Current Affairs

So What’s Up With This Irene Chick?

on August 26, 2011

Cat update first: Did not go back and get cute kitty Sunshine from pet store. Sanity ruled. Now considering taking a brand new kitten from my parents. *sigh* Nothing final yet. Good chance sanity will win out again.

Onto the news of the day. So I live in the mid-Atlantic region of the US, which means I’m currently trying to stay calm, be prepared, and lose my flipping mind all at the same time. You can probably guess at which activity I’m succeeding the most.

The last time a major hurricane hit this area was a year before I moved here. I actually flew in two days after Isabel hit for my (well-timed) vacation. Boy was that interesting. Not the best vacation, but I didn’t have a house to worry about so it was all an adventure. This time, not so much.

Irene is scheduled to arrive while I am out of town. Logic would say this is a good thing since I’ll be out of the path. However, my house will still be in the path and as I’ve only been a home owner for less than a year, I’m struggling with the urge to find a way to move the house.

Which would be utterly hysterical not just for the obvious reasons, but because it’s a townhouse snuggled between a bunch of other townhouses. My street would look like a big smile with one tooth missing.

I’ve decided to think positive as this is how I attack most everything else and it usually works. Yes, we might be without power for a day or two, but we can always crash at my cousin’s house where they have both a generator and a gas grill.

But the house will be fine and the cats will be fine and I’ll be happy that my car (and me) were out of harm’s way when this is all over. Life will go on, kiddo will be home (YAY!), school will get underway in another week and before we know it, we’ll all be freaking about the snow storms.

*sigh*

Are you in the way? Are you ready for Irene? Are you ready for Christmas?! (It’ll be here before we know it!)

To Hell In A Handbasket

on August 9, 2011

This saying was one of my grandmother’s favorites. Lillian Lyle Stonehouse Bates was born outside London during WWI, and traveled to America by boat at the age of 12. Alone. She lived with a hateful aunt through her teens and lost 2 babies, each of whom took a piece of her heart with them. She survived the Depression, three more wars, and got stuck taking in a family of five (that would be my family) who eventually cost her everything, including the house my grandfather built.

To put it mildly, this woman’s life was not easy.

She never graduated high school, endured violence in her marriage, and battled alcoholism late in life. She was smarter than she let on, took shit from no one, maintained a spotless house, and was the light of my life.

My point in describing my grandmother’s life is to contrast hers against my own. We didn’t have much, but I grew up in a safe neighborhood, with a sturdy roof over my head (thanks, Pappap) and plenty to eat. I also received an excellent private education. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a solid foundation, and for years I’ve known my life was infinitely better than the one my grandmother endured.

But I’m getting worried. I have a friend who calls me Pollyanna because I’m one of those annoyingly positive people. The sun will come out and things will get better and worrying about things you can’t control will get you nowhere. But I made the mistake of watching the news tonight, and now Pollyanna is in the fetal position, rocking to and fro, mumbling incoherently.

In my nearly 40 years, I cannot recall a time when so much of the world was crumbling around us. The economy of the US and the world at large is being shredded by greed, corruption, and ignorance. Our soldiers are losing their limbs and their lives, and I have no idea why they are even in harm’s way. Young people in first world nations are rioting while the youth of poor, long-oppressed nations are rising up to demand and fight for their freedoms.

And then there is the famine. Children are dying in the desert, left where they fall because their mothers don’t have the strength to carry or bury them. All while heartless men ignore the senseless dying and live like uncivilized dogs in a failed state. Add in the planet’s repeated attempts to cough us off her back, and it’s no wonder Polly is looking for medication or liquor or both.

I don’t know how to bring Polly back. I don’t know how to process watching my retirement, my country, my planet, and my fellow human beings go to hell in a handbasket.

In an effort to do something, I’m including links at the bottom of this blog where you can lend a hand to those suffering around the world. Right now, feeling as if my five dollars is actually making a difference is not easy. But since I can’t hop on a plane and feed the hungry, or drive up to Washington and smash some head, or bring our men and women home so not one more child has to grow up without a mommy or daddy, this is all I can do.

I hope Pollyanna comes back soon because I don’t want to write another blog this depressing ever again. I hope Mother Earth finds her balance, sense prevails over ignorance, and good really does triumph over evil. And I send up a little prayer to the powers that be that this all happens before my daughter’s life resembles my grandmother’s instead of mine.

Unicef

Habitat For Humanity

Heifer International

Midwife Assist Organization

American Red Cross

World Health Organization

Navy SEAL Foundation

AmeriCares Disaster Relief & Humanitarian Aid

If you know of or work with another organization helping those around the world, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list. Also visit Limecello’s blog where a movement to use social media to create social change is going on to benefit those suffering in the Horn of Africa.

I’m Dyin’ Ova Here!

on June 28, 2011

Signing long shot For three years straight, I have attended the RWA National Conference, and for three years straight, I’ve loved it. San Fran gave me horrible jet lag, DC was spread out so far I think I walked a couple hundred miles in less than a week, and in Orlando I nearly melted.

But I still loved every minute.

This year, I had to make a choice. Did I want to go deep into credit card debt in order to attend in New York City? Mind you, I’ve never been to New York City and I was so excited about staying IN Times Square that I used an image from the hotel website for the desktop background on both my home and work computers.

I was going.

But then the time came and reality set in and it simply was not possible. I joked that it might be hard when the conference actually began, reading all the updates and all the fun online, but I was sure I’d be fine. I would still be attending a conference this year, that being Moonlight & Magnolias in Atlanta in the fall. That conference would be smaller and shorter and the big one – cheaper.

So really, I’d be fine.

But now the National conference is about to begin and people are posting pictures of the view out their hotel room windows and the people milling about in Times Square and talking about museums and Broadway shows and the dang thing HASN’T EVEN STARTED YET.

This is, perhaps, going to be harder than expected.

So, what to do? I’m trying to cope by writing, reminding myself how much debt I’m not accumulating, and concentrating on M&M as well as Anaheim in 2012. (Oh, I’ll be there. If I have to light that credit card up, I will be there.)

Stop_kvetching There are diversions such as the Not Going To Conference Conference over at Romance Divas forum. And Pitch University as well as Romance University make connecting with industry folks and killer workshop type stuff readily available. But there’s no meeting up in the bar or “Did you see so and so’s shoes?” or even “We’re going to face one more baked chicken dinner together!” kvetching.

I’ll just have to get in some extra kvetching in Atlanta. (Fascinated that “kvetching” is in my Word spell check dictionary. Huh.)

If you too are skipping the festivities this year, what are you doing to keep yourself busy? Any and all suggestions welcome. (I thought Twitter would be worse, but Facebook is killing me. I might have to avoid both of those this week.)

My Twitter Take-Away

on May 27, 2011

I’ve had a Twitter account for some time, but for most of that time, didn’t see the sparkle. I didn’t understand the conversations, couldn’t keep up, didn’t know the tricks. But then something happened. I’m not certain what, couldn’t even pinpoint the moment, but something clicked in my brain and I caught the Twitter bug.

I know what you’re thinking. What made you change your mind? This is what I’ve learned about Twitter, at least from a writer’s point of view.

Twitter is a virtual goldmine of writing/publishing/promotional treasures. Seriously.

First off, you must follow Elizabeth Craig (@Elizabethscraig). Due to my day job, I don’t have time to check out all the links she provides, but she covers everything from idea inception to writing to editing to querying to selling to promoting. You could start a Twitter account, only follow Ms. Craig, and it would be worth the download time.

Another awesome find was Kristen Lamb (@KristenLambTX) who provides priceless info about the craft as well as using social media to its full potential. She’s created the #MyWANA hashtag to make it easier to follow the writing conversation. WANA stands for We Are Not Alone. Every writer can understand the sentiment in that one.

Ms. Lamb recently did a blog post on Story Action using Finding Nemo as her example. Detailed breakdown of the plot and story and an extremely simple, clear way to help us understand what moves our stories and our characters. Highly recommend.

Two sites I knew about before but have embraced due to an abundance of good tweeting are Romance University and Pitch University. Over the years, I’ve taken workshops and ecourses that have often turned out to be vague and unhelpful. These sites are the complete opposite of vague and unhelpful. In depth, hands on, extensive information for writers. Both put you in direct contact with industry professionals as well as talented, established writers.

One of the first things you learn when you dip your toe into the world or Romance writing  is that this industry has the most generous individuals you will ever meet. They give their time, share their talent, and encourage all writers to reach their potential. All sources mentioned above epitomize this phenomenon. And I found them all through the sparkle of Twitter.