Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'd swim better if I didn't feel like I was drowning...

Did you ever have one of those days? That's a silly question, of course you have. I'm having one of those days right now. Not one those good days, but one of those days! One those kinds of days where even the fact that I have to breathe seems to be an obstacle to accomplishing a task. These kinds of days hide inconspicuously among all of the other days in my life. I tend to think that they have minds and personalities of their own. They have devious minds, they wait patiently among all of the other good days and then spring themselves on you just when you've let your guard down.

These insidious days start out like every other day. The meanest ones will let you start the day up beat and thinking that although you have tons to get done, you will have plenty of time to do it. And everything has been going so smoothly up to this point that instead of waking up in a panic about all of the things that you need to get done you wake up hopeful and cheerful even. Your husband makes you coffee as soon you present your sleepy eyes, wacky hair and gawd awful morning breath, and you smile because as far as you can tell, this day is going to turn out alright.

And then...

You check the status of the text book that you ordered 3 weeks ago, for a class that you started 2 weeks ago, only to learn that the seller, with whom you have been emailing for several days, has not received or resent the errant text book. You try to take in stride, you have homework due that requires the text, but you were creative last week, you might be able to pull off another week of creativity. You tell yourself that you won't stress out, because everything is going to be okay, you'll deal.

It's okay the day is not over. There are still plenty of other goals that you can reach things that you can accomplish. You go to change the ink in the printer, which has worked perfectly except for the lack of ink, until today. You change the ink in the printer and suddenly the printer can't/won't/doesn't properly print...at all. Well, that sucks, but we can trouble shoot from the internet right?

So then you log onto the internet. Scratch that, you TRY to log onto the internet, only to find that your internet is haywire and the router has also decided that today is a good day to drop a signal...repeatedly. The modem feels the need to operate at sluggish speeds so that just when the webpage you want has loaded up, the router stops working. It's about this point that the ends of your hair begin to stand up on their own from the tension.

So then you remind yourself to breathe. You take several deep breaths and decide there are still things that I can do. So then you go to work on the printer. Which is a mistake because 3 hours and several ink smudges on your face later. You still have a useless printer with a brand new ink cartridge.

And then the implosion begins, all of the things that weren't wrong are suddenly wrong, your house is a mess, there is laundry to be done, the bathrooms need cleaning, your office needs organizing, the budget needs balancing, the bills need paying, the yard needs tending, the dog needs walking, homework deadlines are squashing up against the back of your eyes, your manuscript is getting dusty, you still need a shower, dinner needs making.....


That's the sound of your sanity, your resolve, your courage giving under the weight of the stress.


You're in the middle of a chaotic ocean and you've suddenly forgotten how to swim...heck you've forgotten how to tread water.


You know what's interesting about sinking slowly beneath water? It's quiet. All the noises of the world are muffled, the pressure of the water makes it impossible to hear what anyone is saying. As you sink through the water the silent chaos is a welcomed change over the noise. You start to think that maybe you don't want to come up for air, the silence is like a blanket and it doesn't matter that you can't breathe because breathing was starting to be cumbersome too.

And then sense and then a little bit of clarity and suddenly your clawing your way out of the water. Yes, you want to breathe and yes you hate this day, but this is your day, it and all of its suck belong to you, and despite all appearances there is something good in owning even the worst of days. By the time you've pulled yourself to the surface the world looks a little newer, it's still full of suck, but since its your suck you can dress it up however you want to.

I will dress my suck in laughter, because it's almost impossible to create this kind of perfect comedic timing. I will tell my suck to "SUCK IT". This devious day may still have some surprising suck to throw at me, but this is what I will say to it,

"I'm rubber you're glue, whatever you do bounces off of me and sticks to you!"

And then I will do the only thing any sane and responsible adult would do after saying something like that, I'll stick my tongue out, put my thumb to my nose and wiggle my fingers.

It's my day!



Saturday, March 26, 2011

A-Z Oh the Places I Might/Should/Could/Will Go!

I spent a great deal of time at the airport yesterday. This is a reality of having kids with parents in separate states. Kid exchanges are overcomplicated and expensives. Yesterday we sent one kiddo to visit grandparents in the A.M., then had to leave because the next kiddo didn't come into town from their mom's house until four hours later. We could have wandered around the airport for 4 hours, but the parking fees are atrocious.

As a side note, we went to the mall and after reevaluating the financial damage from those 4 hours, it might have been less costly just to stay at the airport.

So anyway, back to the point. Aside from the outrageous parking fees, I actually love the airport. I love the feeling of people moving all around me, everyone is going somewhere. Most of the time if I am at the airport I am going somewhere that I want to go to do something that I want to do. There are a lot of great memories at airports picking up loved ones, being picked up by loved ones, landing in Jamaica for a fabulous week of sun, food and drinks. You get the idea.

I have been thinking a lot about what I should write about during the A-Z blog challenge and I was having so much trouble finding and idea that really fit with me. I even asked for ideas in an earlier blog. BTW - Thank you Sheila Siler for your ideas! Bottom line I felt like a sinking ship before I had even gotten the ship into the water. BUT...the airport, my shining beacon of happy thoughts got me thinking....Just where might I be in one year. Where could I be, where do I want to be, what might I be doing a year from now? And voila! My A-Z Blog was born, a list of places I could be, things I could be doing, events that might be happening one year from now.

I am super excited to get started and I have already started listing some of the ideas in my head. I need to get started on them before they escape and leave me forever. Ms. Shirley gave me some great ideas and one of them I actually really liked and had already come up with some ideas for, I am going to pepper my A-Z with "Excuses from my kids and husband", because really those are just to priceless not to commit to paper err...digital media.

Looking forward to a month long celebration of blogging with abandon! If you haven't already check out the A-Z monthlong blog challenge here!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Hole in the Story

Today's thoughts and babble are brought to you by the logic of an 11 year old.

We have a routine for every day of the week, it involves a usual order of things on most days except for Wednesday's, which are early dismissal days and things get changed up a bit. We have arranged for an after school activity and transportation every Wednesday. Today as far as I knew was just like any other day. That is until my stepdaughter showed up at home much earlier than she should have been. I was going to try and recreate the conversation that I had with her while trying to figure out exactly why she didn't go to her after school activity, but it was so convoluted, I'm still not sure what happened. I am going to attempt to paraphrase:

M: What are you doing home so early, was your activity cancelled?
R: Well, no I was confused.
M: What do you mean you were confused?
R: Well, the teacher said something about Monday, but I didn't know about Monday and today doesn't start till 12:50.
M: Wait, so there is no activity today?
R: No, there is, I was just confused.
M: I'm sorry now I'm confused...So there is an activity you just decided not to go?
R: NO ... (BIG SIGH) Last week she said Monday that we wouldn't start til 12:50, and I thought they wouldn't let me stay in the office.
M: Hold on, but your group doesn't start til 12:50 anyway, that's the normal time. What do you usually do until your start time?
R: I wait in the office with the others.
M: Ummmm, so why are you home again.
R: Because I was confused.
M: Confused about what?
R: It doesn't start until 12:50.
M: But that's the same as every Wednesday.
R: Yes.
M: .....

That believe it or not is the short of it. There is obviously a critical piece of the story that she is leaving out, a piece that I have as of yet to uncover. Right now I feel like I just read a story with a major plot hole. It's unsatisfying and now I have to play detective. But I guess parenting is sometimes like attempting to fill in plot holes. Sometimes they are gaping and virtually impossible to fill in without more information, and sometimes they are small and easy to smooth over with a little inference.

Speaking of plot holes...I have been reading more book reviews lately. They help me for a number of reasons. First they allow me to find new books to read so that I can avoid reading my textbooks. Second, ideally they will help me craft a better novel. Ideally. Lately, they are starting to scare me. You know how they always tell you "Don't look down" before you jump off of the high dive? Inevitably you do look down, and then your suddenly frozen by the sight of just how far away the water looks. Reading book reviews is like looking down before you jump off of the high dive. It may be better just to close my eyes, plug my nose and jump for now. I'll work on mastering my graceful swan dive once my knees stop trembling from the height.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reading, writing and homework - Oh My!

A few weeks ago I posted a blog indicating that I was planning on participating in the A-Z Blogger Challenge. I still plan to do that, but I am coming to realize that I am probably going to need some kind of plan if I intend to participate successfully. A blog a day for every letter of the alphabet seems kind of like a no-brainer, but I'm starting to think that I might at least want to have some idea of the things that I would like to write about. Since I now have 17 followers (WOO HOO...moving up in the world!) I thought I could maybe enlist your help in brainstorming ideas for each letter. So throw me some letters and some topics and I will see what I can do with them.

I just finished reading a YA book by Lauren Oliver entitled, "Before I Fall". It was a pretty good read over all. It didn't hold my interest as intensely as I expected it to, but I liked the writing enough to pick up another book by the same author "Delirium". The story revolves around a female character who re-experiences the last day of her death over a period of a week. During that time she learns a great deal about herself and the world around her. I liked the evolution of the character and how she responds to the people around her as she changes. The book was smartly written and delivers a nice message that was sometimes a little bit suffocating but I think the ends still justified the means.

My own writing process is picking up again. I seriously think that blogging about all the other stuff in my head helps me to be a better writer of fiction. On the downside, school has started up again and I have a BAD case of senioritis. The last time I got a bad case of senioritis, I ended up as a 7 year undergrad student. I'm much more interested in writing about my world than I am in writing about various politically charged public health issues. I need to make myself a schedule that will allow me to keep writing the things I want without neglecting my homework, this schedule also needs to include working, yoga, swimming, meditation, house keeping and paying attention to my family. Are there even enough hours in the day for all of that? I guess one thing is for certain, I'll be getting my gold level Starbucks reward card in no time flat!

Just keep swimming...and don't forget to lend me your alphabet ideas!! :)


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Quiet and All That Follows

Don't you hate it when you have some really profound and interesting thoughts, but then you don't write them down and when you try to remember them, they're just gone. POOF - No more brilliant thoughts - they are all just gone and no amount of racking your brain can bring them back in their former glory. I am suffering from this affliction now my friends. I'm trying to just get the slightest inkling of the brilliant allegory that I had created which somehow linked my mom's lasagna with my emotional state. I've been grappling for it since the day after my house suddenly went still and silent because the last of my family packed up and went back to their home. Alas, it's gone. Suffice it to say my mom's lasagna is awesome, but I wasn't feeling so awesome and somehow even the leftover lasagna wasn't comfort food enough to make me feel less lonely.

I'm now trying to get back into my old patterns, well the good ones anyway. The bad patterns never really just go away unless you choose them away. I don't feel particularly creative recently and I'm not sure why that is. It seems to me with all the sad lonely feelings I have swirling around since my family went back to their respective states I would have lots of emotional ammunition to spit out. But I don't. I kind of feel like a stone.

I'm not really sure where I am going with this, which isn't exactly unusual, but I usually have at least a shadowy idea of a plan. I'm just trying to get the thinking/writing/creating ball rolling. I guess that makes all of my readers my guinea pigs! :) Lucky you guys!

I miss my family, and the missing of them seems to have swallowed up a whole lot of other things. It might seem like I don't appreciate my husband and my step daughter as my family and I assure you that that is far from the case. I think sometimes the depth of the bond that I feel between myself and my parents and siblings is what makes me so keenly aware of all of the ways that I don't share the same bond that my husband and stepdaughter share. It's very hard to learn my relationship with them individually and as a pair when I don't share the same kind of bond that they share between each other and with my step daughter's biological mother. I realize that dwelling on this thing that feels like a bridgeless rift is not the way to overcome it, but I cannot ignore the feelings either. So I find myself observing a lot. I don't know where it's getting me yet, but I guess I just feel like if I observe it then it will continue to help me understand my own role in this family.

So I guess I found something to say. I'm sure I could say more, but I think I'm just going to marinate in this for a little while.

Just Keep Swimming....


Thursday, March 10, 2011


We all experience loss. Sometimes the loss is quiet and sometimes the loss is suffocating. The quiet losses usually happen when we lose someone that we knew and cared about in one of our former lives. The suffocating losses seem to suck all of the light out our lives and make it nearly impossible to feel able to find our way through the dark. The quiet losses cause us to pause in our busy lives and reflect on the fact that someone we knew, someone who had played a role in our lives is no longer with us. We remind ourselves that our quiet loss is someone elses suffocating loss and we send our thoughts and our love to them. We do this in the hope that these little things will provide some air to breathe and some light to follow in the stifling grieving process. Tonight I send my love and my thoughts to my former classmates' family as they grieve for his loss. I send them a smile on a memory of when he held my hand walking home from school and I was over the moon. These are small gifts at the alter of enormous grief. I hope that they play some role in helping his closest family and friends to find some measure of peace. You are loved and you are missed rest in peace Mike Rolle.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


According to one of my favorite authors, Cassandra Clare, it is International Women's Day. I realize that it would be so much easier to just verify this the old fashioned way, through Google, or through the really old fashioned way, by looking at a calendar. But I find that it is so much easier just to take her word for it. Plus, since I read that it was International Women's Day it gave me an idea for a blog and I'm just not willing to give that up.

When Cassandra Clare tweeted that it was International Women's Day she also asked that people respond with a woman that they admired. I am going to respond in blog about the women I admire because I have more than 140 characters worth of admiration to post about.

I admire many women in my life and every one of them has played a part in who I am today as a human and a woman. So let me begin with the first and most important woman in most human's lives. A mother. My mother.

I have blogged in the passed about my mother and how life has come full circle to point where I understand so many of the things that she said and did for me as a child. Things that because I was a child I could never have appreciated or understood. My mother has taught me so many things that it feels a little bit unjust to try and narrow the discussion down to a few points, but then again there is something to be said for saving a little for later. That being said I am going to tell you a few of the myriad of wonderful things that make my mother such a light and influence in my life.

My mother taught me strength. She taught me through example, through conversation and with compassion. Strength is a versatile word and it can imply many things, like physical strength. Most people would not expect a blog about female strength to discuss the physical strength of a person, but I feel it's important to recognize first and foremost that my mother has a significant amount of physical strength. I learned this because 1- I was a pain in the rear and I got my fair share of well deserved spankings (which ironically left me with a painful rear) 2- I vividly remember that my mom used to stay up until 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning making sure that the house, the laundry, the cooking etc., were all managed, and then she would get up at 6 or 7a.m. and go to a job for 8 hours a day. I get cranky if I get less than 8 hours of sleep more than two or three days in a row. She did this on a regular basis for years. I remember that as a very naive and self centered child I just thought that she liked staying up late. I now understand that she stayed up late out of necessity because it was the only time she could get things done without interruption and it was the only time she had time to herself. My mom is a woman with a great deal of physical strength, and I admire that, because I know how easy it would have been for her to just let things go for those extra hours of sleep.

My mom's example of strength is beyond the physical however, my mom has an exceptional level of innate emotional strength. I have learned from watching her that there is nothing in life that warrants absolute hopelessness. There is always hope you just have to be strong enough to hold onto it even when you can't see it. I suppose some would call that faith, and my mother's faith is a beautiful piece of artwork. Something invaluable that both of my parents taught me about faith is that, faith is not static. Faith is a living and evolving entity. A person must be strong enough to allow their faith to grow while simultaneously exposing it to ideas that challenge that faith. I am a person of profound faith in many things and that is a result of the strength and love of both of my parents.

My mom taught me that strength isn't always stoic, there is a time for the quiet and stern strength, and there is a time for compassionate strength. Strength has the wisdom to accept both modalities and use them accordingly. I could continue jabbering about all of the ways that I learned about how to find, cultivate and apply the strength of my humanity from my mother, however,I am only going to point out one more important lesson about strength that my mother taught me. Love makes strength stronger and strength gives love more depth. They are two ideals that when combined in the right spirit truly allow anything to be possible.

I love you Mom, & Thank you.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Champagne and Blogging

I feel like I need to write something today. It's been a weird but good day. I keep forgetting that it's Monday since Josh took the day off to celebrate "Dia de Los Joshos" AKA Josh's birthday. My husband is a funny and adorable man who appreciates all things family this means a few things.

1 - I always make his birthday cake (he says it's better than a store bought...I'm such a sucker)

2 - I always make him whatever he wants for dinner (again he says my cooking is better than a restaurant...double sucker)

Today he has asked for a few additional birthday treats:

1 - I need to play Guitar Hero. He doesn't play but he gets a kick out of watching Rianna and I play the songs that he loves. It's not that I mind, it's just that I find it so funny how much enjoyment he gets out of watching us play Guitar Hero. Every time I turn around he is putting whatever new Guitar Hero that is out in our Blockbuster queue. It's funny since he doesn't play the games and cute ...just because it is.

I had more to ramble on about, but I just got handed the guitar so I guess I'm done blogging for the moment.

Rock on peeps!! Ha ha!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Next Months Challenge

I have things to do today, but all I seem to want to do is play with all of the blog features, most of which I have no freaking clue how to manage. I find all these nifty widgets and I want to play with them, but I can't seem to figure out even the most basic copy and paste actions. I mean I get the whole, copy this code then paste it, but seriously, where exactly do I paste it??? Maybe I'm just a tech-reject I don't know, but I have now spent three good writing hours attempting to add things like my Goodreads.com bookshelf and all I've got to show for it is ...well nothing. I managed to tweet a few things and found some new blogs to follow, because you know I need more distractions.

I did find a cool April blog challenge that I plan to participate in during the month of April (you know in April...loving my genius sentence structure). It should be pretty interesting finding a topic for each letter of the alphabet on everyday of the week except for Sunday's. It's a bit of a commitment and you know how I feel about that, but I guess we will see how well I pull through. I made it through NanoWrimo in November and surpassed the 50K word mark so I think I can pull this off. That's all for now, though if any of you can send me help on how to improve my blog and how to add widgets without totally screwing up the code I'd be oh so grateful!! And by help on improving my blog I really only mean the widgets...ha...just kidding. All suggestions and criticisms are welcome!

Link to the blog challenge if any of you are interested!!Click here



Friday, March 4, 2011

Dear Diary hosted by Anna Reads

As if I haven't exposed myself enough, I have decided to participate in one of my favorite bloggers weekly events. The event is called Dear Diary and it's an opportunity for all of us adults to take a trip down memory lane into the minds of our younger tween/teen selves. Since I know my mom reads this she will probably get a big kick out of this! I skipped around a bit too make it more interesting. All of the punctuation (or lack of) is specifically copied from the journal as well. So here goes:


Dear Diary,

Today was very hectic! I did a lot of work it was pretty hard, but I managed. Well, my mom went to a party and a boy I really like came up and asked about me his name is _____. I really like him. Most people think he's a nerd but I don't. We're going over to his house tomorrow I can't wait! Anyway I think he likes me. No more "bye".

June 22, '89'

Dear Diary,

I don't think I've ever told you what I want to be when I grow up so I'll tell you now I want to become a famous writer or a poet. Writing interests me. I don't think the editing parts are very important though what you I think counts is what you write not how or what marks are written in it Th only think in my is is my sister it seems like shes got all the talent. I feel embarassed to write what I feel a lot I don't know why though. My sister shes a different story she says and writes what she feels. Me I get embarassed or I can't explain how I feel though.

I kind of got in the middle of a romance novel it seems like. You see *boy*(_____'s brother) or actually *girl* got upset at *boy* for some reason *girl* well she watches Beth, Tim and I sometimes. Well *boy* keeps asking me if she says anything about him. (She doesn't) *Boy* is really upset he likes *girl* a lot and she keeps brushing him off this romance novel is really sad I feel sad for *boy*!!<--(authors note - in my diary I turned the points of the exclamation marks into the eyes of a smiley face...oh so creative)!

Well now for my romance novel mine is happy but pittiful in some parts. I still like ____ a lot!!<--(Those exclamation points were hearts, that were also the eyes of a smiley face)
His is so sweet he kept looking at me and smiling. I have to tell you something else too. This nerd or more like GEEK followed me into the hall he was following me and he said so you think you can get away from me huh. What a GEEK!! I should've turned around and slapped him!! I DO NOT LIKE HIM AT ALL

I still take piano but with a different teacher, shes really nice!!<--(more smiley exclamations)

I'm going to have my period soon yuk. I'm really growing because now I have to wear a bra!! ick!! Well, I better go.


Things I've learned:

I had my own set of punctuation rules.

Uh, can someone say DRAMA QUEEN?! Wow. I'm trying to figure out why I wanted to slap the boy who followed me around and flirted with me. I'm a bit puzzled about how insulting I found that.

I thought about boys A LOT! I guess I knew that, but geeze...now I'm terrified of what Rianna is thinking about.

I think it's cool I documented somewhere in my history that I wanted to be a writer. I also know where my habit of writing run on sentences began. Apparently, I still don't believe in editing or those silly punctuation marks.

Okay readers (all 9 of you, which is like 3 times what I had two days ago! WOOT) time to look into your diaries and take a trip down memory lane. If you post your diary entry on your blog send me a link so that I can share it!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Highest Form of Praise

First a few things: 1- I woke up this morning and had double the followers!! WOO HOO! :) But seriously, I get all warm and fuzzy knowing that there are people out there listening! Thanks for the love and support! Signed copies of my first best seller to you first brilliant and loyal followers of mine! :) Though you might just have to settle for a signed copy of a finished novel!! :)
And now I realize that I didn't have a second thing, and if I did I have already forgotten it...so...ON WITH THE BLOG!

My step daughter used to say that when she grew up she wanted to be a manager at a major video store chain like her mother. It's hard to tell a child that maybe they should aim for something higher without coming across as being disparaging towards the person that they are trying to emulate. Especially, when that person just happens to be their mother and you happen to be the Wicked Stepmother. Being a manager in any retail environment is a challenging job and certainly a job that needs to be done. As I continue this post please bear in mind that I have nothing but the highest regard for anyone who has done or currently does this job. I don't envy those who do that job because they have to be cheerful and happy even under the most ridiculous circumstances. In general I think that customer service jobs are for the birds, it's just too much effort to be nice all the time...and this is coming from a former Disney cast member.

I have always been a writer. I have written things here and there and contemplating the novel writing process, but as with most things in my life up to this point I wouldn't allow myself to commit to actually doing something that would take longer than ... well longer than my attention span would allow. My attention span in general leaves something to be desired....oh hey did you see that sparkly thing over...uh yeah..you get the idea. Josh and I have the same conversation about once a day and it goes like this:

(From my point of view)

Josh: And.....wah wah wah...music...iTunes...song...right?

Mandi: Definitely

Josh: Honey, did you hear what I just said?

Mandi: Yeah, I answered you didn't I?

Josh: What did I ask you?

Mandi: (I'm thinking....I'm thinking) it was something about the music in iTunes right?

Josh: Nevermind, I love you.

I can say this for Josh, he got me to commit. I married the guy, now I'm working on listening to him. So anyway....back to the point...

Over the last 5 or 6 months I have as previously stated in other blogs committed to this writing process, and it's been amazing. And I wish I would have committed to it sooner (I know I have also said this before...I'm getting repetitive) but had I committed to it sooner, well yeah I'm pretty sure I didn't know the formula for commitment so that was kind of an impossibility until now.

The point...back to the point...About 2 months ago my stepdaughter asked me, "How do I get to be a famous author who gets paid to write?" I'm not sure why she thought that I would actually know how to become a famous author since I can barely claim the title author and the only things I'm famous for I'm fairly certain nobody would pay me for. I thought it was sweet nonetheless, so I gave her a basic synopsis, write a book, edit your book (I left out the part where you edit it again and probably again and again and again and again - didn't want to scare the girl), write a nice letter to a lot of agents (I also left out cry about rejection letters, write to more agents, again and again and...), agent goes to publisher....etc. Anyway, she thought about it for awhile and then she said that it sounded like a lot of work. I of course told her that it was, but if you loved to write it was a pretty awesome thing to get paid to do (I assume).

About two weeks ago she came home from school and we had this conversation:

Ri: I forgot today was career day at school, but that's okay I just said that I was a best selling author, and you don't have to get dressed up to do that. I bet you could even stay in your pajamas all day.

Mandi: Yep, good thinking!

Ri: Well, I really do want to be a best selling author, I want to write books that a lot of people read. Here's my card.

(She then handed me a business card that said "Rianna Harbin - Future Best Selling Author")

It's kind of amazing to me how I am constantly going through this roller coaster of emotions in this step parenting journey and I think that there is no possible way that this kid can see me as anything but a Wicked Stepmother. And yet she gives me the highest form of praise a kid can give an adult. It's pretty humbling.

Today she came home from school very excited and immediately began recounting the most exciting part of her day:

Ri: Guess what?

Mandi: What?

Ri: I started writing my first book today!

Mandi: Really? That's awesome, wha-(I get cut off mid sentence)

Ri: It's about a girl who is a vampire, but I'm not going to reveal that she's a vampire til halfway through the book, so that it keeps the suspense. It's about a girl named Lucy and she goes to the School of Horrors, so that kind of gives the hint that she is actually a vampire. I got a half of a page written already, isn't that a lot?

Wow...yep...wow. I'm like a role model, and stuff. How on earth did that happen? She wants to be like me! And then Oh God, she wants to be like me?! And then again, wow. It might seem strange to some of you when I tell you that my first reaction to this revelation wasn't all feelings of warm fuzzy pride. Those feelings are there now, but initially, I was kinda like, I don't really get it, why does she want to be like me? I'm seriously the Wicked Stepmother who feels like she is barely holding herself together on more days than I can count. I know that's probably not normal, a normal and balanced person would probably go right to being proud and feeling good about there new status. I just felt even more overwhelmed. I mean that's a pretty huge responsibility, which granted when I opened up my life to stepchildren was kinda a logical consequence, but somehow the real weight of being looked up to felt a little suffocating at first. I don't know if it's because I thought I was or will totally fail and disappoint or and more likely that I just didn't want my identity to get stolen by an 11 year old. Yes, I know that is a completely ridiculous idea...yet, embarrassing as it is to admit, it was there and it was real so I'm putting it out there for you.

Despite my shortcomings I am told by a source that I find to be trustworthy and reliable not to mention smart and comforting, that I'm doing just fine. I want to believe her, and I probably do, but then it's really hard not to feel just a little bit overwhelmed by the idea that a little person thinks so highly of me. I'm really not being sarcastic when I say I really can't imagine why she does. But she does and the responsibility of that is just a little bit overwhelming but it's also warm and fuzzy.

I think I'm past most of the strange emotional reactions I had regarding this little revelation. Mostly now I just feel the pride. The responsibility of being a role model is as weighty as it every was, but I also know that it's not a weight that I am incapable of carrying and if anything it is a weight that I should have been willingly carrying all along. Besides if an 11 year old thinks I'm a successful author when I haven't even been published, well it doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Brilliance before bed...okay mediocrity before bed

My blog is losing pace and going all over the place. This probably isn't really a bad thing since I have oh all of three readers out there in blog land. But you three...you're my favorite, oh yes you three you three rock! Anyway, back to my point. So first I'm told that all your best ideas and creativity happen before you go to sleep. I'm getting ready to go to sleep and I am still looking for the direction that I wanted to take this blog. But I think maybe right now it's just a matter of organizing thoughts and putting things in perspective...so this blog may end up being longer and more mediocre than I had originally intended it to be...I suppose with only three readers, most of this writing is just for me anyway...which again is probably just as well. I have a dream though. I dream that there will come a day when I am read by many and most of the many enjoy what they read. Hopefully, this reading will be on more than my blog..but I'll take what I can get.

I started this blog to write specifically about the challenges of being a stepmother, I had hoped to share some intimate thoughts as well as funny stories. Ultimately, that process has been stymied by the fact that the path through step parenting has been so intimate that I have not been willing to open myself up even to you my three wonderful readers. I am getting there though and I imagine there will be plenty of interesting reflections on step parenting past present and future issues. My point about the initial focus of my blog and my current lack of focus on said topic is that it's starting to occur to me that this journey into being a step parent isn't just about the step parenting, it's so much more about maintaining and cultivating all of the things that are me while incorporating the new identity of step mother into myself. It's a freaking big job. I think that I wasn't writing a lot because I didn't want to share some of the more intimate feelings I have been having about step parenting, and now I realize that it's just as important to write about all of the other stuff that I am doing to maintain my identity while I walk down this path. So with that said I think that it's not just okay but it's necessary and worthwhile to write about all of the other adventures that I am taking on while I take this journey.

I have spent the last few days not really working on my second novel but kind of cyber stalking in a not scary way, the authors that have had an impact on my writing and have stocked my book shelves. I have learned some good things and have been given hope that there really can be a future for a newbie author. I try not to get to hung up on the fact that I didn't start seriously contemplating writing as a profession until now, but really spending too much time dwelling on that won't lead anywhere good, so let's just forget I even brought it up here.

My point about all that I have been "researching" aka "cyberstalking" is that it has been an enlightening experience and given me a lot of good ideas about organizing my writing and setting some real goals for myself. Writing is hard work when you are trying to say more than a few snarky comments in a blog post. I have all but given up editing my first novel, i can't even get my mom and sister to finish reading the darn thing, so that pretty much tells me all I need to know about how much it sucks. I came to the conclusion today though, that I am okay with that. I think that for a first novel it has thus far served its purpose. First and foremost it has shown me that I am absolutely capable of writing a full length novel and that above all else has helped me to feel empowered in my writing. I think that putting it down and letting it stew or collect dust is just kind of where it's at in its own evolution. I have so many other projects in my head that I am excited about that it seems almost wasteful to put that effort elsewhere. My husband pointed out to my today that there have been many successful projects that were taken down and dusted off after their creator had had time to let the ideas settle and reinvent themselves. So I am deciding to stop thinking about my first novel in terms of it needing to be finished in the sense that it needs to be polished and edited. Obviously I still need practice with such things, but really for now I think that my energies are better placed elsewhere.

I began reading and following Amanda Hocking who is a USA Today bestselling author who has never traditionally published a novel. All of her books have been self published through CreateSpace. This gave me hope because I was pretty skeptical about the potential that an author could have by going through CreateSpace. I'm not by any means unaware of how unique her situation is, but I also know that she has broken a publishing barrier for many newbie authors. In the end as far as writing goes, I want to be read and loved like all writers, but mostly I just want to do it, I just want to write, I want to finish projects and I want to become proficient in the writing and editing process. So I guess no matter where the writing adventure leads me in the end I may not be paid by doggonit I'm gonna be personally successful.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Putting the 'A' in YA

I read young adult paranormal fantasy novels...and I LOVE them! Yes, there I said it! I like to read books written for people 15 years younger than I am. I have been trying to pretend like I only read them for easy reading options. That is true, but the bigger truth is that I love the story lines, I love the writing, I get sucked into the sucky emotional angst of teenage life. Oh yes, yes I do and I gobble up all the woe and heartache and go back for seconds, thirds and fourths if they are available. Reading YA urban fantasy novels for me is like being able to sit down to a Thanksgiving dinner smorgasbord every night of the week. I love it! There I said it. I think that there is something very validating in reading the YA novels, it's not about wishing I was young, though I would be lying to myself if I didn't occasionally say to myself, "damn, I wish I had been that much of a bad ass at 17" but seriously there are very few bad ass 17 year old girls. Most of us are or were so totally absorbed in whatever personal drama we had created or imagined or imagined and then created that we didn't have time to be that bad ass. It's a little bit about reminiscing about the emotional angst and turmoil, it's a little bit about staying in touch with the fires and passions that meant so much, it's a little bit about reading a great romance book and having enough left to the imagination that the relationship tension in the book is palpable as I read. I think there is a little bit that is about being able to read about the stupid decisions that characters make, remembering the stupid choices that I made and reflecting on how those experiences made me a better person.

I run into people who will haughtily pronounce that "they do not read YA novels," and they say it with such superiority that I have to wonder if they aren't secretly hiding stacks of YA vampire novels under their bed. It's not a bad thing to read YA novels and I suspect, actually I think I know that there is a large and very proud population of readers that troll the YA section of library looking for the next Richelle Meade novel, wonder if Stephanie Meyer will come out with something new, put their name first on the hold list for the last book in Alyson Noel's Immortal's series, are counting down the minutes until they can download City of Fallen Angels by Clarissa Clare, are excited when Amanda Hocking produces a new eBook. They are wondering if the next YA urban fantasy novel that they pick up will satisfy their craving for the fantasy and drama the way that the Vampire Academy Series did or keep them up reading til 5 am the way that Harry Potter did.

I read the mature adult reading too, and when the adult books are good they are amazing, but I have a special place in my heart for the YA novel and I think it has a little to do with a lot of things, but primarily I think it's often a reminder that I don't ever want to be a teenager again. But there were good things about being a young adult and reading YA novels is a safe way to stay in touch with that passion and youth while still being mostly sane grown up me.

I know you're out there, you adult YA readers...don't be shy hold your Richelle Meade and Clarissa Clare novels up high! Read proudly and don't forget to sleep every so often!