Posts Tagged fun

The Top 5 TSA-Friendly Zombie-Killing Weapons for the Apocalypse

Kristen Lamb, Author Kristen Lamb, zombie

Walking Dead? Wait for the end of November, LOL

Whenever I travel, I have a number of fears.

1) The ONE time I don’t leave my home clean enough to perform open heart surgery will, of course, be the trip where I die in a fiery crash. Thus, as a good luck talisman of sorts, I have this compulsive need to make sure every stitch of dirty laundry is clean and put away. It’s my psychotic-and-pretty-much-fully-delusional-insurance against plane crashes.

2) If I wear cute, impractical shoes, the plane will have to make an emergency landing in some desert and then I will have to hump it out of Death Valley in those Betsey Johnson Iron-Maidens-for-the-Feet. In my mind I die not because I didn’t have a way out, but because I foolishly chose fashion over function. We miss dear Kristen, but she left this world looking ADORABLE!

3) The Zombie Apocalypse will strike when I am away.

Every single trip, I have the same fear (I blame this on being a Gen-Xer). All I can think is, Gee, I hope the Zombie Apocalypse doesn’t start when I’m in CA and away from Hubby, Spawn and all the guns. I know normal people don’t think things like this, but you guys are writers, so you totally understand.

And I know some of you went through this with me right before the NYC trip, but it’s HALLOWEEN! Zombies are a totally appropriate topic, and everyone should be prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse anyway. You can laugh now, but if a horde of brainless freaks hit the streets of your town, you will be thinking, I didn’t know the presidential campaign was coming HERE.

Ooops. Inside words stay inside. Zombies don’t like politicians anyway. They’re empty calories.

Where was I? Oh, yes. You will be thankful that weirdos people like me thought this stuff through.

Today I am frantically trying to get as much work done as humanly possible before I leave for the LaJolla Writer’s Conference. I hope some of you, if you’re in the area, can make it. I’m super excited because I get to see one of my fave peeps in the world, James Rollins. AND I get to go all fangirl on Tess Gerritsen. Squeeeeeeeeee! James Rollins and Tess Gerritsen in the SAME PLACE?

I think I have the schmeltz *fans self.*

But of course, it is impossible for me to travel without thinking of the Doomsday Zombie Separated from Home Scenario.

Yes, this is me.

Come on! If the zombies strike LaJolla, then I have to make it cross country, and who knows if the outbreak is contained to just the west coast? And then I have to figure out how to ride a dirt bike and we all know how well that went last time. Then I have to find gluten-free-dairy-free food (I am SO screwed) and stay alive long enough to make it all the way home to TEXAS to rendezvous with Hubby because he is NOT doing this without me!

Hubby and I are way to excited about this…

Be prepared….

You shall not pass, Zombie FREAK!

Am I wrong to be a little freaked out about leaving home? In Texas, I HAVE a plan. We have weapons, ammo, a fallback point and lots of GF food. We can also raid the burned out shells of Central Market, Sprouts and Trader Joe’s as we flee to the ranch. But to leave out of town? I can’t bring nail clippers on a plane, so this presents a new challenge.

This is what always happens in the movies. The protagonist leaves for some innocuous business trip, and that is precisely the moment that some corporation trying to create a new kind of permanent Botox screws up. Then the protagonist is in for a cross-country zombie-fest with only the hope of being reunited with loved ones to cling to.

YES, I do have an overactive imagination. It is why it was better I become a writer than an accountant.

I am a really odd duck. Yes, that’s a nice “shocked face.” Thank you for being polite. No, seriously. I think these things through. I am the person who gives SAS Survival Guides as Christmas gifts and made a note to pick up a copy of Bob’s new survival book once it comes out.

But I am in a bit of a conundrum since the terrorists ruined travel FOREVER. What can I pack in case of the Zombie Apocalypse?

The people in the movies are never prepared, which is why I am then required to shout expletives at the screen to make-believe people who can’t even hear me.

Anyway, since my life is not a movie…yet :D…I’ve had to get creative. Here are my Top 5 TSA-Friendly Zombie-Killing Weapons. Make it through airport security and rest assured that you will be prepared should the Zombie Apocalypse strike when you are on vacation or business travel, because you just know that an apocalypse never strikes at a convenient time *rolls eyes*. I think AAA and the airlines should give these kinds of travel tips, stuff we can actually use.

Top Five TSA-Friendly Zombie-Killing Weapons for the Apocalypse 

1. Justin Bieber CDs

Being attacked by a horde of brainless freaks? Play some Justin Bieber and they are guaranteed to start dancing and crying and believing that Justin like seriously like looked right at them! SQUEEEEEEE! This method is guaranteed not only to distract the zombies, but it might even attract some Justin Bieber fans to give the zombies a snack so they aren’t busy chasing you.

The TSA isn’t crazy about Justin Bieber CDs, but they aren’t yet officially listed as weapons of terror.

Yet.

2. Cheap Hairspray

I would go for the industrial size can if you check a bag, but also at least 40 bottles of the travel size. They are under 2.5 ounces, so the TSA can’t exactly stop you, and if you wear big Texas hair they might not even bat an eye.

Hairspray, of course, is easy to make into a flamethrower, and also to do your hair. Duh.

Everyone has camera phones these days so it is a pretty safe bet that people will be taking pictures of the Zombie Apocalypse. And on any footage captured? Naturally, you want to be looking your best.

3. Bubble Wrap

To the TSA, bubble wrap just looks like you are OCD about packing your stuff and making sure it doesn’t get jacked up. What they don’t realize is bubble wrap can serve as a Zombie Early Warning System. Scaling fences and cars running from mindless monsters can be tiring, so you need to get your rest. Just use the bubble wrap to form a perimeter. When they step on it? The noise can wake you up and then, when they are distracted playing with the bubble wrap–because, seriously who can resist freaking BUBBLE WRAP?—you can bust  cap in their @$$. Not exactly a weapon, but the zombies end up dead–er, so who cares? Close enough.

4. Lady Gaga Meat Dress

It’s like a Ghillie Suit for slaying zombies. Just make sure you wrap this in the bubble wrap to keep it from leaking on your other stuff. And I might advise freezing your meat dress.

Not only will freezing your meat dress keep it fresh for the flight, but wearing freezing cold meat can a) help you stay cool while running for your life b) serve as a cold compress for any injuries you might sustain c) makes excellent body armor d) will keep anyone of the opposite sex from remotely hitting on you, thus preventing the sexual distraction that normally comes before a zombie rips your skull open e) can be used as food until it get’s that greenish slimy look f) but once it does get green, slimy and stinky, you will fit right in with the zombies, thus the Lady GaGa meat dress becomes the perfect zombie camouflage. The downside is the zombies might not eat you, but you could die of e-coli, so make sure to fully cook your meat dress before consumption

The TSA might be iffy on this one. I know we can’t transport produce across state lines, but no one at the airlines would answer my questions about the meat dress. And now my phone is clicking. I think it’s been tapped.

5. A Bag Full of Legos

Need to trip up a pursuer? Toss a bag of Legos on the stairs and listen for the scream. To the TSA agent, you look like a loving family member bringing a child a toy, but little do they know Legos have a dark side and sharp edges.

The Spawn claims it isn’t a mess, it’s preparation.

Well, those are the Top Five TSA-Friendly Zombie-Killing Weapons.

For me? Back to packing and finding my Spanx. Haven’t worn those since NYC!

Any TSA friendly weapons you would like to add? I have to pack for the potential Zombie Apocalypse LaJolla Writer’s Conference and right now, to be honest, I can’t think much past great shoes for running and hair utensils that can be sharpened to kill. I’d love some additional suggestions to add to the bag.

Do you have weird travel rituals? Do you have a fear of dying and loved ones finding your house a mess? Why would we care anyway?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of November, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of November I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.

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Twas the Night Before Valentines

Image courtesy of Lisa Weidmeier WANA Commons.

Image courtesy of Lisa Weidmeier WANA Commons.

I figure today we will have some light fun. Five years ago, I was still single, and it was right at Valentines, and I was seriously feeling like chopped liver. So, I sat down and scribbled out this fun little poem to give myself (and other singles) a good laugh. I hope it makes all of you smile. Hey, pass on the love to some single pals while you are at it :D.

So without further ado…

Twas the Night Before Valentines…by Kristen Lamb

Twas the night before Valentines, and all through the land

The poor single people were wringing their hands

Handcuffs were hung by the nighties with care

Near the lotions and chocolates and mint underwear.

A day made by Hallmark to sell lots of stuff

Pushing candies and kittens and kisses and fluff

A day that makes “Single” a social disease

Like bubonic or typhoid or chiggers or fleas

And that fat baby Cupid must be on the take

Paid in buckets of cash and red velvet cake.

Love songs are played on every damn station

As “mush” takes over our entire nation.

Now not that we’re jaded, us single-type folk

We’ve tried Facebook and Match, and Equally-Yoked

We’ve tried parks and clubs and churches and bars

And a handful resorted to wishing on stars.

Like most other people, we want company

Without drama or fighting or disharmony.

No Jerry Springer or Kardashian drama

We have no time for all of that trauma.

Maybe we’re picky, world-weary, or fussy

Because we won’t date any Joe Schmo or hussy.

We want someone good-looking, gentle and sweet.

Hey, just cuz we’re single doesn’t make us minced meat.

We don’t begrudge the romance of others

The passion of courtship, the heat between lovers.

Before you judge my singular state

Think back to the days when YOU had to date.

Tomorrow we’ll stand in the grocery store line

Behind the husband with a bottle of wine

And a “Get-Well” bouquet cuz he waited too late

To find the red roses to give to his mate.

Hallmark has trained you to scurry and dash

Into its stores with fistfuls of cash.

For stuffed little critters with a lap full of love

And boxes of chocolate morsels from Dove.

Singles won’t stand hours waiting to dine

On elf food with garnish and overpriced wine.

No chocolates with abnormal tropical middles

Or angst about thighs that may wiggle and jiggle.

No staying in bars desperately late

Trying to connect with a last-minute date.

So embrace your status and shout it out loud.

Yes, I am single! Single and Proud!

So all you single commenters out there, at least you know we WANAites love you. Enjoy being single. And, yes, if any of you want to repost this as a blog, you are welcome to so long as you link here and give me credit. When school children are studying great 21st century literature and are assigned to write essays about my poem, I want the credit for this literary genius :D.

 

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I Miss Summer Vacation

Ah, summer vacation. I miss it. I remember how the last three weeks leading up to school getting out were sheer torture. The poor teachers probably felt like prison guards trying to keep the inmates calm…only they didn’t have stun guns and a high-pressure hose (those were for the inner city elementary schools :D). Though, now that I think about it, slap a sprinkler on the end of that high-pressure hose and we would have likely loved that.

Did you guys end your year with Field Day? Sorry. I hated Field Day. I think Field Day was invented by the same sadists who thought up Dodge Ball. Every year I spent my last two days of school getting my butt kicked in every sport imaginable. Good thing I was too focused on summer vacation to care. All I had left to do is clean out the 900 pounds of crap I had somehow fit into my desk and locker.

Oh, there’s that protractor thingie that was on the school supply list. What DOES that thing do, anyway?

That final bell would ring and it was over. I would spend the next two and a half months loaded with sugar and wrinkled from water. My grandparents had a swimming pool and when we weren’t there, we were wearing a hole in my parent’s lawn with a Slip and Slide. Remember those things? Good thing I grew up in the days before everyone went lawsuit happy.

Really? You dove head-first off the station wagon onto a piece of plastic and sprained both your wrists??? Well, you won’t do that again, will ya? Stop crying before I give you something to cry about.

Yeah, NOTHING was childproof. All the playground equipment was heavy-duty industrial steel. And back then little girls actually wore dresses, so the first sucker kid down the slide usually suffered second degree burns down the backs of her thighs. So we would put the water hose on the slide and make our own water park. Between that, the dancing in the sprinkler and the Slip and Slide, I have no idea how my parents didn’t have a $600 water bill. Maybe they did, but it was well worth the money to keep the screaming hoard of wild Indians locked beyond the sliding glass door….which, by the way, was actually LOCKED. When cartoons were over at 8:30? Out the door we went.

Need water? Go lap some off the Slip and Slide. See, like the dog. Just drink upstream from him. Go! Before I put you to work cleaning bathrooms.

Gotta pee? Man used bushes for thousands of years. Just don’t let the Robinsons see you.

The neighbors want to take you to Jewish Camp? Okay, but this time, don’t convert. You cannot have a Bat-mitsvah, and you’re going to Baptist Camp next week. The Lutherans have dibs on you after that.

My brother and I had the COOLEST gym set out back. Nowadays it would be considered an Al Qaeda training facility. It was 20 feet tall, had uneven bars, parallel bars, climbing bars, a rope to climb, and iron rings. It was the glorious centerpiece of the neighborhood. ALL the kids wanted to be at my house playing Red Dawn, also known as Kill the Russians.

Oh, we were politically incorrect back then, too.

Those Russians were always taking Cabbage Patch Kids hostage. We knew they had a plan to brainwash them then reinsert them as Cabbage Patch Sleeper Cells that would kill us in our sleep…

…IF we ever slept. No we stayed up ALL NIGHT LONG. It was SUMMER!

Last night I stayed up until TWO THIRTY! Tonight I’m gonna stay up until FOUR. One day, when I’m bigger, I’m gonna stay up TWENTY ELEVEN HOURS! And when I grow up, I’m gonna have a Trans-Am and NEVER SLEEP EVER!!!!

Okay, yeah. We only stayed up that late when we went to my cousin’s house. They were…teenagers. We did all kinds of things we weren’t supposed to. We put on makeup, watched MTV (back when it actually had music) and watched scary movies and played Bloody Mary.

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary…

Eh, she never did show, but that didn’t stop us from nagging her every Friday night.

My cousins are responsible for my current aquaphobia. If it ain’t chlorinated, I ain’t swimming in it. Jaws ruined me for salt water and Friday the 13th pretty much ruined fresh water. But it was okay, they had a pool too….and a DIVING BOARD.

Are those things even still legal to have now? We would spend all day long inventing new dives.

Oh, yeah, well I will raise your Cannon Ball a Bazooka Loaded with Banned Nuclear Warheads. TOP THAT, SUCKAH!

The first six weeks of summer were magic. We’d swim and play and go to Six Flags and stay up late so we could walk to that small wooden health hazard shack that served as a snow cone stand for five months out of the year. We’d play in the streets until the street lamps flickered on and beckoned us home. Then we’d beg our parents to let us at least play in the front yard so we could catch frogs and fireflies.

Ah, but then that six weeks would be over, and we’d have the Seventh Week Itch. In Texas it is so hot by July that everything, including the kids, start to wilt. We were rested and ready for a new school year. Our parents started having to play warden and make us go to bed by nine so we could get our body clocks reset for school.

BED????? But it’s still LIGHT outside!!!!

As adults, what would we give to have three months to just play? Maybe that’s the secret to world peace. Maybe all of us are just stressed out and we need to have time to scream and yell and ride bikes up a ramp made out of a door someone threw away.

Maybe if the U.N. would just get all the world leaders together for the LONGEST SLIP AND SLIDE EVER!!!!! (Just tape all of Dad’s lawn bags to the end until you run out of space on the White House lawn). Maybe if everyone got a chance to play together and run off all the excess energy, maybe then we’d be too tired and happy to be stressed.

I miss summer vacation. How about you? What do you remember? What summer rituals did you have?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of July, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of June I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

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61 Comments

Strange Addictions & Habits–Do They All Have to Have Meaning?

 

Sigmund Freud 

This past week I was sick with a cold, and, once I got to feeling better, I stripped all the bedding and went to Febreze the room and…I could not find my cans of Febreze. This might not seem all that eventful, except I have a habit; a weird, strange whacky habit that I have been trying to break. We’re gonna play armchair psychiatrist today. It’ll be fun :D.

I am addicted to Febreze. Stop laughing.

I think I have all of these.

I use “addicted” in a very loose sense. I am not spending my son’s college fund on Febreze, but I do seem to buy a lot of it. More than seems normal. In fact, I find myself going straight for the aisle of house cleaning supplies, eager to see if they have any new fragrances available, even though I still have at least a half a dozen cans at home yet to be used.

I know this sounds insane, but over the years it seems like I always have one strange addiction that, when I get rid of it…a new one takes it’s place. And none of my addictions are anything that will land me in jail or rehab, but they still makes me scratch my head and wonder, “WTH?”

Years ago, I was addicted to office supplies. It seemed I could not make a trip to the store that I didn’t at least purchase pens, notecards, highlighters or rubber bands.  I still cannot go to a Staples without a list and a will of iron. I think this addiction stemmed from childhood. My mother was the one who always made me bring extra school supplies for the kids who came from underprivileged families so they wouldn’t be embarrassed. My mother would stock my bag with extra boxes of Crayons and notebook paper that I could slip to the kids who didn’t have any. I was the “Go To Gal” for glue, rubber cement, colored pipe cleaners and googly-eyes of all sizes. Scissors? I could totally hook you up.

I am from a military family, and we believe that, “Three is two. Two is one, and one is none.” Translation? Be prepared….for everything.

One day, I realized that the office supply thing was getting out of hand, thus forbade myself to buy any office supplies until I was really, truly, genuinely OUT. My calculations put that date at November 13, 2024.

…so I started buying “Thank You” notes. “Thank You” notes of all varieties and sizes and shapes, which wouldn’t have been so bad if I ever remembered to send them. When I forbade myself to buy anymore “Thank You” notes? Cleaning supplies took over. When we moved into our new house almost two years ago, I swear I must have had enough cleaning supplies to shine the entire neighborhood. It took me a year to use up all the cleaning supplies I had stockpiled. I guess if the Zombie Apocalypse struck I wanted to have plenty of Swiffer refills just in case. *slaps forehead*

So you guys can guess what took the place of the cleaning supplies. You got it.

Febreze.

At one time I had at least two cans of it in every room. Febreze in every scent. Febreze in the new holiday scents. Limited time only fragrance? I am so there. New Zealand Springs? They had me at “New Zealand.” Ooooh…had to have it. Oh, and at Wal-Mart I can get the two pack for $5.00. At Target, I have to pay $2.53 each.

Yes, I am only saving .06 but that adds up when you have a habit like mine :D.

Oh, but this brings me to a weird habit. My husband makes fun of me because I have a compulsive need to add numbers in my head and then take it down to its root (if that root is a whole number). For instance, if I see the date April 28, 2011, I instinctively add 4 + 2 + 8 + 2 +0 +1 + 1=18…. 1+8 =9 and taken to its root is 3. I do this with addresses, dates, you name it. I actually am freakishly accurate tallying the grocery bill in line (tax included).

I have no idea why I do this or where it came from. Just like I really do not understand why I feel the need to have Febreze in every room of the house. Well, I DID have Febreze in every room of the house until I started noticing my Febreze addiction was getting a wee out of hand. Now I am down to one can…which I had taped behind the toilet tank :D.

But this makes me think how unique all of us are. We all have these strange habits, addictions, compulsions and tics. Some of them make sense and some just never will. These odd behaviors are what make us unique, whether it is collecting smarta$$ t-shirts or a compulsive need to touch the doorframe before we unlock the front door. Some of these habits have a story behind them, and others? Well, they just seemed to spring to life all on their own.

What are some weird habits and addictions you guys have?

I collect bodies under my house.

Kidding! *laughs awkwardly*

Let’s keep it light. Do any of you guys have odd hobbies or collections?  Maybe you collect shot glasses or bobble-head dolls? Cabbage Patch paraphenalia? Do you have any odd rituals? Do you think all habits and rituals have a root source? Or are some habits just spontaneous, with no psychological root? Come on! Let’s play armchair psychiatrist!

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Important Announcements

Will post this week’s/ month’s winner later today. Check back, please.

May 9-13, 2011, I will be teaching an on-line Building Your Author Brand with Social Media Class for only $15 to support the wonderful Long Island Romance Writers.

Tomorrow!!!!!  I will be teaching TWO social media classes at the Books ‘n Authors and All that Jazz Conference this Saturday at Weatherford College in Weatherford, TX. The conference is FREE.

My new book, “Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer” will be out in less than a month!

Until next time….

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

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Child of the 70s

Montgomery Wards was a staple in my childhood and every time I drove down 7th street in my home town (Fort Worth, TX) I would see this beautiful building that brought back so many memories, namely the toy department. I know I am dating myself, but when I was little the idea of the “mall” was in its infancy. We shopped at department stores where, like Vegas, there were no clocks, no windows, but always loads of smiling salespeople to help you part with your money. My little brother and I would dash between racks of clothes and dive into the “core” where we could have our own “clubhouse”….well, until my mother had enough our antics and yanked us out, swatted our butts, then swiftly detoured to Housewares—UGH! The Floor of Death. There were few things that could suck harder for a six-year-old than being banished to the World of Kitchen Appliances and Yard Tools. My mother could spend an entire day—I kid you not—looking at refrigerators. The only thing worse was FABRIC STORES.

Ah, and then there was the waiting room for the Sears Catalogue Department. Take a number please! I remember sitting for hours in horrible burnt orange chairs playing with the sand in the ashtrays (until Mom caught me). I would peruse the catalogues, making lists of all the crap I wanted for Christmas (Lite Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, Barbie Cosmetics Set, Hungry Hungry Hippos Game, Twister {I linked to all the old commercials if you want a flashback :D}). Meanwhile, my parents waited in line for the clothes they’d ordered for us–turtleneck shirts and orange corduroy pants with reinforced elbow and knees. Über-fashionable. My father would stand outside chain-smoking while my brother and I took turns checking the candy machines for loose change and petrified pink Chicklets left in the metal dispenser (Hey! I was a kid!). And then they had those “treasures” that came in a plastic bubble. We could buy JEWELRY for a mere .25₵! I knew my mother was bad with money in that she could not see the value. She never once gave me two measly quarters to try my luck at landing the gold princess necklace….or a tattoo.

Christmastime was especially magical. This was back in the age when store-front windows were all the rage. All us kids would have our faces pressed against the cold glass and watch the mechanized puppets and the toy train that wound its way through cotton batting that was supposed to be snow. Every time we went in a store, we’d have to strip off 600 layers of clothes to keep from cooking to death, only to have to put them back on 20 minutes later. And, by the end of the night we would, of course, be missing a glove. Thus, we would have to wear old socks on our hands until mom ordered a new pair….from the JC Penny’s catalogue. It was a vicious cycle.

Of course every year all the department stores would have a cameo appearance from the Big Guy, himself—Santa. I must have been one of the most annoying children ever in that I never fully bought the whole one guy bringing toys to all the children of the world in 24 hours just out of the goodness of his heart thing.

Me: How old is Santa?

My Dad: No one knows.

Me: How can he visit all the children in the world in 24 hours?

My Dad: Santa is the only thing capable of traveling at light speed.

Me: What’s light speed?

My Dad: The speed Santa travels to give toys to all the children in the world in 24 hours.

Me: How can there be a Santa at Sears, Monkey Wards, and JC Penny’s?

My Dad: They’re clones.

And we wonder why I am warped?

Department stores like Montgomery Wards held so many fine memories, but their age passed and it was time to say good-bye.

There are other businesses like this. Arcades are still around, but not like the old days when we could spend 11 minutes and 43 seconds blowing through our allowance playing Ms. Pac Man or Space Invaders. There were no complex story-lines in these games like today. No, these games accurately reflected life—they got faster and faster and harder and harder until you DIED.

Drive-in movie theaters are pretty much extinct as well. I remember falling in love with Burt Reynolds while lying on a quilt spread over the hood of my father’s orange Chevy Ford pick-up (Why was everything orange in the 70s?). Anyway, I knew Burt and I would marry, despite the age difference. I was four and he was older than I could count at the moment using all fingers and toes, but love knew no bounds. There was the dancing hot dogs and soda. How can you not love dancing food? There was also a swing set where we could play when we got bored with the movie. You had to walk a half a mile to go pee…but the drive-in was pure magic.

Not a lot of roller rinks anymore, either. Who among you over the age of thirty DIDN’T fall in love at least once while gliding across polished wood under the light of the disco-ball? Stop skate, change directions, and maybe the hokey-pokey, is, in the end, what it’s all about. I still get chills when I hear Summer of ’69 or anything by Journey or Toto. There was also this Skating Rink Hierarchy. The low guys on the totem pole (me) wore those horrid clunky brown rental skates with orange wheels. And you had to get back in line at least six times to get a pair that fit AND worked AND had shoelaces that were still in tact…well, until your mom had to cut them off you at the end of the night. Oh, but to one day be cool and have white skates with pink wheels and glittery laces like all the high school girls. That would be when I knew I had finally made it.

It was a world where feathered hair ruled and a Trans-Am was the pinnacle of coolness. We all dreamed of one day growing up and owning Firebird, never suspecting that it too, would go extinct, left in the Age of the Department Stores. I am glad I got the chance to grow up in a world still so innocent, where walking to a snow cone stand was the only way to pass time on a summer night. It was quieter, slower, and I miss it dearly.

What are some things you guys miss? I don’t care how young or old, what is some piece of yesteryear that you want to share? Maybe you’ll jog our memories!

I want to hear your comments, and to prove it…

Leave a comment and I will put your name in for a drawing, and you can win an autographed copy of my book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I’m going to gather all comments until Halloween and then the winner will be announced November 1st. Trackbacks count as an entry, so you can double your chances to win by leaving a comment and then linking to any of my blogs.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

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28 Comments

Writers Have the Coolest Dreams

Okay, I wracked my brain for something inspiring, meaningful and life-altering to share with you today, but alas…this ain’t it :D. Today is Free-for-All Friday so it’s time to relax and have some fun. Maybe I’m partial, but I happen to think that writers have the coolest dreams. We should in that we use our imagination almost more than any other field. Unlike film or music or painting, we have to evoke entire worlds and all five senses using black letters on a white page. WOW!

I have always had really vivid dreams. In fact my dreams are often better at seeing truths that I maybe am too chicken to face. For instance, when my life is all disorganized and I am being lazy and not tending what needs tending…I dream of tornadoes. When I have some person in my life that I need to confront, I dream of sharks. Not too long ago, I dreamed I was walking up a road where I used to live, and a wild rhino had escaped the zoo. Anyway, the sucker chased me and ran me over like a freight train. So how did I interpret this? Hmmmm….maybe I need to be nicer in critique group :D.  Perhaps my subconscious was showing me how I was making others feel *shrinks in seat.*

I still have this dream where my high school guidance counselor knocks on my door and tells me there was a mistake. I never really graduated high school and thus my degree from T.C.U. is null and void. And, because it has been so long, many of my credits no longer count, so I am expected to start tenth grade on Monday even though I am 36.

Oh and there is the personal favorite, the dream where I am enrolled in school but apparently I haven’t been showing all semester. As I walk into a class I have never seen, I am handed the final exam. GASP!

I hear these last two are pretty common dreams for perfectionistic overachievers. I have no idea why I would be having them *whistles innocently.*

Yet, the odd thing about dreams is that sometimes it just seems like my brain is defragging, because that is the only conceivable reason I can imagine that Michael Jackson and a chorus line of squirrels could keep company in my gray matter. I loved those sleeping pill commercials where they guy would see Abe Lincoln and the talking beaver in his kitchen. I can so relate.

Anyway, all of this brings me to my point—yes, I do have one. Sometimes my brain is so weird it freaks me out, and I think, “Only in the mind of a writer.” This last week I watched American Psycho with Christian Bale…right before bed. Yeah, probably not the brightest move, especially since I think Christian Bale is the Jack Nicholson of our generation. He’s just got that you need an ax energy.

So here is what my brain did with this information. In my dream, I was married to Christian Bale Dark Knight Bat Man. Not only was I married to him, but apparently we were going through a nasty divorce and custody battle. To make matters worse, apparently Bat Man didn’t want a divorce and had kind of gone all Sleeping with the Enemy. I have a feeling that I finally got the nerve to leave him because I was tired of him freaking out every time I didn’t fold his bat cape correctly or organize his bat tools facing forward. Just guessing. Anyway the entire dream is me—normal person lacking any cool gadgets or super powers—trying to run away from a superhero who has gone foaming-at-the-mouth-raving-crazy. I ran through parking garages and dove under cars and just about the time I found a safe hiding place? Our infant son starts crying, giving away our position in the bushes. WTH? I know. It was actually pretty terrifying.

But it did make me think. Can you imagine being Mary-Jane Watson dealing with a Spiderman who didn’t want to pay alimony? Or the daughter of Super Man who wanted to go necking with her boyfriend on prom night? Ah, the dreams writers have.

So after a week pondering this dream, I am just tossing it in the box with Elvis and the Slip and Slide unless you guys have any bright ideas. But that’s enough about me. I want to hear about you guys. What is the scariest, weirdest, coolest dream you’ve ever had? I want to know, and to prove it…

Leave a comment and I will put your name in for a drawing, and you can win an autographed copy of my book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I’m going to gather all comments until Halloween and then the winner will be announced November 1st. Trackbacks count as an entry, so you can double your chances to win by leaving a comment and then linking to any of my blogs.

So bring on the crazy dreams!

Oh, and happy writing!

Until next time….

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26 Comments

Reality T.V.–The Tractor Beam of Stupid

 

Fridays are free-for-all for me, so I am going to pick on reality television….cuz I just don’t get it.

I feel this nonsense began back with Oprah and Donahue until it devolved to rednecks stripping to reveal body parts no human should ever be subjected to seeing—even blurred out. So did America just get bored waiting until the next episode to figure out which of the seventeen men actually was the father of Faylene’s child? Did we tire of circus midgets, strippers, freaks, and sluts with secrets? I don’t think we did. I think this human depravity just became more sophisticated and, frankly, retarded.

And what is worse, is I still get sucked in. As much as I abhor it…it’s like seeing a massive ten-car pileup and then trying NOT to look.

Do any of you remember the days you were home sick flipping through channels? Who couldn’t help but stare, even for a minute or two, when the chairs went flying? I used to play my own mental game where I would watch the shows with the sound turned off. See if I could guess the topic of that day’s show just by body language and the characters sitting on the stage.

Was today, “I Have a Secret?” And if so, I would see if I could guess what the secret was before the cross-dressing lover came flouncing out from back stage. Sick. I know. But a great way to pass the time when you have the flu.

So here we are. Many of us are still rubber-necks with 553 channels of crap to fulfill our twisted sense of entertainment. And what is worse is that I am a WRITER! I just finished rereading Lonesome Dove and read The Road….PULTIZER WINNERS! And yet there I find myself sitting, wondering, Are her boobs real?

And admittedly I’m a bit ticked. I can never get back the hour of my life wasted on “Sunset Tan” or “Jersey Shores.” Never regain the hour I frittered away, entranced, while Missy and Buffy posted trash talk on Sunny’s Facebook page because Sunny made the fatal error of hitting on Brandy’s ex-boyfriend, Brandon, whom she still wanted to be with even though she had a new boyfriend . . . Brandon 2.0. And that if Sunny would have just asked Krissy, she would have told Sunny that Brandy still loved Brandon 1.0 even though she cut all his tires.

Ok . . . my head hurts.

And the Kardashians…who are they and why do we care to keep up with them?

I will never recapture the time wasted watching dog-groomers compete, or chef’s throw insults and Steak au Poivre at each other. Will never get back the hours watching otherwise smart, talented, beautiful women claw each other like desperate hyenas to garner the Bachelor’s vacuous proposal. Will never regain the precious moments squandered over gawking at the Real Harpies…uh, I mean Real Housewives of the O.C.  

None of us will. We could have been reading Dostoevsky. Or curing cancer. Or learning what exactly the Railroad Commissioner does. But, we don’t. And the only remedy seems to be regular inoculations of the Discovery or History Channel. Or cold turkey. No T.V.

Because we can’t help but wonder which seventeen-year-old anorexic giantess with super poofy lips will be the next Top Model. And that is why reality television makes my scratch my head and wonder?…WTH?

Am I the only one who’s been sucked into the Tractor Beam of Stupid? Share your stories! Comment and tell us if you had to endure reprogramming after they took The Simple Life off the air, :D. How did you escape?

Have a fun, happy and safe weekend. Will see all of you on Monday to discuss more topics on the craft of writing.

Until next time…

Noteworthy blogs for the week:

Tips for Writing a Series. Posted by Chuck Sambuchino on the Guide to Literary Agents Editor’s Blog

The Value of Editors posted by DigitalBook World

A Great Mash-Up of All Kinds of Writing Articles This blog has a ton of different choices of great blogs for all kinds of questions and I highly recommend you check out their site.

Why Authors Love Stupid Questions for a good laugh and great information (by talented Tawna Fenske).

Common Excuses for Not Using Social Media (*hint* there are none :D) by brilliant and inspiring Author Jody Hedlund.

For those who want to chip in and help new writer PJ Kaiser establish her brand, please stop by her blog and show some support.  

Anna DeStefano discusses major changes in publishing and how it affects everyone in Direct to Digital Week 1:Practicalities.

Enjoy the blog? Then you need the book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media is a fun effective approach to marketing and building a platform of future readers. Yes, you have to learn to market, so why not have a good time? I am here to change your habits, not your personality.

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