Posts Tagged humor

Don’t Freeze Your Family—Physics PROVES Why We Writers Need to Lighten UP

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Many of us are running around like a one-legged man at an @$$-kicking contest. Writers juggle a lot of things at the same time—day jobs, family, laundry, dishes, finances, family, sickness, loss, and THEN there is the actual WRITING. I’ve come to understand that most of us writers live in two opposing states of being:

The State of I SO ROCK Narcissism and The State of I Don’t Deserve to LIVE, What the Hell Was I THINKING?

We write a few pages and think: “OMG, this is AWESOME.”

Next Day: I suck *hangs head*. Where is that brochure for dental hygienist school?

We revise and revise trying to make our work perfect. Whether it’s a book, parenting, or doing bills many of us hold ourselves up to impossible standards. We just about get the house clean and then…the family comes home. Just finish the dishes and…time to start dinner. AHHHHGGGGGG!

We wonder if it’s illegal to cryogenically freeze our spouse, kids and pets so we could have JUST ONE DAY that everything stayed CLEAN. Can we stop time and bask in loving what we just wrote? Didn’t we just DO laundry? Is that ketchup stain we ignored in the refrigerator trying to open a portal to a demonic realm? O_o

I just CLEANED THESE!

I just CLEANED THESE!

As a recovering perfectionist, I’m here to “scientifically” prove why we all need to lighten the hell up. How am I going to do this? Using tinfoil, swizzle sticks, glitter and the Three Four? Laws of Thermodynamics. And every reader who is a real scientist can just chillax.

This is “science.” Don’t argue.

(All “actual” laws contributed via Wikipedia)

Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics

If two systems are in thermal equilibrium with a third system, they must be in thermal equilibrium with each other. This law helps define the notion of temperature.

Zeroth Law means that temperature/energy will always seek a way to equal out. Two hot bodies (steaming EPIC tamales) placed next to ICE COLD margarita long enough? Margarita will suck heat and cool off tamales….leaving tamales too tired to finish revisions.

Life Application: This is empirical “proof” that yes, we parents were correct. Toddlers do drain energy. This also “proves” that children, as they get bigger, drain even MORE energy. Think how fast a 98 oz. margarita would chill your tamales (being “Tamale Mom” and “Tamale Dad”) and this explains why teenagers drain energy faster…unless the 98 oz margarita  teenager wants to date or wear too much makeup and that will temporarily heat the tamales parents.

The Spawn and his minion Lazr Cat.

The Spawn and his minion Lazr Cat.

Also, the hotter the WIP and the tougher the editor, the more we the writer will want a margarita. Told you! SCIENCE :D .

But don’t get too excited, there are three more “laws.”

The First Law of Thermodynamics

Because energy is conserved, the internal energy of a system changes as heat flows in or out of it. Equivalently, machines that violate the first law (perpetual motion machines) are impossible. Heat is the flow of thermal energy from one object to another.

Did you catch that? Okay, so maybe it was the only part of this I understood. Perpetual motion machines are IMPOSSIBLE. Gee, I wish I would have learned this last Thursday. Okay, Thursday of somewhere in 1992. We can’t do it all. Heat is synonymous with energy and as we expend energy, we um—Aw crap, hold on *finds Thesaurus function for another word for “expends”*—oh, there it is. WE LOSE IT. WE LOSE ENERGY and cannot run on Red Bull forever.

spawn2

Life Application: Apparently, despite what the world wants to tell us, we are incapable of doing everything forever. Yes, there are gizmos, gadgets and apps that “promise” us we can have six-pack abs, a refrigerator that doesn’t make us shriek little a little girl when we reach into the vegetable drawer, and write a perfect book in two weeks. But physics proves they are LYING.

Next time someone complains you are taking a nap, tell them physics has proven you need one.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

The entropy of any isolated system cannot decrease. Such systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium — the state of maximum entropy of the system. Equivalently, machines that violate the second law (perpetual motion machines) are impossible.

In English? Everything is hurdling toward chaos. If you have kids, a closet, a heartbeat, you have a lot of experience with entropy. It’s impossible to isolate any system. I’ve tried! Banning the toddler from walking across my freshly mopped floor only attracts a cat to puke on freshly mopped floor.

This means….we need to just suck it up and expect some imperfection.

Life Application: This also goes for our art/craft. It is called a creative PROCESS. Sure, we can write the “perfect book”….if we are stranded on a desert island and somehow found a way to power up our computers using coconuts (Heck, they did that on Gilligan’s Island). The problem is that this perfect book is likely something we want to sell and make a living off of. Which—DANG IT—requires other people part money and time to buy it and read it and love it.

Problem is, readers can’t be sealed away (legally—I know, I checked) and thus tastes, preferences, ideas, passions are ever-shifting.

My advice? Give up on a perfect book and settle for a finished one. Finished books DO exist, perfect ones do NOT.

Also, again, notice the reiteration that a perpetual motion machine is impossible because it violates this Second Law. So take that nap. You’ll thank me later.

Third Law of Thermodynamics

The entropy of any pure substance in thermodynamic equilibrium approaches zero as the temperature approaches zero. The entropy of a system at absolute zero is typically zero, and in all cases is determined only by the number of different ground states it has.

We can never cool anything to the true point of Absolute Zero (no energy), only get close enough for government work.

Life Application: Do NOT freeze your family. I triple-checked and yes, it IS illegal and your house will still be a mess so it isn’t worth the legal bill.

Freeze some ice cream or a daiquiri instead.

Don’t y’all feel smarter already? I really wish I’d paid more attention in high school.

As we all collectively learn to give ourselves a bit of slack, we can know that science has our backs (unless you are Pluto and then you got screwed). Enjoy your family, your writing, your friends and life and just roll with it. Embrace the imperfections and laugh. Laughter increases energy and warms up the “bodies” around you, staving off entropy for at least a little bit ;) .

Throw a PARTY!

Speaking of a lot of energetic bodies together in ONE space, I am finishing this post out to invite ALL of you to come and celebrate my 40th birthday with me this Sunday (even though my birthday was a week ago, but entropy tried to kill me so the party was moved).

It is a virtual party in one of our WANA International classrooms, and, if the WANACon after-parties are any indication of how fun this will be?

We might very well break the Internet.

But most of the people I love and care about are on-line. Since kidnapping air-fare for people all over the world is more expensive than the legal bills after freezing one’s family, my attorney has advised me that a virtual birthday party is the best option.

THIS SUNDAY, APRIL 6th from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. Central Standard Time (or 7-9 NYC time) we are having an 80s themed party. So bring your sky-high bangs, and favorite A-Ha videos. Also, for the moms who have accidentally worn their bra on the outside of their clothes, remember, Madonna did it, so now you are “fashionable.”

To attend this party, go to the WANA International home page at the time of the party (we will open the room 15 minutes early for those who wish to spike the digital punch). Off to the right, you will see the WORDS Big Blue Button. There is a selector. Choose the room named “Birthday Party” and the password is “Big80s”.

What are your thoughts? Feel better now that physics has “proven” you can relax a little? Do you find yourself swinging between GOD-LIKE CONFIDENCE and wondering why you wanted to write?

What are some of your favorite 80s memories? Songs? Fashions? I always wanted a SWATCH, but we were too poor. Favorite 80s movie? Best love songs of the 80s?

Are you an 80s kid and wonder how the heck you SURVIVED? We drank out of hoses, played on playgrounds made of INDUSTRIAL STEEL, and streetlights were our curfew. How any of you are even around to attend my party is frankly…amazing. And if no one shows, I will assume you likely died in a Slip-and-Slide accident when you were eight.

Will announce winner for March next post.

I love hearing from you!

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. 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 novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

For a LONG-TERM plan for a fit, healthy platform, please check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Know You’re a Writer When…

The Spawn and his minion Lazr Cat.

The Spawn and his minion Lazr Cat.

We’ve been talking about some heavy stuff the past several posts, so I figured it was time for a bit of levity. We writers are different *eye twitches* for sure, but the world would be SO boring without us.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You’ve learned that regular people are cute, and no longer get offended with this conversation.

Regular Person: What do you do?

Writer: I’m a writer.

Regular Person: No, I mean, what’s your real job?

You’ve come to understand that writers are a lot like unicorns. Everyone knows about them, they’ve simply never seen a REAL ONE.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

The NSA, CIA and FBI no longer bother with you. Likely, they know you by name and now outsource to the creepy ice cream truck to just make a few passes and check to make sure you’re still at your computer.

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You Know You’re a Writer When…

When it comes to revisions, you actually contemplate hanging one of those cheap pine tree air fresheners around your neck because bathing or showering or eating or changing clothes will interrupt your mojo.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You’re on such a roll with the WIP that you’ve forgotten a “real” world exists (including laundry). You’re down to wearing your husband’s socks and he’s either going commando or is forced to wear that thong given to him on his 40th birthday as a joke gift. The kids? Hell, they went feral a week ago.

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You Know You’re a Writer When…

You take a break from writing to go to the store and, on the way, begin untangling a plot problem. You finally realize you’re in the next state and have no idea how you got there. But good news is, you now know which poison is best to kill off the character modeled after that cheerleader who bullied you through high school. It’s the poison that will make her fat and wrinkly before she dies slowly from terminal acne.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You appreciate that if Febreeze is good enough for the couch, why not hose the preschooler? Hey, you spent extra for the anti-microbial one. It kills germs *rolls eyes*. Now your tot smells like a Hawaiian Breeze and his cooties can’t hurt others. You should get a freaking MEDAL for this kind of creativity.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You’ve been diagnosed with Tourette’s, Multiple-Personality Disorder or both. It’s tough to explain you were simply working out dialogue when strapped to a gurney. But the upside is when they sedate you, it’s the only vacation you’ve had in months and insurance might even cover it. SCORE!

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You’re no longer invited to family events because they can’t take the incessant correction of their grammar.

Chickens are done, people are FINISHED.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You’re automatically safe from any episode of Hoarders because when you get enough books? Others naturally assume you’re a LIBRARY. Hey, maybe you can apply for government funding. Scratch that. Then, you’d have to let people borrow your books.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You willingly suffer frostbite hiding in a grocery freezer eavesdropping a couple’s fight, because dialogue that epic is worth a losing pinkie toe. Your coffee table’s already tried to assassinate it 342 times anyway.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You’ve been mistaken for Gollum multiple times, because strangers found you in a dark corner whispering “My precious….” and it was just you and your Kindle.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You plow over the entire Kardashian family, because OMG there’s DEAN KOONTZ!

You Know You’re a Writer When…

Your idea of fun is reading the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, talking to your friends at the Coroner’s office or reading/writing Amazon reviews of the Bic Pen for Her or the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer.

You Know You’re a Writer When…

Speaking of the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer, you actually bought one, not only to support the greatest comedic writing in human history, but also to screw with the TSA. Can you get it through airport security without a full-body search? Hide it near your shoulders and FREE NECK MASSAGE!

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You’ve made it onto the Mormon and Jehova’s Witness DO NOT CALL LIST because you will only promise to convert with purchase of YOUR BOOKS (and favorable 5-star reviews).

You Know You’re a Writer When…

You watch the reality show Oddities and recognize your friends and a few members of your critique group. “Hey, are they buying that used straight-jacket and shrunken head for me? Awww, how thoughtful…”

You Know You’re a Writer When…

Every time some overblown Third World dictator threatens to destabilize the world, all you can think is, “Pfft. Amateur.”

Have any to add? I know you do. So, “You Know You’re a Writer When….”

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, 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. 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)

I hope you guys will check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World and get prepared for 2014!!!!

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204 Comments

Santa Claus Recruited to Improve NSA’s Public Image & Head Intelligence Operations

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Kevin Dooley

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Kevin Dooley

Lately, Brave New World has become one of the hottest selling novels, and many of us have become even more suspicious of that white panel van that passes our homes daily. Sure it has ice-cream and plays tinkly music, but that cover is so thin Stevie Wonder could see right through it.

After the whole Edward Snowden whistle-blowing debacle earlier this year, the Obama Administration and the Intelligence community have been up to their ears in hot water and bad press. Spying on regular citizens with no cause or warrant? Invading privacy and throwing the 4th Amendment out the window? Reading our e-mails? Monitoring our Internet? Those activities are just the sort that create an image problem.

Thus, sources tell me (sources being the voices in my head) that, in order to get back in the good graces of the American public, the current administration has decided to appoint Santa to head up any future intelligence operations. Come on, Santa IS the perfect fit.

Santa Knows Everyone and Everything

He knows when you’ve been sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake…

Revised for the Intelligence community:

He knows what you’ve been surfing. He knows the shows you hate. He knows if you vote red or blue, so be good if you know what’s good for you…

Alright, maybe a little clunky, but still a clear warning for all of us to behave. Santa can spot all kinds of terrorist activities like 1) putting the roll of toilet paper with the paper feeding under not over, 2) paying retail 3) wearing white shoes after Labor Day 4) listening to too much any Justin Bieber and 5) possessing lukewarm appreciation for the sheer AWESOMENESS of Grumpy Cat and more…

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All I’m saying is why didn’t they recruit this guy earlier? How much time and money could we have saved locating Osama bin Laden? One would think that being omniscient is an automatic YES! for being hired to the NSA. Um, duh?

He Travels Beyond Light Speed

This guy travels the world faster than Google. Think of how much more efficient spying would be if we could do it as fast as Santa. Santa can hop down a few hundred million chimneys, eat cookies, take time to nicely stack presents with an appreciation for presentation and then LEAVE with no proof he’s been there other than missing cookies and that new iPad we asked for beautifully wrapped and left under our Christmas trees.

Which brings me to my next point…

He’s Untraceable 

People have been searching for this guy for CENTURIES yet he still leaves no evidence…even after the invention of DNA profiling. IN, OUT, GONE. Perfect recruit for the Intelligence world. He’s never even been located on radar. Maybe Santa could instruct our government how he makes the sleigh the perfect stealth aircraft. Maybe we’ve been underestimating “Reindeer Technology.” We could TOTALLY use that kind of help.

Image via Flikr Commons courtesy of Mark Dumont...

Image via Flickr Commons courtesy of Mark Dumont…

Who knew these things were so FAST? Why aren’t physicists in Cern running THESE guys through the Hadron Collider?

Enemies Would Underestimate Him

Santa shows up, and all the bad guy is thinking is one of two things:

1) Why is some guy from the mall dressed as Santa at my house?

2) OMG! It’s TOTALLY freaking SANTA!

Nobody expects to be capped by SANTA. No one pulls out a weapon or thinks of self defense when faced with this cherub-faced man known for his superlative gift-giving skills. Santa could double-tap any ruthless dictator before they could ask, “Hey, did you bring me that nuclear device I asked for in my letter?”

Santa Has More Doubles than Castro

Even when the bad guys (known as the American public) catch on that Santa is in charge of the NSA, what can we do about it? He has doubles EVERYWHERE and thing is?

…..We never know which one is real.

This man is the perfect spy.

Uparalleled Work Ethic

Santa delivers billions of gifts and is paid in MILK AND COOKIES. This guy not only works cheap, but he’s FAST, so he could work for ALL our security agencies—NSA, CIA, FBI, ICE, and Facebook.

…and *spoiler alert*

He Isn’t REAL

This is really key because I’m pretty sure that imaginary creatures can’t violate the Constitution. Also, since he’s apparently immortal, the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for dental, health care or retirement planning. This dude works FOREVER and he’s got roughly 363 days of the year free, since everyone knows that his elves do all the shopping, building and wrapping.

PROBLEM SOLVED.

The government could keep spying on regular citizens because we just accept that Santa’s been doing it for centuries and we never griped before. He’s not only been reading our mail, but our THOUGHTS.

I mean right now, we’re looking at our government through Huxley-an glasses. What better way to improve their public image than have SANTA as the face of Intelligence?

HE GIVES GIFTS!!!

At least we’d have a trade-off for losing our Constitutional right to privacy. PRESENTS!

The Administration needs to recruit Santa NOW before someone else does.

What are your thoughts? How else does Santa make the perfect choice for spying on the entire world? Who might be a better choice? And, if Santa DOES spy on us, shouldn’t we get presents more often than just ONCE a year? Maybe people like me who left their Christmas trees up until MEMORIAL DAY aren’t just lazy white trash? MAYBE we were onto something. MAYBE it was really just to appease the guy spying on us. Bet you feel super silly now taking your trees down before MARCH.

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. 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).

Also, for all your author brand and social media needs, I hope you will check out my new best-selling book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.

Make sure you check out all the awesome WANA International Classes. You take care of your family, why not yourself? Sneak away. We won’t tell. And Dollar Store Bags make AWESOME wrapping and they will all get better gifts once your book is a best-seller, right?

Yes, I am an enabler. But we are more fun :D.

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37 Comments

Three Important Life Lessons Only Learned from Insomnia

New Bed!

New Bed!

Well, it’s 3:18 a.m. and since sleeping still isn’t in the stars, I am writing…while in a yoga stretch unkinking my back. It’s been a rough week. I didn’t sleep for a week due to pain. We figured out the likeliest culprit (since both Hubby and I have had our backs scanned, X-rayed, massaged and chiropract-ed) was The Bed of DOOM, forged in Mordor in 1994! I had NO IDEA Hubby’s bed was that old. Probably a question us gals should ask before marriage O_o.

Hey, have any ex-girlfriends or wives buried under your porch? No? Cool. Btw, how old is your BED?

Use a polygraph if you must.

Hubby and I got married, bought two cars, a house, a bajillion diapers and we were going to get to the whole “replacing the bed thing” but this past week? Let’s say we hit “critical.” I know the bed is the problem, because I slept last night. In fact, I slept AWESOME.

Want Sleep? Ah, a “Kink” in The Plan

My back was still a mess so I went to take a nap at 11 a.m. this morning…yesterday morning? Sunday morning. The plan was to sleep two hours since The Spawn had me up just after 6:00 am. I’d sleep until around lunch, then we’d eat, I’d put dinner in the crockpot and Hubby and I could play video games all day.

Anyway, just as I drifted off, my mom calls me bawling and hysterical. Her washing machine overflowed in the middle of the night and her living room was in two inches of water. She couldn’t reach my brother and had no one else and was in a panic. Even though I knew my back was still screaming, Mom just had major hernia surgery and no business moving furniture at her age. So Hubby and I went and lifted all her furniture—heavy furniture—out of the water so it wouldn’t ruin.

Kill. Me. Now.

I love that I could help my mom, but right now my back is seriously pissed I love my mother more than it.

Thing is…

Unusual Suspects

Beds are the most likely culprit for insomnia or back pain, yet we tend to think of them last (probably because they are expensive and we shop for them every decade). I’ve spent the last two years doing Bikram yoga, focusing on my core (or lack thereof), going to chiropractors, taking herbs, Ibuprophen, Voo-Doo Chicken Wing Therapy all to gain little relief. I blamed it on my old back injury (broke it in 1995), changes in weather, age, and still? Never thought of my mattress until this week when nothing else had worked.

Went to the doctor. They did X-rays, MRIs. Not once, did they ask if my bed was bought when gas was $1.09 a gallon.

My bed was as old as the OJ SIMPSON case and as dead as Tonya Harding’s career after she had her loser boyfriend kneecap a fellow skater…in 1994! Don’t get me wrong, I figured the bed was old. I just never dreamed it was from the Clinton Administration. 

Yes, I am a little flabbergasted. I figured maybe it was eight or even ten years old, but almost TWENTY? Why do guys not mention this stuff? I “get” you don’t buy new underwear until nothing is left but an elastic waistband, but the mattress? Was I supposed to sleep it to the springs before we considered replacing?

What I’ve Learned About Being Up All Night

#1 DO NOT get on Web MD.

In fact, they should just not allow people to log into that site after midnight. It took me less than twenty minutes to diagnose myself with:

Prostate cancer? Wait, do I have a prostate?

DWARFISM! I KNEW IT! NO WONDER I CAN’T BUY PANTS THAT FIT!

And the holistic medicine sites aren’t any better. Took less than ten minutes to determine I needed to be dewormed. Should I do the cats at the same time? *scratches head* Crap! Do I have fleas?

#2 Social media friends ARE REAL friends.

I couldn’t have made it through this rough patch if kind people hadn’t kept me laughing and offered advice and even help. People I have never met in person. You guys have put up with my whining for a week and made me smile and that’s why I love my followers so much. I’ve met some of the best people, people on the other side of the world who I wouldn’t call “friend” if I hadn’t been up with back pain.

I SO apologize I am still whining :(. I totally didn’t see the “Moving Mom’s Furniture And Lifting It Out of Water Curve Ball.”

#3 We can’t control circumstances, only our attitude.

I am in terrible pain right now. In fact, if the Air Force hadn’t goofed up our insurance (found that out when I caved and tried to see a doctor Friday) I might be in an all-night-Doc-in-the-box instead of here. But, I take my mind off it. I laugh, have fun and know “This, too, shall pass.”

***And FYI, I’m very ADD, so Benadryl, alcohol, Tylenol PM and all the crap that normally knocks people out? WIRES ME FOR SOUND. I can’t take any pain medication known to Man because they all make me itch. I’ve taken Valerian, B Complex and D and been doing yoga since 1:00 a.m. and nothing is working.

Yeah, sometimes it seriously sux to be me.

But tomorrow is a new day on a new bed with new friends…

…wait that sounded wrong. Y’all know what I meant O_o.

Anyway, so I focus on the good stuff because life is all a choice in perspective. It’s now 4:15 a.m. Hmmm. Maybe I should check back with Web M.D. I’m seeing glowing spots. Wait. Whew! False alarm. That’s the modem.

Going to try the “sleep thing” again and forgive any typos. I’ll fix them later. Got ice and a heating pad. In the meantime, check your mattress and see if maybe it’s the problem. Don’t wait like I did, because now I am paying for it. What are your thoughts? Mattress horror stories? Do you just find your bliss when you can’t sleep or do you discover your “previously undiagnosed” case of Malaria per advice from Web MD? :D Have you met any cool people on social media you might not know otherwise if you hadn’t been up all night?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, 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. 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).

ANNOUNCEMENTS: I have a class coming up August 21st, I am running a Your First Five Pages webinar. Bronze is $40 and Gold is $55 (I look at your first five pages) and use WANA15 for 15% off.

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68 Comments

Jaws, Hydrophobia, and the REAL Story of Our Nation’s Independence

Duh-dun, duh-dun, dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun AGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Duh-dun, duh-dun, dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun AGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Ah, summer and Fourth of July. I have the best family in the world, but all of them had kids before I did. This means The Spawn has a lot of cousins who are all older. This is great in that they get to enjoy him (and lots of babysitters at family get-togethers), but it probably means they will scar him for life just like my older cousins did to me.

Fourth of July was a time when all my family came together and my older cousins had an opportunity to psychologically scar me for life babysat me. When I was 5, my cousins let me watch Jaws and instilled powerful hydrophobia that endures to this day.

They also let me watch Friday the 13th at age 10, ruining freshwater for me as well. Basically, if it ain’t chlorinated? I’m not getting in it. Expert angler Jeremy Wade from River Monsters has only reinforced that people who swim in anything other than the hotel pool are just asking to be part of the food chain.

My point, EXACTLY.

My point, EXACTLY (image via Tus-Memes).

I suppose my cousins did me a favor in that, when we went to the beach? My parents never had to worry I’d drown in anything deeper than an extra large coconut snow cone. I was perfectly content to sit in the surf and build sand castles. When at the lake? Yeah. I’ll stand on the dock with the shotgun and shoot Water Moccassins collecting near the dock and YOU MORONS GUYS can go waterski.

Crazies.

I recall one trip to Florida and my family forced invited me to go clamming in the Indian River, which consists of brackish water. I pleaded with them to believe me that there could be sharks and they laughed me off. It’s a river. Sharks aren’t in rivers.

HA! Twenty-five years later my theory was proven correct on Shark Week. BULL SHARKS LOVE brackish water and are invading deeper into fresh water. Australia has quite a problem with bull sharks in their canals. I’m shocked I’m even here to tell this story. Good thing I was a skinny kid and didn’t resemble a tasty manatee.

Probably just gave a few of you hydrophobia. You can thank me later for saving your LIFE.

Over the years, I’ve pretty much turned into a human feline. Unless bathing? I don’t like getting wet.

pool

The Spawn shares my aversion to water…bathtub not included.

So have fun on your jet-skis and with your snorkels. I will miss you when if you get eaten.

When even ur Kiddy Pool is not safe...

When even ur Kiddy Pool is not safe…

I’ll be hanging out on dry land, grilling meat like a good Texan should. We’ll hang out by my brother’s pool and let the new generation of older cousins warp The Spawn even further than I have (though not sure that’s possible). We will set off silly little fireworks in the driveway. Well…my brother and husband will. I prefer to be a spectator. I need all my fingers (especially the middle one for dealing with AT&T).

Knowing my family, we’ll talk about history, our nation’s founding. Since I know many of you are from other countries, I’ve taken the “liberty” (bada-bump-snare) of finding you a quick reference that’s as accurate as possible. Forget what the history books tell you, THIS is how The American Revolution REALLY went down:

So did you have older cousins who warped you for life? Did Jaws give you hydrophobia? Did you have another movie that gave you another phobia? We won’t even talk about Poltergeist and how I view clowns. What do you like to do on the holidays? How do you celebrate Independence Day?

I love hearing from you!

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. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

NOTE: My prior two books are no longer for sale, but I am updating them and will re-release. My new book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World is NOW AVAILABLE. 

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).

Over my cold but still tired. Will try to announce winners tomorrow, but will have them by Monday latest. 

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 July I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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49 Comments

Crested Butte, The ASSASSIN-WICH and I Made It Out ALIVE!

View from my room...

View from my room…

Last weekend I taught at the Crested Butte Writing Conference in Colorado. Amazing conference with fantastic presenters (highly recommend) and though it was memorable and magical…I thought it would KILL me.

It Didn’t Begin Well…

I am NOT a fan of early morning flights. Even though I had everything packed and ready to go, I wake up WHEN?

3:00 a.m.

…and CANNOT get back to sleep.

So I get up, do some work and have plenty of time to get to the airport. I figure, “Eh *waves hand* I’m not presenting today, so I will just go to bed early.”

I finally get to Gunnison, Colorado, my ride picks me and the other presenters up. She’s already scouted out a restaurant that had gluten-free and dairy-free food. YAY, ME!

The Assassin-wich

Whenever I go to different regions, I make it a point to try what’s local. I ordered the Trout BLT with the GF bun. I made it a point to dramatically tell my waiter how horrifically allergic I am to dairy and gluten.

“Oh, yes, yes, I checked. The coleslaw is fine for you to eat.”

It wasn’t.

The Assassin-wich

The Assassin-wich

Soon after lunch I felt like hell, but assumed it had more to do with being up since three that morning and traveling all day than anything else. Maybe it was because I was such a high altitude and it was altitude sickness.

Helping is Hurting

Soon after lunch, we go to the Ladies’ Room and the editor from Harper Collins picks the stall with no toilet paper. After I made her listen to my pitch….

KIDDING!

No, I grab some paper and bend down to hand it to her and WHAM! There was a stupid, weird, makes-no-sense extension of the counter and I whacked my forehead HARD.

Yes, I am klutzy, but give me a break, I was sleep-deprived, at high altitude, and had just been poisoned (though at this point I didn’t know it). Wasn’t on my game.

So, by dinner time I am feeling pretty bad, but I washed my face, redid my makeup and went down. The only thing gluten and dairy-free is the steamed zucchini. Yay. Well, beggars can’t be choosers. I talked and had people laughing and once it was over?

I crawled back to my condo and held to my promise and go to be early. 10:30 (that’s early for a conference)…

….only to awaken at midnight violently ill.

Zucchini of DOOM

I was sick all…night…long. I knew it! That zucchini had butter. Never trust a squishy veggie!

It’s Never Been So Hard to Put On Makeup

I was shaking so badly from being sick for (by that time) 7 hours and sleep deprived that I’m a little surprised my makeup didn’t turn out more like this…

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Blah Blah Photos Blah

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Blah Blah Photos Blah

So 8:00 a.m., I walk down the mountain (in dress shoes), carrying my computer bag. At breakfast, I wolf down some bacon because it was the only thing I could trust. I start chugging water, because I am dehydrated and…?

STILL sick.

I keep having to chat and smile and then sweetly and politely excuse myself so I can run to the closest bathroom…and thank GOD I carried makeup and a toothbrush. I attend every session I can because 1) I want to support other speakers, 2) I am eager to learn and 3) there was NO WAY I was going to make it UP the mountain to my room without, um, dying.

I tell one of the Crested Butte writers that I’ve had terrible Zucchini Poisoning, but that I will be fine. Just triple-check the future meals, please. They feel terribly guilty, but I assure them that Hey, I have food allergies and it happens.

In the meantime, I go to the hotel store and buy two large bottles of Gatorade and a packet of electrolytes and vitamins that are supposed to help with altitude sickness), and it only cost me a mere $17. Hotels *rolls eyes*

I chug all of it because it is now 11 a.m. and….I am STILL getting sick. I present in 2 hours.

Bonding with teen writers, LOL....

Bonding with teen writers to take my mind off…wanting to DIE.

Safe Zone

I excuse myself early because I am sure the Zucchini of Doom is what poisoned me. So, I go back to that restaurant from the previous day, because “they were careful and knew how important it was to not contaminate food.”

I go to order the same thing, but the waitress stops me. “The coleslaw has dairy, and so does that dressing for your salad.”

O…M…G.

I get sick if something with dairy brushes like zephyr near my food. I ate a half a cup of coleslaw and a half a dairy-infested salad.

How was I still ALIVE?

Sarah makes sure I get a meal I can eat without dying and I tip her 40%. Then I ask to speak to the manager and politely explain that dead patrons make lousy return customers. Then I excuse myself…

Because, yes, I am STILL SICK. By this point? 12 hours.

Um, We Thought You Weren’t Coming

So I put on my game face and head to the main lunch. I’m not eating but I can still be there to do my job. I have a table with my name and people who want to talk to me…and it’s full.

We thought you weren’t coming. They said you were sick.

I found it funny that it was my designated table and I was the only one without a seat. But they scooch me in and soon I have everyone talking and laughing. Outside Kristen is funny and helpful. Inside Kristen wants to use the 10% off the ski-lift coupon so she can throw herself off the top of Crested Butte.

The Crested Butte writers felt better because I told them it was the restaurant and not the Zucchini of Doom that poisoned me. That seemed to make them relax. I can see how trying to kill your speakers could look bad.

Game, ON!

I was blessed that an hour before I presented I stopped getting sick. With GF, dairy-free food in my stomach and enough Gatorade to supply a lacrosse team, I was good to go and gave it my best. I presented for a little over an hour and no one would have known I was sick.

SCORE! *fist pump*

The Reward

I struggle back up the mountain to my condo. I needed time to rest and regroup. That evening, I was rewarded for my diligence. I had THE BEST GF, Diary-Free Pizza ON THE PLANET at a place called, The Secret Stash. It was so good, I bought another one to bring back to the condo with me. $60 worth of pizza, I didn’t care. I needed safe food.

Angels sing!

Angels sing!

The French Tried to Kill Me, but FAILED

Of course, the next night we go to a French food restaurant. I go through all the Please, please please NO gluten or dairy and I get THIS…

pork

Ah, but I am smarter now. I spot the deadly mashed potatoes lurking beneath my pork loin.

SHE SCORES AGAIN!

The rest of the conference went great, even though I was seriously puny and had knot on my head (this explains so much, right?). I am a bit sad I got so sick because I was too weak to do any of the hiking or fun stuff we had coupons for. But, I did get to help and serve a lot of writers and that’s what I love most anyway.

The Lesson

Why do I tell this story? First of all because it’s kind of tragic-funny. I am a person who honors my commitments to the point of lunacy, but…

Mostly I want you guys to know I pale in comparison to what other writers are willing to do for their craft. I’ve known writers who kept writing even though they were facing a double-mastectomy or going through chemo. One writer kept writing even as she cared for her husband who was undergoing chemo for brain cancer.

I’m friends with a big name author who kept writing even after three deaths in one year (two were this writers’ parents). Life will still be here. We get sick, we face hardship but we need to press on and, more importantly? LAUGH. Keep a sense of humor. Everything passes, but the writing will remain and often the thing we love (writing) can help us get through tough times. If I didn’t LOVE serving writers so much, I NEVER could have maintained my game face.

EVER.

So what about you guys? Do you have food allergies and faced down the Assassin-wich? Did you learn to press on even when life threw you a hardball…in the FACE?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, 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 June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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98 Comments

Santa Claus Recruited to Improve NSA’s Public Image & Head Intelligence Operations

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Kevin Dooley

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Kevin Dooley

Lately, Brave New World has become one of the hottest selling novels, and many of us have become even more suspicious of that white panel van that passes our homes daily. Sure it has ice-cream and plays tinkly music, but that cover is so thin Stevie Wonder could see right through it.

After the whole Edward Snowden whistle-blowing debacle, the Obama Administration and the Intelligence community have been up to their ears in hot water and bad press. Spying on regular citizens with no cause or warrant? Invading privacy and throwing the 4th Amendment out the window? Reading our e-mails? Monitoring our Internet? Those activities are just the sort that create an image problem.

Thus, sources tell me (sources being the voices in my head) that, in order to get back in the good graces of the American public, the current administration has decided to appoint Santa to head up any future intelligence operations. Come on, Santa IS the perfect fit.

Santa Knows Everyone and Everything

He knows when you’ve been sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake…

Revised for the Intelligence community:

He knows what you’ve been surfing. He knows the shows you hate. He knows if you vote red or blue, so be good if you know what’s good for you…

Alright, maybe a little clunky, but still a clear warning for all of us to behave. Santa can spot all kinds of terrorist activities like 1) putting the roll of toilet paper with the paper feeding under not over, 2) paying retail 3) wearing white shoes after Labor Day 4) listening to too much Justin Bieber and 5) possessing lukewarm appreciation for the sheer AWESOMENESS of Grumpy Cat and more…

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 7.52.32 AM

All I’m saying is why didn’t they recruit this guy earlier? How much time and money could we have saved locating Osama bin Laden? One would think that being omniscient is an automatic YES! for being hired to the NSA. Um, duh?

He Travels Beyond Light Speed

This guy travels the world faster than Google. Think of how much more efficient spying would be if we could do it as fast as Santa. Santa can hop down a few hundred million chimneys, eat cookies, take time to nicely stack presents with an appreciation for presentation and then LEAVE with no proof he’s been there other than missing cookies and that new iPad we asked for beautifully wrapped and left under our Christmas trees.

Which brings me to my next point…

He’s Untraceable 

People have been searching for this guy for CENTURIES yet he still leaves no evidence…even after the invention of DNA profiling. IN, OUT, GONE. Perfect recruit for the Intelligence world. He’s never even been located on radar. Maybe Santa could instruct our government how he makes the sleigh the perfect stealth aircraft. Maybe we’ve been underestimating “Reindeer Technology.” We could TOTALLY use that kind of help.

Image via Flikr Commons courtesy of Mark Dumont...

Image via Flikr Commons courtesy of Mark Dumont…

Who knew these things were so FAST? Why aren’t physicists in Cern running THESE guys through the Hadron Collider?

Enemies Would Underestimate Him

Santa shows up, and all the bad guy is thinking is one of two things:

1) Why is some guy from the mall dressed as Santa at my house in JULY?

2) OMG! It’s TOTALLY freaking SANTA!

Nobody expects to be capped by SANTA. No one pulls out a weapon or thinks of self defense when faced with this cherub-faced man known for his superlative gift-giving skills. Santa could double-tap any ruthless dictator before they could ask, “Hey, did you bring me that nuclear device I asked for in my letter?”

Santa Has More Doubles than Castro

Even when the bad guys (known as the American public) catch on that Santa is in charge of the NSA, what can we do about it? He has doubles EVERYWHERE and thing is?

…..We never know which one is real.

This man is the perfect spy.

Uparalleled Work Ethic

Santa delivers billions of gifts and is paid in MILK AND COOKIES. This guy not only works cheap, but he’s FAST, so he could work for ALL our security agencies—NSA, CIA, FBI, ICE, and Facebook.

…and *spoiler alert*

He Isn’t REAL

This is really key because I’m pretty sure that imaginary creatures can’t violate the Constitution. Also, since he’s apparently immortal, the taxpayers wouldn’t have to pay for dental, health care or retirement planning. This dude works FOREVER and he’s got roughly 363 days of the year free, since everyone knows that his elves do all the shopping, building and wrapping.

PROBLEM SOLVED.

The government could keep spying on regular citizens because we just accept that Santa’s been doing it for centuries and we never griped before. He’s not only been reading our mail, but our THOUGHTS.

I mean right now, we’re looking at our government through Huxley-an glasses. What better way to improve their public image than have SANTA as the face of Intelligence?

HE GIVES GIFTS!!!

At least we’d have a trade-off for losing our Constitutional right to privacy. PRESENTS!

The Administration needs to recruit Santa NOW before someone else does.

What are your thoughts? How else does Santa make the perfect choice for spying on the entire world? Who might be a better choice? And, if Santa DOES spy on us, shouldn’t we get presents more often than just ONCE a year? Maybe people like me who left their Christmas trees up until MEMORIAL DAY aren’t just lazy white trash? MAYBE we were onto something. MAYBE it was really just to appease the guy spying on us. Bet you feel super silly now taking your trees down before MARCH.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, 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 June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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97 Comments

Are You Being Busy or Fruitful?

Original image via Dan Derritt Flikr Creative Commons

Original image via Dan Derritt Flikr Creative Commons

We’ve talked about entropy a lot lately. How the dishes are never done and the laundry multiplies when left alone too long. My inside sources (The Dust Bunnies) tell me the dirty laundry, when left too long to their own devices start forming cults, particularly “The Whites.” According to The Bunnies, laundry apparently must sacrifice a sock to their god—Dry-Er—every load so Dry-Er will not smite them.

Um what else did you think Dry-Er lint was made from?

With the proper sacrifice, the laundry can be fruitful and multiply. “The Reds” have been known to give a blood sacrifice on occasion. Yes, your husband’s undershirts will be pink, but the laundry is then blessed with more generations of progeny.

The Dust Bunnies swear on their lives this is true, so they’ve bought a little time. That and the vacuum bags Hubby ordered don’t fit.

So aside from the occult activities happening in your hamper, there are a lot of other distractions in life. Namely? LIFE.

No one gets out alive.

Don’t you have days that you are simply exhausted? You’ve been running, running, running all day, but have nothing to show for it? There’s a difference between busy and fruitful. Here’s some tips for being fruitful.

Multi-Tasking—Do At Your Own Risk

I do a lot of multi-tasking, but it needs to be one “thinking activity” and one “mindless.” I make the beds and pick up toys while checking in with my mother each morning. Relationships take effort, and so does keeping the bottoms of our feet from being shredded from matchbox cars and Legos. This is being fruitful. Listening to a sermon or self-help podcast while dusting? Fruitful. Folding laundry while watching movies (good for writers–clean clothes and stories)? Fruitful.

When I get into trouble is when I try and do two “thinking” activities.

I once accidentally drove to Missouri. TRUE STORY.

I was in sales, and I did a lot of driving, about 1500-3000 miles a week. I had a nine-state territory and Northern Mexico, meaning I drove to Mexico about every six weeks. So I was on the road most of the time, and often quite tired (and bored). I had certain “routes” I drove. I’d drive to Wichita, Kansas, then work my way down. Next day Tulsa, next day OKC, then back to Dallas.

This day, I finished my morning appointment in Kansas and then my late afternoon appointment in Tulsa and ate dinner. By seven I was on the road. I was really fatigued, but I wanted to get to OKC by around nine so I could pass out and be rested for my early morning meeting.

Ah, add in a cell phone.

I knew I was in for a long stretch of NOTHING, so I called my Mom. Unbeknownst to me, I got on the turnpike going north instead of south. So I am talking away for mile after mile then finally I see a sign, “Joplin 20 Miles.”

Joplin? Joplin, Oklahoma? That doesn’t sound right.

Since I was really tired, I said to my Mom, “Joplin? Joplin’s not in Oklahoma.”

“Baby, you’re in Missouri.” *head desk* #epicfail

I finally made it to OKC at 2:00 in the morning, since I had to drive all the way to Joplin to escape the turnpike and turn around, then drive from Missouri back to OKC.

Yes, I have peeled the banana, kept the peel and tossed the banana. I’ve put my cell phone in the freezer, my keys in the fridge. But accidentally driving to Missouri? I think I get bonus idiot points for that.

Multi-tasking, for the most part, can just make a mess. So, yeah, fold towels while talking to loved ones…just don’t put the towels away. They could end up in the garage.

Make Lists

Write out a list of the most important things you need to accomplish. Lists help us focus. They also help us see the most efficient way of doing things. Can we pick up the cleaning on the way to pick up kid from school, then stop by pharmacy on the way to the grocery store, then swing by the post office on the way home?

Fruitful.

….And Goals

If we sit down and just write, that’s good, but word count or page count goals are better.

Set a Routine and GET SLEEP

When I get out of my routine, everything just seems to go sideways. I write the same times every day. I find when I don’t stop working by a certain time, it affects my sleep. I can’t wind down. The perfect routine is to work 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m., go to gym. Do another hour of work, say, 5:30-6:30, then make dinner, then practice guitar 30 minutes, then a level of XBox with Hubby, then TV until 10:30 then sleep. If I stick to this, I wake up refreshed. I don’t?

This stuff happens.

I lost the nacho chips. Why didn't I think to look in the REFRIGERATOR?

I lost the nacho chips. Why didn’t I think to look in the REFRIGERATOR?

Yeah, yesterday I was as good as worthless. Because I took out niece to dinner for graduation, I couldn’t get to sleep until after MIDNIGHT. I was the walking dead all day.

So WANA MAMA Says…

Eat good stuff, drink water, get enough sleep, limit multi-tasking, and make lists so it’s easier to be efficient and prioritize. Otherwise, life will feel like you are strapped to Hell’s Tilt-A Whirl….or like this little guy, Zippity.

What about you guys? What are some of your multi-tasking mishaps? Bet you can’t beat accidentally driving to MISSOURI. What tools do you use to be productive instead of just busy?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, 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 June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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65 Comments

Happy Memorial Day! My Depressing Yet Hysterical Military “Career”

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 10.13.46 AM

I need a montage! A montage!

There were two dreams I’d had since childhood. One? To be a writer. The other? I wanted to be in the military. Dad’s family is Scottish and Mom is all Viking, and our family has served in every war…probably ever (knowing my family, we might have even started a couple).

They heard you get free beer.

Soldiering is in My Blood

Legend has it great-great-great Oma Damsgaard was a hell of a shield-maiden, when she wasn’t haggling over the price of pickled herring or rosemaling the outhouse. Seriously, I watch the AWESOME show Vikings, and I am all like Now it all makes sense.

OPA!

OPA!

Hellions of the Highlands

My father’s side of the family (the Lamonts) fought the English from the Highlands of Scotland, then high-tailed it to America after the clan they’d aligned with to kick some English butt betrayed them and allied with the enemy. Most of the Lamonts were killed, but a few were at sea…probably trying to woo hot Viking women. Anyway, once in America, the Lamonts (now LAMBS) served in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and on and on.

Remember the ALAMO!

I even had TWO relatives at the Alamo (from paternal grandmother’s side–Holland and Rose). Tapley Holland was the first to step across the line and volunteer to fight the Mexican Army. Of course, legend also has it, he thought that was the beer line. Moses Rose was the only one to leave the Alamo, namely because he preferred wine and was tired of fighting. He’d been fighting in the French Army most of his life, thus was used to retreating war-weary and wanted to get home to his family…and wine.

And Miss a WORLD WAR???

My mom’s grandfather lied about his name and age (took his older brother’s name) so he could fight in WWI. He served until they found out and kicked him out, so he just signed up again using his real name. My great-uncle died in Pearl Harbor and my grandfather was a paratrooper in WWII. He served in Northern Japan and helped set up the first elections. Dad and Mom served in the Navy during Vietnam. My Uncle Jimmy was a Navy Master Chef who cooked for two U.S. Presidents.

So, since writing wasn’t a real job, guess what I wanted to do when I grew up? You got it. I am such a joiner. Also, I’d switched high schools so many times I don’t even know how I graduated and I needed college money.

My Brief History of the Army

I decided on the Army since I spoke German and really wanted to live in Germany. After rocking the ASVAB, I pretty much had my choice of what I wanted to do. I get my paperwork filled out, they send me to MEPS, all is good. The day of the physical, I become violently ill out of nowhere and…that part where they make you stand in nothing but underwear (and bra)? Where they check for scars, tattoos, and knee problems? Passed clean OUT. BAM! HIT THE FLOOR!

I have had broken bones, given BIRTH and never passed out….EVER.

As soon as I was out of MEPS? I was fine. Like I’d never been sick.

Even Briefer History of the Navy (Part One)

So I figure, WTH? I’ll try the Navy. Apparently the branches of the military actually do communicate no matter what movies tell you, and a medical disqualification lasts two years.

The Air Force AND MARINES

I go ahead and go to community college. I know I have two years to make AWESOME grades to get a scholarship with the military. The MDQ is up and I apply. I win TWO scholarships. A full ride to medical school from the Air Force and I can go to TCU (where my grandfather went and it’s local so no moving) OR I can take a partial Marine Corps scholarship to be a pilot, but it’s at Texas A&M…which requires moving.

GO USAF! 

I’d love to say I wanted to become a doctor to save lives, but it really had more to do with inherent laziness when it comes to moving. Thus, I decide I am going to be either an M.E. or a flight surgeon (LOVED Quincy as a kid but checking out hot pilots held great promise, too).

So, I swear in.

YES! I MADE IT! I AM TOTALLY IN THE FREAKING AIR FORCE! SCORE! *fist pump*

I spend two years as a Neuroscience major. I am even offered an opportunity to attend the Air Force Academy. I had a congressional nomination AND an AFROTC nomination. Granted, it would mean doing a year over, but hell, I was used to that after high school…and it was THE AIR FORCE ACADEMY! I decide, tempting as it was, I would remain at TCU (the whole “moving thing”). I’d finish my Neuroscience degree and then go to med school in Dallas.

Then, in early March of 1995, Fort Worth has freak ice storm. TCU decides NOT to close the school and I have a paper due. All my school money is contingent on me making As. While rushing to class, I slip, fall…and fracture my lower back.

Yep, you got it. Lost the scholarship and no longer Air Force. Medically disqualified AGAIN.

Ironically, had I gone to the Air Force Academy I would have been okay….or crushed in a freak avalanche.

And We Are Back at the Navy

So a few years later, I am still denying that I really, really want to be a writer, because writing was for homeless hippies who wrote bad poetry at Starbucks, right?

I go to the Navy. I take all the tests. With my degree (Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa) and language skills (I spoke three at the time—now I can barely speak ONE) they TOTALLY wanted me as an Intelligence Officer.

I sign the papers, make an appointment for MEPS. Over the weekend, I have my 5 year-old nephew at the pool…and I slip and get a third-degree sprain on my left foot (tearing almost every ligament up to the knee) and taking off half of my toe (they put it back :D).

BAD KRISTEN!

So SHORT OF HITTING ME WITH FREAKING LIGHTNING, God was all *thump* “NO! You will NOT be military. BAD KRISTEN!”

*celestial newspaper cracks*

Oddly enough, right after the ankle thing, I applied for law school and got in….only “magically” the letter of acceptance made it to me too late. I received the letter the DAY OF Freshman Orientation.

Thus, I do feel I was born to be a writer.  In a sense it seems almost my fate, my path. So if you don’t like my blog, it is totally God’s fault :P. Talk to Him.

Heck, I tried everything else and this is the only thing that has seemed to work, :D. Yet, as a compromise, I DID marry an Air Force guy, so the military tradition remains…though I hope The Spawn grows up to be a writer NOT a Navy SEAL. Or even better, he can write video games ABOUT NAVY SEALS. For what it’s worth, I DO play all the CALL of DUTY games on expert level…though in real life I am ruthless as a rose petal.

Spiders get scooped up and tossed outside.

So please enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend for the REAL heroes out there. Hey, I tried to help but apparently God knows me too well. The Army would’ve told me to charge a hill and I’d be all like, “Um, I dated that hill in college and that is a hill that will NOT change.” 

And, with all my injuries I am more accurate than Doppler radar when it comes to weather.

Have you served? Do you come from warrior stock? Did you give it a good college try like I did? Feel free to laugh at me. I totally do. What’s your story? Kind of hard to outdo this sort of epic stupid, but I double dare you to try :D.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, 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 May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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85 Comments

THREE MONTHS OFF???? What I Would GIVE for a Summer Vacation

When even ur Kiddy Pool is not safe...

When even ur Kiddy Pool is not safe…

For anyone in the Denver, CO area, I will be presenting this Saturday (register here). I am STOKED, not only because I get to teach writers, but it’s like a little slice of vaca-childhood. Ah, summer vacation. The Spawn is about to be let out for three months under my feet toddler bliss.

I miss it summer vacation. 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, guess you won’t do that again, will ya? Stop crying before I give you something to cry about.

Image via Jeffery Turner Flikr Creative Commons

Image via Jeffery Turner Flikr Creative Commons

Yeah, NOTHING was childproof. All the playground equipment was heavy-duty industrial steel, and you couldn’t play on it unless your tetanus shot was up to date. 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 eight weeks of summer were magic. We’d swim and jump for HOURS on a trampoline 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.

Image via Lynn Kelly WANA Commons

Image via Lynn Kelly WANA Commons

Ah, but then eleven weeks would be over, and we’d have the Twelfth Week Itch. In Texas it is so hot by August that everything, including us 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? Do you think our society would be better off if everyone was required to take summer vacation? Maybe we could alternate seasons so everyone would have time off. If you had THREE MONTHS OFF, what would you do? Where would you go? Would you learn to sing? Take up African dancing? Hop on a Slip and Slide?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, 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 May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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67 Comments

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