This will be my final blog on Weebly. This is the link to my blogspot page. I previously linked the blogspot account to this page, but then I realized I was doing it bass-ackwards because on blogspot I can reply to your comments (we can interact!), you can subscribe to my blog, and do all the neat stuff that you can't yet do on Weebly. =(

I will continue to update this website, so please come back and look around from time to time. For example, once I get back from Scotland, I will be updating my Scotland page. And I am always updating the Writing Biz , Recipes, and Random Stuff pages.
Or at least maybe it should be. I was joking with a friend this afternoon and I told him he was a bad person for something he did. He said he goes into the box for two minutes, full of guilt, but when he comes out life goes on. That's the way it should be. Too many of us let guilt eat at us forever, feeling bad about things we did years ago... other people let it go... we should let it go. He probably didn't know it was profound, but it kinda was.

I posted my query letter at The Public Query Slushpile yesterday. It's a really neat site where they do peer to peer review like they do on Absolute Write, but it's smaller, more personal, and not so overwhelming. I didn't realize I'd gotten any comments on it until I got a message that another query had been posted. When I clicked the link my own query came up and I had nine really great comments. I've only been on it since yesterday, but I feel like maybe this is the writing community I have been looking for. The people seem nice. I made a deal with another author, she's going to beta read my novel, and I get to read hers when she finishes her current draft. I'm looking forward to it, the book sounds really good... for one thing it's got dragons in it, but just overall the story sounds right up my alley.

The whole experience re-energized me. The comments were so positive that they pulled me out of my funk, they gave me back my belief in my story, and I plan to spend part of my weekend making sure that I get my snail mail queries into the mail. I haven't touched the book in over a month, so tonight I'm going to revisit it with a fresh eye.

I was talking to another friend about self-esteem and self-confidence. I told him that I think musicians, artists and writers grapple with them more because we create things and then we put them out there to be judged. The things we create are personal, so we're exposing ourselves more than other people might. We're our own worst critics and we're sensitive dammit. I wish I was a more positive person, but I'm fairly cynical. I do, however, cheer my friends on. I think they're the bees knees. We have a mutual admiration society. They keep me going.

And am I the only one who finds that Gillette Venus commercial offensive? With the woman walking by, and the foliage in the background changing shape to match the way she trims her personal area... it's borderline lewd. I know it's old by now, but it's always bugged me.
Sometimes when I read other people's blogs, it drives home the fact that my own blogs are pretty fluffy. And that's okay. I'm not seeking to change the world, I'm not here to discuss my political views, I don't consider myself an expert on the subject of anything but myself (and possibly spreadsheets... and sarcasm). If someone does read my blog, I hope they find something they can relate to and enjoy, and that's all. If my book ever gets published, and if people buy it, and if that purchase leads them here to this website... they may very well be disappointed... unless they're looking for the person behind the book. What I want is to be relatable... I'm willing to share my own foibles with the world.

(Okay, what's the deal with all the helicopters flying over head? Go away already, you're loud and you're throwing off my groove! The Emperor's New Groove is an awesome movie by the way - LLAMA!)

I'm sure that (eventually) someone will make their way to my site thinking it's a site dedicated to the art of writing. Because - I can almost say it without choking now - I'm a(n unpublished) writer, and that's what I advertise on the home page. But nope. This blog is just me talking about whatever the heck amuses me at the moment (and as you may have noticed, I'm all over the map... EVERYTHING amuses me). If what you want is writing advice, check out my Writing Biz page, any time I find something interesting I put it there -- and I updated it again today.

Today I am going to talk a little about writing... nothing so lofty as craft, just the way it works for me. People have asked, so I assume it's interesting to someone out there. I'm pretty sure my method won't work for most people. Until recently I preferred to write by hand, now I prefer to use the computer, but I digress... sort of:

Location and setting: Very informal. No desk. I sit indian-style on my love seat, in front of the television with the volume down so low that it's barely audible - yet loud enough that I'm not struggling to hear because that would distract me - I have my laptop cradled in my lap (as I do now)... and I type. Obsessively. When I've got the creative juices flowing, hours of my life disappear and I only realize time has passed when I have to stop and turn the lamp on in order to see.

When I finally force myself to break away from the computer to take a bath and wind down for the evening, I take my notebook with me so I can write down whatever pops into my head, because God has cursed me such that most of my best ideas come to me when I'm in the bathroom... and I wish I were making that up. Afterward, I may go back to the computer, or I might carry my notebook to bed with me, because God has also cursed me such that the rest of my best ideas come right as I'm about to fall asleep... and if I don't write them down I get into a long (mostly internal) debate about whether I can remember this nugget until the morning, or whether I should write it down immediately -- trust me, if you have this dilemna, write it down immediately and save yourself the heartache of a lost idea, or the tragedy of insomnia.

Process: I write, then the next day I re-read, and add to, what I previously wrote. Anything that was handwritten in the notebook gets transcribed onto the computer. Then I build on what I wrote. I didn't use an outline initially, although once I got into this story I did sort of draw a skeleton to keep things sorted out.

I don't know how many edits I did because I edit as I go along. As I mentioned, I am always re-reading what I wrote before... George Lucas says don't do it... write until the whole story is out there and then go back and edit... but what does George Lucas know? (I jest) I save at least one new file each day, with the date and word count, and if I make a major story change I also save a new file with 'story change' in the title. Not only does this make life easier if the idea doesn't work out, it also helps me feel secure that I can - without a doubt - prove that I am the author of the story should it ever become necessary. If 120 or so files don't prove anything, I don't know what will!

Whenever I get what I consider to be a brilliant idea that will further the story, I skip several lines so there's an obvious break, and I type it out so that I can revisit it in the future and see what I can do with it. Anything I delete from the story goes into a scrap file in case I can use it somewhere else (not a word or two, but good sentences and paragraphs).

Where do I begin: I start with a line, something that I can't get out of my head. In this case it was "I moved here from a place where the sunlight was abrasive and cruel; where it not only beat down on you, it also beat you down." Then I add to it. In this story I wanted the first paragraph to set a mood that was almost palpable, so I challenged myself to be as descriptive as possible.

I ask myself questions... how would someone accomplish this... how would I feel if this happened... how the hell is she going to get out of this mess... and see what answers I can come up with. I may get ideas from conversations I have, songs I hear, movies I watch, books I read, random internet tidbits, dreams. Wherever the inspiration comes from, I make sure to tweak the idea until it's mine. I do sometimes draw from my own life experiences, and apparently it shows, more than one person accused me of being Grace... and okay... we are similar, but we're also different. Thankfully, they also felt that my other characters had a different voice.

I also did a lot of research. I researched wolves, morthouses, skeet shooting, castles, cailleachs, wildcats, gardens, lime-based paint... all kinds of things. Many times that research led to more ideas.

I don't know if that's helpful to anyone. That's just how I did it. There's no one method that works for everyone, that's for sure. If you're a writer, stick to whatever works for you, and good luck!


Greg -- Unfortunately, we drive the same streets my friend

Jeff -- Have I mentioned that I'm going to Scotland soon? LOL Today's weather is awfully nice, too... windows are open again
R.I.P. to someone who made me smile and entertained me many times:

Patrick Swayze Lived His Life For The Moment
I know it's a silly little awards show, and frankly, I didn't even watch it... but I heard about what Kanye West did to Taylor Swift (see video below if interested). It shocked me that someone could be such a selfish idiot, but it didn't completely surprise me - it fits with what little I know of his character. What he did was rude, and even though she got a second chance, her moment was ruined... she will never get that moment back.

Beyonce, on the other hand, showed class and she saved the day, as much as it could be saved. Good for her. It also fits with what I know of her character.

That's all I have to say about that.

I love, love, love this weather. My windows are open and it feels nice and cool, and that puts me in a good mood. Part of the reason I want to move away from here is that hot weather affects my mood so adversely... I get depressed easily, I feel lethargic and I have no motivation.

The first cold day of the year always puts me in the mood to do some Christmas shopping... I have no frickin' idea what to get people this year. Especially my parents. I think we may have finally come to an impasse... all three of us have pretty much everything we want and/or need. I think the biggest problem is that if we want something, we tbuy it then and there, if we can't afford it then it stands to reason it's too big for the Christmas list as well... so that makes it incredibly difficult to find something.

In the past I've been able to latch on to at least one thing that mom mentions during the year, something she ends up forgetting, but something she really wants. Then I hunt it down. It's not easy to surprise her... One year it was a partner to her Precious Moments baby boy Christmas decoration, another year it was a bottle of a favorite perfume that wasn't produced anymore, last year I got her a gorgeous opal ring (thank you eBay!). For her birthday last year I gambled and got her a boxed set of a Hallmark movie series I thought she'd like - thank god she and dad both loved it. So I will keep my eyes open for more opportunities like that... it'll be harder now that they have cable, too.

Dad is always difficult. I end up giving him money and one or two odds and ends, like a war movie or an action movie. Then I give them both gift cards for places they like to shop.

I keep telling myself that one year we should exchange one gift, or give each other money so we can take advantage of the after Christmas sales. Maybe this is the year. Or maybe instead of gifts we should take a vacation. We'll see. Maybe I'll get inspired by something soon.
So my book keeps getting polite rejections, but someone saw this movie plot, they chose it out of the slush pile, they financed it, they cast it with someone I've actually heard of, it got made... and then a distributor picked it up:

"A man must save his town from a monster that hides in lightning."

Really? It hides in lightning? Okay, here's my next plot -- a woman must save her town from a monster that hides in air. Cut and print. You may write me a big fat check and move me into a mansion. Ugh.

So right on schedule, I'm going to be cooking for other people, so my allergies have started acting up. I don't understand why I can be perfectly fine one day and then in misery the next.

In that vein, I'm sooooooooooooooo looking forward to my steak today... Yee-haw! Oddly though, it's imagining sinking my teeth into those biscuits that's really making me salivate - they look like a bigger version of sausage balls without the sausage... all gooey and bacon-y and warm. Yummmmm - please don't disappoint me biscuits... I'm really liking the concept of flavored biscuits. I'd never had anything other than a plain jane biscuit before, and in truth, I wasn't fond... dry, crumbly, a little sour... and then when I started going through all the recipes I collected over the years, deciding which ones to write in my notebook, I came across orange-rosemary biscuits (yummy) and lemon-chive biscuits (even yummier). And now these bacon-cheddar biscuits. Color me pleased.

The whole 'one soda a day' thing is getting easier now. I actually look forward to the water when I'm at home because I get to choose different flavorings (several different Crystal Light packets or True Lime). Sometimes I even crave it plain. For some reason I want the soda when I'm at work, but it's pretty easy to stick to because I only bring one soda with me, and I never carry cash, so I can't go downstairs and get one from the machine.
I'm still losing weight, but it's not dropping off as fast as I'd like, more like a pound, or less, a week. It's disheartening. A friend told me that since I'm working out, I'm building muscle, it weighs more... yada yada yada. I've told myself the same story a thousand times; I'm not sure I believe it anymore. I wonder if there's really something to mind over matter, like I'm not losing weight because I don't believe I can lose weight. But that would be silly, right?
Gracie having asthma put me into cleaning mode (and okay, my allergies have been acting up lately, too, so I did it for both of us). I did the normal dusting routine, but I also decided to go one step further and do the one task I dread most... taking all the leaves off the fake ficus and wiping them down with a cloth. It needed to be done... it was nasty. I tried the shortcut of putting them in a bag with salt and shaking it all around... but it didn't work very well, even in small batches... maybe it was supposed to be rice instead of salt... I dunno. So I just finished putting my tree back together. It looks a lot better now.

The pet piller worked just as well the second time as it did the first. I'm in love with that thing. And Gracie only coughed once today so the medicine seems to be doing its thing. Or maybe it's because I vacuumed behind the bed, and under the bedside table, where she hides. In any case, I'm a happy camper. I love my kitty insanely and don't like her to be sick.

Tomorrow I'm cooking for mom and dad, and maybe their neighbor, who is a cool guy that is pretty much a part of the family. When my parents eventually retire, and if they end up relocating, I half expect them to all end up in the same place. It would almost seem weird if they didn't. Anyway, my parents usually treat when we go to lunch on Sundays, so every once in a while I cook lunch for them because they won't let me treat otherwise, and it's my way of showing my appreciation (and sometimes expanding their culinary horizons). So today I went to the grocery store to buy steaks and shrimp, and I feel like I got a great deal - I bought a multi-pack of about 6 steaks, and my discount card saved me around $23. *smile* I'm going to cook some of Pioneer Woman's recipes: bacon cheddar biscuits, grilled steaks with bleu cheese sauce, and potato bundles. They all look soooooo yummy. And mom is bringing a cobbler for dessert. Oh lordy... I already feel miserable, lol.

Spent a couple of hours clipping coupons and watching werewolf movies on SyFy (the new bloody UPN) but spent most of the day cleaning and doing chores... one of those weekends. It was raining most of the day and I had the windows open with a candle lit, it was really nice.

I need to get my eBay clothes, patterns, and fabric out so I can photograph them to sell. It's ridiculous that I bought all that crap and now it's just sitting in my closet taking up space. I know now that I'm not going to sew on a regular basis, certainly not enough to attempt some of the amazing patterns I had to have. And the fabric I bought... very little of it is anything I can use. Problem is that I don't know what kind of fabric it is, so I'm going to have to put together bundles of color I think. The clothes? Some of them don't fit me because they're too big, or I just never wore them for one reason or another. I could donate them, but I need the money (and I'm sure some of it will still end up being donated).

I procrastinate a lot. If I get started I'm almost obsessive about completing a task, but until then... I don't even know why it is. Sometimes my excuse is that it's a workday and I won't have enough time, which is bullshit. There's plenty of time left in the day when I get home. I've somehow latched onto the idea that I can't do anything on a weekday. I need to get over that.

My electric bill has delayed my foray into lotion making because it was outrageous this month... I don't know how I can have new energy efficient windows, a new A/C, new appliances, and end up with a HIGHER electric bill. It just doesn't compute. And the days of having your meter checked for free are over, I think my provider said it would be $65 if I wanted them to check it. That's another reason I enjoyed today... I didn't run the A/C at all.

Oh well.
Looked out my window this afternoon at work and saw feathers floating down from the sky. Hope that wasn't a bad omen.

My cat may have asthma. She was hacking like she was trying to cough up a fur ball, but nothing came up, and it continued on for a few days, so I took her to the vet. He gave me some pills... steroids... to give her. Ever tried to give a cat a pill? HA! I called to see if there was a liquid version I could just shoot into her mouth, but they said it would be expensive and recommended a syringe-like gadget that I can use to put the pill down her throat. Go figure, there's a gadget for everything. I haven't tried it out yet, but it looks promising.

As I was pulling out of the vet's office I waited for traffic to pass by so I could pull out (going right), resigned to the fact that I'd be waiting until the light changed... whenever that might be. Then a car turned and there was a pretty large opening in traffic, so I pulled out. I had plenty of time to get up to speed before the van got there... it wasn't the lane I wanted, but I could work my way over once I got going. As soon as I got into the street I heard a honk. At first I thought I had accidentally put a tire into the next lane as I was turning or something, then I look into my rearview to see a blue sedan on my ass, and a woman flipping me off.

I had no idea how she got there.

I felt really, really bad, because (for some reason) my first assumption is always that I'm at fault... I mouthed 'I'm sorry' as she whipped into the next lane, screaming and flipping me off again. And then... the initial adrenaline rush passed and I replayed the scenario in my head, trying to figure out how I didn't see her... I looked before I pulled out... I looked hard, because I love my car and don't want impressions of other people's bumpers in the door... the next vehicle coming was a van... she wasn't in that lane when I pulled out. That leaves two options, neither of which make me feel repentent, in fact, she can rot in hell and I take back my apology because she almost got us killed:

Either she was in the other lane and decided to pull over without her blinker on - because I do watch for blinkers - or she came out of the driveway next door. As far as I know there was no one in the driveway next to me when I pulled out, but if she was approaching the road and saw the gap in traffic she probably pulled straight out, which means she was trying to cut me off, and she has no right to be pissed off at me in the first place. At least in the blinker scenario I can kinda see how she might have a right to be pissed... although if she didn't have her blinker on, it's a failure to signal, and our accident would have been her fault.

I actually think the second scenario is more likely, because I didn't hear any tires squealing and when I looked back she wasn't positioned like she'd been thrown forward. Her honk actually slowed me down, because I first assumed I was encroaching on the next lane. And no one else shot me dirty looks or acted like I was a crazy driver (you know how people start to shy away from cars that appear to have unstable drivers? that didn't happen).

I hate the drivers around here... absolutely loathe them. I drove on the busiest freeways in California and never encountered assholes like the ones in my moderately-sized suburban town. They're on your ass, they cut you off, they barely pass you before they whip in front of you, if you have your blinker on they won't let you over, they squeeze by you with very little leeway so they can get to a turn lane, they go through lights when traffic is backed up and block the road when the light changes, they block driveways when they see you sitting there trying to get out, they turn from the wrong lane, they pass you in medians, they don't give a crap about schoolzones, they don't slow down when you're turning into a driveway, they get in the inside lane of two lanes that turn and try to come over on you, if they were going slow and you look like you're going around them they speed up, they zip up to the front of a long line of cars who have been waiting and try to cut in, they race to get in front of you and then slow down, they pull out in front of you when there's not enough time for them to get up to speed - which is especially irritating when the lane next to you is empty or there's no one behind you, they cut across four lanes of traffic so they won't miss a fucking exit instead of taking the next one and making a U-turn... I could go on but I'm going to stop bitching and finish watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button because I'm getting all worked up again...

Hope everyone has a great weekend, it looks like it might rain tonight - YEA!!! I've got all my windows open and it feels great... I think fall is coming!

Oh - and a great article from The Simple Dollar.

Update: I just used the 'pet piller' that my vet recommended... oh my goodness... I LOVE it. I'm not even sure Gracie noticed that I shoved a pill down her throat. She didn't run away from me afterward, she even let me pet her. AWESOME!
Someday I want to move away from here. I always say it, but I never do it. I wonder if I'll ever have the courage... I just don't like living where I live. Too hot. Too humid. Too many hurricanes. Too much pollution. Too few seasons. Too little nature. In some ways it's a really great place, but it's not where I want to be.

According to a silly little quiz I took last night, I should live in Atlanta. I think I should live in Washington or Colorado... or Scotland. If I knew I could support myself I'd move to a more rural area with lots of moss covered trees... a smaller town near a body of water. I don't really get out much, so it's not like I'd miss the conveniences of a big city.

My biggest stumbling block is fear. I'm afraid to venture out of my comfort zone. Afraid to pick and up move to a place where I don't know anyone. Afraid to find a new job because I no longer know what it is that I do. Afraid that there are no jobs even if I did know.

I wish I were more adventurous sometimes, more carefree. I need stability though. I'm very much a creature of habit.

One thing I can do, when I get back on my feet, is travel more. See what's out there so I know where I want to end up. There are so many places that I haven't been yet. Who knows, maybe life will take an unexpected turn for the better, and I can travel a lot more.

Until then I can surf the web and dream of greener pastures.
Well I'll be darned -- Pioneer Woman is coming out with a cookbook! I've already pre-ordered it. If you checked out my Random Stuff page you would know about her already, if you haven't... well I'm disappointed in all 5 of you... Anyhoo, I love her website because there's a lot of interesting stuff to see - I want to be her - but mostly I love it because when she posts a recipe she takes pictures of all the steps and makes little comments which crack me up. You can get to her website here, and this is the Barnes and Noble page where you can check out the book.

The company who administers my 401k plan sends a newsletter out, and since I'm a nerd, I skim through it to see if there's anything interesting in there. Well today there was - two volunteer ideas that would be cool for families with older kids (who, admittedly, might turn their noses up at hangin' with the folks), or singles who like to do outdoorsy things, or couples who like to spend time together, or just human beings (and some animals) in general. I'll add them to my RS page, but here they are, for your perusal:

So I watched a little Rachel Zoe as I wound down for the night last night, and even through my Benadryl-induced daze I found that I felt a little stressed out because she's always stressed out. I can't relate to that level of anxiety when it's about... clothes... (except in her case where they cost so bloody much). I just don't care that much (and I'm sure it shows). She's great at what she does, I guess... to be honest, I really don't know. Would these people look any better if they picked out their own clothes or is she really the magic behind it all? I mean, really... if I made an effort I could be stylish, I just don't put in the time. Eh. She's made a business out of it, I applaud her, I just don't understand it.