Monday, August 15, 2011

Whatcha' Got?

 I am easily bored and unsatisfied with my life. I am always looking for new things to do or learn to keep things interesting. This has not always been a bad thing, but it can sometimes lead to not appreciating what it is I already have.
 A few days ago I read somebody's tweet on Twitter that asked: "What would happen if everything you take for granted was suddenly taken away?" Wow. If you really think about that, it's huge.
 For some reason, it made me think of the last time my electricity went out. Changes everything for the time doesn't it? I start realizing all the things I can't do and don't have use of. Wash clothes, dry my hair, make toast (which I make rarely, but the fact that I don't have use of a toaster always makes me crave toast). Then, as soon as the electricity is back on, the things I couldn't live without are not as important anymore because they are available for my use again. All the little stuff is taken for granted once more.
 So that day, after reading that tweet, I sat under the avocado tree with my feet up, Diet Coke in hand, staring out into my huge backyard on a very sunshiny day. I closed my eyes and thought about everything I take for granted in my life, and I mean EVERYTHING, and imagined that some magical being showed up to teach me a lesson and took all of that away. I looked around me right then. There were people that I love. They'd be gone. The house I live in and everything in it? Gone. No phone, no car, no job. Where would I be? Outside? Don't I take that for granted? I'd be sitting in an empty space of nothingness, naked and deathly ill and unable to think straight. I went to that place for a minute in my imagination. Just sat there. (*shivers*) Then, I imagined the magical being coming back and allowing me to choose ten of the things that I took for granted to have back. Just ten. Those, I decided, are the ten most important things for me to appreciate and value.
 It was a good mental exercise for me and I encourage you to try it yourself, you know, to help you relax and appreciate the important stuff. I'll warn you that it's hard to come up with just ten. You may have to edit the list a few times, because you may realize as you go on through the next few hours of your day that one thing on your list may not be as important as that other thing you just realized was important. (I cheated a bit and grouped my kids into one thing.)
 Maybe you can write them down and keep them with you and look at those things each time you feel a bit low.  Maybe you already think of this type of stuff and appreciate everything every day and are a much better human than I am. Maybe it's just dumb. Or, maybe you would rather dwell upon and complain about what you don't have, because that's what makes you...I don't In any case, just thought I'd throw the idea out there. Up to you.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Family Secrets

When I was young, I read a lot of books and watched many television programs and movies that were, in some form or another, within the supernatural genre. These things always fascinated me. I recall trying desperately to wiggle my nose like Samantha did, thinking that if I could master it  I would hear that little tinkle-dinkle-dink sound it made and I would gain my powers. (Settling for moving it manually, the way Tabitha did, did not work either.) I remember looking into my mother's green eyes as she tucked me into bed just knowing that one of those nights she would finally tell me that I was old enough to know the secret. I  knew deep down that she would soon let me know that we were magical people and that I was now old enough to learn how to accept and use my gifts. I daydreamed about this often. I didn't know exactly what kind of magic I would be inheriting. Maybe I had extreme psychic abilities that I would learn how to tap into, or maybe I would be told that we were witches (the good kind like the ones on Bewitched of course, not the green-faced, warty-nosed Halloween kind). Whatever kind it was, I was certain that magic was in my blood and I just needed to be patient and wait. Not long after my thirteenth birthday, I finally began to realize that maybe I was wrong because it surely would have been told to me by then. It devastated me to think that I was destined to be average.
I have read and been told many times that anyone can develop their psychic abilities (I gave up on being a witch. I want to be a real, I-can-snap-my-fingers-and-disappear kind of witch or not a witch at all). In order to develop the "third-eye",  all you have to do is cleanse your chakra, meditate and ask for guidance. Oh. OK! Well, the chakra thing is a little whacky, even to me, but I may or may not have tried to cleanse mine. Meditation is very difficult for someone who can't shut off her brain for more than five seconds (Yes, folks! I've been able to go blank for five seconds a few times. Maybe six...I don't know. This was extremely difficult and I have no idea how I could ever do better than that without a lobotomy, so round of applause please!). And the guide thing? I'm not saying they aren't out there, but if I have one I haven't noticed.
So,  I have finally truly accepted it, although I have to say I'm still disappointed and sad. I'm average. No magic. No future predictions. No seeing dead people. Average like everyone else. Blech. Dumb books and T.V. and movies for getting my hopes up. Dumb blind third eye. I would have used my gifts wisely. I would have used them for good and not evil. I would have made people happy and helped the poor and...Oh my gosh! My eye just started twitching! It's just my left eye, but it's twitching wildly right now. That's a sign, right? It's my chakra oozing out or my guide trying to tell me not to give up hope! Maybe it's not too late!  Maybe I'm just a late bloomer. I think I'll give Mom a call and see if there's anything she's forgotten to tell me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What Happened When I Became Rich and Famous

Sounds great, I know. You may have even dreamed it for yourself, but let me tell you people, it's not all it's cracked up to be. I would've been quite content to just be able to support myself with my writing. To write what I like and what readers like to read. I had no idea where this was all headed when I wrote my first little book.
It was great at first. Surprising and wonderful. Having money to do whatever you want is fabulous. I spent a lot of money those first few years. I bought a few homes, a new car (nothing fancy and I still own it), traveled, paid off debts for myself and those closest to me. But, soon I started noticing that too many people wanted too many things. People I thought were my friends, and people I thought loved me for who I was, not what I could buy them. And then there were the book signing tours for months on end and the movie deals I had to be a part of. I hated being forced to do all of that crap. I had every day planned for me for years. I couldn't go to the grocery store without being bombarded by people wanting autographs, or taking pictures, or asking if I remembered them and could I please do (fill in the favor) for them, when all I wanted to do was run in, get a case of Diet Coke and go home. It got to be too much. I never needed or wanted all of that stuff. I just wanted to be able to write for a living.
So, here I am all these years later. I am still rich and I still write. The difference is, now I write from my little cottage. I write a new book about every year or two, and because they have my name on them, they automatically become bestsellers. Most of my money goes into savings accounts for my kids once they have proven they can make it on their own (I don't want them to be cheated out of their own experiences...and struggling a little bit is a very valuable experience), or anonymous donations to schools and libraries.
I am still famous, but mostly for being a recluse. People seem to take great interest in that, and I'm positive that it is one of the main reasons that my books still sell so well. Every few months there is a tabloid headline with a picture of someone who isn't me stating that it is me. Oh, they've spotted me all over the world! Sometimes I'm obese and sometimes too skinny. Sometimes I've had so much plastic surgery that I am totally unrecognizable. None of the stories have ever been true. Silly isn't it? The truth is, I still look very much like I always have. I still change my hair color all of the time out of boredom and I have had a few nips and tucks over the years because I have to look myself in the mirror and not be horrified, but I am no Joan Rivers for sure. My neighbors have no idea who I am and I'm almost certain that the children in the neighborhood have made up plenty of stories about the lady in the little white house that nobody has seen for at least a decade. Only about six people know where I live. I cannot tell you where it is, but it is not out in the middle of nowhere. I like the sounds of the city. And I do go out sometimes. Mostly I go out at night, when the world is asleep.
 Don't feel sorry for me. I am completely happy and satisfied with the life that I lead. It is what I always wanted and I love it here. And no, I do not have a bunch of cats and I am not a weird germaphobe or a hoarder. I just like my quiet house where I can sit in peace and create my worlds on paper, and where nobody hears me talking to my characters.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I am not a pretty woman. Not naturally. I consider myself an artist when it comes to makeup application though, so I pass for somewhat attractive. What I look like when I leave the house is drastically different from what I really look like. I believe I am extremely vain and it is becoming more and more important to me that I look good as time goes on. I don't apologize for it and I'm not ashamed. I like when people tell me I don't look old enough to have a son that age, or when I get glances on the street. Maybe they tell me that to be nice, or look at me because I look funny, but I like to think it's because I'm hot. I don't mind my age at all, but I don't want to look my age. I see Valerie Bertanelli who looks great at 50, and Kirstie Alley who I was recently astonished to find out is 60, and I am hopeful that I can look as good when that time comes. My mother has aged well, and so did my grandmother, even though they both worshiped the sun most of their lives, so there is hope. I keep out of the sun mostly, and wear sunscreen and moisturizer to make up for the abuse that I've done to the inside of my body throughout my life (although my brother, the doctor, says there is formaldehyde in Diet Coke, which I consider a great preservative. With the amount that I've consumed in my life, I should look good forever). I'm not against paying for a bit of help along the way either. Nothing wrong with Botox, and a few other minor adjustments, in my book. Being a bit fake on the outside is okay as long as I keep the inside real, right? Besides, I don't want to embarrass my kids by being the mom who has let herself go. I once told my son that if he didn't straighten up in school I would use my sub days to go to all his classes with him until he did. This didn't faze him. Then I told him I wouldn't wear makeup if I had to go to class with him. His eyes widened in horror. I never had to go to school with him.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2109 N Forest

Dear House I Grew Up In,
I dont know if you remember me, but after all these years, I still find myself thinking about you and your neighborhood often. I remember the first time I saw you when I was four, before you were mine. I remember the trees in the backyard that seemed to touch the sky and the old couple who was selling you and how I thought they were going to leave that house and walk directly off to heaven. I remember walking to school on sidewalks littered with purplish-blue jacaranda flowers, and how if you stepped on them just right, they would make a snapping sound. And when Amy moved in next door with her long, blond, braided ponytails, I remember feeling that you had to be the best house, in the best neighborhood, in the entire world. It was in your backyard, right after playing basketball, and right before the boy shoved my brother's face in dog poop, that I kissed a boy for the first time. I could go on and on about my times with you. Of course, not all the times were good. I choose not to think about the bad things though. I know, all of the memories and all of the experiences, good and bad, shaped me and led me to who I have become.
I still see you sometimes. I drive by and hardly recognize you or the street that has been almost completely stripped of the giant trees that once lined and canopied it. I'm sure you wouldn't recognize me after all this time either. I'm not even close to being the same girl I once was. I think about the children who live there now, and if whoever has my bedroom also stares out the window every night making imaginary pictures in the trees, or hides under the covers with a flashlight and a book long after bedtime.
Some houses have a heart. Some houses have a personality. I have lived in many houses, but few have felt like home. Thank you for being a home.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


What will people say about you when you're finished here? The question has been asked millions of times, but have you ever really given it a lot of thought? Honest thought? Will it depend upon who it is that speaks of you? Would your co-workers describe you the same way the waitress that waited on you last week would? What would your parents, significant others, siblings and children say? Do you say hello to everyone, strangers and those you know well and everyone in between, with a smile? Are you nicer to strangers and people you don't know well than you are to those who are closest to you, or vice-versa? Do you do your best to be the person that those around you can depend on? Will some say you were kind and gentle, while others say you were abrasive and hard to be around? Who will describe you as being successful and who will disagree? Is it possible that some would say you are selfish? Needy? Independent? Funny? Honest? Would anyone consider you an inspiration? How many people wouldn't even show up to say anything?
I guess with many of us, it really would depend on who was asked. It is important to consider, isn't it? I am pretty sure, however, that the most important one to ask is yourself. Right now. While you're here. What do you say about you? Raise your hand if you have some things to work on.
(It's okay, I raised mine too.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


In the past few months I have learned more than I ever thought I would about networking and marketing. It's not my favorite. At all. One of the biggest networking sites for book lovers and writers has been very valuable. Here's the problem: trading reviews. A lot of authors on that site are trading their own books with other authors for review. The more reviews a book receives, the higher it climbs in rankings on Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Goodreads, and the better chance it has of catching the attention of readers. Sounds great, right? Yeah, except that the authors tend to give automatic 5 star reviews in order to get a 5 star back for themselves. I actually had someone tell me, "I give five star reviews within five days." My reply was that I would love an honest review of my book. I got a five star review five days later. Great. She did read the book, as they all do, but in her message to me when she was finished with it she called it "cute". That's nice. It is written for young teens. Cute is good. So why did she give me a five star rating, which means "It was amazing!"?  She didn't think it was amazing, and neither did the other author I traded with. I didn't think theirs were amazing either. I thought they were really good. Interesting. I liked one a lot more than the other one. I should have given two stars to one of the books and three to the other. But I didn't. What did I do? Yep. Just what was expected of me. I am a big, giant jerk. I have just lied to thousands of people who rely on book ratings on that site to pick their next read. SO, I have decided that I will no longer be trading reviews with other authors unless I know that we can be honest with each other and honest with everyone on that site.
I have received many reviews of my book, none too bad, many of them very good. When I say 'none too bad', it means the book was rated 3 out of 5 stars. Anything lower than that would feel terrible (one of the 3 star reviews stung a bit for a few days because the reviewer not only put the writing style down a bit, but decided to give away the entire plot in her review). The best review I have recieved so far was not even a formal review. It was an email from a woman I never met who found my book by accident and was almost late to work because she stayed up too late the night before to finish it. She called it unique and refreshing (I printed the email and saved it in my drawer of special things). If you have read the book and would like to review it on Amazon or Barnes&Noble, I would love to hear what you have to say. Reviews are great, even the not so fabulous ones, as long as they are honest.