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Monday, August 13, 2012

High School...not just Novel Fodder

Okay, first off, wow. I guess I took the summer and apparently some of the spring off as well from writing on the old blog. Let's just call me busy...ya, busy. I've been a little off in my writing persona of late, busy is just the tip of that iceberg.

This past week my family and I took our 'last ditch before school starts' family vacation down to Gulf Shores, Alabama. Never been to Alabama, will definitely go back. Now, aside from the colorful (yes, that is a pun) history, it is an absolute natural treasure. The trees, the water, the countryside in general (minus the man-eating alligator gar) is something I could easily travel back to explore over and over. Conveniently one of my school peers married a man from Jasper, Alabama- which is exactly half way between my house and the white beaches of the gulf. So, driving to and from the shore was made a bit more bearable by being able to stop and see Hea-Hoo. On the way down, she made my family dinner and we got to sit and chat with her family and it was a great, but all too short visit. On the way back up, it was just me and the kids- the hubby had to leave days earlier to head back to work. Another friend, Nacho (Hea-Hoo's BFF) had traveled in from the east, so we had a mini-reunion of sorts. Now, I've known Hea-Hoo since grade school, albeit, we never ran in the same playground circles. I've always thought fondly of her as she has some qualities I've wished I myself had, and possibly over the years have cultivated in myself due to this wonderful person's ability to let them shine through. Nacho, on the other hand, I've never really known except by name and face. Of course now, twenty plus years later, I've had the opportunity to get to know them via...wait for it.... facebook. So, it was great to get and stop and spend time with them! My kids (teenagers) also really love Hea-Hoo by the way, mainly for her witty stories and odd fear of little people, but also because of her crazy little dog Cubby.

One gigantic confirmation of an idea occurred to me after this weekend. This idea has been rolling around and percolating in my brain over the last few years, particularly as I meet up and talk to friends and folks who graduated with me. My version of high school is in fact, some sort of wacked-out Grease meets cheesy Sweet Valley High scenario. Unfortunately for me, the reality seems to have been much more interesting. While I was mooning over exotic older trumpet players and reading tons of non-required literature other people were out having sex and smoking pot! What a crazy idea, right?! Now, don't get me wrong, I did do some things I'm not proud of as a forty-year old, but I guess they were all pretty tame. I also lost my father to cancer during my junior year, which I think is a contributing factor to my glossy memory of my high school days. In fact, I'm sure if I had a shrink, they'd tell me this same thing. I remember things like dancing around my bedroom listening to Wham! and writing hopelessly romantic and G-rated (okay, maybe PG at times) poetry. I remember eating the cardboard and grease pizza and staring at boys from across the crowded cafeteria. I, not so fondly, recall going to dances where I stood on the wall listening to Air Supply and enviously watching girls with boyfriends dance all the slow songs. I never ditched school to go do anything cool, the extent of my bad-girl activities involved missing an extra part of a period to grab a soda with 'The Sax' on our approved excursion to get our high-school paper from the local printer. Enough said; my glory day memories revolve around band and advanced chem class experiments. I'm slowly finding out that school was way more interesting that my introverted perspective. Apparently there were parties, drama, illegal substances, and going further than french kissing at the beach.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with my Pleasantville perspective; nope, not a thing. But I do think I'd have much better novel fodder if I'd been paying attention back in the day. I have this one friend on Facebook, who was never really a friend in high school. I keep her in my Facebook world to remind me of what crazy looks like. She is constantly spouting off about how damaged she was growing up in this same town, around these same people. I find it interesting how her high school years have colored a huge part of her outlook on life in general, while I can barely remember it. She goes on and on about how backward and 'small town' our hometown can be and that it is the root of all known evil. I'm not sure what happened to her back there in that time and place, I mean, I can't even remember some folks without cracking the old yearbook to see a face and jog a memory. Obviously she has a heaping pile of fodder for her creative outlets. I have to say I'm a little jealous of her passion, as negative as it is, because she has it, while I have to invent mine.

So, the moral of this story is, well, I'm not exactly sure. I just found it interesting. In fact, I'm really thinking I need to either talk to a shrink (so I can see if I have any interesting repressed memories) or just continue to meet up with my old high school cronies and listen to stories of the past.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"The best laid plans of mice and men..."

Ever have one of those months? You know the ones.... best laid plans and all that jazz? The demons of work and day to day drudgery got to me for sure! The good news? I'm completely free (for the time being) to actually work on my WIP, make sure to blog, update, tweet and all those pesky self-publishing must-be-done's!

I've also had an opportunity to catch up on my book reviews. Didn't know I review? Check out to see my latest!

So, now, back to my WIP... but here's a little tidbit from Chapter 2- 'Arsenic and Red Lace' -
                                           *                                  *                                    *

“Hello?” I said in my loud sing-songy voice. Silence mostly, with a hint of breathing. “Listen, dude, whoever this is; you’ve called my phone a billion times this morning. So stop the stalker m.o. and just spill it.”
                “Maybe this was a bad idea,” the caller said. His voice was mingled grit and velvet. It was also slightly familiar.
                “Who is this?” I asked. Now I was definitely interested. He cleared his throat.
                “My name's Jack. You don’t know me, but I think you know- or knew – my brother,” he said.
                Silence followed.
                “Okay, well, Jack, I know a lot of people with brothers. Can you be a bit more specific?” Geez, obviously I was dealing with a brain surgeon.
                “Jack?” I asked, my patience starting to wane.
                “Sorry. This is Tansy right? Tansy Taylor? I guess I should make sure I’m talking to the right person.” He sighed into the phone. 
                “Yup, that’s me. Now, can you elaborate on how you know my name and phone number?” Sarcasm was starting to rule my tongue, he’d better get down to it.
                “My brother, Sam, told me you had a, well, unusual ability. He said to call you if anything ever happened to him; that you’d be able to help.” He blurted it all out in one breath; like he’d been holding the words hostage for the past twenty four hours. I suppose maybe he had. Not many people knew about my ‘special’ ability- that I can communicate with the recently departed. My spine tingled.
                “Sam?” I asked.
                “Yes, Tansy. Sam Adams.”
                I dropped the phone. Hope, anger, and a host of feelings washed over me all at once. Sam Adams. The one man in my life with whom I’d felt a true connection. The way all the saps feel in the cheesy romance novels do, weak knees, fuzzy brain and all.  He had crushed my heart, and almost killed me. Turned out Sam, aka Johnny, who was undercover for the feds, was actually working for the Russian mob. When I’d figured out they were behind the murder of a local girl’s fiancĂ© and were smuggling guns out of the country, they’d kidnapped me and tried to have me killed. Turned out Sam was one of the ringleaders. To say that I still wasn’t over him was, well, the biggest understatement of the century.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Lenten Offering

I have a distinct deficit in willpower. Lent is always a struggle for me, no matter what I go without. I started thinking about this lack of willpower, and realized, there is a distinct possbility it is related to my lazy-factor. Working from home, currently at night, has led me into a daytime life of watching DVR'd shows and sitting on my arse being soooo unproductive. So,istead of just restricting myself from an item (chocolate), which, in actuality makes me just yearn (oh, chocolate) and think (dark, light, milk, white) of that item even more thereby reducing my overall productivy (where was I going with this?); I will be adding something meaningful to my day.

There are many things I could do to add to my day in order to make it more productive or 'worthwhile.' However, I choose writing. I have been very bad so far this year in sticking to my resolution to write more. I constantly beat myself up over NOT writing, and that needs to change. I cannot be as good of parent, spouse, friend etc. if I am not first good to myself.

And so, my internet procrastination (also a HUGE contributor to the lazy-factor) must come to and end. I must get busy and write! Oh, and to keep myself honest about actually doing the writing, I'll post the first line I write each day- some will be good, some will be eh, and some will be downright turrrrible. But, I'll be writing and keeping my promise of each day.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

No, really... I'm still around!

I realized today that I have been very absent from my weekly blog. What can I say? Life (i.e. holidays, birthdays, work that pays more than 99 cents a copy, etc.) have been running my days and nights.

I have been ignoring my writing like a bad spouse- cheating on my own creative time with DVR'd television that I MUST watch, work that will pay the bills, and tons of holiday shopping and general errands and tasks that must be done this time of year. But, you say, it's a new year! Full of resolutions and promises to ourselves it promises to be a great one- as long as we can stick it out. I am no foolish woman. After a multitude of years where resolutions hit the can around week two, sometimes stretching to a month, I've learned not to set myself up for disappointment. Instead, I can only resolve to try harder; to make good on at least a fraction of what I would like to accomplish.

One of my fellow inmates (Of the Writer's Asylum) has started the year off with her new creative brainchild for productivity - 'WRoE'- Writer's Rules of Engagement. I, of course, am jealous of Cindy's valiant attempt at besting the procrastinator demons that we writers wrestle every day. For myself, as long as I'm doing something 'writing related' each day, I'm feeling good. I am a reviewer for Tracy Riva Books and Reviews (of course, check it out for great ideas on books to read! so on the days when I can't get my own creative juices flowing (or simply cannot stand to be in front of my computer after working my job as a virtual instructor) I read. Remember, reading is research for writing; especially when you are giving a review. So, while I would like my productivity to be more of my own creative outpourings, I feel confident that I'm keeping my imagination going by reading a good (or sometimes not) book.

Here's Happy New Year to all and to all a good 2012!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter 'Wonder'land

It's that time of year for me to hunker down with a book, a blankie, a mug of something warm and tasty, and of course- a fire in the fireplace. Once there, I am transported back to winter of my adolescence. I'm curled up on my parents' couch, the smells and sounds of family surround me. This moment- warmth and love radiating, my imagination roaming-is one of my all time favorites. I adore that now, on the precipice of 40, I can use these four magical items to transport me to that wondrous place anytime I choose. These days, I can also use it to ignite my own imagination for writing. Be it with a journal and a special pen, or my laptop, I can curl up and be in that wondrous place. The stories I've read come flooding back and provide me jumping points to weave my own words.

During the holiday season, it can be tough to find hours, let alone minutes, to sit and write or read. But I make time. Lately it's been mostly reading, something I can do in short sprints and spurts. I find it hard to sit and write in the few moments I find between wrapping gifts, running kids, and the more mundane things like work and housecleaning. I know there are people out there who can sit and write for ten minutes here and there, but unless it's writing a really bad poem, or an idea down, it's not me.

Take heart though- if you're like me- and simply read. Remember, reading is research for writing; at least I tell myself it is! Whether I'm reading a fabulous piece of literary art, or something I'll send the author a note about why I cannot review it, I find value. Reading makes me assess my own skills. For instance, the word 'that'. We all know it; some of us abhor it. It shows up in my writing WAY too often. So, when I'm reading a book for review (usually from and Indie author) I take notice of the things I find annoying, or devices I find amusing or useful. I can take these bits and pieces and use them in the self-critique of my own work. Writing is a process, of course, and as a writer, I'm constantly growing. It's like any other hobby or job. You have to continue to explore and apply to hone your skill.  One of these days, I'll be close to happy about what I write (most likely when I'm closing in on 90). In the meantime I will remind myself whatever 'book' related work I do- be it reading or writing- is improving my own skill and keeping the creative spirit alive.