29 September 2008


more animals

28 September 2008


From earliest memory, my mother has taken great pains to correct my grammar. This has stood me in good stead as a writer and proofreader. So, when I saw this item in the latest Signals catalog, I nearly snorted my tea up my nose.

Love you, Mom.

27 September 2008

Shiny & New

Many writers have an inevitable attraction to new ideas, the bright and shiny ones that glitter with promise and lure writers in with their siren song. Sometimes the attraction is so strong that it diverts writers from their current work. But once the edge comes off the glitter, and the reality of work sets in, another new and shiny idea is sure to take its place. The cycle continues over and over, and the writer never finishes anything.

Happily, I don't have that problem right now; I don't have a work in progress from which to be distracted. What I do have are too many ideas racketing around in my head, all begging for my attention, making it difficult to choose just one.

I blogged earlier this week about an idea generated from a recent nightmare; that idea is still on the back burner, percolating. While interesting and compelling, I don't think I'm prepared to write that story right now - I'm not in a good enough place emotionally to deal with the feelings that working with that idea is sure to engender.

Which leads me to the other new and shiny idea that's clamoring to be written. After my divorce, I started a dark, very grim urban fantasy that was more about me getting my emotions out on paper than anything else. Needless to say, that story, while promising, never went anywhere; there's too much baggage attached to it. I told myself that the urban fantasy market was too glutted, that it had reached its high water mark, and my story wouldn't have been fresh enough to sell, anyway.

This idea makes me change my tune. I have yet to read anything like it. And it's something I won't have to agonize over to finish plotting; it came to me fully grown, like Athena from Zeus's head. Conflict (internal and external), plot arc, characters, the twist - everything. I'm hoarding all these images with superstitious fervor, for fear that writing them down will take away that gorgeous, gilded, glittery newness. The excitement this idea engenders is amazing; I want nothing more than to sit down and pour words onto a blank page.

Which is, in fact, what I'm off to do. Watch this space.

26 September 2008

The Power of Positive Affirmations

I've slept beautifully for the last two nights, despite some flashbacks/past baggage things happening during the day. The reason? Positive affirmations. Don't laugh - they work.

Prior to this, I've been a little leery of "therapy speak" - I mean, can you really make a difference in your sleep patterns by talking to yourself in the mirror before going to bed and repeating to yourself that you will have a good night's sleep? A couple of nights ago I would have snorted and said, "Yeah, right." Now I'm happily singing a different tune.

I've even started saying affirmations to myself in the morning before I go to work, and it's made a real difference in my mood. Of course, it also helps that my hubby was in full-on comic standup mode this morning and making me laugh fit to fall out of my chair. But I'm still going to do my affirmations; I'm not taking anything for granted. When you're feeling vulnerable, a shot of something positive can make a difference in your entire day. I'm living proof.

25 September 2008

Grins and Giggles

Starting off the day with a laugh is a way to put you in a good mood for the rest of the morning. Here's a little animation I found a while ago, and it never ceases to make me giggle - hope it does for you, too.

24 September 2008


...the difference a good night's sleep can make. No nightmares, not even a whiff of one. Plus, Carrie blogged about SYTYCD Canada, complete with videos of ultra-hawt Quebecois ballroom dancers, so this morning I am one happy camper.

Yes, I know happiness is often fleeting, but I've learned to hold on to these rare moments when the weight of memory is lightened, and I actually feel free.

23 September 2008

The Subconscious Strikes Back

So, here I am, gleefully cleaning out my attic of past injuries and fears, and I think things are great. But they're not. I had another (small) panic attack yesterday, followed by a doozy of a nightmare last night.

My husband has taught me the mantra of "nothing unreal exists" to help me cope with my nightmares. In this case, however, I think I may need more than a mantra. Even though I think I'm starting to take care of my issues, it's clear that I'm not processing them; my subconscious is hoarding them like they're mint-condition Star Wars collectibles still in their original boxes.

It's come to the point where I think I might need some help.


This sucks.

22 September 2008

Stark, Abject Terror (*yawn*)

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been doing a lot of reading about creative depression and how to overcome it. This blog is one method; it gets me writing, whereas before now I've been studiously avoiding doing anything on the computer except surfing the 'Net.

In his books, Dr. Eric Maisel writes about creative people (writers, artists, musicians, etc.) experiencing anxiety about their work. You know, the "what ifs:" "What if what I create isn't good enough? What if people don't like it? What if I sell, but can't come up with anything else?" At worst, that anxiety closes them off from their muses, blocks them entirely. That's what happened to me. And right now I'm doing my best to beat it, and in doing so find what kind of writing has meaning for me.

Well, this weekend, amidst running a ton of errands (including the trauma-fest that was taking SuzieQ to the vet for her annual checkup), I glommed onto an idea for the story I want to write next. It started with a nightmare a couple of weeks ago; I can't get a couple of images from that dream out of my head, and I've decided to write about them. It's a complete departure from anything I've ever written before, and as such, I'm terrified.

But ya know, at this point, I'm getting really, really tired of being anxious and scared. It's boring. Part of my mind is starting to say, "Yeah, so you're scared. So what?" That realization was huge. Like a megazillion kilowatt bulb going off.

My mother, who knows me better than I'd like to admit, said once that she thought I had a work of literary fiction in me. This new idea might just be it. I can't wait to find out.

20 September 2008

Review: "The Harlequin" by Laurell K. Hamilton

The Harlequin's warning to Anita Blake is presented in a gift box, left where she'd be sure to find it. Inside, carefully wrapped in folds of pristine tissue paper, is a white mask, utterly plain. The fact that it's white, Jean-Claude tells her, is the good news. White means they are only being observed.

The flow of power that connects Anita Blake with Jean-Claude, vampire Master of the City, and with Richard, Ulfric of the werewolves, has been growing and changing, increasing exponentially. Their power seems to have attracted attention, and it's a kind of attention no one would desire. Jean-Claude and Richard need to be strong allies now. Nathaniel and Micah need to give all their love and aid. And Anita will need to call on Edward, whose utterly human ruthlessness in her defense makes him the right man for the job.

Anita Blake has the authority to pass judgment on vampires. The Harlequin have the authority to pass judgment on her. It is forbidden to speak of The Harlequin unless you've been contacted.

And to be contacted by The Harlequin is to be under sentence of death.

I keep telling myself that I should have given up on this series long ago. Like many other readers, I think Ms. Hamilton jumped the shark around book eight. And yet I've kept reading in the hopes that maybe, somehow, the books will return to their fun, ass-kicking urban fantasy roots and have an actual plotline. Well, happily, I can say that The Harlequin does just that. Yes, there is Le Sex Hot that we've come to expect, but it doesn't sustain the book, and there's an actual plot arc, not to mention lots of the aforementioned ass-kicking. Yay!!!

My only grumble came at the end, where everything is wrapped up with a too-pat narrative reminiscent of "Gray's Anatomy." Still, when I finished reading it I felt an emotional satisfaction I haven't felt in quite a while with Ms. Hamilton's work. Could this be the begininng of a resurgeance for Anita Blake? I certainly hope so.

I'm not going to discuss the plot or the writing style; there's much of that elsewhere, if you're interested. What intrigues me is the reader disgust over the sexual content of Ms. Hamilton's works. The author has created a fantasy world where sex plays a primary role in the acquiring and keeping of Power (yes, with a capital "P"). Yet so many readers are turned off by the thought of the heroine with multiple partners. My thoughts? This is *not* a romance series. For one man, one woman stories with an HEA ending, look elsewhere. Ms. Hamilton's work is unique in this sense, pushing boundaries in a way few others have - and succeeding.

Puritanism, so deeply ingrained in American society, has taught us that enjoying sex (gasp!) is bad. Bad, bad, bad. And sex with more than partner? Oh, mega-, burn-in-Hell bad! *yawn* Personally, the sexual content of Ms. Hamilton's work doesn't bother me. IT'S FANTASY, PEOPLE. Not real. And as such, a person can write whatever he/she wants. And if she wants to write lots of Le Sex Hot as part of the plot, it's fine by me. She writes it well. (Although the editing, I must say, has been less than stellar.) It must be said, however, that sex alone cannot sustain a good book. As much as I enjoy hotness, it must be balanced with character development and action. That is why I enjoyed The Harlequin; it's a breath of fresh air in a long-standing series.

Grade: B

18 September 2008

Spring Cleaning

My subconscious is still cleaning house. Last night I dreamed about a one-time "friend" who years later I recognize as off-the-wall crazy. But unlike previous dreams, where she would confront me and insult me and physically fight with me, this time I kept her at a distance. I was an observer. Better still, I didn't feel any of the emotions I associate with dreams about her; I just felt...detached.

I realize now that I am making progress. It's a long, painful road, but I think I'm finally getting past the construction section.

Lap Kitty

This is my SuzieQ in full-on morning lap mode. I have to type one-handed while she's up here, because the other is devoted to keeping Her Royal Tubbiness from slipping off. (She's never had much of a sense of balance.) She'll stay up here for hours (usually until my arm falls asleep), or until I have to get up.

I wouldn't trade this time with her for anything.

Simple Joys

Our cat, SuzieQ, was a stray before we adopted her from the shelter. A former street waif, she didn't know the joys of laps, of sleeping on our bed (or any other piece of furniture, for that matter), and of being brushed.

Now, four years later, she loves laps, especially when the weather turns chilly, and she continually asks - nay, demands - to be brushed. She doesn't sleep on our bed often, but when she does it makes me smile.

She'll hop up on the bed in the middle of the night, and gently nudge me with her cold little nose until I wake up. I, in my half-comatose state, obediently lift up the covers. (Yes, she has me trained.) She snuggles in against me, and I pet her until she puts her head down and settles in for a snooze. I gently set the covers back in place, and am soon lulled back to sleep by the happy purr of a warm and contented cat.

A simple pleasure, yes, but one I've come to treasure. She's come such a long way from her street waif beginnings. And if one small cat can learn to change, then there's hope for me, too.

17 September 2008

Letting Go

One of the components of my search for personal enlightenment is to find the ability to let go of past injuries. There are lots - from my narcissistic ex-husband who manipulated me, emotionally abused me, and refused to take any responsibility for the implosion of our marriage, to the "friends" who betrayed my trust and proved themselves to be no friends at all.

In the past, I had a habit of packing all my grudges in Samsonite for long-term storage. Now, I realize how burdensome all that baggage has become. I am gradually accepting the reality that I will never get apologies from any of those individuals who hurt me, much less any acknowledgement of wrongdoing. Thus, the only person I'm hurting by hanging on to all this stuff is myself.

I still have nightmares - my subconscious's way of fighting my attempts to purge these thoughts. Fortunately, my conscious mind doesn't like to take "no" for an answer. All this negativity has taken up way too much space for way too long. Yes, spring cleaning may take a while, but the results - ridding my mind of poison - will be worth it.

16 September 2008

Dealing With Social Klutzes

You know the ones - the people who have no social graces and no clue on how to get some. The people who talk on and on and on about themselves and their their pets and their children and their families and their ailments and their family members' get the picture. The ones who openly eavesdrop on your conversations, butt in on said conversations and never let you get a word in edgewise, or try to read e-mails over your shoulder, or who never seem to get the hint that you're busy and don't have time to listen to their verbal diarrhea.

I work with a couple such klutzes. And in the past, I've simply bitten my tongue and not said a word in order to be nice and keep the peace. Well, for many of these people, nice=doormat. They'll take every inch you give them and steamroll over you without a second thought.

Yes, I would prefer to be pleasant, but I've learned when not to be. Mondays are the busiest days of the week where I work. A certain male klutz has made a habit of stopping by my desk when he finishes his tasks in my department, 'cause he wants to tell me all about his freelance jobs and his "love" life. (Ewww!) Yes, you guessed it, he had a crush on me at one point until he found out I was married. Gee, buddy, you'd think my wedding/engagement rings and the photo of me and my man on my desk would've given you a clue. But like I said, these klutzes are clueless.

So after weeks of putting up with this guy's hovering and inane chatter, and my complaining about it afterward, yesterday I took a stand. When he loomed over me (did I mention he has no sense of personal space?), I smiled, said hello, and told him I was just swamped and had no time to chat. Then I went back to my work. I wasn't rude, but I was firm. First he looked startled, then his face fell. He mumbled something about "have a nice day" and schlumped out liked I'd kicked his puppy. But I'm no longer falling for the "kicked puppy" manipulation. I'm tired of being steamrolled by someone who wastes my time so he can feel better about himself. Frankly, it pisses me off.

That's one good thing that came out of my divorce. I'm no longer a people-pleaser with the word WELCOME stamped on my forehead. I'll give people chances to see the error of their ways and get a clue, but failing that, I'm perfectly willing to set boundaries; I've learned I am responsible for my own happiness, and no one else's. A very hard lesson learned, and I'm not going back.

15 September 2008

Pet Peeve: Don't argue with me when you're trying to sell me something

Let me preface this by saying that I'm a girly-girl. I like perfume, nail polish, and high heels. And when the seasons change, I tend to get a hankerin' for new versions of all of the above. So this past weekend, when my husband and I went shopping at a mall close to his place of work, I thought it would be a great opportunity to sniff out some of the new olfactory offerings at the perfume counter.

Oh, how wrong I was.

I was immediately accosted by a pantsuited, makeup-applied-with-a-trowel, 50-something sales associate. "Oh, have you tried this new fragrance?" she cooed. Yes, I had, and it went straight to powder on me. Disbelieving pout from Trowel Face, followed by, "Oh, it shouldn't have done that!" Trust me, lady. I know my own body chemistry, and how it reacts to certain fragrance notes. Trowel Face then stuck her wrist in my face and said, "This is the new Notorious. Isn't it fabulous?" I said, no, that is the new Notorious on you. I've tried it and it doesn't do a thing for me; peony in any form blasts away anything else it's paired with until peony is all I smell. Again, I got the pout. "Well, it shouldn't do that! It's got cocoa and vanilla and--"

I gave her a tight smile and asked her why she was arguing with me. She looked stunned, followed by immediate CBF (Cat Butt Face - the pursed, annoyed look women get that reminds you of the south end of a northbound cat). "I'm just saying," she started to protest.

And I'm just saying that if you want to sell me something, don't argue with me. I've been in sales; I know that you don't like to take "no" for an answer. Well, I don't like being patronized and argued with. I told her she'd just cost herself a sale, thanked her tersely and stalked off, leaving her more than likely annoyed and wondering what the heck was wrong with me.

So much for my foray. But that's OK. I'll just order samples off eBay. It's much quicker, less painful, and I get what I want without argument. What could be better than that?

14 September 2008

Who am I?

I've been wondering lately why I have no desire to return to the genre in which I'm published. I have no yen to read it, either. Why? Because it no longer has any meaning for me. It's not that romances are poorly written; far from it. It's just that I'm having a difficult time winnowing through the myriad novels currently available for the few that will actually speak to me.

The same thing is happening with my writing. I've started a couple of romance stories - good stories, with interesting, well-developed characters - but I have no desire to finish them. Again, they have no meaning for me.

So what constitutes meaning? That is my quest.

For the longest time, whenever I've come up with an idea for a story (which, for me, is almost on a daily basis), my next thoughts are how I can market said story. I completely bypass the joy of that new idea and focus instead on the commercial aspects. Then the stress of finishing the story in order to make some money kicks in, and kills the fun right off the bat. So right now I'm working on a story that's just for me. And there will be no discussion of publication. No stress. No self-applied pressure. I am no longer dependent on my writing for income, so I can afford to be selfish in that regard.

I wrote a few paragraphs on this story last night, and was so tickled with them that I laughed. THAT is the joy of writing. THAT is what has eluded me for so long. Sure, I didn't write very much, but it's the meaning that counts, not the quantity of words.

And right now, I can't wait to write more.

13 September 2008

What's with the flower?

The lotus has long been held as a symbol of rebirth and enlightenment, and that's exactly what I've been looking for. Even before my disastrous divorce, my writing career wasn't exactly what you'd call stellar; I managed to write three books in three years. I pressured myself to write faster, but that only added to my existing deadline and monetary woes, and I ended up more depressed and creatively paralyzed than I was before.

Oh, I tried to write, to complete something...anything. Just sit down and do it, I told myself. But the demons still plagued me - self-doubt, hyper self-criticism (otherwise known as the Inner Editorial Bitch), and cynicism strangled my creativity until I couldn't produce anything at all. Hell, I didn't want to write. Writing was pain. Any joy I'd once felt had fallen into the same dark, dismal hole as my muse.

Fortunately, with the help of a dear author friend, Carrie Lofty, and my beloved husband, I've started on the road to recovery. It's not easy. After all, I've got 5+ years of neuroses to try to undo. Short of hiring a creativity coach (yeah, try finding one of those in my area!), I've been reading several books by Dr. Eric Maisel on creative depression. The man is, simply put, brilliant. I often find myself on the verge of tears while reading his work, 'cause it's like he's seen exactly what's in my head.

Unfortunately, my subconscious doesn't seem to appreciate my efforts; over the past two weeks I've suffered some of the most horrific nightmares of my life, not to mention my first panic attack. But I'm determined to keep going. Writing was once the bright spot in my existence, and I will do whatever I can to recover that joy. This blog is part of that goal. Like the lotus, which rises from muddy water to burst into beautiful bloom, so I seek to do with my writing.

Onward and upward.