Monday, October 31, 2011

Were All Mad Here

Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people.
The Cat: Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.

I have an orange tutu.

I bought it because I wanted to dress up for the Mad Hatter for a costume event, and because its otherwise awesome. I was thrifting with my friend Abby, Abby is that friend from college, you know, the one that you get in the car with to drive somewhere (in this case target) and end up in New Jersey for no good reason? Yeup that's Abby. Abby is also the friend that called to tell me about her "Dragon Problem" Abby and I meet at the University of Northumbria on a study abroad program, we were both from different schools in Georgia, and to this day we have only hung out once in that fine state.

Abby is actually the one who found the orange tutu. I took her out thrift store shopping when I was in Philadelphia in August and I was looking for a skirt, she was sitting down by the shoes, when I walked over carrying a tulip skirt made out of track suit material. All she did was point, at the manikin on the shelf. It was wearing the tutu. I immediately found the clerk, had them take it down, and tried it on. I was expecting it to be too small, but it fit! So I bought it. All the store clerks seemed a little sad to see it go, but happy that it was going to a good home. They asked for pictures, I brought them a few.

I carried the tutu out of the store in a plastic bag that it was a little to big for, orange overflowing out of the top of the bag.

People stopped us in the street, and in stores. I took it out, and showed it off a bazillion times (have I mentioned I love Philadelphia). Abby didn't blink an eye, she admitted the skirt was perfect for me...of course I would have an orange tutu. Why not?

This past weekend I went up to Philadelphia to visit Abby for Halloween. We were supposed to go to the Renaissance festival, but it was canceled since apparently people cant have fun with trees falling and power lines down. So we came up with a backup plan. On the fly. We would have a dinner party. A Mad Hatter tea party. A Mad Dinner party. Bobby and another friend braved the storm and bought food. I had the liquor already. Abby and I sent out texts and cleaned, kinda. We were goofy, we were weird, we had fun.

Writers tend to be, at least the ones I know, supper creative people. And that creativity occasionally lends itself to being weird. I know I am weird. I know Abby is weird. Bobby is weird too, but pretends not to be. And sometimes its nice to go off and have someone you can be completely bizarre with. Someone, who will just be as "Mad" as you.

p.s. If you haven't figured it out yet, I have a thing for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

p.p.s. Sorry this was a bit more mushy than normal. Check back in Thursday so you will be really surprised by something COMPLETLY different.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Holy netbook batman!!!

Holy netbook batman!!! Where did November come from?

Sometimes I feel like there is a major disconnect in my brain. I know its almost the end of October. I've solidified my Halloween plans, and bought my plane ticket to go home for thanksgiving. You know, those normal things that go with the end of October...but apparently I forgot that November comes after October. So I was completely taken back by seeing all of these "Advice for NaNoWriMo" posts show up in the blogerspher (I love this word, mostly cause I dont think its a real word and that makes it awesome)

So, needless to say, I will not be doing NaNoWriMo this year. I might re-avow my vow that I routinely ignore, to write every day though. You see, I have this problem with goals. I like to make them, like outlines for stories, and then shove them into my sock drawer where they get forgotten. My sock drawer is my equivalent for a safe. I keep lots of important things in there, like sudaphed and my passport and tickets to shows, and my goal to one day be more organized.

The truth is, I don't find the NaNoWriMo version of novel writing very useful, even though at the same time I find it very useful. I know. That doesn't make any sense, but then look around, how much of this blog has made any sense? I find NaNoWriMo very useful in the fact that I get words down on paper, I create characters and concepts. I write. What I write is completely unusable.The last few time's I've done NaNoWriMo I've ended up with a 50,000+ word character sketch. So, its great because I write, it sucks because I dont write anything that I can use. Perhaps I will come back to it some day, but not today.

See, I think in order to get something remotely useful out of NaNoWriMo, you have to do something that I dont do very well. Plan. If you have a story before you begin, then well, you should have a story when you end, maybe.

My family has an awesome motto for procrastination, and I thought I would share it with you. "Why procrastinate today what you can put it off till tomorrow."

With that I will end with some of the things I learned this week, that I hope to one day turn into full blog posts.

DC Police do not get my sense of humor.
Don't talk to strangers (I learn this like once a week, and promptly forget it)
If a CFO and a Vice President get into a fight, dont get involved. Run away. Screaming. Cry under your desk. In the fetal position
If you give a group two very different openings to a novel, expect to get equal numbers of opposite opinions.

What have you guys learned this week?

Anyone doing NaNoWriMo?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Story Time: Medication for the Abi somethings

One time, when I was a kid, my mom lit my neck on fire.

I give out drugs, the legal kind, at work. This started because I am responsible for tracking our stock of medicine. Which means I know where everything is. Most of the time I give away my personal medication, and in case you didn't know from "Oh The" I get headaches. My standard solution to what ales you is pain medication + sudafed. I think my obsession with sudafed began with my father. He took it all the time, he gave it to me all the time, and to my sisters. We said our knee hurts, he would give us a pain killer and a sudafed.

I think this started, because everyone in my family has allergies and the allergies manifest in the form of sinus headaches, and if you've ever had a sinus headache you have probably taken sudafed. As of now, I am fairly certain I am on at least one federal watch list, because of my sudefed consumption, and perhaps because of the U turn I made in front of the gates for the CIA headquarters, and then there was the time I tried to play with a bomb dog. Again I am off topic, this is why I should not take a sudafed and drink a red bull, with an Excedrin migraine.

All of this came up at work the other day cause we were talking about butter, or burns, or alcohol. I think. Or because someone told me they felt feverish and I offered them a sudafed, which prompted the question, "does sudafed lower fever." and no, it doesn't. Its just a family remedy, like putting butter on burns. Or ways to remove a tick.

Apparently I have this obnoxious habit of beginning stories in ways that catch people off guard. Like, back when my sister was using meth, or my mom is an alcoholic. This isn't normal, or so I've been told. But these odd phrases are typically important background for the story I'm gonna tell. Like, my mom lit my neck on fire, which has everything to do with removing a tick.

It started sensicaly enough, first she tried to pull the tick out without killing it and leaving the head stuck in. That didn't work. They she tried to soak it in vodka, I think your supposed to use rubbing alcohol, but she was drinking vodka so it was what we had on hand...well that didn't work. So the next thing we tried was to hold a dead match at the tick, you know how the rest went.

And if you cant appreciate the humor in the horrifying well then. I dont know what to tell you. The thing is, I am full of stories like this, stories that most people probably find rather horrific. I deal with these situations by laughing at them. Laughing is better than crying, and why cry about something you cannot change. Its a funny story, or at least it would be, if it wasn't so sad.

What are your family remedies?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ready, Set...

Announcing the first annual blog off! Not that it will ever happen again, its just when you put annual on something it makes it sound more official. Not that there is anything official about this.

In fact I dont even really remember how it came about, except perhaps that I might have told Bobby McDaniel that I was a better blogger than he is because I post more often, or have more followers...or something, so to defend his pride, he challenged me to a blog off, duel style. The person with the most followers/page views at the end of the blog off wins. And the prize is nothing more than bragging rights, between the two of us.

I am hopping that this will inspire Bobby to blog more often, and in turn inspire me to blog more often. Kinda like the vicious cycle of NaNoWriMo. See I tried to do NaNoWriMo without him, and I didn't do anywhere near as well as I did with him. When I would check my word count online at the end of the day and see that he was 200 words ahead of me, which was just unacceptable.

That being said, you should go over and check his blog out at Wildly Urban, I also link to it on the side. And if your lurking on here, just go ahead and hit that follow button (just make sure you follow me first). I wont hurt you much, unless of course, you continue to lurk, then no rules apply.

All of this kinda went to my head this morning, when I decided I really need a buisness card with my blog on it. So I can give it to people who might then check it out, or probably not. Like I've mentioned before, all of this self promotion stuff is very new to me. So I spent a good bit of the morning looking at buisness cards at Vistaprint. I finally decided on a style and then Bobby (he is a marketing person so I kinda trust his judgement on this) suggested I put in a quote at the top.

I almost went with a few Luise Carrol quotes I was trying to decide between:

"Why is a raven like a writing desk?"

"Begin at the beginning" the king said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end; then stop."

Or--I am not sure if this is Louis Carrol "If you don't know where your going, there is no wrong way to go"

But then I started thinking about it, and realized it makes much more sense to quote myself on my own card. Since I am trying to market myself as a writer, so the quote I decided on is:

"All the following is true, except for the parts that are lies" Which actually came from my post Flash Fiction Friday.

What about you guys? Anyone have personal buisness cards? What do they look like? What quote would you put on a buisness card if you made one?

Monday, October 17, 2011

The sound of

Right now, I really want an apple. Not one of those stupid electronic ones, but the real ones that grow on trees and you eat. Did you know people were leaving apples with bites out of them in front of apple stores for that Jobs fellow.

Anyway that's a tangent off what I think I am trying to say. I dont like apple products, and I certainly dont like wasting apples. In all fairness, I've only ever owned one apple product. An Ipod Touch 2nd Gen. It was a good mp3 player, I enjoyed it until I got a smart phone Android X, at that point I'd been using it for two years, and the battery life was starting to suck, so I figured I would just start using my phone for everything.

Here's where I ran into a problem. Apparently Apple, in the interest to prevent piracy made it impossible to transfer your music (with exception of the music you bought on i-tunes) from your device to your computer. This makes sense, kinda. Unfortunately there are alot of legitimate reasons why someone would want to move their music from their I pod to their computer. Like, their old computer died, and all of their cds from high school were on that computer. Luckily before the computer died all of the music was transferred onto their I-pod. Or so they thought.

So, according to the interweb the only way to get your music off your I-pod touch is to hack the I-pod touch. Something a more honest person might be hesitant to do.

To sum up, Apple made something where honest people loose all of their music, and less honest people keep all of their music, including music they might have downloaded illegal. Great policy. Then their is the idea behind it, we are going to make something, sell it to you, and design it so you cant do what you want with it without breaking it. Say what?

As a writer, music is really important to me, I write while listening to music, almost exclusively. In fact I have Pandora on right now. So the thought of loosing all my music because a company is ridiculous makes me really sad. Much more sad than wasted apples. I am still hoping I have a friend who is tech savvy enough to get it back for me. I am most definitely to scared to do something like jail break an ipod. That being said, when my current netbook dies, I am sticking to PC products (probably get another HP). I know there are plenty of people out there with Macs who love them. I really wish I could put Scrivanger on something, but I doubt it will fit on my netbook and I dont own a laptop. I am just not comfortable buying another product from a company that thinks it should tell me what I can and cannot do with it. Maybe Apple should take up Googles moto "dont be evil"

Friday, October 14, 2011


Have you ever stood on the edge of something high up, holding something in your hands, it doesn't have to be something precious, something simple, like a hair clip, or your glasses, and look over the edge. And wonder about what would happen if you drop it. Partially wanting to, wanting to let it slip, and crash to the ground, a few heart beats later. But you dont at the same time. So you hold it, in your hand. Not clutching, because clutching will make your hands tired, and perhaps sweaty, and then it might slip. But lightly like an idea. So that it stays in your hand, safe yet not. Poised, in a dangerous position so you could wonder what it would be like if it would fall. To embrace the idea of it falling, floating, in a few minutes of freedom before it hits the ground and shatters. And you wonder how many pieces will it shatter too.

Thinking about running down the stairs to pick it up, gather and attempt to reassemble. Knowing that it will never be quite the same again. And its that knowledge that keeps the object in your hand. After-all why would you drop something from high up, why would you intentionally break something? But sometimes things need to get broken.

Have you ever watched the clouds and wondered what it would be like to float like a leaf pulled free from a tree?

I've had a bad day. So rather than write about it. I wanted to write something mildly nonsensical, something about nothing. Hope you liked it. If you didn't, too bad, get your own blog.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Voicemails of a Writer

I dont think voice mails begin with “I have a dragon problem” in real life. They certainly don’t end in, “Text me when I can call back to brainstorm solutions to my dragon problem. Cause I’m on my way to work.” That’s just not normal. And its definitely not normal to think, hmm that would make a great opening to a blog post, or short story after it happens.

I can’t imagine how boring normal would be; luckily I have better things to be imagining. Like what kind of dragon problems my friend has. She was way to calm to be facing a dragon attack. Although freely maraudering dragons would definitely be a problem (and interesting), especially cause she lives in Philadelphia. I recon they would wreak havoc on all kinds of important things they don’t know anything about. Like independence hall. Do Dragons have a taste for colonial buildings? I imagine they burn quite well, old wood and all.

Of course she could have uncovered an illegal dragon egg smuggling ring, and be wondering who to report it to. DEA, Customs, FBI, CIA, NCIS, NSA, NASA, PETA…and I think I am out of acronyms. Or maybe she has been caught raising dragons for dragon fighting. Perhaps it’s that some misfit band of Dragon Lords were discovered by lay folk and now face a disastrous choice, make public the existence of dragons and magic, or just destroy the city and everyone who was potentially exposed.

The truth is it could be any of those things. The friend who called, and left a message on my phone, that began with “I have a dragon problem” is a fellow writer. Although, I still don’t think voice mails begin with “I have a dragon problem” in real life. Writers seem to live in a subset of the real world, or at least I do. And that subset seems to be in my own imagination.

I don’t know what it takes to be a writer, although I do have some theories on character traits that most have. The first is an overactive, or just an active, imagination. We create worlds in our head, and then fill these worlds with people that we create, and sometimes destroy. Then mourn over the people we’ve destroyed, they weren’t just made up, they lived. Even if they lived inside our heads. I’ve cried over killing a character. I am sure most other writers have too (even if you haven’t, can you just lie to me about that).

The second, is slightly harder to admit. Arrogance. We all have something to say, and think what we have to say is worth other people’s time to read. And that is a bit arrogant.

Anything else you think someone needs to be a writer?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Insecure Writers Support Group

So, I found out about something kinda cool today through LG Smith over at Bards and Prophets. The Insecure Writers Support Group

Which Alex J. Cavanaugh is running. Although I am coming a bit late in the game, I figure I aught to catch up for lost time and write a Thursday post on this...since my Wednesday post was on magic, or something.

One night at a friends birthday party, some two years ago, two guys got into a fight. It started out innocent enough, they were arguing over the definition of "try" and "fail", they were very drunk. One guy was saying the word's meant the same thing, you were failing while you were trying to succeed, but until you actually succeeded you were failing. The other guy was saying that trying was not failing, it was trying. And while you might not succeed while you were trying, you were making positive steps, so how could you be failing.

If neither of those arguments make much sense to you, I understand. Did I mention they were very drunk? One of these guys was letting his insecurities get the best of him. I think he used steroids. Why bother trying, if its only failing. The other guy's argument was much more optimistic, trying isn't failing, its trying...and you will keep having to do it until you actually succeed.

The problem with insecurity is that its easy to use as an excuse, lets face it writing is hard, and its scarey knowing that you might not ever succeeded. It looks like an insurmountable wall. I can just say, well, I will never do that, so I might as well give up. I am not good enough so I should quit now.

"Why cant your fiction be more like your non fiction. Your fiction prose is stiff."

Say what??? I am paraphrasing, but I am not joking. I had a friend tell me this. Not just a friend, a writer whose opinion I respect. And I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on my creative non fiction. It's the only stuff I've ever sold, and when I put a piece up for workshop I am told, "this is my favorite thing you've ever written".

So whats the problem? Creative non fiction is not fun for me to write. Contemporary fiction, is not fun for me to write. Its easy. The words come out. But its not fun. I am left feeling insecure about the writing I like to do, and confident in something that I dont like to do. I know I should just let this go, I know my fiction needs work. But for some reason, this particular comment has left me feeling insecure.

And these insecurities have me locked up at the key board, paralyzed with a form of doubt that I seem to have a hard time shaking. Just as another persons comments about my character drove me to post yesterdays post...but that's another topic for another day. This is just ONE persons thoughts. I have other people asking me when they will get to see the rest of the fiction novel that I've been working on. I've been complemented on my fiction prose before. I should just shake this off. The problem is that it is contributing to my self doubt.

Someone once told me, and I cannot remember who, that in order to call yourself a writer you have to actually write. That seems like a no brainier right? But maybe its easier to wrap yourself up in doubt and insecurity and not write. Its easier to think, if I never try, I can never fail.

Life is full of people who tell you, you will never make it, you will never succeed. Living is about learning to ignore them.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fortune Cookie

I believe in magic, but I am not sure how I feel about fortune cookies. I received one the other day, well, stole it from the kitchen table in my office, but it was sitting there and lonely, under a note that said EAT ME. I know, if there is one thing I should have taken from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland its not to eat food that says "eat me"...but I have a hard time learning lessons.

So this fortune cookie had a fortune in it, like most do: "You have a quiet and unobtrusive nature"

Which is hilarious to most people that know me, or think they do. I am not quiet, and I am fairly obtrusive. I actually have a reputation for it. Upon first introduction most people find me obnoxious, and that is a fairly vanilla word for it. I like to act like things dont matter, I say what I mean, and I mean what I say, but I very rarely act seriously. Life is to short not to have fun, and who can have fun when you are being serious all the time?

And I am great at acting happy go lucky, but the thing is, I can be really quiet, and really unobtrusive, it comes easily to me. Just as being dark and angsty can come easy to me too.

My personality is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle and I am still trying to make all the pieces fit. The bubbly obnoxious me is a shield. Its still me, but when you get way down past it, I cant be bubbly all the time. I dont have the energy for it. And that seems to surprise people.

I think most people have shields, things they do around strangers, things to keep them at arms distance, ways to test people to make sure they are worthy before you really let them get to know you.

But not that many characters do. Maybe its because its to hard to write. Maybe its because the reader is taking the place of the characters friend, or the character themselves.

Lately I've been trying to tone down the obtrusive aspects of my personality, I want people to take me seriously, but how can they when I am never serious?

I met a woman at a bar and told her I was hard to get to know and near 'bout impossible to forget.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


"So how do you know So and So"
"Oh, we go to the same Writers Group."
"So your a writer? What do you write?"

I hate this question, a lot. Perhaps its just me, it probably is just me, it seems most things are. But the "What do you write question," I never know how to answer. What do I write? You might as well ask me my sexual history, or my religion, or...well, those are all bad examples because I would share that stuff with a stranger.

If forced I normally give standoffish answers, like "Fiction," or "Everything", or "a bit of this and a bit of that." Yet that never seems to satisfy an audience, its a bad plot, leaving you with more questions then when you started "What kind of fiction?" "Or do you write...?" and then I have to try to explain. Although what I really want to say is "Why do you want to know? Do you want to read it?"

The mature part of my brain (yes it does exist) knows these people are just trying to make friendly conversation, I have a bizarre hobby to them, much like I would probably be fascinated by someone who told me they play with explosives for fun, okay, again, probably a bad example. And what is life other than trying to make small talk with strangers you dont care about, looking for a connection.

I dont know what my problem is, I dont know why this question makes me defensive. Even with other writers I joke, or give very vague answers. Its easier to make a joke and say "I am actively not writing a YA novel".

Perhaps its because I feel like a slacker. I dont feel like a writer because I write very little, although I am still defensive when I write every day, a habit I need to get back into. Perhaps its because I put so much work into something that I think might get misunderstood. That people that dont write think writing is easy, and they will not be impressed. Perhaps its because my writing is so close to me that when I share it with strangers, that are not writers, I dont trust them.

Maybe I am just crazy and it is an example of my neurotic lack of trust in strangers that's preventing me from feeling comfortable sharing.

I do know I need to write more...but I feel like thats a subject for another post.