Monday, June 18, 2012

A hole in my heart

My dad passed away a few days ago and, while it was not a surprise, it is still harder than anything I could have imagined. He was 88 and had a great life, and I was lucky to have him in mine for as long as I did, but it is still so hard to say goodbye.

I'm not sure when I will be back to blogging as writing seems impossible right now, but I want to wish all of you the very best.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Music Monday: You Better Think (about what you're doing when you're driving)

I am the world's worst singer, but that doesn't change the fact that I love to sing my heart out when no one is around to hear me. While some would-be rock stars sing in the shower, I've always loved singing in my car. Unfortunately, this has sometimes proven to be problematic, and I've learned to temper my enthusiasm for belting out tunes while behind the wheel.

I love Aretha Franklin, and my favorite song to sing along with the Queen of Soul to is Think. I'd love to tell someone off the way Aretha does in this song but, as an introvert by nature, I don't really have it in me. Except when I'm in the car singing, of course.

One evening I was driving to my sister's house and was happily singing along to Aretha, when I suddenly heard a crunch on the passenger side of my car. I had been so wrapped up in telling some imaginary person who had wronged me that he better think, I'd managed to hit my sister's neighbor's mailbox.

I jumped out of my car, my heart beating so fast I thought I would pass out, and was beyond relieved to see that the mailbox didn't have a scratch on it. In fact, no one would ever have guessed that a moving car had just barreled into it. My car was a different story, however, as the side-view mirror was now hanging on by a thread. 

While I was grateful the mailbox withstood my assault and I didn't have to pay to repair it, I could not escape the damage done to my pride. My family and friends have never let me forget this incident, and I still get teased about it. I still love the song though, although I now only sing along to it when I'm at home cleaning. I figure I can't do any damage with a mop or scrub brush.

You would think I would have already learned my lesson about singing and driving when this mailbox crash happened, as I had already had a singing mishap years before when I got my first (and only, knock on wood) speeding ticket.

When I first finished school I lived in a small town outside of Columbus, Ohio called Marysville. After driving home to Cincinnati for a weekend, I was driving back to Marysville on a Sunday night and, of course, listening to music. It was late and I had the country road to myself. Or so I thought.

I was listening to Free Fallin' by Tom Petty and really got into it, much like Tom Cruise's character did in this scene from Jerry Maguire. This incident happened a few years before Jerry Maguire even came out, and this scene totally cracked me up when I saw the movie. At least I wasn't the only one to get a little carried away with Free Fallin'.

Next thing I knew I heard a siren and saw flashing lights behind me, and I realized too late that I was not in fact the only car on the road. The officer asked me if I knew how fast I was going and I had to admit that I really didn't. I didn't think I should tell him that I was too wrapped up in my singing to notice. I wasn't that far over the speed limit, but far enough to get a ticket, and learn an expensive lesson.

After both of these mishaps I really did learn my lesson, and I've always been much more careful when driving. I was lucky the only things that were hurt by my silliness were my pride and my wallet. And in spite of these incidents, I really am a good driver, I swear it.

What about you? Do you like to belt out a tune when no one is listening? If so, have you ever been caught in an embarrassing moment as a result?

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Lucky 7 Meme

Susanne Drazic of PUTTING WORDS DOWN ON PAPER tagged me for the Lucky 7 Meme last week. Thank you, Susanne!

I hadn't heard of this meme before I was tagged, but I think it's a fun one. Here's how it works:

 Lucky 7 Meme Rules:

1. Go to page 77 of your current manuscript.
2. Go to line 7.
3. Copy the next 7 lines (sentences or paragraphs) and post them as they're written.  No cheating!
4. Tag 7 other writers to pass this meme on to.
I went to page 77 of my novel Polar Night and followed the directions, only to discover that, since the excerpt involved the start of a conversation, if I stopped at 7 lines there was really nothing to it. So I thought I would just cheat a tiny bit and double the 7 to 14. But then I realized that what was 14 lines on my Word document isn't 14 lines on a blog post. Somehow, I managed to turn a fun meme into a source of stress and I was on my way to needing a straightjacket once again LOL. So please just leave your counting ability at the door and pretend my excerpt is either 7 or 14 lines. ;) 


For the first time since he had moved to Alaska, Danny took out his phone and called Chicago. He briefly wondered what time it was there, and was momentarily confused about whether he was ahead of Chicago time or behind it, but then decided he didn’t give a damn anyway. He didn’t want to waste any more time, and this had to start now.

“Hello, this is Agent John Fisher.”

“Hello, Agent Fisher. This is Danny Fitzpatrick.”

Danny wasn’t surprised to hear silence on the other end of the line.

“Fitzpatrick?” John finally said. “Are you kidding me?”

“Not at all.”

“What the hell? Where are you?”

“I’m in Alaska. I work in Fairbanks now.”

“Alaska? Are you kidding me?”

“Still not kidding you.”

“Why haven’t you called anyone? I haven’t heard from you since…”

He stopped talking in mid-sentence, illustrating exactly why Danny hadn’t called anyone.

Writers I am tagging: 

Susan Oloier
Madeline at The Shellshank Redemption
Michael Pierce
LG Smith at Bards & Prophets
Cecilia at CeCe's Reading and Writing Safari
Tara at Tara Tyler Talks
Tonja at Tonja's Musings

Thank you again to Susanne for tagging me for this meme! Happy Friday to everyone and best wishes for a great weekend ahead. :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Hello to all of my fellow insecure writers!

Ever since I finished my novel, I've been wallowing in insecurity. Learning about the publishing process and working on query letters and a novel synopsis has cranked by usual anxiety and insecurity all the way up to 11, to borrow from Spinal Tap. :D

When I make the mistake of letting insecurity get the best of me, I tend to become frozen and end up not doing anything, which only serves to heighten my anxiety. That's where I've been the past few weeks, as I've withdrawn from blogging and stopped working towards my publishing goals.

I realized I was just being foolish and essentially letting my insecurities win, and I found I missed blogging anyway, so I decided to get back to it this week. I'm so glad I did, as just being active again on Monday gave me a new burst of energy and the resolve to stop wallowing and get my butt back in gear.

So at the risk of sounding like a total sap, I just want to say again how grateful I am to be part of this wonderful community. I'm amazed at how much better I felt after catching up on my blog reading and cheering on other writers' successes and milestones.

This was just the thing to shake me out of my doldrums, and I managed to get back to working on my queries with renewed enthusiasm. If you find yourself letting your insecurities get the best of you, I would suggest a trip around the blogosphere as a great way to get those pesky demons back in check. It's an amazing and exciting time to be a writer, and I think this community is proof of that. 

To wrap this up before I get too sappy, I just want to share one of my favorite writing quotes. It's one I think we need to remember whenever our insecurities threaten to get the upper hand.

“you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” ~ Stephen King, On Writing


Monday, June 4, 2012

Music Monday: K-Tel Records

I've been a lazy blogger ever since the end of the April A-Z Challenge but I am hoping to get back on track for the summer by writing about something fun. I've always enjoyed reading other bloggers' posts about music, movies, tv, or other aspects of popular culture, so I thought I would try my hand at writing about some music memories of my own.

While I have absolutely no musical talent and I can't sing to save my life, music has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. I can always be found with my Ipod's earbuds in my ears, and I never drive anywhere without listening to music. So when trying to think of a fun subject to write about, music seemed like an obvious choice.

First up on my musical walk down memory lane is a trip back to 1972, which was the year I turned 4. If you were around in the '70s, you've probably heard of K-Tel records. Their commercials were everywhere on tv, and the albums, with their garish "only in the '70s" covers, were drug store staples.

I'm the youngest of five children and when I was growing up I spent most of my time trying to be just like my siblings. That included listening to the music they liked. While this often led me to great artists that I still love today, that wasn't always the case. It certainly wasn't when it came to my brother's K-Tel Believe in Music record, which featured 22 of 1972's biggest hits and stars. Original hits and original stars, no less.

I loved listening to this record and I was amazed when I found the actual commercial for it while doing a little research for this post. It makes me laugh that the announcer for the commercial yells everything he says. It sounds like he was trying to startle kids into buying the album.

 As soon as I saw the track listing for the album most of the songs came right back, and the funniest one to me is Sweet and Innocent by a very young Donny Osmond, who actually appeared twice on this compilation. Osmond sang about a girl who was too young to know the score so he wanted her to come back when she was older. I have to wonder now just how young this sweet little girl must have been, since Osmond himself sang the song in a falsetto that made it clear he wasn't anywhere close to puberty yet himself.

My favorite song on Believe in Music was Cher's Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. I thought the song was so dramatic, and I loved singing along with Cher.

In spite of my love for the song, I was very confused by it. The lyrics went way over my 4 year old head, particularly this verse:

Picked up a boy just south of Mobile 
Gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal 
I was sixteen, he was twenty-one
Rode with us to Memphis
And papa woulda shot him if he knew what he'd done

I always wondered what the boy did on the way from Mobile to Memphis, and I couldn't figure out why the song was so vague about it all. Not even Cher singing later about being a "gal in trouble" and the song ending with the birth of a baby helped to clear up the mystery for me. By the time I was old enough to understand what the song was about, I'd lost interest in the record and it had taken up permanent residence in a box in my parents' basement.

What about you? Did you love any songs as a child that went completely over your head? If you were around in the 70s, did you have any K-Tel compilations of your own?

I'm sorry I have fallen so far behind on my blog reading, but I'm hoping I can get back on track with that this week as well!