Are You Kidding Me?!

Are You Kidding Me?!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I've Moved...to a New Blog

Dear John,

You've been such a good blog. But I think it's time for me to move on. I've found someone else. This was a difficult decision and I sincerely hope we can still be friends. We have been through so much together. I will keep you in my online scrapbook forever.

I'll always link you,
Sarah

P.S. If you'd like to keep in touch, I'll be here: My New Blog




Monday, October 13, 2014

Writing When You REALLY Don't Want To

The show must go on. Do people still say that? When you have a blog you write for every week and post to every single (insert day here), the show must go on. It doesn't matter what's going on in your life with your house or your spouse or your kids or your health. And so the show goes on. It might not be the best play you've seen. In fact, you might have a good laugh over drinks after the curtain goes down, but at least you sat in the theatre and watched the darn thing.

I've ruined my entire (long) weekend by hurting my back (again), and I'm painfully typing out a "show-must-go-on" post. It's silly. Yes, it really is. And I'm in pain so I'm not sure if any of this is making sense. What I'm pretty sure of is that it won't be terribly interesting. But they can't all be gems. 

As an aside, I find it fascinating that even though I did nothing to bring on another herniated disc, the word choice above is this: "I've ruined my...weekend by hurting my back..." Huh. Why am I turning the anger inward? Why do I blame myself for this? This is something else I love about writing. When you freewrite, as I am doing here, I discover my word choice reveals eensy weensy things hiding in dark corners hoping not to be noticed. Just something to chew on.  

Anyway. It's Monday. My show must go on. 

*takes bow* 

Ouch!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Women Awakening

I am honored to be included among the talented writers who shared their stories for the newly released I Am Subject: Women Awakening book. This anthology includes stories from 36 women. Each essay is different, each is beautiful. The variety of voices and experiences works well when brought together with the thread of claiming or reclaiming. It is a book about women coming to a realization about themselves and taking control of their lives. Separated into four parts: Family History, Body and Mind, Internal and External Roles, and Life Altering Moments, these many stories are combined into one beautiful collection.

Women Awakening
is a compilation of thought-provoking, powerful, and genuine stories.


Women Awakening (I Am Subject Stories) is available for purchase here and here. Edited by Diane DeBella and Anora McGaha, founder of Women Writers, Women's Books.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Letting Go of Social Media

Let go of social media?! Yes, I know. We can't do that. We're not allowed. As writers, we must be on all the social sites to build our platform and brand ourselves and whatnot. But I'm letting go. Does that mean I'll have less success? Maybe. Maybe not. Probably. I'll miss out on opportunities if nothing else.

I read this post by Lisa Reiter and it resonated with me. She talks about being busy and organizing her writing. Pfft. Who needs that? With two young kids, a husband, a house, a job, appointments, meetings, blah, blah, blah, I have all the time in the world to sit down (uninterrupted) and write.

As the saying goes, "If you do one thing, it'll be your best. If you do two things, they'll each have a bit of your intent to do your best but they won't be your best. If you do ten things, they'll suck." Okay, that's not at all how the saying goes and I'm not sure there's a saying even remotely like that but you get my point. Hopefully.

If I do those ten things with a bag full of the fifty things I'm not doing sitting on top of my head, the ten things are going to really suck and I'll wind up hurting my neck. Something's got to give. And, if I look back and realize I haven't sent anything in yet for my column this month or worked on my book or submitted anything to...anywhere, then social media has to go.

Okay, I'm not getting rid of social media entirely, I'm just attempting to stuff it into a box and shove it in the corner. Social media is a rope. (I'm going somewhere with this. I swear.) Instead of throwing the rope to the ground and leaving it unattended or allowing it to lasso me, I have to take control of it. "Letting go" of this rope means untangling myself from it so it doesn't choke the life out of me but making sure it doesn't get soaked and moldy in the rain. Hence, the box in the corner.

The rope of social media shouldn't be a noose, it should be a lifeline.
A connection to my audience, potential editors, agents, and other writers.

The Rope of Social Media
(AKA a ball of string I found around the house)

Lisa says in her post that she has set aside a day (one day!) a week that she calls her "Blog Admin Day". In the post, she uses words like "addictive" and "compelled". I feel like that sometimes. Technically, she's talking about blogging but I'm applying it to all social media. I don't know if I can set aside one day to write my blog, read other blogs, comment, read litmags, research submission guidelines, catch up on my Twitter account... Seems a tall order. But I'll try. Because I need the rest of the week to do that thing I love to do with words like putting them together and making cool sentences (and fragments). I need time to write. Also, I'm on call 24 hrs. a day as a mom so there's that.

I'm going to attempt to organize my own Social Media Admin Day. Let's be honest: Days. I think I need two. For now.


How do you manage your social media? How do you get any reading/commenting in during the week? How you do have time to write?


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Write Path is Here!

A few months ago, I wrote a letter to my younger self. So did many other bloggers. Remember that? "How I Found the Write Path"? Well, the book is here. A compilation of letters from over 60 fabulous writers collected and formatted into an eBook by the lovely Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo 

It's out and it's available for purchase. And by that I mean you can spend your time going to any one of these sites and downloading all these fantastic letters full of advice for FREE.







The letters range from thoughtful to humorous (and everything in between) but all speak to the writer's younger, less experienced, self. The anthology gives advice while entertaining readers with the many different voices and takes on the prompt. A brilliant idea from PK and Carrie. A huge thank you to both of these amazing authors for taking the time to compile these letters. How I Found the Write Path is a must-read for all types of writers at all stages in their writing careers.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Writing, Venting, & Not Crying Over Spilled Milk

I love words. I eat them up. I've often compared reading to eating. Ooh! Speaking of breakfast, I have a story for you. Without further ado, of which there has not been much but I am now making more of, I will tell you the story.

My son spilled his juice at breakfast.

There. Don't you pity me? Poor mum! Her kid spilled his juice.

When you put words together to form sentences (and, is often the case on this blog, fragments) it is quite interesting. And sometimes, as in the above example, not. I was chatting with a friend and mentioned that my son spilled his juice. It wasn't a very interesting story. It wasn't a story at all, actually. This made me realize for the first time in my life how important words are. No, it didn't. I know that. But it did make me think about how I don't often get the whole story out when I'm talking. This is just another reason I love writing. And why you are about to be subjected to my morning. Here's what happened at breakfast.

I didn't get enough sleep last night. I just wanted some coffee. Really, that's all I wanted out of my morning. Just as I sat down, my son knocked his cup of juice over. A cup filled with dark, red Strawberry-Banana juice. And when I say "filled", I mean he hadn't taken a sip. And when I say "dark", I'm talking blood red. It was everywhere. There were puddles on the table, his chair, and the floor. His shirt, pants, and socks were soaked. There were splatters on the walls, my husband's computer, and my other son's chair (across the table). We're still finding spots. This kid is ten years old. We have been telling him for, oh, I don't know, five years, three times a day, not to put his cup near the edge of the table or next to his elbow. Why? So he doesn't spill the damn thing and turn the room into a crime scene. Let's round that number down and call it an even 5,400 times we've told him this. And here I am talking about another spill. Needless to say, I didn't get my coffee until after I had sopped up lakes of juice and scrubbed spots off the walls. 

See what words do? If you don't pity me now, I'm not sure what to say. Except that maybe you are too busy laughing at me. Or that you think I should get over this instead of blogging about it. I know I should get over this instead of blogging about it. I'm venting, dammit! Let me vent. Why is it that these little things dig their way into my nervous system and make me feel like I've just had an electric shock? Don't cry over spilled milk echoes in my head as I fume about this "accident". Yet, I want to scream that, although he didn't do it on purpose, he also doesn't listen and has these types of accidents often. And, suddenly, it becomes something more than spilled juice.

I recently wrote a post about why I write and included that I need to vent and writing is a superb way to do it. This is one of those times. If you've made it this far, huzzah! Now you can stop reading about my kid and his juice and say to yourself, "Self, this post was boring and ridiculous. I could have written it better. Hey, maybe I will. Why just this morning..."

What happened that you want to vent about? Instead of reaching for the phone, write it down. Try it. You might like it.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tiny Bubbles, Timing, and Asperger's

We went to a small café. My husband and I, with our two kids, walked in, ordered, and stepped out onto the front porch of the place to find a table. There were none.

Just as we were about to head back inside, an older man stood up, smiled, grabbed his coffee cup, and said, "It's getting hot out here. I'm going to finish this," he held up his coffee, "inside." He gestured to his table. We said no. He should finish his coffee. We were fine inside. And we thanked him. But he insisted it was just "good timing". 

My family enjoyed the gorgeous day in late August when it should have, indeed, been too hot but it wasn't. It was about 75 degrees, sunny, and breezy. Perfect. Partway through our meal, the man who gave up his table for us walked out of the café. I thanked him again. He said he saw a family of four walk in and he was taking up a whole table and wanted to move for us. He was only one person, after all, and his wife was in the hospital. Normally, since she was in a wheelchair, they would have taken up a lot more room. We chatted with this man about his life and where he lived and how often he visited the cafe (a lot) and when his wife was due home from the hospital (in a few days). 

Eventually, he said, "I'll let you all finish your lunch."

My husband and I said that it was nice talking with him and wished him and his wife well. 

My seven-year-old thanked him and smiled and waved. 

My ten-year-old Aspie said, "This cream soda is really fizzy."


Monday, September 1, 2014

Why I Write


This post is part of the series "Why I Write"
Thank you to Robin Flanigan for selecting me to participate in this blog hop.


Why do I write?

How do you answer this question? It's a conundrum. There are too many ways to answer this, and there are not enough. This is a question that requires a great deal of thought and soul-searching but also one that is easily answered because the reasons have been with you forever.

I write because I love to write.

I write because I need to write.

I'm certain that many bloggers who have participated in this series have said similar things. What can you do? It's true.

I love words. When I choose a book to read, I think about it in terms of whether I’ll munch on it like a Chips Ahoy cookie or savor it like a gourmet chocolate mousse. That determines when and where I’ll read it. Will I toss it in my beach bag, bring it with me to the dentist, or save it for when I have a large chunk of time and can curl up with a glass of wine or cup of tea? When I write, it’s the same way. I craft microfiction (in 140 characters or less), create flash fiction, twist fairy tales into humorous satire, and write lengthier pieces about parenting or my children’s disabilities for litmags and local newspapers. Whatever I’m writing at the time, I’m feeling the satisfaction of putting those words on paper. Whether I’m laughing about a silly dragon story or digging deeper and bleeding onto the page while I relive a family crisis, it’s all me. It's all writing. It’s all an amazing, indescribable feeling.

The statement "I need to write" may seem a bit dramatic but it stems from my inability to feel complete or content unless I am creating something with words. It's a restless, itchy sort of thing. I started journaling and jotting down short stories when I was about nine years old. I've been writing ever since. I wrote poems for my friends, book reviews of The Little Mermaid or Charlotte's Web, plays for my stuffed animals, and newsletters of my wildly exciting life as a 9-yr-old kid.

There is nothing else I’d rather do.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Although... There is one more reason I write. It's therapeutic. This is not something I just realized but more something I’ve rediscovered. Or maybe it’s been brought to my attention recently. I write because I need to vent. Sometimes I scribble in a journal, sometimes I type it out on my blog. (Lucky you.) Writing is a comfortable outlet. It's easy for me to rant on paper. And, when all is said and done, I have a story to keep or share.

I guess a short answer is I write because it is part of who I am. 

Why do you write?

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

I'm tagging these three lovely ladies. Please check out the blogs and books of these wonderful writers and watch for their posts on why they write:

 
Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

By day, she writes code. By predawn darkness, she writes fantasies. All other times, she writes in her head. People call her peculiar with a twisted sense of fashion, but don't let those understatements fool you. Her behavior is perfectly normal for a squirrel disguised as a human. That's part of being an epic ninja—blending in.

She makes her home in Idaho with her sadistically clever—yet often thwarted—husband, two frighteningly brilliant children, and three sneaky little shibas.

Loni blogs at Squirrel Talk. Her novel, Thanmir War, is available for purchase in both paperback and e-book here.



Georgia Bell  

Writer, reader, navel gazer. YA author. Mother of son. Drinker of wine and scotch. Eater of chocolate.

Georgia Bell was raised on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy, courtesy of her father, a man who loved his family, fishing, scotch, and science (although not necessarily in that order). She is an avid reader of young adult fiction, and a lover of good wine, music, children, and cats (although not necessarily in that order). She is currently hard at work on Unknown, the second book in the All Good Things series.

Georgia blogs at Unbound: All Good Things. The first book in her series is available for purchase here.

 


Karen Faris

Writer of things large and small. Responsible government proponent and dessert advocate. Author of Grumbles the Novel Trilogy. 



As an advocate for responsible government, Karen Faris has been complaining for as long as anyone can remember. Rather than go live on a planet for one, she decided to write fiction about the things she thinks matter.

Her current projects include a time travel novel and Seasonal Adjustment, a story told in novellas.

She has a tendency to get silly because life is too short and too serious too much of the time. Grumbles the Novel is her antidote to that.

Karen resides in Rochester, New York with her husband and son. She enjoys swimming, biking along the Erie Canal, and running almost as fast as she can walk.
On her website, Grumbles the Novel, Karen blogged occastionally until her characters took over the site. Her characters now control their own destiny and are serializing their story. Read along here

The Grumbles trilogy is available for purchase in both paperback and e-book:

Grumbles: Take a Pill (Book 1)

Grumbles: Take Another Pill (Book 2)

Grumbles: How Many Pills Did You Take (Book 3)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School...Again

I feel like the summer was too short and the back-to-school craziness is here too soon. We didn't do anything major this summer (Disney, Europe...) but our days were filled with getting up, brushing teeth, eating, that kind of thing. We were buried in all the little things and now summer is over. I didn't really get to have a summer this year. Not really. Considering that, you'd think that I would have had time to get my children and myself prepared for this upcoming school year and, yet, here I am unprepared.

I wrote a back-to-school post last year that is, unfortunately, just as relevant this year. This makes me think the transition I dread is more about me than it is about my kids. And by "makes me think" I mean "gives me a reality slap".

 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Reading Book (s)?

When I was in school, we had required summer reading lists. Every year. With multiple books we were required to read. End-of-summer / back-to-school meant buying clothes, pencils, notebooks, and a backpack. It also meant preparing ourselves to prove we did our summer reading. In grade school, we had to write book reports. When we entered junior high, we were tested on the reading.  

Okay, I suppose I'm old(ish) but, wow, have things changed that much? Get this. My kids have to read a book over the summer. One. Book. AND they don't technically have to read it—this is a request not a requirement. Reading a book is "great!" and "encouraged!" but not "required". Consequently, my kids will not be tested on or even asked about the book(s) they read because they weren't expected to read any.

Also, there is a page trying to talk students (or parents?) into this one book by spouting "summer slide" statistics and research about expanded vocabulary and increased success in school.

There is a list of book suggestions, yes, but they are "popular books" including comic books and magazines. I'm not looking for a fight. My kids read both of the above and some of them are fantastic but I'm talking summer reading here. I don't understand how we went from a required list of specific books to a suggested list of popular books in one generation. What has happened?

Okay, it's been twenty thirty years since I was in grade school and things are bound to change a bit in that time but, honestly, taking away summer reading? It's still there, technically, but it's really not. Not with the mild, mousy voice of it-would-be-so-neat-if-you-could-maybe-possibly-read-one-book-or-something-with-words-on-it-this-summer.


Did you have summer reading when you were in school? Do your children? Did they read this summer? If so, was it for fun or because their school required it? 


Monday, August 11, 2014

Texting

I had something else planned for today but felt like sharing. Or, maybe, over-sharing. But who's judging?

This week on Twitter, for Friday Phrases, the prompt was "Submerged / Under the Sea". I wrote this:


The text had a location and six words 
that gave me the instant sensation I was submerged in icy water. 
"We just got in an accident."


This week, I wasn't telling a story in 140 characters or less. Well, I suppose, technically, I was but the story wasn't fiction. I received this text from my husband Thursday evening. The "we" in this text was my husband and my two children. I called him. He told me where they were and that he had to go because the ambulance was there. I had to drive. 15 minutes away. A quarter of an hour that, clichés be damned, felt like a lifetime. Shaking, scared out of my mind but paying close attention to the road (because the last thing we needed was another accident), I drove those fifteen minutes. Before I saw my children, I saw what was left of my husband’s car.

Then I saw them and ran. They were shaking, crying, burned, and bruised, but they were whole and alive and hugging me. 

It was a long night. Everyone was looked over in the ER as I hovered and fretted. It was crowded. The doctors and nurses kept us all together in one, little exam room. That simple act is something I am wildly grateful for. My husband’s burns were bandaged and all the x-rays were normal. No one was broken. Not physically. My 7-yr-old is still sleeping in our room. My 10-yr-old Aspie is working through this logically with what parts of the car were scattered on the road and what was and was not left in the car.

I could have lost my world, my entire world, a few days ago. I didn’t. I get that. But I could have. I have no words for the feeling I get when I think about it, which I’ve been trying like hell not to do.

So, although this was not my intent for today’s post, here it is. 

And here is this. The girl who almost killed my family ran a red light at full speed because she was looking at her cell phone—texting or playing a game or reading a map or I don’t give a damn. It’s simple. If you are looking at your phone, you are not looking at the road.



 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Networking: A Necessary Evil for Introverted Writers

I wrote a letter to my younger self as part of Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo's blogfest called
How I Found The Write Path
.


  This letter is supposed to come from writers who now know what they're doing. Hmm. Some of this is write on (har) and I actually do have some experience and decent advice to give. But I have a long way to go on my path. I'm headed to a writer's conference this week (the same one I talk about in the letter, actually) and I realize networking is something I continue to struggle with. Let's see how this week goes. Here's to me not crying. Cheers! 



Networking: A Necessary Evil for Introverted Writers


Dear writing-is-the-only-thing-I’ve-ever-wanted-to-do Sarah,

Yes, yes, you’ve been writing stories since you could hold a pencil. Some are still in your scrapbook. Whatever. You have a lot to learn, love. I’ll concede that you’re young and naïve but that’s all you’re getting from me. Except advice. Which is this: get off yer ass.
Your “if I write it, they will come” attitude is helping you go nowhere. Sort of quickly. But wait! There’s more! If you act now, you will be a published writer. You won’t be paid mass amounts of money, but your writing will be out there, in the world, being read, by real people. Cool, huh?
When you’re about to leave your precious thirties, the decade you love so much, you make a decision that will lead to much crying and stress. Do it anyway and thank me later. That decision is horrifying to you and requires that you put yourself out there. Yourself and your writing. Don’t whine at me that you’ve sent amazing stories out sporadically only to have them rejected. Twenty submissions? Wow. That’s a crapload. Over thirty years? Not so much. Don’t argue with me that you’re trying—you’re not.
Being a writer is not a romantic skip through the daisies in a flowing gauzy gown. It’s a nasty trudge through the mud in pajamas. Uphill. In the rain. With wolves chasing you.
Okay, sweets, here’s the deal. Writing is a business. You have to do ghastly things like meet with people, join social media, go to conferences, and talk to agents. I’m sorry, I really am, but you have to…network. Are you okay? I’ll give you a minute.
At your very first conference, you will cry. In front of people. It’s pretty funny. Now, I mean. It’s funny now. I’m laughing with you not at you? Oh, never mind. And when an editor does not ask “Are you on Twitter?” but “What’s your Twitter handle?” you will get a reality slap because you are not on Twitter. You will then join Twitter. And you will cry. But this time it’s at home so no one will see you. Hugs.
The writing life is not about hanging in your yoga pants typing at your laptop with a cuppa. It’s real, dirty work. But you love writing, you need it, and that will keep you going—submitting, networking, and promoting. Those aren’t easy tasks for an introvert like you, but you can do it.
You know how to write. You’ve been writing for many years. You taught writing for many years. Pick your confidence up out of the dirt, dust it off, and put it back where it belongs. Ignore negativity. Also, please continue to ignore the rules of grammar and “good writing”. Throwing those rules out the proverbial window is crucial to keeping your voice.
 So there it is, love. Be your own bad self. Own your shit. Don’t give up. Use your voice. Be authentic. And, for the love of toads and crickets, ditch the doubts!

Onward,
Older, wiser, not-growing-old-as-gracefully-as-you-said-you-would Sarah

P.S. Please do try to develop a touch of that thing called patience. Look it up. Your editors might not get back to you for weeks. Some litmags, newspapers, and print magazines will take months. Some won’t respond at all. It's frustrating. Feel free to punch a pillow and throw some swear words around. It's not a temper tantrum, it's "venting". Totally mature. Just don’t yank your hair out—you’re getting older and you need it. The grey ones are fine. Get those ones. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

MVP (plural?)

A few years ago, my son's teacher had this brilliant idea to give out stars to her students. Sounds okay so far, right? The stars were big. Bright yellow. And said “I AM A SUPER STAR!” on them. When we had a meeting, the teacher said all her students were “super shining super stars!” All the students were the best. Isn’t that special?

No, it’s not.

I called my friend with "Seriously?!" and “Can you believe this?!” and “How preposterous!” and so on until she cut me off. I could practically hear her roll her eyes. She said, “That's nothing. Last year, my kid’s entire team got an MVP award. Every. Single. Player.”

So, “most” valuable player is now everyone? How does that work?

Why is it that coaches, teachers, daycare providers, principals, et al. feel this need to include every single child in the “best” category?

They are not doing these kids any favors. 

Children have strengths and weaknesses. We all do. Why are we telling them they are the best at everything?

Is this a confidence-building thing? Because, I have to say, if you told me I was the best singer you'd ever heard and I went on stage and humiliated myself, not only would my confidence be shredded but so would our friendship.  

I refuse to tell my son he is the best baseball player I've ever seen when he can't catch a single ball. I'm not praising my other son for being the most incredible dancer when he trips over his own feet just walking. (You don't want to hear about his dancing.) So there. I've said it. My kids are awesome. They are loved. And both of them are stars at a few thingsbut not at everything.  

Not every child is the cutest, smartest, most athletic, most musical, best this, best that, best everything in the world. They are not. This is something we must accept. They will too. And they'll be better off for it.

Methinks I'm not going to get a Most Valuable Blogger award for this post. What are your thoughts about this "every child is the best" attitude?