Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Library - The Dream of Dreams

We have a big, useless, extra living room in the front of our house which, along with couches, holds our formal dining room (in five years, used maybe twice), and an old pirate-toothed broken-keyed piano that has been in the family for sixty years. The room always depressed me. I wished it was part of a bigger garage rather than a mish-mash homage to my poor decorating skills.

Two weeks ago, I ran into a cousin I hadn't seen since we were young children. Our local library has two computers in the kids section and two cute little boys were waiting patiently for their turn, as their pretty mother sat across from me. I was ninety percent sure it was her, so I just took a gamble and said, "I think I know you..."

After a lovely chat and some understatements on how our family is not that close (although in distance, many of us live in a twenty mile radius), she invites me and my boys to her home for a swim date, and also invited her equally lovely sister who has two young children as well.

What does this have to do with my extra-appendage living room? Well, it has more to do with what my cousin did with her home. She took a 1970's previously-yucky ranch home and turned it into the pages of Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware; and she did it all with reclaimed items from craig's List that she refinished herself. Even with two boys under five, she has a white couch that is still white. And the kids do actually sit on it!

It struck me that most of my decorating woes have come from the fact that I hate to spend money on decorator items because the costs add up so fast, and honestly, I really have no idea what I'm doing. Of my naturally occurring skills, decorating and gardening know-how fall pretty far down on the list, I am sorry to say. But when I came home from the visit, I became feverishly inspired by her can-do, do-it-yourself, reasonably priced attitude and decided to take on my house.

The big useless living room was getting a makeover.

My decorating guardian angel must have heard me, thrilled by my actual interest in determination at last. Not long afterwards, I was with my neighbor at a neat, upscale resale shop in town (Treasure Traders) when I was shown the rug. Rolled up in the back was a 9X9 foot round, hand tufted, wool rug - gorgeous and new, valued at 1500$ - for only 200$. My neighbor was nice enough to let me bring it home in her truck (the thing weighs a ton and still hung over the tailgate a few feet) and my husband was nice enough not to freakout with the surprise purchase that I didn't even consult him on.

All the junk I didn't like in the living room got pulled off the walls and removed from the nick-nack tables. We unfurled the gorgeous rug in the middle of the room as my kids ran circles around its perimeter. Then I began to understand. This lame living room, my rug told me, isn't a living room at all - it's your library.

 All my life I have dreamed of having miles of bookshelves, filled to the brim, and a place to sit in comfortable peace and read until my eyes blur. Now I have an actual vision.

And I am ready to 'Make it so'.

Star Trek TNG fans will get it. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Memory Lane - You Know you are Old School San Marcos When...

We had an airport in SM?

Over the past week, viral nostalgia has taken over my Facebook page. One of my old high school classmates signed me up for a group called You Know You are Old School San Marcos When...(fill in the blank). So without knowing it, I started to get at least one hundred emails a day from fellow "Old School" San Marcians (?) trying to one-up each other with their memories of days gone by in the town where I grew up and still live today.

At first it was addictive - lot's of "Oh yeah, I remember that!" as memories long past rose to the top again. Then it became redundant as people posted things someone else already remembered (yeah, we already covered that the dairy used to have cows...). And then it became almost annoying with memory tid-bits of stuff like this: You remember Joe Schmoe driving his blablabla down the street. Really?

Well, I took myself off the auto emails, but now and again, pop onto that page for a look. The feeling of community, of a group that I really do belong to since I am a life long San Marcian (going with it) feels pretty warm and fuzzy. I never knew I liked this place so much or had so many invisible kindred town spirits.

Lots of other groups like this have sprouted up on FB, so if you are interested, look up your old hometown and see if a group exists and enjoy the ride to the past.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Writing and Road Trips...

Writing is a fickle friend...and not really someone you wan't to take with you on a family road trip.
On the Road...literally. This is a freeway onramp in Utah. Not too busy, obviously. 

Recently I went on a great road trip with my parents, kids and younger brother (sweet husband had to work), and of course I brought my handy-dandy notebook (is that a trademarked line? probably) with the thought of lots of possible writing time in the more than forty hours planned riding in the car throughout the trip.

So this should be no shock, but I wrote nothing. Squat. Nada. Thinking that I may have down time to let the words flow, the opposite happened and I ended up in a battle of Pocket Frogs on the IPhone with my fifteen year old bro. We bred some rad frogs, but somehow I feel like that time could've been used a little more wisely in the writing department.

Awww, yeah!

With the wide expansive desert around and the endless freeways ahead, the words inside just turned up their noses at me and said in their best Garbo impression, "Vee are on vacation too! Leave us ALONE" and threw up their graceful right hand to shoo me away. Maybe the proximity of the other six people in the car, maybe my two year old complaining about his loose earphones every three to five minutes, maybe the allure of gambling fake coins on breeding awesome fake frogs on an iPhone just wasn't a fertile mix for writing.

A Huck Finn moment in the river
Solitude, of course, is the environment for me in a perfect writing world...why did I think a family road trip would be anything like that? Well, truth be told, I kinda figured things would work out this way - I didn't really expect any brill writing to come out of me during those ten days, but hope springs eternal. I'll keep dragging along my notebooks just in case!

In fully experiencing the time on the road, at our destinations and with my family, I think those moments will flavor my writing in the future.

And look at that, I've already found writing inspiration from our trip for this blog ;).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Short Story Contest - No Entry Fee

Money, money, money....

I wanted to share this link to a short story contest with no entry fee: The Short Story

Top prize is 300 pounds sterling, which would be pretty awesome. The only caveat is this:  By submitting your work to The Short Story you grant them first serial rights and the right to archive your work online for an indefinite period of time. You retain all other rights.

If I enter my Dreamcatcher story and happen to win by some chance, I wonder if the win will affect any of the other contests I am currently waiting on (not that I am expecting to win those either, but you know, that IS the point/goal). The chances are so slim, I think I'm just gonna submit. If a miracle occurs and I become a finalist one place or another, I will withdraw from the other competitions. Whoever wants me first can have me! 

Anyone else up for submitting a short story???

Friday, July 8, 2011

Writing Songs - Poems and Flash Fiction set to Tunes

At Hensley's Carlsbad, CA

I am in a band called The Hillside Music Club, and our guitarist suggested that maybe we should write some original songs. Well, it's another thing I never thought I would be able to do, but when I started to think of story telling through music, the words just started coming. Some songs are like flash fiction where you get a real sense of story in just a few lyrics and the others are similar to poems. So far I am up to about seven decent songs that need tunes, so we are working on that next. Maybe this is how I'll finally make some money writing ;).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Comments - Screw the Advice

Yeah, even the bad comments are welcome. 

So I read a popular writer's blog post that said most people will not give your blog any credit if they can see that you have meager comments, etc. So even though it is hard to do, fledgling bloggers should dump the comment box and showing of small amounts of followers until the blog is bigger and more popular.

So in case the few of you who read my blog have noticed, that is what I did - I lost the comment box. And you know what? It sucks. I loved each and every comment I ever got on any of my blogs, and removing that aspect (though the comments were not copious by any means...but who cares???) has made the blogging I've been doing pretty hollow. I MISS my few little comments!

So in a huge FU to that stupid advice, I am going to put my comment box back on, and expecting NOTHING, I will wait for the fancy to strike one of you at any point in time and relish in your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Writing Contests - Good Housekeeping Fiction Contest 2011

"With a little help from my friends..."
About a month ago,  a few of my wonderful friends and family helped me through the writing, editing, and revising process for my short story about an old widower and a young single mother called The Dreamcatcher. In the course of a week, about a hundred emails and revisions became my life, and it was one of the best weeks I've ever had.

You know why? Not only were my friends and family amazing at pointing out both the positive bits and the parts that needed strengthening, but in the short course of a few days, I had created a whole world, realistic characters, and a complete short story along side my friends and family. Though the work is mine, little bits of some of my favorite people are in there too.

In my writing life goal, here is my strategy: first, write short stories - get a few really good ones and submit the hell out of them for short story contests. Second - win said contests. Third - apply lessons learned in my short story writing to strengthen my novel writing/process (working title of current novel, Dark Stardust). Fourth - write at least two more novels and then start the next phase of perusing publication. Fifth - never be disappointed, the process is the prize.

So since I am still in the first phase of  my plan, I looked at my short story again the other day and did yet another draft/revision. It's amazing how you can see so many things to improve upon after letting a piece rest out of sight for a while. I submitted it originally to the Writer's Digest Fiction Contest, and just yesterday to the Good Housekeeping Fiction Contest.

The Writer's Digest one cost $25 stinking bucks that I am guessing I will never see again, but I have to credit that contest with lighting the fire under my butt and forcing me to write my first solid short story. The Good Housekeeping one was FREE! So I encourage all my writing pals to give it a go: Click this link for the Good Housekeeping contest!

Good luck my dears!!!