Sunday, December 28, 2008

Problem Vs. Inconvenience

Get ready for a rant.

I normally don't get too serious on this venue; thus the name. But I need to vent. I always seem to need to vent when I spend large amounts of time with my in-laws. So I dedicate this entry and the soapbox that goes with it to them.

When I was a teenager, I read an article that profoundly affected my views. I read it in Readers Digest, of all places. The author related a story about his youth when he worked on a ranch. The cook for the hands on the ranch was an old timer who didn't say much. Well, this young man, after coming in from working hard all day, doing back breaking manual labor in the hot sun stomped inside and knew that if he was going to be served pork and beans for dinner for the fifth time in a row, he'd explode. As soon as he entered the mess hall, the smell of that dinner hit him full in the face. He began complaining loudly as he brought his plate up to the old cook about how they were having pork and beans yet again. As he took a breath to continue his diatribe, the old man, with his thick accent, looked up and quietly asked him a question.

"Is this a problem, or an inconvenience?"

The younger man was taken aback because the cook barely said anything to anyone, ever. But here he was, looking him directly in the eye and questioning him. The young cowboy didn't know what to say, but the old man did.

He told a story of a young boy who lived behind high fences topped with barbed wire, just like the cattle the cowboy tended, except the boy and all the people inside the fence were treated even worse than livestock. He told of fighting rats to wrestle the rotten food away from them so the boy could consume it, of watching everyone around him turn gray and weak, of the big men coming to beat and tear away the people inside the fence from each other. He told of smoke rising from chimneys. Smoke so foul that it laid on your skin like an infection and choked the life from you just by its presence. He told of the boy watching every single person in his family die a slow and dehumanizing death by malnourishment, mistreatment, disease and worst of all - apathy.

The old cook pushed up the sleeve of his tattered flannel shirt and showed the young cowboy the blue tattoo on his arm of numbers blurred by the passing of time, revealing that he, himself, was the boy from the story. He then asked the cowboy again.

"Is having pork and beans served to you every night for a week a problem or an inconvenience?"

The story not only gave the author new perspective, but also myself. The AIDS epidemic in Africa is a problem. Women in the Middle East being stoned to death because they were raped is a problem. Bride burning in India is a problem. Global warming is a problem. Sex trafficking is a problem. Children being conscripted into armies torn by civil war in Africa is a problem. Suicide bombers are a problem.

Having your parents ask if you would like to have heirlooms from their family is not a problem. Having to buy a fourth TV for the kitchen is not a problem. Your teenage daughter wanting to talk on the phone to her boyfriend is not a problem. Not being able to pack all the new presents from the holiday to take back to your house is not a problem. Having to listen to High School Musical is not a problem. Those, and a lot more like them, are inconveniences.

Suck it up and quit complaining. There is always someone who's had it worse than you. If you don't believe that, do one or all of the following:

1. Read Night by Eli Wiesel.
2. Read A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer.
3. Read Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
4. Watch U571.
5. Watch Saving Private Ryan.
6. Watch Pray the Devil Back to Hell.
7. Watch Hotel Rwanda.
8. Visit a women's shelter.
9. Visit a homeless shelter.
10. Visit a VA hospital.
11. Visit the pediatric wing of your local hospital.

I could go on, but dear readers, I've ranted you to death, and I'm sure you're not guilty of the above. Come back in a few days. I'm sure I'll be perkier since my in -laws will soon be going back to where they came from. I leave with this parting thought that I'm using as my mantra for when I go back to the house where all the in-laws are in just a few short hours. Everyone is going through their own battles. Try and be patient, even if they're only inconveniences and not real problems.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top 3 Grinch Moments

I know you've been wanting to ask. You've been thinking, "Ava, what are your top three favorite moments from the TV special How the Grinch Stole Christmas?" I'll take pity on you all and give you my top three in reverse order. I won't even make you do a drum roll.

3. When the Grinch brings back all the toys, food and decorations on his sleigh at the end, The Who's in their circle open and shut like a gate. For some odd reason, I love that.

2. Right before the Grinch goes down to steal all the Who's stuff, he whistles for Max, his dog. Max comes leaping up into the sleigh like every dog in the world - all happy for a ride. It makes me smile every time.

And the number one favorite moment from How the Grinch Stole Christmas is. . .

When the Grinch gets his awful idea to steal all the Who's things he smiles the most evil smile ever. I love that smile. I wish I could bring it out and plaster it on my face at appropriate moments. I seem to run into a bunch of appropriate moments for that smile. And boy would I use it!

So there they are. My top three. What are your top three? Or top moments from your favorite Christmas specials?

One last thing. Have you ever played the Whoville drinking game? Every time the word "who" is spoken, you take a drink. You have to look out for, "All the Who's down in Whoville", and "Little Cindy-Lou Who, Who was no more than two." Those are killers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sea Monkey Greetings

Greetings silent Lurkers. This one's for you.

Writing versus Reality

Sea monkeys are living in my bathtub. Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling my husband. They come in the night and commandeer the shower, creating an environment conducive to sea monkey survival. That’s why I haven’t cleaned it lately. It’s a little known fact that sea monkeys are on the endangered species list. If I cleaned the tub more often, I’d literally be wiping out one of the largest known colonies on the planet. How could I live with myself?

The dust rhinos, on the other hand, are beginning to bully my dogs. I may need to do some eradicating in that arena soon. What am I talking about? Reality. Yes, reality. Reality crashing in and taking away from my time to write.

I wasn’t raised to be a slovenly housekeeper. On the contrary. Being raised in the home of my grandmother, I can house clean with the best of them. I can shampoo rugs by hand, mix a powerful cleaning solution out of Borax, and fix an old Hoover faster than Macgyver. However, my ability to clean is not under scrutiny right now. The fact that I choose to sacrifice a supremely clean house for time to write is.

As an aspiring author, I’ve found I need to make trade offs with reality to fit in time to write. I’m sure I’m not alone. We all know it’s crucial to make time for the things important to us. In this case – writing. Unfortunately, no matter how sacred writing time is, reality continues to rear its ugly head and take bites out of any carefully laid schedule. Deftly gobbling up chunks of time set aside to write.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. Have to stop at the bank. Must do holiday shopping. Got to get the oil changed. Holy moly, what’s for dinner? Who used every square of toilet paper in the entire house?! Why didn’t you tell me before that you volunteered me for that? How come there’s no dishwashing detergent? What happened to all the towels? Tell me again why you need to be driven to the library right now? If I don’t do the laundry soon I’ll have to beat it back with a stick when it walks out of there of its own volition.

You get the idea. Reality one; writing zero.
My advice? Let go of something small before all your writing time is eaten away. Having time to write is the only way an aspiring author can make it to authordom. Don’t let the reality time-eaters win!
Here are a few guidelines I’ve created to get that writing score a little higher and to ease my conscience from all the housework I am currently dodging. Feel free to adapt it to whatever you might decide to let slip in the name of that elusive writing time.

1. Dust leaves a lovely patina on furniture, especially if left undisturbed.
2. Dust bunnies make excellent pets.
3. Dog hair is the dog’s contribution to decor.
4. Same thing goes for cats.
5. Dishwashing builds character in children.

So now you know my dirty little secret. My house is a bit messy, (NATALIE ALREADY KNEW THAT!) but I’m feverishly typing away in the small intervals of the day to change my status from aspiring to published. I refuse to let the small time-eating realities of everyday living erode what time I have to write. So fight the good fight and struggle on. And know that the sea monkeys are on your side.

Ava Quinn has been a member of RWA and Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers for the past year and is working towards becoming published. You can find out more about her and her writing at

The towel comment was a nod to Vicki.

Two more days, citizens!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The One That Didn't Make the Cut

Here is the article that didn't make the cut for this newsletter. It felt a little too didactic coming from the neophyte. (Whoo hoo! triple word score for me!) So, without further ado, here it is.

When we were young, my older brother and I loved to get mail. I can remember races to the death involving so much illegal tackling and shirt holding that we would have been banned from the NFL for life. Just to see if we got any mail. You can imagine the mountain of mail a six and nine year old child would get on a normal business day. So after the winner of the battle royale, bloodied and bruised and walking with a severe limp, would bring the mail to dear old Mom, the disappointment would be almost comical. But still we loved to get mail. So much so, that we would fight over any junk mail that would be shuffled in with the bills, correspondence and catalogs. As Mom would sort through, two youngsters, at every piece of mail would ask, “Can I have that?” Until a chorus of Canihavethat?Canihavethat?Canihavethats echoed after even the slightest twitch of her fingers. So, necessity being the mother of invention, and my mom the most inventive of them all, in her infinite wisdom decreed that forever forward I would be known as Occupant and my brother, Resident.

With our new titles, our Canihavethats turned into “C’mon, occupant” or “resident resident resident” prayerfully beseeching under our breaths. Fingers, toes, legs and eyes all crossed to endear ourselves to the luck and mail gods in the universe who mandated the writing of occupant or resident on all junk mail. Hardened gamblers at the racetrack had nothing on us. The anticipation as our eyes watched Mom’s every movement while she flipped through the stack. The gleeful dances of the one who got lucky. The sick disappointment of the one who walked away empty handed. To live or die at the whim of companies’ advertising department, only to start it all over the next day.

I relate that embarrassing childhood story to punctuate the power of the written word. As authors, we are already well aware of that power and strive to wield it as we create our stories. But more specifically, I refer to the power of a letter. The written word purposefully given to another.

Authors use their time and talent to entertain and inform the masses. They can also use those same skills to lift the spirit, boost morale and deliver hope to another person. There are many websites that offer that opportunity to anyone, not just writing professionals.,,,, are all organizations that provide addresses for you to write a soldier stationed in a combat zone. Saying thank you, showing your appreciation, or just a friendly hello are all powerful ways for authors to use their gifts.

If you’re brave enough, you can even write an inmate. will set you up with a male or female inmate to become pen pals with.

Just a little reminder that the power of the written word distributed to the masses or to a single person can create an impact each in its own unique way. So if you’re looking for a special project, and volunteering at a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen or food bank is not up your alley, here is a way in which you can make a difference without even having to leave your own home. And who knows, you just may inspire a gleeful victory dance from the recipient.

I think I made the right choice by submitting the sea monkey article instead. I'll post that one in its entirety for my adoring silent lurkers after the newsletter is released. Have a good one, and may all your sea monkeys be the invisible kind.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Annoyed! (and other stuff)

Annoyed, annoyed, annoyed. I haven't been able to update my website for a couple months now, and I'm not sure if it's iweb, filezilla or my web hosting that is the problem. I now need to go through all the lines of error codes to try and figure it out. I'm not relishing that particular chore at all. Could be worse, but still annoying.

I've decided on the sea monkey article for the newsletter, but not if I should add it to the Editor's Link or not. I'm not sure why I'm having such a hard time making a decision about it. I think because I'm a newbie at this whole writing gig, and I don't know how it would be perceived (big industry picture-wise)to have my dinky little article out there. I don't want to look like a fool, or come across arrogant or pushy. Which will probably mean that I will keep it to the local writing group only. When in doubt, leave it out.

I'm full of cliches. Sometime I think I'll try to speak only in cliches or well known phrases for the entire day. I bet I could do it.

Speaking of cliches and old adages, I said one the other day that I hadn't thought of since I was a little girl. Smoke follows beauty. I have a million of them, some are more obscure than others. For example, if your nose itches, my mom always said that person would get a kiss or a letter or something better. Many people have told me over the years that if your nose itches you'll get in a fight or kiss a fool. I like mine better.

How about you? Any old sayings that you use? Maybe ones you grew up with? Let's hear them!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Official Announcement

Today is canceled. Everyone back to bed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh, The Pressure

So, I got tapped to write an article for the CPRW newsletter, and ooohhh, the pressure. I could write about almost anything I want. Anything at all from the realm of writing. And what do I come up with? Sea monkeys. Yes, sea monkeys. I have an entire article revolving around sea monkeys.

Just to cover my bases, I started writing a second one, in case the sea monkey one doesn't land, but really. C'mon. Who wouldn't love an article about sea monkeys? But hey, like I said, I'm covering my bases. So what do I come up with for the second article? Relating an embarrassing childhood story about myself and my brother and the battle royales we would have over junk mail. Yep. Those are your choices. Sea monkeys or junk mail. They really know who to come to for class, huh?

So those of you who read this who aren't members, (yes all you millions of silent lurkers who adore my blog, but just never say anything) you'll just have to leave it up to your imagination. As for Natalie and Vicki, you guys will see in January.

Hopefully the suspense doesn't kill you both. Then who'd read my blog? *sigh* If I kill off my only two readers, that would be bad. Plus, now I'm alienating my millions of silent lurkers who are too shy to comment. Ok. Sneak peak. Remember, they're still in rough draft form. Be easy on me.

When we were young, my older brother and I loved to get mail. I can remember races to the death involving so much illegal tackling and shirt holding that we would have been banned from the NFL for life. Just to see if we got any mail. You can imagine the mountain of mail a six and nine year old child would get on a normal business day. So after the winner of the battle royale, bloodied and bruised and walking with a severe limp, would bring the mail to dear old Mom, the disappointment would be almost comical. But still we loved to get mail. So much so, that we would fight over any junk mail that would be shuffled in with the bills, correspondence and catalogs. As Mom would sort through, two youngsters, at every piece of mail would ask, “Can I have that?” Until a chorus of Canihavethat?Canihavethat?Canihavethats echoed after her every move. So, necessity being the mother of invention, and my mom the most inventive of them all, in her infinite wisdom decreed that fovever forward I would be known as Occupant and my brother, Resident.

Sea monkeys are living in my bathtub. Or, at least, that’s what I’m telling my husband. They come in the night and commandeer the shower, creating an environment conducive to sea monkey survival. That’s why I haven’t cleaned it lately. Because sea monkeys are on the endangered species list. Bet you didn’t know that. If I cleaned the tub more often, I’d be committing mass genocide. How could I live with myself?
The dust rhinos, on the other hand, are beginning to bully my dogs. I may need to do some eradicating in that arena. What am I talking about? Reality. Yes, reality.

On those two notes, I wrap this up. If I do a bad enough job, I may not be asked to do it again. That would be . . . ummmm terrible. Yeah. Just terrible. Have a good one, all two of you! And may the sea monkeys stay out of your tubs!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Undead? Yeah, Not So Much

I learned what Twilight was about a month and a half ago (for the answer to your question please reference previous entry-Pop Culture is Passing Me By). I'm not usually much of a fan of vampires which should have tipped me off that I shouldn't buy a story about them. No, it wasn't Twilight, but I do blame that story/movie for this bad read.

The ebook I bought was about vampires, and was not very well written. I have a feeling the company pushed it through so that the release was close to Halloween and the movie debut of Twilight. I was interested in several of the other earlier releases of this author, and the first chapter excerpt of the vampire story I bought by her captured my interest. But that was the only part that did. It was all downhill after that. Part of it was the writing, (which was choppy, underdeveloped, and trite) and part of it was my own dumb fault.

I have un-dead issues. Yes. Un-dead issues. I can't seem to suspend disbelief for romance between a walking, animated corpse and the living. Maybe I'm prejudiced. I could probably see it between two un-dead, but it smacks too much of necrophilia to me for the living and a vamp. As Alicia Silverstone's character Cher put it in Clueless, "You see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet!" There's just too much of an ick factor when I consider a vampire sticking that thing anywhere near the vicinity it's trying to go to.

That's probably why I have such a problem with Sam and Ruby in Supernatural. When they got it on, it was a totally hot scene, but if I put it in the context of demon animating a corpse and a human guy, I feel like I need to go Oedipal with the eyes. At least make use of the eye wash station in my old high school chem class. Yick. This is where Natalie gets frustrated with me. I just can't get around the dead part to find it alluring.

So, needless to say, I probably won't be seeing Twilight any time soon. I'd be hard pressed to even name a movie that's out right now. The only one I had been interested in earlier in the fall releases was Pray the Devil Back to Hell. I know. Sounds all supernatural, but sorry to disappoint. It's not.

On the upside, the crappy story gave me a little motivation this week, which I've been sadly lacking. A crappy story got published. Maybe if I actually finish, one of my crappy stories will too! :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Look Out-My Tomboy is Showing

OK, so I'm going to go a little bit tomboy on this one. Here are five vehicles that would be in my Fantasy Garage.

2009 red Mini Cooper S (Turbo)
2009 black Kawasaki Ninja 250 (I would rather have a Suzuki Hayabusa, but it's too much motorcycle for little ole me. Oooh! Or maybe a splashy Ducati Superbike!)
1969 orange convertible VW Thing
1948 hunter green Chevy pickup truck
1976 maroon and cream two toned t-top corvette (oops! My high profile trailer trashiness is peeking!)

The Ninja is a throw away for the Fantasy Garage since I own a black 2005 Ninja 250, but I still must have a motorcycle in there, and that's the best one I've ridden or owned.

So, tell me, what's in your Fantasy Garage?

Monday, December 1, 2008

In Which Way Do Threes Come?

So I thought I was done complaining, but evidently I'm not. The old saying goes, bad luck comes in threes. I'm wondering how it comes in threes because by this point I'm thinking three months of bad luck instead of three bad things happening. Here's the latest round of three.

A deer hit my husband's car, I had a tire blowout while I was driving, and yesterday we woke up to a cold house and no gas to heat it.

The deer hit the car earlier in the month. My husband decided that it wasn't all that bad, and that he could repair it himself, thereby bypassing the cost of labor. The parts arrived (with a hefty price tag), and have been sitting in my dining room for the month. He hasn't had the time, energy or good enough weather to begin the repairs.

Last Wednesday I was driving along a back road, when the minivan started shaking. I knew right away what it was. This is the second blowout I've had in my lifetime. The first was getting off of a highway on the outlying area of Philadelphia. That one was scary, especially for a nineteen year old. So anyway, everyone was fine, but we need four new tires on the minivan because the one that blew really brought home the fact that they're worn out. (the radials are showing through on the inside track.) So there's four new tires and an alignment.

Yesterday, Sunday of course, I wake up to sleet outside, and fifty degree temps inside. Our gas had run out. Now, I guess part of that is our fault for not checking diligently, but we're on an automatic delivery system with Amerigas, that sometimes they don't deliver as regularly as they should. Plus, when we moved in, the gas gauge for one of the tanks was broken. The gas company owns the tanks, and refuses to fix it or replace it. Don't get me started on the evils of Amerigas. I will be giving some poor secretary or hopefully customer representative a hard time later this morning. So since it's Sunday, there is no one at Amerigas. They're closed. So the best thing I can do is leave a message. And you can bet your sweet bippy I did. This isn't the first time they've left us without gas. The first time was Christmas Eve a few years back. That was pleasant, let me tell you.

So there are three new ones for the month of November. It's not all the crappy stuff that happened, but the major highlights. November hasn't shaped up to be any better than October was. But let's try and look on the bright side, shall we? The deer didn't total the car. No one got hurt in the tire blowout. The gas ran out Sunday instead of Saturday when we had my brother and his family up for Thanksgiving, and we were able to cook the turkey and all the trimmings. Plus we have a wood stove and lots o' wood to burn.

So in which ways do threes come? Three and they're done? Three per month? Three a day? I have to tell you, I'm starting to get superstitious. I keep trying to think back. Did I break a mirror? Did I cross paths with a black cat? Did I piss off some entity that's now exacting revenge? It's probably the last one. I think I'll hang up some garlic garland with my tinsel this year and hope that the new year brings some better luck with it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Topper

I'm usually not a complainer, but the past month and a half has just sucked. Between medical issues, family issues on all sides, the financial state of affairs all around, and my non-existent writing time for my professional development, I'm ready to explode! To top it all off, one of my dogs has decided that she should crap in the house and then hide it with whatever she can get a hold of. It's like the crowning turd on top of the huge steaming pile of crap already covering me.

For about two months, the dog has been leaving a pile of sh*t in the house at least once a week. She's getting older, I'm trying to be patient, but she's rapidly wearing out her welcome. I know I should probably take her to the vet, but that's just not an expense that's in the budget right now. So she leaves these surprises in the house that I have to go on a scent-o-rama scavenger hunt for. I can smell it. It's somewhere in the house. I just have to literally uncover it. The major pisser is that I'm usually in the house when she does it. I would gladly let her outside, but apparently that's too much to ask. So now, not only do I have to pick up a pile of dog sh*t, but I have to do laundry to boot, because she covers it up wit a layer or two of camouflage. Usually someone's clothing that happens to be within her reach. I feel like Sam Winchester after he lost the rabbit foot. ("I lost my shoe.") It's like the final straw. I'm going to lay waste to the surrounding populace because my incontinent dog is devious enough to bury her crap under a layer of my husband's dress pants! I have a feeling they won't accept that as valid enough reason to get me out of a killing spree in a court of law. Maybe if I throw in my slow and torturous metamorphosis into a redneck, I might be able to cop a plea bargain with a sympathetic prosecuting attorney.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Real Definition of Girl Power

I want to be this girl when I grow up!

I love the dad's marine salute to her at the end.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just Can't Be Serious Today

Okay, so I was going to try and be serious today and write about censorship, the dangers of spouting off opinions on blog comments, and subsequently the horrors of banning books. I just can't seem to go there today. Too serious. Instead I'll give you a little glimpse into my deranged psyche.

I have a mental list, just for kicks, (that will now be preserved for posterity on this blog) of people I could never imagine ever having sex. Not that I could never imagine having sex with them (which I couldn't). Just never imagine them ever having sex, period.

In no particular order, here they are:

Burl Ives
Phyllis Diller
Fred Rogers
The Queen of England
Edward James Olmos
Adam West
William Shatner
Leonard Nimoy
Jaleel White
Pat Morita
Mel Brooks
Michael Dukakis
Sam Kinison
Barbara Bush

There are others, but now that I have you thinking about it, who'd be on your list?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Country Music Song Writer Envy

Country music song writers are great storytellers. As you may have read a few posts back, redneck seems to be rubbing off on me because I recently started listening to country music. But I have to say that I've gained a great deal of respect for them this year.

In the past I thought of country music as some kind of twisted joke. I was convinced the old saying was true. What do you get when you play a country song backwards? You get your car back, your wife back, your heart back, your old hound dog back, your house back, etc. I never for a second thought that I'd be appreciative of their skill in setting scenes and evoking emotion with only a few lines. Lines that rhyme to boot! As a writer this fascinates me. These authors create an evocative story that can be told in three minutes. For instance, here's one of my recent favorites penned and sung by Dierks Bentley. Check out this beginning.

Becky was a beauty from south Alabama.
Her Daddy had a heart like a nine pound hammer.
I think he even did a little time in the slammer.
What was I thinkin'?

Those are the first four lines of his hit What Was I Thinkin'? The second line is awesome! Such description! Definite use of hook in my opinion.

Tim McGraw and The Warren Brothers wrote this next one. It's a fictionalized letter prepared by a soldier in case he dies in the line of duty. It's called If You're Reading This, and I can't listen to it because it makes me cry every time, but that doesn't mean I don't love it. Here's a section out of the middle.

If you’re reading this
Half way around the world
I won’t be there to see the birth of our little girl
I hope she looks like you
I hope she fights like me
Stands up for the innocent and the weak
I’m laying down my gun
I’m hanging up my boots
Tell dad I don’t regret that I followed in his shoes

So lay me down
In that open field out on the edge of town
And know my soul
Is where my momma always prayed that it would go
And if you’re reading this
I’m already home

The emotion evoked is stellar. Something I feel that I lack in my writing. I can't seem to open up enough, or be courageous enough, to pour my emotions into my writing, which inevitably, I believe, will hold it back.

Here's some great setting and character description from Redneck Yacht Club by Craig Morgan.

Bass-trackers, Bayliners and a party barge,
Strung together like a floating trailer park,
Anchored out and gettin' loud all summer long.
Side by side, there's five houseboat front porches,
Astroturf, lawn chairs and tiki torches.
Regular Joes rocking the boat, that's us:
The Redneck Yacht Club.

Bermuda's, flip-flops and a tank-top tan:
He popped his first top at ten a.m.: that's Bob,
He's our president.

I love the description of their president. Nineteen words, and he's captured. I can completely visualize him.

And as a romance writer, I have to put some sweet stuff in too. Here's the last verse of Little Moments by Brad Paisley.

When she's layin' on my shoulder on the sofa in the dark
And about the time she falls asleep so does my right arm
And I want so bad to move it 'cause it's tinglin' and it's numb
But she looks so much like an angel that I don't wanna wake her up
Yeah I live for little moments
When she steals my heart again and doesn't even know it
Yeah I live for little moments like that

So there's a few examples, all done with an economy of well-chosen words, perfectly strung together. Man, that's something as a writer I definitely am trying to aspire to.

No one who knew me in the past would ever believe that I'd become a country fan. It's got to be that redneck really is contagious. I refuse to believe anything else.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This Show Cracks Me Up!

My favorite line is the first bit. "I smell robot!"


Lost: Ambition

If found, please return.
Thank you.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Distinctive Expression

One of the many things writers can struggle with is finding their voice. It's not only limited to authors, either. Any creative expression should have the distinctive tone of the artist. When you look at a painting of one of the great masters you can say, That's Degas, or I would know the bold colors and strokes of Matisse anywhere. Van Goh, Dali, Picasso, Da Vinci, they all conjure up an image distinctly their own.

Music, too, has a signature declaration. You don't even need to go to the masters. When you listen to your local radio station, you can identify the songs you know, and categorize them in your mind by their particular nuances.

Writing is like that too. I'm still searching out a voice that I'm comfortable with. I'm changeable. I don't do things the same way twice very often. My friend, Jackie would say it's because I'm a Gemini. I'd say A.D.D. probably plays more of a role, but who's to say. Maybe all Gemini's are A.D.D., and we're both right. (There's a question to get a research grant for if ever I heard one.)

For years, I've been fascinated by the art of Robert and Shana Parkeharrison. Their intricate photographs are the true meaning of the expression a picture is worth a thousand words. Their visual environmental allegories stop you in your tracks.

I first was introduced to their work in 2004 when they were featured on a PBS program called Art Close Up. Here is how the producers of that program explained the Parkeharrison's work.
Art Close Up delves into the complex and evocative imaginary world of photographers Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. The ParkeHarrisons use extensive research, elaborate props, multiple negatives, and antiquated photographic processes to fabricate an otherworldly narrative featuring Robert as an unnamed 'everyman.' Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Robert's character takes on Herculean struggles set in barren natural landscapes scarred by technology. For information on the work of Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, visit

The program showcased my favorite gallery of their work, entitled Architect's Brother, which you can view along with their more recent works at their website. (A good sampling of Architect's Brother is also here at this website which I recommend going to first.)
In this selection of pictures, they use an antique camera, and take several shots, overlaying the negatives to create a collage that fits together seamlessly to produce a haunting image of a world that could be.

So focused a vision of what you wish to represent is a fleetingly elusive target for me. Changeable. Unfocused. Wavering. Those are words that more aptly describe my writing at this point.

So the search within continues. What do I sound like? Is it okay to be someone different every hour of the day?

For a variety of reasons, my writing is going slowly. I'm finding, that when I go back and read earlier parts, the tone and feel of the story is different than where I am now. I hope it's because I'm more confident in my writing than I was before, but it could be anything.

We'll see as I go on, and if I ever actually publish anything how my voice develops. For now, I'll admire the voice and vision of others.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is Redneck Contagious?

I grew up outside of Philly, a pretty cosmopolitan place. Theaters, concerts, museums, cheese steaks, you know, the works. Now I'm out here in the Boonies. (For clarifications purposes, the Boonies are about two steps closer to civilization than the Sticks.) Now, I like my area. Wild life comes right into the yard. Farms, though fewer than before, can still be seen as I drive from place to place. But I find myself still suffering from some culture shock. Not as acutely as when I first moved here, but culture shock just the same.

Every Wednesday night I tune out the sounds of gunfire as the block shoot goes on at the fire hall down the road from me. What is a block shoot, you may ask? It's where an establishment sets up a block of wood and guys come out and shoot it with their rifles. (No lie) I'm pretty sure the best shot wins a hank of ham. Truly, I'm not making this up.

We have off school the Monday after Thanksgiving because it's the first day of deer season. Again. Not making this up. Apparently, between the teachers and students, the school board feels there would be too many absences to justify holding classes.

At the local fireman's fair every year, there is an antique tractor show where the locals show off their old restored tractors. One of the highlights of the fair is the tractor parade.

And now, my husband has developed a new hobby. He's brewing hard cider in my kitchen. Kick-a-poo Joy Juice is fermenting not ten feet from me as I write. I married a closet moonshiner!!

I tried to fight it for 10 years, but this past year they've started to get their clutches in me as well. I now listen to . . . country music! And I like it!! I'm so afraid that it's a case of the pod people coming and taking over my body. Is redneck contagious, or is it something that lye soap could cure? Either way, pods or infectious disease, if I start hearing dueling banjos, I'm outta here!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Humor - It's Tough

I love humor like this. It's totally harmless, but absolutely hilarious. The golfers need to relax.

Lots of sitcoms today rely on crass, tasteless comedy that panders to the lowest common denominator. I miss Cheers, Mad About You, and the old variety shows that were on from the beginning of TV up until the seventies. They had great writers. And great performers. Red Skelton. Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Steve Allen, Groucho Marx. Groucho had terrific writers, but much of his comedy came off the cuff. Here's a perfect example.

There are two other TV shows that are on today that I admire the writing and actors. The first is Supernatural. Great writers, and excellent performances. The actors, Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles, have a broad range. The writers provide them with excellent material, and the actors convincingly portray it. Here's a sample, though not humorous, a good cross section of what they can do.

The other TV show I enjoy is Big Bang Theory. The interactions between the friends are warm and funny. The writing is smart, and the delivery is great. It's a fun show. Here's an example of the humor.

Humor is tough to write. There are some who can do it, and do it well. I'm envious of them. It's a talent that few have. We need a little more laughter now with all the craziness going on in the world. More power to those guys who can make us snort.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two Kinds of Riders

There's a saying among motorcycle riders that there are two kinds of riders; ones who have laid their bikes down, and ones that are going to. Tonight I finally fell (pun totally intended) into the first group.

I went for a ride today. It was beautiful. High seventies, light wind, gorgeous clear blue sky. I had some small errands to run, so decided to take my Ninja. I did very well, even pushed the envelope a little in the speed department. To put my cycle in the barn, I need to execute a very slow and tight u turn to line it up correctly. Well, I miscalculated my speed by going too slowly, and the bike started to tilt too far. To get it to stand up, you need to give it a little gas to get the momentum up, something I've done on many occasions.

Only this time, the bike hit a dip in the driveway at the exact moment I was giving it some gas. My throttle hand jerked with the bike and revved the engine hard. I took out a support beam and hit some big saw horses. I got thrown to the side, and ran head first into the barn, while the bike landed partially on top of me.

Now, I'm not stupid. Or at least not too stupid. I have a brand new jacket with armor in it, and was wearing my helmet, so the only thing that got hurt were my legs. I'm sporting some road rash. My driveway is stone and weeds. It's pretty surreal when I think to myself, "Damn, I need to mow the driveway soon." (Don't get me started. I'll address that in another blog.) I have a huge lump on one leg, with some pretty bad gashes. The other has a smaller lump with brush burns.

Surprisingly, the leg that the bike landed on seems to be in better shape than the other one. Go figure. But for all I know it could be worse. Your brain can only process one pain at a time. Unfortunately it's the worst one, so that doesn't do you a whole lot of good.

Now the question is, do I get back on the horse and keep riding? Even though this horse supplies a lot more horse power than just one?

I mentioned in a previous post that this is not my first motorcycle, but I haven't ridden in four years. I've noticed I'm more leery now than back then. I know it's due to my age. I'm feeling my mortality to a greater degree. Things take longer to heal. I think twice before climbing a ladder. I don't play with as much abandon anymore. My dream of learning how to surf is dying a slow death because I can feel the physical limitations of my body much more than ever before.

I'm afraid I might be turning into a hypochondriac as well.

I don't have much close family. Neither of my parents had any siblings. I grew up without aunts or uncles or first cousins. I have some second cousins once removed, and some great aunts left. Oh, and one great uncle in Florida whom I've seen maybe ten times in my life. I tell you this because when it comes to family medical history, I come up with a big ole goose egg. Only the big stuff of distant relatives stands out.

Here's one story of medical import that is screaming at me right now. One of my mother's first cousins was a gym teacher. At the age of thirty-six (my age), she got hit in the leg with a softball. It formed a lump on her leg. In two weeks she died of an aneurysm. A blood clot had formed in her leg and traveled to her brain. So, here I sit as stove up as an old lady, stiff and sore with a case of road rash and a lump on each leg. Hmmmm. Do I freak out and call a doctor? Do I go to the emergency room? Do I go to bed and ignore it? I think I'll opt for plan C for tonight. Since Monday is a holiday, the doctors will be at home. So, my plan for now is to try and not freak out and then call someone Tuesday. Like I said, freakish hypochondriac tendencies are sneaking up on me as I get older. What's a girl to do?

Here's another little peek into my deranged psyche. After I take out the trash, I run up my driveway because I know that someday in the future when I won't be able to run, I'll miss it. Hopefully there won't be a dangerous psychopath on my tail when the day that I need to run does come along.

So what do I do with all these crazy little tidbits that crop up and confront me when something happens in my life? Dealing with getting older and the loss of youth are tough ideas to come to terms with. For now, I know I'll keep riding. The enjoyment outweighs the fear at present. But who knows what the future holds?

Hopefully, really slow psychopaths.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Can't talk-writing!

Hi guys. Can't talk now, writing. Apparently my inspiration is a forty-five minute block of time in the morning in a quiet house. I leave you with something that women of a certain age will appreciate. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Jeff Dunham

Hi! I'm still procrastinating, and looking for inspiration. This guy must have practiced the Santa Ana bit for a long time. He's good. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Because he's hilarious

Here's a Jeff Dunham video. I really like Achmed the dead terrorist too. It has over 63 million hits on youtube. Funny stuff! Enjoy!

Inspiration v. Sweat Equity

I'm in a rut in my writing.

Surprise. Another author in a rut. This ought to be original.

When I began writing, I was lucky enough to join a great writer's group, CPRW, (thank you yet again, Megan, for the hard sell!). It was one of the better decisions I ever made. A few of the authors really welcomed me, and have been instrumental in helping me to get through the submission process.

I've been reading their stories/books as well as their blogs, and it always amazes me how their voices are so unique and the different perspectives they bring to a topic, or the ideas they share. As I wrote on my website, everyone has their lens through which they view the world, but I'm not going to discuss the nature versus nurture theory today. I'll save that one for later.

Right now I'm more interested in inspiration. Natalie, Megan, and Misty have shown themselves to be very prolific in their writing. Vicki keeps her numbers closer to her vest, but I have no doubt she puts out the word count. How do they do it? Is it a combination of inspiration and determined persistence? My output the past few months has been pretty pathetic. It's easy to get into a downward spiral. I have lots of scapegoats - life interfering, waning enthusiasm, rejection, exhaustion . . . Congress. But, in the end, that doesn't get the job done.

My theory is to work through the low plateau I'm resting on. Hard work will sustain you and see you through. It's something I've heard all my life. But where does inspiration come into play?

Any creative endeavor needs both.

When I was seventeen, I wandered into a small art gallery in Barcelona, Spain where they were having a Picasso exhibit. It featured many of his early works, including his masterpiece. It was an enormous painting done in oils, taking up most of the floor to ceiling space on one of the gallery's largest walls. The subject was his sister's first holy communion. After completing this painting, he was deemed a master of light and shadows. I could well believe it. The candlelit church with its dark, imposing wood, contrasted the girl's white communion dress. Her gossamer veil, folded over on itself in layers, was so realistic I felt as though I could reach out and straighten it. I could easily imagine the young girl turning to stand after receiving her communion and making her way down the aisle of the richly appointed cathedral. He painted this masterpiece when he was fifteen. Picasso, at age fifteen was considered one of the great masters. Where do you go from there? He'd done it all in the realm of realism. Picasso decided his inspiration lay in Cubism, and it's what he's most well known for today. His paintings became more surreal and sparse until some of his most famous were limited to a countable number of brush strokes. His inspiration took a major turn, and he opened up a new, and still to this day, controversial avenue of creativity. Where did the inspiration come from?

Let's take a brief look at another master. Mozart. Mozart wrote his first Sonata at the age of four. By age ten he'd written several symphonies. His first opera was completed at the age of twelve. Obviously he was inspired. But he doesn't veer into the avant garde. He continues in the same vein, though, decidedly his pieces range in sound and style (Unlike Beethoven, who you can usually tell as soon as his begin, that it's one of his compositions.) Mozart was inspired to write a variety of music in the Romantic style. Though, he died at the age of thirty five, you never know what he would have done had his life not ended so early.

I don't consider myself anywhere near the same level as these two famous men. I'm looking at inspiration, not talent. So, where does this leave me? I know how to work hard. But inspiration? Where do we get it? How can I drum some up? As I sit with my head in my hands, staring at the open document of the W.I.P. I've decided to obsess over, how do I juice up my brain and get inspired to continue? Caffeine is not the answer. Trust me, I've already tried. I guess I'll just keep chugging along, plodding through, until my muse decides to perch on my shoulder and whisper in my ear. I wish he'd hurry it up already. My caffeine buzz is about to wear off. And if that happens, things will get really ugly.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pop Culture is Passing Me By (and I don't really care)

I don't pay for TV. I'll give you a moment to recover from the shock before I go on. Nope. No cable. No Direct TV. No satellite. Do you need more time to mop up the beverage you were drinking? I get five channels pretty clearly, and one that looks like an avalanche.

Every once in a while I surf my five and a half channels to see what's on, and as I return to the first one again I think to myself, "Yep. Nothing's on." I figure I'm saving myself a lot of time. I've heard many a person after they've surfed their two hundred plus channels come to the same conclusion.

I grew up in a house where there was no cable TV. I watched some MTV at a friend's back in the day, but that was about the extent of it. So it never was a real inconvenience for me to be without it later.

Do I feel deprived? No. Not really.

The only thing really coming out of it is that pop culture is passing me by. Show me a picture of Usher, and you'd have to tell me who he is. Same with George Strait, Jonas Brothers, any contestant from American Idol, Nick Lahey, actors from CSI or Law and Order, and most of the cast of Sex And the City. (I'd recognize Sarah Jessica Parker from Square Pegs.) I could go on, but you get the idea.

There are some people that are so ubiquitous that they even penetrate my little cocoon. Even though I'd rather they didn't. For example, I know who Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan, Brittany Spears and Jessica Simpson are. And I have to say my life is no better for that knowledge. It may even be a little worse.

I've never seen an episode of Ghost Hunters, Rachel Ray or Sex and the City. Am I shocking you? Do you think I'm crazy? Could be, but as I live my life in ignorant bliss, just remember to speak slowly to me about anything dealing with pop culture. And ignore my confused stare.

I'll be okay. Honest.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Nonsense of this woman’s psyche in the name of motorcycle riding

Today, Ava takes an easy problem and makes a federal case out of it. Over-thinking until it’s almost not worth leaving the house.

Natalie Damshroder, wonderful woman that she is, has forced my hand. She linked to my blog before I was ready! So now my very first entry will be full of complaining and crazy ramblings. (Which really wouldn’t be any different if I had been prepared.) It’s a good thing that I’m such a big fan of hers, or else she’d be in big trouble!

On to other news. I hate transitional hair. I’m in the process of growing out my bangs. First, I need to let you know that I usually go to a hairdresser about once a year. (And by hairdresser, I mean the cheapest franchise chain that I can find.) I cut/butcher the bangs myself for the rest of the year. I don’t have too much vanity about that. But here’s the thing. I’ve realized, since they’re off my face, I use the bangs to hide behind. Now that I’m employing a clip to hold them back, I’m a little uncomfortable. I feel exposed.

Not only are my bangs gone, but I just got contacts for the first time in my life. Now that there are no glasses between me and the rest of the world, that naked/exposed feeling has doubled. How bizarre is that? This is making me think crazy thoughts, like (gasp) wearing makeup more often! I feel the need to create a new barrier. Naked. Exposed. Must cover up!

I didn’t get contacts and grow out my bangs to change my look, per se. I had a practical reason. I got a motorcycle this summer. It’s not my first one. It’s the third that I’ve owned, but I haven’t had one in four years. The glasses get cumbersome with the helmet. But the growing out of the bangs is for ease of dealing with helmet hair. Without the bangs, I can just flip the do when the helmet comes off, and not have too bad a case of helmet hair. With the bangs, a brush, hair care products and a blow dryer come in to play. Not easy. With my looks, I’m a path of least resistance girl. If it’s easy, it’s good.

Vanity doesn’t usually come into play with my personality. But in this case, not hiding from the world with the sheepdog bangs any more, that little grain of feminine vanity that lurks deep inside me is sparking up. It can never be totally squelched. (The magazines on the rack at the grocery store checkout make sure of that as they silently scream at me about all my flaws and how to fix them in five easy steps.) Thus the statement that I hate transitional hair. I know the hair looks bad. So bad, in fact, that I’m tempted to break the one year stretch and go to the hairdresser to see what they can do.

So, do I cave to the pressures of society, and take the plunge? Start going to the hairdresser and applying make up, or fight the power? If I had my way, I’d stay in my pj’s all day, writing. Since that’s not an option, for today, I say fight the power! Shake up the world and go out into public with a naked face! Power to the people!

Share This

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...