Category Archives: Pet Peeves

The Declutter Challenge…

Recently on Facebook, I saw a post that was shared hundreds of times called THE DECLUTTER CHALLENGE,  a 30-day challenge to get rid of clutter and stuff in your life. A random sampling of the days’ tasks includes: purging 2 kitchen cabinets (day 7); cleaning out your wallet (day 9) and your purse ( day 10); cleaning out the freezer ( day 18); donating unused toys ( day 25). The challenge ends on day thirty with the simple task of CLEAN. I guess what you clean is up to you, but I took it to mean, clean your house.

This challenge, naturally, got me to thinking about how I could declutter my writing.  All writers have catch words or phrases they like to use, especially when writing dialogue. If we actually wrote how we spoke, the readers would be bored out of their gourds. For instance, would you seriously want to spend money on a book where every dialogue started like this:

#1. Hey, Bill. How are you?

#2. Fine, Jim. How are you?

#3. Can’t complain. How’s the family?

#4. Doing well. Yours?

#5. Same, same. So how, about those Red Sox?…

you get the idea. This is drivel. We may speak like this in real life, but in fiction, it’s a death knoll.

So that’s one way to declutter your work: check the dialogue. Can you get the idea across without all the folderol of “hi, how you doing’s?”

Another way I know I personally clutter up my writing is by using too many extraneous words to convey my thoughts. A quick search of my current work in progress yielded this:

the use of THAT – 89 times

the use of To her/to him/ for her/for him -56 times

the use of adverbs ( the bane of my writing existence) 91 times. EEK!

I really need to work on decluttering these words, don’t I! Hee hee

Other things that writers should declutter are phrases like “seemed to,” “tried to,” “began to.” Writing is much stronger and moves quicker when sentences are declarations and use an active tense.

For example: Her natural, spicy scent seemed to surround her body.

Better example: Her natural, spicy scent of ginger and peach, surrounded her.

Other words that can probably be eliminated a fair amount of time and still allow the sentence to convey what it needs to are:

move, push, reach, bring, pull, went, brought, press and came( to denote going  or coming from somewhere)

It’s a good practice to utilize the SEARCH for options in your word processing program to nit pick and eliminate words you use excessively after your first draft is written. This will make the editing process more about the story line and capturing what you intended to say instead of needing to remove excess words.

Oh, about that 30-day Declutter challenge. yeah, I survived for three days. Then I was exhausted. Maybe I should develop a 12 month declutter challenge. You know…do one thing a month instead of 30 in 30 days? Thoughts? LOL

When I’m not decluttering my life and my writing, you can find me here:

Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Life challenges, Pet Peeves, Strong Women, Uncategorized

Labels and Titles and Slang….

We’ve become a society of label-ers. You know what I mean: everything, every person, every action, has to be categorized and labeled. For instance, who ever heard the term “Dad Bod” until a few years ago? I’ve heard it hundreds of times recently. The latest was on a fashion tv show. The hostess said to one of the male  models, “You’re really rocking the dad-bod.”  I know she said it as a compliment, but it had just enough snark and dig to make it really an insult.

Mom-jeans is another one of those labels that blows my mind. Again, I don’t think it’s meant to be insulting – just a descriptive word for high waisted jeans usually worn by women other than size zero teenagers – but it comes across as being so snide, you know it really is an insult.

 

Here are a few other labels for people and things that I’ve heard in my lifetime, and again, they are just this side of nasty when said:

going postal // chill pill //  chick  flick //  playa // wife beater // cray-cray // Barney-bag // hippy //  preppie //  yuppie //  D.I.N.K

How many of you recognize and know those?

How many of you wish you’d never heard them?

 

Yeah, me too!

Why do we put labels on everything and everyone? Why can’t we just say, things like, “Oh, yeah, Jennie” instead of “Oh yeah, Jennie. She’s that preppie chick, right?”

Why can’t you have a bad day and have someone ask, “How are you feeling?” Instead of saying, “You’re acting cray-cray today.” Or even worse, “You’re going postal, babe. Take a chill pill.” That one really burns my hide!! ( See what I did, there?! HeeHee)

I realize that these catch phrase labels are ways to shorten really in-depth thoughts and descriptions. I get that (did it again!)We’ve become a society that communicates in letters (BTW, WFT, TTFN, LOL) and shortens our verbal interactions to pithy descriptors. I know I’m getting older – and hopefully, wiser – but I long for the days when I could have a real conversation — a face to face conversation — that was a true imparting of words and information, not a drive by shooting ( Did it again!) of quick blurbs and bullet points.

Maybe I am getting just older and not wiser. I don’t know. Think I just need to chill? (heehee)

When I’m not waxing prolific about society’s intellectual downfall, you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Pet Peeves

RT 2017 Bound

As I sit in the airport and wait – patiently, which is not my strong point! – for my plane to whisk me away to Atlanta, GA and my very first RT Convention, I am struck by several thoughts.

  1. It took forever to get to the airport from my house!!! I don’t remember it taking so long before, but it was probably because the main road I have to travel on is one lane and it was “rush hour” traffic this morning. Which, in all honesty, is a ridiculous moniker for New Hampshire, but…. By the time I got to the airport, during a ride my GPS told me would take 75 minutes, it actually took over 2 hours and I had to pee sosososososososo bad!!! Plus I had to walk from long term parking because the bus had just left when I arrived and the schedule said it wouldn’t be back for 20 minutes. WE all know how much I hate to wait, so…
  2. It is so much HARDER to travel via plane now than it used to be in the pre-911 world. I know we are almost 16 years past that horrible time, but I’m one of the lucky ones who can remember when you didn’t have to get undressed to get thru security, when you could carry a filled water bottle through the viewing machine and not have to spend $5.00 to get a new one on the other side of the security line. I remember what it was like before the lines to go through the security check took about 5 minutes instead of 50. I also remember what it was like before I needed to have an invasive xray prior to getting through the line. And since I’m ranting,  I remember what it was like to not have to throw away $60.00 face cream at the beginning of the line because I forgot to pack it in my stowed luggage and it was now over the ounces limit to bring on board the plane. Seriously, was anyone every subdued in the air by Estee Lauder Renewal cream???
  3. I remember what it was like to be able to stretch my legs out in the plane and not feel as if I wasn’t going to be able to stand due to lower leg blood loss when I finally stood at my destination. Or get a blood clot from immobility.
  4. I remember when we got food- edible food – on flights. Now I consider myself lucky if I get a pack of five peanuts.
  5. I remember what it was like for me to go to my very first romance writing conference, RWA in San Antonio, 2014. I was sososososo excited, even with all the above bulls**t at the airport. I was going to a conference of my tribe, my peeps. Women ( and a few men) who loved reading and writing the same kinds of books as me. I can’t tell you how accepted I felt. Probably for the first time in my life.
  6. Now, as I embark on my very first RT, I’m remembering how excited I was at the 2014 time and I can truly say I feel the same way now as I did then! New experience, new writers to meet, new fans to develop, new bloggers to – hopefully – make a  favorable impression on.
  7. So, despite all the complaining in numbers 1-4, I am really happy I’m going on this trip. It’s a long ass haul from where I live to Atlanta, and I’m doing it solo, no hubby-wingman with me, no members of my RWA chapter to sit on the plane and commiserate with. Just me and my laptop…my ipad….my cell phone… and the dozens of books I uploaded to my kindle.

Follow me as I blog and tweet about my RT experience here:  Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, Lyrical Author, Pet Peeves, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

#Reviews, #Comments, and saying “Not Nice” things.

I posted about this topic a few weeks ago, but it hit home for me yet again yesterday when I was reviewing another book I’d been given through Netgalley.

As I do, I read the other reviews posted that are either listed on the Netgalley page or on GoodReads 

to get an idea of what other people think of the book. The reason I do this is to see if I’m totally off the mark with my opinion of the work – which I can be,  no lie – or if I somehow missed something along the way that would make me not like the book I’m reviewing.

So. The book I read was really pretty weird. The story was told in three voices, all with their own consecutive chapters. Luckily, the names of the person “talking” appeared on the heading of each chapter, so at least I knew whose Point of View ( POV) I was in. The story itself was a depressing tale of family secrets, murder, and abuse. It was billed as a “suspense/mystery.” Well, I didn’t think there was any suspense, and I figured out the “mystery”  50 pages into the book.

Now, when a story just doesn’t resonate with me, I simply give it a 3 rating ( never less) and don’t write a review. This way at least I rated it in the middle of the curve ( 1-5 stars) and I don’t have to write any negative comments.

Not so much the other people who reviewed it – and I say “reviewed it” in the lightest sense. 10 ratings/reviews were posted ( not including mine). 6 people rated it DNF for did not finish, and then went on to explain why they didn’t. Every one of those explanations was….brutal. Really. Nasty, harsh, and on the cusp of bullying-speak. The other 4 rated it between 1 and 2 with equally critical words.

All I could think was this book was published by a big-name publishing house by a moderately well-known author who probably had an agent ( who read the book before sending it out to publishers) and editors who also devoted time to it, thinking it was worthwhile to publish.

Why? What did they think was so publishing worthy about the story that this random sampling of readers did not?

Out of 10 reviews, plus my own rating, no one had anything good to say.  What did this do to the books’ sales? What did this do to the author’s ego? Or sense of writing-self? I agonize over those answers because I’m a writer, too. I hate when anyone says anything derogatory or uber-critical about my words. I know I should let it flow – like water off a duck’s back – but I can’t! My ego is so fragile, (and God I hate how that sounds!)  but it’s true. I don’t like to hear bad things about my creative babies.

I wonder how the people who write such nasty, negative reviews would feel if someone they didn’t know wrote something really horrible about them, or something they did for a living? I really do.

And that question is what keeps me from writing a scathing review.

So…if you see my name attached to a review with a 3 rating, just know the book didn’t resonate with me as its reader. But it may with you….just saying

When I’m not losing sleep over reviews you can find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Editors, Netgalley Reviewer, Pet Peeves, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women

Words that make me go “ick”; #Mfrwauthor #52WeekBlogChallenge

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I could write a dictionary here, folks. Truly.

Okay. Words have power.

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Anyone who’s ever been bullied or taunted as a child ( or even adult) knows this in their soul. Words can spear you straight through the heart, cut you off at the knees, and slice into your gut.

 

Late comic George Carlin made a million bucks doing a routine called the 7 Dirty Words. In 1972, he said these 7 words in a comedy club, forever immortalizing them:

Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.

It is now 2017.  45 years later than when Carlin first spoke those words in public. Since that time, society has shifted in what it deems inappropriate language use. Even just a few years ago you wouldn’t hear commercial television characters uttering anything worse than an occasional “Crap!” as an invective or a curse. In a recent show on NBC, I heard two characters say the second and last words above before the first commercial break.  Cable television has no such restrictions on language and I can tell you truthfully, I have heard every one of the above words – and a few more I hate – said without a flinch by the actors.

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In America, we live by the law of freedom of speech. It’s a good freedom. We can share opinions that differ, dialogues that intrigue us, and books that elevate and entertain us. And while that basic freedom is challenged every single day, it still stands strong.

But…

There are some words, expressions, and phrases that shouldn’t be said aloud. Remember, words have power to hurt, maim, and incite.  As a writer of romantic fiction, there are some words I would never use in a book. You probably think those words are slang ones for things related to the sex act. You would be wrong. I have no problem using words – slang or otherwise – to describe anatomy. What I do have is trouble using words that are mainly pejoratives. Words that do not belong in public speech or on the pages of books.

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So…words that make me go “ick.” In no particular order, here they are:

twat, cunt, retard,  any variation of the “N” word ( I can’t even write it, it’s so hateful). Any word that is derogatory to an ethnic group ( kike, wop, etc. You know the words I mean) I truly hatehatehate the word MOIST. I shudder when I write it.

Every word mentioned above ( except for moist, because that’s just my own particular hatefest word) is a pejorative. A word that makes me quiver and quake with anger, because they are used in totally negative ways. I see no positive translations in any of those words.

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Words that DON’T make me go ick? Any word that falls into this category:

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‘Nuff said.

Because this is week 9 of the 52 week MFRW authors blog hop, here are some other authors who are also writing about words that make they go “ick” today. Check them out…

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, love, Lyrical Author, Pet Peeves, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, WIld Rose Press AUthor

Musing on #Netgalley and #BookReviews

netgalley

Many of you may know that I’ve been doing book reviews the past few months as a Netgalley member. Some of the books I’ve chosen have looked amazeballs when I’ve read the blurbs that are posted and I’ve requested them hoping to find new authors to read.

What’s that old saying about not judging a book by its cover? Well, I’d like to add you can’t always judge it by its book jacket blurb either.

Let me ‘esplain.

I recently read 4 books I’d requested that sounded fabulous, but once I started reading them, I realized they were not for me. There was nothing critically wrong with them – they just didn’t resonate with me from a reader viewpoint. Since I’d requested– and been granted– them, I had an obligation to review them. But I didn’t. I did rate them, but I couldn’t do justice to a written review. I didn’t want to state that the plot didn’t hold up, or that I’d found timeline mistakes or unfulfilled character arcs. In one case, I did find the plot so implausible, I was surprised the book was listed as a contemporary when it really should have put in the fantasy category.

I don’t like giving criticism – constructive or otherwise – so I never wrote an actual review to post on Goodreads, etc. I know that those authors put their best feet forward, that they worked tirelessly, sweating and toiling to put out the story of their hearts. Unfortunately, that story just wasn’t for me – no fault of the writers.

The reason I’m telling you this is because not everyone is like me. Netgalley, Goodreads, amazon, really anyplace that does book reviews, has millions of bad, nasty, and heartbreaking ones. I can’t imagine what that must do to the authors who read them. I’ve had two reviewers ( not professional ones, but romance readers) for two different books of mine say this:

-for one book, the reader gave it a 1 ( out of 5) and said I wrote the wrong book.

-for the other, the reader gave it a 2 and said she couldn’t get into the story.

I could have written both these people nasty letters, but didn’t because I understood what they were saying. I didn’t agree with them, but for whatever reason, they didn’t like the story I’d told. That’s the basis of an opinion – it can be different from what you think. This is, after all, a  society that bases itself on freedom of speech and thought.

But…..

I was raised with the mantra if you can’t say something nice, keep your mouth shut. I do that. I practice that with my reviews, and in every area of life. Do I ever slip up and say something I regret? Sure. I’m human. But I have never written- and will never write – a review that calls into question the writer’s integrity, thought process, talent ( or lack of), or question the reasons for writing what they did. Just because something didn’t resonate with me, doesn’t mean it doesn’t with others. The book I read recently with the implausible plot is currently one of the hottest sellers on the market.

So, I guess what I really want to say is this: I write, first, last and always, for me. If I like it, I am happy. Unfortunately, I am in a business where money is spent on what I write, so I have to make sure it fits a wide range of reading tastes or the book won’t sell, the publisher will drop me, and I will be back at square one with no books on the market. If you like something I’ve written, yay! Do me a favor and tell people you liked it by writing a review or rating it on Amazon, goodreads, etc. If you don’t like something I’ve written, I’m sorry. It just didn’t fit with you. But please don’t go and write a scathing review just because you didn’t. There are other ways you can let me know you don’t like what I wrote – first and foremost by not purchasing another book! One bad review has a domino effect on sites like goodreads and amazon, where those companies look at data to determine if they are going to promote an author and their book or not. Again, old sayings are cliche because they are true: you can get 100 fabulous reviews, but the one lousy one will stick with you for a lifetime!

If this blog sounds like a big whine-fest, I’m sorry.  But I needed to say what I said.

‘Nuff said for now.

If you do like the way I write and you want to connect, you can usually find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triberr

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Filed under Author, Author Branding, branding, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Pet Peeves

#NoraRoberts, #WritingAdvice, and #MondayMorningQuarterbacking…

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First, a disclaimer: this is not a post about football. I would be the last person on the planet to ever post about a game I know nothing about. I can’t even bulls**t my way through a discussion on it, so there.

Now. I was listening to a podcast recently about advice. How to give it, how to take it, when and why you should offer it. For the record, I don’t like to give advice routinely simply because I don’t like getting unsolicited advice. There’s always THAT person who thinks they know everything that will make your situation better and easier, and believe me, they are usually wrong. Having said that, there are two pieces of advice that I’ve heard throughout my writing career that I’d like to offer. One, I listened to.

First, the good piece of advice. I heard this at my very first RWA conference in San Antonio in 2014 from a chat with mega-wonderful Nora Roberts. Her advice to the following question,  “How can I find the time to be a prolific writer like you?” was simply the best thing I ever heard anyone say. It was:

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See how good it is – someone made a Pinterest board for it!

Added to that advice was this little gem which I remind myself of daily:

advicenora

Words for a writer to live by.

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Now to the worst writing advice I’ve ever received. Here’s the backstory: I entered a contest and this was part of one judge’s critique. “If you change the name of the heroine, make her younger and give her a tragic background, you MAY ( and yes, she put may in capitals!) have the beginning of a decent story here.  Otherwise, I don’t see this book ever getting published. I also feel your hero is dumb.”

And I paid to enter that contest. Last one I ever entered, that’s for sure!

Well, the laugh is on her,  because I took none of her advice and that book, COOKING WITH KANDY, is coming out in April from Kensington/Lyrical Shine and I didn’t change a thing about the book/characters/backstory.

So here’s the Monday morning quarterbacking mentioned in the title to this blog in the form of my own writing advice- completely unsolicited.

                                                 Write for yourself, first.

I don’t have a Pinterest block to put up on that one, so I just bolded it in the hope that it makes a statement. YOU are your first reader.  If you don’t write something for you, that you love, that sings to you, it won’t do so for anyone else. Remember that. I do. Everyday.advice4

‘Nuff said.

When I’m not giving out unsolicited advice, you can find me here:Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Kensington Publishers, Life challenges, love, Pet Peeves, Romance, Romance Books, RWA, Strong Women

On #gym disasters, #rockmusic, and #earbuds

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A little disclaimer. I go to the gym 5-6 times per week. Sometimes I just walk on the treadmill and watch mindless television shows on my iPad for an hour, racking up my steps on my FitBit Charger HR. Others, I work out with machines and weights and then speed walk on the treadmill to fast rock music. I tell you this boring stuff so you have a head’s up about what’s to come next (!)

The other day was a weight/machines/fast walk day. I  was just finishing up the cool down on the treadmill, getting my heart rate back to a normal, non-galloping rate, and enjoying Prince’s WHEN DOVES CRY as my cool down song. I’d put a link here to it on you-tube, but because of proprietary laws, his estate has removed them. prince5

Anyway.

I finished, pressed my Fitbit to stop recording my timed workout, then shut off my iPod and yanked my earbuds out of my ears. Here’s where the day turned-almost-to a disaster.

Apparently, I yanked so hard I caused a suction buildup between my inner ear and my earbud. This is what it looked like:

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Notice there is a white safety piece on one side and not the other. Where was that piece, you ask? Well, I think you can guess. Yup. Still stuck in my ear.

I tried to pull it out but it was lodged so securely ( suction, remember) and I have little ears, that I couldn’t dislodge it with my fingers. The more I tried, the further into the canal it went. Funny thing? After about a minute of fiddling with trying to get it out, I couldn’t hear as well. I’m deaf in my left ear due to a childhood accident and the piece was lodged in my right ear. Yeah. Not a good situation.

What to do? I mean, my options were to continue to try and remove it with my fingers, but that was proving impossible, take myself to the ER where I’d be charged a gazillion dollars for a stupid visit, or try and garner some help. The last one was the one I was most worried about. I mean, really. Would you want to stick your fingers in a stranger’s ear? Ungloved?

I went out to the front desk at Planet Fitness and stated my plight. As I was disclosing my stupidity I had a thought, so I asked if they had an emergency kit. They did. I asked if there was the typical plastic tweezer included in it. There was. I asked if I could borrow that said tweezer and attempt to remove this hearing-impairing, pain in the a** piece of plastic. They said yes.

So. Armed with the tweezer – and it wasn’t your typical little metal one. tweezersNO, it was a big, honking, blue and ugly plastic thingie that was way larger than my ear canal opening – I went back into the changing room and attempted to get the stupid thing out. Not easy. Not by a long shot. I couldn’t see what I was doing because they only have regular, stationary mirrors, and not makeup mirrors you can move around. I stuck the giant tweezer into my ear – blindly – and tried to grasp the edge so I could get it out. After a minute or so ( seemed like an hour!) I started to sweat because this wasn’t easy. I am not coordinated on the best of days and this was certainly the kind of procedure that required someone with three eyes. Or two people.

But.

After a few minutes, success. I pulled the offending piece of s**t out and tossed it in the garbage. Then I washed the tweezers and returned them to the front desk. I offered to pay for replacement ones because they’d just saved me about $ 1000.00 in ER fees and how much could the plastic ones be, anyway? About 2 bucks, tops? But they were so gracious and told me since they were plastic, I didn’t need to. They’d see to getting a new pair for the emergency kit.

Moral of this story- Oh, my God, there are sosososo many. But the main one is this: be careful of the types of devices you put anywhere in your body. Something even as innocuous as an ear bud piece can cause problems. Now I have the official iPhone earbuds for when I listen to music:

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Notice how they have no plastic coverings. I clean them every day after use with peroxide and water on a cotton ball.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness and safety.

‘Nuff said about my ears.

When I’m not getting into trouble at the gym you can typically find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Life challenges, Pet Peeves, Strong Women

Does it make a difference where a #writer writes?

I live a solitary existence during the day. I write from home. It’s quiet, I can hear myself think, I don’t have to get dressed if I don’t want to, and I can talk out loud in my character’s voices when I’m creating dialogue without the fear someone will call the crazy police and have me carted off.

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I know writers, though, who actually write out in the…wilds. Or in this case, civilization. In coffee bars,  sandwich shops, at the local library. Places that have, you know, people, milling around. I’ve never written anywhere that wasn’t isolated and private. Even the library with its noise restrictions is too loud for me because…you know…whispering!

I’ve got a scientific background, so one day I thought I’d put it to rusty use and do an experiment as see how this other creative faction, well, creates.

I actually got dressed – makeup too! – packed up my laptop and ventured north to a popular gathering place in my neck of the northland: Panera.

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 I’ve been in Panera any time of the day and I know it’s always crowded, so the time I began my experiment didn’t factor in. Just for transparency sake, though, I got there a little before 10:30 am. After the morning coffe/bagel rush and before the lunch crowd pressed in.

The place was – as usual – packed, but I found a single booth off in one corner under a window overlooking the busy parking lot. Because I couldn’t just sit there and observe without eating something, I ordered a bagel and a soda and when it was ready, settled down to try and do some work. I was at a critical point in a WIP  plot line and needed to get through some emotional dialogue.

Laptop on and file opened, I took a sip of soda, a bite of bagel, and then put my fingers over the keyboard, ready to see what magic I could make.  Ready to see if I could make some magic without getting distracted, in actuality.

Know what?
Yeah, you’ve probably already figured it out. No magic.

Just when I thought I had an idea, I got distracted by the loudly whispered argument ( well, fight really) going on in the booth behind me between two college-somethings. It was a little difficult to navigate through all the college slang speak of you’s knows, and multiple likes every other word. Plus. neither of them knew how to complete a phrase without adding f**king to the word descriptors. I was able to get the gist of their heated dissertation, though, after a few minutes. Apparently, Freshman A hooked up with Freshman B’s main squeeze at a drunken frat party and now  both these young women had  a date at the school health center for “tests.”

Just when I thought punches would be thrown, one of them got a text and then they both zipped out of there right after.

Back to writing, Or trying to.

I got an entire paragraph down before I heard the squealing, high-pitched scream of someone being vivisected. Or at least I assumed that’s what was happening to the toddler  I spied out of the corner of my eye. He’d thrown himself down on all fours, writhing and pounding his puny fists into the faux marble decorated flooring, his lungs proving he’d have a busy career as an opera singer one day.  tantrumHis gaunt, anorectic looking mother,  red-cheeked and mortified, stood over him coaxing and cooing  him to stop. The more she tried to comfort him the louder his wailing pitched. All patron eyes were zeroed in on these two, rubbernecking the tantrum, myself included. I wondered why no one came to the poor woman’s help and dragged the little brat up by his Baby Gap jeans, giving him a good tongue lashing at the same time, but then I realized that most well-intentioned people didn’t get involved these days because of frivolous lawsuits and backlash.

Eventually, the little bugger got tired and momma was able to pull him up ( I would have yanked!) and led him out of the eatery.

Back to writing – or trying to.

Ten minutes later a very loquacious and vivacious group of three women around my age and garbed in what looked like workout wear ( spandex leggings that barely came to ankles; multicolored track sneaks over tiny socks, and skin tight racer back tops) sat down in the booth in front of mine and proceeded to talk.

working-out

A lot. Like, non-stop. They spoke over one another, trampled on each other’s sentences, guffawed at what they were saying-loudly!- and generally seemed to be enjoying one another’s company. They stayed for over an hour, much longer than the time it took them to eat their salads, just…talking. About anything and everything.

I’d now been in Panera’s for over two and a half hours and had written exactly 76 words. My usual rate for that amount of time is at least 1000-1500, easy. At this point, I felt it was safe to conclude I wasn’t one of those lucky writers who could block all extraneous noise and commotion from my creative subconscious. I wrote better-certainly MORE- when I was alone, it was quiet, and I had no distractions, so I went back home and proceeded to write 10 pages by dinner time.

And even though I proved my hypothesis ( I can’t write with distractions!) I will admit this: being out in the wilds, er, civilization, even for an abbreviated time, helped me hone in on varying speech patterns for age-appropriate dialogue, gave me a new appreciation for how well behaved my daughter had been as a child ( I need to call her to tell her how much I love  her!) and made me thankful I have girlfriends like those 3 women I listened to who- just when I need it the most- kidnap me from my self-imposed isolation and hermit-dom, and bring me back into the living fold.

Now, back to writing. Alone.

When I’m not doing social experiments you can usually find me here: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

 

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Today’s #PSA on #Moles, Freckles and #SunExposure….

 

irishbaby3

My heritage- as some of you know – is Irish. Born and bred in the good ol’ US of A, but a DNA history that dates from the Celts. With that go many things: a fierce temper, a bawdy wit, a love of poetry, music, and debate, curly hair, light eyes, and a mercurial disposition.

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irish-baby

Oh, and fair, freckled, and spotted skin–the reason for this blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Today was my six month mole check with my dermatologist. I go every six months ( down from every 3!) because of the numerous basal cell cancers and one ridiculous melanoma I’ve had to have treated in the past 3 years. At my last check up I was what is called in the derm world, clean, which meant I didn’t need to have anything cryogenically removed, or biopsied because all looked well.

Not so much today. At this morning’s check, my wonderful derm guy ( who also happens to be a neighbor and friend) found 2 spots that needed attention. Two. One on my ear he froze with sprayed liquid nitrogen. For those of you who know how this works, he literally freezes the s**t off the area. Like minus 100 degrees or some ridiculous temperature. Six hours later and my ear is still cold to the touch! Spot number 2 was on my forehead. He had to numb me first with lidocaine and epinephrine ( which immediately sent my heart racing and my hands shaking like it always does) and then shave – yes, you read that correctly SHAVE the area with a scalpel/razor blade thingie like he was filleting fish skin.

me

Needless to say, I was upset. Well, pissed,  if I’m really being honest.

The last time I was in the sun was over 10 years ago. And when I say “in the sun” I mean it just that way – laying out, trying to get tanned, slathered with lotion. For the past decade I have not sun worshiped once. I always wear a hat and sunglasses when I am outdoors – even if it is not blazingly sunny. My moisturizer has a 45 spf block built into it and I douse my skin in 100spf block during the spring and summer months when I tend to wear less clothing. I do no outside sports. I don’t go to the beach. And even if you’d put a gun to my head I wouldn’t be caught dead at a pool in a bathing suit.

I tell you this because my skin damage was incurred long before I quit being a sun worshiper.

As a kid I was extremely fair. My mother – as all mothers did back in the stone age – thought a little color would “health” me up. Meaning, a little sun on my cheeks would make me healthier. A good premise, but, yeah, in the long run, not so much. Before I was 10 I’d already had about 20 bad sun burns. The blistering, peeling, turning to tan kind of sun burns that fair people are famous ( or is it infamous?) for. The rule of thumb dermatologically these days is that the more you burn before the age of 18, the higher your incidence of some kind of skin cancer will be as you age.

Perfect. Instead of “healthing” me up, my mother’s intervention has made my skin a veritable boiling pot and harbor of insidiously growing disease. Not her fault. She only did what she and everyone else thought was good.

But….

When you know better you do better, so here’s the PSA portion of today’s rant: DON’T-

  • sun worship at the beach, at the pool, in your backyard
  • go to tanning booths – the urban myth here is that tanning booths won’t give you skin cancer because, hello, it’s not the “real” sun. Bulls**t! You can get just as much skin damage and skin cancers from a tanning booth as you can from the natural, “real” sun
  • ever go outside without some kind of SPF on your face and exposed skin. Most facial moisturizers have spf built in, but they need to be at least 30 or above. None of this 2spf crap. That’s like going out naked – actually, it IS going out naked!
  • ever go outside without head protection. This includes ears and neck. I had a spot on my ear today that I never even noticed. Guess where I’ll be applying that moisturizer from now on? Wear a hat. I love hats. Ever since Princess Diana made them fashionable I’ve loved wearing hats.
  • reapply that sun tan lotion frequently. Don’t just slab it on at 6 am and think after a day of sweating and swimming you’ll have the same protection at 2pm. Freuqently and a lot – I use 100 spf in the summer and yes, it goes on like Desatin, but I never EVER get any color so you know it works! If it keeps the color from leeching, it’ll keep the cancerous rays from leeching.

Please, if you have babies or young children or even kids up to 18, protect them NOW from the damage they will incur in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. My daughter is 27 and when she was an infant I kept her covered when outdoors, and then after 6 months of age had a 60 block on her ( that’s the highest number they made back when she was little.) If I put a 45 on her, she burned.

Hats, sunglasses, sun block. Preventative measures so you – and your loved ones – will never know the heartbreaking agony of a melanoma diagnosis or its treatment ( which isn’t pretty! I know firsthand)

Enough ranting for today. Take care of yourself. Your skin is your biggest organ and the one people looking at you notice first. Treat it with respect. Treat it with love.

‘Nuff said.

 

 

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