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Monday, December 23, 2013

My hair got stuck in a sticky fly trap and other mishaps

Holidays can be stressful. Never fear, I've got a story to make you laugh.

There are many ways to make a great first impression. For example, look people in the eye when you speak to them and stand up straight. This week, I made the WORST first impression of my life. This is saying something because you know me, if anything can go wrong, it will. 

Lemme give you the details, I had an interview for my masters program as I graduate with my bachelor's next spring. The minute I walked in the door, I tripped over the rug. There was nothing graceful about my fall. It was one of those falls where you face plant. 

After making a remarkable entrance, I decided to whip out my hand sanitizer. Usually I can handle this task with zero issues but today I was so nervous, I squeezed the bottle and it erupted like the Old Faithful geyser at Yellowstone. Even crazier, it went in my eye. Lemme tell you, hand sanitizer in your eye is horrid. At this time, I have a rug burn on my forehead from the fall and I'm squinting like a pirate due to the sanitizer.

The lady who interviewed me was so kind, I think she was mesmerized by all my mishaps. We carried on with the interview. I had no idea what I said to her questions.  I was trying to survive. Plus, I was entranced by this massive sticky fly trap near the door. This trap had hundreds of dried flies. Looking back, I should have known to stay away from the fly trap. Oh no, I was nervous and me and nervousness are not a great combination. Upon standing up to exit the building, my hair got caught in her massive sticky fly trap. 


All I could do at this point was laugh hard. The dear lady followed suit. She laughed so hard her lungs started to burn and she coughed.  Don't you just hate those days where everything goes wrong?


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I have missed you all

I have been M.I.A and I am so sorry. I have been stuck in British Literature hell. This class was WAY intense, I thought Shakespeare was hard but lemme tell you, Old English is even worse. Chaucer and the dude who wrote Beowulf are all I have read for 4 months and I am so done.

Now, I am glad to be back writing this blog.  I am going to be mixing things up in the New Year.

I hope everything is well with you, my friends. You have been missed.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Embarrassing moment alert

Today I announced to some friends that I have nothing to blog about, so I'll go dark this week.

Apparently, I wrong.

I had forgotten that just last week a goat had pissed on my black booties. This is horror enough but then I was reminded of all my other nasty moments within the last few days. I'm going to make a list and maybe, just maybe you will feel incredible about your life after reading this said list.

Horridly embarrassing moments in the life of Russo

1.  The goat pissed on my new booties.

2. A donkey kicked me in the shins.

3. The girl who waxed my eyebrows went to town on my flesh. I have a horrid rash on my eyebrows.

4. I got lost in a corn maze. This is nothing huge but while getting lost, a bird crapped on my head.

5. While getting off of the public transportation, I totally tripped.

6. I fell down a tiny hill that I was climbing to see the sun rise.

7. I repeatedly bonked my head on my neighbors potted plant.

8. While walking down the stairs I bonked my head.

9. I slipped into a pile of dog crap while playing in a pile of leaves with my niece.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Recharge your batteries

We all have busy lives. We are chasing dreams and living life to the fullest. Today I realized that sometimes we have to slow things down and take time for ourselves.

Instead of going ninety miles an hour, do something that recharges you. Whether that be watching a movie, listening to music or going for a walk. Take the time to give back to yourself, my friends. You deserve it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Congrats Mr. Caleb Warnock

My writing teacher and friend had published another fine read. Mr. Caleb Warnock wrote a book entitled,
Backyard Winter Gardening: Vegetables Fresh and Simple, in Any Climate Without Artificial Heat or Electricity the Way It's Been Done for 2,000 Years.

The thing that works so perfectly with Caleb's books is that they are easy to understand. I know nothing about winter gardening but with his instructions I wanted to tackle this task. Here is the link for the book.http://www.amazon.com/Backyard-Winter-Gardening-Vegetables-Electricity/dp/1462110940/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378858941&sr=1-1&keywords=caleb+warnock

Mr. Warnock has a bunch of other books available. One of them is written with another writing friend, Melissa Richardson and it is called, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast: Breads, Pancakes, Waffles, Cinnamon Rolls and Muffins.


I've been looking at the Backyard Winter Gardening while recovering from my surgery. I am way excited to get this book signed. Congrats Mr. Warnock. I am rooting you on the way.

*If you are into poetry, Mr. Warnock has a fabulous poetry challenge on his blog. Here is the link.http://calebwarnock.blogspot.com/2013/09/poetry-challenge-2013-useful-question.html

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Robin J. Edmundson's recipe book and Jacob Dunn's Shadowhero series

Fall is the perfect time to start baking. Okay, I will not be baking because I nearly burn down the kitchen every time I try but here something that you might find interesting.  One of our friends has published a recipe book called A Simple Jar of Jam: 180+ recipes & variations for jam using low sugar pectin. 

Robin J. Edmundson, from the blog at www.rurification.com, always has interesting things that she creates. I am so excited to read this recipe bookhttp://www.etsy.com/listing/152284911/cookbook-a-simple-jar-of-jam


Also, another writer that I have mad respect for has published a great read. Jacob Dunn writes novels that always make me think. His Shadowhero series is one that I couldn't get enough of and I had to share it with y'all. http://www.amazon.com/Shadowhero-Parts-I-III-ebook/dp/B00E8HYGB0/

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Facing the unknown in life

We all have lessons to learn in life; mine is that I am not in control. Right now, I am still in the throes of healing from a surgery. For some reason, my body just doesn't want to heal. I've faced 2 infections, fluid accumulation and just over all pain.

Maybe you have been in a similar situation where you have no control over the outcome. It's scary, difficult and kind of thrilling. We learn the most when we are in these types of situations. May we all have the chance to face the unknown and learn from it.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Janiel's take on the Royal baby

Our very own Janiel wrote a hysterical post on the royal baby. I had to share this link because personally I am all for naming the royal baby, "Prince George Michael Gandalf Elton Hagrid Downton Posh Doctor-Who Cumberbatch," just as Janiel suggested.

 http://www.janielmiller.com/2013/07/righteously-judging-the-royals.html

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Setbacks and surgery

It has not even been 2 months since I had my surgery and today I go back under the knife. The doctor is worried about infection. Complications and setbacks are a part of life. They teach us to be stronger and they show us our strength. For me, this summer has been full of lessons, hard devastating lessons. This summer has also been beautiful. My family, my fave gnome girls and friends like you have gotten me through this trying time.

Thank you for being there for me, I'm grateful for you!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I tripped trying to get to the ice cream truck

A week before my surgery I decided to throw caution to the wind-I would do whatever my heart contented (as long as it was legal, of course.)  Not but 2 minutes after I made this decision the ice cream truck rolled by my condo.

Let's just say, I got a little too excited. I barreled down the stairs and flew out the door. I moved faster than all the children. I was moving so fast that I totally forgot that me and pavement don't mix well together.

Yep, I got skinned knee and gravel in my hair but it was totally worth it. Live in the moment, my friends. It's a total rush.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pain produces change

Right now I am in the midst of a life changing experience. I just had surgery, nothing life threatening but man, it's good to not live in serious pain anymore. It's been a week and half of healing. I've learned to lean on people because there are times that we are not strong. We have to accept help.

You know, it's funny, all the while, I keep thinking that sometimes pain can be a good thing. Pain produces change. It is in our nature to resist change. Maybe we need to run right toward change.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thank you for being incredible

At this moment, I am grateful for all of you. I get to share my deep thoughts with people who have become friends to me. Thank you for listening and thank you for caring.

The past 5 months have been all about learning to slow down and rest. This lesson hasn't always been easy because I want to go, go, go. They say there is a season for everything and sometimes the season is to slow things down. Take a moment to appreciate the flowers, the hot almost summer air and the beauty of living. I'm a lucky girl, it's a beautiful life.

.

Friday, May 17, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALERT!

By the by . . . 

IT WAS TOTALLY RUSSO'S BIRTHDAY TODAY! YAY! I JUST GOT HOME OR THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN UP MUCH MUCH EARLIER!  BUT THERE'S NOTHING FROM STOPPING ALL Y'ALL FROM WISHING HER A HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALL WEEKEND LONG, YEAH?!!

Happy Birthday to one of the coolest, funkiest, stylin'est, big-hearted-est chicks we know.

Hearts!

Janiel and Maegan

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Embarrassing moment alert

This weekend I made a fool of myself at a poker tournament with the guys. Have ya'll ever tried to focus on a task while a fly is buzzing around you? For some reason the task becomes impossible to accomplish. Usually, I let the fly buzz around with no problem but this day was different. I was on a roll with poker.

Instead of letting the fly buzz around, I decided to take that the bug out. Nothing was going to ruin my focus. I gripped the fly swatter and waited for him to land on a surface. Too bad my brain was hyped up on adrenaline because the minute the fly landed on the light bulb, I swung.

Yep, I forgot that the surface was a light bulb. Needless to say, you can imagine everyone's surprise when they heard the sound of breaking glass. I took that fly out as well as the light bulb.

I should have been focusing on my game but instead I let that fly get on my nerves. As a result, I got ribbed the whole entire night about the light bulb. Yep. lesson learned; do not focus on the small stuff.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What is luck?

Today is a reminder that life is short. You have to live every moment like it's your last. It's sounds cliche but it's true.

Today a friend lost her life. She went in for surgery and didn't wake up. She's young, not but 3 years older than me. All the while I sit here and think how lucky we all are to be alive.

We are lucky to see the sunset and feel the chill of night. We often think of luck in terms of money or status but luck doesn't work that way. Today is a day to hug your loved ones. We are all lucky, more so than we believe.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Stop, Drop, and Listen

My littlest offspring says hilarious things. And I'm so used to it that most of the time it blows right past me. But lately, I've been stopping to listen more--like, dropping whatever I'm focusing on/worried about/trying to figure out/frustrated over/confused with, and just listening to the things coming out of my boy's head. And I will tell you, it's been a learning experience. 

Because I've always known this child was smart. And non-linear in the extreme. But I didn't really  see the gentle brilliance with which his mind works until I started to really listen to him. So, when my middle daughter was trying to tell him something and accidentally misspoke, his response was quick and clever, and I learned that he makes rapid-fire connections in a way that I think most 11 year-old boys don't. i.e.:

DaughterChild: Look at those mountains. Do you know why the rocks are all sideways like that?
Little Dude: Nope.
DaughterChild: It's because there was an earthcake---
Little Dude: Also known as a mud-pie---

Seriously? Whip-crack fast association going on there. That takes an interesting mind.

And then there was this the other day:

Dad: So. What did you kids learn in church today? (because we do that whole religion-thing at our house.)
Kids: There was that story about the girl who never gave up even though her life was hard. Like she was always cheerful. Yeah, and I loved when he talked about starting that fire when he was a kid, and his facial expressions were hilarious. Yeah, where he talked about obedience. And--
Little Dude: Chuck Norris can light fires with his farts.

Hahahaha! Kid knows his timing. He's always been like that.

My point--besides that my boy is a total bustup--is that I don't normally register this stuff from him unless I drop everything and just focus. Listen to him. Notice him. Think about him. And when I do the rest of the world gets quiet, and what he says and means and how his little heart feels are suddenly all-capped front and center of my attention. I see his little soul shining.

Which means: if we did this with everything in life, if we just stopped and let go of future worries, past worries, stress of the moment, schedules, plans, irritants, whatever---imagine what we'd hear from the world around us. What we'd notice. What we'd learn. And how much more peaceful it would all be. I think we'd see more of the good in our lives.

Just a thought. 
One I'm going to focus on now.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Day of Fools

I had grand plans of writing a clever, humorous, brilliant post full of irony and snappy lines in honor of this day.

But that didn't happen. So I'm posting these clips instead. They sure make me laugh. I hope they do the same for you. Happy Day of April Fools!




Monday, March 25, 2013

Momentum & congrats to Mr. Caleb Warnock

While chasing our dream we have to remember on simple rule- never underestimate the power of momentum. No matter where you are in the journey of pursuing your dream you need to trust in yourself.

You may be down for the count or ridiculously tired of the rejection but none of that matters in the end. Momentum has a way of propelling you to greatness. One moment you could be ready to quit your dream and the next you could be on the cusp of everything you ever wanted. 

You just have to keep going, keep fighting. Sooner or later, momentum will find you. 

PS-Major congrats to Mr. Caleb Warnock for signing a contract for six new books. This man has been our writing mentor (L.G.L.I for short) and dear friend. We're so happy for you!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Embarrassing moment alert


This Saturday I walked around a grocery store with apricot facial scrub all over my hair. Let me give you the dirt. Have you ever had one of those nights were you just can't sleep? You try warm milk, deep breathing and sleep aids but nothing works. Well, that would be my weekend. Apparently, I was so sleep deprived that I washed my hair with my gritty facial scrub. 

I walked around everywhere with my mother. I helped her shop, get her hair dyed and ate frozen yogurt. It wasn't until the end of the day that she noticed mid bite of yogurt that I had the scrub in my hair. I looked like I slept the night on the beach. Yeah, it was that bad. 

My friends, long days are gonna find us while we chase our dream. There are gonna be embarrassing moments as a result. I say, embrace the crazy times.  





Tuesday, March 12, 2013

American Idiom



A little while ago my youngest son was doing something for which he needed to be very well behaved. He wasn't. So naturally as his mother I corrected him the first moment I could. Informed him that he needed to behave better than that in public. Suddenly his eyes welled-up and he looked at me and said, "Mom! You're making me feel like  a Canadian Idiot!" *

Er . . . huh? Okay, that wasn't my first response. My first response was "Hahahahahahahah!" My second was, "Er . . . huh?"

Turns out there's a song called "American Idiot" which has been spoofed by Weird Al, and the spoof is entitled "Canadian idiot." No idea where my Little Dude would have heard this. But how interesting that he picked up on it.

The other day I was in the car with him, his friend, and my husband. I mentioned in passing that one of my other children was acting "all pooped-out." Now, I think this is a pretty common expression. But the gales of giggles that immediately burst from the boys, and the baleful look my husband gave me, indicated otherwise.

Oh come on. Really? He hadn't heard of feeling "pooped?" It just means "tired." And . . . um . . . okay. If you think of it literally, it is kind of . . .  Well I was shocked. Never in my life had I thought of being pooped-out in that way. But my husband did. Swore that no one in their right mind said "pooped" for "tired." (Of course, we won't bring up the fact that in the middle of all the little-boy-laughter my son sucked in enough air to tell his friend that "pooped" meant "tired." And he said it without any prompting from me. So maybe the huz just isn't as cultured as the rest of us. I mean, if an eight year-old gets it . . . )

This made me wonder about other expressions and how they came to mean what they do. We'll probably never know how "all pooped out" became "really really tired" instead of "really really cleansed." But wouldn't it be interesting to find out?

Here are a few more idiomatic expressions. Maybe you can figure out where they came from and let me know:

Playing by ear  (as opposed to playing by rear. or some other body part.)
Pull your chain  (old fashioned toilets had chains. is this what people mean when they say "I'm flush with pride" or "I'm feeling flush today"?)
Put your foot in your mouth  (yeah, I'd like to see you do that)
Bad blood between them  (if there's any blood between them, it can't be good)
Beat the rap  (there are some raps I'd like to beat with a stick)
Blow your stack  (how else do you cool your pancakes off?)
Salt of the earth  (why not basil of the earth? or cinnamon? i love cinnamon.)
Say Uncle  (like this isn't sexist. say Aunt! say Aunt!)
Take guts  (i'd rather take pictures)
Tongue in cheek  (mmmm. i don't get this one at all. you can't talk with your tongue in your cheek)
Double Whammy  (isn't the Whammy some sort of super absorbent cloth? why would I want two of them?)
Dutch treat  (dude. If the Dutch are treating, I'm there.)
Laughing stock  (is this anything like Woodstock? because I'd rather go to Laughingstock any day. sixties music's got nothing on funny people.)
Zip it  (okay fine. guess you've had enough of me being an idiom.)

*No Canadians Were Harmed In The Creation Of This Post. The Author Has Nothing Against Canadians, Has Visited Their Lovely Country Many Times, And Wouldn't Mind Hanging Out In Victoria Again As Soon As Possible. If You Wish To Take Issue With "Canadian Idiot," Please Contact Weird Al Yankovic. In Fact, I May Do It, Because I Think He Has Warped My Child.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Daring Greatly

This isn't meant to be a book review so much as a recommendation. Brene Brown, Ph.D is a researcher who specializes in shame, vulnerability, courage, and worthiness. I know what you're probably thinking, because I thought it too: "People actually study shame?" Apparently they do. And it's a good thing, because I just finished reading her book, Daring Greatly. Twice.

The book's title comes from a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs; who comes short again and again . . .
Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
Of course, the arena Roosevelt talks about is different for everyone. For a writer, it can be showing your work to a group of strangers, or even a group of friends, for the first time.  Sometimes we come out of a critique session with our faces marred by dust, sweat, and blood. But what matters is that we show up.

Since I got the book as an audio download from the library, I don't have a copy to refer to. So I'll share some of my personal takeaways. Someone else's impressions might be totally different.

What stood out for me the most is Dr. Brown's definition of guilt versus shame. Guilt says, "I did something bad." Shame says "I am bad." Therefore, Guilt = productive, motivating, something we can learn from. Shame = counterproductive, paralyzing, takes away our will to try again. The trick is being able to separate the two. Feeling guilty is okay. Allowing the guilt to turn into overwhelming shame is dangerous. Until now, it had never occurred to me that guilt and shame were two different things!

She also specifically referred to the trouble some artists (writers!) have with tying their self-worth to their work. I know I've done this. I can't pinpoint when or why it started, but I've grown up with a notion that as long as I did everything perfectly, I would never have to deal with the pain of criticism. Psh. You can guess how that worked out for me. Now I think that some of the discouragement I've felt when people have (constructively) criticized my writing was actually needless shame. "My work isn't that great, so I must not be that great, either."

Crazytown, no?

Right now, my arena is my very first screenwriting class. Most of my classmates have more experience at this than I do. Some of them are very talented. Yeah, I'm intimidated. But that's okay. I don't have to be perfect anymore. What matters is that I show up and let myself be seen. I've decided that 2013 is going to be my year of Daring Greatly. After all, isn't that just another way to say Challenging the Gnome? Bring on the dust and sweat and blood!

What's your arena? I'd love to hear about it so I can cheer you on!

You can read more about Daring Greatly at Dr. Brown's website HERE

I also recommend her two TED talks, The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Death and friendship

There are some people that come into your world and you will never be the same again. I'm not one to hold back my feelings. I'll be honest and say, this week has been an emotional rollercoaster. On Monday night I found out that someone very dear to me passed away. I don't know about you but grief is exhausting.

As I lay on my round velvet bed, thinking of Mr. R I got a text from both of my gnomies. Their kind words comforted me during a hard time. My friends, there will be certain things that we go through in life that seem insurmountable but we can't ever forget one truth; we are not alone. In our darkest moments, those dearest to you will buoy you up.


Friday, February 15, 2013

My Prescient Kid and the Russian Meteorite. Plus Other Stuff.

Dudes! My kid kind of blew my socks off with his evaluation of the Russian Meteorite this morning. Not that he's a genius, but of course he is. I mean, the little dude could be totally right. So I'm going to link you up with the post on my other blog that talks about it. Right here. You should read it. It could save your life.

On another note: I spent last night not sleeping and instead watching Big Bang Theory bloopers--which was really awesome for my adrenal fatigue. But I tell you, it made me want to be on that show. You get the sense that these people LOVE working together. Look at how easily they laugh! Look at how they give each other knowing looks, as if they grew up together. I love that!


Maybe the Gnomies can guest star and get a piece of that action. You can come if you want. Or just watch from there.

Have a sweet weekend!
Laters! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Tale of Luv for Valentine's Day


"Marry me," he said as they walked one day along the river. She had sunlight like fireflies in her hair, and cheeks as pink as autumn apples. She stopped and stared, periwinkle eyes slowling blinking. And he waited, breathless, until she made him happier than he'd ever been. He clasped her to him and thought how his life was now perfect.

"It's time," she said, as her swollen belly shifted with the pain of a new life trying to enter the world. He thrilled and feared as he watched his love toiling, held her hand as she struggled, and stroked her head as she wept into arms filled with their son.

"I am at peace," he thought, as his wife worked heavenly scented magic in the kitchen and the children romped at his feet in the perfectly scoured little house. "It cannot get better than this."

And then one day after they had been married for so long he could count the years of joy and tears in the crinkles around her eyes, he stood behind her where she washed dishes at the sink, regarded her, wrapped his arms around her, and murmured into her hair: "You should rethink the leggings. It's like watching Rat-Terriers wrestle when you walk."

She hit him with the panini press.

*sigh* I know. It makes me cry too.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Does This Blog Background Make Us Look Fat?

....because seriously, I worry about that sometimes. I mean, it's so busy and stuff. And we change it all the time. And now we're trying this new posting schedule where we each take a whole week to write whatever we have time to write (because life gets busy, you know? -- what with Russo getting her degree, and Maegan learning to be a screen writer, and me writing for the local paper. Plus now they are considering having me Vlog. Except I'm not sure what to Vlog about. And I kind of doubt Caytelynne's PruView's are what they are looking for.) AND, sometimes we get together and eat cake from The Chocolate. So I'm concerned that, taken all together, we look fat. At least literarily.

But the thing is, we're each testing the waters of What Works And What We Can Contribute To The World. And it's still evolving. It's interesting to me how some people can throw something out there and, WHAM! It settles into exactly what they need it to be. Like my friend Robin of Rurification fame. Or April of Flour Water Yeast & Salt. Us Gnomies? We're still getting there--at least in terms of The World.

Well, just to show you that I still have faith in everyone, and that I'm totally not worried about anyone looking fat, I am going to include a favorite recipe of mine right here on this blog. Ready? (This is actually a recipe from our dearest of darling friends, Loraine Scott, authoress of the Summer Winter Murder Mystery Series. Which is highly appropriate since these cookies will kill you all the way dead from their chocolateness. Seriously. Wicked.)


Baker’s Death By Chocolate Cookies

2 pkg. (16 squares) Baker’s Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate, divided
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup flour
¼ tsp baking powder
2 cups chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coarsely chop 8 squares (1 pkg.) of the chocolate; set aside. Microwave remaining 8 squares chocolate in large microwavable bowl on high 1-2 minutes. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in flour and baking powder. Stir in reserved chopped chocolate and nuts. Drop by ¼ cupfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and feel set to the touch. Cool on sheets 1 minute. Cool on wire racks. Makes 1 ½ dozen cookies.

 Now, run along and have a nice, healthy, organized, successful day. And enjoy this blog background because it will likely change soon.  I'll be back sometime this week because I can't shut up.

Later, 'maters! Hearts!

(And hey, if you're interested in reading more thoughts, check out today's post on my other blog: The Movie Police. Literally.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy King Frost Day/The Gnomes are Everywhere!

Today, I feel obligated to warn our readers in Oakland, California (in case there are any). Stay inside your homes! Hide your children and your pets! The Gnomes are coming!

Actually, they're already there. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 2000 gnomes have popped up all over the city. Don't be fooled by their pernicious cuteness (because they are pretty darn cute). That's all part of the Oakland Gnomes' plan. Today it's just Oakland, but tomorrow, it's the world!

In other news, Prehistoric Shamanism is a neat little blog I've been following for awhile. Every post manages to satisfy both my inner history and mythology nerds at once. The author, Mike Williams, is an archaeologist and a practicing shaman. He also lives in Wales, which always earns bonus points in my book. Thanks to Prehistoric Shamanism, I learned that today is King Frost Day, when the citizens of London used to celebrate winter by holding a "frost fair" out on the ice of the frozen River Thames. Who knew?

So, Happy King Frost Day, everybody! And if you live in Oakland, watch out for those Gnomes!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monique Bucheger, Middle Grade author

Want a chance to win an Amazon gift card or a free set of books? Check out the blog of Monique Bucheger. She's a great author and friend.  moniquebucheger.blogspot.com

*The giveaway ends On February 1st. * Monique is an author who knows how to work hard. It's been incredible to watch her journey in the literary world.  She's not the kind to let success go to her head. She's helped many people along the way. And many a times she's helped me figure out what to do with my own writing. 

At the moment, Monique's running a blog tour to promote her books. Her most current one, Simply West of Heaven is something that my little niece adored. She wants horses so she can be like Ginnie West. My niece is anxious for Monique to return to Utah so she can meet her fave author. (I don't blame her, I wanna see Monique too.)

Major congrats, Monique. We're rooting you on all the way.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Attention-Seeking-Missile

See the dude on the right? He has more bla bla bla's than the dude on the left. I can totally relate to that.

I have recently realized that I am an attention-seeking-missile when I write. Or okay, all the time, writing or not. I laugh and joke loudly, sometimes verging on obnoxiously. I can't resist inserting that perfect little zinger when someone else is talking (hopefully when they've paused for breath, not in the medias res of a sentence.) I make faces when I tell stories, and I can't imagine telling one without appropriately placed accents. I love drawing out a tale to the last possible second before dropping the bomb, or twist, or punchline, and watching people's faces morph from curious waiting/slow connecting, to the nearly audible click of understanding and the involuntary guffawing that follows. I. Heart. That.

Does that make me bad? I used to think so. Did NOT like how much I talked. Worried about my hyper brain making all these whackadoo connections that I was so dying to share with someone. Stressed that I cannot tell a tale without waving my arms about and tourettes-ing my face and voice beyond all recognition.

So I worked on it. Tried to pull back. Felt like I made progress. And then I started writing.

Ack. ACK. I can't write normal. I can't not be a spaz when I write. AND I can't not care if someone isn't reading it. Especially that. I care a lot if someone is reading. And enjoying. And possibly even commenting.

Oh. My. Gosh. It's clinical. I'M A WRITING NARCISSIST! I mean, pure writers don't do that, right? My Gnomies don't do that. Seriously. These two chickiewickies write for the pure joy of writing. They don't die if no one reads or comments. They don't feel all sad inside.  They just want to improve their craft. They're freaking healthy. I want to smack them.

Well, I was on the verge of checking myself into an Audienc-aholic Detox center, when my sister-in-law came over and had a chat with me. She asked how I feel when I don't get audience feedback. Is it important to me? Do I feel all woebegone if I don't know that people (or even person) are reading my words and maybe getting something out of them? Or am I happy to write just to be writing. 

Pretty sure you know the resounding answer to that.

"Well," she said, in a rough summation of what she actually said, because it was a few days ago and I can't really remember correctly because I've been super busy and have Hashimoto's and adrenal fatigue and isn't that a handy excuse? "Well then. You're a performer who writes. Not a writer who writes. You love audiences. You love the connection and the bonding you get with your audience. You love to know you've made them laugh and smile and think and feel better. When you write you want that too. It's just a different writing personality, that's all."

Oh.

OH!

So I'm not mentally and morally deficient? I'm not self-absorbed? (Well, not completely.) I'm not obnoxious? OKAY, OKAY, LETS NOT PUSH IT A'IGHT?

You know, sometimes, even though you can't really do anything to change a thing, it really helps to know what that thing is. Makes  it easier to deal with. You know, like that old saying: "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't." Or something like that.

So, dearest darlings. Know that I write because I love you. And I want to bring joy to you. Laced with spazziness. And I'll try not to weep if no one reads it. And I'll rejoice if even one person does, and hope that it made their life a little brighter. And I'll embrace that part of me. While totally recommending -- from this new and wondrous place of wisdom in which I now reside -- that you do the same thing with your own self. Figure out why you do things, and embrace it rather than reject it. Leverage it for good and happiness for yourself and others. Figure out how it brings joy and be cool with that. Not saying we can't change, but we can change from a place of positiveness. And maybe who we are is great enough, and it doesn't need to change at all. Just be accepted.

Right. That's my nugget for today. I'll try to chat at you again sometime this week, since it's my week and I'm the boss of it.

Have a great one, my friends!


(all artwork by hikingartist.com - allowed for public use)

Monday, January 14, 2013

A fave Author and believe in your self


I've been in a serious reading mood lately and my fave author's right now is Candace Gleave. She has a way with writing fresh and real characters. Plus, she always chooses stunning scenery to mesh with her books. In her latest short story, Scarecrows: The Jilted Bride, she combined weddings and freaky scarecrows to make for a freaky ambience.

All her books make for a good read.
Here's a link if you are curious. http://www.amazon.com/Screams-Night-Terror-Prose-Design/dp/1479190497/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1357605916&sr=8-7&keywords=screams+in+the+night


The New Year has brought many surprises. My little brother gave me a card that read: I will always believe in you. One little sentence struck such a nerve with me. I needed to hear his words. We all have a dream that we are pursuing. We give our heart and energy toward this one goal. We need people to believe in us but we also have to believe in ourselves.

Maybe you want to be a writer, artist or whatever just know that your dream is not out of reach.

You can be whatever it is you want to be but you have to believe in yourself.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Sherlock, Xena, and Non-Resolutions


Happy New Year, Gnomeslayers! This was my first view of 2013 last Tuesday morning.



Even though I don't believe in resolutions, I can't help but think of a new year as a chance for a fresh start. I've been doing some thinking. I don't like New Year's resolutions because I never keep them. It's just setting myself up to start a new year feeling like a loser. However, this doesn't mean I don't have goals. I love to finish things, almost to a pathological degree. For example: I've had an impressive stack of books on my desk for months. My Goodreads to-read list is about a mile long. I can't pick up a new book without thinking, "Okay, gotta finish this baby as fast as I can so I can go on to the next one so I can go on to the next one so I can get rid of this giant pile of books because I SWEAR THEY'RE STARING AT ME WONDERING WHY I HAVEN'T READ THEM YET."

There is something wrong about that.

Another example. I was feeling a little under the weather this weekend, so I finally started watching Sherlock to pass the time. (Thank you, Netflix streaming!) (And yes, I totally get what all the fuss is about.) Sherlock only has six episodes so far, so that won't be too difficult to finish. But when I needed a break from the cerebral writing, dry British wit, dense (in a good way) plots, and even the adorable Martin Freeman who I'd like to carry around with me in my pocket, I started browsing for something lighter.

I landed on  . . . Xena: Warrior Princess. Yes, she of the leather armor, icy blue eyes, and fierce battle ululation who tore through an ancient Greece that looked nothing like ancient Greece because it was actually New Zealand. Her courage will change the world, you know.

 Man, I loved that show as a kid. Clicking "play" made my inner twelve-year-old very happy. And I got to thinking, I should watch the whole series again! That would be so fun! Except there are six seasons, one hundred and thirty-four episodes in all. For a moment, I was seized by my fiendish need to finish something again. Suddenly it wasn't about enjoying some mindless entertainment to distract myslef from the fact I wasn't feeling well. It was about getting through the entire show as fast as possible.

See what I mean? People, it ain't right.

Which brings me to my 2013 non-resolution. I'm not going to be so focused on finishing anymore. I know this is a cliché, but I'm going to focus on the journey. I'm going to enjoy the books I read, get lost in them, drink in what they have to offer and learn from the authors' craft. And I'm not going to worry about how long it takes. I'm going to be open to whatever this year has in store, rather than trying to control everything all the time. I might even finish all of Xena, but in small bites, having discovered the hard way that you can only watch so much Xena at once before your brain starts dribbling out of your ears.

I have some new writing plans too. I've signed up for a screenwriting class, something I've never tried before. I'm also going to back away from the blog a little bit. In fact, Janiel, Russo and I are all going to try a new blogging schedule for awhile. Not to worry - we're not going away. We love this blog, and we love you, our readers. But our writing energy and focus are limited, plus we've all got tons of other stuff going on in our lives, just like everyone else. For now, I'll be posting the first week of the month, Russo will post the second, and Janiel the third. The fourth post will be a surprise of some kind - a guest poster, or a group post. Who knows. Either way, it'll be fun. We'll see how it goes.

What are your plans for 2013? If you feel like sharing, I'd like to hear about your resolutions, or non-resolutions, in the comments.




Aye, Captain.


Friday, January 4, 2013

World Peace in a Quilt

View from my porch. My house would love to cuddle up and sip orange-cocoa inside that house. :) We ended up with about a foot of snow and my nephew's car.
You know what it's like to wake up after a really satisfying nap, or all-night sleep, and look out the window where the wind is blowing and the snow is piling up on your garbage can lid and fence posts, and you smile and snuggle into your pile of fourteen quilts, close your eyes, and dream about waking up much later and making hot cocoa? Without disturbing the kids? Or the dogs? Or the whatever-else-lives-in-your-house-with-you? Just you alone with the cocoa and the snowy yard. For like five minutes, until the aforementioned whatever-else-lives-in-your-house jumps out of bed and piles onto you?

Yeah. That was the entire Christmas holiday for our family.

There were no explosions of any kind--either people or chocolate. There was plenty of snow--which we love--and my tree didn't die--which I really love. Psychotically love. Like, I can't take the dead-after-two-weeks-and-now-my-house-might-burn-down trees anymore. And this year I threatened to get a fake tree but was mutinied against until I found a place where we chopped down our own, thus guaranteeing a live tree through Easter. Anyway, tree-angst was gone--and we spent Christmas Eve with family, eating hot-wings and trading embarrassing stories and laughing our guts out until all hours. (Which at our ages and road conditions was only until about 9:00 p.m.) It was grand. We did wrap the whole thing up at New Year's with a rather distasteful gastro-bug, but even then, we stayed friendly. It stayed snowy. And we stayed cozy.

That is the way to start a new year. And I'd like it to stay that way. I'd like us as a world to dump all the spazziness of the past decade or so--and especially the past year--and just be a nice, happy, friendly, kind, laughter-filled population for a while. I'm sure we're more than capable of doing that. We live in a generally civilized world after all.

So, can we do that for the new year? Set a goal to keep it nice. And respectful. And happy to be different from one another. Not threatened. Working to help each other. It's what will make the world keep going 'round. I'm willing to throw that out there and give it a try. You?

If we do it and make it another year, then you're all invited to come snuggle under my fourteen blankets and watch season 3 of Sherlock and season 4 of Downton. I'll provide the cocoa. You can bring the French toast.

Happy 2013, peeps. Time to prove the Mayans wrong.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My holiday filled with 50 Shades, erupting chocolate pots and more

Before I forget, I wanted to send a major congrats to a good writing friend, Monique Bucheger. Her first novel The Secret Sisters Club was nominated for a 2012 Whitney Award. For anyone who wants to read her novel here is a link on Amazon.http://www.amazon.com/Secret-Sisters-Club-Adventure-ebook/dp/B007IK2WF6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357177594&sr=1-1&keywords=the+secret+sisters+club

So my good friends, did ya survive the holidays? I hope the festive season treated you well. Me on the other hand, the holidays were an adventure. I got covered in chocolate while sitting at the dinner table.

Here are the details; every Christmas eve my family does a fondue meal. We have boiling pots of cheese, beef broth and more. This year we decided to try a chocolate pot. And that didn't work. Did you know that a boiling pot of chocolate will explode? Well, it does.

I was the first to try the pot of chocolate. I had my marshmallow on my fork ready to dip it in the chocolate. Looking back, I should've lightly plopped the marshmallow in the chocolate but nooo, I had to all out jam the marshmallow in the pot. Needless to say, the pot erupted like a volcano. I had chocolate in my hair and dripping down my cheek.

If that wasn't bad enough we all had an enlightening dinner discussion, my cousin gave the whole story line of Fifty Shades of Grey. Aren't you jealous?

The holidays are always filled with hijinxs. I hope you had a great holiday season. Here's hoping 2013 treats everyone well.