Wednesday, 1 October 2014

IWSG: Shelving Your Manuscript In Order To Grow

Writing is a solitary and arduous journey that is misunderstood by many. It takes time and is often isolating, requiring the writer to retreat deep into their mind to remove themselves from the exterior world. Writing also demands sacrifice, perseverance, and a good dollop of insanity if you're in it for the long term. And with so many opportunities to give up along the way, being equipped with a lifeline can be the difference between a successful writer and a failed writer. For many, that line is tethered to the online writing community. 

The writing community is a global body of countless supportive and encouraging writers that radiate positive thinking to help struggling writers. So when a fellow writer suffers from writer's block or bouts of insecurity, the community is there to remind them that they are not alone, help is sometimes only a click away. But most important, we understand because we've all been there at some point or another, when self-doubt becomes the Mount Everest of our insecurities and all we really need is a bit of encouragement to keep going, to keep writing, and whatever we do--We. Never. Ever. Give. Up.

Never give up. That's good advice. But here's the twist: sometimes, giving up is exactly what you need to do in order to move forward. Let me explain. 

When I started writing my first novel, it was like teenagers falling in love for the first time. It was a storm cloud of writing ecstasy, it was passionate, an intense exhilaration that borderlined on the obsessive, the crazy, and the extreme. My story and my characters dominated my thoughts day and night. But as time moved on, I slowly surrendered that passion with each round of edits. And with each rewrite, I found myself deconstructing my love for the story. Things changed. I changed. My story changed and not for the better. Then I started to dread having to open my file document to write. Instead of stealing writing time whenever and wherever I could, I was procrastinating in favor of menial tasks. And the longer I put off writing, the greater the feeling of guilt grew inside me. Soon afterward it became painfully clear, that this was no longer the italicised story I wanted to write. And when my mind started dreaming of other stories, other possibilities--I knew. I just knew. Looking deep within, I decided that I could not continue lying to myself. I could not continue to force these words onto the page, so much as I could quell the excitement I felt when I allowed a few moments to imagine a world, in which I was writing something else. 

This story was not THE one, and it was time to give up writing my manuscript, and shelve the book.

Sounds like a heartbreaking loves story doesn't it? Well in a way it is. At some point along the path to good writing, a writer will come to the realization that their current project may no longer be writeable. Admitting that is one of the hardest parts about being a writer, and shelving your manuscript, the one that you've agonized and struggled over for months or years even, is the second. And though things may not have worked out the way you originally planned, they can and do get better, if you let them. Because the process of writing a failed manuscript teaches valuable lessons about the craft if, you are open to the idea that the failed attempt will make your next project that much better. For example, my first book taught me 487 pages of what not to write in a novel. In other words, I learned a great deal about voice, plot, and character, and I'm convinced my next book will be better. I may have given up on one manuscript, but I haven't given up on writing. 

So I'm here to say, it's OKAY. It's okay to shelve your manuscript. And it is by no means an indicator that you suck or have failed as a writer. It's just the opposite, it's a sign that you're maturing as a writer and know when it's time to pull the plug to move on to bigger and better writing. Shelving your work breaks down the brick walls of guilt and frees your mind to develop new ideas on a healthier and more positive foundation. And guess what? Shelving your work doesn't have to be permanent, but it can be empowering. 

So in short, knowing when to let go is sometimes the only way to truly move forward in life and in your writing. And if you want to fly, don't be afraid to let go of the things that anchor you to the ground. 


It's been three years since the start of the Insecure Writer's Support Group bloghop, created by writer and author, Alex Cavanaugh, and today marks the one year anniversary of the IWSG website and facebook page. I'd like to extend a huge congratulations to Alex and everyone who has helped (or is helping) make IWSG such a big success. I'd also like to thank the team of co-hosts this month for all the time and hard work they put into making this such a wonderful bloghop. To find out more about the IWSG monthly bloghop, or the IWSG website, feel free to click the highlited links or the button on my sidebar.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Desert Hops Beer Festival: Food And Beer Pairing

I was recently asked if I'd share my favorite food and beer pairing as part of a blog shout out to the The Desert Hops International Beer Festival which is being held today, at the The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. I'd never heard about the festival before, but my first reaction was "OMG where's my admission ticket?" 

For me, going to a beer festival is second to going to a good writer's conference. Can you just imagine combining the two events? That would be incredible. Just think of how many writers and agents we could pair up or just how many books could be published....or... yeah, maybe not. :P 

Anyway, I wish I could tell you that I have some fantastic and exotic pairing of food and beer, but for me, simple is best. What I'm not a fan of, is sweet flavored beers and don't really like the weird fruit beers be it watermelon or pumpkin, and God forbid you add a peach or grenadine syrup to your beer like they do here, yuck! I figure if you're going to add syrup to your beer, you might as well order a cocktail. To each their own. 

Basically, I prefer a good beer with a dish of salty carbohydrates. Because let's face it, there's nothing better than a nice cold one and pizza, or chips, or just plain old peanuts. But better yet, beer on a hot day, in the back yard, cooking BBQ, and hanging out with family and friends. I think that's what I associate beer with the most, sharing it with friends and enjoying the simple things while we talk about how better the world would be if we ran things.  

So, when it comes down to it, I'm much more of a have-a-couple-cold-ones-at-home-with-friends-while-watching-Arrow kinda gal. 

So here is my favorite beer / food combination to date: 

Abbaye des Rocs (9 %), a strong Belgian ale with a rich dark amber color and full body taste that lingers in your mouth afterwards. In other words, it tastes awesome. Now take a beer like this and pair it up with a perfectly cooked steak with sautéed mushrooms, along with a side of potatoes loaded with bacon, onions, and melted cheese all cooked in an iron skillet. There, a slice of heaven... unless you're a vegetarian who doesn't drink alcohol. Then, this would be hell. :o  (Actually, there is a beer called Hell, just sayin... :)  )

So even if you're not much of a beer drinker, I'd be willing to bet, with all the different microbreweries producing such a wide range of craft beers from around the world, there's a beer even (or especially) for you. :) 

So do you have a favorite beer/food pairing? Or maybe you have another drink/food pairing you'd like to share. I'd love to hear about it!


Friday, 19 September 2014

Finally, The First Family Robot is Here: Question Is, Would You Buy One?

From R2D2 to Rosie the robot in the Jetsons, family robots and science fiction go hand in hand. And though it may seem like we're years away from this kind of technology, think again. JIBO may very well be the first family robot to be put on the market as early as next year for around $600. JIBO can see, hear, and speak, but it also has artificial Intelligence capabilities that allow it to learn your preferences, and adapt to your lifestyle. It's a platform, can send and receive messages, and act like a personal assistant. But I'll let the video explain the rest. 

I saw this clip on fb, (thanks Wuff!) and had to share. 
So what do you think?

Now the question is, would you buy one? 

I'm honestly on the fence about this. On the one hand he looks kinda cute, and could be useful for reminders, taking/sending messages, making calls, etc. But on the other hand, there's something that disturbs me about the little puntable guy. He looks cute but in a I'm-gonna-burn-your-house-down-and-giggle kinda way. Not to mention the idea that hackers and spy agencies could very well access to your bot and gain all kinds of personal information from it. 

And can you just imagine if cute little JIBO turns around and says "I'm sorry, Dave, I can't do that." Yep, I'd freak and possibly toss the little bugger out the window. So I think I'll just wait and see how this plays out for now. :)


So what about you? Would you buy JIBO for your home? 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Insescts in Fashion: Would You Wear A Beetle Dress?

Insects are the future. 

Sooner, rather than later, insects will become an integral part of our daily lives. In some regions of the world, particularly in south-east Asia, insects have always been part of the menu, and eating spiders or insects like wasps, ants, locusts and grasshoppers are common. And if you think about it, insects are by far, a more sustainable food source than things like beef, chicken, fish, etc...

Today however, I want to highlight something that I find really interesting and aesthetically beautiful: insects in fashion. 

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth.jpg
Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth
image via Wikipedia

It's not a new idea by any stretch, as seen in the painting by John Singer Sargent (1889) entitled Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth. The painting depicts the actress performing William Shakespeare's, Macbeth, wearing a green costume dress that was decorated with iridescent beetle wings. Sounds wild, but beetle wing textile goes back far before the 1800's. For example in the 16th century during the Mughal era, beetle wings were treated like jewels and were integrated into sashes, scarves, turbans, and other costume accessories. 

Madecassia rotschildi
image via Wikipedia 
Temognatha alternata,
image via Wikipedia 
But the term beetle 'wing' is incorrect. In textile fashion, it's not the wings (which are thin, transparent and very fragile) that are harvested. Instead, it's usually the hard and often iridescent elytra that is used. The elytra is the hard covering that protects and covers the insect's wings when they are not in use. Most of the time, beetles in the family Buprestidae, commonly called the "metallic wood-boring beetle" or "Jewel beetle" are used. It's one of the largest families in the insect world and boasts some 15,000 species known in about 450 genera.

Eurythyrea austriaca
image via wikipedia 

Recently, the use of beetle elytra to decorate clothing has resurfaced with the spotlight on this green gown seen HERE and HERE. The results are spectacular to say the least and if I had the money or the skill I'd love to incorporate beetle elytra into my wardrobe.

What about you? Would you wear a beetle dress or a beetle adorned accessory? Maybe earrings or a necklace?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Notice Me: A Bit of Fiction

I’ve lost some weight but he doesn’t notice. No. Of course not. But he does notice the house is a total mess. Well no shit. It’s a fricking disaster. He’s home all Sunday and could have helped--but no. Easier to complain about it. Fine. I have the solution. Tomorrow, I’m buying shelves. Big ass shelves. There’s a lack of storage space in this damn house and I don’t care if the shelves cost 500 bucks. I’m buying one. No, I’m buying two. Screw it. And then all the shit across House Land will have a shelf to sit on. It drives me crazy, all this crap on the floors. Toys. Dog hair. Dust bunnies. Bits of country fucking living—everywhere. On the floor. I want nothing on the floor. There. It’s settled. Shelves.

I’m not a smoker. Smoking is bad haven’t you heard? It’s bad for your health, for your lungs, it’ll give you cancer, and emphysema, and God knows what else. But I swear. I SWEAR if there was a box of smokes on the table right now, I’d chain smoke every single one of them until the box was empty. Then, I’d smoke the box. I should be happy, but I’m not. I don’t smoke, but thankfully, life isn’t just an overflowing barrel of regrets and mistakes--I have liquor.  The house is a mess. Well screw it. In the cabinet downstairs, on a shelf, sits Mr. Grand Marnier. Waiting. So, I grab a shot glass from the kitchen, but not thick crappy ones they serve at the local bars. No. Tonight, I grab a fancy shot glass, the kind you put the expensive shit in. It's ultra thin with a delicate rim, and the glass is tinted blue. It even has an elegant mini stem as a base. I open the heavy, wooden cabinet doors. The hinges squeak loudly which makes my jaw clamp down. Lifting up on my tippy toes, I find Mr. Grand Marnier and wrap my fingers around his neck. I don’t smoke, but I can sure as hell drink. 

It’s nice outside and the weather is warm. I step out with my hands full, and notice how warm it is. All summer the weather was shit, nothing but rain clouds and cold temperatures. But now that September has rolled around, mother nature decides to pull her head out of her ass and spread some of her fucking sunshine. I huff, kick off my flip flops, and stomp out across the sticky grass. With a fancy shot glass in one hand, and the bottle of GM in the other, I make my way to the hammock. Of course, I step on a friggin acorn on the way. Stupid oak tree. Sometimes, nature can be a bitch. Cursing under my breath, I reach the shabby hammock, its ability to hold my weight without eviscerating makes me think this may not be such a good idea. Screw it. Throwing caution to the wind, I get in with the grace and elegance of a baby walrus. I can’t believe I ate that whole chocolate bar earlier. Crunch. There goes my diet. Anyway, the damn hammock finally slows from a nauseating swing, to a I-think-I-can-pour-without-spillage sway. I pop open Mr. GM. He makes a deep, percussive, hollow sound when his cork is released. My mouth waters. I pour the liquid into the fancy shot glass then wedge the bottle between my knees. It's 8:00pm and the sun has set, and yet, it’s not too dark, lingering sunlight still reflects off an overcast sky. I make out spooky faces in the knotted branches above me. I hate the encroachment of winter. No, actually I don’t care. I take a swig and don’t even feel the burn. I lay back, close my eyes, and cry without vocalizing into sobs. Just a few tears run down the sides of my face. I’m just flushing out my tear ducts, it's been a while.

It’s a nice night. That's what I'm supposed to say. The crickets are chirping and a gentle breeze is brushing through the leaves. Squawks of a God damn screech owl pierce through the air. Sounds like my liquor cabinet. Now, I hear a plane rumble through the clouds above. Shut the hell up! All I want is quiet. No that’s not right. I want stillness. Just for a little while. I want everything to stand still. I lift my head and take another swig. This time, I feel the burn and mentally follow it as the liquor seeps down my throat and fans out into my chest. The oak tree drops an acorn and I hear it tear through the leaves before it hits the ground. And then another one falls, except this one hits me between the eyes. REALLY?! I rub my head. Stupid tree. Now I’m wondering if I had dinner. I can’t remember. Did I eat? Was it any good? Pop. I fill my shot glass back up. I don’t care. My head is heavy. Feels like Mr. GM is going straight to my noggin. But you know what? It feels good. At this very moment, I don’t care about anything. I don’t care about the damn screech owl, or the messy house. I don’t care about my shitty week or the shitty week after that. I don’t care about the war or the bombardments. I don’t care about Ebola, global warming, famine, the economy or the melting polar ice caps. Hell, I don’t even care about the baby seals. I don’t care about anything. I just want it all to still. Be still. Shhhhh. I take another sip from Mr. GM and thwart all effort to lift my head. The screech owl is gone and with it, the plane. Shadows grow tall around me but I don’t notice. The world is darker, and quieter, and now the bottle is empty--but I don’t notice. At last my world is still, but sadly, I don’t notice. 

I didn’t even notice.    

Monday, 8 September 2014

Remembering Tina Downey

The writing community recently lost a wonderful friend, writer, and blogger, Tina Downey. I didn't know Tina as well as many, but I did get the chance to know her better through to the Tree of Life collaboration. Her comments in the feed of our little facebook group were always funny, and bright, and positive, despite her struggles with health issues. The virtual tree house will never be the same. 

Her avatar was a sunflower and it's a wonderful symbol to remember her by. So today, to honor Tina's memory, many bloggers are gathering/planting sunflowers to brighten up the internet in the same way Tina brightened the world around her. 

Unfortunately, sunflowers were difficult for me to find and plant this late in the season where I live. Therefore, I planted these perennial marguerite daisies instead. They remind me of miniature sunflowers--and Tina. 

Rest in peace, Tina.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

IWSG: Making the Most of a Difficult Situation

There's this saying in English: 

- If it ain't broke, don't fix it.   

It's a good saying.

After living for over 10 years in France, I've noticed they have a similar saying except it goes something like this: 

- If it ain't broke, break it, make it obscenely complicated, non user-friendly, and then make the people pay for it through higher taxes. 

The French government recently reformed the primary school timetable, forcing it to go from a workable system to a complete after school mess, leaving kids, teachers, daycare, and staff unable to cope, and struggling for financial resources that they don't have. *deep breath* 

I'll spare you all the details because I don't have the energy to write all the expletives that would accompany my rant. And really, AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT, MERDE! 

But the gist of it is I'm now having to wait 2 hours in my car  after lunch (because of our tight budget and limited options) to pick up my kids when school lets out. And, I'm paying higher costs for a school bus system that my kids can only use half the time. FAIS CHIER! 

Now, a lot of the problems we're having with the timetable is because while the public school system had no choice but to comply with the reform, the private schools didn't, they basically gave the government reform a giant middle finger (and I don't blame them) but the trouble is they use the same bus system as the public schools....but they're on a different timetable.. and there are limited buses....see how this can, and has, turned into a mega cluster failure? PUTAIN!

Anyway, these dumbass, brainless changes have also impacted my time as a writer. Which is to say, I now have less and less time to write during the day. So, seeing how I'll be spending lots of time just waiting in my car, I've decided to make the most of a shitty situation. I'm going to pack my laptop and use that time to write. When it's hot, I'll bring some water and I'll keep writing in the car. And when the cold comes in, I'll bring an extra blanket, a thermos, and I'll keep writing. And when it rains and pours, I'll just keep writing. 

Who knows, this may be the best thing that has happened to my writing schedule in a long time. No house work, no garden, no grocery shopping, no distractions, just me and my laptop. Could it be, I'm actually looking forward to this? O_O  It'll be interesting to see if this works out, even if only a little. I'll let you know next month. Wish me luck and I hope you all are faring better than I am!  

Many thanks to Alex Cavanaugh our IWSG super-host and his awesome team of co-hosts this month. To find out more about the IWSG monthly bloghop, or the IWSG website, feel free to click the highlited links or the button on my sidebar.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Fatherly Advice and Fuzzy Alarm Clocks: An IWSG Post

These past few months have been nothing short of crazy served with a tall, straightjacket flavored cocktail topped with a little broken umbrella. The good news is, I'm getting a lot of stuff done in my personal life, the bad news is, I haven't had much time for writing or blogging and I feel really guilty about that. Plus, I miss you guys! How I wish I could do both. 

Nevertheless, I do have a plan to get back into writing and all things blogging, I just have to wait until September when the kiddos go back to school and I have a 2 hour wait in my car before picking them up after school (long story that I blame the French Ministry of Education for F*cking things up royaly and then making the little people, like me, pay for it.....ugggg, don't get me started*angry face*). 

So anyway, until I can get back to a regular schedule, I'd like to share a piece of fatherly advice my Dad gave to me as we chatted over skype the other day. I'd been complaining how buys things had been over on my side of the world and he said: 

"At some point you just have to quit saying 'you gotta do this or you gotta do that' and just go out there, and do it." 

Well, you're absolutely right. 
I love you, Dad!

I hope you all are doing well and getting things done, if not, then just go out there and do it!

And as a little bonus for you guys, I added a short clip of how I wake up in the mornings, via little, fuzzy, attack kitty-bums. Enjoy! :D 

And now, back to my regularly scheduled crazy life. Oh and did I mention I have 11 people coming over for dinner tonight? *starts hyperventilating*

Friday, 4 July 2014

Happy 4th of July!

Happy Birthday America! 

To everyone celebrating today, have fun, be safe, and save a cold one for me. Oh and whatever you do, don't overcook the steaks! 
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