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Goals and why this blog ain't one of them (for now)

Every January, I make a big old cup of coffee and sit down to write my goals. I begin by evaluating the previous year, and then I outline what I want to accomplish in the coming year. 

I won't lie. 2013 wasn't the easiest year for me, as a writer. Moving to a new city is totally disruptive, no matter how organized you try to be. Throw in a couple of personal and professional surprises, and I'm just glad to have emerged from 2013 with all of my limbs intact.

So I'm aiming to make 2014 the year when I'm ALL IN. The year I write the big stories, make the big moves, without worrying about failure. I figure failure will come... but not all the time. Not if I stay in the game. 

I've got ten goals. None of them, sweet blog reader, is to keep up with my blog. I've got different fish to fry. Like writing two novels this year. And hiking twelve different Texas trails... hopefully without any coyote companions. 

I'll post here if the spirit moves me, but I make no promises. In the meantime, thanks for checking this area out and don't forget you can always find me on Twitter, Facebook, or use the link up top to send me a note. Especially if you know a good hiking trail in Texas.


Merit badges for writers

courtesy Library of CongressIt's fantastic to win a Big Official Award. But writers need encouragement along the way, too... especially for the things we can control. 

Maybe we ought to start giving each other merit badges. Can you imagine the next RWA or SCBWI convention, with writers wearing their sashes and badges proudly? Here are some badges I'd like to see:

--Revision Demolition: Honoree has completed revision during which at least 25% of the novel's content was changed. 

--Plot Architecture: Honoree successfully identified and defended all classic plot points in their novel. 

--Rejection Survival: Honoree has resubmitted work at least ten times after a rejection.

--Storytelling Scholarship: Honoree has read ten nonfiction books about writing and/or storytelling, and can speak coherently about them. 

--Character Conversion: Honoree has completely rewritten novel from the POV of a different character than the novel was previously.

--Murderous Merit: Honoree has excised a character who existed in at least 20% of the novel's content.

Writers, what merit badges do you wish someone would bestow upon you?


Milk every hour... at the beach, in life

During a summer trip to the beach, I was struck by how empty it is, except for a few brief peak hours. It made me think of how people all too often wait for the "right" time to live their lives.

The sun comes up before 7. But most people wait until prime time... ten, maybe eleven in the morning... to occupy the sand. They live intently while they are there. Frisbees. Surfing. Or drinking. A lot.

All is done in a few hours. Before and after, they scurry in, scurry out. No lingering, not for the adults. Some children protest leaving. Cry. But they are quickly shuttled off.

I like the ones who come early, creeping like crabs. They seem to relish the aloneness. Or maybe they wonder why so few are there. They're ready. Where is everyone else? 

Others stay late. They sit in shadows of the hi-rise hotels, determined, saying there is still plenty of life and light left in the day. Where did everyone else go? How could they forget the waves, the sand, the sun, so soon? 

A beach is more beautiful in its early potential and waning hours. I wish more people were there to see it.



Things my kid made me do... and I'm glad

I never predicted this! Image courtesy Library of Congress.I thought nature was going to give me somebody just like me... a girl, for starters. One who didn't look forward to gym class. One who made sure to be parked in front of the TV when the next figure skating competition was on. 

But of course it doesn't work like that. I got someone far better. I got my boy. My athletic, unstoppable, funny boy. 

And along with that has come some pretty cool changes to my life. Things I never expected for myself. 

Take football. Football, the sport I have never understood and never wanted to watch. It wasn't on in our house, growing up--that was baseball, sometimes. My high school had a football team but I pretty much went home once my marching band job was done. But now I've got my Redskins t-shirt and yesterday I caught myself having a deep conversation with a Kohls' checkout clerk about RG3's recovery (or lack thereof). And I even joined my first Fantasy Football league this fall (don't ask me how they're doing). 

Then there's scorekeeping. I actually was the scorekeeper for my kid's baseball team, for a few seasons, until we moved. Never did I think I'd be following a baseball game closely enough to be marking down every strike, ball, and base play. I started because I wanted to help out. But in truth, I loved it. It really taught me a lot about the game and gave me new appreciation for its strategy.

There are things I have given up, too. I used to insist on cooking "real" dinners with "real recipes". Now that's something I save for the weekend, if at all. I still make dinner, but it's essentially sponsored by Trader Joe's. That's because I've got the kid stuff to focus on, and my life is richer for it. 

You think you know how your kid is going to change your life, when you first look down at their face. But they've got a lot of surprises in store for you. Sure, some of them are stinky. But a lot of them are quite delicious.


Give me roses, lilies, cacti--anything but carnations

© Nob50 | Dreamstime.comSome women insist on diamonds. Others, mink.

Me? Just don't give me carnations.

I blame the booster clubs. 

It all started in middle school. On various holidays--and some made-up holidays--the booster clubs would hold carnation sales. Usually the carnations had been stuck in some dyed water the night before and they were brilliant unnatural colors--green for St. Patrick's Day, purple and gold for school spirit days, and so on. 

You didn't buy the carnations for yourself. Well, maybe people did, on the sly. But you'd never admit to it.

The idea was that someone would buy a carnation for you. Or if you were truly charming, maybe multiple someones would buy you a carnation. Then you'd carry a little bouquet around school and shrug innocently when people asked who bought them. Carnation recipients rarely kissed and told. Their air of mystery was both maddening and fascinating. 

I think my best friend bought me a carnation once. A much less sensitive sort, I think she got sick of me bellyaching and bought one. It was nice. 

But I knew it was cheating. 

The carnation sales continued through high school. If anybody ever bought me one, I don't remember. Apologies to any high school Romeos who remember differently.

All I remember is the crawling dread that came with each carnation day. I pretended I didn't want any... but I dreamed that I'd get one. Just one. I didn't want to be greedy. It would be stuck in my locker door, with a note: "from your secret admirer". I'd even take one of those weird green carnations. Just... one. 

Not that I wanted one, you know. 

So, these days, I'm lucky enough to have a lovely husband who buys me flowers. Lilies. Roses. Daffodils. 

But I've warned him: no carnations. 

I'm over them.