Saturday, December 22, 2012

Craig Wilson, Columnist

I recommend reading Craig Wilson’s column the Final Word in USA Today. If you don’t know who Craig Wilson is, he has been a writer for USA Today for over 25 years. You have to be a good writer to last that long on an established newspaper.

He writes about everyday things, but somehow makes these things interesting.

I looked forward to reading his column every week when I was working in an office that actually got a physical newspaper delivered daily. His articles aren’t necessarily “important” per se, but I found myself smiling at the end of each one. It’s almost like the Seinfeld show where it’s about nothing, but somehow draws people in.

 His advice for writing an interesting article is:

1. Include humor

2. Write how you speak

3. Find a topic that is universal, something everyone can relate to

4. Write short articles

5. Read your writing aloud

6. Walk away from it then come back to it later

7. Put a zinger at the end

It’s simple, practical advice, yet not as easy as it sounds. I hope I can apply these tips to my blog posts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Water Heater, Dog Poop, and Other Ways the Universe Tries To Stop Me

As I sit down to work on the cover art for my book today, the pest control guy arrives without his usual notice. I had not even worked 5 minutes on the drawing. While he’s in the back yard, he notices our water heater is spewing hot water and steam. Fabulous. I was hoping it was normal, but it wasn’t. My uncle comes over to fix it.

Before I can get back to my drawing, there is an awful smell coming from the dog. She somehow has gotten poop under her chin and it got on the couch cushion. My husband washes the dog since I just washed her two days ago, and I wash the cushion. I also scrub the tub to get rid of the dog germs. More time taken away from working on my book.
I finally get to the drawing while my husband goes to the store. He proceeds to text me while he’s out, preventing me from drawing. He's trying on Christmas hats to see which one he should get. I like the cute green one, but he goes with the reindeer trucker hat. In the process, he forgets to come back to pick the kids up from school. I rush over to the school with a messed up knee that I blew out two weeks ago from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class, bringing the dog with me because I don’t want her to trip our burglar alarm.
When I get my kids, I see my cousin’s son where I don’t think he should be. I question him, but he acts like there’s nothing wrong. Thinking this unusual, I call my cousin on the way home. She confirms he should not be there, so I double back and he’s now gone. I walk back to the front gate and spot him, but he runs from me because he’s afraid of the dog. My son holds the dog while I give the phone to my cousin’s son so she can scold him. See? I told you your mom is my cousin. Never mind that we look like sisters. I guess it didn’t occur to him that I would call her. Hee hee. Now he'll probably think of me as the snitch lady.

It’s like the Powers That Be aim to put stuff in my path to make it harder for me to find time to focus on writing. I feel like every day it’s something different and by the time I get around to writing I’m exhausted.

Tonight I just skipped the gym and by the grace of God, I was able to finish the drawing for my book.
On the upside, maybe I can use some of these experiences in a novel some day.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Cover in Progress

I finally finished my book, Lilah in Love, and am working on the drawing for the cover. There is a scene where one of the love interests draws Lilah. This is supposed to be the drawing, except the flower is added because it also pertains to the story.

This day (or past few days) has been filled with interruptions and a few small disasters so I'm hoping to finish it tonight. If it doesn't turn out the way I like, I'll have to start over or just use a photo. I really hope I don't have to draw it again.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Illness, Injury, Crazy People & Ghosts, oh and a Dog

I finally finished the last of my edits to my first novel Lilah in Love. There were a lot of setbacks along the way, especially these last three months.
In October I was hit with a stomach ailment that burned my stomach every time I stood or sat up. The doctor prescribed medicine for gastritis which didn’t work, so I had to go back, still in terrible pain, to get a different prescription. 
On the way to the doctor, the Space Shuttle Endeavor flew by! I was on hold with the doctor’s office and groaning in pain when, holy bleep! It’s the Endeavor! I frantically hung up with the doctor’s office and switched to the camera in my phone. We got a clear, close view of it. Twice. Once on the freeway next to Griffith Park Observatory and the second when it flew by the Hollywood sign. We were on the roof of the parking structure at the doctor’s office the second time. It was directly overhead. Wow. It’s fortunate that our doctor is in Tinsel Town. It made me forget about my pain momentarily.
The second set of medication didn’t work either, so I went to see a gastroenterologist. He thought I had an ulcer, so my husband looked up cures for ulcers and found out about cabbage juice. The Juiceman swore by it and claimed that it cured inmates in Alcatraz back in the day. The cabbage cured all of them, even the ones that had bleeding ulcers, so I was all for it.
I was supposed to drink 4 glasses of cabbage/carrot/celery juice per day, but I only made it to 2 glasses per day at most. The stuff doesn’t taste good. It smells and tastes like the front lawn, but damn if it didn’t work!
I was previously scheduled for an endoscopy. That’s when they put a camera down your throat to see what’s going on inside the stomach. Fun times. At first they mistakenly scheduled me for a colonoscopy. Whoa! I would not have woken up a happy camper after that!
A couple of days before my endoscopy, the pain went away. Still, I wanted to know what the problem was, so I went through with the procedure. The test showed no sign of an ulcer, so they went back to thinking it was gastritis. Several hundred dollars later they said it was probably a food allergy.
So now, out of the blue, I have a gluten allergy. What a change in lifestyle! No turkey or pumpkin pie for me at Thanksgiving. No cake or cookies at birthdays. Not even Saltine crackers or sandwiches for lunch. No healthy oatmeal for breakfast, either. When I go to parties or out to eat with friends I’m sure they think I’m no fun anymore. I’m lactose intolerant so that limits me, too. Not that I ate a lot of these terrible carbs, but when you can’t even have them on a cheat day you feel the loss.
People feel bad when they serve pizza at birthday parties and I say I can’t eat it. I’ll just have the raw broccoli and carrots, thanks. Oh, and I thought I could at least have chicken teriyaki since all the other types of food are forbidden now, but I just recently found out that soy sauce has gluten in it! I paid dearly for that with 3 days of excruciating stomach pain.
So, October was spent in pain, our friends had bad ghosts (not good ones) in their house that we had to help them get rid of, and one of the guys we know turns out to be a child abuser! He beat his child that is the same age as one of mine. Our kids know each other. We find out the child abuser is also a wife beater. Someone we know called the cops and the guy got arrested, but was out on bail the next day. Bail paid by the wife he beats! Now, I don’t want to judge people, but damn that’s disappointing. From everything I heard about this guy, I was afraid he was crazy enough to go Columbine on all of us and the people we know. His 90-day probation is up this month so maybe they’ll put him in jail. Otherwise, what can we do to prevent him from taking his predicament out on all of us, the people who frequent the establishment that triggered his arrest? Nothing. He lost his kids and his house over this, plus he has cancer. That’s a desperate man with nothing to lose.
December greeted me with more drama. My young son horses around with his brother, falls off the bed, and splits the back of his head open. Traumatic event there. Blood pouring out of his head, ER, and one staple to keep the gash from opening. It’s a good thing that I knew that head cuts bleed a lot or else I would’ve been freaking out worse than I already was. I learned that from watching MMA fights. They’re quite educational.
After that incident, I saw a stray dog outside my window as I was editing my book. After it walks by 3 times I decided that God wanted me to help the dog out, so I gave it some water. Good karma and all that. On the third day, we decided to give the dog shelter in our back yard. I’m allergic to dogs so we couldn’t keep the dog, plus we can’t afford a dog. It turns out that this dog has poodle in her so I’m not allergic to her. What are the odds of that? But still, I didn’t want a dog. There was a potential dog owner who was interested in taking the dog. By that time, my husband and kids wanted to keep her. I just knew their will would win out. The lady came by and thought the dog had tumors so she didn’t take the dog. So now we have a dog and I’m still trying to adjust to the change in lifestyle. We couldn’t have asked for a better dog, though, so there are pros and cons to this.
And as a special treat to end the year of 2012, I blow my knee out during a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class wrestling a lady a foot taller than I am and of course, heavier. I thought I was doing pretty good until, ow, my knee hurts. Big Mike at the gym introduced me to KT Tape and it works wonders. What a great invention! I’m glad I found out about it, but it still sucks to have a knee injury. The tape isn’t cheap either.
When is my luck going to change for the better?
Maybe it’ll balance out and I’ll win the lottery or one of my books will become a best seller.



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

About Writing Romance

I’ve discovered that writing a romance novel is harder than it seems.  I chose to write a teen romance for my first novel because I thought it would be the simplest. I didn’t want to get discouraged by writing a more difficult novel like a time travel story that I had attempted years ago and abandoned because it got away from me. Trying to conjure romantic feelings in your reader isn’t easy.
Before I started writing my novel I was thinking that most romance novels really weren’t that romantic. I don’t know about the book, but am I the only one who thinks The Notebook movie wasn’t romantic at all? For me, romance novels were missing something and I was disappointed that they weren’t more romantic. I was sure I could do better. Now I have a whole new respect for writers who can pull it off and for those that even try.

 I wrote a list of shows and books I thought were romantic and shot for the same feelings I got from them. Boys Over Flowers (Korean Drama), Twilight (book), Anna and the French Kiss (book),  Escaflowne (Anime). I will shoot for writing that level of romance each time and if I can get it that will be so awesome!