Monday, December 31, 2007

What happens when I get a new toy...

I still haven't worked out all the kinks in this new-fangled video web cam, and I'm not even sure I like it. (For instance, my lips are not actually green and I can't seem to make the color appear lifelike.)

Eh, whatever! It's a small price to pay to show off some crazy snaps I just took.

Happy new year to everyone who visited in 2007!
I can't wait to share stories, ideas, woes,
laughter, inspiration and successes
with you all in 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Geek Chic

It's coming... 2007 is winding down, which can only mean...

[insert drum rolls]

The SciFi Channel's day-long Twilight Zone marathon New Year's Eve into New Year's Day!


Of course, I'll be glued to the tube and will probably watch more TV than I normally do in a season, but it's so worth it. I mean, every ounce of my nerdism twitches when I hear the theme song!

My favorite Twilight Zone?

Though it's tough to say (I love so many of the episodes), I do have a special place for the one where Art Carney plays a drunk playing Santa... and of course, the one where Robert Redford plays Death is terrific, too... and we cannot forget about "Talking Tina", a disturbing tale indeed!

Oh, such delight!

I love being a geek!

So... what's your fave Twilight Zone episode? Or are you more of a Trekker?

(Better go polish my pocket protector and tape my broken inch-thick glasses...)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Aw, Fudge

As someone who has a competitive nature, I hate to run into road blocks... especially when they come courtesy of my own mind.

I've been working on some projects and there's one that has come together, but in a thoroughly disappointing way. I mean, it's just not good. Really not good.

It's a type of writing I don't typically do... and I've never marketed my services for it, but a long-time client requested something a little different. And so I delivered. Sorta.

The problem isn't the money issue. (Can you say "Freebie?") I don't give a doggone flibbity flubber about lucre in this instance.

It's the fact that I hit a wall so high and so wide... and I can't find the freakin' door or even a small crack in the foundation through which I can slip. That's driving me nuts.

It makes me want to shout naughty words out my window:

"Cruddly pinking sheers!"

(I don't swear much anymore... can you tell I'm out of practice?)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Looking for yet another title

You have to love kids.

(Okay, you don't have to. In fact, I hated them until I had our son who is the light of my universe. But I digress...)

I adore the pic I've posted here (look to your right) and I'm seeking the perfect caption. The one I have now is kind of blase. (Okay, it's boring as hell.)

So come on. Surprise me again. You guys are awesome title-maker-uppers!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

[As Yet Unititled]

Like all writers, I have my strengths and weaknesses. And I work on honing the former and minimizing the latter.

One of my strongest abilities is in formulating good lead-ins. I feel fortunate to be able to design paragraphs that draw the reader in and keep his/her interest. I think that's been a large part of my success thus far.

However, I stink at titles. Really, really stink. The stench is palpable and has probably felled a dozen or so cattle in the last year alone.

It's something that doesn't make sense. I'm a creative individual, and I have a decent command of my native tongue; yet I cannot seem to put together titles that sing. (Usually, they just cough and sputter.)

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to play a little writing exercise just to work on developing our imagination and innovation.

I came up with the following five titles (all appropriately bizarre), and I'm inviting you to engage with me in a simple game. We'll try to come up with a description of the stories, plays, poems, et cetera that could "match" the titles.

For instance, if the title were "Knockers on Fourth Street", I would suggest that the corresponding work could be a compilation of photographs (coffee table book style) of door knockers in the historic district of a town. Alternatively, the title could be for a children's book about a family whose last name was "Knockers" and who lived on Fourth Street.

Okay, so onto the titles so you can play, too!

Just be inventive and crazy -- the wilder, the better. I don't have any prizes, but you'll win oohs and ahhhs from your peers! And who knows? You might find inspiration from the experience.

Title #1. "Porcelain Mummy"

Title #2. "Chocolate Shadow"

Title #3. "A Penny's Worth of Night Owls"

Title #4. "Tulip Treasures"

Title #5. "Snippets of Satin"

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Purr, purr...

(FYI... I turned thirty-six on Friday. No biggie, though I did feel a twinge of sadness to say goodbye to thirty-five, which was a pretty decent year, all things considered!)

Anywho... I received two unexpected "birthday gifts" last week from fellow writers Jason Evans and Hoodie: The opportunity to call myself a lioness!

Yippee! Meoooooow!

Here's the deal (as I understand it.) Seamus started a Shameless Lions Writing Circle and encouraged bloggers to "tag" other bloggers to receive the honor of "A Roar for Powerful Words".

As Seamus explains:

"How does it work?

Below are copies of the award that we can each distribute to those people who have blogs we love, can't live without, where we think the writing is good and powerful.

I thought interested members could kick things off by publishing the award on their own blog, naming five people they would like to give it to (members or non-members), and accompany the image with three things they believe are necessary to make writing good and powerful. The recipients then do the same, passing it on to five other people, and so on."

Suffice it to say that I feel quite surprised by this delightful gift!

Of course, the rules state that I have to name three things I believe make for good writing, so here goes:

#1. Objectivity - I heard recently that Ayn Rand (whose work I adore) wouldn't allow any edits of Atlas Shrugged, comparing her literary child to The Holy Bible. Though I do appreciate Rand's fiction and vision, I can't help but wonder how much better her work might have become if she didn't treat it like a "baby". I know that it's tough to step away from your words, but editors are in place for a reason. Without them, writing wouldn't be the same.

#2. Humor - There's a romanticized notion that every author broods in a garret, locked away from the rest of humanity. S/he is usually angry, cynical and humorless, determined to capture images and stories before being called upon by the Grim Reaper. For me, that kind of attitude wouldn't do. I like being able to laugh at myself. (And believe me, I do it every morning when I check out my growing fanny in the mirror. Ugh. Did I mention I'm a year older?)

#3. Persistence - Obviously, the best writers are damn persistent. They have to be. The competition is fiercer than ever, and if you don't keep throwing your hat in the ring, you'll be lost. I'm fortunate to have a sales background which helps me tremendously in this area; even though there are days that stink out loud, I keep coming back like a jonesin' junkie.

Okay... now the really fun part! Naming some other bloggers for the award!

My first nominee is...

Jennifer Chait, from Offbeat Homes, 7 Babes a Blogging, and Balance! She's such a friendly writer that you really feel like you're invited to share her life. I never get the sense that she's being anything other than herself; it's that kind of attitude that keeps me coming back!

My second nominee is...

Mary Whitsell, from ResidentAlien. Mary's posts are incredibly thoughtful and persuasive. She's obviously an introspective person and I adore her musings. (In fact, one of them was the inspiration for the contest that just wrapped up here at Recess for Writers!)

My third (and final) nominee is...

Beth, from The Perfect Neurotic. This gal has a wonderful sense of humor as well as the ability to generate tons of commentary. She's also just someone you want to know better.

Congratulations to the nominees! You're all PURRRRFECT!

Collect your awards at

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The results are... IN!

Our three “celebrity” guest judges (Aluminum Chef Sadie, Easy-Bake Ophelia and Louise la gourmande) have been working overtime, scoring each of the five recipes entered by contestants Carolie, Saskia and Mary.

After tallying all the results, I am happy to announce that Carolie has won “The First Ever Recess for Writers… er… Cooks Contest” with her recipe entitled “Southern Spring Brunch”!

Because there were five entries, I will be donating $10 to the charity of her choice. (Carolie, let me know what it is at your convenience!)

Of course, all the entries were fabulous in their own ways; consequently, I thought you might like to hear what the judges had to say about each one:

Entry #1: Carolie’s “Southern Spring Brunch”

Easy-Bake Ophelia: “Is it a soup can … or a cookie cutter .. or a summer pudding mold … you decide! Loved that Carolie actually completed the task of naming her dishes.”
Aluminum Chef Sadie: “A lovely suggestion for a bridal shower, provided the guest of honor is already ‘in bloom’ and craving pickles with every meal.”
Louise la gourmande: “Extra credit for excellence in writing and elegant use of cooking terms.”

Entry #2: Carolie’s “Heart of the Snow Tiger”

Easy-Bake Ophelia: “Minus the fine china, isn’t this dish served at the hospital?”
Louise la gourmande: “French title – Coeur de tigre de neige.”
Aluminum Chef Sadie: “Will appeal to the hopelessly self-important who must be told what to eat… I have to get my appetite back after reading ‘grey, quivering matter’.”

Entry #3: Mary’s “Lazy Woman’s Option”

Louise la gourmande: “Extra credit for yard-work tip.”
Aluminum Chef Sadie: “The title is eye-catching and quite appealing, yes, and anything fried in butter can’t be all bad. Way to incorporate lawn care into your recipe, though surely a lazy woman would find someone else to do that for her, no?”
Easy-Bake Ophelia: “Loved that Mary pointed out to us all that something you ingest can also be used as a weed-killer! Mmmmm…. I hear murder-mystery contest next …”

Entry #4: Carolie’s Third

Louise la gourmande: “My, she’s [Carolie] prolific.”
Easy-Bake Ophelia: “This recipe sounds yummy, and I liked the creativity of the rolls!”
Aluminum Chef Sadie: “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that ungodly pickle/radish mousse sounds kind of good! Or perhaps it’s the lesser of all the evils? I wonder if it could be used as a spackle for sidewalks, working hand in hand with Mary Witzl’s weed killer? Ladies, you might be on to something here.”

Entry #5: Saskia’s Entry

Aluminum Chef Sadie: “Gluten appetit! That’s a lot of buttermilk to consider, even for this dairy loving gal. The French toast sounds great, though I could do without the pickle garnish - unless I were “in bloom” and craving that unholy combination.”
Louise la gourmande: “Rembrandt’s favorite meal, perhaps?”
Easy-Bake Ophelia: “Of all the recipes, this one sounded the most edible… Loved that the strawberries were turned into syrup for the buttermilk French toast.”



Carolie’s “Southern Spring Brunch”


2 cups of strawberries7 kosher dill pickles (you may use the pickle brine for extra points)4 cups of buttermilk3 radishes5 slices of wheat bread1 stick of butter2 eggs


1. Preheat oven to 400F. Thinly slice strawberries, macerate in 2 cups buttermilk.
2. Thinly slice radishes and three of the dill pickles horizontally into coins, marinate in bowl with dill pickle brine to cover.
3. Arrange two clean tin (steel) cans with both tops and bottoms cut off onto a baking sheet. Use one tin can to cut two circles from each of three slices of whole wheat bread. Butter each circle of bread on both sides.
4. Place a single circle of bread in each tin can, spoon 1/3 strawberries with buttermilk onto bread. Add another circle of bread, then another third of strawberries. Add third circle, and all of remaining strawberry/buttermilk mixture. Cover entirely with a layer of bread scraps, leftover from cutting circles.
5. Place a circle of parchment paper, cut to fit, on top of bread scraps. Place a slightly smaller can (an UNOPENED can of sliced olives perhaps?) on top for pressure, add yet another can (Beans? Tomatoes? Soup? Or a clean brick!), and refrigerate.
6. Whirl one of remaining slices of bread in a processor to create fine crumbs.
7. Slice two of the remaining pickles lengthwise into four long planks each, and blot as dry as possible with paper towels.
8. Beat one egg and half a cup of buttermilk in a small bowl until foamy.
9. Dip pickle planks into beaten egg/buttermilk mixture, then into breadcrumbs, and set on a rack to dry for five minutes. Repeat egg and breadcrumb dip on each plank, and fry each in remaining butter (reserving two teaspoons of butter for later use) briefly until golden. Drain on a rack set over paper towels.
10. Soak final piece of bread in remaining buttermilk until extremely soft.
11. Whip bread/buttermilk mixture until smooth, add remaining egg and all of remaining egg/buttermilk dip mixture from pickle process, beat until frothy.
12. Coat two oven-safe ramekins with 2 teaspoons reserved butter. Divide bread/buttermilk/egg mixture between ramekins.
13. Bake in oven until slightly puffed and mostly set.
14. Turn strawberry bread puddings upside down onto pretty dessert plates (leaving behind pressed out buttermilk and strawberry juice), using can of sliced olives to hold down puddings as cans are removed.
15. Cut final dill pickle in half. Slice thinly, but NOT all the way through each half. Fan slices out and tuck ends into base to create curled pickle fans. Use fans to garnish souffles.


* Radish & cucumber salad in dill and garlic dressing
* Crispy butter-fried dill pickle planks
* Buttermilk souffles with dill pickle fans
* Strawberry-buttermilk summer puddings

Contest Results Coming Soon...

I'm not dead... really... or at least I think I'm still alive... whatever...

Anyway, I will be announcing the contest winner very soon!

I've asked three "celebrity" judges (a.k.a., a trio of offline friends who are witty beyond belief) to rate all the recipes based on creativity, edibility factor, use of ingredients (extra point for the pickle brine) and presentation.

Their responses are so hilarious and wonderful that I think I'll just be listing everything here, hopefully later today! So stay tuned...

Oh, and for your pleasure, check out this YouTube video about the WGA strike:

I just keep watching it for kicks. It's totally inspired and I'd love to meet and talk with the writer(s) and actors.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Update on This Here Contest I'm A-Sponsorin'!

First of all, special thanks to Mary and Carolie for their uber-inspirational dishes in response to my contest announcement! (I especially laughed at Carolie's second one... see the following post's comments and you'll immediately understand.)

And for other visitors, please contribute to the First Ever Recess for Writers... er... Cooks Contest. Even if you're not an Iron Chef (thanks, Ello), you can still try your luck! Of course, if you're not interested, that's a-okay, but do pass along the contest's link to friends who might want to try their hands at the challenge!


I've decided that in the spirit of the holiday season, my prize will be to make a donation to the winner's favorite charity (as long as the charity doesn't support murder, child porn, weird guys who enjoy flashing people in train stations, et cetera... I reserve the right to object if I find the charity to be offensive.) I prefer donating online, so make sure your non-profit of choice has that option if at all possible. (Many offer PayPal buttons on their websites.)

There will be only one winner, and the donation amount will depend upon how many entry submissions I receive by the deadline*:

-> 1-5 contest entries - $10 USD donated
-> 6-10 contest entries - $15 USD donated
-> 11-15 contest entries - $20 USD donated
-> 16+ contest entries - $25 USD donated

(Incidentally, an official "entry" has to be serious... and at least somewhat edible. You can definitely enter more than once, but if it's a "joke" entry, it won't count toward the final number of submissions. I might giggle, though, so don't hold back if an amusing idea comes to you!)

* FINALLY, I'm extending the deadline for one day to give everyone time to spread the word and jump into the fray. This means all entries will be due no later than Tuesday, December 11, 2007, noon (E.S.T.)

I'm planning to post the winner by Wednesday, December 12, 2007 in the afternoon. (Pennsylvania time.)


Friday, December 7, 2007

Unexpected inspiration

Though I'm suspended in a migraine haze today, I had a blast of much-needed inspiration, thanks to Mary's latest post at ( about the creative cooking abilities of a friend.

In honor of her fabulous story (check it out then come back here, I beg of you), I am hosting

The First Ever
Recess for Writers Contest!

Ironically, the contest has nothing to do with writing. But it definitely requires some serious innovation.

The rules are pretty darn simple.

Entrants have until Monday, December 10th at noon E.S.T. to send me their most imaginative (and edible) dishes using the following seven ingredients ONLY. Any cookware may be used (such as the type that is nonstick), but no other food products can be thrown into the mix.

The most original recipe will be highlighted in a special blog post here on Tuesday, December 11th.

I'll probably hand out some sort of prize, too, but I have no clue what it will be as of right now. So let's just call it "a surprise" and leave it at that! (I'm open to ideas. Perhaps a special little icon you can put at your website? The Recess for Writers... er... Cooks Award?)

In any case, here are your seven ingredients. As Tim Gunn coolly announces on Project Runway: "Make it work."

1. 2 cups of strawberries
2. 7 kosher dill pickles (you may use the pickle brine for extra points)
3. 4 cups of buttermilk
4. 3 radishes
5. 5 slices of wheat bread
6. 1 stick of butter
7. 2 eggs

Happy inventing!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Short of repeatedly hitting my temple with a hammer...

... does anyone have a natural migraine remedy that actually works? I'm battling a toughy today and it's really getting in the way of enjoying the "little" things in life like... oh, ummm, let me see... writing and eating.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Now, I must sit in a darkened room and visualize calm blue waters or some such nonsense. Wish me luck.

Let's try something new...

Up until now, I haven't ever tried including any writing job advertisements in this blog, but I was intrigued by these two enough to pass them along.

They are from Craigslist and both are (probably) low-paying, but if you have a relevant finished or half-finished story sitting around collecting dust, it might be worth a query or submission.

And please, please, please don't get discouraged if you hear nothing or get rejected after contacting these folks (or any others). It's just part of the game.

And that's really what every business is, after all. One wild game with rules that change at a moment's notice.

Unlike a lot of working writers, I won't lie and say it isn't personal when you get negative responses, because sometimes they are personal.

But don't take them to heart.

Flip your computer the bird and move on. Or blog about the bastards who said you weren't good enough. Screw 'em. (And I say that in the spirit of the holiday season.)

Good luck!

Writers & Editors Needed for New Magazine

Reply to:
Date: 2007-12-05, 2:01PM EST

Artist's Soul Magazine is a brand new publication aimed at the art community, attracting artists of all stripes and colors.

We are anticipating the premiere issue to be released in late spring / early summer. Our magazine will include something that will interest people from a variety of artistic backgrounds including the fine arts, digital arts, photography, performing arts, independent film enthusiasts, the literary arts, and the list can just keep breaking down from there.

We provide relevant information, intriguing articles, useful tips/tutorials, product reviews, and superb design. We are in need of the following individuals to join our team: - writers - editors We welcome any and all skill levels: students, professionals, self-taught individuals.

If you are a student, this might be the perfect opportunity to gain widespread recognition and exposure within your respective field. Please email your resume and three (3) samples of your work

Compensation: negotiable


Women Writers

Reply to: see below
Date: 2007-12-01, 7:29PM EST

We are an ezine that promotes communication between women writers, authors, editors, agents, publishers and readers.

We are currently seeking freelance writers for our upcoming editorial schedule and themes. Please visit: to get the flavor of our columns and features.

Writing Schedule and Themes for WOW! Women On Writing:

Jan. 2008 - Focus on Readers: book reviews, author interviews, how to make a freelance living at writing book reviews, book clubs, literary guilds, author interviews

Feb. 2008 - The Romance issue: Writing for romance markets, how to craft romantic scenes, book reviews, author interviews.

Mar. 2008 - Small Presses: Focus on how small presses create buzz, small press profiles, author stories about their experience with small presses.

Apr. 2008 - Big Publishing Houses: focus on traditional publishing, editor interviews, crafting a query letter or book proposal, trends in publishing.

May 2008 - Freelance Union: how to make a living as a freelance writer, copywriters, technical writers, book doctors, legal writing.

Our Columns pay a flat rate of $50-$75. Feature articles pay a flat rate of $150. Feature interviews pay a flat rate of $75.

Please visit our Contact Page for complete writer's guidelines and contact email addresses for the editorial department. We urge you to visit WOW! Women On Writing and view our previously published material.

NOTES: Get your submissions in as soon as possible. Spaces fill up fast. We also appreciate photographs to illustrate the article, or at least the writer's portrait. We are a highly visual online magazine.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Warmest regards, Editors: WOW! Women On Writing and our entire staff

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Have YOU Got "Rhythms"?

I'm fascinated by the notion of biorhythms, though I don't necessarily believe in the principle behind them.

In case you're not familiar with what biorhythms supposedly are, here's a brief explanation in my own words (which are not flowing like they should since I've only drunk half of my morning coffee allotment):

There is a belief that, depending upon the date you were born, your emotional, intellectual, and physical "cycles" will peak at predictable intervals. However, all three will only occasionally be at similar levels; thus, on a given day you might be able to easily understand complex calculations related to the time-space continuum but still struggle to get your ass out of your chair.

How's that for an answer? (Need.More.Java.)

Anyway, just for fun, I periodically like to get a free biorhythm reading over at Though I'm not entirely "sold" on the notion of biorhythms, it's an enjoyable diversion. And today I was in for a treat...

According to their computations, December 5th is a strong day for me not only for my primary biorhythms (the three mentioned above), but also for my secondary biorhythms (mastery, passion, and wisdom).


So why the hell am I sitting here feeling like a big old moose chewed me up, spat me out, shat upon me, then repeatedly kicked me for half an hour?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Changing perspectives

Before I say anything, take a gander at this incredible photo of Sophia Loren.

What's the first thing you notice?

If you're an American, I'm sure it will be that she has tufts of underarm hair.
That was my initial thought, too.

But she's gorgeous. Even with those well-coiffed armpits.

When I first saw this image of Ms. Loren, it was hanging in a frame in a restaurant. I couldn't take my eyes off it. I mean, I'm so heterosexual it hurts, but it still took my breath away despite the dark fluff peeking out from under her shoulders.

This photograph honestly made me change the way I thought about mainstream attractiveness. Not that I'm going to stop shaving any time soon, but I recognize that beauty sometimes shows itself in unexpected ways.

So... what did you learn today that changed your perspective? (Aside from the fact that I am indeed a very disturbed, sick human being who desperately needs to be placed in an asylum for overworked, exhausted, punchy writers.)

Keeping promises

Well, I didn't get to become the seventh babe of "7 Babes a-Bloggin'", but that's okay. I appreciate all your support and it was fun to see how close I could get to the top spot.

(Okay, truth be told I really wanted to win and have been crying for days now, unable to console myself. In fact, I'm thinking of throwing my worthless wreck of a body under a bus.. oh! The cruelty of politics!)

In any case, I didn't forget my promise to all of you. I said I'd post a pic of me at the height of my adolescent awkwardness. And so I shall.

May I present to you the 1983 "me"? Try not to stare too long. Your eyes will fall out. (Oh, and close your mouths. Flies will congregate in there.)

Please take special note of the ill-fitting, too-skimpy shorts; the horizontal stripes (ah, nothing says flabby like white stripes across a lumpy belly); and the I-don't-care-hair. And that IS a legitimate Barbie doll I'm holding.

(P.S. The other person in the picture is and was my best friend, Sarah. But I wouldn't be so cruel as to include her photo on this site.)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Give it up ~

Oh gawd. It's December.

I know, I know... you're well aware of that fact. After all, the date is right at the top of this post. Pretty hard to miss.

While I've always liked this month (happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me...), I dread the impending holidays just like scores of other Americans.

Buying. Spending. Gluttony.


It's so excessive and disgusting. All I want in my stocking is a gift consisting of two uninterrupted hours at the gym followed by time at my laptop and/or on the stage and I'll be a perky turkey. (This has yet to be given to me as a present, by the way. But I'll continue to ask for it year after year.)

So all my Grinchy pessimism got me a'thinkin' (which is always a recipe for trouble). Out of all the things related to the holiday season, what one aspect would I choose to keep? (And I only allowed myself to pick one, though I do enjoy a couple others, like certain holiday television classics.)

It took some deliberation.

Would I choose to keep the Christmas tree? Nah, I could easily screw the whole "bring a too-big balsam into the living room and let it shed its needles on the floor while I get scratches on my arms trying to give the poor dying thing water" experience.

How about gifts? Yeah, right. See my post from November 23rd and you'll know where I stand on the whole "buy this, buy that" expectation. Ho, ho, no.

Baking? While I do love my sweets (though I haven't eaten chocolate in almost 12 years, which might make for an interesting blog topic), I could do without having fourteen million gingerbread men going stale (or, worse yet, rotting) on the kitchen counter.

Holiday tunes? I don't think so. You try listening to Miss Piggy warbling out a Christmas chant or Britney Spears butchering a tune that's already been slaughtered by a dozen other "artists". (And don't get me started on Madonna's "Santa Baby". *puke*)

I could honestly live without experiencing anything I've mentioned above.

But what wouldn't I want to live without at this time of year?

As weird as it may sound, my answer would be the way December 25th feels when my immediate family members sit down for a leisurely, lovingly-prepared meal. Really, that's what it's all about for me (sitting at home with a frozen TV dinner just wouldn't be the same.) Of course, I'm not talking stuff-your-face-until-you-pray-for-death gorging, but the simple bliss that comes from knowing your only goal is to eat, chat and reminisce.

(I know, I know. Pass the pancakes. That's so syrupy it makes me gag. In fact, if you're diabetic, you may need an insulin shot after reading the preceding paragraph. My sincere apologies.)

So... what would you never give up about this spirited time of year? (Or, in other words, what aspect of the holiday season doesn't make you want to crawl into a hole until January 1st?)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A compromising position

I suppose it was bound to happen to someone close to me, but when I got the call, I was still pretty doggone shocked.

Someone "stole" my husband's identity and used it to open an account at a major retailer a state away. Fortunately, the financial services provider for the retailer smelled a stinkin' rat and called us immediately.

After many phone calls, he now has an "alert" on his social security number, et cetera. However, as a public service announcement (does this count as community service in case I do something illegal at some point in my life?), I want to remind all of you that filling out forms for new clients can be somewhat of a crap shoot. Even if your contact is completely legit him- or herself, someone else who works in his or her office might not be so squeaky-clean. It's fairly simple to "lift" an individual's info and use it to buy all sorts of crap.

Consequently, I'm hoisting my fat ass onto my dusty soapbox and urging you to exercise caution when giving out personal data. You don't have to get paranoid about it -- life's too short to turn our OCD tendencies into overdrive -- yet you shouldn't ignore the fact that there are assholes and cons out there.

Enough said. Be safe, boys and girls. This playground needs you healthy, wealthy and wise. Oh, and a little bit witty and weird, too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From Sizzle... to FIZZLE

(FYI -- this post relates to the last one, so you might want to read that one first.)

So I drove to last night's social networking event with the excitement of a kid who sneaked a pregnant squirrel into his bedroom unbeknownst to his parents.

I had it all planned... I would try the following answers to the age-old "What do you do?" question:

- I work for the Centers for Disease Control and we're wrestling with a particularly tenacious, contagious airborne bacteria that has us stumped. (cough, hack)
- I hunt and eat moose. Zebras, too.
- I can't tell you that. (followed by a long, uncomfortable pause while staring innocently into the disbeliever's eyes)

I parked the car.

The building was lit up in a Christmasy theme. Garlands here, lights there. Oh, the anticipation!

I quickly glided to the door, not even feeling the chilly night air. Bliss, pure bliss!

I'd have the opportunity to use my 26+ years of theatre! And I couldn't wait!

I stepped into the lobby. I told them my name. I reached for my name tag...



That's what my name tag boldly declared.

Foiled. Spoiled. Roiled.

As my enthusiasm turned from a hot sizzle to a cold fizzle, I mentally switched the game plan. I decided that I'd tell other people that what they thought they did wasn't really what they DID do.

The results?

1. I told one gal she should be an exotic pole dancer because her name sounded... well... almost made up and a little too peppy. (She laughed, by the way -- it was at the end of the night and I think the wine that flowed at the event helped open the doors for me to make such a naughty statement to a stranger.)

2. I told another gal who sheepishly admitted that she had just been "let go" from a position and was looking for another that she was a "Reinventress", as in a gal who was reinventing her persona. She suspiciously eyed me for a second, then timidly smiled.

In the end, I had a good time, but was still ticked about the name tag fiasco. In retrospect, I should have just ripped it off and made people guess my moniker and job. Next time, I'll have a contingency plan in place.

(Oh, and as a quick FYI, when people asked, "What IS a freelance writer?", I responded, "I get paid to tell stories." Not exactly witty, but more interesting that going into detail about the nights spent drinking diet cola until 2:00 a.m. in order to meet a deadline.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Social networking

I know that we freelancers have a reputation for eschewing social events, preferring instead to sit alone in our dusty homes petting our kitties and munching ferociously on salty-sweet snacks. However, I've never been able to find solace in being a hermit 100% of the time.

Thus, I signed up for a local social networking event that takes place tonight. It's just one of those holiday shmooze and mingle things -- no biggie, right? Except for one thing... I want to have fun with it. I don't want to pretend to be the CEO of my own company whose feces has no odor. I want to make a positive impression as someone who is professional, yet a little offbeat, too.

Therefore, I'm planning to change up the way I usually present myself to others: "I'm a freelance writer and performer, yadda, yadda, yadda."

Why be boring when I could answer the old question, "What do you do?" with responses like:

#1. If I told you, I'd have to kill you. (Thanks, Tess, for this one!)
#2. I'm a janitor in the building. Please don't spill anything or I'll be here all night.
#3. I don't have a job. Does your company have any openings?
#4. I'm a stay-at-home mom. I just came here to drink.
#5. You tell me.

Okay, so I wouldn't seriously say numbers three through five to strangers (unless the party is totally dull), but numbers one and two I would try.

In the spirit of the blogosphere (and because I know you're all such creative, weird, wild and wonderful folks), I'm encouraging you to send me snappy, memorable answers to those ennui-inducing questions like "So... whaddya do?" and "Where do you work?"

If I like any of them, I will use them tonight as conversation starters (or enders, depending on whose listening) and report back to you with the findings.

Oh, and I'm not joking. I will absolutely do this. See, I have very little shame. I mean, what the hell? In 100 years, I'll be dead and no one will give a crap whether or not I bombed at a central Pennsylvania social networking event.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Not too proud to beg

(I feel a little like a smarmy politician campaigning for office, but here goes...)

My fellow blog buddies.

As you know, I enjoy being a part of the blogosphere for many reasons. First, it's informational. Secondly, it's social. Third, it's entertaining. And fourth, I can be naked while 'net surfing and no one will ever turn their heads in horror or call the local authorities.

Consequently, I am asking each and every one of you to vote for me as December's guest blogger at 7 Babes a Blogging:

Though I cannot promise to change your world (or, alas, even your toilet paper roll), I can assure you that, if elected, I will do my best to amuse you with pictures of me from my incredibly awkward teenage years. (I'm serious. I'll do it. They're worth seeing. Very, very disturbing.)

Thank you for your support. I bid you good night!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Screw Shopping... I'm Giving Up...

Five Things I’d Rather Do Than Go Shopping on Black Friday

5. Personally give my cat a tongue-bath.

4. Unclog a toilet in a public facility using my bare hands.

3. Clip, shape, and polish the toenails of a professional drifter.

2. Model a bikini under harsh florescent lighting for a crowd of angry teens.

1. Listen to an opera based on the life of Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

If you want to lose your appetite before your Thanksgiving pig out...

... I suggest you drop by my other blog, Quoibles (

The link on my current post is to a site that, though funny (in my sick opinion), will also help you stick to your holiday diet plan.

One warning: Guys should be very, very careful about clicking on the link. It's kind of a "female thing". Don't say I didn't warn you!

Saying "Thank You" to Clients

So... it's Thanksgiving morning (gobble, gobble!) here in the States, and I'm pondering just how I'll say "thank you" to my clients this year.

You see, ever since I began freelance writing in earnest, I have paid special attention to sending my customers (or at least the best ongoing ones) something special for the holidays.

The first year, it was rather easy because so many of my clients were local... my son and I baked, cooked and organized gift baskets, then sent or personally delivered them. But now, many of my regular clients are scattered around the globe -- which poses a bit of a conundrum.

In discussing this with a freelance friend of mine, Tess, she mentioned that last Christmas she sent relatives who live on the opposite coast gift baskets that were filled with unique-to-Pennsylvania products such as Middleswarth potato chips and Tastycakes. I love this idea... in theory.

The problem, as she pointed out, was the expense in mailing such items. Let's just say that she could have spent a lot less than she did if she had hired a hitchhiker to travel across the country and deliver them him- or herself. And add to the innate expense of mailing moderately heavy boxes anywhere the fact that some of my biggest clients live outside the United States.

Yikes. I could wind up spending tons of moolah just for postage, boxes and some of that damn bubble wrap.

Incidentally, I've checked out vendors for my clients who are local to them and am considering ordering specialty baskets through the Internet. That way, I can order stuff right from my home office.

But something about that doesn't feel personal enough for me. I like to be more hands-on. If I'm going to do this (and I am), I want it to be creative and memorable.

So I'm open to suggestions. (Please, please, please!)

As a quick side note, when I checked the United States Postal Service for restrictions on sending items across the Atlantic, I discovered that sending arms or parts of arms is strictly prohibited. Dang it. What am I going to do with all the disembodied limbs I have ready to go?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Big Old Juicy "Thank You"

I wanted to send out a huge note of THANKS to Jason Evans and the community over at his blog, The Clarity of Night.

I was quite taken by surprise when the story I wrote for his latest contest won the Readers' Choice Award as well as an honorable mention.

I'm trying to figure out a way to pay him back for his kindness... but until I think of something more creative, I'm simply going to urge all of you to visit him, comment on his poems, stories, photographs and musings, and definitely take part in his next contest (scheduled for mid-February.)

Congratulations to winners Raine Weaver (1st place), Beth, aka The Perfect Neurotic (2nd place), Leon Van Eck (3rd place), Dottie Camptown (4th place), Precie (5th place), John Weagly (Honorable Mention), Josh Vogt (honorable mention), and Szelsofa (honorable mention).

Come to think of it, I encourage you to stop by ALL of the winners' sites? (Links are available through The Clarity of Night.)

Just Because I Work from Home... (* Snarkiness Alert *)

... doesn't mean that I can be available at a moment's notice to do something that isn't on my agenda.

... doesn't mean that I need another book for the holidays on how to work at home.

... doesn't mean that I have no professional workplace experience or abilities.

... doesn't mean that I don't shower... I definitely do, but not always in the morning! *wink*

... doesn't mean that it's easy to do all the housework and laundry. (In other words, yeah, my house is a mess. I'm working on it... I'm working on it!)

... doesn't mean that I'm an introvert who cannot look another human being in the eye.

... doesn't mean that I'm impractically "book smart" (i.e., devoid of common sense.)

... doesn't mean that I am a rebel. (Oh, wait. Maybe it does. Scratch that one...)

YOUR TURN! Finish the sentence...

Just because I work from home...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Seven Signs You’re probably a Freelance Writer

7. You know your laptop more intimately than you know your spouse.

6. The idea of working 9-5 puzzles you.

5. Your commute consists of walking into your dining room.

4. You’ve spoken with clients while partially or entirely nude (without them ever knowing.)

3. Vampires see the sun more often than you do.

2. “Schedule C” and “estimated taxes” are two terms with which you’re thoroughly familiar.

1. Every day is “casual Friday”.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So... What Is It You Do, Exactly?

"So... what is it you do, exactly?"

I can't tell you the number of times I've been asked this question. From friends. And relatives. And people whom I assumed understood what I do.

Honestly and truly, I never thought what I did was very mysterious. I mean, I write. Sure, what I write is different from what other writers, journalists, reporters, poets, playwrights and authors write. But we're all basically doing the same thing.

I think.

Or I thought.

But at this point I'm starting to ask myself: What is it I do, exactly?

At social networking events, I automatically describe myself as a freelance writer who primarily writes and ghostwrites articles, website content, press releases, advertising/marketing copy, business reports and blogs.

The response to this incredibly dull description is usually a blank stare. Blinking ensues. Drinks are sipped. Awkward silence is followed by light coughing.

Then, the question. "Have you written any books?"

Well, no. Well, yes. I mean... I've been published in a book and I'm working on a nonfiction book.

(Does that count?)

In the end, I usually have to describe several articles I've written and the magazines/publications/websites where they've appeared. By then, the other person has a better grasp of my chosen line of work... and he or she is ready to vamoose because I've become tiresome.


I suppose I naively assumed that everyone would just understand (and perhaps even be interested in) what a professional freelance writer does because there seem to be so many of us out there right now.

I was wrong.

Therefore, I'm putting a call out to my fellow writers... How do you answer the age-old question, "What do you do?"

Is there any solid response? Or are you forced to try to explain how it is that you can make a paycheck at 1:00 a.m. while you're sitting in bed half-naked with your cat, your snoring husband, and your laptop?

(On a side note, the next time someone asks, I'm thinking of answering, "Well, aside from murdering drifters and prostitutes upon occasion, I like to write." Think that would get me attention? Or perhaps a stay in a penitentiary?)

Friday, November 16, 2007

What'$ it all about?

Freelancers, be advised: It's not about the money.

There, I said it.

Many freelance writers whom I respect will disagree with me.

They'll cite bidding wars where the lowest bidder gets the job (do you really want that assignment?); they'll tell me that when they raise their rates, they hear nary a word (then the clients were going to pains in the ass to work with); they'll tell me that they only get jobs when they work for a mere pittance (then it's time to raise your standards or seek out a mentor who can help you become a better writer.)

I still stand by what I've experienced over and over in every form of sales: It's not about the money.

It's long been known that humans buy emotionally 99.9% of the time. That's why all those damn candy bars, packets of gum, and magazines are at the register at the grocery. Their mere presence makes you WANT to buy them. You had no interest in them before you saw them. Then, suddenly, you NEEDED them.


They're powerful stuff.

And as a freelance writer, you can appeal to your clients and prospects on an emotional level, too. But you have to first remove the money bugaboo.

See, your client wants you to THINK that he or she is all about facts and figures because it's a handy excuse to create a barrier between the two of you based on dollars, Euros, or pounds. When you remove that barrier, he or she will be forced to deal with you on a deeper level.

For example, when sending out query letters, I never include per word or hourly rates unless an ad expressly states that they must be included. And even then, I tend to use ranges rather than saying, "I will definitely need xx cents per word." See, I don't know the client yet... I don't know the extent of the assignment... and I don't want to pigeonhole myself... so how in the world could I possibly give an exact rate?

Some clients don't have a problem with this -- for those that do... well... they weren't serious, in my opinion.

When meeting a client or potential client in person or speaking with him or her via telephone, I simply say in response to inquiries about my rate, "Well, we can talk about remuneration later. What I'd really like to know about is your vision for this project." Once we've devoted several minutes to building an understanding between us, I can give him or her a much better indication of a price tag. And by this point, the client sees me as more than a money symbol; he/she sees me as an expert in whom he/she has invested time and energy. A bond has been formed.

Always, always, always, my personal goal is to remove the money wall and appeal to the needs, wants, emotions of my clients.

Sure, we discuss money... eventually. But I'd like to know first of all what he or she really wants of me as a freelancer. Sometimes, they want a monkey. (While I enjoy bananas, I don't enjoy being paraded around while wearing a diaper.) Other times, they want a writer who can also be a top-notch editor. (This can be a sticky situation.)

Most times, they aren't sure what they want.

But I'll never find out anything if I allow myself to be defined by a dollar $ign.

If you think I'm full of shit, I don't mind hearing it. Maybe I am. But my approach to freelancing based on selling principles has worked thus far. Perhaps I've just been fortunate... I invite you to decide.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My One and Only

When I sold services in a business-to-business environment, I adopted the philosophy that I would treat each client as if he or she were my one and only customer. That didn't mean I was available for conference calls at 2:00 a.m., nor did I do any illegal favors... but I did make sure that when I spoke with someone, I was truly focused on what his or her company needed.

By being attentive, I found that it was easier in the long run to iron out any rough patches. (And believe me -- even in the best of partnerships there are stumbling blocks.) You see, the clients really felt that we had a rapport. And we generally did.

Of course, I didn't enjoy working with all my clients. In fact, there were a handful who drove me to the brink of wanting to become a hermit on some remote island. But they never knew.

Today, I employ that same "you're my only client" philosophy when dealing with freelance writing customers.

It's not easy.

There are times when I'm tempted to say to a particularly demanding individual, "Hey, listen... I have other clients, you know!" But as long as my customers treat me with an element of respect and professionalism, I never mention the other projects on my plate in direct terms. Occasionally I'll refer to my "workload", but that's all.

Now, I realize that there are times when it makes sense to break this rule. If a client acts as though I'm lower than the dirt under his or her fingernails, I'm certainly not going to bend over backwards. I'm not a doormat and I don't suggest anyone take on that identity.

That being said, the next time you speak to a client or prospect, I encourage you to focus all your attention on his or her needs. Be incredibly and genuinely attentive and get to know him or her just a tad bit better. Even if you're only corresponding with your customers via email you can still develop a strong relationship by asking relevant questions and answering your mail within a few hours (if possible.)

In the end, your client will feel like your "one and only". And you'll both reap the benefits.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Just Ditch "Just"

This is the first installment of a series tentatively entitled "Pain Free (almost!) Sales Techniques for Writers Who Hate Selling". I'm open to new titles, by the way. The wackier, the better!

If you had an appointment with a doctor and he or she told you, "I'm just a physician and I'm not really sure of what I'm doing... I guess I should start by having you undress...", would you feel comfortable having him or her check you out?

If you went to an auto mechanic and were told, "I'm just starting out... I'm not really sure what I should charge to change your oil... what do you think it's worth?", would you readily give him or her the keys to your car?

In 99.9% of all cases, customers want to feel comfortable hiring professionals, whether those pros are lawyers, accountants or writers. Clients don't want to take a chance -- they want to feel their money will be well-spent and their projects will be in capable hands.

Yet I hear the same phrases from freelancers again and again:

"I'm just a writer."
"I'm only writing part of the time and I'm really not very good..."
"I'm just trying this freelancing thing..."

Many writers in the freelance field add "just" or "only" as a descriptor... why in the world would you want to define yourself in this way?

Though I understand the desire not to sound too pompous, I implore all my fellow writers to ditch the "just".

Consider the difference between the sentences "I'm just a writer" and "I'm a writer". Isn't the latter much stronger? With which person would you want to work?

As a writer, you are the sales person for your work, whether or not you realize it (or like it).

Even if you aren't 100% certain you're the next Hemingway or Updike, it's up to you to put a positive face on your chosen profession. And don't assume that your portfolio will speak for itself; it needs you to sell it.

The next time someone asks you what you do, I urge you to avoid defining yourself using words which have negative or "wishy-washy" connotations. They make the listener feel uncomfortable and/or force him or her to placate you by saying something like, "Oh, don't put yourself down that way! I'm sure you're good."

Instead of appearing ashamed of your field, be bold and declare, "I am a writer." (If you have to, practice the line a few times in the comfort and seclusion of your bedroom.)

Remember -- if freelance writing (even on a part-time basis) is what you've chosen to do, be proud of yourself. When you exhibit confidence, your customers and clients will feel more comfortable in giving you projects, even those with whom you only connect via email or telephone.

Monday, November 12, 2007

First, I implore every visitor to head to Jason Evans' site, The Clarity of Night (

There, you'll find one of his super-duper-pooper-scooper contests in full swing.

Don't read the rest of my post. It'll be here later when you're finished. Scram. Vamoose. Out. Now. Git.


I held a sales position for a number of years and, though I sound like an uber-geek when I say these words, I truly enjoyed it.

Somehow, selling and I got along famously. That fact surprised me, but didn't shock those who know me well.

Of course, I disliked some aspects of sales -- but no profession is 100% wonderful, is it? Cold calls sucked. So I didn't do them. Instead, I found ways around having to telemarket and wound up doing well.

Fast forward a few years and I'm a freelance writer, performer and teacher.

However, I still use my sales experience every day.

Consequently, I'm starting a Recess for Writers series on "Pain Free (almost) Selling Techniques for Writers Who Hate Sales".

(Maybe I'll think of a snappier title. Maybe not.)

In any case, I wanted you to know that I'll be handing out advice (good? bad? boring? crazy? other?) over the next week or so. If you find it helpful, let me know! If not, don't comment. (just kidding)

Seriously, I look forward to hearing your thoughts (even the critical ones) and learning from your feedback.

Series starts tomorrow.

See you in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Death to Viruses!


The virus, germ, bacteria, bug, whatever that's been attacking my family is officially in "retreat" mode. Hurrah for the good guys! We have withstood the assault and are now truly on the mend.

[insert patriotic song of your choice]

Unfortunately, the battle has left Mama Writer with piles of work that require immediate action. Consequently, blog postings might be sporadic for the next few days.

I leave you today with the body of a recently posted "men seeking women" advertisement on our local page. Please feel free to rip it apart... I find it most disturbing as well as more than a little bit pathetic.

Subject Line: I watched you excersize - Fairfield Inn - m4w - 40


Hi, I was in the pool, I watched you work out around 9:30 pm, I am staying in the same place, if you would like to share a cup of tea and some company ring my room #216, we are on briarsdale road, I was the only one there, 5 11 190 short hair, 40.

If you were that woman, would you feel comfy-cozy contacting this stranger who "watched you" "excersize"?


Friday, November 2, 2007

Rust, Orange, Brown, Gold

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year. The changing colors of the leaves, that crisp, sweet-smelling breeze, the evenings curled up with plenty of blankets and a hot drink... ahhhhh.

In the spirit of this delicious season, my son and I decided to make a side trip yesterday while driving back home from my mother's house (where he was spoiled for two days and I got some time to work and rest.) Our adventure took us to my alma mater, Bucknell University.

Let me first say that when I went to college (dinosaurs roamed the earth at the time, by the way), the campus was a little smaller. As always seems to happen, the university has grown by a few buildings in the past decade-and-a-half (as have my hips since graduation.) But it's still much as I remembered.

However, the one difference was that I no longer felt "out of place" as I did when I attended classes there.

At the time, I was "finding myself" in a typical late-teen way. I just couldn't quite get a toe-hold in the social life at Bucknell, though, so I ended up only living there for two semesters and then commuting from my family's home for my last three years, a decision I now somewhat regret but which seemed appropriate at the time.

In any case, although Bucknell and I didn't bond emotionally, I received an excellent liberal arts education there. A few teachers really "stood out", one of whom I had the privilege to see yesterday during our impromptu "college tour '07".

Dr. Jean Peterson.

Just writing her name makes me grin.

Jean was one of the most outstanding instructors I have had (or ever will have, I imagine.) Her love for teaching English literature (especially Shakespeare) was evident, and the energy she brought to the classroom was palpable. I can actually remember thinking, "If I ever have the opportunity to instruct, I want to be this dynamic!" And now that I teach acting and modeling, I try to "channel" her spirit on those days when I feel less-than-peppy.

When I all-too-briefly spoke with Jean yesterday, it seemed as if no time had passed, though it absolutely has. (Could it really be thirteen years?) She's still very young in appearance, always smiling and extremely sincere. It was the highlight of our Bucknell trip to have the chance to tell her how much she meant (and means) to me. Ironically, it was her birthday, so we were able to offer cheery wishes to her.

Driving home amidst the falling foliage, my soul was filled with joy. My son and I talked non-stop (despite the laryngitis that's been coming and going for me) and it was evident we both were moved in some way by our experience.


You never know what magical moments will occur before those first snow flurries begin...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

* BOO! * (or Bunk?)

I think it's time to tackle a most controversial subject: Are Ghosts Real?

Personally, my answer is an extremely wishy-washy, "I think so." (Nothing like hedging your bets, huh?)

I have written a few articles on hauntings and have long been a firm "believer" that there are things we don't understand about death, life and time.

For instance, could time "overlap" in places, thus causing an "image" of the past (or future?) to appear for a few moments? If so, we might call this a "ghost", even though it could just be a blip in the time continuum.

(It sounds like I know what I'm talking about here, but I really don't. Any scientists are welcome to tell me how this is impossible, improbable or just plain silly!)

Or is it possible that souls CAN communicate from beyond the grave? Is life really over when we take that final breath, power down the neural net and shake off this mortal coil (kudos to The Bard for that last description)? Are we able to intelligently come back to watch over people or try to make amends?

Okay -- your turn.

Are ghosts real? Or are they merely figments of our imaginations, serving some social, cultural, religious and/or spiritual purposes?

Have you ever seen one? Have you snapped a picture and thought you saw something (or someone) in the developed photograph? Or do you say, "BOO!" to the whole idea of someone returning after life as we know it has ceased?

(A quick side note: Though I've always been a fan of ghosts, I've not embraced the notion of angels. Imagine my surprise when both my husband and son told me they felt angels were a real presence. Huh. Blew my mind. You can know people for a while and yet they'll still amaze you.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recipe for Pull-Yer-Hair-Outism

The Quoibler's Recipe for Pull-Yer-Hair-Outism


1 super busy week
1 Internet line that fails on a Friday
1 Internet service that won't fix it until Monday
1 bazillion deadlines
1 freelancer without access
1 never-ending cold


Mix all ingredients together.
Stand back.
Watch explosion.


One heaping helping of frustration.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Yes, blogging friends. (Or should I say "Blends"? Hey! I like that!) In a nutshell, the above recipe culminated in a less-than-relaxing weekend.

Certainly, I did have some fun being "out of touch"; however, it was hardly A Good Thing (to use Martha's "catch phrase" without permission) from a fiscal perspective.

I am hoping for a more pleasant and productive week -- cross your fingers, toes and eyes. I know I will. :P

And now that I've kvetched and moaned, I'd love to hear about the BEST thing that happened to you this weekend! I'm serious! I want to hear positive stuff like random acts of kindness and unexpected checks in the mail. Please dish!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another place, another time

For the most part, I enjoy the fact that I've been given the opportunity to live in the 21st century.

I like the conveniences (even those that are double-edged swords, like greasy fast food.)
I like the advantages of being a part of a flexible culture (did someone say "Internet-based, work-at-home freelance writer"?)
I like the day-to-day experiences of being in the "here and now."

Yet I do sometimes ask myself where I'd choose to be if it couldn't live in this era.

Depending upon my mood, the answer varies.

Sometimes, I fancy myself as a hearty, determined, resourceful pioneer wife, forging ahead into the great unknown. I want to know what it felt like to make food on a hearth, create the family's clothing and "tame" a landscape.

When I'm in other moods, I feel it might have been interesting to live before and during the American Civil War. I can't exactly say why, though. I'd like to think the roots of this daydream are intellectual... but they're more likely based on silly romantic ideals that John Jakes' North and South imprinted upon my psyche years ago.

In what time would you live if you couldn't be in 2007?

Would you jump back to the beginnings of Christianity? The Middle Ages? The Renaissance?
Or would you opt for Greece? Rome? The Far East?

Where in history do you feel your soul would be most be at peace?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

When Bloggers Go Bad

Slap me with a wet noodle. I've been such a naughty blogger! Six days without a post? Terrible, horrible, bad.

Truth is, I have legitimately been consumed with business-related "stuff" -- tons of writing, teaching, performing. All wonderful and stimulating, but I do feel guilty for not popping in to at least say hello to some of my favorite web personalities!

(I haven't even read the horror series that Jason has at Clarity of Night. That's a crime in at least 27 states, I believe. I really should get my tush over there pronto!)

In any case, my absence has made me think more and more about being a good blogger... and how much that's like being a good friend.

See, I'd like to lie to you and say, "I'm the best friend in the whole world." But the truth rests 14.2 million miles away.

Like most people, I get too involved in my own routine to "mix it up" by calling friends, scheduling adult "play dates", or even sending a "hey-no-time-to-talk-but-love-you" email.

It saddens me, but still I persist in this never-ending cycle of weeks without much friend-related communication followed by a sudden burst of information exchange. Then the long days of silence return.

I've heard that others have experienced this phenomenon, especially when they start having children, but that doesn't make me feel much better about the whole thing.

I know that some friends accept this strange way of staying in touch in stops and starts - Susan, Sarah, Joanne. They forgive me for being human. But to be perfectly honest, I've lost other gal pals because of my inability to make them a priority more often.


So what does this mean?

I'm not sure.

But I have the feeling that my new year's resolution is going to have to be related somehow to this subject because it's troubling me and has been for a while.

How do you make sure that you don't lose contact with friends? I'd sincerely be interested in hearing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

From Clarketta Kent to Superdudette

I need a pair of glasses.

Of course, I have a pair of glasses and plenty of disposable contact lenses. I'm practically blind without correction. ("Nice puppy..." ~"Mommy, that's a fuming grizzly bear!")

Nearsightedness is a condition I've had since I was around seven and unless I get LASIK, I'm going to have it for the rest of my life.

That's okay.

But I do really need some glasses. Not for what they can do, but what they look like.

See, I want to appear "writer-ish".

Sure, I'm already a writer. I've published plenty and have a list of clients and publications for whom I've worked and am working. I have clips. I have references. I have legitimacy in my field.

Yet I feel a strong desire to LOOK the part of a freelancer.

So I've been asking myself, "What kind of glasses seem most authoritative?"

How about those ones with the rectangular frames? Or perfectly round ones? Or those without any kind of visible frames that just seem to float on the nose?

Maybe pink ones (a la Sally Jessy Raphael... dear lord, is she even still sporting those things?) Or green ones. Or enormous multi-colored frames bought at an Elton John yard sale.

I have this fantasy (and I realize it's just that). If I dress like a writer, I'll write better and more efficiently. I'll get more work. I'll be offered fascinating assignments. And I can finally get a headshot that looks... well... like I'm a "real" writer.

So I need those glasses.

But first, I need to write to pay for them. Nice irony, huh?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pluggin' Away, Part Sechs

Disclaimer: My apologies for being late on this installment of PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS. Strep throat and a host of other annoying ailments kept me away from the blogosphere for many days. Damn little germs. And penicillin is no treat, either. Blech.


There's something funny about the word "neurotic", isn't there? Of course, true clinical neuroses aren't amusing (especially if you're on the receiving end of said problems), but everyday neuroses... well, they're kind of enjoyable to discuss.

Beth knows this quite well.

She's the blog mistress over at The Perfect Neurotic, and she takes her role as the ringleader of her circus seriously but with a high degree of mirth.


Let's explore what makes her such a great attribute to cyberspace using the first letters of her name.

B. The Perfect Neurotic is a Bright spot to visit, as the discussion is lively (and ongoing) and the posts are stimulating.

E. I believe I found The Perfect Neurotic through The Clarity of Night. Or maybe Beth found me. Whatever. In any case, I found and find her writing to be highly Entertaining.

T. Whenever someone leaves a comment at The Perfect Neurotic, Beth responds. This type of Thank You is a much-appreciated courtesy among bloggers.

H. Beth blogs with Honesty. Her writings are infused with a sincerity that makes you feel as if you're a trusted confidante.


Are you itching to pop in now?

Be forewarned that the subject could turn to gardening or knitting at any time... but rest assured that even if you have a black thumb (as do I), you'll get a kick out of the discourse.


I hope you've enjoyed our little journey during PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS. I'm going to pause from it for a while to move on to other subjects, but I do intend to revisit it periodically.

Thanks to everyone who visited during our virtual tour!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pluggin' Away, Part Funf

It doesn't matter what you do for a living.
Nor does it make a difference what your family life is like.

Sooner or later, you'll meet the adversary known as REJECTION.

Let's face it--rejection ain't fun. It can be embarrassing, disheartening, disturbing, personal and (in some extreme cases) earth-shattering.

However, one blogger has found a way to put a humorous spin on regularly being rejected. Who is this bold, brave individual? Writer, Rejected from Literary Rejections on Display.


As a fellow writer, I know the sting of rejection. I also know the value of laughter. Yet I've not always been willing to openly mix the two. Fortunately, Writer, Rejected does.

Many unbelievably insincere rejection slips, letters and emails are posted at Literary Rejections on Display for fellow bloggers to view and discuss. And Writer, Rejected intersperses these notices with witty fantasies, some involving Rosemary Ahern, a literary agent (I believe.)

Even if you're not an author or journalist, Literary Rejections on Display is bound to resonate with you. Because like it or not, we've all been figuratively stamped with the word "REJECTED" a time or two. (And maybe literally stamped with it in some cases...)


1. The Comments--Between the scathing words delivered by angry editors and the loving reminders of sympathetic visitors, the commentary is always interesting and lively. I have noticed that it's died down a bit in the past couple of weeks... maybe we could all drop by and get it going again!

2. The Tone--Self-deprecation is always in fashion. Sure, some people find it to be over-the-top or boringly indulgent, but I think it's refreshingly candid.

3. The Mystery--Is Writer, Rejected a man or woman? Or perhaps a mythological creature? Does it matter? Probably not... but it's enjoyable to try to figure it out.

4. The Camaraderie--You're not alone. You're really not. In a world of rejection slips, Literary Rejections on Display is a welcoming haven for anyone whose day, week, year or decade has been ruined by the word "no".

As PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS continues, we'll dish about neuroses... and gardening.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Short Side Trip

I just wanted to jump off the Recess for Writers PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS path to send a quick note of "chin up" to a fellow blogger.

We who blog form tight bonds. Sure, they might be virtual, but they feel as real as the messy dining room table upon which my laptop sits. I'm well aware that the blogosphere might be a dreamland in a way, but when one of my frequent visitors is hurting, I hurt, too.

I will not disclose this blogger's identity, because it's not necessary. He or she will know. Suffice it to say that I am shocked by the treatment this person has been receiving by cyber criminals. Horrible stuff. Downright disgusting.

So I am taking a moment to ask all of you to remember that bloggers are people, too. It's fine to disagree, but for god's sake, we're not in high school. Knock off the drama unless you're going to post about the theatre or cinema. I implore you.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Pluggin' Away, part Vier

Where oh where did the past few days go? One nasty head cold, a million responsibilities, and suddenly I'm left asking, "Did 72 hours really pass that quickly?" Maybe I was abducted by aliens. That would account for the time loss.

In any case, Szelsofa has been most patient and I appreciate that. In fact, I appreciate so much about her and her blog, Gondolatok az erdoben, that I'm dedicating the rest of this post to telling you about it.

(If you haven't guessed, I've expanded PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEK here at Recess for Writers. Maybe I should call it PLUGGIN' AWAY WEEKS?)


(The blog name, loosely translated, means "thoughts about nature/trees" according to an online translation software program.)

Szelsofa, the author of Gondolatok az erdoben is Hungarian and posts from beautiful eastern Europe. Though English isn't her first language, her prose is remarkably crisp with inspirational and powerful imagery.

Whenever she can, Szelsofa inserts photos of natural items she finds during her walks in the woods. Sometimes, she holds contests which Beth, a.k.a. The Perfect Neurotic, always wins. (Could something be up? Hmmm.)


1. Szelsofa is always straightforward. It's refreshing to know her views without having to guess where she stands on cultural and societal issues.

2. Szelsofa's writings are sensitive, deep and fascinating. She has an amazing command of the written word, especially for someone still learning the many intricacies of English.

3. Szelsofa is cool. You'll want to be her buddy. You'll feel like taking a trip to Hungary just to meet this gal and discuss blogging over a cup of tea and some homemade bread (sans liver pate.)

But don't just take my word for it... pop in to Gondolatok az erdoben right now and see for yourself what's happening on the other side of the Atlantic. Make sure to leave a comment and let Szelsofa know The Quoibler sent you!

The next review?

HINT: It's all about rejection, but in the most amusing way possible.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pluggin' Away, part Drei

Sometimes, anger can be downright funny. Not when you're the recipient of it. Not when it boils inside you like a spicy stew. Not when it directly affects you. But definitely when you can read about and comment on the fury of others.

Before the Internet, we were lucky to occasionally witness some amusing ranting on the bus or in the grocery store; however, with the help of cyberspace and the website Passive-Aggressive Notes we can freely enjoy written tirades from around the planet.


I have a feeling that you might be thinking, "Why the heck would I be interested in something of this nature? I don't have time...!" And you're probably right. But once you start reading some of the juvenile (and just plain crazy) notes posted on the site, I suspect you'll at least crack a smile.


What I find most interesting on this website is the commentary. I tend to only "blurk" (though I've written in once or twice), however--the "regulars" seem to make all the good jokes within the first ten or so comments.


One caveat about Passive Aggressive Notes:

If you are at all offended by "naughty" words or off-color humor, you might want to avoid this site. One word in particular (it starts with "F" and ends with "K"... and it's not "fork") finds its way into almost every entry in some way or another.

Next time on Recess for Writers' PLUGGING AWAY WEEK edition...

She's a writer from Europe who minces no words and writes in a free-form way that is completely engaging. She's Szelsofa and her blog, Gondolatok az erdoben, is as open and honest as they come.