Room For Improvement

Dear friends, it’s a brand new year. The slate is wiped clear, and we all get to start fresh. All of us. Let’s do this together, shall we? Working together can make the world a better place.

I have goals for myself, of course. It wouldn’t be quite fair otherwise.

My Goals For Self-Improvement

  • This is the year I will finish my current manuscript and begin querying agents. I’m hoping the manuscript itself will be finished in the next month or so, a first draft at any rate. And then on to rewrites, finding beta readers, and then the query. I am excited and terrified. This particular novel is a departure from anything I’ve ever written.
  • I need to do a bit of work on the ole physique. Yeah, I know it’s cliché. Have we met? I made a conscious decision to eat whatever I wanted over the holidays. This morning, I looked in the mirror and discovered all the fluffy pigeons had come home to roost. Right on my bum-bum. I must do better. I will get back to regular exercise and intentional eating. Although I would argue my Christmas eating was pretty intentional. I intended to eat that entire basket of candy bars without sharing.
  • If I buy books, I must immediately add them to my To Be Read list. It takes the commitment level up a notch to publicly commit to reading it. No more saying “I’d like to read this new book sometime.” I’ll post my list later this week.
  • To be as generous of spirit and selfless as my husband. The other day, I went downstairs to get a movie for us to watch, and I knew that no matter what I chose, my husband would happily watch it. I could have brought “Twilight,” and he’d have still smiled. At least on the outside.

My Wishes For the World

  • For words to be used properly.  The two that come to mind at the moment are “artisan” and “handcrafted.” Here’s a flow chart to let you know if the word is being used properly.
My first flow chart. Any recommendations for programs?

My first flow chart. Any recommendations for programs?

  • For reviewers to stop expecting that every female protagonist is a role model. There is a recent trend to upbraid authors for writing women and girls that aren’t paragons of modern feminism, especially in YA. As a writer, this trend really bugs me. I’m not writing role models; I’m writing people. Not every person I meet in life is someone I will look up to. I don’t see book characters any differently. Just because the protagonist isn’t a hero doesn’t mean the book is a bad one. Flawed characters are more interesting.
  • For us to make this the year we get the facts before forming an opinion. Or taking action. Even if it involves reading a primary source. I have to turn off social media periodically when some celebrity/political figure I may or may not have heard of is accused of doing/saying/thinking something horrific, so my feed blows up with folks calling for a tarring and feathering. And then it turns out that (*gasp*) the person in question was misrepresented and the media was making mountains out of tiny little mole hills. Hear something that bugged you? Research it a little. It feels terrible to get the proverbial knickers in a knot and later find out it was a tempest in a teapot. Don’t believe me? Ask Goodreads. And I could think of at least five other examples without really trying.
  • For all of us to quit being mean in the name of Jesus. In researching my current novel, I came across two websites by two different Christian groups that broke my heart. Both sites were busy trashing other Christians for what they thought the other believed. That’s not what it’s about, friends. If we’re caught up in mocking a group of people because they believe in predestination versus free will (or salvation instead of sanctification), we’ve missed the whole point and we might as well go home. Jesus was pretty clear that the most important thing after loving the Lord is to love our neighbor as ourselves. How’s ’bout we get busy doing that? Seems more productive in the long run.


And what are your hopes for the coming year?


Mediocre Expectations

You knew I would do it. Everyone else is doing it. I did it last year. It’s kind of expected. Don’t look at me that way. You probably did it, too. So there.

My New Year’s Resolutions for lucky number ’13.

1) Eat healthy food. This year, it’s strictly reduced fat Pop Tarts for me. And no more than one Moon Pie per week day.

2) Be less cliche. Which is why I’m posting my resolutions the second week of the new year. I thought about posting this in February, but I don’t want to change too much too fast.

3) Be more feminine. This year, I pledge to trim my mustache the first Saturday of the month, no excuses. 

4) Adopt a healthy lifestyle. One entire exercise video a day in 2013. Next year, I might even follow along. To be ready to take advantage of impromptu exercise opportunities, I will need to always wear sweatpants.

5) Learn at least one new thing. I can already cross this one off my list. I already learned that it was a mistake to add an account on my computer for my husband after his laptop died. Now he’s sitting in my chair.

6) Spend less time online. Done and done. See #5 This makes two things I can cross off my list, and it’s only the second week of 2013!

7) Read every book that came preloaded on Cujo. At least the titles. There are 100 of them, and some of those are kind of long.

8) Be more environmentally friendly. I may quit taking the kids to school. Think of all the paper and pencils that won’t go into a landfill.

9) Buy fewer toys. For the kids. My Harry Potter action figures aren’t toys. They’re collectibles.

10 Complete the things I start. There is nothing more annoying than

11) Read at least ten works of sci-fi/fantasy that are new to me. I thought I could start with the federal budget.

How about you? How do you plan to improve yourself this year?

And How Am I Doing? Thanks For Asking

As the paragon of diet and exercise, I was recently interviewed regarding my astonishing success in keeping my  New Year’s resolutions. The interviewer was sharp and witty, a hard-hitting journalist. You know. Me. And here, dear friends, is most important interview you will ever read. In the next fifteen minutes.

What steps have you taken to meet your exercise goals? 

I recently brought home an instrument of torture elliptical machine.   The good news is that I have actually used the stupid thing every day.

So what’s the bad news? 

The bad news is that the resistance is stuck on “Summitting Everest.” Using it for longer than five minutes makes me want to curl up and die.

Five minutes? Seriously?  

No, actually. Thank you for asking, although I wish you wouldn’t use that tone. TWO minutes makes me wish I was dead.  Five is the longest I have been able to power through without the heart rate monitor calling an ambulance. Or a coroner.

How do you stay motivated? 

For every 100 reps I do on the elliptical, I get a Snickers bar blizzard from Dairy Queen. You’d think it would get old, but it doesn’t.

Have you lost any weight? 

I’m sorry. I don’ t understand the question. And it really hurts my feelings when you make pig noises.

Are you making the improvements to your diet that you had hoped? 

I’m doing pretty well with this one. I have cut out most of the sugar in my diet. I still have it in my coffee each morning. And evening. And afternoon. I have even eliminated sugar from my morning Cheerios by adding raisins. And chocolate milk. My taste buds will eventually become accustomed to the reduced sweetness over time, I am sure. Did you just gag?

Can’t you just use an artificial sweetener? 

I don’t think so.  Eating artificial sweeteners leaves me wishing I could lick a brick wall to get the taste out of my mouth.

How is work on your book coming? Can we expect some big announcements soon?

I finished reading a book. And it was amazing. It took me a couple of weeks to go cover-to-cover,  but it was well worth the effort. I cried a little, I laughed a lot. That Curious George is one funny monkey.

Aren’t you supposed to be WRITING a book? 

There is no need to roll your eyes. Progress on my own work has stalled a bit.

Any particular reason, or are you just kind of lazy?

Of course, there is a reason:

The anti-muse


Isn’t it a little cliche to blame the toddler for your lack of productivity?

Hi, there. Have you ever actually read the title of my blog? Judging from the expression on your face, I’d say no, which is a little weird, since you’re me, but whatever. Blaming the toddler may be cliche, but it’s also true. In hour and a half that I have been finishing my blog post, we have made four trips to the potty, colored two pictures, played “Mommy, watch this!” 437 times moved the living room furniture to retrieve lost trains twice, read three books, and prepared two snacks. And don’t get me started on the “Why?” game.

Fair enough. Any plans to get yourself back on track in the near future?

I have heard that computers and cable are leading kids to grow up much faster than they used to, so I’m signing Squish up for Netflix. A few weeks of Jersey Shore, and he should be ready to move out, or at least get a job, and then I’ll have more time to work.

Wait. Where did you get a cell phone?  I didn’t know you had that. I thought we hated cell phones. Why are you calling Social Services? And why do you have them on speed dial?



The Journal of Fairly Predictable Results

I’m taking my resolutions seriously this year. My biggest desire is to take better care of myself, so when a fellow blogger started a blogging group dedicated to getting in shape in the New Year, I signed up with no hesitation. Or my husband signed me up. Or Phoebe gave me that look that clearly said “Your bum is closer to the ground than mine, and I’m a basset hound.” Or whatever. I was inspired.

See this face? Totally judging you for stuffing your pie hole with treats. Can I have some of that?


I don’t want to set myself up to fail, so I chose one goal to start with. Drink more water. It’s good for me in all kinds of ways. It’s good for my asthma, great for the porphyria, helps facilitate weight-loss, and it will keep my kidneys from getting bored. Win-win-win. Win.

Drinking more water sounds simple. And simple is my middle name. Well, my middle-middle name, right after Trouble, which is my actual middle name. Speaks trippingly, don’t you think? So I am drinking water. Lots of it. Like, 10-12 glasses of it. And now I have a problem.

When a human being consumes a large quantity of liquid, there’s a fairly obvious result, and I am not referring to  the clear skin and increased energy.  I’m referring to the fact that I am now trapped in my home because I cannot be more than three steps from a bathroom.

Keeping this one little resolution has taken a toll on my other goals for the year. One was to be more environmentally friendly. Which sounds great, but there are forests currently meeting their end in the name of my water intake. And forget exercise. I can’t do anything that involves jumping or sudden movements of any kind. I can’t even go for a walk unless it’s in a heavily wooded area with no other people around and lots of hiding places, just in case nature calls. Right now I don’t have call-waiting.

I am trying to adapt to this disruption in my life. To balance out the natural resources I am burning through, I now leave the bathroom light off. And I have taken to carrying a backpack loaded with an unabridged dictionary. The additional weight is building my quads with every pit stop.

I can do this thing. And to make it worth my while, I’ve decided to reward myself. Each day that I am successful with my goal, I get to eat a Big Mac and a chocolate milk shake. I can practically feel the pounds just melting away. I will power through. Who’s with me?


Update: I’m Being Thwarted

I'm onto you, woman. Stay out of my bed. Stay far, far away.


***I do apologize to those who got the first draft in their inbox with its questionable title. Big shout-out to WordPress for including Urban Dictionary trash words in their spell check.


So yesterday I shared my list of Resolutions. Yes, it’s a capital letter. Because they’re that important. And I expected to run into a few roadblocks along the way, but not right out of the starting gate. The universe is conspiring against me.

#2 is becoming a bigger challenge than I thought, as the cats have taken to sleeping on the couch in the family room. I know better that to wee where I Wii, so I must wait.

#4 is a little dicey, as well. The moment I hit “publish” and announced to the world that I plan to blog five days a week, my computer began making strange noises, as though is were filled with African killer bees. I should have known. In the middle of editing the post, it gave me the blue-screen of death and for 15 minutes, I thought I had lost everything. My computer is roughly 143 in laptop years, so I should be realistic.If you don’t hear from me for awhile, it’s because I had to take it out in a field and shoot it.

#6 is not as much fun as I wanted it to be. The temperature here dropped well below freezing, so the thought of outdoor exercise of any kind is unpleasant. My husband decided yesterday that I should go to a mall to get some walking in. I put on my polyester stretch pants and went for it, and what a mistake that was! I barely got out of there alive. Between the choking fumes pumped into the corridor by that hot clothing retailer Armpit & Stench and the cute little train that was someone’s genius idea to make holiday shopping in a crowded mall more death-defying than ever, I decided that indoor exercise is not worth it. Does it matter if I lose 15lbs if I meet my end under the wheels of a mall-train?

#8 reared its ugly head, as well. I know I am not to compare my progress to others’, but how can I not? There’s a fitness center in my area that has been posting billboards with esoteric close-ups of bare skin. I’m not even sure what body-part I am looking at. Is it a thigh? Abs? An armpit? I don’t know, but I get the very strong feeling that my whatever-it-is should look like that, too. And I am sad. There’s a new one where the model looks more like challah bread than an actual person. I KNOW I am sorely lacking in braided-bread-body-parts. And I am dissatisfied. There is someone shinier and lumpier than I, and it is not fair.

On the up-side, my husband returned to work this morning, and I have not yet let my dog Phoebe drink out of his coffee mug. Though she is looking pretty comfortable on his side of the bed and has asked to try on his racing shoes later this morning. Hey, a girl can’t change overnight.

I Solemnly Swear

I will hike at least four new trails this year. In addition to the old favorites.



Yes, I did it. You knew I would. I made a list of resolutions. I know it’s cliche. Have we met? So here they are, in no particular order.

1) When the seeds of doubt are sown, I will choose to not water them. I don’t water anything else. Why should doubt be special?

2) I will return special favors. At least once this year, I will pee in the cats’ bed and see how they like it.

3) This is the year that I will remember that kitty litter goes in the trash can, not the recycle bin.

4) A blog a day keeps the doctor away. And by doctor, I mean psychiatrist. And by “a blog a day,” I mean five days a week,

5) I will be in public the person that I am in private. Expect to see me in my pajamas a lot.

6) I will exercise daily and get in better shape. Playing the Wii and jumping to conclusions are considered exercise, right?

7) I will finish my book and look for an agent. The book I’m writing, not the one I’m reading. Although it would be fun to be represented for someone else’s book. Wonder if they could get me a cut.

8 ) I will not compare my progress to others, even if I am lapped by an old man with a 15 year old dog, either in real life or the literary equivalent.

9) I will not jump to the conclusion that my children want something when they go out of their way to do something nice for me. I will accept it for what it really is – that they know I am insane and must be humored.

10) I will learn a new language. That’s right, this is the year that I will learn to speak to teenagers.

11) I will drink more water. Add a little carbonation, caffeine, high fructose corn syrup, and it will be great! Throw in a splash of bourbon, and it’s practically anti-bacterial.

12) I will teach my cat to talk. She’s part Siamese, so I’m almost cheating on this one.  She’s so chatty she’s almost speaking English already.

13) I will be more environmentally friendly. This year I will only buy books second-hand or in e-format. Unless J.K. Rowling comes out with a new Harry Potter. A girl’s gotta have some wiggle room, you know.

14) I will not let Phoebe occupy my husband’s side of the bed when he’s out of town anymore. Or let her wear his shoes. Or drink out of his coffee mug.

15)  I will have an overnight getaway with my husband, just the two of us. Okay, three of us. Phoebe will want to come, too.

No coffee for Phoebe? No shoes? No fun. Why don't you love me?

I’ll be spending the next couple of days catching up and responding to comments. Thanks for hanging out with me this year. Looking forward to 2012.