Writing My Life

Now and Then

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“Also Ran:” My First Submission to Project WRITEway

Remember I told you about the creative writing contest the folks at Throwing Up Words sponsored? And remember that I told you I would share my losing efforts – even though I don’t really think I am a loser because I keep entering and losing and stuff. And I think as long as a person keeps trying, she isn’t losing  because no one has yet yelled, “STOP TRYING!” Until that happens, I’m in the running.

Anyhoo, as my friend Ann Cannon is fond of saying, here is that promised entry: 150 words that begin my untitled, Young Adult novel. Helpful feedback is always appreciated. It needs to be kind, but most importantly, HONEST.

Like many disasters in  life, the events started innocently enough. Conservative, if not traditional.

It’s hard to say who or what set things in motion, and I don’t know if that’s important anymore. Could be. All I care about is seeing an end before more women and girls disappear.

In the beginning, even Mom supported the public education “revolution” – separate schools for girls and boys. She constantly quoted research that test scores soar when the sexes don’t worry about meeting each other in front of lockers or making out in stairwells during lunch.

I hated the new “separate-but-equal” idea because I wanted to meet a guy at my locker and make-out during lunch. I know my arguments were hormone-based, but in my darkest imaginings of how this change would affect my schooling and my life, I did not fathom the proverbial “worst-case-scenario:” I would be fighting for survival.

Cool photo by D. Clow from Flickr.com


… home from WritingBootCamp …

Writer's BootCamp D.I. (Drill Instructor) Ann Cannon

Sound-off; 1 – 2;

Sound-off; 3 – 4;

Cadence count; 1 – 2 – 3 – 4;

1, 2 — 3, 4.

I went off to WRITING CAMP; draft, write, draft.

I worked till hands and brain were cramped; draft, write, draft.

I critiqued all day with writing buddies; draft, write, draft.

I revised the parts that were cruddy; draft, write, draft.

Sound-off; 1 – 2;

Sound-off; 3 – 4;

Cadence count; 1 – 2 – 3 – 4;

1, 2 — 3, 4.

We listened well to our D.I.; draft, write, draft.

Yell “PUBLISH IT or you will DIE;” draft, write, draft.

Now that we are all encouraged; draft, write, draft.

Our careers will surely flourish; DRAFT, WRITE, DRAFT!

Sound-off; 1 – 2;

Sound-off; 3 – 4;

Cadence count; 1 – 2 – 3 – 4;

1, 2 — 3, 4.

I’ve been working on this ridiculous chant for nearly a week. It wasn’t getting any better and so I decided to publish the darn thing so I could concentrate on some SERIOUS writing. BUT this had to be said. My week with Ann and the other boot camp participants was such a great experience. I promise to share more details later, but right now, I just want to say that Carol Lynch Williams chairs the best Young Adult writers conference in the nation. YES, I said NATION.

And did I mention the break-out sessions with participating authors? I was NOT disappointed in a single one – must say Louise Plummer’s love affair with Stephen King’s MISERY was a highlight. This woman loves GORE. Her unique analysis of how the King of Horror builds suspense was entertaining as well as helpful. 

Got to call it a night but not before I tackle my manuscript.



Crazy Fun at WRITING for CHARITY

The best thing about being a writer is I’m my own boss, and the worst thing about being a writer is I’m my own boss.

~ Rick Walton

These are some of the best chunks of craziness I picked up at Writing for Charity (WfC). I encountered some from the question and answer sessions, some from the author/writer workshop, and some from eaves dropping! 😉

  • Most surprising discovery: Once you publish, don’t be surprised if your book cover shows up on one OR more other books. Check THIS out.

What makes this a little more surprising is that both authors live at opposite ends of the Wasatch Front – Wendy Toliver, who penned Lifted, lives in Davis County and Ann Dee Ellis, author of Everything is Fine, calls Utah County home.

The books couldn’t be more different, but I’m thinkin’ the cover girl fits both main characters in some ways. I believe Toliver’s Poppy could be an older version of Ellis’ Samara. (Of course, I’m basing this opinion on having read Everything is Fine in its entirety and Lifted’s entire SUMMARY. But this book IS on my Utah writers’ to-read list.)

Both Wendy and Ann Dee attended WfC and were good sports about the double-take. They explained that publishers use stock photos for book covers, and Wendy said that this same cover is on yet a 3rd book. The authors added that they have NO say, whatsoever, in the choice. While their opinion is asked, it’s not really heeded.

Wendy told her agent about this, but the publisher said, “Oh, well.”

  • Best Twilight Zone experience for an author goes to Anne Bowen, picture book author who is trying her hand at writing a YA novel. She decided a LONG time ago to name her main character Kendra Anderson. And so this summer when she started working on the novel featuring Miss Kendra, guess what! Anne started receiving MAIL address to – yup, you guessed it – KENDRA ANDERSON. (Insert the “do doo do doo” Twilight Zone theme here! 🙂 )
  • Strangest coincidence award goes to Emily Wing Smith, author of The Way He Lived and her new book, the April release of Back When You Were Easier to Love. After the publication of her first novel, she received a message from an aspiring author who said, “I’m jealous of you.” Of course, Emily thought that was pretty cool until the author of the message continued, “because back in high school you went to prom with my husband.” (Not that the couple was married then – oh, you know what she was saying.)

The coincidence lies in the fact that this guy DATED an aspiring YA author and MARRIED another aspiring YA author – who, unlike Emily, is STILL aspiring. Interesting.

  • Craziest silent auction prizes. Author of I’m Not a Serial Killer, Dan Wells, offered to kill you off in his next book. This is crazy at so many levels:
    1. Dan is NOT a serial killer nor a hit man, and so this is a fictional killing. (Sorry, insane people, this won’t help you bump off your in-laws or anyone else for that matter.)
    2. Someone actually entered a $500 bid online, and I’m thinkin’ Dan’s mom, dad, or brother might be the author’s  next FICTIONAL victim because who else would pay that much to be knocked off in a fledgling author’s book but a relative? I mean $500???
    3. BTW, Dan doesn’t seem to be serial killer-crazy and yet he’s written a YA novel about a kid who is a potential serial killer and is fighting it. (I don’t think this is the Edward fighting his vampire-hood kind of story. I just started reading it, and I don’t suggest it for bedtime reading.)
  • Most far-flung event goes to fellow aspiring writer Brodi Ashton’s maniacal purse that knocked my copy of Dan Well’s book from my hand and sent it sailing across the room barely missing two WfC staffers. And Brodi was totally unaware of her bag’s shenanigans.

Only when Dan opened the book to sign it and commented that the title page was all bent out of shape did I say, “It was Brodi’s purse’s fault.” Upon which, Brodi felt all bad, but Dan wrote a fun message that will bring a smile to my face for years. So it was worth it, Brodi! Seriously. 😀

Brodi Ashton totally beat this book and owes you an ice cream cone. Daniel A. Wells

  • Most surprising good/bad news was finding Ann Cannon at the event – NOT as a participating author but rather as a cute King’s English Bookstore sales dude. At least I was able to say hello, give her a hug, and line her up for a guest spot at a Jordan Council International Reading Association meeting. 😉
  • Insanity personified is awarded to someone’s statement I overheard while eating my delicious sandwich: “I have STARTED 13 novels.” (Oh please don’t let that be me in a few months!)

If anyone reading this wonders what helpful insights I learned when workshopping my WIP, stay tuned for the next post. In the little time we had, I gained what I went there for, thanks to the AMAZING Ms. Ann Dee Ellis.

As for my writing friends who couldn’t attend, I MISSED YOU! SERIOUSLY!


after 383 days and 108 posts, am I a bona fide blogger?


I didn’t know what to write, but I started anyway. Now, over a year later, I’ve posted 94 entries and 14 pages, equaling 108! If I divide that number into 383 days, I learn that I averaged a post every 3.5 days for just over a year. ADDITIONAL division (is that an oxymoron?) indicates I added about 9 entries month  to seasons. Now the question is this: Am I a bona fide blogger?

When I launched my blog on April 29, 2009, I read some data about how long the average person lasts before bailing out of the blogosphere. I can’t remember how long that definitive time is, but I think I’ve passed it. And I hope I’ve posted often enough to be considered a practicing, dedicated, determined blogger. Are there criteria out in the blog world that defines such web loggers? If so, are longevity and frequency of blogging the deciding factors, or are there more?

I remember one time I missed out on an award that co-bloggers (cobloggers? coggers?) bestow upon one another. In order to receive the recognition, the writer had to post quality and frequent entries. My new blogging friend sent me a message saying that she would have passed the honor onto me, but she didn’t think I posted often enough. I was okay with that because she posted often and surpassed my efforts. Her message actually inspired me to write more because I WANT AN AWARD, dang it!!

Actually, I started writing more because I LOVE BLOGGING/WRITING/CREATING/COMMUNICATING/ REMEMBERING/REFLECTING/and LEARNING! To commemorate this blogging milestone – which is a little weird because this post doesn’t honor the year date or the 100th post or anything like that (I zipped right past both of those occasions! Duh!) – I think I should look back over the past 383 days and 108 posts to examine what I’ve discovered about blogging and about me.

  1. It is ridiculously hard to come up with a creative name for a blog. good times AND seasons is the latest in a long string of ideas. I started with the site’s address, The Sixth Season because I had turned 60 and saw each decade as a season of sorts, but then I was reminded that if that was the case I was actually embarking upon my 7th season. Duh! I’m still not satisfied with the good times … title, but I DO love the Ecclesiastes reference.
  2. Post titles are also hard to create, AND they are really important because a catchy title can attract readers AND might be enough to “get featured on ‘Freshly Pressed'”! I think one of my best post titles is “hair-i-tic” but it better fits one of my pages, and so now I have “hair-i-tic” and “hair-i-tic 2 ~ a PLEASANT hair-raising experience” – a not-so-great title.
  3. It is VERY difficult to create a unique blog that continually features unusual, entertaining posts. I tried to come up with something few, if any bloggers, had thought of. My first idea was Needing Naomi, a blog site dedicated to mothers-in-law because, like stepmothers, I think m-i-ls get a bad rap. But I couldn’t think of a way to sustain the idea without getting in trouble with my own daughters-in-law, and I do that enough without writing about it. Until some INCREDIMAZING idea hits me, I’ll stick with remembering, observing, and reflecting – boring, I know, but right now, it’s all I’ve got.
  4. It’s VERY hard to be creative, and when I try too hard it blows up in my face. When I first started my blogging avocation, I struggled with writing ideas, and thus came up with some very strange ones. Here are a couple:
    1. …  time to dislike … (a post about voles. Yes, v.o.l.e.s.)
    2. …a time to embrace – love in the spring … (a post about worms. Yes, w.o.r.m.s.)
  5. I’ve also learned that you can NEVER guess what will attract readers. The most popular entry I posted is “… a time to ramble …”. I’m not sure why 1,539 people have clicked on it. Could it be links to David Letterman and Sarah Palin? Or references to Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee? Or a silly discussion about old-fashioned slang terms or outdated hairstyles? Could I be riding on the popularity of Ann Cannon’s Deseret News column or her blog because I quoted her? Could it be the tags I listed? Not many visitors left comments, so I am really IN THE DARK!

Well, there SO many more things that I have learned – like how to use a camera so I can post pix on blogs – but the 2 BEST lessons I have learned are …

1.) there are an unbelievable number of good writers in BlogWorld! I am constantly impressed with the humorous, insightful, descriptive, and entertaining writing available in blogs throughout the world. And they are written by everyday people like me, but more talented. A-FREAKIN’-MAZING! My hats off to the multitudes of bloggers out there who light up this sometimes dismal world. I LOVE YOU GUYS!

2.) There are lots of terrific people I’ve met through words and photos posted on web logs. I feel a real kinship to several, and although I’ve never squeezed their hands in greeting or seen their flesh and bone bodies, I admire these people. They inspire me, impress me, entertain me, and make blogging more rewarding than I ever imagined. And whether or not I’m a bona fide blogger, I’ll keep on because it is a big part of my life now, as are the friends I’ve met via this unusual route.

Thank you so much!


… let them eat cake, I’ll eat the frosting …

Note to Friendly Followers: Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT, read this post IF you have already perused “… true, unadulterated confessions … . “ In an attempt to write “less NOT more” – as in FEWER words, not posts –  I divided the former entry in half. Plus, I REALLY wanted to use the above title that rips off the rude statement Mare Antoinette NEVER made.  If you have NOT read the “unadulterated confession,” I suggest that you do, BUT it’s not necessary. This post is NOT that tightly connected to it, however, Ann Cannon’s comment actually applied to THIS confession more than THAT confession. Are you confused. Sorry!


After 11 days of working on my inadvertant resolutions, I’m not doing too badly. But since I’m in the confession mode, I thought I’d report in.

The SORTA Good News:

  • I’ve been on time for work 7 of 10 days, BUT I still climbed the stairs EVERY work day, which means I am still inadvertently moving my body more than I was in ’09 because I have NOT taken the elevator UP or DOWN even ONCE! (YaY for Renae.)
  • I did NOT eat in my car for 5 of 14 days. That’s not really very good, but before making too harsh a judgment, I want to point out that I’ve only eaten apples or yogurt, AND that’s because I’m trying to be on time for work, and SO I’ve had to eat breakfast on my way. BUT I was still late on 3 occasions. NOT eating in my car has kept the Cruiser a LITTLE cleaner. There are no crumbs or popcorn or wrappers strewn all over the place, BUT empty Diet Coke cans and junk from my purse/garbage bag still litter the front seats. Gotta work on this. BUT I have LOST 5.5 pounds, so perhaps NOT eating MUCH in the car has helped me with the second inadvertant resolution to lose weight. What do you think?

The REALLY Good News ~

  • G.E. and I have joined a gym and are working out 3 times a week, which equals 6 times thus far except we have to subtract last Wednesday when G.E. suffered from food poisoning or stomach flu, and I had a “business” dinner at Iggy’s Sports Grill. So we’ve sweat off calories and upped our heart rates on tread mills 5 times. What is surprising is how much G.E. is getting into this. I had to talk for over a month to convince him to join in this pursuit, and now he’s all Mr. Gym Dog (or is it “gym rat?”), with new workout duds and everything!
  • I’m TRYING VERY VERY HARD to eat sensibly. I’ve sort of VOWED not to DIET again. I’m SO SO SICK of couting calories, points, fat grams, fiber content, etc. Instead, I’m attempting to live the CJG lifestyle.. CJG is my friend who happens to also be my boss. She is tall and slender and young enough to be my daughter. She firmly believes that individuals can lose weight if they  do 5 basic things:
    • Eat good, nutritious food that you like, but practice PORTION CONTROL  – UNsuper-size food, and she means REALLY UNsuper-size it. So I eat on salad plates, and the food is NOT piled high.
    • Do AWAY with soda and drink lots of water. Well, I’ve CUT DOWN my Diet Coke to 2 or 3 a day vs. 6 or 7. Next month, I’ll try to decrease my consumption even further.
    • Exercise. (I’ve already told you about climbing stairs and walking on treadmills.)
    • SLEEP 7-8 hours a night. This is a tuffy. I get a second wind at 10 – just in time for the news and then Letterman. It’s really hard for me to go to bed much before 11:30, but because I want to be on time for work, I HAVE to get up between 5:30 and 6:00 A.M. YUCK!!! That means I’m lucky to get 6 hours of sleep, but it’s usually less than that because I have to take off my make up, change into my jammies, and other night-time routines.
    • Eat breakfast. I’ve been doing that EVERY day for 16 days! BUT sometimes I eat it in the car.

    CJG expressing shock b/c I'm on time!

Okay, this is nothing new, but maybe because it’s my boss who shared this with me, I feel obligated to give it more than a whirl. Or maybe it’s that  sick of dieting thing, or maybe it’s because I’M RUNNING OUT OF TIME, FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE that’s pushing me! I am going on 62 years! I don’t know how much more time I have to BE skinny or slender or less fat. I have got to get with it, and so I’m really, really trying! And, like I said,  I’m doing pretty good – except for that big slice of chocolate cake my daughter-in-law sent home with us. I DIDN’T eat the cake, however. I JUST ATE THE FROSTING!