Romancing the Blog

Here I am dragging my ass to the finish line of my fourth year of Holidailies, the thing where we promise to blog every day for 31 days straight. This year was very different than the others in that I didn’t feel as pressured to blog.

Over the last four years, I’ve learned there are no Holidailies police, and it is okay to play catch up with posting, for example, post twice in one day because you missed yesterday.

I’ve also learned being behind on posting does not make one ineligible from having a post of theirs selected for “Best of Holidailies.

Someone asked me once if I knew any of the judges. I have no idea who judges the posts or how many of them there are. I do know they read a ton of posts every day, probably about a hundred. I don’t have a sitemeter to stalk down who reads what or how long they stay here, but I do have the WordPress admin panel that tells me I’ve got hits coming from “reader’s pick.” Without fail for every single post, even if it’s a crappy one.

So I’d like to thank you nameless, faceless Holidailies Judges out there, whoever you are. Just for coming here and reading.

I’d also like to thank Jette and Chip for organizing and hosting Holidailies. This project is not only an amazing way to meet new bloggers and get back to reading some old favs, it also keeps my mind on writing. I’ve been really slack about that in the last year and although I never intended to give up blogging, I’ve been so neglectful toward something that has given me so much joy and gotten me through some very rough days.

With Holidailies2009, I fell in love with my blog again.

Thanks to everyone who participated in Holidailies and those who watched from the sidelines. Maybe next year you will join us?

Thanks also to Jennifer at Whispers of Fairydust for creating the above Holidailies badge.

Just Writing

I’ve been so busy rewriting my script I haven’t had much time to comment on blogs or write posts. It’s screenwriting contest season.

Great news, I’ve entered my screenplay in the Nicholl. That is officially the very first time I’ve submitted any of my writing in a competition. This is a huge step for me as I’m actually a timid writer.

Austin is next and they’ve extended the deadline to June 8th. This is fantastic as I’ve lost a week rebuilding my daughter’s computer (hard drive failure, had to take it apart and replace it. This is an iMac and I think an appendectomy is easier to perform).

Anyway, one of the things that helped me do the rewrite was to have a goal. I told myself if I won Nicholl I would buy myself those Dr. Dre headphones I’ve been coveting.

After walking around with dark circles under my eyes from severe sleep depravation, I decided if I’d just make the first cut, I’d buy myself the headphones. I even went to Fry’s yesterday and tried them on again. To make sure.

I’m pretty damned sure. So it’s still on, right. And hey, I can up my chances if I enter Austin’s competition. If I place in that one, I get the Dre’s.

Wish me luck.

Whatifwhatifwhatif???

Someone asked me a couple of days ago if it’s been hard to come up with something to write every day for the month of Holidailies. I told them has not been hard for me this year. In fact, I have several ideas per day. There just aren’t enough days for them or the time to give them the treatment they deserve.

The subject of writing for instance, that is one of the biggest and most important things in my life right now, but I never write about it or what I write about.

Oh well, anyway, ideas. There are opportunities everywhere. Take my inbox for instance. I don’t usually open junk mail, but just as I was about to hit delete on one from “Federal Bureau of Investigations” I just sat there and stared at it. I knew it couldn’t be from the real FBI, but what if it was?

I couldn’t believe someone had the audacity to impersonate the FBI.

The FBI!

Did I open it?

Hell yeah. It looked like a real letter with an FBI seal on it, street address, all that. The letter claimed I was under investigation for making transactions with a fraudulent Nigerian entity and they were going to help me get my money back. All they needed ws my ATM card number. Talk about kick a dog when he’s down, huh?

Now imagine for a moment that I had actually done such a thing, lost money to one of those internet scams?

What if?

Imagine if I’d sent my ATM card number to this FBI scam artist and lost even more? What if I had an endless amount of money to lose but was running low on pride and patience and thought it was high time I get even with these sonsabitches?

Dammit I love a revenge story. There is no glue that holds a story together better than vengeance.

Would I hire my own investigator and hit man because I’m obviously too stupid to know a con when I see it, therefore couldn’t possibly be smart enough to do that job myself?

I’d have to.

Of course, this main character wouldn’t be “me” per se, I’m being empathic, you know, putting myself in the shoes of someone who’s been screwed twice for being gullible and greedy.

Then the real work begins. How do I get you to like a gullible and greedy person? You have to like them to root for them to win. So, who has never had a moment of weakness, wanted something for nothing and got totally pwned in the end? We’ve all been had at one time or another.

There are endless stories out there waiting to be found, to be told. “What if” is a skeleton key to open the chamber and let them out. That’s one method to the madness.

Blog Mob

Okay, Spanky is sick today so I haven’t had much time to think about what to post.

I have been wondering what those of you who are new to Holidailies this year are thinking about your experience with it so far. Especially if you heard all about it or learned of its existence from my big mouth.

Somehow I imagine this angry blog mob after me for getting them to crack open the blog and write every day during the busiest season of the year. Let me know if should be runnin’ scared or not.

Spill your guts, people. That’s what today is all about.

Off Road Guide to Holidailies

This is my favorite time of year to blog. It’s not that I enjoy the holidays, it’s because of the community writing project, Holidailies. Today is Day One and hopefully there will be a new post here every day until January 6th.

I find I write better during this time, not sure if it is because I’m writing every day or if it’s because I know more people are reading and the participation level is high. Probably both.

Holidailies is a great tool for new bloggers to build a blog. That is how mine took off. The bump in traffic is amazing. The first year I averaged thirty hits per day from there. I don’t know how the other blog platforms operate, but with WordPress, it seems once they see all this action going on, your blog post ends up being one of their top posts, so you get tons more traffic from there.

Even if you have an established blog, it is a wonderful way to keep your readership levels up due to blogger attrition.

It’s always extra special to have a post make it to the “Best of Holidailies” list. I have no idea who judges those and how they do it, but I had two make it on there last year.

What I know about those two posts is the titles were catchy and the summaries were screaming, “you have to read this.” Example: “You’re Standing in Quicksand – But Wait, Let Me Get a Picture of This.”

To make the most of your Holidailies experience, here’s my advice:

Go visit other blogs and leave comments.

Answer people who take the time to leave comments on your blog. A lot of times people keep coming back to see if you’ve answered. Ignore them, and they may never read you again.

Here are things people like to read: conflict, anything about kitchen gadgets, travel tales, how to do something well (recipes- dude, those are hot), How to screw something up (make it funny), and anything artistic.

Posts that go up in the evening when everyone is blogging is a great time to put yours up there. Over a hundred people are fighting for attention. If you post at 3AM like I usually do, your post will end up at the bottom of the stack.

If you have a camera, post some photos of what you’re writing about. For instance, if you got in a wreck, show the damage. I love that sort of stuff when I’m reading other blogs. Photos evidence. If your words don’t match the photo, no big deal, it only means you have a great imagination. I’ll be back to your blog.

Speaking of imagination. If you have a daydream or fantasy? Share that. Those are the best posts, ever.

Wishing you all a happy and successful Holidailies. I look forward to “meeting” every one of you.

It’s That Time of Year Again

Holidailies!

Jette and Chip have amped up the site and signup is underway, go now if you want to participate. Last year there was a limit on number of participants, not sure if it will be that way this year, so hurry if you want to get in.

This is a blog ring in which participants agree to blog every day for a month. It’s a great way to find new blogs and be found. I find it helps me get through a stressful holiday season.

This year it begins on December 5th and ends January 6th, but time for signup is right now at Holidailies.

Why you looking at me like that? Go sign up now!

Happy Valentine’s, Love

I just adore the way some Brits end a sentence with “love” just as Southerners end theirs with “darlin.'” Once, I asked for directions from a complete stranger with about fifty piercings in his face and ears and he said, “It’s not difficult at all, love…”

Anyone notice all the wild Valentine’s gift commercials out there on late night television? There’s the one for lingerie that suggests if the guy gets his girl some of this stuff he will get a strip show, maybe even a pole dance. The stuffed teddy bear gift one (those start at $80) shows a bunch of ladies in an office oogling a teddy while some clueless dude in a cubicle eavesdrops, then runs to his computer to place an order.

Poor bastard.

Over at Fog City Diva’s, Toni McGee Causey did an excellent guest post just in time for Valetine’s Day, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?”

She goes over a little history of the holiday as well as the commercialization of it. You’ll laugh too, there’s humor in just about everything Toni writes.

You can find Toni blogging mostly at Murderati these days along with a slew of other published writers. Oh Toni, how do you do it all?

The Telemarketer Who Changed My Life

I don’t remember what it was that made me want to listen to her, what it was in her sales pitch, but I remember sitting on the floor listening to her rattle off a list of magazines she was selling. Something kept telling me to buy something from her. She got to the end of the list and there was nothing for me. Then she said something like, “There’s another one, it’s not popular but… Writer’s Digest.”Within a month of reading my first issue, I was over at the college taking writing classes.

I have been in college classes for almost my entire adulthood. I got my nursing degree when I was about 21 and then went back to school within a couple of years to study other things. Since I’ve always had children, the school/work/family thing was difficult. Then Blane decided to go back to school and get his master’s, so for a few years the evenings were his to go to school since he had the weekday job.

As a nurse I was able to load up all my work hours on the weekends while he watched the kids. During the week I watched them. There were times when I could only take two classes per semester. Although I only ended up with a degree in nursing and then one in real estate/brokerage, I have majored in pre-dental, biology, theatre, and anthropology. I also took six semesters of French, but those were not for credit (didn’t need them).

So that day when I got that call about the magazines, a day when I was knee-deep in trading online stocks (forgot to tell you, did that too, self taught), I listened to a call in which writing seemed to find me by chance.

I wonder where I would be had I not picked up that phone. I haven’t taken classes for two years now, but I’m in a writing workshop, so I’m still turning in assignments.

Double Dog Dare Ya

Blogging every day for a month was a little difficult but fun. I can’t keep up with that pace, however, and I do think people need a break from my blog so they can go read and comment on other things out there.

For those of you from Holidailies who would like to continue to blog every day, I double dog dare you to sign up for a year-long blogathon at   Blog 365.

Last time I checked, about 800 people had signed up for the deed.

Max over at Celluloid Blonde blogged every day last year. Go Max! She did it on her own, though, without a group. I hope she continues to blog every day. Reading Max is sort of like my morning paper. She usually posts about the same time every day which is about 2 AM for me. Sometimes I find myself at the computer waiting for her next post to come out.

Hope you all have a great 2008.

Give The Kid A Book Deal Already

I don’t usually click on a comment or blog post because of an avatar. Lately I’ve been seeing one around WordPress’ front page that looks so much like Spanky that I had to go see.

The expression on her face, I can’t tell if she is laughing or mock crying or what. Spanky makes that same face all the time, especially when she’s laughing.

Long story short, it is one of the most amazing blogs I’ve ever read. Yep, evah. She’s articulate and hilarious, no matter what she’s talking about, from Nabokov to Mighty Mouse. She’s a young freelance writer who would love to quit her day job. Go see and have some laughs while you learn something new:

Brood

Bookmark it. Blogroll it.

All I can think is, somebody, give this kid a book deal already.

Story Virus

Splotchy’s instructions:

“This has probably been done before, but that is not stopping me, oh no.

Here’s what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don’t know how realistic it is, but that’s what I’m aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it’s okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that’s five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.”

++++++

I woke up hungry. I pulled my bedroom curtain to the side and looked out on a hazy morning. I dragged myself into the kitchen, in search of something to eat. I reached for a jar of applesauce sitting next to the sink, and found it very cold to the touch. I opened the jar and realized it was frozen. (Splotchy)

I was used to the house being quite cold in the mornings, as the night log usually burns out around one AM when I am dreaming cozily under my covers, not normally waking to put a new one on until morning. I was surprised because on the rare occasions that it actually had reached sub-freezing temperatures in the house, I had awakened in the night to restart the fire. I would have been worried about the pipes before P-Day, but there hadn’t been running water in two years and that was one of the few advantages to being dependent on rainwater, no pipes. (Freida Bee)

Shivering, I moved through the cloud of my nearly-crystallizing breath over to the frost-encrusted window. Unable to see outside, I feebly attempted to brush the flakes away with my sleeve. I sighed, the warm exhalation upon the upper panes only further decreasing visibility. I thoughtlessly tried my fingernails, having forgotten that I continuously bite them when nervous. I’ve recently been nervous a lot. I didn’t know why, and failed to give it a second thought. Shuffling across the well-worn wooden planks, strangely as cold as the jar, I opened a drawer to grab a spoon and begin the task at hand, chipping away at the frost. After some moments, I stopped to peek outside, managing to see only white. The window was again frozen.

There’s no way it can be that cold, I thought to myself. I began to chip once more, with the same result. Frustrated, I sprinted the ten feet back to the drawer, taking a larger soup spoon and returned to my assault on the ice. Harder and harder I pushed the spoon into the wintry glaze, intermittently stopping to wipe the chill sweat from my brow, pushing harder, my arms flailing upwards, now coming down as if wielding an axe, ignoring the stinging salt of perspiration in my eyes, the ice growing along with my anger, overcome by a violence, a berserker rage, up and down I swung that makeshift blade into the white, into the red, grunting, screaming, my hands sliced open as the spoon blasted through the broken glass.

I didn’t see anything but the dew-haunted lawn before I slumped down, fainting on the cold wooden floor. (Randal Graves)

I awoke to the touch of my cat, Scheiser, as he gently licked my cold cheek. His rough tongue against my cold, sensitive skin jolted me like electricity, popping my eyes wide open.

“Hey fella,” I mumbled, propping myself up on one elbow. Scheiser purred in my ear, and I scratched his forehead with numb fingers.

I noticed the window was still encrusted with ice… if anything, it had thickened while I was out. I got myself onto all fours, then pulled myself up on the old couch. This was nuts. The lawn outside had been dew-laden, yet things were frozen in here.

Scheiser was at the kitchen door, meowing to be let out. Why not, I thought. Better to have him do his wretched business outside than in. Feeling sluggish, I shuffled to the door, unlocked it and opened it. Cool morning air filled my nostrils as I looked out on the front “yard”… not a speck of ice anywhere to be seen in the dirt and weeds. It actually seemed kind of balmy. I followed Scheiser outside into the day. (Snave)

“Scheiser,” I said, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

“Nyerh,” spoke Scheiser, rubbing against my legs.

I looked down and saw a drop of crimson on his glossy black fur. Blood was dripping from my hands. Another drop hit the cat, this time on his head, right between his ears. His whole body flinched in that way cats have of telling you that you are finished petting them, for now. He stalked off, flicking his tail, while I stared dumbly at my hands.

It was as if my brain had also frozen inside the house, and was just now beginning to thaw, because I suddenly remembered my insane attack on a defenseless jar of applesauce. I really must do something about my OCD, I thought, as I followed the blood splatters back to the kitchen.

The cold assaulted me as soon as I opened the door. I propped it open, sliding the antique iron doorstop over with one blood-splashed slipper. My teeth chattered, my breath sending frosty puffs ahead of me as I picked my way around the shattered glass. At the hall, I flipped the lightswitch with my elbow, not wanting to bloody the wall, but no light came on.

I trudged down the dark hallway to the bathroom. I grabbed a towel and wiped my hands. Despite all the blood, my hands weren’t painful. They were numb with cold, but surely, I thought, not enough to anesthetize them? The bathroom window was frosted solid, but at least I had enough light to rummage for bandages in the deep wall cabinet.

Sha-whop! The walls rattled. I froze. I knew that sound. It was the slam of the kitchen door. (Candace)
“Bloody fucking hell!”

I froze.

Who was in my kitchen, and why was he cursing in British, and who had shut the door?

Still dripping blood, carrying the bandages in one hand and a heavy-duty mag-light in the other, I slowly entered the kitchen.

A tall, disgustingly sleek man looked at me through disturbingly yellow eyes.

He wore nothing but a red collar with a little silver bell on it.

His ears were pointy.

“Scheiser?”

He stared at his fingers then his face lit up with glee as he picked up a can of tuna and a can opener and began experimenting.

Suddenly, an icy cold kitchen seemed the least of my problems. (Pooks)

No, that couldn’t be Sheiser. I’d had him neutered. This bloke, he had a full package. “Well, well, well, just look what the cat drug in,” he teased as he called my dear little Sheiser to dinner.

“He’s allergic to tuna!” I screamed as Sheiser approached him.

“Carry on, then,” he said with a devious smile while he proceeded to feed my cat the poison. He turned his back to me as I lept to save my cat. That’s when I saw the black wings on his back, crumpled up like an umbrella.

I grabbed the jar of applesauce, held it by the neck and slammed it on the granite countertop. My Sheiser, being skittish, took off but not without laying some major scratch on the bloke’s bare ass.

Those leathery appendages expanded in a fury like a delta plane, filling my kitchen from wall-to-wall with wing.

This was happening fast, but not too fast for me to wonder why the devil always appears with a British accent?

He exposed his teeth, a rack of crooked, sharp, saliva oozing mess as he hissed my name. Nobody hisses my name. I lunged at him with my broken jar and as he snatched it, my fingers plunged between his neck and that red collar. As I pulled tighter and tighter and the bell popped off, I thought of my courageous friend who would love nothing better than to get her hands on this dark creature.

I cried out her name, “Anita Marie!”

How The Grinch Stole Holidailies!

I know, it sounds lame, Holidailies. That’s what I thought when I first heard it about a couple of years ago. Bloggers promise to post once a day for the month of December. Probably a bunch of cookie-baking stay-at-home moms who think of nothing all year long but food, decorating and rosy cheeked children.

Oh, and who despises that Season more than me? And how can it be of any value if a couple of days ago, on this very blog, there was only a brief post about it?

You know that hole in the wall restaurant you love? That is what Holidailies is like. You’ll see.

I was new to blogging last year, had just lost my brother, and was getting ready to face the darkest holiday season of my life. I needed to force myself to do or witness one positive thing every single day. Then write about it. If I didn’t show up one day to write about it, all my blog friends who knew about this “challenge” of mine could ridicule me. That couldn’t happen. (Okay they threatened, but they would never have done that to me).

So I set up these posts before going to bed and the next morning, there were comments from complete strangers. Every day was like waking up to presents under a (cough) tree. So I clicked on these commenters’ links and read their blogs. Wow. These people weren’t cooking-baking ladies. These were people from all backgrounds writing profound things such as, “Fuck Me, I’m Finished!” (That was a post by a girl in London who had just typed the last word on her novel.)

I made it, 31 days of posting. I realized at the end of the project that Holidailies was the biggest thing that helped me pull through that season.

Now who is this Holidailies Grinch? I won’t tell you her name, but she was “with” me through the big challenge last year. Cheering me on to the finish. This year, however, just after I’d posted that I committed to the challenge again, she had something on her blog about Holidailies, that it has writing prompts and if someone needs ideas on what to blog about, they shouldn’t be blogging. (not those words exactly, if I used her words, I’d have to rat out her name. No.)

KABOOM! (that’s my bubble bursting)

She didn’t mention my name, but wow, did she think I used crib sheets last year and was not really blogging?

I didn’t. Not once, not that there is anything wrong with it. Most posters only use them only when stuck. We want to be original, we want our posts to be in “The Best of Holidailies.”

I believe Holidailies is for people just like Grinch. So I challenge her to sign up and just TRY it for 10 days. No posting quizzes, either. Real posts, new ones, not something from a previous blog or website. It is not too late to sign up.

This post was highlighted today in The Best of Holidailies!

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Holidailies!

What is Holidailies? It is a community writing project. You don’t have to be a writer, you just have to write. It is free, and anyone can join.

Last year I did the “portal participant” thing where I had to update my blog every day and send in a summary of my posts. You don’t have to join that part of the project, you can join a lighter version of it.

Click on the logo below for more info.

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Cinemagypsy Must Be Destroyed

Eventually, I suppose, that is what’s going to happen. Bloggers drop out like flies after just a few posts, some last a year, some a little longer. Few go on for years.

I never thought mine would last this long. At first, it was an uncomfortable thing, putting up things about my personal life for anyone to find. I knew people would judge me, my family. My writing. That’s what people do.

These days, I don’t even think about that anymore.

So many people out there say, “My life is not interesting enough to blog about,” when I encourage them to start one. I don’t believe this. Everyone’s life is interesting. Not every second of it, certainly not mine. Cut to the good part and share. Or the bad part. You don’t have to write just about your life, you could write about something you saw. The lives of people you know. Teach somebody out there something.

I try to stick to my own life here because friends and relatives read to keep in touch. Most of them have never left a comment, perhaps they are afraid they, too, will be judged. I get a lot of emails from them, and that’s cool. (Keep them coming)

Now for something interesting.

Tonight, Tonight. We are taking the girls to see a Smashing Pumpkins concert. It’s a show that was supposed to take place on Nov. 3rd but was rescheduled. It’s their last concert on this tour and I’ve read the Pumpkins do some special things at their final shows. We’re excited about it, have had the tickets for months. Either Spanky or I will tell you all about it in the next few days.

If I outgrow and decide to destroy this blog one day, there will be plenty of notice. It won’t be any time soon.

Support the Strike

In case you haven’t heard, the WGA (Writers Guild of America) is on strike and you need to support them.

Yes, YOU.

Think you don’t know any WGA members? Think again. Max, who frequently leaves her words on this very blog is a member. She is a friend as well as a mentor, not just to me, to many who are trying to break into screenwriting.

And what does she have to say about all this?

First, she says to go read Toni’s post about why this strike matters to everyone, not just the writers. You know Toni, she’s that Cajun chick who wrote that book about Bobbie Faye. Toni also writes screenplays and works in film. I’ll be able to tell you more about that later when she is not so busy and tells me more about it.

What else does Max have to say? Go see, she is blogging about it at her place, Celluloid Blonde. Make sure you at least read this post she wrote.

Please support the writers. Don’t hate them because you are going to have to watch some reruns for a while. Hate the greedy corporations that refuse to pay them for their work.

Suitcase Full of Money

Every once in a while I look at some unproduced screenplays on Simply Scripts or Drew’s Script-O-Rama. Sometime last year there were a ton of these unproduced shorts that had one other thing in common besides being a bit unpolished. That thing was the “suitcase full of money.” Maybe it was a writing prompt in some unrelated workshop, or maybe someone wrote about the money and people copied the idea.

They were fun reads, but most of them were not about getting the money. They were about keeping it or spending it.

So I have to ask, if you had a suitcase full of money, what would you do with it? Let’s assume all your debts are paid before you get started so you don’t have to use the dough for that.