Why Is My Face Red?

We all suffer from it, that infliction known as embarrassment. At the moment it occurs, our face turns red and our body flushes with a heat that can only be compared to a hot flash.

Each time I get caught in an embarrassing situation, I believe I’m the only one this has ever happened to, and yet common sense tells me that’s not true. So I did a pole of a few of my blogger friends and they were more than happy to share their most embarrassing moments with me.

Lisa Hall-Wilson: I Can’t Believe I Said That and Biking In Panties

Susie Lindau: My Most Mortifying Moments

Jenny Hansen: Embarrassing Blonde Moment and No Porn On The Job

August McLaughlin: Sweaty Impulses & The One That Got Away

My most embarrassing and painful memory occurred in grade eight science class, when a racy little note got passed around from student to student and finally fell into my hands. It was something about sex, which I read, of course. As I turned to pass the note to the boy behind me, our teacher – well known for his cruel and inhuman ways to torture his young students – snatched the note from my fingers and silently read it.

The room went quiet. It was one of those just-kill-me-now moments, although that particular phrase hadn’t yet been invented. After a few tense seconds, during which I braced myself for the inevitable emotional pain of his punishment, the teacher decided I should stand up and read the note to the rest of the class.

It should’ve been so simple. After all, half the class had just read the note and had been fortunate enough to escape our teacher’s detection. While I turned a brilliant shade of scarlet and read the note aloud, the teacher and my classmates roared with laughter.

Can I blame them? Heck no. There’s something so funny about witnessing someone else’s embarrassing moment. Caught unaware, we laugh in reaction, and it’s only afterwards that we consider how our laughter might have affected the person involved.

Of course, it’s all part of being human. There was the time I came out of my first ever massage, only to trip over the curb and land on the street on my butt. There was another time when I asked a former co-worker when her baby was due, only to discover she wasn’t pregnant at all.

Will the embarrassment ever end? Will I someday learn to pay attention to where I’m going or what I’m saying? Not likely and maybe that’s a good thing, because if we can’t laugh at ourselves, is it fair to laugh at others?

So now it’s your turn to share a moment of sheer embarrassment. I promise not to laugh too hard.

(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)

A World Without … Books?

Sometimes I think about how awful it would be to live in a world without books. Usually it’s a result of watching TV and seeing old footage of people burning books.

But then I reach for my Kindle, admire the towering digital-to-be-read pile that awaits me there, and forget about my concerns. After all, even if every print book on the planet disappeared, we’d still have our digital copies to read and pass on to future generations. Right?

Thankfully, Jan O’Hara’s recent Tartitude blogawakened me to the truth and the worst possible scenario. No power = no ereader.

A world without books of any kind?

This realization comes while I’m in the middle of decluttering my house, so that in 30, 40, or 50 years, my boys won’t have to dispose of our treasures (or what they like to call our junk). I’ve been parting ways with my beloved books, something I haven’t done since we packed to move to this house 19 years ago. At that time, every book I set into the box to give away broke my heart.

This time, though, I’m a little older and a little tougher. With every box I cart out of the house, I tell myself that eventually all books will be in digital form and I’ll be able to buy them for my ereader.

But now my overactive imagination has taken over and I’ve decided it’s less likely I’ll have to fight zombies in the future than do without books.

So what would I do if I got rid of all the print books in my house and the power went out … permanently?

My first thought is that I’d find pen and paper and write stories to entertain myself. My next thought is … what if there is no pen and paper either?

Ack! I’m a lousy verbal storyteller, unlike both my boys who can tell tales off the cuff. I’d start and stop and think, then want to edit every word uttered. Best to leave the verbal storytelling to those who are good at it.

And so, to alleviate my bookless fears, my decluttering has come to an end. The shelves of books and stacks of magazines will have to remain where they are until my boys are moving their dad and me into a much – much, Much, MUCH – smaller living space.

Till then, I’ll hold my long time friends near and dear to my heart because let’s face it, even a three day power outage could cause a diehard reader without a book to go into withdrawal and shock.

So while you all prepare for the upcoming Easter holiday, I want you to take a break and answer these questions. Have you ever thought about giving up your stack(s) of print books? Or do you think zombies will attack you before you ever have to live in a world without books?

Happy Easter everyone!

(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)

Walking on a Tightrope

I’m rewriting a story. I’ve been rewriting this story for the past two years. Every time I pull it out, I stare at the words on the screen, then decide I’d rather become a tightrope walker without a safety net. Instead of writing, I fold laundry, walk the dust bunnies, and stare out the window at the still falling snow.

I tell myself I’m thinking. Yeah, deep thoughts are good until they turn into the question: What if this story can’t be fixed?

So I put it away, only to pull it out a few months later. And the process begins once again.

Stare, think, jump in the truck and go visit my mom.

I’ve finally figured out that there’s an invisible wall between my current thought patterns and the way my brain worked when I first wrote this story. Back then, I wrote angst. Oh, how I loved to torture my characters, putting them into a world filled with emotional pain. Thumbscrews to the wall. Such writerly fun.

But then I went through a rough patch, a year when I desperately needed laughter in my life and couldn’t dredge any up. So it came out in my writing efforts.

I drafted four romantic comedies, relishing in the snark that showed up on the pages. Laughing with my heroes and heroines as they dealt with family and each other. I discovered a new home for my writing and a new voice to go along with it.

Still, this story drew me back. I loved the hero and heroine and desperately wanted to share them with the rest of the world. Soon laughter spilled onto the pages and my new voice crept into the manuscript. Every time I pulled it out, I bounced back and forth between the old story and new story, between my old voice and new voice, attempting to reconcile the two and find some balance between them.

I’m back at it again, torn between the angst and the humour, attempting to find a structure in which I can incorporate them both. Or maybe I’m just procrastinating, putting off the inevitable difficult work ahead or the realization that this manuscript can’t be fixed, that it needs to go into the deep dark recesses of my computer hard drive and vanish forever like a fugitive on the run.

What do you think? Have you ever decided to rewrite an old manuscript, only to discover you’ve changed and can’t change back? Have you ever had your voice change midstride, then tried to incorporate the new with the old? Have you ever read a book where the author seemed to struggle between two very different author personalities?

Come share your experiences with me. I’m walking on a tightrope, hoping someone will toss me a safety net.

(Originally published at Women Unplugged.)

Shiny and New

Have you heard the tale about the curious little girl who, after breakfast one morning, left the house and headed down the block to grandma’s house for supper? (Don’t worry … this isn’t one of those tales where the girl gets eaten by the big bad wolf.)

Well, the story goes something like this.

The little girl spotted her neighbour’s prize roses, stopped to enjoy their irresistible scent, and ended up staying for milk and cookies. By the time she left, it was almost noon.

A little further down the street, she stopped at another neighbour’s yard to check out the goldfish in the new pond, and decided to stay for lunch.

By early afternoon, she was back on the road, determined to make it all the way this time. Except in the next yard, she spied a flock of hummingbirds feasting on some impatiens and before she could control the impulse, she’d joined the neighbour for tea.

When the little girl finally arrived at grandma’s house, it was dark, supper was over, and grandma had gone to bed.

This week, I’m that little girl. Everything around me is shiny and new and so very distracting. And I know exactly why.

I’ve resumed rewrites on my women’s fiction story.

After reading through the opening chapters, I’ve discovered I’ve barely left the house, that there’s a really long journey ahead, for both my characters and for me. I’m sure I’ll occasionally be witty and brilliant, but at this stage of the rewrites, the work still sucks and all I want to do is shove the story back under the bed and find something better to work on.

So how do you keep yourself focused on your job, whatever it might be? Are there moments when your focus splinters and you find yourself ready to tackle the most dangerous stunt, if it will only save you from the dreariness ahead? Or do you put on blinders, refuse to get distracted, and stay the course until the end?

Curious minds what to know.

(Originally posted at Women Unplugged.)

Happy 2012!

Another year has come and gone. 2011 was fun and productive. I learned a lot about indie publishing and in the process, even managed to get some writing done. 🙂

A huge thank you goes out to D.D. Scott and Tonya Kappes from the WG2EP blog. They have been a huge source of information, sharing the details of their indie publishing journey with everyone who stops to read their blog.

Another thank you goes out to my CaRWA chapter mates. This group of women — plus one terrific guy — are warm, caring, and welcoming. Although I live four hours away from the group and am unable to attend the monthly chapter meetings, not a day goes by without chatter on our chapter email loop.

I’d also like to thank the Bandit Creek group, whose special comradery has resulted in a 33 book series by 32 authors. My book comes out on July 15, 2012. I will be forever grateful to Vivi Anna aka Tawny Stokes for being the driving force behind this endeavor.

Also, a special thanks to Kristen Lamb and the WANA1011 team. It’s true. We Are Not Alone! Through The WANA class, I’ve met so many awesomely supportive people.

And last but not least, a very very special thanks to my long time friends Ann Voss Peterson, Susan Vaughan, Linda Style, and Virginia Kelly. I met these terrific women during the Outreach International contest way back in 1989 and we have been friends ever since. They have read and critiqued and encouraged me while I tried to understand plot and structure … and they finally succeeded in getting this important knowledge past my thick skull, into my brain, out my fingertips, and onto my computer screen. I love you girls so much. You are the best writer friends a girl could ever hope for!

So from my house to all of yours, I wish everyone a safe and Happy New Year. See you in 2012.

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