16 December 2012

Goodreads Giveaway for The Fall

Fellow Elephant's Bookshelf Press author Judy Croome is sponsoring a giveaway of 20 print - yes, PRINT! - copies of The Fall: Tales From the Apocalypse.

Hop on over to Goodreads to enter. Ends January 1, 2013.







Goodreads Book Giveaway





The Fall by Matt Sinclair






The Fall



by Matt Sinclair






Giveaway ends January 01, 2013.




See the giveaway details

at Goodreads.








Enter to win




03 December 2012

On a Trans-Atlantic Flight

I was thrilled to get a message from a fellow writer the other day who had just finished reading The Fall. He said he really enjoyed my story in the anthology. It's flash fiction, really. It's quite short. We talked for a little bit, and the conversation turned to the fact that my first published short story also had a flight theme. The story was originally published online with Divine Dirt Quarterly, which is now out of print. So I thought I'd post the story here for you all to read. If you like this one, I'm sure you'll enjoy my story "Flight Plans" in The Fall.

On A Trans-Atlantic Flight

I used to think I could see God in the clouds. Not in an indefinite expanse of clear blue, calm and crisp and quiet, desperate in its infinity, but somewhere up there, among the water vapor masses between us and eternal sky. Not in gray and grumpy nimbostratus, nor fine feathered cirrus, but in a fair weather cumulus blanket and the sun beams like knitting needles that pierced it, the ends of which, I was sure, illuminated some somber earthly occasion - corporeal cessation. But certainly God was in the clouds, sending forth that sun vector to call an angel home.

Necks craned and twisted, bodies pressed forward against restraints just for a glimpse out of the small windows of a 757. My first flight. Even as we lifted from the ground, the Earth tried to pull me back, urging me not to endeavor to things for which my body was not made. Or perhaps the weight on my chest was God, knowing the human race was too curious for its own good, placing a firm hand of protection, holding us close, leashing our titanium bird lest we flew too close to the sun.

My head swam, unsettled by artificial air pressure, though it may have been the sight of the clouds that did it. Nerves and terror and elation and uncertainty coagulated in my stomach. Expecting a breeze, a mist, a warm breath on my cheek, I considered holding my breath, eyes squeezed shut, as white opacity filled the tiny bubble windows. Curiosity, though it may or may not have killed a cat, overtook my timidity, prying open my expectant eyes just as the clouds broke.

Did you know the sky goes on forever anyway, that you could follow it and it would never lead you anywhere, not to peace, nor to happiness, nor to god, and did you know that the sun knits blankets of cumulus clouds to shield my fragile and na├»ve heart from such despair? I used to think I could see god in the clouds. But there, above it all, atop a secular cumulus quilt, I saw that my geometry was all wrong: the gilded shafts I had been certain were line segments, with an Alpha and Omega – originating from the hand of a benevolent god and ending far below, soul escalators bringing the dead into eternal bliss - were instead rays, of all things, capped at one end by the stinging sun, extending onward forever.

On a trans-Atlantic flight, I searched urgently for validation, winged hope. I found only science and weather, impressive but not divine, water vapor polluted by a need to push our limits, to stretch, to disintegrate our mortal restrictions. Puffs of little substance whose mass is no match for the hard nose of human determination, pierced by a persistent sun whose light will outlast even the clouds as it is reflected back, changed by the tangible clutter of temporal curiosity, fractured, bounced, splintered, and so on, et cetera, ad infinitum.

I may never fly again.

20 November 2012

L is for Loser

I got this crazy idea this year... I had a new novel project that I was ready to start, and November was quickly approaching. Sounded like a great opportunity to try National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time.

I'll admit, I was a little worried about it because November is a crazy time for me with my day job in retail. I had recently been promoted to a full-time position, and that left precious little time and energy at the end of the day. Still, I thought, why not? It would be tough, but I could handle it. So I committed to it.

Then my manager quit. Which left me on my own and floundering at work for the first two weeks of the month, trying to do a job I was hardly trained to do, as well as the job she would have been doing (which I REALLY was not qualified to do). Lots of long days doing surprisingly physical work, plus a good amount of overtime sapped everything out of me. Stressed doesn't really cover my precarious mental state during those two weeks haha. Needless to say, I wrote very little.

There are still ten days left, but I'm calling it: I'm a NaNoWriMo loser. There will be no 50k words for me. But I wouldn't really call it a bust.

I did get a little more than 1700 words down the past couple weeks, and I still plan on attending my local area write-in on Friday to write some more. Those are all brand new words. I haven't written anything close to that in the past several months. I was mostly doing edits and revisions on old projects before starting NaNo.

My muse is also starting to whisper again. I know everyone says you can't be a slave to your muse, writer's block isn't a thing unless you let it be, you have to be disciplined about your writing, etc.... But that only goes so far for me. Maybe it's my nature as a pantster. But there has to be at least a little bit of inspiration, and that has been lacking of late. After getting some new words down on paper, though, that has been changing. Of course, some of the ideas my muse is whispering about aren't relevant to the project I want to be writing at this very second, but I'll deal with that.

I also got to meet up with some local writers. Even though I'm not going to win NaNo, I think I'll go to the last write-in because I've found that is a great motivator for me. It helped me to carve out a time and to prioritize my writing process. Having other people involved made it feel less like a selfish endeavor (because sometimes I feel that way, and that can discourage my writing process) and more like a group effort that I couldn't shy away from without letting other people down. It would be awesome if some of these local writers would like to continue meeting up even just once a month to have similar write-ins.

If I'm not in retail this time next year, I may give NaNo another try. We'll see. I'm not sure I'd win even under more favorable personal conditions unless I was really feeling inspired. I have no doubt about my ability to complete a novel. I've done it twice in my life already. For some, NaNo is an exercise in doing just that - finally sitting down and writing that novel you've always talked about. For me, it was more about focus. And I really wasn't able to focus on writing with my day job wreaking havoc. I have no idea how people with full time jobs and kids still manage to crank out novels the way some of them do. Props to them, because I couldn't do it.

If there's one thing I'm learning, it's that I simply do not belong to the don't get it right, get it done camp. Which isn't surprising, considering I don't operate that way in any other part of my personal or professional life, either. I'm a perfectionist, and I don't apologize for it. I'm sure some people may consider this blasphemy, but here it is: I don't believe in the shitty first draft.

That's not to say that my first drafts are perfect, because they aren't. It does take me longer than many other people I know to write my first drafts. But for the most part, I tend to spend less time revising than a lot of those same people do. I would much rather get it right (or as right as possible) the first time than to just get something down and spend a lot of time and effort making major revisions later. At work, I've had to do a lot more of getting it done, only to go back later to make it right than I would like and it has driven me absolutely nuts. I feel like I'm doing twice the work and it sucks. I refuse to approach my writing that way.

So if you're like me, and you can't quite get into the groove of churning out a quick and dirty draft that you can go back and edit to death later, don't worry. You aren't alone. I'll wear my L for NaNo Loser proudly. It'll take me a little longer, but I have no doubt that I'll be a winner in the end.

Are you doing NaNo this year? What has your experience been?

14 October 2012

Announcing: The Fall

Remember the Spring Fevers anthology from earlier this year, which included two of my short stories? Well, editor Matt Sinclair and Elephant's Bookshelf Press have done it again. The Fall is a collection of fourteen stories about the apocalypse. While many are dystopian in nature, the anthology also includes touches of "humor, romance, and the promise of new beginnings." While Matt has already revealed the cover on his blog, I thought I'd share it again for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. Without further ado, I give you....


As with Spring Fevers, the cover was designed by the super talented Calista Taylor. The Fall will be released October 29, 2012. Make sure you snag your copy so you can read my flash fiction piece, Flight Plans.

03 October 2012

#2012BBF: An Orgasmic--Er, Enlightening Experience

Join me over at From The Write Angle for some additional thoughts on the Baltimore Book Festival!

This past weekend I attended the Baltimore Book Festival. (It was three days, but I was only able to make it for all of Saturday and one panel on Sunday.) I even twisted the arm of convinced my friend and fellow writer Ty Unglebower to come with me. I'm glad he did, because I'm not sure it would've been quite as fun without someone to talk to in between and after the events. You can read Ty's thoughts on his experience over at his blog. You can go on and read, I'll wait. :-) Tell him I sent you.

Now, back to business. Yes, I had a great time in Baltimore. As I said on FTWA, it was part street fair, part book conference. It was casual, but there was definitely plenty to be learned at the industry panels and events. But really.... orgasmic?

Okay, maybe not orgasmic. But I had this tingly, feel-good moment that was a little bit of epiphany, a little bit of excitement, and just a twinge of longing. So yeah. Almost orgasmic.

The last event of Saturday night for me was a panel of erotica writers talking about... sex, obviously. The subject of the panel was taboos in erotica, but they ended up talking about all sorts of things regarding erotica, thanks to some great audience questions and equally great answers from the panelists. I recently got a bit geeky in an interview where I talked about why I write erotica. (Read it here if you haven't already!) Hearing similar things from each of the panelists was amazing. I was among my people! I loved hearing the authors talk about why they write what they do, the boundaries they push (and the ones they don't), and what makes them tick as writers.

L to R: Megan Hart, Molly Weatherfield, Caridad Pineiro, Eliza Knight, Stephanie Draven

They interspersed readings with the discussion, which gave the audience a taste of their styles. But you know what was kinda cool? Hearing and seeing successful erotica/erotic romance authors, grown women, laughing at themselves and giggling with nervousness about reading the "really dirty" bits. I think it was author Stephanie Draven who said that it was one thing to write the scenes, but another thing completely to read them out loud in public. I didn't know of any of the authors previously, so I wasn't exactly starstruck or have this idea of them as larger-than-life kinds of people. But the laughing and nervousness was a very humanizing aspect. I felt like I was sitting around with friends, reading and having a good time. And I liked what I heard so much, I bought one of Megan Hart's books the next day, and I have a feeling I'll also be checking out Stephanie Draven's in the future.

Megan Hart, reading from her book The Space Between Us

As an introvert, I'm not always the most talkative person. Until you start asking the right questions. Want to talk about sex in writing? Hope you've got all day. Getting paid to write books about topics I love, and having an opportunity to present on a panel like the one I attended sounds like a dream job to me. I felt like I could personally have talked all night about relationships and sex and writing and characterization and all of the rich depth to be found there... and that's when it struck me.

This is what I want to do. That is where I want to be.

Maybe one day I'll make it there.


10 September 2012

Pitch Polish Blog Hop - #GUTGAA

In case you forgot, GUTGAA stands for Gearing Up to Get an Agent. In preparation for the agent and small press pitch contests, I'm participating in the pitch polish blog hop. 100 anonymous pitch polish entries will be posted on Deana Barnhart's blog, and the rest of us who'd like help with our pitches are posting them on our own blogs. Let me know what you think about my pitch, and be sure to head over to Deana's blog to help out with some other pitches, too. For the purposes of GUTGAA, the pitch consists of the "meat" of our query letter and the first 150 words of our manuscript. So, without further ado, here's mine!

TITLE: Sorry's Not Enough
GENRE: Commercial New Adult
WORD COUNT: 97,000

PITCH:

If emotional wall-building were an art form, Charlotte would be a grand master. After being betrayed at a young age by the one man she should've been able to trust, she builds an impenetrable fortress of solitude. At least she thinks it's impenetrable, until a summer writing workshop brings Steven into her life. With his obnoxious ego and stupid good looks, he's somehow immune to her Stay the Hell Away from Me pheromones. Even more bizarre is that for the first time, Charlotte can't quite bring herself to really push him away. 

The unexpected romance screeches to a halt when Charlotte and Steven walk into the same classroom at the start of the school year and find themselves on opposite sides of the desk. Steven's quick with the apologies, but sorry doesn't seem to cut it when you've just found yourself cast as a modern day Lolita, you know?

Obviously the universe is telling Charlotte that keeping Steven at arm's length is the only way to avoid getting hurt. Resisting the warmth of his embrace is easier said than done, though, especially when it's evident Steven has no intention of letting her go. 

And so the cycle of their relationship begins. Over the course of several years they share moments as passionate lovers, periods of warm friendship, and months of barely-civil tension. How can she hope to create a healthy relationship with Steven when she's never confronted the relationship that destroyed her ability to trust in the first place? And by the time she finds the courage to do so, will sorry be enough for Steven?

FIRST 150:

Sanguinolent sunset. There's a word you don't see every day. Charlotte circled it with her red pen and drew a smiley at the end of the line, below where she'd called out a different phrase for being trite. She continued making notes in the margin as the others took turns giving feedback. By the time she was done marking up the poem, the paper was also sanguinolent.

She looked up when the group grew quiet. Her turn. She looked down at the poem again and hoped its author wouldn't be offended. What was his name? Steven.

“It's a little confused,” she said. There was a pause and a shuffle of papers.

“What don't you understand?”

She snapped her chin up and was taken aback by the force of his gaze. No adjective could adequately describe the shade of green staring back at her.

“I'm not confused. Your poem is.”

03 September 2012

#GUTGAA Meet and Greet!

If you've found me through GUTGAA, welcome!

If you think I've contracted some sort of terrible intestinal ailment, let me explain. GUTGAA stands for Gearing Up to Get an Agent. It's a bloghop/pitchfest/contest/fun time happening during the month of September. For the main sign up page, click HERE. For a schedule of events, see HERE.

Now, on to the meet and greet questions!


To learn a bit more about me: the person, as opposed to me: the writer, check out this fun little list I did for Scintilla in March.

Several of the meet and greet questions had to do with the when/where/how of your writing space and time. There aren't any clear cut answers there, for me, because of one factor: I still do all of my writing longhand. That's right. Pen and paper, baby. Editing and stuff I do on screen, but first drafts are always (with the occasional exception - usually short fiction) on paper.

So I write whenever my notebook is nearby and an idea strikes. Quite often it's sitting on the couch, but it has been in parks, on airplanes, in the car (not while driving, I assure you :-P) and in other people's houses. There isn't any particular time or place when I always write, or a usual process I have to go through. I just need paper and a pen. THAT is something that I am particular about. It has to be a pen, preferably black ink, very preferably NOT blue ink, but any other color is good.

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
I usually do like some background noise while I write, whether it's the TV, music, or outdoor noises. I don't like it to be too quiet.
 
-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
I can't remember where the inspiration for my current WIP came from because it's been incubating in my brain for a few years ago. I'm not a plotter, so I don't do outlines. I wrote down very little as far as ideas, but I kept all the good little nuggets in my head as I thought of them over the years, until I got to a point where I felt I was ready to write.


I knew I wanted to write an erotic novel. (All of my erotica so far has been short stories.) And I had some character traits and plot aspects that I knew I wanted. Bi-racial, young, fashionista; elements of non-monogamy; safer sex and sex positive ideas; emotional depth, but a still a lot of FUN. And from there, my WIP was born.


-What's your most valuable writing tip?
Don't take writing tips to serious extremes.

So that's me, in a nutshell. Looking forward to meeting other GUTGAA participants and reading blogs!

08 August 2012

On Lynch Mobs, Social Media, and LendInk

Social media is a funny thing. Nothing moves more quickly than an angry internet lynch mob.

Authors today are understandably worried about piracy and copyright infringement. Especially the ones going it alone, who don't have a big publishing house at their backs.

What do these things have to do with each other? I've seen them work together, for good and bad, the past several weeks. I first became aware of a site claiming to be an ebook library, which was really just a place for people to upload and download (in other words, illegally share) books. The cry of piracy went up. I heard about it on AQC, then Twitter and Facebook. Authors sent takedown notices. Their FB page blew up. PayPal yanked their donate button. Within a very short  amount of time, the site had to deal with a lot of trouble brought by irate authors. And rightfully so. Though hiding behind semantics and nasty online personas, the site owner and main defender know exactly what they're doing.

Fast forward a couple weeks. I was about to get on a plane to visit my #goatposse writing friends in Las Vegas and was checking Twitter on my phone. I came across a conversation where someone I didn't know was accusing a writing friend of violating copyright and owning/operating a pirating site. I clicked through the conversation and links to see what was going on, and that's how I first heard of LendInk.com. My Twitter interactions at the time were assuring the rabid tweeter that no, this other person was not affiliated in any way with LendInk. (Turns out the confusion came up because of a Hootsuite toolbar that popped up on the window with my friend's Twitter profile pic. Which is not an excuse for this other person to get all crazy over it. If you don't know how social media apps like that work, you shouldn't be on social media. Or at the very least, you need to refrain from making accusations like that.)

After seeing what happened with the site-that-shall-not-be-named mentioned before this, I wanted to warn other authors about another possible piracy site.

Guess what I DIDN'T do? I didn't immediately start tweeting and posting and re-tweeting and shouting PIRATES! PIRATES! What I did do was look at the LendInk website. I was a little confused about what the site was, at first, and I didn't have much time to look before boarding my plane that day. What I gathered was that LendInk facilitates lending of ebooks (that are already lendable) and that said lending was handled by the appropriate sites (like Amazon or B&N).

There was still some confusion because I was seeing people tweet stuff about not authorizing LendInk to lend their books and people still shouting about piracy. I also noticed a few murmurings about it on Facebook. I didn't think it looked like a pirating site, and I had a plane to catch, so I forgot about it for a few days.

Imagine my shock and surprise when I returned a few days later to find that LendInk had been taken down as a result of this internet lynch mob mentality. My first thought was Oh, maybe I was wrong and they were pirating books. But I really wanted some more info. I didn't have to talk to anyone personally involved, as others had already done that for me. The first thing I read was April L. Hamilton's post on the topic, and then this one on The Digital Reader. They basically confirmed what I thought LendInk was about, plus clarifying a little farther how their process works.

Still, I was skeptical. Because how could SO MANY people fly off the handle like they did and be SO WRONG? Since the site had already been shut down (a result of their hosting company being bombarded with angry, misinformed emails threatening lawsuits, and NOT as proof of guilt) it was difficult to dig for more info. All I had to go on was what I remembered reading four days before.There were also people touting an emailed response received by a friend (or by themselves) from Amazon as proof that LendInk was in the wrong. The letter states Amazon did not authorize LendInk.com or any other website to lend their book, and then suggested "contacting that website to confirm your rights and request removal of your work." When I read that, the only thing I could think was that A) this sounded like a form reply, based on the misleading question about whether the site could legally lend boks, and B) LendInk was never lending books to begin with. No files were ever uploaded to, downloaded from, or stored on the site or its servers.

The owner/operator of LendInk has since replied directly to the article on The Digital Reader, and today a friend (the same one who had been accused of being the owner of LendInk by an overzealous author last week) directed me to another article, this time on techdirt, saying exactly the same thing: LendInk was completely legal and legitimate, and it was brought down by a lynch mob of authors who didn't do their due diligence in fact-checking.

So, to recap:
  • LendInk was not doing anything illegal
  • LendInk was not offering pirated books for free
  • Users could go to LendInk and state they had whatever title available for lending
  • LendInk hooked up users who were looking to borrow with users who had books to lend, then referred them back to either B&N or Amazon to do the lending
  • Lending ebooks is legitimate and legal
  • This fiasco is an example of social media gone wrong
It is truly sad that this scenario played out the way it did. I don't know what will happen to LendInk or if the owner will be able to get it up and running again. I hope so. But at the very least, I hope this is a warning to writers everywhere.

You are responsible for your own actions. You owe it to yourself and to those who could be negatively impacted by your premature mouthing off to do your homework. Read FAQs, take to google, email the appropriate parties (and for goodness' sake, give it TIME! Not everyone is glued to their inbox every second of every day the way we are, waiting for query rejections or news from an agent), talk to each other in a civil manner, and remember that everything you do in a case like this will be subject to public scrutiny.

Think. Then act.

09 July 2012

Short Stories and the Novelist: A Marketing Tool

Most of us probably started off writing short stories, either on our own or as class assignments as kids. Some may still write short stories for our own enjoyment, or maybe to sell to magazines or for contests. But short stories are sort of the red-headed stepchild to the novelist, aren't they? Agents don't generally rep short story collections. They aren't the most lucrative market. (If you are looking for places to publish short stories, Duotrope is a great place to search.) I'm here to tell you that short stories may be more beneficial to you as a novelist than you think.

By now we all know that the digital side of publishing is a huge part of the market and that it's easier now than ever to put together your own eBook. Self-publishing is well within reach for all of us. (Agented authors with book deals may need to check with their publishers and read the fine print of their contracts before self-publishing anything, to avoid any fiasco like this one.) Any of us can self-publish a few singles, or a collection of short stories. This makes the short story a relatively quick and easy tool in your arsenal. Here are a few ways to use short stories to your advantage.


Pre-Launch


Are you an indie or self-publisher about to release your first novel? You've written a great book, have a nice cover, have carefully crafted your short blurb and product description, have been working on your social media presence and building a following, and have decided on a price you feel is both competitive and fair to you as the writer. But you might still be worried about how to better entice readers to buy your book–the one by an author they've never heard of—instead of, or in addition to, the latest release by one of their favorite, well-known authors. Readers can certainly "look inside" on Amazon and sample some of your writing that way. Or you could offer a little something else.

My FTWA buddy Pete Morin took this approach before the release of his novel, Diary of a Small Fish. The month before he published Fish he released a free short story on Smashwords. A free short story or collection of shorts gives potential readers a way to read something of yours, from start to finish, and get a feel for whether they'd like to read more. Hopefully the answer is yes! And once they know you can satisfy their imaginations through an entire story arc, they won't be as hesitant to spend money on your novel. You're no longer an unknown to them. Some authors will offer the first book of a series for free, then charge for the rest, banking on this same theory that the free book will lead to more sales for the others. If you aren't writing a series, consider writing a short story or two to offer for free prior to your book's release.


Between Books in a Series


YA author Elana Johnson's debut novel, Possession, was published in June of 2011. The sequel, Surrender, was released last month. During the year between the two books, Elana released two shorter stories related to the series. The first was an exclusive short story, available as a free download through her website, and the second was what she calls a "bridge story," which is an eBook exclusive. Both of these were her own ideas that she executed with her publisher's support. She explained to me via Twitter
The first one (Insider Information) was my idea. We needed their permission to use butterflies and ice on the cover. They liked what I was doing, and so we (me and agent) pitched the idea of a "bridge story" to them. They ran with that, and produced the second story (REGRET). So one is free (my self-pubbed one) and one is $1.99.It's hard to tell for sure, but she believes "it seems to have worked a bit" in terms of keeping readers interested in the series and keeping up the excitement prior to the release of the second book. 
Elana shows that using short stories to renew and sustain interest in a series isn't for self-publishers alone. You can make it work with traditional publishing as well.


Bonus Material


Do you ever watch the deleted scenes or alternate endings from movies when you get the DVD? I do, when it's a movie I really enjoyed. Have you ever read a book and wanted to read more about the character's lives after the book was finished? Maybe you wanted to know more about some of their back story, stuff that wasn't really related to the novel itself. Or maybe you wondered how it would've turned out if a character had made this choice instead of that one.

You've wondered about it with books you've read. So why don't you write it for your own books?

If you've gotten good feedback that readers love your characters and your story, it's not too far-fetched to think they might enjoy some bonus material. Maybe you had to delete some scenes you liked but that didn't suit the novel for whatever reason. Or perhaps you've been dying to write an alternate ending. Or a short story about one of your characters as a child. There are a lot of possibilities there. If you're self-publishing, there's really no limit to what you can do. If you have a contract with a publisher, you'll need to work out what you can and can't do on your own, and what they would or wouldn't be willing to work with you on.

You may be a novelist, but don't discount the value short stories could add to your career. They can help you entice readers if you're relatively unknown, sustain the enthusiasm for your writing and characters between releases, and help you continue to satisfy readers even after they reach THE END.

Have you used short stories to complement your novels in these, or other, ways? Do you have any tips for others looking to use this technique?

This post originally appeared on From the Write Angle, under the title Your Writing Repertoire: the Long and Short of It.

02 July 2012

A Writer's Life in Thailand

I'm very excited to have a guest post today from Dannie Hill, who claimed this spot when he donated to the Indies Unite for Joshua Indiegogo campaign. Welcome, Dannie!


A Writer’s Life in Thailand


I’m excited about doing a guest post at JELLO WORLD with J. Lea Lopez! Thank you, kind lady.

I’m an American writer and I’ve been living in Thailand for the past 9 years with my beautiful wife. We have a small farm where we grow tropical and not so tropical fruits, veggies, and main crop of either corn or tapioca. I have also published 3 novels and have a new one coming out very soon.

Many people ask me, “Why Thailand?” The answer is: I needed to get away from all the hustle, bustled, electronics and decision making. My brain needed a break. Also my wife was born in Thailand and I had kept her away for many years raising a family and caring for a wonderful husband… me. I have wanted to take her home for a while, but the honest truth is I did it more for me than her. One of the things I’ve learn here in Thailand is honest thoughts.

Many foreigners who come here and to other exotic lands seek out communities of foreigners to live near. Me? I came determined to learn the language (or die trying) and just get away from it all for a while. I live in a rural area where I’m it when it comes to foreigners. That while has lasted nine years so far. I can speak Thai now. I don’t claim that I can stand up and deliver a speech about the meaning of life but I do well enough to get along with everyone.

I’ve always led a simple life—starving artists tend to do that—so the culture shock wasn’t a major player. The hardest thing that I still haven’t learned to do is stop waving or speaking to nearly everyone I pass. I’m a Southerner and I tend to talk rather than think in many situations. My wife got in the habit of walking behind me—way behind me—so she wouldn’t blush all the time. Over time my neighbors have learned the American ‘wave’ and laugh at my antics. My wife even walks beside me now. Yeah.

Thailand is known as The Land of Smiles and it is a befitting name. These wonderful people take life as it comes to them and always seem happy. I think it’s the heat. I love to go to the morning markets and watch the beautiful women gliding along buying fresh vegetables and everything necessary for the day. I walk around talking to the Mea Ka, the sellers, and Lukka, the buyers, and just enjoy myself.

Dannie and Sam the cat
I often ride my motorcycle out into the country just to see where the road leads. I usually end up in a small village where white guys are a rare treat. I always find a gathering place where the older men and women socialize and introduce myself. It takes a few minutes for them to realize I am speaking Thai and then the fun begins. The others of the village come to see the foreigner speaking Thai. The children are always shy at first, but after a while they try their best to wring out the secrets of my being with squeals and laughter. I have to admit it's a big ego boost for me. In the States I’d be just another old man, but here in Thailand I’m special. I do love it here, living with the most wonderful people I’ve ever met.

As a writer, the quieted sounds of English allow my daydreams to come to life in words. There is such a peace here my muse is happy and words rush out faster than I can write them down. Just ask my editor! I can write back in the States but it’s an effort to find the peace I need. In Thailand it’s just a morning away.

I was in a war two countries away, lived in Budapest for a short time, lived in the Marshall Islands for two years and visited a number of countries, and I must say Thailand is my favorite for the people, the beauty of the land and the food. It’s a place I know you would enjoy.

To learn more about Dannie, check out his blog here, or learn more about his books here.

27 June 2012

The Difficult Decision NOT To Publish

I've been talking about, and working toward, self-publishing my first novel, Sorry's Not Enough, this fall. I've done a lot of research, learned a whole lot of things, tried my hand at creating an ebook cover, put my novel through several beta readers, and agonized over every word. My plan was to put together a few short stories as a collection to release for free a few weeks before publishing the novel, as a sort of teaser for people new to my writing. While doing all this, I was going to continue working on my WIP, Confessions of a Non-Believer, a commercial women's fiction story with a bit of religious debate. And THEN, when that was done, I would start writing my erotica series during the time it took to seek representation for Confessions, while hopefully making decent self-pub sales with Sorry's Not Enough. That was the plan, and I've put in a lot of work, so this post may come as a surprise.

I will not be self-publishing Sorry's Not Enough.

And no, it's not because I got an agent or anything like that. I will also not continue working on Confessions right now. I may tinker with it here and there, but it won't be my priority. This is a hard thing to say, because on some level I feel like I'm abandoning the love of my life. I love both of these stories, and it does hurt a little bit to say "Sorry, but I have to set you aside."

Anatomy of a decision


I'm not dropping out of the writing game. What I am doing is carefully selecting my career path. It has been in the back of my mind for a while that I have two separate audiences for my work. The dream would be that my fans would be my fans no matter my genre, but realistically I know that the audience for my women's fiction and the audience for my erotica are two separate market segments. There will be some overlap in the customer base, but sustaining a career in one or both genres means different marketing plans and, most importantly, a steady supply of new material for fans of EACH genre. My FTWA colleague Sophie Perinot wrote about author branding and genre in a post last August that really spoke to me. I think I've been mulling this over on a subconscious level ever since.

The bottom line in Sophie's post, and the reality of publishing, is that you will most likely mold your writing career around the genre you debut in. At least for a while. I'm sure you've all heard the saying by now that the best marketing for one book is to write (and publish) your next book. A solid career track depends on a writer being able to deliver a steady supply of writing that the readers are eager to gobble up. So it doesn't make sense to debut in one genre, then switch to another. Like I said, you might get some readers who follow you from one genre to another, but you'll essentially have to re-market and re-brand yourself to a new readership in the new genre. Career-wise, it just isn't a smart move. At least not for me.

Which is why my commercial women's fiction projects have to take a back seat while I focus on erotica.

I've had this idea for my erotica series for a couple years now, but I've always been waiting to finish (and hopefully land an agent/publishing deal) with the women's fiction first. Probably because that was the order in which the ideas came to me. If I am truly honest with myself, though, trying to break into the publishing world with my women's fiction is a BAD idea. Why? Because SNE and Confessions are the only two women's fiction manuscripts I have, and I don't currently have any ideas for more. Nor has any viable idea come to me in the past two years. All of the other awesome ideas I have are for erotic stories, starting with this series. The series idea was just a nebulous collection of scenarios in my head at first, nothing too concrete, so I kept working on Confessions. But now the idea is more fully formed and screaming to be written.

There's also another reason I'm shifting my focus to erotica: timing. I have a sense that right now - like, YESTERDAY! - is a prime time to launch my career as an erotic novelist. No matter how much I, or anyone, may dislike Fifty Shades of Grey for whatever reason, it has thrust erotica into the mainstream limelight. Do I think there's better erotica out there? Of course. I hope that mine can be counted in the better quality category. We'll have to wait and see on that. But there's a buzz around the genre right now, and it seems like there's no better time to step onto the stage and try to make a name for myself. The fact that this is happening now, and that my series concept has finally gelled into something I'm finally prepared to write, now, is immense stroke of luck. I mean honestly... the timing! I feel if I put it off any longer, I'll miss out on a great opportunity.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not hopping on a bandwagon. I've been interested in erotica for a long time now, and I've written short stories, and the idea for the novel came to me a couple years ago. Erotica has also been a very healthy genre, sales-wise, way before the 50 Shades explosion, especially in the indie and self-publishing realm. But now is just the right time for me. How can I say no?

But can't you just use a pen name for one genre and do both at the same time? Or even if you don't use a pen name, can't you STILL self-publish like you were planning to and also write erotica?


As I already mentioned, it just doesn't make career sense for me. Even if I use a pen name to keep the marketing/genre stuff separate, I'll still only have two viable women's fiction manuscripts. Why self-publish one, seek representation for another (or self-pub both), and then have nothing else in the pipeline? I feel I'd be doing a disservice not only to my readers, but to myself and those two stories. If I (fingers crossed!) build a readership and fan base with my erotica and it doesn't look like I'll have any more women's fiction stuff to offer down the line, maybe then I'd consider self-publishing SNE and Confessions as a little something extra to offer my readers. I think I'd have better luck getting fans of my erotica to read my non-erotic titles than vice versa. Not sure why. Just a hunch I have.

Even disregarding all of the above, I still couldn't do both. I. Just. Can't. Recently I did an interview for Matt Sinclair at The Elephant's Bookshelf (publisher of the Spring Fevers anthology) and he asked whether I tend to work on multiple projects, or one at a time. In hindsight I realized just how much my answer foreshadowed this very decision:
I attempt multiple projects, but usually I end up not making much progress on any. For several weeks now, I've been stuck in the "thinking and scheming" frame of mind for about three different projects. I have to buckle down soon and start focusing on one first, then another, so I can actually get something accomplished.
I simply don't have it in me to write this erotica novel in a timely manner while also trying to focus on self-publishing my first novel and all that comes with that - marketing, blog tours, monitoring sales, etc. And forget about trying to write the erotica, self-publish SNE, AND keep working on Confessions.  I get anxious just thinking about it.

I'm indecisive. It's one of my flaws. I'm paralyzed by choice. Having to consider and manage all aspects of writing two projects and publishing a third is just too much. In discussing this decision with a friend yesterday, I told him I have this thing where I have a hard time problem-solving by just taking things one step at a time. I see things in a very interconnected way, and when I consider even one option, I can't help but also see the myriad possibilities branching out from it, like a choose-your-own adventure on crack. While this ability is actually an immense bonus to me working in retail environments, it is crippling in my writing life. If I let it get the best of me, I'll end up doing what I've been doing for the past three months: wasting time on Facebook and Twitter or staring at mindless drivel on TV because the magnitude of so many choices, so many potential actions, results, and consequences is overwhelming.

This has been a gut-wrenchingly difficult decision. Partially because I've been saying I'm going to self-publish this book for a good while now, and seemingly at the last minute I'm pulling the plug. I don't like saying I'm going to do something and then not doing it, no matter the reason. Makes me feel like a flake. (Thank you to all my Twitter friends and the #goatposse for assuring me I am not a flake.) I'm not sure what else has made it so difficult for me... probably a little soul-searching and psychological analysis to be done there, but I won't bore you with that. :-)

I hope that by sharing my decision with you, maybe someone else who feels like they're floundering without direction or struggling with a decision that's been eating at them for a while will find the courage to really examine themselves and their goals. Writing is art, and I want to write the stories that I want to write. But I also want this to be a career, which means making tough calls about what I should be writing at any given moment. And sometimes it means going with your gut, even when you aren't sure, like me.

What's the hardest writing career decision you've had to make? How did you know you were making the right choice?

25 June 2012

Round Robin Blogvel: Bloom, Chapter 4

Do you remember The Skeleton Key from last year? It was a Round Robin Blogvel (traveling blog novel) co-written by various authors, engineered by the awesome Michelle over at Greenwoman. (Click the tab at the top of this page to revisit The Skeleton Key.) Well, she's done it again! This summer's Round Robin Blogvel is called Bloom, and you can get the full table of contents here and follow along from the beginning. Chapter 3 was at Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire, and Chapter 5 will be up next week at Report From a Fugitive.

Chapter Four


I lift the wad of toilet paper and peek at the cut on my palm. The tissue is spotted with red and gold, like some sort of bizarre Mardi Gras favor.

“Has it stopped bleeding?” Gran asks.

“I think so.” Specks of dried blood cling to the torn edges of skin. They flake away like gold foil when I brush at them. A little too rough, though, and the cut opens up again on one end, deep red blood pushing to the surface in a tiny bead. 

Maybe we imagined the gold. Me and Gran both. Could we have imagined the metallic rivulet dripping from the cut? 

Doubtful. And anyway, I can't ignore the evidence on the tissue balled up in my fist.

Gran stands before me, her already-wrinkled brow creased even deeper in concentration. Her lips move slightly as though she's reciting a prayer, though she's never been particularly religious.

“Gran?”

She doesn't blink, but her gaze shifts to the ceiling and the metallic roots and vines that continue to invade the house from my bedroom above. And she keeps silently whispering. I wish I could read lips.

“We can take some of the leaves and sell the gold for cash. It'll be more than enough to fix up the house.” The waver in my voice belies my confidence. How would we explain the mysterious plants to a contractor? This stupid metal flower is going to destroy the house my parents grew up in, and it's all my fault. Hot tears sting my eyes. Gran is still whispering. “We can rebuild it. Or just buy a new house if we have to. There's enough gold to—”

“What? No, child.” She snaps out of her trance and picks up her sweater from the armchair. She always has a sweater, even on the hottest summer days. “Show me where they came from. I need to see.”

We head for the back door.

“I found them the other day, just off the trail. Near where it splits before the stream. Have you seen this before?” I look to her for answers, but she's silent. “They grow so fast. The second time I went they—”

I stop. The second time I went, there was someone close behind. I can't take Gran into the woods. It's not safe. It could've been a dog I heard in the woods. Or the wind. Or even just my imagination. But something in the back of my mind is telling me it isn't safe to go back there. Not with Gran, who won't be able to run if we need to.

“Why don't you just look at the ones up in my room? It's all the same stuff.”

“I've seen those. Now let's go. Why are you just standing there?” She turns to me with a steely gaze. I can almost see a glint of bronze in her eyes, like the mysterious metallic plants. “I must see them where they live. You know as well as I do that plants behave differently in the wild.”

I may as well have sprouted my own roots, planted as I am to my spot on the floor. I don't know why, or how, but I know it's not safe for Gran out there.

“I have pictures! I took a lot of pictures when I was out there.” Jamie likes to make fun of me for taking my camera everywhere. I'll never let his teasing bother me again now that my obsessive camera-hauling means I don't have to put Gran in danger.

“Well go on, get your camera then.” She swishes me along with her sweater. “Hurry.”

The urgency in her voice scares me. Like she knows more than I do. I dash upstairs and grab my camera, then take the stairs two at a time on the way back down, narrowly avoiding tripping and breaking my neck. Weird metal flowers turning trees to gold and invading my bedroom, but it'll be the freaking plain oak stairs that do me in if I’m not careful.

Slow down, Jessica! My mom was constantly scolding me that way as a child. I haven't heard her voice in a while, though.

I thrust the camera into Gran's hands and show her the button to push to scroll through the 127 pictures I took the other day. She's quiet as she looks. She's always quiet, but man is she really quiet today. It's unnerving. I pace the floor in front of her. After a moment, she places the camera on the table by the back door.

“Does anyone else know about this?” she asks.

“I—I don't think so. I didn't tell anyone. What is it? Do you know what they are?”

“No. Not exactly.” She takes my hands in hers.

“We should make Jamie come home. I bet he could help us figure this out.” I suppose being an evil genius would come in handy at a time like this. He'd probably figure out a way to grow and harvest the gold plants for money. We'd be rich.

“No.” She squeezes my hands. “No. You cannot tell your brother about this, do you hear me?”

“But if anyone can—” The strength of her grip makes me falter.

“Do you understand me, Jessica?”

“Gran, you're hurting me.” The cut on my palm has opened the whole way, and warm sticky blood seeps from it, coating my hand and my grandmother's fingertips. It burns.

“He cannot know of this. Tell me you understand!”

“Okay, okay. I understand! Please, let go...” We both look down at our hands simultaneously.

This time there's no imagining it. I’m bleeding again, but it's not blood. At least it doesn't look like blood. It shimmers. Liquid gold. Gran lets go of my hand and stumbles back toward the staircase, her eyes wide and mouth open in a surprised O. Instead of dripping to the floor, my blood – or whatever it is – flows the other way, up her fingers. It seems to evaporate the farther it flows, as though it's seeping into her skin.

She sits with a thud on the stairs and looks from her hand, to me, and back again. When the last of the liquid disappears, Gran's hand drops to her lap and she slumps backward.

“Gran?” I approach slowly. What was that? What just happened? “Gran... can you hear me?”

I drop to my knees beside her, but she still doesn't move. She's so still, like she's...

“Gran!” I shake her shoulders, but no response. Her head rolls to the side and her wide eyes meet mine. Except they aren't brown anymore. They're gold. Moving, swirling gold. What have I done?

My hear nearly explodes from my chest when I hear the raspy breath pass through her lips. Once. Then again. She's breathing! But what am I supposed to do now?

“Jess.”

I whirl around at the sound of my name to see a woman standing in the doorway.

“Mom?”

21 May 2012

For the Love of...

There's been a lot going on lately. Between Mother's Day, this guest blog post, the death of my husband's grandmother, and a friend's beautiful beach wedding all within four or five weeks, love has been on my mind. I've also been playing this song over and over again:


There's too many things I haven't done yet
There's too many sunsets I haven't seen.
You can't waste the day wishing it'd slow down
You would've thought by now
I'd have learned something.

I made up my mind when I was a young girl
I've been given this one world,
I won't worry it away.
Now and again I lose sight of the good life
I get stuck in a low light
Then love comes in

How far do I have to go to get to you?
Many the miles, many the miles.
How far do I have to go to get to you?
Many the miles
Send me the miles
I'll be happy to
follow you.

That's just the first part of the lyrics, but it fits me so well it's scary. Although I have those dark moments, I tend to worry very little. Sometimes the only thing I worry about is whether I should be worrying more. Then love comes in. I think my lack of worry comes from an abundance of love. I see it everywhere. I feel it everywhere.

Love is one of those tricky things. I had an email conversation with a friend about this recently. We try to quantify and qualify our love. We label it and separate it, careful not to mix the different types because... what? We're afraid of the implications of love, I think. We're afraid of what it means to admit--to ourselves or anyone else--that we love someone. If you're married or seeing someone, what does it mean to love someone else? I love him like a brother. I love her like I love all of my closest friends. Labeling it a different type of love feels safer. Loving someone doesn't mean you want to jump in bed with them, or marry them. It can mean those things, of course, but not always. We create this division of love in an attempt to define relationships and stake claims on each other's hearts.

We separate love into compartments and say It's okay to give X amount of this type of love, but only to one person. Or We can give a lot of this other type of love to all kinds of people because it's different, and it's not love love. And also, I will feel threatened by this type of love from this person, but not that type of love from that person.

But you know what? It's ALL love.

I'm not saying there aren't different types of love. The way I love my husband feels a little different than the way I love my kid brother. Or the way I love some of my friends. And yet there's something the same about it, too. A sweetness. A blissful feeling. An indescribable something that makes me happy whenever I think of a loved one.

I love a lot of people. I've always loved easily. I've debated whether it's a selfless tendency or a selfish one, because I can't deny that it feels good to open my heart. That doesn't really matter for today's post, though, because the point is still the same. 

Love begets love.

Our capacity for love is bigger than we give ourselves credit for. Once you've given it, you can choose not to give any more, but you can never take back what you've already released into the world. Acknowledging, accepting, expressing love doesn't take away. Not from you, not from anyone else you love. It just makes room for more love to grow, which you then can give again.

There is another point to this, besides me just waxing poetic about love. I've been involved with a project the past couple months, and I know some people may not understand why it's so important to me. But the answer is love.


Indies Unite For Joshua is a worldwide group of independent authors, publishers, filmmakers, and artists rallying to support a fellow writer.

Joshua is the 21-year old son of author, Maxwell Cynn. Max writes speculative fiction, science fiction, and romance. His son has been diagnosed with Acute T-cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The cancer has invaded every part of his body: brain; spleen; liver; lymph nodes; and he has a mass in his chest. Joshua has had to suspend his studies while undergoing aggressive chemotherapy and will not be able to graduate this semester. With three-and-a-half years of a 4.0 GPA toward a degree in philosophy, his peers and professors consider him brilliant, as of course, does his father. Joshua would have been the first person in Max's family to graduate college. 

To learn more about this amazing young man, read Max's incredible post.
I donated a guest blog spot to the campaign perks, and I recorded a short video to encourage support for the cause. Not to mention the tweeting and posting on Facebook that you may have noticed. Here's the thing, though.

Like most people involved in Indies Unite for Joshua, I've never actually met Joshua, or his dad. I know his dad from online communities like Twitter, and I think he's a great writer. I consider him a friend. As I say in my video, I care what happens to him and his family. How can I feel so strongly for someone I don't "know"?

Love.

I'm not a religious person. I don't pray. That has always been a foreign concept to me. What I do is love. I let it fill me up, I seek it out, I give it away.

To Joshua, and to David (Max) and Tricia: I love you guys! You are in my thoughts, and I'm sending your family all the loving vibes I can muster.

Now how about you? Are you ready to open yourself up to a bit of love? All it takes is a share. A tweet. A post on Facebook. If you're able, a couple dollars. One supporter has been giving two bucks a day. Could you do the same? We have 10 days and $1,100 dollars to go to meet our goal of $10,000. Click the Metallica baby picture above, or the widget in the top right sidebar to go to the Indiegogo site to donate.

For the love of Joshua, what can you do?

Back to the Sara Bareilles song from the start of this post: How far do I have to go to get to you? Many the miles. Send me the miles, and I'll be happy to.

Joshua, when you're better, send me the miles. I'll come down and buy you and your parents a round of drinks. Or two. :-)

12 April 2012

All You Need is Love... Sorta

You may remember a guest post here in November from Cheri Lasota, author of Artemis Rising. She had some excellent observations on book marketing that would benefit all authors. Check it out now if you missed it.

Today I've finally managed to get her a guest post of my own. Join me on Cheri's blog to talk about writing vivid, realistic, believable charcters. Find out why I think All You Need is Love... Or Something Like It.

30 March 2012

Short Stories Published!

You may already know, but I had two short stories accepted into an anthology put together by some fellow writers at Agent Query Connect. I'm pleased to tell you that Spring Fevers is now available! Even better, it's free! Download from Smashwords, B&N, or Amazon. Fair warning, though, it's NOT free on Amazon, as they haven't price matched it. Any money from Amazon purchases will be given to charity, so if you want to spend the $0.99, go right ahead. If you read and love it, we hope you'll leave a review! You do NOT need an ereader to read the book, either! If you don't have one, there are free Kindle and Nook apps for your computer and smartphone, as well as Calibre, which will read all ebook formats.


About the anthology

An anthology of short stories, Spring Fevers is an exploration of relationships in their varied states: love -- requited and unrequited -- friendships discovered and lost, family in its many guises, and the myriad places in between. Created by Cat Woods and Matt Sinclair, Spring Fevers arose from their work with the Agent Query Connect online writing community, and while membership in the free site was not necessary for inclusion in the anthology, the ten writers whose stories appear are all members. Authors include MarcyKate Connolly, S.Q. Eries, Robb Grindstaff, J. Lea Lopez, Mindy McGinnis, R.S. Mellette, Yvonne Osborne, Matt Sinclair, A.M. Supinger, and Cat Woods. The debut publication of Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, Spring Fevers was edited by the team of Robb Grindstaff, Matt Sinclair, and Cat Woods, with cover design by Calista Taylor, and book design by R.C. Lewis. A new anthology is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2012. 

The beautiful cover was designed by Calista Taylor, who has been a great friend/beta reader/coach and taught me a lot about creating ebook covers, though my skill is amateur to say the least. If you're in the market for a book cover, check out her website Covers by Cali to learn about her incredibly affordable options and to check out the gallery of other covers she has done.

About my stories

I have two stories in this anthology.

The Adventures of Sasquatch is the story of a single mom's desire to assert her fun-loving nature despite the opinions of her coworkers, and maybe even find love in the process. It all starts, and ends, with the most unlikely catalyst: her big feet.

The Haricots Verts is flash fiction, capturing a moment of uncertainty between two potential lovers.

28 March 2012

#Scintilla Day 11: 23 Pieces of Me

This is the last day for Scintilla, so let me just take a moment to say thanks to everyone who has read and commented, and I do hope you'll pop in from time to time. I've read some great posts by immensely interesting people and will certainly be reading those blogs in the future.

I wasn't terribly inspired by the prompt options for today, so I'm going all the way back to Day 1 to do the other prompt from that day: Who are you? It's always a difficult and complicated question for me, and each time I answer it, I think the picture painted is a little different than last time. I was also inspired by this brilliant list of 23 combo post from another Scintilla participant, so I've decided to tell you who I am in a list.
  1. I'm sensitive. Not in the derogatory sense. (Oh, she's just sensitive.) Not in the psychic sense, either. But I'm attuned to moods and can sense when those around me are unhappy, or when there's tension between people. I don't usually let it affect my own behavior, but sometimes I'd rather avoid you than listen to another complaint about anything. Sometimes I just need a break from other people's negativity.
  2. Compliments make me uncomfortable. Praise for my skills, accomplishments, or other things I've done are easier for me to accept than compliments on how I look.
  3. I love to laugh.
  4. I'm a nice girl. But...
  5. There's a snark monster living in my head. I try to keep her chained, but she slips out now and then.
  6. I love dirty talk. I don't mean in the bedroom. Or maybe I do. You'll just have to guess on that one. But I mean I find it hilarious when men try to "clean it up" for my sake, or apologize to me for the sexual comments made to the other men in the room while in my presence. Hello. If they could see inside my head... I write erotica, for cryin' out loud. I'm not a prude. In fact, sex and sexuality - the emotion and psychology of it - fascinates me, and if you ask the right questions, I'll talk to you all day about it.
  7. I'm a writer.
  8. I am an introvert.
  9. I'm shy.
  10. I prefer beer over wine, and mojitos over everything.
  11. I think jello is fantastic.
  12. I'm a half Puerto Rican girl born in Jersey, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, living in Pennsylvania, longing for the ocean.
  13. I love to eat. Thanks to #12, a husband who went to culinary school, and a love for food in general, my tastes vary widely. I love scrapple, even though I know what it's made of. I'll sit around picking crabs for hours. And I would seriously kill for some mofongo with pork right about now. My comfort food of choice is ground beef with rice and beans.The weirdest thing (according to other people) besides scrapple that I love to eat is Ritz crackers topped with sharp cheddar and orange marmalade.
  14. I'm childfree.
  15. I get immense satisfaction from seeing people I love succeed, even when they succeed at things in which I still only aspire.
  16. I spend way too much time playing Facebook games, games on my phone (Scramble with Friends! Draw Something!), chatting on Twitter, and otherwise being unproductive. But you'll never hear me complain about not getting stuff done or achieving what I want because I know if I don't, it's my own lazy ass fault.
  17. I have clown feet. Size 11 EXTRA wide. I love looking at shoes, but loathe attempting to buy any.
  18. I talk to my dog as if she were a person and can fully comprehend what I'm saying. (She totally can, by the way.)
  19. I'm smart. People have said that to me in a way that I felt was demeaning. But dammit, I'm smart! And that's a good thing.
  20. I love fashion and sewing. I made the corset and skirt I wore when I got married. It pains me to pay full price (and even sale price) for clothes from the store because I know what a rip-off a lot of it is.
  21. I'm not the jealous type.
  22. I'm not afraid of silence.
  23. I am love. I don't say this to be overly dramatic or romantic or deep. But the more I think about it (and I've been thinking about it) the more I realize that love is the defining feature of my life, and who I am. More than any one idea of god or spirituality, I've always believed in love. I love easily, and completely. I probably love you and you don't even realize it. I love when I know the possibility for hurt is high. I love when that hurt subsides. I don't take back love once it's given, though I may change how I express it. I love platonically, and romantically, and a whole lot in between. From my every day interactions to the people I call friends to the fiction I write, my life is an exploration of the spectrum of love.

#Scintilla Day 10: RANT RANT RANT RANT

Day 10 prompt is to talk about a pet peeve. There are so many... you may have seen my controlled rant on peek, peak, and pique (no? go! read! and never make the mistake again!) because the misuse/confusion of homophones is a major pet peeve. Their/there/they're, your/you're, and so on. Maybe it's the writer in me that gets so annoyed, but I've always been this way. Maybe it's just my need to be right. ;-) Either way, I won't talk about that pet peeve today. Since I have so many, I thought I'd talk about a less common pet peeve.

Hangers facing the WRONG way.

I said "less common" because while it might tickle the OCD parts of my writer friends, I doubt most loathe it quite as much as I do. Unless you've worked retail. Then you know the white-hot rage that can boil over at the sight of that one hanger facing the wrong way on a rack.

It's not that difficult! Just think question mark.

?

That's what the hanger should look like before you stick it back on the rack. It's actually more of a pain in the ass for you to shove the hanger in the rack, under the bar, to hook it on backwards, so STOP DOING IT. Not only are you wasting the precious extra ten seconds it takes you to do it that way for every. single. freaking. item of clothing you look at on your shopping trip (you know who you are *glares*) but you're also wasting MY TIME by making me fix it. Oh wait... that's not my job anymore! Mwahahahahahahaha... ha... ha. Sorry. Got carried away there. Straightening racks isn't exactly my job anymore, but hangers facing the wrong way still affect me, and still irritate me.

The salesperson will appreciate it greatly if you simply put the hanger back on the rack properly. You know. The way you found it to start with. Do you walk into a bookstore, proceed to turn all the books you look at so they face backward, and expect not to get a few sideways glances? No, of course not! You put them back where and how you found them. It's not a novel (heh) concept.

My trained eye can spot one of 75 hangers turned the wrong way in seconds. Seconds, I tell you! If I'm not looking to see whether the hangers are all faced one way (because, oh, I don't know, I've misplaced my faith in humanity by assuming no jerks have come by and put them back wrong) I'll go to grab a handful at once if I need to move things around during the course of my job... and you know what happens then? Where are all my retail bitches? You know.

You grab that run of 25 or so garments to move to a runner or different rack and because of that ONE DAMN BACKWARD HANGER holding on for dear life, you either end up nearly toppling the whole fixture or give yourself whiplash as you're yanked back.

Be kind to your salespeople (and OCD and neat freaks everywhere) and put the hanger back the right way. If I see any of you sadistic anarchists in my store turning hangers just to spite me, you better watch out. They'll have to change the term "going postal" to "going retail" because I will cut a mutha--

Oh. I mean... Pay no attention to the crazy lady behind the curtain. Put your hangers back properly. Please and thank you. :-)

26 March 2012

#Scintilla Day 9: Body Conscious, a Conversation

Finally current with Scintilla posts! Prompt for today: Talk about the ways in which your body is awesome.

Okay, let's see. My body. Is. Awesome?

Oh come on, you aren't going to bring everyone down with some kind of negative body image talk, are you?

No. I'm a realist when it comes to my body, both the flaws and features. I'm just trying to figure out what to talk about. How to frame it.

Well, what's your favorite thing about your body?

I really like my hair.

Your hair is not your body.

It's attached.

*hands on hips*

I've always liked my eyes.

Better, I guess. Still not very body though.

Very "body"? What does that even mean?

I don't know. Don't you think it should be something a little more sensuous? You know, all that stuff about curves and soft and inviting and womanly...

Bah. Boring. I certainly don't sit around thinking of myself that way. Besides, I have lots of "soft curves" in places I wish I didn't! Haha!

I thought you weren't going to do the negative body image stuff?

I'm not! It's the truth. And I'm well aware it's the truth. It's not negative body image when it's true. I'm laughing at  myself. Not everyone can do that, you know. It takes security and confidence to be able to laugh at yourself.

No, it takes not believing you're attractive to be able to laugh at yourself.

Not true. Maybe I think I'm really damn fabulous and just don't want less awesome people to feel bad if they hear me boasting about it.

Do you think you're really damn fabulous?

Eh. Not most of the time. But that doesn't mean I think poorly of myself or my body, either.

Okay, okay, whatever. I know what we should do. We should--

We?

Yeah. Me. You. Us.

Are you really referring to yourself in the third person?

No, I'm referring to your self in the third person. Anyway, you're the one having a conversation with yourself. Who are you to judge?

Touche.

Anyway. You should do like a sexy, suggestive kind of thing about your favorite body part. Or parts. Like your lips. You have nice lips.

Aww. Thank you.

You're welcome. Stop interrupting us. Where were we...? Oh yeah. Sort of like an "is this fiction or not?" kind post. About your lips or whatever. You know, the bottom one is nice and full, and it's kinda sexy when  you slick on that strawberry margarita lip gloss and pout a little bit and--

I don't pout.

Sure you do.

I do not. I don't frown, so I don't pout either. I smile. All the time. I think people think I'm a little strange sometimes because I always smile.

What? Shut up, they do not. And you do too pout. You know, a little sexy pout. Pout. Lips. Lip gloss. Red. Eyes looking up through your curly hair that you like, and maybe a wink, and a man should be so lucky to have that mouth--

Holy whoa! Stop right there. This is not going to be about sex.

*snort* Please. Everything is about sex with you, Ms. I Write Erotica and Find Innuendo in Everything.

Whatever. Why should it be about sex, just because it asks about how my body is awesome? Just because I'm a woman? And the only reason my body can be awesome is in a sexual context? For the pleasure of a man? Screw that! My body can be sexual on its own, but it doesn't have to be sexual. And it's not going to be about how awesome my body is because it has the potential to bear children, because it'll never do that, either. My worth is not related to my sexual organs and what they can do. Just because I have breasts and--

Okay, okay! My lord you have been reading too many feminist blogs lately.

What, I couldn't have formed my opinions on my own, they had to come from somewhere else? Why? Because I'm a woman? You can't gaslight me into submission and... oh. Okay, maybe you have a point.

Of course I do. I'm you.

Again, touche. You make some good points.

Of course I do. I'm you.

So what the hell am I supposed to write?

I dunno. I've got sex on the brain. You left those poor characters hanging right before a steamy scene in the short story you started weeks ago, you know. You should really finish that.

I know, but what am I supposed to write now, for Scintilla?

Write the truth. Isn't that supposed to be what it's all about?

The truth is that my body is not perfect, but it does what I need it do. Sexually or otherwise. *wink*

See, I knew you couldn't resist a sexual joke or comment.

Busted.

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 ^^^THIS^^^ is why my brain is the reason my body is awesome. It never fails to amuse, enlighten, and entertain me. Sexually or otherwise. *wink*