Writing is a journey, not a destination.

Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good-bye, 2013, I'll Miss You

I mean that. This was my calmest year in a while, and I needed the break.

I'm in the minority. Most of my friends have had hellacious years (hmm. Blogspot doesn't know that word). New jobs, lost jobs, floods, chronic illness, never-ending divorces - you name it, I have a friend going through it.

But my 2013 was good. I kicked depression in the teeth and out the door. I settled into my cemetery job and gained a little mastery and a lot of attitude. The weather was remarkably calm for Kansas. My zucchini flourished, even if the tomatoes faltered. I found peace with Zynga.

I've read some books. More books than I've read since pre-college. I've watched some movies I've never seen. I attended a conference and met people I've only known virtually (and still liked them). I'm remembering how to sing in the shower. If lack of cavities is proof, I've successfully reintroduced fluoride to my teeth cleaning regimen.

The only thing that suffered this year was my writing. I've been avoiding my WIP like a clingy, demanding boyfriend. I've forsaken NAF almost entirely (as an alumnus, my responsibilities are less than they were, but still...). I've run out of blogging ideas, as if you couldn't tell. Not a good thing, as I've apparently added some fans. Got a message from one last week asking if I had a release date on my next book.

Sigh. A release date. I should probably get on that.

Thank you, 2013, for being a year I could love. A Year of Jubilee, as it were. I needed it. I suspect 2014 will be a real nutcracker.

Happy New Year's Eve, dear readers. Count your blessings and forget the rest.   

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Winter in Kansas

A few things to know about Winter in Kansas.

Usually, it's cold. Not Antarctic-kill-you-if-you-step-outside cold, but 30 degree highs and 0-10 degree lows with a wind chill. You'll want a coat, boots and thick gloves. And a ski mask because our winds keep blowing in Winter, and that north wind will peel the skin off your face if you're not careful. I add earmuffs because I can take almost anything but cold ears.

We don't see a lot of snow. We get sleet, freezing drizzle, the occasional ice storm, but snow doesn't happen as often as we would like, especially considering the cold temps. I mean, if you're going to freeze your nose off, you may as well have something pretty to look at, right?

When it does snow, people go a little crazy. SUVs think they're masters of the road, when in fact they tend to wind up in ditches and rollover accidents. An SUV can't stop any better than anyone else on snowpack. Keep that in mind, young'uns. Snow driving means down-shifting, slow speeds, and no tailgating.

Even in Winter, Kansas sun melts snow. What your parents may not have told you is to shovel your drive a) before you drive on it, and b) before the sun gets too high. If you get the snow off, the sun and wind take care of the remaining moisture, and you get a dry driveway by nightfall. If you don't clear it off, the sun melts the snow, and you get a sheet of ice by next morning. This holds true for clearing off your vehicle, too. Sun either heats a car and melts ice off the windows, or heats a car and turns snow left on a car into a thicker layer of ice.

This clearing and melting can backfire if the sun doesn't come out until late, but generally you're better off clearing than not clearing. It's good exercise, too, as long as you don't pull your brachioradialus muscle. 

Snow is both moisture and an insulator, so I always shovel it onto the flower beds. This is another good reason to move it before you drive on it. The chemicals used to clear roads have no business on your flower beds.

Any day above freezing will be a good day for the carwashes. Kansas drivers know to get the road sand and salt off their vehicles as soon as possible. With my growing affection for the new van, I'll be doing this myself when the opportunity arises.

We got snow this weekend, so I've been shoveling and scraping and pulling muscles. Good times.

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Drive careful out there. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Insight, or Another Excuse?

Money doesn't motivate me.

I'm almost ashamed to write that. It sounds horribly elitist, as though I cannot be bothered with the travails of mere mortals. I assure you, money worries me as much as it worries most people. I just don't translate "money worry" into "make more money." In fact, I seem to take the opposite route of "money worry" becomes "money hoarding."

This lack of desire to pursue money makes me a bit odd, I suspect, and may add to the elitist image of "I cannot be bothered to sully myself with grubbing after income like a commoner." I hope that's not the case. If it is, I assure you, the issue is entirely mine, as my entire family is of common stock with an excellent work ethic and normal perspectives of income vs. outgo. I have no business thinking I'm made of grander stuff than most. I'm plain old homespun from wool and cotton, no matter that I behave like the silk petticoat of a queen. 

TT: Probably time to reread The Lost Princess by George McDonald. I do that when I start to get above myself. 

Back to my point. I didn't publish a book to make money. I published a book because a lot of people made my life miserable until I did. Now that I have, they've mostly backed off (possibly because I bite people who ask "when's the next book coming out?")

One of my writer's groups is once again discussing book pricing. I fall on the lower price point side for ebooks because the physical costs are lower and higher prices for print books because the physical costs are higher. However, I wonder if I'm about lower price points because I don't want my books associated with me making a profit.

Now that absolutely goes against everything I espouse. I am a rabid capitalist, provided the capitalism is balanced with integrity. I firmly support the mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services, and that is the foundation of capitalism. Two people getting exactly what they want from each other, and being so satisfied with the exchange, they'd gladly do it again. It's what I used to have with Zynga before the company went money crazy.

I want people who buy my books to be satisfied with the purchase. There is nothing inherently wrong with me benefiting monetarily from that. But, I admit, I would rather have the praise than the cash. I would rather my product be admired and respected than fill my savings account.

Therein lies the pinch. I am reluctant to gain money from my books, and I am terrified that I will lose what respect I've earned by producing the next one (a very real possibility, btw, considering how often it happens to others).

So, once again, I've found an underlying insight to the paralysis I face whenever I look at my laptop. Will it help me overcome that paralysis? We'll see. Sometimes insight is enough to remove the dam.

Happy Wednesday, dear readers. May you have all the money you need, even if it's not all the money you want.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

To Steal or Not To Steal

Yesterday, Katherine Coble asked the question,
"Is it stealing to open a bag of something like chips or cookies or cough drops and eat them during your shopping trip?"
This was apparently prompted by observations of another shopper. She had her opinion on the matter, but was curious what her FB Friends thought on the issue.

About half of the responders thought it was fine as long as you paid before you left. I don't think that's the question. The question is did you steal by opening the bag and eating during your shopping trip?

If you've interacted with me for any length of time, you know how much food occupies my thoughts. You should also have gathered how extremely possessive I am. This question touches on both issues. I have no doubt at all that eating food that isn't mine is stealing. 

I'm not condemning those who've done it. My greater concern is how easily rationalizing comes to us as a society.

"Well, it's fine as long as you pay before you leave." No. Eating something that isn't yours is stealing. You can pay for it afterward, but it was stolen until you paid. That's an "end justifies the means" argument. Those never fly with me.

"Well, the clerk didn't say anything/stop me, so it's fine." No. Bad behavior doesn't justify more bad behavior. If you take something that isn't yours, you steal. It doesn't matter if someone calls you on it. This is the same rationalization we use when running a stop sign because no other cars are there. The law doesn't stop existing because no one sees you break it.

"Well, I really needed it because I was having a (insert medical condition)." If you are that likely to have such a medical condition, why aren't you carrying whatever you need with you? I'm borderline hypoglycemic (one of the reasons I'm so concerned about food). I promise you, I have snacks with me at all times. I don't need to steal from a store because I'm experiencing low blood sugar.

Again, I'm not condemning. I'm observing. As a gatekeeper/guardian/ anti-change agent, I will always call out b.s. And those answers sounded my b.s. horn.

Proverbs 30:7-9

Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God. (NASB)

Happy Hump Day, dear readers.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Issues of Dismemberment

or, Why I'm OK With Dolls Whose Arms Come Off, But Not Dolls Whose Feet Come Off.

I have issues with dismemberment. You might not think so if you've read my stuff because I appear eager to sever protuberances, but it is never a good thing. Actually, that could go either way.

It started with those Disney head purses. You know the ones. Purses that are just the heads of famous Disney characters: Pooh et al., Mickey et al., Nemo et al.? OK, Nemo is pretty much a giant head anyway, but you get my point. I put my foot down when Niece #1 wanted a head purse. There was no way in The Nine Hells My Lamb was going anywhere with a severed head dangling from her tiny shoulder. Unless she killed it herself with a bottle opener and her teeth.

I got her a Djali backpack instead (this was during the Hunchback of Notre Dame ouvre).

TT: Not sure I'm spelling that word correctly or even using it right, but I heard it on Buffy the Vampire Slayer so I'm giving it a shot.

Yes, the goat was eviscerated, but he was otherwise intact. Stuff him with a blanket and no one knows his sorrow. She got the point, and Weird Aunt Turtle got peace of mind. 

Fast forward several years, and Bratz enter the scene. I have no issues with disproportionate dolls. Hey, I played with Barbie for years. And years. But when you have to change a doll's shoes by pulling off its feet, I draw a line. These are caricatures of real girls, and real girls' feet don't come off on purpose. I banned the Bratz. Pretty sure the nieces still had some, but we didn't discuss it, and they certainly didn't depedocate them around me. (Is that a word? Should be.)

Why, then, am I fine with the removable arms (and in some cases, everything) of Monster High dolls? Because they're monsters. Monsters can do all kinds of things normal humans can't, including switching forearms.

Which is why, after nearly a year of yearning, I finally broke down and bought a Monster High doll (actually, I bought three - one assembled and a set of two, assembly required, mwahahahahahaa!). They should have been around when I was younger, and it isn't my fault they weren't.

They came!

Happy Tuesday, dear readers. Grasp a bit of your lost youth today, as long as all your pieces stay attached.