Monday …

Ewwww … look at all the pretty sparkles on my computer screen.

Sneezing my brains out on this fine Monday. Sneezing my brains out and itching like mad from chigger bites. Sneezing my brains out, itching like mad, and blogging.

What a Monday.

I really need to take some time and re-plan, re-focus, and generally overhaul my blog. But I’m just not sure what I want to do with it.

So many writers have a focus that they pursue with gusto, advertisements for various companies popping up on the page, and, I assume, a means of income from it. They talk about food or family or parenting or kids or travel or books or ….

I don’t think I’m cut out for that.

I started this blog to journal my descent into madness    loss of sanity     writing adventures, no matter what path that took and focusing my efforts on one thing, or one part of it, wouldn’t work for me.

I am going to start posting more writerly things though. More book reviews by authors I love, more tips for the fiction writers out there, more experiences I am having in the publishing world.

And stop focusing on whatever comes to mind as I write.

At least that’s the plan.

But it’s Monday … and my plan’s almost never work the way they are supposed to …

A Series of Short Stories

Well, I did it. I am officially a published author who has now actually sold my work and gotten reviews on Amazon for it.

For so long I thought it was such an ultimate and somehow unachievable goal and then I did it. Now I’m wondering what it was I kept thinking was so hard to achieve.

Here’s the link to the first short story in the series. Only 99cents available worldwide.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZMWRLNA?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

and

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/551602

One day it even made it into the top 50 bestsellers for the day in Kindle short reads. And I have my first two reviews for it … both 5 star.

I’m certainly not going to become rich and famous from it. It’s only one little short story. But I have more stories to add to it. The next installment will come out on July 10 but is available for preorder through Amazon now. It will have three short stories together that continue the tale.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010123S2I?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

The plan is that once I’ve finished writing all of them, to put them together into one book and make it available on Kindle Unlimited. But for now they’ll come in installments at a mere 99cents. Great for a lunch time break or quick read before bed.

Adoption: The Fine Print

I read a twitter post the other day that said: “What’s written between the lines is more important than what’s written on the lines.”

Honestly, I was offended by it. Immediately I set out to refute it in any way I could. I even started writing three different blog posts about how wrong it was, but I couldn’t complete them for one reason or another. Suffice it to say I don’t agree.

Why might you ask? Because I have had people “misunderstand” what I’ve said in written form and all but persecute me for their misunderstanding all because they didn’t read the words on the page and instead assumed what they read between the lines was the most important thing … no matter how wrong they were.

The problem with what is written between the lines is that it is personal to whoever is reading it, to their mood, the happenings of their day, their past, their insecurities, their life experience. Like writing in first person POV, it is flawed before it ever begins. Those things written between the lines are unreliable, fleeting, changeable.

And yet, there are times when I find the writing-between-the-lines speaking to me.

Like today (and many others like this). Today is “one of those days” with our teenage daughter. She’s being a rude, disrespectful, stubborn, dramatic, know-it-all. Yeah, basically she’s a teen.

But she’s not like every other teen in one big way. We adopted her at the age of eleven.

(Before you go all knives and bombs on me … walk in my shoes. )

The adoption judge told us, point blank, “If you sign this contract of adoption you are agreeing that this child is yours just as much as any child you gave birth to. There is no difference. You are agreeing that you will not refer to her as your adopted child or give up on her and try to give her back or otherwise make her feel as if she isn’t a part of your family in every way.”

Okay. We agreed.

Problem is … no one explained that to the kid. And no matter what our agreement or intent, she has always had her own.

I have regretted the decision to adopt her many times over … probably as many times as I have applauded our decision to adopt her. And no matter what anyone says adopting a child is not like having one of your own because of one little thing.

They always know they have someone else with whom they share blood out there in the world and they want to meet them and have dreams that somehow that family will be everything perfect in the world that they don’t have now.

That thought is ever present in their mind and as adoptive parents there is no way to remove it. Ever. Not even when they find out the absolute worst about their biological family and why they were given up for adoption. They’ve held on to the belief that life is better and somehow perfect somewhere else their entire life and no amount of truth will dislodge it.

As adoptive parents we are fighting constantly against “what is written between the lines” in their life. Striving to be better than an unknown ideal of perfection that we can never achieve.

It isn’t OUR viewpoint, it isn’t what WE see between the lines.

It’s their monster that we can’t even begin to understand, let alone fight or conquer. And yet we’re the ones left dragged through the dirt and mud, trampled on by boots and words, emotionally ripped to shreds, and then left to rot in the summer sun.

No, adopting a child is not like giving birth to one. But if you hang on to the end, you know that you have loved someone else in a way that is harder than you’ve ever loved anyone else. If you can adopt a child, you can do anything, survive anything, conquer anything.

What’s written between the lines is not more important than what’s written on the page but it can have a significant impact on your life. Being aware of what might be there is important but the words are what counts.

It’s All Wrong and Bad and Must Go

I admit I have lived under a rock for part of my adult life. Having kids does that to a person. Priorities change. Twenty-four hours turns into a microscopic amount of time in which to accomplish anything.

Having an autistic child on top of that, makes it even more difficult.

So in recent years I’ve been hearing about the young and bold group of people called “hipsters”. Honestly, at first, they just seemed like a bunch of punk college kids who had yet to experience the real world.

That might have been a simplistic view, but I really didn’t pay them much attention. Until they started annoying the snot out of me with their dismissive attitude.

THAT is the thing that did it for me.

For example, this morning I was watching PBS. Saturday morning shows on PBS have been a staple in my life for over forty years now. “This Old House”, “The Victory Garden”, etc are my go-to’s for sanity in this insane world.

So on the Victory Garden this morning they were featuring roof top gardens and gardeners from NYC. Okay. Cool. Although not a new thing, I love seeing community roof top gardens in large cities.

One of the people they featured, however, was a young woman who has set up greenhouses on her roof and is making sea salt by evaporating sea water. The idea is fine. It’s been used for thousands upon thousands of years. It isn’t new technology in any form. I use sea salt and have for years. And it was kind of cool to see her technique.

But the problem was she kept harping on about how salt people buy in the store is bad, that people are ignorant for buying salt from the market instead of getting it from a “wholesome” source like the sea. How she “came up” with the idea for making sure people had fresh salt from a local source to use on their farmer’s market veggies because everything else was bad and horrible and no good.

First off, she didn’t come up with anything. Harvesting salt from sea water has been done for thousands of years. It isn’t new.

Second, saying that everyone buys whatever salt comes from the local market is a gross exaggeration of facts.

Third, acting as if this is the only way to have a wholesome food experience or that she is somehow contributing to the betterment of mankind is naive.

I could go on, chipping away at her philosophy. But that’s not the point.

The point is that she embodied what annoys me about this group of young people who refer to themselves as “hipsters”. She embodied the negative, blaming, hatred of everything that has come before that is so prevalent among this group of youngsters. It’s as if anything they don’t invent themselves is somehow BAD and not worthy of their time or attention … and they need to tell everyone how BAD it all is.

I honestly don’t understand where this attitude developed or how.

Did they stop teaching history in school or something? Does this generation not understand why things are as they are? Do they really believe they are reinventing the wheel as we speak? And why all the negative, doom and gloom, hatred of everything that existed in this world before them?

It’s one thing to innovate, to make things better, to advocate for a better world, to promote health and well-being for everyone.

But if you have no idea why things are the way they are, how do you know that what you’re “creating” or advocating for is BETTER?

Iodine was added to salt for a reason and marketed that way for a reason. Same goes with “gmo” foods. And flouride in drinking water. And how most commercial industries operate.

The things that exist in our world didn’t just appear overnight without cause or purpose. And just because you can’t see that cause or purpose or haven’t bothered to find out what that cause or purpose is, doesn’t mean it isn’t productive or useful to society as a whole.

I have said multiple times in this blog, on Facebook, and to everyone I know … Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. That is the only way to make a better world for everyone.

Had this girl been simply promoting her production of sea salt and touting it’s benefits, the whole segment would have been great …

Tell us what’s good. Tell us what you love. Show us what the benefits are. Give us good information without hating everything that’s come before. That’s all I ask.

My Writing Mantra

I inadvertently encouraged myself. One of those happy accidents I seem to stumble upon when I least expect it in life.

Over two years ago now I started on this journey of writing full time, of making “this” what I do every day. About six months in I had a major computer crash. I was sharing with my daughter and husband at the time, unable to afford my own laptop, and who knows what they were doing on it but a virus was downloaded.

It was frightening to almost lose everything I had written so I asked for a computer for Christmas and got one. I have rigorously maintained the “hands off” status of it since then.

It’s mine. Period.

Like a soldier protects his gun or a painter his brush, I decided the laptop was my tool and I would protect it as such. (not that I said any of this aloud)

I entered a password. A long one.

At times I have cursed this long password, grumbling that I must enter it perfectly every time. Missing a letter has consequences. And any time I leave for just a little too long, I have to re-enter it. Sometimes that ends up being multiple times a day.

I thought I was being clever with my password. Just doing something cute, you know, that related to writing. Using something I’d never used before that no one would know. It had no other intention.

But a year and a half on, it’s become my mantra … the thing I say every morning and multiple times a day, silently cheering me on, pushing me forward, reminding why I’m doing what I’m doing.

A happy surprise in the middle of my journey.

On Being a Victim

If you want to hear from the victim of a crime that was committed years ago and think you are standing up for their rights by screaming about things through media posts and rants, you need to think again. As a person who has been a victim, I can say that no one should have to live as a victim for their entire life. No one should have to remain a victim because of public outcry against the actions of their offender.

A person is a victim only as long as they hang on to the hatred and violence that is committed against them. It is a hard road to walk. It is lonely and desolate and should not last for all eternity. They should be allowed to move on.

Continually posting and reposting and ranting and raving about some crime you read about in the media, no matter your intention, is not helping the victim of the crime in any way. You are perpetuating their status as a victim and keeping them in that lonely and desolate place, helpless and hopeless.

Given that none of us are God, none of us have the ability or need to forgive something that has happened to another person. Ever. If the victim can forgive and has moved on, then shut up. It’s none of your business.

We’ve become a world of busy bodies who build ourselves up by thinking we’re helping “victims” by screaming about what has been done to them, by making people take notice or stand up for their “rights”. Truth is, often times, it makes life worse for the victim, not better.

By failing to recognize how very human we all are, by continually replaying the evil that lurks in every soul, we damn anyone who has ever been a victim to a life of solitude, silence, and unforgiveness. The louder and longer we scream, the less chance the victim has to live a life as anything other than a victim.

I refused to be a victim forever. And I refuse to keep anyone else a victim by believing that I have some right to their pain and grief. We all have our own paths to walk and while we can feel compassion for other’s suffering we have no rights to claim it as our own.

Twitterilliterate and Other things I’ve learned this month

I started the month of May with a new twitter account and 13 followers. Happily zipped off to OWFI 2015, and returned home to a week long blitz of social media. A die-hard “I’m never using Twitter” person, I found myself having to eat my words.

Apparently, agents and publishers want you to have social media accounts that you actively use. This I did not know. I have rectified that situation and gained some 200 followers in the past three weeks. A mere drop in the bucket compared to the thousands and hundred of thousands other people have, but for me, nothing short of a miracle.

I also gained about 50 new FB friends which resulted in a barrage of notifications. I thought they would settle down relatively soon, but again I was wrong. I have merely had to adjust to a new level of normal. It’s okay. I seem to thrive on chaos.

Which was also somewhat of a revelation to me. I really should have known that about myself before now, but I guess I’d never really put it in words. I’d never spoken it into being. Me and chaos are best friends.

My grandmothers used to say she didn’t have an off switch. I don’t either. My mind wanders everywhere all at once. And when I have ten things to occupy it, somehow I’m able to concentrate on writing better. Focus amid the chaos. Hey, it works. For me, at least.

But this trend on twitter, gaining so many unknown sources of connection, has been a huge learning curve in itself. Humanity is, for the most part, clothed, genteel, organized, orderly. Twitter is none of those things. The perfect partner in crime for my chaotic mind it would seem.

The mass of authors promoting their work is astounding. The percentage of those with self-published tales I could have written in grade four is equally astounding.

Okay, maybe that’s not fair. I haven’t read all of them. I’ve sampled here and there. People claiming to be in the top 100 on Amazon and such, offering free reads, others. I’m honestly not sure what puts a book in the top 100 on Amazon. Downloads? purchases? number of views? Most that I’ve sampled I haven’t gotten far enough through to even have an opinion other than I don’t want to read more.

And yet, it goes against everything I believe in to say that.

Writing is a hard gig. Writers have to support other writers no matter what stage they are in. Other artistic industries support their own and it’s high time we did, too. So, I am all about promoting and encouraging other writers. Only another writer has any idea what we’re going through.

So where do we draw the line? Writing isn’t like architecture for example. A bad architectural design won’t work. It can be dangerous, even. Corrections have to be made without exception if we don’t want buildings that fall down on people’s heads.

But bad writing? I’m not sure what to do with it.

Probably my greatest joy with Twitter has been connecting with the Indie music people. I’ve always liked new and little known bands just beginning to make their mark on the world. There is something edgy and raw about their sound. Real. Not polished and popular.

And my greatest astonishment is the number of people who want to follow me that post half-nude photos for the world to see. Really? It’s a body. We all have one. Why do I need to see yours?

Good thing there’s a mute button.

I also learned this month that I can write a novel in less than a month, if need be. I don’t recommend doing so unless you have a smoothly functioning support team, a full time chef, a dog without a bladder, and a well thought out structure for what you are writing. But … it can be done.

And last, but not least, I’ve had to eat the words that I am, in fact, a bonafide panster. As opposed to people who rigorously outline everything, I am one. But to say that I write without any plan at all is not the case. I just didn’t realize that what I was doing was planning. Silly me. Another victim of my chaotic mind …