Complaints

I spend hours upon hours on the internet. Checking on writer forums and blogs. I email constantly throughout the day. And still I get through weeks and realize there are places I had wanted to go and people I wanted to visit.

It amazes me how my world has opened up and brought some wonderful friends into my life. I’ve had critique partners, Caron and Angela who have helped me develop my writing, but whom I hardly speak to anymore. I miss them.

Then there are the blogs I used to find time to peruse. Mima, Catherine, and Scorpie. I love those blogs. Enjoy making the connections with the people. I think of them, but rarely squeak out a minute to run over and say hello.

Then of course there’s the Romance Divas forum. The ladies and gents over there are funny and supportive and I could spend all day posting on that forum and “talking” with the writers there. Sometimes the discussions are very intimate and heart wrenching. It’s such a supportive community. And then there’s the Liquid Silver family that I check in with and visit. Wouldn’t want to miss any of the crazy antics happening there.

And there are the people walking around my house who ask every once in awhile that I pull my head out of the internet and pay attention to them. Funny how that works.

I’m a writer. I’m supposed to be writing when I’m at the computer. But all these friends and family call to me. I’m a relationship person. When I meet someone I like to know who they are and what makes them tick. I care. That’s why all this is driving me insane. With this huge circle of people who have come into my life, I don’t have time to find out how everyone is doing. I don’t like it. If I had my druthers … I druther the writing happen on its own and let me spend happy hours surfing around visiting my friends and family and catching up on what’s going on in their lives. Celebrate their accomplishments, share their worries. It’s what I do best. Ask anyone who’s met me. I love to talk! (Stop laughing family.)

Anyway, I’d love to hear how everyone is doing. If you’re a lurker take a minute and drop me a comment and tell me how it’s going in your corner of the world. I’m dying to know what’s happening in you life. 

This week’s thirteen is compliments of Little Boy Blue who works at a local (sorta fast food) restaurant. It’s this cafeteria type place where you order and pay for your food and then it’s delivered to your table and there’s self-service drinks and salad bar.

In the three years he’s been there he’s worked himself up from dishwasher to grill-guy. (It’s a steak restaurant.) Though he often still has to fill in as the salad bar guy or take orders.

Anyway … here are thirteen things that annoy restaurant employees (umm … teenagers).

1. People who break plates or kids who spill soda. Then you have to clean it up with a bucket and mop and it’s just annoying.

2. When customers arrive 5 minutes before closing and order “the all you can eat” special.

3. Ordering steak tips at the end of the night when you’ve already cleaned both the pan and the grill.

4. Getting paid crap to do crap. (Umm … that’s a quote!)

5. Inability for customers to do anything on their own, like asking for a glass when they’re stacked next to the soda machine.

6. Nasty people who are angry at you … even when you’re not doing anything more than breathing in their direction.

7. People who leave money on the table as if they’re going to leave a tip, but then take it with them when they leave.

8. When you’re dumping the trash and the barrel bows and bounces back, pouring rotten food all over you.

9. When other people park in your “employee of the month” space (next to the door) because you work part time in the winter.

10. When you have no idea how to use the cash register, but you’re the only one near it when someone’s ready to cash out and you have to apologize and walk away.

11. When your manager asks you to do complex simple math in your head (like 4 X 343) and you do it because he can’t. (It’s just annoying.)

12. When you’re ready to punch out and they ask you to refill the tarter sauce (or the butter or whatever).

13. Dropping a plate in front of a loud group of older gentlemen who harangue and joke for the next hour while you work the dining area.

noun
* a collection of various literary extracts or any mixture, esp of unrelated objects or subjects.

So that’s what I’m all about today. Playing catchup with what’s going on with me.

Yesterday was the deadline to submit books for consideration in the 2009 Eppie awards. Epic is an organization that supports authors published in electronic format. I’m not a member, but I know they have a very large contest for electronic books published over the last year. Anyway, I plunked down my hard-earned royalties and entered two of my books. (I’m just superstitious enough not mention which ones.) Of course now I have to wait until January on tenterhooks to find if there’re even going to final. I’m crossing fingers, toes, and eyes that one of them finals. But off to the next …

Today, October 1, is the deadline for another publisher that I’d very much like to break into. They are having an open call for submissions. I waited until the 11th hour to finish a story for them. It’s done. It’s at a friend’s computer to be checked for typos and grammar and of course general … “do you think this story sucks wind?” comments from him. When I’m finished blogging I’m off to put the whole thing together and send it through cyberspace. We’ll see how it goes.

This weekend I’m headed to a writer’s convention. It’s pretty kewl. It’s a national conference of the Kiss of Death chapter of RWA that’s being held here in Portland, Maine. Yay! Maine! As a member living so close, how could I not go? There will be some awesome NYT bestselling authors and plenty of workshops and I’m rooming with someone I’ve never met and … well, it promises to be a wonderful time. Hopefully a nice motivator to move me forward.

But (warning, I feel some whining coming on)…

There’s the whole dress thing going on. I know. I know. I’ve been down this road before. But really, stay with me here. Writing is a totally insular activity, done in the privacy of my home. When I’m chatting on the Internet or working on my latest book, who cares what I’m wearing? I can chat with my editor and my publisher and I really don’t care if they’re also hanging out in their pink fuzzy slippers. We can do business even if neither of us has showered for the day. (Ewww …)

Okay, so I’m not heading out to the convention looking like I do when I’m hiding behind my monitor. But do I really have to wear dress pants and heels? Cause no amount of makeup is going to make me into this …

I’m intelligent, funny and easy to talk to. Aren’t I still all those things in comfortable clothes? Yeah, I know… I can hear you from here. It’s all about the image. *sigh* Anyway, that means trying on several outfits to find the one that’s both comfortable and professional and says “I intend to make something of my writing career.” Because you see, there’s another first this weekend.

I’m meeting with an agent. Da Da Da … Da …. (That was scary music if you didn’t hear it.) Yep, my first ever opportunity to pitch to someone who actually could help me advance my career. And just because I like to buck the system, I’m going in a totally different direction with the pitch.

It is generally accepted that an author pitches a project. A story that will interest the agent. But I don’t have a story available at the moment. Everything I have (that’s fit for publishing) has been contracted (or has just been sent out). So … being the person that I am… I’m pitching ME!

I have no doubt that someone before me has done this and I have no doubt that some maverick coming after me will do the same thing. But it’s who I am and how I roll. So I’m giving it a try. Heck, it’s only 10 minutes. It takes me that long to say “hello”. (I was a teacher in my former life. I could keep a room full of people entertained for an hour. 10 minutes? Pshaw, that’s child’s play.) I have no idea how it’s gonna work. At the moment, I’m not nervous about it. I don’t have an agent right now. And if the woman thinks I’m totally insane … I won’t have an agent next week. But it’ll be interesting if I fall flat on my nose or at least pique her curiousity. I’ll let you know next week how I did.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me.

How you doin?

Okay, so I’m feeling a little testy. It’s my own fault which makes me even more short tempered. I need to sit down, strap in, and write.

My head understands this, but my heart just isn’t getting the message.

So why am I here blogging? I haven’t the foggiest idea. Well, I do. It’s something called avoidance. I’d rather turn on the morning news and watch people discuss the GOP convention. (And quite frankly … I don’t usually do politics.) It seems to me the dust has accumulated and perhaps a little tidying up would be in order. But then again, there are those two piles of laundry that need to be wrangled into submission.

See, there is just this whole list of things I could do to wile away the day. And I didn’t see writing a novella on any part of that list. 😀 

Oh, maybe I should just crawl back into bed, pull the covers over my head and pretend the day didn’t start yet. Better yet … pretend it’s not actually September. Because if my calendar is write, er, I mean right (which I suspect it is), then I’m in a whole heap of hot water. But shhhh … don’t tell my writing partners. Because I um … promised them a story in another ten days.

Oh, now that gasp of shock was not what I needed right now. A shoulder to cry on and a good whipping.  Wait, maybe I can use that in my next scene. hmmm….

I want to write.

I wake up in the morning and remind myself that this is my primary goal. When I’m making my sandwich, my current story still not having seen the light of day (despite spending the morning at the computer), I remind myself the afternoon will be spent putting words together to make sentences and create a story. When I get up in the late afternoon because both the dog and Little Boy Blue are looking forlorn and a little malnourished, I tell myself, right after dinner I will open that manuscript and write. Because I still haven’t stopped posting excerpts or working the Internet or whatever else I did for 4 hours that afternoon. But you know full well, when I fall into bed at 10 PM, I still have not accomplished that goal.

Part of it is my inability to structure my day. I’m a little anal … okay, family stop laughing … I’m a lot anal. In college I knew how I would roll through each day (including scheduled naps and play time) and it all worked for me.

Where have I gone wrong?

I know part of it is my own fear. Fear that I’m not going to find a good plot to carry my story. Fear that the cursor will blink incessently and I won’t hit one key and type one word. And when I do begin typing, fear that the words are so awful and run of the mill that I’ll have to scrap them anyway. So I don’t open the manuscript.

Dumb.

But I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I think lots of authors have this feeling. Or that their next story won’t live up to the praise of the others. It’s a weird place to be.

Add to all this … MS. Now, I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me, it’s just a new fact of my life. Where once time really didn’t matter because I could just keep piling on the things and plug away at them until I was finished or exhausted … whichever came first. It seemed I got so much done then.

Ennnnh … (Hear loud gameshow buzzer.)

Now, the very act of showering and dressing wipes me out for half an hour on some days. Now that’s a pain in the @$$! There are some days my fingers don’t really want to type at all and they do this queer spasm thingy. That’s frustrating, I gotta tell you. But it’s something I need to work around and I gotta stop fussing and worrying about it.

Now you’d think, after three years of writing, I’d have figured out some kind of schedule for both my time and my energy. Not so much. And balancing my family in there? Let’s just say I’m glad my kids are grown up and my husband works late hours. Because I haven’t got that whole thing figured out either.

And I shouldn’t even complain. I dare say 90-95% of writers can’t support themselves on book sales alone and they work! Sheesh, I can’t imagine what I’d do if I had to squeeze that in too!

So, I’m just wondering … how do you do it? Writing, parenting, working, elderly parents, children … have you figured out how to balance your life? Please, let me know your secrets!

Yes, it’s true I always have an opinion. I mentioned on more than one occasion that I can’t understand how people can get uptight about how others are dressed.

I had the discussion again at my recent writer’s retreat. Mostly because it was just our chapter and we’re all friends. I know they’re professional writers.  How they choose to hang around at the tables we had set up at the conference is up to them.

But now I need to qualify. *sigh* That’s my way of saying … I’m wrong. Gosh, that hurt!

So I mosey into the bank on Friday. Friday is dress down for hunger. All the employees donate money and they can wear casual clothes. I’m good. I don’t care if they have dress pants and skirts … they can still move my money around very efficiently. (Not that it takes much … there’s not much to move!)

Anyhoo…

Two of the tellers had on faded blue jeans. One of them was younger and had frayed bottoms on her jeans (like many of the young adults have these days) and a wind breaker. I must admit, she looked like she ran in from the garden. Even casual, it didn’t look right in the bank.

The other ladies had on khakis and cargo pants or colored jeans. Casual, but neat. That’s it! The woman in faded blue jeans looked somehow unkempt. Now, if I had seen them at the grocery store after work, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. But I did a double take in the bank.

So now I must qualify. When I say I wear jeans to be comfortable, I always wear colored jeans and a dressier top to writer’s meetings and conferences. Does it make a difference? I have no idea, but obviously to my eye … it did.

So, tell me I’m all wet. Tell me I have a double standard. Tell me you all were right, that clothes do matter and quit nannering about it and just live with that fact!

I just needed to admit I was … well, I already said it once. Twice would kill me.  

Okay, so for those of you who don’t know … I live in the deep woods of northern Maine. It’s beautiful. It’s quiet. It’s remote. It’s still winter! The joke where I live is that we have four seasons: Almost winter, Winter, Still Winter, and the Fourth of July. I didn’t grow up here. In southern Maine where I grew up (5 hours south of here) winter is icky, but not horrible!

For nearly twenty years I’ve lived here and endured. But this winter we broke all snow records. I think in the end we got 16 feet (488 cm) or so. And then to add insult to injury we broke temperature records the first Monday of spring with a record temperature of -14F (-26C)! Aren’t we the lucky ones? So today are thirteen reasons I’m sick of winter!

1. Swim lessons are going to be really chilly.

2. I’m tired of grocery shopping with the dogsled. I’d like to take my van.

3. This is the machine that caused sooo many problems over the last few months. It’s time to put it away and keep me safe!

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4.  I’d like to have running water again!

5. The poor kids are climbing the walls. (Little boy blue is 6′ 5″ … this will give you an idea of how much snow is on my front lawn … do you feel bad for me yet?)

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6. I can’t remember what the paint looks like on my walls:

7. My aquarium needs to thaw.

8. I’d like to drive on tar again.

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9. Because this is so wrong:

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10.  I want to see my front lawn again.

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11. Let’s face it … I’m just tired of seeing white. A little green and some colorful flowers would be welcome!

12. Because even the birds are tired of the winter.

13. I think my neighbor said it best…

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Okay, so obviously all these pictures didn’t come from my yard. (Though the bulk of them are the actual snow sitting in my yard.) But you get the idea. Pray for me … snow and rain are expected to come in this weekend.

AAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Okay, but I won’t be here. I’m heading south to Boston for the weekend where I hear rumors of green grass and budding trees. Oh, one can only hope!

So I woke up this morning with my feet hitting the ground and my muscles already working my legs in a dead run. *sigh* It’s one of those weeks in my life that I’d just like to wish away and that’s just an awful thing to say. But, come on … it’s happened to you too. 

Baby girl celebrates her 19th birthday this weekend which means shopping and wrapping gifts and dinner out (around work schedules) and cake and ice cream. Which would probably be all right if I had a clue what to get her for her birthday. Shopping today … party tomorrow.

I’ve also been invited to a last minute bridal shower. My opportunities to socialize are few and far between and though this will be fun, it also is happening today. I still can’t decide if I’m going to go. That will be a last minute decision!

DH leaves Monday for a rare trip away for a work related convention. (Rare as in … he’s done this maybe one other time.) He’s going to Long Beach, California where I’ve never been and I’m a tad jealous. That aside, this means making sure he has all the work clothes cleaned and the shampoo and toothpaste and that kind of stuff we share. Plus there’s the whole traveler check/cash/banking kind of stuff that needs to be done.

In the middle of all this we need to get the week’s groceries gathered since I can’t do it by myself and I need to shop for comfortable outfits for myself for my own trip away. Because at the end of next week I’m headed off to my very first writing conference. It’s 7 hours of driving from my home … 5 of which I have to do by myself (booorring!) before hooking up with other writers for the tail end of the trip. 

At the same time Little Boy Blue is getting ready for a five day trip to New York with the high school band. So there’s the whole getting him ready this week as well. And I won’t be here to put him on the bus at 5 am and DH will still be in California, so Baby Girl has to get him there which makes me feel guilty beyond belief.

This week I came really close to cancelling out of the writer’s conference. I’ve never been and so I don’t know what I’d be missing. But I do feel the need to do some schmoozing with editors, agents, and other writers, so I stopped thinking of that as a possibility.

Anyway, all this is just overwhelming me. If only any one or several of these things wasn’t happening at the same time. There’s was a time when this stuff happened and I just took it in stride. But with the MS it is just about driving me over the edge of insanity! Shopping kills me. I’m good for about 40 minutes and then I schlepp back to the car. And it takes at least an hour or two to recover and be able to walk again. Urr! It’s all so darn frustrating.

Now, don’t misunderstand … I am married to an amazing man who is totally wonderful about my disability. Normally, he does the grocery shopping, but the birthday stuff … well, I’m a mom … I want to do that. And he certainly can’t buy clothes for me! LOL!

I feel like it’s finals week in college and the papers are due and the test schedule is stressing me out. But there’s no way around this week. I’m not going to wish it away because life is too short to do that.

I’m pulling myself up by the proverbial bootstraps and putting one foot in front of the other. (Hear the trumpets sounding!) Charge!

Okay, so I feel it coming on … a rant. You’ve been warned so read on if you dare.

Last week Amazon decided to stop carrying books by Print on Demand (POD) suppliers (which in turn affects most ebook publishers who go to print). Why? Well, I’m not sure. Something about they’ll only carry books printed by their business. Okay, I might have this wrong, but it’s something like that. I don’t know the facts because I haven’t been running all over the internet trying to understand exactly what they’re doing or not doing anymore and why they are or are not doing it. I know … you think I’m going to rant about it.

Well I’m not.

Is it a travesty? You betcha! But so is the fact that oil/gas prices keep climbing and corporate mucky-mucks get richer while I sit in northern Maine freezing my butt off because I can’t afford to keep my house any warmer than 65F. And the high cost of diesel is forcing the price of groceries up because companies have to pay so much to ship them to the frozen tundra where I live.

Medical care is out of control. Prices are going up even as insurance coverage is going down.

And it’s all pissing me off and I’m tired. So, please stop asking me to care about what Amazon is doing. Because as terrible as it sounds … I don’t.

Let’s face it … I have neither the time nor the energy to sit down and write to Amazon, Mobil, or Blue Cross and Blue Shield. I could ask you all to boycott Amazon and stop buying books there. But there are enough people who will continue to buy that I’m not sure Amazon will even see a dent in their second quarter profits. I could choose not to buy gas and walk, which I can’t physically do or ride public transportation, which we don’t have or I could simply park my car and drive it when only absolutely necessary … oh, I do that already. I could stop going to the doctor until my insurance company bellies-up to the bar … oh, wait, I already do that too.

So what’s my point?

I know one voice added to a collective can make a difference. But if corporate greed abounds and pockets are deep enough to weather a public storm of discourse then change isn’t going to happen no matter how many people stamp their feet and throw temper tantrums.

Hey, I’m not saying “don’t try”. I’m simply saying that I have enough stuff going on in my personal life that I don’t need to jump on the bandwagon. The economy bites. Prices of everything keep going up and home values keep going down. My car is worth less than I owe since nothing is holding its value these days. And this trend doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. I’m too busy counting pennies for milk (which in Maine costs more than a gallon of gas) to worry about whether or not my friend’s book is available through Amazon. Harsh, but true.

I’m choosing to spend my limited physical resources trying to take care of my family and balance the family budget. I don’t have the energy to go on a letter writing campaign. Because I’ve done that before and nothing changed. The fact is POD and epublishing aren’t at the point of the big publishing houses in New York. Which is good. Without the constraints of high cost of printing, they don’t need to worry about quick turn around to keep their companies running. Wonderful, unique, and high quality writing is now available through these mediums that probably would never have been accessible to the public. People can find all genres, fiction and non-fiction, on subjects that may never have seen the light of day if not for POD and epublishing companies. Unfortunately, POD means people who want to pay to have their unedited, unpolished manuscripts printed could end up listing some pretty crappy books at Amazon. It’s a fact. So maybe that was the impetus behind their decision. I have no idea. Unfortunately it lumped some awesome epublishers who put out a great product along with them.

But here it is in a nutshell … Amazon no longer carrying high quality ebook to print companies on their site doesn’t change the fact that there’s some damn good writing out there that’s not with the “big boys”. It just makes it harder for people to find authors they may enjoy that will no longer be found by a simple search on Amazon. That’s a bummer, but not life threatening.

So have at your letter writing campaigns and boycotts, just don’t expect me to join in the fight. As apathetic as it sounds, I’m focusing my attention on my writing and my family.

 I’m just saying…

Okay, get your head of the gutter. The mounds I’m talking about are paper… tons of it. Okay, so maybe not that much, but A LOT!

It’s everywhere in my house and all of a sudden it seems to have taken over. It’s stacked unceremoniously on the kitchen counter and the dining room table. (You mean I’m supposed to eat at that table?) Anyway, I got so tired of it because I wasn’t dealing with it… so I moved the bulk of it in here to my office (but still didn’t clear off said table) on the coffee table. It’s sorted in piles to a certain extent, but now it’s taken over that horizontal surface.

Now it’s staring at me. Taunting me to deal with it.

Where did it all come from? Most of it is mail, but some of the stacks include receipts for small items that I’ve learned over the years I need to save. (I actually have the monthly debit receipts in an envelope… yay, small victory.) And I keep plugging away at it, but it never seems to completely disappear. I file and recycle and shred and still… there are stacks.

*sigh*

I know I’m not the only one… the other morning on a news program while I sipped my coffee I dutifully listened to an organizational guru talk about how to deal with the baskets and piles of papers the anchor had stacked around her house. It seems this is an epidemic!

In a day and age when we should be concerned about our forests it seems the amount of junk mail and unnecessary paper waste is incredible. What happened to going electronic to save trees?

Oh yeah, they did that too… they call it spam.

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