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Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Place...Happy Place...Happy Place...


Well, I think I'm fine now. After I had that melt-down of sorts the other day. It wasn't a total nuclear thing, just a minor ordeal. It got me to thinking though. We've become so comfortable with the known and expected, that when BIG change comes, we freak. At least I do. It's hard for me to digest that our country is morphing and groaning with alteration, and with it, so is business as usual. It's a little hazy out there...a little murky.

This whole publishing thing is driving me up the wall. Are we going to have to build a "web presence" just to get read? Are cyber-fans a writer's future? Will we be holding Kindles instead of flipping lovely worn pages. I had mentioned in an earlier post that maybe Yankee Candle will have to come out with a new fragrance called "Dusty Pages" or maybe "Leather Binding." Who knows? All I do know is this...I LOVE to write. And I feel that this is what I'm supposed to do with my life (along with a few other things). So, whatever the changes are in this crazy industry, whether it be the raising of the writing standards because agents are taking on fewer previously unpublished authors, or the increased rejections by agents because publishing houses are cutting back and aren't taking the risk on new authors due to the economy, or WHATEVER...I just have to remain quietly discontented. Quiet in my heart and discontented in my writing. I have to keep growing and sharpening my skills, while refusing to lose my peace in all of this craziness.

It's gonna be a long hard road for those of us who have not yet broken into the industry. But, won't the victory be all the sweeter? To be noticed during such a turbulent time as this will speak volumes (no pun inteded). We have to be on our best game. Put our best stiletto forward. Reach deeper, and go farther, than ever before. More discipline, more stretching, and more challenges to self. More writing! More reading!

Rachelle Gardner posed a great question today. Check it out. I've asked myself many times if I'm supposed to be a published author or just a writer for hobby. How do I know which I am? (How do you know which one you are?) By listening to our inner-most self. Being brutally honest and forthright. That's how. Is this our true identity or one we've adopted on our own? Are we self-ordained or destined? These are the questions that rise to the top during times like these. You know? When the going gets really tough. It is now that we discover what we are truly made of, and why we are made that way. And, if we truly believe that we are to be one of the "published ones" then no hell or high water should serve to discourage us during this arduous process. It will only serve to sharpen our iron and strengthen our resolve.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:










My best stiletto is forward!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Just when I thought I knew me...

I don't know if other writers and readers are feeling like me or not...a little queasy about the economy and the projected path that our country may be headed for. When I took my girls up to the library the other day for our regular visit, I checked out two books (as usual). One that is a serious, dark classical piece of work and one that is a light hearted and sassy romp through superficial terrain. After attempting to "get into" the jazzy, breezy story of the witty girl trying to land the cute, single, straight, rich guy, all while in her 4" stilettos, I'm finding that I'm not so interested in the light hearted and sassy chick-lit right now. I'm drawn to the more serious literature. Today, I feel like these funny little beach-day books were from another time, when a big problem would be whether or not Gucci was having a trunk sale on the day I had scheduled botox.* Bummer! I just couldn't do it! It just seemed so, out of touch...for now, that is.

So, I've set aside the frivolous frolick and have opted for John Steinbeck. Good lord! What is happening to me?!

Now, if you were to ask me if I've quit buying shoes during all of this, I'd have to say, no. I've bought two more pair and a pair of designer sunglasses to go with them. (All on sale, of course!) Actually, the drive to shop and eat mass quantities of chocolate has, unfortunately, been on the increase. So, shopping habits still intact, it's only been my reading that has taken a serious turn. Maybe by the time I'm finished with "East of Eden" I'll be sooooo ready for some "funtabulous" chick-lit, while wearing designer shades and strappy wedges.

Do you find that your reading habits right now are reflecting what's going on around you? When times seem difficult, do you read the heavy stuff or do you need the reprive you get from characters with shopping addictions and colorful martinis? I was shocked! I thought for sure I would want the light stuff, but I went full-blown "lumbering soul, but trying to fly," as Mr. Steinback would say. Geesh! Well, it could have been "Grapes of Wrath!" But, that's for an even darker day.

* Disclaimer - I've NEVER had botox injections. Not yet, anyway.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:







A little dark. A little mournful.
But, still having a sense of humor about it all!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lovely Locks


Today I'm not writing about, well, writing. I have to tell y'all what happened on Saturday. My youngest, who is ten, decided that she wanted to get her hair cut and donate her VERY long hair to cancer patients. I was so touched. This was a decision that she had considered and made on her own, with absolutely NO influence from her parents.

She had never had her hair cut in a "real" salon. She has always just wanted to wear it straight, and kinda hippie-ish. Therefore, I was always the one to give her her trims and such. But, when she decided to donate her hair, her father and I thought it would be great to take her to a really nice place geared for girls her age. We have a place here called, "Sweet and Sassy," and boy is it both! She had a blast.

They pampered her, and treated her like the princess that she is. And, most of all, she felt like one. This was a big step that I really felt needed to be documented. So, here it is from start to finish (well, sorta).

Getting ready for the big cut!

It looked like it was gonna hurt! Over 8", people!

So proud of my "Boo-Bear!"

Tina, her stylist, even sprayed her bangs pink and doused her with fairy-dust. Of course, we had to buy the "Cup-Cake" scented hair-shots to go with the whole experience.

Her hair is being donated to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Campaign. Please, if you ever consider donating your hair (I know that I'm going to when the time comes to cut my length), please donate to this campaign. They DO NOT charge cancer patients like the other well known hair donation site does. It's a wonderful and compassionate thing to do. All of the guidelines can be found at the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Campaign site.

Hair donation is something that is close to my heart, as is any thing that helps women who have faced difficult and challenging experiences, feel good about themselves. This is just another wonderful way that we can help our sisters who have suffered so much physically and emotionally. Feeling beautiful goes a long way in building inner-confidence and a healthy self-esteem.

By the way, "Boo-Bear" LOVES her hair! She hasn't stopped playing with it since Saturday. Tee! Hee!

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:

"Sweet and Sassy" just like my girl!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Courageous Souls!

Where in the heck does the time go? I could have sworn that I just blogged two days ago. I must be in a time warp or something. Things have been so crazy. Never a dull moment, I'm afraid. But, I don't like for too much time to pass without touching base with y'all, and airing whatever it is that's swelling my brain and causing my eyes to go all "buggy."

I'm kinda overwhelmed with school right now. I'm getting ready for early enrollment for next year, parent tours, and prepping for spring conferences. Then I have to begin planning the graduation ceremony for my little guys, and I haven't begun to plan my March lessons yet, and... well, you get the point. My writing has taken a back seat as well this week. So, Saturday will be the day. I have to finish my revisions. Especially because I thought I was finished to begin with. OOOPS! No, I just really felt that a last minute shift in a certain area would be beneficial to the story. I believe that it will be richer for it.

These are hard decisions that we as writers make. Are we over thinking the process, or under whelmed with the result? Just like with the stone analogy that I gave you the last time, it takes great effort to do what we do, and to walk away from a completed work, feeling good about it all.

I have been thinking a lot about writers lately. No one writer, in particular. Just writers in general. Man, are we brave souls! We are a truly unique breed of people. We are practically gluttons for punishment. We work and work and work without pay. We only have the hope of eventual compensation for a story well told. We have to have the patience of Job. We daily place a demand on our creativity, and stretch our comfort zones. We are constantly asking ourselves, "What if?" and "Then what?" We rip to shreds, time and time again, the very thing that we have poured our heart and soul into. We have to be brutal. We have to be brutally honest. We even talk to ourselves...uh, did I say that out loud? Yes, I dialogue aloud. Please don't tell me I'm the only one. I'll not believe it! Yes, we are different. In a good way, of course. We are courageous.

"A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage. Everyday sends to their graves obscure men whose timidity prevented them from making a first effort." - Sydney Smith

Continue to be courageous. No matter where you are in this arduous process. For those of us who have not yet tasted the joy of representation or the triumph of publication, it's all right. We are all at a different place and will have our day if we stick to it, continue to hone our craft, and remain teachable as we learn more and more about this industry. Remain courageous! Keep stretching! And, most of all, don't give up. (This has actually been a pep talk for me. Hope it did something for you as well. Tee! Hee!)

"Diamonds are nothing more than chunks of coal that stuck to their jobs." - Malcolm Forbes

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:









Digging in my 4" heels and holding on for dear life!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Singing Stones

"Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill." - Edmond Morrison

Amen, brother! I have always loved that quote. It helps me to keep things in perspective. I'm at a place right now, (in my revision) where there can be a fantastic surprise, if you will. Another unexpected twist. I know it's there. But, I've not figured it out yet. I refuse to go on until I "get it." It's gonna take some patience and skill to work this thing out. It's hiding in the shadows just waiting for me to call it out and expose it.

This is what thrills me about the writing process. We as the writers can be just as surprised at times by the turn of events that happen in our stories as those who are the readers. Then, we must fit everything together, smoothly and seamlessly. Authentically. It all has to make great sense. It has to be real.

I do feel as though I'm laboring on a great stone wall at times. Each stone, large or small must have it's place. If it doesn't, then it must be thrown to the side for another time, maybe. I may love the stone, I may think it's beautiful, but if it doesn't fit, it doesn't fit, period. Then, there are the spaces of wall that need that special stone. That standout one, that lends to the overall beauty of the work. It may be the stone that has the hue of a gray mist amidst the otherwise beige tones of the soil. Or the dusky red of a mid-west sunset. Either way, you know it belongs among the mass of other stones in order to have a beautiful and completed work of something special. Something that sings.

It is difficult, arduous, and daunting at times. But, when it's all finished, and we can stand back and look at the completed work, hopefully, it will sing.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:







I want my work to sing and dance! Kareoki anyone?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Friendly debate, anyone?

Now, I'm not one for stirring up trouble. Well... okay, maybe just a little. Anyhoo, I was watching a cable news program the other day, and I was privy to a most interesting debate. Should kids continue to be taught cursive writing in school? Or, is this just "old school," throw it out and teach them to type instead? I'll not say where I stand on this issue at this point and time. (Don't be fooled, I do have an opinion on this matter.)

Some feel as though cursive writing is a dying art-form. If we loose it, we will lose something sacred. And, others believe that teaching young children to type is the only way to insure their success in a media and techno savvy driven world. From text-ing and emailing, to blogging and AIMing, to mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc., those who don't learn to be proficient in their typing skills will be left behind. Although, isn't it nice to receive a handwritten note or letter by "snail mail" every once and a while? And, isn't it important that children today learn how to write smoothly and effortlessly when taking notes? (Oh yeah, there's the laptop and other means by which to do so.) What do you think? Are you for one or the other? Or, are you torn right down the middle?

Just thought I'd ask... talk amongst yourselves.

XOXO CJ

Shoe Mood:










Can you "Guess" what I think? Tee! Hee!
(I know, I'm such a doof!)

Must Reads

  • "A Long Fatal Love Chase" by Louisa May Alcott
  • "Gone With the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell
  • "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith
  • "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
  • "Rebecca" by Daphne Du Maurier
  • "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing" by M.T. Anderson
  • "The Grace Awakening" by Charles Swindoll