Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life In Review

Just now, just a second ago, I sent the next Scout and Ellie, The Beauty Pageant in for review with CreateSpace. This means that once they give the big thumbs up, it will be available for Amazon purchase.

This brings me to thinking about other things in my life that are up for review.

How about my dog, Sydney. She is old, lazy, and still melts my heart with those big brown puppy eyes. In the nine years that she has lived with us, I wonder how many walks we have taken her on. Have I done my job with giving her enough pee spots to smell at the dog park, trimmed her rear end fur  sufficiently to avoid dingle berries, pulled every tick from her body after hiking in tall grasses? What about attention...I would say she gets loads, but she would probably disagree. You see, there are times when I pet the cats, and she is not okay with that. So, hmmm, verdict is out as to whether or not I have been a good enough provider for our Australian Shepherd.

Second review item would be my sons. They are teenagers, so they are half-way formed into adulthood. They both allow me to be seen with them, text me when they need something, and allow me in their rooms. These are all good signs--right? AND, neither have been arrested, only one broken bone each, and have never done hard drugs. All positive signs. I'll even go further than that. They are both intelligent, good-looking, and awesome. I am not just saying that because I'm their mother--it is actually true!

Guess now it's time to review my self. My kids are great, so my parenting skills must not suck. I have never forgotten to feed the animals, the cats sleep on my head at night, so they must like me, and I even clean up their poop. Scout and Ellie, The Beauty Pageant, is my 8th published book, so I'm following my bliss as a career choice. My family seems to like me--unless they are faking it to be polite. I even have friends who will hang out with me.

On the other hand, I have an addiction to chocolate--but what woman doesn't? I am the worst decorator and house cleaner in the United States: be sure to call ahead when coming to visit. I preach about the grossness of coca-cola, but secretly love those bottled cokes from Mexico. After every chapter I write, I sneak in a game of Mahjongg. I start listening to Christmas Carols in November and The Sound of Music is my favorite movie. Eating cheese gives me gas. I don't floss enough. I still believe some men have cooties. My weight info on my driver's license is not quite correct (but in the general ball park!). That divinity chocolate great-aunt Diane made every year because she thought it was was my favorite? Secretly hated it. I fell on my face and ripped my jeans the one time I tried to skateboard with my sons.

So, in review of my life thus far, I declare myself--fair-to-middlen. How about you? Can you stand up to the review of your life?

Heather Leigh
Author and mid-level on the life review scale

Monday, November 17, 2014

Story Character Anarchy

Story characters can be mean, heartless individuals with no respect for an outline. They have been known to put the no in no-respect. And I have been their latest victim. Here is the setting: I have been full of writer pride; pumped up with the fact that I actually finished the outline for Suicide Soda. Showing off to friends, patting my back, thanking the often elusive Goddess of Writer Outlines, I have been totally jacked up with a smooth, sleek, polished outline. Even my eight grade English teacher would have been amazed by it.

And then--WHAM-O!!! That adventure seeking character, Jack, suddenly decided he wanted to change everything. Ignoring the path set for him, he decides that he wants to liven things up. Add some vodka to the juice, some passion to the air. Did he even ask me if it was okay to change the outline? Even send me a memo of warning that an alteration might be on it's way?

NO. He just waltzed right in and messed up everything I had carefully lined up to happen. And I am now being treated like an outsider. I was there when he was created, for goodness sake. Don't I deserve some respect?

And who can I turn to for help? Is there a Writer Outline Crises line for me to call? A division of the police force that could arrest Jack for his crime? What about an intervention group for fictional characters who blow off their inventor.

So this leaves me stuck with an outline that has to be massaged, caressed and wooed back into life.

AND, I have to admit to my writer friends that I no longer have a completed, beautiful-beyond-compare outline. OH, the tragedy of it all.

When I started writing stories for fun, why didn't anyone warn me that this stuff can actually be difficult?

Heather Leigh,
Author of Stories and Victim of Characters

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nerd Writers Are People Too

Yes, I see that it has been three weeks since my last posting. Before you stab me with a pitchfork, call out the attack dogs, or send out flying monkeys to pick my up and drop me at the feet of the wicked witch, please hear my extremely valid excuse: this is National November Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo.com)

For those of you not in the 'know', this is a fine organization in which crazy, stupid, foolhardy writers with no soul or legitimate thought processes volunteer to write a novel in a month. I know what you are thinking. You already thought writers were a bit eccentric, a tiny glimpse of functioning madness, chaotic, disturbed human beings, and now you have proof. Yes, it is all true what you have always known. We are that kind of weird.

We have committed our selves to writing a fresh, new, from scratch novel--fifty thousand words in thirty days. In order to get this done, we give up house work, friendships, dog walking, and even nightly glasses of Cabernet in the name of the great and holy novel. We are that dedicated.

--Okay, I'll admit that giving up housework was not a rough thing for me. And, if you have ever seen my house before or during NaNoWriMo, you would probably not really notice any great change. But aside from that, the other things that are let go of are a hardship.

Okay, well, admittedly, I still walk the dog. Sydney does need the exercise and I crave fresh air. But the only social activity of which I have been a apart of, is attending Write-ins with my friend Karen. I hope it's cool to mention her name. She might not want to share the fact that she has also signed up to be a member of the collective lunatics.

Write-ins are the extreme in Nerd Sports. You may have glimpsed one at a restaurant or coffee shop. It would be a group of people, quietly hunched over laptops, immersed in their made-up world. It's how we bond. And gives us a place to focus, without ever feeling guilt about dirty dishes or friends we will not communicate with until December first.  We are a pathetic crew. If you are a witness to a Write-in, please pretend you don't see us--don't degrade yourself by being a party to our embarrassing behavior. Save yourself, and just walk away.

The only thing I ask of you non-writers, is that you hold a particle of understanding for your writer friends. Yes, you may be an enabler by not doing an intervention on us, but, we need this month. It may be the only way we can function in society for the other eleven months of the year. And it will take us until next November to re-write, revise, critique, polish, and hopefully publish our novel.

I don't know if the end justifies the means, but I hope that we can slide through this month and remain a part of society. Please hold on to us November novelists like the book mark that you treasure and know that we will return to the world--at least until the holidays when we can share a bottle of Cabernet.

Until then, have a wonderful life. You will hear from me again, I just can't promise when.

Heather Leigh
admitted addict of NaNoWriMo