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Monday, March 31, 2014

Prenatal Frustration?

Not having a baby, folks, but I am trying to birth a book. I know that writing can't (for mothers who don't write) compare to having a human baby, but... For people who write, the chore is very much like birthing something. The analogy might tick off some folks, but it works for me.

I am ready to be over and done with this current novel. When I said that to a friend of mine the other day, she made the comparison to her first pregnancy. I saw the truth in this, but couldn't resist pointing out that this is not my first baby book. I guess I was a little pissy when told her that because she had to add snarky by-the-way bit: "It doesn't get any easier with the second or third kid."

Damnit, she's right.

When I considered the analogous relationship between writing a book and having a baby, I had to go look of the stages of pregnancy. I've never been in that amazing situation, but I was stunned at how much it relates to what I go through as a writer. (And to paraphrase Ms. Angelou: A writer writes not because she is published, but because she has stories to tell. So there.)

Just a baby forms in stages, so does a book. Of course, the stages of a book are less straightforward. Because I am either insane or just a little bit twisted, I sometimes come up with characters before I have a plot. Still, I start with an idea about something.

Right now, my book is hanging somewhere in the land of the never-going-to-be-born. I swear I've been rewriting parts of the DNA for weeks and weeks. Meanwhile, whole sections of the story  has sprinted right into the embryonic stage. ~face palm~

There are days when I don't even want this baby anymore. Unlike mommy-mommies, I can put the project on hold for years. If I could stand it. But I can't stand it. Just like being pregnant, there's no going back. I can't even just destroy this book. It was a part of me from the moment I imagined it in my head. It's never going to not be, even though it may never be born.

Wow.

This book didn't ask to be conceived, but the story is going to be there - in my head, in my consciousness - whether I write it or not. At this point, I can't even imagine not writing it to completion. Just like a mother anticipating the birth of her child, I already think about the little one. Will it live with purpose and bring  joy to others?

Yeah.

I ran all this past my friend (the mommy-mommy), she thought it was silly until I got to the part about just wanting to be done.

"A woman can only be pregnant for nine months," I whined. "This book has been in me for over a year." And that's when she made a confession both parents and writers can understand.

"Love making the little rugrats, but can't wait to get them out of you."

Peace
--Free

P.S.: Seriously, parents, I know that what you do is amazing and beautiful. My post is just a little piece of humor, and not meant to diminish your superhuman abilities to do the job you all do!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Speak the Truth

While browsing Tumblr a minute ago, I came across this very cool pic

even if it's shaking with laughter **


Normally, I'd get all serious and go on a rant about how true this truth is. But because the sun is shining today (and because I feel good for the first time in a long time while wearing a tank and stretch pants), I thought I'd get a little silly.

What are some of the things you do that you would never speak the truth about? I bet just thinking about it made you cringe a little, didn't it? I know the feeling.

In the spirit of being brave (or silly), I'll share:

  • Men are accused of always checking out a woman's boobs. I sometimes go into crotch-frenzy. There are days when I can't look at a photo of a nice-looking guy without my eyes going straight to his package. Speak the truth.
  • Sometimes when I see a story about someone jumping in a freezing river or otherwise risking their life to save a dog (or cat), I can't help but think about all the humans no one is trying to save.
  • In spite of my previous rant about judging someone's romantic choices, I will sometimes see a couple and think, "He must have a lot of money" (or be great in the sack, or drive a hot car), and "She must have one hell of a personality" (or sack skills, or knows how to "work a root"). 
  • I'll see a smoking hot woman and instantly want to find reasons to hate her. I've even sometimes wished that, if she tans, she ends up looking like a purse in ten years. If she has great hair, I might follow her to try to spot weave tracks or roots that need a touch-up. (I actually did cringe while typing that one!)
  • I sometimes fantasize about winning a lottery just so that I can visit all the people who ever hurt my feelings. I'd drive to their house in a really hot-looking car (maybe even with a chauffeur), invite them to lunch and let their burning jealousy be my dessert. (I'm too old and mature to think such childish things. But I just did.)
  • There have been times when I hated so much to be wrong about something that I made up b.s. "facts" to prove my point. (To be fair, I only did this with the people I knew were too lazy to do a little research.)
  • I have judged people by their appearances. Years back, whenever a friend and I went to nightclubs, we'd assign a "slut meter" number to other women. We gave higher numbers to certain women based on nothing other than our own envy. Whenever a woman got hit on more than we did, my friend and I would give her an automatic 10.
  • That slut meter game is not the most shameful one my friend and I played in judging people.
  • I can be extremely petty sometimes. As bad as my memory is, for some reason I have no problem retaining thoughts about what and how someone says anything that irks me. I file that away and work out exactly what (and when) to say something to get them back.
  • Shade. I can throw serious shade.
Okay. Sharing all that is no longer fun. I actually think I might need to go into deep prayer or see a therapist now. Right now.

Peace
--Free

P.S.: I sure hope that shemavericksniper doesn't hate me for sharing the pic in such an irreverent post. I did love the pic and the thought in the way I'm sure it was intended.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

**REVIEW** ProWritingAid (Writing Analysis Tool)

This is #1 of 2 posts I'm doing today because I found some software I wanted to mention. The first one is for writers of all kinds: technical, business, creative, students - whoever. It's called ProWritingAid. I tried it out all this morning, and here's my take on the pros and cons:

PROS

  • Analyzes writing from several different editing viewpoints - not just grammar and spelling. I counted 20 built-in reports, plus some customizable "house" reports.
  • Integrates into MS Word as an add-in.
  • Generates a report that can be viewed  alongside your Word document.
  • Has a 14-day trial download.
  • Has reasonable pricing for 1 to 3 year ranges. 
  • Can be used online(with limitations), without a download, for free.
  • It would clean that previous sentence of mine right up. This one too. Ha!
  • Giving feedback on the site is made easy.
  • Would be very useful for students, businesspeople, and technical writers.
CONS
  • I had trouble using the "Help" function.
  • I needed "Help" to understand some of the report information.
  • The add-in version requires an internet connection.
  • I had trouble trying to run a new report on a different document.
  • The lifetime pricing might seem reasonable, but what happens if the company goes obselete? (This happened with the original StoryBoard software creators.)
  • The more advanced functions are tricky to master.
  • Fiction/creative writers might get annoyed at some of the nit-picky rules.
  • One of the reports is based on some new-age-y stuff to do with NLP... ~shrug~
I left out this one nice (but slightly odd) Pro: being able to generate a "word cloud" from your document. This is mine from my (unfinished) manuscript

PRO! Will be doing lots of these.
Pretty cool, huh? You know that I'll be creating more of those whenever I have writer's block.

Overall, I think the Pros beat the Cons.

While I got very annoyed having to tell the software to ignore some words ("y'all" is a word, y'all!), I did find it helpful to know when I was over-using words or going heavy on the adverbs. I think this is probably the best (mostly free) tool I've seen for editing. 

One big caution to creative writers: don't get bogged down in all the various reports until you are finished with a rough draft. 

Forgive the cloddy writing in this post, I didn't run it through the software. Deal with it.

Peace
--Free

Just How Nosy *Are* You?

Yesterday, I went grocery shopping with my niece, "CC". I rode with her so that I could spend a little time with DJ. Of course, he completely ignored me because he was playing with his little Talk 'n Spell. Apparently a little book that lights up while talking to him in a creepy voice is way more interesting than I am. Whatever. (Later on, I bribed him with gummie candies and got a kiss.)

On the way home, turning off the main road and into my neighborhood, we saw a few cop cars in front of an apartment building. Now, my neighborhood is in a nice area but, we have a lot of strange residents. Most of my neighbors are more interesting-strange than dangerous-strange.

There's the one lady who walks her dogs all the way down the street away from her apartment building just to let them take a crap in front of our building. She never bags the mess. Of course, I have the crazy lady upstairs from me who's on the unofficial Neighborhood Poop Patrol. She watches out the window for offenders and will chase them down to scold them about their doggy dookie. (Generally, I think of her as crazy, but I'm glad for her N.P.P. diligence. I don't have a dog at the apartment and I hate dealing with other people's, well, crap.)

Then there's the couple in the building across the street from us. They fight like David and Goliath. I think the wife is Goliath. But that's only when they are mad at each other. When they are getting along, they really get along. I'm talking extreme public displays of affection. I wouldn't want small kids to witness the show they put on for all of us. And they really can put on a show. Right out in the open. I've had cigarette cravings after watching them "get along".

One old guy next door is, apparently, a careful drunk. Some Friday evenings, he drives off to a bar somewhere and stays most of the night. Really early the next morning, he comes walking (or trying to) back home, singing loudly. This happens about twice a month. He really likes Patsy Cline's "Crazy". It's kind of cute that no one yells out their window for him to shut up. One time, I heard someone hanging out a window singing along with the old guy.

Still, most of the people around here are harmless (though I do think there's some low-level drug-dealing going on by the teens just up the block). When we see cops in the neighborhood, we figure they've come to deal with something minor.

So, yesterday, we barely glanced at the cop cars. We were in the middle of discussing some juicy family gossip. (This particular niece of mine is the Rona Barrett of our family. Or in youth-speak: Perez Hilton. I call her our Conway Twitter.)

As CC is yakking away, and I hear her say "They have guns", my first thought was, "Why would R* and L* have guns?" (Remember, we were gossiping.) Then I thought of the cops we were passing and thought, "Well, yeah." Then I saw two of the cops standing next to an apartment building with their guns drawn.

A normal and sane person would speed up a little to get past any possible danger. Right?

CC is mostly sane, but she is nosy as hell. This heifer slowed down to a crawl and started rubbernecking. When I reminded her that we had DJ in the back seat (and me right up front), she did speed up.

Now, I am nosy. I'm so nosy I once fell into a room trying to eavesdrop on a conversation. But my niece is so nosy that when we got around the corner to my apartment, she wanted to leave DJ with me so she could walk back down the street and see what was going on with the cop situation. She is so nosy that she wants to get a police scanner app for her iPhone.

Well, I shamed her out of leaving DJ, then I reminded her that innocent people have been killed by stray bullets in dangerous situations. I told her to take the back way out of the neighborhood and tune into the news when she was safely home. I went inside and locked all my doors and windows.

Ten minutes later, CC called me. Four more cops had appeared on the scene (guns drawn), and they had started clearing the building. CC hadn't been able to get any more details because a policeman had waved her along when she drove past. (So much for taking the back way...)

As soon as I hung up with CC, I called my sister and told her that our niece is a crazy woman. "I'm not that nosy," I said. My sister reminded me of that time I was eavesdropping and fell into the room when someone opened the door. I reminded her of the time she'd got busted listening in on a phone conversation. (That time, Mom had put down the phone in one room and crept up on my sister listening on the extension in another room. I think my sister developed a heart murmur.)

Okay, so "nosy" runs in the family. I'm just not as nosy as my niece. I'm too chicken to be that nosy. Now, if we're talking eavesdropping, I'm your girl. Or, if I'm a safe distance away (or behind a barrier), I'll even watch something dangerous unfold - hell, I'll bring the refreshments. I'm just not the girl to hang out where stray bullets (or fists) my fly my way. I am thinking of looking for one of those scanner apps, though. Do they make one for Android?

Peace
--Free

Friday, March 28, 2014

That Illuminati Thing

I haven't posted on many social topics lately, but because of my love for music, I wanted to talk about this subject.

I'm always hearing about how the Illuminati is controlling the music business. Some of the talk makes sense and comes from people who spread their message with a loving heart. In some cases, the messenger's own hate makes it hard to hear any truth they might be speaking. (And I do believe there is some truth in there.) Sometimes, I run across things that I find interesting but confusing. I save those to look at later...

I do believe that for every good thing God gave us, Satan (the Devil, Lucifer, whatever you call him) has found a way to pervert it. And, honestly, I do know that many people will do anything for money, recognition, fame (infamy), etc. 

Sometimes, we find it hard to believe other people are capable of doing the things that we aren't capable of. Just read the news and you will lose your doubts on that one. (I read a story the other day about a man murdering a mother first, then killing her toddler. The report said that, at the time, the child was crying and clinging onto the killer's leg out of fear and confusion.) 

While some prefer to laugh off ideas of God (and Satan), that may be the biggest part of the battle. Charles Baudelaire said that "the finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist". (It sounded cooler when Verbal Kint said it in "The Usual Suspects".)

Right this moment, there are a lot of you thinking that I sound like a big bag of crazy (thank you, Dr. Cox) just for believing in God and believing that Satan exists. I don't really care. Being "crazy" is safer than succumbing to bullies or peer-pressure. #believethat

Maybe too much is being read into it when we see images like this:

Why? Just...why? (source)

It does sound a little crazy to think that people are taking oaths to something (or someone) dark and evil in exchange for material wealth. It sounds crazy, but I've got to wonder when I see people who supposedly did (or did not) admit to this deal. I've seen the videos of  Katy Perry, in and out of sync; Bob Dylan, either joking or not, though I can't imagine joking about such a thing; and I've heard about Robert Johnson (the "father" of rock and roll). 

In the comments section of one of those videos, someone mentions that the artist might be speaking metaphorically. Maybe so. I myself won't even joke or speak in any way about selling my soul. One commenter wondered why anyone would care about someone else and their soul. I don't know about them, but I care the same way I wouldn't want to stand and just watch someone throw themselves off a tall building. But that's just me.

Sometimes, I think that people are just afraid to believe in anyone (or One) other than themselves. Does it matter that you'd rather not believe that fire is hot and water is wet?

Peace
--Free

Thursday, March 27, 2014

We Have the Wrong Ideas About Love

The very title of this article was so offensive ("14 Sexiest Celebrities With Ugly Significant Others"), I fell into the trap and read it. That's what I get for stumbling across sites with names like "Celebrity Romance". (Actually, I was reading news on The Root and clicked on a link...)

First of all, "romance" - celebrity or any other type - is about romance and not "hot bodies" or cheap hookups. Second of all, as stated in the article's title, those celebrities are with their chosen and "SIGNIFICANT others". A person does not become a romantic and committed significant partner to anyone too shallow to see past the exterior.

I guess the author of the article thinks it would be better for a "sexy" person to be married to an equally sexy serial killer - or woman-beater, ice-queen, rapist, cold-heart, or whatever. Apparently, that author has never gauged love for themselves with anything other than their own vagina or penis.

And by the way, "ugly" is such a four-letter word. I don't think that even the most attractive person wants to be wanted only for the way they look.  Sometimes I wish that, instead of our bodies, we could see the state of our hearts in a mirror. (By the way, I sure didn't see a photo of the article's author! I hope they can consider themselves "hot" since that might be all they have going for them.)

When I think of spending my life with someone, I don't think of having to be beauty-queen perfect most of the all the time. I hope that I will just be as beautiful as I am to that person. I sure as hell am not going to give a damn whether or not some tired-ass loser thinks I don't deserve to be with someone.

Since I am ranting all over the place on the topic of love and couples, let me tell you about a couple I saw today.

This morning, while I was waiting to see my doctor, I watched a mid-aged daughter come into the waiting room with her elderly parents. The dad was in a reclining wheelchair and the mom didn't look very well. Apparently, they were there for the father's appointment because the mother was as concerned for  his comfort as the daughter was. While the daughter took care of insurance forms, I watched her parents tease and banter with each other. I sat there thinking about how hard it must be for the wife to see her husband not feeling well. I'm sure she's worried and maybe even thinking about the "What ifs" of a life without him.

I kept thinking how that couple was young once, and their daughter just a baby, and their life as a family just starting. Imagine what they've been through together. Imagine the good times and bad times.

Like a lot of older single people, when I see loving couples, I have a habit of being envious of the "easy" parts of relationships. Looking at that husband and wife today, I realized that there are so many more parts of a lifetime commitment that are difficult. I also realized that I even envy their difficulties.

Anyway.

Whoever wrote that disgusting article has surely missed the whole point of love and commitment and desire. I think most of us are surprised by what will make a person attractive to us. And by "attractive", I mean truly attracted. Hormones are one thing, but real devotion is something else.

Personally, I get so sick of the media paying all this attention to "hotties", "yummy mummies", and "sexiest" whoever. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate sexiness, but I guess we all have our own definition of what that is. There is a huge difference between I-wanna-sex-you-up and I-wanna-spend-my-life-with-you. Love is blind because we love with our hearts and not with our eyes.

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Favorite Homemade Eats

Make all the "black folk" jokes you want, but I love chicken. I like it smothered in vegetables or gravy or barbecue sauce. I like it fried, dyed and laid to the side. So there.

Of course, I don't always do chicken the way my mama use to. Most of the time (in the past couple of years), I've tried to do healthier versions of all my mama's recipes.

First up, this is the Baked Chicken recipe I use to replace the fried chicken I grew up eating.

  • Season a pot of cold water with your fave spices. I use 1 bouillon cube to every 5 cups water and a dash of tenderizer. Set to medium to medium-high heat.
  • Put the chicken (breasts, wings, or legs - whatever) to cook in the water. I leave the skin on, but you can remove it. ~shrug~
  • While chicken is cooking, mix in a small dish some olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and a drop of liquid smoke. You want enough of a mixture to dab all the pieces of chicken.
  • When the chicken is fully cooked through, remove from water & drain. Let the pieces cool enough to handle.
  • Heat your oven to between 300 to 375 degrees (depends on how warm or cool your oven runs). Place a wire grill over a baking pan that's deep enough to add water to the bottom.
  • Lift the skin of the chicken and dab on the seasonings mixture (I use my fingers). Make sure to season all sides of the pieces.
  • Bake the chicken the crispiness you like. I like mine to be really crispy, so I will sometimes set the oven to broil for the last minute of cooking.
I use water in the bottom of the baking pan to catch the drippings. It stops the drippings from smoking up your oven, and it makes the pan easier to clean.






This is my Mixed Greens Concoction, which is so simple, I can't even call it a "recipe":
I put about an inch of water and a drop of olive oil into a pot with one dash of salt or a pinch of a chicken bouillon cube.

I start the water boiling and put in first the collards, turnips and ginger. Cover the pot and turn down to medium heat. (BTW: I like the tiny bit of heat ginger gives because I avoid spicy foods)

When the collards and turnip greens are starting to get soft, I add the broccoli - just laying it on top of the other greens without stirring. When the broccoli starts getting that bright green color, I add the kale on top of the broccoli - no stirring.

Let this cook for just a  couple of minutes. Turn off and remove the pot but keep the lid in place.

Slice your onions and tomatoes, sprinkle them with pepper and a little salt (or Mrs. Dash) and set aside.

Here is where you can deviate. Sometimes, I like to add the spinach on top of the rest of the greens and replace the lid while I slice my onions and tomatoes. Sometimes, I like to not steam the spinach and just add them to the top of the cooked greens on my plate.

Whichever way you choose to do your spinach is fine. When I have everything on my plate, I like to eat the greens with little bits of the onions and tomatoes. Sometimes, I will even drizzle a little more olive oil over the whole mess of greens! (By the way, I've done this "Greens Recipe" as a meal in itself - no meat. You'd be surprised as how filling and hydrating this is."




I use this next recipe to satisfy my burger cravings. There's no meat in it, but the dressing added to the veggies and bread gives me a sense of satisfaction. It's a simple veggie wrap:
  • Get whatever type of bread you want as your wrap. I love using a plain piece of sourdough sandwich bread that I flatten with a can or rolling pin. (Okay, sometimes, I use two pieces, flattened together.) You can also use a tortilla, a pita pocket type bread - whatever.
  • Cut up your favorite veggies. I use strips of green, yellow and red bell peppers; onions, spinach, and whatever else I have around. (Recently, I used some kale and collard greens. The kale wasn't bad, but the collards were a little tough. Still good though!)
  • In a bowl, mix together some mayo and some french dressing with a drop of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Dump your veggies in the bowl and mix well so they are coated in dressing. 
  • Arrange your bread (or whatever) on a paper towel with one end of the towel hanging beyond. Add your veggie/dressing mix and tuck your bread closed with the paper towel covering the bottom to stop drips.
  • Dig in.
It tastes really good. The tangy dressing flavor can make you forget that you aren't eating any meat. It's pretty filling. I know that it may not be as calorie conservative as other healthy choices, but you are getting your veggies. (I came up with this one after I went to Burger King for one of my beloved Whoppers. I ended up tossing out the meat and I just ate the rest of the sandwich.)


Before I forget, I also still like this recipe for Water Veggies.

Enjoy!

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Remember back when I was complaining of the all the weight that damned prednisone slapped onto my butt? Remember when I was really struggling to find a good balance of diet and exercise? Remember when I was- Oh, wait. You guys didn't get to see me wearing baggy pants and sweaters because I hid from cameras like celeb with a zit. Take my word for it: I wore nothing that snugged any part of my body.

When I gained weight, I wasn't one of those cute and curvy gals. Looking good has more to do with how a person carries their body weight - whatever that weight is. You know there are some smoking hot ladies who can carry the curves with serious swerve. I'm not one of them. For one thing, I didn't have curves in any of the right places. My gut curved like a pregnant woman, but I didn't gain an ounce of ass. I did get some boobage. Yes, that was nice. For the first time in my life, I had enough boob to actually fill a hand. Nice. Other than that, I was a mess. As a thin-framed gal, I can do "skinny". This double-chin here...

chunky-chin me


...I can't make that work for me.

Pre-prednisone, I was heavier than I'd been for a while (140-some pounds), but I was still fairly thin. And sick, which is why the prednisone was a necessary evil. Life-changing time.

Lovely hospital, amazing staff, but I never want to see either again!
(See, no boobies! LOL)



Once I got off the prednisone, I was determined to do two things: wear heels again and wear them with my favorite pants and skirts. Other than eating better and getting a lot of regular exercise (mostly just walking a treadmill at the gym and dancing while at home), I didn't really work that hard. I did take some good advice early on about not weighing myself all the time. That alone would depress that happiest person to nose-dive into a bowl of ice-cream. Since I was stopping smoking at the same time I was starting my weight loss, I had to put my stubborn attitude to work for me when I encountered obstacles.

It's been a grind, but I have actually come to enjoy my healthier lifestyle. Also, I got this body back into some cute clothes.

Thank you, Planet Fitness

Yeah, buddy. That's me. I had an appointment this morning and just decided to pull out that skirt to see how far I could get it past my thighs before the fabric started weeping. About three months ago, I could get it just over my knees before I'd sit down and cry off at least 20 ounces of water weight in tears. Just about a month ago, I found that I could get it on - as long as I didn't attempt to zip it.

This morning, I almost scared myself when I not only got that thing on, but zipped. I damn near cried with joy when I realized I could even sit down without ripping the seams.

Oh, happy, happy, happy me.

It sounds so vain and silly, but getting into that skirt (and my cute-as-hell boots) did my heart more good than dancing in the rain.

I still have a ways to go, but getting to this point is just the motivation I need. If, like me, you are working to get in shape, just know that it really can be done. I will do a post soon on some of the healthy(er) recipes I've been concocting for myself.

If I can say anything to other people who are going through what I am, it's just this: Make sure to take care of your soul and mind while you are dealing with your body issues. Don't hurt yourself with diet pills, don't go to extremes in anything, and don't buy into fad foods that you wouldn't want to spend the rest of your life eating. Do what feels right and works best for you. Do it healthy so you can do it forever.

Peace
--Free

Monday, March 24, 2014

Here Comes the Sun (and dirty water...)

The past few days have been (mostly) sunny, thank Jesus. I was just about to give up hope on Spring.

I got so happy about temps being in the 30+ range that I took off for a walk yesterday evening. Once I made it out of the skating rink that is our building's parking lot, I was enjoying myself so much that I decided to head to my sister's house. According to Google Maps, this is a 37-minute walk of 1.9 miles. Yeah. Google Maps didn't know about the patches of ice still lining most of sidewalks.

I'm a pretty brisk walker. I've done the route to my sister's house in 25 minutes, through 3 traffic crossings. In the summer. On dry ground. (Okay, one time it took me an hour and forty minutes, but that's because I stopped off at Walmart and browsed.) Yesterday, I barely made it as far as Walmart. That took me twenty minutes. Google clocks that at 0.8 miles from my apartment. (I might have shaved off some time when I hit a slick spot and slid about thirty feet. Craziness.) I called my nephew from the Garden Center at Wally's and had him pick me up. I got a lot of exercise in the car by clenching my jaw when he talked about how ice-free the road was.

This morning, after breakfast, I looked out my window and thought, "Hmm... Sunny again. YES!" Then I checked the temps and saw that it was about 17 degrees out. Alaska is never sunnier than on an ass-cold day. About half an hour ago, Weatherbug was showing the temp at 33 degrees. I stood at the window, debating with myself about taking another walk. Two minutes into that, a car went past, splashing ice water on a pedestrian.

Since I'm not walking today, I'm planning on getting all my exercise by laughing at old "Frasier" episodes on Netflix. I'm serious. I read that, by laughing for 15 minutes, I can burn 50 calories a day. Shoot.... My life is nothing if not pure comedy. I should be whip-thin by now.  By the way, if you want to have some fun, check out the interactive tool at WebMD (requires Flash, so I didn't use it).

I love this list of calorie burners. I looked at a few of the items and stopped at "drinking coffee", which is my favorite sport. I just wonder why, with all the java I throw back, I'm not eating to put weight on. Come to think of it, my mother used to say that worrying was a calorie burner. Although I almost never doubted a word coming out of my mama's mouth, I have to disagree with that theory. I am a world-class worrier. I worry so much, I even worry that I'm not worrying about something. My sister likes to tell me that I can worry the stink out of shit. I'm not sure if she and I are talking along the same lines, but... ~shrug~

Anyway, since it's too muddy and wet out to go walking, I'm going to go chew some gum. Better yet, I need to find some caffeinated gum.

Peace
--Free

Saturday, March 22, 2014

(UPDATE) I *HATE* MS Word 2010 (and these are my work-arounds)

***Since I ranted about Word 2010, I've been hearing of other people using One Note for some of their creative writing tasks. There was a discussion thread over at Nanowrimo with interesting input. Writers In the Storm gives a nice list of their fave features. Write Out Loud has (like me) used Evernote. They read what Writers In the Storm had to say about One Note and got a jump on me and did a comparison of the two products. 
If you have experience with One Note, I'd love to hear what you think. I'm going to play around with it... right now... This video by Amir Parmar is so good that I want to thank him for making it. ***

I am on a rage against that damn Microsoft Word right now. (Let me just rant for a while, then I will post the links you might have come here looking for.)

Once upon a time, I fell in love with a beautiful Word feature: auto summary. Of course, because information swims in and out of my brain like a school of crazy fish, I forgot about that summarizing feature for a long time.

(Lesson One: Don't get sarcoidosis. It really effs with your brain. Getting old does the same thing, but I choose to blame my problems on a disease instead of natural aging.)

Last night, while having a knock-down drag-out fight with my manuscript, I decided I needed to step back and take a look at the story.

(Lesson Two: Never, ever, start writing a story without outlining it first. Even if you do outline, make sure to update it if you make major plot changes. Also, learn to take the advice you like giving to others - like what I just did.)

My first thought was, "Oh, shit. I need to get a handle on this manuscript." My very next thought was too complicated for someone as lazy as me. It involved a lot of scrolling back through a bunch of pages to highlight certain parts. The happiest thought came next. It was, "Hah! I'll have Word run a summary for me!" Then I did a little dance around my room and told myself that I am a freaking genius, no matter what my sister said to the contrary a few hours before when I kept accidentally elbow-dialing her from my phone. Don't ask about the elbow-dialing...

(Lessons Three and Four: Don't ever get so happy that you brag about your own genius. God might be in a humorous mood and decide to show you that you're not half as bright as you imagine you are. Also, don't constantly elbow-dial cranky people.)

Guess what? Microsoft does that thing they always do when someone finds a great use for a feature in one of their products: they either change it, move it where it can't be found, or they just yank that handy little whatever right out of the program. (Don't even get me started on that fiasco called Windows 8. I spent twenty minutes on my niece's computer jut trying to figure out how to get onto any browser other than IE.)

Anyway...

There is no auto summary feature in Word 2010. Thank you, Microsoft. If I could afford to go Mac, I'd leave skidmarks getting to Best Buy. But that's enough with the complaining. On to the links that might help you if...

You want to auto-summarize (an essay, article, etc.)**
You want to use more options in Word:
  • Kutools - available for Outlook & Excel too.
  • Office Tab - for multiple tabs within Word (by same as above)
  • Office Tabs - says it's free for personal use. (I get nagged bunch by the one above.)
You hate Microsoft & want alternatives:
While I don't like story my manuscripts online, I don't know that there's anything really wrong about doing it. It's probably great for co-authors. 

The most interesting product, in my opinion, is Calligra. For one thing, there is supposed to be a focus on authors in one of the releases. I'm still checking out information, but I'm holding back a happy dance, just in case.

Since there are quite a few alternatives, I like that Wikipedia did some handy comparison charts.

Peace
--Free


**I don't have to warn you, do I, that you must be careful of using anything that puts your writing out there for others to steal? Also, use your common sense when downloading to avoid getting unwanted stuff installed on your PC. I use various programs to watch for and weed out things, but still get burned often. You can do what I do and create a restore point in your PC before downloading stuff. It's up to you.**

Friday, March 21, 2014

Writers Just Write (***LINKS***)

I promised a post of links that might be helpful to newbie writers. Anyone who wants to write, can. Anyone who must write, will. I've always had to write because I have stories in me that have to be told.

It's my opinion that all good writers - published or not, educated or not - write for themselves. All any fiction writer (and some non-fiction writers) does is tell stories. A good story told badly is just wasted effort. There are a lot of published writers who tell horrible stories so well that readers can't get enough of them.

If you are like me, you are a writer with good stories to tell. The trick is learning to tell the story well.

(God, that gave me a little bit of a headache!)

Anyway, here are some links to resources that might help a "newbie" writer become a better storyteller:

Also, here's personal advice from me. I'm no expert, but these are things I do that (I believe) help my writing:
  • I listen to comedians. Not to steal their material, but to watch the rhythm and pacing in the way they communicate with audiences. Comedians don't get enough credit for their craft. It's not about the jokes they tell, but how they tell them. Chris Rock, Sebastian Maniscalco, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Ralphie May - they all have found their own "voice". Brilliance.
  • I eavesdrop on everyone. I like to watch people who are different from me to see how they speak. I pick up on accents, cadence and dialect that I might be able to use in a story. I try to always base my characters on speech and mannerisms I've seen actual people use. The cliched advise of "Write what you know" is the best advice.
  • I read books that I love. A lot. When I find a story that really grips me, I read it first just to enjoy it, then I go back and read it to see how the hell the author performed such magic.
  • I read stuff that would put a coffee-swilling insomniac into a coma. This is something I usually save for when I do need to get some sleep, but I find that I learn a lot of interesting things this way. While sitting in the lobby of my doctor's office, I read two and half pages of a five-page article about the Maori's, learning something about the Maori's beliefs about death and afterlife. Over a year after reading that article, I was able to use the information in the story I'm now working on.
  • I pay attention to people who are older than me. I write a lot of fiction centered around family, traditions, and generational history because I don't want future generations to get all their history from textbooks. No matter what type of fiction a writer writes, we all have to know where we came from in order to tell our stories with truth.
  • Use the hell out of Google, Bing - or whatever your preferred search engine is. I like to use multiple search engines.
  • I let people read my work as I'm developing the first draft. I pick people who love reading so that I can see how my story "plays" with an actual reader. This is tough because I like to choose someone who won't mind hurting my feelings with their honest criticism.
The hardest thing to do is to write without comparing yourself to whoever may be on a "bestseller" list.  The next hardest thing is not being hard on yourself while writing a first draft. Everyone says it like it's no big deal, but -AAAAGH!!! - it's a huge deal to write (no editing allowed) to finish the story the first time around. What you rarely hear is how good it feels when you get to write those two most important words in any story: "The End". 

Happy writing!

Peace
--Free

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March *Was* Madness (More Writing Links)

If we had gotten as much sunshine as we did madness, March would have become my favorite month. Instead, we got dumped on with snow, and I got dumped on with self-induced pity. Thank everything holy that this month is just about over!

Today, the writing is back on track (yes!), but I sure wish there had been a March Madness sale on blood and guts because I think I've poured all I have into this current manuscript. If writing a book is like giving birth, I'm praying to be induced early. Seriously, it's been rough.

I'm not complaining (much), though. I love writing and don't think I could live without it. It would be great if there was a way to make money at it - you know, other than actually finishing a manuscript and getting it out there.

Ah well.

I promised links. Here they are (in no kind of order):

Hope you find these helpful. I think for my next post, I'm going to list information for wanna-be or newbie writers. When I started out, I didn't have much help in understanding the process of writing, or even the different genres. For now, I have to go an eat something. I'm all hopped up on about 6 cups of coffee. Funny to be so tired and wired at the same time.

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Today's Word is "Recovering"

I'm not ever able to stay in a funk for long. I broke out of the one I was in yesterday by getting some sleep. I'm pretty sure now that my mood was brought on by this fatigue I'm dealing with. If it doesn't break soon, I'll call the doc.

In the meantime... I can sure tell you what you should never do when you're feeling down:

  • Read any of those life hack feeds I subscribe to. The next time I'm this broke and see a "hack" promising to tell my how I CAN travel the world, I'm going to jab a hole in my DELETE key. (I knew that shit was bogus when the first bullet point was "Choose your destination". Really? Well, let's see... Venice sounds wonderful or not this time of year. I bet I can score a $20 ticket on Hotwire right now.) What crap.
  • Look at any photos of celebrities. You know they look a lot like we do when they wake up in the morning but, according to Bossip or TMZ, they could roll out of a truck of snot and hit the cover of Vogue. Listen, when Target photo-shops their "Plus Size" (hah!) jeans models with a thigh gap a blind guy could shoot missiles through, I know that Satan is having a giggle.
  • Re-watch Les Miserables. Or any entertainment that makes me bawl and want to shove my face in the toilet and take a deep breath. (Happy Trudy loves a good tear-jerker. Blue Trudy would rather watch porn and laugh at the bad story lines.)
  • Listen to any music about somebody wanting their heart unbroken or getting butterfly kisses. (And get your dirty minds off the porn. That Butterfly Kisses song is just beautiful.)
What I did, after my Van Winkle nap, was tell myself that soul funk is just as toxic as shoe funk. So how'd I get rid of the funk?
  • Listened to some funky funk. Ohio Players, James Brown, Rick James... I will go ahead and suggest turning up the Players and showing off your pretend horn-playing skills. Not only did this lift my mood, I decided that, if I can never be a singer, I'd accept being part of the Players' horn section. I have moves, yes, I do.
  • Called my niece on her house phone to see if my nephew D.J. would pick up. Sometimes, he does, and that is just hilarious. He gets out "Hello" but, since we haven't deciphered the rest of his private language to know what he goes on and on about afterwards, it's just pure imagination. Since he didn't pick up when I called (and no one likes to give him their cellphone because he might decide to see if he can play Frisbee with it), I spent time looking at some of the 3 trillion videos of him that I have on my computer. Such a cute little monster.
  • Fixed myself a big bowl of Great Grains cereal and vanilla soy. There's something about eating cold cereal that reminds me of my childhood. Of course, since I'm "mature" now, I added flax-seed to the cereal and ended up feeling a little bloated for a couple of hours. It's okay, though. I worked it off in the horn section. Ha.
  • Cleaned out my email. This is something I can do without actually expending much energy. Bonus: I got a sweet note from a sweet buddy. (Girl, you know who ya are!)
  • Mainly, reminded myself that I've been in this place before. It passes. Everything passes.
Also, since I was trying to kick start my writing engine, I dawdled around the web and found some more writing resources. I'll share those with you guys when I'm not so tired.

Man, I miss Sugarfoot #RIP

Peace
--Free

Monday, March 17, 2014

Today's Word is "Crappy"


  • We had a few days of sunshine and break-up weather. I got all happy and energized. God said "Psych!" and let about a millions inches of snow dump all over my good mood.
  • My writing was going so well, I got cocky. "Cocky" ran into a big old brick plot wall. I spent 2 hours staring at a blinking cursor before I gave up and watched three episodes of "Scrubs" just to keep from sticking a fork in my head.
  • I'm too sad for music right now.
  • I need something good to happen in my life. Even just something minor. Maybe something fun showing up in my mail instead of another bill to cry about.
  • I shouldn't have joked about Planet Fitness the other day. I had to get more groceries for the week and just about depleted my bank account. I guess the exercise fairy heard that shit I was talking and called in a favor with the money fairy to put a whooping on my ass.
  • I'm almost too tired to even pray about being too tired.
  • I had to hide my razors because, like always, when I get in this kind of a mood, I think of shaving my head bald to get my mind off whatever's bugging me.
  • I'm exhausted and don't know why. I don't want to call my doctor because he might ask me to come in for an appointment. Going anywhere right now means getting out in that wet ass snow. I just don't have the energy.
  • Come to think of it, I don't even have to energy to deal with this post right now, so I'm out.
--Free

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Miserably Good Musical

Sometime back in another era, I read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables but only because my parents sided with a teacher who insisted I follow the reading curriculum. That teacher had a whipping board that she called the "Board of Education". (This is back when school officials were allowed to beat the crap out of disobeying students in preparation for the ass whipping we were going to get later on at home. True story.)

Of course, I refused to enjoy Mr. Hugo's masterpiece. In rebellion for having to read it the first time, I refused to ever attempt it again - for around 30 years, because I can hold a grudge like nobody's bizness, sister. I think I read the novel during a trip to visit my father when he was dying. I can't remember if I read it to him or not, but I remember he was pleased I was reading it. He believed before I did that I would be a great novelist someday.

When I fell ill with sarcoidosis, I lost a lot of memories about my younger years. I remember things I did, but I can't recall much about why or when or how the hell I survived to celebrate my fiftieth birthday. One thing I do know is that I loved Les Miserables, but I don't remember why. I'm in the middle of writing a novel right now so I refuse to read other works. I have a mimicking habit that bleeds into hearing the voices other writers use. Still, I wanted to enjoy the Hugo's story again. I did what every lazy person does: I rented the video of the musical.

I'm glad I watched this recording. This was my first experience seeing the stage play. I love the music, even though my heart was breaking and I caught myself sniffling through several parts. I will re-watch this video again, but, trust me, it won't be when I'm too sad already.

Remember that I've mentioned before how other people hate watching any kind of entertainment with me? One reason is that I'm easily distracted, the other is that I get distracted by things that I want to discuss. In detail. Right when the thought hits me. I wear the absolute hell out of a Pause button.

If anyone reading this has never watched Les Miz before, I want to encourage them to do so. Netflix had the 28th anniversary edition. The story is as relevant as if it were written today. Anyone who has lived any kind of real life will find themselves tripping through about ten different emotions while watching the musical. It's really just a story about hopelessness and hope; life and death; cowardice and courage.

Since no one watched this production with me, I'm going to burden you guys with the Pause-and-discuss moments I had with my imaginary friend. Her name is Tate:

  • The play is based on a French novel, but the characters all spoke with British accents. Was this intentional? It must have been. The first time I heard any of the Bee Gees speak I almost fell off my chair. After that, of course, I heard the accents in their songs. 
  • When the priest offered Valjean bread and a place to rest, I wondered where that free bread and bed had been when the poor guy was busted for stealing?
  • How hot is the bad guy? And why is it that the bad guys are always so hot. Maybe that's just my inner teenager coming out. I didn't get into "nice" guys until after I'd actually gotten a bad guy. Huh.
  • Why is the girl who gets the guy blonde while the girl who only gets some death-bed love a brunette. (I have this white hat/black hat thing that I need to get over.)
  • That Valjean guy can sing his ass off! The other singers were good (I especially liked Cossette), but I broke down in tears when Valjean began "Hear My Cry" with that beautiful high note. Oh! I had goosebumps.
  • During one of the musical interludes, I fell out laughing at the look of the harpist. It's like she didn't realize the camera was going to catch her in such a moment. Priceless.
  • I kind of like how when people die, there aren't all the special effects movies use that make me look away or want to puke. I'm not familiar with lots of theater works so I was didn't realize one of the characters had died by walking off into the mist. Skip subtle and just hit my dumbass over the head. 
Yeah, so I had a good time. I liked that the DVD had a separate section of just the songs. I'm going to get the soundtrack fast as I can.

Hope you get a chance to watch it. Hope I didn't ruin it for you.

Peace
--Free

Friday, March 14, 2014

Me & Planet Fit

So, I'm at the gym yesterday (because my nephew guilt-tripped-slash-shamed me into going) and I spent more time thinking about the gym I belong to than using what it had to offer. (I'm pretty sure that thinking burns calories, so don't get all huffy.)

I belong to Planet Fitness (when my membership payment doesn't go all Captain Kangaroo and bounce), which prides itself on the whole "No Judgement Zone" theme. This is true, mostly, but I have noticed a difference in atmosphere between the two centers I use. My 'home' gym, closest to where I live is nicer than the across-town gym.

The home gym has fans. Cooling fans, I mean. I love those fans. I'm shameless about taking one of those fans and lugging it nearer to my workout station. Matter of fact, I'm downright rude. One time, I waited until the guy on the treadmill a few spaces over went to re-fill his water bottle. When he came back, I'd moved the fan from behind his spot to behind mine. He was too polite to say anything. I'm such a thug.

The home gym also had stair machines which, until about two weeks ago, the other gym did not.

The parking sucks at both locations because they are both just down from Burlington stores. The pavement is better at the home gym location though. On the other hand, the location across town is in the same mall as a great beauty supply store. Oh, and there's a not-really-dollar dollar store just down the way. I go there at least every third visit to pick up a $2.99 lock because I'm either forgetting to bring the lock I have, or because I lost that tiny key to open the lock I have with me. I have a collection of cheap locks and loose keys in a box in the closet. One day I'm going to sort and match them up and put them in the yard sale I never actually have.

The point I was going to make before I went all ADHD on you is that I prefer the across-town gym to the one just a couple miles down the road from where I live. The biggest reason for this is not that, until a couple of weeks ago, I could avoid that crazy stair machine, but that I like the atmosphere at the other gym. The across-town gym, I mean. There is a more diverse mix of people (size, shape, color, motivation) there than at the home gym.

When I go to my home gym, it's not that I feel out of place in my raggedy workout clothes, as long as they match. There are just some unspoken expectations. I always spend an extra five minutes in the locker room checking out my hair and making sure I pretend to do stretches because it makes me look like I give a damn. You can't look like a total amateur at home gym. For instance, you really don't want to get caught looking at the picture on a machine like you forgot exactly how to use it. The people there notice stuff like that. They all walk around that 'No Judgement Zone", waiting to not judge each other. One time I made the mistake of adjusting the seat on a machine - while I was sitting on it - and the damn seat clanged down with a clatter loud enough to stop time and shine a confession spotlight on me. No one judged, but they made such a big deal of not judging that I didn't go back there for a couple of months.

I really do prefer the across-town gym, if I haven't pounded that idea home by now. I go there and actually hang my reading glasses from my tank top so that I can see the machine instructions better. If I don't read the instructions, I end up trying to use an ab machine for my inner thigh workout. It's damn near a tragedy.

Another thing I like about the preferred gym is that I can be as lazy as I want with my workout. There's no pressure to enter the place like you've just held hands in the locker room for a prayer and a pep talk before storming into your workout. Sometimes, I get all my exercise just wandering around trying to decide which machine I'm not going to be getting on.

It sounds like I'm not serious about my exercise, but, really, I am. Usually. My normal routine is doing 3 miles per hour for 45 minutes on the treadmill at varying inclines. (I can do an incline of 11 without sliding off the damn thing, if I hang on for dear life and pay no attention a single thing going on around me. I can't run. I tried a sort of half-trot once and looked like Goofy's black Alaskan cousin. I lose my balance watching other people run. Matter of fact, if someone next to me starts running, I will move to another machine just to get away from them.)

When I finish on the treadmill, and if I have survived it, I move on to the Ab Station. There are about 9 machines over there, but I stick to three of them. I don't know what the hell to call them, but they are all for doing variations of crunches. I like the one where you kneel and pull your weight up via a little roller thingie. Since I got so technical, here's a photo:

Love this thing-a-ma-jig
The Ab Station is supposed to be a 12-minute routine. I haven't figured out if my 12-minute system of exercising for 2 and resting for 2 counts, but ~shrug~ hey. Besides, I always forget to pay attention to that red light/green light notifier flashing on and off. Doesn't matter since no one seems to actually do the entire rotation. We all just pick and choose our favorite machines and pretend not to notice who skipped which.

This is my other favorite:

I don't think he's doing it right

Now that my nephew goes with me to the gym, he's got me using all the stuff I avoided before. A couple weeks ago, I started working on my arms and chest. If someone had told me before that I could keep my boobies high and tight by using those machines I thought were only for guys, I'd have been on that like a boss. The one thing I don't like much is using free weights. I didn't even know what 'free weights' meant until my nephew told me. I told him that we are both safer in the gym when I don't use things that are heavy and can be dropped. He thought I was kidding about my clumsiness until he saw me on the treadmill. He ain't laughing now.

I know that a lot of people complain about Planet Fitness, but my experience has been mostly positive. Mostly. The only thing I don't like is that, at the across-town gym, the so-called Fitness Trainer turns out to be this chick who I thought just hung out there because she was homeless. Seriously, I don't think I've ever seen an employee outside of Home Depot less interested in their job. During one of my first visits to the gym, I thought about asking her for help with setting up a PIN # on the treadmill, but I didn't want to rouse her from her stupor. She's skinny, though she doesn't look particularly fit. I can say that because I once weighed 98 pounds and I know I wasn't fit. I think she needs a good meal. Some spinach or liver, maybe, to get her energy up.

Mostly, I see getting and staying fit as being about getting and staying motivated. If I don't plan to hit the gym, I eat a bit less. If I want to cheat and have a Whopper because I got coupons for a freebie in the mail, I make plans to be at the gym the next day. (The next day because, let's face it, after a Whopper and fries, all I'm good for is a nap. Besides, I don't like being around people when I have that special onion breath that comes only from Burger King's onions. And what the hell is it about those onions that make them so especially funky?)

As far as Planet Fitness, I don't know if I will be renewing my membership when I can opt out. Now that I'm thinner and have more stamina, I think I'd rather save up that twenty bucks a month to spend on my healthier food and cute clothes. Somewhere along the way, I should be able to get a used elliptical or treadmill. My nephew has a membership now so I can hit the gym as his guest. Let him pay for going to the Purple Yellow Palace. To be honest, I'm not sure that PF has my best interests in mind when this is the first thing I see while showing the hot-as-hell guy at the counter my card:

aka: Planet Really?
Sometimes, I take two if hot-guy's not looking.
Come to think of it, maybe that tired trainer chick is just sluggish from all the free pizza...

Like going to a doctor to score crack

Peace
--Free

Text-to-Speech Options

I don't know how other writers feel about hearing their work read back to them, but my niece hipped me to the idea. She proofs some of my stuff for readability and says that hearing the stories (instead of reading them) keeps her from trying to edit as she reads. Well, that's my problem too.

Not that I did any real research here, but I found these links after struggling with the Microsoft Narrator installed on my PC. (Some of these are links to links...)

I've used Narrator, which isn't as bad as it is just plain unfriendly to a new user. Also, Narrator doesn't  play nice with all documents. I spent more time trying to de-glitch it than I did listening to my stuff. So...

In the voice of Bill Engvall, "Heeeere's your links!"

Not a lot of links, but I'll be scouting for more as I  have time.

Peace
--Free

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Procrastination Games

Sometimes, when I can't break a writing block, I...

  • Watch those evil-looking ass crows that gather around the cans on garbage day and imagine their conversations.
  • Imagine that those same crows are watching my evil ass, imagining my thoughts.
  • Sit for hours in front of the keyboard, looking at that blank Word screen, having amazing thoughts that I cannot put into language.
  • Have better conversations with characters not yet assigned to a story while I'm trying to wake up the characters in a story I am working on.
  • Wish, wish, wish I had an appointment or other obligation to attend to because, for some reason, I work better under irritation and pressure.
  • Have mental arguments with God about His having given me this urge to create without giving me ways to just snap my fingers and get the job done.
  • Paint my toenails with several coats of polish because that gives me a reason not to get in my favorite cross-legged position to write.
  • Compare writer's block to physical ailments like constipation. 
  • Realize that writer's block is a constipation of the mind and spirit.
  • Wish Ex-lax made a product to unplug my mind. In the sense of relief, not disconnect.
  • Compare writing to the very last moment of a pregnancy that just will not end.
  • Get all wrapped up in thoughts about the 'pregnancy', pushing and willing the thing I'm creating to just be out of me.
  • Lay on the bed and make elaborate plans for re-doing my room decor.
  • Realize I can't afford to re-do my room decor.
  • Lay on my bed and imagine that my first published novel will be such a hit that I'll be able to afford having someone else do my room decor.
  • Realize that, with enough money, I wouldn't be in this room anymore.
  • Remind myself that I write, not to have more money, but just to breathe.
  • Make a list of books that I've read that were so awful that I know my worst written story has a chance. If I just get off my ass and get it written.
  • Realize that those awful book authors were stronger than me in spirit, if not talent. They did get their awful book finished. 
  • Write dedication pages in my head (and not on paper or screen because I can't write shit when I'm blocked).
  • Force myself to sit very still and try to get 'centered, then realize I don't believe in 'centering' myself as much as stirring myself up. The process of meditating or 'getting centered' usually just makes me drowsy.
  • Write these silly blog posts because I know that writing anything is better than writing nothing.
  • Think about the hours and hours I've put into the story that is stuck in neutral and wonder if I should just delete-delete-delete it into oblivion.
  • Decide to just let the damn story sit in the corner as punishment for putting me through this hell.
  • Think that I am such a loser because I can't do this writing thing that I cannot imagine living without.
  • Beat myself up until my ego is slinking off to sulk in the corner along with the story I sent there.
Mostly, I do anything except write. It's a non-cycle.

Too much to ask for?
(via getgln)


Peace
--Free

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

**REVIEW** Mizani H2O Intense

$9 @ Burlington Coat Factory
$3000 elsewhere
This stuff is my new love. Good thing Burlington Coat Factory wouldn't give me a cash refund when I finally returned a Christmas gift. I only used part of the exchange because the only thing I could find was the Mizani. So glad I took a chance and bought it.

I paid less than ten dollars for the jar, but I priced other Mizani products at places like Sally Beauty Supply. The product website informs us that "Mizani" is Swahili for "balance". It could also mean "gold" because that's how the products are priced.

After trying my "discount" jar of the H2O Intense, I have to say that it's worth paying double what I did pay.

Pros:
  • Not greasy or sticky
  • Has a very pleasant (and faint) scent
  • Takes very little to treat thick hair
  • Leaves hair soft (no "crunch") without feeling heavy, damp or oily
Cons:
  • I might have to jack a child's college savings to afford it
Now, I don't know if you saw the freak show that was my hair yesterday but, as awful as the pic was, you can see that my hair has been growing quite a bit in the past weeks. (The photo of me on the sidebar was just taken in December.) The Mizani Intense as made that mop of a mess as soft as it's been since I was twenty and wearing Gheri Curls, minus the nasty mess.

Seriously, this is the best hair product I've used since going natural. The instructions suggest using the cream 2 to 3 times a week but, in the name of all that is cheap, I've stuck to 2 times a week for the last two weeks. Results: Awesome-soft hair.

Like most quality products, the Intense might seem pricey off the shelf, but could be cheaper to use in the long run. I was going through quite a bit of my other (cheaper) products by having to re-apply or over-apply. By the way, not all of the other products I've tried have been that much cheaper than this one. 

Because I have to use so little of the product, this 5-ounce jar is going to last me a very long time. Also, I will be scraping the lid and crevices to get out every last dab! 

Finally, I noticed another of the Mizani products I'd love to try: the Butter Rich hairdress. If I get my hands on a sample, I'll be sure to do a review. (By the way, Mizani is a division of L'Oreal.)

Peace
--Free

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

***LINKS*** I'm a Tumbl'n Writer

To the links in just a moment but, in case you needed a smile today:

This is what I woke up looking like this morning. I call it my "crazy writer's hair", better known to other natural gals as "I-didn't-tie-down-the-naps" last night!

Excuse the glamour. I said I'd just woken up!
Look how that mop of mine is growing! Must be all the greens and biotin I'm ingesting. Whatever.

Now, on to the promised links....

Good Stuff on Tumblr

Just doing searches on Tumblr ("writer resources", "grammar", etc.) will yield useful info. Enjoy.

Peace
--Free

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spine-free Moments


  • When a comedian makes a really funny joke about something and you realize it sort of describes you, but you laugh along as if they must be talking about someone else. Outwardly, you're laughing harder than anyone else. Inside, you're reminding yourself to find a treatment center for whatever goofy thing it is you're laughing about. I mean, if a comedian is making jokes about it, that shit must be serious. Dude.
  • When someone does something extremely rude or ignorant to someone else and you slink off as if nothing happened. The thing is, you just know that you appreciate being stood up for when you're being bullied and you'd find new names to describe any coward who left you to the mercy of such rudeness.
  • When a "friend" blurts out in front of others a confidence you shared privately and you just shrug it off. In your head you come up with a whole speech about the vow you'll be taking to never tell such a blabbermouth anything ever again. You even make mental lists on the spot about what you won't share with them again. Ever. (Those lists are so detailed that you need colons and semi-colons to sort them.)
  • When someone is talking, talking, talking to you and you damn near bust a gut instead of interrupting them to go to the bathroom. Notice that these chatterboxes are usually the same people who will rudely interrupt your part of a serious conversation to point out some minor distraction that means nothing to either of you.
  • When you let someone monopolize valuable time because you don't want to interrupt their meaningless rant about that rash on their ass. Or whatever. (Though I usually want to know if I'm in the presence of someone with a rash on their ass, just in case that shit is airborne and contagious.)
  • When caught in a lie, instead of being mature enough to admit and apologize, you go into elaborate details with other lies to cover up or excuse the first one. (It's even worse when your cover lies are so creative that you want to go home and write short stories about them.)
  • When you really like someone but they get a big head about it so you pretend you can't stand the very stink of their presence. What's worse is when you figure out that they liked you too but they are just as shy and insecure as you are. Too bad. Two silly dumbasses would probably make a great couple. Or... not? Never mind. (Did I really type 'the very stink of their presence'???)
  • When you take an unpopular stance about something, but only in your head, and don't speak up when the issue is being discussed. Maybe you're afraid of the beating your belief will take. Take the hits and speak up. If you don't your soul will take the beating for you.
  • When your friend is in the wrong, but you stand silent while he/she sits on their pity-pot about it. It's even worse when they sit on their throne and beat everyone else over the head with their scepter.
Damn. My spine is in a snit just from me writing that list. I don't know why making good choices is easier in our heads. My goal is to live making better choices instead of:
  • Money over Matter. 
  • Feelings over Sense. 
  • Lust over Love. 
  • Around over Through.
  • Winning over Fair.
  • Payback over Forgiveness.
  • Right over Compassion.
  • Looks over Beauty.
  • Easy over Struggle.
  • Cheating over Learning.
  • Wrong over Right.
  • Cookies over Salad.
Okay, that last one was just... Well, actually, that one's true too!

Peace
--Free

Sunday, March 09, 2014

***LINKS LIST*** For Readers

I did a links list on Thursday for writers, and every writer should be,always, a reader. Here are **links for getting your read on :


  • LibriVox.... has a good selection of books that can be downloaded for your listening. If you write romances of any kind, you must read "Fanny Hill" (while hearing it might help you and your plot some heat of your own). Aesop's works (for children and otherwise) could replace whatever you listen to on those family drives or during carpooling duties. If you want, you can volunteer to be a recorded reader. Use the simple or advanced Search system to explore the library of works. Lots of stuff there.
  • Project Gutenberg ....not only offers free ebooks, but I noticed that they have a self-publishing opportunity for "contemporary writers". Huh. Interesting. I can't tell you more because, when I looked, the site was undergoing temporary maintenance. Best way to check this site is by going here and then finding the Site Map near the bottom of the page. Note that you can make donations. Think of it as supporting literacy and value in the age of the Kardashians.
  • Cliff's Notes.... (and, I learned that I have been spelling that right, until everyone did it wrong so long that wrong has become right, like, yep, the Kardashians did with pop culture's idea of what's "trashy" and "classy".) ~deep breaths, Trudy, take deep breaths~  Think Cliff's Notes and "cheating" comes to mind. I like to think that the Notes can help you pick and choose which works of literature you want to start with when you decide to expand your reading. Stephen King is my hero, but I know that's only because he fed his writing diet with a knowledge of the writers I spent most of high school avoiding by using Cliff's Notes. Here's how I use the Notes to feed myself: I make a list of books that I've been told any serious writer should read, then I read a C.N. summary to decide which one I feel like starting with at the moment. In the meantime, I can hold pretty my own in conversations with well-read people. You can find anything in the C.N. from autobiographies (Ben Franklin and Malcolm X, for instance) to that delicately bawdy "Fanny Hill" I spoke of before. By the way, Cliff's Notes are just the better known notes, but there are others that I found via Wikipedia: 60-Second Recap seems more suited to Cracked Readers (me!), Book Rags and, Spark Notes (which had full text of a title I checked). 
In my post of links for writers, I neglected to add a list of the free Kindle books Amazon has available. I will try to provide links in this following list, but things sometimes go crossways when I do this with my Amazon account. If the links don't work for you, simply do your own Amazon search in "books" on "grammar".
You get the idea. Amazon's notes indicate that these books are also available free elsewhere on the web. I included them because I know lots of folks use Kindle readers.

I am sure that there are many, many more sites out there that have useful reading for writers. Just go and explore. Start somewhere.

Good reading and writing.

Peace
--Free



** Make sure to read each site's notes about copyright. Books are made public domain by expired copyright; this varies by country.