Saturday, May 31, 2014

Being Real vs. Being Fake

No "Blue Roses" here...
I read a blog post a while back, one of many, about how to be a better blogger.  No matter how long I've been at this, I always want to learn more so that I can be better at what I do.

It was a fairly straightforward post about five things you should never do on your blog.

The only problem is I'm not sure if I agree with him on all his points.  I'm not saying it was a bad post or anything like that.  It was pretty good actually.

His first point was about how bloggers aren't supposed to let you the reader know or even think that we're just a beginner.  I'm not sure what is wrong with that in certain areas.  I have no problem letting people know that although I've been writing since the fourth grade, I'm new at being a published author.  What better way to encourage others that making mistakes early in the game is okay and not a death sentence? Maybe some young/new author will read my posts and learn from my mistakes.  Who knows?

His second point was that bloggers shouldn't be negative in their blog posts.  If every blog post was negative, I'd understand that.  If there was even a pattern of negativity, I'd be worried.  But I don't see how an occasional negative blog post could hurt you in the long run.  Let's be honest, even the most positive/optimistic people have bad days.  Sometimes that will leak through to a blog post.  While I am one of the happiest depressed people I know, there are some days I struggle greatly with being positive and hopeful.  While I would never just vent here on this site, his post made me feel like I had to hide my struggles from my readers.  But - it's part of my journey!

The only thought I had about his third point, not posting negative reviews of other author's books, was that is was mostly common sense not to do that.  Well, I also thought that any review you post ought to be honest and not just positive for the sake of being positive in order to get a good review in return.  But since I don't really write reviews of books on here, I figure I'm safe.

(But on that note, here is a plug for my author friend C.P. Stringham's latest romance Rest in Peace.  It's the third in the series though, so be forewarned!)

I completely agreed with his last two points, about not ignoring comments and making sure you don't react negatively to a negative comment and to not be constantly talking about your own books.  So there's not really much to say there.  I have comment moderation turned on just so I'll never miss a comment.

And then there is this CreateSpace blog about branding yourself that I just read the other day.  It made me feel a little better about disagreeing with the previous blogger on some of his points.  Richard Ridley's short post can be summed up in one of his own sentences: "Just be yourself."  His advice tells us that if we as writers and bloggers stay true to who we are, and are comfortable with who we are, it will draw people to us and our books.

Like everything else I've ever read on being a success at writing and blogging, he does say that it takes time and consistency.  Two things I have obviously struggled with recently.  As can be seen by how long it has been since I posted.  I won't bore you will all the details, but I have had a lot going on in the real world and instead of finding solace in words on a screen I have been letting the resulting depression run its course.  I've never been able to write when I'm at the worst, it's only on the way back out that the creative muse kicks in.  Some of the best poems I've ever written were on the way back out of a depressive episode.  Two of my favorites are companion poems The Secret Me and I Can See You even though they are both almost 14 years old.
We all have rainy days...

So at the end of the day, so to speak, each of us bloggers have to find our own way.  No matter how many different articles we read giving us advice on how to attract readers, it's always going to come back to in who we are.  Each of us who blogs/writes has our own unique Voice.  Along with our different opinions and ideas.  Some of us are going to be Roses, others Lilacs, and others Violets.  Some of us are going to clash like thunder and lightning, while others are going to be like Forrest and Jenny - peas and carrots.  But even then, what is thunder without lightning?

I won't stop reading articles, but no matter what I have to be true to myself.  Who I am as a writer and as a person.

I can only be me.

2014 ~ Aren't we done with this year yet???

Friday, May 16, 2014

Week's End

My brain is blank.

I can't even come up with a decent working title for this post.

This happens occasionally.

Well, to be honest.  I'm not sure if it's that my mind is actually going blank, or if there is an overload of ideas and my brain just can't process them into words yet.

That happens occasionally too.

Spiders belong outdoors!
One thing I plan on doing some time soon, maybe tonight or tomorrow, is attempt to write a short story involving spiders.  This came about from last nights conversation about the spider that built its web in my doorway.  Now, spiders and I have an agreement...they stay out of my territory and out of my reach and they can live, they wander too close and they will die.

The spider in the doorway was on the border of this agreement.  He was close to being in my territory and he was definitely within my reach.  And it was raining, so I could understand his location.  But I have to walk through that area, and I don't like the thought of him accidentally falling on my head as I walk under.

So, I compromised.

I got the broom and pushed him out into the rain.  Just in case he survived the wet fall, I told him that if he came back I would finish the job.  I had to stress that to him because the last time I tossed a spider out onto the steps, he came back and rebuilt his web in the doorway.

Crazy talking to a spider, I know.  What is even crazier was voicing to my husband that they band together and share locations with each other in an attempt to irritate me.  But it did spark a cute little story idea.  I'll post it once it's written.  If it's halfway decent.  I tend to struggle with short stories.

I did get some writing done this week.  Not quite as much as I had hoped, but since my husband stayed home this week as well there was a lot of distractions.  A lot of gaming.  A lot of Netflix marathons - CSI NY, House.  Our finances will suck, but I can't argue the quality time was nice.

My favorite spring flower!
Two more days and I am back to work.  I'm not looking forward to it because my foot still hurts.  I should have called the doctor's office and let him know, but I can't afford anymore time off.  I'll wait and see how Monday goes and see how bad the pain gets.  Maybe it won't get too bad.  Hey, a girl can hope!

Hope all of you have a great weekend!  Anybody got anything exciting planned?  It's still very wet here in my corner of Pennsylvania, but the lilacs are blooming and smell heavenly!

2014 ~ Is almost halfway over! 

Monday, May 12, 2014

This splint was NOT made for walking

My unhappy foot
For the past three and a half weeks, I have been living in pain.  Each and every step was like stepping on a hot metal spike going farther and farther up my leg.  I am used to working through pain, I've done it for years.  But this time was too much for me and I took myself to the doctors.

The first doctor, a rather rude general practitioner, who was in truth only a Nurse Practitioner and not a true doctor, didn't do much for me.  Brushed her finger across the bottom of my foot, said something like, "Wow, you are in a lot of pain." And promptly dismissed me.  No pain meds, no X-rays, and very little sympathy.  But I did get a referral to a podiatrist.

A podiatrist who would make the world's best general practitioner were he not already a specialist.  I first saw Dr. Kump about 5-6 years ago when an ingrown toenail became infected.  He ended up taking the nail, nail bed and all.  He did a little more than just run a finger along the bottom of my foot...he also pressed into the side, right along the edge of the arch that I don't have.  He ended up putting a shot in my foot, almost at the same spot her pressed.  It was far more painful than the shot I had put in my knee about 7 years ago.  That shot I didn't even flinch at.  This one in the foot almost made me cry.

Flowers = Spring = Flip Flops
With the shot, came an order for X-rays and blood work.  And some restrictions I wasn't fond of.  NO flip flops.  :'(  Summer is starting, and I've been wearing flip flops since my wedding day last August anyway.  But no, not now.  Sneakers it is.  Ugh.  I did get some nice pain medication; not enough to take all the pain away, but good enough to make me not care that it still hurt.  And a week off of work.  We can't exactly afford for me to be off work that long, but my husband told me it didn't matter so long as I got better.  And honestly, I think my husband was a little upset that I didn't let the doctor take me out for two weeks like he originally wanted.

I also came home with the night splint pictured above.  Meant to be worn only at night while sleeping and not to be walked on (except maybe for a quick midnight jaunt to the bathroom).  And let me tell you, we are not getting along.  At first, it doesn't bother me.  I try not to get it too tight, because I don't want to cut circulation off.  But still I end up readjusting it a few times during the night because the top part of it ends up cutting into my calf.  There have been a few times I've taken it off early in the morning and slept without it for the last couple of hours.  I'm not sure if that means I'm not getting it on right the first time around, or if the splint is a little too small.  It doesn't seem to be too small, but I'm not sure what else it would be.

So far the order to take it easy hasn't translated into a ton of writing getting done.  I have finished season 3 of Being Human on Netflix - and they sorely need to get season 4 on there.  I've almost finished CSI: NY, hubby and I are down to the last 2 or 3 episodes.  We've also watched  Maximum Overdrive, which had a very young Emilio Estevez in it.  And a few episodes of House.

I've also slept a lot, thanks no doubt to the medicine.

But that isn't to say I haven't gotten any writing done.  I finished the blog post over at Broads of a Feather and posted that today.  I will probably get this one day today as well.  I wrote enough in Ring of Fire to know that I have to restructure chapter 18, because a conversation between two women took on a life of it's own and revealed to me just how little I know about my own characters.  But I can handle those kind of discoveries.

Hopefully I will get more writing accomplished during this unexpected vacation.  It is certainly in my plans.  I hope to get a few blog posts written up ahead of time for a change too.  I have had so many thoughts going through my brain, it would be nice to get them written down.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

2014 ~ The year of no flip flops :(

Sunday, May 4, 2014

It's Time to Bare ALL

Black on black....
What a week I had last week! Monday was pretty laid back.  We didn't work, which was good since I didn't get home from a trip to New York State until 11 the night before.  So I hung out with my husband and helped him with the project his boss had him working on - painting a 20 foot trailer.

It was a good day; I've always liked working with my husband.

However, it will probably be the last Monday I'll have free in a while, as work seems to be picking up.  At least, that's what we're being told at the moment.  I've seen things change pretty quickly before.  Like the day the daily minutes declared that we seemed to be approaching our busy season...and it wasn't long after that we were having our Monday's "blackened".  We've worked a few on and off the past few weeks, but this approaching Monday will see all departments back to work.  While I hope it lasts, I could do without the 9 and 1/2 hour days!  It's a killer on the feet!  And the hands...and the back...You get the idea.

Wednesday, I had finally had enough of the pain in my foot that Advil won't even touch, and I stopped by a local Wine and Spirits shop and picked up a bottle of my beloved Red Cat wine.  But before I indulged in a glass, hoping to dull the pain, I decided I had had enough with my hair.

Three summers ago, my husband (this was pre-marriage actually) got tired of my complaining about my long hair.  It used to be past my shoulders, although I've now forgotten how long it was that first time.  He asked me if I really wanted to follow through with my threats to just shave it all off.  With his electric razor in his hand.  I hemmed and hawed...and he very subtly dared me to do it by suggesting I was a coward.

This is a beautiful woman...
And why wouldn't I be afraid to?  After all, a woman is meant to have long hair right? The bible says so.  And I have family members who very devotedly follow those verses - while ignoring Apostle Paul's clause at the end saying that neither he nor the church has any such custom/requirement.  I knew that I would be judged, from every corner of my existence.  Except maybe from my husband.  And since I don't like being called a chicken any more than Marty McFly, I let him take my hair off.  Almost to the scalp.

I can't begin to describe what a liberating event that was, and continues to be since I have done it every summer since.  I learned just how vain I was and am.  I'll be honest - I look really goofy with no hair.  But I love it.

For some reason, "Because I want to." is never a good enough explanation for people. I'm not sure why.  Why do I need a detailed list of the reasons why I do this?  Why isn't my desire to do so enough?

True, I have a list:
  • I like how it feels.  My head feels so light and the cool spring air feels absolutely delicious against my almost bare skin.  I do have to take care that I don't burn, so I tend to keep it covered when I'm outside, or at work (work is a lot colder than the outside)
  • I save time.  Both when showering and afterwards.  I can wash what little hair I have in a jiffy.  And I don't have to style it.  Not that I ever style it for work, but when I go out I would try to make sure the back curled just so and the sides were resting just so.
  • I save money.  I buy one bottle of shampoo a year.  I only started using conditioner again this past winter after I colored my hair and thought it felt dry.  Should I continue conditioning after I get some growth back, it'll probably just be a bottle a year for that as well.
  • It's a lot easier to wet my head in the summer than if I had more hair.  Just a quick splash and I'm so much cooler.
  • I like how it feels when my husband runs his hand over my head.  Granted, I just like his touch in general, and it makes no difference whether I have hair or not.  But it's still one of my reasons.
  • It's also easier to wear a hair net and hard hat at work.  No strands of hair falling out, a hard hat that fits better.
But "Because I want to" ought to be a good enough reason.

I've been thinking about this on and off all weekend.  In fact, my husband and I discussed it on Saturday as we were out and about.  And I'm going to be honest.  All the flack I've gotten in the past is worth this feeling.  I haven't gotten too much this year, as it's no longer shocking to people.  Many people have accepted it's that time of year and Robin's going to shave her head.  What they say behind my back is between them and their conscience.

I am lucky to have a husband who cares more about who I am as a person than what I look like physically.  Apparently he's had a few conversations himself with others over my hair, and has defended my choice.  It makes me happy, he says, and that makes him happy.  Many women are not so lucky.  Men who want their women to 'look like women' regardless over their own desire to buzz their hair off (I wonder what happens should those women lose their hair due to age or illness??).  It is just hair, and it will grow back.

This distresses me to a degree, because as the girl I overheard in Walmart said, deep in conversation with her friend over a comment regarding how she wore her hair on recent occasion: "It's my hair, I'll wear it how I want."  I have nothing against a woman looking nice, having long hair and so forth, if it's something she wants.  I like looking nice, but I prefer being comfortable.  Every woman should be able to wear their hair as they like.

And I think I still look feminine, regardless of my hairstyle. Those who mistake me for a man are seeing through eyes jaded with cultural mores.  Or rather outdated customs as our society is ever evolving and struggling into a more equal society.  If a man can have long hair, why can't a woman have short hair - or no hair - if that is her choice.  It's not about gender or sexual identity, it's about choice and what their preference is.

Granted, I don't pull off the look as well as Sinead O'Conner ever did, but I can live with that.  I still look like me, and more to the point - no matter what I look like, I'm still the same person.  Cute, adorable, and lovable.  Smart, sassy, and independent.

My hair doesn't define me any more than my weight does.

2014 ~ Liberation