Thursday, March 29, 2012

Early Morning Thoughts


(picture by me and my Viking muse)


Green tea fuels my thoughts this morning. Green tea with jasmine. And some sugar :D

Have you ever had those mornings when you woke up and just could NOT go back to sleep? Welcome to my morning. My husband leaves for work around 5:00 every a.m. and there is always this bizarre notion to get up as well, to leave the warmth of my bed and stagger to the kitchen, fill my mug with something hot and caffeinated, and dive into a new day. More often that not, I dismiss this desire as a temporary case of insanity, roll back over, and go back to sleep. Today I decided to take my insanity up on it's offer of waking before dawn. You know what? It ain't half bad :D.

Just a few things rumbling through my mind:

My courtyard garden is anxious to get sprouting. I went through all my seed packets from last year and, lo! They all have seeds still in them. Huzzah! I don't HAVE to buy any more (though that won't stop me from trying). I have 30 pots waiting for soil and two patches of earth that are in desperate need of healthy feeding and flowers. Methinks this weekend will be the perfect time to give into these notions and get the courtyard in bloom.

Papers, papers! And it's not my writing class this term that's giving me a run for my writing money. The first of two require humanities classes has me pushing and shoving for word counts every day and I've just now hit the half way point in an eight week course. Oh, and next term is part 2. Truly, dear readers, I am desperately seeking some air!

Oh, I did spend some personal writing time yesterday at ye olde local bookstore. All the books are used, the interior smells musty and they have green tea and apple cider :D Yes, I drink apple cider and hot tea even in the midst of a southern summer (which, thankfully, we haven't hit yet). Just knowing I can walk to a bookstore and write a couple of hours a week lightens my school-work burdened soul.

A great, big, whopping THANK YOU to everyone who posted yesterday about my 200 followers. Seriously, I wouldn't have done it with you! So far, this is what I've been given:

Meredith at Fairy Tales and Cappuccino said she WOULD like to see me dance. For the health and well being of the Internet (and the universe as we know it) I'll forgo the dancing for now but who knows? I may just start vlogging in the future...the force will have to be much, much stronger with me to attempt that OR dancing ;)

Brian over at Waystation One suggested I tell a story. Sounds like a plan. Any suggestions? Truth or fiction? Maybe a little story a week? Something short would be a challenge for me...I tend to be long-winded. Let me know!

Sheila at Sheila Scribbles asked if I was doing the A-Z Challenge. The answer is YES! Do I have a theme yet? I think so. I'm going to wait until Day One to reveal it :D Oh, and the suggestion she gave that I could easily top 300 followers thanks to the challenge is very, very true. Have you guys SEEN the sign up list for the challenge? Seriously. Check it out. It is epic (find the link on my sidebar).

That's about it for now! *whew*. I'll be off for another run in three hours on my new quest to bag my first 5K!! A bit excited about this new venture! Of course, things will be much better once the pollen clears.

Happy Thursday and remember:
Live BOLD!

Jen

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

200 FOLLOWERS!!!!!! WHAT!?!?!?




OK.

I KNEW yesterday my number of followers was perched precariously close to the big TWO-OH-OH. And this morning...as in 30 seconds ago...I saw it. 200!! REALLY! You have no idea how excited this makes me! Seriously.

I've been blogging since 2009. I've started and stopped countless times. I've started and stopped countless blogs *grin*. But no matter what I did, I KNEW that blogging was where I belonged. Widdershins has been a lesson in trusting myself and the blog community as a whole. And recently it has taught me to trust myself enough to be 100% myself -- no apologies necessary.

EVERY ONE OF YOU have made this possible! I know how tough it is to visit a blog each time there's a new post. The blogs I read are special to me and, though it takes a bit to make my rounds sometimes, I do my best to stop by, say hello, and catch up. To think that people do that for me is, well, humbling to say the least.

But enough of all that blabbering! It's party time!!!

I know people do give-aways and parties and blogfests for their 200th follower post. I was caught TOTALLY unprepared for all of that (not to mention my Humanities class has been a crash-course in correct formatting of papers for literary analysis and has forced me to do NOTHING but PAPERS for the past three weeks!).

SO.

I'm leaving it up to YOU. Yes. YOU.

What would YOU like to see here? Seriously. Questions? Answers? Pictures? You don't want to see me dance so I'll leave that off the list ;).

It's all because of YOU guys that I'm still here, three years later, and can now say I've passed that 200 follower mark which, to me, is HUGE!!

TELL ME! WHAT ON EARTH DO YOU WANT TO SEE HERE NEXT? And if you want a give away...don't be shy! Oooh! Maybe I could figure out a way to send you all a cup of coffee and a scone! Note to self: learn to apparate with hot beverages...

XO Jen

Monday, March 26, 2012

Is it Monday again already?!?

Good morning, intrepid blog pals!

Here's hoping you all had a wonderful week and weekend. I apologize for my lack of activity. You see, after I was KIND enough to mention our pollen festival here in the crazy state of Georgia, I was hit with some horrible allergies. Some thanks I get for attempting to speak kindly of the yellow devil.

"Busy" and "Crazy" seem to be the words that describe life right now. I'm not complaining. I will also throw in the word "GOOD" :D. I'm thankful that things seem to be falling into place and realize that the only way to wrangle some semblance of sanity into it all is through balance.

A few changes:

1. I'll be responding to comments on through email. It's not that I don't want to respond to every, single one of your encouraging, friendly, and kind comments. I do! It's just that with limited time to spend on things I actually enjoy doing (like blogging), the easiest way to communicate is through the "reply" button on my email. SO, if you're not set up for email responses via your blog comments, just know that I'm not disowning you :D and I do read and smile at every comment!

2. I'll be cleaning blog-house during this week. I may be adding some stuff but the general feel will be the same. Actually, I hope the feel of the blog gets BETTER!!

3. In the past, I've posted on as many as 3 blogs at one time. Crazy but true! I had the time back when school was new and I was sitting in front of the computer all day at work. Now, I'm having to consolidate time and content wherever I can. SO - starting TODAY all my other blogs are null and void (I'll be posting a message on the other two and a link to this space shortly). THANK YOU to everyone who has been kind enough to follow and read my other blogs over the past 3 years. I hope you're all here and will continue getting something positive out of what I have to say :D I have made some awesome friendships over these past 3 years blogging and I don't want to lose a single one!

4. In light of #3, THIS little blog may fill up a bit faster! Those other blogs were simply an attempt to divide and conquer my multitude of interests. Last week, while hazed in pollen, I thought, "Hey! Widdershins is where I do most of my writing. It's where I have the most friendships. Why not be a more open and diverse person THERE instead of trying to write all over the place and impose MORE clicking and reading on those wonderful readers of mine?"

And so...this little blog will (finally) become an extension of me in my many tastes of life.

I hope you'll still visit and find even MORE craziness for your reading pleasure!

Thank you all for being AWESOME :D You should all go find an award for being awesome and display it on your blog. Heck...I may just make one for you ;)

On with the SHOW!
Jen xo

PS: Is it just me or did the end of March and the advent of the A-Z CHALLENGE sneak up on anyone else?? If you're not signed up yet for this month of awesomeness, head over NOW and do so :D Cheers!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Holy Bucket of TOO MUCH, Batman!

Good (almost) afternoon cadets! I trust you all had a wonderful weekend. Was it as fabulously, unseasonably warm where you are as it was here in Georgia? It has been in the upper 70s, lower 80s since Thursday and I am loving it (I'm also gloating and for that, I apologize).

My break last week from the blogverse was much, much needed. For some reason, just that small amount (very, very small amount) of my online time, removed, helped me think better, clearer, and get more done. And boy did I ever need a bit more time last week!

First of all, a funny story for your enjoyment. About five years ago I worked at an herb shop in the area. One of the ladies I worked with quit about three months prior to my leaving and went to work at another herb shop across town. I would pop in from time to time over the next few years, to pick up vitamins, say "hi", and catch up.

Two Fridays ago, I did just that and, lo! My friend was there. She's not supposed to work Fridays but there she was, waving and commenting on my now short, dark hair (which she remembers as blond and somewhat long). As we were talking, she asked what I was doing now, if I was working and suddenly grabbed my hands and asked, "Do you want a job?!?" She nearly leaped across the counter.

Needless to say I was a bit befuddled. As I tried questioning her about it, she dragged me back to where the owner was sitting, placing an order on the phone. My friend pointed to her, then at me, then they both gave two big thumbs up. "Uh oh" I thought. "I've been Shanghaied!" Turns out, they've been needing some part time help for some time and were just talking about who to hire when I walked in the door. Turns out the only day I can work is Friday. Turns out that's exactly the day they needed an extra body in the store.

So.

I'm back in the herb industry! At least one day a week. A little extra money and some real people to talk to (as opposed to all my characters and my cat) has never hurt any writer that I know of.

On top of that, our friendly neighborhood Visual Arts Society had our first art in the park showing. We were able to set up a tent, display our art, and solicit new members at our annual -are you ready for this?- Yellow Pollen Festival. No joke. Here in Hampton we have a festival to celebrate the advent of pollen season. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!

On top of THAT, and in conjunction with that, I got to display some of my folk art for the first time and realized that THIS is what I should be pursuing in my spare time instead of some of the other types of art I've tried in the past. I'll be focusing on that and keeping you updated on how that goes. Hopefully, within the next few months, I'll have a little online shop to call my own.

As if that wasn't enough, we helped out at my father-in-laws' retirement part, discovered that writing a literary criticism frowns highly upon the use of direct quotations, got hit in the face with a BRILLIANT new story idea and started a training program called Couch to 5K.

Yeah. I'm pretty much insane.

How was your week/weekend?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday Motivation

Good afternoon. I wish I could type "good morning" but, alas, I have gotten up late...again.

Motivation. That's what I need. Serendipitously that's the second half of the title of my Monday posts :D. I'm not really feeling that motivated this morning. I've been trying and trying to figure out how to remedy this, thinking and thinking about what I could type in this post. And the only thing that comes to mind is this:

YOU MUST DO THE THING YOU THINK YOU CANNOT DO ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Dear readers, I am in a quandary. I'm lost. Seriously. How does one let the hours slip past and have nothing to show for it? My days tend to pile up on one another and before I know it, it's NEXT Monday and I still haven't crossed off what needs to be done for THIS Monday.

Ugh.

School takes precedence (I have definite due dates for the work there and, let's face it, I've always been a bit Hermione when it comes to grades and school work). Other than that, it seems my brain goes into dufus mode and I'm wandering about singing "lalalala" while the smarter part of my brain is yelling at me to get the house cleaned/the cat box emptied/dinner thawed/the library books read/etc...etc...etc...


image source HERE

Yul Brynner jokes aside, I'm going to have to take a page out of my own motivational mantras this morning. What do I think I cannot do? Get my days together and, as a result, my act! I know, I have no excuses. CFS causes the brain fog and the confusion and the going round in circles (seriously...there are times when I find myself wandering around the living room in a daze...kind of funny...). But I KNOW this and therefore it is MY responsibility to make it right.

And SO.

I will not be active in the blogsphere this week. I've got to remedy this situation before any more of this potentially fabulous year drifts by! No, I'm not out to work myself ragged. I'm not talking about being foolish. I am, however, talking about getting myself in order, not being lazy just because it's convenient and excelling in areas where I've allowed myself to just scrape by.

No more Mrs. Nice Guy! Look out week! Here I come!

Have an awesome, productive week everyone! I'll see you all back HERE on the 19th. Oh, and Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Cheers,
Jen xo

Friday, March 9, 2012

New Friday Series Postponed

Hey guys!

No Friday post today :(. Boooo. And here I had something cool planned.

Alas, I am submerged in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia on this cloudy Saturday in the South.

I wish you all the very best of weekends and may the warmth of an early Spring be with you all!

Here - have a pyramid...




...and a camel.


Cheers,
Jen xo

(image found HERE)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday Writing Workshop

(Today is another Insecure Writer's Support Group with Alex J. Cavanaugh! Wander over and check out the wonderful posts, share your insecurities and get encouragement. Me? I suppose, in light of what I'm posting on today, I'd say my biggest insecurity right now is learning to navigate the changing world of publishing.)

Yep, another cheesy title that plays on the first letter of the day of the week. Hey, it helps the brain remember what it needs to writer about :D

I got to thinking (frightening, I know): I'm taking these writing classes so why not share some of the things I'm learning? Not to mention I've got LOADS of questions to ask you guys as well. Especially in my current class.

The title of the class is Context of Writing. What it revolves around is something on the mind of ever writer, published or not: the current state and future of the publishing industry. I spent an hour yesterday reading the first chapter of Jason Epstein's book "Book Business: Publishing Past, Present and Future". It was written in 2001, but it so far appears to have a good handle on the issues of today.

Epstein has been in the publishing industry since the 1950s so I'd wager he knows what he's talking about. The Preface and first chapter talk of the grand old days of publishing, when Dr. Seuss would just show up at Random House and chat with the editors and publishers and W.H. Auden would wander in with another draft. He goes from that to now, where authors work through agents and if they were to show up unannounced and actually make it past the security on the ground floor of the building, they would be thrown out faster than you could say "three book deal". He talks of e-books and the changing landscape of bookstores.

And you know what? I'm encouraged. That is not to say that I think it would be great if we could make appointments with publishers and speak to them face-to-face without the threat of a security guard flinging us onto the pavement in front of Scholastic. I have been very skeptical (and frankly annoyed) at e-books. Bookstores are Mecca for me and the thought of them all closing in favor of a handheld screen seems to me a dark dystopian future indeed.

BUT.

Epstein said this that stuck with me: "Nonetheless, a civilization without retail booksellers is unimaginable. Like shrines and other sacred meeting places, bookstores are essential artifacts of human nature. The feel of a book taken from the shelf and held in the hand is a magical experience, linking writer to reader. But to compete with the World Wide Web, bookstores of the future will be different from the mass-oriented super-stores that now dominate the retail marketplace. Tomorrow's stores will have to be what the Web cannot be: tangible, intimate, and local; communal shrines...with coffee bars...."

He proposes that the big chain bookstores are struggling to compete with e-books. I agree. E-books are convenient and may offer more advantages to authors than traditional publishing. BUT with the lessening of big chain stores, there is a possibility that the independent bookstores could see new life. This is, of course, my opinion, but one I wanted to put out there for whatever it's worth.

I leave you with this: Do you think that the advent of e-books could be a renaissance of independent bookstores?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Motivation

Good afternoon! I hope the sun is shining on your keyboard as it is on mine (unless, of course, you're reading this at night. That would be really weird...)

If I seem a bit chipper for a Monday, I have a really good reason. OK-a GREAT reason! Last week (yesterday to be exact) marked the END of my struggles with math. Seriously. Unless (GOD FORBID) they decided that Creative Writing majors need a third math to graduate between now and next June, I will NEVER HAVE TO TAKE A MATH CLASS AGAIN!!!!

And if that ain't a reason to celebrate, I don't know what is!

But that's not what I'm here for today. Nope, I decided to start something new on Mondays. It's the first day of the week. The day after the weekend. Not usually people's favorite. BUT what better day to get MOTIVATED!! Now before you start throwing things at me, let me explain. I am NOT a morning person. I'm a night owl. And I'm NOT a Monday person. My tolerance for Monday is better now that I'm in school full time, but still: it signals the end of a glorious weekend and the beginning of a new week.

Why let that get you down? Beginnings are supposed to be GOOD, right? Well, that's why you have me :D See! I AM good for something ;)

For today's bit o' motivation, I want to share a little tale that happened to me last Thursday. Our sleepy little hollow just got a bookstore. It's very own, independent, used bookstore complete with creaky wooden floors and coffee maker. Perfect! Being the book lover I am, I dragged my mom and husband there thirty minutes after they opened on grand opening day. We browsed around and giggled at some of the old book titles. The building smelled old, the books smelled musty, and there was a warm breeze coming in through the open doors. In a word: perfect!

After the owner got off the phone, she came around and chatted with us. We talked for ten minutes or so and I let it slip that I was a writer. And, on cue, she asked the dreaded question: "Really? Where have you been published?"

Now here's where I usually hem-haw, paw at the ground and look anywhere but at the person who just asked the question. But this time, something marvelous happened. I responded "I'm not published yet. I'm a full time student and I'm in the process of getting a portfolio ready and some work edited for submission."

She smiled. She said she asked because she met a lot of writers who had published online and wondered if people still published in flesh and blood media. I told her that was my goal: to see my name in print. However, I added that I wouldn't pass up a chance to be published online. Published is published is a byline.

The amazing thing about this entire exchange was a marked difference in my confidence level. Telling people I'm a writer and following it with "but I'm not published yet" used to be so painful and embarrassing but Thursday it didn't bother me at all. Maybe I was drained from fighting with math for the eight weeks' prior. Maybe I was having a CFS "brain fog" moment and it will come back and hit me in another three days. But I suspect it's because I have finally FINALLY owned up to the fact that I AM a writer.

The point of all this rambling? Simple. If you write, you're a writer. Let me rephrase. If you write CONSISTENTLY and with a BURNING PASSION you are a writer. No byline, no problem. You'll get there if it's your goal. Just keep at it!

So today I want you all to repeat after me: I AM A WRITER! Say it with pride! Say it with confidence! Say it so loud that your cat looks at you like you're insane! Oh wait...he already does that.

Happy Monday everyone!
Go! Be Bold! Be fearless!

What was YOUR most recent defining moment as a writer?