April 22, 2013

Musings

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The Boston Marathon bombing was a horrendous tragedy, and plenty of folks more eloquent than I am have expressed their thoughts much better than I ever could.

Why’s that? I write romantic comedy. I don’t do well with dark moments, tears and a heavy heart. My whole family’s like that. There’s a reason we sat around cracking jokes before and after my dad’s funeral.

My predisposition to avoiding sadness is why, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, I stopped writing. Months — maybe even a year — passed before I shook the funk and continued with the story I’d been working on (“Blind Date Bride”). I didn’t feel like being funny when the world as we knew it had changed forever.

But that was more than a decade ago, and if I’m going to be published before I’m too old to enjoy the victory, I don’t have the luxury of taking another six months to a year off. Besides, I signed up for the NaRoNoWriMo (National Romance Novel Writing Month) challenge to write 40K in April. I’m woefully behind — and was even before Monday’s attack. A couple of new rejections have waylaid me more than I’d like to admit. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but my skin apparently isn’t as tough as it needs to be.

In keeping with the spirit of trying to get back in the swing of things, I made myself a note:

 The sentiment is from my fellow NARWAns, Karen and Anne Marie. We were gathered for some writing time at Starbucks Thursday, and when I confessed I was struggling, they gave me a gentle shove in the right direction.

I will write — not only for myself, but also for anyone who needs to boost their mood … who wants a good laugh … who, like me, uses humor to cope with their deepest, darkest doubts.

I will write because if we stop doing what we want — if we don’t continue to follow our dreams — the terrorists win.

Uh-uh. Not on my watch.

March 11, 2013

Musings

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Who AM I?

In high school and college, I was the nerdy kid so many loved to hate: I finished papers early and often set the curve.

The semester I spent in England, I turned in my British Studies research paper  — on “Wuthering Heights” — early so I could get feedback from my adviser and revise it for a better grade. I also wrote an extra research paper — on Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” — to get 300-level credit for the class instead of 200-level.

You rarely found me pulling all-nighters because I often finished papers long before their due date.

Nowadays, that’s not the case. I barely finished judging the eight Golden Heart entries RWA sent me by the March 7 deadline. I snuck in my novella submission to Carina Press just under the wire. I frequently just make the deadline for contests.

What happened to that go-getter?

Is it fair to blame my newfound bent for procrastination on life getting in the way? Back then, my only job was being a student. Now I have to make room for writing/editing/contest judging on top of a 40-hour-a-week day job — and still find time to work out, play with the Boyfriend, keep up with writing for three blogs and cook healthy-ish meals.

Not to mention, back then, the time-sucks of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest didn’t exist to distract me. Of course, those time-sucks can be a valuable way to network, keep my finger on the pulse of the industry and keep up with my friends’ many accomplishments.

It’s a fine line, and I’m trying to walk it more precisely every day.

Your turn: How do you balance all the demands on your time? Do you find yourself procrastinating more now than in the past?

February 22, 2013

Musings

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A new theory has been simmering in my brain for the last few weeks. Want to hear it?

Of course you do. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading my blog, right?

Authors — and readers — have TBR piles. More likely than not, they’re towering TBR piles that threaten to topple over because we’re adding to them much faster than we take things away.

Or is that just me?

My theory is this: Pinterest boards are to recipes what TBR piles are to books.

I don’t remember exactly how long ago I joined Pinterest, but I can tell you that I’ve been pinning recipes like a champ ever since: I have about 575 recipes on 14 recipe-themed boards.

I started with a generic “Food ideas” board, soon realizing that I needed to break things down further if I ever expected to find anything. So now I have separate categories for low-carb recipes, breakfast ideas, smoothies, sweets, vegetarian chow, paleo eats, holiday favorites … pretty much any category you can think of. And I add to them every time I visit Pinterest.

In fact, when I hopped over to count how many recipes I’ve pinned, I found two more to add. You can check out my boards here, if you’re so inclined.

These recipe boards are a lot like my TBR pile — full of things I want to make/eat/read someday … in the distant future … if I ever find the time.

Maybe I should institute a new rule: Every time I finish a book, I have to try a new recipe — and vice versa. That’d give me a chance to make a dent in both stashes.

Are you a pinner? Do you have more ideas bookmarked than you can possibly get through?

 

February 13, 2013

Musings

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The most recent snowstorm that socked Flagstaff left me wearing snowboots. They’re heavy, clunky boots that, while keeping my feet dry and at least a little warm, tend to gobble my socks.

Because of their penchant for leaving me with one sock off and the other half on, I can’t wait to shed these pain-in-the-a$$ boots (and put my socks back on) … so I’ve taken to stashing a pair of sneakers under my desk at work. With a minutes’ work — presto change-o — I can walk through the office without my socks bunching around my toes.

The simple act of changing into a bright pink pair of tennis shoes calls to mind elementary and middle school gym classes. Unfortunately, the memories aren’t as rosy as the shoes.

I didn’t mind gym class so much in elementary school. It was fun to play  duck, duck, goose, prison dodgeball and that game with the parachute.

Then middle school happened. PE went from fun to full-on torture. For some reason, the powers-that-be put gym class first thing in the morning — meaning, essentially, we had to get ready for school twice. Considering it was all I could do to do my hair once, that was a fate worse than dropping my purse and having feminine hygiene products spill out.

Our PE class was structured into weeks-long units. I succinctly remember units on basketball (which I was surprisingly bad at for a born Hoosier), volleyball, softball and tennis. I also remember that horrid Presidential Fitness test, where you had to run a mile as fast as you could and hang by your arms (which I couldn’t do for more than a split second).

But the worst, by far, was … square dancing. With “icky” boys. (Our gym classes were only co-ed for square dancing. The rest of the year, they did their thing and we did ours.) The mere thought makes me shudder, even all these years later. If I can unearth the short story I wrote about the experience, I’ll come back and share some of my favorite lines.

I can’t help wondering: If middle school and high school PE had been more enjoyable … if they’d emphasized personal fitness instead of team sports … if they’d had units on yoga and zumba, would I still be fighting the same battle with my weight?

Probably. While I’ve finally found exercise I enjoy, it’s still a struggle to watch what I eat and move regularly. It’s a lot easier to grab a value meal and park it in front of my computer.

Anyone else hate square dancing as much as I did? What was your gym class nemesis?