Monthly Archives: May 2010

Countdown to a Wedding – The Brother

This weekend, my baby brother will be tying the knot. In honor of this, I’m going to give you all a blow-by-blow account of what we’ve done to prepare. Well, sort of. The bride’s family is taking care of everything really, so we haven’t done that much.

Over the weekend, my sister and I had our hair done (so it would look fresh for the wedding). Then it was a trip to the nail salon for pedicures and nails. Meanwhile, my dog was at the groomer. The four of us (my mom, sister, dog, and myself) are all groomed and ready for the wedding. Or are we?

Phillip, my brother, is the only boy and the baby of the family. I was six years old when he was born and I remember praying every day for a brother. I’d had enough of sisters – they weren’t any fun. I wanted a baby brother to love and cuddle. The day he was born, I remember going to the hospital with my stepdad and sister to see him. He was…enormous. Phillip was 11 lbs, 15 oz. and 23 inches long. He had thick, black hair and looked a little like E.T.

We joke now that he was born with teeth, but he was just so cute. He was allergic to milk, so he was on a soy milk formula for the first year of his life. This didn’t slow his growth at all. He grew by leaps and bounds, looking four years older than he actually was. The shine of having a new baby brother wore off quick. I had a social life…across the street at my friend’s house. But I couldn’t visit with her much since Phillip was attached to me.

It never got any better, so it shouldn’t have been any surprise that he became my best friend. We’ve played Voltron, G.I. Joe, Nintendo, He-Man and She-Ra together. We were inseparable. He wasn’t just my brother, or friend, I sometimes feel like he’s my own child.

Now, before I start getting off on a tangent, my point to this post is Phillip didn’t have just one mom. My sister is fourteen years older than him, so she was like a second mom to him. His godmother had two daughters born on either side of him and they all spent a lot of time together. She was his third mother. And then I became like his mom as well.

Our concern for the wedding? He’ll have four women blubbering over him. My mom says the only way she’ll be able to get through the ceremony is to recall that this union will give her more grandchildren. My sister doesn’t have a plan other than to try to stick it out. My aunt…well, I don’t know how she’ll manage. He’s the son she never had so I think she might get a little teary-eyed. As for me? I’m just praying I don’t start bawling on the altar. I mean, I’m supposed to be a groomswoman, I need to present a solemn and stoic air…I think. I’ll cry afterwards at the reception.

So I’m dedicating this post to my baby brother, Phillip Charles, who has tormented me, supported me, and taken my sisterly teasing for 27 years. I love you, Phee-Phee!

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Fantasy Man Friday

Thank God it’s Friday. Really. Although this hasn’t started out as the best morning, I’m determined to enjoy the last day of the week.

This isn’t a long weekend for me. Yup, I have to work on Monday, but that’s fine. I’m off next Friday to help decorate the reception hall for my brother’s wedding which is next Saturday. I’m still kind of freaked out that my little brother, the annoying man-child I’ve grown up with, will be a husband in just a week.

I’m not going to get maudlin, not today. I’ll save that for next week when the wedding is literally just around the corner.

Instead, I’m going to feast my eye on some man candy because I’ve had a crappy morning. Did I mention my oldest cat has decided to use my bedroom as her litter box? I’ve had an unpleasant gift waiting for me every day this week. This morning it was on a bag containing some pictures. I fear they’re ruined, but I’ll have to put on some gloves to go through them to be sure. I hate throwing pictures away. I know, she’s old and senile. She’s probably acting out about the younger cat. But why my room? I’m the only one who feeds her! *sniff* No, I’m not going to think about it. I’m going to think about men…

Now that’s a man with a lot of power between his legs. I’m so sorry! I couldn’t resist! Bwahahah. Honestly though, who is he trying to sell this bike to cause I want one, but only if he comes with it…him and those shorts he’s wearing. I probably wouldn’t mind the idiot men who scream up and down my street on their crotch rockets if they were dressed like this. I’d probably grab a bag of popcorn, some crisp dollar bills and have a party.

Hm, yes, I do believe this has been good for my bad mood. Now let’s just hope no one messes it up!

Happy Friday everyone and have a safe Memorial Day Weekend! (Think of me toiling away at the day job while you’re eating bbq and watching Kelly’s HeroesThe Dirty DozenThe Fighting Seabees, The Green Berets, Sgt. York, and all those other war movies. Kelly’s Heroes is one of my favorite war movies of all time. That and Sgt. York…Gary Cooper was so handsome. Okay, I’m really stopping now, but if you want to share your favorite war movies, feel free!

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“WIP”ing Like a Writamatrix

I have no idea what inspired me to entitle this post such a weird thing, but I think it works, so that’s fine by me. By now, most of you know how er…quirky (let’s go with quirky) I can be.

While I’m waiting for news from one quarter and my 2nd MS is sent out for a second round of edits from my fabulous critique partner, I’ve been musing on a story. It isn’t the same story I sent to she-who-shall-not-be-named because as much as I wanted to start writing it, a new story pushed forward. Amazons are pushy, you know. It doesn’t help that this particular Amazon has been in all three of my manuscripts (even the one that’s buried under clothes in my room).

Izzy has been one of my favorite secondary characters with a…flare for trouble and relentless humor. I guess because I’ve been writing her into stories for the last year, she almost feels like a member of my family (poor thing). I hadn’t really planned to give Izzy her own book. I liked her as a secondary character, but then I had this crazy idea that she needed a hero. Not just any hero, either. Nope, her hero needs to be stronger, bigger, and more stubborn than she is. What came to mind? A minotaur shapeshifter.

BINGO! I’ve been writing like a fiend since Monday and hit over 12k words yesterday. The story is growing by leaps and bounds and it’s almost as though my fingers can’t type fast enough. I’ve had to pause now and then to refer to my “bestiary” so I could make sure I was following the rules of my world. So far, so good. Oh, and did I mention that his mother has made an appearance in the story? And she and Izzy hate each other? And that’s the smallest part of the plot? Bwahahaha.

I was even in the dentist’s chair yesterday thinking about where the story was going. My power naps have been interrupted by conversations I can almost hear her having with the minotaur. When I’m reading for relaxation, I’m thinking about how these two are going to clash. It’s wonderful. It makes me remember how great it felt to write “the end” even if I haven’t done that in a while.

This is why I write, this is why I sit down and edit even when I don’t want to. It’s why I wrote queries and synopses and entered contests. It’s because I have to. The characters give me no peace when they’re in the mood and right now, Izzy and Grant are SO in the mood. For fighting, for love, for sex and not necessarily in that order…yeah, it’s that kind of book.

Are your characters driving you insane? Do you ever get to the point that you think your keyboard will start smoking from your attempts to keep up with the visions in your head? Do you find yourself sinking into your story while doing other things?

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Getting Them To Read

I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a book whore. Yes, a book whore! It started when I was much  younger. The first book I remember reading for myself was called Socks and it was about a cat. From there, the need to read was born. I went through the Nancy Drew stage, the Babysitter’s Club stage, then progressed to young adult romance. Then, one day, I received several boxes of Harlequin books from my aunt’s neighbor. I was thoroughly hooked.

I read all the time. In class, at home every night and all weekend long. It was so bad, I never left my room. At one point my mom threatened to burn my books because she hadn’t seen me for months. Yes, it was that bad, but I never ever shook the urge to devour the written word. Now I’m more discerning, sticking to genres I love and finding new authors who make me remember how great it is to pick up a book.

As a result of this voracious reading, I became the person to go to in the family when the younger generation need a hand with reading comprehension. My youngest nephew took his ACT’s a few times over the last couple of years. He made a decent showing, but his scores weren’t as high as they could’ve been. Why? Because he isn’t a big reader. He believes reading yahoo! news is enough reading for him. While it’s a good start, it isn’t going to get him where he needs to be in order to hang with the college English crowds. Sure, sure, he’s going into engineering, but he still has to take core curricular classes and that includes two English classes.

My task? To find him books he’ll enjoy reading. Let me repeat that: He needs to read books he’ll enjoy reading. That’s the real kicker, isn’t it? When we’re force-fed books, we hate them with a passion. At least, I know I did. How many times did I have to read Frankenstein? Hell, I can almost quote the damn book (well, before I became absent-minded). He’ll have to read books he would never touch with a thirty foot pole. If you’ve been to college, or even some more advanced high schools, you’ve had to read books you hated.

It’s almost enough to make any person not want to read, but read you must in academia. It’s part of the torture they put every student through, except for me, that was the best part. Put me in front of an algebra problem, and you’ll see true panic. That’s how a lot of people feel about reading, which is a complete shame. There are so many genres out there that are just waiting to be enjoyed, if only you know where to look.

So, that’s where I am right now. My nephew is getting ready to go to college in the fall and his mother, my sister, has tasked me with finding him books he’ll enjoy. The only problem with that is…well, I’m so not an 18-year-old boy. What I think is great, he’d probably hate.

My current thoughts are to introduce him to Adam Douglas’s Hitchhiker books. I loved them; they were funny and smart and blessedly short (which I think my nephew would appreciate). I’ve recommended Lord of the Flies which is another personal favorite. I know he’d hate To Kill A Mockingbird, so that’s out too. Other than that, I’m clueless. I could give him The Hobbit and pray he likes it, but I can’t see him reading fantasy. Horror? He’s already rebuffed Dean Koontz and Stephen King, although he might give it another go if his nanny introduces them to him. After that, I’m kind of floundering.

That’s why I’m asking you, my lovely, bestest best friends, to help me compile a list of books he might be interested in. To help you a bit, here’s a brief rundown on my baby boy: He plays shoot-em-up video games like America’s Army (or something like that), he’s a rabid soccer player and fan, he has a silly, yet dry sense of humor, he’s 18-years-old (and beautiful but that doesn’t help you much), and he enjoys camping, fishing, crabbing, and golf. I hope that helps some.

So, do you have any recommendations?

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Advice From Non-Writers

Lately I’ve begun to introduce my writing self to friends and family. For the longest time, the only people who knew I was attempting a writing career were my mom, my brother, sister, and best friend. I wasn’t comfortable revealing my “secret” self to the world. I’m still a little unsure about it, but I’ve grown more confident in myself.

A few weeks ago, my dad called me. Let me just first explain that we’re not terribly close. It’s no big tragedy or anything, but he doesn’t understand me and never has. I’ve come to accept that and I love him anyway. Anyway, I finally told him a few weeks ago (before the agent called) that I’m a writer. What was his first question? “Did you write about me?” Um, no. Sorry.

That wasn’t the first time someone’s asked me if I based any of my characters off of my friends and family. A friend of mine asked if I’d used my friends as a base for my characters. The answer again was no. Oh I might pick and choose little snippets of conversation only I seem to remember, or incidents they want to forget and twist them into the story, but for the most part, my characters are their own…people. Meh…weird.

So now on to the writer’s advice. At my nephew’s graduation, I broke the news to my dad and stepmom that I have an agent. My stepmom asked me what I wrote and I told her. Then she says, “I have a really good idea for a story”…yeah, okay! At the bachelor party, my sister-in-law’s cousin shouts down the table…And this is as close to word-for-word as I can get:

“When you write your next book, I have a great story. Ready? Okay, so it’s in the future when they can clone people. This man’s wife has lung cancer so they clone his wife to get the lungs from her clone. And get this! The man falls in love with the clone! Cause…it’s like his wife. But then she has to die cause she’s the clone and his wife needs the lungs! But it’s his wife!”

Me: “Have you thought on this idea a long time?”

Him: “Nah, I saw it on the King of Queens.”

It was funny, but it made me realize that people who don’t write always seem to have an idea of what would be a great book. They think it’s easy to sit down and bleed into a keyboard for months. They don’t realize that once you write “The End” the story still isn’t finished because then come the edits. But even then the story isn’t ready. You have to send it to a critique partner who’ll rip it to shreds and says, ‘AGAIN with the voices!’ or ‘There’s an awful lot of thrusting going on, sounds like an orgy!’. Then you fix all that thrusting in non-sexual situations and get rid of the voices and send it back to your critique partner. Then when they finally say, “Okay, this is good” you have to send it to other people and hope/pray/make sacrifices to the gods that you’ll be chosen above other equally desperate and more talented writers. Then you have to wait again!

So now, every time I see my mom or brother, the first question out of their mouths is, “Did you hear back from your agent yet?”, “Maybe you should call her.”, “Do you think she’s waiting until she has news?”. Meanwhile I’m in a constant state of paranoia (although that his lessening somewhat) that I’ll get a Dear Jane e-mail and she’ll break up with me. Not that we’re dating, but we’re in a relationship now. Kind of. Sort of. I haven’t signed the pre-nup yet.

(Wow this is therapeutic. See, this is why I blog. I’m so saving money on therapy.)

Anyway, I don’t even know if there’s a point to this post. Let me re-read it. I knew it, there’s really no point. However, there is an underlying message. Somewhere. I think. Oh right. Writing isn’t something you can just do. You have to work at it, perfect your technique. Kind of like playing pool or learning an instrument. You have to take lessons, learn from people who actually know what they’re doing. Okay, I’m going to stop rambling.

If you have anything else you’d like to add, feel free! I’m going to call this Rambling Tuesday. Or Rant and Rave Bruiseday. Hm.

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Ow?

So if you’re a regular follower of this blog, you know that my brother’s bachelor party was Saturday night. I waffled back and forth about going, but I had a great time and didn’t leave early at all. Of course, I’m paying for it now. Why, I asked myself when I stumbled out of bed yesterday morning…Why, oh why did I act like I was still 25?

Yes, it seems that I had way, way too much to drink. The really sad part is, I don’t remember how much I drank. I suppose I was celebrating my brother’s upcoming wedding as well as my first steps into writerdom because I drank as though I’d just graduated from college…again. Even worse, my nephews were present and saw their aunt acting like an ass. At least, I think I acted like an ass. My godson was our designated driver, thank GOD, and he said…

“Nanny, you were holding onto the parking meter when we were leaving the bar and said ‘Don’t let a car hit me!’. Then, we walked across the street to the car and  you were on the sidewalk. An SUV drove by on the opposite side of the street and you said, ‘Phew! That was close!'”

The way I feel today, I feel as though I was hit by the car. I think that’s because I spent a few hours on the hallway floor because as I told my uncle, “My dog wants me down here”. Yeah…okay, so I’m not the brightest bulb in the pack when I drink. Which is why I don’t do it anymore.

My brother had fun even if he spent the rest of the night calling Ralph on the big white phone. He certainly partied and he told me yesterday that he isn’t sure he’ll ever drink beer again. Of course, no one told him he had to drink every beer in alphabetical order that the bar offered. He decided that on his own. And only got to “F”. Poor lad.

It wasn’t awkward, it wasn’t strained…it was fun. I’m glad I was able to share it with my brother, uncle, and nephews (even if they all got to see a side of me I haven’t shown since I was in college). I’ve decided to be much more circumspect at the wedding though. No need to show my ass to all of my sister-in-laws family!

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Fantasy Man Friday

Yes, it’s Friday once again. It’s been a crazy week, but things are only just starting now that the wedding is two weeks away. Two weeks and my baby bro is going to be a married man. It’s seriously freaking me out.  I mean…this is my brother! I love him, but my poor future sister-in-law…she’ll have her hands full with keeping him in line!

I haven’t heard from my agent this week and it’s taken all of my willpower not to call her and bug her. Patience is not a virtue I claim to have…oh, and the latent paranoia doesn’t help. Tomorrow I’ll be able to drown my worries in some wunderbar imported beers. Yay! Oh, and I’m giving my brother his “wedding” gift (riding crop and handcuffs), so that’ll be a blast. Isn’t that just like an older sibling? Wanting nothing more than to torture and embarrass their younger siblings? Muhuhahahaha!

So to make myself feel better today, I figure I need to feast my eyes on something sexy and manly.

That is…wow. That look. That look says, “I can do things to you that you can’t even begin to imagine and you’ll love every single one of them.” Either that or, “Why are you still dressed?” *shivers* Oh my! I totally….wow, just wow. Love this Fantasy Man. *swoons*

Thoughts?

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