Tag Archives: rules

Carrying the TOURCH in the #mywritingprocess blog hopchaintour

Funny story:
One day on October 4, 2012, I was perusing The Bloggess’ latest post and noticed the first commenter, a guy named Nic, had the word “garlic” in the bloglink under his amusing reply. I love garlic so I clicked over to his blog, found that it was quite enjoyable, and I left a comment. This is not an uncommon habit of mine – I like to spread myself over the internet like black mold invading a grimy bathroom. However, I took the extra step of stalking him (I started following his blog) which is rare because I typically only stalk people I’ve already met.

For months, I read his blog from the shadows and then one day, I just started commenting on posts as if we’d been friends our whole lives. My ruse, it worked. He accepted me into his tribe but I only just found out how much he had accepted me last week when he passed me the #mywritingprocess TOURCH (<–click that word to find out why I keep saying “TOURCH” and also to see Nic’s answers to the questions I am about to answer) and said really nice things about me! I was all, “Awwww!” and then I realized that he was just setting me up to do work. Then I was like, “DAMN YOU, NIC!” with my fist shoved angrily into the air.

So from what I can gather, this is a blog tour/hop/chain. It’s been done by both real, actual writers as well as play writers (like me) (no, I don’t mean I write plays, I mean I’m playing at writing. It’s what I do here on this blog) I don’t think there are any stated rules anywhere, but it looks like you answer the four questions (below), say something about it on Twitter with the hashtag (which you’ll automatically do if your posts send themselves to Twitter and you put the hashtag in your title. I think), and then tag some other bloggers you admire to do the same!

That sounds about right. Let’s move on now.

1. What am I working on?

Blog answer: I am currently working on three drafts and four scheduled posts. They’re in various stages of editing.

Non-blog answer: I am working on a YA horrordomesticfictionparanormalsomethingorother novel. It should take me about 10 years to complete at the rate I’m going. I am also working on some sort of friendship/chick-lit (though not really) piece but that’s all vague and hazy right now.

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

It…doesn’t, actually. Blog-wise, I come from the same writing school as the admirable aforementioned Jenny Lawson as well as Tina Fey. It is sort of the Open Mouth, Words Come Out, Then You Listen to Them After You Realize What You Just Said school. Yes, yes, I understand both Lawson and Fey do lots of editing and don’t just go all willy-nilly but their art makes them look like they’re all willy-nilly and I always look that way because I am that way, so…see? Same/Same.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I don’t know what else to write. I think I’m a storyteller so I tell stories. I might not actually be a storyteller and am, rather, a hoarder of words which I then collect on a page and call it a blog post. I’m not really sure what I’m doing, actually.

I can tell you why I write YA horrordomesticfictionparanormalsomethingorother novels, though: It’s because I’m working through crap and this seems to be the most user friendly way for me to get it out of my system.

4. How does my writing process work?

Writing process? I’m supposed to have a process?

Oh, well, actually, with the blog, I am fairly organized. I think of things I want to write about or I remember stories I want to tell or Noelle says, “You should blog about that!” and so I jot notes on scraps of paper or, if I’m near my computer, I type sentences into a document. Then, when I’m in a super-writey mood, I compose all these stories and post them as drafts here on WordPress. I organize them according to when I want them to appear and then edit as needed. I like the editing part because I like making my jumbled writings more cohesive. I mean, you wouldn’t know any of my work is edited because it all seems so scattered but you should see it when it’s still in rough form. That said, I have a long way to go, obviously.

For the novels, though…I have to wait until my brain is ready to write. It comes and goes. If I force it, I just get crap. But if I wait until it tells me it has stuff for me, then I will sit for hours and pour words out of my fingers. When I’m not busy doing that, though, I edit. I really do like to edit. The YA horrordomesticfictionparanormalsomethingorother novel has actually become something I enjoy reading, too, and I keep getting frustrated that there’s not more done because I want to know what happens next. I think that’s a good sign, though I will obviously never know what happens next if I only ever work on the writing part six to eight weeks out of the year.

The End.

Those are my answers. I would have been more cheeky but I’m fresh out of cheek this week. Sorry.

And now, I would like to have the following published authors share their processes because I think that would be really interesting:

My beloved Internet Boyfriend: The Reverend Doctor (and his whimsical adventures)
Tyler is a fellow #Lawsbian (those who follow The Bloggess; we’re almost a cult, really, created the day she had a book chat on GoodReads, broke the site, moved the chat to Twitter, broke that, too, and we were all left in a heap of giggling and silliness afterward) and a published poet! He’s like the antithesis of me in that he’s kind and gentle, thoughtful and good-hearted, and impressively talented when it comes to crafting things such as hats, tiny taxidermied creatures, and words. Yet, somehow, we are so alike and I’m not sure why. I am sure, though, that I adore him. So, Tyler, it’s your turn to share your writing process!

Also, four-time published novelist and BEST. TWELLER. EVER: Suzanne Palmieri — Oh, look! She already did it. Here it is. She’s always one step ahead of the game because she is magical and one day, I will meet this amazing person. Go read her words because they are delightful, much like the author, herself. And then, you can go buy her books, especially the new one that was just released yesterday!


Filed under My journey to writerhood

On Racism, the subject of which I am completely unqualified to address yet will do so anyhow

I am a horrible person.
I’ve known this about myself for quite awhile. I lack compassion for my fellow human being, I’m mean both intentionally and unintentionally, I annoy the crap out of people in real life and over the internet, I’m opinionated and not always with a reason, and, as it turns out, I’m racist. As I said, I’m a horrible person.

I was driving home one night, listening to NPR’s “Fresh Air” and they were interviewing a Nigerian woman named Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on being black in America but not being  an American Black, which happens to be a subject in her 2013  novel, Americanah. The interview was interesting and I was riveted (honestly, part of my fascination was with her voice; it is gorgeous)  I checked-out the book in question, thinking I would be able to connect to the story, having lived in another country, myself, but more important, hoping that reading about someone who was discovering white vs black racism in America would show me what it is I’m just not grasping, thus enabling me to learn to be a better person. While the story, itself, isn’t as inspiring as I’d hoped, it still made me think, made me ponder how I could rewire my own thinking.
See, I’m one of those white women who is freakishly oblivious. Up until my 20’s, I think I’d only ever known one black person (in elementary school) and I wanted to be friends with her because we had the same sweater. Well, and maybe also a little because she had the hair ties that had two bright marbles that you had to twist around each other in some intricate, sophisticated, non-understandable fashion.

Hair ties

These doohickies. They were far beyond my hairstyling capacity.

Mostly, though, I wanted us to wear our matching sweaters on the same day – Twinsies – but we never got to because we couldn’t be friends. She hung out with and was one of Those Girls, the ones who had impressive collections of Lip Lickers tins. I had one, cherry-flavored I think, that I got in my Christmas stocking until a friend took pity on me and gave me her used bubblegum one because she’d received a duplicate for her birthday. Those Girls, though, they had the double tins and some of them even had all the quadruple tins because their parents could afford such things; it was extravagant. I mean, who needs that much lip gloss?


OMG, remember these? I wanted ALL OF THEM!
To see more, visit http://clickamericana.com/topics/beauty-fashion/lip-lickers-flavored-lip-glosses

I had my one legitimate tin and my second-hand tin and I wasn’t invited to play with those girls so no Twinsies for me. I was jealous of the one black girl even though I had my own set of friends, girls who had fantastic imaginations and weren’t afraid to play in the dirt with the little white trash kid. And now I’m going to say something bad, almost as stupid as “I’m color blind”: It wasn’t that she was black that made me angry at her, it was because she had things I didn’t and I wanted them, namely tins of Lip Lickers and posh little friends.

Not so long ago, I was in grad school and I said horribly offensive things to a classmate because I have that white guilt thing going on and when someone gets defensive about their race, I get defensive about mine. WHY? Because I’m a moron and can’t seem to get out of my weird little brain, to understand the greater problems in society. I say seriously assholey things because, to me, hearing “White Privilege” translates into “You should feel bad about being white” and then I do feel bad but then I get angry that I have to feel bad about my being born with skin when that’s the whole point of the conversation in the first place, to stop making people feel bad about their skin color. But do you see how I turned that all into something about me instead of being sympathetic to everyone who is treated differently because they are not white? It’s almost as if I will acknowledge it happens only if I can be part of it, too. I know what it’s like to be excluded because I’m poor, because I’m a female, because I’m small, because I’m not atheletic, because I’m not religious, but it appears I also want to be excluded for having skin. Again: Moron. That’s what makes me racist, though, my own unwillingness to not get defensive and not come up with reasons, excuses, explanations on why America has not yet progressed beyond racism. That’s my whole problem. It’s not that I’m running around hating on everyone whose skin is darker than olive, no, it’s that I can’t seem to accept that people with skin darker than olive still feel disenfranchised in this country solely because of their skin color. I want to argue with the feelings of an entire group, nevermind the reality of racism actually still existing. That makes me racist and it makes me wrong.
But the worst part is that I think of myself as being fairly open-minded and inclusive and all that crap. In addition, I think I’m pretty special and amazing because I’m the first person in my family to get a college degree and the first in my extended family to get a Masters (though there were several right on my tail) and I bought my own car without having someone else sign for it and I bought a house and I made decisions that kept me out of poverty, away from drugs, and out of jail as well as gainfully employed even though the odds were against me. I know exactly what it’s like to have to fight for what I should be able to just have/do/get – yes, I realize I didn’t have to fight as hard as others because I only had gender and socio-economic status to contend with but that doesn’t mean it was easy, either – and yet I can’t seem to find within me an empathy for the rest of the human race. What is wrong with me?

I don’t know the answer but I may have found a way to stop being so awful. It came about while I was bitching about how I don’t like feminism (see? Bad person!) because of its exclusive nature. What good is it to raise women up to the level of the idea of The Great White Male – I say “idea” because while that guy still exists in abundance, it’s not correct to assume all white men are that guy or that The GWM is always white – when it’s really only going to be decently-educated straight-looking white females above the poverty line who are able-bodied/able-minded and literate who benefit? Yes, that would be me, I would benefit from being promoted to the same status as The GWM but I’m not the one who needs those benefits. I’m doing fine climbing this cliff. I’m making opportunities for myself as I can because I can and I get that. I don’t exactly need a shoulder up yet. It’s when everyone is at the level I’m at that we will all need the last shoulder up, when my husband doesn’t have to worry about being fired because of his bipolar disorder, when my sister doesn’t have to feel losery because she doesn’t have a college degree, when my neighbor feels confident in applying for a job that doesn’t involve cleaning hotel rooms, when my professor doesn’t have to worry about standing in front of a classroom full of people who may be assuming she’s a terrorist because of what she’s wearing, when that guy going through the trash can in front of the gas station looking for something to eat doesn’t have to look for food in gas station trash cans. Shouldn’t we work on getting all of us to the same level, not just women? Not just black Americans? Not just war veterans? Not just children who are addicted to drugs from the time they’re born? Not just people who can’t walk or can’t read or can’t see? It all sounds so Pollyanna, I know, and it will never be possible for everyone to be equal. It cannot happen because the world is populated by humans and humans have this need to stratify, to be better than other humans, to be Sneetches.


Remember these guys?

I am sure it’s some sort of biological imperative and it helps keep the strongest of the race alive so that people can keep living on the planet and that’s fine, but it would be nice if stratification were based on a whole bunch of other things, more controllable things, things that don’t allow for such mean groupings. I don’t know what those things are and it would probably end up looking like some dystopian novel anyhow, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still try to get us all to the same place. Right?
There’s a name for this kind of thinking, apparently. It’s called Intersectionality and a patient woman gave me the gift of this term in a comment on someone else’s blog. I’m learning what I can about it and I like what I’m learning. Maybe, if I keep up with it, I will magically become less of a jerk and more of an understanding person, someone who doesn’t take other people’s hardships and try to assimilate them so that I am just as hardshipped. Maybe I will be able to grasp the bigger picture, to know that there is wrongness going on and there will always be wrongness going on but that I can help reduce some of it. And maybe I can find other jerks like me and we can all learn this together?
Here’s hoping.

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Filed under My Opinions on STUFF

I just realized how difficult retirement will be

I live with the belief that I will retire in the next 20 years; it is a great hope of mine. I’ve heard that a lot of people retire and then just die because they have no purpose left in life. That is not going to happen to me. Gabe and I have a whole list of things we want to do when I no longer have to work. It’s a long list and after the past week, I worry we will never get to it.

I took the first week of the New Year off  (highly recommended, by the way) and had hoped to take down Indoor Christmas on the 1st. Usually, I like to leave it all up for awhile but the house has been non-stop decorated for one holiday after another since October 1st and I was 100% ready to have it all back to normal. After Christmas was packed away, we were going to clean like crazy. I figured that would take me to the 3rd and then I could tackle my list things I wanted to accomplish after the house was clean and put to rights:


It’s not a long list. There are no difficult items. I had a week to do this. Why didn’t I get it all done?

Well, guess what?
The Goodwill stuff only got packed up because I did laundry and had to put it away and needed space. I did manage to finish And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading In the Fast Lane For My Own Dirt Road  by Margaret Roach  and felt good about that, but everything else? Didn’t even touch it. And you know why? Because as we cleaned, all these other things that needed doing kept popping up.

I emptied the china cabinet, dusted and oiled it, cleaned the contents, then put it all back and found that I am missing 3 little garden party cups.


The cups in the foreground? There should be 12. I can only find 9. My heart hurts over this.

I know the set was whole when I moved in, but I don’t know if I put all the pieces in the cabinet, or not. That necessitated a trip to the Underhouse (like an undercroft only different because we don’t live in a medieval dwelling) to see if there was still a box of fancy dishes down there. I didn’t find one. Since the shed is a disaster zone, I couldn’t look out there but I don’t put things like that in the shed. After an hour of searching, I had to give up and just cry. This particular set is important to me and I hate knowing I’ve lost some of it.

Gabe got us a new bird feeder to replace the one that met with a horrible demise in a recent bear attack. It was taking up space on the living room floor so I had to fill and hang it and, in the process, was mugged for my birdseed by the local gang. Little bastards.


That deer that’s looking at the seed on the ground? It just came right up. I marched off to get the dog who then barked these bullies straight out of the yard. Good job, Daisy May!

The amaryllis my mom gave me – it came as a bulb in a box – four years ago finally bloomed for the first time so I had to take a LOT of pictures of it. Every day. And I had to tell it how happy I was that it was finally able to show off and that it was stunning. That sort of cut into my cleaning and sorting time.


It’s so pretty! I want to stare at it for hours like I’m some sort of creep. I don’t think it would mind, though. That’s why I have a lot of plants. They don’t care if I’m creepy. At least, I don’t think they do.

We celebrated Toki&Evie’s 5th birthday on January 3rd. We sang to them and gave them birthday food (Fancy Feast, something they NEVER get any other time of year) and presents (new treats and new stuffed mice) It was a good birthday for them but I can’t believe they’re five. That has nothing to do with cleaning, really, but it deserves mention because Evie told me to put it in here.


Five years old! He’s so big!


Also five…and apparently none too thrilled about it. Well, she sure changed her tune when we popped that Fancy Feast lid.

And once we were finally finished after FOUR DAYS!!! (seriously? how dirty are we?), we sat down and discussed the problems and gaps we’d found and what do to about them. This lead to a discussion of things that need to change. Here are some of the things we’ll be doing differently:
-The little tabletop water fountain I’ve got in the dining area will be used more often; I’ve had it running since I put it back out and it’s been a pleasant background noise. Also, I like to think the water that is surely evaporating from it is good for all the plants nearby. Win/win.
-We will plan meals. We ate well and on-time the entire week despite being horrendously busy getting dust and cobwebs in our nose holes. It wasn’t hard – the eating responsibly thing, not the dust in the nose-holes thing (though that wasn’t hard, either). If we can do it while on a mission to restore tidiness to our home, we can do it in a normal week.
-We are taking back the kitchen table! It’s not a parking lot, it’s a place to eat. No more gnawing food mindlessly on the couch in front of the TV and no more messy table top. We both want to lose weight and I have a feeling this will help (it’s far too easy to sit on the couch and just continue shoving food in our faces while we watch an entire season of some TV show or another on DVD)
-We are going to clean up after ourselves immediately. We’ll just clean as we go, all day every day, and then I won’t have to clean the house on weekends and we can do fun things, instead!

These sound like resolutions, but they’re not. They are the things we need to do because we are grown-ups managing our own household, because we care about our health and well-being and about our marriage. So…we’re just going to do them, new year or not.

Come Saturday, I was exhausted. So was Gabe. We sat around all day and read. It was glorious but I felt a twinge of guilt because I hadn’t done anything else on my list and I knew I wouldn’t because Sunday was devoted to meal planning, grocery shopping, and getting ready for Monday.
That’s when I realized how hard retirement will be and I wondered if we would ever get to our Things To Do When We Retire list. Maybe that’s the real reason people just up and die after retiring; it’s disheartening to know that you thought you were done working only to find you are just beginning. I think I’d rather some eternal rest, too, than a retirement full of finishing unfinished crap.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds, My Phenomenal Fake Life

Then came a Sucker Upper

One of the things I love most about the holidays is spending time with my siblings, their kids, and our parents. We play games and reminisce on our childhood because, apparently, our current state of affairs are not nearly so hilarious. The Kids (Chris’ two and Noelle’s two) listen to us talk; by this point, they can recite the stories for us. Their favorite walk down memory lane is about our favorite childhood game. “We want to play Sucker-Upper!” they’ll cry, as we, the grown-ups, argue over some technicality in that long-ago pastime.

There are four of us (Bedot, Noelle, Chris and I) and I’m the oldest, making me the ring leader. I am pretty sure I came up with most of this game though no one remembers why it started or what the original goal had been. Mom forbade us playing it, but it was super fun and we disobeyed her command at every opportunity. Oh, you’ve never heard of Sucker-Upper? That’s probably because we made it up.

Instructions For Playing Sucker-Upper


  • One long staircase, preferably a walled-in stairwell leading to a basement.
  • Pitch-black darkness (you may need towels to plug any light coming from under doors or around windows)
  • Stupid children


One kid is the Sucker-Upper, the monster that sucks-up children. (We may have gotten that idea from watching the cats freak out over the vacuum cleaner.)

All the other kids are victims

The Sucker-Upper lurks at the bottom of the stairs and can only come three stairs up but is allowed to reach beyond that. If the Sucker-Upper grabs a kid and can get that kid to touch the bottom landing, that kid has to go to “jail” (in our case, it was the bathroom around the corner) and they have to stay in there in the dark because everything has to stay pitch black. They can have a flashlight or night light but that’s it.

It then becomes the mission of the leftover children to rescue the kids from jail but to do so, they have to sneak past the Sucker-Upper and make it down the hallway and into the jail without getting caught. And they have to do this in darkness. Silently. 

This game only works when some of the children sacrifice the slowest child to the Sucker-Upper so that there’s an objective. That’s where the argument on how this all started in the first place begins: what was the original goal? Noelle says the it was to get to Mom & Dad’s bed and the kid who did that got to be the next Sucker-Upper which was supposedly a coveted position probably because I was always the Sucker-Upper and told them that it was a coveted position. But some of us think there may have been a different goal originally. I was actually probably trying to kill my siblings, or something.

Chris was great at this game. He’d spider crawl over me, bracing himself via his hands and feet on the walls of the stairwell. And he was smart – he’d usually be on a mission to rescue Bedot who almost always got caught (sacrificed) within the first minute and he’d have Noelle create a distraction so I couldn’t hear him as he leapt from above me to the carpet behind me then snuck down the hallway. Of course, he ran the risk of Noelle freaking out at the top of the stairs because she was alone in the dark with the Sucker-Upper waiting to get her, but about half the time, his plan worked. The other half of the time, I’d catch him and drag his squirmy little body down the last three stairs to plant him firmly on the landing, often getting kicked in the face for my monsterly efforts.

This is usually where Mom chimes in, stating she was worried we’d get hurt dragging each other down a bunch of stairs in the darkness. Obviously, she was a paranoid parent; we all survived and look! The next generation is dying to play this game. If any of us still had darkened stairwells, it would happen. Sorry, kids. Blame Grammie and Poppa; they’re the ones who moved to a split-level with no scary stairs.


Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds, White trash childhood

Happy Thanksgiving. Please pass the Stupid Rolls.

It’s Thanksgiving! Yay!

My special little guy.

This used to be the holiday I hated most. Then I grew all the way up and it got loads better. There have been some mishaps but this year should be good; I’m excited for it. Except the dinner rolls. I am so pissed off at the rolls, I can’t even begin to describe the anger.

You may think it odd to hate rolls when one is not gluten-intolerant. The actual bread food is not the problem. It’s the lie behind the roll that irks me so badly.

My mom makes the rolls for Thanksgiving and Christmas and other food holidays. If you’ve ever made rolls, you know it’s time-consuming but so worth it. My sister, Noelle, and I have always firmly believed that a good roll had to be made from scratch because of our mother’s shining example. And what an example she set! Getting up at the crack of dawn before her four miscreant children could annoy and obstruct, making the dough, shaping the rolls and letting them rise in the heat of the kitchen…wow. Incredible woman, just like her mother had been before her and her mother’s mother before that. Seriously, we have bread-making pride running in our matriarchal line.

Or so we thought.

A few years back, Noelle was spending Thanksgiving with her in-laws and no one had thought to sign up for rolls. Noelle’s a good food-maker so she said, “Oh, no problem. I make rolls all the time. I’ve got it covered.” Except there was a problem: Noelle didn’t have her roll recipe with her. Please note that Mom has never shared her BEST EVER recipe for these amazing dinner rolls so we’ve each found our own over the years. Now, however, Noelle planned to extract the secret.

She called Mom, explained her situation, and asked for the recipe. Mom laughed. Noelle cajoled. Mom said, “Oh, there’s no recipe,” which SHOULD have meant that she had it stored in her head and it had been passed from mother to daughter since our family began. What it REALLY meant was that she’d been buying Rhodes frozen dinner rolls from the grocery store FOR YEARS. She assumed we knew this because “it was pretty obvious – they were perfectly shaped and the Rhodes bag was always in the trash.” However, as I mentioned, she started the rolls before we were  up and by the time we made it to the kitchen, all we saw were the rolls softly, scentily rising (thawing) from beneath a kitchen towel. They were raw and they smelled yeasty and obviously, she’d spent all morning making them. Why would we think otherwise? And why would we be rummaging through the trash to find evidence of store-bought bread?

Noelle told me this little secret and together we were devastated. Everything we’d believed in (regarding holiday rolls) had been a lie. A horrible, cheap, store-bought lie. And the worst part? Those damn rolls are DELICIOUS! They taste home-made! We hate them so much and now call them Mom’s Stupid Rolls (MSR). Because they are stupid.

We learned that our mother is a horrible person and her rolls are not to be trusted. And that is why we drink heavily on Thanksgiving. The end.

May your Thanksgiving day abound with family and friends, with laughter and no choking (because you forgot to swallow before laughing), with games and fun and high spirits, and with good rolls. 

Happy Thanksgiving. Have a seat and start to eat!

**This post is dedicated to Noelle. I am sorry we had to learn the ugly, UGLY truth. I look forward to making Mom feel guilty all day long. It is also dedicated to my evil mother who scarred her poor, trusting children with her dirty, shameful lies. Most of the time I love you, Mom. But not today. Today I dislike you heartily and your little rolls, too!**


Filed under My Dearly Beloveds, My Opinions on STUFF