Pizza on Easter

I tend to dread the holidays. Jeez O’Pete’s, yesterday just proved why. After staying up half the night baking (because I love my family) and socializing (because I just can’t help myself) I finally fell into bed. I was so excited to claim my three hours of sleep before it was time to get up to start Easter dinner, that it took me forever to finally drop off. Eight came way too early, and I literally rolled out of bed. I stood there for a few minutes, swaying on my feet, hair on end, my eyes still closed, but determined to find the brain capacity to shuffle out of the bedroom and start the day.

I bumped my shin.

It hurt, but I managed to keep plodding. The usual morning routine went off without a hitch (or tripping over Boo, which is unusual.) By that point, I was starting to think it might actually turn out to be a good day.

There are reasons people tell you not to count your chickens before they hatch.

The neck was still frozen inside the turkey. After rummaging around inside the thing for what felt like hours and gagging, I realized I have one of the few turkeys in the world where they forgot to include the giblets. I’m okay with that. I never use them and just holding the bag makes me feel squeamish. I got the bird in the pan, got it covered and started cooking.

Life was good.

The house was starting to smell wonderful. My stomach was growling in anticipation of food, and the valiant effort not to raid any of the pygmy human’s baskets in my perpetual hunger for chocolate. The skin was starting to crisp on the turkey. I burnt my hand checking on it. Nothing new. I was still determined to stick with the positive vibes and keep my head above water. I peeled a mountain of potatoes and diced them, soaked them in my seasoning blend and started to boil.

Okay. I got this!

Or so I think. I go to drain the drippings a short while later and pause. The liquid isn’t clear. It’s thick now, almost like gravy already, dark, and it smells like damp cardboard. I sniff the turkey. It smells the same, but stronger—worse.

Enter panic mode.

I cut off a small piece, and sure enough, the whole thing tasted just like the smell. At this point, I’m numb and in a state of shock. After the week I had, this really couldn’t be happening, could it? Surely, fate wouldn’t be so cruel as to give me a spoiled turkey after my computer had locked up, Windows had crashed, and I had to delete every single freaking file I had. I’d already spent the entire week scrambling to reformat and save data, including two books…endless, tedious hours, respacing entire documents because my computer was brand new and I hadn’t had the mindset to back anything up, because I foolishly thought I was safe. Right?

Wrong. It could be that cruel and it was.

I stood there, shaking, and eventually breaking into tears. I slumped over the stove and cried my poor little heart out. It was Easter. Everything in my tiny little town was closed, including the Chinese place. Everything but one lone pizza shop.

So…we had pizza, homemade mashed potatoes, corn, bread, and bakery—for Easter. Yep. True story. But hey, at least the cake and stuff turned out good.


Cookie Cutter Fiction

“I want to feel passion, I want to feel pain. I want to weep at the sound of your name. Come make me laugh, come make me cry… just make me feel alive.” ~Joey Lauren Adams

One of the first things an observer may notice, even from afar, is that I am a very passionate person. I am passionate about what I believe in and will stand my ground, preaching from  my soapbox until the cows come home. I am passionate about my friends and family. Upset someone I love, and pissed off hornets and fire breathing dragons will look like fluffy bunnies in comparison. I am passionate about what I do. I do not give bits and pieces of me. I am either willing to give something or someone every thing I have in me, or nothing at all. It is that simple.

At least, that is my opinion and you have been warned about where I stand with those already.

Should writing not be the same? Should we, as readers, not expect to be moved by the prose spread before us? Should writers not strive for this?

Any good form of entertainment, be it song, cinema, TV, or written word, should in essence make you feel the triumphs, tribulations, sorrow, and joy of the characters.

If I cannot lose myself in the world placed before me, as a reader, I feel disappointed. There is a sense of let down and betrayal that gnaws away at you.

Spare time is a valuable commodity. When it is wasted on senseless blathering or shoddy, incomplete work…it does not leave me feeling fulfilled or breathless with the rush of the thrill. It leaves me annoyed and aching for revenge.

Spiteful and vindictive wench that I am, eh?

I applaud the creation of the internet and all of the information and entertainment it brings. A mere click of the mouse and you can be anywhere looking at virtually anything your wretched little heart desires. Nifty.

Yet, part of me cringes. It loathes the ease at which many hopeful writers slap up what I can only kindly coin…garbage. One dimensional slop. Emotionless and cold as a rotting, dead fish and every bit as nauseating.

Like leeches they sap every bit of energy from you, the very willingness to open a web page, let alone read. They do not proofread. Many seem to be blissfully ignorant that spell check programs even exist. They leave us, head burrowed in the false security of a crooked arm, peering in dread at the computer screen.

These kind know no shame. They will assault you with the same emotionless characters time after time, the same tired plot, and equipped with every literary mistake known to man…they will slaughter you. The reader does not feel transported, nor do they laugh or cry along with the ensemble of cast.

Nope. We are left feeling appalled. The only question running through our weary mind, the only concern we really have is “Sweet Beezus! Is this thing over yet?”

Alas, though forty something odd chapters later, the torture goes on. We continue in vain hope that something, anything will stir even the mildest form of interest.

Don’t get me wrong. Not all writers are like this. The dreaded ones are far enough between and thankfully seem to migrate to each other. Perhaps this is the only way they find praise. To the contrary, many authors I have come across will without a doubt find success one day if they haven’t yet. Legions of them have a talent that I will never in my wildest dreams begin to touch.

I firmly believe you only get out of a story what you are willing to put in. *sweeping curtsey* My horns off to the vast majority of talented authors that pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their work. Please know that you leave your readers shedding the same right along with you. Nothing beats vivid imagery, deep characters, and a heart breaking or breathtaking plot, especially if it is well written.

My advice as a writer is pretty cut and dry. Take your time. Explore your worlds and your cast. This is not a race to the finish line…unless you want your readers to feel the same way.

The editing process is painful. Read your work, re-read it. Hell, rewrite it, and then send it to along to someone else to scrutinize. A beta reader/editor is NOT your enemy.

**NOTE** They are only a good one if they send you back mistakes and are honest enough to tell you if something does not work. Send them a Rolex if they have the gumption to tell you something sucks.

If they are really good and totally honest, expect to go through this several times. Get used to rewrites. You may pull every last shred of hair out of your head before you are finished, but know that you are sparing yourself…and others pain. Add humiliation to that list.

Do not force ideas or anything else on yourself. Don’t let others cram their visions of what is “good or acceptable” down your throat.

If we all liked vanilla ice cream, there would not be millions of other flavors. In fact, Ben and Jerry’s would not exist and THAT would be a mortal travesty.

Some of us prefer spun sugar and frilly romance, others REVEL in angsty goodness and gratuitous violence. Write what you are comfortable with and people who like the same will find it.. Pay attention to the feedback you get from these people. Bask in the praise and learn something from the constructive criticism.

Make us FEEL.

If I get feedback saying a reader was laughing, crying, stunned, fearful, etc…if they felt what my characters did, then I know I have done my job.

Lastly, pat yourself on the back. Indulge. Learn from your mistakes and be original. Writing is a craft and it takes a lot of practice. It is not baking, so leave those cookie cutters at home and take a walk on the wild side.

~Best wishes and happy writing!~