woman would not fear adventure and creep silently through her years like a mouse in an attic.  And that woman certainly wouldn’t let even a single minute pass before she reveled in it.

She didn’t tell Darla about her idea that night.  And when she did announce that she’d planned a vacation to Hawaii she left out the details of her plan.  After all, one can’t have a secret identity if it’s not secret.

But her naturally timid personality threatened to undue her preparations whenever she lingered too long on the plan in its whole; so she broke it up into smaller parts and followed through in each step as if it were just another item on her to-do list.

It wasn’t until she was on the plane with a rapidly expanding distance between her and her real life that she began to invent her persona.  A happily divorced woman, one who would never take something like a first marriage too seriously.  Someone who was confident, brave and vibrant.  Someone who’d do all the things she was too timorous to do.

She spent the flight lost in thought, contemplating what a woman like that sounds like when she speaks, how she carries herself, what she looks like when observed by a man.  She thought about where this vibrant woman went to college (one of the more controversial liberal arts colleges), what she did for a living (geriatric nurse), how she spent her time when not at work (kickboxing and attending wine tastings).  She composed an entire symphony of details.  And all of them seemed to hinge on one deciding factor: the name.

At first she thought of the flighty and absurd SanDeE from her favorite movie, but then decided that she didn’t want to be such a flibbertigibbet.  But she liked the word, it felt smooth and satisfying when her mouth formed it.  She repeated it like a mantra until a small twitch of the tongue converted it into Stacy.  But not the normal spelling- she was too unique for that.  And no big E, either- she was too real for that.  But an I and an E, normal sized.  That was it.

By the time she landed in the world of palm trees, tropical flowers and the most sensual breeze that ever flowed over her skin she had a new personality to match her disposition, and she was anxious to try it out.  She checked into the hotel, ran up to her room, and changed. 

She’d gone shopping with Darla- or, rather, Darla had gone shopping and she’d vicariously tried on things by watching Darla cycle through at least a dozen outfits, and concluding what she could pull off and what she couldn’t just from how they hung on Darla with her giant personality.  Then she’d snuck back later and purchased the ones that fit.  So the plunging neck line and bright colors were foreign and odd on her.  But then she put on the wig, the choppy blond strands cascading over her bare shoulders, and everything cliqued.  Stacie was happy to be here, and she was happy to be a voyeur for the next few hours and watch what she would do.

Each step down the sandy path to the beach bar evoked a flood of emotions.  Excitement, fear, lust, thirst, thrill, confusion and impulse all toppled over each other like clothes in the dryer and by the time she reached the sounds of clinking glasses and intoxicated laughter she was buzzing. 

Her smile was alive and glowing, she could feel it light her entire face.  And with the veil of blond strands in her periphery she advanced to the bar, pulled up a stool next to the tall man with dark hair and gray temples, and sat down.

“Hey stranger,” she laughed.  “Buy me a drink.”  She’d never done anything so brazen in her entire life and her heart swelled with the freedom she’d so desperately been missing.

At first the man hesitated, his eyes skeptical and hesitant.  But then his expression softened and he smiled at her.  “Can I at least get a name first?”

“Stacie,” she said, and her smile widened.

(1,000 words, exactly)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Writers 4 Writers Featuring Carrie Butler and C. Lee McKenzie

Hosted by Mary Pax, Christine Raines, C.M. Brown, and the amazing Stephen Tremp (who has an awesome new header thanks to Tara Tyler- check it out!).  

The goals of W4W, for those of you not in the loop, is to help promote other writers, spread the word about their published works, and create buzz to try to attract new readers and fans.  Click here to learn more and sign up.

This month’s spotlighted writers are Carrie Butler and C. Lee McKenzie

First-up, the fabulous Carrie Butler has decided to go indie and re-release her novel Strength.  It's on sale at Amazon this week for only 99 cents!!! 
  
Help a traditional-turned-indie author rebuild! Buy STRENGTH (Mark of Nexus #1) by Carrie Butler this week for only 99¢.
“When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, she’s stunned. Wallace Blake is everything she’s ever wanted in a man—except he can’t touch her. His uncontrollable strength, a so-called gift from his bloodline, makes every interaction dangerous. And with a secret, supernatural war brewing among his kind, there’s no time to work it out. To keep Wallace in her life, Rena will have to risk a whole lot more than her heart.” #newadult #PNR
And don't forget to head over to Carrie's site to get the Facebook posts and Tweets for your twitter feed. 

Next up, the wonderful C. Lee McKenzie!  Her book Alligators Overhead is full of witches, a spooky mansion and, of course, Alligators!

Alligators, witches and a spooky mansion aren't your average neighbors unless you live at the edge of the Ornofree swamp in the backwater town of Hadleyville. The town’s bad boy, Pete Riley, may only be twelve, but he’s up to his eyeballs in big trouble, and this time he isn’t the cause. This time the trouble arrives when a legendary hundred-year-old mansion, materializes next door and the Ornofree alligators declare war to save their swamp from bulldozers. Things only get worse when Pete’s guardian aunt and several of her close friends vanish while trying to restore order using outdated witchcraft. Now Pete must find his aunt and stop the war. He might stand a chance if his one friend, Weasel, sticks with him, but even then, they may not have what it takes.

Kirkus Reviews says, "The folksy diction and lyrical, verb-heavy storytelling will leave readers turning the pages all the way to the end, where big surprises await and the real villains are revealed." http://tinyurl.com/k85hz57
Available in both e-book and print editions on Amazon.

And don't forget to head over to C. Lee's site to get the Facebook posts and Tweets and post and tweet way to spread the word about this delightful author!

Congrats to Carrie and C. Lee!  And now I'm off to start tweeting, I hope you'll join me and do the same!  

Monday, August 19, 2013

What I Learned From The Summer of Weddings



Well, I survived.  The summer of weddings is officially over.  And though I’ve still got one more wedding to attend in October it will be nothing like the ones I’ve been to thus far.  No more three-day events, no more tux rentals and no more best man speeches (though I will say we had another great reaction from the crowd with this last one and I am so, so proud of Dave).  And at the close of this very challenging period I can’t help but reflect.

 Without getting too personal let me just say that it’s incredibly difficult to go to a flood of weddings when you yourself are unmarried and wishing you weren’t.  Granted, I wasn’t trying to survive these dateless and that seems even harder, so gratitude where gratitude is due.

It’s strange what weddings bring out in people.  I, being unmarried but happily committed, end up thinking about what I would want in my own wedding.  People who are married reminisce about their own nuptials and compare and contrast what was good about the wedding they’re at and what they liked better about their wedding.  Single folk just try and enjoy the party and pray that they won’t be harassed by too many folk wondering when they’ll finally meet Mr. or Ms. Right themselves.  My point is: everyone’s thinking about weddings.

It’s one of the most conforming experiences I’ve encountered in adult life and it’s so impossible not to get sucked into it.  And to be perfectly honest let me just come right out and say that for someone who likes to consider herself as being unique and different I totally failed to stay above peer pressure this summer.  I had my freak outs and my poor sweetie had to have a lot of conversations with me to try to calm me down and remind me of that.  (“Do you really want to get married just because everyone else is?”)

It’s got me thinking a lot about how much time I spend, in general, comparing myself and my life to others.  And I think that some of the insights I’ve gained are worthwhile. (Even if they’re the same lessons I’ve been trying so hard to learn since I started this whole crazy journey.)  Here they are:

Society, at least here in this country, is designed to acknowledge only the big milestones.  Graduations, housewarmings, marriages, births, deaths and maybe a milestone birthday or anniversary- but that’s about it.  You figure out how to finally balance your checkbook after years of perpetually overdrawing your account and people will look at you sideways if you throw a party for it.  You make some huge breakthrough in therapy that allows you to not have a panic attack when driving through a tunnel and people will be confused if you brag about it.  You reach some giant epiphany regarding yourself after some really tough life challenges and people will refer to you as a crazy hippie or some such dismissal if you try to talk to them about it.  There are no celebrations for those individual, unique events.

And yet, those are a heck of a lot more important in the grand scheme of things then the big milestones.  Why?  Because they are unique, they are yours.  There aren’t commercials and websites and how-to guides for those things.  Not everyone has them because they’re just yours.  They make you you.

I have to wonder if I’m just too American to really grasp the value of the culturally significant milestones.  Perhaps I’ve been brainwashed by so much false romance and epic storytelling around individuality.  Maybe in other cultures where conforming is actually a valuable and respectful action there’s a much more gentle attitude towards shared events.  I’m sure I would see things very differently if I were from, let’s say, the Gansu province of China.

But I’m not so I can’t really imagine how they see the world.  I only know how I see it and from my viewpoint it’s littered with weddings and baby showers and the like.  And that’s why conformity is so hard to escape.

Because if you reach one of those milestones everyone will approve of it.  Not just the people you’re inviting to the event, but everyone.  No boss ever questioned why their employee was requesting two weeks off for their honeymoon.  You get a free pass about a variety of odd behaviors if you explain that you’re a new parent and subsequently super stressed.  People expect you to go a little nuts when preparing for any big event like that.  There’s acceptance.

But for the things that only you go through, people don’t understand.  You get a “Good for you” for a therapeutic breakthrough rather than a “That’s wonderful.”  People assume that they don’t know what it’s like so they don’t try to.  And it can be rather lonely in that way.

Plus, without the culturally significant milestones, how do you know you’re doing the “right thing”?  I watched a TED talk not too long ago where someone spoke about how the more alternative lifestyles are accepted the harder it becomes for people to choose.  When there’s only one way of doing things you have a goal in mind and a clear, distinguishable way of knowing you’ve reached it.  Graduate, buy a house, get married, have a baby, send out Christmas cards and show off pictures of your kids little league games- everyone understands these things.  But the paths less traveled?  People don’t know how to evaluate those, they don’t know how to measure them.  So there’s no “atta boy”s coming your way and you have to know for yourself that you’re doing the right thing.  Well, I’m gonna come right out and say it: that is NOT easy to do.

To forge your own path, to measure your own worth, to really not care what other people think of you- that is NOT easy.  We get rewarded for conforming.  We get stories and whispers and urban legends for walking our own path.  Like the great artists- mental illness and tragedy is so common for them many people actually associate that with creativity.  But those people didn’t seem too happy to me.  All that individuality didn’t afford them any contentment.  And as many people talked about them and their epically tragic lives I don’t think many people really knew them.

But then again, maybe that’s really what marriage is supposed to be all about.  Beneath the flowers and cake and parties; beneath the favors and formal wear and beneath the stares of strangers who technically only see it from the outside it’s really about something rather personal.  It’s about pledging to bear witness to the life of someone else.  To be there for not just the big events, but the tiny victories and tragedies alike.  To cheer for their accomplishments, comfort them in their freak-outs, fight with them in their battles and stand with them in their storms.  As much as the event itself may fall into a million different conventions the life that comes after is still unique, and you’re vowing to share it with someone.

Perhaps all my attitude about it this summer is simply because I’m still just one of those people seeing it from the outside.  And perhaps that’s why, even after all of this, I still want to go through it myself.

Because when it comes down to it, I’ve already got a partner.  We already share the victories and tragedies, we struggle through the challenges together and we cheer for each other when we succeed.  I’m already living the life I want to live with my mate.  And someday, in our own time- when it’s right for our story- we’ll have our friends and family celebrate it with us.  Not conforming, just agreeing that a wedding is a nice way to mark the significance of our story.  And without rushing it, I look forward to seeing it from the inside.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things- August 16th

Hosted by the fun-loving VikLit over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author.  I know you've all visited her already cause she's awesome.  But just in case you haven't, click here!

Well, it's Friday again and I've actually got some pretty big things to celebrate.

The Last BIG Wedding
As you're reading this I am either on route to Brooklyn or in the process of checking into the hotel and being sucked into the vortex that is my pseudo brother-in-law's wedding.  It's the second wedding-that-ate-Manhattan this summer, the first having taken place back in June.  Like that one, it's a three day event with today being the rehearsal dinner.  The reason it's such a big deal and subsequently why I'm celebrating is that it's the LAST one.  The last time I'll have to write a best man speech, the last time I'll have to sacrifice an entire weekend to a wedding, the last time I'll have to try to not have a vicarious panic attack as I videotape my sweetie standing up in front of a crowd of strangers saying the words I wrote.  The LAST BIG WEDDING.  (I have to specify big because, of course, there is another wedding in October.  But it's a one day event and neither he nor I are involved in the planning or execution of it!)

Come Sunday night we will be en route back home with the heavenly relief that comes from having survived this monstrous summer of weddings.  And that, my friends, is the biggest celebration of all!

Job Search Progress
I couldn't stay down too long about not getting invited to a second interview because no sooner had I applied to another new position than I got invited to do a phone interview with them!  (It seems that all big companies do phone interviews first.)  This one, thankfully, went MUCH better than the last one.  Primarily because she called at the time she said she would and I was at home and actually prepared to talk to her. 

Of course I can over analyze it and think about what might've sounded bad or inspired doubt but I'm trying really hard not to do that because at the time I felt pretty good about it and I'm really hopefully I'll get called for an in-person interview.  I'll let you all know, of course.  Wish me luck!

Also, a friend of mine is doing me a huge favor by contacting a recruiter in the company he works for and forwarding them my resume.  First he e-mailed me asking for it, which I gladly gave him, and he submitted it online.  That part worked; I got the invitation to fill out an application.  But then the technical difficulties started.  Long story short, several e-mails with failed links and serious suspicion of system failure later and he decided to just bring it to her himself.  Needless to say he didn't have to go through any of that for me and I am so incredibly grateful to him for going out of his way to help me.  Brian: you rock my socks off!

Not bad for a week, huh?  I'm looking forward to hearing what all you wonderful people are celebrating but depending on internet availability (and time) at the hotel I may or may not be able to visit today.  If I can't swing by this weekend I will certainly be by Monday.  But please feel free to leave comments because I will, eventually, return the favor!

And now it's time to hop along and spread the love!


14.
22.
30.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It's the Anti-Blogfest!

Created in order to celebrate the astounding Gary at Klahanie.

See, Mark Koopmans, Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, “Life is Good” Tina, Robyn Engel and Morgan Shamy all got together to host this crazy thing because they all know that Gary, while being a wonderful guy who supports, promotes and generally leads the parades for other writers rarely (if ever) participates in blog bops.  And what better way to feature someone who doesn't do blog hops?  Why, with a blog hop, of course!

The rules are *very* simple. Create the titles of three PG-13 rated blogfests you would never join - and then add a descriptive sentence or two. That's it!So, without further ado, here are mine:

Worlds Most Embarrassing Photo Blog Hop Contest
Yeah, we've all got a few photos or ourselves that are the MOST embarrassing and could, possibly, beat out others.  But those of us who are wise burned those suckers long ago. 

The Complain-athon Blog Hop
Wanna participate in a blog hop where you just complain, complain, complain?  Yeah, me neither.

The Txt-Spk Blog Hop
OMG, ROFL SYK IPN DAMHIKT BOTL YBYSA.  BB4N!
(I know, I'm annoyed having just composed that!)

So, this is still a blog hop.  Which means that it's time to hop along and visit Gary, Mark, Alex, Tina, Robyn, Morgan and all the other hop-crazy peeps!  Don't forget to leave happy comments and say hi. 


11.
25.
40.