Sunday, August 21, 2011


Today, on my last few dollars, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials intended to last until the next paycheck. You know, milk, eggs, butter, and general items that can be turned into more than the dime pays for.

Standing in line usually takes longer than actually selecting these items and putting them in a cart. While I had less than 20 items, I chose a line that seemed to be moving faster than the 20-items-or-less line. But, I stood in line patiently, waiting my turn, thinking about what else I wanted to get done today. 

I noticed those in the line next to mine. Please forgive me, I am a writer and I am prone to people watching. There was a lady putting her things on the counter, she was elderly and alone. While she seemed capable of the shopping trip, there seemed to be something about her that stood out as lonely. I found myself wishing someone was there to help her, despite the fact that she didn't have the sad traits that accompany the truly aged. You know, the shaky hands, the extreme slow motion movements...

While I was noticing this woman, another gentleman, I'd say he was probably early sixties stuck his head around the corner... he was sizing up how many items this elderly lady had.

"Well, that's definitely more than 20 items," he said and jumped back over to his line to commiserate, I'm sure, about how people just don't follow the rules. His wife (I assume) was nodding fervently, and the gentleman and his wife struck up a conversation about the 20-item-or-less lanes.

And I heard all this from across two check out lanes.

At this point, I was flabbergasted. I didn't know what to say. I know what I wanted to say, but the words could simply not come out. I was enraged. I paid for my items, and as I was walking away, I could hear the elderly lady apologizing about not realizing that it was a 20-items-or-less line. She was mortified. And it was obvious.

So, I did the only thing I could think of. I rushed outside, put my bags in my car, and ran back inside the store. I waited for the elderly lady to finish paying and as she walked away, I asked her if I could help her get her bags into her car.

She pointed out that she had no idea it was a 20-items-or-less line, to which I assured her that everyone had made that mistake a time or two in their lives. I also told her that it didn't make sense to me why he would go out of his way to be hateful.

She was surprised that I was willing to push her cart out to her car and then load all her groceries in her trunk.

I didn't go into details with her, I just told her that there needed to be a little more good in the world and that I was happy to help.

Truth is... I was very happy to help. I was happy that I was given the opportunity to right someone else's wrong.

Here's where I rant:
I don't care if she saw the sign indicating 20 or less items. She was tackling a chore alone at an age where she probably needed help. I'm not saying she was incapable, I'm saying she could have used help. And instead of getting help, she got harassed. And why? WHY?

What was so shocking to me, was that the gentleman was probably no more than 10-15 years younger than the elderly lady. Wasn't that supposed to be the age of respectfulness? Wasn't my generation the generation of tactless, no respect youth?

And here I was righting the wrong of someone who could have passed for my grandfather. Did bullies really come from our generation or are we just paying more attention to them now that we have social media?

I wish I could issue a challenge to the world. I wish I could ask everyone to look around and no matter how much money you have in your pocket to just do something nice for someone else.... in whatever way possible. You know, pay it forward. But, I know my pleas will fall on deaf ears. And if they are not falling on deaf ears, then they are falling on people who already hold the same moral values as me.

But maybe not. Who knows. I'll hope for the best.

Gandhi says, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Maybe this is what he means.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Writing Jar

There's a very delicate balance to when I can actually write.

Most days when I write, I'm picturing the scene in my head like some choose your own adventure book. I see my characters like I'm watching a movie, and then I come up with different choices that they could make. I'm always mentally in tune with whatever the next big scene is, though, and I guide my characters to and from events. What they do or say during the events is up to them.

However, there are days when I'm possessed. My fingers fly faster and more continuously than they do on any other normal "work day". Most days, the noises coming from my office just sound like nervous, apprehensive pencil taps. Tap, tap, tap. Then long bits of silence. Then maybe a little bit more tap, tap, tap. But on these days of possession, it's something much different. Sometimes I catch myself closing my eyes, typing my stream of thought, my consciousness moving its way from my head, past my heart, and into my fingers.

These moments go on my list of reasons why I live. There's this connection when I am able to turn my stream of consciousness into documented works. It's hard to put it into words... what its really like.

I guess, it's like there is a jar, and it's a handcrafted, handpainted jar with a lid that lifts off with the slightest of clay "clinks". Inside is where all the forgotten and discarded imagination of my subconscious is stored.

It's my best unrefined writing. And it's good.

Problem is getting into that jar on a regular basis. It's not like I can't get the lid off, it's just that I can't find the place where the jar is stored. I've been having this experience this morning. It's kind of like a stumbling on El Dorado or the Castle in the Sky. It's there then it's gone. And no matter how I search and search for it, it only appears when I'm emotionally moved or physically drained. And people wonder why I pull so many all nighters. I do it for that single moment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Giveaway! By Aug. 10th!

If you haven't read the book Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, then put it on your list. It's a pretty solid read for YA lit. Oliver does a great job of creating a dystopian world where love is an infection, a disease. She also references other pieces of literature, and spinning it to fit her world. Very clever folks.

Check out the entry info here to learn how to get a free entry to win her newest edition!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Afraid to Add

A lot of writing advice says that you write a first draft and that most editing is spent subtracting the junk, namely adverbs, rambling, and... (egads!) characters. When I edit, that's what I do. Subtract, subract, subtract. There are tons of big X's over entire paragraphs of writing. Sometimes, a whole page is deleted. Sometimes I cringe when I do this. But my mantra: I have to stick to the story.

But, when I went through my cast, which is relatively large (11 constant members), I looked at who to cut in order to make my book more streamline. I couldn't. Each character held a specific purpose that corresponded to the story.

So, I made a list of things that, as a reader, would annoy me. Then, I cracked open my Tiger's Quest book and let these issues go. I take breaks while I'm reading, little pauses to get something to drink or get fresh air. On these little breaks, I would ponder my problems, not fuss over them, but consider them.

I realized these problems not only needed explanation, but they needed good cause in order to keep their places in my book, otherwise they'd be deleted. And I could fix several problems by further probing into my protag's mother's backstory. Her mother passed away and up until now, that is all my protag has revealed about her. At first it was a car wreck, but then I decided to use something less common. But that's where I left it. Her mom was gone, end of story.

However, by adding more of the backstory on her mom, I am going to fix my problems in a domino effect kind of way. One fix easily fixes the problems down the line. The added bonus is that my protag is given more depth. More seeds are planted in this novel for future novels. Win, win!

It helps that my book's length is within the bounds for me to add this backstory. I say, don't be afraid to add long as you're subtracting too. You have to do what your story calls for. Don't get trapped in advice. Know the rules, follow the rules, and on occasion break the hell out of the rules.

Tired of Updates?

Me too.

Seriously. It occurred to me that I'm running in circles chasing my own tail. The only blog updates I have are about what my status is.... and I guess that is the point I made in one of my other blogs, the whole writer experience thing. Yet, I haven't posted any entertaining info on being a writer. Today, however, is a new day.

I started Book two.

That's right, I realize as I'm typing this that not a single person out there is really going to be excited about this like I am. One day, I'm sure I will have a following to get excited with me and to share my excitement with me.

We'll all jump up and down and scream together, "Yay, AE started a new book today!"

Anyway, I did start (writing) a new book today. But that's not the only thing, I've gotten a crap ton of fixes figured out for Book 1. This is a good thing. My book was good without these fixes... but now it's better. I realize I could send it out into the world the way it is now. But something has been holding me back.

I think there are two reason for this: 1) Not enough Starbucks 2)And not enough immersion. I don't get enough Starbucks because, let's face it, lots of writers are generally broke. The  immersion thing goes back to what Steven King says about being a writer: gotta write and gotta read.

My fault here is not reading enough. When I read, I become involved in someone else's story, someone else's world, and I also notice stuff that they could done better. And I do feel like the apprentice chastising the artist when I say that, but truth is, I notice it because I've made some of the the same mistakes in my book. I read a book and while doing it, try to hold my own book in my mind and figure out how I can make mine better.

Sometimes just being in another writer's world puts me more in touch with my own. That's what happened today, and I had at least 3 solid fixes. (They weren't really fixes, but perfect seeds for further explanation in other books, and also easily creates more believable depth to my protag.)

One solid fix tumbled into another great fix.

I don't feel great when I think about implementing these fixes, because it means I'll have to go back through and do some rewrites. It'll probably end up being a couple of paragraphs here and there. But these paragraphs will have to be edited and beautified. Ugh.

So, as a reward to myself, I'm letting myself start on Book 2. Story creating is my favorite part, after all. Coming up with the fixes was pretty fun too, but implementing them may serve as a bit of a chore.

I am also working on two article type pieces for my blog. Book first though. ;)