Here Lizard, Lizard, Lizard

How long has it been – twelve years or something? Note to person who left me a message on Facebook six months ago – I never remember to check “other” messages, and now it won’t let me reply.

Anyway. The last two months have been…lame. So I’m going to pretend they didn’t happen, and we can just move on from there, ‘kay?

My alter-ego has completely taken over my life (the part that isn’t being taken over by my day gig – oops, I forgot – I wasn’t supposed to go there), so it’s very difficult to remember that there’s this other person named Wren Andre. Sort of like the premise for the Stephanie Meyer book “The Host“, soon to be a major motion picture. Hopefully, the first half of that film won’t be as excruciatingly boring as the book was. It got better after the first four hundred pages. Good thing I don’t give up easy.

I am feeling the need however, to hang on to a tiny part of me, and to not just completely let my Host envelop me. Especially since she spends way too much time contemplating naughty situations and positions for her characters to get in. For those who are wondering my opinion: Yes, I think Fifty Shades is going to help the genre and garner new readers. And despite the level of writing, you have to give credit: she created two characters that transcended horrible copy-editing and rampant overuse of the term “Oh my”. Isn’t that what readers want – to be engaged and lost in the lives of these fictional creatures? Most people don’t read fiction to critique it for an English Lit. class, they read it to enjoy it. Get over your jealousy people. I have. Almost.

With that said, let’s see if I can get back into some nostalgic writing here soon. That’s the plan, as I’m happy to say that my one year-anniversary happened somewhere around now, I’m pretty sure. For those of you following my pod-person’s journey, she has just completed the final line edits to her second release coming out in September, and is wrapping up the submission draft for part one in her three book series. That has been gruesome – I estimated each book would be 30 – 40, 000 words – and the first one comes in at almost 50 K. It’s not even the writing that’s the epic part – it’s the re-writes for something that long. Seriously – one of the characters somehow stole the other character’s Ford Bronco halfway in ( I accidentally switched their cars around – duh), and things like time of day (was it morning or evening?), name of a restaurant, have three or four days gone by – all of it becomes monumental the longer the thing is. No pun intended.

I’d might as well throw this in as well – my publisher has opened up a new line called “Clandestine Classics”. Remember Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? Well, take out the zombies and add in smutty scenes instead. They announced it to the world a couple of weeks ago, and the press has been crazy. Yes – my alter-ego made a proposal since they sent out the submission call only to their authors, so we’ll see. Sorry – I can’t tell you which one! Here’s a you tube video with a segment that Jimmy Kimmel live did on CC when the press broke (pretty hilarious):

Finally, the most exciting news of all: I pick up Lord Chumsley, my bearded dragon, tomorrow morning. He’s a big fella’ and will keep me company here by my computer. I shall post lizard photos soon.


The Dog Ate My Homework

*See below

Okay, I don’t really have a dog. But I did get a book contract offer last week, does that count? In other words – I am not finishing NaNoWriMo with 50,000 + words. However, part of the reason I couldn’t put in the extra word time is that my alter-ego who writes all of the naughty stuff received a surprising email before Thanksgiving. It came from one of the larger romance/erotica publishers and was inquiring if she would be interested in getting one of her stories published in an anthology. Uh…yeah.

After the smelling salts were employed, I had a lot of book and author information forms to fill out, and now the contracts (contracts? CONTRACTS!) are being sent out, at which time I will be a part of their author group and assigned to my editor. Holy publishing dreams Batman! So, I had to make a determination that involved keeping my job during the busiest time of the year, and not being a flake within the first twenty-four hours of getting a publishing deal, something I have literally been wanting for actual decades.

The decision became that NaNoWriMo had to be put aside for this year. Now, that doesn’t mean that those 26,000 + words were wasted, and I say this to anyone out there who signed up and wrote 2, 10, 30 or even 75,000 words. They all count and they all matter. On the extreme plus side, I now have 26,000 more words to a full novel than I did on November 1st. I can continue to work on it, revise and get it ready, and then hopefully I will have a full book to present to my new publisher (tee-hee, makes me giddy!) after the anthology comes out in May.

It’s been an interesting ride this whole NaNo thing. It was quite excruciating for me at times to squeeeeeeze those words out when it felt so artificial and pointless. I know everyone works different, so I won’t even pretend to try and analyze why this was so difficult for me. I suspect it had to do with the length of what I was attempting to write. That is a subject that’s been brought up more than once or twice by other fellow writers – the daunting nature of hurling up an entire novel. But I think that was Chris Baty’s point, to get as much on paper as possible, shoot for 50 K, and prove to yourself a novel is not out of reach for you as a writer.

My 26,000 words put a novel squarely in my sights; I can actually envision an entire book now. I will have to go back and trim some nauseatingly pathetic sections, but overall, I can see it. It’s real to me. And fortunately, I allowed my alter-ego to steal my NaNo spot, so I’m working on something that I could take to my new publisher. Wow, that statement will never get old.

* Borrowed dog Zilla from friend. If I had homework – she would most definitely eat it. Right after she smothered me in dog kisses.


You Look Mah-velous!

Guess I’m feeling nostalgic for some old school humor. Virtual candy corn to anyone who can tell me who said that famous phrase ( as in, my title).

But that’s beside the point. My computer has been cranky the last few days – it’s probably just feeling jealous over my impending Kindle Fire purchase – so I haven’t been able to post. Plus, there’s been the NaNoWriMo prep – which is not going as full-throttle as I’d like. That issue is primarily due to the excruciating day gig that has been testing my patience and self-control this week.

It’s not so much the actual job itself, it’s the humanoids that I sometimes come in contact with. I am in retail, and as my daughter once said, “It should be a requirement of everyone before they can graduate that they spend one week working in retail and food service before they are set loose on society.” I don’t think that people truly recognize how they look to others. It’s as if some sort of courtesy gene evaporates once they set foot on the carpet of a retail establishment. It becomes all about them and their need to fondle and molest the merchandise at will, and be the entire focus of your attention, even if others are also clawing and scraping for your time.

One of my “skills” as a retail goddess is to be completely earnest and sincere in helping even the most challenging of customers. Somehow I can smooth it over when one customer interrupts another customer as if they didn’t exist. (Remember, it’s all about them and their burning need to try on that shirt – Right. Frickin’. Now. ) For example:

Customer One: How much is that shirt?

Me: It’s on sale for only $9.98.

Customer One: That’s great! Would you happen to…

Customer Two (bursting in as if they were the only person on the planet currently, and I am their robotic slave) I want to try this on – Can you let me in the fitting room?

Customer One: (Gasps and looks indignant)

Me: Of course! I’ll be with you in just a moment. (To Customer One) I’m sorry, you were saying?

And varying versions of the above scenario. The one that sends one of my managers over the edge is when a customer loses the ability to form complete sentences. They are so overwhelmed by the amazing bargains, or the shopping frenzy – we are still not sure – but it involves the customer waving an item of clothing at us as if they were surrendering their country, and it is the flag. Sometimes the waving is accompanied by some odd gestures that point around the store as if their finger was a dowsing rod. Some have even been able to bring forth one or two words such as “dressing room?” or “here?”

The other one that happens quite often has to do with the utter lack of faith the customer has in your knowledge of your profession. It’s not university level work here people – literally it is not brain surgery – and since I spend about 40 – 50 hours a week immersed in the merchandise, I have a fair idea what’s going in with it. Now I realize they have been in my store for almost ten minutes now,  but I might know a smidgen more. God I wish I could say this stuff out loud. And keep my job. Here is this example:

Customer: Do you have this shirt in an extra large?

Me: I’m so sorry, it has been very popular, I’m afraid we’re all out. I could order it for you though.

Customer: No, I don’t want it that bad. But are you sure you don’t have it?

Me: Yes I am. I noticed we were running low, so I went to see if we had any more in the back earlier, but we’re all out.

Customer: Are you sure there aren’t any more in the back? It’s an extra large I’m looking for.

Me: Right. Uh, no, I’m sorry, there aren’t. But like I said, I could always order it for you.

Customer. No, I don’t want it that bad. But maybe you could just check in the back, just in case. I need an extra large.

Me: Yeah, see, I already checked this morning, but let’s go check the stack out here – sometimes people put them back in the wrong spot…

Customer: No, I already checked, there aren’t any there. But could you go check in the back?

Me: (on the way to the back) That was an extra large, right?

Here’s the thing; sometimes we have no idea how we really come off to other people. Our communication skills are rudimentary and lazy at times, and sometimes our sense of “me,me,me” can leave us acting a bit, well, rude. And I’m sure that many of the people I encounter that act like this would be horrified if they knew how they really came across. Obviously, I don’t expect anyone to bring me flowers and fall all over themselves being polite. Just common courtesy – to me, my staff, and the other poor customers waiting their turn to get help.

As writers, we also sometimes fail with our communication. In the same way a person’s interactions can be jumbled, or our true intent misconstrued in an email (that’s why we have all those cute emoticons so people know we aren’t being big meanies or smart-asses!), our meaning might get lost in the shuffle if we aren’t clear with our writing. It’s obvious to us what we mean – why don’t those silly readers get it? Reading out loud, rewrites, writing groups, critique partners – all of these things help to keep our intent on the right track. Keep us looking mah-velous. Because if you can’t get what you really mean across to your readers, you’re in big trouble. Even the emoticons may not be able to save you.

This is a shout out to Carol Deminski for taking the time to critique one of my short stories.  😉

NaNoWriMo: Let’s Do This Thing!

Yes – I am taking the plunge. I am even taking the 1st week off work in November in honor of National Novel Writing Month. I went ahead and officially signed up today at the NaNoWriMo website:

For those of you who have no idea what I’m going on about, I will share. Especially since I had no clue that this even existed until last November (in the midst of novel writing month), when I stumbled across an announcement at one of my favorite local coffeehouses. I was so sad when I realized just how clueless I was,(well – that happens frequently anyway) and resolved right then to jump in the following year. Yes, I know. I could always just go ahead and write a novel any month out of the year, right? RIGHT?

Sigh. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, and for anyone who’s ever met me, I have this little issue with finishing things I start. OK, a HUGE issue. Nike’s “Just Do It” trademark simultaneously inspires me and pisses me off. I would blame everything on having to go to work everyday – since it would then absolve me of all personal responsibility – but I’ve had long stretches of unemployment in my time to know what a pitiful excuse that would be.

So Chris Baty’s brainchild of NaNoWriMo is a good poke in the butt for me. Plus, I get the added fringe benefit of Chris’ slightly wacko humor, which I can completely relate to. He seems like a good kid. The whole idea of setting a seemingly impossible goal that results in actually finishing something in a short period of time makes perfect sense to me.

Here’s how it works ( my own personal paraphrased version): You sign up on the site (see above link), and set up an account. It’s 100% free, as it is run as a non-profit. Once you’ve signed up, you are now pledging to crack down in the month of November, and write something, anything, that eventually turns into some sort of vague thing resembling a novel by the end of the month. To become fully immersed in Baty’s philosophy, and get some good pointers on accomplishing such a task, check out Baty’s book, “No Plot, No Problem” :

The whole thing boils down to approximately 1,667 words per day, so it’s actually doable. You end up with something to work with, which is all I’m asking for at this point. If I could have a FINISHED rough draft of something, anything, I would be thrilled. Another cool thing that goes along with it is the sense of community; there are groups you can join, discussions and so on. Writing is so solitary, it’s nice to have that camaraderie now and again.

One side note: this is something where you start with basically nothing; just maybe an outline, or character ideas, notes, whatever – but the point is that you start something fresh, not something half-written already. You write said novel in that month. Since I’ve only ever written a very basic outline, and one snippet of dialogue between two characters for my Dystopian novel, “The Wilds People”, I want to use this as my platform to get on with it already.

So, I encourage anyone trying to start, finish, or take a first-time stab at writing to use NaNoWriMo as a challenge. Just do it.